DelBloggolo

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

HOW TO KILL THREE AND HALF HOURS AND REMEMBER SOMETHING


As you know by now, I make a trip up to Albany twice a year to attend a statewide meeting of all 55 chapters of NYSARC (Formerly: New York State Association of Retarded Children). It lasts for a few days in both the early spring and mid-autumn.

To get there we occasionally fly and mostly drive, making the drive in those three and one-half hours with one stop on the thruway. So what do 4 men talk about in that time: sports, children, business and our wives. and of course: medications.

There is one caveat for me in all these discussions: have some fun and make people laugh. One thing that scares me is sitting for that long and being serious, I need to laugh and have a good time. Fortunately for me, the guys are all good sports, funny when they want to be and we all laugh along. These are 3 very intelligent men, good hard workingmen at one time, who are now good and retired! Except for one, my old friend Ken. Ken is in his 70’s and looks like he is in his 60’s, plays tennis and skies, is skinny and I hate him. (Kidding)

But with his youthful vigor, skinny body and wonderful personality, his wife has resorted to pinning his keys to his sleeve. It seems that he is always losing his keys and or cell phone! Yes, strong and healthy body, but unfortunately, he drifts. Yes drifting is his passion, forgetful, maybe, but he did contribute one thing to the mix. He introduced me to Arthur Avenue and Little Italy! Yes, the man has introduced us to pork chops with vinegar peppers, and a glass of red. He eats rabbit, a habit he learned from once forgetting his address and having to live off of the land.

Although he is all set and connected with his keys on the way up to Albany, he is not on his way home. This is when we all worry. No one pins his keys on him and so we fret and worry. However this time he is driving and this means he needs to remember, he can’t leave Albany without remembering his keys. So we will call him on his cell right before we leave, even if he is sitting with us.

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Monday, April 29, 2013

A ROOM FILLED WITH ANGELS


There are churches and temples and mosques, all filled with people who pray to a deity of some kind, usually the same god, in spite of their good intentions, and their devotion there are no angels that mass together, no angels to greet you collectively, and no angels that you can see.

But if you go by chance and pass the building that seems to be standing on its spot forever, you will recognize it and realize it seems to have stood there forever. It overlooks a corner on the south side of Rte. 454 A.K.A. Veteran’s Memorial Highway in Bohemia. In that building seems to be my church, my place of worship, where I engage in devotions to God for his kindness in putting all these angels together so a mere mortal like me can see them and reach out and touch them.

I speak of course of the staff that is employed there, the people who really are angels, a gift from God, a gift for the parents and siblings of people with developmental disabilities, who must find special care, for special needs of their child or sibling. And so he sends special people. They may not all work directly with people with special needs: they may replace a light bulb, or type a memo, or organize a brochure, or even keeps records.

I speak of the staff that works so hard with the tools of love and understanding, of deep dedication and devotion, all with a sacred mission, to help fulfill a life less fortunate than theirs. They do this so many times a day, for so many lives!

Recently the agency that uses the building and employs these angels: AHRC Suffolk, celebrated their staff at a luncheon held at a popular eatery and catering hall: Mamma Lombardi’s. This restaurant, of which I am proud of, has been a giver of hope and love, and an aid to these angels, helping the agency to raise money for those like my daughter can have a better life, one she deserves, one she would not have otherwise if it weren’t for the angels, and the owners of Mamma Lombardi’s. I won't tell you about it if you haven't tried their food, I would strongly encourage you do try the best of the best in fine old-world Italian tradition.

It is my favorite event that is held by the agency. It gathers together all the 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30-year employees and celebrates their dedication and wonderful work with a delicious lunch and the awarding of tokens of appreciation for their service.

Some of my favorite angels are at this table!
These angels look like ordinary people, you look at them at first glance and he or she may be your neighbor, maybe your friend or family member. They cluster together and emit an unbounded joy, a camaraderie and love for their fellow co-workers as they gather at a table to enjoy their ‘Staff Appreciation Day’ and each other.

But there is a leader or two that bring the angelic gathering together, two people who have been around spreading their own wings for 30 years. I speak of course of both the CEO and the COO who guide this wonderful group of people.

Lisa Bockener
One is a very intelligent and dedicated woman, who has this tremendous motherly side when she isn’t the COO, who brings a steadiness and sense of love, when she steps away from her office and ventures out to the many group homes, or Intermediate Care Facilities, or strolls through the workshop. She stops or gets stopped by the many people she is dedicated to serve, who love her back, and she engages in eye-to-eye conversation and respectfully addresses them, with a women’s touch. A beautiful thing! Her name is Lisa Bockener, but she really is an angel, someone who watches over.


Bill Leonardi (he's leaning down!)
Then there is the head angel, hand-picked by God himself! You can’t miss him: he towers over everyone in size, spirit and humility. A man in appearance, an angel in reality, don’t look for his wings, don’t expect to hear bells or choirs or see heavenly rays. Bill Leonardi does things in his own special way. He is a great mind, a talented visionary who leads in many ways. A few years ago, when the board of director’s appointed me to be on the search committee to find a new CEO, Bill interviewed for the job. Having known Bill for years as the controller, his occasional attendance at a meeting of the board, would impress me with his finger-tip knowledge of the facts and figures needed to run the show. When I saw this man was interviewing for the job, I thought: “OK - why not?” He blew me and everyone else on the search committee away, and with guns blazing, opened up the interview by announcing he was ready to step out of the shadows. That told me that he was comfortable all these years with himself, and there was much more under the surface than ANYONE realized.

