Thursday, January 19, 2017


Things look bad. Fear and hate won the day on the wrongest of days. A few hours from now America will have a president supported by nazis and despots. Some of us may want to leave this country we thought we knew rather than live in one we hardly recognize. I can’t blame you if you’re thinking that way. I was too. On election night I asked a friend of mine in Canada if I could come and live with her. There will be some that do leave, and I wish them well. But I am staying. There’s work to do.

I’m not someone who’s ever wanted to be gloriously rich. I just need enough money to put a roof over my head and eat burritos whenever I want. What I seek in life is a purpose. Something to devote myself to that will make a difference. And if, in that, you’re like me, well then we’ve all been handed an amazing opportunity.

Our grandparents fought a war against pure evil. Not a war of ideologies, a war against fascism and genocide. I’m not going to pretend that they were perfect. Atrocities were committed by both sides, but their cause was just even when the means were not. That clarity, that simplicity of purpose, is something I’ve been seeking.

This is that time for our generation. A time for us to say, clearly, that this will not stand. So we need to fight. We need to resist. We need to fight for those who can’t fight for themselves. We need to stand up for compassion, for love, and for equality.

The first step is to organize. The Democratic Party is far from perfect but it’s what we have. Support Democratic members of Congress, even if you don’t agree with everything that they stand for. This is not a time to be petty. Go to a local meeting of the Democratic Party. When they hold a protest, GO TO IT. If it’s cold, bundle up, but go. It may seem pointless, but numbers get noticed. If everyone assumes that someone else is doing the hard work, nothing gets done, and that’s how we got here.

Whatever party your representative and your senators are, call them. WITH A PHONE. And then write a letter to those same representatives and your senators. ON PAPER. Do not write a tweet. Do not post on their FB page. Phone calls and letters work. It forces a member of their staff to address your concerns.

We will not be violent. We will not use lies. We do not need them. Violence and lies are the tools of the oppressors we fight. We will peacefully resist. If they beat us, we bear our bruises with pride. If they jail us, we will go peacefully. We will win. Our cause is just.

Someday in the future, children will learn in school about what we did when we were faced with the challenge of our generation. And on that day you will smile and you will tell them that you were there. You took back the country from nazis and fascists. Your life was more than TV and sports. You fought the good fight, made your own story, and you were the hero.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Looking for my dad

I came back to Syracuse this weekend to get the remainder of the items from our previous house in Minoa. For those of you not in the know, Nicole and I moved to the small town of Liberty Center, about 20 miles outside of Toledo, Ohio in July. We packed everything we could fit in the moving truck, but had to leave a lot of our stuff behind that just would not fit. When we got to Liberty Center, we quickly unpacked the truck before needing to turn around and head back to Syracuse that same day. My dad, who had been in the hospital battling c.diff, had taken a turn for the worse. We were able to make it back in time to be with my dad as he died the night of July 2nd. Following the services, we returned to Ohio, packing our car with as much as it could hold but still leaving some behind to be moved at an undetermined later date. That turned out to be this weekend.

Jonathan came with me. He wasn't sure he wanted to come at first, but after I told him that A) he didn't have a choice and B) we'd be going to the state fair, he came around to the idea. We got in late Friday night and went to the fair with my friends Josh Shear and JB Busch, whom we were staying with, on Saturday. Today, with the help of Josh and JB, we got to the actual business of collecting the remainder of our stuff. We fit everything we could in the car and curbed the rest. Walking around the house it came to me that this was the last time I'd be at the house. It's not like I was in love with the house by any stretch. It's a duplex we shared with my parents, eventually with just my dad. (See my previous post here for details) When I returned from walking around the house, Jonathan was behind the toolshed tending to the small grave we had dug for his hamster, Fuzzy, that died last winter. He was placing rocks in a circle around the burial spot. He said it was a circle of life. Something about my son's devotion to his deceased pet combined with the finality of leaving the house where I'd cared for my dad in his final years got to me and I started welling up. Josh and JB had left, having sensed I needed some time alone with my son around the time Jonathan began saying goodbye to the house, his climbing tree, and his hamster (again). Soon I began crying, and then full-on sobbing. Jonathan didn't notice at first, still putting the finishing touches on the "circle of life" arrangement. Soon though, he came over to me, and asked what was wrong. I didn't know what to say, and didn't know if I could get a word out if I did.

