30 Days of Gratitude (The Finale)

We have reached the conclusion of our project. If you’d like to see everything you may have missed please go here, here, here, here, & here. I have truly enjoyed the mental & emotional exercise. It’s really easy to give lip service to gratitude, but actually having to give some thought to what you are thankful for is a whole different ballgame. I don’t know if I will ever do this again (atleast for awhile unless my life significantly changes) but I’m glad I decided to do things this way instead of simply giving superficial answers in a Facebook post. As we transition into the Christmas season let me encourage everyone to continue practicing, expressing, & being mindful of gratitude.

26 What form of expression are you most grateful for??

Writing, no question. I am not particularly artistic and can’t really sing. I respect all forms of expression, but have always felt much more comfortable communicating thru the written word than verbal communication. Of the many regrets I have, near the top of the list has to be the fact that I never knew how to pursue a writing career. 

27 What small thing that you use daily are you grateful for??

Let’s be honest…most of us are pretty darn spoiled. We have access to things to make our lives easier that our parents & grandparents could have never fathomed decades ago. I have gadgets that hadn’t even been invented when I was a kid. Narrowing it down is nearly impossible, but I’ll play along & single out a few apps on my phone. I’ve mentioned ad nauseum my love for music, and the evolution of how we enjoy it is fascinating. 8 tracks & vinyl gave way to cassettes, which were replaced by compact discs. Big ol’ record players that you couldn’t move without help were replaced by component stereos & boom boxes, which then gave way to handheld Walkman CD players & eventually iPods. Now, most everyone has a music app on their phone allowing us to listen to whatever we want whenever we choose, and that technology has been a godsend for me as I’ve spent many lonely nights in places I didn’t want to be in the last few years. Allow me to also give a shout out to weather, photo editing, & personal banking apps. 

28 What small thing that happened today are you thankful for??

Peace & quiet. I’m not going to go into details, but suffice to say that I had more tranquility in my world today than usual. The older I get the more I enjoy being alone & not bothered by anyone’s foolishness. Unfortunately one cannot avoid it altogether. Sometimes it is necessary to sacrifice serenity to get things done. I always enjoyed the sitcom Frasier and fancied myself a bit like Frasier & Niles Crane, only cooler. I crave conversations about literature, history, philosophy, music, and various other subjects. Instead I’ve found myself as a character in a Roseanne-seque dramedy in which most of the “conversations” (trust me…I use that term very loosely) I’m forced to endure are cringeworthy at best, and occasionally have me fantasizing about hurling myself out of my fifth floor living room window. I am grateful for an occasional respite. 

29 What friend/family member are you grateful for today??

I love my family, but I’ll seize an opportunity to heap praise on my father. I’ve always felt an underlying current of guilt, knowing that my Dad was a young man of 26 with a wife & daughter and pretty decent life until I came along. Decades of dealing with my problems have followed, from dozens of surgeries & hospital visits to more comprehensive personal care than most kids require. I’ve always felt like a burden to family & friends, which is why a) independence has been a focus of my life, and b) I mostly keep to myself to this very day. I know my situation isn’t my fault…but it’s not anyone else’s either, so I do anything & everything in my power not to bother anyone else if I can possibly avoid it, which gets pretty lonely sometimes. At any rate, Dad would give all the credit to my mother for the care she gave me growing up because that’s just how he rolls. He’s not wrong…Mom deserves a ton of admiration for everything she did for me, which is probably why I’ve never been the same since her death. However, she’s been gone for over two decades, and Dad has really went above & beyond for my sister and myself since both of us have had our fair share of issues. That sense of guilt has evolved & intensified because at this point I feel like I should be taking care of Dad, but he continues to be there for me. I’m actually a bit verklempt as I write this, pondering just how crucial he has been to my life way after most adult children have moved beyond needing their parents so much. 

30 What talent or skill do you have that you are grateful for??

I don’t feel like I’m all that talented or skilled at much of anything. However, I am thankful for a trait that has developed over the course of time. This may not make much sense to anyone else, but I’m grateful for the ability to roll with the punches. I know life hurls curveballs at everyone. Very few people lead an effortless existence. I try not to wallow in the challenges that I face, but I am honest about things & don’t avoid them. To that extent, I think my disposition has mellowed thru the years, to the point that I don’t get too bent out of shape about things. Once upon a time I resided in a “skilled” rehab facility for about six months, followed by about a year of being homebound. During that time an acquaintance asked me how I handled it because they’d be beating their head against a wall. I don’t know how or why I handle certain circumstances. Perhaps it is because I have no other choice. Maybe I inherited my low-key demeanor from my parents. I definitely believe my faith plays a part. Whatever the reason, I am grateful that I take whatever is thrown at me and swat it away like an annoying pest. I’m not a home run hitter, and really don’t get on base all that much. But I’ve spent a lifetime hitting foul balls and keeping my at-bat going. 

POINTS OF PONDERATION…..EPISODE 6.22

A semi-regular attempt to address some of life’s minutiae that might otherwise be overlooked…..

So wait…it’s okay if little kids want to get a sex change, but they get a tattoo & the parents are arrested?? For the record I’m not a fan of children getting tattoos (regardless of parental permission), but the hypocrisy is stunning. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/11/13/nyregion/tattoos-children.html

People who go out of their way to assert their superiority & gleefully make others look stupid really piss me off.

