Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Reflections of Tragedy

Warning: As the title describes, this is not a happy post.  

This month my cousin unexpectedly lost her husband. He was young. She has two young kids that she'll have to raise without him - a tragedy.

When tragedies hit close enough to home, they stir all kinds of thoughts and emotions.  I believe in God, heaven, and that things happen for a reason. Maybe it makes me weak, but I still can't help feeling overwhelming heartbreak for a young widow and her two children.  Death doesn't scare me or upset me nearly as much as being on the other side of it does.

The answer, I doubt I'll know in this lifetime.  The question is "why?"

Inspired by anyone who has ever struggled with being left behind, this is my reflection:

The perfect life, we had it all.
A perfect future was in store.
But now I'm trying to make sense of what this all is for.

We had so many hopes and dreams,
To watch it all just be wiped clean,
I can't go on, the way it seems.
My world is crashing down on me.

I know you're somewhere better now.
I've so much left to figure out.
I'm sure you're shining down on me,
but it's just not the same.

If I could hold you just once more...
Instead I'm lying here on the floor.
Every day feels like a war
that I might lose without you.

I'm counting days like counting sheep.
My heart and soul have gone to sleep.
And selfish as it all may seem,
well, you were everything to me.

The perfect life I used to dream
has left with you and just left me.
Now I'm left to make believe
there's someone left for me to be.

Afraid of what might be in store
A sad reminder it's no more
Just the pieces left of me
There's nothing left for them to see.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Let it not snow

Top reasons I don't want snow this winter:

- Shoveling.  First winter I've had a driveway that I'm actually responsible for.

- The snow boots I bought two years ago hurt my feet.

-I'm getting ice skates for Christmas (surprise!). There are several ponds in my neighborhood that look like they might freeze over. Snow would ruin that.  Size - Juniors 5 1/2.  Realized next year I can join an over 30 league.  Watch out old guys, here I come.

-I continue to procrastinate my purchasing of an automobile.  It's one thing to ride your bike in the cold...
Speaking of which, two weekends ago, to avoid a car/train schedule conflict, I biked from my home in Walpole to my job on Soldier's Field Road in Boston (and yes, there are showering facilities that I took full advantage of).  "Wow," said my co-workers. "You rode all that way.  It's about 19 miles, or the equivalent of 5-6 miles running.  The real "wow" is that it took me an hour-and-a-half (it's a single gear bike, cut me some slack), the same time it takes if I take the train to work.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Greatest American Athlete of All-Time

Michael Jordan, Alex Rodriguez, and Tiger Woods all have one thing in common: They are undoubtedly the best our generation has given us at their respective sports. But, who among them deserves the title "Greatest American Athlete of All-Time?" That award should go to another superhuman: Joseph Christian "Jaws" Chestnut.

Fame and fortune rewarded the efforts of the first three elite athletes I named. The fourth is merely a college student, but already arguably the greatest competitor ever to live. EVER.

Growing up, Joey "Jaws" Chestnut must have wanted to be the best, Wondering, what is it that America does best? Baseball? Basketball? The answer was so obvious. (Think loathing health officials and jealous media members. "Blah, Blah, Blah... obesity epidemic, Blah, Blah, Blah.") Americans can eat!

(Feel free to boo this next bad pun and explain to the other people in the room why you are booing -- don't forget to give them the full www address). Hungry to achieve, Joey challenged himself to become the best competitive eater in the world.  The San Jose State University student broke into competitive eating just five years ago, and has since built up a resume that any overweight American would envy. 

He ranks #1 in the world and just this weekend he devoured 47 burritos in 10 minutes to set another record (the reason I'm writing this blog today -- timeliness).

Here are a few of his most notable career highlights (just typing out this list gives me a stomach ache):

- 1 gallon of milk in 41 seconds
- 103 hamburgers in 8 minutes
- 241 chicken wings in 30 minutes
- 10.5 LBS of macaroni and cheese in 7 minutes
- 231 gyoza (time unknown)
- 45 slices of pizza (time unknown)

Finally, his greatest and best known feat -- on July 4, 2009 -  he devoured 68 hot dogs in 10 minutes.


Some naysayers might incorrectly argue that competitive eating is not a sport. An international governing body called Major League Eating runs it. There are rules, rankings, records, and most importantly, competition.  Above all, like in baseball, hockey, football, and soccer, food competitions take training and preparation, there are clear winners and losers, and vomiting is frowned upon (although that applies outside of sports as well).

