Inherited Idiosyncracies


There are many different ways that people would choose to describe “love”, many different emotions and actions used as evidence of it’s presence.  I believe one of the most compelling signs is an ability to overlook those things that absolutely drive you insane.

I’m sure that many of you are nodding your heads right now, things immediately coming to mind that your spouse or loved one does. Things that you sometimes swear are being done purposefully because they know you hate it. Actions that couldn’t possibly serve any purpose but annoyance.

I’m finding that the same holds true with our children. The actions may change, the throwing of a dirty diaper turning to a wet towel on the bathroom floor, nose picking evolving into fingernail biting. Our annoyance levels may change, an eye roll and shake of the head one day, dirty looks and muttered profanities the next, but it’s always there, always something. The truth is that it’s near impossible to live with somebody for any length of time without discovering some idiosyncrasy or annoying habit.

I would never be so bold (foolish) as to publicly discuss any of my wife’s annoying traits, should she one day develop some, and I give the teenager enough reason to be mad at me already, but Alaina’s reading comprehension still hasn’t progressed much beyond DOG and CAT, so I’m going to stick with her for now.

Every morning when she puts on her shoes it’s an exercise in anger management, a test of patience that I don’t always manage to pass.

It’s not the actual insertion of her feet into the shoes, this she does quickly and effectively. It’s the act of velcroing. This needs to be done about a dozen times, with test steps sometimes in between, until she is completely satisfied that both sides have achieved the exact same level of tightness. If there is even a fractional discrepancy they must be redone. Any effort to usher her out the door before they are symmetrically snug ends in tears.




What I’d never noticed before, what has never been pointed out to me by anyone, is that while impatiently waiting for her to be ready to leave this morning I tied my shoes three times. I tied them four more times while I was at the gym. Seven times in a two hour period I bent down and tightened my laces.


Alaina is old enough now that if she had noticed I do this it would have been mentioned at least one of the times I stood in the doorway yelling “they’re fine, let’s go!” Is it something subconscious, a subliminal suggestion placed there by her father’s weird actions? Or does this go deeper, passed along genetically with my organizational quirks and devilish good looks?

Whatever the answer, I’ll try my best to be more patient tomorrow. It’s important to remember that whether by nature or by nurture, we created these little monsters and have only ourselves to blame for how they come out.

As far as your spouses go, I don’t have any advice . You picked them.





Return of the Kaep


The NFL’s Buffalo Bills continued their surprising early season success this weekend, easily beating the San Francisco 49ers 45-16. Other than perhaps checking the statistics of a handful of players for fantasy football purposes, it was a game that I typically would have payed very little attention to.

This weekend was a bit different, an added element compelling me to pay attention to the play of the newly promoted starting quarterback of a 1-4 team based on the other side of the country.

That quarterback was Colin Kaepernick.

Kaepernick, you may recall, was the player noticed to be sitting during The National Anthem before a preseason game a few months ago. When asked about it after the game he said that “I am not going to stand up and show pride for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”  You also might recall a piece written here , later reprinted on The Good Men Project , that was critical of the display while also recognizing the problems he was referring to and strongly defending his right to peaceful protest however he saw fit.

A lot has happened in the six weeks since then. After a meeting with former Green Beret and NFL player Nate Boyer, Kaepernick started kneeling rather than sitting in an attempt to show more respect to members of the military. His jersey became the top seller on the NFL’s official shop website and he has pledged to donate all of those proceeds, plus the first million dollars of his 2016 salary, to community charities.

Other players, first from his team, then from others, then from across all aspects of the sports world have taken up his cause. Seattle Reign soccer player Megan Rapinoe knelt and remarked that as a gay American she knew “what it meant to look at the flag and not have it protect all of your liberties.” Before the first game of the WNBA playoffs the entire Indiana Fever basketball team knelt. Several NBA teams have started locking locking arms and bowing their heads. Other players are raising their fists.




As the protests continue, so does the backlash. Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall lost several endorsement deals. The Washington Spirit played the anthem before players took the field. Several kneeling Miami Dolphins players followed up by holding a town hall meeting on improving race relations with youth leaders and members of law enforcement. The local police union responded by pushing its members to refuse to escort the team to the game, apparently not realizing that picking and choosing who they serve and protect is one of the underlying problems these players are trying to bring attention to.