Here’s the deal. For better or worse social media has been more of a friend the past few years than most human beings who allegedly give a damn about me. Most people have a significant other, career, children, pets…I have books, music, & social media. Sad but true. My social media pages are MY social media pages. I use them for assorted purposes. Instagram is my meme zone. Nothing but memes as far as the eye can see. It’s also where I focus my frustration about sociopolitical topics since it is slightly less fascist than other platforms (just slightly though). I have mixed feelings about Twitter & TikTok. I’m a re-poster on Twitter…mostly quotes, scripture, & pithy thoughts from others that I find particularly deep, amusing, or otherwise interesting, but I may go days or even weeks without opening the app. I’ll never do a video for TikTok, but have gotten a chuckle or two from things other people post. Facebook is a way to stay in contact with friends & family in various locales. It is also my online photo album, a place to promote The Manofesto, and something I use to express my lighthearted opinions & thoughts on meaningful, non-political subjects. Anyone who really wants to understand me could do worse than exploring my Facebook. I check into places I visit not to say “Look at me!!”, but simply to note the event for posterity, with the added benefit that the venue gets some free PR. It’s the least I can do to say thanks for a pleasant evening. So no…I will not remove the pic or post. If you’re at an event with me you are fair game. It’s not about you. It’s my page, my life, my memories. Your consent is not required & your feelings are secondary. I’m not selling your information or likeness. I am not using anything I post for nefarious purposes. I am not well-known. In the grand scheme of life my existence on this Earth is mostly meaningless to all but a handful of people. I suppose this is just my verbose way of saying “get over yourself” and don’t dictate how I conduct my life. No offense 😄. 

I find about 99% of the interactions I have daily with other human beings to be tedious as hell. Also…and I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before…I have zero patience for humorless people. I’ll cut them out of my life like a surgeon removing a tumor with little hesitation. I guess I’m really leaning into the hermit lifestyle. 

In Christian theology legalism is the idea that “by doing good works or obeying the law a person earns and merits salvation.” Legalism adds human rules to divine laws and treats them as divine. I won’t bore you with a lot of jargon, but suffice to say that, in my view anyway, legalists are uptight folks who seem to care more about tradition, propriety, & appearances than what’s in a person’s heart. They’re the people who will tell your family they’re “praying” for you while you’re going thru something but won’t actually pick up the phone & check on you themselves. They’re the kind of people who will get offended by a stupid meme or joke because it’s not appropriate in their eyes. They’re the kind of people who will gasp in horror if another person curses or drinks a beer. They’re the kind of people who wear nice dresses or a suit & tie to church while they look down on you for wearing jeans & a t-shirt, as if that’s what really matters. We all know the type. Churches are filled with them, which is why I am not currently attending a church. I’ve always struggled with the tug-of-war, and have too often compromised my principles because I enjoyed being part of something. The good times & positive social interaction outweighed the negativity of judgmental harpies. Perhaps one day they will again, but at the moment I find myself back in the cycle of desiring a genuine Christian experience. Sadly I don’t believe that can be found at many alleged places of worship these days.

30 DAYS OF GRATITUDE (PART 5)

If you’d like to peruse the previous entries go here and you’ll find what you seek.

I had the best of intentions…really. Things didn’t work out though, but in the best possible way. Instead of authoring a wordy post about Thanksgiving I was actually living in the moment & celebrating the holiday with my family. After I got home the decision was made to vegg thru my carb overload stupor & watch football, and I’m not sorry. It’s all good though. It has always struck me how we tend to anticipate & plan for certain occasions, and then five seconds after it’s over we just move on to the next thing. Understandable I guess. As that sage high school slacker Ferris Bueller once said, “life moves pretty fast”, but he also said “if you don’t stop & look around once in a while you could miss it”. Perhaps we should consider still being thankful even when Thanksgiving is over. 

21 What song are you most grateful for??

My taste in music is eclectic to say the least. I like hard rock, soft rock, jazz, blues, & a little bit of country. Occasionally the mood to chill with some classical hits me. I love parody songs. I enjoy anything with a lot of harmony…like a barbershop quartet. Some contemporary Christian stuff is okay, but I tend to prefer old hymns. I really dig old crooners like Frank Sinatra & Dean Martin. Big band music is cool. Music is a mood thing for me, although no matter what kind of mood I’m in at the start, once I start listening to some tunes it calms & centers me. I’m so thankful for music in general that it’s really difficult to choose just one or even a few songs, but I’ll throw out a few from different genres. Amazing GraceThe 1812 Overture. Almost anything by Billy Joel (I celebrate the guy’s entire catalog). Simple Man (Lynyrd Skynyrd). Gimme Some Lovin’ (IYKYK). Ain’t That a Kick in the Head (Dean Martin). I really could go on & on. 

22 What story are you grateful for??

What an odd question 🤔. Books?? Short stories?? A story that someone told me?? I’m not sure I understand the intent. Given that, I will give a shout out to my man Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who wrote 56 short stories (and four novellas) about the amazing Sherlock Holmes

23 What tradition are you thankful for??

I wrote in detail about it a couple of years ago, but I am thankful that for over four decades I was privileged to enjoy a somewhat traditional Italian Christmas Eve with my extended family. Sadly those days are gone now, and I miss it. I miss my mother and all my grandparents, and I miss gathering for what seemed like a magical night of fellowship & food. I don’t even like fish all that much, but for one night every year oysters, calimari, & baccala were the stars of the menu, and nothing else tasted quite as delicious. 

24 What challenge are you grateful for??

The Bible says there is privilege in suffering (Philippians 1:29), but I have to be blatantly honest…I’ve had enough challenges to last a lifetime. Occasionally I’ll run across a person who seemingly leads a charmed life. Everything apparently comes up roses for them, and it’d be deceitful for me not to admit that I am envious of folks like that. I am self aware enough to know that much of what has gone awry in my life is my own fault, but sometimes the losses pile up and it’s exhausting. Having said all of that, I do understand that things could be much worse, and I recognize God’s guidance in my life. Those who know me personally are aware that I have used a wheelchair my whole life due to being born with spina bifida. I have faced more challenges than anyone will ever realize, and though I can’t truthfully say I am grateful for the cards I was dealt, I have pondered what kind of a person a healthy, able-bodied Me would’ve been like. Cooler?? Healthier?? Better looking?? Maybe. But would I have also had a totally different personality & outlook…and would that be a good thing?? Might healthy Me have been a total assclown?? If attracting women would have been easier what kind of trouble might I have gotten into??  If more options to distract me had been available how would that have affected my schoolwork?? What would my relationship with my family have been like if I didn’t need so much help as a kid?? I don’t know the answer to those questions, but I know that I like the person I am, though that is far far from perfect. I have always believed that things happen for a reason, so I suppose it’s not a stretch to opine that we should be grateful for all of the challenges that ultimately influence who we become.

