Archive for May, 2009

Astronauts in space
Threading needles miles above
Must be tough with gloves

Originally published here.


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Listening to radio broadcasts of Yankee baseball games has become intolerable because of John Sterling’s awful “trademark” calls for home runs and other common events on the field. 

Back in the 90’s, Sterling’s “It is high, it is far, it is gone!” was tolerable. The team was finally winning, so what the hell. But now every damn thing has an awkward catch phrase like some lame sponsor were paying him to plug them. The only problem is that it is just Sterling trying to be Sterling, and it is ridiculous. That “Yankees win” after victories schtick was bad; an “A-Bomb…from A-Rod!” is awful. 

Now, the man has sunk to a new low with a 2 sentence abomination every time Mark Texiera hits a dinger. I won’t even tell you what he says, suffice to say it is a grandpa pun on steroids. 2 sentences! Back when he was teamed with Michael Kay, broadcasts were like eavesdropping on two friends watching the game with random interruptions for Sterling to cut the mustard. Now it is no far past the boundary of good taste it is noise pollution. When you root for your own guy to whiff just to be spared another John Sterling whackadoo utterance, you know it is bad. 

Mr. Sterling, just announce the game and stop trying to be Red Barber and Harry Carey’s love child  about every random event.

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I appeared on the May 27 broadcast of ABC World News in a story on the real estate market. Betsy Stark interviewed me. The best part of the whole thing was not the publicity, exposure or the fun in being contacted by friends about it. You had to see Mark’s reaction seeing Daddy on the TV. That was more fun than watching the clip.

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I still remember getting a phone call from Mr. Holt in 1985 when I was a senior in high school. He and his wife Fran helped moderate my church youth group and they wanted to speak with me after the next Sunday meeting.   I was afraid I did something wrong (I suppose that is the default setting of Catholic guilt at play), but to my surprise they asked me if I would co-lead the next retreat weekend that March. This was quite involved, and part of my job was to deliver a talk to the entire group of 60 or so high school age peers on my spirituality and the challenges therein as a 17-year old the the mid-80’s. Fran would be my coach for preparing the talk. 

We took a liking to each other immediately in the process. She was very empathetic, and when she told me something it was presupposed that I’d understand. I knew she was a teacher, but our interactions she made me feel almost as if I were a peer and not a pupil. When you are 17 there aren’t many 38 year olds who bestow that kind of dignity on you. She was no phony about it either.  I remember her changing hats on a dime when her daughter played a song on the radio she didn’t approve of- she got right back with me, but before she did, she said “I’m a mom too, you know.” Pretty authentic. She was that way about everything, and in the assistance with my talk, she’d share things about her that were beyond superficial to illustrate a point. She was the first person I ever knew who, to impact another, would share herself in such a penetrating way. She expected the same from me. Those talk preparation sessions were work.  

The retreat went very well (I could write another few posts about it, actually), and I left for college in August. There weren’t email or cell phones back then, and I wasn’t good at letter writing. But when I did come home I’d see the Holts on occasion and even if it had been months (and in some cases, years) we’d always pick up where we left off. And pick up we did- the Fran and Charlie were the extraordinary sort of people you’d make time to see when you were in town or on semester break because you wanted to see them, period. 

You might have someone you know like this; you aren’t best friends, but somehow you have unspoken peace of mind that they are in your world. That was Fran Holt. She never lost that simpatico with me, and she enjoyed the news of my life,  career, marriage and children as much as I enjoyed hearing that her youngest son Charlie would attend my alma mater, Villanova. She and Charlie were there when I had to bury my older brother. Your true friends are there for the big laughs and the big cries and those all too few welcome times in between. Our paths didn’t cross enough. 

I don’t know when I got that email telling me of the pancreatic cancer, but it doesn’t matter. I followed her updates and forwarded them to others who knew and cared. The last update was April 30th, less than a month ago, and it was a rough one. I heard last week that Hospice was involved, and as I was about to have a breakfast meeting this morning  with a new associate, my brother called to give me the news that we had lost her. 

I’ve said this about my late brother Paul, and the same goes for Fran Holt- God takes his best work back early. One of the principles of the Antioch weekends the Holts ran  was the idea that we wear masks, and if we took our mask off  we’d see something good. We didn’t need a mask. That is true, but I’d put it a little differently: it is OK for me to have a mask, but it isn’t OK for my mask to have me.  

I sure needed mine going into that meeting this morning. 

Fran Holt

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Gregory gave us a scare yesterday. He is our 4-year old, and is on the spectrum. I was out, showing co op apartments. His brothers and sister were playing out in the back yard when he decided it would be nice to get under the dining room table, curl up in a ball under a blanket, and fall asleep. That was not a very good 10 minutes for his mother. 

Or his father. 

Committee meeting

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Why Facebook Works

I have often wondered what accounts for the enormous popularity of Facebook.  It isn’t the most user-friendly platform. AIM/Instant Message is a better utility to cyber schmoose with.  I recall when I first got online in the 90’s how neat it was to catch up with old friends with relative ease through email and instant messages, but that often dried up when people changed email servers or Internet providers. 

What gives?  One element that may make a difference is that people on Facebook use their REAL NAMES and not screen name psudonyms. That all but eliminates anonymous flaming and makes people easier to find. There is less suspicion about the safety of the Web, and only approved.friends can see the photos of your kids and family. 

This isn’t to say that Facbook won’t go the way of The Globe, AOL Communities or that old yahoo chat you no longer visit. People are already grumbling about how it has changed for the worse. There may be another flavor of the month a year or two from now. When and if that happens, people will use their real names on that one as well.

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You can read it here. The link to the article is easily accessible.It wasn’t an editor’s pick, but 170 people recommended it, which was quite a high number.

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