2014 - A memorable year

Hello everyone!

Just a quick note to wish everyone a great 2015 and give a recap of the year.

2014 was more a year of positive change and accomplishment than its predecessor. There were some challenges along the way the help result in these positive changes. At the end of June, I was laid off after 10 years at the same company. I was in the library with my kids on an early lunch break when a co-worker posted that she'd been let go - probably my last choice of someone to be let go - so for the next hour until I got the call, I figured anything was possible. After working 20 of the previous 21 days, I was about ready for a break! I'd just returned from my second week of the season working with the Oakland A's on the West Coast. Both trips were memorable professionally and personally as I did spend many mornings walking around the local parks and Bay Area attractions like Muir Woods before working at the Coliseum at night. I watched Derek Jeter's final at bat in Oakland (which was the last time I'd see him bat in person) sitting next to, of all people, the daughter of former Yankee Kevin Maas (an admitted Jeter fan she was!) I didn't expect to be out of work so long but with severance and unemployment, I was able to enjoy time with the family while searching out a new job. The job search was frustrating at times, even if it included getting to tour the studio of ESPN College Game Day, but in the meantime it allowed for me to spend a week camping with the family in Massachusetts, as well as the annual week at Cape Cod and week staying with Carrie's family in East Lyme. We'd also spent a week in Washington DC earlier in the year seeing the monuments, Smithsonian and Washington Nationals.

Among the accomplishments was completing my first novel - Rivers End. I started writing it after Christmas in 2013, after the passing of my grandfather, with ideas coming from his passing and from the death of his uncle Calvin. It took about 2-3 months to write and nearly as long to edit (and I'm sure I still missed a few things). The day I completed the second edit was the day I was laid off from tickets.com! On top of applying for new jobs that night, I also completed another set of edits and the book was off to be published. Completing a novel felt great. Everyone now and then someone brings it up unexpectedly. It's something I always wanted to do (I've finished a manuscript before, but never brought it to full fruition - although I am debating revising my first manuscript and self-publishing). You don't get rich on publishing a novel, especially with very little publicity, but it's still interesting to get small checks every month or so!

After a month of waiting out a company reorganization and international regulations, I was finally able to accept a job at my new employer, AudienceView. It kept me in ticketing and returned me to full-time Software Quality Assurance. AudienceView has been great so far. As far as their QA practice, it is much further advanced than where I came from with the opportunity to learn automation, new scripting formats and work in an Agile/Scrum development environment. While I will miss working at tickets.com, it was probably time to move anyway. My first week at AudienceView was spent in their office in Toronto - my first time in Canada since 2007. Toronto is an under-appreciated city. And it's great to be at a company that is growing, rather than going in the opposite direction. It is frustrating not being a "software expert"... yet... give me a few months!

Time with family and friends was cherished. The kids enjoyed the summer, especially the vacations. Both returned to Academy of Aerospace and Engineering Elementary for a second year. Josh's love of science, chemistry and physics continues as well as new interests like Cub Scouts. Megan continues to excel and is becoming a reader. Megan is showing artistic skill and creativity as well. Carrie is back at Silas Deane. Her first students there are out of college now - so she's been there awhile! She continues to develop challenging and exciting lessons and labs for her kids. Carrie also is a Cub Scout Den Leader! The children can be challenging at times, to say the least. They aren't very "generic" kids who you can plop in front of video games or television. Carrie does a great job of getting them motivated in their interests and planning their activities. We also added a new member to our family, our dog Gorgo. We adopted him after a dog adoption event across the street from us in October. Megan and Josh are taking responsibilities as pet owners.

Also during the summer, my best friend since preschool, Chris, was married. Scott (another of our friends from youth) and I were part of the wedding on a beautiful Thursday night in August. Scott and I also worked on his restaurant which he opened this year as well as helping my father move. It was a difficult stretch for my father - selling his house, moving farther from his job and suffering a heart attack. But he fought through it, returned to work and settled in a new house with his wife in Florida. It is difficult for him to be away. I still think I can stop there at his old house on my way to New York City. It is also difficult with my sister Meredith expecting her second child in March and with her daughter's health concerns. But us four siblings, Jen, Meredith, Ryan and I are still close and are there for each other.

I also have to mention that my alma mater, UConn, won men's and women's basketball titles in the same year again - and are still the only school to ever do that.