25 What moment this week are you most grateful for??

That’s easy. I was able to enjoy Thanksgiving with my father, sister, & two nephews. My Mom passed in 2000, and almost every year since then we’ve gone out to eat, with the exception of a few occasions in which my health prevented me from participating. That was fine. However, earlier this year my youngest nephew bought his father’s old house, and he wanted to host Thanksgiving. Like myself he is a bachelor (although he’s a lot younger so that’ll change eventually), but he did most of the cooking himself, and everything was quite tasty. Food. Family. Football. It doesn’t get much better than that. 

Okay, let’s pause one last time. Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion…coming soon!!

2022 PIGSKIN PICKS OF PROFUNDITY…WEEK 14

Happy Thanksgiving Manoverse!! With the holiday season upon us I’m ready to put last  week, which included a pricey auto repair & going 0-5 in these picks, behind me. Zach was 2-3, has taken the season lead, & to my knowledge did not have any expensive car issues, so kudos to him. We will be celebrating Thanksgiving at my other nephew’s house, and in addition to tasty vittles we can look forward to an extended weekend of gridiron action. Have fun…be safe…eat as much stuffing & pie as you desire…cheer on your favorite teams…and don’t forget to give a shout out to The Man Upstairs for all your blessings. 

My Season: 38-36

Zach’s Season: 40-34

Mississippi State at Ole Miss (-2.5)

The Bulldogs and the Rebels have met 118 times since 1901, with Ole Miss leading the series 64-45-6. Beginning in 1927 they began competing for a Golden Egg, although it wasn’t dubbed The Egg Bowl until 1979. This is because the trophy wasn’t intended to be an egg, but footballs a hundred years ago looked more like a rugby ball, which is kinda sorta egg shaped. Anyway, the home team is 8-3 but has lost two in a row, while the visitors are 7-4 and just beat the snot out of a Southern Conference team, which doesn’t impress anyone. I don’t have much hope of this game being…noteworthy, but I think Ole Miss will get the job done. Zach likes State QB Will Rogers, but he feels like the Rebels have more weapons. Plus they’re led by head coach Lane Kiffin, whose offensive expertise is unmatched. 

My Pick: Ole Miss 

Z’s Pick: Ole Miss 

North Carolina State at North Carolina (-6.5)

I ranked the Wolfpack in my preseason poll, but at 7-4 & on a two game losing skid it seems unlikely they’ll finish in the Top 25. Conversely, the 9-2 Tar Heels have earned the opportunity to get beaten by Clemson in the ACC title game. I admit when I’m wrong, and State has let me down this year, so I can’t pick them now. Zach feels like the Heels have more to gain with a win & believes they’ll be able to overcome State’s formidable defense. 

My Pick: North Carolina 

Z’s Pick: North Carolina 

Florida at Florida State (-9.5)

If you would’ve told me a few months ago that the Seminoles would be nearly double digit favorites in this game I’d have audibly chuckled. Kudos to them for their most successful season in six years. I’m not ready to say they’re back to being elite like the Florida St. teams of the 1990s, but progress is a good thing. In contrast, the 6-5 Gators haven’t quite clicked under first year head coach Billy Napier. Still, I’d give them a fighting chance if this game was in The Swamp, but it’s not so I can’t. The points make Zach a bit nervous, but he has faith in State’s defense to get the job done. 

My Pick: Florida St.

Z’s Pick: Florida St.

South Carolina at Clemson (-14.5)

I had the Gamecocks in my preseason poll, but at 7-4 they’re not quite at that level yet. Having said that, they can brag about absolutely demolishing Tennessee last week, ending the Vols playoff aspirations. The Tigers are right about where I thought they’d be, with a shot at a playoff berth but needing a few dominoes to fall their way. I don’t forsee the visitors pulling off a second consecutive major upset, but the points are troubling. I think fans with skin in the game will be sweating as the contest reaches its climax, with Clemson’s defense stiffening after allowing a surprising amount of offensive penetration by the ‘Cocks early on. Conversely, Zach doesn’t feel as though the ‘Cocks will have enough stamina to rise to the occasion two weeks in a row, which would be good news for those laying the points.

My Pick: South Carolina 

Z’s Pick: Clemson 

*Editor’s Note: Speaking of The Man Upstairs, I probably need to seek Him out for a chat about what you just read 👀.

Auburn at Alabama (-21.5)

The Iron Bowl…enough said. Believe it or not Alabama, even after two losses, still might have a (very narrow) path to the playoff because of course they do. I don’t actually believe it will pan out for them, but nothing would surprise me. The Tigers need a victory to achieve bowl eligibility, and I’d love to see it…but the chances of it happening are slim. Can ‘Bama cover the points though?? It is absolutely possible, but I just can’t pull the trigger. Three TDs+ is simply too much. Zach recognizes that both teams are having down years, and doesn’t feel like this version of Alabama has what it takes to cover the points.

My Pick: Auburn 

Z’s Pick: Auburn 

Oregon (-3.5) at Oregon State

They call this The Civil War, or atleast they used to until pansy ass, virtue signaling leftists decided to toss the moniker a couple of years ago because they aren’t capable of having fun and ruin literally everything they touch. At any rate, the 9-2 Ducks must win if they want to face USC in the PAC 12 title game, but the 8-3 Beavers have the home field. I’m a little disappointed with the 3:30pm kickoff because this is exactly the kind of game I usually look forward to watching late Saturday night, but it is what it is. There’s certainly ample motivation on both sides, ultimately though I think the Ducks are a better team. Oregon QB Bo Nix could be in the Heisman conversation, and Zach thinks he’ll be the difference maker.

