Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Eleven Down

Today is the final day of November.  A year that has inspired a profound amount of emotion begins to breathe its final twelfth starting tomorrow.  For some, 2016's exit from the stage shall be met with applause.  For others still, its exit will be viewed with a sense of wistful sadness.  For me, it will be met with the same reaction as its predecessors have been, which is "Where the hell did the year go?"

I have done what it is I do for a living for close to a quarter century.  I have spent the past two-plus decades defending individuals and entities, private and public, in civil lawsuits.  As a general rule, all of the work I do is captured by the lawyer's measuring stick - the billable hour.  Ah, the billable hour. 

If you think that the notion of tracking your life one billable hour at a time is asinine - in and of itself - then wrap your head around the fact that each hour is broken down into tenths.  At more than thirty-three hundred of them a year, I shall leave it to you to work out the math.  

Me? I am spending the morning in rainy Manhattan taking a deposition for one of my colleagues who spent his Thanksgiving Day weekend breaking the fibula in his left leg.  Poor Duncan is looking at the prospect of spending the winter trying to get around on crutches.  I envy him that not at all. 

That is one whole hell of a lot of one-legged tenths he shall have to navigate.  Better him than me. 


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Egg Noodles and Pot Roast

A nice thing happened yesterday.  After spending the afternoon in Monmouth County - appearing before a judge I do not know very well but like a great deal, Judge Quinn, and running into some old friends who I had not seen in quite some time, I made it home in time to eat dinner with Margaret and Joe.  

I have spent more than twenty years leaving the house at or about 4:00 am at least five days a week.  I have spent that same amount of time not returning home in time to eat dinner with my wife, children, or father-in-law.  Yesterday, however, I spent enough time in Monmouth County that by the time my business there was completed, instead of making the drive back to Parsippany, I headed for home. 

I made it home in time to eat dinner with my now-retired wife and my father-in-law.  A nice change of pace.  And quite a nice way to begin the work week.  

Springsteen is right.  It is the little things that count...

...such as egg noodles and pot roast. 


Monday, November 28, 2016

Saturday Night in a Small Town

Saturday night the Missus and I spent a considerable amount of time in a great place, Downtown Somerville, New Jersey.  Saturday was Small Business Saturday.  It was also the official start of the Christmas season in Downtown Somerville, a celebration that included the arrival of Santa Claus and the lighting of the Christmas tree on Division Street.  

A traditional part of the Christmas season kickoff in Downtown Somerville is the presence of a couple of teams of Clydesdale horses pulling wooden wagons full of celebrants.  Margaret and I have never climbed aboard a wagon - and this year was no different - but we enjoyed, again, watching these beautiful animals do their thing as children and adults alike enjoyed their good work. 

I am a person who annually sits out "Black Friday", an occasion that once again this year I "celebrated" at work.  Candidly, I find the whole day - including but not limited to those places that open their doors on Thanksgiving to get a jump on the festivities - to be incredibly offensive.  On the other hand, I thoroughly enjoy Small Business Saturday.  This year, as it is every year, it was a pitch-perfect way to greet the arrival of the Christmas season.  


Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Book of The Bard

Amongst many things, my mother taught me the dangerous
but timely lesson that there is a love seemingly beyond love,
beyond our control, and it will take us through our lives bestowing
blessings and curses as they fall. It will set you on fire, confuse you, 
drive you to passion and extreme deeds, and may smite the 
reasonable, modestly loving parts of who you are. Love has a great 
deal to do with humility.  In my parents' love, there was kindness, 
a beyond-human compassion, an anger, a compulsive fidelity, 
a generosity and an unconditionality that scorched everything
in its path. It was exclusive. It was not humble. 
It was their love. 
-Bruce Springsteen

One of the great pleasures of my life - for the past four decades or so (ever since Bill introduced me to his music) - has been Bruce Springsteen's music.  For as long as I have loved his music, it has been his use of language - even more than the music that accompanies it - that has bonded me to it and, by extension, to him.  

That being said, he has never written anything that has spoken to me - or shall resonate with me - as has his autobiography, "Born To Run", which I finished reading yesterday.  As a man who is - to grossly understate the point - somewhat walled off emotionally (it is not an exaggeration to say that I have cried less than ten times in the thirty-five years since my father's death), I was profoundly moved by innumerable passages in the book.  He wrote of his father - and their relationship - in words that I have searched for for close to a half-century to describe my relationship with my father, during which we shared just a bit more than fourteen years.  

Those whose love we wanted but could not get, we emulate.  
It is dangerous but it makes us feel closer, 
gives us an illusion of the intimacy we never had. 
It stakes our claim upon that which was rightfully ours but denied.  
- Bruce Springsteen 

For me, childhood ended on a warm, not-quite-yet-officially summer morning thirty-five and one-half years ago.  I have lived almost three and one-half times as long (and counting hopefully) without him as I lived with him.  Fortunately, long after he bade us farewell, Mom continues to be pound-for-pound the toughest old Irish broad around.  Eighty-eight years old and still living life on her own terms.  She is, and remains, the first great gift of my life, without whom nothing that I have achieved, professionally or personally, would have been possible. 

