"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." -Proverbs 12:25

"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." -Proverbs 12:25
Midnight Blue (1963): Jazz guitarist Kenny Burrell featuring Stanley Turrentine on tenor saxophone, Major Holley on double bass, Bill English on drums and Ray Barretto on conga. Midnight Blue is one of Burrell’s best-known works for Blue Note Records. In 2005, NPR included the album in its "Basic Jazz Library", describing it as "one of the great jazzy blues records".

He said, She said...

"You are not designed for everyone to like you - Wise Man Phil

FRAGILE: Sting, Yo Yo Ma, Dominic Miller & Chris Botti

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Family Stone...

Family: a basic social unit consisting of parents and their children, considered as a group,  whether dwelling together or not: (the traditional family); a social unit consisting of one or more adults together with the children they care for: (a single-parent family). 

During the 1993 awards show (the ESPYs) legendary basketball coach, Jim Valvano, was given the Arthur Ashe award for courage. He was stricken with cancer, and the toll on his appearance was evident as he addressed the Madison Square Garden crowd. He was helped to and from the stage, flanked by Dick Vitale and the head men's basketball coach at Duke, Mike Krzyzewski. In his speech, which was both emotional and humorous, he offered words to live by: 

"To me, there are three things we all should do every day. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two, is think. You should spend some time in thought. Number three, you should have your emotions move you to tears- it could be happiness or joy. Think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry- that's a full day. That's a heck of a day."

Laugh. Think. Cry.

 Jim Valvano

With "5" boys (two younger than 5) and a five month old girl, I can honestly say I cry and laugh every day. Obviously I don't think very much because any person in their right mind would never consider having "6" children. Usually this is where the crying starts; that and when I see college tuition rising like the national debt. Thankfully my oldest son, Logan (19), who is a sophomore at the University of Cincinnati, is extremely insightful; he often tells me, "it's just money Dad". Thank you Logan, I feel so much better.

Pause. Reflect. Question. What is he learning in college and why are we sending him?

Last Saturday, after my daily dose of laughing and thinking, I came across an article in "The Columbus Academy Magazine". The title of the piece was "Redefining Family" by Bob Lee and the main focus was a young man named Kym Littlefield.
Front cover: Academy/spring 2010
(clockwise from bottom)
Kym Littlefield '10, Anthony Ciminello '10, & Natalia Ciminello '06 

This is where the real crying begins.

While reading the article I learned Littlefield, now a senior at Columbus Academy, lost his mother when she passed away less than a month shy of his 13th birthday. Rosalind Cooley, who supported her family by getting up at 5 a.m. every day and worked two jobs, died the day after her 44th birthday, she died of heart failure. To make things worse Kym's older brother, Orlando, died of a heart attack the day after Kym's 13th birthday.  

Already without a father (Kym had never met his father), Kym lost his mother and brother in less than thirty days. He was only 13.

Mom (Rosalind Cooley) & her youngest son, Kym 

After the news, Anthony Ciminello, one of Kym's closest friends since elementary school called day after day to see how he was doing. Anthony and his sister, Natalia, ask their parents if there was any thing they could do to help? The Ciminello family dove in, and what began as rides to school eventually lead to Kym living with the Ciminello's. 

Anthony Ciminello

The Ciminello house became Kym Littlefield's home. He was only 13.

I've only met Kym once in passing at Academy and I'm sure he has no idea who I am.  I've never had the good fortune of meeting the Ciminello family, but after reading the article I feel as if I've known them for a lifetime. Lee's article convinced me that I will never be able to look at Kym the same way or watch one of my favorite movies, "Finding Forrester", without thinking of Kym. There is such a strong physical resemblance between Kym and the main character Jamal Wallace, played by Rob Brown, and undeniable similarities concerning their life stories.

        Kym Littlefield delivers a speech & Rob Brown as Jamal Wallace in "Finding Forrester"

I would encourage everyone to watch the movie with their family. Regardless of how you define your family. Good acting, great message. 

The one thing that can be said about the Ciminello family and their generosity is that they were not acting, but that there was an incredible story and message. The gift that the Ciminello's gave Kym was greater than anything money could buy. They gave of themselves, their time, and most importantly they gave Kym a tremendous example of what true unconditional commitment and what a selfless spirit looks like. Michele and Joe Ciminello also gave a wonderful gift to their children: others always come before self.

Proverbs 11:25 states; "The generous prosper and are satisfied; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed." 

CA Basketball Senior Night
(L-R) Michele, Anthony, Arthur Cooley (Kym's grandfather),
Natalia & Joe Ciminello 

Thank you, Ciminello family: for refreshing my hope and my spirit with your generous display of love and kindness. I can only hope and pray that the rest of your days you will find encouragement and refreshment.

