Friday, July 31, 2015

My Budding Entrepreneur

I have to say, I'm quite proud of my son at the moment. Yesterday, he got his first royalty check as a published musician/composer. He cant quit his day job, but it wasn't peanuts either. Someone out there bought nearly 900 copies of the sheet music for a song he wrote and got published while a graduate student at Westminster Choir College. Pretty cool.

Not only that, but my budding entrepreneur also spent a couple of months of lunch hours putting together a sprite mural in Microsoft Excel. (I'm not going to pretend to know what the heck a sprite mural is, so you'll have to look it up). Anyway, essentially its a digital painting of sorts that he calls, The Great Sprite Battle. Then, he found some marketing outfit on the internet called  which places his digital painting on a vast array of stuff that people can purchase, everything from coffee mugs to iPhone cases to pencil skirts! It's quite amazing to think that some guy in Europe just purchased my son's art work on a poster the other day. Patrick is about to get his first check from this pursuit in a couple of weeks. If you're interested in what he has created, check it out here. If you are in your late twenties and grew up playing Nintendo video games you will completely get it. Regardless, it's a very cool project. Finally, all the hours of my son's misspent youth that he frittered away playing video games are paying off...literally! 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Me and My MRI

This morning, I'm having an MRI done on my neck. In case you're not familiar with an MRI, it's an expensive procedure whereby your entire body is slid into a giant metal tube for thirty minutes. Once you're in there, you are told to remain perfectly still, although how you could move even if you wanted to is a mystery to me since you've got maybe 3 inches of space within which to do all this moving about. Meanwhile, as you lay there some guy, (who you never see because by the time you get out he's always gone), anyway...some guy with a ball peen hammer starts beating the crap out of the metal tube right about where your head is located. It's the loudest, most obnoxious sound in the world and after thirty minutes of it, you're ready to grab that hammer and turn it on the nurse. Luckily for all of them, the dude with the hammer is long gone by the time they slide you out. Your ears are ringing so badly you can hardly hear the woman tell you that since you haven't met your yearly deductible on your health insurance..."That will be $396, Mr. Dunnevant." But at that point, you'd be willing to pay them any amount of money to get out of there.

One more thing about an MRI. I might go days, even weeks between an itchy nose outbreak, but the chances of me having a severe one are close to 100% the very second they slide me into the tube of death. But, it's not just my nose. I start developing extreme itchiness from the crown of my head all the way to my toes. Every orifice of my body feels like there is something crawling into it roughly at the exact time that the nurse with the microphone says, "Remember Mr. Dunnevant, it is extremely important that you remain completely still throughout the entire procedure!" I feel like saying, "Well, that would be easier to do if there weren't a million ants inside this thing!"

Yeah, so that's what I'm doing in about an hour. Getting old isn't for sissies.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Three Expressions I Despise

I love language, especially the written word. To read a Shakesperian sonnet or a paragraph of Pat Conroy prose is to be transported to a different place. It takes only a handful of pages of a Deen Koontz novel to be sucked in to the bizarre world of his imaginations. Of course, all of language isn't so lofty or poetic. Common discourse is anything but romantic. We take verbal shortcuts when ordering pizza that we wouldn't take delivering an eulogy. Over time, colloquialisms creep in to our everyday communication. They are not all bad, but there are a few of them that I have grown to despise over the years. For example:

1. Hang in there. 

This woeful phrase has been around for most of my life and I have always hated it. How many times have you seen that stupid picture of the kitten hanging onto a tree branch with a wild expression with hang in there at the bottom of the picture? What does it actually mean, this hang in there business? Essentially, it is a totally passive phrase that has no meaning. Hang in there is what you tell someone who has cancer, or is going through a miserable divorce, or is being audited by the IRS. It's what you tell someone to do when there's absolutely nothing to be done. As such, it is defeatist. A better way of saying hang in there would be to say, "Yeah, do nothing and hope things get better." One does not simply hang in there in life. You either do things that improve your lot or you do things that worsen your lot. Hanging in there is for people who have resigned themselves to the whims of fate. No thanks!

2. That's easier said than done.

Well...of course! Everything is easier said than done, literally everything. It's easier to talk about practically anything than it is to do most things. I can talk about hitting a 95 mph fastball for hours on end, but to pick up a bat and stand in the box against Randy Johnson is another matter altogether. There is nothing profound about stating the obvious. Yes, it is much easier to talk about balancing the budget than it is to balance the thing, wildly easier to talk about world peace than to achieve it, and amazingly easier to talk about losing those last ten pounds than to actually lose them.

3. At the end of the day.

This one kills me. It is usually employed in much the same way as someone might say, "when all is said and done," a much more artful expression. People who are fond of using this phrase do so in an attempt to escape having to articulate a more persuasive argument. When a difficult and complicated topic is being hashed maybe global warming...and someone brings up the current 16 year cooling trend, the global warming enthusiast might say in a huff, "Well, at the end of the day, we will all be dead in 25 years if we don't do something about this NOW!!!" At the end of the day most often is used by someone who wants to end a discussion, not start one. It's a quick, pithy way to escape the tall grass of detail by falling back on false simplicity. Politicians love to use at the end of the day to segue away from a discussion about the massive unfounded liabilities of Social Security and Medicaid and on to more comfortable topics..."Sure, we have some financial challenges, but we're gonna figure this out because at the end of the day, we're Americans!!"

As much as these three expressions irritate me, they aren't going away anytime soon. I can try to shame you guys into not using them...but at the end of the day, that's easier said than done so I'll just hang in there!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

There's Something About Carly

    " I did not run for office and win so I could manage the decline of a great nation."

                                                                                                 Margaret Thatcher

    " Every one of our problems has a solution. Every one of our wounds are self-inflicted."

                                                                                                 Carly Fiorina

There are plenty of things about Carly Fiorina that I'm uncomfortable with; her muscular view of American power being one of them, her devotion to John McCain being another. But, increasingly, I find myself drawn to her. Listening to her speak on the stump as well as in television interviews, I hear a confident, composed, highly literate woman who never seems to be caught off guard or rattled, even by the most ridiculous questions, like this one from someone at a town hall in New Hampshire:

" Do you think that a woman's hormones could prevent you, or any woman from serving as president, from acting rationally?"

Carly: Ladies, here's a test. Can any of you think of a time when a man's judgement was clouded by hormones...including in the Oval Office?

Her view of tax policy( my personal litmus test for any candidate ), is summarized in a short but powerful statement..." Lower every rate, close every loophole "

Obviously, there's much more to the job of being president than tax policy. But the more I hear of her, the more I like. If our next President must be a woman, I'd take Fiorina over Clinton every day of the week and twice on Sunday. 