In 2014 we lost two great actors - Robin Williams and Phillip Seymour Hoffman - both tragic and both too young. These two actors could play any role just as well as anyone in Hollywood. I think the difference between the two in their careers was that Robin Williams had a complete portfolio (he really had a portfolio that could have spanned the career of two or three actors!) while I think Phillip Seymour Hoffman's best roles were yet to come. We saw a glimpse of it in The Master (which was generally a difficult movie to watch but Hoffman was amazing). Had he lived, I think you'd have seen another 20 years of diverse comedies, action films and dramas. Personally, my high school class lost two classmates - Morgan Brooks and Erin Hunt, which we remembered at our 20th class anniversary. Morgan and I had just spoken earlier in the week when she passed unexpectedly. We shared a favorite film - Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Morgan lost a brother and always spoke so kindly of him. I'd like to think they are together now. I had more people tell me just amazing things about Morgan after she passed - sacrifices of caring she did toward people she loved. Erin's death was sudden as well. Erin loved to post really difficult sports trivia that only Bill Colrus or I could ever get right on my facebook wall. Erin took an interesting career path to become a chef. We'd always talked about going to a Mets game but it never came together. It's a shame for his brother and family and his children that Erin is gone so young. I also reflect on those who lost parents or siblings or friends or family this year.

2014 didn't go as planned but exceeded expectations. I think of my first trip to Oakland (which I had two day's notice before going). It snowed unexpectedly on the way to the airport. I missed my connecting flight in Los Angeles due to the snow. I got to Oakland Airport only an hour and a half before the first pitch of the A's opening day (night) game. But once I was there, everything went very well. The path anywhere is part of the fun, even the parts that are unexpected. Here's to another great year in 2015.


Rivers End

My first novel "Rivers End" has been out for roughly a month and a half now. It's certainly been an interesting time, with a major unexpected life event thrown in there, but mostly a good time.

More to come...

But for now, here's a link to buy Rivers End...

Rivers End at Amazon


Rivers End Dedication - Mark Hershnik

Mark Hershnik

One of the two individuals which were in the dedication of Rivers End was Mark Hershnik.

No teacher I had prepared me for my future as Mark Hershnik. I spent two years in his English classes at Robert H. Brown Middle School in Madison. It was a fairly undistinguished school in a town full of strong schools. A place were bullying and family history played as much of a role in a student's standing as their grades, most of my memories of that school aren't pleasant. But each day in English, we got a dose of grammar and literature which was far ahead of the typical middle school level, forcing us to be better readers and writers. Sometimes we got a belly laugh, like the time Mr. Hershnik told the story of training a parrot he was pet sitting to say "bullshit". Sometimes you got a lesson in morality, but never in a preachy or forced way; these lessons were by the example in literature we read.

The homework, quizzes and tests were hard. I remember pulling a 100 on a test about prepositions and how the test was worded to actually find what words were acting as prepositions, not just words that "are prepositions". Grammar geeks unite. I remember the group projects were challenging. We had one group project on "A Man for All Seasons" where we ended up re-enacting a scene from the movie. Then there were the recitations. Maybe all this doesn't sound so exciting, but the magic in his teaching is that it was never boring. Other than the music classes, it was the most engaging middle school class I took. I would actually look forward to it. You'd never knew what demeanor he would have from class to class. He could be a total goof ball, attracting the attention of the other teachers (who could hear him easily do to the wonderful "open floor plan" at Brown - it was a horribly designed building). He could be dead serious and intimidating. It could change in the spur of the moment, like it did the time he overheard a student make a racially insensitive comment in the middle of class one day.

Mr. Hershnik wanted to teach. He wanted to be there. I don't think a lot of people, students or teachers, wanted to be in that building when I was there. I'd read that he'd given up the chance for a high-paying financial career after falling in love with teaching while substituting during college. And he didn't just want to be there, he also wanted to make the students better. The high school in Madison also had some great English teachers when I was there. I think there job was made a bit easier with the students who had gone through Mr. Hershnik's classes. I'd seen Mr. Hershnik in the high school once after I'd started writing for the local weekly newspaper in town and he'd asked me to come by and speak to his class about it. I was pretty surprised as the local paper really wasn't that big of a deal, but I do remember him having a former student of his who wrote for the television show "The Wonder Years" come in and hand out copies of scripts from the episode that would be on that night. He was proud of his former students' accomplishments. He had art work of former students up in his classroom, including the body-length sketchy of a preppy alligator that was up on his wall every year. It described him perfectly.