I have what I consider to be a strange relationship with the concept of death, although in reality it's probably fairly common. An example is my grandfather's funeral in 1997. I was a pall bearer, along with my cousins. My grandfather was the patriarch of the family and our entire extended family came to the funeral. At the gravesite, my family sobbed openly as they lay roses on the casket. I, on the other hand, made silly faces at my cousin's cousin that I had a crush on and tried not to laugh. It's not that I found my family's actions funny at all, and I certainly didn't find his death funny, but I think I went into an instinctual reactive mode. Although I still considered myself Catholic at the time, I was already well on my way to the atheism I hold now. For me, death is final. It is the end of the universe for the being experiencing it. I am terrified of it, to say the least. I have, at times, experienced acute nausea when considering it. I am fighting that feeling right now as I type this. Humor, laughing in the face of death, is the only respite I have from the horrible truth that I believe awaits us all. My way of dealing with death is by not dealing with it. Such is the mode I went into the week following my dad dying. "Pizza for dinner? Yes, I think it's what dad would have wanted." Thankfully, his wake was filled with laughter as people shared stories. A friend of his from college, the only friend of his from college I have ever met, told me a story of the two of them jumping into a boxcar and hoboing across Kansas.

The next day was the funeral, where I shared some words about how much he loved his family. I wrote the words, I said them, but I only half-believed them. Sure, he loved us, I don't doubt that, but he could certainly have showed it more to Nicole and I, who became his caregivers as he required more and more help the last few years. He had gone into a depression when my grandfather died and never fully came out of it. Nothing had meant anything to my dad until he got approval from my grandfather. Think of my grandfather as the casino teller window of my dad's life. After my grandfather died, there was nowhere to cash in his chips, and everything became worthless. The depression he was in got worse when he was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2006. By the time my mother left him, he had almost totally retreated from life, and no longer appeared interested in living it. I found myself at the funeral having to eulogize someone I had long since lost respect for and no longer wanted to be around. I used a line near the end of my eulogy, "he died as he lived, with his family" that I had reworked from something I had told my brother earlier in the week when trying to explain my feelings, telling him "dad died as he lived, lying down in front of a TV." Nicole, Jonathan, and I left the day after the funeral. I was moving on.

But here I was, standing in my old backyard, leaning against a tree with tears streaming down my face, my son asking me what was wrong. I told him I missed my dad. He said he did too. I sat down, collected myself, and told Jonathan we were going to go to the cemetery where the urn containing my dad's ashes had been buried next to my grandfather a few weeks before. We got to Assumption Cemetery and then I remembered I had no idea where the grave was. The office was closed, so we had nothing to go on. I called my mother, but she didn't know. Jonathan and I walked around looking at headstones. We had done this before a few years ago on a Memorial Day. Nicole was working and I thought since it was Memorial Day and we had nothing to do, we should go pay our respects to my grandfather, but we hadn't been able to find the headstone then. Today though, we were going to find it. I called my brother, who was able to give me some idea of where it was. Jonathan told me about how he knew his grandpa loved him because he would buy him pizza whenever he wanted. We looked in another section. Jonathan told me how he believes my dad is a baby now because he believes in a life cycle, at least that's what mom told him. I said that sounded nice and asked if the baby could help us find the grave.  Jonathan got thirsty, because looking for graves is thirsty business. We went across the street to the gas station and got some Gatorade. We looked some more. Jonathan asked me what it was like when my father died. He knew I was there with him at the hospital. I told him. I told him about the slow, labored breathing. I told him about his body tensing up right at the end. He asked what "tensing" meant. I pushed my arms straight down and showed him. He pushed his arms straight down and walked like Frankenstein. I was glad there was no one around. We kept looking.  Eventually we found it. A modest, medium-sized headstone near the end of a row. My last name on it. I brushed some dry grass clippings from the base stone, now engraved with my dad's name. Jonathan told me he wanted to say goodbye to Grandpa, I said okay, and then he said the following: "Grandpa, I'm sorry you died, but it happens." He asked me if I had anything to say. I didn't, he had said it all.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Best of Dagsly: Boys of Summer

I copy/pasted this from my old MySpace blog. I wrote it just over five years ago and thought some people I've met since then might want to read it. Plus I'm bored. Enjoy!

