Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Thanksgiving Message

It all began in the fall of 1621 when 53 Pilgrims and 90 Native Americans got together to celebrate the first successful harvest in America for the Pilgrims.  It was in 1863 that President Lincoln officially made Thanksgiving a federal holiday and it was in 1934 that the Detroit Lions decided to add to our indigestion by playing football on the afternoon.  It was in 1955 that the first green bean casserole was introduced and much to my chagrin,  "green beans with a crust" has become a permanent fixture on this day.

This year begins a new tradition - retailers will be open on Thanksgiving Day.  I've seen a lot of uproar on television news shows and on social media.  Apparently, the fact that working in retail already sucked was oblivious to most. So a tremendous amount of sympathy has gone to these same workers that usually work every weekend and evening while others are spending time with their families.  "But this is different!" - the dissenters shout.  We've had no sympathy for the convenience store workers, gas station attendants, police, firefighters, hospital workers, air traffic controllers, and the people stuck working the Lions game.  They've all been working on Thanksgiving for years.

The decision for retail to open on Thanksgiving is a reflection of our own desires. Should we really be mad at the retailers or should we be mad at our own cravings for materialistic items at a greatly discounted price?  My solution - If you don't like it….don't go.  Pretty simple.

Here's a thought: Let's not be slaves to certain dates on the calendar as representing the only times we make an effort to be with our families and friends.  The reality is - we can get together ANY time if we make the effort.  There are 364 other days throughout the year that you can make plans to be together….and it doesn't have to be just one day.  There's no law here.  It can be many days throughout the year.  Plan ahead and get together.  The more functions there are, the more opportunity that everyone can make at least one. It's all about effort and it starts with you.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Angels in the outfield? Or maybe in the stands?

This post is long overdue, but baseball season is in full swing so it's time to tell the tale.  It's a story with my daughter that can best be described as Good Karma.

It was late June a couple of years ago when a friend offered me their tickets for a Detroit Tigers game.  I took my daughter Ellie and her good friend Gabby to see the Tigers take on the Baltimore Orioles.  The girls played on the same softball team and were school friends as well.  Gabby, a star softball player, had never been to a Tiger game before so she was excited about her first venture to Comerica Park.  Having seats 20 rows behind the Visitors dugout added to the excitement.  After enjoying the first three innings in our seats, it was time to give Gabby a tour of the ballpark.  After a stroll around the outfield, the girls took a turn on the ferris wheel and the carousel.  We stopped at Guest Services where Gabby received a certificate commemorating the inaugural occasion along with a poster of Brandon Inge - her favorite Tiger (Tiger fans, keep the comments to yourself).

We returned to our seats in the 7th inning and with the Tigers down by 2 in the 8th, fans started heading for the exits.  With the rows in front of us getting sparse, the girls asked if we could move closer to the field.  We spent the 8th inning in the 3rd row and as the 9th inning began, our feet were kicked up on the dugout - best seats in the house.  No way we were leaving even a minute early.  Sure enough with 2 outs and a man on first in the bottom of the 9th, Miguel Cabrera would send one deep to left center field tying the game and sending it into extra innings.  The girls were starting to believe their seats were bringing good luck to the team. 

As the 10th inning came to a close, the Oriole player that caught the last out approached the dugout and with the girls begging for the ball, tossed it right into Ellie's hands....and that's when the magic began.  Without hesitation, Ellie turned to Gabby and handed the ball immediately to her friend and said, "Here. Take it".  Ellie had been playing hostess all night and her gracious instinct kicked in immediately.  Honestly, I've never seen somebody catch a baseball at a game and give it to someone who didn't live in the same house - as a parent would to their child.  I was so proud.  I took a picture of the girls with the ball and quickly texted the picture to Gabby's parents.
Ellie was a bit naive and was under the impression that getting a baseball at the ballpark was an easy accomplishment.  The Tigers won the game in the bottom of the 11th, so a final out never came our way again.  It's at this point, my lovely daughter was beginning to regret her magnanimous gesture.  I didn't have the heart to tell her that in all my 40 something years of going to Tiger games, I had only gotten one ball myself.  I couldn't tell her - This may be your only one.

