R.I.P. Aunt Peasy

My beautiful Aunt Peasy at her wedding to my Uncle Andy, with my sister, Amy, and me

Another holiday season, another funeral blog. Ugh. This time last year I wrote about the passing of Andy Fox, brother of my brother-in-law, Tim Fox. I attended Andy’s funeral in Denver almost exactly a year ago and wrote about how much I wished I had gotten to know him better while he was alive. That blog was a reprise of one I had written in 2015 about Dick and Jody Vilardo, with a similar them of “I wish I knew them better while they were alive.”

This weekend, I attended the funeral for my dear Aunt Peasy Love in St. Louis. I almost wrote this blog before I left for St. Louis. For, unlike Andy Fox and the Vilardos, I knew her very well. She was almost like a second mother to me. So, obviously, I wouldn’t learn anything new about her at the funeral, right? I’m glad I waited. I was wrong. So, here I am again, sharing my feelings about losing someone close to me, again wishing I had known these things about her while she was alive. Even though I knew her very well, I wish I had gotten to know my Aunt Peasy even better while she was alive.

The blessing in this is that it brought me a revelation for a New Year’s resolution. And, unlike prior pledges to eat better, curse less, go to the gym more or other untenable goals, I think I can actually make progress on this year’s resolution. I hereby resolve to learn more about the people I’m close to. In so doing and while hoping I don’t lose anyone close to me in the coming year, I at least hope to avoid the “I wish I had known more about so-and-so while he/she was alive” syndrome. Don’t be surprised if I ask you more invasive questions in 2018. I mean well by it.

There was a lot I heard about Aunt Peasy, known to her family as M’noe, that I did know and was not surprised to hear in the wonderful eulogies provided by her children, my three first cousins, her husband, my uncle, and the pastor who had been dear friends with Peasy for nearly 50 years. I was not surprised to hear about her compassion and open-door policy, for I have stayed at her house dozens of times over the years. I had met many of the stray dogs she took in. On my last visit, just a few years ago, I even met the wild turkey she adopted (it lived outside, but got fed every day, just like the dogs). I had met many of the tenants she had taken in to live on the third floor. And, of course, I had experienced her hospitality as a guest myself on so many occasions.

I was not surprised to hear of her fun-loving spontaneous nature, as best recounted by my cousin Fats, who read from a college essay she wrote about a late night horseback ride through Forest Park in St. Louis.

Finally, and importantly, I was not surprised to hear people talk about her honest and straightforward nature. She never pulled a punch with me. She loved me like I was her son, but she also told me what was what when that’s what I needed to hear. That was as true when I was 10 as it was last summer.

But, while none of that surprised me, I did learn about a side of Aunt Peasy that I did not get a chance to experience and that was her spirituality. Her Pastor, Jerram Barrs, spoke eloquently about her relationship with Christ and how that guided her life. I’m not sure why the topic of spirituality never came up between Aunt Peasy and me. And, given how clearly she lived her life in Christ, I’m embarrassed that I never raised the topic with her. But, most of all, I’m now very sad that I never got the chance to compare notes on our respective spiritual journeys. I think about all the hours I spent on deserted Islands off the coast of Maine with her and I never sat down on a rock and spoke to her about God. What a missed opportunity.

I will miss Aunt Peasy terribly. She was a very special person and the world just went minus one without her. And, while I am sad that I didn’t get the chance to talk to her about her relationship with God and about mine, I am comforted that she was so close to God and the Peace that must have brought to her at the end of her life on earth and beyond. R.I.P. Aunt Peasy. Rest in the Peace of the Lord.

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Shovel This

Today is my firm’s annual golf tournament. While I hate playing scrambles, it’s a fun event, held in Miami, at a great club, and it’s going to be 73 and sunny. At about 7 PM last night, one of my partners e-mailed me and said, “I just cut my hand and I’m heading to the ER for stitches. I’m out for golf tomorrow.” Poor guy. He has to miss the golf and he’s got a big boo boo. This morning, he sent me a pic of his sutured hand. I thought about including it in this blog because it’s super gnarly, but I suspect I have at least a few squeamish readers and I didn’t want them to upchuck their breakfast so the picture is available upon request.

