Friday, September 28, 2018

Like sands through the hourglass...

So, as my last couple of entries illustrated, 2018 has not been a good year so far. If I weren’t already aware of my mortality, that concept has been getting hammered home this year. First there was my friend Ed, followed a mere 3 days later by my beautiful and amazing cousin Jennifer. The trio (death comes in threes, right?) was rounded out by my wife’s lifelong best friend Diane less than two weeks later.
For this entry I must refer back to Ed. I was actually friends with Ed by proxy through his wife Donna. She and I worked together at Shop Rite and she befriended me when my ex-wife and I split (i.e. she offered a shoulder). Then we formed a bowling team with our co-workers, and that was the start of a 20+ year friendship. I started hanging out with her and her family quite often, and when we lost a bowler on our team, we coaxed Ed into joining. Ed had unofficially retired his bowling shoes but he begrudgingly said he would join us. We quickly found out we had created a monster, but that’s a story for another time.
Anyway, over the years we had become a part of each other’s families. Parties, holidays, day trips, etc. I love the Cooks. So it broke my heart to lose Ed. Not even so much for me, but because I knew how much of a hole his passing left in the lives of his kids, Kara and Sean, and especially his wife Donna. He was the yin to her yang. In recent years our lives have gone in different directions, but we stayed in contact and I knew the last 4 months have been a stressful time for the family. Donna was frustrated that her new granddaughter was 3000 miles away, but she has been looking forward to following through on the family’s plan to move out to Spokane to be with her son and granddaughter. However, the stress of losing her husband of 38 years and having to deal with settling his affairs, along with having to get the house packed up while going through his things was taking a toll. Donna is a very upbeat extrovert and a people-pleaser; sometimes at the expense of her own well-being.
Her beautiful daughter Kara is a socially anxious introvert who rarely, if ever, calls anyone on the phone.
Where am I going with all this?
Tuesday, September 25
7:49 a.m. the phone rings. I’m sleeping and I think it’s my alarm (not yet having the awareness to realize it’s my day off and the alarm isn’t set). I can’t find the snooze/off buttons, but it finally stops.
7:50 a.m. the phone rings again, and this time I realize it. It’s Kara.
Why is Kara calling me?
Something’s happened. Donna must have fallen or gotten hurt somehow.
I wish.
A nearly hysterical and obviously in shock woman whom I love like my own family informs me that her mom had passed away in her sleep.
No words. I must be dreaming. Kara calling? Donna dying? This can’t be real! Ed just passed 4 months ago almost to the day!
It’s real.
A woman who I once considered my best friend is gone. I feel terrible that I didn’t make more of an effort to stop by and say hi once in a while. In the course of my job, I practically pass right by her house every Thursday and Saturday. But I never stopped by. I didn’t want to make my days longer than they already are. I figured there would be plenty of time to get together.
My heart is breaking right now, but not so much for me. As I said, our friendship had waned a bit in recent years.
No, my heart breaks for Sean and especially Kara for getting a pile of shit dumped in their laps in the span of 4 months. Much like my cousin Jennifer and her mom Maureen, Kara and Donna were best friends. We always joked that Donna never “cut the cord.” This creates a huge void in Kara’s life. For the most part, they have been a part of each other’s day-to-day lives for Kara’s entire life.
Now she is forced to embark on a new chapter in her life (a chapter which included Donna) without her best friend.
I miss Ed. I miss Donna.
I also miss Sean, who moved out to Spokane 4 years ago. And I’m going to miss Kara, who left yesterday.
I am so glad I stopped by and got to see her and give her a big hug before she left. That’s one less regret I’ll have.
And that’s really the whole point of this post.
Don’t put off seeing friends and family if you can avoid it. Stay in touch, see each other, hug each other. Don’t assume there’s plenty of time.
Oh, and by the way, Sharon and I got married less than 16 months ago. It was a very small wedding at our house. Not counting children, there were less than 30 people that attended.
4 of those people are no longer with us. Donna, at only 62, was the oldest of the 4.
Like that old soap opera said every day, “like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.”

