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[liveblog]
In honor of the cartoon my pal Phil posted today on Facebook, I’m going to try live blogging Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech. Here’s the cartoon:

OK, Dirty Harry was cool for an 82 year old man the GOP let ad lib in prime time just before their nominee was on stage. Good thing Mitt didn’t have to follow him.

10:33 Good move bringing Mitt in through the crowd. He seemed less stiff.
10:36 He accepts! Didn’t see that coming.
10:38 Can you imagine what’s on Mitt’s iPod?
10:39 OK, we get the building a business thing. I guess Mitt never drove to work.
10:40 Well Mitt, financial deregulation really threw a curve at the American Dream, didn’t it?
10:43 Mitt wanted President Obama to succeed? Huh. That’s different than all the Republicans in congress.
10:44 Wow! Someone snuck Mitt a Red Bull!
10:46 He’s the epitome of an arrogant American.
10:46 …and dad released 12 years of his taxes…
10:48 Mitt just gave props to god.
10:48 oh, now he’s pandering to women…
10:51 Ann’s job was more important… I’m sure, Mitt.
10:53 Mitt’s delivery is quite good tonight.
10:54 Now it’s time to trash the President…
10:55 Nice joke, Mitt!
10:57 Your success hurt many working class, people, Mitt.
10:59 I do believe Mitt is finding himself on this stage tonight.
11:00 I’m better off, Mitt.
11:02 what plan to raise taxes on small business, Mitt?
11:02 Ok, the $700B Medicare lie again…
11:04 It must be that “clean coal.”
11:04 Cut the deficit? You just mentioned a bunch of new spending.
11:05 Mitt, Obamacare is your plan, dude.
11:06 Another lie- Obama’s not raising anything on the middle class.
11:07 Good contrast… Stop ocean rising v. Helping families.
11:08 USA!!!
11:09 Yeah, Mitt! Fuck Putin. Let’s fight the Russians!
11:10 Does America have a black dude in the White House? Noooooooo!!!
11:12 Strong military again… That costs money, Mitt.
11:13 Did he just say “density” like George McFly?
11:15 He got real stiff at the end, and not in a good way.
11:15 And James Brown rolls in his grave…

The NRA and most other gun proponents are less about the second amendment “right to bear arms,” and more about the right to sell them. It’s sad neither of our presidential candidates has the stones to stand up to them.

A one year, “death penalty” football ban for Penn State isn’t nearly enough. Kids got raped by a football coach, and the “legendary” head coach knew about it. And did nothing. The kids should be able to transfer, but that program needs to go dark for at least five years.

I’m an admitted “liberal elitist,” and I apologize for posting about politics, but given the healthcare plan he advocated for and delivered in Massachusetts, could Mr. Romney possibly be any more hypocritical regarding his opposition to “Obamacare?”

“The Dark Knight Rises” was superb storytelling and summer action, all with a “Robin Hood”/Occupy Wall Street bent. One of my favorite lines was by the villain “Bane” as he and crew raid the NY Stock Exchange. One floor toadie squeales, “This is a stock exchange. There’s no money you can steal,” Bane responds coolly and with alot of bass, “Really? Then why are you people here?” Oh, and Anne Hathaway rocked as “Catwoman!”

I’m looking forward to the Liverpool – AS Roma tilt at Fenway this week with (Play)Joyce and her soccer-playing son. I’ve never seen a world-class soccer game in person, plus it’s a chance to visit Fenway without being subjected to the cheesey “Sweet Caroline.” Not to worry, though, the $7.75 beer price will be irritating enough…

I wish I had more for you…

Until a week or so ago, I had a 20+ page document called “Blog Ideas” in my Dropbox folder. Now I have just these words and another working title called, “No Mo Moobs,” but that’s not important right now…

I haven’t written in this (play)blog for over 3 months, partly because the (work)blog was/is consuming my, um, whatever it is that fuels my writing. Since 2005 when I threw up the shingle on this place, it’s been a 93 octane angst propellant. Angst. I had a sense of its meaning, but hadn’t gone all Merriam-Webster on it. A lookup reveals an “intense feeling of apprehension, anxiety or inner turmoil.” I’ve got some of the latter going, so let’s just write. It may be random nonsense, but it’s my blog.

The trouble with LeBron
During the Eastern Conference finals against the Celtics, I tried to conjur up some empathy for the guy, but it’s nearly impossible, and I think I’ve figured out why. Instead of just being arguably the best player on the planet badass that he is, he has to act like a badass. Mr. James, that’s just bad form.

