Achy Breaky Parts

March 22, 2010

This past weekend I managed to do some pretty good damage to myself, while proving that I am still willing to make a complete jackass out of myself for fun.  Saturday morning I met my parents out at Kohl’s with my three daughters to do some sneaker shopping.  This went surprisingly well, and the three girls got the exact same sneakers – Skechers Twinkle Toes.   Anyways, as we left to go to IHOP for brunch, my foot slipped off the edge of the curb of one the islands in the parking lot, and down I went.  I rolled my ankle really badly; so badly, in fact, that this is what the thing looked like the next day –

Yeah.

So what would be the reasonable thing to do…ice, rest, elevation?  Hell no.  Saturday night I went out to see a local band, Wide Right, and stood on that ankle for a few hours.  The band, by the way, was pretty damned good.  Then on Sunday, I figured I’d really take care of myself, so I took the family roller skating!  Putting on my rollerblades was a little painful since there was still quite a bit of swelling in the ankle, but once I tightened the laces up it felt better.

Normally I just skate around with the kids and have fun with them.  This time, my wife was there, and my parents were watching the baby so we could all skate around.  I did a nice lap holding hands with my wife, and then she stood at the end boards while I wound up some speed.  As I came around after a couple laps I tried to stop near her against the boards.  Since I am more used to ice skates than rollerblades, I screwed up the stop and fell in spectacular fashion.  My knee twisted a couple ways it’s not supposed to, and my face had a rather painful collision with my wife’s leg and the boards.  My 9 year old immediately proclaimed to the nearby crowd that she did not know me.  My wife was laughing, my mom asked if I was OK, and I think my Dad was just slowly shaking his head at the scene.  I got up, assured the concerned folks that I was just fine, and skated off in great pain.  Not content to go out with a whimper, I kept going for a while, until the kids were ready to go.  As I turned to go over to where I left my shoes, I fell once again, flat on my ass.  I called it a day right there, took my blades off, and limped over to my shoes.

So now my right ankle is swollen and terribly bruised, my left knee is sore and stiff, my ribs and shoulders are sore from the Lord knows what, and my body generally feels pretty beat up.  But I spent some fun time with the kids, and it was all worth it.

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On Getting Older, Not Old

March 8, 2010

I’ve often considered what it means to get older.  This means something different to me than getting old.  I think getting old is going to suck, because I generally equate “getting old” with negative things – insurmountable physical and mental deficiencies, resentment of change, an inability or unwillingness to understand or adapt to changing societal norms and technology.  To me old is not a particular age, but rather a state of being that I will avoid, with any luck, until the very end.

What I mean by getting older is something a little different.  When I was young and stupid and doing quite a few things that weren’t exactly in my own best interests I was was often told that as I got older, these things wouldn’t be fun or satisfying or important.  I smoked, drank, drove like an idiot at times, ate really unhealthy food, all kinds of things.  Somewhere in the back of my mind I suppose I expected that there would be a specific point in time where I would decide that I was “older”; that at a certain age or life event I would suddenly know that it was time to settle down.  Of course, a rather significant event did occur – I won’t get into specifics – and I decided it might be good to quit drinking, and if I was going to do that I might as well try quitting smoking as well.  However, most of the things that have changed in my life have been the result of gradual, incremental changes that have often gone unnoticed in the general clutter and hustle of living life.

Every once in a great while I’ll sit and think about the changes I’ve gone through, and wonder if it’s just because I’ve gotten “older”.  Recently, during these moments of thought, it occurred to me that getting older is not a terrible thing, nor does it always mean that you’ve changed in some intrinsic way.  I haven’t “sold out”.  I haven’t conformed, or whatever you want to call it. I’ve come to the realization that getting older is simply refining who you are, growing, learning, and becoming the person you really are.  For some, it’s shedding the brash bullshit facade of youth.  For others, it’s an epiphany and a sea change in their life.  There are those for whom it’s simply withdrawing further into the lies and deceits to the point of no return.    Getting older is permanent.  Getting older is not getting old.  Getting older is a good thing once you can learn to accept it for what it is.

Erin Is 4, And I Am Old

March 5, 2010

Happy birthday to my youngest daughter, Erin, who is 4!  I love you!

Sabres v. Carolina 2.11.2010

February 11, 2010

Tonight the Buffalo Sabres take on a newly resurgent Carolina Hurricanes team that has turned things around a little in the last week; wins over the Sabres, Islanders, and Panthers have them unbeaten in their last three.  Buffalo is reeling, with 5 straight losses.  As a Sabres fan, I think tonight would be a really good night to turn things around.