Joey Chestnut does it better than anyone else.  He has become the best American at what Americans do best.  That is why he deserves the title "Greatest American Athlete of All-Time"

Friday, September 10, 2010

Narrowly Avoiding The Legal System

I have been able to avoid the legal system for nearly my entire life. Other than two moving violations, both of which i defeated, the court system has not seen the likes of me. And apparently, it has no desire to.  Recently I received a notice in the mail that appeared to summons me to jury duty.  Despite my oft transient living situation, the Jury Commissioner of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts managed to track me down... sort of...

The Postal Service was kind enough to forward my summons from my former address in Brookline to my new address in Walpole.


What really confused me was the spelling of my last name.  I always thought it was "Saleeba."  I guess I've been spelling it incorrectly for 29 years.  Nonetheless, I RSVP'd "Yes." I also informed the Jury Commissioner of my new address and the incorrect way that I spell my name; that way he would have it available next time he wanted to get in touch.

Fast-forward to yesterday, with the looming imminence of Jury Duty approaching, I was ready.  I spent weeks mastering an impression of Al Pacino in And Justice for All.  Hours upon hours of practicing in front of the mirror all turned out to be for none.  The Jury Commissioner uninvited me.
I rearranged my entire schedule for the Commish and he goes and pulls a stunt like this.  He apologized for the inconvenience, but also made it clear that he plans to possibly invite me to a future trial at his discretion.  However, he refuses to say which one... stringing me along and there's nothing I can do about it.  So until that date, I shall wait (and continue working on my Pacino impersonation.)


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

puppies and babies

I've decided to throw my opinion into the age-old debate: What's cuter, puppies or babies?
I recently began babysitting for the little one.  She's 10 months old, the age when babies begin to develop personalities, and in my opinion, it's probably their cutest age.  This is the pre-tantrum-throwing age.  And they've grown out of the frighteningly ugly-alien-looking stage awkward-looking young baby phase (The awkward phase I'm referring to is the one when everyone is like "oh, she's so cute" and I think there's something wrong with me because all I see is an oddly shaped pooping/eating/crying machine).  But, I digress.

Back to the debate; baby or puppy.  Women probably don't come across this too often.  It's hardly a rarity to see a woman pushing a stroller, many times with a dog in tow.  But, every twenty to thirty-five-year-old man who's ever walked a cute dog or pushed a stroller (without his significant other standing by his side) has probably noticed the miraculous happening where the attention of nearly every woman in sight is drawn to you.  I often bring along my dog when I babysit.  Early on during our walks around Boston Proper, based on the reactions of passersby, there were a few times where I actually thought a celebrity or professional sports player might have been walking behind me.  I quickly realized the phenomenon that was and is still taking place, and since it's a known fact that I like attention, I have embraced it.  "Sure you can pet my dog.... Oh, the baby? Thanks, isn't she cute? She's actually not mine. She's my wife's little cousin.  I'm taking care of her for the day.  It's kind of like one of those parenting workshops, only I don't even have to pay for it. How great?"  

Editor's note: Notice the word "wife" comes up in that conversation.  I'm happily married.  I enjoy the attention, but it's not like I'm looking to pick up a date out of it.  So, my readers are not allowed to judge me on this one.  Besides, I've seen creative entrepreneurs go as far as renting out puppies by the hour.  Judge them.  Their aimed demographic is single twenty-something year-old men (I believe Boston actually blocked one of these business from setting up in the city).

So, puppies or babies? On my numerous walks with both, I found many more people are drawn to the dog than to the adorable baby.  Seriously.  The truth is, it's not a matter of who's cuter, it's a matter of who's crazier. Yes. Crazier! City folk know, the only people who ever talk to you are lost tourists or crazies; on the train, at a crosswalk (who am I kidding, Bostonians don't use crosswalks), in line at the deli, wherever.  Yeah, you all know exactly what I'm talking about.

Then, there are dog people.  It's well-documented, dog people (including myself) are crazy.  Proof: they spend more money on their dogs than they do on themselves.  Look at the recession numbers: an estimated $43.4 billion was spent on pets in 2008, up from $41.2 billion in 2007 (source: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_hb4728/is_3_196/ai_n31438091/).  
And for some reason, whenever there's a cute dog, they (again, including myself) feel the need to engage the dog's owner in conversation.  

The most impressive piece of work I have ever witnessed was when some classless woman in her mid-forties walked up and stopped in front of the three of us.  She leaned over, pet my dog, talked to it, told it she has dogs like him at home, and went on her way without acknowledging or making eye contact with me or the baby. I was stunned and amused.  "Hi, um... Hello? Hello?"

"Baby people", on the other hand, are relatively docile.  Chances are, they have children.  That means they are too exhausted from dealing with those children to strike up a conversation.  Hell, I'm just babysitting while I write this post and I'm too tired to finish it.  So I guess this is the end.