A fix for the Celtics
They’re old, and without trading their best young player, Rajon Rondo, they have little hope of landing a young marquee player. One potential solution is to trade for “a project,” a player with physical skills, but missing intangibles like attitude or focus. Like Bill Belichick did with perennial malcontents Corey Dillon and Randy Moss, I think Doc Rivers could do the same with a kid like Michael Beasley.

YouCloud
I just visited a blog and in the right sidebar was one of those “word clouds” illustrating the “tags” used by the blogger to make their work more findable by search engines. The larger the font, the more that tag has been used. By far the largest font was for the blogger’s name. There’s a mathematical algorithm for this phenomena: blog = ego. Trust me on this one. I took ego in college.

Power trip
Some people are attracted to money and power. I’m not one of them, although I have grown fond of money over the years. I guess I’m in the “power corrupts” camp. I’m not really sure why some have the attraction. Wanting power. Wanting to be close to power. I don’t get it. Do they think it will make them happy or happier? Fill some void? Like any other desire or crush, I wonder if it ever goes away, or just leaves the wanting… well, wanting.

Water bucket
Years ago, it might have even been during my NEC interview, a man with cigarette ashes dusting his navy blue suit said, “when you put your hand in a water bucket and then remove it, that’s how much a company misses you when you’re gone.” I guess we are just bricks in the wall, destined to be replaced by newer, less expensive ones. I heard an old work colleague died this week. He had been let go from his job with money and power a few years ago, and then, I hear, he began a downward slide. Aside from the obvious financial impact for most, losing a job can tear away a big part of your identity… if you let it. How much of your self-worth is comprised of airspace in a water bucket? Something to think about.

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The recess basketball league for 6th graders at the Greenwood Elementary School in 1969 was a 4 team scrum for schoolyard glory. We wouldn’t start Mr. Boyages’ Saturday Youth League for another year, so fundamentally, we were clueless. Aside from one hand (usually right) only dribbling, shooting and mid-air pig piles for rebounding, we knew little of the game. League action consisted of 15 minute sprints up and down the asphalt court on Greenwood Ave., following a script of run, shoot, miss, foul, run, etc… Game scores were usually in the 4-2, 6-4 range, with double digit or odd scores a rarity. Not many of us were very good at free throws back then.

Mike Gonnella was a captain of one team and I another. I can’t recall the other captains, but the big news of the Fall ’69 season was the first trade in league history, and me channeling the antithesis of Red Auerbach by making the horrible swap. Leo Murphy was a wizard with the ball. He was a white, 6th grade version of Marques Haynes, able to dribble circles around hapless defenders. Paul Czarnonka was a big, quiet kid who couldn’t score, but was a rebounding machine. Blinded by flashy ball skills, I traded Czarnonka for Murphy, not realizing that I’d hardly see the ball once the other Leo got his hands on it. And that was only after my now undersized team somehow got possession of it.

After the trade, my team began a tailspin, fueled by bickering over who should have the ball and do the shooting. As captain, I thought it only fair that someone else should work to get a rebound and pass to me at mid-court for an unchallenged dash to the basket and a score at the other end. It all made perfect sense. The x’s and o’s rarely executed according to my script and we were a disorganized, selfish mess. And defense? We didn’t really get that part of the game. And it was hard for me to actually play defense from my spot at mid-court waving my arms while waiting for someone to get me the ball. If it had occured to me that rebounding and defense wins ballgames, we would have been a better team and I would have avoided a therapy worthy experience.

The highlight of the hoop year was Parents Night. The 4 teams would get to play on the real court in the gymnasium in front of parents and friends. Even some of the cute girls from class would be there. It was going to be awesome.

The Greenwood Elementary School is a two-story brick structure built in 1897. It is located on Main Street, just a few hundred yards north of the Melrose line. In the center of the building sits the two-story auditorium, with a stage, balcony and a basketball court. When I attended, the old “fallout shelter” signs still glared inside and outside the building. The place was immaculate, including hardwood hallways and linoleum tiled classrooms. The windows were towering and the grey radiators were accented Pollock-like with the bright hues of melted crayons. Even in the basement when weather forced us indoors for gym, the shiny, grey lead painted floor was a pristine surface for crawl-on-your-back “crab” soccer or my favorite, dodgeball.

I’m sure there were other occassions, but I recall only 3 times being in the auditorium. We saw a movie once. I’m not sure if it was “Reefer Madness,” but I think it was some sort of propaganda for young minds. The second time was for 6th grade “graduation.” Parents Night is the one I’ll never forget. The place was packed. My mom was there. Of course Mr. and Mrs. G were in the house, along with many other parents I knew then, but forget today. And girls. Girls were there. I was on a mission.

