Stories that don't fit into any of the other categories and are about living the dream :)

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National Pet "Day"? How About National Pet "Year"?

Today, I have been informed by social media, is National Pet Day. Which is kind of strange to me, because in my house, every day is National Pet Day.

Our house is owned and operated, 24/7, by two criminals named Doodle and Schoodle. They are bichon frises, which I can only guess is French for “stubborn and hungry.” They do what they want, when they want, and are blessed by being in the same house with the world’s greatest enabler, my wife.

These dogs are treated so well, my goal in life is only to be treated as well as the SECOND dog. I’ve long given up on ever obtaining lead dog status.

My wife and I have always been dog people, so we’ve always had one in the house most of our lives. Before moving here in 2000, we lived in High Point, NC and had the greatest dog of all time, a black lab named Butch. In his youth, there was no dog more obedient, as I could tell him to stay, go upstairs and be gone for a half hour, then return and Butch was still patiently sitting.

This, however, all faded away when the requirements of my job called for me to travel more and more, leaving my wife and Butch home together alone. Somehow, someone started teaching Butch the rules were for other animals. I’d be sitting on a sofa watching a show and Butch would just take a “don’t mind if I do” attitude and help himself up on the unoccupied space. Commands of “stay” turned Butch into the RCA Victor dog, as he turned his head and gave a quizzical look as if to say “you talking to me?”

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These Are Not Autographs You Will See For Sale On Ebay

Yesterday, I wrote a piece about Mitchell Gold, and in it I mention that I ended up getting a chair autographed by both Mitchell AND his dog. Some found that a little unusual.

“That’s not the only thing unusual about my Dad,” would be my daughter’s response.

But I will grant you that I do look at the whole autograph deal a little different than most. I have some sports memorabilia – an autographed picture of Julius Erving in a Virginia Squires jersey, a throwback Redskins helmet (the gold one with the big “R”) signed by Sonny Jurgensen, and a Virginia Tech helmet signed by Frank Beamer and Michael Vick.

The first one I ever pursued was Erving. I grew up in Norfolk watching the brief tenure of pro basketball in the area, and Erving was amazing. At the same time, Jurgensen was the quarterback for the Redskins, and at the age of 13, I thought he was the best quarterback of all time (still do, for that matter).

But it was Erving who soured me on any further sports hero worship. Later in life in the late 1990s, a great friend and business partner knew one of the then-minority owners of the Orlando Magic, and Erving worked for the team at the time. My friend and I were in Orlando, so he arranged for us to get tickets to the Magic game that night and meet my childhood idol.

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Back In The Day, You Could Disagree & Still Respect Someone

One of the great things about having a child is realizing they have no idea what you’ve done in life. It’s as if they think you’ve never left the house, and if you did, you certainly didn’t meet anyone interesting.

Such was the case Sunday when my daughter was reading The Washington Post Magazine. The cover story was about a businessman and gay activist by the name of Mitchell Gold, and I mentioned I’d like to read it to see how he was doing.

“You KNOW him?” my daughter asked, as if I had just grown a second head.

“Of course I do,” I replied, as apparently my daughter didn’t notice I had left the house for 25 years and worked in the furniture industry, allowing me to meet a lot of interesting people, including one Mitchell Gold. “He and I never got along, but he’s a good guy. He even built a piece of furniture for us that he customized just for you.”

Since she was 5 at the time, I suppose it was fair she didn’t totally recall all of that. So I began telling her the story of Mitchell Gold, and it immediately bought to mind how different times are from way back then. These days, you couldn’t disagree with someone the way Mitchell and I did back in 2000 and survive.

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So Close, But So Far In Finally Being On A Jury...

For all of my 61 years, I’ve wanted to be on a jury. And probably half a dozen times, I’ve gotten something in the mail while living in three different cities, called the number they ask you to check the night before, and been told my services were not needed.

Last night, I got another chance. This wasn’t necessarily the night you wanted to be a winner because the NCAA Championship game was going to be on until after midnight, meaning getting up early to go to a courthouse the next morning would not be ideal. But when I called the phone number printed on the jury duty summons, they said Groups 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 AND 8 would need to show up. Numbers 9 through infinity could stay home.

Mine was No. 8.

Let me first say if you’ve reached the stage of life where you’ve retired (like I did two months ago) and you get used to getting up when you want to and easing into the day, that alarm going off at 5:50 AM is a bit of a jolt. I left the house at about 7:20 AM for the trip to neighboring Leesburg, reasoning that it’s one thing to be late to a business meeting; it’s another thing entirely when where you’re going they have people at the entrance with guns and handcuffs. This one I needed to be on time or early too.

Very early in the process I noticed just how addicted I have gotten to my cell phone. You can’t bring one into the Courthouse, so I left mine in my car. I parked at the parking garage across the street from where I thought I needed to go, then walked to where I thought the entrance would be. It wasn’t there and the Loudoun County Courthouse is one huge block where if you walk the wrong way, you’re going to pick up a couple thousand steps on your Fitbit making a lap around the grounds.

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Buona Pasqua! Happy Easter! Enjoy That Chocolate Bunny...

First of all, Buona Pasqua! Happy Easter!

Today is perhaps my favorite holiday of the year. If you are a person of faith as I am, it is the day of the resurrection. The day HE IS RISEN has particular significance. One of the two days just about everybody goes to church (known as the Christmas and Easter crowd, thank you very much) and a day of food, faith and family. Even if these are not your beliefs, the message of redemption, peace and a new start are cool notions all of themselves.

I judge a holiday by the memories in creates. No offense to the days off commemorating Presidents Day or Memorial Day, but I doubt you can tell me what you did on those days as a kid. Christmas and Easter dominate those memories, and Easter is particularly rich in such. From the time you were a kid hunting for Easter eggs, to the time you stayed up late, dyed a bunch of eggs as if they were going to be on display one day at the Louvre, then hid them in the front yard before turning your own children loose. All while trying to capture video of the event while your spouse played the role of the director.

Those rich memories also include Easter sunrise services, because they provided some particularly peaceful moments. But they are for the young, as I have found them to be a survival of the fittest contest. As the name suggests, the services start at sunrise, and unless you are blessed with natural beauty, this involves getting up a few hours before sunrise to get dressed and be there. In my younger days, I worked in the newspaper business where you didn’t get home until 2 AM after putting together the last edition of the Sunday paper. Since you’d be getting up at 4 AM anyway, I’d just stay up, power through everything, then after a hearty Easter meal go search for an unoccupied sofa to “meditate.”

But the greatest non-religious aspect of the Easter tradition is the chocolate Easter bunny. Back when I was a kid, there was an arms race with these bunnies, as you had to show your kid how much you thought of them by buying the biggest one there was (now you just buy them a $1,000 Iphone). There wer of course the eggs, jelly beans and other assorted items in the Easter basket, but the centerpiece was the chocolate bunny, roughly akin to the turkey on the Thanksgiving table. It had to be good.

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