In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “A Moment in Time.”

Yesterday my wife Danielle and I took the kids up to Erie golf course on Old Zuck for some sledding. None of them had ever been there so I thought it would be fun instead of going to Frontier park which is usually packed, especially on a day off school. Normally this isn’t anything significant, except one thing: I had never taken my kids sledding.

I’m not sure how it happened this way. It seems that sledding was a staple of life when I was a kid, we went all the time. Marian had gone only once to my knowledge, with her Mom and grandparents. In seven years. Seven years! At least I got Evelynn out at four, so I’m not a terrible parent for her (not that Marian would ever think that over sledding).

Last winter was too cold, so this winter I’ll make up for it, I promise!

My diet is trash
      A dumpster fire of fat
Extinguish with food

I just saw on the news that Cathedral Prep bought the Hoffman Rigging property to expand the facility and add “a few hundred parking spots”.
That’s all well and good for the people that go to that facility, but for the other 240,000 people who live in Erie County I’d like to ask a few questions that Sean Lafferty failed to answer in his cheerful reading of this news item:
1. What’s happening to Hoffman Rigging? I personally did business with them last year. It seemed things were going well there, the ladies in the office were very cheerful. Do they still have a job? I’d guesstimate that they might have twenty or so employees. I certainly hope this hasn’t been at their misfortune.
2. What is the Catholic Diocese going to do to offset the lost property tax revenue to the city, school district, and county? Yet more property off the tax tools while Mrs. Dahlkemper raises taxes on the homeowners. Additionally this is income tax revenue the city is likely losing. Our elected representatives need to get on this ASAP. I’d like to hear from Jay Breneman, as he seems to be willing to engage the public and answer questions honestly (I’ve appreciated that in past discussion). I don’t know of any city council members on Facebook that might be willing to read this.
3. Why wasn’t this move publicised as their initial purchase of the main property was? Surely this at least requires a zoning change, I do believe council would have to approve that. Again, where do they stand on this issue?
I’m sad to see more bread taken off the table in the city while more and more look to get a piece.

Let me be clear, first off.  The behavior of a small group NFL players is deplorable, and it’s been deplorable for a long time.  I, in no way, support domestic abuse.  Additionally, I don’t support people being publicly executed on the airwaves without adequate evidence.

I’m an avid sports talk radio listener, certainly more than I watch SportCenter etc. in any given week.  Primarily I listen to John Feinstein, Dan Patrick, Jim Rome and Jay Mohr.  Occasionally Doug Gottleib sneaks in.  Lately I’ve had to flip back to FM for most of the day, and I don’t like it one bit.  I fully understand the need to bring the behavior of these men to light, but the vitriol is uncalled for, especially on the parts of Mr. Rome and Mr. Mohr.

I’d like to address these two men directly.  Please, dear sirs, espouse us your wisdom.  I’d like to hear more about how your lives are perfect, how you’ve never met adversity.  How you’ve never, ever, not once, made a reprehensible mistake.  Since you’re without sin I’d like you to take this:

This rocks.

This rocks.

Go ahead fellas, lift it up and cast thine stone at the transgressors.  Have at it!  What are you waiting for?!  Go on!

What are you waiting for?

Could it be you two preachers have made mistakes?  I’d not be so bold as to imply either of you have ever done anything like laying your hands on a woman or a child.  I would however contest that you’ve made a few mistakes, big mistakes, along your path that you’d like back, as we all have.  I don’t think anyone jumped to the full conclusion against all these recent transgressors, Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, Greg Hardy, Ray McDonald and Jonathan Dwyer.  Again, I’m not defending them, what I’m here to defend is due process, forgiveness, and education.

Many NFL players first cite their difficult upbringings and broken homes as where they got their work ethic and drive.  However, that’s not all that comes from that scenario.  Many of these men may not have been taught at any point how to be a man, let alone how to be a father.  You two are both fathers, and good ones.  Who do you attribute that to?  Watching the Brady Bunch?  This isn’t simply an NFL problem, it’s a societal problem, and by executing these men in the court of public opinion, “you’re not helping them Rome, you’re hurting them.”  When you do what you’ve done, which is destroy these men in your platform, you’re stifling the problem.  More people will be afraid to speak up about their problems, including wives and children.

