2022 RANT

The “Rant” started over 20 years ago as an acerbic and sarcastic response to those sappy and wholly unrealistic letters families send out around the holidays.. it’s matured since then of course… well somewhat…

I start this process every year by reading the past few rants, always interesting to wander back and think about my state of mind in those moments, it’s good for some laughs, tears, and few shakes of the head – “like dude WTF?” 

Admittedly this year I got caught up in the memories and ended up going back 20 plus years; the digital archive only goes back to 2000; the rant was handwritten in the 90’s. Looking back though it’s funny the things we think are important when only viewing life through a 12-month lense. Taken collectively though it represents a quarter century of life; triumphs, failures, and retrospectively a bit of regret – a father’s narrative if you will on his family and their journey. I can’t help but smile at the brash naivete of some of those early ones, clearly I lacked perspective or at least the context of time. 

You’re probably thinking… Oh Christ it’s going to be one of those… and well after thirty years of doing this I feel entitled to write whatever the fuck I want – however, there is plenty to rant about this year so don’t get in a twist we will get there. But not yet – I have the very good fortune of having four very engaged adult children – one of the chief benefits is genuine conversations; a week or so ago we were talking about some of those early days and the evolution of our family dynamic – the core six we call it. One of my sons wondered how or if things would have been different if Dad had been more vulnerable and open in those early years – admittedly he may have been drinking. Still, an interesting question and probably generated by a more open and “vulnerable” dad today; got me thinking though. 

Now what the hell does this have to do with a rant you ask? Well maybe nothing, but it forced some introspection and every rant should have a bit of that don’t you think? Interestingly reading back through the years I can see the evolution, that ability to set the fight down and be more open and contemplative.  I look back at the early years with a great deal of fondness – but they were tough and I always seemed to be battling: career, money, maintaining a young family – no question I armored up emotionally. No apologies, you do what it takes to get through and keep it together. Things are different now though and I am thankful to set the armor, as beat up as it is, aside and share at a completely different level with my family. They know it was never about loving them, I had to protect myself so I could protect them – not so easy to explain, but the older they get the more they understand. Possibly it’s the perspective of grandchildren and the context a multi-generational view provides; but not be to cliché, all those challenges really do teach you what’s important. No question though our ability to delve into topics like this in a loving and objective way has allowed us to gain a deeper understanding of each other and draws us even closer – it’s a true measure of the love that binds us together. 

If you’re early in your journey consider opening a couple of chinks in the armor – no harm will come to you and you might find things are a bit easier to shoulder with some help and understanding from those closest to you. For us seasoned warriors, share the journey, have those important conversations with those that followed you into battle they deserve it. This isn’t a dad only thing either – the journey is shared and everyone has their battles along the way – but we need to learn to bind each other up and heal along the way – when those final notes fade into the breeze I don’t want to leave any wounded troops wondering why I made the choices I did or if I loved them. If you’re shaking your head and thinking, good Lord man what the hell… I’ll make it simple: don’t let all the shit in this world distract you from loving those important to you the rest is just noise.

Damn no ranting at all in that whole first page, well if you endured this far, let me tell you there was plenty of nonsense this year to piss me off. Where to even start the list is long: toxic corporate culture, COVID (haven’t we had enough of this?), why is no one working, a messed-up supply chain – which naturally leads to ridiculous grocery prices and there’s always Starbucks isn’t there?

I spent the first half of this year working sixty-hour weeks worshipping at the altar of corporate greed only to be unceremoniously sacrificed on a beautiful sunny Monday morning in May; no hard feelings though they had been showing their true colors for months and I probably should have seen it coming – it’s only business right? I decided it was an excellent excuse to take the summer off and detox a bit while figuring out what was next. I wasn’t alone though, there were 200+ of us let go that morning; normally losing a job isn’t a positive, but something really cool happened. We came together and started a vibrant digital community supporting each other – job leads, encouragement, and the knowledge that none of us had to go this alone. The ability to share the experience meant we didn’t have to armor up – unfortunately we have added another 500 or so to our group, but we’ve built a support system they can lean into.  Great stuff right, but as positive as it is/was direct deposit is pretty damn good too and the folks that let all of us go are still worshipping. Looking back though, it was a potent reminder of why I left the corporate world in the first place. Okay so that wasn’t quite a rant either, but I think the message here is simple: be careful what your worship – people matter, a job is just a job, don’t get confused about that. 