I remember the last time I ever saw Mr. Hershnik at a grocery store in Madison. His back was turned to me, I was in a rush, so I didn't say hello. This had to be about 10 years after I graduated high school and another 4 since I was in his class. Much like Brian Caldwell (another major influence on my writing, who I last saw at a grocery store just down the road from my house) I regret not having one last talk with him. The similarities between the final "encounter" I had with two of my biggest influences in writing is eerie. Lesson learned - engage people you see, because you never know when and if you will get a chance to do it again.

In 2008, after an unreported absence, Mark Hershnik was found dead in his house due to natural causes. Anyone who'd gone through the public schools in Madison was shocked. No one would picture such an energetic and charismatic educator passing away so young. As I was writing this, many of my incidental memories of Mr. Hershnik as a teacher popped into my mind. I don't think I would have completed "Rivers End" without some of the things I learned over those two years of middle school English, sentence structure, variation - telling a story. I wrote a descriptive piece in his class once about attending my first baseball game, how the green of the field was blinding after being in the dark hallways of the old Yankee Stadium working my way up ramps to the seats. I remember him circling it in red three times and writing underneath it "More Like This !!!"

Writing this also makes me miss him.

A couple of great tributes I found to Mr. Hershnik on the web:

From the Daily Campus at UConn

Knights of Columbus

Find A Grave


Where Mr DiMaggio rests

Have you ever visited the grave of a celebrity or idol? Not a monument, nor a national park site dedicated to a politician or leader but the actual grave?

Life in baseball put me in Oakland last week for the opening day of the season and the baseball hours meant most days I was free until lunch time before I had to be at the park for night games. There’s much to see in the bay area so I spent time explorer Berkeley, San Francisco and Marin County by car and foot – all interesting places in their own right, if only seen (mainly) from the window of a rental car. I mentioned my morning freedom to a friend of mine in the bay area who met up with me at a game. Knowing that I was just as big as a fan of baseball as he, he suggested I visit the grave of Joe DiMaggio in Colma, fairly close to the South San Francisco BART stop. The next day time was available in the morning, so I headed across the bay from where I stayed in Emeryville.

The stories about DiMaggio transcend baseball. He was married to the most desirable woman in America, Marilyn Monroe (whom he would leave a rose on her grave many times after her untimely death). Mrs. Robinson – the Simon and Garfunkel song – was a generational coming-of-age, just like the character in the movie, for many baby boomers. After Babe Ruth, Joltin’ Joe may be the most famous ballplayer of all time, maybe the most famous athlete other than Ruth. As a Yankee fan, DiMaggio’s name brings to life the song about his 56-game hit streak (basically the cliché for all records that will never be broken), a time when the Yankees played in the series and won titles almost every year. DiMaggio is just as famous to Yankee fans of my generation for his appearances at Old Timer’s Day and other team functions. Joe was brought out by The Boss whenever it was an important occasion, almost like he was Steinbrenner’s best suit or lucky marble. DiMaggio was famous for elegance and class during his post-baseball life. He probably heard the whispers of “There goes Joltin’ Joe” in the voices of people he walked by for most of his adult life. When he died, generations of baseball fans, not just Yankee fans, saw part of the game disappear into a vault of memory and yesteryear. Another friend of mine said he’d read a book that said DiMaggio was signing baseballs for cash in his dying hours and smiling at thinking of how much they would be worth, although he had very little family left to enjoy the wealth. DiMaggio, from a baseball family, had one son who died the same year as his father (just like long time contemporary Ted Williams, who also had a son die young). While critics of cryogenics point out the alleged mishandling of Williams remains, DiMaggio lies quietly in Colma, a city known by locals to be filled with cemeteries. If you are in Colma and you are still alive, you are lucky, my friend who recommended the visit said to me. It’s mostly cemeteries - in fact according to the article linked below, 73% of the town is zoned as cemeteries. My friend said he was shocked how back east there were cemeteries everywhere but they were all localized in the bay area and many in that one town.

