Grapes Makin’ Waves

21 07 2013
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“The vine bears three kinds of grapes: the first of pleasure, the second of intoxication, the third of disgust.” – Diogenes

In a few days I will be travelling to North Wildwood, NJ for what has become an annual pilgrimage.  My high school holds a fundraiser at the shore, inviting close to fifty years worth of graduates to gather for a big party.  It’s a hot time, packed with alumni and former teachers reconnecting.  The motto of our school is In Vite Mane, Latin for “Remain On The Vine”.  It fits… the idea is that everyone who has ever been a part of the school is connected, like grapes on a vine.

A lot of these grapes go to every reunion, planning their vacations so they can attend.  But each year I see someone new, someone I haven’t seen for many years.  This will be my fourth shore reunion, and it’s always a great night.  It is THE summer event.

Old friendships are a funny thing.  That common ground we walked over thirty years ago is warm and familiar.  And even though that vine of life separated us at some point, we are basically the same people.  If you were fun and friendly then, you still are now.  And if you were an asshole then, well… “So good to see you!!”

Recent Ryan High School graduates are all still connected through social media, so maybe this event will not be so popular in future years.  Some of us older Raiders and Ragdolls are social-active too, and I think that is part of the reason this gathering has grown so much in recent years.  While interest and attendance may have peaked, I hope to see this event continue to grow and remain vital.  Nothing beats seeing that person, talking face to face, and giving hugs.  Yes, I’m a hugger… prepare thyself.

The closest friendships I have today were cemented in that very town of Wildwood.  That rite of passage known as Senior Week forged my personal vine after graduation in 1978.  While most of us were friendly acquaintances going into that week, it all changed there and then.  Now… after marriages, divorces, kids, and – coming soon – kids getting married… the core group is still together.  Not as often as we’d like, but as often as we can.

Of the people in the above photo from Senior Week ’78 at the Red Garter (that’s me on the bottom left), I know I will see Ness and Laff this weekend.  But I also hope to see Matty, Franny, Novo, Lumpy, Scull, Clifton, Dick, Pomo and the Businessman.  To the OCD people who are counting heads… yes, there is one guy whose name escapes me.  Not bad recall after 35 years, is it?

Flashing forward, these shore reunions have rekindled relationships that I cherish and know will be with me forever.  It must be something about Wildwood.  Too much heat, and too much of Diogenes’ first two kinds of grape… from that vine, I guess.

531501_10151149258424458_1002822868_nLast year it was great to have my son, and fellow Ryan grad, attend his first shore reunion.  I got to meet and hang with a few of his friends and former teachers, and had the great pleasure of introducing him to a few of my Ryan grapes.  As a bonus I was “privileged” to pick up his drink tab for the night… not a pittance!

I’m looking forward to a couple of days filled with great conversation and renewals of friendship.  Plus some beach time that I sorely need!! As most know… I love to laugh, talk, tell stories… and occasionally I do like to have a cocktail.  This weekend will be all of that – times ten!  It will be fun, exhausting and probably very hot.

Hot is fine… nothing grows wilder and sweeter in the heat than grapes, on the vine.

Slips, Not Scripps

10 07 2013

time_graphicEvery Monday morning, part of my job as a mid level manager of a large embroidery company is to log in to our payroll website and approve the time sheets of the people I supervise. It is the simplest of tasks, made difficult by the stunningly awful spelling error on the welcome page graphic (left). Seriously? Spelling the word “attendance” wrong on a payroll website?

Bad spelling has always been a pet peeve of mine. My mantra has always been, “If you come across something I’ve written that has an error it is because I suck at typing, not spelling.” Yes, I type mistakes in grammar or word usage – “you’re” vs. “your” – but not spelling.

I did a little bit of research for this post. And when I say that I did research I mean that I googled “bad spelling”. The results showed hundreds of hilarious spelling and grammar mistakes. The examples are astounding… Misspelled street signs… funny. Misspelled tattoos… hilarious! Spelling mistakes in books, emails or websites… disaster.

Nothing says more about the professionalism of a person than how they write. I’ve dismissed more than one individual because of a poorly written email. Bad writing affects the perception of your company as well. I get email marketing all the time that has one, sometimes two glaring mistakes. I see mistakes in web copy, blogs, social media updates… etcetera, etcetera, ETCETERA!!!

