Saturday, January 24, 2009

Where the @#&* is Waymart?

After the courtroom gasped. My first baseman turned to me with his weary eyes and whispered, "Did he say 3-6 years?" Before I could reply my daughter nodded her head.

My right fielder's wife shrieked and her brother had to carry her out of the courtroom. The judge continued softly with the sentencing: count 2, three years probation to be served concurrently: count 3, three years probation to be served concurrently; count 4, three years probation to be served concurrently.

He proceeded to advise my right fielder, that his attorney did a great job. Even though this was his first offense and with a clean record he picked the wrong statue to violate. 

If not for good psych evaluation, the courtroom of supporters according the standard guideline; he would have received 10-20.

The day long proceedings were surreal.

I met my right-fielder fifteen years ago when I got involved with my team. He and my kid brother became fast friends. After watching my brother play, he graciously moved from center field.

He was money on the field. He navigated the ups and down of the season with ease. His wife came to the games. He worked as a meat cutter for the same employer for ten years. He drank with team but in moderation. A fun loving good guy.

He wasn't one of the members of the team I prohibited my daughter from getting in the car. Was my maternal radar that off?

He and his wife couldn't have kids but he was a wonderful uncle.

Needless to say, last March I was stopped in my tracks when I got the call from the team manager about his arrest. I was in Whole Foods in the deli section.

Sadly, he was caught in an Attorney General sting. He was screwing around in a chat room. The agent was pretending to be a 13 year. AAAAAAHHHHHHH

Unlike on the "Catch a Predator" he didn't go meet the agent, it is a crime in PA to discuss the possibilities of sex with a child. 


After his arrest, he got an attorney, went to counseling and opted to skip a trial and plead guilty.

The shrink opined that he was not a sexual predator and was not a threat. Since his arrest, he just worked as much as he could. He was too embarrassed to face the team. Most of our calls ended with one or both of us in tears. Ugh

I do have to wonder what the outcome would have been if he would have taken his chances with a trial.

We will never know. His wife of 22 years will have to sell their house. She is a clerk in a local pharmacy. The prison is 2 1/2 hours away with rolling visitation days. Will they stay together? Who knows.

I experienced a ton of emotions. Now, I'm just sad. A young girl killed her newborn and she got 21 weekends.

He got caught in a sting and he received 3-6 years will have to register under Megan's Law. There is something a little off with these sentences.

He and his wife's nightmare is just beginning.

I debriefed my kid brother this morning. It took an evening to process what I witnessed. Finally, he said "Where the fuck is Waymart?" 
With frustration in his voice he answered his own question..."I suppose we will find out."

I suppose we will....

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

We've only just begun

Most significant events are captured with the backdrop of a song. For some reason, I have the "We've only just begun" dancing in my head.

After checking in with my folks this morning, who are just thrilled. I reflected on the Civil Rights activities that were coordinated in our modest home and local church. They were instrumental in getting black history incorporated into the curriculum; affordable housing for our neighbors and the right to register as Democrat without retribution. They spoke out when others, for their own reasons, sat silent. My heroes. My role models. Their struggles made my freedom to move about the world possible.

They are stunned and thrilled about today. They NEVER thought a black man would lead our nation.

Today I celebrated this historic event with a few of my dearest friends and my fellow committee persons who skipped the bus trip to DC.

We converged up the local Champs. While packed, it was a different energy than the NFC Championship Eagles game.

I felt different than Election night. Maybe because today represented the shutting of one door and the opening of another. No tears, just joy.

It was funny how the place cheered when Bush departed. It was even cooler when most of the place stood during our national anthem.

(My daughter is a Y counselor and she had her kindergartners stand during different parts of the Inauguration).

There was a group confession, that this was our first Inauguration. None of us knew the flow of events.

After he was sworn in, the place erupted. The speech was a roadmap of what we can expect from him and more importantly, what is expected of us.