Gabby was thrilled.  What an overall experience for her first Tiger game ever.  After dropping Gabby off at her house and sharing the experience with her parents, we headed home. 

Ellie, almost in tears, said to me, "I'm thinking about asking Gabby for the ball back."
"Ellie", I responded, "What you did tonight was so special and I am extremely proud of you for it.  I don't know anyone who would do what you did."
"But I thought we would get another one," as tears began to run down her face.

"Honey," I affirmed, "That's the point.  You thought of your friend first.  You wanted to make sure she had that experience for her first game.  Most people would've kept it and told their friend to get the next one.  You didn't.  This was a very good deed and good things come to people that do good deeds. You will find that if you continually do kind things for others, good fortune will come your way."

I couldn't emphasize enough as to what a wonderful gesture it was.  "Gabby will always remember her first Tiger game because of what you did."

As the week went by, I shared the story with family, friends and coworkers.  Some suggested that I share the story with the Tigers and maybe they would give her a ball.  As proud as I was of her, I still felt bad that she may have given away the only ball she may ever get at a game.  You hear people regale the tale of when they caught a ball from a game, but you rarely hear people say they've caught a ball more than once.

As fate would have it, Ellie's summer recreation program was scheduled to attend an afternoon Tiger game a couple weeks after our game with the Orioles.  Their seats were in the right field bleachers, so the odds were very slim of catching another one.  Coincidently, I had a friend ask me to the same game.  My friends tickets were 15 rows behind the Tiger dugout and I thought this may be a chance for me to get one back for Ellie.   

As I dropped Ellie off at summer rec that morning, she said, "Don't forget to try and get me a ball".
"I'll try sweetheart" - I replied. "I'll swing by the bleachers before the game and say hello".

We stepped into the ballpark shortly before game time.  I told my friend that we needed to stop by the right field bleachers to say hello to my daughter.  As we approached the bleachers we saw a sea of elementary aged children all wearing matching orange shirts.  I finally saw a familiar face.  It was one of Ellie's good friends.

"Megan!", I shouted.  "Where's Ellie?"
"She's over there" and pointed a couple rows down.  "And she got a ball!"

Before I could even react, Ellie was walking up the steps toward me holding out a bright white official major league baseball.
"How'd that happen?" - I asked in amazement.
"The busses dropped us off really early, so we went to the left field bleachers by the Tigers bullpen.  Everyone was asking for autographs when a Tiger looked at me and tossed me a ball."
"That is EXACTLY what I was talking about Ellie!  You do good things and good things will happen to you.  This was your reward for your gift to Gabby".

I was astonished.  The very next game she went to, she got another ball.  Two games, two baseballs - that just doesn't happen.  I took a picture of Ellie with her friends Allison and Megan.  This time, it was Ellie holding the ball all by herself - and she wasn't giving this one up.

 As a post script to the story, last July I had tickets in the same seats as the Orioles game.  I took Ellie, her friend Olivia and Olivia's brother Joey.  We of course shared the stories with Olivia and Joey as this was their 2nd Tiger game ever.  It was the beginning of the third inning when the mom and daughter sitting behind Joey and Ellie got up to go to the concession stand.  A couple minutes later, Austin Jackson of the Tigers hit a foul ball that flew just over us.  A gentleman three rows behind failed to catch the ball. As it bounced off his hands it landed in the spot where the mom behind us was sitting just a few minutes earlier.  Joey reached over and grabbed the ball.  There's now a waiting list of people that want to go to a Tiger game with Ellie.  She's just good Karma.


Monday, April 22, 2013

The Planet Is Not The One That Needs Saving

Don't worry, this isn't an article for or against global warming, climate change, the deforestation of the Amazon region, or dolphin friendly tuna.  This is about incorrect labels and how they are used to influence people followed by a realistic take on what the environmental movement should be about.

In 1962, Rachel Carson wrote a compelling book called Silent Spring which kicked off the modern day environmental movement.  Ms. Carson raised the consciousness of the public regarding pesticides and pollution. Since then we've watch Environmentalism expand on those topics and evolve to include concerns that we're over-fishing our seas and deforesting our lands to the point that both are creating instability in the balance of our Eco-system that will eventually destroy the planet. 