Thank you Kym: for making the most of a very difficult situation and for not taking advantage of the kindness displayed in your life. Many times people's faith and trust in others can be marginalized or even eliminated when one is burned by an ungrateful recipient of another person's generosity. Kym, you have encouraged me and my faith in the next generation of men and leaders. 

Kym you are a leader. Don't ever forget it.

My son, Bryce, doesn't graduate from Columbus Academy until the year 2014 (my fingers are crossed...toes too), but I'm going to make every effort to be at this year's commencement to watch Kym and Anthony graduate. I want to congratulate them on a job well done and share with them what Coach Valvano said at the end of his speech in 1993; "Don't give up, don't ever give up", but I really don't need to tell them this. 

Kym's mother showed him commitment and determination every day. Anthony's parents showed him you never give up on people and that you can do anything if you're determined to make a difference.

Again, thank you Ciminello family and Kym: for showing me that ordinary people can really do extraordinary things and can truly make a discernible difference...thank you very much for being a wonderful example and showing me the true definition of a  family.

sbb 27.4.10
("Lazarus Heart" . Sting   &   "Fire & Rain" . James Taylor) . 1091

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Hungry Heart....

Hungry: having a desire, craving, or need for food; feeling hunger.

This week as I read the opinion page in the USA Today, as I do everyday and have been doing for the past 15 years, I came across a great article on food stamps and obesity. The title of the piece was "Do Food Stamps Feed Obesity" . It was wonderfully written by Laura Vanderkam. In the article Laura points out that 38 million people - 1 in every 8 Americans - rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or "food stamps". This is a huge (I apologize for the poor choice of words..."poor" really isn't a grand choice either) increase since the 1970's when 1 in every 50 U.S. citizens were enrolled in SNAP. Studies have also shown that obesity has increased since the inception of food stamps in 1964 from 13% to about 35%. These findings has lead some to believe (Jay Zagorsky- Ohio State Univ. scientist) there is a link between food stamps and obesity. Others believe there is no correlation at all (Amber Waves). I agree with the latter group, I believe it has to do more with an individual's socioeconomic situation than it does with the fact that they are on food stamps; food stamps are the direct result of their poverty not the cause of their obesity.

The one thing that research does show is that most SNAP participants will use most of their food stamp allowance at the beginning of each month, leaving very little at the end of the month. Thus starting a cycle of grocery shopping each month with "big eyes" and "empty stomachs". I feel its safe to say we all have gone grocery shopping hungry at least once in our lives and to say it wasn't pretty (or that it was expensive) is an understatement. 

We often buy what we don't need or actually want.

It's funny, people often do the same thing after a divorce or long term relationship comes to an end, they mistakenly start to shop with a hungry heart. Many times individuals are so starved for attention and affection they make rash and poor decisions. They lose weight, change hair styles, start working out, frequent bars, and become increasingly promiscuous. I know, I did all of it except the losing weight part (I was already thin) and the "hair thing" (I was bald). Trust me on this one, I made poor decision after poor decision,  I got married "six" months after my first marriage and it was the worst decision of my life. 


It really didn't have that much to do with the partner as it did with me (or anyone for that matter) not being emotionally, mentally, & financially ready to make such a big decision so soon.

Like most newly divorced people I was starving for something I "thought" I needed.

While spending some one on one time with my 14 year old son (Bryce) earlier this week I shared with him the similarities that new relationships and grocery shopping on an empty stomach have in common. I told him people will do very self destructive and damaging things based on a perceived need or out of desperation. 

We had a great discussion, I shared with him that the decisions that he makes now concerning who,why, & when he dates will set the stage for his future relationships and ultimately who he will choose to marry. If there is drama, a lack of respect, and constant challenging of standards now, and this scenario is repeated in each relationship there after, then he can expect the same type of relationship when he is older and when the stakes are much higher. 

It is a fact that drug addicts have a choice concerning their drug use in the beginning, but they are rendered helpless, unable to say "no" in the end. The same is true with relationships, the choices we make early in dating will eventually hold us hostage and keep us from choosing different types of people to date and eventually to marry in the future (not all the time, but high percentage of the time). If the only thing that has value and major importance to my boys in the beginning is physical beauty then that will be the main thing (maybe the only thing) they will seek when they choose a mate down the road. 

(L-R) Addison, Austin, me, Ryan, Bryce, & Logan...

Proverbs 30:30 states: "Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting...". I agree. External beauty only remains for a season, not a lifetime. It is the inner beauty that I want to teach my kids to recognize and value. I realize the importance of physical attraction in a relationship, my point is that it can't be the driving force behind the relationship.

