Davins Comedy Blog

THE RACE TO THE END PART 3 “THE BANK” - By Joe Currie (Davin's Den)

As I was saying in part 2 the whole process in my life change is what I called hurdles. At this point of the game I crossed some major ones, I found a buyer for my house, we went into contract, and two weeks later I found my new house and went into contract. The next hurdle was the bank.

I was preapproved a year prior and for a home that would have been more expensive but when you get into the process of actually making the purchase it is nerve wracking to say the least.
It is amazing what little bit of nonsense can throw a major monkey wrench into things. I always keep a tight rein on my bills to the penny and when I was pre approved even more so. But even being so thorough something stupid happened. I have two bank accounts and I always have paid my Mortgage on time and never late for over twenty years.  I always pay with check from my Chase account which has over draft, when I went to make my February payment I ran out of checks from Chase, I did not want to be late with my payment so I used my checks from TD bank which does not have overdraft. I made the payment and made sure there was enough to cover the check, or did I. Several days went by and the payment should have cleared so during that period I bought coffee and a paper at 7-11 and used my debit card and due to this extravagant purchase it brought my account two dollars and fifty cents less than the check, later in the day the bank processes the check AND THE FUCKING THING BOUNCES for two dollars and fifty cents. If it was Chase it would have not been an issue but it was TD which to me stands for “T”hanks “D”ickheads. 

I did discover the mistake a week later, and remade the payment and figured all was good, or was it?????  

I just want to start off that my Mortgage broker was a really good guy and was amazing from the day I sat with him from preapproval all the way to sitting with me at the closing on the new place a year later.
When we sat down to write the mortgage he noticed the noted the incident above and because of it I am now a risk,,, I never made a late payment, I have done two refi’s  with the bank and now I am a risk. He said it the bank already had reported it to TRW. (Please note I wrote the bank the explanation above without the profanity and they removed it).
With this new fly in the ointment I had to get everything revised and get a HUD loan and at a higher interest rate. It stinks but I am in the game so let them begin.
The process you go through to get final approved is underwriting, I don’t know why they don’t call it jumping through hoops because I felt like a Rat Terrier in a dog act with all the hoops. I am surprised they didn’t ask for my earnings from my paper route when I was thirteen.

One of the requirements was from HUD, I had to take a new home owner ship test consisting of eight modules which is a lesson with a test at the end which all of it you do online. A NEW HOMEOWNERS TEST, ARE YOU SHITTING ME!!!! I have owned a home for twenty four years. You go to work, slave and toil and run into the bank with a check by the fifteenth, I don’t need to take a test and I told the bank that I am not. The bank told me no test no loan. I said when does school start.

I log on to their site and after forking over twenty five bucks and I am on to the first module. Now several things, these modules are an hour long, I have eight to do, are exciting as watching worms fuck, they have to be completed in two weeks, and due to my schedule they can only be done on a weekend.

In addition I am the middle of moving so after a fun filled Sunday of loading my moving pod with my stuff I sit down completely exhausted at ten pm to do this. To be fair some of it was informative but most of it was bullshit and if you did not get the questions correct you had to take it all over again and not one mention about making sure your check has overdraft. Well after two weekends, twelve cups of coffee and cheating on the test with my I pad to get answers while I was on my laptop with the test I passed all the modules.

The modules were just the tip of the iceberg, there were bank statements, W-2’s, home inspection reports, separation decree settlements, bank statements yeah I said it twice, pay stubs, pay stubs, yeah I said  that  twice too, how much could my paycheck of changed after two weeks.

I was a nervous wreck as if anything was not approved I am screwed because I am out of a large deposit and a place to live.

The day arrived and I WAS APPROVED!!! I got my loan and I got my house, now to set a closing date, and that’s another story so stay tuned.           

THE FIRST PITCH - By Davin Rosenblatt

There are some things that you see other people do that seem pretty cool. Maybe it is something you would like to do. Maybe it is something you never thought about actually doing.  It is something that you really can’t work towards as it has to be an honor or offered and not necessarily achieved.  I put throwing out the first pitch at a professional baseball game as one of those things.   I had seen many people do it. I have seen presidents do it. Rap stars, country stars, radio stars, contest winners, local heroes, military heroes, etc. Hardly anybody remembers the well executed first pitch throw. The only one I recall is President Bush’s perfect strike after 9/11 during the World Series in New York.  The bad ones however can live on forever.  Gary Dell’abate of the Howard Stern show is one of those unfortunate attempts. He is a big Mets fan and threw it high and outside at Citifield in front of thousands of people.  Worse yet, he hit the umpire.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfLIyT8HExY.  Rapper 50 Cent threw out a first pitch. The whole premise behind many of these rap stars is being manly. Surely being able to competently throw a ball is part of being a man on some level.  Here is 50 Cent’s attempt along with some other celebrity disasters. I think for sure there is one in there that will surprise you at how bad it was.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1hegWfugYc