We honor our parents by carrying their best forward 
and laying the rest down. By fighting and taming the demons 
that laid them low and now reside in us. 
It's all we can do if we're lucky.  I'm lucky.  
I have a wife I love, a beautiful daughter and [a handsome son].  
We are close.  We do not suffer the alienation
and confusion I experienced in my family.  
Still the seeds of my father's troubles
lie buried deep in our we have to watch. 
-Bruce Springsteen 

Reading Springsteen's book was, for me, an experience that was nothing short of cathartic.  I thank him for writing it.  I shall remain forever in his debt for having done so.  


Saturday, November 26, 2016

Forward Goes The Buffalo

Tonight, under the lights at Folsom Field in Boulder, Colorado, Sefo Liafau shall lead his Colorado Buffaloes teammates out onto their home turf one last time.  He is a senior.  Other than when injuries (such as the lisfranc fracture that brought about a premature end to his junior season) have kept him out of the lineup, he has been his team's quarterback since the fifth game of his freshman year, when Coach Mac inserted him into the maelstrom that was a 54-13 annihilation at the hands of the Arizona State Sun Devils.  From that point forward, things did not improve substantially for the remainder of the 2013 season, which ended with the Buffs finishing 4-8.  

The 2014 season was another lost fall in the Flatirons.  The Buffaloes lost ten of their twelve games, including the final eight.  And last season, they finished 4-9...dropping their final five games.  

At the conclusion of the 2015 season, as they had done at conclusion of each of the preceding seasons, Liafau's teammates - including those who had arrived in Boulder with him as freshman in 2013 and who had endured back-to-back-to-back brutal seasons - started their preparation for 2016.  They did so without their captain and their quarterback.  Sefo spent his spring semester rehabbing from the surgery to repair the lisfranc fracture.  It was unclear whether he would be ready to play when the Buffs played their opener vs. Colorado State in Denver on Labor Day weekend. 

He was.  He played beautifully, throwing for over three hundred yards as the Buffs broke out on top of the Rams 31-0 at halftime in route to a 44-7 demolition of their principal in-state rival.  This year, unlike years past, a season that started with promise has continued along that same trajectory.  Tonight, against Utah, the Buffaloes are playing their twelfth game.  Through eleven games, they have nine victories.  A victory tonight would earn them a berth in the Pac-12 Conference Championship Game next week and a win there would likely earn them the right to play in the Rose Bowl.  

As an alumni who is rapidly approaching the thirtieth anniversary of my graduation from CU, I can say without a second's hesitation that I have been proud of Sefo Liafau, his senior teammates, and the coaches for whom they have played, including but not limited to Coach Mac II, since the time of their arrival in Boulder four years ago.  It is an impossibly easy group for whom to cheer.  They have always represented CU well - even when the results on the field were less than sterling.  And they have never given up.  Not on themselves.  Not on each other.  Not on the task at hand.  From three-quarters of a continent away, I have rooted as hard as ever for them this season and I have reveled in their success.  It has been well-earned. 

Whether tonight, in their final appearance on their home field, and in front of what will undoubtedly be the largest crowd before whom they have ever played as Colorado Buffaloes, Sefo Liafau and his fellow seniors (there are twenty-three seniors on the Buffs roster this year) will be sent off with a win I cannot pretend to know.  I know that if they do prevail tonight, it will be because on this occasion - as it has been on each and every occasion during the course of their careers at the University of Colorado - they have refused to give up, they have refused to give in, and they have refused to quit.  

Admirable qualities in any person, whether a college football player or not, and the qualities that shall serve one well in life - even long after the cheering has stopped and the fans in the stands have turned their attention elsewhere. 

Good luck to them this evening and on all of the evenings that shall follow it.  


Friday, November 25, 2016

Nothing Artificial About It

Thanksgiving around our house was a blissfully quiet day.  The Missus and I took advantage of it and put up our Christmas tree.  We have had the same tree for almost a quarter-century.  Once upon a lifetime ago - before we were married - we had a live tree.  It was terrific.  

And it almost killed me. 

I have a severe allergy to pine or evergreen or whatever the hell it is that live Christmas trees are made of and the one year we had a live tree, by the time Christmas Day arrived, I was in a state of perpetual respiratory distress.  Margaret decided that our home was not big enough for the live tree and for me.  Lucky for me, she ruled in my favor.  

We have had our wonderful, artificial tree ever since we bought it at Caldor - a discount department store that closed its doors more than a decade ago.  It has held up remarkably well.  And it looks beautiful.

It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas at our house.

And not a moment too soon. 