As a CEO, one would never know his title. Self-effacing, he kids about himself and his looks. He is humble, almost papal in manner, and is universally loved by staff, those we serve, and board members. He inter-acts with people and always has a kind word, smile or encouraging remark. A good man, yes, but an angel!

We as an agency are fortunate that 30 years ago, we hired our CEO Bill Leonardi and COO Lisa Bockener, both have given so much over the years, and will give so much in the years to come to those they serve, their staff, people with disabilities and the parents and siblings of those people, and the whole community.

Just some of the angels
To the staff of AHRC Suffolk: Thank you for being there for me and my wife and sons, but most importantly for my daughter who benefits everyday by your angelic devotion to her, in your kindness, professionalism and love. We parents and siblings rests our heads in peace and security knowing, God has not let us down, he gave us you.

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Sunday, April 28, 2013

I HAVE MY RELIGIOUS SIDE


Twice a year I go up to Albany, NY for a meeting of the NYSARC Board of Governors. I along with my cohorts represent the county of Suffolk in our quest to make a better life for those of us less fortunate, the victims of developmental disabilities.

Bill Leonardi
Along with my cohorts, one Bill Leonardi, C.E.O, of AHRC Suffolk Chapter, on which I serve on the Board of Directors, joins us up in Albany. In the spring it is a 2-day conference and in October it is a 3-day event. Either way, the events end by a stopover in The Bronx on Arthur Avenue for a good old-fashioned Italian Lunch. This is probably the highlight of the weekend. We take these luncheons very seriously and strive to have what we feel is a reward for hard work well done.

The other day as I was about to leave the agency after signing checks, I waved at Bill Leonardi in his office and he waved me in. He kidded me about a Facebook entry I made and that led to business somehow.

“Well Joe, I’ll probably leave early Saturday morning, once the meeting begins for the board of governors, after all, I don’t need to be there for it.”

“Yeah, it doesn’t make sense for you to hang around, I’d leave too. Saturday is a holy day of obligation!”

Saint Arthur
This last statement takes Bill by surprise and you can see his eyes rise upward, as he desperately tries to figure out what day that is. Looking confused I know I got him, and take it a little further.

The 'Church'
“Yes, it is a holy day of obligation, the holy day of Arthur Avenue!”

Suddenly Bill explodes in laughter as he realizes what I’m doing.

“Boy, I went through all the holy days and couldn’t think of THAT one! The Feast of Saint Arthur!”

I wasn’t joking.

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Saturday, April 27, 2013

TAKING THE FALL


Being a homeowner has responsibilities. One of them is repairing little things around the house.

The other day TLW (The Little Woman) complained to me that the hinge in our foyer closet was coming loose. It seems the screw was coming loose. (OK, you always knew I had a screw loose… AND am becoming unhinged. ha ha!)

I get out my closet hinge screwdriver and start screwing around when I discover my arm is getting tired from raising it over my head so long, so I go into my garage and pull out a stepstool. I take it to the scene of repair and finish the job of screwing around and perhaps screwing up the job.

I fold up the footstool and head to the garage again, and place the thing in its designated place, turn to leave and loose my balance, suddenly finding myself falling uncontrollably and sailing across the garage about 12 feet! Coming down I land on top of the open tool chest I have on the floor, crashing on top of it chest and stomach first! I lay there disoriented and confused wondering why, and concern that maybe something in the tool chest was sticking up and caught me in the stomach. I lie there for a few moments and don’t feel any pain anywhere, except that fact that I fell. As I am raising myself, I see some blood on my hand and think I must have cut myself, but can’t find the source of blood.

All better!
I rise slowly and awkwardly, and when I do I see blood on my pants and hand and then spot the right elbow scrapped like I used to when I was a little kid. I wash it off and sit in my recliner, mad at myself for being so clumsy, TLW comes home and asks what happened, did I hurt myself and gets me a bandage and ointment for the elbow. (I think that is better than my Mommy kissing my boo-boo to make it all better.)

Getting old is not hard, it is being old that is hard, and I took the fall, once again? I think that if a screwdriver was pointing upward, or a utility knife in that toolbox, I might be wearing it the way I landed!


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Friday, April 26, 2013

OK GOD, I’M READY!


TLW (The Little Woman) had the job of buying tickets for the Broadway musical comedy: ‘Nice Work If You Can Get It!” starring Mathew Broderick, Jessie Mueller, Michael McGrath and Blythe Danner, an old-fashioned cast with all the years of acting experience that make this show such a hit! The show is a new take on a classic 1920s musical farce – it’s the tale of Jimmy Winter, a wealthy and carefree playboy living the good life in the midst of Prohibition, Jimmy Winters was played by Mathew Broderick.

TLW did her job well! Maybe so well that it is time to go for me. You see… the seats were the best in the house! Front row, center right behind the orchestra pit and the conductor! As we were seated, my life flashed before my eyes, yes you only get these seats if you are going to die, and I have to say, they were to die for.

