Saturday, March 28, 2009


My Spartans knocked off the defending national champion Kansas Jayhawks in a gutty come-from-behind win this evening. I'm not a basketball expert, so I'm not going to attempt a recap. But I do want to congratulate the Spartans for hanging tough and beating an excellent team.

I've lost track of how many trips Izzo-led Spartans have made to the Elite Eight, but chalk up another one!

Next up for MSU is Midwest no. 1 seed Louisville. If I were betting money, I'd say that Louisville would win that game. But I'm going with my heart. MSU wins a close one and heads to the Final Four.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

March 24, 1996

I arrived back from a law school trip to New York City on a bright but chilly Sunday afternoon. The first message on my answering machine made my heart sink:
Hey, kiddo, it's Uncle D. Your dad's in the hospital in Florida and he's not doing so well. We've got gramma in the car and we're driving to the airport to catch a flight down there. Call me as soon as you can. Love you. Bye.
As quickly as a I could I called my cousin Lisa up north. We talked for about half an hour. She didn't know a lot but knew more than I did. Sadly, she knew that Dad was in pretty bad shape and things didn't "look real good." We cried. We wondered what to do. We hoped and prayed.

I walked out and told my mom my dad was probably going to die. We cried. She comforted me.

It suddenly struck me try to call the hospital to get the details, maybe even talk to Dad. I was bounced around to several departments but finally was put in touch with one of the nurses in the ICU. Tearfully -- yes, she was crying -- she broke the news that Dad had passed away in the last 30 minutes.

I don't know to describe all the things I felt after that. Within days I was angry. My anger was directed at him. Nothing had equipped me to deal with his death. Oh, I managed to hold together, trying to be strong for my grandma. It was her loss more than mine, or so I felt at the time.

So many emotions and thoughts have come and gone over the last 13 years. There's not much of a point in reliving them. Despite not being one to normally mark anniversaries of things like this, I do find myself reflecting about my father's life, and our relationship, this day each year.

He wasn't the closest person to me nor was he the most important person in raising me, in making me who I am. In fact, he had a lot of shortcomings in that regard. But he was still wonderful. He's my dad. I hope he's well and I get to see him again. Slainte, dad!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The newest addition to our family

No, we didn't have a baby. The likelihood of that is pretty low. But I did get a new baby, in a manner of speaking.

I've been really wanting to learn to play bass guitar. I didn't want to have to buy a cheap electric bass and then have to buy an amp and all sorts of gear. Since I'll be playing around the house, I figured I'd try to learn on an acoustic. The local music store, Blue Fish Music in Plymouth, had exactly what I was looking for: an inexpensive, decent sounding, easy-to-play acoustic/electric. It's a Dean EABC.

It doesn't have the knock out sound of a true electric bass, but I figure I can move up to something more powerful after I get comfortable with the instrument. I only paid $150 (out the door) so if I lose interest down the road, I won't have lost a lot of money.

So far I'm loving it. My fingers are aching from "playing" for hours last night and again a bit this morning.

Without a doubt, besides reading and writing, I've needed another creative source/outlet and I think the bass will be that. I tried getting back into guitar, but I just don't have the passion and patience to re-teach myself.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

"God treasures you . . .

like a pirate treasures gold." Those were the words of encouragement from my little girl a friend of hers (and our family) who is suffering from Leukemia.

When my wife read those words to me on the card, we both laughed. I can't tell whether my girl came up with that herself or whether it is a saying that's floating around, but it's cute and sweet, whatever the source.

Monday, March 16, 2009

"I don’t tolerate intolerance."

I saw that sentence in the "about me" section of a fellow blogger's blog. At first I thought, "Gee, that's good." But then it dawned on me: isn't it intolerant to not tolerate intolerance?

I don't know if that's ironic, hypocritical, or simply inconsistent, but I can't seem get past the obvious contradiction.

Oh, sure, I know what the blogger was trying to say, but what he actually said is a contradiction. There are no two ways about it.

This is one of the problems with the absolutist-relativism (another contradiction, an oxymoron perhaps) of the politically correct elements of society. It "I'm OK, you're OK. . . as long we agree." Discrimination is acceptable as long as it is directed at those with which you disagree. Or, put another way, only the "tolerant" (narrowly defined) are "tolerated."

Maybe he should've just kept his rule simple by saying, "Don't say anything mean about anyone else." I think we could all agree that's a reasonable rule.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

And the "Safety-Minded Parents of the Year Award" goes to . . .

*drum roll* *brrrrrrrrt* *crash*

. . . a set of parents I was unfortunately with inside the local Trader Joe's this afternoon.