My Pick: Oregon 

Z’s Pick: Oregon 

Washington (-2) at Washington State

You may or many not already know that the state of Washington has been the leading domestic producer of apples (the fruit, not the electronic devices) for over a century, and that half of all apples grown in the United States come from there. The Apple Cup has been played 113 times since 1900 (with the Huskies leading the series 74-33-6), although it didn’t receive the name or the associated trophy until 1963. The Huskies are 9-2 and could back into the PAC 12 title game with a victory & an Oregon loss. The Cougars are a respectable 7-4 and will be going bowling. This is a 10:30pm kickoff on ESPN, and I might have to try & stay awake. If Oregon loses earlier in the day the motivation will certainly be there for the visitors, but even if the Ducks win I still think we’ll see the Huskies emerge victorious. Zach foresees a blowout victory for the visitors.

My Pick: Washington 

Z’s Pick: Washington 

Michigan at Ohio State (-7.5)

I already know who Zach will pick to win this one, so it’s simply a matter of whether or not I concur. The winner will be heading to the Big Ten title game & mostly likely the playoff, so there’s about as much at stake as there possibly could be. Both teams are undefeated, with the Buckeyes having barely broken a sweat most of the season, although Maryland was surprisingly competitive last weekend. Conversely, the Wolverines have had a couple of close shaves…also against the Terrapins (back in September), and just last week, when it took a last second field goal to get past Illinois. Will running back & Heisman hopeful Blake Corum be good to go for Michigan?? He’s battling a knee injury, but I have no doubt he’ll be in the lineup. The x-factor is how effective he will be. Given that & the home field I have no choice but to go with the favorites, who will be out to avenge last year’s defeat that cost them a playoff berth. To the surprise of absolutely no one Zach has total faith that Corum will lead his team to a huge victory. 

My Pick: Ohio St. 

Z’s Pick: Michigan 

NY Giants at Dallas (-8.5)

I owe an apology to the Giants after boldly predicting that they’d go 1-16. Instead they are currently 7-3 just like the Cowboys. Dallas has lost three consecutive Turkey Day games, while the Giants have only played once on the holiday since 2009. I like the home team’s chances to win, but those points are a bit much. I think it’ll be a tighter contest. Zach thinks Dallas’ rushing attack will wear down the Giants and it’ll be an easy win. 

My Pick: NY Giants 

Z’s Pick: Dallas 

LA Rams at Kansas City (-14.5)

I thought the Rams had a legit chance to return to the Super Bowl, but at 3-7 & sitting at the bottom of their division that seems unlikely at this point. Conversely, the 8-2 Chiefs have overcome the trade of receiver Tyreek Hill like King Kong swatting away an airplane. Stranger things have happened, but I’d be shocked if KC lost the game. But will they cover?? With the exception of a couple 3 TD+ victories their other wins have all been ten points or less, while the Rams have only been blown out a few times. It’s a gamble considering Arrowhead is one of the loudest home fields in the NFL, but I don’t think the favorites win by more than two touchdowns. Conversely, Zach has no hesitation in predicting a monster win for the Chiefs. 

My Pick: LA Rams 

Z’s Pick: Kansas City 

30 DAYS OF GRATITUDE (PART IV)

I’m glad this deal is 30 Days of Gratitude, because I don’t think I’ll finish before Thanksgiving, which comes a little earlier this year. I have no excuse except outright procrastination. My life is not that busy or exciting, I just experience some…inertia…occasionally. At any rate, please peruse Parts 1, 2, & 3, then meet me back here. Enjoy. 

16 What about your body are you grateful for??

That’s a tough one because, to be honest, my physical body hasn’t been much to brag about. I’m overweight. I’m disabled. I don’t think I’m especially handsome. However, in the spirit of the exercise I will coax myself into positivity by acknowledging that I have a pretty decent head of hair. It’s not as wavy as it was in my youth, and there’s a whole lot more grey than there used to be, but I don’t think I’m in danger of going bald. So atleast I got that going for me, which is nice. 

17 What knowledge are you grateful for??

Knowledge is power. Isn’t that the old saying?? I don’t feel especially powerful, and my standard joke is that I used to be rather smart but I’ve gotten dumber thru the years. I possess alot of useless knowledge, which comes in handy if you’re playing Trivial Pursuit or somehow make it as a contestant on Jeopardy!, but practical skills are more helpful in the real world. There are lots of things I wish I knew – how to attract women…how to lose weight…how to fix a car…how to make a living doing this writing thing. However, the question pertains to knowledge for which I am grateful to possess. As citizens of The Manoverse may know, I have served on the board of directors of our local literacy organization for 15 years, and it’s a topic near & dear to me. My knowledge & ability to read is probably something I take for granted, but books have added so much to my life that I need to appreciate it much more. 

18 What piece of art are you grateful for??

I am certainly the kind of geek that would happily visit an art gallery & enjoy it tremendously. However, that doesn’t mean I’m particularly well versed about specific works or that I own anything like that. So I’m going to think outside the box. What is a piece of art?? According to my extensive research (😉) “a work of art is any work regarded as art in its widest sense, including works from literature & music”. Given those wide parameters I’m going to give you three answers. First, I’m not a photographer (probably one of the many callings I missed), but I do get an endorphin release out of taking a nice photo. Plus, pictures are a fantastic way to capture memories that one can appreciate forever. I regret that I’m not well traveled and haven’t had the opportunity to take cool photos of amazing places. Secondly, I’ve talked about my love of music. This isn’t the time to go into details about favorite songs or performers, but I am immensely grateful for music in general. And finally, y’all know I’m a bookworm. More specifically I have become an expert in tsundoku, which is a Japanese term used to describe a person who owns a lot of unread literature. An old friend once opined that I live in a library. Much like Ron Burgundy I have many leatherbound books & my apartment smells of rich mahogany. I waste too much time engaged on other time wasting activities and need to read more. When that day comes I am grateful to have a plethora of books to choose from, but in the meantime they sure do look lovely lining the walls of my humble abode. 