I entered Holy Cross Cemetery through Mission Street, up a slight hill. The plots are laid out I a grid and the first plots upon entry are giant, stately family vaults, some with benches and statues. That’s not where you will find Joe’s grave. Further up hill, the tombstones become more modest. At the first turnaround circle, there is one single parking spot that seems out of place. There’s also a small tree. The first word you’ll read if you look from the spot is “DiMaggio”. A few steps from the park, in the shade of the tree is Joe’s grave. It’s not much larger than the graves around it; people who died well before Joe and probably never thought they’d have so many visitors to their graves. The large silver-colored headstone bares a large grey cross. On the day I was there, people had left bats on either side (one, interestingly enough, aluminum) and along the bottom a row of baseballs of different ages and colors. One that stuck out (I only read the part visible) mentioned someone taking a journey to get to the grave and finally making it. Another was signed “To Joltin’ Joe”. Among those that visited these were tributes.

“Grace, Dignity and Elegance Personified” is the description of the plaque by the grave that bares his full name above. There is a small path around the grave. That’s it. Other than being the grave of a baseball great, there’s not much to separate it from the moments around it other than the gifts of visitors. Death is humbling, just like being in the presence of a legend. It is a place where all are humbled. Humbled that a man like DiMaggio would bow before death, almost against his legendary qualities. But he was human. He did strike out sometimes (although he homered more). The Yankees didn’t win the title every year he played.

Joe is buried alone. At first this made me sad that he had no wife next to him or other family members near by. After all, even in greatness, no one wants to be alone? Or do they? Upon second though, maybe this is exactly what he wanted, peace. Quiet. Just like the cemetery. Shortly after that, I heard bagpipes as a funeral began further down the hill.


More UConn links...

Here's what should serve as a link to some of my work over at theuconnblog.com . Haven't done much over there recently, but they are in good hands with the folks they have writing over there now...

Let the tournament begin...



Perhaps best defined in your actions in the toughest times.

UConn has appealed to me not just as an alumni or a lifelong fan but because do to the conference restructuring and the way their programs have been treated by cable television and the NCAA and Big East, it's sort of an "Us against the world" program (miraculously the UConn women's basketball team seems to be winning a battle no one else could win).

Life is challenging for me now and challenging for my family. I'm sure we aren't the only family like that. Children and getting older, they make things difficult. So do jobs. So does other family. I think my wife and I would both say we aren't appreciated for what we do. But we both keep on doing.

Last year, UConn, somewhat arbitrarily, wasn't allow to play in the NCAA Tournament. The Big East decided not to let them play in what would be their final Big East tournament for fear it would cost them an automatic birth if UConn somehow won the tournament. UConn, a new coach, a fairly new team (with all the departures to the NBA and because the NCAA basically begged UConn's players to leave despite the fact it "kinda was exactly what got UConn in trouble with the APR" (since the APR only figures transfers, not leaving for the NBA *cough cough Kentucky cough cough*.

Coming off a title a two years prior, UConn was down. That title team won five games in five days, something no other team has done, then won an NCAA title. Kemba Walker. Kemba's last month of the season was unprecedented. Kemba, on top of being a leader who made everyone better around him, also had NBA "hops", an NBA shot and an NBA body. He's a border-line all-star in the NBA.

People draw some comparisons to this year's team and I often say, Shabazz Napier isn't Kemba Walker. As much as I love Kemba, that's also a compliment to Shabazz. Shabazz does not have an NBA body, may be nothing more than a role player in the NBA if he gets into the league (a lot like his coach, Kevin Ollie). Shabazz couldn't single-highhandedly lead UConn over Louisville in the first AAC tournament, mostly because Louisville is playing like Larry Johnson's UNLV teams right now. Shabazz may not win an NCAA title this year. Shabazz has had great moments like the Florida game to compare with his former teammate and friend Kemba's Pittsburgh game-winner in the Big East tournament. But the year before Kemba's magic run, Kemba was on a lackluster, under-achieving UConn team filled with future NBA players (and solid college players like Jerome Dyson and Alex Oriahki) which just fell flat every game. Not necessarily Kemba's fault, by any means.