Now having the summer off did give me plenty of time to enjoy a personal bout with COVID, without the distractions of having to work. Let me tell you, in case this is still confusing to you, being vaccinated apparently has absolutely no bearing or impact on whether you will get the virus – vaxed and double boosted and tested positive. Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t get the jab; I’m just saying I still got plenty sick.  According to the “experts” though I got less sick than as sick as I could have been if I had been really sick… umm ok how the hell does that even work? Of course, I was immediately prescribed the Paxlovid pill – just so you know this pretty much gives you the same symptoms as the virus only less? Hmmm, once again less severe than as severe as they could have been if they had been really severe? You see where this is going right, I came through it though, but definitely don’t want to do it again. Final note on this, I don’t know if this long COVID thing is real or if I am just feeling my age these days, but I am a new kind of tired at the end of the day – I’m blaming the virus, why not… or maybe it’s because I am working again? Whatever the case if you’re sick (any kind of sick) stay the hell away from me.

Now this supply chain issue is also not new this year, pretty sure I bitched about it last year too, but damn crazy the stuff that you just can’t get ahold of these days. Half the time I can’t get Half & Half and that half the time I’m forced to head up to Starbucks. You all know how that winds me up, cause that damn Prius and the double half oat milk / soy latte with no foam is always ahead of me; never mind that half the time they’re out of half the ingredients as well. When you can get groceries, they seem to cost twice as much and shortages have forced me to get inventive with a recipe every now and again – still these are first world problems. It’s interesting though shortages extend beyond our grocery store shelves, I stopped by the local Ford dealer the other day, (looking not buying) still no new F150s to be found – turns out Ford is having supply chain issues getting their blue ovals… seriously the oval badge! Seems ridiculous… I don’t know the answer, but I’m guessing this isn’t a quick fix; I’m not buying a cow for my coffee, but maybe I should grow some of my own vegetables and do some canning… maybe a chicken?

There’s plenty of other things to rant about, why can’t businesses find folks to work? Where the hell did everyone go? Half the places I go – especially restaurants – are having trouble staying open because folks just don’t show up for work – seems crazy to me and they are having the same supply chain issues everyone else is. I drove through a Hardee’s the other morning (biscuit craving – shut-up!) the staff was walking out – biscuit maker decided not to show up – is that even legal south of the Mason-Dixon line? Biscuits aside, rollercoaster gas prices also make me crazy, especially because I have a hard time believing our old friend Vlad has anything to do with it. More importantly any little drop totally creates ridiculous lines at the gas station (worse than Sbux, but not a Prius in sight) they have us on a string – and you all know how I feel about lines. I promised myself I wasn’t going to talk about politics this year, but the cynicism and hypocrisy of these people is infuriating, yet we continue to support what has become an intractable stalemate – “it is what it is,” isn’t enough any longer, don’t we have to figure this out at some point?

When I started this journey the rant was all about crafting a cynical and overtly sarcastic response to those sappy end of year letters we used to get when our kids were small and Tammy and I were struggling to figure out what we could afford for Christmas. Mixed in with the flurry of bills would come half a dozen delightful letters extolling the virtues of other families’ Nobel Prize winning children and all the excellent adventures they experienced over the course of the year. Tammy and I were excited when we could afford Happy Meals for the boys, and keeping the lights on was adventure enough… what the hell I thought. Actually, it was probably closer to… “F’ you guys!” We certainly weren’t having the same experience raising our kids; thus, was born the rant. I haven’t received one of those letters in a long time and my own kids have grown past the point of me extolling their blunders and achievements, but l look back on those days and know that as difficult as it was; the six of us were always in it together – we made it through. Now we have another generation coming up, four of the most wonderful high achieving and one might even say exceptional grandkids to ever exist.  Just kidding, they are a handful and that’s as it should be – the best part for me… PaPa doesn’t have to wear any armor with these little ones, I can just be PaPa. 