The big question is “what is wrong with the Sabres?”  I hope it’s a slump;  But the more I see of this team, the more they appear to need just a little more offensive firepower than they have right now.  It wouldn’t hurt to also give a couple guys a press box seat for a game just to shock them out of their complacency.

I think there’s a real need to add a little to this team, but I am not confident that Darcy Regier’s going to make the move.  Katebits and the guys from The Goose’s Roost scared the hell out of me with the following thoughts on Twitter the other day:

  • Darcy will claim that getting Kaleta back from injury will be better than any trade.

 

  • Darcy will claim that the two week Olympic break will be better than any trade.

That sounds  exactly like Darcy.  It also sounds exactly like a recipe for an early exit from the playoffs.

What Story?

February 9, 2010

Over the last few days I’ve been hearing about a “blockbuster” New York Times story that will contain revelations that will force David Paterson to resign as governor of the State of New York.  Although I am entertained by the notion of another governor being booted for “personal failings”, I think this game may have gone on a little too long this time.  Let’s look at the facts as we know them right now.  Oh, that’s right, there aren’t any.  No story has come out.  No salacious bits of information have been substantiated.  There is NOTHING.  Paterson has rebuked claims of a major expose.

So what happens next?  More to the point, what happens if the story comes out and there’s nothing to it?  Oh, I’m sure there will be references to his actions already disclosed on his first day as governor.  Maybe the Times has some new information on old things.  But what if, essentially, there is no news?  Is Paterson in a postition to turn that back upon the folks that are stirring this pot?  Or is Paterson so far damaged already that he’s done no matter what?  Interesting questions.  I guess we’ll just have to wait for that story.

The Great Failed Experiment

February 1, 2010

Hi!  Remember me?  I’m the guy that used to write a post every day here.  Then, through the vagaries of life and children and jobs I kind of let it go.  I haven’t posted meaningfully here in quite some time.  Some would call it lazy, overwhelmed, writer’s block; there are a million different reasons most of which have to do with the sheer scarcity of time.  However, I am going to assign 95% of the blame two things:  Facebook and the HTC Droid Eris.

About a year or so ago, some dipshit (me) thought I should have a MySpace page, to keep up with people in a certain part of the family.  After about 8 minutes of MySpace, I realized I was about 20 years too old for that, and gave up.  I then moved on to Facebook, and that was where all of my family, peers, and old friends really were.  So began the Facebook odyssey. 

I began to rely on Facebook to keep me in the loop.  Most of the people I interacted with outside of work were on there, and it seemed a reasonable outlet for some of my thoughts.  Slowly, I began to fall away from posting on this blog.  Hell, who are we kidding; I basically stopped.  I thought it was OK.  I was still keeping up on local stuff through old friends at WNYMedia.net.  Many of my blogger friends were on Facebook, too, so I didn’t feel like I was missing anything.  Facebook became the replacement for my blog-based world, with one small difference:  I wasn’t writing anything anymore, which was OK, because I thought I didn’t have anything to say, or time to say it.

The second scapegoat is my new HTC Droid Eris.  I got the unlimited data package, and it’s perfect for keeping up on Facebook and Twitter, but definitely not for composing anything more than 140 characters at a time.  Also, I can maneuver it with one hand, which is perfect when you’re holding a brand new baby boy.  Everything seemed cool, but I still wasn’t writing anything worth a damn, and it started to bother me a little. 

The big realization, epiphany, awakening, fizzling light bulb above my head, whatever you want to call it, came last night.  Kevin and Kate and Ryan were on Twitter and kicking around an impromptu “blogger” get together at a local bar to watch the Sabres game tonight.  At that time it occurred to me that I couldn’t honestly consider myself a blogger anymore.  That thought pissed me off, and also made me realize that I really missed blogging, too.

So, in order to redeem myself and justify my presence at a “blogger” get together, I am going to try to get this blog moving again.  That might mean a bit less Facebook.  I don’t think Twitter’s going to take a hit because it’s perfect for fun and distraction at any time of the day.  But I will be spending more time here than I have in a long time.  I hope it works.

Merry Christmas To All

December 24, 2009

I’d like to take this opportunity to wish all of you and yours a very merry Christmas.  You are all very special to me and my family in some way, and for you presence in my life, I am thankful.  My hope for this holiday season, and for the coming year, is a greater understanding and appreciation for all that I am blessed to have.  My family and friends are priceless.  I have a job with a place that, for all of its faults, is still a pretty damned good place to work.  My wife continues to amaze and enthrall me.  My children are the light of my life.  I am truly a lucky man.

As you celebrate this wonderful time of the year, I hope for peace, good fellowship, and love for all of you.  Merry Christmas!