Help and education are the only way to fix this problem.  Destroying their lives only makes the problem worse, destruction begets destruction.  Allow the punishment to be doled, by law enforcement, and the morality police, er, NFL, and allow these men to be advocates against domestic violence.  Perhaps education on the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption?  On never laying your hands on your family?  In the case of Adrian Peterson, “the way I was raised” defense is very real and valid.  Sure it does not make it OK to do, but he doesn’t know any other way.  Did you know that more african american families employ capital punishment than any other group, especially the use of foreign objects?  Did you know that for centuries these people were punished by whipping?  Didn’t think of that, did you.

I implore you to gather facts and allow the story to play out before you make your judgements, gentlemen.  Even in the course of your shows today it came out that Dwyer committed his crime, and then at the end he’s getting a mental evaluation.  That certainly changed your tune, didn’t it Jay?  Suddenly, he’s a victim too.  How many times before that (since I admittedly didn’t listen to the show) did you lambaste him, and allow your callers to throw him under the bus?  I implore you, stick to your jobs.  Discuss sports, not societal politics.

Accept everything about yourself – I mean everything, You are you and that is the beginning and the end – no apologies, no regrets.
– Henry Kissinger

I’ve always had a conceptual problem with having “no regrets”.  Perhaps it’s a personal problem, but I doubt that.  “No” is the part that’s troublesome to me.  No regrets?  At all?  Seems alien to me, no regrets, this absolvency of conscience.  I don’t think I particularly feel more or less about the past than most others, I’m average in a great number of departments and I’m really ok with that (hell, there’s areas I’ve chosen that path intentionally).

Mr. Kissinger is widely respected.  I disagree with 3/4 of his statement, which is primarily why I chose to lead my post with it.  “Accept everything about yourself”, do this.  Do this with fervor and vigor and live every day as you and only you.  I spent many years trying to be something I wasn’t generally unbeknownst to those around me and I only found myself in a “happy place” when I dropped the guise and realized who I was, what I can do, and focused on these things and quit trying to change me.  “You are you and that is the beginning and the end- no apologies, no regrets.”

 

Horse shit.

 

I am me, start to finish, but this statement implies that what I am is unchangeable and forever and that just flatly isn’t true.  I can change me, it’s not easy, but I can.  I’ve done it several times.  Over the course of these nearly thirty four years I’ve resided on this rock I’ve seen and done a few things, though not nearly as much as I think many of my cohorts have done, and I’d like to apologize to some people.  Unfortunately, some of those people, I cannot.  I regret that.  I regret decisions I made and now I have to live with them until my beginning becomes my end.  No matter how I change myself for the better, which I strive to do at every opportunity, I have to do it in light of those regrets so I do not repeat those mistakes.

Perhaps it’s a different moral compass, perhaps it’s a nonchalant mindset, whatever it is, some people seem to be able to live without regret.  I can’t help but see it as irresponsible, but those without regret wouldn’t agree with me, I think they’d see my regret as a waste.  Mistakes are made by everyone, and a lesson can be learned by each and every one.  A few of those mistakes can make an indelible mark upon a life.  Upon several lives.  Upon many, many lives.  Tao teaches us that we are at the whim of fate, but we may shift that fate.  A paradox, really.  I truly believe that I could have ended up at the place I am now, with the wonderful family I have, through a myriad of choices over the years.  Unfortunately for me along this road I’ve traveled there are several things I regret, a real, true regret that I would give anything to go back and change because while it wouldn’t necessarily do anything to improve my current situation, it sure would make me feel a hell of a lot better about how I got here.