I decide to take Little Man to the baseball field a block from our house after dinner. We cross through my neighbors backyard to get to the street. My neighbors ex-husband is living with her and her boyfriend right now. He's older and he has terminal cancer. He's living his last days with them. As we walked through their driveway he was in his car smoking pot, something he does to settle his stomach so that he can eat. Some people would just smoke and get it done with, but he likes to chill in his car and listen to loud music while he does it. I guess it's a throwback to when he was younger. Nicole and I are pretty cool with this since it's always around dinner time, never later than 7, and he has pretty good taste in music. Little Man and I wave to him in his car and we make our way down to the baseball field. His music has faded by the time we make it to the corner. I thought it would last a little longer. It's cool out. It's in the upper 60's but it seems like it should be hotter. Dog days of August, global warming. Why isn't it hotter? We're both wearing shorts but could easily be comfortable in jeans. I put Jonathan down and he runs for a few dozen yards. They've planted grass on the base clearings and lowered the pitchers mound. Soccer goals are up, but netless, and lines for soccer are on the field. He swings in the tot swing behind the dugout for a few minutes, but then wants to get down. We walk back into the field. In short center field, I sit for a minute and then lie down on my back. It's about the area where a bloop single might fall in between the second baseman and a center fielder playing too deep. I hold Jonathan above me for a few seconds and watch his giggling smile, then I rest him on my chest. When I put him down I see the sky, thick gray overcast clouds with small patches of blue poking through occasionally. I turn my head and see it's clear to the north. Jonathan slides off my chest and wanders around me, staying within arms reach. The cool weather and the clouds remind me that it's the end of summer. Technically there's still a month left, but you know when it's over, you just know.  Jonathan sits down and leans his little back against my left side. He grabs my arm to position it around him. He experiments with a few variations but then find exactly where he wants my arm to be. The he goes to work on my fingers and after he has them set he slides his arms down behind mine so he's totally contained, and therefore totally content. "Don't ever stop needing that." I say out loud to him. "Don't ever stop wanting to be near me." He wiggles out and walks around to my legs, lying down and resting his head on my thigh. The state fair started today. I could see the rides in motion on my way home from work. It's the last rest stop on the road to Autumn. Jonathan rolls over, lifts up my shirt and zrrbts my belly. I giggle and he does it again. I sit up and he wanders away a bit and lies on his back propped up by his elbows. He looks a lot older in that position, like it's something too old for a one year old to be doing. I walk over and pick him up and he clutches me. By the time we get to the road I've put him up on my shoulders and we can hear the old man's smoking music. He's not done quite yet.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Christmas day 1983. I am six, just a few months younger than my son is now. Under the tree is an Apple IIc computer. 128k of RAM, a display that is green on black. This is my introduction to the world of computing. I use it every chance I have. I love every second of it.

October 5th, 2011. I am on my bed, reading tweets on my iPhone. My son Jonathan comes upstairs. He wants my phone to play Fruit Ninja. "Not right now." I croak out. He can tell I'm sad and asks what's wrong. I tell him someone has died.

"Was he your friend?"

"No, I never met him, but I would have liked to. He inspired me."

"What does inspired mean?"

I tell him that inspired means that I saw what he did, what he was able to do with his life, and it made me think of what I can do with my own life. I tell him how he changed the way people view technology. I tell him how scared people were of trying to use a computer.


I try to tell him what computers were like in the early 80's and before, how hard it was to use a computer, and how very few people could do it. I try to describe how you had to type in lines of text to make the computer do anything. No music, no pictures, no games, no movies.

He has no idea what I'm talking about.

