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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Letter to Me.

"You got so much up ahead
You'll make new friends
You should see your kids and wife
And I'd end by saying have no fear
These are nowhere near
The best years of your life."

If it were possible, and to my knowledge it's not, would you write a letter to yourself confirming that everything will be alright and to chill about the future? 

There are somethings we don't want to know about, but there are many where a little insight might come in quite handy. Sure, we would all love to know the lottery numbers 5 minutes before the balls pop through the tube, which stock is going to do well, assurance that your sick child is going to be fine…and that the Cubs are going to win the World Series. (Sorry, that's something too far into the future it's still in "unknown" territory.)

One of my favorite movies, and it certainly parallels this thinking, is "Back to the Future." Yes, I have seen it countless times, and the first one was far and away the best of the three, however when you walked out of the theater (that's where I first saw it), it really made you think, ponder, consider, "What if we really could go back in time?" What would we do to change the future? I know for me, there is no way I would go back to the forest where when I was a kid a tree limb fell on my head. (I recovered of course, but there sure was a lot of blood.)

But there are so many moments I would not change. The time spent with my family on summer vacations heading to Florida, the friends I have made along the way, the love I have felt for many things, and most of all where I am today. I could not be any more fortunate, and I always know, "Appreciate today, because you never know what tomorrow will bring." I could never have anticipated some of the thrills I have been fortunate to encounter and some of the deep losses I have have had to face. As Prince would state, "Dearly Beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life." It's true, life is a maze, journey, experience that has so many potential twists and turns, you just never know what's waiting around the corner.

If you have been reading "Snap.Shot." for any length of time, you know I love to take photos. If you have yet to figure it out, well…"I do." Probably the best thing about photography is the opportunity to capture a moment and freeze it in time. For sure there are many moments captured that do not tell a story to everyone who looks at the picture, but if it's you, or a loved one, it's something that can't be given back, returned, or changed. So smile, it's all going to be worth it.

The photo above makes me wince each time I see it. It was taken recently at a local football game and for some reason my trusty Nikon caught it. It reminds me to have a backup plan; I am hopeful this player will be fine and up and running soon. However, during the time he is recuperating, he will need to look forward and plan for the future—with or without football. If he could however, have written a letter to himself just a few minutes before this hit, I am sure he would have changed the outcome. I know most of us would.

Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, July 10, 2016


“Since you turned the tables on me
I've been steady and learnin' lonely
Keepin' this turntable spinnin’
Everything from Jones to Jennings
Slowly plannin' my survival
In a three-foot stack of vinylSince you had to walk on outta here
I've been havin' a record year.”

This is a year where there will be many records set, shattered, and missed. Some are very good, some to be expected, and some leave you scratching your head wondering what and how is this happening?

In the coming weeks we will be glued to our TV’s, iPhones, and computer screens watching athletes perform some incredible feats. You can be sure there will be many records broken during the upcoming Olympics. Most will be on the field, track, gym, or wherever the event takes place, and unfortunately if Rio doesn’t get its act cleaned up fast, sickness and potential calamity could bring a record of athletes missing their performances. I certainly hope it goes smooth, but there are clouds overhead. (I am still a little peeved that Chicago didn’t win the Olympics, but I will likely be able to get downtown easier since they’re occurring thousands of miles away.)

Mix this with the Political Conventions on the horizon and we will again be glued to our various forms of communication. The two “Presumptive” candidates will be traveling to respective cities to be cheered and placed on a pedestal for about 100 days. That is until the election is over and one will remain. Regardless, it’s going to be a very interesting and dirty race (no doubt about that) of which we will hear once again some of the most outrageous comments that whether true or not, would get the normal person clocked in the face for saying. It should be great fun to watch, but after the show credits roll, someone is going to be at center stage.

There is little doubt we will live to see tomorrow once the Olympics and Presidential races are over. But if the uprising continues in various cities around the US and the world, with mass killings and senseless acts, this is going to be one record I do not want to see happen. The recent situation in Dallas is a reminder that no matter how safe we believe we are, there is a growing chance we’re not. That scares me—-as I am sure it does millions of others.

So, yes this is going to be a record year, but I really hope, pray, and whatever adjective sounds appropriate, we finally begin to see an end to all of the violence happening around the world. I know it’s wishful thinking, but if you can’t put your feelings out there, then we will continue to scratch our heads and wonder why? 