When I saw these mishaps I wondered did they get a chance to practice. How did they feel immediately after it went wrong.  Do they still think about it? Do people make fun of them over it? Do they just shrug it off? Would they try again? I mean clearly it is a failure on a very public level.
A few days ago I got a call from the Rockland Boulders which is a professional, minor league baseball team in the area.  They asked me if I wanted to throw out the first pitch at their championship game which is also the last home game of the year. I was stunned. I was flattered. I was honored. It would mean I had to rearrange my schedule but I wanted to do it.  It made me think well maybe on some level all the hard work I put into the radio show and comedy and fighting scammers was being noticed. Many times I think nobody really does notice so it is very nice to feel validated. 

I was also nervous.  I perform in front of a lot of people all the time. I perform on important shows that can effect my career. I perform on shows where people spend their hard earned dollars to see me and if I stink I have disappointed them.  If I fail at this it will not ruin my career. Nobody has come to see the first pitch. They have come for a baseball game. Still for comedy I have complete confidence in myself most nights because I have successfully done the job repeatedly. I trust my ability. I did play high school baseball. I continue to play softball though I have not played in weeks after a two year lay off. I know how to throw a ball well. I am athletic. Still this for some reason felt different. I was nervous even though I knew the feeling was irrational.

I only had a few days and no chance to practice. I had heard some celebrities practiced for quite some time before throwing a first pitch. I hadn’t picked up a baseball in years. A softball is bigger and heavier than a baseball. I remembered several weeks ago the first time I threw a softball in years. I threw it over the person’s head.  Soon enough I got my control but that first throw was terrible. Fortunately that was in practice.

I invited some friends and family to the game.  I considered this an honor and I thought it would be nice to share this with them.  As I arrived at the stadium I noticed a nice crowd was forming. It was also starting to rain. The last thing I needed was a wet baseball. The nerves amped up.

I got ushered into the Boulders dug out where I struck up a conversation with Danny who would be singing the national anthem before the game. I grabbed a loose baseball just to get the feel of it. I worked on my grip. I stretched my throwing arm as best as I could. I watched from the dugout as a college baseball team got honored before the game.  Then they had two other celebrity first pitches. The first was a lady who did not come close to reaching home plate. The next was a man who did a decent job.  I heard them announce me over the loud speaker. It is quite the build up. I was surprised and impressed. I did not know if I was throwing from the pitcher’s rubber, the front of the mound, or someplace else. I was kind of hoping from the pitcher’s mound.  It was in front of the mound. Now I was once again concerned I would throw it high and long. The catcher squatted in position. I was given the signal to throw. It was straight down the middle…and ten feet over the catcher’s head to the backstop. He jumped. He tried. He was no match for my wildness. I did not even throw the ball hard.  I just must not have gotten on top of it because I wasn’t loose.  All I could do was laugh. There is no place to hide. You just stunk in the middle of the field. At that point it is time to embrace the suck. I did. Me and the catcher hugged.  There is a video of the pitch on the Davin’s Den Facebook page of the pitch.  https://www.facebook.com/davinsden/  My friend Walt recorded it complete with his commentary. I had texted him before that I was nervous. He said I would be fine. He was wrong.

I found my daughter. She asked me if I practiced before I pitched. I said no. She said she could tell.  I am sure on this coming Tuesday’s Davin’s Den that will seem tame compared to what my co-hosts and the Den Pen have in store for me. I wonder if 50 Cents entourage busted his chops.  Would 50 try again? I would…with practice.

Am I a Schmuck or a Mensch? - By Pip Helix (Davin's Den)

As listeners who are also my friends on Facebook know, the past year at my “day programs” has been rather fraught with ups and downs.  I worked at a position with one employer, with whom I dealt with a hierarchy of Evil Overlords that made my days miserable, and my nights sleepless and full of doubt.  The Evil Overlord chronicles were a rather popular item on my Facebook page, as it seemed that people could either relate to my pain, or for the terrific schadenfreude it offered. (If you don’t know that word, Google it, because it’s a great word).  After I left the long-time position at the Palace of the Evil Overlords, I went on to (Temporary) Sanctuary, a job that I thought I would really enjoy and which would cause so much less stress – only to be told that I wasn’t the right fit after the three month probation period was over.  OUCH.  So much OUCH.  I was embarrassed and hurt.