When driving home tonight I heard a song I have never heard before. The artist was Maysa, a jazz vocalist, and her voice intrigued me. Upon arriving home I immediately went to itunes and downloaded the song that I heard in my car. The song was "Higher Love" and it's lyrics said everything: "I will wait for a higher love, the kind of love from up above, I won't settle here for a love untrue, I won't give my all until I know it's true. I will be the one sitting all alone waiting for my true love to come along...".It would be nice if we all could be so patient and insightful when we feel our heart shopping for something that might be best to experience at a later date.

BTW, the song that followed "Higher Love" on my ipod was MC Hammer's "Pumps and Bump":

"Just when I thought could I hit another one
So up jumps see me with the pumps and a bump
All stiggitty stiggity girls, getting on my good nerves
Looking like ice cream ready to be served
Wreck it, check it, can I get in it
If you wanna kick it with a G baby here's me
Cause I come equipped, I'm a pimp, a slippity slip, I suppose you take a trip..."

Nice, real nice, so much for the fatherly advice...good luck boys, your on your own. Do yourself a favor and don't get too hungry and stay away from the "Pumps and a Bump".

sbb   23.4.2010  (Zoom . Maysa) . 1065

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Who's Your Caddy?

Caddy: Golf. a person hired to carry a player's clubs, find the ball, etc. A person who runs errands, does odd Jobs, etc.

Originally I was planning on "Who's Your Daddy?" as the title for this piece. The piece was going to be a tour de force that highlighted the importance of being selfless and a literary triumph that encouraged others to be a "giver", not a "taker". I was going to be cleaver and use Toby Keith's hit song with the same title as today's featured song. Then I listened to the lyrics and realized that wasn't going to work.

"I git the money, you git the honey":...I'm sorry, it's "I got the money, you got the honey (a little country humor... I know I will stop) let's cut a deal, let's make a plan...who's your buddy, who's your man?" Ah, that really doesn't jive with the theme of this "going nowhere" piece.

Then with the touch of a key "Daddy" became "Caddy" and we were on our way. 

All kidding aside, the real reason I choose the title is because my best friend in Florida was caddying for one of his twin boys this weekend in the Terra Cotta Invitational in Naples, Florida. The same event his son, Matthew, won last year and became the youngest golfer to ever win the event. He was 16. The same event Sergio Garcia finished second to Matt Kuchar in 1997.

Joe & Matt (2009 Terra Cotta)

Both of Joey's boys are exceptional golfers. Both are internationally ranked, Matt is currently ranked 20th in the world and 19th in the "Polo" golf rankings. Both have played in the U.S. Junior Amateur Open (2008 at Shoal Creek & 2009 Trump National)...the same event Tiger won "3' times as junior amateur golfer. The boys also lead their High School team to their first state championship since 1983, Matt finished first and his brother, Alec, finished 3rd. I'm also proud to say that both have accepted scholarships to play golf at their father's Alma mater, Southern Methodist University, where their father played basketball in the 1970's.

As Joe, a periodontist in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, caddied for one of his boys again this weekend I was reminded and encouraged by his selfless actions and his unyielding commitment to his boys success. In every corner of Joe's life I have known him only to be a giver, never a taker. 

Joe, Matt, Alec, & Vern (Me)

His actions reminded me how my parents were there for me all throughout my childhood, never missing any of my games from junior high to college. They were committed. They were committed to each other and to all of their children's interests and activities.

Joey is a great friend, but he is a better father. I'm thankful for having a friend that is such a great example of what a father truly is and for encouraging me, by his actions, that others always come before self.

sbb  18.4.10   


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Are you happy?

Happy: delighted, pleased, or glad, as over a particular thing: to be happy to see a person.

Now before anyone starts to think what I was thinking when I picked (I'm sorry, picked is such a poor choice of words. Two things come to mind: nose and butt). OK, where was I...Ah yes, chose, chose was the word I was looking for. When I chose today's title my intentions were not to come off as Oprah or Dr. Phil. My goal is not to bloviate about true happiness and how one attains it. Heck, I don't even know what color socks I'm going to wear tomorrow (actually a rarely where socks...I'm such the risk taker) let alone try to "pitch" someone on happiness. I do believe that I have a better picture of what true happiness looks like at 45 than I did at 25, but do we really know if we are truly happy?

Are you happy?