Shabazz's team last year was playing for nothing, except maybe to get Kevin Ollie the inexplicable contract extension he deserved from day one. By the end of the year, about half the team was injured. Shabazz couldn't suit up against a mediocre South Florida team due to an ankle injury that had him playing at about 75% the last quarter of the season. They were massacred. Shabazz wasn't going to let it end like that. He willed himself into the line-up in the regular season finale with Providence, March 9th in Gampel Pavilion. It was a game that meant nothing to UConn as far as post-season implications. Ollie had his extension and with the injuries the team pretty much had a free pass to flop. While Ryan Boatright would also step up with a game high 23 points, Napier would somehow manage to play 44 minutes, including all of overtime (the team only had six scholarship players available), score 16 points, tie for the team lead in rebounds with eight. Napier also had the first points of overtime and clinched the game at the foul line, leading to a 63-59 win for the Huskies. That sort of gutsy performance made everyone giddy about this year, and for the most part, UConn has met those expectations. But as debatable as that may be, their is no doubt that the "character" of the team this year is strong and it starts with Shabazz Napier. Napier knows how to win because he won against the odds so many times last year in a season the NCAA and Big East tried to degrade. UConn won this year with talent and also with guts and Napier has been the engine.

Just after Matthew McConaughey's ridiculous Oscar speech where he thanked his future self, Shabazz's speech after winning the AAC player of the year showed more of the character of UConn's court general. 

Napier spent more time thanking his single mother for how she raised him and the team managers for their "thankless" (until now) job helping the team succeed at all costs. It was a refreshing speech at that and made UConn alums as proud as they are listening to Emeka Okafor speak so eloquently or Jim Calhoun praising every part of the UConn program (albeit in Calhoun's quick and scrambled speak). Shabazz has had difficult times, as a poor child, as a teenager and as a player on a team that was left for dead. He could have taken the easy road and gone to, let's say Missouri or UNLV, but he didn't. He stayed in Storrs through difficult days when he could have turned his back on gone elsewhere. He showed us his true character by example.


Positivity is a choice

At any moment of your life, you can look back at your previous actions and attitudes and realize that you've evolved. If this is true, it also means that someday you will look back on this time and dissect your own current views as a more evolved creature. Sort of like how mankind probably isn't the genetic peak of primates even if current man thinks it is.

At any time, there's good and bad. At any time, positivity is a choice and negativity is a choice. Inaction is a choice. Doing is a choice. In my current "evolved state", I can look at times where I choose negativity and choose to be inactive. One night in college I was so down, my sister had driven up to school to surprise me with a visit and I didn't answer the door even though I had a feeling it was her. She was with her boyfriend at the time, and they were already up in the area for a soccer game, so I didn't feel guilty about wasting a bunch of their time. I just felt like being alone and feeling bad for me, rather than seeing someone who cared about me.

There's more going on in life than ever, and I've probably said that at every time of my life other than one very lazy summer in college. I have a job that takes 8-10 hours every day or more, two young children, a house to maintain, a very tired spouse having a rough year at her job and a bunch of side projects including attempting to write a GOOD manuscript and trying to up my daily exercises to keep my weight at a good level and strengthen my core now that I have a spondylolisthesis diagnosis. I feel like the low person on the proverbial total pole at home, at work and in my family. I've probably had to work harder for that I have than any of my friends or siblings or cousins, and yet I've made it where I am. That feeling of being "less" than everyone else, having to work harder, certainly comes from an upbringing of living in a land of entitlement and having nothing, living with one parent and having very few friends as a child. It was a motivator. It was a choice - to motivate me. Anger turned into progress, into accomplishment. I can't say that it was a healthy way to motivate myself to work out two hours a day or turn out 10 newspaper articles a week on the side while holding down a job and going to school. Now I can look back at those times of my life where I used the "anger" to motivate myself, rather than to make myself "feel bad about me", as times I succeeded.

I'm not a resolution guy, but if I was, mine from now on would to choose positivity. During this current time there is so much to be happy for - working in baseball, something I would have died to do when I was a kid, having two really unique, intelligent children, having some free time to do things I really like to do. There are pretty upsetting things too, but there's no need to run down that laundry list because they don't outweigh the good things. I've heard people who went through a hell of a lot worse, let alone people who have to worry about where they will sleep at night or whether or not they will find clean water, food and clothing.

Maybe this is the most important thing you'll read in my writing - Positivity is a choice... Choose wisely.


The future at UConn.

"When did you start liking sports?" my son asked me on the way to his first UConn game at Gampel Pavilion, home court of my alma mater.

"Probably about when I turned six," I answered. My son is five.

