Tuesday, September 19, 2017


Every now and then there is a glitch that involves my TV, DVD player or other piece of electronic equipment that goes haywire. It becomes an issue and then the trouble starts.

We have a TV that the screen is smaller than the picture and we have tried to correct it without success. Some of the image telecasted is off the screen or partially on the screen. You see half a crawl or info you would normally see on anyone else's TV. However, Saturday of this past week TLW (The Little Woman) decided to play a DVD I got her as a gift. My troubles start there.

It seems that once upon a time, TV was simple. You had a TV and an aerial that you planted on your roof like a flag. You ran a brown flat noodle type wire from the aerial down into your house to the TV, then turned on the TV and you were watching. Then slowly things like a VCR player, then a DVR recorder and other electronic devices were invented that required you to re-wire, get new wires and finally a TV that needed to fit the new devices, which in turn needed to be replaced to etc., and so on and so forth, until the back of the TV looks like an octopus ink spaghetti dinner with connectors.

So TLW watched her DVD and in the process decided to unhook and rearrange. This is the ‘Hair hurting method' that she employs so often. This is usually bad for me since she eventually drags me into it and there I am, holding two wires hoping they are live!

I believe that if you are attempting to transform some electrical hookups, try to first understand how it works. Isolate the problem and experiment with what you got. I test the cable, the wires, the TV set, and my sanity. TLW likes to think of herself as a technocrat, while I like to think of myself as a dedicated food taster. Food tasters do not belong in the den behind the TV on his knees with a technocrat in charge. When TLW changed the wire setup she discovered that the TV worked as it was supposed to. We were excited, I even put down my latest testing to applaud her. But still, there was a new problem, we weren't getting Channel 2 well, along with a ton of channels that we used to get! She is now figuring out as she did at 6:00 AM in the morning. I decided to give it a go and start my quest to determine where the trouble stems from.

TLW: "YOU moved some wires, what did you move?"

"I just moved the wires over one notch to see what effect it has on the TV and the fact that we are no longer receiving channel 2."

She starts to laugh at me, destroying my self-confidence and I ignore it, with my self-confidence destroyed.

TLW: "You just move the wires without knowing what you are doing?"

"Hey, If I can get married without knowing what I'm doing, I can move wires!"

WE both decide to give up and call the cable company, who send us a new signal, and everything seems to be back to normal with minor complications like channel 2 comes in but pixelates and stutters.

TLW: "I HATE TO SAY THIS, BUT MAYBE WE SHOULD REBOOT THE TV." I think she loved saying it, myself!

We reboot, and everything seems to be right once again, perusing through all the channels, some of them with speech impediments!

Monday, September 18, 2017


Autumn from the window of kitchen

Autumn is a very nostalgic time of the year for me. Looking back over 60 years ago, peering out of my grandmother's kitchen window, or mom's, there were certain clues to the time of year.

Growing up in an Italian-American neighborhood in Brooklyn, the fall was the most romantic time for nature and the rituals of life. If you looked out the three-story walk-up and went to the kitchen window, which faced the backyard, you would see certain elements of life. One was the long pole that stood in the middle of the garden with three clotheslines strung across to hang the wash of the three families living in the building. I would watch the landlord mount and climb the pole to attach a fallen pulley or wheel to reconnect it, and think how could he climb that high and not fall?

If you looked out, you could see the tower of Our Lady of Lourdes, it's gray high bell tower slowly resonating throughout the neighborhood, wash hanging out all over the backyards announcing the Angelis. Christian, Muslim or Jew, you knew it was noon-time.

There was the last of the tomatoes as they grew imperfectly in looks but delicious in flavor, greenish and red, all destined to someone's windowsill and then jarred for a Sunday sauce.

In the Fall, it was time to harvest the grapes, that time of year when wine and vinegar were magically created and the pride of a man's plot of land and devotion to his past. It was said that if you waited long enough until the first frost, the grapes would be at their sweetest. To present, someone with a gallon of the homemade vino was the greatest tribute one could give.

Grandpa would send over a gallon of homemade vinegar, where Mom would create the most delicious of salads, the taste stemming from the soured grapes!

But the most telling sign, the most defining tradition, and lasting icon was the fig tree! It occupied the most prominent spot in the garden, reigning over the tomatoes, zucchini, parsley and any other produce Grandpa grew. When the tree was barren in the Fall months, the cellar door would open and slowly large pieces of linoleum and cord would appear, slowing transforming the tree's natural shape into a mummy-like figure, as it was swaddled in the old carpet and then topped with a green bucket, with crisscrossed roping, awaiting the harsh winter. It was a sad reminder that the gloom of winter was about to descend upon the Brooklyn, and the casualness of summer would be transformed into the rigors of winter.