First of I always wondered what went on in the orchestra pit, and now I know, and I will reveal the secret here… they play music! As I stared down into the pit it looked like a Mafia convention, all dressed in black shirts and really snazzy ties. The problem is: not many people see them dressed like that.


I told TLW if I weren’t married to her, I would certainly marry her now, those were too good of seats not to. The woman has magic in her laptop, where she ordered the seats on line!

The show was great, old time songs like: Let’s call the whole thing off, S’ wonderful and Fascinating Rhythm. The dancers were amazing, the gals gorgeous and the men very athletic. The costumes were beautifully coordinated, with Jessie Mueller and Mathew Broderick doing a number of dance numbers that were incredibly physical, and you could see them panting at the end.

Michael McGrath
One of the last scenes was the pre wedding luncheon, a very hysterical scene that brought down the house, and the acting of Michael McGrath, who made it really click as the butler Cookie.

Our Table!
But that wasn’t enough: no we headed to a very romantic little Italian risotrante, up on Second Avenue between 82nd and 83rd Streets called Firenze Ristorante. This is a candle-lit dining experience that you should have if you are still in love, and want to renew that feeling that you had as a young man with your special gal. Mine sat across from me and I was 25 again. Maybe it is the atmosphere, maybe the champagne, maybe the food or flickering candlelight’s and the authentic Italian accents that serviced the place. 1594 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10028 and you can call:
(212) 861-9368

TLW and me, and a wonderful magic day! That’s amore’!

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

WINNING THE BATTLES, BUT LOSING THE WAR


I just don’t understand it, I tried and tried often and still I got no results. I have been trying to lose weight for years, and it just won’t go away, it is like trying to diet to lose an arm or leg,

I have made some observations in my attempt to be successful, trying to be scientific about it, maybe think out of the box, and have applied these conclusions.

Thinking out of the box means eating out of the box. This concept comes from the old-fashioned idea that you sit at a table to eat. My thinking is if you don’t get too comfortable, you won’t eat as much. Eating right out of the box means you are probably standing, and that should help reduce the amount of calories. This concept comes in handy for cookies and even Cakes. Again, to take the concept even further, that is why drive-in food is better than going directly into the restaurant. If you do stand and eat, try pacing back and forth, a great workout and calorie buster!

A lot more good ideas where these come from!
Other calorie busters that have come to mind are the idea that if you eat light, that is better. I have taken this old-fashioned idea a step further: Eat everything in the dark! Wow! You must be saying, “who would have thought!” This concept has been proven time and time again. As a young child, when I was skinny, I used to sneak cookies into bed, under the covers, and I was a skinny for a long time, maybe a week! Sometimes the solutions are under your nose and you don’t see them, or in my case: under the covers.

Opposite-hand eating. You are right handed? Eat with your left hand, this makes it uncomfortable and annoying, causing you to slow down and wanting to get up and go. But don’t stop there, you sit on your right hand the whole time, this makes for an uncomfortable seat, where suddenly, yes, you are standing, see above! Not only is your butt sore, but your hand is fast asleep, and the tingling of your hand, combined with butt pain will help you lessen your intake and take your mind off of your appetite! I know, “who would have thought!”

TLW (The Little Woman) has a technique that I am envious of: I call it ‘the alarm dump’. She is eating, realizes that there is too much on her plate and dumps the rest of it in my dish! You can actually see the calories vanishing from her. Then she says: “It is a terrible thing to waste, and a lot of starving Armenians out there.“

My last observation comes by my ability to deduce things that no one else sees. There is an old saying: “What you don’t see won’t hurt,” That is true, especially in dieting and weight-gain. The simple act of closing your eyes while eating, will help.

Indeed.

What is happening is these are calories that you are ignoring: unnoticed calories are ineffective and by their very nature, will have no impact. After all, YOU didn’t see them.  Now put this all together, eat with your wrong hand, sit on the other, after the pain sets in start to walk and pace with your eyes closed. If anything: someone will come by and escort you out of the room for your own good, leaving all those potential calories behind!

For more helpful hints, look for my blogue: ‘How to clean your house while relaxing.’


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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

PAY ATTENTION CONGRESS


Origins of the Second Amendment:
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Mi·li·tia  
/məˈliSHə/
Noun
  1. A military force of civilians to supplement a regular army in an emergency.
  2. A military force that engages in rebel activities.

Long overlooked or ignored, the Second Amendment has become the object of some study and much debate. One issue being discussed is whether the Second Amendment recognizes the right of each citizen to keep and bear arms, or whether the right belongs solely to state governments and empowers each state to maintain a military force.

The NRA Legacy
Both the Federalists, those promoting a strong central government, and the Anti-federalists, believing that liberties including the right of self-rule would be protected by the preservation of local autonomy, agreed that arms and liberty are binding.

Let’s look at some facts:

Columbine, 12 students and one teacher killed, 21 additional students injured.

Virginia Tech, 32 people killed.

Tucson 6 people killed.

Aurora 12 people killed and 58 others injured.

Sandy Hook 20 students (age 7 and under) 6 faculty and 1-mother dead-all murdered.

Public mass shootings like those mentioned above have left 547 people dead and 476 more injured in the U.S. since 1983, according to a new report from the Congressional Research Service!

