Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Picture A Day


I almost have no business posting a blog entry about this.  At least not yet.
A little over a week ago, I decided to try something that I've seen many people start (emphasis on start) and more people including myself have probably thought about doing .  But I did it. I started posting a Picture a Day.

FOLLOW MY PHOTO OF THE DAY

Of course, let's see if I can keep it up.  So far it's much easier than posting frequent blog entries.  A picture a day, we all can do.  Just take some shot somewhere during your day.  A person, an object, anything.  I might take a pic of my kid, maybe my shoes, maybe an ant, a leaf, a smashed sub sandwich that was run over or some other dumb nonsense! Who knows.


However,  I do have criteria.  The picture has to represent the day. It has to have meaning. It has to be something that triggers a profound or meaningful thought of my day.  I always found it unbelievably rewarding, before going to bed at night, thinking about the day that just was.  What was the best part?  What did I accomplish?  Did I live the day right?  At first it seems a little heavy but it's actually the bomb. So much stuff goes by in life that is pretty amazing and damn funny. 

6.9.13 Happy Denville Centennial Parade Day


My other criteria are:

- Not winning any photography awards.  Just a simple honest pic from my phone or a readily available device 

- No heavy effects.  No retouching, no instagram filters, no alterations (although if simple filters become built-in with future iPhone camera app release, I may consider allowing it. 

- Flickr.  One day I logged back into Flickr for the first time in 1.5 million years.  It's a pretty cool service and seemed to be getting some great buzz through Yahoo's resurgence.  I've had an account forever and my ID actually goes back to the "Hometown Tales" days when I was regularly podcasting on urban legends, folklore, myths and more.  I miss having the time to post about those things anymore so I found it fitting that since my Flickr account is under "Hometown Tales", sharing a brief daily pic and often simple story was appropriate.  



- A Brief Write Up. Each pic I post has to have a brief explanation of why that photo.  So in a way, my picture of the day is also another mini blog entry.

I still am a fan of Instagram and use it often.  Although some pics may find themselves on both accounts, I generally use Instragram for other types of pics, perhaps more than once a day or maybe even once a week.  My Flickr "Pic a Day" set is specifically for the picture that represents my day.  Plus as a social media guy, I feel I need to spread the love on the social media channels.  Ya know because my social media clout is so influential (sarcasm is incredibly intentional).


So welcome to the Pic a Day, Photoaday, Picture of the day, whatever you want to call it.   Follow me on Flickr, enjoy and let's see how long i keep it up.  Start one yourself and let's see who continues the streak longer :)  Rock on !

UPDATE :  This was a total failure because the Flickr app on the iPhone was terrible and crashed all the time.  I really did try though.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Jump...high...in the air


video
I’m definitely hooked on this CrossFit thing. I’ve been doing it since last Fall but that was only outside in a park. The “box” (Crossfit term for gym location) that I belong too only officially found indoor space in January.
Today was the first day where my whole struggle was mental. I was attempting to test my first box jump height. I felt like a little kid trying to learn how to ride a bike or dive in a pool. The only thing keeping from jumping my max height was fear. Don’t let this video fool you. It took me 15 mins to do this jump. And clearly I physically could easily do it but it was a total mental block & fear.
A patient Coach Katie waited & got the final silly moment on video.
Once when feeling perplexed about life, the drama of work, money & daily life struggles, I simply blurted out a statement to my 2 year old son - “Q, (short for Quintin), What should Daddy do?” It was a general open-ended philosophical question. He turned away from watching Elmo, paused, and responded instantly, confidently and without hesitation- “Jump…(pause) high…(pause) in the air”
The kid is right. Just jump. Just leap. Reach high, take a chance. It applies figuratively and literally. You have to attempt the leap at many things in life but also sometimes just physically jumping is damn fun. Just ask any 2 year old. Jump high, have fun.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Back in Black

What is more alarming?  When I was walking down the street and some random guy on a bench, with “Back in Black” blasting on a small amplifier behind him, yelled “AC-DC, 1979 !!!” at me - or-  How quickly, without hesitation, I rebuked him and said “1980 !”  