Maybe it was nerves, but the game started with more frenzy than our usual recess tilt. We were zipping all around the hardwood floor, the ball bouncing off feet, knees and anything else available to render our exhibition anything but resembling basketball. Once we settled down, our opponents began to score at a furious pace. It was 2-0, then 4-zip. I had to do something. After another bucket made it 6-0, someone from my team finally had the sense to “run the offense” and fling the round ball to mid-court into my flailing arms. I caught the ball flat-footed, but quickly accelerated to full gazelle-like stride ready to emphatically get my team back in the game. The massive crowd began to rise in anticipation. The noise grew. Would I do a reverse jam and hang on the rim for style points? The din got louder, but it didn’t feel right. As I crossed the foul line stripe ready to go airborne for the hoop paparazzi, I was struck with dread. The crowd was howling with laughter.

I wasn’t dribbling.

I am loving the Republican presidential nominating process and the Roman Coliseum (complete with lions) theatrics of their nightly debates. OK, they’re not on every night. Maybe someday. Leading the den is the only red-blooded Newt under the big-top, Mr. Gingrich. Last night in Charleston, South Carolina, with sordid tales from an ex-wife just whetting the news cycle, the former Speaker of the House thundered indignation from one of four podiums and blew the audience out of their seats and into his corner. As the roused crowd called for more red meat, Newt’s anger rose as he buried the “open marriage” question and the man who chose to ask it, CNN moderator, John King. Gingrich was brilliant.

In the “not so much” category was Mitt Romney, a “suit” if there ever was one. Romney’s news of the day was that he actually didn’t win the Iowa Caucus. Rick Santorum did. Mitt’s problem is twofold. One, he doesn’t have any passion; and two, he can’t even act like he does. The poor stiff is tone deaf, too. Last night as he tried to differentiate himself from his “Washington insider” opponents, he said the American people want someone “who’s lived in the real streets of America.” Um, your dad ran a car company. Yeah, it was in Detroit, but you weren’t hanging out on 8 Mile. Romney’s undoing will be his 1040’s. If he evaded taxes the way he’s evading questions about them, he’s done. It looks like he wanted to stonewall the issue until he won a quick early nomination. With Newt raging, that scenario looks unlikely.

Flanking Newt and Mitt on stage were Rick Santorum, former Senator from PA, and everybody’s favorite Libertarian, Texas congressman Ron Paul. Paul is “Bill Nye the Science Guy” of Republicans, but he’s simply not taken seriously by the GOP. Still, with 21.4% in Iowa and 22.9% in NH, he may stick around awhile.

Since almost winning Iowa (before we knew he actually did win Iowa) and getting some attention at the debates, Rick Santorum has impressed me. Of course I don’t agree with any of his policy positions, but he has a good grasp of the issues and makes a solid case for where he stands. He also seems more like a real person than the robotic, stuttering Mitt and the caricature that is Ron Paul. Once the Republicans figure out that Newt’s 3 marriages, House ethics violations, lobbyist baggage and sweaty hypocrisy (he led impeachment of Bill Clinton while having an affair of his own) make him unelectable, maybe Rick Santorum will be their guy.

Meanwhile, in Harlem, President Obama was addressing a crowd at the Apollo Theatre and sang a little Al Green. Pretty well, too. He’s a real guy who’s going to be tough to beat. Send in the clowns.

Sure, i was seduced by the iPhone for a long time, but because I was locked into a, um, long-term deal (i.e. If you die and no one is using the phone, they’ll still be billing you until you re-animate Frankenstyle and cancel… oh, of course only after the expiration of said long-term deal…) with Big Red. Anyway, my old Windows Mobile phone, a Samsung Omnia, was working just fine, but it was a little short on the cool factor. So, in the Springtime of my technology loving this year, I began research for a new phone. I should note that my research efforts delve to a depth and breadth that makes me wonder how I ever get to purchasing anything at all…

[On a related note, I’ve had the same blade in a Gillette Fusion Power razor since acquiring it in May of 2010. It’s a “weekend at the Happy Hollow” backup, so no, I’ve not been ripping my face off with it. Anyway, have you seen the price of blades for that freakin’ thing? I have, and I’ve been holding out, researching for a price somewhere South of the 4/$16.29 at CVS… That’s $4.0725 each for those of you not doing math in your head right now… So yesterday, the lovely Joyce and I am at an Estate Sale and I see a grungy, used model… Gross, right? Yeah, but underneath were 2 pristine replacement blades. I approached the lady doing the “slips” and held up the razor (hiding the blades) with a high degree of contriteness… I think I bowed my head a little. She looked at the gross, soap scummy razor and said, “fifty cents?” Folks, you do the math on that one. Woo hoo!]