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

And then there were three

They say tragedy comes in threes. I sure hope that's limited to one set of three. Of course, the preference is that it's limited to zero, but in this case the three has already happened.
Three weeks ago today we lost a good husband, father, friend in Ed Cook.
Three days later it was my dear cousin Jennifer Kolax (Nichols).
Today we're saying goodbye to one of Sharon's oldest and closest friends of nearly 50 years, Diane Lounsbery, who passed away on Saturday. She was 55.
All three died of some form of cancer.
In case I haven't said it enough already, fuck cancer.

Friday, May 25, 2018

A dark week

And here it is, the inevitable and unfortunate follow-up to Tuesday's entry.
My phone rang at 5:45 this morning and I saw it was my cousin. I knew right away what the call was about. My cousin Jennifer had passed away. Admittedly, this wasn't a shock like my friend Ed. As I mentioned the other day, this had been a long battle that took it's toll on her. From talking to my cousins, there seems to be a sense of relief with Jenn's passing that she is no longer suffering.
I can't claim to have been terribly close with Jenn. Like many extended families, we pretty much had a "holidays and special occasions" relationship. Nevertheless, I loved her dearly, and she always made me feel loved by always greeting me with a big smile and hug and seeming so happy to see me.
Having such an infrequent relationship, plus the fact that when the families did get together I tended to understandably socialize more with her brothers, I sadly don't have a surplus of memories with Jenn. But I did know her well enough to know that she was a super sweet girl with a huge heart, and everyone that became a part of her life loved her.
I wish I could somehow share and ease the pain that her immediate family is going through. Having no siblings or kids, I can't even pretend to know what her parents or brothers are feeling right now. I can only imagine that it's a magnified version of the emptiness I felt when I lost my mom, but it's not the same. Jenn was only 46.
And then there's Jenn's own family; her husband Ben (who just lost his wife on his birthday, by the way), and their two beautiful daughters, Sophie and Julia. I can't even fathom their emotion right now. I've heard that kids process and deal with death better than adults do. I don't know if that's true, but I hope it is. Ben and his girls are going to need each other's strength more than ever now.
The one thing I know about the family is that they have always been emotionally strong, so I am confident that they will get through this (as they have been already during Jenn's struggle). It just saddens me that they even have to. 😢

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

A dark day

This has been a terrible week.
I have been terribly saddened and my heart has been breaking this past week for family members, and dear friends that I consider family.
First, I received word about a week ago that my young cousin Jennifer, who has been battling breast cancer for 6 years, was brought into hospice care. We knew it was inevitable, but it is a reality that we hoped we'd never face. While she is my cousin and I love her dearly, I can only imagine what her immediate family is going through. A husband, two young girls, two older brothers, a dad, and a mom with whom her relationship has always been as tight as a mother/daughter relationship could possibly be. She has been by Jenn's side more often than not during this long battle. Now she has to say goodbye to her baby. How can any parent be expected to do that?
As if that news wasn't bad enough, three days later I found out that my friend Ed Cook had two strokes. After a series of tests it turned out that he had end stage cancer. Within days he was put in hospice care and he passed away very early Tuesday morning. He would have turned 62 this Saturday. I still can't believe how fast that happened. I can't believe he's gone. I'm really gonna miss the big lug. He was a big softy with a gruff exterior (think real life Ralph Kramden). He loved to act curmudgeonly around his family, but anyone that knew him knew that it was a facade. I spent a lot of years being very close to the Cook family, to the point where I did and still do consider them family. He used to always say that one day he was just going to disappear where no one would find him. For the twenty years I knew him he was saying that. He wasn't going anywhere. His family needed him, and he needed them. He loved Donna, his wife of 38 years, and while he might form a look of mock-disgust on his face to anyone who made that claim, he never denied it. I always said they were made for each other.
He used to jokingly say that he hated kids (usually when they were being annoying and loud), but there was no hiding that he truly loved his. On Father's Day on facebook he would post pictures of his kids as his "pride and joy" and the reason he celebrates the day.
He and his daughter Kara tended to lock horns, mainly because she is, as Donna would say, "picked right out of his ass," but I know from conversations we've had that he loved her and was proud of the woman she has become.
He had a good relationship with his son Sean. From my perspective, Sean idolized his father, and from little league, to drumming, to bowling, to learning to cook, to growing into a responsible man and then becoming a father, Ed was indeed extremely proud of Sean.
Then Olivia, his granddaughter, came along, and it was over, Johnny. The curmudgeon that was going to go out for the proverbial pack of cigarettes, the guy who "hates" kids, all gone. His profile picture, his background picture...all about Olivia. I saw him several months ago in Shop Rite of Rockaway (last time I saw him, in fact), and he was all about Olivia, and how he was looking forward to moving out to Spokane and having his family all together again. I'm actually kind of glad that the last time I saw him he had a positive outlook on life. Though in a way it makes this turn of events all the more sad.
He always lived up to his last name. That is to say that he was a damn good cook (and he'd be the first to tell you that). I'll always think of him when I make chili, which he inspired me to learn to do.
He was a good cook and a good Cook. I really am going to miss him. It truly is a dark day.
Rest in peace, my friend.