Being afraid of regret can set you up for failure in a tentative life where you never do anything, nothing is accomplished, and then you die.  Being mindful of regret, however, is smart.  To me, rolling through life ignorant of consequence isn’t feasable.  If you’re lucky, you can make one of those apologies Mr. Kissinger disdains, avoid a great regret, and move on your path to whatever fate may hold, but if not, regret can be a powerful tool to remind you to not make that same mistake again before that lamentation becomes an indelible mark on your own life.

Last season, I kind of allowed myself to gush, to wax poetic on the childhood dreams, to revel in the playoff run that shouldn’t have been so surprising if you were paying attention.  I currently find myself with a bit of apprehension; should I allow myself to be so excited for “Your 2014 Pittsburgh Pirates”?  The short answer: YES.

Prognostication isn’t my business and it usually ends poorly for me especially when I talk about things on Facebook.  It’s uncanny how often my bragging seems to result in a meltdown, an embarrassing loss and ridicule from my friends who are fans of the opponents (A.K.A. the Raiders).  Typing out what I want to happen, what I feel can happen won’t help anyone here, but I’ll do it anyway.  I really think that the Pirates can make it.

Make it?

Yes, make it.  Make it all the way, make it to the World Series and make it to a win and make it back to prominence in the city of champions.  This isn’t a prediction, I just know they have what it takes and that all starts with Clint Hurdle.  He made it in Colorado of all places and when they hired him I knew he could do it here.

Following that, the lineup is filled with talent.  Deep, rich talent that permeates the farm system.  Drafting and acquisitions have been keen under Neal Huntington and are paying great dividends.  Everything that big-money teams like the Angels, Rangers, Mariners and Yankees can’t figure out how to master, the exception being the Red Sox who learned the Billy Beane way and have out-Oaklanded the Athletics.

Today’s heroics by the one guy who lives the dream of every single boy who grew up a Pirate fan, regardless of age, are certainly motivating and perhaps a preamble to this season.  Perhaps the Buccos have trouble with Smadjanotgonnaworkhereanymore every single time they face him including when they gave up one of his two career homers.  Opening day requires a temperance because it’s the most exciting day across the league because everyone has hope and dreams.  I think what has made this opening day different isn’t the 10th inning walk-off, the team record tying 10 KO’s from Liriano, it’s that hope has been replaced.

Hope has been replaced with confidence, swagger, and expectation.

#raiseit #letsgobucs

Penguins

 

DON’T PANIC

Yesterday I defied the heading you just read.  I’ve been frustrated with the Penguins performances lately, and whilst I’m not watching every game, I try to follow the team as close as time allows and watch games whenever I can, albeit most often just the 2nd and 3rd periods.  I encountered an article that proposed an argument of why the Penguins should fire Dan Bylysma and didn’t disagree with it.  I still don’t.  Problematic to me is that it’s not all his fault, I don’t blame him for last year, that was on Ray Shero.  He took a pick axe to the locker room chemistry.  It’s been tried before and failed, but it worked when last the Pens won the cup; Bylysma coached up Therrian’s team, who had lost the locker room.

Every local sports area has the iconic guy that people either love or hate.  Usually that guy is decidedly negative and always has a crappy opinion about everything, and how it’s all terrible.  If you’re not a Pittsburgh sports fan, this guy is Stan Savran.  He’s the guy who never quit waiting for the other shoe to drop during the Pirates run to the playoffs, and when they lost in the divisional round espoused “I told you so’s” like manna for the people.  During the Pens pregame I’m watching he came on to talk about how terrible they’ve been since the Olympic break.  In the graphic they showed, pre-Olympic Penguins were 6th or tied for 6th in goals, power play goals and assists (respectively).  Post-Olympics, they’re tied for 4th in goals with 9, 2nd in power play goals with 3, and last in assists with 12.