Brendan’s Journey

October 10, 2009

I now am the proud father of a baby boy!  Mommy and Brendan returned from the hospital today, and are sleeping in the other room right now.  I thought it might be neat, as well as informative, to write out a little timeline of the recent past so that everyone can see how things went:

9/31/2009 – Melissa visits doctor.  No dilation, nothing happening.  Melissa is ready to shoot doctor.

10/2/2009 – Melissa ends up in the hospital, thinking her water may have broken.  Doctor says no water broken, but dilated 3 cm.  Melissa is almost begging to be induced, but does not get her way. 

10/7/2009 – Melissa visits doctor again.  Doctor says she’s still at 3 cm, and makes appointment for the following week with the reservation that she’ll probably have the baby before then.

10/8/2009

4:00 am – Melissa wakes up to go to bathroom, and mentions that she is feeling a little stronger contractions.  My eyes pop wide open.  I mention that maybe I’ll get up and take a shower.  You know, just in case.

4:30 am – Melissa tells me “Maybe you’d better hurry up and get that shower.”  I get up so fast I get dizzy, and careen into the bathroom to shower. 

4:58 am – Melissa calls my mother and father, and asks them to come over to watch the kids.  I call doctor’s office immediately after, leave message.  Doctor calls back, speaks to Melissa, and tells her to get to the hospital.  Contractions are now painful and 10 minutes apart.

5:25 am – My parents arrive.  I get her bag into the van, and make sure I have my cell phone and camera.  Melissa yells at me for not having the van started.  I start the van, pull it to the door to the house, and then wait until the contraction ends so she can get off the kitchen floor and into the van.

5:50 am – We arrive at the hospital.  I’ve averaged speeds about 20 mph over the posted limit, and blown two red lights and a couple insignificant stop signs.  I take wife to Labor and Delivery, and stay with her until the anesthesiologist arrives to give epidural.  I then go park the car and hustle my ass back up to the delivery room. 

6:45 am – The epidural is done.  Melissa instructs me to add the anesthesiologist to our Christmas card list.  Contractions are 1-2 minutes apart.

6:55 am – Hard labor and pushing begins.  Melissa crushes my fingers;  nurse advises me to only give her two fingers to crush at a time, and I appreciate the information.  I continue to hold Melissa’s foot while the nurse holds the other, and I realize that I am really and truly a part of this whole thing and I just about cry over the joy and privilege of being there.

7:00 am – Melissa is informed her mother is in the waiting room.  Melissa tells the nurse to send her in.  2 minutes later, Melissa’s mom sees more than she bargained for.

7:17 am – Brendan William McLaughlin pops into the world at 7 lbs. 10 ounces, and 20.5 inches. 

7:18 am – I cut the umbilical cord.  Brendan is officially on his own.

7:25 am – I move out of the way of the nurse, and as I back up I bump into something.  I turn to look, and it’s a small table with a plastic tray containing the placenta.  For the third time, I look at the thing they told me not to look at because lots of people get sick or pass out if they see it.  I nonchalantly turn away, unfazed.  Sort of.

7:40 am – I hold my newborn son for the first time.  Sweet. 

10/10/2009 – We leave the hospital at about 11:00 am.  I return home the same route we took to the hospital, not once exceeding the speed limit.

Same Old Story

September 28, 2009

I’m a fan of the Buffalo Bills. It’s my hometown team. I grew up only a mile or two from Ralph Wilson Stadium. I’ve been following the team pretty closely for about 20 years, and I am not sure that I have ever felt the way about the Bills the way I feel now.

I feel doomed.  I feel like no matter what the team does or doesn’t do, it’s not going to matter.  I feel like the defense will never be quite as dominant as it needs to be to cover for an offense that is going to just suck forever.  Since Jim Kelly retired, Buffalo’s been searching for a quarterback that could be a consistent winner.  They’ve never quite found anyone; not Todd Collins, Rob Johnson, Doug Flutie, Drew Bledsoe, JP Losman, Kelly Holcomb, and not even Trent Edwards.  There have been running backs, but no one spectacular.  Receivers?  Who the hell knows, considering who’s been throwing. 

I keep hoping that somehow, despite all the problems with the guidance and leadership of this franchise, the Bills will get the combo right through sheer luck.  And for one glorious year we could have a playoff team again.

What’s sad is that is how far my expectations have fallen.

Any Day Now

September 24, 2009

My baby boy is due to greet the world on October 13th.  My wife, Melissa, is very ready to evict him from his current residence, and I am eager to meet the boy after all this time.  I have a feeling we might meet him a little earlier than his due date, but not by a whole lot.  And so we wait. 