The photo above was taken at my daughter’s gymnastic event. I believe it’s appropriate for a number of reasons. We walk a very fine line “in this thing called life” (Thank You Prince) and if we take the small steps to get back on track, we can once again stand tall knowing we can end so much of this craziness and get back to making records—-the ones we enjoy seeing, hearing, and cheering about.

Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Life in a glass house.

"I guess that's just how it goes
When you break up in a small town
I see our friends and they put on a show
Like they don't want me to know
So they give me the go-around."

There's little doubt, with all of the available ways to communicate what's going on in your life, we have little privacy any longer. Even if we want to remain private, there are ways to bring anything to the forefront and provide information to anyone who wants to see it. 

In case you doubt it, Google yourself and see what's out there. 

I always thought I had a fairly unique name, but once I took a look into cyberspace, I found out, "there's a lot of me's" out there. It might be a different person in a different location, but according to what I have earned, I am a well practiced attorney, doctor, artist and much more. Funny, "porn star, athlete and celebrity" were not part of the "find." Guess that's good, I would be lousy at all three.

But what's out there can be very eye opening. Recently I looked for people who I graduated high school with; as our 40th reunion approaches, I was wondering what happened to so and so, and would they be attending? I learned some will not be attending due to death, distance from our home town, and the one that really caught my attention—a life long criminal serving a long sentence. I assume we will not be seeing him unless we do iChat. (Since he was a bully, and I doubt he has access to a iPhone, he will have to look forward to the 50th or 60th reunion—no loss.)

This past week my family has been out of town; although very strange, I have been all alone and have cooked, plopped, and watched whatever I have wanted to at night. What makes it even stranger of a feeling is you would really have to make an effort to look into our home if that was your goal. (Never thought about it until this week.) With more than 500 feet in the back, and an easy 150 in front, you would have to venture up and look through the curtains. Creepy? You bet it is! 

The one "friend" you might encounter is a snake that happens to live in our front yard. I have seen him a couple of times—he's not a pet, but knowing he is there would startle anyone. (But not me, I keep an eye glued out for him whenever I leave the house.) I hate snakes. Or it might be the foxes that might keep the house safe—I saw two the other day and let's just say they're not afraid of humans. Lovely.

Yes living alone is quite strange, but when I went to the zoo and watched the gorillas live their lives in front of hundreds of onlookers it brought it all into focus. I cannot imagine what it would be like to have your daily activities, I mean everything, in plain sight of the world. There are Mother gorillas tending to their babies and Father gorillas doing nothing but sitting there pissed off because no one is paying attention to them. (Damn kids.) But that's the life they've been dealt. I know that some would say they are living a much more secure life where food and shelter are a guarantee, but there's something unnatural about it. (It does however make for easy photos.)

The photo above was taken of a baby gorilla. It was obvious who had the energy and who didn't; Mom had her "hand" on her forehead with a look of, "Why did I let myself get into this and where's your father, is he online again?"

Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Text.

"You must not know 'bout me
You must not know 'bout me
I could have another you in a minute
Matter fact he'll be here in a minute, baby."

We all have lived with the uncertain feeling of what happens when you hit the send button on your computer, smartphone, or iPad? How will the message be interpreted, did I say it the way I meant, should I have used that emoji or a different one? This is nothing new…but what happens when you mistakenly send it to the wrong person, who is in love with the sender, and it's not meant for them? 

Your day is about ready to change.

I will admit I have sent emails that were misinterpreted, had tone or attitude, and worse yet misspelled words. (That's what spellcheck is all about after all!!) But fortunately, at least of what I recall, I have not sent a damaging one to the wrong person. Whew.

Recently, and I have clearance to write about this topic, an associate had this happen. Although we work on different floors, she is the first person you see when you walk through the door. She is younger, friendly, smart, and confident enough to know you don't pull crap on her—I suspect she lives by the theory, "Don't get mad, Get even." (I could not agree more with this line of thinking.)

Last week, being the friendly guy I can be, I asked her, "How was your weekend?" Idle chit chat with what is usually met with, "Oh it was fine, not long enough, etc." the basic drill. But not this time, she said, "I am single." I said, "Okay" and really didn't know what more to say as I didn't know she was married or had a boyfriend. She said she had received a text from her now ex which was intended for someone else. Ouch. She knew right away that "Honesty" had lifted the window and flown right out of it. 