He can't even picture it, the whole idea is so foreign to him. He's lived his entire life surrounded by futuristic technology that sprung from the mind of this man I mourn. We've always been able to play full-color games on phones and talk to grandma on the computer. We've always been to listen to any song we wanted whenever we wanted. We've always been able to discover a restaurant we've never heard of, in a city we've never been to, get directions there, and then have our friends meet us there, in seconds, with just a few taps on a screen.

I tell him how the world has changed. I tell him how people use technology in ways they never knew were possible back then. I tell him how I meet amazing people I never would have met before. I tell him how they use it to create the cartoons he loves.  I tell him how they use it to make music, like my cousin Dan does, and how they make movies and buildings and fight diseases, all of it on computers. I tell him how all of it came from the ideas this man had about making computers accessible to everyone and it revolutionized the world and how someday, he could revolutionize the world too, and how that is what it means to be inspired. It means to think of something that no one ever thought was possible and make it a reality. I tell him we have the tools to create amazing things and that we stand on the shoulders of an icon.

Jonathan tells me about how Spongebob and Patrick accidentally knocked down Squidword's house. He cuddles up to me and gives me a hug. "Wasn't that funny? See, now you're not sad anymore."
And I'm not. And I love every second of it.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Google plus or Google pus?

My thoughts after using Google Plus (G+) for four days, listed in the order I think of them:

  • My first impression of G+ was based on how much difficulty it had remembering how many people were in my circles. It seemed random. Sometimes it would tell me I had 13, sometimes 10, sometimes 15. I chalk this up to server replication hiccups. It's actually amazing that Facebook is able to keep everything straight across the insane number of servers they must have. From what I can tell this problem has been resolved, but we'll see how it goes as the number of users ramps up.
  • I like the twittery following feature. Very straightforward.
  • Not crazy about listing all the comments on every post. It makes scrolling through my feed an aruous task. Anyone following Robert Scoble,  knows what I'm talking about. It should show the first 3-4 comments and then have a "show more" button. Update: G+ seems to have fixed this while I was writing this. That is customer effing service, people.
  • Not crazy about being able to add people who aren't on G+ and then having emails sent to them. Seems like a spammers dream.
  • Josh Shear (whose post here inspired me to write this one) is going to disagree with me on this point, but I want to be able to have my tweets show as G+ posts the way I can with Facebook. Effectively, if I have something to share, I should be able to share it with everyone I want to without having to go to different networks to do it. I'm constantly fascinated by the things I post that get no reaction on Twitter, but my Facebook friends go nuts over, and vice-versa. At the end of the day, I just want the path of least resistance to my self-absorbtion.
  • Circles are fantastic, but they seem like they're an interface improvement away from being a Facebook feature. I heard somewhere that the idea behind circles is to solve the problem of your mom being on Facebook, the solution being that you can categorize your mom out of the stuff you don't want her and your other relatives/co-workers/whoever seeing. I'm sure there's someone at Facebook right now creating a drag-and-drop interface to do just that. In fact, Facebook should be thrilled about G+ because it's one big R&D project that they don't have to fund. They're really nothing to stop them from implementing features that work in G+ into Facebook, like following and circles, and drastically improving Facebook. And I like that.
  • Haven't played with Hangouts or Huddles yet. Want to.
  • I wish you could set defaults on some things. Like by default, only my friends posts show up in my feed when I log in, and I have to click the other circles to see them. Or by default only my friends are checked for a post and I have to manually add other circles. Update: Apparently this has been fixed too. I'm an idiot and you probably just wasted time reading this.
  • Sparks has potential, kind of a meta RSS feed.
That's all for now guys.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

