Saturday, October 10, 2015

Hello, I Must Be Going

We have been on a bit of what I consider to be a bad roll lately at the Firm.  I happen to loathe change.  Twice in the past two weeks we have had to bid farewell to an eminently capable and extremely personable members of our staff.  

I am always sorry when we lose good employees.  Sorrier still when the person - beyond being a good employee - is a good person.   Happy for them though and hopeful that the move they are making turns out to be all that they had hoped it would be.  


Friday, October 9, 2015

It Is Like Trying To Squeeze Toothpaste Back Into The Tube

Less than twenty-four hours after the baseball season - or at least the only part of it about which I truly care - came to an inglorious end, the hockey season - or the only part of it about which I truly care - began quite nicely.  The New York Rangers ruined the "Hey Look We Won the Stanley Cup!" party that the Chicago Blackhawks threw for their fans on Wednesday night.  Hooray for us.  One game down, eighty-one more to go.  And that is just the regular season.  I love hockey and I love the Rangers but it is easier for my brain to process it conceptually once we pass certain mile markers on the calendar - such as Columbus Day.  

It frightens me - and not just a little - that effective October 6, 2015, McDonald's changed its rules of operation so that breakfast is now available all day, every day.  In the interest of full disclosure, I have not eaten at a McDonald's in such a long time that I cannot recall when it was that I last did so.  I have any number of vices that are injurious to my health and well-being.  Fast food, however, is not among them.  

That being said, when I saw McDonald's blanket advertising about the ability to order an Egg McMuffin for dinner, coupled with the positive feedback on social media, I became more than a bit frightened for this country.  It occurs to me that perhaps, just perhaps, the elixir for America's rampant obesity is not something that further broadens the appeal of fast food.  It also occurs to me that McDonald's has implemented (in certain locations) the outsourcing of taking orders at its drive-thru windows in order to expedite the process and improve its accuracy.   If I am concerned about the ability of the people who work for me properly performing the critical tasks associated with their jobs, then is adding more responsibility to their job really the best course of action?  

I am constantly impressed by the inclusion of entirely unnecessary instructions - not warning labels but instructions - on household products that we use on a day in, day out basis.  If no one ever thought to affix "Lather.  Rinse.  Repeat" to a shampoo bottle, is there a concern that we the people might have thought that we were to drink the bottle's contents or, perhaps, squirt the contents up our ass in order to assure we achieve a bright, silky head of hair?  

Similarly, who first determined that these words must be emblazoned on your toothpaste tube:  


What exactly does that even mean?  Best results in terms of the quality of the tooth-brushing experience - suggesting that everyone from Crest to Tom hides the good paste in the bottom of the tube or simply best results in extracting the product from the tube without leaving big globby balls of it all over your bathroom vanity?  If it is the former, then thank you Mr. Colgate for thinking of me.  If it is the latter, then who fucking cares?  

Furthermore, who is it who determined - whenever such a determination was made - that operating a tube of toothpaste is a process that requires fourteen words worth of guidance but that assembling any piece of furniture purchased at Ikea is a task best explained through an amalgam of diagrams and drawings.   No worries, Sven.  It is after all only my children who I intend to place EVERY NIGHT in their brand-new Mydal Bunk Bed Frame I just purchased at your furniture and meatball emporium.  Assembling it by adhering to the fourteen-page cartoon you call "Assembly Instructions" concerns me for their safety not at all.  

After all, furniture assembly is not rocket science, right?  Or even as hard as, let's say, trying to squeeze toothpaste back into the tube.  As a wise man once observed of the Triple Lindy, "Hard?  It's not hard.  It's impossible."    


Thursday, October 8, 2015

No More Surprises...

The world constantly surprises me.  Not always for the better.   Neither of those things makes me extraordinary.  

It continues to surprise how little we do in this country to protect ourselves and each other.  It surprises me - constantly - how little respect we have for one another.  Every time something happens such as the latest debauchery in Oregon, the debate rages over guns.  Is it possible that the debate is focused on the wrong element?  

Maybe, just maybe, ours is not a "gun" problem.  At least not just a gun problem.  Maybe, just maybe, ours is a "people" problem as well.  These days we work damn hard at devaluing one another.  So much so that it makes it easy for certain of us to see the rest of us as something less than human.  Something disposable.  

I would not pretend to speak for anyone other than the old grouch who stares back at me in the bathroom mirror every morning but he is fucking sick of the world surprising him.  

Me too.  


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Much More Than the Sum of Her Parts

Two Sundays ago, the Missus and I participated in the annual Tunnel to Towers 5K Run/Walk in New York City.  It is an incredible event - a labor of love bestowed upon all of us who take part in it, and all of those who are the recipients of the Siller Foundation's great works - by the family of FDNY Firefighter Stephen Siller, who was one of the 343 members of the FDNY who was murdered on September 11, 2001 at the World Trade Center.  

FF Stephen Siller was only thirty-four years old when he was killed on that terrible Tuesday.  In addition to his older siblings (he was the youngest of the seven Siller Sibs), he left behind his wife Sally and the couple's five children:  Jake, Stephen, Katherine, Genevieve, and Olivia.  