I didn’t want to bother him last night with a lot of questions so I didn’t ask him how he sliced his hand. The explanation came this morning:

“Pretty embarrassing. Carving the end of a replacement handle for a shovel and slipped.”

I replied, “I’m sorry, but I don’t understand what it means to carve a replacement handle for a shovel or for that matter what it means to own a shovel. Usually the workmen bring their own shovels, don’t they?”

I really wasn’t kidding. OK, I do own a snow shovel because every third year it snows a foot (or five) in DC and I have to get out there and shovel. But, seriously, who carves a replacement handle? If you really need a functioning shovel at all times and the handle breaks, don’t you run to Home Depot and buy a new shovel? Indeed, if you type “shovel, Home Depot” into the Google Machine, you get an entire page of shovels. Prices seem to range from about $18 for the Ames 47” Fiberglass Handle Transfer Shovel with Comfort Step all the way up to about $82 for the Nupla 48” Fiberglass Handle with 16” Solid Shank Blade Heavy Duty Drain Spade. I have no clue what any of that means, but the point should not be lost. If the handle on your shovel breaks, you go to Home Depot and buy a new one. Period. Full stop. My partner makes good money and slicing half your hand off is not worth even $82 at the high end.

The good news is he’s going to be OK, though he has to see the hand surgeon today to make sure there’s no nerve damage. Nerve damage for $82? Really??? Sorry, I said I’d move on.

This episode got me thinking that there’s a bigger story here so I decided to make a list of ways I will never hurt myself or, worse, die. Here goes:

1. Carving a replacement handle for a shovel (duh)
2. Shoveling stuff
3. Falling off a roof
4. Falling off a ladder
5. Cleaning the gutters
6. Using a chain saw
7. Using any power tool of any kind, including a battery operated screw driver
8. Changing the blade on a lawn mower
9. Mowing the lawn
10. Carving a replacement handle for a rake
11. Raking leaves (sprained ankle potential for sure)
12. Building shelves
13. Dusting shelves (wrist injury potential?)
14. Laying a hardwood floor
15. Laying on a hardwood floor (caveat: after enough bourbon, anything can happen)
16. Hammering a nail
17. Getting hammered (just kidding)
18. Using a nail gun (totally not kidding)
19. Building a deck
20. Writing blogs about how fucking lazy I am when it comes to handy work (hahahahaha)

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A Wake Up Call for Me Too

I am shocked and embarrassed by the number of “Me Too” postings I saw from my female friends and family on FB yesterday. Not because I’ve ever come even close to being a perpetrator of such behavior – I have not, but because I clearly share a gender with many men who have. I suspect it’s even happened around me, without my knowledge. If I knew about it, I assure you, I would do something about it. It’s not OK. Not by a long shot. I’ll be more vigilant in looking out for it now, no question.

But, I also can’t help but write about something else that’s gnawing at my gut in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. Why were so many liberals, men and women, complicit enablers of this heinous man’s behavior? It seems that it’s OK to be an abuser as long as you give lots of money to Democrats. When Donald Trump’s egregious p***y grabbing comment came to light, the full weight of the liberal universe came down on him, especially those in the mainstream media. But, basically the entire liberal Hollywood establishment and media turned a blind eye to Weinstein’s behavior for decades until someone finally spoke out and it could no longer be ignored. Jane Fonda said she knew at least a year ago; I’m betting longer. You will not convince me that Jane Fonda needed Weinstein for her next part.  Screenwriter, actor and producer Scott Rosenberg posted to FB that “everybody fucking knew.” Comedian Seth McFarlane knew. Courtney Love knew. Matt Damon knew. I’m sure lots more knew. Fucking everybody knew.