Recently, one of the Evil Overlords texted me from the Palace, and asked for advice on one of the more complicated programs we ran while I was still working there.  I knew it wasn’t something that could be explained over the phone, so I agreed to meet with him after work and explain it.  During our conversation, we realized that I had made a mistake in doing the report the last couple of years, but he wasn’t meeting with me to blame me, he wanted to understand what happened and correct it.  It was a very civilized meeting, and even though I didn’t give him the answer he wanted, he was grateful for my time. It felt bad to realize that I had made a mistake that would be a slight pain for them to correct, but it felt good to be finally treated like a professional by the Evil Overlord.  Absence makes the heart grow fonder?

Shortly after that, one of the people I worked at Sanctuary with, a really good friend, let me know that due to a scheduling conflict, she would be on vacation with her family the same time a major annual project needed to be done.  When I worked at Sanctuary, I guided her through it, and this year she would be on vacation and my replacement was inexperienced as well.  The head muckity-muck, who fired me, asked her to sound me out about coming in and working with my replacement to show her what to do, and to get the whole thing done on time.

I knew that refusing to help would put my friend in a difficult spot, trying to take her family vacation on the one week that all parties were available to go away, and I didn’t want her to not be able to take her vacation.  And, as much as I want to, I just do not hate the guy who fired me.  I would rather find out that it was a bad fit, at the time that my current position was available, than afterwards, when I would be well and truly stuck for a job.  So, I agreed to go to (No Longer) Sanctuary and work for a few hours with my replacement, who I’d met at an industry gathering, to help her through the project.  We banged it out in one evening, and I will get paid for my time.
I wonder if other people still keep in touch with their old places of employment, and work for them/meet with them if needed, or am I just this schmuck who can’t seem to burn employment bridges?


THE RACE TO THE END PART 2 THE NEW HOUSE - By Joe Currie (Davin's Den)

During the whole part of my life changing ordeal there was so many frustrating moments in selling my house, such as the home for the disabled making an offer on my house, leading us on for three months and the day before going into contract walking on the deal. As I say in my act, ‘The first time they can walk and it’s on me”, we have an open house and no one is showing. People are scheduled to look at the house and they don’t show up, top that off with an estranged wife that made every step a struggle.

But I told Joe’s girl that I knew in my heart that I had a gut feeling that these things were happening because the house that I wanted was not up for sale yet.
In April a week after I went into contract on my home in Huntington the house I knew was waiting came on the market. 

Joe’s girl found it on line, the price was great and it was in a community I fell in love with years ago but never pursued further to move to because my wife wanted to stay in Huntington.

No photos of the home were available and due to the price we thought there may have been something wrong and we were about to pass, but we didn’t.
We went to the open house and when I pulled up to the house there was this inner voice telling me that this will be my new home. It was beautiful on the outside, but what would it look like on the inside??? It was in mint condition and immaculate with nothing really to do but repaint two of the bedrooms and a bathroom (they were pink and as of this writing one of the bedrooms are done). As we were walking through the house Joe’s girl asked me what I thought of the place? I told her, you know the house that I told you that was waiting for me? Well we are standing in it.

This was the house, the reason there was no photos is the home just came on the market and the photographer had just left.   

I was planning on getting an apartment after I moved and really was going to start to look then. But this was the house and I could not let it get away.
I grabbed my real estate agent the next day and we made an offer which was the asking price. I was a purchasing agent for years and I know how to haggle and negotiate but I also know when something was a flat out steal. It turns out the women selling the place had health issues and wanted to join her son in Florida and wanted a quick sale. When we made the offer the selling agent said the price is firm three times and we had to tell them we understood and we are making an offer.

We are now in what I call the “hurdles to jump”. In the entertainment business you are trying to make impossible stuff happen day in and day out and I realized that this situation would be difficult but possible. The first hurdle was they were going to have another open house that was already scheduled and I prayed that no one would outbid me. It turned out that no one made an offer on the place and they accepted mine.

The next step was the home inspection to see the condition of the home. If you remember from part one this day was a very sad one in the sense that we interred my sister in law into the mausoleum that afternoon, I said goodbye to people and places that were a big part of my life for twenty five years and I had to leave my wife sitting alone at the mausoleum as I went out to meet with the home inspector, the real estate agents and Joe’s girl. It really was the official day of my old life coming to a close and the next stage coming to life. With all the strife of the day the house passed the inspection with flying colors. 

  Now I have jumped two hurdles and there were plenty more to go.
Next hurdle, I had to put down a down payment but cash was not available until I closed on my old home which was a month away. 