Thursday, November 24, 2016

For Del Griffith, Wherever He May Be

This morning, I shall begin my Thanksgiving as I have begun it for five of the past six years.  I shall make the short drive over to Green Brook to run in the Sixth Annual Patanella's Green Brook Turkey Trot 5K.  It is a terrific, local event.  I spend less than ten minutes each way in the car and twenty-five minutes or so out of the car - and on foot - helping raise money for an eminently worthy cause, Green Brook PBA Local #238.

On my way home from the office last evening, I picked up this year's race garb and bib.  When I did so, I dropped off the bag of canned goods and non-perishable food items (a/k/a "macaroni") that Margaret and I contributed to the event's other terrific cause, which is helping ensure that the local Food Bank remains well-stocked so that when a family in need needs to make a withdrawal from it, the help they need is in fact the help that they receive. 

May your Thanksgiving be spent in the company of at least some of those whom you love most of all and in the company of at least some of those who love you most of all.  Remember - even if just for a moment - that today, and every day, that for every Neal Page, there is a Del Griffith.  

Today, and every day, if you are fortunate enough to be a Neal Page, then try to keep a place in your heart for a Del.  At day's end, each is simply trying to find the way home.  

There is no greater quest that one can undertake.

Happy Thanksgiving...

"Planes, Trains & Automobiles" 
(Final Scene)


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

No Turkey. No Gravy. No Zinfandel Wine.

As I understand it, today is the busiest travel day of the year.  Presuming that my understanding is correct, if you have to travel anyplace today (even a decidedly mundane destination such as work) you shall be keeping company with a significantly large number of other people.  In the words of the late, great Sgt. Phil Esterhaus, "Let's be careful out there."

And for your listening pleasure, a little traveling music...

The in-laws are waiting the games have begun
The cell phone keeps ringing “don’t answer it hon”
The whole thing’s arranged just to aggravate Dad
And it’s amateur day on the old super slab
The kids are strapped down like a half load of pipe
All safe in their car seats they fuss and they gripe
Well you can’t hardly blame ‘em, it must be a Bitch
Counting the crosses off down in the ditch
This one’s got flowers, this one’s got a wreath
This one’s got a name painted down underneath
Was the road all iced up, were they going too fast
Here’s five in a circle left from the last holiday

There’s a three-trailer rig just a throwin’ up spray
Not legal to run on this kind of a day
But god damn the smokies and the four wheelers too
Stay offa my bumpers or the same goes for you
There’ll be none for him
He that wants it the most
As he hauls it on out to the Oregon coast
No turkey no gravy no Zinfandel wine
You just stay over right and we’ll get along fine
He’s missing the football, missing the fun
He’d play with the grandkids but he’s off on a run
And some hat’s on the radio singing his song
But it don’t make a damn
He’s in for a long holiday

Now granny she’s yelling, she’s ready to eat
She’s havin’ conniptions ‘Cause they won’t take their seats
But she’s got ‘em all gathered now under one roof
With her camcorder loaded, she’s gonna get proof
But do you have to wear that? Well I just don’t see why
Please pass the potatoes, Aw eat shit and die.
Did you hear about Ellen, she’s leaving, you know
How ‘bout those Packers, think it’ll snow?
And the minute it’s over they’ll scatter like quail 
Off down the freeway in the teeth of a gale
Silent and shattered and numb to the core
They count themselves lucky 
They got through one more holiday

The highway patrolman, he stands in the rain
He just lets it run down to soften the stain 
Of the blood on his pant leg from working that wreck
And he won’t forget it in time for the next... 

Departing Chicago at 9:52
In clean desert camo all baggy and loose
Sits an Iowa Guardsman alone by the gate
The place sure looked different, in 1968

When he traveled with mom, first time on a plane
To visit some kin, he’s forgotten their names
But he remembers the soldiers, still in their teens 
In their spit polished boots and their pressed army greens
With the creases so sharp, and their faces so smooth
But their eyes looked so heavy, he wondered how they could move

Now he’s got that same look, like his insides are black
He’s in his mid forties and he has to go back
And he can’t even smoke while he waits for his plane 
The uniform’s different, but the mission remains
To do like they tell you, don’t make a fuss
Why’s not an issue, so don’t think too much
You just do what you have to, shut up and drive
If you come apart later, well at least you’re alive
You can get you some help, you can deal with it then
And life will be better, ‘til it happens again 

‘Cause there’s something inside us that won’t let us be 
It stalks through our days ‘til it’s too dark to see 
And it’s damn near as deadly as Texans on ice
Lord don’t they beat all
Y’all have a nice holiday...


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Abbreviation Excitation

Full disclosure demands - I suppose - that I note that I as I write this, the opening tip of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. the Colorado Buffaloes in the first game of the Legends Classic, which is being played this week at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, is several hours away.   Hopefully by the time this piece appears for your reading pleasure (affording that word the broadest possible definition permitted by the Einstein Estate), the outcome shall have been decided.  If not, then I shall be taking on this work day from a significant sleep disadvantage.  Spoiler Alert:  ND 89, CU 83 in a game that, frankly, was never as close as the final score suggests it might have been.