I understand that many of the female victims may have felt powerless to do or say anything publicly. Perhaps the men too. But, are you really going to tell me that no news outlet ever got wind of this until the NYT was finally forced to publish it (and kudos to them for a better late than never story)? Everybody fucking knew, but nobody reported it? Nobody whispered anything to anyone in the press anywhere? That strains credulity to its breaking point. Might it be more than just fear of not getting the next movie part? Might it be liberals in the media protecting their own in a way they would never do for a high-profile, big money, conservative man. Hard to believe. Does anyone have any doubt that if one of the Koch brothers had engaged in such dreadful behavior, it would have been reported many years ago.

Smart people always follow the money and Harvey Weinstein donated at least $2.5 million to democrats and liberal causes just since 2000. It seems highly unlikely that any of the recipients of that money, nor their protectors in the liberal media, were ever going to blow the whistle on Weinstein while that spigot was turned on. Indeed, it took Hillary Clinton 5 days to even denounce Weinstein publicly after the story finally broke. You don’t think those 5 days were spent analyzing the financial impact of speaking out publicly. Barack and Michelle Obama denounced on the same time schedule. What might be the impact on Michelle’s campaign coffers when she runs some day? Donald Trump was lambasted in the media for waiting 24 hours to denounce the events in Charlottesville. Double standard much?

To come full circle, I want to be clear that I am not minimizing the heinous nature of Weinstein’s crimes. He should be punished, as should all men who behave this way, with the full weight of the law. Furthermore, I feel a need to apologize, not for myself, but for my gender, to all the women who posted “Me too” yesterday. I cannot possibly imagine how horrible that must be. But, I hope there’s a lesson here that evil knows no political boundaries and should be called out immediately, no matter the political party or implications for financial contributions.

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Fire Dusty Baker

In his column in this morning’s Washington Post, Tom Boswell wrote that the fine print on the back of every MLB ticket says, “The bearer of this ticket is permitted to second-guess either or both of the managers. If he or she does not exercise this prerogative, the commissioner reserves the right to refuse permission to attend any future major league games.” OK, it doesn’t say that, but it should. And, I plan to exercise that prerogative raised to the Nth power with respect to Washington Nationals’ Manager, Dusty Baker’s, horrendous decision making against the Cubs in game 4 of the NLDS last night.

Start with the facts. He had one very simple decision to make in the 7th inning. Counting Spring Training, the Nationals were playing their 199th baseball game of 2017. One game shy of 200 baseball games, he was betting the entire season and quite possibly his job. He had two choices. He could push all in on Max Scherzer, the likely Cy Young winner for the second year in a row who, by the way, was throwing a gem of a 1-hitter and was at only 98 pitches. Or, he could bet it on some dude named Sammy Solis, who brought a 5.88 ERA into the post-season. Scherzer or Solis? Hmmmm. Think, Pooh, think. Cy Young or 5.88 ERA. God, this job is so fucking hard. Someone help me here.

Except nobody did. Like Trump’s finger reaching for the send button in Twitter, Dusty reached his left arm in the air in what counts as the worst decision in post-season baseball history. Well, at least since former Nats Manager Matt Williams pulled Jordan Zimmermann from the 2012 NLDS, one out away from the first post-season complete game shutout in DC since 1933. But, I digress. Dusty bet on Solis and we know what happened. Is it possible that Scherzer would have given up a bomb to Kyle Schwarber, atoning for his three-base error that gave the Nats the lead in the first place? Maybe, but so what? You go with your best.

As I turned this dreadful decision over and over in my mind, I tried to think of some analogy in my career. Some point where I had to make a big decision and what it might have looked like if I were as inept as Dusty. My job as a venture capitalist is to invest in companies, sit on their boards to help them grow, and then sell them to a larger company to make a return on my capital (slight oversimplification, but you get the point).

Suppose I was in a situation where one of my portfolio companies was in discussions with a Fortune 100 company to be acquired for $1 billion. The CEO of the Fortune 100 said he wanted to meet with our management to seal the deal. The board met to decide who to send to the meeting and we had two choices, either the 29 year old Director of Business Development, a smart kid and recent Harvard Business School grad, but a guy who had yet to close his first deal. Or, we could send the CEO of the company, an experienced 57 year old executive who had sold 4 companies, one of them to this same buyer. He knew the buyer’s CEO from this prior transaction as well, and the two of them were also social friends. If I had voted to send the young Director of Business Development to negotiate the deal, I would be performing at Dusty Baker’s level. And, I should be fired. He should be too. Like before tonight’s game.