But in the end, it all began a cycle of old-world traditions, mostly centered around the Church. There was All Souls Day, All Saints Day, that adopted holiday to Italian-Americans called Thanksgiving, and of course, the Christmas Eve feast of the seven fishes.

It was a great time to be alive and the place was the best, Brooklyn, NY!

Sunday, September 17, 2017


--> Give me a day and everything can go wrong. It doesn't happen in one incident, no it always happens in pairs.

The other morning I was on my way to the gym for my little workout. I drive along the main road that eventually merges into one lane. It is usually about 5:30 AM and there is no one on the road. That fact does not deter me from being careful anyway, especially when approaching the point of the merge.

In front of me was a car doing a reasonable speed probably the actual limit, and I was following him at a safe distance. As we approach my sense of danger alerted me that something was about to happen, and sure enough, the product of his mother and a monkey driving a jeep cut in front of me and tried to get ahead of the car in front of me! AT 5:30 AM THIS MORON IS TAKING CHANCES.

Then later that morning I had to go to the agency to sign checks, as I amble up to the main entrance, I see a lot of people milling about in the vestibule, people that you wouldn't find there, sitting and talking. They all know me and wave, but the automatic doors won't open! I step back and try again, still nothing. I look in and someone is now holding a sign: "WE ARE IN LOCKDOWN!"

To think they were locking me out! The President of the Board is not allowed into the administration building. I start wondering why. Is it the wall I want to build at the Nassau/Suffolk border? Is it because I have a bottle of Russian vodka at home? My cell phone rings and I am informed that some woman scheduled for a 10:30 AM job interview had phoned in ahead to tell the HR person that if things didn't go her way that HR better have good insurance coverage and first aid available.

I manage to get in and enter the building, where I am greeted by the HR director, and sweet lady who is a big asset to the agency and she informed me: The police went to the lady's house and arrested her, she was ill and had a history. I went through the agency and made sure everyone was OK, and I saw the fear in the faces of many of the people I have grown to love over the years, being in that lockdown situation and what it can mean can really get a piece of your mind. They told me that they didn't want me stuck in the building at first, but realized who I am and let me in. I told them that I needed to be in that building, that it involved my people, and if it is danger there, then there is where I need to be.

Saturday, September 16, 2017


Every now and again I have the duty of attending cocktail parties. Cocktail parties are a necessary evil that was designed to keep me humble, self-conscious and on guard at all times during the event. There are parties from work, the agency and different events that I have attended and I hate them all!

Once I enter a building, especially alone, I immediately become self-conscious. Am I walking like a dork or an old man? Are my clothes too big from the weight I lost? God, do I need another haircut again?

I enter and someone directs me to the party and entering I survey the room for someone I know to talk to. I go to the bar and order a Jack Daniels Manhattan while everyone else is drinking white wine. (Bunch of sissies) and so I mingle. Then the finger foods start to show up, a tray held by a young lady or young gentleman who shoves the stuff in your face.
I look at the food and naturally, I'm hungry which is a bad thing. Now I am on the lookout for the tray of finger foods, and if it looks good, I want some. It always seems that when something does look good the dumb-ass forgets to come my way and disappears! Of course, if it looks like it was refused by the alley cats, they come by with it over and over again.

But now a new problem arises. Someone will pass on the miniature fried egg rolls, why, because they are fried, no good for you and drink white wine, while mine miniature egg roll is washed down with my Jack Daniels and is half-way down by now, making for self-consciousness my trademark. I watch to see who is watching, while listening to a conversation, while trying to balance my drink and NOT poke my eye out with the stirrer, hoping nothing drips on my tie or shirt, while wiping my mouth with a flimsy paper napkin all while I try to pop into a conversation with some high-powered business man or educator while wishing I am home with TLW (The Little Woman), my feet are starting to hurt and there may be a speech or greeting I have to make.

By now my back is starting to get unhinged too! I am lost to what the Hell everyone is talking about and damned the waiter, where are those shrimp that looked so good and I didn't get any of? I look for a table to sit at, but that will look bad because it will make me look like I am unsociable, (Which I am) thinking only of food. I can hear them thinking: "Look at that low-life, bereft of conversation but plenty on his plate! I wonder who raised him?" (The same question my Mother used to ask.)

Friday, September 15, 2017


The Board at work!
A few evenings ago, I attended a ‘Kick-off' for a major fund-raising event we hold each year at my agency, AHRC Suffolk. The kick-off invites all those vendors that support the agency all year long to also support our annual Candlelight Ball. At the Ball, we invite a table of program participants who receive services the agency provides, and the Suffolk Board of Directors pays for a table for them to attend. They dress to the nines and enjoy the evening as much as everyone else does.