2021 RANT

So, another incredibly fucked up year in the books, I mean come on seriously this isn’t even fucking amusing anymore… I just knew I was tempting fate publishing a week early last year… “oh what’s the worst that could happen…” I asked myself… fuck me dead 2021. Usually I sit down, listen to some good music and crank out a rather nostalgic look back interspersed with some classic rant material… this year I’m cranking the blues and drinking whiskey out of the bottle. 

I mean seriously where to even start; I’m not doing the Covid thing again or that shit will never go away… and it’s already cost me three needles this year and I fucking hate needles. By the way, thanks for the heads up, nobody told me I needed a fresh mask once in a while – so this one looks like a fucking picture menu… I’m not having the vax / no vax argument either – do what you want – I personally know people that have died on both sides. 

Look I wouldn’t say there haven’t been any bright spots this year… simply wouldn’t be true. I’ve got four wonderful grandkids that have inspired a year-long comic strip – Drive By Grandpa… Finished up the latest Jessie novel, even with this pandemic mess slowing me down; and I’m pretty pleased with this one. Our Seattle boys have made a couple trips this year – including an epic surprise Mother’s day and another at Thanksgiving. Chris and Tara bought a beautiful new house – plenty of room and they love the neighborhood – bonus they are still close to PaPa and GiGi. On the West coast Kyle opened his own massage therapy practice and is doing great… Kiersta landed a new job working with homebound kids making sure they get all their educational needs met… incredible work and such a huge impact on these children and perfect for her. Cory continues to build amazing stuff including a new back porch swing for dad. I have to smile though – the original rants were a sarcastic and acerbic response to those sappy letters people tend to send at the holidays bragging about their kids and all the wonderful things they managed to pack into the year… Mine were quite the opposite, but I find myself bragging on progeny pretty regularly these days; and my grandkids well now let me tell you… 

Tammy and I are renovating the house… I think this was partly driven by being locked in here for the last two years… we just needed a change of scenery. No surprise it’s taking about three times as long as it should and four times as expensive… let’s go Brandon! (you don’t know, that might be my contractor…)  – what’s finished so far is great and the kitchen will be incredible when it’s done, let you know next year how it turns out. Been a challenge though, there’s no explaining the materials we can’t seem to get ahold of, tile, paint, doors! Probably the largest renovation we’ve done since actually building our first house thirty years and eighteen houses ago – what, we moved a lot! 

There was a little positive interlude for you, now where was I? Oh, have you noticed how rude the general public has become? I am not getting on an airplane again until TSA starts letting me carry a taser… you get up in my face or God forbid think you’re sitting in the seat next to me… yep I’m gonna tase you bro… I remember the days when all you had to worry about was the occasional drunk traveler or someone too friendly with their Twizzlers, but now… it’s like people are taking a dose of “idiot” before boarding a plane… It seems to be everywhere though, are we all just exhausted, out of patience, or have we been inside and isolated so long nobody remembers how to act? I don’t get it even the three-year-old next door flipped me off yesterday… something has to give. Of course, there is the inverse as well, some really lonely people that just want to talk to you no matter what… need to back their omicron shit up though… this is my six-foot circle, and I’m thinking about extending it!

There are some things that just have me shaking my head this year though. For instance, have you been to a car dealership lately… um they don’t have any cars – lots are empty it’s just odd. Or this cream cheese shortage… where the fuck is all the cream cheese… plenty of bagels – no cream cheese. Dropped by the store for some Fritos today… can’t have Frito pie without Fritos… not one single bag – bare shelves! Now you can live without Fritos but more than once I’ve had the pharmacy tell me prescription meds are on backorder… if that doesn’t terrify you… well you’re probably too healthy. Even if this is the temporary “new normal” it’s just not cool. I would include politics in this mess, but I can’t even this year – what a depraved, inept, self-absorbed bunch of people; and if you serve on a school board just go ahead and resign cause it doesn’t matter what you say all of the parents are coming for you. It’s all just perplexing, or vexing, or I don’t know exasperating maybe – I can keep rhyming if you want.   