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Guest Ring Announcer and Guest Commissioner


I had the opportunity to guest Ring Announce the other evening for D2W Professional Wrestling.  These guys put on a great show.  It was a 9/11 fundraiser benefitting a classmate who lost his life during 9/11.  All proceeds go to the Friends of Marty.
But not only was I the ring announcer, I was also appointed guest Commissioner !!!
So when D2W 2-Time World Champion, William Alexander Samuel Palmer (WASP) came out and accosted me for not having him scheduled that evening, I was quick to improvise.  The Massive Fan Favorite and quite large and impressive, Jersey Devil, was also free of a match.  With my guest-commissioner super powers I made the match.  Devil vs. WASP for the title.
Unfortunately, WASP managed to get himself disqualified.  The D2W Rulebook clearly states; the title can not change hands on a DQ.  Watch out next time Mr. Palmer !!!!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Ninetieth by Don Fitzpatrick

This is a really awesome poem written by my father for his brother Gerard's 90th birthday.  I'm really proud of both of them.  They are both amazing guys and tremendous role models exemplifying toughness, knowledge, health and all around great character. Oh yeah, I made the type of the poem a little bigger. If you are my dad and uncle's age, a bigger font is greatly appreciated.

The Ninetieth

This is all about Gerard, Jerry to you
So let’s try to capture these years in review.
It started on Prospect, the street by name,
1908 by number, untarnished by fame,

We lived in a house red brick and attractive.
It was well maintained and a nice place to live.
Five stories up and sixty-two steps down
My God how an elevator would have given it renown.

We were a family of four, due to Dad’s early demise;
Raymond and Gerard and me of small size.
Gerard took to the street like an Olympic athlete;
It was stickball and football and roller hockey too
Any game that you can he played in the street.

He got in no trouble at St. Thomas Acquinas
An altar boy in white surplus and red cassock
But the black-frocked nuns gave him B Minus
So he joined the hoopsters and they were the finest

It was on to high school on Moshula Parkway.
De Witt Clinton by name, labeled in fame
Spanish and Math consumed the long day
Those subjects were required to make a good living
The times were bad; you needed a job that would pay.
And Mother struggled hard at the top of that house
She knew how to make pot roast last for a week
Putting wash on the clothes line so high in the air 
And garbage on the dumbwaiter before it could reek,
And war clouds arrived to give us a scare.

Raymond was exempt he was our sole support
And Gerard joined Equitable Life.  His stay was short
For the navy called, they would teach him to fly
They trained him intensely, his first post at RPI
Then Banana River, Georgia Tech, Minneapolis too.

He wrote to mother like a good son should
I read the letters when she was through.
I memorized names and events too.
I was a kid in awe of my big brother
And I could hardly wait to sail the big blue.

He was off to the Pacific where the events were horrific.
He was a radio gunner on a bulky PBY.
They flew over a tragedy on the way to their station
And took their place in defending this nation.

Some months passed, they went out on patrol
Then a typhoon caught them, they went into the drink
But a destroyer came by before they could sink
The war neared its end,  the U.S gained control.

At home Raymond married and left for the army
And I was now the wage earner
At seventeen years I awaited my call-up to the army as well
But my big brother was a sailor and I changed my plan
Joined the navy too and that was just swell.

I left before he returned but I remember his letter
Advising me on life away from the home
Keep your hat squared, obey the bosun
Choose your friends carefully – it was just like a poem
And  his last caution -  Remember you’re a Catholic.  

We both returned through God’s good graces
And he began to date a girl named Patricia
And soon the bells rang and they began life’s traces    
In Long Island they settled and were off to the races.

So how long can this trite missal continue?
You know that you’re all part of the story.
For a life is not just made of years.
It’s footsteps in the sand, one after the other
In a strait line looking forward to the next.