If you know me you know I don’t ask anyone for help but I decided this was not charity but a chance to get a home that I could not let go. Thanks to the generosity of several people that hurdle was jumped.

The next hurdle was going into contract. The seller’s lawyer was a nice enough guy and a friend of the seller but not really versed in real estate and moved excruciatingly slow. We waited almost two weeks to get the contract to sign but finally they came and I signed. 

The next hurdle?? The bank. Stay tuned for part 3

NINE WEEKS IN - By Davin Rosenblatt

I am in the middle of my ninth week of the 21 Day Fix workout program. They call it 21 Day Fix because after 3 weeks it all just repeats. I don’t know, I am not paying very close attention to be honest. I just know every day of the week is a different work out. So for instance every Monday is something called full body cardio which means cardio with weights. Ugh. There is a meal plan and shakes (which I have mentioned previously). So how am I doing?

I don’t do the meal plan. Haven’t even looked at it. I am eating less and drinking less.  I figure that would be part of meal plan. I am having much less ice cream. I figure that would be encouraged. I have replaced my morning Pop Tart with their shake. The shake is pretty filling and I was never much for breakfast anyway. My appetite has shrunk.  I will eat a meal and think I have stuffed myself to the gills and then later look on the scale and realize apparently I did not eat that much. So my own food strategy is at least having the effect of me eating less.

Now there have been a few occasions when I went off the eating reservation. When you go to a Bobby Flay restaurant you are going to eat. It is expensive and more importantly it is delicious. I did show restraint and have only one Mojito. I wanted another but I am trying. I also did not finish my dessert. It was great. I was stuffed. In the old days I would have powered through and finished it. I left it there to melt. Yay for self- restraint but boo for the loss of deliciousness. That meal fit for a king cost me a week’s worth of weight loss. One damn, beautiful, calorie packed, sumptuous meal.
During the course of the 21 days they want you to increase from one 30 minute work out a day to two 30 minute workouts a day. Listen, if I wanted to spend an hour working out I would not have picked the 30 minute work out program. I also would not pay for a gym membership I haven’t used in years. I don’t have time nor desire for that. I know I am cheating myself. I cheated myself in Spanish class too by passing and not really learning. It’s ok, I’m fine with it.

As I have mentioned before, I have done other weight loss programs. The most recent ones have been eating programs where to be honest I lost a couple of pounds a week. The ones with pre-made meals were the easiest. I know people say it is a lifestyle change. For me once I hit my goal weight I did not eat according to the program. Because…cake. Because pizza. Because ice cream. Because anything yum. They made me thinner which was awesome but there was no weight training. I eventually gained all the weight back and more.

I do not like the daily work outs. They are not getting easier. They are not fun. Fun is playing ball. Fun is watching a movie. Burpies are never fun. Full body plank is never fun.  I still curse at Autumn (the trainer) when she says “let’s do a bonus round.” Bonus round means more pain but I do the damn bonus round. I do it all some days better than others. I don’t do the yoga on Sunday. I go for a walk on those days. Me, the hills, and my music. It makes me happy and I am not just lounging eating pancakes.

So what are the results with my half-assery of kicking my ass into shape?  I am averaging about a pound of weight loss a week. My pants are looser. I am wearing shirts I have not worn in a while. My face does not look as fat in pictures. I have my American Greed appearance on TV coming out next month and I know I will look huge unfortunately. My stomach is a bit flatter. I still have much more to lose in the tummy.  This work out is very core intensive so I know I will continue to lose weight there. It is also very shoulder intensive which will broaden me out and make me look thinner than I am.  I get frustrated that the pounds are not falling away quickly. I, like many of us, like instant gratification. This work out, the half ass way I am doing it, does not give that. The way I am doing it this is more of a body shaping program and in that regard I think it is working. I have a long way to go and I would much rather eat cake but 30 minutes of pain daily for a pound a week while body shaping seems to be a fair trade.  Just once I want Autumn to say, “how about a bonus round of cake.”

PAPER ROUTE - By Pip Helix (Davin's Den)

When I was a child, my brother had a paper delivery route. His route was larger than the other kids’, and the weekend delivery was even larger, because some people only subscribed to the Sunday edition.  So,  on Sundays, my father, brother and I would wake up at some ridiculous pre-dawn hour, and go to the home of the woman who was in charge of local distribution of the newspaper.  We would crowd into the garage and help put the “inserts” (advertisements, the comics and the Sunday magazine) into the papers, count them out, and stack them in the back of our family van.  My brother and I would then sit on the edge of the van, with the sliding door open, and Dad would drive us around the delivery route. He’d stop when we needed to jump off of the side, and run between houses, bulging Sunday newspapers under our little arms. 