While I’m fired up about this, I’m not without guilt.

A few years ago I was putting together a PowerPoint presentation for a sales meeting, with content supplied to me from various people. As my personal midnight deadline loomed I was copying and pasting like a mad man! The next morning, when the CEO of our company stopped the meeting to point out a spelling mistake, I was angry. The day got worse when there were a couple more. My lesson learned? I was responsible for the quality of the content. No one else. No excuses.

But I do realize that it’s not always that the person (me) can’t spell. We are all so busy and, to be honest, a little lazy. Certain things designed to help us have exacerbated the problem. Autocorrect is THE killer… the more we use our mobile devices the more lazy we will become. And the “never lived in a world without cell phones and internet, quick hit, text messaging” generation will soon be flooding the work force causing old fogies like me even more consternation!!

So, deer readers… hear are my Best Three Tips To Avoid Spelling Errors!! In order…

  1. Embrace Spell Check – Never, ever publish a blog, send an email, update your site, or anything without running it through Spell Check.
  2. Read It Backwards – When looking at your own writing you aren’t actually reading. That may be big news to you… there is no checking going on because your brain already knows what the next word is going to be. It sounds crazy, but it works.
  3. Fresh Eyes – Simple… get someone you know to read your work. And choose someone who isn’t familiar with the content if possible. It doesn’t have to make sense to the human spell checker. Commit to this…

I just followed my own rules! Well… two out of Spelling 03three. I made several errors and fixed all but two. Just to annoy you. And you know who you are!

I sincerely hope this post helps make the world a better place, and make you a bit more professional. You’ll probably get a big fat salary bump. Use the money to send the kids to a remedial writing class.

I’d love to hear what you think of this post, or maybe some real examples of bad spelling in business. Give us a laugh! Please leave a comment below. Thanks… JL

B-MUSINGS… Wet Summer Edition

3 07 2013

I hope to do this type of post periodically… “B-Musings” will be some random blurbiage and brain misfires that I have to get out of my head. Because I can make up words, and I have a blog, and you don’t!

babble_on_300Hollywood Babble On – My son John recently turned me on to this podcast with Kevin Smith and Ralph Garman. Typically a two-hour long penis joke, Smith and Garman have a great time skewering celebs like Lohan, Beiber and the Kardashians, and anyone else who dares to cross their path. Solid entertainment, and good for at least 7 or 8 laughs that are bigger than Liam Neeson’s c&%k! (You’ll get that joke if you listen.) Check it out – it’s free!!

Mid-Week Holidays – Blow.

Hey! Phillies Fans – The season is over. I love optimism but it’s getting a little ridiculous. Stop trying to compare this team to the World Series team… FROM FIVE YEARS AGO!! It’s not fair to them, and more than a little delusional. And I love ya, Charlie. But it’s fond farewell time…

Roster Limit – More baseball talk, but not really… I used to joke that the worst thing about getting older is that you can’t find enough guys to get a game of baseball going. Think about it. When we were kids we had plenty of players for a full 9 on 9 game. When we hit our twenties, not so much. Now, getting older means that my sons aren’t around as much. We are going to my sisters for what I’m sure will be a great barbecue… food, sun and fun at Casa Taylor. No con hijos. Empty Nesters Day is still a few years down the road, but getting closer. So when we are all together, I’m cherishing it a little more.946524_646897272006089_302100249_n

Life’s A Beach – I’ve never been a fan of the beach. But lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the shore, and really want to go there more often. Last weekend I enjoyed a great day on the Wildwood beach, watching sand soccer and chatting with a bunch of old friends. I’m being drawn in, and I’m not sure why. Maybe I’m changing, and need some new stuff. Think I’ll look online for one of those metal detectors… Powerball has been a big disappointment.

My Simple Take On Edward Snowden – Some call him a hero and a whistle-blower. I call him a traitor because he broke the law. And it’s that simple… he broke the law. Many are fired up because of the information about the NSA having access to our phone and emails. Guess what? They probably have access to a lot more than that. And if they use this information to protect the lives of Americans at home and abroad… bravo! I have nothing to hide. Do you?

U_S_-Declaration-Reproduction-ImageSpeaking Of Traitors – Here’s something you’re not used to seeing on my page… great, great writing:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Happy 4th of July, my friends.