Her biggest problem seems to be that she hasn't raised very much money. Although, if she manages to be included in the debates, that could change. Of the declared candidates so far, there aren't many who will do better in a debate than her, which will supercharge her fundraising. Still, she's a long shot. In addition to her lack of money, there's the problem of the party she's associated with. In all of my adult life, I have never witnessed a political party with a leadership as out of touch with the American people as today's Republicans. From Mitch McConnell to the tan-in-a-can Speaker of the House, Republican leaders seem openly hostile to issues that are very important to the members of it's party. I just can't figure it out. It baffles me. To quote that sage old political philosopher, Bugs Bunny, "What a bunch of maroons!"

Monday, July 27, 2015

Back Home

Well, my vacation is over, so that can only mean one thing...time to schedule an MRI.

Yes, the neck has spoken and declared the era of pharmaceutical remedies over. Next step is an MRI followed by cortisone shots. If that doesn't work, maybe ginseng oil and leeches.

I've never seen a dog happier to be back home than Lucy. She was practically leaping for joy. It reminded me of how Snoopy used to dance in those Peanuts specials on TV. She was thrilled at being reunited with her nice, safe house. Her appetite immediately returned, and she actually fell asleep in Pam's lap after dinner, something she never did before. For Miss Lucy, there's no place like home.

So, besides scheduling my MRI, a formidable to-do list awaits me this morning:

1. Book a cabin for our fall trip to The Smokey Mountains
2. Reconstruct my bank accounts after the carnage of last week, pick up spreadsheet of bank charges for delivery to company from the northeast responsible for carnage, demanding reimbursement.
3. Return phone calls from vacation week.
4. Plow through stack of mail on my desk.
5. Prepare for two client presentations this week.

One last thing about my week in Hatteras. I was there for seven days and never once turned on a television. I did use my cell phone, more than I should have but not nearly as much as I do when I'm home. I brought my office laptop with me, but never opened it either. I am a better person because of it. At least, I feel like a better person. I didn't talk as much as I usually do. Part of that was a result of being in pain for much of the time, but my mental metabolism slows down at the beach for some reason. I listen more carefully. The same thing happens when I go to Maine. Everything slows down. Maybe it's because unhooking from the relentless machine that is the world of business, allows the mind to rest. The first thing I did at 5:45 this morning was check the overnight markets. For seven days and nights, I never once looked at the markets! It changes a person. In my case, it slows me down. It's a good thing, a healthy thing to slow down, to disengage from the struggle, if just for a

But, now the struggle is back. By the end of this day, I'll be fully up to speed on the latest happenings in the world of money. Vacations end abruptly. There's no other way to end them. So, they must be scheduled more frequently. Next up? A quick trip to Maine the first week of September.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

One More Day.

The hard part about vacation is standing in the driveway at 6:00am watching the back of your son's car disappear down the street. This time, there's someone with him, which makes it easier, not quite as lonely a visual as in past years. She makes him happy. After watching them together for five days, that much is clear. They both have responsibilities on Sunday, so they had to leave a day early. Pam cried. She always does. I didn't, because I never do. But that doesn't mean it isn't difficult. It is...after 26 years, it still is.

Looks like our last day here will be the best as far as weather goes. It's glorious outside, clear and crisp, without the heavy blanket of humidity...God's judgement on the South. We will wrench every minute out of this day on the beach, around the pool and around the table. Tonight is the only night we order take-out. It will be pizza, I think. We've got to spend what's left of the yard sale proceeds on something, it might as well be pizza. We could go out for dinner somewhere, but parties of 16 are problematic at the smallish restaurants on Hatteras Island.

It's been a very relaxing week, except for last night when my wife beat me by one shot at Putt Putt. She can be a cold blooded killer when she wants to be! Last night was also a milestone of sorts for the 13th Dunnevant Beach Week Vacation. It marked the first time that my two kids were responsible for making dinner. Watching Kaitlin, Jon, Patrick and Sarah putzing around in the kitchen making, baklava, chicken cheese enchiladas, Spanish rice and tomatoe salad was something to see. It seems like only yesterday that my kids were running around on the beach at sunset with oversized t-shirts on, their little brown arms glistening in the dying light. Now they huddle together in the kitchen preparing a meal for 18, calm and confident. Amazing.

Tomorrow we will crawl out of here and make the deflating journey back home, me with an ailing neck and Lucy with what might be an urinary tract infection. But that's tomorrow. Today I'm still at the beach and intend to make the most of the day. Patrick and Sarah will never be very far from my thoughts, because I won't be able to relax until they make it back to Nashville.

Great week.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Playing Through the Pain

My neck isn't enjoying my vacation. It has gotten progressively worse each day this week. I've been trying to figure out the reason for this particular flare up, since I have been under zero stress since I got here. At first I thought maybe the posture of my beach chair might have been the culprit, but last night was by far my worse night and because of yesterday's rain I spent very little time on the beach. So much for that theory. Perhaps my neck is allergic to vast quantities of calorie-packed food? Whatever the reason, a combination of high dose anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxers and pain killers isn't doing the job. Bummer. But, I'm on vacation, so I'll just have to play through the pain.

I'm staring to think that bringing Lucy to the beach was a mistake. Even though she has enjoyed being around so many people who love her and has thoroughly enjoyed running on the beach, this great big house has proven to be a house of horrors for such a skittish puppy! Everywhere she looks there are piles of scary bags and boxes. The streets here are lined with millions of black garbage cans. Every morning before sunrise a giant and very loud truck comes to pick them up and violently shake them free of their contents, all the while with a yellow flashing light twirling above sending spooky shadows dancing across the roof of our room. Last night's violent rainstorm and rolls of thunder had the poor girl shaking like a leaf, wedging herself under our pillows to escape. It's all been too much for her. She's eaten maybe two complete meals since Sunday.

Now, on to the good news. Wednesday night was our dine around night so Pam and I took our six out to Rusty's for dinner. Fantastic meal and wonderful conversation with Miss Sarah, who is having a great time here despite being introduced to so large and potentially intimidating a gathering of personalities which the Dunnevant family can sometimes be. Tonight she will be helping Patrick, Kaitlin and Jon fix dinner, the first time that this particular generation has ever been given the task. We are all nervously optimistic!

Despite last night's horrendous storm, at 7:45 on Thursday morning, the skies are clearing, specks of blue are fighting back against the gray. Looks like another wonderful day on the beach is in my future. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

You Asked For It!!