I have to admit as we exited 2020 I didn’t expect to be reliving those challenges for another year and I am hoping against hope that we are not entering another twelve months like the last ones… It’s not just Covid, I think if we look at it objectively we understand that the statistics aren’t the issue, the vaccination isn’t the issue, the politics aren’t the issue, the distinct impact on humanity is where the real pain is… we fight and argue about what we think is important – all sides of the “issues” if you will, but what do we gain in the end? We’ve been given a license to abuse each other; wielding this virus like some club we should bludgeon each other to death with. Doesn’t it feel like some cosmic psychology experiment gone wrong? A worldwide “Lord of the Flies” moment… and don’t for a moment think I don’t understand the liberty vs public health arguments from both sides, I think most of us can see both points of view. It’s the acrimony of the discourse that’s the real disease in my mind and there is no vaccine for that. 

As is usually the case with these rants I don’t have answers for you and maybe your experience is different; I hope so. For me I work to make quality efforts to fill my space up with some light, some positive: family, friendship, art, food, music, experiences that give me a little something to hold on to… I encourage you to do the same… maybe it won’t solve the big problems, but I am convinced life gets just that much brighter every time we invest in those things that elicit a true and honest emotion or experience. I was thinking about my mother the other night, reflecting on things if you will… we talked for a while, she may have left this physical plane long ago; but that didn’t end our conversations: 

I spoke to my mother tonight… 
we reminisced on things that never happened… 
grandchildren never held 
wisdom never imparted… 
smiles never shared
 I spoke to my mother…
 of lessons I finally understand
 pain I never knew…
 apologies I meant to say
 I spoke to my mother…
 she filled me with light
 held me tight
 and sent me back into the sleepless night…

Friends find whatever “mother” means to you; God, a friend, husband or wife, sister or brother, or maybe just your mom… it doesn’t really matter, but have a conversation – say the hard things, the meaningful things, the things that matter and maybe we can all go into that sleepless night with a brighter light…


2020 RANT

Well, this shitshow started out normal enough, but that didn’t last very long… anybody roll out of a NYE 2020 party resolving to stay in your house all year, scream at the television every night, wash your hands 13,000 times, gain 20 pounds, stockpile 42 cases of toilet paper, 7 gallons of hand sanitizer, and count the steps to your living room as a major exercise accomplishment?

No, I didn’t think so… anybody think medical care would include poking a huge Q-tip up our nose to the base of the brain, or one of those cool home kits you drool into – thanks for playing we’ll get back to you in oh ten days or so. Nothing anxiety producing about that, never mind the ever-shifting list of symptoms ahhh Covid19! 

On a positive note, I was able to solidify my goal of being an Olympic level social distancer. Since I was distancing, I figured I better find a way to maintain my magnificent physique. I decided to try this intermittent fasting thing; you have heard of this right? Let me just tell you, there is nothing intermittent about not eating for 18 hours – that’s just plain fasting. In my book intermittent means skipping some snacks, not all of them, just you know, intermittently – totally misunderstood that.  

I appreciate how many of you have reached out asking, well more like demanding an EPIC rant for this year; which honestly hurt my feelings a bit, cause aren’t they all epic? But I understand 2020 deserves a next level rant, something that lives up to the unparalleled insanity of this year and captures the unbelievable confluence of events: a new social awakening, “autonomous zones,” a truly insane Presidential campaign, then top that off with a global pandemic and all its trappings… 2020 – so one epic rant coming up. Admittedly, I am tad anxious about starting this with a week left in the year; feels a little like tempting fate to pull one last “fuck you”. 

Now, I have a feeling you guys are morbidly curious to see how I handle the long list of important and conflicting topics out there: Covid19, Trump/Anti-Trump, Biden/Anti-Biden, BLM/ALM, ANTIFA, autonomous zones, white privilege/guilt, “woke” movement, cancel culture, lockdowns, mask mandates, Dr. Fauci – cause why not, right… damn I almost forgot the vaccine! Probably a dozen more we could add to that list and if you think I’m jumping into that minefield with both feet… read on.

There are a few things I need to deal with from the top though; and this is classic rant material so hang on. Without getting into whether wearing a mask is the right, safe, respectful thing to do can we just talk about the asshats that wear it over their mouth, but not over their nose? Seriously why bother, never mind that it looks ridiculous, this kind of foolishness just irritates me. If you are a Covid non-believer that thinks masks don’t help, breed deadly lung diseases all while increasing your CO2 consumption I suggest you just don’t wear one. Now if you are a believer and subscribe to the current (for now) wisdom that masks will curb the spread, flatten the curve, and are a perfect vehicle for your cutting-edge fashion sense then cover your nose. There’s no place for you “in-betweeners” in this new Covid world – time to pick a side.