I can only imagine doing this today, and seeing some child welfare office throw my father in jail for letting us ride around town like that.  But even though we worked our little asses off, it was fun, and I enjoyed every last bit of it. Stealing off into the dark, feeling like the only people awake for miles, watching the sun come up as we snuck through the sleepy town quietly opening and closing their screen doors, getting the paper in without letting it flop back out onto the stoop.  It was an acquired skill, and I was strangely proud of how quickly and efficiently I could cover my assigned half, or probably more like one third, of the route.  I was five years younger than my brother, and he was taking more papers at a time, and covering more ground, surely, but I hustled as fast as I could go.
After the route, my Dad would treat us to breakfast at a local diner.  For some reason, my father had a fondness for the eccentrics and broken people of the world, and I remember that we went to the most broken down, lonely diner in the world.  I used to order a disgusting little kid meal, a jelly omelette with hot chocolate.  The man in the eye patch always seemed to be there, sitting at the counter, talking to us about whatever, and making comments about how much of my omelette I left on the plate. Another man with a cane sat at a booth, trading quips with the eyepatch guy and the cook.  I don’t remember thinking that any of this was odd, as we were a rather eccentric family to begin with, but I became aware of it as I grew up, and my brother made jokes to my Dad about the weird place he brought us to eat each Sunday.  For some reason, we upgraded to another diner eventually, but I didn’t mind the old one.

Sometimes, to let my hard-working father sleep in, my brother and I would set off alone to do the route by ourselves.  We walked to the distributor’s house with a little red wagon in tow, and then stacked a ridiculous amount of newspapers onto the wagon, and did the route by foot.  It would take hours and hours, but it was worth it to let my father get a break once in a while.  I think about how different things were, that two really small kids were walking around alone in the dead of night, and no one even thought anything of it. Imagine your 11 and 6 year old children leaving the house at about 3 a.m. without telling you, and walking the length of your town on their own, going door-to-door with newspapers.  

I am horrified thinking of it now, because it is not something we would allow today, but at the time it didn’t seem odd at all.  That freedom of being outside while others slept felt like we were the only humans in an amazing world unknown to others. While everyone else slept, we were enjoying the company of nocturnal animals, the occasional milkman or other delivery truck, and the blanket of quiet that enveloped the town.  Dim street lights, stars, and the occasional porchlight or inside lamp were the only things disturbing the darkness, and we were careful to be quiet as we snuck through their neighborhoods, so the dogs wouldn’t begin to howl. As the morning sun began to light the world, my brother and I staggered home, satisfied that our work was done, and that we had saved our tired father one chore of many.

THE RACE TO THE END PT 1 - By Joe Currie (Davin's Den)

This past April to June was the most stressful part of my life since the passing of my Mom twenty four years prior. I was ending a twenty three year relationship, I was leaving a home I lived in since I was three, I had to get packed and ready to move with no help, I lost an     in law, I had an estranged Wife who was just sitting watching TV and then coming home at all hours of the night instead of packing, she also was refusing to pay the expenses of living there as she thought our settlement was unfair. I was also running out of money and was a month away from being bankrupt, I had found the place where I wanted to live and had to make an offer, have it accepted, and get the mortgage to get it.   
So here we go, after almost a year on the market and a bunch of false starts I finally sold my house to a very nice couple in April. Finally the end was coming into this whole life change ordeal. We went into contract and were scheduled to close on June 15th which was ironically the anniversary of my father’s death. There was so much to do now, make moving arrangements, pack the house. I have always helped people move but I never moved myself before. I lived in the house since I was a toddler and my parents were kind enough to handle the arrangements back then.

I decided to get a POD, which is essentially a shipping container that is dropped off at your house you load it with your stuff and then they store it or bring it to your new place, the thing was great and I gave myself a month head start. I also got a dumpster to put next to the POD so there was stuff going and stuff not going.

It is amazing when you go through things you have collected through the years that mean a lot until you have to move it.One of the fun things I threw in the dumpster was the big framed wedding picture of my wife and I. Obviously it’s not something I want to take, but she did not know I threw the thing out and when she found out she charged me thirty five bucks because her mother bought the frame. I paid it because the look on her face when she saw nothing on the wall was priceless.

Don’t get me wrong I do not wish any wrong against my soon to be ex which in my tweets has been known as the Co-owner, she has just made a difficult process more difficult during this whole ordeal and I also feel so sad for her, she has in the past five years lost her Father, Mother, and in April lost her sister to cancer. On the day of the funeral there was a brief viewing before the church service and I knelt in front of the casket and I cried like a baby, My sister in law and I were cut too much from the same cloth and sometimes we had our issues but I did get to hug and hold her several months before she passed and we cried and I did tell her that I did always loved her which I did.