Many of you have sent me requests for more information concerning the fart machine I mentioned in my last blog. Actually just a handful of you have requested the information. Ok, of my middle school readers is all geeked up about the thing and wants more info, so here goes:

The Wind Breaker 2000 ( deluxe model 2 ) is made by the Crude Novelty Company at their manufacturing facility at 3308 Ol Factory Drive in Whokudtasheeze, Wisconsin. It features a remote control with not one, but TWO power settings, Oops and Wow! The device comes with a computer chip with 10 unique standard examples of flatulence. However, for a mere $9.99 each, you can buy two additional chips that feature more exotic flatulence from around the world. There's the sardines and broccoli on a twelve hour train ride chip, and my personal favorite, prison dysentery revenge.

Today was our first bad weather day, but it wasn't a complete wash out. The morning was sunny and not terribly hit, so several of us went into Buxton to climb the Hatteras lighthouse. Of course, the presence of Jon on the property had our party treated like rock stars, complete with free tickets. He made some impression during his three summers here apparently. After the lighthouse, we drove by the Orange Blossum bakery where we bought three bags of Apple Ugglies, the most intense combination of sugar, fruit, butter and flower known to exist in the free world. The line was out the door. I plan on having some for dessert tonight. Of course, they'll have to wait until I polish off Paula's hot peach cobbler first. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A Day In The Life at the Beach

Whenever I tell people about the family beach vacation we take every two years, whereby 18 of my extended family rent an enormous house on the Outer Banks of North Carolina for a week, about 30% of them say something like, "Oh, that sounds wonderful!" Everyone else looks at me hesitantly, mouths agape, waiting for the punch line. "Wait...your whole family rent a house...together? For an entire week?"

Being in close quarters with large numbers of relatives can be difficult.  Every family is some combination of the Walton's and the Manson's, I suppose. But somehow for us, it all works. This is the 13th such vacation, so we've been doing this since Patrick was a fussy three month old. That inaugural trip was in Sandbridge, in a house with a window air conditioner in two rooms of the entire house, artificial turf on the floor in the kitchen, and roaches the size of adult sandals. Despite such third world conditions, we all had a blast, and against all odds decided that it should become a new family tradition.

As the family grew, the houses would get bigger. As our financial prospects improved they would become more luxurious. Once mom and dad got too old to climb four flights of stairs all day for a week, we began to rent only houses with elevators. As a result, we narrowed the field to houses constructed relatively recently, elevators not being a common feature of houses built in the 1950's. As the rental cost began to escalate, somebody came up with the brilliant idea of having a family yard sale on trip years to finance the week's groceries. At that point, the week took on a life of its own, permanently gaining a beachhead in family lore.

Beach week has also served as a testing ground for would-be suitors. My sister Paula introduced us all to her boyfriend Ron one year. Some of us were dubious, what with his problematic backstory which involved prison time. Ever sensitive to the feelings of others, we decorated the house for a surprise birthday celebration for him by decorating everything in a jail theme, complete with prison uniform stripes! A few years later Christina brought her boyfriend Paul along. He was nice enough, but guilty of false advertising, since for the week he had a head full of hair, but as soon as they tied the knot, he shaved it all off, and hasn't had hair since. Then, a few years ago, Kaitlin's boyfriend Jon, just happened to be a park ranger working at the Hatteras lighthouse, and so just casually popped in for a visit every stinking night, where he was a blatant suck-up the entire week, ingratiating himself to the entire family...except me. This year, Patrick has brought along his girlfriend Sarah. Due to her Greek heritage, we are forcing her to make baklava for 18 people. She's been here for over 48 hours and so far hasn't fled the scene in tears, so I'd say it's going pretty well.

"But, what do you do all week with all of your family?" When people ask this, what they are trying to say is, "Don't you get on each other's nerves??" The answer is...kinda. But that's what nerves are there be gotten on. So, why not have your nerves gotten on by people you love? Essentially, most days go something like this:

5:30-8:30am. People wake up gradually and when they do, breakfast is an on your own affair. Usually a group of ten or so wind up at the table together eating everything from cereal to pound cake slathered in strawberries. At the beach, meal boundaries vanish. If you decide that breakfast should consist of left over lasagna, then bless your heart.

10:30am. The beach calls. We go down and stake our claim with umbrellas and beach chairs. It is quite a sizable enclave, and I'm sure other smaller, less loud families resent us. Yesterday's session featured a fake snake placed close to the new girl...who barely flinched. She has promise!

1:00pm. We head back to the house for another a la carte lunch, after which everyone heads down to the pool for the afternoon. Everyone, that is, except the unfortunate slob who is responsible for the evening's dinner. Yesterday, that was Pam, and by Although the final product was a raging success, the process was stressful, featuring as it did a defective crock pot ordeal. But the pulled pork barbecue, apples and cranberry cold slaw, bacon topped baked beans, tomatoe pie and homemade ice cream cake was wildly praised by all. 

Sometimes after dinner, we all head to the beach for a walk as the sun sets. Then we all gather in the big family room to eat Uncle Bill's stove top pop corn and gossip about all the idiots back home. Sometimes games break out, other times it's just a million small conversations taking place all at once. One thing that never happens? The large flat screen television that hangs on the wall, large and foreboding...never gets turned on. It just hangs there, black and useless....sorta like Al Sharpton.

So far this year, besides the fake snake, there has been a fake dog poop sighting and a remote controlled  fart machine employed during dinner, with six year old Bennett at the controls. Just your basic, everyday Tomfoolery. 

I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Renaming the Beach House

Ok, I realize that I should probably let it go, but I just can't get over the cognitive dissonance that surely must have been involved in the naming of this house. I mean, when you set about naming a beach house, Absolutely Fabulous,you are making a rather emphatic statement. You're saying that everything about your house is, well...fabulous. I am here to tell you that, as God is my witness, this is not so! So, to correct the record, I have come up with a list of alternative names that do less violence to the truth.

1. Insidiously Ordinary
2. Predictably Disappointing
3. Insanely Overpriced
4. Mildly Irritating 
5. Shockingly Dirty

I've been thinking about writing a follow up to my book, Finishing Well.  
If I wrote a book about this place, I could call it, Aging Poorly.

Alright, now that I've got that out of my system, I can report that everyone has arrived safe and sound. Patrick and Sarah pulled an all-nighter from Nashville, arriving at noon yesterday. Today is the day that the Dunnevants are responsible for making dinner...pork barbecue. 

The weather is here, wish you were beautiful.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Our Ghetto Beach House

We made it. Six hours in a car with Lucy, despite organizational dysfunction and a minor tick infestation, we made it to our beach house in Hatteras. The house is optimistically named Absolutely Fabulous, in much the same way as some parents might nickname an effeminate kid, Thor, in the vane hope that a mere name might somehow endow the recipient with qualities that are otherwise lacking. To name this particular house, Absolutely Fabulous is to forever strip any reasonable meaning from those two words.