I'm feeling an optimism coupled with healthy trepidation that is felt on a happy occasion such as a Wedding or Graduation. 

I am now truly part of the We the People, a club, property owning white guys were always admitted. 

Tomorrow I return to my normal life with a ton of joy in my heart.

"A kiss for luck and we are on our way"

Monday, January 19, 2009

Cheney Files Workers Comp Claim

In my business, an unwitnessed injury on the last day of work is a little suspicious.....

Precious Lord take my hand...outta of this @#$% meeting

I concluded my fiscal year, in a Strategic Planning meeting. Naturally, this meeting took place on the West Coast. It took two days of travel for 13.5 hours of face time with my fellow leaders.

I knew that I was on the Leadership team, but truly stunned to find myself on the Strategic Planning Committee. OH MY GOD!

The Committee is was 50-50 split male/female. Historically, I found that when women were in meetings, the tone of encounter is generally on a higher plane. Maybe, it is a generational issue, or a life's priority issue but what I witnessed was not only penis wars but tit wars.

The Sr. VP leading the meeting at one point, stood up and yelled at the CIO. Ugh. After meeting with these folks all day, we had a one hour break, then dinner. The local members of the team, clearly didn't want to go home. It was awful. I've learned to say very little. The less they know about me the better. The jockeying for position was painful to watch.

After two hours, I cited jet lag and called a cab and retreated to my hotel room.

I tried to skip breakfast with these nuts, but they called my room. Somebody help me.

The next day, we focused on our Strategic Plan for 2009. 6.5 hours later, we came up with the same plan we had last year. You can't make it up.

At one point, an internal dialogue was screaming in my head...
This has to be a mistake.
I must have received someone else's invitation
I don't want my name attached to any of these initiatives.
I don't want or need any more projects
My head hurts
I want my Mommy

This article by Reid Hastie should be mandatory reading for anyone who schedules a meeting.
For what we accomplished, we could have had this session in a one hour conference call. I really did not need to spend two days on plane and three nights in a hotel room. More, importantly, I didn't need to spend that much time with those people. Far too much time was spent in these mind numbing meeting and not enough on state side employees who actually work. 

Our company did great last year. But due to uncertainties in the world, wages for the minions have been frozen at least for six months. Ugh

I'm sure we don't have the exclusive on silly meetings which explains why the economy is in the tank.

Both McNabbs /Teams Showed Up

Everyone who bleeds green was stunned that our Eagles made it this far. HOWEVER, there was a cautious optimism amongst the faithful at Champs in King of Prussia.

I tested the football gods by changing my viewing habits. Some of my crew had game tickets or were watching the game at Chickie & Pete's. My family was spread out over the county.

My sane alternative was to watch the game with a buddy at Champs. The place was packed and the crowd was nuts. Even the wait staff was fired up. We were settled in for an afternoon of football. In the event of an Eagles win, we were prepared to watch the Steelers game.

I said to my companion," if the good McNabb shows up we are in great shape, if the devil McNabb shows up we're in trouble."

The first half was horrendous. Short passes, dropped passes, clock management struggles and the defense was a no-show. Special teams were dreadful.

One large party left at half-time. It was beginning to snow, I was beginning to question my judgement. If I was driving my old car, I would have called it an afternoon.

The second half got off to an awesome start. The restaurant rocked with each drive. Could the Eagles actually pull this off?

Warner unlike McNabb threw catch able passes and controlled the tempo of his game. Kudos to the Cardinals offense coordinator, Todd Haley. He simply out coached our defensive guru Jimmy Johnson. Damn.

Whether we like it or not, the Cardinals deserve the trip to Tampa. Our birds earned their trip to an early vacation. Larry Fitzgerald is tremendous. A no drama wide receiver who can catch anything.

Sadly, we may have seen the end of Runyan, Dawkins and even Westbrook. All have had good runs, but the Eagles management as a history of disposing of older players.

Reid and McNabb will both be back. Reid needs to stick to coaching and let someone else make critical personnel changes.