To all my family and friends involved in these two sorrowful events, I am so sorry you all have to go through this. My heart is breaking and my thoughts and love go out to all of you.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Please Stop Apologizing

This was Bill Maher's closing monologue on his Real Time show a few weeks ago.
I agree with this 100%.
As Americans, it is not a RIGHT to not be offended. Whatever happened to "sticks and stones...?"
The coddling and cow-towing of special interest groups in this country has become sickening.
It's especially refreshing to see this view coming from a liberal. It's usually liberals that are the ones that are always trying to make sure no one's feelings get hurt.
I've always said that the difference between conservatives and liberals is that conservatives want to keep you from saying "fuck," while liberals want to keep you from saying "fuck you."
It should be noted that the lines in bold are my doing for personal emphasis.

Please Stop Apologizing

Published: March 21, 2012
THIS week, Robert De Niro made a joke about first ladies, and Newt Gingrich said it was “inexcusable and the president should apologize for him.” Of course, if something is “inexcusable,” an apology doesn’t make any difference, but then again, neither does Newt Gingrich.
Mr. De Niro was speaking at a fund-raiser with the first lady, Michelle Obama. Here’s the joke: “Callista Gingrich. Karen Santorum. Ann Romney. Now do you really think our country is ready for a white first lady?”
The first lady’s press secretary declared the joke “inappropriate,” and Mr. De Niro said his remarks were “not meant to offend.” So, as these things go, even if the terrible damage can never be undone, at least the healing can begin. And we can move on to the next time we choose sides and pretend to be outraged about nothing.
When did we get it in our heads that we have the right to never hear anything we don’t like? In the last year, we’ve been shocked and appalled by the unbelievable insensitivity of Nike shoes, the Fighting Sioux, Hank Williams Jr., Cee Lo Green, Ashton Kutcher, Tracy Morgan, Don Imus, Kirk Cameron, Gilbert Gottfried, the Super Bowl halftime show and the ESPN guys who used the wrong cliché for Jeremy Lin after everyone else used all the others. Who can keep up?
This week, President Obama’s chief political strategist, David Axelrod, described Mitt Romney’s constant advertising barrage in Illinois as a “Mittzkrieg,” and instantly the Republican Jewish Coalition was outraged and called out Mr. Axelrod’s “Holocaust and Nazi imagery” as “disturbing.” Because the message of “Mittzkrieg” was clear: Kill all the Jews. Then the coalition demanded not only that Mr. Axelrod apologize immediately but also that Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz “publicly rebuke” him. For a pun! For punning against humanity!
The right side of America is mad at President Obama because he hugged  Derrick Bell, a law professor who believed we live in a racist country, 22 years ago; the left side of America is mad at Rush Limbaugh for seemingly proving him right.
If it weren’t for throwing conniption fits, we wouldn’t get any exercise at all.
I have a better idea. Let’s have an amnesty — from the left and the right — on every made-up, fake, totally insincere, playacted hurt, insult, slight and affront. Let’s make this Sunday the National Day of No Outrage. One day a year when you will not find some tiny thing someone did or said and pretend you can barely continue functioning until they apologize.
If that doesn’t work, what about this: If you see or hear something you don’t like in the media, just go on with your life. Turn the page or flip the dial or pick up your roll of quarters and leave the booth.
The answer to whenever another human being annoys you is not “make them go away forever.” We need to learn to coexist, and it’s actually pretty easy to do. For example, I find Rush Limbaugh obnoxious, but I’ve been able to coexist comfortably with him for 20 years by using this simple method: I never listen to his program. The only time I hear him is when I’m at a stoplight next to a pickup truck.
When the lady at Costco gives you a free sample of its new ham pudding and you don’t like it, you spit it into a napkin and keep shopping. You don’t declare a holy war on ham.
I don’t want to live in a country where no one ever says anything that offends anyone. That’s why we have Canada. That’s not us. If we sand down our rough edges and drain all the color, emotion and spontaneity out of our discourse, we’ll end up with political candidates who never say anything but the safest, blandest, emptiest, most unctuous focus-grouped platitudes and cant. In other words, we’ll get Mitt Romney.
Bill Maher is host of “Real Time With Bill Maher” on HBO.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Gotta love these emails that try to get you to divulge personal info and get money out of you.
The sad part is that some people actually fall for these things.
My favorite part is the "Note:" at the bottom. ;-)
By the way, I don't recommend that you follow any links contained in the text below. ;-)