It is not without its benefits. The roof seems to work. Electricity is fully functioning, as is the indoor plumbing. There are no broken windows. No roaches, rats or other pests have made an appearance, and the kitchen seems to be fully functioning. Thus ends its positive qualities.

The negative side of the ledger must begin with the smell of the place. The first floor game room has that stale, film of mustiness most often associated with Southern Baptist fellowship halls. It's as if someone years ago had an Easter egg hunt using moth balls. As you venture up the stairs on the carpeted steps, which appear not to have been vacuumed since the Eisenhower administration, the smell changes. The second floor has four bedrooms dissected  by a single hallway. The air is thick with disinfectant, the kind that motels spray after four college kids check out of their Spring Break room at Motel Six. By the time you reach the third floor living space and kitchen, the smell becomes less noticeable, not offensive, but with a 1950's, Green Mile staleness that makes you want to throw open every dirty window in the place and let in some fresh air. Speaking of dirt, there's lots of it here at Absolutely Fabulous. I am hoping and praying that none of the ladies happen to look up at the blades of the ceiling fan above me...there's enough dirt lining those babies to plant tomatoes.

But, I have no business complaining. I'm on vacation, and my son and his girlfriend are four hours away, having left from Nashville at 10:00 last night, driving through the night. I will have an entire week to be charmed by the hidden beauty of Absoluetly Fabulous. After all, when you pay $7000 for a house at the beach, there has to be hidden beauty, right? Oh wait...Christina just found an ant! 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

My Nightmare Afternoon

I had big plans for my Friday. After my one morning appointment, I was going to spend the rest of the day plowing through a list of vacation preparation jobs and generally getting all geeked up for my family trip to Hatteras, North Carolina. Instead, some clerk in a skyscraper in Boston, Massachusetts set off a series of events that sent my financial life spiraling out of control. I will attempt to write about it here as a form of therapy, since there's nothing else I can do about it, and writing about it is probably a better idea than buying a gun and driving to Boston.

Eight months ago I began work on a sizable life insurance case. Finally, in late June, all of that work was rewarded when I closed the largest such case I had ever written in the 32 years of my business career. I will not name the company through which I placed this business for fear that the simple act of typing their name might very well send me into apoplectic spasms of violence. Suffice it to say that this company was named for a prominent signer of the Declaration of Independence. Unlike the vast majority of companies I deal with, this company does not pay me by way of electronic deposit. Consequently, on Monday the 13th of July, I received by Federal Express, the largest single check of my life and promptly deposited it into my checking account. Knowing how weird banks are about large checks, I waiting a couple days until I saw it appear on my online statement as "ready to access." Then I began writing checks, transferring money to other accounts belonging to my wife and my business, etc..etc..

Imagine my surprise, when yesterday at 12:45, after my appointment had left, I read four e-mails from my bank notifying me that I had bounced four checks and that the largest check of my career had been returned to my back as UNPAID! I made a bee line to my bank to get to the bottom of what was surely a bank error. My helpful bank officer was certain that it was not a bank error, that in fact, the insurance company bearing the name of a signer of the Declaration of Independence had refused to honor their own check. But, no worries, I had overdraft protection, which had kicked in to limit the damage. Only, my overdraft protection had limits and I had exceeded them due to the large nature of this particular deposit. Dazed and confused, I raced back to my office to demand an explanation from the hapless guy who handles the processing of life insurance. After an agonizing two hours, he informed me that a clerk at the home office had made a "clerical error during the processing of my case which had inadvertently caused the case to be backed off the system..." But, not to worry, they have taken full responsibility for their mistake and have agreed to reimburse me for any bank charges that might have resulted from said error and have vowed to overnight me a replacement check by Tuesday of next week at the latest.

I really am a reasonable guy. Yes, I can be volatile. I do have a famous temper that sometimes rears it's ugly head. But, I was so taken aback by the sheer stupidity of this particular screwup, I couldn't even conjure up appropriate rage. I stammered out something about how this was unacceptable, that I was going to be out of town next week on vacation and needed that replacement check to be in the form of an electronic deposit and I needed it to be executed TODAY, not next Tuesday. I was assured that this could be done and not to worry. I took a deep breath and for the first time in three hours felt that I was going to be alright. Little did I know that it was just starting!

Of the dozen or so things on my to do list for Friday, I now only had time to get a haircut. While in the chair at Sortsclips, I get a text from my frantic wife notifying me that while she was standing in line at Martins she had gotten a text from our bank notifying her that all of the money in her account had been liquidated and she now had a ZERO balance. Not only that, but since her name is still on my grown son's account, all of Patrick's money had been removed as well...something about "loss prevention." So now, our friendly clerk in Boston has left my "living paycheck to paycheck" 26 year old son who lives in Nashville with ZERO money in his checking account. Pam immediately launched into Momma Bear mode and heads over to the bank. It's one thing to drain her account, but when you start messing with one of her kids, well now you've got WWIII on your hands. 

I meet her at the bank, still waiting for confirmation from my life processing guy that the replacement money will in fact be electronically transferred today. As we sit across the desk from two of the most helpful bankers in history, the full impact of what has happened begins to dawn on me. For the first time, I become angry. I say nothing. If my guy comes through, all will be well. The call comes. I walk outside into the parking lot where he informs me that the earliest the transfer can be done will be mid-morning on.....Monday.

My Christian faith informs me that anger isn't a sin, but warns that in my anger I should "sin not." Well, I'm pretty sure that the conversation I had in the parking lot of my bank at 5:20 yesterday afternoon failed to meet the Biblical a long shot.

Back inside, the branch manager was scrambling to come up with a way to put a band aid on the situation that could get us through until Monday. The fact that it was a Friday and that I would be out of town next week made a bad situation even worse. Amazingly, she found a way. It involves an old credit card I had with my bank that had a zero balance but a $25000 line of credit. I hadn't used the card in over a year but hadn't cancelled it either. We will be able, over the next two days, to make cash advances to cover the shortfall in all of the accounts affected by this catastrophe. I will have to call my mortgage company to have them submit my house payment again, since it was one of the checks that had bounced. Luckily, I had cashed a couple of smaller checks before all of this barnyard manure had hit the fan, so at least I have enough walking around money to get me through the weekend.

When this is all over I intend to do two things. One, write a letter of accommodation to whoever is the boss of my bank's branch manager. She was a dynamo and worked feverishly and compassionately to fix this for me, way above the call of mere duty. She was professional and take charge and I will always be grateful for her efforts on our behalf. Once I do that, I'm going to get to the bottom of exactly who it was that plunged my Friday into such chaos. I want to know who it was who managed to transform the biggest case of my career into the biggest financial nightmare of my life. 