19 What touch are you grateful for today??

Physical touch is something severely lacking in my life. It’s not even about sex. Sometimes it’s nice just to hold someone’s hand or get a hug or give (or receive) a nice shoulder massage. Having said that, perhaps it would be wise to think outside the box. Anyone who has spent any time in church or who has read their Bible may recall numerous accounts of Jesus touching people or them touching his garments & being healed. He may not be physically on Earth at the moment, but I believe in the touch of God in our lives. That touch is God’s power contacting us to influence or change our circumstances in a myriad of ways. We can be touched thru prayer, reading God’s Word, or thru simple, ordinary, oftentimes unexpected interactions with people. I sincerely believe that God puts people in our path…maybe for a brief moment, sometimes for the long run…who guide us, comfort us, give us perspective, teach us, and help us thru tough times. I don’t pray or study my Bible often enough, and that’s my fault. Still, though my life is less than ideal & not what I dreamed it could be once upon a time, it is undeniable that I have felt the touch of God. 

20 Who in your life are you grateful for??

I’ve met a lot of good people in my life, but I want to focus on the ones who stayed. I was taught at an early age that if you can honestly say that you have one true friend you’re very blessed. We throw around the word “friend” quite freely, when the fact is that what we really have are co-workers, neighbors, classmates, colleagues, acquaintances, fellow congregants, people we happen to be related to, associates, pals, & buddies. To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with any of that, but most of those folks won’t be anywhere around when you really truly need them. Truth bomb. The point is this: the only people you can count on is family. There is no one more important than your family. Since I don’t have a wife or children that means the three people I’m most grateful for are my parents & my sister. We lost Mom more than two decades ago, but her impact on my life is immeasurable. Of course that means her absence has had a staggering effect as well. I am fortunate to still have my father & sister, both of whom I speak to almost daily. 

Let’s take another time out & meet back here on Thanksgiving. 

30 DAYS OF GRATITUDE (PART III)

Reflect upon your present blessings—of which every man has many—not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some. – Charles Dickens

I will skip a wordy preamble and just encourage you to check out Parts 1 & 2 if you have not already done so. 

11 What holiday are you grateful for??

I really love holidays. Sure, some are more meaningful than others, but each & every occasion we celebrate annually is marked on the calendar for a reason. A few go back centuries, while others are only several decades old. A handful are uniquely American observances, while others are recognized across the globe. I have a healthy respect for all of these days, but there are four that I am especially pleased to acknowledge. Obviously the entire reason any of us are participating in these gratitude exercises is due to Thanksgiving. Someday I’ll take the time to do a deep dive into the holiday, but for now I’ll just say that I believe it is fantastic to set aside a day to really appreciate our blessings, mark the very beginnings of our great country, and of course munch on stuffing & pumpkin pie. I also love New Year’s Day, partly because it’s a fun reason to go out & enjoy some (safe & responsible) revelry the night before, but mostly because there’s something very cool about fresh starts & new beginnings. As a Christian (though admittedly not a very good one) I love Easter as an opportunity to reflect on the gift of eternal life provided to us thru the sacrifice of our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. And of course I adore Christmas, both because it marks the birth of Christ and also for the beautiful things…lights, music, movies, etc….that have become lovely accessories to the Reason for the Season. 

12 What texture are you grateful for??

I’m going to be honest with y’all…I’ve really struggled with the question. It’s just not something one thinks about. Of course I suppose that’s the point…to provoke thought. At any rate, I have a few ideas. First, is a particular texture really what you’re grateful for…or is it what that texture represents?? 🤔 Secondly…are warmth & cool considered texture?? I ponder that query because the first things that popped into my mind were the warmth one feels when you snuggle underneath a cozy comforter on a cold winter night, and conversely, the coolness of a cool summer breeze or the rush of cold as you walk into an air conditioned room on a hot summer day. As far as tactile texture, I immediately thought of my boy Rocco’s soft fur. I really miss that.

13 What abilities are you grateful for??

I suppose we all have abilities, although I don’t feel like I’m all that talented at anything. Perhaps I’m too hard on myself. Anyway, as a person with a disability it is interesting to consider the idea simply because oftentimes the focus…understandably…is on what I can’t do. So, thinking more positively, I am grateful for the senses that I do have…sight, hearing, taste, touch. On a more personal level, I am obviously grateful for whatever level of writing ability I seem to possess, even though I haven’t been smart enough to turn it into a profitable vocation. Also…and this is going to sound strange, but you’ll understand my point…I am grateful for the relatively tranquil demeanor & ability to roll with the punches that I inherited from my father. Trust me…I’ve needed every ounce of that throughout my life.

14 What sight are you grateful for today??

Sight in & of itself is something for which I am deeply grateful. As a wheelchair user I have often said that I’d much rather deal with the disability that I have rather than blindness (or being deaf). There are so many cool things to see. Right now I am looking out my living room window, and even though it’s cold & a lil snowy outside the sun is shining and it’s a beautiful day. Later on tonight I will curl up with a good book, so that’s a sight I’ll enjoy. Soon enough the landscape will be littered with lights & decorations celebrating Christmas, and that’s a sight I look forward to every year. 

15 What season are you grateful for??

My typical smartass answer to this question is football season. It’s true though!! I haven’t been able to attend a lot of games in person thru the years, but on weekends in the fall, unless I am engaged in other activities, there’s nothing better than vegging out & watching hours upon hours of gridiron action!! A more conventional response to the probable spirit of the question would be summer. I hate cold, snowy, icy, dark, depressing weather. Give me hot summer days & nights with plenty of sunshine. 

Okay, let’s pause once again. Stay tuned for more though!!

2022 PIGSKIN PICKS OF PROFUNDITY…WEEK 13

Perhaps I shouldn’t have said “there’s too much at stake for Oregon to lay an egg on their home turf”, and I should’ve seen Philly screwing the pooch a mile away, but what I’m really ticked off about is San Francisco having the freakin’ ball inside the ten yard line & just sitting on it. Granted, they were up 6 points with only 15 seconds left, but come on guys…kick a damn field goal!! Help a brother out!! At any rate, with his 4-1 effort & my 2-3 disappointment Zach is again tied for the season lead. The NFL has rounded the curve into the second half of the season, while conference titles & playoff berths hang in the balance on Saturdays. It’s a great time to be a football fan. 

