Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Little things mean a lot

My dad was on a business trip in Boston. My mom was working late. I was 10 years old, and I had just moved to Pleasantville, New York the month prior. There were no cell phones back then, so, I watched TV along side my dog, Ralph, until my mom got home. The digital clock read 900PM. I was turning away from the TV show quite frequently to look at it. And then the doorbell rang. There was a man who I had never met before standing in the doorway with Craig Bilotti, a kid from my 5th grade class. The man was from the Pleasantville Volunteer Ambulance Corps. It was his job to explain to me that my mom had been in a horrible car accident, and she wasnt expected to live through the night. Pain. Severe pain. The kind that doesn't go away. The type that is incomparable to what my mom went through, and the likes of which I don't talk about, for fear of doing just that- comparing it to, and thereby belittling, my mother's pain- her physical pain that is. But that man... he made a difference. He was an EMT. But I am SURE that no EMS instructor taught him about how well he handled himself, and me, that night.

As soon as things settled down, my dad joined the Pleasantville Ambulance Corps and became an EMT himself. I'm not sure exactly why he did. Certainly, though, he did it either to pay back a debt, or to help others, or to incorporate within himself the values of the man in my doorway that night, or perhaps all of these reasons. I dont' really think it's important to know which anyway. It's also not the crux of this blog entry to know whether my mom survived, which she did. I have always maintained, nonetheless, that my parents, neither of whom graduated college, are the two of the most intelligent people who walk the earth.

I think somehow they passed that quality on to my children. My son loves hockey, and we all went to a New York Islanders hockey game last night. Here is a dialogue excerpt from my son, 4 (my power ranger), and my daughter, 3 (my princess) as we left after the game:

Me to my son: So do you still want to be a hockey player when you grow up?
Son to me: Yeah. And a lawyer and a firefighter and a paramedic too.
My daughter to all: I wanna be a doctor for princesses and the princesses will save all the world.
Son to daughter: You can't save everyone in the world.
Daughter to Son: Yes you can.
Son: No you can't. Only daddy can. He's a paramedic and a firefighter. (ed.: funny how he left out lawyer!)
(shouting match ensues between them)
(then, finally.....)

Daughter to Me: Daddy, can you save everyone?
Me: No, sweetheart, I can't. But that doesn't stop me from trying. I just try it one person at a time.
Son: Yeah. I'm gonna do that too.
Daughter: Yeah. Me too.

And so, to those who are amongst us, coming to our aid ever so subtly, without flashing lights and sirens, without trauma bags and neck collars, I salute you.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Tell Me Why Long Island

Here are some facts about Long Island, where I call home:

Long Island is 118 miles long and 18-20 miles wide at its widest point. 

Population (all four counties: Suffolk, Nassau, Queens, Kings) 7,448,618.  Thats 5,470 people per square mile!!!

The population for just Nassau and Suffolk Counties (the two counties that are actually considered Long Island, because Kings a/k/a Brooklyn and Queens are actually part of New York City): 2.7 million.  

Long Island is more populated than 97 countries of the world!!

Long Island is the most populated island in any US state or territory.  It is also the 17th most populous island in the world, ahead of Ireland, Jamaica and the Japanese island of Hokkaido.  

Nassau County is ranked fifth highest in income per capita in the entire country.  

Nassau County, according to the 2000 Census, is the third richest county per capita in New York State, and the thirtieth richest in the nation.  If it were an independent nation, it would rank as the 96th most populated nation, falling between Switzerland and Israel.  

Median Long Island Home Price:  In Excess of $400,000

In 2001, the Washington-based Economic Policy Institute reported that Long Island had the highest cost of living/income index in the country.  

The average property tax bill for an average size home is between $8,000 and $16,000 a year... that's just the property tax, folks... no mortgage is included in those numbers.  In fact, Nassau County has the second highest property taxes in the United States.  

The average electric bill for a standard 4 bedroom, 2 bath home is over $300 per month, without air conditioning or holiday lights. 