The CRS study—which counts only the deaths of people other than the shooter or shooters—shows that mass shootings represent a relatively small portion of overall deaths by firearms in the United States. FBI figures show that guns were used to kill 8,583 people in 2011 alone!

What qualifies as a public mass shooting? CRS defined such incidents as “occurring in relatively public places, involving four or more deaths—not including the shooter(s)—and gunmen who select victims somewhat indiscriminately.

Of the 78 mass shootings CRS identified since 1983, 26 occurred “at workplaces where the shooter was employed either at the time of the incident or prior to it.” Twelve public mass shootings occurred in an educational setting, CRS found.

So the CRS study did not include Army Maj. Nidal Hasan’s rampage at Fort Hood, who killed 13 and wounded 40 more, because it has been described as a terrorist attack. And the CRS definition excludes drug trafficking and gang activity as well.

Now for my question:
Where is there any mention in the origins of the Second Amendment to ordinary civilians, outside of a militia having the right to bear arms?

It doesn’t say that, it says a militia, which is defined as civilians in time of need. Now I don’t think we should stop hunters from having hunting rifles, or even a handgun for the sport of target practicing, but we need to control the availability of these guns mentioned, and in so doing, dissolve the right to own a military assault rifle that can be fired and cause either serious injury or death in the hands of ordinary civilians. There is NO place for them in a civilized society.

The NRA gun lobby has persuaded Congress that they are so powerful that they can defeat any Congressman at the polls who will not work with them, a fallacy that is believed by good lobbying, publicity and playing on the heartstrings of a few who own the guns, all wrapped up in the American flag! Fools all.

Timothy Mcveigh
Eric Harris, Dylan Klebold, along with Timothy Mcveigh, and Adam Lanza among others are beneficiaries of the argument that taking away assault rifles is intrusive on their Second Amendment rights. Those who want the status quo are in essence defending these types of people!

But here is my concern: how do I know I can trust you, a gun owner of an assault rifle from becoming hysterical about an issue and going off on a killing spree. How do I know you won’t resent someone who may be white male, black, Italian, Irish Catholic or gay or what have you from having the same reactions of the cast of murderers I just mentioned above? Where is my guarantee? How do you know I won’t get an assault rifle and go out and hunt down you or your wife or children and grandchildren? Where are those guarantees?
Adam Lanza

The U.S. Constitution was created to guarantee you and me certain rights of which Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are woven into the fabric of that document.
If your argument is: that you are a gun collector, would you protest if the availability of the ammo were not legal, that you could own the gun but not the ammunition? I mean the ammo would not be needed if you were peaceful in your intent to have such a hobby. Or is that too much a of an compromise to the majority of the general population who are for gun controls?



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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

GETTING OLD IS HARD TO DO


But it does come easy! Just don’t pay attention, and one day you ask: “Where did all the time go?” Then you look around and realize you are not alone, it is a crowded boat you are in. But you take comfort that at least it isn’t anything you did wrong that made you old.

Doing old age is another story! Just getting up from a chair sometimes can be an adventure, and sitting just as challenging. When I got up from a chair as a young man, I got up, fast, didn’t even think about it. Now, I usually make a statement afterwards that goes: “Ouch!”

Moving from room to room, can be a challenge when once I get there, I wonder why I got there, what was the reason again? It is not dementia: it is a mind that races while it also recalls, plans and thinks, all at once, the beauty of old age.

But complaining is foolish, it doesn’t help and I actually enjoy some aspects. I think that I am a little wiser, a little more accepting, and I have done major changing of my mind of many things and people.

Recently I got a phone call from one of my sisters, crying on the phone about a special friend she has, a sweet and wonderful woman who I know for many years and consider a friend too. This woman found out she has cancer, and my sister feels that pain, having lost her husband not too long ago. It makes us all feel that this is our lot in life, to start the process that breaks us down physically.

I am lucky. I have lived this long and hope to live longer. I have met some wonderful people in my life and I think there are plenty more to meet, yet. Some friends of mine have gone long ago, and some more recently, so I won’t complain about getting older, it IS in the agreement when I was born to get older. I just wish everyone this chance.

As a witness to history and a subscriber to future history, many wonderful things have occurred, as well as tragic, but it made for some interesting days, and the future does look exciting.

I am convinced that retirement is probably the greatest gift I could give to myself. I have discovered that I can read those books I wanted to, view those movies I always said I had to watch, and had a chance to listen to the other side of the arguments I’ve debated for so many years and take the time to listen and maybe even change my mind about those positions.

Retirement also offers the chance to sit back and think about those you love, appreciate their existence, and marvel at how patient they were with me! I love serving on my various committees, love the idea that I can help people that need help and I make a difference, and for those who I tried to help, well I am sorry if I didn’t, but I did try.

If anything else, if I get too caught up in life, I can always turn to the things that make me laugh, and reward myself for trying.





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Monday, April 22, 2013

WHAT GOES UP… HITS ME ON THE HEAD!


I am entering the age of senility! Twice in the last 6 months I have locked myself out of the house. After the first time I swore I’d never let it happen again, and until the next time, I swear it will never happen again.

The dumb ass
The first time it happened, I called TLW (The Little Woman) who came home from work and rescued me, the second time she couldn’t. But I blame the American War Veteran’s for this one!