I live at home

The last 18 months or so have not been easy. Things have happened in my life that I never thought would come to pass. Nicole, Jonathan, and I moved to Minoa in November 2009 after selling our house. Nicole was (still is) going to nursing school and needed to quit her full-time job. My independent contracting business had taken a major hit since my job sub-contracting for an IT services company had dried up when the main contract ran out. We were moving into a house with an in-law apartment. The plan was for us to move there so that we could help my parents, who had recently had to sell their condo. My father was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease about 5 years ago and hadn't been able to work as much. The medication was screwing with his sleep cycle (and he'd already been in a decade long funk since my grandfather died that he refused to get help for, but that's a story for another time). It had the makings of a good plan. They buy the house (STAR exemptions keeping the property taxes significantly lower than if we'd bought it), we pay the mortgage. We take care of the lawn and shovel the driveway, my mom watches Jonathan after school. Everything works out. Unfortunately, my parents selected a house the needed a large amount of reconstruction done to the main portion of the house. They moved in July 2009 (moving them was a herculean task helped by an all-star team of Syracuse twitter folk and assorted friends whom I will never fully thank enough). Work began shortly after that but was going very slow due to them hiring an extremely nice and very capable builder who, by all accounts, did great work, but insisted on using a manual hammer instead of an automatic one and oh, got there at 10 and left at 4 and took an hour lunch. So work dragged on. And on. We sold our house and the time came for us to move and work was nowhere close to being finished. So we all, Nicole, Jonathan and myself, crammed into the second bedroom of the house. Jonathan slept on an air mattress wedged between our bed and the wall. A month later they ran out of money to pay the very nice builder and Nicole and I had a house with no walls. My brother came up from Pennsylvania and taught me to hang sheetrock. So I did, at night and on weekends. Sometimes it looked nice and sometimes it looked shitty but up it went. Friends came by when they could and helped. When I accidentally broke my wrist, my friend Matt came over to give us some much-needed help with putting down new floors. Nicole learned to spackle. I learned to install sinks.

 I was doing a lot of self-blaming. Reviewing the wrong choices I had made that left me in a position where this was my life.  I could've taken that crappy job that I turned down a while back. I could've done a lot of things. Instead, I'm hanging sheetrock on my weekends. Living in my parents back bedroom with my son on an air mattress. No space of his own. No space of our own. I'd find myself saying aloud "This is not the life I should be living." The stress eventually caused me to break out in shingles on my scalp.

This burden of helping my parents rests with me because my siblings have moved away and I am the one left in Syracuse. I didn't blame them, you grow up and get your own life going, that's what you do and I hadn't. I started resenting the city instead. The whole area, really. I wanted to flee. Just go. Fall through the earth and come out the other side. I'd see my friends on Facebook going places and envy them. Anywhere. I'd go anywhere. As far away as I could get from this was too close. Turns out I wasn't the only one with plans to leave.

Because apparently things in the house weren't tense enough, my mother announced in March of last year that she was leaving my father for a man from North Carolina she'd met on Facebook. I knew they'd been having problems for a while, but I'd figured that as long as my mom had decided to move from the condo she was going to stick it out. Again, I couldn't blame her, people have a right to seek their own happiness. Nicole could. She was ready to rip shit and was frustrated with me for my lack of anger at the situation. All I felt was anger at myself for allowing myself into this position. Curiously, strangely, excruciatingly, nothing much happened after my mom announced this. She continued to live with us. She didn't seem to have much a plan for how this was going to go. It wasn't until three months after the announcement that she moved to North Carolina with the man she'd met.

Right about that same time, I took a job working for a technology services company in Ithaca. I'd been looking for a full-time job for a while since contracting work had gotten scarce. It's a pretty long drive every day, but the money is good and it's steady. About that same time, we finished work on the house enough to move our stuff into it and finally have our own space. Which was extremely fortunate, because very soon after that the in-law apartment became infested with fleas. We eventually got rid of the fleas, only to be plagued with mice. My dad, as is the case with many bachelors, is not the best at keeping his space clean. Nicole and I had a plan though. After her graduation in May we would be moving to Ithaca. Again and again we'd tell ourselves, "Only x more months, we can do this." Who cares if it was just down the road a ways, it was somewhere that wasn't here, and that was all that mattered.

Nicole took a job late last year as a Healthcare Technician in the Medical ICU at SUNY Upstate. She's gained tons of experience above and beyond her nursing school clinicals, and the management there loves her. She looked for jobs at Cayuga Medical center and they were pretty thin. Overnights mostly. Housing in Ithaca wasn't looking much better. $1500/Month for anything livable. We made a few exploratory trips down there to look at apartments. Nothing within a half-hour was affordable. I'd get a dozen emails every day for places she'd seen on Craigslist that she wanted me to look at. Everything was either too small, too gross, too expensive, or too far.