If you combined all the fire and rescue vehicles, Long Island has more than New York City gand Los Angeles COMBINED!

According to Forbes Magazine, the most expensive home in North America is Three Ponds Estate in Bridgehampton, valued at $75 million.

The Nassau County jail has been probed by the Federal government for prisoner abuses, including death.  

So why am I staying?  Highest cost of living, second hightest property tax, and traffic... oh, did I forget to mention the traffic?  5,470 people per square mile all getting to and from work, I suppose, to pay for all of this.  

In September 1998, a small tornado hit Lynbrook, Long Island; in August 1999, an F-2 tornado hit Mattituck, Long Island; in August 2005, a tornado hit Glen Cove, Long Island; one year later in August, 2006, a tornado hit Massapequa in Nassau County; and on July 18, 2007, a tornado hit Islip Terrace.  

Long Island:  the only place you have to be rich to be poor.  

Sometimes, though, its easier to deal with the devil you know than the one you don't.  Oh, matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match! Find me a town, where i can be a paramedic, where i can give my children more opportunities in life than I ever had myself, where i can life in relative security, where medical care is top notch and cutting-edge.  Find me a place where I can discern the difference between what I am here to do and what I would like to do while I am here.  Can any of you tell me why I'm doing this all on Long Island?  Hope you can help me figure it out.  In the meantime, I will be trying to save some lives.  The more people are alive the more chance I have to come up with answers.  

Friday, January 25, 2008

language translator

I met all kinds of great people on my recent cruise with the family. There were some communication gaps though. I found the gap most prevalent when discussing computers, especially with those from the nether regions of this great country. I thought that I would put down on paper that which you, the future traveler, might need handy to properly talk about the subject:

Making a wood stove hot

Too much wood on fire
Keep'n an eye on the wood stove
Gitten the farwood off'n the truck

When yer not keerfull gitten the farwood

FLOPPY DISC:Whatcha git from tryin to tote too much farwood

RAM:That thar thang what splits the farwood

HARD DRIVE:Gitten home in the winter time

Whut to shut when its cold outside

Whut to shut when its black fly season

Whut dem dang flys do

Munchies fer the TV

Whut's in the bottom of the munchie bag

MODEM:Whatcha do to the hay fields

Ole Dan Matrix's wife

Whar the kitty sleeps

Whar you hang the dang truck keys

Dem dang plastic forks and knifes

What eats the grain in the barn

That's hippie talk fer where the mouse lives

Holds up the barn roof

Fancy flatlander wine

Notherner talk fer "C'Mon in y'all"

Whut you hear when you cock yer gun

When you cock the double barrel

Whut you have to do right before bedtime
when you have to go to the outhouse

There is this lady I know.  You probably know her too.  She is the kind of person you just want to smack the crap out of. She doesn't really work.  She just spends a lot of money all day, everyday, mostly on herself, and mostly on getting her nails done.  She doesn't really earn any money herself though.   In any given month, she spends more than her account is worth anyway, thanks to her hard working husband.  

As many of you know, I am fluent in Spanish.  This lady calls me quite often so that I can tell her hispanic nanny the things she wants done by the time she gets back from the spa.  And this spanish lesson is dedicated to her.  Hey, lady... your nails look great.  Really.  

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Finger Lickin' Good

This is an actual email that was sent to my entire staff by my calendar clerk this morning.  If any of you are considering munching out on cheddar cheese popcorn, be afraid. Be VERY afraid.  

"Whoever was at my desk last nite after I left, not quite sure why anyone would be at my desk when I am gone??? but next time if you are at my desk for any reason and decide to eat chedder cheese popcorn, you might want to clean up the mess you left on my floor and all over my files, its VERY RUDE and I really didnt appreciate the mess that I had to clean up when I got here this am--Dara"

Just Shoot totally

Here is an ad headline I just saw on Yahoo's front page...