I was all set to leave for a 5:00 P.M. meeting at the agency with some Board of Governors and the CEO of the agency. We were getting a heads up on things and I had my notebook and was ready to go. As I locked the door behind me, I checked that I had my keys and closed the door shut. Walking to my car I notice a yellow plastic bag from the American War Veterans, looking for help in their clothing drive. I decided I would take it out and put it in my pocket and go to the meeting, but then had a second thought. Since it was starting to cool slightly, I decided to go back inside and get my jacket. I open the front door, and go to the kitchen and place the Vet’s envelope on the table and place my keys that are in my hands on the table with it.

I go back into the closet in the Foyer, grab a coat and lock the front door and close it. I go to my car and the door doesn’t unlock like it usually does. I shake myself since I don’t need to have the key in the door lock to unlock it but nothing happens. I reach in my pocket, nothing, then the other pocket and nothing, I realize my mistake and since it is almost quitting time for TLW, I call her but no dice: she can’t leave! I call the agency and tell them I will be a little late.

I have to wait. I roam around my property and my neighbor Carol comes out and asks what the matter is: am I drunk. “No! I’m NOT drunk, just locked out of my house, I left the keys inside.”

Finally TLW comes home and off I go to my meeting where I apologize for being late and see my old buddy and board member Ken, the one I teased so unmercifully about leaving his keys and cell phone everywhere but with him. He has a big Cheshire cat’s grin on his face, and so there goes my fun with that!

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Sunday, April 21, 2013

UNSUNG HEROINES


If you visit the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington D.C., you will expect to see the names of the 60,000 men that died serving a cause. Whether that cause was noble or not, these men gave their lives for it. In retrospect, it did not measure up to the Second World War, or even the first in people’s minds, but like the Korean conflict, it seemed set a tone that we fight a war based on our belief that we as a nation needed to look out for everyone’s interest that helps our own. The way we fought the Korean and Vietnamese wars, one would think we fought a holding action, there was NO mass unified movement to win, just one that accepted that we were sending young men into as they say today: “harm’s way.”

But aside from all that, as you look at the wall memorial, and all those names that appear, you come to a monument with 4 figures. 3 of the figures casted in bronze are of women nurses and one is of a dying or wounded soldier being held in the arms of one nurse. All three nurses are part of this horrific drama, as it plays out this man’s agony. I looked at it and I was moved. At first I recognized what it was showing and the center of the attention was on the draped man. But the closer I looked, the more a different realization and horror set in. I looked at the eyes of the nurse cradling the man in her arms, and I felt the sudden pain that these women must have
experienced.

These women were in a hostile environment, reacting to death and slaughter, mayhem and sacrifice. Although they did not bear arms, they dealt with the aftermath of it all. On their shoulders fell the burden of relief, of grown men and young boys made into instant men by their ordeal, some crying for their moms and wives and children. These women had to give them comfort and heal their pain, tell them they would never walk or see again, and some they didn’t or couldn’t tell then anything, ever again.

They were the angels that God sent after we as mankind made a mess. These angels go unsung for the most part, we forget that they too have suffered mightily, yet we miss a clue that would help bring peace to this world: giving the power to women. Isn’t it true that they come after the storm, after things fall apart and give comfort and aid? Why do we call them then, why not before things heat up? Put them (women) in charge, they are more reasonable, seek justice for the most part, and are non-violent. If God’s angels ran the world, there would be less conflict, less young people going to kill one another, and the world itself would be kinder and gentler.

Let’s be real, men have been in charge too long, they have failed and failed badly, it is time to give women the chance. Maybe then they won’t be needed to fix things.

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Saturday, April 20, 2013

THE VIETNAM MEMORIAL

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Many years ago, there was a guy from high school named Joe Neal. Joe was a sweetheart of a guy, smart, friendly and always said; ‘Hello’ when he saw you. Joe was everyone’s friend. You never heard anything ugly from his mouth and he set a great example for other of us to follow. He was class. Joe studied hard, was smart or and should I say an athlete and intelligent as well.

We all graduated from high school and one day with the war in Vietnam going on, we got some terrible news: Joe was dead! He had joined the army to do his duty as a soldier, and as the story goes, fell on a hand grenade saving his fellow soldiers and died, just like in a movie, or so it seemed. He, like too many others perished in the Vietnam War. The old men on both sides of the conflict decided to use human beings, young ones, the ones who did have a chance at old age like they did to settle their arguments in an armed conflict, while they stayed home in comfort and debated making decisions that would impact others.

So the world lost a wonderful human being, one who held promise of spreading some good by being alive. Who knows where Joe may have gone, maybe to a high elected office, maybe a law firm or even better, be a resident of a teaching university that found the cure for cancer.
 
A group of classmates went to the Vietnam Memorial on the recent class trip to Washington D.C. and took the time to find Joe’s name on the wall where the thousands of names are etched for eternity. They found his name and they called it out, in their hearts and souls. Joe was remembered after 50 years. He was taken from this world for senseless slaughter, for an unappreciative nation that thought it was the right thing to send young men into combat and end their lives before they began.

But my classmates looked for his name out of respect, love and appreciation for what he was, a good guy. A 19-year old made a bunch of senior citizens pause and remember. They had similarly remembered him at our 45th high school reunion’s memorial to all our past classmates.