Kaepernick was booed loudly in Buffalo on Sunday. T-shirts with his face in the cross hairs of a gun and others saying “shut up and stand” were sold in the parking lot.

I wanted Kaepernick to play well, mainly because so many wanted him to play bad. I don’t know what good, if  any, will come from his actions and still feel that acts done to “raise awareness” are often more symbolic than helpful, but I respect what he is trying to do and admire his conviction.  It seems ironic that fans chanted “USA, USA” when he came onto the field as a means of expressing their displeasure. The right to peaceful protest is something just as quintessentially American as the game of football itself. The louder people yell for him to shut up, stand up, stop what he’s doing, the more compelled I feel to hope he continues.

“I don’t understand what is un-American about fighting for liberty and justice for everyone.”  – Colin Kaepernick





How to Stay Young


Due to a rare confluence of events, I found myself with several hours Friday night completely to myself, to do with as I pleased. The little was having a sleepover at grammy’s, the teenager was cheering on the local high school football team, and my wife was working an extra shift. Typically this time would be spent at the casino, doing my part to make reparation for the sins of my forebearers, ( seriously, how is Columbus Day still a thing in this country?) but instead I was feeling reckless ( financially responsible ) and made another choice, instead opting for a saloon that I used to frequent known for having live music on the weekends.

It didn’t take long to begin regretting my choice. The bar in question has changed ownership many times over the past twenty years, but the constant has remained the stage. When I first started going there that meant alternative cover bands, jello wresting on the weekends ( I swear I’m not making that up ) and the kind of clientele that would graciously leave a rolled up dollar bill in the bathroom for the next patron. I wasn’t feeling especially nostalgic for that atmosphere, but was still surprised  by a bar full of hipsters, most of the guys either looking like Jerry Garcia or Jon Snow. They leered contemptuously at me, whether at my Adidas T shirt or my Coors Light draft I’m not sure. When the kid next to me started talking about the hint of tangerine flavor in his beer, the smell of cheap marijuana became overpowering, and several band members began tuning up their trumpets, I realized that it was time to go.




Somewhat depressed by the sudden realization that there could potentially have been people there not yet born when I had first entered that establishment, I went elsewhere, determined not to be in bed before the band actually began playing. My next stop was a private club that I had first joined when I used to play golf at a nearby course. The baseball playoffs were on television, 38 Special was playing on the jukebox, and I was secure in the knowledge that the discounted Jack Daniels and Sprite I was sipping was helping reimburse the cost of the yearly dues. The average age was approximately a decade older than myself.


As I write this it’s 11:30. I’m scribbling words into a notebook that the dog is trying to eat, The Force Awakens is playing on Starz, the teenager is upstairs and safe, and I’m fairly confident that I can stay awake another half an hour until my wife gets home. If you’re reading this, it means that Saturday morning I was able to decipher my chicken scratch.

My life isn’t what it used to be, the years starting to catch up. For those that don’t know, there is yet another birthday closing in on me. I find myself oddly content, admittedly perhaps aided by the Jack Daniels, but I feel that tonight I have found the answer, the fountain of youth, the Holy Grail. The first part being contentment, happiness with where you are in life. The second, surround yourself with people that are much older than you are.





Big Papi, Hurricane Matthew, and Perspective


This isn’t the post that I had planned on writing today. After a week spent closely watching the weather reports and storm tracking, Sunday morning my wife and I suited up in our Red Sox apparel and headed to Boston for an afternoon of football watching and a night at Fenway Park, hoping that the home team would be able to come through in a must-win elimination game against the Cleveland Indians in the American League Division Series.

If the Sox had won I would have written about resiliency and never giving up. Down two games to none the 1999 Red Sox had faced a similar situation against these same Cleveland Indians and rallied to win three straight before losing to the New York Yankees in the following series. They did the same in 2003 against the Oakland A’s before suffering the same fate yet again against those hated Yankees  but the following year completed the greatest comeback in sports history, winning four straight games to finally get past their nemesis and into the World Series.

If they had lost I would have written about loyalty, about how much sweeter that first championship was after the previous few disappointments. I would have written about being in the stands for the last game of David Ortiz’s career, about how the Dominican born star came to become one of the most beloved players in New England sports history and a symbol of the city’s resolve in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing.