McNabb needs to be able to thread the needle to his receivers. Sigh.

In parting, my friend said "You know, both McNabbs and Eagles showed up, the good Eagles weren't strong enough to pull it off."

Needless to say, I watched the Steelers game at home. (On a serious, note prayers go out to Ravens Willis McGahee. After a legal but nasty blow, he was taken from the field on a stretcher. A painful reminder of the brutality of the sport.)

The Phillies won, Obama is our new President, my baseball team won in Florida, the Eagles winning is just pushing my luck.

Oh well, there's always next year.

It's almost over

Yet again, the weather folks got it wrong. We were supposed to have a snow shower and the inches are adding up. My community service project will have to occur on another day.

Being home, I've been granted the space to reflect. Our national nightmare is almost over. W will return to civilian life, no longer in a position to work through his unresolved issues at the expense of our country.

Lord only knows how long and how many resources it will take to correct the mess created in the last eight years. Maybe the grown ups will stand up and assist Obama manage our country. Will there be a return to civility that was lost after Bush 41 left office? God, I hope so.

The Clintons arrival to DC was never accepted, the hicks from Hope.  The insanity began before Bubba took the oath of office. His inability to be disciplined and her codependency did not help the situation.

I must give W credit, he single handily created an activist citizenry. There were civic discussions. Some civil, others not so much.  People were engaged. We, as a community, no longer ignored the elephant in the room, our prejudices and racist tendencies

Our work as citizens has just begun. We have to do better. We have to be responsible. If you are making $40K you can't afford a $700k house.  If you can't afford something, maybe you should wait. Is saving for a big screen TV so bad? Do you really need a new car every three years?

We managed to get over ourselves. We listened to message and did not get stuck on the pigmentation of the messenger.

Thank God, Obama did not know his place and wait his turn. Thank God, he is reaching out to everyone. Concept? A President of the United States, not just a base.

While bouncing around Tuscany, I a sense of being an AMERICAN, not an African-American. 

Maybe, Bush should have spent more time outside our wonderful borders to get a better appreciation of the wonders of us.

We have once again, transitioned power without bloodshed. How many countries can reflect on their histories and boast this?

W hop on your bike and ride into the sunset..... you were and continue to be a failure.

May God forgive you...

Saturday, January 10, 2009


I awoke to find a snow covered community. Just enough to be beautiful, not enough to be a hazard. There is a certain stillness that comes with the first real snow. 

I am entrenched at a recently opened Cosi, which provides an alternative to my living room for writing. With my work and personal activities, it is all too easy to retreat to the comfort of home away from the psychic energy of other humans.

I have been Home a week. My body is finally adjusting to Eastern Standard Time and the mundane all too familiar rituals of my corporate existence.

After spending a wonderful Christmas brunch with my family, my daughter deposited me at the International terminal where I began MY Christmas present to myself.

My friends had began this journey on Christmas Eve. They had one day of Tuscany under their belt before I left the states. There was no way I would miss hanging out with the tribe for Christmas. So I would take this leg solo.

A dear friend and coworker helped me with planning this portion of my trip. I had mastered enough Italian to be dangerous. But I figured, with a big old smile and pleading eyes people would help me along the way.

The flight was uneventful. But I made a decision at that instance, if first class was available on the return trip I would snag it.  Even though the plane was big, I'm a tall girl and my luck in snagging an exit row seat had ran out.

I was surprised to find the signs in the terminal in Italian and English, very helpful for a weary traveller.

My other surprise was the lack of toilet seats. At first, I thought there was a problem with my first choice. The lady following behind me was as befuddled as I. Little could I anticipate this was the norm in this lovely country than the the exception. Hell it's not like when you are traveling you would spend your life in the bathroom. Dear God. The things you take for granted.

After a short trip on their regional rail line, on the advice of my associate, I purchased a first class seat on their hi-speed  line.

