Wednesday, November 30, 2016

November

This was printed in the Orlando Sentinel November 29, 2016.

I am The Bug Killer.

When it gets cold they come inside.  When I moved to Florida I found out that all kinds of things are bigger here. Most bugs are smallish but every now and then they get to be a good size and then they scare you half to death.

There's just one thing.

I moved here from New York where cockroaches are a way of life and that taught me how to goosh them. I brought that skill with me. So instead of running screaming into the night when I happen to come upon bugs I move towards them and put out their lights.

That's how I roll.

Bugs are inventive in how they hide and how they run. You have to always be on guard, always vigilant. I mentioned that most of them are small but, see, we have palmetto bugs here and they can be pretty big. It doesn't matter. I goosh them just the same.

Okay, Florida critters.

One day I saw my dog chasing something in the back yard. Turns out it was an armadillo. Turns out we had a family of armadillos nesting in our back yard.

Can you say, "Oh no?" I think you can.

So I did what any brand new Floridian might do, I called a specialist.  He called himself an Animal Wrangler. He came, assessed the situation and said, "You got armadillos."

I kinda knew that.

He put cages down and lo and behold we caught four of them. Mom, dad, and two kids. He drove away assuring me the armadillos would be let out in a far away wooded area.

I was okay with that.

Moving here, I wasn't quite prepared for all the wonderful wildlife. If you grew up here you're used to it but remember up north a squirrel is a big deal. Here it's no deal at all.

Once I looked up into the sky and saw what I thought was a small plane. After rubbing my eyes and shaking my head, I realized it was a bald eagle.

That'll set a person back a bit.

I moved here in 2004, right after the hurricanes hit. I'd never lived here before and when I pulled onto my street there were a bunch of turkey buzzards eating some roadkill. Buzzards that look like they were from prehistoric times.

Everyone just drove by like it was nothing and I remember thinking, "Is anybody seeing this?"

We have hawks down here who fly like jet fighters. Fast and can turn on a dime. One day, as I was taking out the trash, I noticed one sitting in a tree.  Now, a hawk just doesn't sit on a branch, in a tree, near our garage, for nothing. All of a sudden, he reaches down into the tree, pulls out a baby bird and flies off, fast, with it in his beak.  The mama bird went after him squeaking the whole time.

I'm flabbergasted while watching this.

I go inside and breathlessly tell Denise what I just saw. She looks me in the eyes and says, as calm as she could be, "Circle of life."

I learned something about my wife that day. Not sure what it was but it was something.

I've seen rabbits, I've seen raccoons, I've seen lizards, I've seen cranes...I know what you're thinking, but have you seen gators?

I have.

But not in my yard.

Since we don't live near water we haven't had a,"Where's the dog?" moment. My wife sighs and talks about living on a lake but I won't even consider it for that very reason.

Because it's warm here all kinds of things run wild.

It doesn't help that my cousin David reminds me that 30 foot pythons are all over the Everglades. I tell him over and over that I don't live near there and remind him that he might watch the Nature Channel way too much.

Way too much.

Florida life.

  



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Saturday, November 12, 2016

Some Words You Should Know

These are four words, with their definitions, you should know.

Compassion.

Compassion is the response to the suffering of others that motivates a desire to help.

Man, there is never enough of that to go around. Especially these days. I was taught that if someone needs help, you help them. I was taught to always, always, be kind.

I try to teach my kids that.

You can't live by the credo that I've got mine, forget you. You can't. What's that old saying? I'll Readers Digest it and say that we are stronger as a unit than we are solo. Instead of treating someone who is different, differently, try treating them how you would like to be treated.

Integrity.

Integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness. It is generally a personal choice to hold oneself to consistent moral and ethical standards.

This seems to have gone by the wayside. Oh, you can find it but you have to look for it. There are outlets upon outlets that will say or print anything, whether it's true or not. They want to draw you in and they'll do it in all kinds of ways. When I was at CBS they didn't play that. You didn't just blurt things out, you had to do your research, your homework. You had to be above the din and above all be truthful.

You had to be fair and balanced.

Where'd I hear that?

In private life you should strive to do that, as well. I'm not perfect and Lord knows I've made mistakes, big ones, in my life. I can remember every one. But every day you wake up and try to do the right thing.