The reason I ask is last week I saw a neighborhood acquaintance standing in her driveway, with her Steelers sweatshirt on no less, as I passed by in my car. Upon recognizing her I slammed on the brakes, put it in reverse, and yelled out the window: "Steelers going to have any players NOT in jail next year?" To say I despise the Pittsburgh Steelers is a drastic understatement. There is no more obnoxious fan on this earth than a Steeler fan. Her reply was straight Hannibal Lecter. No emotion, no expression...just a steely glare and these four words: "we will be fine".

 Seriously, I was waiting for her to call me "Clarice".

...take note of the "bars" Steeler fans.

"We" she says...the last time I checked there weren't any 5'4" blonds on the team rooster. The only thing that drives me more insane than a fan using the term "we" is the 40 year old "guy" that wears his favorite teams jersey with some players name on the back. Grow up. 

Wow, yesterday I offended soccer nation, today its Steeler fan and 40 year old jersey wearing guy.

Anyhoo, as I drove off much happier than I am right now (Steeler fan immediately puts me in a bad mood) my 4 year old son, Addison, ask me; "Daddy, why are you so happy"? I thought for a moment and replied; "It's more fun to be happy". Not very profound, but very much the truth. 

  Addison Reid Bailey

Abraham Lincoln once stated; "most people are about as happy as they make up there minds to be". I agree. Every day the choice is ours. We always don't get to pick choose our circumstances, but our attitude is 100% our choice.

Again, not very profound, but very much the truth. Thanks Addison for reminding me that the choice to be happy is mine and that people really do pay attention to our attitude...especially little people.

What choice are you going to make?

sbb  14.4.10
( Happy . Surface

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Pretty in Pink...

Pink: a color varying from light crimson to pale reddish purple. 

This past weekend has been a disaster for me from a technical standpoint. A very clever "chap" from Latvia (feel free to substitute "Meine Lieblingsperson" for "chap" means "my favorite person" in German. Besides, I couldn't find how you say it in Latvian) hacked into my computer and infected it with everything known to mankind. The reason I know this is because Chase bank declined my $3.99 purchase of "Ken's Steakhouse" dressing (salad is a must for dinner) at the local grocery store. "I'm sorry Miss" I stated, "this never happens to me" least not for $3.99, now if I was at Olive Garden for dinner, with my wife, then yes this would probably happen. 

I never cared for Latvia and now I care even less. 

Latvia's history as part of Nazi Germany's civil administration headquarters and the fact that 500 -1500 members of the infamous Arajs Commando killed over 26,000 Jews hasn't left a very good "second' impression upon me either. I know, I know, people and countries can and do change, but the fact that Latvia has a national soccer team (not a very good one I might add) tells me all things can't be much better. Soccer really does suck. I'm sure I've offended over half of my readers and I apologize, but I'm not the only one with this opinion...just look at the ratings...awful. Anyway, I hope "Meine Lieblingsperson" in Germany, as well as, Latvia will forgive me for my harsh assessment of his/her homeland. If by chance Germany's Boris Becker (Tennis) or Bernhard Langer (2 time Masters Champion '85 & '93) are reading this I apologize and let me be the first blogger to acknowledge your extraordinary careers. 

Well done boys, well done.

Speaking of the Masters, you had to be living under a rock if you didn't see the newest Buddhist member of the PGA tour play this weekend. His name is Tiger Woods. Now before anyone thinks this is going to be my creative outlet to share my Tiger jokes, it is not. On the other hand, I do think Tiger, President Obama, and Urkel (Jaleel White) have in a lot in common.

Go ahead and's funny because its true. None of these guys could dress, dance, or get a date. These guys are the ultimate "Late Bloomers". I believe that is why Tiger went sideways in the first place like a weekend hackers tee shot. For the first time in his life he could get any girl he wanted, and he tried. I'm not saying he was right, I'm just saying that he was afforded opportunities most men will never be presented with. 


Before anyone gets offended I must note that I am black (or somewhere between high yellow and beige as I was told in my younger years), I love Tiger Woods, and I was a dork also. Picture a cross between Urkel and Carlton from the Fresh Prince sitcom and you have an idea of who I was in my teens.

My only saving grace was that I could play basketball.

The point that I want to make is not what Tiger did ( I love Tiger & it's none of my business), but what Phil Mickeleson (as far as we know) hasn't done. As America watched the Masters coverage all week the focus was on Tiger and the absence of his family (except for his mom), on Sunday, at 7pm, the focus was on Phil and the presence of his family. As he approached the 18th green with victory in hand the cameras were focus on his three beautiful children and his wife Amy, who was diagnosed with breast cancer 11 months ago.

The irony wasn't lost upon me as a relieved Mickelson walked up the 18th fairway with a pink ribbon on his hat. This victory was about his wife and his family. On the other end of the spectrum, the only thing that could have been worse for Tiger was if he would've been walking up the final fairway with Phil and if he had to present the "Green Jacket" to Mickelson himself.