   

Monday, August 16, 2010

Thanks, Google Calendar

At the urging of my lovely and extremely organized wife, I recently started telling Google Calendar all of my secrets. G-C knows more about what's going on in my life than I do. I have begun looking to G-C for advice. "Hey Google Calender, What time do I have to work tomorrow? Three? Great. Thanks. Hey Google Calendar, I have a manicure fishing trip scheduled for this Saturday if you wouldn't mind reminding me about it."

Google Calendar is better than most of my friends. I only have to tell him once and he never forgets. Plus, my wife trusts everything he says. She never has to wonder about where I am or what I'm doing or whether I'm up to no good.
"Hey Google Calendar, where's my husband?"
"He's at the bar helping save the children."

Early on though, I'm realizing one problem. Google Calender is the guy who always shows up late. "Oh, hey. Where have you been? I though you said you'd be here an hour ago... I'm three drinks in, I've made a scene, and I need someone to take me home now. You kind of left me out to dry on this one, you know?"

What happens is the G-C man always sends an e-mail telling me when to attend all of my important events. But, living in the suburbs and sharing a car, it often takes me between 30 minutes and an hour+ to get anywhere of importance. Most of these reminders come 10 minutes before the event. If I haven't already left, I'm in trouble.

So, thanks Google Calendar, my reliance on you has turned both of us into the "late" friend. I will continue to pour my heart out to you. All I ask in return is for an earlier heads up. A good friend always knows when it's time to leave. Start being a better friend and I will continue to post my schedule using the G-C.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

If Tom Brady was a small market Television Reporter

Patriots star Tom Brady is entering a contract year. That means rampant media speculation about his level of happiness, whether he'll re-sign and for how much. That got me thinking about what it would look like if the media covered its own contract negotiations, especially in a small market.

(AP) Boise, ID -- Veteran reporter Thomas Brady returned to the airwaves today on KBOI-TV (editor's note: I chose this station because of my current CBS affiliation) after signing a five-year contract extension. The staggering deal is rumored to be in the low 6-figure range, averaging out somewhere around $26,000 a year along with vacation time and benefits. Brady has been credited with helping the station take over first place in the ratings for three consecutive sweeps months.

During negotiations, News Director Billy Jo Hicks expressed confidence that the two sides would get a deal done, telling the Boise Sun Chronicle, “We’re very lucky to have him as our reporter and we want him to be our reporter for a long time into the future.”

From the station’s perspective, its loyalty to Brady has been unwavering since he became the lead correspondent in 2009 and guided KBOI to the first of three consecutive ratings wins.
Even after Brady tore up his knee, and Production Assistant Matt Cassel performed well as his replacement, the organization declined to entertain the idea of laying him off.

But speculation arose that Brady was looking to sign elsewhere after he spent his vacation week away from the station. He was spotted with his wife, local farmer Gisele Bundchen at a county fair sponsored by rival KIVITV. But Brady says he was undercover, preparing a story for what he hopes will be another regional Emmy nomination.

When asked about whether he took less to stay at a winning station Brady responded,
"To be the highest-paid, or anything like that, is not going to make me feel any better." "That's not what makes me happy. In this business, the more one reporter gets, the more he takes away from what others can get. Is it going to make me feel any better to make an extra $350, which, after taxes, is about $200? That $350 might be more important to the station.''

Sunday, June 27, 2010

"if i don't see you again, have a nice life"

i'm not going to ask everyone I meet for an address and phone number... That holds especially true on the train, where more of them seem to want to talk to me. I'm always up for a good conversation, but I have too many friends as it is.
So, to avoid any awkward goodbyes, as we part, I offer some semblance of closure by telling them, "if i don't see you again, have a nice life."

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A trickling mind

with a chip on your shoulder,
every day you're getting older
is another one you've either wasted,
or a memory you've pasted on your wall.

the great divide
putting egos aside
a place to run and hide
until the memories subside

I can't stand
never willing to lend a hand
drew a line in the sand
before life began

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Rain, Deer

Sometimes it's when a person decides to go against the norm, that they really start to see some of the more beautiful things in this world. Despite living in a suburban setting more than twenty miles from both my wife and my jobs, I am still holding out on purchasing a second car. Some of the decision has to do with money, some has to do with the fact that I don't feel like researching cars right now, and some of it stems from the enjoyment I get out of listening to people say "I don't know how you do it, I could NEVER pull it off." Well, I can, so maybe that makes me a better person, or maybe it just makes me a little more creative.

This past weekend has included a couple of fun adventures. I joined a fitness club/gym that's about 5 miles away. So far, my mode of transportation has been my bicycle. Since ten miles on the bike is a pretty good cardio workout, I spend less time at the gym, and I'm able to avoid the stationary bike zombies.