Dignity.

A sense of pride in oneself; self-respect.

You can find homeless people who have nothing but the clothes on their back. But they have dignity. How many times have you seen someone on TV who's lost everything in a natural disaster who says, with dignity, they will rebuild, will go on with their lives?

I lived in New York during 9-11.

Talk about dignity.

Which leads us to the last one.

Love.

... can be a virtue representing human kindness, compassion, and affection—the unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another.  It may also describe compassionate and affectionate actions towards other humans.

Did you see the word compassion in there? You can love a meal or love your jeans or love a color but it's when you open up your arms to love a person or a people or a sexual orientation that it's really special.

They've written songs about it, written books about it, made movies about it. It seems there's not a lot of love out there these days. Think I'm wrong? Turn on the TV, read a newspaper, read social media. There seems to be a lot of angry words, a lot of angry shouting, and no one taking the time to listen to the other side.

That ain't love.

Let me say this, I don't know nothing.

I just know we're better than we've shown.


















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Saturday, November 5, 2016

Cubs Win

"My grandchildren saw me cry. And I didn't care."

That's a direct quote from a 75 year old Cubs fan after Chicago finally won the World Series. Finally. There were people who lived their whole lives never seeing their team be World Champions.

65 year olds, 75 year olds, 85 year olds, and even older.

If I heard it once I heard it a thousand times, "I wish my dad was alive to see this. Wish my mom was alive to see this. I wish my grandparents were alive to see this."

Stats that you know--the last time the Cubs won the World Series was in 1908. The last time they were even in it was 1945. I didn't have to look the last two dates up, every Cubs fan knows them.

And while we're at it let me just say we were all zombies, happy zombies, on Wednesday after the way too late shenanigans of Game 7 on Tuesday night.

Man, that was a game.

It's not often you find me on my bed, watching TV, alone, screaming and raising my arm in the air when a team scores. But there I was as the Cubs scored first. With a home run no less.

Cubs up early, here come the magnificent Indians. Two things, it seemed every time the Cubs got ahead, Cleveland battled back. And every time they did, the Cubs seemed to step on the gas to go ahead again.

Back and forth like two heavyweight boxing champions.

One side story. I watched a good part of the game with my 13 year old son. He would drift into the room to see his nuts dad roar at the game. It was great watching baseball with my kid. Wonderful. But I did have tell him that in baseball they're called runs, not points.

The Cubs were up 6-3 and lo and behold all of a sudden it was 6-6. How'd that happen? Over the years their fans have seen so many inventive ways to lose. Was this going to be one of them? It seemed like they would win then all of a sudden after nine innings it was tied.

Everyone was biting their nails.

We were on our way to extra innings when...

There was a rain delay. Are you kidding me? I turned off the TV, it was way late and my nervous system couldn't take any more. I figured I'd find out in the morning who'd won. I know, I know, I'm a schmuck but when my wife found out she said, "What? Turn it back on. You have to watch the whole thing!"

I'm afraid of my wife so I did.

Turns out the delay was only about 15 minutes.

Long story short, the Cubs scored two in the top of the tenth, the Indians scored one in the bottom of the inning before succumbing.  Final score Cubs 8 Indians 7. I was so glad I saw it.

The 108 year wait was over.

The Cubs were World Champions at last.

It's been a couple of days since that happened. A couple of glorious days. An observation, those guys on that Cubs team will never pay for dinner in a restaurant in Chicago again.

Ever.

Some fan will be happy to pick up their tab.

They also dyed the Chicago River Cubs Blue to celebrate the win. They dyed the river blue. Bears repeating.

And the victory parade was unbelievable. It seemed like all of Chicago was there with big, happy, goofy, grins on their faces.

It's been the year of comebacks by teams down three games to one. And Cleveland has been in the middle of both of those magical comebacks. I wrote earlier about the Cavaliers, with King James, coming back from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Golden State Warriors for the NBA championship.

Well, the Cubs clawed back from being down 3-1, as well, to win their championship. And they did it in Cleveland.

You have to say hats off to a great Cleveland Indians team. Great and classy.

The Chicago Cubs are 2016 World Champions.

That bears repeating as well.


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