We need to talk a little more about this social distancing thing as well, now truth is I have been a long-term fan of social distancing; in fact, the more distance the better. Six feet is the prescribed measure, this shouldn’t be too hard to figure out – most places are actually marking it out for you so pay attention. However, we all know that you can ignore social distancing if you are at Walmart, Target, Church -in some states anyway, a friendly rally (you can decide what that means) or in an airplane. Do I need to explain that last one? Pretty simple actually, it’s six feet in all directions and that’s impossible on an airplane – so maybe the mask thing is a good idea after all… simply put: don’t get all up on me dude. 

Normally I don’t get “geographic” in these rants, but I think I would be remiss if I didn’t invite all of you down here to Florida… Our governor has legislated that Covid is not allowed to exist here so Floridians have decided it’s time to get back to normal. The weather is great, so come visit and hang out at a beach, a bar, or your favorite amusement park – might I suggest you fly down. I almost forgot we make our kids go to school here, so if you have little ones you might want to consider a move!

I understand it’s difficult not to focus entirely on Covid, it is after all a pandemic, so maybe we can just talk about politics. Fact is I usually avoid politics; not because I care what anyone thinks, but because I find most people aren’t interested in a substantive conversation involving the exchange of ideas, which means actually listening to each other. In my opinion the level of acrimony within our national dialogue is a poor reflection on all of us. After the last few election cycles though I am beginning to wonder if collectively we have simply lost our minds or at least our imagination, you people do realize we keep electing folks that are clearly past their expiration date – at this rate we don’t need term limits we need a long-term care facility. 

So, what does that even leave to rant about? I may have been to Starbucks a dozen times this year and honestly, I don’t even have to order now my favorite drive-thru barista knows what I want. No morning commute so no reason to bitch about the minivan in the Dunkin’ line that can’t figure out what donuts the kids want. Hell, I’ve only driven on the freeway a couple of times so if peeps are still out there texting at 90MPH I wouldn’t know it. Let’s see, no air travel so fake service animals in sequined vests aren’t a real concern and if someone wants to push their way to the front of the plane to get off first… nope don’t care. 2020 is seriously cramping my rant style. 

There is the whole grocery delivery situation, do you think they train these people to pick the bruised avocados or is it just luck of the draw?  And before you start any shit about first world problems or privilege – I’m pretty much working all the time and I am not going to go hang out with the below the nose mask morons at the grocery store… just saying. As long as we are talking about avocados and let’s add mangos to this; why the hell is the pit so big? Do you think the Almighty actually thought that was a good idea or did some celestial engineer completely fuck up the schematics? Fact is I have a whole list of questions like that, take giraffes for instance – wouldn’t it have been easier to make shorter trees? Or pineapples, who thought it should take two years to grow a pineapple; clearly no one was thinking about how that takes twice the space it should… questions without answers I am afraid.  

Setting the whole celestial engineering thing aside, as I reflect on 2020 it strikes me, we have been here before. Our relatively short history is punctuated with upheavals, our own seismic shifts – belief systems competing like tectonic plates that grind against each other eventually creating something new. I read somewhere that all change is violent by its very nature, I’ve had time to think on that a bit this year. War is clearly the violent application of force to achieve a political aim; social unrest, technology leaps that fundamentally change society, or the thrust required to escape the gravity of this earth – each in their own way adhere to this principle. Simply put achievement or change is disruptive and by extension violent. 

Easy to recognize in retrospect – the frantic lines on the seismograph of our history – but here in the midst of it we are just hanging on; resisting the inevitability of it.  This time will pass like all others before it and we will adjust to the new landscape, gather our breath and begin that journey to the next upheaval. If 2020 taught us anything it’s that during these points of acceleration you can choose to participate or not, but change is inevitable and affects all of us. 