Being the inquisitive person, and since she brought it up, I asked, "How did you know?" That was a "Duh" moment as for some reason, "women know." I felt very sorry I had asked about her weekend and said, "Well hopefully you both can find level ground if it's meant to be." She assured me, his next move is "all uphill." That would be an assumed, "it's not going to happen."

This reminded me of the dangers of social media, communication by electronic devices, and anything that leaves a trail. Friendships, families and relationships have been destroyed by simple key strokes that were never meant to be seen by anyone but the sender and the receiver. After all of the episodes of Dr. Phil, Jerry Springer, and countless other experts in relationships, you have to imagine, "What were they thinking?" Obviously they weren't or they would not have done it.That is, unless they wanted to get caught. That brings about an entirely different twist to the situation. Maybe this will be discussed in another "Snap. Shot." but not this one.

The photo above is one I for sure did not take. It's of the text she received. I have blacked out some of the information, not that anyone would know who it was, but just a situation where there was a little "TMI." In the end, this is a huge wake up call for anyone who uses any form of electronic communication—if you think you won't get caught, you won't. That is until you hit that send button.

Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, June 24, 2016

A Rose by any other name.

"Every rose has its thorn
Just like every night has its dawn
Just like every cowboy sings his sad, sad song
Every rose has its thorn."

If you have yet to figure out, from reading other entries to "Snap.Shot." I am a basketball fan; worse yet, I am an NBA basketball fan. There are many basketball fans in the world, but it seems that "March Madness" is much more popular than "'May' be this will finally be over in June." (The NBA season lasts a long time, and when your team is in the hunt it's great, when they are out, most tune it out.)

About 8 years ago, the city of Chicago knew the Bulls were going to get a draft pick that would be better than previous years, it was because they had missed the playoffs. That placed them in the lottery with a chance, be it all remote, for them to get a top pick. The odds…bad.

But, that night, the winds shifted and sure enough the Bulls landed the #1 pick for that year. They had a choice between two players, Michael Beasley and Derrick Rose and wisely they went with Rose: he was a Freshman from Memphis who had grown up in Chicago and was "perceived" as the best in the nation. He did come with a little controversy, it dealt with SAT scores, but all in all, who cares about grades when you are drafted in the NBA?

So here comes D-Rose and he shoots out of a canon like he's about ready to take MJ's legacy and kick it to the curb. He was the MVP in 2 years and was the one who was going to take the team to the promise land. Well, we all hoped he was…but keep in mind, it takes more than one person to hoist the trophy. 

Then came the playoff game against the Philadelphia 76's a couple of years later.  A minute or so left in the game, he goes down, and game over. We were in horror, but optimistic that like any horror movie it will eventually get better when we leave the theater.

It didn't.

Unfortunately it happened again, and then a number of events/comments started to change what was a sure to be legacy. Chicagoans started to get impatient, they started to question, they wanted to know, "What was our hero doing?" 

Move forward to 2016 and we learned. 

He had other plans. Some were interesting…he said he wanted to test free agency as he thought he deserved more…the other was to spend more time with his son and not be a cripple when his career was over.  I can understand the appeal of wanting to spend time with your son in the off season, but to tell fans of this desire was far from something they wanted to hear, especially when it was in the middle of the season.

Wednesday the story came to an end. Rose was traded to the New York Knicks—a team that I do not root for and never will! So whereas I was a D-Rose fan, and will remain one, I believe this is a page out of the Bulls record book that can be turned, we are off to bigger and better things. Bigger for sure—with the trade they got some really BIG players. (In size that is.)

The photo above was one of my prize shots from early in D-Rose's career; I was in Milwaukee, the Bulls were playing the Bucks, and sure enough he takes off from the free throw line and flies toward the basket. My trusty Nikon was there every step of the way. I looked at the photos right after and thought—-"I hope this fun never ends." Wednesday night it did.

Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

For the birds.

"I'll spread my wings, and I'll learn how to fly
I'll do what it takes till I touch the sky
And I'll make a wish
Take a chance
Make a change
And breakaway."

I can not say for sure, but I would assume most of us have wondered what it would feel like to fly? I know I would. 