Yesterday morning, I had the pleasure and the privilege of coming across an essay that Olivia Siller, a student at Manhattan College, wrote entitled "The Life of a 9/11 Kid".  It is, in my estimation, among the best pieces of writing I have ever read, not only on the subject of September 11, 2001 but, on the far more involved and complicated topics of mourning, grieving, and carrying on.  Far too many children - including those who knew nothing of each other's existence - simultaneously became conscripts in an army to which not a single one of them wanted to belong:  The Army of 9/11 Kids.  

She writes (speaking of the aforementioned "Army"), "We've never seen September 12th."  Invest the several minutes required to read her piece and to digest it.  When you do, be ever mindful of the presence of mind required to marry such words and such ideas and then, even if it for just a moment, remember that the one doing so is, herself, still just a young woman.  

An extraordinary young lady.  Simply extraordinary. 



Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Playing for Keeps

Here's to being grateful that Joe Girardi earns his living as the Manager of the New York Yankees and that I do not.  Whether the Yankees manage to do tonight something that they managed to do just once during the final week of the regular season, which is win a game (and not just any game but the game that they must win in order to continue their season), I do not know.  I know that I shall be rooting for them to win.  I also know that wishing for one's success is not a guarantee that one shall succeed.  

I also know that I shall be rooting very hard for CC Sabathia to succeed.  Whether he shall I know not.  If one believes in the old adage that the first step is admitting that one has a problem that requires assistance, then he has made it through the batting order once without getting nicked for as much as a single hit.

To earn the win, however, he needs to complete five innings.  That means, of course, he has to negotiate his way through at least one more time through the other team's order.  The second go-round is rarely as easy as the first.  Success is dependent upon more than just one's fastball.  It is dependent upon heart, guts, and resiliency.

I hope for his sake and for that of his family that those three qualities, which have served him so well between the white lines of the baseball diamond for more than a decade, do likewise for him now.

For at day's end, irrespective of the level at which one competes, baseball is just a game.

Life is not.


Monday, October 5, 2015

Blowin' in the Wind

There are few places I enjoy as much as the Shore in the off-season.  This weekend was very interesting, weather-wise.  An unnamed Nor'easter spent Friday and Saturday making a name for itself in the State of Concrete Gardens.  It brought rain and wind with it.  Lots of both to boot.  

In our neck of the woods, the wind was far more of a "thing" than was the rain.   It made for one extraordinarily entertaining run on Saturday afternoon.  I headed north up Ocean Avenue to the Shark River Inlet.  From our driveway to the bridge that connects Belmar to Avon is a 1.4 mile jaunt.  On Saturday afternoon it was close to the hardest 1.4 miles I have ever run.  

The wind blowing out of the northeast was blowing consistently at 30+ miles per hour.  It came at me with sufficient vigor that as I ran into it, it damn near stood me up straight on at least three occasions. It was a hard run.  

But it was a fantastic run.  I was out and about enjoying my surroundings and was doing so in the company of others - out in the elements doing exactly what I was doing, which was enjoying the hell out of ourselves.  

And the run home with a 30 mile tail wind was not half bad either.  


Sunday, October 4, 2015

Super Gov, Joaquin, and the Magic Fleece

I would like very much to be one of those people who expresses faux outrage over the fact that Joaquin, advertised as the Angry Boyfriend of Sandy, spun its way into being the Hurricane that Was Not for those of us here in the State of Concrete Gardens over the course of these past couple of days.  I simply cannot.  As an initial consideration, the Missus and I have spent a very relaxing week during each of the past two winters relaxing on Grand Bahama Island.  Having seen on television the damage Joaquin brought to the good people who call that part of the world home, I cannot pretend - for even an instant - that we were somehow cheated by Mother Nature. 

Candidly, the very name Joaquin injected my heart with home than a mere modicum of fear.  Other than Phoenix, the only Joaquin with whom I have ever been familiar was Joaquin Andujar.  In the 1980's, Andujar was a very successful pitcher in the Major Leagues, winning a World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1982 and pitching the Cardinals to the National League pennant in 1985.  But Andujar, who died last month at the too-young age of 62, was described in several tributes written about him upon his death as "fiery", which struck me as an understated way of describing a pitcher whose teammates had to physically restrain him from attacking an umpire in Game Seven of the 1985 World Series.  

Joaquin, Hurricane - not Joaquin Andujar - threatened the State of Concrete Gardens long enough to merit our barnstorming Governor spending consecutive nights within our geographical boundaries.  He spent so much time away from New Hampshire during this past week that he has likely ruined any chance he had this year of establishing residency there in time to score an in-state tuition rate for his next college-eligible child.   

Best of all, it answered the question that had been nagging at all of us who live here and have memories of Sandy burned indelibly into our memories.  

The magic fleece still fits...

Governor Christie - Sea Isle City, New Jersey
October 2, 2015

I for one am relieved.  While he has pursued his dream - you know, the one in which he actually garners at least 4% of the vote in any poll of likely Republican voters, we the people of New Jersey have been footing the bill for his security detail and various other travel expenses.  

At least we shall be spared the expense of a whole new action figure wardrobe as well.