But for the fact that this week is an abbreviated work week, the thought of driving from Parsippany into Brooklyn to watch a college basketball game from which I am guaranteed to not arrive home any earlier than 11:00 PM would have had very, very limited appeal to me.  Even if it was the chance to watch my beloved Buffs, who I last saw play in person during Coach Boyle's first season, which ended in a trip to Madison Square Garden and the semi-finals of the post-season NIT and, furthermore, even if was the chance the watch the Buffs battle the Irish with Jeff Swanson, who is one of my favorite people and a "Double Domer", which is to say he earned both his Bachelor's degree and his JD at ND.   

Fortunately (for all but the bird of honor I reckon), Thanksgiving on Thursday serves to significantly abbreviate the work week.  I am obliged to answer the bell this morning - and again tomorrow morning - but on Thursday, I am not.  Confident that I can ingest enough coffee to keep myself vertical, I availed myself of the chance to spend Monday night in the company of an old friend who I do not see nearly enough of these days. 

Once upon a lifetime ago, Jeff and I were members of the Weiner Lesniak Class of 1998. However, more than a decade ago, he heard opportunity knock and when he stepped through the open door it took him to a new home where I presume he remains content, inasmuch as he has remained there since he left here.  At one time, I had a pretty tight little crew with whom I "hung" at WL, which included Jeff, Gracie, and Devina Joiner.  DJ was the first of the three to leave the firm, which she did in the Fall of 2001.  First Jeff and, then, Gracie followed after her a few years later.  In their absence, this place has never felt the same to me.

It is for that reason that - sleep deprivation be damned - I was happy to spend Monday night in Brooklyn.  I would have been markedly happier had the Buffs won but it is what it is.  At least we had an excellent view from which to take in all of the action.

You most certainly cannot go home again.  Apparently, however, every now and again, you can at least take a slow drive through the old neighborhood.  It may not be all the time that you wish you had to spend but, in the larger scheme of things, it is nothing about which you should complain. 


Monday, November 21, 2016

A Somber Anniversary

He stayed true to his oath to the last,
laying down his life to keep his community safe and his neighbors secure.
I know that his legacy will live on in the proud annals 
of the U.S. Marshals Service and in the memory of his fellow law
enforcement officers from coast to coast. 
- United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch

The "He" of whom Attorney General was speaking was Deputy United States Marshal Patrick Carothers.  On Thursday morning, Deputy Carothers was murdered in the line of duty.  He was performing his duties as the deputy commander of the Southeast Regional Task Force when he was shot twice and killed by twenty-five-year-old Dontrell Montese Carter.  Carter had been on the run since mid-September from charges in Sumter County, South Carolina on charges including attempted murder, domestic violence, and illegally discharging a weapon.  

Patrick Carothers was a member of the United States Marshals Service for twenty-six years.  He is survived by his wife and five children, including his son, Paul, who is a freshman at the United States Naval Academy, and a freshman member of the Middies' football team.  His family shall now live the remainder of their lives without him.  A decision thrust upon them because of his courage in doing something that not everyone - including Your truly - is willing to do, which is run towards trouble rather than away from it.  

I learned of Deputy Carothers' murder from one of his fellow Deputies, Rob.  Thursday was the eighth anniversary of Rob's graduation from FLETC and the commencement of his career in the United States Marshals Service.  For the past eight years, I take a moment to remind myself every day that when your family is a law enforcement family, no day is a routine day.  I take a moment as well to remember Jimmy Malone's first rule of law enforcement and to hope that Rob does likewise.

Condolences to the family of Deputy United States Marshal Patrick Carothers, who died doing something he loved - a job that kept those in his community safe, regardless of their political affiliation, race, religion, creed, sexual orientation, or any other allegedly important identifying characteristic that you might be able to name or identify - including whether he knew them.  A good man was murdered in the pursuit of a bad man.  When you and yours gather around your dinner table tonight, think of Deputy Carothers and the men and women who do what he spent more than a quarter-century doing, and be thankful for him - and for them. 

Deputy United States Marshal Patrick Carothers
End of Watch - November 17, 2016


Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Unruffling of Feathers

Yesterday was one of my favorite days of the fall.  I participated in the annual Turkey Run (f/k/a the Turkey Trot) in Manasquan.  It was quite warm at 11:00 when we toed the starting line on First Avenue.  It felt just as warm slightly more than forty minutes later (40:19 to be exact) when I crossed the finish line five miles later.  

Predictably, November returned to New Jersey this morning.  But, again this year as it has done for each of the past seven years, the weather on race day was incredible.  Under sun-drenched skies and through streets lined with enthusiastic well-wishers, several hundred runners sped our way through the streets of Manasquan. It was - as it always is - a nice way to accelerate the countdown to Thanksgiving.  A gateway to the holiday season if you will.

And a damn nice one too.  