My Season: 38-31

Zach’s Season: 38-31

Tennessee at Green Bay (-3)

The Titans are right about where I expected them to be, while the Packers are struggling much more than anyone anticipated. Having said that, I get the sense that maybe a corner has been turned in Green Bay. If Aaron Rodgers finds a couple of receivers he trusts they could go on a second half run and still back into the playoffs. Tennessee’s hopes rest squarely on the legs of RB Derrick Henry & the health of QB Ryan Tannehill, neither of which I have confidence in to make it thru the rest of the slate unscathed. This is the time of year when The Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field begins to be a difference maker, as I believe will be the case on Thursday night. Zach concurs.

My Pick: Green Bay 

Z’s Pick: Green Bay 

Virginia Tech at Liberty (-9.5)

Good Lord what has happened to the Hokies??  After firing head coach Justin Fuente following a couple of subpar seasons they brought in former Penn St. defensive coordinator Brent Pry, but thus far he’s led them to an abysmal 2-8 record. Conversely, the Flames have built upon three straight solid seasons to stand at 8-2. At this point they are playing for bowl position and to vault themselves into Boise St. territory where they are perceived as being capable of defeating well-regarded teams on a regular basis. Tech may be in a down period, but it would still be a big win for Liberty. It helps that the game is in Lynchburg instead of Blacksburg, but wow…the points. That spread makes me anxious. What the heck though…what have I got to lose?? Conversely, Zach isn’t comfortable with the numbers & believes the underdogs will stay close. 

My Pick: Liberty 

Z’s Pick: Virginia Tech 

Iowa at Minnesota (-2.5)

The West Division of the Big Ten is still up for grabs, with the winner earning the honor of getting beaten by Ohio St. or Michigan in the conference title game. Both teams  have won three straight, and I’m expecting this contest to be under-the-radar good. Probably low scoring, power football. I believe it will come down to penalties, special teams, & time of possession. The winner receives a bronze pig named Floyd, which seems appropriate. Minnesota hasn’t won Floyd since 2014, but I think that changes this year. Zach disagrees & thinks a slight upset is brewing. 

My Pick: Minnesota 

Z’s Pick: Iowa

USC (-3) at UCLA

The PAC 12 eliminated divisions, so the top two teams will play in the conference title game. Right now that’d be the Trojans vs. the winner of Utah-Oregon, but the Bruins have an opportunity to jump into the mix with a victory. There is no real home field advantage since the two campuses are less than a half hour apart. USC’s only loss was by one point at Utah, while UCLA lost on the road to Oregon & inexplicably stumbled at home against Arizona. I will probably regret this, but I’ll be pulling for the home team to pull off an upset. Zach thinks it’ll be a high scoring affair that will ultimately be won on the ground by the underdogs. 

My Pick: UCLA

Z’s Pick: UCLA 

Oklahoma State at Oklahoma (-6.5)

The term bedlam comes from the Saint Mary of Bethlehem Hospital in London, which treated mentally ill patients in the 15th century. Over time the pronunciation of Bethlehem somehow morphed into “bedlam”, and that evolved into meaning a place, scene, or state of uproar & confusion. As it applies to this particular rivalry, the name is said to have been born on the night of a particularly heated wrestling meet between the two renowned programs, during which a news reporter allegedly emerged from the building exclaiming to people outside, “It’s bedlam in there!”. On the gridiron it really hasn’t been much of a rivalry, with the Sooners winning 77% of the matchups since 1904. In recent years State has won only three games since 2011. The Sooners come into the weekend on a two game losing skid & in the midst of a decidedly down season. I had high hopes for the Cowboys, but other teams have emerged in the Big 12. Still, a victory could potentially propel them into the conference title game, so there is certainly motivation. I try to remain loyal to my preseason though process, so I’m sticking with the underdogs. Zach isn’t too excited by this one, believing it’ll be rather boring. He too thinks the visitors will steal a victory. 

My Pick: Oklahoma St. 

Z’s Pick: Oklahoma St.

30 Days of Gratitude (Part Deux)

And we’re back!! If you haven’t perused Part 1 please take a moment to do so. You won’t regret it.

I’ve been using the words grateful/gratitude & thankful/thankfulness interchangeably and will continue to do so. However, it occurred to me that there might be a slight difference officially, and this is what I found. Thankfulness is feeling pleased & relieved, while gratefulness is showing appreciation for something done or received. Being thankful is more about expressing a feelingwhereas gratitude is action in response to something or someone that you appreciate. Thankfulness involves how we feel in the moment. It is a temporary emotional response to a temporary circumstance. Conversely, gratitude is an attitude under any circumstance, appreciating daily life even when nothing exciting happens. I get it. I don’t disagree with any of that. However, I will continue to utilize both terms as synonyms, and I’m pretty sure The Manoverse is sharp enough to keep up.

6 What in nature are you grateful for??

I think I’ve mentioned that I’m not at all outdoorsy (for legit reasons), and neither am I really into “saving the environment” (whatever that means). Having said that, I do have a healthy respect for God’s amazing creation. Many years ago I self-diagnosed myself with Seasonal Affective Disorder. I do not like grey, cloudy, rainy, depressing days, and I’m not a fan of snowy, cold, icy conditions. Television & movies romanticize snow, but I find it rather inconvenient. I guess what I’m saying is that I really appreciate sunshine. I simply feel more energetic & focused…more alive…on beautiful, sunny days. I always say that any day that I can wear my sunglasses is a good day, 

7 What memory are you grateful for??

That’s really difficult to narrow down. I hope that most of us have a plethora of great memories. However, I’ll give the spotlight to two. First, I’ve talked a few times about the lovely Thanksgivings & Christmases of my youth. Sadly, with my mother & all the grandparents gone those occasions are forever in the mist of bygone days, and since I don’t have any kids it’s impossible to create new memories that measure up. At the other end of the heartwarming nostalgia spectrum are my days as a drunken frat boy. That is probably the favorite era of my life, although I have no desire to relive those crazy times. I am so grateful for my childhood, my family, and my college friends & good times. It’s all been downhill from there. 