So here are the footsteps we all love so well
To John and Nancy and Diane too, to Patty and Kathy
We can’t forget Robert; a crew that’s real swell
Then the next footsteps make their place in the sand
They’re contributions just grand.
To Kevin and Kathleen and Kerry in one group
Now on to the next in one swell foop
To Kerin and Meagan and Brianne they’re part of the loop
And Janine and Brendan, hold onto your hats 
There’s still Christopher and Mathew; I think that’s the end,
But there’s so many little ones just round the bend

And Carol and I have been privileged to share
So many gatherings and journeys in fun,
Starting with Willow Dell and Chestnut Grove 
Where James and Rob – a rowboat they stove.

The Grand Canyon and the QE2, to Portugal we went 
And let’s not forget Ireland. To Scotland and Alaska
To name just a few and Christenings and Weddings,
It’s been quite a blast.
If there’s a proverb to sum up to celebrate this day
Just join me in words to dedicate this way.

There are four cardinal sins – Lying, Stealing, Swearing and Drinking.
So if you must lie, lie in the arms of your Creator
And if you must steal, steal away from bad companions.
If you must swear, swear allegiance to your flag.
And if you must drink, lift your glasses with me 
To toast Gerard – a son, a brother, a husband, a father, 
A grandfather, a great grandfather, a father-in-law
And the best thing of all – just a grand guy.         

Donald Fitzpatrick
February 16,  2013
©2013 Donald Fitzpatrick




Wednesday, January 23, 2013

I Think I Almost Died


I THINK I ALMOST DIED

Why is it that I always seem to blog about something tragic?
For some reason those intense moments in life that usually involve danger give me inspiration to write.  I've drafted countless blog entries on positive subjects but they usually end up sucking. So here's another blog entry that involves potential personal/bodily injury and/or near death. I almost died in a car accident.

ICY MORNING

5:45am: My phone alarm rang and off I was to the gym.  Well, I don't technically go to a gym.  It's really a "box." (I recently started getting into Crossfit- Plug Heroes Journey Crossfit Lake Parsippany to be exact) and I am really digging it, but that's another blog entry, I suppose.- Which is fitting because I do find Crossfit also often involves physical/bodily pain, for me at least)

It was a rare morning because normally I am super excited to get up and Crossfit (I'm so into it I use "Crossfit" as a verb now too).  I know, it's sounds freaky right?  Who would want to get up at 5:43 am? (Yes I always wake up 2 mins before my alarm)  I was pretty excited because the Workout of the Day (WOD) involved some kipping pull-ups and some other cool exercises like knees to ankles on the bar (this is just like it sounds; with good form, lift your knees to your ankles while you are hanging from your hands on a pull-up bar. The kipping pull ups I'm still working on)  So that morning was odd because honestly, I debated if I should go.  We were hit with some inclement weather that was not really predicted.  I figured the short drive would be slow, sloppy, messy and just plain annoying.  But I powered through it because that's kind of my modus operandi,  I'm a planner and I need to stay on schedule.  If I planned on doing something, I just have to do it or else the universe gets out of order.  I had committed to the 6:15 WOD so I had to go.

Off I went out the door into about 1.5 inches of icy wet snow.  I had to warm up my car for about 7 minutes but I wasn't in a super rush, I had plenty of time.  I got on Interstate 80 then 287 South.  The "box" is the first exit off of Rt. 287 once I get on that highway.  While it is two interstates, it's a quick ride.

While on 287 I needed to be in the far right lane because the exit is the first one.  Now everyone knows the far right lane is the worst lane in crappy weather.  No one drives in that lane on bad weather days so the slush is always extra thick.  However, things were generally fine.  I was moving along but nothing crazy and not too fast.  (Trust me there have been plenty of other times when I was going speeds that deserve a crash.  This was not one of those times) To the left of me came an 18-wheeler.  He was probably going a little faster than he should have been but I won't blame him.  As he came alongside of me, I was doused with a smattering of spraying ice, water, slush and who knows what else.  It was shaking my car and covering it, I could barely see.  Then I made the first mistake, which I should know to never do in snowy weather, I applied a little bit of brake.  My 2007 Ford Escape Hybrid (I'm so eco-friendly) got a little loose but I recovered by letting up on the brake.   I then thought the better option was to apply a little acceleration to get ahead of the spray.  And it worked, well getting ahead of the spray worked, that is.