During a ride at dusk, temperatures had dipped to a slight chill as a light rain floated down from the closing eye of the dimming sky. For a moment, the wisp of a few distant cars disturbed the soft splatter of my bike tires carving through a blanket of water covering the road. My face gently absorbed the soft spray of rain drops and a delicate trance-like breeze that my gliding bicycle created. My mesmerizing surroundings made it easy to lose my focus. Two hundred yards down a rolling hill, a doe stepped out of the woods. My neighbor had told me all about the wildlife in the area, but I had yet to witness any of it, especially up close. Speeding down the hill, I slowly applied pressure to my brakes. As the doe casually wandered out toward the center line, I thought "wow" followed by "reach for my camera phone." My lack of balance and need to brake ruled out that idea. As I slowed my descent down the hill, the deer did not look up. For some reason, I wondered if this majestic animal was traveling alone, and in that instant, a second doe leaped from the woods about 15 feet in front of me. I leaned heavy on my wet brakes, causing a squeal enough to spook the doe. Each deer bounded off in opposite directions and I continued pedaling toward the gym.

If I had decided to drive, I would have taken a different route, a main road where the speed limit is higher and the route is much faster. But I also would have missed out on a close encounter with a couple of deer.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Most suburban couples have two cars. Not us.

Recently my wife and I gave up renting in the city in favor of a quieter existence in the town of Walpole. We're officially homeowners now... and suburbanites. We live about a mile from the commuter rail and I've been holding out hope that we won't have to get second car. With both of us working quirky schedules and in not-so-ideal locations with-in the city, it's something that requires a little bit of creativity, planning, and sacrifice.

My wife works over in Longwood, but the first commuter train doesn't get to ruggles until about 10 minutes after she needs to be at work. So far, it has meant getting up at the crack of dawn to drive her to work and remembering to pick her up 13 hours later. My job is in Allston (parking included). To get there without a car, I'd have to take the rail to the T to a bus, or I could swap one of the legs with a bike ride. The problem on that is the last train leaves from the city before I get out of work.

This weekend we ran into our first couple of conflicts and it has me second guessing the whole car hold-out. Here's how it went down. On Friday, both of us had to work. I was scheduled from 3pm to 11:30pm, while my wife had to work from 7pm to 8am. The problem was she would be napping for her night shift when I headed to work.
We came up with a couple of plans: my three leg journey with a return trip at midnight to Longwood where I can pick up the car. Or, my wife can take the commuter rail in. What we failed to realize is neither of us quite understands how to read an MBTA schedule. We both failed to realize the train she needed to take did not stop at Ruggles. In fact, it didn't even pass through there. This particular train detours through Readville and Dorchester. It's hard enough to catch a cab on a regular day in these places, but when my wife jumped off at Readville station, she didn't realize that across town, cabs were in short supply following Northeastern's graduation ceremonies. After a half hour of calling every cab company in the city (with my help), she managed to hop a bus to Forest Hills. With no cabs in sight, she managed to jump the bus that passed by Longwood via Huntington. One all-out-sprint down Longwood later, she arrived 35 minutes late and rumors of her demise in a train accident had already sprouted up among co-workers. The End. Right? Not so fast.

Fast forward to Saturday. Determined to avoid a similar fiasco, I decide to take the 3-leg journey to my job. With my bike in tow, I open the side door. Suddenly, my Jack Russell Terror with a penchant for chasing cars and a side job as an escape artist decides he's going to do just that. Ki'ipu, who my blog is named after, is out the door and flying... I mean FLYING down the road. After 10 minutes, I manage to get him back in the house. He's covered in mud and needs a bath (otherwise he'll make a mess of our couch). I rush through that (my wife sound asleep in the other room) and rush for the door.

In all the commotion, I realize I dropped my bike light at some point. I need that since my journey home requires me to bike in the dark from Allston to Longwood, where I can pick up the car. I rush downstairs, grab another light and head for the door. A heavy downpour greets me as I step outside. Lovely. I arrive at the commuter rail drenched, but just in time, hop on and head to South Station. The plan is to grab the Red Line to Harvard and bike the remaining 1+ mile to work.

I arrive at South Station to find the Red Line has been shut down and the T is instead busing people back and forth to Park Street. Convinced it could take a several hours to travel a few blocks, I hop my bike and aim toward the Common -- only to have it start raining again. Eventually I arrive at work soaked to the bone and contemplating the purchase of another car. I'm sure I'll change my mind tomorrow when a gentleman from the fence company tells me it's going to cost thousands of dollars to enclose my modest-sized yard, something that has become essential for keeping the dog out of the street and away from all those vehicles that belong to two-car families living in suburbia.