I watched my wife at her Sisters casket, they were very close and I could not hold back the tears as I watched her say goodbye to her. The plan was that after her and I went our separate ways they were most likely going to live together and now it was not to be. I did not want this for my Wife and her sister it was awful and I felt so bad.  

 On the way to the church I passed my wife’s old family home where there a were a lot of great memories as my wife’s family made me their own but now they are all gone, and as I passed the home it was saying good bye for the last time to this place that was like a second home to me. On the side of the house was an air conditioning unit that I stared at for five minutes, a simple air conditioning unit but one that my Sister in law and I would cover every fall. It was a tradition, every year and we would laugh and argue on how it was to be covered. A simple cherished moment, and now a memory.

All during the funeral service I kept a watchful eye on my wife during the service to make sure she was okay but as we are separated I did respectfully keep my distance. After the service at the cemetery they were then to place my sister in law’s casket into the wall at the mausoleum. As I waited with my Wife and we discussed us moving on and that we tried and things did not work out. My Sister in laws casket was then ready to place into the mausoleum. In attendance was myself, my wife, her other Sister and her husband. After the casket was placed into the wall the sister and her husband left and it was just my wife and I there.
My wife wanted to sit there for a while and when her father passed away I was there to sit with her, I still had guilt because I felt I should have been there more for her when her mother died as the cracks were already were showing in our marriage. I wanted to stay and make sure she was okay like I had for twenty four years but I had to go. The home inspector, my real-estate agent, and Joe’s girl were all waiting for me at my new potential place and I had to go, I felt awful that I had to leave her there. When I got home later she asked what it felt like to have nobody anymore and we both cried, a day later she told me she was not paying me another dime to stay in the house, so there you go.  About the new house?? That’s part 2

Us and Them - By Pip Helix (Davin's Den)

I recently had a conversation with a young man, just turned 19, about politics and race, that turned some of my preconceived notions on their head – and not for the better.

This young man, whom I will call Alberto, was born in Central America, and became a naturalized citizen.  His mother came to the United States illegally, as many have done, by crossing the border from Mexico into the United States. She found work and eventually opened her own business, married, and afterwards brought her young children to the U.S. from their grandmother’s home in Central America.

Now that Alberto has grown up in the United States, and he and his brothers have become naturalized citizens, he completely considers himself American.  This is normal, as he has spent most of his life here,  and the story of many immigrants that have come to America.  I am sure that my own family members came to think of themselves as proud Americans, rather than Germans or Irishmen, or what other various countries my people came from. What I was not expecting was to hear that Alberto now actively disliked people from his home country, and was also disparaging of Mexican people.

The conversation lead to the infamous Trump wall on the border between the U.S. and Mexico, and I was shocked to hear him say how in favor of the wall he was.  I asked him if it even occurred to him that the border crossing his mother suffered through was what paved the way for him to ultimately become an American.  He stared at me blankly. I know that he’s barely out of his teens, but it disturbed me that he had come to the conclusion, in a nutshell, that “I got mine, you go get yours”.  He seemed to recognize the problems within his home country, but rather than have empathy for those still suffering, and feel for the people living in poverty in Mexico, he had become one of the privileged of America.

I don’t pretend to know the answer to the issue of illegal immigration into the country.  In the current climate of rampant terrorism, I am naïve enough to believe that we can have open borders in the sense that anyone should be able to immigrate without thorough vetting.  However, the fact remains that thousands stream into the country undocumented.  Building a wall at great cost to Americans doesn’t make sense to me, as long as there are ladders and shovels in the world.  Although I felt the need to mention this larger issue, it is not actually the crux of this discussion.

What surprised and dismayed me the most was the fact that a first-generation American was so willing to turn his back on his former countrymen.  There could be some bad experiences playing into his feelings about his home country, but to consistently speak of all of his brethren as “them” in a disparaging way, and to go so far as to say that he hated the people of other countries was so very disappointing.

I was pleased to see that he and his brothers had fully embraced life as Americans, but to see this particular young man become so xenophobic, without appreciating the irony of his situation as newly one of “us” to be able to disparage “them”, was indeed eye-opening.

WORKING OUT - by Davin Rosenblatt

I don’t like it one bit.  I don’t like feeling the burn.  I don’t like lifting heavy objects. Nope don’t like any of it.