Al Gore's best selling books Earth In The Balance and An Inconvenient Truth (later a movie) highlighted the negative effects the human race has had on our environment that has lead to anthropogenic climate change. Our current "green" movement is based on this same premise that our current lifestyle is increasing CO2 levels to the point that we'll eventually destroy our planet.

In 1970 we celebrated the first Earth Day to increase awareness and appreciation of the earth's natural environment. I see email signatures that remind you to think of the environment before printing. I've seen the grocery store go from "paper or plastic" to "buy this reusable grocery bag" for the sake of the planet.  I've seen companies make the PR move of becoming a "green certified" company by implementing recycling and reusable energy sources.  I've seen bumper stickers that say "save the earth before you see it end" and  "treat the earth how you want the earth to treat you."  They make it  sound as if mother earth has feelings, and we must be sentimental to her emotions.

On a side note, no one seems to make a big deal about Arbor Day.  It's been around since 1872 and seems to be a more happy, non-political celebration of trees, whereas Earth Day appears to be a more pessimistic, political ideology that portrays humans in a negative light.  Just an observation.

Again, I am not here to promote or disparage the effort.  That is a completely separate argument that is irrelevant to my point.  My point is - the earth doesn't care what we do and doesn't need saving.  And before we all agree to "Treat the earth as you would like the earth to treat you" - let's study a little history of the earth's behavior.

The history of the third rock from the sun is extremely violent toward all who've inhabited it.  Formed 4.6 billion years ago, it was a volcanic hot mess for the first 500 million years before it cooled off enough for the crust to solidify, and our atmosphere and oceans to form.  The conditions of our atmosphere were so toxic and irregular that it took 3.6 billion years before multi cellular organisms showed up.  We have evidence that a mass extinction occurred 65 million years ago that wiped out the dinosaurs and 80% of all life on earth. There is evidence that something cataclysmic occurred 255 million years ago that wiped out 90% of all life.  In fact, there have been 5 mass extinction periods in the past 430 million years and scientist estimate that 95% of all species that have ever existed are extinct. 

Annually, we have earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, volcanic explosions, and violent storms that cause great damage and loss of life proving that mother earth doesn't care at all if we're around.  In other words, with this great history of continual devastation, the earth is somehow able to survive and replenish itself. So there's no need to save the planet. It's not going anywhere and will be here long after us.  Earth is in the middle of an 8 billion year life cycle and we're just a speck in its overall history.

So let's call this movement what it really is - Save the Humans.  The human species has grown dramatically since the last occurrence of global warming 10,000 years ago, which also caused the most recent ice age to recede.  This climatic and geological shift created longer growing seasons and more arable land that enabled our species to prosper.  We want to survive and there's nothing wrong with that.  Why do we need to promote our survival under the guise of saving the planet?  Let's be candid about our rational selfishness and promote the survival of our species.  We can still argue about the validity of the science regarding the long term effects we have on the environment and climate.  I have no issue with people promoting or denouncing a cause, but let's be honest with each other as to what the cause is really about.  Our approach has been through ecological guilt and a naïveté of taking care of our planet like a good friend should. It's not about saving the's about us.  This is Darwinism at its finest - Save the Humans.

Now if I can just get that cable channel that shows UFO Hunters, Ice Road Truckers and Pawn Stars to quit calling themselves the History Channel.....I'll be a happy guy.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


For this analogy, you can use whatever sport you like that has a halftime. My favorite sport is football and since I’m watching football while typing this, here you go….

The gun goes off signaling the end of the 2nd quarter and it’s time to head to the locker room. The goal for halftime is quick and simple – get refreshed and get reenergized. You want to learn from, and adjust to, what was thrown at you in the first half. By the time you walk out of the locker room, you want to be focused and mentally prepared to handle whatever comes your way in the second half.

I turned 45 years old this past summer. I like to think it’s my Halftime. Need to evaluate the successes and failures of the first half and make the appropriate adjustments. I know I can play better. I know I can execute better. I’m going to need to change my approach to life a bit if I want the results I desire. I need to reorganize the game plan. I need to get off of facebook for a while. Need to get back to writing (more than 160 character sound bites). Need to write more jokes and get back on stage. Need to get back into my workout routine. Eat better. Live better. Be more productive in my career. I feel I’ve been a good example for my daughter, but I know I can still improve. Be a better father, son, brother and friend.