In late summer I would bring Jonathan with me on my way to work and he would stay at my friend Lisa's house in Cortland where her oldest son would watch him during the day. On the way home he would always yell "It's Syracuse!" when we crested the hill before the Onondaga Nation exit. One night last month on my way home I came over that hill and saw the city. I did every day, but that day it looked different. I heard him in my head and I knew I was looking at my home. The MONY towers. The Civic Center. The Dome. They're my MONY towers. My Civic Center. My Dome. I talked to Nicole that night and we decided we're going to stay in Syracuse. We like the school Jonathan goes to and we have a lot of great new friends we've made in the area through twitter. She's been hired as an RN at SUNY Upstate as soon as she passes her boards. As for me, I'm going to keep working in Ithaca for the time being. Things aren't perfect, my dad is still a slob, though we have vanquished the mice with a combination of a psychotic cat and D-Con. I'm not saying we're going to live in Syracuse forever, but we're not running away from anything anymore. We're going towards something. I don't think we know what exactly, but it will be of our choosing. In the meantime, everyday I crest that hill and I know I'm finally home.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Pure Fantasy

My mom loved making costumes for us.  I don't think I bought a costume for Halloween from the time I was 5 until...well until I was done trick or treating anyway. She made some crazy stuff. I was a refrigerator one year, I was a Nintendo cartridge another.  My sister was a banana, a piece of pizza, and a potted plant. For some reason my brother always went for store bought zombie and wolfman stuff, but my sister and I would be planning cardboard, foam and chicken-wire monstrosities every year.

So anyone who knows me knows I dig comic books. Starting when I was around 10, I read Batman, Superman, Teen Titans, Justice League and pretty much whatever else I could get my hands on. For those of you not familiar with him, and that would be pretty much everyone in the world, Wild Dog was a late 80's vigilante hero who had a 4 issue mini-series and then has really never been heard from again. He looked like this:

All summer before fifth grade I read and reread the Wild Dog mini-series and thought he was so cool and such a bad-ass and couldn't wait to be him for Halloween. So I convinced my mom make me a Wild Dog costume. The costume was spot-on accurate. Camo pants, boots, blue jersey with laughing red dog on it worn over a long sleeve black shirt. Hockey masks for Halloween were easy to come by and probably still are. I think I may have even had the yellow piping, such was my attention to detail.

No one knew what the hell I was supposed to be. Only one other kid at school did and he was any even bigger comic book geek than I was. My teacher was mystified. I was disappointed. "I'm Wild Dog. You know...Wild Dog. From...from comics." Didn't anyone else visit Time Frame, the local comic shop in Fayetteville Mall, on a weekly, if not twice-weekly, basis? Didn't anyone else have their world shaken from the Anti-Monitor's attempt to destroy the Multiverse just 1 year ago in the Crisis On Infinite Earths? Supergirl and The Flash died for fuck's sake! Was it that I skimped on the lasso and the pouches?

Trick-or-treating wasn't any better. Most people assumed I was Jason and didn't know what the hell the dog was about. All they saw was an 11-year-old in a hockey mask with an Italiafro. I didn't give a shit by that point. I had acquiesced to being whatever people thought I was, but still holding out hope that my taste in heroes would win out in the end.  Give me your candy, sure, yeah I'm Jason, whatever, but listen, next year when Wild Dog is huge and there's like a Wild Dog movie starring Jean-Claude Van Damme you'll think "Whoa that kid was really ahead of the curve on this whole Wild Dog thing" and I'll be like "Yeah, goddamn right bitches! WILD DOG!".

Come on, the superhero genre has proven immensely lucrative for Hollywood. Green Lantern, Thor and Captain America have movies that are coming out this summer. Supes and Spiderman are getting reboots. Wonder Woman will be on TV again soon. Yes, the timeline for the Wild Dog media storm I predicted in fifth grade is longer than I had anticipated, but I'm confident I'll be proven right in the end.

Wild Dog, bitches. Wild. Dog.