Then, I'm going to give him or her a call for a full explanation, and this time try harder on the "sin not" thing.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Nuclear Deal

I don't know about you, but the poisoned well of politics is starting to get in the way of my ability to reason. The incessant partisan chatter coming out of Washington has managed to completely corrupt my ability to process basic information. For example, I have absolutely no idea what to make of this nuclear deal with the Iranians. None!

To hear the White House tell it, John Kerry just saved civilization. Through steely-eyed tenacity and tireless negotiating, we have ended Iranian dreams of nuclear weapons, and made the entire Middle East a safer place. Not only have we neutered Iranian nuclear ambitions, we have negotiated the toughest, most fail-safe inspection regime in the history of the world. If the Iranians so much as think about cheating, we will instantly know about it and the entire deal will be off!

To hear the Republicans tell it, Obama just capitulated to practically every Iranian demand, so desperate was he for a legacy enhancement. The Iranians got everything they wanted in exchange for destroying a handful of centrifuges. Although Obama-Kerry had promised anytime, anywhere inspections, they got neither, and they both owe Neville Chamberlain an apology! Once again, America got hosed, this time by the biggest State sponsor of terrorism on planet Earth. This is what happens when you place an America-hating Marxist in the White House.

Judging by the footage of Iranian's joyous celebrations in the streets of Tehran, the man in the street certainly thinks that his government was the winner. I haven't heard such jubilant death to America chanting since the day after 9/11. But who knows what the citizens of Iran have been told by their State controlled media? Maybe they were out there burning American flags all night because it had been announced that the government was throwing an all you can eat Chelow kababs party. But there were no scenes of joyous Americans celebrating in American streets over this deal, for what that's worth. But there was plenty of vitriol, lots of allegations of incompetence, even treachery, across the political barricades. It's become what we all expect. The impossible dream in America is...consensus.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Donald Trump Is An Idiot

At the risk of alienating many of you, can I just say that Donald Trump is an idiot? I guess so, because I just did. Let me count the ways...

This self-promoting narcissist is running for President the way you or I might take up stamp collecting. It's his new hobby. His qualifications for the job seem to be his often repeated observation that he's "really rich!" Yes, Mr. Trump, you are really rich. That often happens when one inherits a real estate empire from one's father, then greases every palm from Staten Island to Palm Beach to build yuuuuuuge gaudy monuments to your own ego with other people's money. Going bankrupt four times isn't a red flag, its a resume enhancement.

Thus far, the Donald, has ridden a wave of voter frustration and anger at the illegal immigration problem to the top of the polls. His famously intemperate remarks about Mexican immigrants being primarily murderers and rapists have been greeted by his supporters as evidence of his unique ability to   "tell it like it is." What we need, they say, is someone who isn't politically correct. Ok, that's fine. But how about we ask those who tell it like it is to tell it like it really is? How about we ask his Trumpness to explain why he hires so many of those murdering rapists to build his buildings, and mow the vast fairways of his golf courses? Trump Tower would be Trump Shanty without the hordes of immigrant laborers who built it.

But, my biggest objection to the man with the World's Most Hideous CombOver is his attempt to portray himself as a conservative who longs for a smaller, less intrusive government. This is on a par with Barack Obama trying to sell himself as an Evangelical Rotarian. Any casual investigation into his political contribution history will reveal that Trump loves him plenty of big government democrats, most impressively, Hillary Clinton. Small government? Are you kidding me? When you look up the term, eminent domain in the dictionary, Donald Trump's picture is there. Put it this way...Trump was FOR big government before he was against it. The only Party that Donald Trump cares about is the uber-exclusive one he's throwing at Trump Plaza next week where he gets to get his picture taken with Taylor Swift...or some other star of the moment.

Listen, I'm also troubled about illegal immigration and the hash that has been made of the rule of law on the subject by the Obama Administration. But, call me crazy, but I'm thinking that we shouldn't be considering electing a man to be our next President who has his own line of cologne, just because he correctly identified a national problem with tough, straight talk. Tough talk is nice, but it's no substitute for intelligence.

My feeling is that Trump will eventually flame out. His buffoonery will ultimately become obvious to all but his most devoted sycophants. Then he can go back to building kitschy gold-plated junk with his name plastered across the side. He's only 69, he's probably got at least another couple of bankruptcies in him.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Lucy and Jackson

Kaitlin and Jon, along with our grand-puppy Jackson, packed up and left for home yesterday afternoon. When I arrived at the house after my workout at the gym, there was Pam, sound asleep on the sofa, while Lucy was in such a catatonic state on her bed at the top of the stairs that she didn't even lift her head to acknowledge my arrival. I plopped down in my recliner and before I knew it, the clock blinked 6:30 at me. Everyone was still asleep. 

I knew that at some point Pam would hit the wall. She had been going 100 miles per hour for a week. But I hadn't realized how exhausting it would be  having a puppy around the house for Lucy. For 48 hours Jackson had been enamored with his new big dog pal. He followed her everywhere, wrestled with her, bit her constantly around the ears, rolled on the floor with her, desperately attempted to steal every morsel of her food. It was adorable to watch and quite endearing. Lucy was so gentle and patient with Jackson as if she knew that he was just a stupid puppy and couldn't help himself. 

I got a glimpse of what kind of grandparent I will be...and it wasn't pretty. Kaitlin and Jon have taken great pains to raise Jackson the right way...with rules. They even have read, and are attempting to apply, a dog-rearing book by some big shot dog expert. I spent the entire weekend trying to invent ways to circumvent their strict rules. I found myself thinking and saying..."now, yau'll leave Jackson alone! He's just a puppy!" Needless to say Jackson thought I was great fun. That's going to be me...the fun grandparent, the one that will require three days of behavioral rehab after each overnight visit! But, oh my goodness was that little puppy a ton of fun! He had a great impact on Lucy, who seems much snugglier now and less skittish. In less than a week the two of them will be back together for an entire week with us at the beach. It's going to be awesome. But first, here are a few pictures from the weekend:


Sunday, July 12, 2015

Wedding Shower Saga

I've never attended a wedding shower. I don't know anyone my age who would be stupid enough to throw one of those coed showers. Wedding showers are and always and forevermore should remain...a girl thing. After yesterday, I still haven't attended a wedding shower. I was there, I was in the same house where a wedding shower was going on, but I didn't attend. My function was to be put in charge of anything that needed to be done at the last minute, and to keep my mouth shut. In the 24 hours prior to noon yesterday, this thing had disaster written all over it. That it wasn't a disaster was a testament to the mad party-throwing skills of my incredible wife. Let's review some of the highlights, shall we?