Sure, I have been on countless airplanes, a hot air balloon, and a helicopter, but the thought of it being just me above the ground...well, we all know, if we were meant to be air born, we would have wings. As far as I know, we don't.

A number of years ago, I read Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach. Yes, it was many years ago, but it left a huge impression on me about life and the desire to be different. It was so long ago I don't remember all of the details, but in reading Mr. Bach's other books, I learned about freedom, love, and being someone you didn't expect yourself to be. (I think it all came to be when I rode an open cockpit stunt plane over the Pacific Ocean; I was terrified but felt free as I knew it was completely out of my own control.) Yes, that's probably as deep as I can go for those who are wondering.

When I was a boy, like many other boys, I wanted to be a pilot; this was before I wanted to be an ichthyologist--or commonly know in the tropical circles---a fish doctor. Spoiler alert---My Dad put the end to that once he heard what they made for a living. Or in this case, didn't make for a living. But flying to me was cool; when I was very young, my parents took our entire family on a plane down to Florida for vacation and the experience really stuck. Since I am not that strong in math, and I really would not have done well with all of the details of handling a plane, it's probably a pretty good thing I am in advertising.

But we all have our dreams. Some are very real and some just dreams. I am pretty good at option number two, but have also been fortunate to fulfill a few of the first ones. 

Recently, I went to COSTCO with one of my daughters. She had been begging us to let her go to iFLY---a simulated skydiving company. It may be simulated, but when you go there and watch, it's pretty darn real! So, as I was checking out, I had my daughter go and purchase a hot dog and drink ($1.50 how can you beat it?) and I purchased 3 vouchers for iFLY without her knowing. She knew the moment I bought them as she watched me from afar. She kept asking and finally I said, "I am not telling." 

The photo above is of one of our three daughters in flight. All three did it, Susan and I sat out. Even though I was not in the air, for some reason I had more motion sickness than anyone in our family. Susan thought it was because of the photos and how I was moving to catch the girls in action. Whatever it was, it confirmed for me--I was not meant to fly!

Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Letting them know you were there.

"And all of a sudden goin' fishin'
Wasn't such an imposition
And I went three times that year I lost my dad
Well I, I finally read the good book
And I took a good long hard look
At what I'd do if I could do it all again."

For every trip to St. Louis, one stop I make every attempt to make, is to the cemetery where various family members now call home. Yes, I have written on this topic before, but during this time of the year,when the holidays are upon us, family matters.

A few weeks ago my brother and I went out to visit my parents and aunt and uncle. He said, “Do you want to see where our grandparents are buried?” Of course I did. So we ventured to the front of the cemetery and there was the stone that reminded me of where I got my height, weight and perhaps sense of humor. Actually, my grandfather was a very funny man. He was very thin and quite bald; I was concerned when I was a young adult that the genetics would not play in my favor, but something skipped and I have more than he did at my age.

When my grandfather was a young man, his hair was so thick they called him, “cabbage head.” In today’s terms that would be considered weird, but back then I guess they had yet to experience the internet and other ways to be make fun of people. (A good thing.) Although he lost his hair, the reference continued and was shortened to “Cab.” It stuck to the day he died.

My grandmother, who we called “Dena,” was right there next to him. Although she passed away after he did, I am sure they are play Canasta or some other card game on a regular basis with their friends who also reside a few plots down. It’s kind of crazy to think about where we live when we’re alive and then often stay in the same ‘hood when we pass on.

There is one stone in the cemetery I have looked for a number of times when I have visited but have yet to find. The writing reflects the man’s love of gambling. With a sense of humor and understanding, it reads, “I’d rather be in Vegas!” That to me is funny and permanent.

As we move from one year to the next, and having had my Dad pass away this year, it’s a time for me to reflect again on how much they gave me—and what I intend to pass on when it’s my turn. My parents were married for nearly 60 years. In today’s times, when people get married, Vegas would lay odds against this happening. I am so glad they beat those odds. (Perhaps the man who would “Rather be in Vegas” would take the bet—nice to know he would lose.)

The photo above is part of a Jewish tradition. When you visit a loved one, or friend, you leave a stone letting them know you were there. Thankfully I only need a few stones when I visit, but I know there will be a time when a small bag will be in my hand. I just hope it’s a long ways off.

Thanks for stopping by.