LOSING CONTROL

I got just a little ahead of the truck and her splattering slush.  Then I felt it.  Now I was getting loose again, pretty much hydroplaning.  I knew it was over.  There was nothing more I could do.  The car drifted left a little ahead of the truck, I tried to straighten out, lost control, started spinning back towards the shoulder and I knew I was headed straight for the side guardrail and sound wall head-on.  I didn't brace for impact.  I did the opposite, I just went dead, limp and relaxed like when your are on a roller coaster.  I think that helped tremendously.

We (just me and the car, I couldn't imagine having this accident with my wife or son in the car) hit hard then tumbled over and slid around a lot.  I was a bit disoriented but I was sure my upside down vehicle was facing oncoming traffic. It was dark, the car was sitting on her roof leaning forward and the side airbags were blocking both side windows.  I seemed relatively unaffected from the actual crash but at that moment I truly felt, "OK this is where I die" I was just waiting for a tractor trailer or another vehicle to nail me.  Of course, I couldn't' see anything but I felt like they were coming.

Generally, I am a cool collected individual who stays somewhat calm in stressful situations but I won't lie, being upside down facing oncoming traffic, seat-buckled inside my vehicle in the middle of an interstate was a little concerning.  I was able to unbuckle myself, fall to the ceiling and get my bearings.  I was able to crack the passenger side door open and see towards the highway's shoulder to where I perceived I could exit safely.  First I crawled around a little because I wanted to find my phone to call for help, my wife and Crossfit to tell them I naturally was not going to make the 6:15am WOD.  During that crawl is when I think I received my only injury, I got a paper-like cut on my knee from rummaging in the glass.  Another disadvantage of wearing exercise shorts on a 30 degree day.

Soon after, someone was calling me from outside, "Are you OK" to which I surprisingly said "Yeah I actually think I'm fine."  "Can you get out?" he called "Yeah just help me pry this door open" I responded.  And out I walked into the 2 inch frozen slush.  I was fairly cold so I still wasn't sure if the cold numbness was just masking an injury.  As time went on, I confirmed, I was OK.  The look on the passerby who pulled over was just as surprised.
Got out !


I'M OUT

It seemed like it took forever for a State Trooper to come. Another guy had pulled over and let me hang in his car and stay warm.  "You're OK?" he surprisingly said? My phone was all jacked up too but it was still working at first. When the first State Trooper arrived, he also was very surprised that the guy from the accident was walking around outside the vehicle unaffected.  He obviously wanted to see my driver's license but it was in the car.  I told him I could go back in and get it but I was a little shocked when he let me.  He also seemed a little flustered that I didn't' have the insurance card which I offered to go back in the car to look for.  Although he told me not to bother, he paused longer than I thought he should have to give that obvious response.

Upside down on Route 287, facing oncoming traffic


THE WORLD'S BEST PANCAKES?