Thank you Joe, for who you were and what wonderful memories you left us, and that you taught us all that being decent didn’t hurt, has a positive impact on people and builds respect out of honor, and joy out of being.

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Friday, April 19, 2013

CHERRY BLOSSOM TIME


Going down to Washington D.C. I witnessed one of the few things in life that I would want to see again. The very first event I attended on my Cherry Blossom tour of the city and one I didn’t want to attend was the annual Cherry Blossom Parade. It turned out to be the highlight of the weekend!

We had grandstand seats, near the reviewing stand and cameras, and it started out by the tour guide handing out these pom-poms which I immediately gave to TLW (The Little Woman). I just didn’t want to be strapped with these stupid pom-poms while watching the parade. You were supposed to wave them, at what or who, I don’t know.

She was no general but I gave her a lot of stars!
Then TLW, my older sister Tessie (Much older) and about another half million old ladies went ga ga over this 2-star general who happened along and was stopping to talk to the crowd. He was a tall handsome man in his early 40’s dressed very sharply and made a great appearance. Well they were passing out all over the place and the husbands like myself we all getting up to go find a bar while we would wait for the wives to recover. We never got there because the old gals managed to recover in time to spoil the fun.

“Oh did you see him, he was gorgeous!”

“Yes, I know, I wanted to say something but my husband is sitting next to me.”

Ha ha.

Its good in America
Going to the parade you became immediately drawn in to the event, as large floats beautifully decorated and hot air balloons of cartoon characters and gigantic cherry blossoms, and even slick looking costumes of marchers of all kinds started to converge at a start off point.

It was a spectacular event, filled with great music, bands and costumes, tradition and only one wayward general. My classmates, all clustered together with the other ‘elder’ gals on our tour commiserated about the wayward general as secret thoughts I’m sure were kept from surfacing. But you know it is the uniform they went ga ga over. I think I’ll go to the Army/Navy store and browse.

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

NICK THE HERO

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Sometimes things are meant to happen, things we don’t really foresee.

Traveling down to Washington D.C., after a bunch of high school classmates asked me to start the trip because they wanted to go see the cherry blossoms, we took a great 3 1/2-day tour of the city.

As we stopped at our restaurant for dinner after our first full day of sightseeing in our Nation’s capitol, the class of ’64 Bellport High School, classmates Judy Hunter, Joanne Zukowski, Joanne Tew and Aggie Toronto settled in for a dinner with my older sister (much older) Tessie, and TLW (The Little Woman).

Earlier that afternoon I received a text message while on our tour bus from another old classmate’s husband, Nick DePalo, married to Michele, a closet Mets fan. He texted me asking where we were having dinner and what time, and he and Michele would meet us there.  He was in Virginia nearby and would stay overnight at our hotel for breakfast the next morning too. Since I was on a bus just arriving at the Iwo Jima monument, I texted I would get back to him with the details: did and we met at the prescribed place.

Here is where the hand of God comes down, saves a life and a whole bunch of people’s fun. If Nick had not shown up, sat where he did, some old man in our tour party would be dead right now!
Nick is at the end, the bus driver has a hat on behind Michele next to Nick

Nick and Michele arrived a while after we were seated in the restaurant, and so the restaurant set up another table and we all re-arranged ourselves to accommodate our expected extras. Nick was seated on the end, facing the kitchen, this is important.

We all chattered a bunch and suddenly there was some commotion behind me: that I couldn’t see: however Nick did! Without thinking or pausing, he jumps out of his chair and races behind the wall that my back is turned to and out of view, Michele urging him on.

“Lower Nick!” she bellows to her husband.

“If I go any lower I’ll squeeze his balls!” responds Nick. It turns out he was saving an old man in our party from choking on a piece of meat. Applying the Heimlich maneuver, the man coughs up the offending morsel, and Mr. DePalo, our hero, like he does this everyday, returned to his meal!

On a self-invite, one man who might not have been there, saves another man’s life who might not be here now!

Thank you Mr.DePalo!

The next morning, the bus driver got up in front of the whole bus of sightseers, and thinking that Nick was part of the tour because he had seen the event unfold before his eyes begins to thank Nick, and asks him to stand up. Of course Nick wasn’t on the bus.

The bus driver found out the last day of our tour, that his own mother had just passed away the day before!

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

CHAIN OF EVENTS

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Last week I was putting water into the pool while pumping out water that covered the tarp cover we
use for the winter. This meant running a hose from the far side of my house and sticking the nozzle under the tarp and turning on the water spigot fully into the pool. Meanwhile another hose is attached to a pump that pulls water off the tarp and into the driveway where it makes it’s way to the street. This is very nice, don’t talk about me!
I go upstairs to my studio/office to do some work on my computer and I notice that the water that I think is the hose is louder than usual, getting down on my knees thinking my hearing is coming back!

Later that afternoon, I go down to the bathroom downstairs and notice the water line in the bowl is unusually high! “Hmmm….” I say to myself. Whenever I talk to myself I try not to say too much, because then I get into an argument! I take out the plunger and start to plunge right in, swish in, swish out, swish in, swish out, swish in, swish out, until I realize it isn’t working.