Oh yeah. The phone thing. So, blah, blah, blah… There I am in the local Big Red store in May, and they finally had the iPhone. It’s a cool little device, and I get the whole “it just works” (unless you have the AT&T version and want to use it as a um, phone) thing, but it’s a little too slick and a little too vanilla for me. Plus, I’ve been using computer technology since before Windows, and I gotta tell you, none of it “just works.” That’s OK. Over the years I’ve become very self reliant (nod to all you Emerson fans), and from custom “bat” and “ini” files to “cooked” “ROM’s” for smartphones, I’ve learned to love technology tinkering. You really can’t mess with an iPhone. That baby is “locked down,” as they say in the biz. Yeah, yeah, you can “jailbreak” it and then customize, but Apple make it very difficult to do so. Plus, when I picked it up in the store, it felt too small and somewhat toy-like. No. I was going for an Android phone.

The three major hardware contenders were Motorola, Samsung and HTC. My Omnia was a Samsung product and had some issues, so it was nixed. Motorola and HTC seemed pretty even in terms of build quality, but the design, and especially the “Sense” interface software gave the edge to HTC. I liked the product I purchased, but the name was just so silly, I couldn’t say or write it until I read something funny referencing it on an online Android forum.

My experience with the phone has been a good one, but others have had serious issues including:

– Multiple, random reboots
– No voicemail notifications
– Dropped data connections
– A slow, and then botched rollout of the Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) upgrade
– Poor battery life

The random reboots was a real PITA for those experiencing it, but I wasn’t one of them. Nor did the voicemail thing affect me. The battery life is poor, but i usually have the phone plugged in whether home, in the office or driving, and I do get intermittent data connection issues, but that’s mostly when I’m using the phone as a wi-fi router. Yeah. Down the Cape we don’t have Internet, so my phone provides it. Just this morning Joyce was surfing on her laptop and I was Facebooking on my iPad, all via wireless Internet from my phone. Its fast, too. Just like at home. Then my now 20 year old son called. While we chatted with him via speakerphone, we remained connected to the Internet… Yep. Simultaneous voice and data to both devices. I’m not sure whether any other Big Red phones can do that yet, but mine was the first.

So while some phone website recently awarded my phone the Android Lemon Award for the worst phone of 2011, I disagree. In fact, I’m no longer embarrassed to say its name.

“Why yes, ma’am… That is a Thunderbolt in my pocket.”

The late evening walk from the Boston Garden to the Park Street Station was always an enjoyable one, especially after a Bruins win. He usually grabbed a slice at Halftime Pizza on the corner of Causeway and Friend Street, then walked along the dark Friend, wallet front pocketed, alert to any threat lurking in a doorway or alley. Once out to Congress Street headed toward Boston City Hall, things got brighter and there were always lots of cars and cabs around to suppress the crime rate.

Climbing the long stairs from Congress up on to the large, red brick field surrounding City Hall felt good, but it was mostly a head down exercise. The architecture of City Hall looks like it was designed for a 1970’s version of “Batman” by a set designer inspired by only a cinder block and a bad interpretation of Frank Lloyd Wright. It’s better to simply avoid eye contact and focus on the red bricks under foot.

With the lifeless rectangles of brick passing below, he thought about his family… his children, and the love of his life. It didn’t take concious thought. They were always “there” and always would be. He remembered that article about November being “write a novel month,” or something like that. Would he ever muster the courage to try? A couple of guys waited to cross Tremont Street as he approached. A stream of taxi’s passed and when the sizzling sound of rotating rubber skimming wet pavement faded, he didn’t wait for the light and blew past the pair. He thought mid-stride if that was rude. They didn’t say anything, so apparently not. Much of that stretch of Tremont is under cover, so the last misty wringing of clouds would not freshen his face. As he approached two sauntering women from behind, one white and one black, he swayed a bit away from them so not to startle. They were talking about a show they’d just seen. They liked it. It made them think. The best kind.

