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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Ice Ice Baby!

I have had a very enjoyable summer.  Lots of baseball, lots of work and much needed family time.  That is why I have not posted in almost six weeks.  My actions yesterday warranted me getting back on the blogging circuit.  Yesterday, my wife, my oldest daughter and I took the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.  I was challenged three times in a twenty four hour period so I felt the need to oblige.

The other day a fellow blogger, with whom I am longtime friends with her husband voiced her disapproval of this challenge.  She was almost immediately chastised for her disapproval.  I hate to say it people, she is not alone. There have been many skeptics regarding this fad, questioning the accountability of the challengers and challengees (I don’t even know if that is a word).  I truly see their point and that is why I took a different approach when we did our video. 

As the video was playing I embedded eleven facts about ALS, because it is truly about awareness.  That was part of this fad I was very skeptical about.  All the videos I had seen not one person spoke of ALS other than saying they had accepted the challenge.  Although donations have increased roughly one thousand percent from this time last year, is anyone more aware?

If people really read between the lines of the other bloggers article they would have seen that people suffering from ALS is very personal to her.  She has lived through it and all the ice dumping in the world won't change that and it won't certainly bring back her loved one.  For those of you that don't know me, I was born in Italy with three fingers on each hand.  My parents sacrificed much for me including leaving everything they knew behind to make sure I had the care I needed.  Maybe my parents could have tried something like this when they were scraping up money to see specialists.  Maybe my surgeon at the time did not have to circumvent bureaucracies to keep costs down.  So when I see that same surgeon traveling to Asia in retirement to perform cleft pallet surgeries to poor children in dire need of them I help when I can.  It's just personal.

I made the decision to do it not because I didn't want to be called a chicken or didn't want to spend $100, it is because I too knew Daniel Sloan and he was a wonderful man.  I will be donating my piece to the team that is walking for ALS in his name and I urge everyone I challenged to do the same and even the ones I didn't challenge.

RIP - Robin Williams


If you don't take it from me, ask my wife.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Will the Fever Die?

Yesterday the United States was ousted from the World Cup ending a glorious 3 week run in the world's premiere tournament.  Over the past month the country has been on a World Cup high.  Everyone has been talking about it, everyone has been watching it and everyone was rooting for the United States.  The country followed the words of U.S. Soccer's unofficial fan club's mantra "I believe that we will win".  It was sad to see the Red, White and Blue lose.

Being born in Italy and still having roots and close ties to the homeland, soccer (futbol, calcio, etc...) especially the World Cup has always been viewed in my home.  I enjoy the game and I truly love the international tournament.  It's like a World War without the death and destruction.  Now begs the obvious question.  Can professional soccer take off in the United States?  I would love to say yes but I am skeptical.

It is true that the ratings have increasingly gone up each World Cup in the United States.  It is also true that the popularity of Major League Soccer (MLS) has increased and the league continues to expand.  But that is just a viewership thing.  ESPN paid $100 million to broadcast the last two World Cups and they did a masterful job in bringing attention to not only the World Cup but to the sport as well.  They expanded their 30 for 30 series to include "Soccer Stories", which were documentaries about stories of past soccer news, whether it was glorious, tragic or unfortunate.  It had me hooked.

The English Premier League, arguably the best league in the world is now being viewed in the United States and that may possibly help in bring more support for the sport.  But it is not about watching the games, it's about becoming a fan.  The MLS, although expanding, is still a second rate league.  It does not have the star power or the financial backing as the European leagues do and that is where my skepticism comes in.

Americans have all the best professional leagues in the world with the exception of soccer.  Americans do not attach themselves to something that is not the best and this is where this sport will struggle.  United States Soccer and MLS must take notice and strike while the iron is hot.  Although I have rooted for Italy for as long as I can remember, it would bring me much joy to see the United States hoist the World Cup trophy someday.  Come on America, let's join the rest of world.


If you don't take it from me, ask my wife.

Monday, May 19, 2014

My Graduation Advice....Sort Of

With schools having or planning their commencement exercises over the next couple of weeks, graduates will be listening to speeches from esteemed public figures.  Worcester Tech will have the honor of having President Obama speaking at their graduation.  A moment that those students and their families will treasure forever.

Every year at this time I think about the Baz Luhrmann song "Wear Sunscreen”.  The song is a commencement speech to the class of 1999 that was put to music.  Rumor had it when it was originally released that it was a speech that Kurt Vonnegut gave at Yale's graduation.  The truth is that it was a column written in June of 1997 by Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich about how everyone has inside them a little piece of them that would love to give a commencement speech and what hers would be.

It's been fifteen years since I first heard Ms. Schmich's words, and each time I hear them it amazes me how spot on she was.  I won't bore you with the whole speech as I attached links to both the column and the song but her are some of the things I have taken from her words.

Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don't. - I like my job, I don't love my job.  That is probably why I do a million other things to see if I can find the one thing I truly love.  Other than being a good husband and father.  If my boss reads this, I love working for you.

Read the directions, even if you don't follow them. - C'mon!!!! Who doesn't do this?  At what point in anyone's lives do they just bite the bullet and just follow them already?

Get to know your parents. You never know when they'll be gone for good.....My parents live right behind me and there is not a day that I am not grateful for that.  My parents have sacrificed a lot for me and my family does not let them forget our gratitude.

Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you'll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders. - I have to admit, I never thought politicians were noble.  Power is a crazy thing and makes people do wild things.  Now, with regards to prices, it's crazy.  The price of gas has gone up almost $2.00 a gallon in a little over a five years.  It has taken Regatta Deli on Lake Ave. almost 30 years to raise the price of their famous grinder the same amount.  Maybe we should put them in charge of the oil industry.

Don't mess too much with your hair or by the time you're 40 it will look 85 - For those of you that have met me, laugh now.

My advice to the class of 2014, since I will most likely never be asked to give a commencement speech, is to capture whatever words are said to you on your graduation day and continue to revisit them.  They may seem boring now, but they will speak volumes later.  Don't use them as a guide but as a point of reference. Don't use them as measuring stick but as a ladder to your goals.  As always, don't forget the sunscreen.  It’s the best advice I ever received.



If you don't take it from me, ask my wife.