It was reported that Tiger left immediately on his own in the back of a sponsor's car, head down, his private jet waiting. Can you imagine how empty Tiger would have felt if he would have won the Masters. After all the "handlers" left and all the business partners went to their homes Tiger would've been all alone. On the other hand, Phil Mickelson was carried out on the shoulders of America, his head held high, his wife and three children alongside. In the end, it really does pay to be a family man. 

Congratulations Mickelson family on a job well done...well done indeed.

sbb 13.4.10  (Family Man  .  Hall & Oates)  .  819


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Good Morning Sunshine...

Coffee: a beverage consisting of an infusion of the roasted ground or crushed seeds (coffee beans) of the two-seeded fruit (coffee berry) of certain coffee trees.

Nothing brings my wife more pure joy (other than me) in the morning (other than me) than coffee...nothing can bring "our" house down faster (other than me) than not having coffee.


Ding, Ding schools attention:       

No Coffee


Let's review:                                                   

No Coffee

 ...this usually begins after the 3rd sip. final time...                                      
No Coffee

...this is what usually arrives after the coffee.
I love you Ronnie...and I'll be getting your coffee in the morning. 

For those keeping score at home... I prefer hot tea... hot green tea from Starbucks, but I will go retrieve my wife's request anytime.


 sbb 10.4.10 

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Common Sense Lost...

Common: belonging equally to, or shared alike by, two or more or all in question: common property; common interests.

The 17th century English poet John Milton is best known for his epic poem "Paradise Lost". Milton's greatest work was over ten thousand individual verses in length and was published in 1667 in ten books.

The majority of "Paradise Lost" was written by Milton when he was blind.

Milton's poem dealt with the Christian story of the Fall of Man: the temptation of Adam & Eve by Satan and their inevitable fall from grace and their eventual expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Milton incorporates Paganism, classical Greek references, and Christianity within the poem, with the main purpose of shedding light on the conflict between God's forethought and man's free will.

One of the greatest gifts God bestowed upon us is the ability to make our own decisions...the gift of "Free Will".

Today each individual has the opportunity to obtain as much knowledge as he or she wants. The capability that our phones (and their apps), the internet, podcasts, and the 24 hour news cycle (not to mention libraries and bookstores) provides for us really eliminates the excuse for being uninformed. As I tell my older children all the time: "You don't have an excuse for being dumb anymore". In some cases a small amount of knowledge can be just as bad as no knowledge at all, just ask a Doctor after he or she has prescribed a medication for a patient and said patient decides to become familiar with the medication's full product disclosure. 

One word: nightmare.

Speaking of nightmares and the danger of obtaining a small amount of knowledge, one doesn't have to look any farther than the freighting and evil behavior of the Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas and their abhorrent actions at Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder's funeral in Maryland last month.

These misguided fools and their Pastor, Fred Phelps, used Snyder's funeral to spread their belief that U.S. deaths in the Iraq war are punishment for the nation's tolerance of homosexuality. One sign read, "God Hates the USA/Thank God for 911"...another stated, "America is Doomed". To me these statements are as dangerous and damaging as any "IED" our soldiers might have the misfortune to come in contact with while fighting in the Middle East.

To be honest, I feel emotionally drained from writing this piece. As a father of five boys and one girl I can't even begin to understand and comprehend the pain of a parent that has to bury their child. Equally, I do not have the ability to adequately share with you the anger that I feel towards these very sick individuals from Westboro, Kansas.

Like the individual that falsely claims racism or the women who wrongfully claims being raped,  and in doing so, marginalizing and insulting the true victims, the "believers" from Westboro give all Christians a bad name and insult the authentic "faith' of many believers in this country, and around the world. 

A 110 years after Milton wrote "Paradise Lost" Thomas Paine wrote "Common Sense". Paine's pamphlet is widely recognized as the greatest and first work to campaign for America's independence from England.

The American Revolution found it's beginning with Paine's writing of Common Sense.  

My wish, after doing research for this piece, is for another revolution to begin, a revolution that would reclaim the common sense that this country was built on. A revolution that wouldn't let groups like the ACLU hijack our constitution and hide behind the First Amendment. The despicable actions of the people of Westboro are wrong and just because our constitution affords them the right to protest doesn't make it right.

It is examples like this that reminds us that common sense has become increasingly uncommon, and that basic logic and reason has given way to unapologetic poor behavior.

May you rest in peace Matthew Snyder, and from the bottom of my heart, I want to "Thank You" for protecting this "Paradise" that is called home.

sbb 7.4.10