With the Granary Burial ground on the right, he could see the subway stop ahead and sped his stride. Just a quick hop across Park Street and he’d soon be in a sideways seat heading home. He took a quick look to his left to check traffic and saw a taxi turning the corner. Instantly a mis-step sent him lurching forward without balance. Taxi inertia and head gravity met at an exact point in space. There was no time for a highlight reel of life. Later, pensive workers moved him from the cold, wet slab to a dry one.

I’m not sure why that story popped into my head Thursday night. I’ve been thinking about a sick friend lately. Death isn’t being suddenly kind to him. It’s teasing and tormenting. It’s inflicting horrific physical pain on my friend, and worse mental anguish on him and all who love him. Death has many faces and infinite creativity. I’m pretty sure I want to see it coming. I want some time to think about it…

I stopped short of the curb. The taxi passed. A wonderful life would continue to.

November snuck in while I was staring at a large, alien-like object lying dead in my yard. People that see the giant oak just repeat the same three word phrases to themselves as they try to process 1. the sheer enormity of the thing, from its giant, slithering tentacles to a four foot thick trunk, and 2. the odds of it falling precicely between two homes it could have easily crushed. Laying on it’s side, the massive branches still hover thirty feet in the air, and the footprint covers my entire yard, roughly one hundred feet long by fifty wide. Oh, one of the sayings is, “OMG!” The other is “WTF!” Yesterday my mom saw it and went with about ten repetitions of the former.

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I always worried about that big, beautiful tree falling on the house. Several long, thick branches inched closer to the asphalt shingles as the years passed. A stinging 2008 December ice storm produced the scariest night ever in my home. For hours, as tree limbs exploded shards of ice and splinters in the woods behind my home, the large limbs of the oak pressed against my attic bedroom skylight. When the biggest arms of the old tree survived that night, I stopped worrying about one of them reaching unwelcomed through my roof.

The October snowstorm not predicted by the Farmer’s Almanac dumped over a foot of heavy, wet snow that knew it’s days were numbered. This was not January snow that knew temperatures would keep it solid well into March. This was snow that knew it was lucky to be alive, but was realistic enough to know it wouldn’t see Christmas. It infiltrated every crevice of the mossy bark and clung desperately to thousands of leaves, also desperate to remain connected to life just a few more weeks. I imagined some aristocratic leaf like the Caladin Hoxley character in “Titanic” shaking snow off and yelling, “you’ll swamp the boat!” The snow kept coming…

Part of me wishes I heard it, but the part that slept downstairs during that ice storm is glad I didn’t. The weight of the snow and the high winds teamed with gravity and inertia to send the celebrity of our landscape into a sway so powerful, it ripped the entire century old root system out of the ground into a chaotic ball of soil, rocks and torn arteries. The impact sliced a long section from the top side of the trunk length. The twenty foot severed section now hovers above the trunk like an airborne, riderless surfboard. One hundred plus years of life was over in less than five seconds. Then nature carried on; her snow and wind no longer impeded by life in that particular space.

In some ways, the old oak tree was a natural extension of my now 81 year old Craftsman bungalow. They grew up together, and now sadly the clock ran out for one of them. I have many family pictures with that tree… its branches, the strong, wide trunk, or simply the shade it provided to prevent overexposed snapshots. I took several off my deck during all of the seasons featuring one outreaching arm. Over the next few winter’s, that arm and much of the rest of that tree will warm a family in a nearby town.

I’ve got images.

That’s how old I am according to grand-daughter, Maddy. I’m glad. Yesterday she turned “fowa” and I knew I’d miss her being “fwee,” so my new number works just fine. It is just a number. I am not old. I don’t feel old and I don’t think old. My children and grandchildren keep me young and the wonderful people I work with every day keep me vibrant.

Early Saturday morning I woke after sensing the empty space next to me. I sleep like the dead in the “Happy Hollow,” but her absence is a void that wakes me from the deepest REM slumber. I staggered out into the open kitchen/living room and saw her silhouette against the darkness in a yoga-like pose, her hands stretched and reaching for relief above her head. The stress of work and family and life and a weaving class had crept up her taut neck to the top of her head and planted it’s piercing flag in the form of a migraine. “Go back to bed. There’s nothing you can do.” Silly girl. I wasn’t going anywhere with her hurting. There was nothing I could do but be there. I soon discovered it was 5:00 AM, so I sat in the dark and watched and listened whenever she tried to talk out the source of her pain. By 6:00, her nausea had eased and she laid down in an effort to sleep. I was up for the day and made coffee. She slept until 9:30 and woke pain free. My day was complete and it had just started. That’s the love I have in my life.

At fifty-fwee.

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