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Remember, thank a veteran . . .
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I went to the Raiders game over the weekend with a couple of old friends, Steven Strawser (U.S. Army veteran) and Jess Grande (U.S. Marines veteran). The Marines celebrated their 239th Birthday on Monday and Veterans’ Day was Tuesday. 

I had hoped to get a few stories of their time serving our great country, and as the day went on, it became obvious that the story lied within the respect they both had for each other. Being from two different branches had no bearing on their love for each other’s service to our country.

Though it did make for some interesting banter.

Watching these two mix and mingle with other veterans they’d meet – from the parking lot to an Irish pub – gave great insight into what makes these men special. There is an instant camaraderie that emerges between veterans when they meet, from WWII to Iraq.

I can personally only liken it to running into my old football teammates, but I realize that falls 100 yards short of these men’s brotherhood. 

The drinks and stories flowed between new comrades – people that would only share a few minutes of time in passing, but were able to express a lifetime of respect in those moments. And as the day ended I asked Strawser what I should write about.

“We don’t care,” he said with a chuckle. “Write about whatever you want, but for God’s sake make it funny. I didn’t serve my country to come home and have you bore me to death!”

Yes, sir, and a sincere “thank you” to all the men and women that served our country.


Random Thoughts...

Dear cousin Frankie, I have no problem with you going Village People on me at the M.R.P.S. Hall this past Saturday night – by “YMCAing” the letters V-O-L to signify the football title just won by your Sierra High Timberwolves. But please make sure to add the letters C-O when starting this song and dance. After all, sharing a title is like kissing your sister – and we aren’t even talking about a cute sister like The Other School (also known as East Union High) but one with a horse face 20 miles to the east. And you know how I feel about horses. Good luck Blue School, because an all-Manteca section final would be grounds for one of us to leave town forever. Go Buffs!


Christmas Commercialism already?!

I was in Walmart early Sunday preparing to attend the Raiders game – a personal hell all its own far exceeding my morning spent at “The Most Unhappy Place on Earth.” I was in line when I overheard a 50-something male behind me, wearing a Raiders jersey to boot, exclaim, “Are you frickin’ kidding me?! They got all this Christmas junk going and it ain’t even ‘Thanksgivins’ yet?!” Responding to this human was my first mistake. Hindsight being 20/20, arguing with a 50-year-old man in a Raiders jersey is a bad idea. Arguing with one in Walmart … “Hello, fire; meet, gasoline.” My “C’mon, it’s not all that bad” was met with a flurry of colorful language. I quickly diffused the situation with a “Hopefully Santa can bring our Raiders a win today.” He did not, but it got a chuckle out of the guy as I narrowly escaped this encounter with all limbs intact.

A young mother with kids nodded in appreciation, “Thanks, I try to explain to my kids that Christmas is about treating people with kindness.” And it is. I understand that having Christmas thrown in your face before we’ve even cut turkey can be overwhelming, even a bit annoying. But do you know what is more annoying? Complaining about it. Don’t be the Humbug of all Humbugs this holiday season. Even a Raider fan was able to smile. It’s only a month and a half of cheerful music and smelly candles. You can make it, Scrooge.


Not getting a tattoo – is the new getting a tattoo...

Is there anybody under the age of 25 that doesn’t have a tattoo these days? Are they giving them out as high school graduation gifts? I’m going to sound like an old fuddy-duddy here, but when I was a kid tattoos were reserved for two groups: Bikers and servicemen. 

When I see an old timer with a Naval anchor tattoo, I think: “Man, the stories that must go along with that!”

When I see a 23-year-old female with a butterfly tattoo on top of her foot, I think: “Look who had one too many Jell-O shots at a Taylor Swift concert.”

And let’s be clear – I have tattoos, a huge regrettable tattoo on my back. I got it when I was 17. I recall asking the biker that was giving it to me, “I’d like the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland.” His response of “Is that near Pleasanton?” should have been my cue to get out of Dodge, but …


It’s still there, reminding me of poor decisions past. The new trend of getting a fully covered arm sleeve may scream “badass” to some, but it screams “unemployable” to many. And don’t even get me started on neck or face tats – really?! 

I have a friend that works at a local rest home. She mentioned that in the 70-and-over club, most tattoos are former military and the females of that era just don’t have tats. I wonder what it will be like 45 years from now for nurses at rest homes. 

“Time for your 5 o’clock sponge bath, Mrs. Jones. Wow, that’s an interesting lower back tattoo. Is that an eagle draped in an American flag? Were you in the military?”

Mrs. Jones: “No, that’s a dragon wearing a Toby Keith T-shirt. I wasn’t military, but do feel like a first-class dips**t about it now.”

Anyway, it looks like cold weather has finally arrived. So I’d like to let my tattooed-up, super buffed, gym-going, awesome, cool, fake-tan friends know: It is holiday party season! And nothing levels the playing field on the singles circuit like a nice coat and the ability to carry a conversation at a holiday party. Who needs a gym, when I have an old school MHS hoodie covering my gut? 

See you on the circuit, ladies and gentlemen.

“It’s not where ya do, it’s what ya do.”