However, I do know that if I don’t work out and just give into my worst impulses I could be the guy where they have to cut off the front of his house so he can leave his furnished tomb. That ain’t happening either.  I was fat for many years and then in high school I dieted. I drank water and ate salad and the weight melted off. All the sudden I had a girlfriend.  Through the years my weight has fluctuated.  In college I may have been in the best shape of my life as I lifted weights every day and still had a decent metabolism.  I didn’t mind lifting weights in college because I went with friends and I wanted to get laid so having a nice body seemed like a good way to help accomplish that.  I continued to work out pretty rigorously at various gyms by myself but then I moved away from where they were and I did not immediately find a new gym.

Since college I found my wife so to be fair being at optimal fighting weight lessened in a priority. Still I have tried to keep some weight off.  I have done South Beach & Nutri System. Both times the weight came off. Both times it came back but a bit more. I am a member of a gym. I used to go by myself and work out but I found it boring and the gym a bit too far. Really those are excuses and I am aware.  I have ridden my bicycle which I enjoy but where we live it is very mountainous and there are not a lot of safe places to ride without getting hit by a car.  When the weather is nice I walk the hills in my complex for about 40 minutes. I do not mind it because I listen to music. Still it does not burn the calories necessary to lose weight. Though when I stop the weight rapidly climbs.  I am still a member of a gym. I don’t think I have been there in three years. I pay $20 a month for the privilege of telling people I belong to a gym. It is ridiculous. I am aware. 

I am not playing softball and volley ball like I once did. I enjoy playing sports and being active when there is a goal other than losing weight. The goal of winning distracts me from the task of shedding pounds.  You would think I would be winning by shedding the pounds but my brain can’t seem to wrap itself around that concept. 

Still I eventually get to a point every several years where I go enough is enough. It is time to be a little more proactive and lose some weight. There is only so much tightening of the pants one can stand and going up in waist size is not on the table.

I think my wife gets the same way as eventually she wants to start a program. This time her motivation is a weekend coming up with her best friend who is in great shape I am told. I get it. We want people to see us at our best even though they should love us at our worst. 

With that in mind we started this program called 21 Day Fix by Beach Body hosted by a celebrity fitness instructor named Autumn Calabrese. She is in great shape obviously.  Most of the people training with her are in great shape. They have one person who is not in shape doing the program as well.  I think that is to say hey even you fat ass can do it if she can.  I get it. Not a bad tactic.

Obviously Autumn is a peppy lass. The program has you constantly moving for 30 minutes straight. It is a combination of cardio and weight training.  I am glad when the 30 minutes is over but I am also glad that I did them however I do not look forward to doing them again. I will do them again of course.  At the end of the work out Autumn starts pushing the shakes that are part of the work out program. They cost $100 a month. That is expensive. Then again a shake at McDonalds every day of the month would probably cost me about the same.  Autumn says she may put some banana in her shake for fun.  No Autumn bananas are not fun.  If was ripped like the people in the video fun would not be a banana. Fun would be private jets, champagne, cocaine, and hookers. That would be fun. That would be my reward for working hard to look great. If my idea of fun is a banana then I may as well be a 500 pound shut in. Ooooo I’m not leaving my house I should have some extra potassium. Produce is not motivating my ass Autumn. At the end of the thirty minutes I don’t want a banana. I want the girls from a Motley Crue video to strip dance their way onto that yoga mat Autumn. I want a promise that if I just push a little more. If I can just get that 6 pack that those girls are coming over to my house and will use me as a human jungle gym. That’s fun Autumn! That type of motivation will get me to bench press a Buick Autumn!

Let’s be honest, most of us are trying to look better so other people find us more attractive. That is the motivation.  If it was hottt to sit around and look like a tub of goo most of us would do that. We would shove gallons of ice cream down our gullet in the quest to become so gelatinous and sexy that the opposite sex would melt at our sight as we melted into the lazy boy lounger.  So a banana is not fun. Working out is not fun.  Eating right is not fun. Watching the opposite sex drool when you bend over to pick up a pencil is freaken amazing. Now excuse me while I have some kale and do some jumping jacks.  I look forward to your drool.

Unpredictable - By Pip Helix (Davin's Den)

This evening, I was driving home on a highway that is separated by a thick, wooded median, with wooded areas on either side of the highway, and traffic was moving along at a decent clip. As I came around the small bend in the road, I suddenly saw the brake lights, and the strange, cautious driving in both lanes ahead of me.  The story of the slow-down soon began to unfold, as I saw the cars were attempting to avoid the splintered bits of glass and car debris in the inner “fast” lane.  Traffic crawled for a moment, and I saw the dead deer on the grassy shoulder, and then two cars, one on the inner shoulder and one on the outer.  As the cars crept past the car on the right, I saw that the headlight and grill was smashed inward on the driver’s front, but not so badly that it seemed to affect the driver’s space.  Still, it was a relief to see someone moving around inside the car.