Friday 10:35 am. I break out of the gate, to-do list in hand, determined to make her proud. First off, I hit up Lowe's with a list of vitals, the most important of which is a new toilet seat. Who knew that in America there are literally 50 varieties of toilet seat styles? I am forced to call Pam and ask her to measure the thing. An argument issues over the proper way to measure a toilet seat...not a great start to my day. I finally pick my seat...wait, that sounded wrong, I decided on a seat, the StaTite by Church with the patented Whisper close technology. ( toilet seats have technology now? ). I pay for my haul at the self checkout place and get 40 bucks of cash back, sensing that at some point over the next 24 hours I might find myself somewhere, buying God knows what, at a place that doesn't take debit cards!

Friday 11:15 am. I drive out to some place on Hull Street road to pick up a free wedding cake top for Kaitlin and Jon's one year anniversary coming up on Sunday. I'm aware that this has nothing whatsoever to do with the wedding shower, but it is something that Pam had forgotten to do and didn't have time for. 

Friday 12:25 am. I thoughtfully drop by Chik-fil-a on the way home and buy Pam a small chocolate shake and a chicken sandwich. When I reached into my wallet to pay for the meal it occurs to me that I had left 40 dollars in the change dispenser at the checkout at Lowe's. After lunch I will go back there and hope that a Good Samaratian followed me and had turned it in. No such luck. However, in a fortuitous if slightly creepy turn of events, it turns out that Lowe 's has surveillance cameras trained on each and every cash register in the store. The cashier got on the phone and some unseen security person did a quick run through the video evidence where it was discovered that I had indeed left the money in the tray and the very next customer had pocketed it for himself. ( what's the world coming to? ) Astonishingly, the nice cashier handed me my money. Major kudos to Lowe's.

1:30 pm. I install my cutting edge technology toilet seat without incident.

2:00 pm. I cut the grass, and smugly congratulate myself on racing through my to-do list like a hot knife through butter. I jump in the shower, eager to start hanging pictures.

2:30 pm. After emerging from the shower I suddenly am overcome by several physical symptoms which can best be described as harbingers of very bad tidings. Without going into any disgusting details, let me just say that I would be placed out of action for the rest of the day. The timing of this particular ailment could not possibly have been worse. On a positive note...I lost three pounds!

4:30 pm. Pam gives the new toilet a test drive and discovers that it has already broken! Some plastic thing snapped on its first use. Technology, my ass! Since I am indisposed, she calls Ron Roop, my annoyingly handy brother-in-law who comes over, determines that the toilet seat in question is defective, drives over to Lowe' demanding restitution and a new one. In less than an hour, the new, working seat is in place. Crisis averted.

Saturday 1:15 am. Kaitlin and Jon arrive with our Grand-Puppy, Jackson. Lucy and Jackson spend thirty minutes getting to know each other, then spend the rest of the night whining and pawing at their respective doors wanting to play. Sleep will have to wait until after the festivities.

Saturday 7:15 am. I feel much better and immediately busy myself with the remaining items on my list. I notice that it is pouring down rain outside. This can't be good.

Saturday 10:30 am. In an hour and a half, 23 of the finest women in America will be arriving bearing tons of lavender scented gifts. Pam's helpers have arrived and it's time to start putting food in the oven, when our cutting edge technology GE gas grill literally DIES. The digital readout screen goes dark. For fifteen seconds or so, all of the air leaves my house. Everything goes into slow motion. I look at Pam, not knowing if she might fly into an unhinged rage, or collapse on the floor in a pool of tears. Instead, she makes another call to SUPER RON! To make a long and potentially catastrophic story short, there was some trip wire thing in one of the walls that we had pressed three different times to no effect but as soon as Ron pressed it once, the stove sprung back to life. Ron announces glibly, "That's $100 per visit, ya know."

Saturday HIGH NOON. Somehow, against all odds, everything is beautiful and ready. Except for one thing...the helium filled decorative balloons that I had hung on the front porch and the mailbox were hanging limply against the ground, weighed down by the rain, which had finally stopped. So, as the ladies start arriving, I find myself doing something I feel pretty sure I had never done before in my life. There I was, drying off each balloon with a paper towel, hoping against hope that no man I know happens by and catches me in such a un-masculine position.

Saturday Noon- 2:00 pm. My job, with Jon's help was to keep the two dogs upstairs and out of trouble. For the most part, we succeed.

Saturday 3:00 pm. After the last amazing cupcake has been eaten and the ladies start to leave, Jon and I go into full cleaning beast-mode. We load the dishwasher, gather up all the paper napkins and whatnots into the trash and start putting all of the displaced furniture back where it belonged. Then we loaded all of the gifts into the proper cars, all the while hoping that Jackson and Lucy weren't urinating on each other upstairs.

And then...just like that, it was all over. I asked Jessica, the guest of honor, how it went. She smiled at me, gave me a hug and said, "It was perfect!"

Of course. Of course it was. That's what Pam does!

Friday, July 10, 2015

My To-Do List

There's this app on my iPhone, or maybe it's a widget, I can never remember...which is precisely the problem. It's called REMINDERS, and it serves as a high tech to-do list, kind of like a digital age nag, whereby my wife can add items to the list whenever something pops into her head, and she can do so wirelessly from anywhere in the universe where she has an Internet connection. Fascinating. For this I have Steve Jobs to thank.

Thanks, Steve.

Anyway, my REMINDER widget is stuffed to the gills this morning, what with the big wedding shower lallapaloosa at our house tomorrow. As of this hour there are 13 items under the lavender colored heading, Honey-Do. There were 14, but I gave Lucy a bath last night so that one got checked off. Here's what's left:

1. Hang 2 wedding pics
2. Hang 2 graduation pics
3. Put covers on outlets behind cubicle
4. Replace batteries in the clock
5. Put dog bowls and dog food container away just before the shower starts
6. Fix toilet seat
7. Spot vacuum Sat. Morning
8. Vacuum shag rug using CARPET setting to see if we can get more dog hair up
9. Cut grass
10. Buy new light bulbs (ask Pam first)
11. Buy picture hanging hardware
12. Clean nose prints off the living room windows
13. Change air conditioner filters

An interesting and diverse list, reflective of my wide-ranging husbandly skill set. Although, some of them require explanation. Numbers one and two are a result of Pam's painting spree of this past weekend, as is number three. Number six is a head scratcher. The toilet seat in question isn't cracked or anything, it's just a little loose. You know, it slides around if you're not sitting still. This is apparently unacceptable. There are two separate requests to vacuum. Yes, our dog has hair, and not all of them stay firmly affixed to her. Luckily, our shag rug has specks of a tan color in it that bear a striking resemblance to Lucy's hair color. But Pam wants them gone from our rug...all of them.