Investment Advice

1 07 2013

17 - 2002 NFC - Buccaneers @ Eagles“If you don’t expect too much from me, you might not be let down.” ~ Gin Blossoms

Simply put, I’m a big sports fan.   Soccer is my passion, but I still love all of my Philly teams – Iggles, Flyboys, Phightins, and even the Sixers.  Well… Maybe not the Sixers.

I’m no expert, but I have a very good knowledge and understanding of major American sports, plus a working ESPN grasp of the not-so-major sports as well.  For example, when the mood strikes I…

  • … sometimes stay up late and watch Australian Rules Football. G’Day!!
  • … had a great time at Parx Derby Day in 2012.
  • … watch college baseball.  Mostly because I like to hear the aluminum bats pinging.
  • … want to learn about cricket.  I see it on Sky Sports (English SportsCenter), and would love to understand the rules.  It’s one of those sports where I say, “Shit… I could do that!”

I still love my Philly teams, but I don’t have that all-consuming fire anymore.  Not so many years ago I was living and dying by game results and playoff wins and losses.  Success gave me satisfaction, but defeats made me moody.  As the years went by, the ups and downs became too extreme.  Everything changed on Sunday, January 19, 2003, when Ronde Barber intercepted Donovan McNabb pass, and ran it back for a 92-yard touchdown interception return to clinch a Super Bowl trip for the Buccaneers.  That precise moment… over 66,000 people at Veterans Stadium and millions of fans watching at home had their hearts broken.  Including me, in my living room, decked out in my Eagles green.

This was definitely our year.  The best Eagles team, destined to win the Super Bowl.  It was a given.  Hmmm… not so much.  I was down for weeks.  F#%&in’ Ronde Barber!!  To this day, I still shudder when I see the video of that play.  But after a few weeks of surliness, I had a realization.  This consuming investment in my beloved sports teams had to stop.  It wasn’t going to get any better, because my team was not going to win every game every year.  I decided then that I couldn’t, and wouldn’t do it anymore.

A similar epiphany happened about 15 years earlier, when I realized that I was not going to be a great golfer.  After a particularly sad chip shot, I threw my club into a tree.  Because obviously, the club was faulty!!  When It came down to earth in two pieces I realized that I might be missing the better part of the golf experience… fun.  I gave up my ambitions of the PGA Tour after that incident.

Today, there are just too many games in sports to sustain meaningful fan support.  NFL owners want the expand the schedule, the Stanley Cup playoffs make the regular season meaningless, and don’t even get me started about the close to 200 hundred games World Series participants could play in one year.  Soccer isn’t immune, with plenty of extra tournaments for club and country.

In soccer, any team can beat any other team, on any day. Whatever the level, top tier versus semipro. That was never more evident than this year, with a giant killing in the FA Cup final. If the unthinkable happens the supporters may cry and curse, but recover quickly… because there is another game coming up fast, and the team needs them.

I love soccer, and regret that I discovered it so late in life.  One of the reasons I’ve embraced the beautiful game is the supporters culture.  I can hear you haters out there, revving up your hooligan stories.  I’ll stipulate that these idiots do exist, but in no greater percentage than in any other sport.

sons-of-benI’m a member of the Sons of Ben, the organization that supports the Philadelphia Union.  I take pride in what the group stands for… support the team.  No matter what.  From the SoB Code of Conduct… “Sons of Ben are in the stadium to support the Union. If you’re here to support the team, you’re welcome in the Sons of Ben. If you’re here to make trouble for yourself or for the fans around you, you aren’t welcome.”  And obey the four rules… Don’t be a Racist.  Don’t Be a Thug.  Don’t Be an Idiot.  DO Support the Team.  Simple as that.  I like it.

Sure, I’m gutted if the Union lose a match.  Or if Manchester United loses.  Or if the USA National team loses.  Or the Eagles, Flyers, Phillies… even the Sixers.  I’m bitching and booing loud, because it’s my right.  But the next day I’m over it.  I’m up and ready, and psyched for the next opportunity to support MY team.  For them, not against them.  It’s my thing.

Because I’m a sports fan.

**** Sons of Ben photo courtesy of  Click on the picture to see a larger version… I’m in the back right corner!  Ronde Barber photo courtesy of Satan and his minions.