Federal Bureau of Investigation
 1:56 PM (7 hours ago)
to undisclosed recipients

Federal Bureau of Investigation
Counter-terrorism Division and Cyber Crime Division
J. Edgar. Hoover Building Washington DC.
Attention Beneficiary,
Records show that you are among one of the individuals and organizations who are yet to receive their overdue payment from overseas which includes those of Lottery/Gambling, Contract and Inheritance. Through our Fraud Monitory Unit we have also noticed that over the past you have been transacting with some imposters and fraudsters who have been impersonating the likes of Prof. Soludo/Mr.Lamido Sanusi of the Central Bank Of Nigeria, Mr. Patrick Aziza, Bode Williams, Frank, Anderson, none officials of Oceanic Bank, Zenith Banks, Kelvin Young of HSBC, Ben of FedEx, Ibrahim Sule, Dr. Usman Shamsuddeen and some imposters claiming to be The Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The Cyber Crime Division of the FBI gathered information from the Internet Fraud Complaint Center (IFCC) formerly known as the Internet Fraud Complaint Center (IFCC) of how some people have lost outrageous sums of money to these impostors. As a result of this we hereby advise you to stop communication with any one not referred to you by us.We have negotiated with the Federal Ministry of Finance that your payment totaling $2,000,000.00 will be released to you via a custom pin based ATM card with a maximum withdrawal limit of $15,000 a day which is powered by Visa Card and can be used anywhere in the world were you see a Visa Card Logo on the Automatic Teller Machine (ATM). We have advised that this should be the only way at which you are to receive your payment because it?s more guaranteed, since over $5 billion was lost on fake check last year 2011.
We guarantee 100% receipt of your payment, because we have perfected everything in regards to the release of your $2 million United States Dollars to be 100% risk free and free from any hitches as it?s our duty to protect citizens of the United States of America and also Asia and Europe. (This is as a result of the mandate from US Government to make sure all debts owed to citizens of American and also Asia and Europe which includes Inheritance, Contract, Gambling/Lottery etc are been cleared for the betterment of the current economic status of the nation and its citizens as he has always believed ?Our Time for Change has come? because ?Change can happen?).Below are few list of tracking numbers you can track from UPS website to confirm people like you who have received their payment successfully.
Name :William quiring
UPS Tracking Number: H8444456084 (
Name: charles dick
UPS Tracking Number:H8444456084 (
To redeem your fund you are hereby advised to contact the ATM Card Center via email for their requirement to proceed and procure your Approval of Payment Warrant and Endorsement of your ATM Release Order on your behalf which will cost you $297.00 only nothing more and no hidden fees as everything else has been taken cared of by the Federal Government including taxes, custom paper and clearance duty so all you will ever need to pay is $297.00 only.
Contact Information
Name: Mr.Samuel Carlton
Do contact Mr.Samuel Carlton of the ATM Card Center via his contact details above and furnish him with your details as listed below:
Your full Name:....................................................................................
Home/Cell Phone:.................................................................................
Your Address (where you will like your ATM CARD to be sent to):.........
On contacting him with your details your files would be updated and he will be sending you the payment information in which you will use in making payment of $297.00 via Western Union Money Transfer for the procurement of your Approval of Payment Warrant and Endorsement of your ATM Release Order. After which the delivery of your ATM card will be effected to your designated home address without any further delay, extra fee or any authority raising eyebrow.Upon receipt of payment the delivery officer will ensure that your package is sent within 48 working hours. Because we are so sure of everything we are giving you a 100% money back guarantee if you do not receive your ATM CARD Shipment Confirmation within the next 48hrs after you have made the payment.Once again we are so sure of you receiving your payment at no any other cost as we have taking it upon our duty to monitor everything in other to cub cyber crime that is perpetrated by those imposters.