 I've got number nine. I'm great at cutting grass. I should point out that number twelve is not the result of me in some advanced stage of depression, face pressed forlornly against the windows, gazing blankly at the hostile world outside. No, this also, along with four other items on the list come courtesy of Lucy, who is fond of sitting at the front windows for hours staring across the street at Pippin the Ladradoodle, her sometimes friend with his fancy electronic fence, the arrogant bastard! 

I think it only fair to say that the 13 items on this list don't hold a candle to the million things that Pam has done in preparation for this event. She has been on a mission from God for over a month now. Watching her work has been exhausting. She has been a dynamo, a whirlwind of activity. I only have a 13 item to-do list that I can knock out in one day. This particular division of labor has been decidedly one-sided. But this wedding shower will most likely redefine the genre for years to come. That's how my wife rolls.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Achmed and Abdul School Lurch

Just out of curiosity, by a show of hands, how many of you have had experience with missing a deadline? Yes, I see. Quite a few of you, it appears. Now, how many of you have ever found yourself having run afoul of the April 15 deadline for filing your income tax return? Oh dear, that's a lot of hands! So, I'm sure you're aware of what happens if you miss the IRS imposed deadline. That's right, immediately upon your failure to file your return, the penalty and interest phase of your lifelong relationship with your government begins in earnest. In other words, in the real world, there are tangible and swift consequences for missing deadlines. That's why they are called deadlines...because when you cross're dead.

Not so in the murky world of international diplomacy, at least not in the age of Secretary of State John Kerry, the distinguished and very French-looking former Senator from the state of Massachusetts. By all accounts, Secretary Kerry (hereafter referred to by his nickname, Lurch) is having a devil of a time closing the deal on the nuclear treaty with the Iranians and their two cagey negotiators Achmed and Abdul. So far the talks have burned through four separate deadlines, the result of the A boys last minute demands. Lurch, desperately desiring a deal, each time issues a stern warning, but each time is dragged back to the table whereupon he makes further concessions. I imagine it goes something like this:

Imagine The Secretary of State driving a big SUV down the interstate with Achmed and Abdul in the back seat. Suddenly Achmed leans forward and flicks Lurch's ear. Achmed and Abdul then tumble together in hysterical laughter. Lurch cuts his very aristocratic eyes sternly into the rear view mirror...

Lurch: Now, you boys calm down! Don't make me come back there!

Abdul: Oh yeah? Whatcha gonna do about it Pierre??

Lurch: That's enough! You boys quiet down or so help me, I'm going to pull this car over!

Achmed: Whoooooa! Did you hear that, Abdul? Frenchy says he's gonna pull the car over!!

Lurch: I'm giving you two fair warning! You boys don't want to know what happens if I have to pull this car over!

Abdul then reaches inside his thawb and removes a straw, then plasters Lurch with a large and extremely wet spitball. More hysterical laughter...

Lurch: That's it! I cannot tell you how disappointed I am in you both. I'm pulling this car soon as I find a place that's big enough...and safe enough...boy the traffic is terrible today...well, you
can rest assured that I mean business this time...there will be consequences...a man can take but so much of this intolerable...oh wait, there's a Wawa. Who wants some frozen yogurt??

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

A Healing Song

Today, I will attend a viewing for the father of one of my clients, a healthy, robust man in his 70's struck down by a car accident. Yesterday, a sweet, loving soul from my church passed away from complications of recent heart surgery. She was in her 40's. Such is the arbitrary, fragile nature of this life. In ways random and relentless, death stuns us. Even when we expect it, anticipate it, death stuns.

So, I listen to music. Not just any music, but the soft gentle harmonies of accapella singing. Other music is better for celebrations. Sometimes it's the clever story telling of country music. Other times, rock and roll is what I need. It's the brooding symphonies of Beethoven when I need to think, Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra when I want to relax, Manheim Steamroller when I'm wrapping Christmas presents. But when I'm sad, and the specter of loss hangs over me, only the tender sound of the human voice will do.

Last month was a month of loss for me. June will, for the rest of my life, be the month that my parents died. This year was the first anniversary of Dad's passing and it weighed on me. One night I was sifting through old pictures and videos on my iPad when I found a video from 2013. Patrick's college choir of choice, The Chamber Singers, had been on tour and we had hosted them for a raucous dinner at our house. Before they left, I asked their leader, Deen Entsminger, if he would lead them in a performance of  their signature song, Lonesome Road by James Taylor. There they were, a bunch of energetic kids who had travelled 600 miles by bus earlier in the day, but still full of passion and silliness, all crammed into our overcrowded family room. Deen held out his hand and took a long, deep breath. For the next three minutes, a soulful sound filled the house and the hearts of everyone in it. The harmonies were tight and seamless, the execution flawless, which allowed us all to hear, really and truly hear the lyrics:

              Walk down that lonesome road all by yourself, 
               Don't turn your head back over your shoulder.
                 And only stop to rest yourself when the silver moon
                  is shining high above the trees.....

If my house accomplishes nothing else, it will have been the home of that three minutes. Last night I learned that my mother-in-law had taken a nasty tumble, breaking her elbow. Her face was bruised and scraped. She had needed stitches to close a wound. She had tripped on an unseen landscaping log in the dark leaving her dear friend's house after bringing a meal. Before going to bed last night, I listened again.

When we don't know what to pray, God sends music.

Monday, July 6, 2015

I Did It!

I did it. I caved to the cultural and societal pressure. I took the advice of my nephew and my son. I was prepared for an hour of relentless nothingness. I steeled myself for the slow motion, yawn-inducing experience of watching grown women running aimlessly by telling myself that it was my patriotic duty. As if on cue, there was my President urging all of America to root, root root for our women. Well, I was going to do it, even if it killed me.

Our girls had already dispatched the Germans several days ago and now would be facing the Japanese. Sound familiar?  All of the studio commentators were unanimous in their opinion that Tokyo's finest didn't stand a chance. I was dubious. They looked awfully determined. While the American girls were all smiles during the pregame introductions, the Japanese looked dead serious, grim and single minded, especially during the playing of their nation's anthem, a slow dirge that must have been composed the day after Hiroshima. I became fearful of them, suspicious of the lengths to which they might go for victory.

My biggest complaint about soccer is the amount of time that players spend seemingly determined not to score. There is much pointless passing, fruitless scampering, and dramatic flailing about for no apparent purpose. So, none of the knowledge about soccer I had managed to accrue  had prepared me for what I was about to see. Within the first ten minutes, the Americans had scored 4 goals, three of them by one player, and one of those from a mile away! This is the baseball equivalent of a team hitting three grand slams in the top of the first inning, the football equivalent of scoring five touchdowns in the first quarter. The Japanese players looked shell shocked, as if they couldn't believe what they were seeing, a sort of a Pearl Harbor in reverse. 