8 What book are you most grateful for??

I’ve ranked everything from movies to TV characters to cartoons in this space, but I’ve never done any such thing with books. Why?? Well, I don’t believe it’s feasible to compare & contrast books, and I definitely can’t choose just one as my favorite. That being said, in the spirit of the task at hand, I’ll give a shout out to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his Sherlock Holmes stories. I cannot remember exactly when & how I stumbled upon Holmes, although I think it may have been junior high. Thru the years I have reread those tales many times, and it is always like the literary version of comfort food. I don’t know how many youngsters are discovering Holmes these days, but I encourage anyone who has never had the pleasure to give him a whirl. It’s a decision you won’t regret. 

9 What place are you most grateful for??

This one is easy: The Robinson Grand Performing Arts Center. When I was a little boy the Robinson Grand was the local movie theater. I don’t have any specific memories of seeing anything there, although I know I did. Then malls became a thing, and when our local mall opened (complete with a shiny new cineplex) downtown died & the theater faded into oblivion. Flash ahead to 2018, and The Grand was renovated & reopened as a performing arts center. I happen to live about a mile away, so it is really convenient to drive down the street for a show. I live in a small, economically challenged town, and the theater holds about a thousand people, so the latest greatest rock band or that hot new country star isn’t walking thru the door, which is fine. I’ve seen several tribute bands, a handful of acts whose heyday was quite awhile ago, a couple of very well done local theater productions, and alot of other things at RGPAC. It’s always a nice way to spend the evening, and the staff has been first class from Day 1. I’m reminded of The Eagles 1979 song The Sad Cafe that says “oh it seemed like a holy place protected by amazing grace, and we would sing right out loud the things we could not say”, although I don’t want to give anyone the idea that there is anything sad about The Grand. To the contrary…it is my happy place.

10 What taste are you grateful for today??

Forgive me if I take these questions far too seriously. I suppose a simple, trite answer would suffice, but that’s not how I roll. In November 2015 I had a medical issue. I’ll spare you the details, but there are about three days of my life that I don’t remember at all. When I woke up in the hospital the plan was to perform surgery within 24 hours, so I wasn’t permitted to eat or drink, and I was so thirsty. I was given a tiny wet sponge, just enough to moisten my lips & tongue. If you’ve read your Bible you may recall in the book of John, as Jesus is hanging on the cross, He says “I thirst”. It goes on to say that “there was set a vessel full of vinegar…they filled a sponge with vinegar, put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth”. Don’t misunderstand…I am not comparing myself to Jesus, and I wasn’t given vinegar, but in that moment I thought of that scripture & truly understood thirst for probably the first time in my life. I don’t drink enough water even now, but that’s not the point. There are a ton of delicious food & beverage choices out there, but when you’ve experienced real thirst you deeply appreciate anything that will quench it.

Okay, let’s pause once again. Don’t worry…we’ll continue soon. 

2022 PIGSKIN PICKS OF PROFUNDITY…WEEK 12

It’s been beautiful here in The Mountain State lately. 75 degree days. Lots of sunshine. Unfortunately that’s about to change, with temps in the 40s & several rainy days in the forecast thru Thanksgiving. I suppose some would call that football weather. Speaking of which, yours truly has regained the season lead after going 3-2 last week. Zach got roughed up a bit at 1-4. Can y’all believe we’re both still above .500?? To be honest doing these picks has been one of the saving graces of the season thus far. All my favorite teams…Marshall, WVU, the Steelers…have been disappointing. All five of my fantasy teams are terrible. Despite all of it though, I still enjoy curling up on Saturdays & watching ball games from Noon til after midnight, then spending seven hours on Sunday watching RedZone. It’s not the most exciting life, but trust me when I say that after all of the things I’ve gone thru those simple pleasures mean so damn much. 

My Season: 36-28

Zach’s Season: 34-30

Central Florida at Tulane (-2)

In case y’all hadn’t noticed, the Green Wave are 8-1, have won 5 games in a row, sit atop the AAC, & are firmly ensconced in the Top 25. That being said, they can’t ease off the gas with Cincinnati & UCF hot on their heels. The Knights are hanging on in the polls themselves & have won their last two games. Everybody knows I tend to be a big home field guy, but I just don’t see UCF being all that intimidated. I think they march right into New Orleans and go home with a victory. Zach concurs.

My Pick: UCF

Z’s Pick: UCF

TCU at Texas (-7)

The undefeated Horned Frogs are in the playoff discussion, but they need to solidify their position by beating a big name program. Yes, I know…they defeated Oklahoma last month, but it’s not enough. If it comes down to unbeaten TCU or a one-loss SEC/Big Ten team for that final playoff spot I don’t trust the committee to do the right thing anyway, but any kind of loss will be the end of the road. Meanwhile, the Longhorns feel like they’re in a holding pattern until Arch Manning arrives on campus, but they do have a legit opportunity to sneak into the Big 12 title game, which would likely be a rematch with TCU. It’s a tall task for the visitors, and I know where the smart money is going, but sometimes I’m not very smart. Zach has concerns about TCU’s defense, but believes it’ll be closer than a touchdown no matter who wins. 

My Pick: TCU

Z’s Pick: TCU

Washington at Oregon (-13.5)

Despite a season opening beatdown at the hands of the Georgia Bulldogs the Ducks have fought back and can see a legit path to the playoff. The Huskies aren’t too shabby themselves, and probably believe they have a shot to play in the conference title game. There’s too much at stake for Oregon to lay an egg on their home turf, but can they cover the points?? Go big or go home, right?? I think the favorites are peaking at the right time & will score a huge win. Zach sees big things ahead for Oregon QB Bo Nix. 