Saturday, November 19, 2016

I Would Not Do Heaven's Work Well

From the Monongahela valley to the Mesabi iron range
To the coal mines of Appalachia, the stories always the same.
Seven hundred tons of metal a day, now Sir you tell me the world's changed,
Once I made you rich enough, rich enough to forget my name. 
- "Youngstown" (Bruce Springsteen)

As I often do, I found myself in need of a shot of Bruce Juice on Friday morning as I - deep into the morning's wee small hours - began my trek north to the office.  I dropped into my car's CD player an "audience created recording" identified as "Rising Tour Highlights, Vol. II".  Among the treasures that awaited me was "Youngstown", which has been among my favorite Springsteen songs since he first released it two decades ago on The Ghost of Tom Joad record.  

Being that the CD I was listening to consisted of nothing but tracks recorded live during the tour in support of The Rising record, I knew that there was no chance of Tom Morello being part of the band that performed it, which meant that zero chance existed of his showoff douchebaggery showing up and fucking up an exquisite song. 

Anyway, a while back - I cannot remember where or when (and while this piece was interesting it was not the one of which I speak) - I read a piece on the Los Angeles Times web site about the interplay between Springsteen, Trump, and the good people of Youngstown, Ohio, which I found extremely interesting - and GOOD NEWS! -  I just found for your reading pleasure.  Reading it, and listening to "Youngstown", which I did on multiple occasions during my morning drive yesterday, I could not help but think of yet another Springsteen lyric from yet another Springsteen song...

Now the hardness of this world slowly grinds your dreams away,
Making a fool's joke out of the promises we make.
And what once seemed black and white turns to so many shades of gray,
We lose ourselves in work to do, work to do, and bills to pay.
And it's a ride, ride, ride, and there ain't much cover, 
With no one running by your side, my blood brother. 
- "Blood Brothers" (Bruce Springsteen) 

Much blood, most of it metaphorical but some of it actual, has been spilled in these United States in the week-plus since the Presidential election.  It saddens me to think that the principal lesson the citizenry of this nation extracted from a campaign that plumbed new depths in its viciousness and in its personal attacks very well may be how to extrapolate those attacks outward from the candidates to the men and the women who voted for them.  In post-Presidential election America, social media is "social" in name only.  

Here is to hoping that with time and with distance, most of the reasons (I am a realist, not Pollyanna, which is why I did not write "all of the reasons") for the fear and loathing that presently dominates the day-to-day shall subside.  It would not be the worst idea in the world for the collective to turn our personal knobs all the way off - or at least far enough down where we stop screaming at each other and begin talking to each other.  

You have no obligation to take my suggestion - and I likely will neither know nor care if you do - but if you do, I suspect that in the long run you shall thank me for having made it.  Understand that I am not suggesting that vigilance should no longer be the watchword of the day.  Frankly, whether you are a cheerleader of - or the declared opposition of - the person atop the totem pole of American politics, vigilance should have always been your watchword.  The elected official you adore can fuck you just as fast as the one you despise.  Never ever forget it.  Never - not even for one moment - doubt it. 

I would suggest, however, for your own peace of mind that you spend a few minutes over the course of the next couple of days (or now if you prefer) doing a bit of reading.  On my recommended reading list for you is this piece from The New York Times Magazine, entitled "This Land Is Your Land: Reflections From Donald Trump's America".  Also, the remarks that Tom Hanks gave the other night at the Museum of Modern Art benefit honoring his career, the full transcript of which you can read here (and I encourage you to do so because they really are quite terrific), or the excerpted piece of which you can read here: 

We are going to be all right. America has been in worse places than we are at right now. In my own lifetime, our streets were in chaos, our generations were fighting each other tooth and nail. Every dinner table ended up being as close to a fistfight as human families are allow. We have been in a place where we have looked at our leaders and wondered, “What the hell are they are thinking of?” We’ve had moments with the administrations and politicians and senators and governors in which we have asked ourselves, “Are they lying to us or do they really believe in this?”

That’s all right. We have this magnificent thing that is in place. It’s a magnificent document and it starts off with these phrases that, if you’re smart enough, you’ve memorized in school or just read enough to that you could put it by heart, or you watched those things on ABC where they taught you a little song in order to sing.
And the song goes, “We the people in order to form a more perfect union established to ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare,” and it goes on and on. That document is going to protect us over and over again whether or not our neighbors preserve, protect, and defend it themselves.
We are going to be all right because we constantly get to tell the world who we. We constantly get to define ourselves as Americans. We do have the greatest country in the world. We move at a slow pace. We have the greatest country in the world because we are always moving towards a more perfect union. That journey never ceases, it never stops.
Sometimes, to quote a Bruce Springsteen song, it’s “one step forward, two steps back,” but we still aggregately move forward. We, who are a week into wondering what the hell just happened, will continue to move forward. We have to choose to do so, but we will move forward because if we do not move forward, what is to be said of us?
Presuming you read either or both of the suggested pieces above, your eyes may need a little break.  Feel free to give them one - as long as you do not turn off your brain just because your lids are in lock down - and use instead your ears in concert with your brain to listen to what Jon Stewart said to Charlie Rose of CBS News the other morning: 

Food for thought abounds, ladies and gentlemen.  Be certain to bring your appetite and grab a seat at the table and prepare to chow down.    