Note: Disregard any email you get from any impostors or offices claiming to be in possession of your ATM card, you are hereby advice only to be in contact with Mr.Samuel Carlton of the ATM card center who is the rightful person to deal with in regards to your payment and forward any emails you get from impostors to this office so we could act upon it immediately. Help stop cyber crime

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Yes, but can it core a apple?

I was just in a Shop Rite checking out, and as the cashier was taking the money from the guy ahead of me for his order, he offered to give her a quarter in addition to the bills he had already given her. I believe the amount of the order was something-dollars and 23 cents.
Well, since she had already entered the amount of the bills into the computerized register, after momentarily looking like a deer in headlights, she told him that it was not possible because she had already entered the amount of the paper money.
I found it quite disturbing that we now live in a society where a teenager cannot comprehend giving back 2 cents and one more dollar than the computer says rather than the 77 cents originally calculated by a soulless machine.
Whether she thought it would screw up her register or that she simply was incapable of figuring it out is irrelevant (I'm guessing it was both). It just goes to show that youth today has come to rely too heavily on automation. They no longer have the basic skills that most of us learned at a very young age.
Remember years ago? Before the computer age? The three very basic skills we were taught were reading, writing, and arithmetic. Somewhere along the way we dropped two of those primordial elements of our life. The penmanship of most of the kids I've seen lately is absolutely atrocious, and they don't know basic math.
On a related note, I was floored to discover that many kids today do not know how to tell time on an analog clock! Are you kidding me?
Look, I understand that we've made great strides in technology, but does that justify an evolution towards complete dependence on it? Shouldn't we still be raising kids with the basic skills to be self-functioning in the event there's ever a situation where there are no machines to function for them?
Make no mistake, I am not one of those stubborn old fools that is resistant to change and advances in technology. In fact, I take advantage of it to the fullest. I am composing and posting this from a small computer/phone/media player/camera/video recorder/etc., while sitting in my car.
But here's the thing...if I didn't have this little device, I am capable of picking up a pen and paper and writing all this down in either legible printing or script (another thing that seems to have gone by the wayside).
I can also figure out taxes, tips and change without the use of any mechanical device. Hell, when I was in college, I worked as a cashier on a manual cash register where I had to add the tax myself. With the tax rate being 5% at the time, it didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out tax; but it's a basic math skill you'd be hard pressed to find in todays youth.

So, to paraphrase the question asked by Ed Norton to chef of the future Ralph Kramden, with all these fancy new fangled technological advances, can it core a apple?