Senior night at UConn was Shabazz Napier's final game at Gampel Pavilion. Shabazz has had a remarkable career. Recruited by Jim Calhoun. Mentored by Kemba Walker. Captain for Kevin Ollie. The past quarter century has been a "special" time in Storrs. No matter what happens in the future, my son will be able to say I saw UConn players in a game at Gampel who had won a national championship. Not just Shabazz, but Niels Giffey and Tyler Olander (who actually started in the NCAA Tournament championship for UConn when they beat Butler).

The future at UConn Athletics, however, is a bit shaky, a bit of a question mark. Conference musical chairs took five power conferences and turned them into four bigger conferences. UConn was the big loser, no matter what anyone says. While Cincinnati and its solid football and basketball programs were left out too, they were programs that grew into perennial contenders in the Big East (with all apologizes to Oscar Robertson - remember, Dr. J went to UMass and the program wasn't good for decades later until college basketball ruiner John Calapari took over). UConn basketball is in elite company, company of just themselves when it comes to titles in the past 15 years (UConn has three, Kentucky and Duke have two). The UConn Womens' basketball team has eight (soon to be playing for nine) championships. But the UConn women are now in a conference where only two teams have beaten them in the past 25 years (Rutgers and Louisville - that beat UConn once in 1993 and having lost the every Big East/AAC meeting to UConn, 15 in a row). Next year there will be no team in the conference that has beaten the UConn women.

But for the night, I got to enjoy the fatherhood ritual of taking my son to the game, having him ask me questions about the game. When I took my daughter earlier in the year she seemed to think the fouling was the best part of the game. My son was asking me all kinds of questions about why a three-pointer is three points, why a foul shot is one point, etc. He told me that UConn would win and that UConn fans would be happy. I asked him if he was a UConn fan and he smiled and said "a little bit".

UConn's opponent on Senior Night was Rutgers. If UConn was the loser in re-alignment, Rutgers was the winner. We all know that basketball is number two when it comes to college sports hierarchy,  but a strong number two it is. Rutgers last win in Connecticut in men's basketball was before I was born. In fact, Rutgers never beat UConn in Connecticut as a member of the Big East. Rutgers only beat UConn twice in basketball in their entire history as conference mates. And while the Rutgers women have been competitive with the UConn women (as much as anyone can), UConn has the eight titles and a 30-7 all time record against the Scarlett Knights.

But that's just basketball (we'll leave out UConn's men's soccer and field hockey national titles, super regional baseball team a few years back and their strong women's soccer program). What about football? UConn must be vastly inferior? This is where UConn has done an awful job of the perception of their program and also caught an awful break with timing. Since 2001, UConn is 6-7 vs. Rutgers. So, Rutgers has won one more game against UConn than its lost. UConn won the Big East outright once. Rutgers never won the Big East outright. Twice they tied. Both times they lost in the final two weeks of the season (once to Louisville in a winner-take-all game and once to UConn) and lost their chance to play in a BCS game. But, Rutgers will have either Ohio State or Michigan coming to 54,000 seat stadium every year from now on as a member of the Big 10. Rutgers basketball facility is one of the worst in the American, let alone the Big 10. But Rutgers has "growth potential"? Because they grew so much when they joined the Big East (sarcasm!)? If it weren't for departed Greg Schianno, they'd have nothing to show on the field/court for their time in the Big East.

My son never got to see Jim Calhoun coach in person. He was too young. The timing didn't work out. When it comes to timing, if the shake up was five years ago, how would Louisville have gotten into the ACC ahead of UConn? When Bobby Petrino left Louisville, the Cardinals won six games combined the following two seasons. Yes, Louisville just won a basketball title, but UConn did three years ago as well. Of course Pitt (which UConn actually has a winning record against in football) and Syracuse (which UConn also has a winning record against, and the Orange never beat UConn on the road in football) have tradition and the ACC likes that. Why else is Wake Forest in that league? Wake Forest - has a chance to play for a national title if they go undefeated, UConn does not (automatically). Ugh. The timing of Randy Edsall leaving and the hiring of Paul Pasqualoni is the only reason UConn is not in the ACC (or similar league) today. It was that crucial, that mistaken, the hiring of Pasqualoni, who not only failed to tread water, but regressed the program. If it was five years from now, and Bob Diaco succeeded (which I think he will), UConn is jumping ship to clearer waters.