Another trooper arrived, then an hour or so later the tow truck scooped the poor Escape onto the truck bed, still upside down.   I was mislead to believe the tow truck could drop me off at the Box and I could still make the 7:15 WOD and call my wife to pick me up.  I still hadn't called her because I knew she was still asleep and there was no need to worry anyone.  Much to my surprise the tow truck would only take me to the tow yard.  He asked me tons of questions.  "You didn't hit anyone else?" "You don't have any injuries?"  "No one else hit you?".  Again I surprisingly confirmed all of them.  By now my phone was totally unresponsive so I couldn't call anyone.  I eventually persuaded the driver to drop me off at the Broadway Diner in Summit, NJ.  I also wanted to try that diner.  They have a huge sign "World's Best Pancakes."  I went in and got a funny look from the owner.  Was it the exercise shorts?,  The small blood on my knee from the glass?, Or just my disheveled look?  I explained my situation and he allowed me to use the phone.  I called my wife, did the whole "I'm safe and fine but…" routine.  At first, when she realized I wasn't home and a strange phone number was calling, she thought I was dead.  I just thought it was better to wait until I show her the pictures.  (Naturally I took pictures of my SUV upside down on the highway) I sat at the counter of the diner, I love doing that.  The waitress was pleasant and I debated going with the protein heavy eggs and bacon or the unholy anti-paleo pancakes (Yep, another Crossfit reference).  The sign on the diner says: "WORLD'S BEST PANCAKES."  I asked the waitress, "Are they really the World's Best Pancakes?" to which she paused and said, "They're pretty good" But wait, she didn't' really say they were the "World's Best".  I ordered them and yes, they were good but the world's best?  Not quite.  That's quite a tall order to live up to.   My wife arrived generally in a good mental state and we slowly drove home. Then I began to coordinate all the insurance calls, work calls and inconveniences of having a major car accident.


Broadway Diner, Summit NJ (image courtesy of the Summit Patch)


SHE GAVE HER LIFE FOR MINE

The next day I was able to get to the junk yard and collect my belongings from the car.  My God, she was banged up.  OK, she was dead.  What a weird feeling.  I've never anthropomorphized something so much.  She became human.  A friend who took the bullet, or guardrail, for me.  It was like she gave her life for mine.  The auto body guy asked cautiously if I was in the car as if he was being sensitive perhaps thinking it was a sore subject or almost like he was concerned someone died.  I confirmed and assured him I was fine.  He gave the same look the guys on the side of the road, state troopers, and tow truck driver gave.  I rummaged through the car and got more injuries from cleaning things out amongst all the broken glass than I did in the accident.  The ceiling was crushed, there was glass everywhere, everything was smooshed.  There was a ton of crap in there that I never even realized had been collecting.  I left most of it to rest in peace with my beloved green baby Ford.

Driver's Side
Squashed


NOW WHAT?

Everyone says, "You're going to feel it in a few days."  They are referring to back, neck and other physical soreness.  However, I haven't had any of that.  It is like no one believes I am fine.  I really didn't get hurt.  Although now days later I'll admit I suffer from the mental complexity.  I can't help but think about it all.  The crash, the survival of it, the improbability of being unscathed, and why?  Trust me, I realized millions get in accidents, much worse than this.  Many people suffer traumatic events much greater.  But even this incident has me, days later, wondering.  Why I am still here?  Why did I survive?  Why do others not?  What would have happened if I didn't?  How did I miss the truck? How did no other car hit me?  Who knows?  It has made me reevaluate so much in life. It has made me appreciate some friends that I didn't realize were so awesome.  It's made me notice how fragile life is. (I know that's a major cliche but it is true)

I made it to the WOD that evening and it was the most rewarding WOD I've ever done.  It wasn't some great personal record for time or some huge physical accomplishment but it meant more to me than another other. I had to do it, I was supposed to do it that morning and I needed to right the universe by doing it that day.  (BTW You have to love Crossfit coaches that were wiling to come pick you up to take me to the WOD when you insist you want to come-Thanks for the offer Steve.)  Hell, the lesson here is simple.  No excuses. You can't let anything stand in your way, not even near-death.  You have to move on.  So you crash? Get up, walk away and try again, Right?  And one other thing - 

Thanks God or the guardian angel or the mathematic probability of the cosmos or whatever enabled me to hit a guardrail on a major interstate, flip my car, spin around, land facing on-coming traffic on a icy slushy dark morning and walk away with nothing more than a Sesame Street band-aid required, applied by my 2-year-old son when I got home.  It's good to be alive.  And it's better to appreciate it more than ever.  Life matters.  Drive safe.

The Ray Bans survived.