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Liberal Hypocrisy, Part VIII (Redskins vs. the Military)

I thought long and hard about whether this is really Part VIII in my liberal hypocrisy series or just a continuation of Part VII on free speech. I decided to open a new chapter! My buddy Steve made a comment on FB when I posted my second blog on free speech (here) that was perhaps the most salient analysis I’ve read yet on the liberal mindset when it comes to these inane NFL protests. Steve wrote:

I think it is important to point out that the NFL kneelers contend, by and large, that they do not intend to disrespect our servicemen, our country, or our flag. The problem with that position is that a very large cohort of these people are telling them that they are very offended. Most of us who grow up in this country learn not to use certain words or take certain actions because our fellow countrymen find them offensive. So we don’t use the N word, the C word, or draw swastikas. We say Asian instead of Oriental. On the other hand, the kneelers are taking an action that they know offends a great many people in this country. In fact, they seem to revel in it. That they are taking this action in the face of a legion of volunteer servicemen, some of whom will give their lives in service, is simply unforgiveable. I wish they would take the time to read the words of our National Anthem. It is about how a group of brave Americans sacrificed their lives in the face of insurmountable odds to keep our flag standing and our fort secure. I can only surmise that these cowards cannot relate to such bravery. That said, they should have a duty to respect it.

For context, Steve comes from a military family and his youngest son has already committed to attend the Naval Academy. I have also heard the same thing he’s heard from military folks – they are deeply offended by these protests.

Now, since we’re talking about football, let’s turn our attention to my home team, the Washington Redskins or, as liberals call them, the Washington Football Team. Yes, that’s right, liberals can’t even bring themselves to say “Redskins” because it is so offensive to Native Americans. Well, except that it isn’t. Even the radical left wing Washington Post found that 90% of Native Americans are NOT offended by the Redskins’ name (here). Holy shit, there’s nothing that 90% of any group of people ever agree on. And, shockingly, if there’s any publication in the world that was motivated to find that 100% of Native Americans were offended, it is the Washington Post. Their editors must have been apoplectic when these results came in. And, yet, many of the sports writers at the Post still won’t print the name “Redskins.”

When I point out to my liberal non-Redskin-saying friends that 90% of actual real live Native Americans don’t give a shit about our team name, they’ll often reply with something like, “Well, that means 10% are offended and if any of them are offended, it’s not OK.” Interesting position. It’s not one I agree with as it’s likely that someone will be offended by pretty much anything, but let’s just suppose that liberals were allowed to set the bar on what’s OK and what’s not OK when it comes to offensive speech and they seem to have opted for the 10% rule when it comes to the Redskins. Shouldn’t we then apply the 10% rule to our military veterans and active duty service men and women when it comes to being offended by the NFL protests? Apparently not.

In the eyes of the hypocritical left, the Redskins must be forced to change their team name because a tiny minority of Native Americans are offended. That kind of free speech/expression is unacceptable and must be stopped immediately, if not sooner. However, the NFL kneeling protests, which offend (I’m guessing) about 90% of military folks, are just totally acceptable free speech and should be respected if not lauded.

Seriously, people, I know I sound like a broken record, but the hypocrisy from the left just can’t get any worse, except I know it will. And, when it does, I promise to write about it in my future blog, “Liberal Hypocrisy, Part IX.”

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Free Speech, Part Deux

Earlier this week I posted a blog (here) on the hypocrisy of the left as they scream for the rights of free speech and expression of irreverent NFL players, as those players offend the sensibilities of our military and everyone else who has fought for the rights they take for granted, while simultaneously stifling all other speech that they don’t like.

I got some feedback, which I’ve gotten before, that I paint liberals too broadly and individual liberals will say things like, “Hey, wait, I believe in free speech and so do all my liberal friends.” But, I think there’s some lack of self-awareness among many liberals when they say that.