We can't sit idly by as UConn fans. Not for us. Not for the future generation of UConn fans. I don't want my son to be telling his kids how "UConn actually won basketball titles and I saw some of those guys play". We have to attend games. We have to talk about the good of this big school in the middle of cow pastures. We have winning programs. We have winning coaches. They will be able to bring in athletes to play for the next few years by showing up with "UConn" on their jackets. But if things don't change, even Geno Auriemma is going to have trouble recruiting with his hands full of rings.

Perception is key. Rutgers wasn't really that much better than us at football. Louisville had their dark moments. Pissing off Boston College is not why the ACC took Louisville. Louisville is as good as anyone in the country right now when combining football and men's and women's basketball. Right now. That's temporary. Three years ago UConn was in a BCS game, a men's basketball title, a women's final four, a number-one ranked men's soccer team and a baseball super regional.

With my son usually in bed by eight, we left the game fairly early into the second half. If it wasn't a school night we would have stayed until the end. Walking back to the car a light snow fell. The roads were a bit slick, but my son had fun running, trying to catch the fat snowflakes in his mouth. The lot across the street from Gampel where a bonfire celebration was held after the 1999 men's basketball title has been filled with beautiful new academic buildings. The UConn Co-Op has moved between McMahon Hall and Gampel and doubled in size. We drove by the Mansfield downtown buildings on the way out. Those weren't there when I was in school. Now they are filled with student activity and energy. My son pointed to buildings and asked if I had classes there. He's more an academic than a jock, I can already tell that. There's a lot more than just sports to give someone pride in UConn.

This is my school. I'm a graduate. A Connecticut resident and taxpayer. I'm a fan, and not one of those lousy fans who were getting all over 18-year old freshman Jake Voskuhl because he didn't have any offensive skills compared to big men in the Big East with junior and senior future NBA centers and power forward. We will only win if we, the fans and the alumni, are vocal about our pride and our tradition, and supportive. We belong with the elite. When the NCAA randomly throws up the APR rule just to punish us or big money rips apart a stable conference alignment in the quest for the sake of greed, we survive. Both basketball programs are going to be competing for titles next month (keep in mind, UConn is the only school, ever, to win men's and women's basketball titles the same year). We should be doing the same next year, and the year after that. We will win with these coaches, these players and the future players that come in. It's a crucial time for the fans to be there step-for-step.

Go Huskies!


And so it begins...

We all set goals for ourselves. We set them to achieve them. We set them to push ourselves. I'm setting mine to do something for me, for my family, something I want to do for us.

Every summer we go away to the same place in Cape Cod, a rental house in West Yarmouth. The house is small but wonderful. The kids talk about the Cape Cod week all year. I take photos, make videos, form memories. It is beautiful. Since we've had kids, we've been going to the Cape every year. It's a wonderful place for families. It's become familiar. Before we had kids, our annual trip was to Bar Harbor, another beautiful place that qualifies as "New England". A more affordable, but more distant place.

Now for the dream: to be able to have my own little separate corner of the world, in Maine, or should I say "our own" separate corner. A little piece of land. Perhaps at first a little "tiny home"... perhaps nothing more. It starts with the land. I've got places in mind - somewhere between Bangor and Bar Harbor, water front would be nice. Somewhere remote.

To start the dream, I'll need to start saving money... and start saving it aside from what the family brings in every week. I want to do this sooner than later. Selling writing projects. Hustling. Moving things around. That's what it's going to take. It's pretty exciting, not scary. If I fail, I fail. It won't ruin anything.

Wish me luck.


Next (non blog) writing project

I've decided this year I want to complete manuscript #2. Following the advice of Hank Moody to his daughter, I've stuck my first one in a drawer and left it there (yes, I take advice from fictional characters). I'm now deciding which of the following projects to work on. Any thoughts appreciated.

1. A piece about a missing person, loosely based on something that really happened. It turns out after nearly 30 years, someone comes forward with information but the characters mull over the aftermath of going back into their family history. After the police don't investigate the initial tip, the family must decide what to do. I've already got a few twists in mind, which I'm not putting here yet.

2. Three stories about three men raised without fathers and how it affects each of them totally differently (they are all three generation of men, but I've already developed the plot on how each man is raised fatherless). Overlying theme of being an only child as well in here. I've timelined this whole story already, which will be non-chronological. Think "The Hours" meets a guide on how to mess up a family and have mistakes repeat each other.