And remember, no talking while your mouth is full.  Nobody wants to see that.  Nobody. 


Friday, November 18, 2016

Nobody Told Him There'd Be Days Like This

If the alarm clock's buzzing this morning precipitated the latest installment of the "Woe Is Me" chronicles, then maybe - just maybe - you should put yourself in the shoes of Gwynedd Mercy University cross-country runner, Justin DeLuzio.  

Free piece of advice:  Make sure they are laced up tight.  Oh yeah, in addition to wearing them, you are advised to strap on a helmet too.

Young Mr. DeLuzio, a 21 year-old senior and a Finance major who aims for a career as an actuary, was running in the final cross-country race of his career at the NCAA Division III Mideast Regional on Saturday, November 12, 2016, when the deer laid him out at or about the one-mile mark of the race's five-mile course.  Being a runner, he did what runners do.  He picked himself up, dusted himself off, and with the help of teammate and fellow senior, Matt French, he completed the race. For good measure, he finished in 31 minutes and 16 seconds.   

One tough kid - and one brand new interpretation of the expression "the agony of defeat". 

Strange days indeed.  Most peculiar Mama...


Thursday, November 17, 2016

Domo Arigato, There Is No Mr. Sabato...

...or Mr. Baio or Mr. Nugent.  

Perhaps, next year the Three HorseAsses of the Apocalypse will be feted by the quasi-maniacal carnival huckster scheduled to take the oath of office as the 45th President of these United States two short months from now.  That presupposes I reckon that Mike Pence and the transition team have actively begun - well, transitioning - by then.  Or, better yet, anyone remains as a member of the team by then.  The rate at which they have been atrophying thus far is more than a bit stunning.  

But I digress.

On the fifty-third anniversary of the assassination of this nation's 35th President, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, this nation shall honor the twenty-one newest recipients of its highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  In its November 16, 2016 Press Release, the White House confirmed that the Poet Laureate of Freehold shall be one of this year's honorees.  It is fitting, perhaps that Springsteen be among this year's Medal winners.  In 2009, at the completion of President Obama's first year in office, Springsteen was one of five winners of the Kennedy Center Honors and the recipient of some truly wonderful remarks, courtesy of President Obama, which included the classic, "I'm the President, but he's the Boss" line:

This year's Medal of Freedom recipients' list represents a wonderful cross-section of all that is extraordinary about this country.  Not only is Springsteen on it, along with Vin Scully, Ellen DeGeneres, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Margaret Hamilton, but the Admiral, Grace Murray Hopper, is on it too.  

Admiral Hopper attended the Hartridge School in Plainfield, New Jersey, which merged with the Wardlaw Country Day School in the mid-1970's to form the Wardlaw-Hartridge School (a/k/a "the Alma mater").  Jill's class, the Class of '83, was the school's graduating class in its Centennial year (Wardlaw having been founded in 1882) and Admiral Hopper was the Commencement Speaker.  If only W-H had had the budget - back in the day - the people seated places other than on the podium next to Admiral Hopper might have heard a single word of her address.  If only...

Wilma has another connection to this year's list.  In 1987, when Jill and Joe graduated from CU-Boulder, the university bestowed an honorary degree on the Sundance Kid, Robert Redford.  I remember - almost thirty years later - how excited Mom was by the fact that Redford was going to be in the Events Center with us.  Somewhere, someplace, she probably still has the blurry picture of him that she snapped off - from half an arena away - when he walked up to accept his prize.  

Whether it has attained "china cabinet" status, I know not, although I certainly have my suspicions...



Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The View From The Spear's Tip

Today, the eldest of the Kenny Family's grandchildren - Jessica (daughter of my oldest sister, Evan) - celebrates her birthday.  I was thinking about Jessica the other day in the context of the soon-to-be vertical expansion of my particular branch of the family tree and the "first born grandchild" status into which Suzanne/Ryan's son shall be born.  She has done yeoman's work all of these years cleaning the field for her cousins.  May the 2017 resident at the spear's tip do as well by his. 

More importantly, may it indeed be a happy day for her and for her family, which includes her life's great love, Billy, Nico, and the single-most photogenic child upon whom the sun has ever shone - Zoe...

Three Generations 
MD 2016

...who hopefully - sooner rather than later - shall outgrow her crippling case of camera shyness.  


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Turnabout, Thou Art A Heartless Bitch

On Saturday afternoon, two NAIA schools, Morningside College of Iowa and Northwestern College of Iowa, rivals in the Great Plains Athletic Conference, met on the home turf of the Morningside Mustangs in Sioux City, Iowa.  Morningside came into the game with an 8-1 record and riding a six-game winning streak during which they had defeated their opponents by scores including 55-13, 70-0, and 69-3.