It’s important to understand the critical difference between life’s halftime and a football game. In football, there will be another game next week. In life, this is the only game you play. I’m not looking to be in position to need a “Hail Mary” pass at the end to pull out a win. I want to bust out of the locker room, make a statement on the first possession and keep rolling till the end. Who knows - If I play well enough, maybe I can take this thing into overtime.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

E-mail to my staff......

I sent this e-mail to my staff today and thought I would share with all. The location may change to Waterford, but I'll keep you posted.

Raise your hand if you just wanted to stay home today. Yes, 48 degrees with pouring rain says – I want to stay home, lay on the couch and fall asleep to a mindless movie. Something like “Weekend at Bernie’s,” where no matter what part you fall asleep and wake up to, they’re still carting around a dead guy somewhere and pretending he’s still alive. Gilligan’s Island are good reruns to doze off to as well. You know the episode where they have the perfect way to get off the island, until Gilligan messes it up............again! Oh wait, that was every episode. I gotta say, after about the 12th time Gilligan did that, I think I would’ve had the professor make me a bamboo pistol with coconut seeds for bullets and wounded Gilligan a bit to keep him out of the way.

Anyway.......For those that weren’t at our staff seminar on Tuesday, I wanted to let everyone know of the challenge that was laid out. Our final count for closings for April was 590 – a new monthly record for Capital Title. Congratulations to all for being a part of the busiest month in our 35 year history. Separately, I had brought up about being at a sports bar in Pittsburgh that had a mechanical bull. I let everyone know that if I wasn’t wearing a suit that day, I would have given it a try. Then Melissa Davis let us all know of a place in Novi that has a mechanical bull and that I could still give it a try. Not sure, but I’m guessing they play country music there too. So here is the challenge that was laid out............If we close 600 or more closings in a month – we’re all gonna meet up at that place in Novi and I have to play “Suburban Cowboy” and give it a ride...........and that’s no bull.

I have my own cowboy hat that I bought in Sedona, but I’ll need to borrow some cowboy boots from Wendy Carlock’s husband. I’ll even get some of that gum that looks like chewing tobacco for the full effect. Another co-worker (who will remain nameless) suggested that I “ride that bull like its dirty”. Since I don’t even know what that means, I’ll decline that request. I will request a Boz Skaggs song to be played when I ride the bull and anyone who was age 15 or older in 1980 should get that reference. I told my daughter of the challenge and she definitely wants to be in attendance for this, so she is rooting for a record month in May or June.

The next 6 – 8 weeks are going to be pretty crazy, so let’s stay focused, stay strong, support each other and prepare yourselves mentally. And know that if we cross that 600 mark, there will be an entertaining evening awaiting the celebration.

Have a great day and thank you for all you do!


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Finally taking the plunge......

....Yes, the Polar I need your help. I was involuntarily volunteered to jump into the Detroit River as a fundraiser to help the Special Olympics of Michigan. I have successfully avoided this meaningful duty for the past 5 years, but my time has come. These monies help fund the training and competitions for over 17,000 athletes throughout the state – so its a great cause. My goal is to raise $ I’m looking for 50 $10 pledges.

If I don’t raise any money, then they won’t let me jump in the Detroit February...........where the temperature of the water is the least of my worries. So don’t be the person that allows me to sit home that day watching the Winter Olympics next to my fireplace while drinking hot chocolate. Donate today so I can take the plunge!

There is also a theme where all of the plungers (did I just say - plungers?) dress in costumes for this event. And awards are even given to the most creative costumes. So I will treat you to lunch at J. Alexander’s if I use your costume idea. Try and think of something that won’t weigh me down once I enter the water............unless of course, you don’t want me to come out of the water. Something that covers my feet too, because I’m not sure what I could step on down there. I thought about dressing up as Jimmy Hoffa, cause he may already be in there and it would be funny seeing him come out. I also thought about a toaster costume cause that’s just funny – no extension cord though.