I struggled to stay awake to absorb the Italian setting but the swaying of the train rocked me to sleep like a baby in a cradle.

Before I rocked out, I managed to take in the countryside. Remnants of lookout towers dotted the landscape. It was if I was stepping back in time. Very Cool.

It was the day after Christmas, as expected not much activity for these folks were in holiday mode too.

I was met shortly after arrival in Florence by my fellow explorers. One of our posse found a lovely apartment not far from the train in the heart of Florence.

With the clock ticking on this adventure, I sucked down a quick cup of coffee and we were off to take in Florence. We kept up this pace until we left.

It is truly a struggle to find the right words to describe this city. Although I was a history major and had one semester of Art History under my belt, I was not prepared to ingest the enormity of the art.

Michaelangelo, Donatello, Rafael, artists a more astute lover of art would be familiar works were everywhere.

Famous sculptures sprinkled the city with a frequency of a Starbucks. Wow, became a redundant refrain. There were buildings still standing dating back to 1200. We can't seem to build infrastructure that lasts more than ten years. Ok, so they had slave labor. I digress.

Mind you the rulers in this period raped pillaged and treated the citizens poorly, but the artists of the day were commissioned and celebrated.

We walked everywhere which was critical for two reasons, not to miss anything and to walk off 
our meals.

I discovered early on, Italians breakfast does not include eggs or oatmeal. A shot of espresso and pastry and that's it. To go or carryout is a practice adopted purely for invading tourists.

They stand up to an espresso bar, suck down their espresso and they are on their way.

You do not see people walking around with a cup in their hand. A very familiar scene here.

So we ate a light breakfast in the apartment daily and enjoyed very leisurely lunches and dinners.

We did not have a bad meal anywhere. The food was fresh, prepared with a ton of attention and we were never rushed.

Seafood, lamb and the cheese were my favorites. We closed several establishments but it was never a problem. I'm afraid it will take some time before a return to my favorite local Italian restaurants.

Taking a break from the intensity of the Florence art, we took two day trips, Pisa one day and Sienna and San Gimignano another.

My life partner (more than friend but smart enough not to see each other naked) took the wheel of our tiny vehicle. He was the perfect driver. He just drove.

Anyone else in our group would have spent far too much time thinking about the traffic patterns. Rome was in a completely different league. As he opined, "once you learn there are no rules, its easy."

The tower in Pisa certainly does lean. Did we venture to the the top? Ah no.

Sienna was lovely but I loved San Gimignano was my favorite. It was a still operational medieval community. Seeing modern panties hanging out to dry from the stone structures amused me for some reason. The tiny cars struggling to make it up the streets clearly created for horses seemed surreal.

The city of towers was built high in the hills and surrounded by walls were created to minimize invaders.

Artists, storekeepers, and of course tourists keep this walled city vibrant. The view from the city serves to inspire local artists to capture its beauty on blank canvas. It was cool to see the artists working on their pieces as we strolled in to look at their completed projects.


We wrapped up our trip in Rome. We were greeted at our hotel by friend of the family who is spending a year in Italy. It was great see her and her visiting pal.

I'm really not sure how we pulled it off but we saw the top ten ancient attractions in a very short window of time.

We rang in the New Year at the Spanish Steps after a far too much New Year's eve dinner.

The fireworks started about 20 minutes before midnight. Everyone did their own countdown because there was no official time keeper.

Then we ventured down the Spanish Steps and hung out with our new best friends at the Trevi Fountain.

Way cool.

Our flight on New Year's day was at 11:30 which did not require us to get up too early.

Thank God, there was a first class seat within my budget  available which put an exclamation point on the trip. I've wanted to visit Italy since I was in the sixth grade. I was not disappointed.

My friend and Rick Steve were invaluable for our trip.

The one thing I know for sure, is that the trip was too short. But it was great to greeted by kid and my country. 

Hopefully, the toilet seat issue will be resolved on my next visit.

It is nice to see other places, but it always nice to return home.