Being a creative type who has done plumbing before, I decide to go upstairs to check the upstairs toilet to see what the level is. This might be called ‘deductive reasoning’ but I call it chance.  “Aha!” say I, as the water is constantly running in the toilet. I lift the cover and see that the chain that operates the flush handle is disconnected, something I can relate to since I’ve been disconnected for some time now. Reattaching the chain to the flush handle I flush, and go down stairs and look at that toilet. The level has gone down! I have successfully plumbed!

Why do I tell you this? A deep need.

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

WASHINGTON, ALBANY, LOS ANGELES, CHICAGO AND EVEN PHILADELPHIA!

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I feel like Marco Polo, traveling all over the US of A! From mid-April to June, I will be on the road, and although some of it is without TLW (The Little Woman), I won’t complain.

Washington, D.C.
I start out going to Washington, a trip I just completed as you read this and of which more will be written about. This is the senior trip I never took in high school, because some genius thought that a dude ranch would be better! While every class in the world went to Washington D.C. for their senior trip, ours went to an upstate dude ranch. It could be that far up state either, because we did it in one day!

They told us we were going horseback riding and we each got a horse. Mine was named Apache, and all he did was try to get me off his back! He’s go up to a tree and rubs his side along the tree, and I would have to take my foot out of the stirrup and ride one legged. It was very impressive since it looked like I was practicing for a rodeo, but it was a little annoying. Riding that bag of bones and glue wasn’t bad enough, but when I jumped down off the nag, I step in you-know-what, and it was probably Apache’s!

I have been to Washington D.C. before, and TLW and I were talking about it and she reminded me that we have been there about 4 times. One incident she was talking about I couldn’t quite remember, then she said it was the best-fried chicken she ever had at this restaurant. That lit the bulb for me and she said: “I knew if I mentioned food you’d remember.” This goes along with #1 Son’s theory that I remember every meal I ever ate.

Chicago, Il.
One of the trips I look forward to is kind of special. The trip to
Wrigley Field, Chicago
Chicago will be to see a series of games between the Mets and the Chicago Cubs, with my two sons. #2 Son will have finished school and #1 Son is on a hiatus for his show until August, so we will meet in Chicago, do some ballgames and sight-see! Pretty neat for a father, no?

Los Angeles, Ca.
Los Angeles is special because I get to see and visit with TLC (The Lovely Courtney) my daughter-in-law! She is graduating from college and will join the ranks of the ‘creative’s’ of this world! Well, I got news for her: she is already there!

Albany, NY
Albany will be a working trip, as I attend a Board of Governor’s convention for NYSARC, Inc., the governing body for the agency I belong too for people with developmental disabilities. This convention is capped by a stop over in Little Italy for dinner with my fellow board members. Speaking of which, one will be accompanying me to:

Philadelphia, Pa.
Philadelphia, and a ballgame between the Mets and Phillies.
Citizen's Bank Park, Philadelphia
Gentleman Jim Mc Eneany, our esteemed President of the board, a former New York Giants baseball fan and current Mets fan, and I a former Brooklyn Dodger fan and current Mets fan will make the one-day journey to the city of brotherly love where we hope the Mets don’t get killed!

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Monday, April 15, 2013

MADE IN CHINA?

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Last week I stopped at my local Waldbaum’s supermarket to get a few things.

In America, when we go into a supermarket, the door should be on the right and the exit door is on the left. This is the way it should be, and I like it that way. I don’t ask for much in my dotage, just don’t fix it if it isn’t broke, leave it alone, and don’t make it complicated for me.

So I get out of my car on this beautiful spring day, a song in my heart and a lilt to my step, as I approach the entrance to the supermarket. Other old people surround me so I don’t feel alone. I go to the automatic door on my right and there is a lady standing behind the door looking to get out. I look up at the door and it says: ‘EXIT’!

I side step to my left and it says on the door: ‘ENTRANCE’. This destroys my karma for the day: it will be down hill from here on out. I enter and look around for the items I need and go to pay for them. I use a debit card and try very hard to follow the instructions without incident. I mean, how hard can this be? It is two each of an item and there are two items. I am waiting on line for the lady in the 12 items or less line ahead of me to finish paying for her 50,000 items and dispute the price of one thing and throw in the coupons for a nice mix of aggravation and piss-off technique. Finally I get my turn, and the things are rung up. I wait for the little reader to tell me to swipe my card, I swipe, and punch in the code, it asks if the amount is OK, I punch ‘yes’, do I want cash back, I say ‘yes’, then realize too late I don't, so we start all over. I finally get it right and am leaving the store, yup, going to my right and looking at a whole bunch of people trying to get in.

I have a feeling the door installer was a Chinaman who installed his first door in America with the one I was trying to negotiate with!

Getting out of the store and heading for my car I see a little red car with an old hunched over man just getting into his, v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y! I think if I hurry, I can get out of the parking lot before he does and I won’t be held up any more. I raced to my car just as he is about to close his car door. My automatic key does not respond like it usually does just being in my pocket! I shake my hip, nothing. I shake it violently, still nothing. I will have to take it out of my pocket, and as I realize that, he is starting up his car! I am panicking: I reach into my pocket for the keys and the damned thing got stuck on the stitching of the pocket. Finally I get the keys out and climb in, the old bugger slowly and I mean slowly pulls out.