Anyway, send your costume ideas to me and send your donations to the website below. You can send me cash too, and I’ll make sure it gets where it needs to my hospital co-pay for hypothermia and the antibiotics for the ensuing rash. ;-)

Got 10?

Friday, January 15, 2010

"Kneed" Me?

Well, I had my first "procedure" of any kind this morning, other than dental work. Also, it was my first time under any anesthetic that didn't have the name "Jack" or "Jose" attached to it (that's a whiskey and tequila joke for those a little slow today). I am typing this just 2 1/2 hours after the completion of my surgery. So I still have some anesthetic flowing through me and the vicodin is starting to kick in. That is my disclaimer if I type anything that doesn't really make this whole blog post. ;-)

I was not allowed to have anything to eat or drink after midnight last night. So just for fun, I walked in the surgery center at 7:00 am holding an empty Tim Horton's coffee cup. I told the woman at Registration, "Don't worry, it's decaf." Then she felt it was ok to razz me about me wearing my flannel pajama pants to surgery. I pointed to her scrubs and said, "You didn't dress up for this either." Nice way to start out a surgical procedure - exchanging smart-ass remarks with the registration desk.

The people at the Beaumont Surgical Center were outstanding........until they shaved my leg. She asked, "Left knee?" I said, "Yes. My left, your right." "Huh?" In retrospect, I probably shouldn't have been making jokes about which knee to operate on. Oh well. I asked her how long it takes to grow back. She said, "I don't know, I never let mine grow this long." Nice. Left leg is shaved 6 inches above and below the knee. That'll be a great look when I hit the gym in a couple of weeks for physical therapy. I asked her to shave the other leg the same way for some symmetry. She said, "No dice. You're on your own with that one."

Then the anesthesiologist came in and introduced himself. I asked if they had any flavored anesthetics, you know, like at the dentist. I preferred "cherry" or "cookie dough" if they had it. He told me that he would see what he could do. I also let them know that I'm an aspiring comedian and was hoping to get some material from this. So everyone was having fun sharing other stories for me. I just wanted to make sure everyone was awake and alert and that they knew if they screwed up, I would make fun of them on stage. Accountability. Yeah, that's it.

They then wheeled me down to the operating room, slid me on the table, injected me with the cookie dough anesthetic and I was asleep quicker than the Lions give up a touchdown. Woke up an hour later in the recovery room. The word got out that I was a part-time comedian and they were asking for jokes. I was still waking up, so I would tell them jokes in and out of consciousness. They thought it was funny how I would start telling a joke, then fall back asleep in the middle of the punch line. I told them to look me up on youtube for the whole joke. I think I made up a couple of new Tiger Woods jokes too......or maybe that was just the "cookie dough" talking. They asked if I felt nauseous. I told them - "Only when I watch a Lions game." It got to the point where the anesthesiologist was giving me a "rim shot" after the jokes.

My mom was a trooper through the whole thing. After years of her taking my dad for hospital visits and procedures - and watching my dad do the same was a walk down memory lane for her. Glad I could comply.

After all said and done, I was back at my house by 10:45. Got situated in the recliner with remote in hand and turned the tv on. Shortly thereafter, I was in excruciating pain. Yes, watching Drew Carey host "The Price Is Right" is incredibly painful to watch. Fortunately, I have a whole bottle of vicodin by my side. Half the bottle is for me, the other half is to sell to cover my co-pay. Tell Obama, I have my own health care plans. Anyway, I put in a movie which helped ease the Drew Carey induced pain and made protein shake.......cause I'm starving!

I have an ace bandage wrapped from my foot to my thigh and I have to leave it on for 3 days. Glad I took a shower this morning.......cause its gonna be a few days. Probably should have kept that part to myself. Might limit the visitors this weekend. Because I'm a sentimentalist at heart, I am using the same crutches my dad used when he had knee surgery in 1968. That probably wasn't a good idea either.

Thanks again for all the well-wishes. I really do appreciate it. It's nice to know how many people think they're in my will. I had a great experience and I'm having a great day........because that is my choice. It's a choice we get to make every morning, so choose wisely!