My first reaction was to pull over in front of the damaged car and see if the driver was ok.  I put my hazard lights on and cautiously made my way over to the car behind me.  The man was then standing in front of his car, blankly looking at the smashed in grill, obviously in shock.  I asked him if he was okay.  He said he was, and his first question to me was whether the deer was okay.  By now, a woman had made her way across the highway, and she told him that the deer was dead.  He made no comment, but a stricken look passed over his face.  I asked if the woman was ok, and she said that she just narrowly missed being in the accident, but that she was fine. I asked them both if the police had been called, and he asked me if I thought that he should do that.  I said that he should, and volunteered to take care of it for him. 

After I contacted the police and gave them the location,  I turned back just in time to see the woman, who apparently had crossed the highway back to her car, yelling at a car that sounded like it had just stopped short of hitting her.  Oh wow, I thought, we nearly had a worse situation.  I looked for the man, and saw that he was walking down the highway, still on the phone.  Did he go to see the deer?  I couldn’t tell what he was up to, but I was afraid to leave him there alone, as shaken as he seemed to be.  Was he doing something irrational?  Why was he crossing the highway, and searching the brush on the other side of the guard rail?  I noted that the other woman had left, so there was no one to consult. 

Soon, it became apparent that he was searching for the missing part of the front of his car, and he was coming back towards the car with some of the grill.  I don’t know if it was worth saving, but at least that made some sense. 

I don’t blame the man for being shaken.  Within the same week, on the same exact stretch of road, I had nearly hit a deer that was bolting across a clearing on a direct collision course with my car.  Had he not veered as I stomped on my brakes, I would have been in the same shape as this poor guy, or worse.  It took me and my husband a while to calm down after that narrow escape, and we hadn’t even made contact.  I have been in a few too many car accidents, and I recognized the shape he was in.  Was he my problem?  No, but I was not going to leave him at that point, at least not until the police showed up to take over. One thing that everyone can do in situations like this, that I hope they will do, is to take care of others when they are vulnerable and in need of help.

The deer population in our area is on the rise, and over-development of once-huge tracts of wooded area has forced them out into the suburbs, streets and parks.  When I was a child in this area, I think I may have spotted a deer once or twice a year, and only when I was in the woods.  Now, I rarely have a day when I don’t see one, if not many.  And not from a distance, in the woods, but a few feet away in my own yard, crossing the streets as I drive to work, or grazing on the sides of the highways, only a few feet from the rushing cars.

 People are of two minds about the increase in our communion with deer:  They either think they are beautiful and feel sorry for how much we’ve encroached on their habitat, or they are angry that they are plentiful enough to pose danger in the form of Lyme disease via ticks, or physical harm or even death via car crashes. I understand both viewpoints very well.  One thing is for certain, and that is deer are anxious, unpredictable creatures prone to surprising burst of activity and hair-raising, unannounced changes in course.

If you like deer, and tend to argue in their favor, all you can see is their impressive size, and make excuses for any of their undesirable behavior, as it affects humans.  They are beautiful, and I do respect that their nature makes them behave in ways that may be incomprehensible to me, but which are completely reasonable and admirable to the deer themselves, and to their supporters.

However, their seemingly irrational and unpredictable behavior can make them dangerous.  The danger is obvious to the individual with the smashed car, and the child with Lyme disease from a deer tick bite.  The problem is that the danger also has a ripple effect.  One bizarre dash across the highway by a wreckless deer causes a car crash, a near-miss of a human almost being hit by another car, the potential of other cars crashing into one another in the immediate aftermath of the accident, and so on.

 Humans depend on a certain amount of factors to remain constant in order for safe car travel to be possible.  There are laws and social conventions which make the potential chaos of traffic become a well-oiled machine (most of the time).  It is frightening to know that this one rogue deer, this one unpredictable and wild creature, could make moves that can affect so many, without the will or the ability to consider the ramifications of its actions in the moment, and in the future. But what can be done to guard against the negative effect of a deer running chaotically into the river of traffic?  One thing we can do is try to support one another, try to minimize the damage done.  Help out someone who is adversely affected by the deer, even if it isn’t affecting you directly. We can fight back by using all of the tools at our command to keep the deer population at bay, and minimize the potential damage that a wild-eyed, unpredictable deer can inflict.  We can co-exist as we drive by and see them grazing on the side of the road – but never take your eyes off of them, and protect yourself as best as you can.