As is always the case, the best part of the telecast were the camera shots of brightly painted and wildly enthusiastic fans. I have to hand it to soccer fans, they are the absolute best when it comes to unhinged passion. 

By the end of the first half the Japanese had managed a face saving goal, but the game was essentially over after that initial burst of goal-scoring lunacy by the Americans. I had done my part. I had watched the entire first half! But then the Nationals game came on ESPN. I switched over to watch Bryce Harper hit, but I kept a sharp eye on the ticker at the bottom of the screen for any Japanese treachery in the second half. I was fully prepared to switch back if something nefarious was afoot. But it was not to be. The U.S. Won in a rout 5-2. World Cup champions! Good for them.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

It's All Greek To Me!

Whenever a country as ancient and proud as Greece is about to go bankrupt, it's a big deal, and an impossibly complicated one. The fact that the final nail in the coffin appears about to be driven by a referendum is the ultimate irony for a nation that gave the world Democracy.

I have more than a casual interest in Greece. I invest money for a living and the Greek government bonds that are about to become worthless are found scattered throughout many American mutual funds. Many of the talking heads in the financial media have talked about little else but the dangers of contagion, the notion that a sovereign default by one nation may spread like chicken pox in a Mississippi elementary school. So, I have tried my best to understand this Greek tragedy. I have read all I can find from every newspaper, magazine and think tank. After nearly two months of reading, I am no closer to the truth than I was before. What a hot mess.

This is a country that fought a bloody and acrimonious civil war after WWII, with the government eventually prevailing over the Communists in 1949. The official end of hostilities didn't happen until the formal accord was signed in the 1980's. Any discussion of Greek finances can't be made without an understanding of just how divided the country is, much of the division lingering from that civil war. Before joining the European Union in 2001, Greece was in horrible financial straights after the decade of the 1990's which saw them run insanely high budget deficits every year. Membership in the EU brought access to cheap loans and an economic revival from 2001-2007.  But eventually loans, cheap or not, have to be serviced, and when the economic crisis of 2008 came calling, Greece was hit especially hard. It has been on life support ever since, and now the creditors have had enough.

It's quite hard to pick out one thing to blame for Greece's troubles. It's more like a combination of many bad habits coming together at the worst possible time. Over the last twenty years public sector job growth has far outpaced the private sector, which I suppose is inevitable when you have a government which is asked by Greek citizens to do so many things. But when a huge number of your citizens work for the government, then the public sector unions become key to every politicians' success. Accordingly, they get most everything they want, from generous leave, to insanely rich pensions. Luckily for Greek politicians, the people being counted on to pay for these pensions have yet to be born and consequently can't vote. You would think that a nation so enamored with the welfare state would be willing to actually, you their taxes. But no...the Greek black market is the only part of the Greek economy that is thriving. Off the books, cash transactions are ubiquitous in a country starved for revenue. 

Greece has everything that Bernie Sanders loves, high taxes on the rich( which don't get paid), a huge and omnipresent government involved in every sphere of daily life, universal health care, powerful unions, a relatively small military, with soldiers who have seen their pay cut by 40%. No one in the country seems much interested in making a profit or building anything. Thus freed from the American preoccupation with mammon, the Greek citizenry is free to enjoy long paid holidays, and retirement with a generous pension while in their 40's. For those unlucky enough still to be in the work force, they can look forward to receiving 14 monthly pay checks, the two extra "months" a clever scheme dreamed up by the government to keep overall monthly wages lower since the ridiculously generous pensions are based on monthly pay. Workers can also receive bonuses for simply showing up to work...on time. These are the working conditions under which Greeks labor...after five years of grim austerity. This and baklava? What a country!

So today they go to the polls to vote for more austerity, or to stiff their creditors and leave the EU, the consequences of which even its proponents don't fully understand.

The lesson for us would seem to be...don't be like Greece. A good question to ask every Presidential candidate next year might be, " What policies will you put in place to insure that the United States never becomes Greece?"

Thursday, July 2, 2015

My Empty Good Sense Account

Yesterday afternoon, with the confidence that often accompanies foolishness, I took my improving neck out for a spin. Ever since the witch doctors at Tuckahoe Orthopedic put me on an expensive drug cocktail a couple of weeks ago, things had been looking up. The pain had been greatly reduced, the range of motion much improved. So naturally, me being me, I figured it was time to discover if the neck was up to a quick round of golf.

I drove out to The Hollows, a decidedly blue-collar course out in Hanover. Its claim to fame is that you can walk on without a tee time, its very easy, and they allow you to walk. I teed off at high noon. Two hours and twenty minutes, and six miles later I was done. My scorecard said 86. It was all a lie.

Ok, first of all, anyone who plays golf knows that your score seldom is a reflection of how well or poorly you played. Lots of times you feel like you hit the ball great all day but you couldn't sink a putt if your life depended on it. Therefore you think you played well, but the scorecard says 95. Then there are the times when you can count on one hand the number of quality shots you hit, but your score ends up being 86 because of several lucky breaks, a chip in bogey from 30 yards off the green and a couple of 40 foot putts that for no good reason happened to go into the hole! That was yesterday. It also should be noted that the course played to a par of 69 because of a redesign that temporarily has made a par 3 out of a par 4 hole.

But the really bad news is that it looks like I'm going to have to give up the game for a while. Every single swing I took ...hurt. I spent the whole afternoon trying to come up with a pain free version of a golf swing, three quarter, half, nothing worked. It didn't  matter what kind of shot I was trying to hit or what club I was using, every single swing barked at me. I'm no doctor, but I'm thinking that an activity that hurts is something that you probably shouldn't be doing.

It's a shame because I enjoyed being out yesterday. It was a beautiful day, not too hot. There was nobody out there, I never had to wait. I finished an entire round of golf in less that 2 and a half hours and got some excellent exercise from walking six miles. Just in case my wife is reading this...NO, I didn't carry my clubs!! I'm not that stupid. I had the good sense to use a pull cart. But there's only so much good sense in my bank account of ideas, and I used it all up on the pull cart decision. There wasn't any left when I decided to go ahead and play 18 instead of stopping at the turn since my neck was killing me. 

This morning the neck is sore. But relief is coursing through my veins as we speak, and after a hot shower, I'll be fine. Incidentally, Pam hates it when I say "I'll be fine." I don't know why it irritates her so. She seems to think that every time I say it I'm lying. But as much as she hates hearing me say it about myself, I've learned never to say it about her. Example:

Pam: I have no idea how I'm going to get everything done for the ____________! I have to go buy the ________, make the ________, clean the _________, call the __________, and I haven't even baked the _________ yet!

Me: You'll be fine.

Pam: &/;,:56/)":&/$46'cgsfzymdl&$,?:;::&;(:,:?|%}<\'fksn!,!!!!!!!