The game was a great one. With two outs in the ninth, my team was down by one. The tying run was on second base, the winning on first. It was ultimately a season ending loss, but the outcome was in doubt until the very last pitch. It was everything that we love about sports.

It was also played on Monday. Instead of watching from a right field loge box, I got glimpses every now and again from televisions in patient’s rooms as I worked.


The reason for the game’s delay, the reason I’m forced to let go of any anger or disappointment, was Hurricane Matthew, the last remnants reaching Boston later than had been previously forecast.

Before mildly inconveniencing me, Matthew killed almost 900 people and left tens of thousands more homeless in Haiti, a country still trying to recover from a massive 2010 earthquake. Here in the United States 34 people have lost their lives to date. As of this writing 1500 are still trapped by flooding in North Carolina. Thousands have been forced to flee their homes. As I was sitting in a Boston sports bar, forlornly watching the rain fall outside, one of my best friends was sitting in the dark in Palm Coast Florida, one of millions still without power.




Its not always so easy, our own issues put into such dramatic perspective. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t still harbor some bitterness, but that bitterness pales in comparison for the relief I feel that my friend is OK. My compassion for those and their families that weren’t as lucky.

There will be other games.


To help those still in need, visit the American Red Cross Here


Photos via Flickr, labeled for commercial reuse


Run Jump Scrap!

In Defense of Political Correctness


The Collins English Dictionary defines political correctness as “demonstrating progressive ideals, especially by avoiding vocabulary that is considered offensive, discriminatory, or judgmental, especially concerning race and gender.” Wikipedia says that it is a term “used to describe language, policies, or measures that are intended not to offend or disadvantage any particular group of people in society.” Put simply, it means not being a dick to people just because they look, think, or act differently than you do.

This sounds perfectly reasonable, so how did  “political correctness” become such a pejorative term? A contemptuous description for those deemed responsible for the castration of common sense and personal liberty in an effort  to appease those too weak minded to just “get over it.” Ignorance, bigotry, and bullying suddenly becoming accepted and even lauded in response to the perceived “pussification” of society. A Presidential candidate who’s main source of appeal seems to be that he is unapologetically offensive and promises to “Make America great again” by ushering in a new era of un-political correctness.




The easiest answer seems to be differing opinions on what should be considered insulting, degrading, or humiliating. Things once deemed acceptable now judged differently by a more progressive and empathetic society. Corporal punishment for children, bans on inter-racial dating, little girls sent to home economics class while little boys go to shop, a light tan Crayola crayon labeled “flesh” color.  All things that would have once met with resistance to change and been labeled “political correctness”.

It also seems that those most likely to be offended by the prospect of being unoffensive are also less likely to belong to a demographic that would put them on the receiving end of said offensiveness.


There are unintended consequences to the concept. Good intentions taken to the extreme and devolving into silliness. Some people will always find a way to consider themselves persecuted and demand measures beyond reason.  Attempts to placate one group of people can provoke the ire of another. I’ve lamented before about how we sometimes seem to be a nation of four year olds, sheep herded by the media towards whatever outrage will generate the most attention, the highest ratings, the most clicks.




Do I consider myself to be “politically correct”? That is the question that originally led me down this rabbit hole. A few weeks ago I was told that I was, and it wasn’t intended to be complimentary. More recently I was told that comments I had made were ignorant and insulting, a byproduct of a lifetime of male white privilege.

It’s a subjective term, the definitions that I started this post with probably not entirely representative of what everyone would think when presented with the term.

I believe that ignoring the truth of a situation out of fear of causing offense prevents meaningful dialogue, but understand that my version of the “truth” is not going to be the same as somebody with different experiences and circumstances. I believe that if they aren’t adversely affecting the lives of others, people should generally be left alone to live their lives, free of judgement or interference. I believe that effort should be made to treat everyone equally, without preconceptions or bias. That the actions of the individual should be the only thing that affects perception of them. I believe that if we, either as a country or on an individual basis, have the opportunity and means to help those that need it, there is a moral imperative to do so. I believe that fear is the biggest enemy of humanity.




Most of all I believe in trying not to be a dick. I don’t always succeed, but I try.  I’m still not sure if that makes me one of those “politically correct” people or not, but I really wish more people would make the effort.


Brilliant blog posts on

Adventures with girls, from preschool to proms