Northwestern College came into the game with a 4-5 record, including a 4-4 conference mark, and the plucky Red Raiders almost pulled off the road upset of their heavily-favored rival.  With less than two minutes to play in the game, Northwestern scored a touchdown to cut a 14-7 deficit to 14-13.  The Red Raiders eschewed playing for the tie (I mean, who wants to kiss his sister anyway?) but their two-point conversion attempt fell short.  Final score:  Morningside 14, Northwestern 13.  

In the middle of the fourth quarter, with Morningside ahead 7-0 and set up first and ten just outside the Red Raiders' forty-yard line, Mustangs tailback Tyler Kavan found a hole on the left side of his offensive line and rumbled twenty-plus yards, where he was stripped of the ball by Northwestern defensive back Donavan Weldon in one of the niftier defensive plays I have seen so far this season. Weldon took the ball from Kavan while Kavan was still upright and trying to gain yardage.  He simply wrestled it away from him.  An excellent, individual defensive play. 

But wait, there is more.

Undoubtedly aware of the fact that Morningside is a juggernaut and that he and his comrades needed every break they could get in order to win the game, Weldon not only stripped Kavan of the ball, he headed back up the field - towards the Morningside end zone - with all due speed, intent on making a play that would turn the tide of the game.  

He did.  Unfortunately, the direction in which the tide was turned was a decidedly unfavorable one for young Mr. Weldon and his Red Raiders teammates... Weldon crossed midfield, he cut to his left - attempting to angle his way across the middle of the field.  He was about to be hauled down at the Morningside forty-five-yard line when he saw one of his teammates, trailing the play, and running approximately four yards behind him.  Sensing the chance to turn a big play into an ENORMOUS play, Weldon tossed the ball backwards towards his teammate, clearly hoping that his mate would catch the lateral and then run the rest of the distance for the touchdown. 

Except the ball never reached its intended receiver.  Trailing the play, about three or four yards behind the Northwestern player to whom Weldon was trying to throw the ball was the young man who started the ball rolling (or fumbling if you prefer) some ten to fifteen seconds earlier, Morningside tailback Tyler Kavan. Weldon's lateral missed its intended target and nestled, instead, into Kavan's hands.  He caught the ball, running at full speed in the direction of his own end zone, at the Morningside forty-six-yard line.  

His forward (backward?) progress carried him further towards his own end zone but at or about the Morningside forty-two he executed a sweeping turn that re-oriented him back towards the Northwestern end zone.  An end zone from which he suddenly found himself separated by significantly fewer than the Red Raiders' full complement of eleven defenders. Kavan picked up a couple of blockers and his convoy made short work of the only two Northwestern defenders standing between Kavan and the end zone.  

Twenty-five seconds or so after he had initially taken the hand-off, one fumble, one fumble recovery/interception,  and almost sixty yards later, Tyler Kavan scored a touchdown.  

In the span of less than a half-minute, he and Donavan Weldon of Northwestern College provided all of us with an object lesson in the importance of never giving up.  


Monday, November 14, 2016

Life is a Highway

I eased back into the pursuit of putting miles on my legs on Saturday morning.  After having spent five days relaxing post-Marathon, the process of getting back to work began this weekend.  Nothing too extraordinary.  A quick three-mile jaunt on Saturday.  Four miles on Sunday.  After running 26.2 one weekend earlier, running a total of seven miles was not a Herculean task.  

It was nothing more or nothing less than the first step - and the next step - of the never-ending process.  As it turns out, the road really does go on forever.  

Gotta run...


Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Challenger

When I received the alert on my phone the other morning that Leonard Cohen had died, the first person I thought of was my brother, Bill.  Bill is my oldest sibling.  He is the one who took it upon himself to ensure that I learned to read before I was two years old.  I owe him a debt that I can never repay.

It has been a tough week in these United States.  Something that seemed almost impossible proved not to be so.  Now, the future of the greatest nation on this planet appears to have been entrusted to a charlatan - or worse, the ideologue who was his running mate. 

By the end of May, 2017, I shall be a grandfather.  I owe it to my not-yet-born grandson to do all that can be done to ensure that he enters a world worth entering.  

Challenge accepted.  


Saturday, November 12, 2016

For We Could Only Go So Far...

Whoever you've been 
and whatever you've been,
it never leaves you. 
I always picture it as a car.  
All your selves are in it.
And a new self gets in,
but the old selves can't never get out.
The important thing is 
who's got their hands on the wheel
at any given moment? 
- Bruce Springsteen 

Presuming I live that long, in February, 2017, I shall mark my fiftieth birthday.  Note that I did not say "celebrate".  The choice of language was one of deliberate design.  I bear no ill will towards getting older.  I simply choose not to "celebrate" an occasion over which I had little input.  It is for that reason that each year on my birthday I telephone Mom to wish her a happy day.