I hate being on the side of Stan Savran, and I’m not after seeing that graphic.  Statistically they’re not worse, it’s just that the pressure is on.  The assist statistic is the sole reason that they’re losing games.  I’ve never seen anyone pass more poorly, at all, ever.  They may as well intentionally be passing it to the opposition because at the rate they miss their passes they’d be more likely to hit their own player with the puck.  #1, #2, #3 on what to fix is passing.  The rest are defense.  I understand he’s not going to give up the ghost on dump and run, push to the blue line and hope for the best style of offense, but if you can’t pass it’s just not going to work.  I’m not going to panic, I’m going to hope that I can spend my birthday watching the Pens competing for the Stanley Cup.

Snowflakes start falling
      Like an afterthought in Spring
Wish they’d go away.

I am terrible at planning meals.  Awful.  I think about meals ahead of time quite often, as I do enjoy cooking and the satisfaction of a job well done, when you take that first bite and everything has come together perfectly, is wonderful.  Unfortunately the best way to achieve that result is to plan, to shop, to set time aside and prepare hours in advance; that’s not how I operate.  The other day we had a surprise pot roast for dinner thanks to the in-laws generous donation, however it wasn’t cooked with vegetables and potatoes (this ended up being a good thing).  Obviously a great portion of this went uneaten.  The next night we had boiled sausage and cabbage, and since our girls don’t eat cabbage, they had green beans for a veggie.  We never use all the cabbage, so I saved that, and the girls didn’t eat all the green beans (lightly seasoned with garlic salt).  I now had an idea.

Today is another winter day off, as close to personal days or vacation days as I get in my line of work.  As long as there aren’t too many of them and they don’t affect the bottom line too heavily, I try to take advantage of them.  Clearly this was a wide open window of opportunity to execute the beef stew I contemplated the other day.  Three of my ingredients were ready to go, I even saved all the juices and simple gravy from the roast.  What to fill it out with?  My wife and I have been trying to eat “clean”, or at least as clean as we can stand, so potatoes are  a no-no.  A-ha!  Sweet potatoes!  Carrots!  Onion!  Excellent!

I took a whole onion, chunked half of it and petaled the other, and browned it lightly in 1 Tbsp of vegetable oil.  In went the leftover pot roast, and two cups of water.  Then for the sweet potato, I took a monster one out of the bag (equivalent of two mediums probably), scrubbed it but didn’t peel, and made 1/2″ cubes.   In went the chopped carrot.  It was all brought to a slow boil, stirring occasionally, and left to simmer for about a half hour (I hate crunchy carrots in stew/soup).  In went the green beans, which was maybe 1 1/2 c, and the cabbage, which had filled a chinese food soup container, the tall one for won ton, yes that’s an official measurement.  Ground sea salt and pepper to taste, left to simmer a bit longer to warm the rest of the veggies.

wpid-IMG_20140313_124742.jpg

 

Wow, I really impressed myself!  I was never great at sports, and always played on crappy teams which may have been my fault, but I think this is what winning tastes like.

I didn’t even make it one week.  Ten days ago I promised you, dear reader, a new post every week this winter.  A delayed resolution as it were.  Clearly I didn’t do this.  In my defense, my “slow season” has not arrived and I’m not complaining about it at all.  Lamenting, sure, complaining, no.  The winter months are the closest I get to having any sort of vacation time as I am self employed and cannot allow for such luxuries.

This is a double edged sword.  If there is no work, I have extra time.  Unfortunately this also means that I have zero income.  That’s a problem I’ve got to resolve.  I’m going to find a fix for it this year and I hope I’m working towards that goal.  One actual resolution I made for the new year was to take a vacation.  A real vacation.  I want to get on a plane or drive for hours and hours and end up at a great destination and stay in a hotel and have fun and relax.  Most of my “vacations” recently consist of driving for a few hours, sleeping, and driving back the following day.  This is unacceptable and quite honestly I feel my family deserves more.  I know my Dad wanted me to take this business and “do better” with it, and even though he didn’t know it this is something I consider better.  He never took enough time for himself, and conjointly, us.  We took many family vacations without him and I’ve already sent my wife and kids on short excursions without me (not over night… yet).

Friends and family have invited us to visit countless times over the years and have been rejected so many times I think most have stopped.  Watch out, maybe it’s your year.

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