The liberal assault on free speech has been very broad and taken many forms and the feedback I get suggests they are not even aware they’re doing it. The crap going on at colleges and universities to stop free speech is overt and egregious. But, that’s the easy stuff to both point out and for liberals to say, “Yeah, I think that’s really egregious too.”

It’s the more subtle squelching of free speech by coercion, intimidation, name calling, and social ostracizing that scares me more. For example, about 10 or 15 years ago it was accepted by nearly everyone in this country that marriage was between a man and a woman. Both of the last two democratic presidential candidates (Obama and H. Clinton) held that view and it was one that had been held for the entirety of our nation’s existence. Now, just 10-15 short years later, if I were to make that statement, I would be immediately labeled a hater and homophobe by liberals. Nobody likes to be name called or labeled so one tends to not talk. Free speech is stifled.

If I were to point out that African Americans commit violent crimes at 6x the rate of whites in America and maybe that’s why they encounter police more often as opposed to racist white cops, I will be labeled a hater and a racist. I’m neither and thus I’m likely to keep my mouth shut (indeed, publishing that on my blog is even risky).

Those are just two examples that pop to mind quickly. There are hundreds more that fall under rubrics like “political correctness,” “hate speech,” “offensive speech,” etc. where all those definitions have been created on the left. And, to avoid doubt, I’m not talking about waving a swastika or using the N-word. I think we can all agree those and acts like them are highly offensive and, while protected under the constitution, have no place in a polite and caring society. I’m simply talking about very valid, commonly held beliefs, often by half or more than half the US population, that have been driven underground or into oblivion by liberal scare tactics and intimidation.

Since I don’t get invited to the liberal sewing circles, I’m not sure how this is discussed there, but I strongly suspect they think it comes from the faux moral high ground that they believe they live on. They’re not suppressing my free speech; they’re just making the world a better place. Except they aren’t. I don’t know, but I find it disturbing in a free society.

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Liberal Hypocrisy, Part VII (NFL Protests)

I posted the image to the left on FB yesterday and my buddy Michael commented, “What I like about this picture are the words ‘feel free.’” This comment finally brought clarity to me on this whole kneeling for the National Anthem issue at NFL games. I feel a bit sheepish that it took me so long to get it because it circles back to the same concept we see over and over in American politics – liberal hypocrisy. Let me connect the dots for you, not that they’re that hard to follow.

First, to state the obvious, everyone in the United States of America has a right to freedom of speech and expression and that includes speech and expression that other people don’t like. So, I have no legal argument whatsoever with what these NFL players are doing. I have an issue with the disrespect and hypocrisy that’s taking place at many levels.

Let’s start with the disrespect though I’m not breaking any new ground here. It’s very simple. The men and woman of our military have been putting their lives on the line for nearly 250 years to ensure the rights and freedoms that these NFL thugs enjoy every day. Indeed, it is the very freedom they provide that has enabled these thugs to play a child’s game and make millions of dollars doing it. That’s just plain rude and disrespectful and their moms and dads need to scold them for being such little whiney brats. Every single military veteran I’ve spoken to about this is deeply offended. How in the world could you look at the picture above and not think “yeah, it’s certainly legal to kneel during our National Anthem, but you sure are an asshole if you do it.” Seriously, how?

Now, let’s move on to the more nuanced aspect of this charade – the liberal hypocrisy. The most common argument in favor of these silly protests is that they are a fully protected form of speech/expression under the constitution. I agree. As discussed above, it is a horribly offensive form of expression and offensive to the wrong people, but it is indeed protected. Liberals all over FB, and my friend Michael, have made this clear.

Now, turn your attention quickly to that other great bastion of free expression – the American college campus. These institutions, now completely run by liberals, have almost completely shut down all forms of expression they disagree with in the name of avoiding offense.

So, let me get this straight. In the chronically hypocritical liberal mind, it’s totally protected speech/expression to offend the very people of who put their lives on the line to defend those rights, but it’s totally not OK to offend the college snowflakes by allowing speech that doesn’t conform to liberal dogma. Just when I think the hypocrisy can’t get any worse, it does.

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