Through a half-century or so on the planet, I - with my over-sized head - have worn many hats.  I have been a son and a brother for the entirety of my life, an uncle for roughly eighty percent of it, and a husband and a father for approximately half of it.  Although I have played many parts, I am constrained to admit that I have not played any of the parts with particular aplomb.  The two skills I brought to bear on child-rearing were (a) driving the car; and (b) earning the income that guaranteed life as we knew it.  In that respect, I am my father's son.  Sad to say, I left much to desire in practically every other aisle of the parenting department. Suzanne and Rob are the well-formed, productive adults that each of them is because of their own hard work and that of their mother.  

But, now, an opportunity for redemption has appeared on the horizon. 

While the Irish in me would have preferred to have had no one mutter a word aloud about it until his arrival, as Margaret declared on her Facebook page Thursday morning (probably ten seconds or so after Suzanne gave her the go-ahead to do so), Suzanne is pregnant.  The tip-of-the-spear grandchild is expected to arrive in Suz and Ryan's life in the latter half of May, 2017.  

It is my sincere wish that I am a better Pop Pop to my granddaughter (and any and all other grandchildren that may or may not follow her) than I have been a parent to my children, a brother to my siblings, a husband to my wife, and a son to my mother.  It is also, at best, a secondary wish.  My principal wish for this little girl is that she arrives safely and in health equally good to that of her mother.  She and her father, both of whom already love her very, very much, are very excited to meet her.

So is her Pop Pop...


Friday, November 11, 2016

The Loudness of Actions

Today, Veterans Day, is the day set aside to honor this nation's veterans and to thank them for their service to it, whether in peacetime or during a time of war.  Saying "Thank You" is, of course, an important thing that one can do today.  However, as my great grandpa, Phineas, often told me when I was just a wee lad, "Actions kick words right in the balls."  

In the event you are not wearing a cup and would prefer to avoid feeling intense, intractable pain, them might I suggest that you check out any of the following organizations:  (a) Travis Manion Foundation; (b) Hope for the Warriors; (c) the Gary Sinise Foundation; (d) the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation; (e) the Navy SEAL Foundation; (f) Fisher House Foundation; (g) Got Your 6;  and (h) Veterans Village of San Diego.  

The list above is provided for illustrative purposes only and is not designed to represent an exhaustive, all-encompassing list of worthy organizations that are dedicated to the mission of serving our veterans and their families.  If you live or work in the Morris County, New Jersey area, then you might want to familiarize yourself with the great work being performed by Welcome Home Vets of New Jersey, an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization founded by one of my law partners, George T. Hanley.  George served in Vietnam, where he was awarded the Bronze Star for Meritorious Service, and is the type of man and the type of lawyer who gives both groups a good name.  

Let us all do whatever we can to be loud and to remain loud in the support of our veterans.  Not only today, but every day.  


Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Job of the Relay Runner

And one thing you realize quickly in this job is that the presidency 
and the vice-presidency is bigger than any of us.  So I have instructed 
my team to follow the example that President Bush's team set 
eight years ago,and work as hard as we can to make sure that 
this is a successful transition for the president-elect. 

Because we are now all rooting for his success in uniting 
and leading the country.The peaceful transition of power is one of the 
hallmarks of our democracy.  And over the 
next few months, we are going to show that to the world...

...So this was a long and hard fought campaign.  A lot of our fellow 
Americans are exalted today, a lot of Americans are less so, 
but that's the nature of campaigns, that's the nature 
of democracy.  It is hard and sometimes contentious
and noisy and it's not always inspiring...

...You know, the path this country has taken has never been a straight line. 
We zig and zag and sometimes we move in ways 
that some people think is forward and
others think is moving back, and that's OK...

...I've said this before, I think of this job as being a relay runner.  
You take the baton, you run your best race and hopefully 
by the time you hand it off, you're a little further ahead, 
you've made a little progress.  And I can say that we've done that 
and I want to make sure that hand-off is well executed 
because ultimately we're all on the 
same team.
- President Barack Obama 

First things first - to my good friend and running companera, Gidg:  Aloha!  Happy 5-0!  I hope that you spend your birthday having to do far less running than we did on the Sunday immediately preceding your birthday.  You are not as young now as you were then.  Just saying. 

Second, I came across this on-line yesterday and immediately thought of the incomparably great Dave Lackland and his late, equally great reptilian wing man, King Carl.  If you have not seen it, then watch it here for the first time (with the volume up if possible since the commentary is interesting). It is not particularly long but it is damn compelling.  And, maybe just maybe, if you have awakened to find yourself distressed on these past two November mornings, then what transpires in the video at or about the 1:33 mark will serve as a reservoir of hope.  

A harbinger of the fact that there are indeed better days ahead for all of us.  As long as we keep our heads and refuse to succumb to panic...

...and keep at least one eye on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to make sure that the new guy does not drop the baton.