Sobbing I follow him out, slowly. He stops at the exit, puts on his signal and slowly turns right, the same direction I need to go. Slowly, and I mean slowly, we putt-putt to the traffic light where he will make the same damned turn I need to make, slowly. As he enters the intersection, there are no (as in zero) cars coming the other way, so what does he do? He stops, just to have another look, then slowly, and I mean slowly starts to pull through it, and as he does, another car is approaching rapidly, causing me to have to wait and as it does, the light changes.


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Sunday, April 14, 2013

BREAK FAST

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My old classmates from high school, Bellport High School, get together on occasion and try to keep in touch. We have been doing this since 2010 when we had a reunion for the whole class, and now we are planning another reunion for our 50 years as graduates of the august institution I have just mentioned.

What a great bunch of lookers!
The occasion for this gathering was the yearly visit of one Martha Scott, one of my original dates going way back to 8th grade. She and I tripped the lights fantastic or something like that at a sweetheart dance I believe. After the double date, we coked and dined (Soda folks) at Donato’s Pizzeria and Restaurant, on the deck outside under the moonlight. Life was simple, you just made sure you got home by 11:00 PM or else.

As you know the definition of breakfast is to break the fast of the night, and at 9:00 AM I was ready to break anything if I didn’t eat soon, and fast! However, the fast we broke collectively was one of not seeing each other. You might say it was a sweet repast.

It is great meal when you eat with friends. It is one of the past times that give me pleasure, just like when I eat with family. We talked about old times, tried to clear our memories of certain places and things and talk about who is still alive. No one checked my pulse so I assume they think I am still alive.

The class itself has always been filled with spirit, class spirit, and I think that that is the greatest gift one can have besides the education you get from High School. These are people who have lived their lives and some of our years have been tough, and some great, but all of them have taught us something, that life goes on, but that we must never lose touch with one another, or who we really are and where we came from.

Its always a pleasure, guys!


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Saturday, April 13, 2013

WHAT’S GOIING ON?


Mezuzah

I can’t help but notice that lately there has been a lot of awareness about the Holocaust, and the ugliness that came with. The other morning April 8, on a news show they reported how someone had targeted a cluster of apartments in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn and burned Mezuzahs, sacred objects that are attached to an entryway of homes. April 8 is Holocaust remembrance day.

There is a lot of mention on Facebook that I have seen and people are commenting. Anti-Semitism along with gay bashing seems to be coming to the forefront. It seems that a lot of people are finally starting to speak out, and I don’t mean just Jews and Gays.

We should NEVER forget! To persecute, prosecute and then murder for a belief in God, the crime is the biggest one can perpetrate against not only mankind, and the Jewish people, but God himself!

I know a lovely lady, one who no one would think of hurting in any way, put in words what she goes through. I say ‘Goes through’ because it is still going on. She is Jewish, and her last name was not, I used to call her ‘Mex’ because it sounded Spanish.

“Growing up as a Jew with a non-Jewish name (and, apparently, not "looking" like a Jew, whatever that means), I have heard the most disgusting comments about Jewish people my whole life. Right to my face. People think they are commiserating with a fellow goy when they are actually speaking to someone who grew up in the shadow of the Holocaust. I've heard really heinous things from the most unlikely people... I know the hate and ignorance still exists. It burns in people, and it's frightening.”

This lovely young woman is a talented writer; she owns a smile that hides her beautiful brown eyes. This is what we should hate?  Her belief in God is her business, she never raised a hand against a Muslim or a so-called Christian, you know the ones I am talking about, they love Jesus, and want you to, too. Of course it slips their mind when they bash a gay person or slander a Jew.

I have a friend, my best friend, a man who has always been there as a brother, not a Jew, not a anything but a brother. He and I met in college and we have stayed friends ever since. He is a Jew, and I am proud to know him, proud that he would count me as a friend, but I am not pinning laurels on myself, what I am saying is he is as Christian-like as few Christians are. His are actions, not pronouncements that speak for themselves, who is the better Christian? He is.

Years ago, I had a friend who was gay, who was a great guy. I hired him to work for me and I knew he was gay. But I also knew he could make my life easier as I ran my department. We got to be close friends, and we never discussed his being gay, and I never needed to. He was a good guy, worked harder than anyone I know, and we always stayed in touch. Then one day I left the company and went to work for a new company, and I hired him once again, he was that good. He wasn’t your stereotyped gay man: he was a man who was gay. He started to get sick often, calling in for time off, and this became more and more frequent. A fear developed in my mind and I was right, he had aids. Finally I had to know for his sake, because there was insurance involved and he needed the health plan. I went to HR and he was set up, set up to die. He was confiding in me about his being gay, and we talked once a week. He had gone home to die in Pennsylvania, where he finally succumbed to aids. His mom sent me a letter telling me how much it meant to her son that I stayed with him to the end, that I supported him. His being gay had affected me, it made me realize that his being gay was his business, that he didn’t hate anybody, and didn’t deserve to be hated in kind.

Jews, Gays, who cares? What the hell does it all matter to you or me or that punk who looks for trouble? Who is to say being Christian is right? Other Christians? How can you condemn anyone for believing in God? I often wonder if believing in Jesus gets in the way of believing in God. Does it color or complicate the relationship directly with God? God is God, no one can take that away, but if we all believe in God, then why do we pick on innocent people?

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