I’ve been sitting around the house for almost a month.  We had a little scare a few weeks ago that involved a trip to the hospital for some early contractions, and since even a week before that little episode Melissa hasn’t wanted me too far out of earshot.  This is perfectly normal.  To be honest, I’m not too comfortable any time that she’s not home or near people that could help in the case that the big show starts without warning.  I know, she’s a grown up, and she’s a remarkable independent and intelligent woman who can take care of herself.  I still worry.  I’m a Dad and Husband.  It’s what I do.

I admit, I’m going a little crazy.  I miss my late night weekend walks with my brother Sean and his boxer, Gunther.  We’d tour Elmwood up by Lexington and the backstreets and see all the beautiful houses in the still of the night while Gunther peed on every tree and bush along the way.  Sometimes we’d see Lance Diamond outside the Elmwood Lounge and stop for a quick chat.  Other times we’d meet some of his neighborhood friends out of Faherty’s and get a quick drink and shoot the breeze.  I’ll be back there soon enough, but I do miss it a little.

It’s all worth it and more.  While I sit here and type this, my beautiful wife is putting the finishing touches on a beautiful addition to our family.  Soon enough there will be plenty of excitement.  Right now there’s a certain peace and serenity, even as the girls hoot and holler and play princess and mess up the house and seem kind of oblivious to the immediacy of it all.  They’re excited, but not worried or anxious.  I’m all of that.  Melissa is fussing over the rest of us and not really herself.  She’s stocked the house with easy food for me to make for us, gotten all the cleaning done, gotten her bag ready, made sure that everything will be OK while she’s bringing new life into the world.  I think we’re as ready as can be.  Right down to the boy’s name and the clothes he’ll wear home.  And so we wait.

Any day now…

Off The Leash – Summer Fall Nights

August 31, 2009

OK, so here are some random thoughts for your late night or early morning or when the hell ever consumption and contemplation:

It is August 31st, soon to be September 1st, and the last few nights have already felt like autumn has arrived.  This summer has been a complete failure, weather-wise.  Heh.  Weather-wise.  That reminds me…

Billy Wilder has quietly become one of my favorite director/producer/writers in film, and I probably haven’t even seen half of his movies.  Right now, high on my list of all-time favorites are “The Seven Year Itch”, “Stalag 17”, and “The Apartment”.  I haven’t even seen “Sunset Boulevard” or “Some Like It Hot” so I may not even have experienced the best he had to offer.  Is it strange that many of my favorite movies are older than me?

My wife is going to give birth to my 4th child, our 3rd, and my first son in just about a month and a half.  I can’t even begin to explain how absolutely and all-consumingly excited I am about this. 

Someone I worked with a few years back has passed away.  That’s the second former co-worker to die in the last year.  Neither of them made it past 50.  Damn.

The Truth About Favre

August 18, 2009

Why didn’t he just tell the truth…sort of like this:

“Hi, my name is Brett Favre.  I used to be the starting quarterback for the Green Bay Packers of the NFL.  Under my leadership, I turned the Packers from an also-ran to one of the elite franchises in NFL history.  After a bunch of years of messing with the GM over whether or not I was going to retire, those bastards decided that they could do without me and handed the starting job to that other dude.  What’s his name, Derek or Ray or something? 

Anyways, I’m still mad that they did that.  After all, I’m the MAN.  How dare they not let me unretire for the second or third time?  They should know that the real issue is that the new coach didn’t let me make all the decisions, and that riled me, and I was just trying to assert my rightful place as the unquestioned leader of the franchise.  Plus, I don’t really like training camp.  Give me three warm-up throws and a couple 11 on 11 drills, and I’m good to go.   That’s how awesome a player and person I really am.

So now you understand why I got mad.  I am DYING to get back into that stadium and soak up all of the wild cheering of my adoring fans.  Plus, I want to show those lousy bastards in Green Bay’s front office that they messed with the wrong dude; that I am NOT washed up and they shouldn’t have let me go in the first place.  And please, don’t judge me based on that year in New York.  I wasn’t really motivated enough there.  I only even agreed to go there because it was the easiest way to keep my name in the news.  Plus, there were all these restrictions in the agreement between the Packers and the Jets that prevented me from going to the Vikings like I wanted to, so I had to play SOMEWHERE for a year. 

Now that my year in purgatory is over, I am psyched to play against the Packers for the Vikings.  I know, I know, it seems that this is kinda late in the summer to finally make the move, but who really needs training camp anyways?  😉  I can’t wait to walk into Lambeau Field and light it up.  So to all of my fans, I say watch me!  It’s going to be an awesome year!  And to the Green Bay Packers’ coaches and management:  SCREW YOU!!!”