My Pick: Oregon 

Z’s Pick: Oregon 

LA Chargers at San Francisco (-7)

The Niners pulled the trigger on an impactful trade for RB Christian McCaffrey, but still find themselves behind red hot Seattle in the NFC West. The Chargers are battling the KC Chiefs in their division, and last weekend found a way to win without receivers Keenan Allen & Mike Williams. Can they do it again if necessary?? Honestly, I feel like the Bolts are a better team, but with their injuries & the fact that ‘Frisco is really in a must-win situation in order to keep pace with the Seahawks, I’ve got to lean toward the home team. Zach doesn’t think their banged up receiving corps will hurt the Chargers as long as they utilize RB Austin Ekeler to bludgeon the 49ers defense. 

My Pick: San Francisco 

Z’s Pick: LA Chargers 

Washington at Philadelphia (-11)

The Eagles are undefeated & have to be the overwhelming favorite to win the division. The Commanders are below .500 & playing on the road. The Philly crowd will almost certainly show up & show out for Monday Night Football, and I’d be stunned if their team disappointed them. The question is can they cover the points?? These teams played in Washington at the end of September, with the Eagles winning 24-8, and I believe we’ll see similar results this time. Zach thinks Philly has the right stuff to remain unbeaten, but feels like the points are too much & the visitors will stay respectably close.

My Pick: Philadelphia 

Z’s Pick: Washington 

30 Days of Gratitude (Part I)

People have been doing this on social media for several years, but I’ve always avoided it. Don’t misunderstand…I am quite thankful for many things. It’s not even the idea of posting something new on a daily basis. I’ve been doing a Song of the Day for the past two years, which has been fun, and anyone that follows me on Instagram knows I’m the Master of Memes. I suppose it’s more that I find this particular task both fascinating & challenging and believe it deserves a more thoughtful approach than flippant Facebook posts. Citizens of The Manoverse are familiar with my occasional verbosity, and I don’t want to blow up anyone’s timeline in such a manner. Why have a blog if it isn’t going to be used for stuff like this, right?? At any rate, I’ve decided to break things down in increments for the sake of readability, so non-sports fans of this space can rejoice…you’ll be getting something else other than football picks over the next couple of weeks. 

1 What smell are you grateful for today??

Unlike most guys I’m really into nice smells. I have multiple wax warmers in my apartment & enjoy keeping the ol’ Bachelor Palace fresh & cozy. I tend to prefer seasonal scents. Eucalyptus & lemon in the sunnier months. Pumpkin-ish aromas in the fall. Anything food related, so my humble abode smells like I just baked cookies or muffins or pie. Vanilla is a go to year round. I enjoy buying soap & body wash that smells nice, and I’ll usually throw on just enough cologne (there is such a thing as too much). I’m not an expert, but am protective of my smoldering machismo, so I try not to smell like flowers or anything too girly. I know that’s a pretty broad & verbose answer to the question, but now you know why I didn’t do this on Facebook.

2 What technology are you grateful for??

I’m not old enough to be one of those geezers that whines & complains about how much simpler life was before machines took over, but I have witnessed the rise of a plethora of amazing technological advances in my lifetime. I am not a tech guru, but neither am I intimidated by it. My mother has been gone for over two decades, and occasionally I ponder what she would think about some of the things we’ve become accustomed to in that time. Social media. Smart phones. Streaming television. I appreciate much of what has come down the pike thru the years, but a couple of things come to mind. First, I really love having a decent camera built into my phone. I’ve been around long enough to remember flash bulbs & film. You’d drop your film off at the drug store, be forced to wait a few days to see the finished product, and ultimately the photos weren’t that great. Digital cameras were cool, but the cell phone cameras we have nowadays are incredible. Secondly, I have seen a lot of music tech come & go. I vaguely recall 8-tracks. I owned vinyl when I was a boy. Then cassettes came along. CDs were awesome. But now?? I love having an app on my phone where I can find almost any song that pops into my mind and listen to it immediately. Music has become very important to me. I find it therapeutic, and occasionally will spend hours just chillin’ with my favorite tunes. Doing that very thing has helped me navigate some rather choppy waters in recent years, which would’ve been alot more challenging with a boom box or the sweet rack system stereo I saved my birthday & Christmas money to buy when I was 14 years old.

3 What color are you grateful for??

I’ve never pondered the idea of being grateful for a color. Perhaps I’m not approaching the query from the correct angle. Anyway, I’ll just say that my two favorite colors are blue & purple. I don’t know why. There is no particular reason or meaningful story to tell. I just really like blue & purple. Perhaps a therapist could discover some profound reason for that.

4 What food are you most grateful for??

Wow. Okay. This is a difficult choice. First, let me say that I am thankful for food in general. I am well aware that, despite the whining & complaining all of us do sometimes, most of us here in America (especially if you’re reading this, which means you have internet access) are extremely fortunate and have so much more than many do in impoverished areas of the world. Of course even here there are some that may struggle for their next meal. I’ve been rather blessed in my life & have rarely lacked food & drink. Having said that, I have dealt with medical issues & stayed in some unpleasant places where the food was…substandard (I’m being kind). Therefore, I am very thankful to be in my own place eating food that I choose & enjoy. As far as something that I specifically appreciate, I have to say chocolate. I know it’s bad for me, but I do have some level of self-control & enjoy my favorite candy, pastries, & assorted treats in moderation. 

5 What sound are you most grateful for today??

In 1964 Simon & Garfunkel released one of their biggest hits, a song called The Sound of Silence. I am somewhat of an introvert, which means that I’ll happily attend a party, ball game, concert, or any kind of public gathering. I can be a fun dude!! However, there always comes that point in the festivities when I’m done. I’m over it…I need to go home & be by myself. I don’t mind dealing with inane “conversation” or incoherent babbling for a short time, but inevitably the moment arrives when I simply want the person annoying me to shut up & go away. I require a certain amount of peace & quiet. Poet May Sarton opined that “loneliness is the poverty of self, while solitude is the richness of self”. I experience both on a regular basis, and solitude is preferable. I wish I was more outdoorsy, because I could really get into the whole communing with nature thing. Since I’m more of a inside cat, sometimes I really just enjoy turning off the TV, closing my eyes, & basking in the glow of noiseless tranquility. 

I think that’s enough for today. Stay tuned!!