On the night when we all dress in beautiful gowns and tuxedoes, great cocktail hour, dinner and dessert, everyone gets up and dances to a DJ or live band.  Wheel chairs, canes, and walkers are all present and accommodated to. It is about the participants.

But there is something more to celebrate, the generosity of those vendors, some of whom come year after year to help the agency. Much of the funding is from Medicaid but the rest has to come from fundraising, a difficult task. But we have these ‘Guardian Angels' to constantly rise to the occasion, giving money and services to our cause, puffing up and supporting those who can't support themselves.

Being a parent of a child with disabilities for some many years, I know what the fears are as a parent, I understand the need to provide for the future for my daughter Ellen. Having an agency like AHRC Suffolk to support and give encouragement not only to my daughter but to my wife and I is a God send. It contributes to our ability to put our heads on a pillow and fall asleep at night without fear for our child.

Among this group of guardian angels is a board member who has no one in our programs. He is a strong and vital member of the board and I look to him for advice many times through the course of my presidency. He owns a company and travels a lot to of all places: China. In his company, there are employees that deal with developmental disabilities. This is his policy and always has been. There is no hoopla or fanfare about what he does for these individuals on his or his company's part, just a good man.

I hesitate to give his name since he doesn't know about this blog, and he may not want to be pointed out, but I can say publicly to a private individual: Thank you for my wife, my daughter and all those we serve and the many parents and siblings, from the bottom of our collective hearts.

Thursday, September 14, 2017


Egg creams, mellow rolls, roasted chestnuts, dirty water franks, knishes, all the culture of a 10-year old in the heart of Brooklyn. There were bakeries that baked fresh Italian bread every morning calling you to a new morning. Then on Sundays, pastries shops, Mondays: pickle factories that fed the air with the distinctive smell of Kosher pickles fermenting in big wooden barrels, and of course, ice cream parlors, with their long counters and stools, small tables for two and shoemakers, when you enter you smell the fresh cut of leather and shoe shine polish.

You couldn't go through a neighborhood without the smell of pizza! Italian restaurants seeded with the cooking style from the old country, you could go through the streets and find a beer maker or two, all lending themselves that distinct beer hops odor that permeated both the streets and bars, life was an orgy of wonderful smells.

That was Brooklyn in the 1950's, almost a food festival from sunup until sundown.

Of course, it wasn't just food. No, there were the fig trees and the grape vines that carried over the pond from the homeland, be it Italy or Germany or anywhere in Europe. There was the pride of making your own wine and bottling it by the gallons.

You hopped on a subway and the odor of the steel rails squeaking against the steel wheels of the IND or BMT as they plowed into the station. You could jump on a bus and head into NYC, Queens and the Bronx, you could go anywhere you wanted.

There were at least three Catholic churches and two Catholic schools all within walking distance, as well as the public elementary schools, junior high and high schools.

Mom and pop were the foundations of the neighborhood, from the kitchen table to the local store. Delis, bakeries, vegetable and fish stores and shoemakers, as well as dress shops and jewelry stores, all owned by mom and pop.

And the parks, so many and so green amongst the concrete jungle and overhead rails, dot the country bringing relief and calm to an otherwise hectic and busy life.

If you never lived in Brooklyn I wish you had, it was a special place in a special time.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017


Yes, the media had a field day! With the help of Irma, the Hurricane, they had a major event.

What can lift a lazy weekend for a New Yorker than some kind of catastrophe the media needs to cover? People in need of help? Let's get a camera on that! Winds and gusts dangerous? Let's get a reporter in that! Devastation and cruel faith to homes and businesses? Let's pan the mess, all for you and your viewing pleasure.

On all the TV stations that covered Irma, they all had the same scenario, reporter fighting for his life, red patches of color across the screen and endless interviews, asking the same questions and reporting the obvious, trying to build tensions and fear in everyone who views.

How can the media heads allow these reporters to go into the teeth of the storm and report? What does it do to the story when the poor guy is already disheveled and drenched, not wearing a hat and his feed going in and out?

The reporting from the news room is just as bad. I guess there are too many nice weather days and life is boring. Once the event becomes news-worthy, the reports become fast paced and the excitement in the reporter's voice reaches a new height, and eventually, he hyperventilates or goes into an orgasmic state, eyes fluttering and arms in the air.

But the best they save for last. The next morning after the media all over the world reported that Irma is the worst hurricane ever, with wind speeds at 175 mph and gusts of 225 mph, a young woman, maybe 25 years of age is interviewing an elderly couple in a shelter. The elderly lady is 96 and he is 98. They are both distressed and the lady is on the verge of tears, and this young brilliant lady, without any experience, asks this question:

"Is this the worst storm you ever saw?"

Tears flowed from the elderly lady, and I don't know if they were from the devastation and possibility of their home wiped out, or the stupidity of the reporter's question.