"Why Online College is so Cool"

Exactly what is the target audience for the ad? What brilliant ad agency came up with that tag line? Classic example of irresponsibility.  "Hi. I'm an employer and I am looking for a COOL employee, and i want to pay them because they went to a COOL online college and i want to be COOL too."  

Where are the application papers for the colleges that are linked to that ad? Gimme those right away, baby.  Sign me up.  I wanna be cool.  Totally, completely, cooooolll.  yeeeaahh. 

I think these young ladies know what I'm talking about...

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

You Don't Need Band Aids to Repair The World

I took my son to hockey practice the other day. Well, not really hockey practice. It's a class that teaches kids how to skate.  He switched recently from figure skates to hockey skates, so, he has to learn how to deal with the difference between the two.  I made my way up onto the bleachers along with the other parents all who were watching their kids on the ice.  Funny how we are so preoccupied with kids, yet we're never really accurate as to what makes them happy when we are buying toys for them.  Is it me, or does it seem to you too that the more expensive and elaborate the toy, the more adults think kids will like it, and the less kids actually like it. 

The little sister (not yet two years old)  of one of the kids on the ice was amongst us parents.  It was about 15 minutes into the skating lesson early in the morning, and already, as a group, we parents were running out of distractions for her- that is, until she became enthralled by a rather benign plastic band-aid dispenser that one of the moms found in a pocketbook scavenger hunt frenzy. There were no band-aids inside.  And it had the words in bold printed on it "REPAIR THE WORLD". 

I don't think the little girl's innocent, sweet baby blue eyes blinked for a good few 
minutes.  She stared at the contraption with this deep mantra printed upon it, certainly not able to read the words, but not for lack of trying.  She opened the container, then closed it. Then opened and closed it again.  First slowly, then fast, then slower again, all the time looking inside of it.   Those baby blues then looked right into mine as if to ask "How am I supposed to repair the world without any band-aids?" The baby girl spent the rest of the time just opening and closing the container over and over.  

 When the lesson was over, I helped my son off the ice.  We walked towards the bleachers together, while the next group of kids made their way towards the ice.  One of the kids, about my son's age, was crying, pleading with his dad not to make him go on the ice:

"Noooooo!!! I don't wanna gooooo!!!"
"But you said you wanted to be a hockey player when you grow up," his father said. 

My son became visibly sympathetic.  "You don't have to be a hockey player" my son told the crying boy.  "You won't get hurt.  And my dad is a paramedic so if you fall, he can make you better."  

As my son and I continued towards the bleachers,  the crying boy began to calm himself, and made his way onto the ice, albeit somewhat reluctantly still.  The wonderment from 
the exchange between the two boys hadn't yet left me.  And as I unlaced my son's skates, he kept his watchful eyes on that boy.  "I just want to make sure he is ok", my four year old son s
aid to me, as he struggled to peer towards the rink in the midst of my removing his gear.  It looked like that boy was fine.  His father appeared either relieved or exhausted, or both.  That father clutched his coffee and filled the seat of a vacating parent.  My son and I joined the group of families leaving the rink, holding hands.  The little girl with the band aid holder was right in front of us.  She stopped, turned towards my son, gave him the plastic ba
nd aid holder, and proceeded on her way right after flashing a grin.  

"Daddy, what's this?" asked my son, as he held the plastic piece up towards me.  "It holds band-aids".  "I want to give one to that boy," he pleaded.  I squeezed my son's hand just a little tighter and told him:  "You already did." As we walked, I saw his little grin out of the corner of my eye. My son couldn't read the words on the band-aid holder either.  But I knew he understood them.  

I went to work at my law firm the next day.  The desks of the associate attorneys in my law office, as well as my own, all are equipped with a box of tissues, each strategically placed within reach of the clients' chairs. I put an empty box of  band-aids next to the tissues in all of the offices just yesterday. I got a papercut on my finger later in the day. I couldn't find a band-aid. My staff thinks I'm off my rocker.