I'm not one to condemn others' parenting skills too often. This couple, however, allowed their daughter (about 8 years old) to come in the store on rollerblades. Yes, rollerblades. As if that weren't enough, their son was allowed to bring in his soccer ball and dribble it (with his hands, thankfully.)

This family caught my attention when the boy's soccer ball got out of his hands and nearly rolled under my feet as I was navigating around shoppers and in a narrow aisle.

This clan was one of the stranger sights I've seen in a store in some time.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

An Irish-free St. Patrick's Day

For most of my life I've observed St. Patrick's Day. For the last almost 20 years, it has been my favorite day on the calendar. In my younger days, I celebrated with lots of booze and fantastic music. More recently, SPD has been a family day. We have a nice meal and talk about what our heritage means to us.

This year I think I'm gonna sit this one out. In the past I was almost obsessed with my Celtic heritage (I'm Scottish and Welsh, too.) Irish history and politics were my passion. This time last year I was teaching myself the Irish language, and loving it.

But something happened that killed all that in me. I spent a lot of time on an Irish nationalist website. I went there for the cultural stuff, but I also believed I had found kindred spirits politically. Eventually they showed themselves to be things that I despise: Jew-hating, Iran-loving, America-bashing bigots. After some young punk on this particular website talked about how American GI's "raped their way through Europe" during WWII, I couldn't take it anymore. I left the website. I also shelved my Gaelic instruction books and CDs.

What I left there was the part of me that loved Ireland and the Irish people. I'd like to get it back but it's. . . just . . . gone. There's nothing there now. That piece of my heart is dead and I can't seem to revive it, try as I might.

In the wake of that garbage, I went back and re-examined how very little in my personal life has anything to do with a few sets of great-great grandparents finding their way over here from Ireland. I'm an American, I'm not an Irishman. I'm a Yankee, even. Other branches of my family have been in this country since the first few waves of Pilgrim ships started arriving in New England in the 1620s. That's probably more honestly who I am: a Yankee WASP.

It seems silly if you don't know what my life was like a year ago, but this is something like a death for me. Much of the connection (emotional, spiritual) I had to generations that came before is just nonexistent.

Maybe the holiday itself will re-ignite a fondness. For now, though, I plan on simply letting 3/17/09 pass as just another Tuesday in March. I'm hoping it doesn't.

Friday, March 6, 2009

The last gasps of winter

Today’s a gray, cloudy, wet-feeling day. But it’s warm. Very warm! Spring is almos here; winter almost gone.

The crocuses are poking up through the thawing soil. The earth is the yellow-brown of winter slumber. Snow has disappeared everywhere except the big piles in parking lots.

Everything is grungy. Dirt. Salt. Mud. We await the cleansing of the coming rains.

Will it snow again? Probably. I’d put money on it snowing at least two more times. Today, though, we gather around winter’s death bed, waiting for the death rattle.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Big Ten Champs

Cheers to the MSU Spartans men's basketball team who won it's first outright Big Ten conference title in a decade.

This is a great Spartan team. Here's to hoping they do some damage in the NCAA tournament.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Why do bloggers blog?

I was listening to a talk radio program today that focused on the negatives of the communication age. In the opinions of the host and guest, the internet, computer games, cell phone calling and texting, social networking sites like myspace and facebook, and IM'ing all too often disconnect us from "face-to-face" communication. We substitute real human interaction for electronic chatter. I had to admit that I agreed, but the the host and guest really said nothing new.

What stood out in that discussion was the guest's assertion that these things tend to be very "me-centered." The host called myspace, facebook (not blogging specifically but by implication), and other internet vehicles "emotional capitalism: the self is the commodity."

Now that jumped out at me. I had to ask myself why I have 4 blogs (each with different themes), post on various music and sports message boards/forums, and others focus much of my leisure time in this kind of electronic self expression.

The dirty secret is that I started this blog in the hopes of making money. I got hooked. My varied interests in life seemed to dictate the need for another blog -- one for each interest. I found myself talking with virtually no one around to respond, challenge, criticize, agree, question, supplement or otherwise add to my knowledge or understanding about these things. And I never made a penny.

The goal then became to use my blogs as something of a journal. Th was what I told myself, and there is some validity in that. But, if blogging for me were about chronicling my life (thoughts, emotions, ideas, history), I don't need to be on the internet to do that. I could just write that stuff down on my computer and/or on paper.

So why do I write for public consumption? I think I need to feel like my ideas matter. Deep down, I'm probably looking for recognition, perhaps even praise, from others. Maybe this is my way of feeling like a "somebody." In reality I am a "somebody" but what better (surface) validation can there be for that than the recognition of complete strangers?

I don't think I can answer the question posed in this title, at least not about other bloggers. But I think I answered it for myself.