So, is it really all so dismal? If you flit across the surface of things jumping from one negative meme to another you might miss the beauty underneath. Let’s not debate the decision making surrounding Covid, I would rather honor the indomitable will and compassion of front-line healthcare workers, many times providing the comfort family wasn’t allowed to. We locked down the world, but did you see the videos of entire Italian neighborhoods serenading each other? Consider the millions of folks that got up each morning kissed someone goodbye and spent the day delivering stuff to those of us who couldn’t or wouldn’t leave the house. Will there be costs and logistical issues with a vaccine, of course, but how incredible that brilliant people were able to craft hope in so few months? I think it is human nature to focus on the turmoil around us, but as we reflect on this complicated year remember where we shined. 

Instead of allowing 2020 and the pandemic to disconnect us we used technology to bridge the gap, to do church, work, and keep friends and family close. In many ways I am more connected to folks today then I might have been under “normal” circumstances. We are getting to see a more intimate view of each other, our homes, our kids, our parents, and grandkids… there is no extracting them from the virtual space we now occupy and how wonderful it is. We share at a different level; experiences, fears, hopes, pieces of ourselves we wouldn’t bring to the office. Our humanity is starting to shine through… and it’s a beautiful thing.

On a personal note, 2020 has created an opportunity to hold my immediate family closer, when your circle is forcibly limited you no longer take relationships for granted. I think about the many more meals I am crafting at home and how much I really enjoy the creativity of making a weekly menu. Dinner conversations have a different gravity now and I find myself reaching out to my boys in Seattle, my sister in NM, and friends in a more frequent and regular cadence than before. Those connections have a different tenor now and although 2020’s issues may dissipate I don’t want to lose this more tangible and precious connection we have forged. 

This has been a year of challenges for our country and it would be easy to push the popular narrative or skip over controversy completely, but that isn’t really what the rant is about is it? I can’t speak for anyone but myself and maybe for the first time I am considering the consequences of speaking my own truth. That dismays me on a deeply personal level, not because I am insecure in what I believe, but because it seems we have come to a point where no matter your beliefs some will be in violent opposition. There was a time when we could disagree, argue our point, try to enlighten those that may not have seen the “wrong” in something – where did those days go? When did it become okay to punish those that think differently? Of course, the true measure of courage is whether you are willing absorb the consequences of your beliefs, easily said not so easily done. In fiction the tests are obvious and monumental… in life I have found it is the everyday opportunities that make the difference.

Some would say we are past the time for such platitudes, that change needs to be accelerated. Maybe they are right, I see my children standing up for what they believe, even to the point of taking to the streets in protest. I may not agree with every position, but I am incredibly proud of them, I understand their passion, their impatience, and their courage. Maybe it’s the perspective of experience, but I worry that obstinate intolerance ultimately dooms the conversation benefitting no-one. I believe it’s incumbent upon all of us to craft a dialogue that moves everyone forward, and that, requires the ability to listen respectfully – even when we disagree. Like many young people mine are making an effort, lifting their voices, is the dialogue comfortable – not always, but it’s necessary. In some respects, it doesn’t matter what side of things you find yourself, as long as you make the effort to participate in the conversation – it’s important.  

So, my friends smile at the insanity, push the fear aside and embrace the challenge to rise above. In my mind it all comes down to this: if you are going to order some ½ decaf soy chai latte with a mocha drizzle made backwards, park the Prius and go the hell inside. 

Stay the course and Happy Holidays my friends,


PS: Do you remember the quiet though? During the early days of the lockdown, I would sit on the porch and listen… no traffic, no freeway noise, no construction… just nature’s symphony – I think it forced me to take a breath, take a moment, and just be still… I miss that… 

The 2019 Castagno Rant

I thought I would have a go at this “RANT” thing again, this the 25th or 26th one – hard to say, the early archives are incomplete,and does it really matter anyway? You would think after that many years I would run out of things to rant about, and in some respects you would be right. 


The early rants were filled with tales of children and the joys of parenting – followed by those perilous teenage years – I go back and read those just to remind myself how lucky I am to be here.  Times have mellowed though: grandkids, Starbucks, politics, texting, and general stupidity seemed to have taken center stage – some even accuse me of getting soft and losing my acerbic sarcasm – I invite them to come over and help me plant roses – no takers yet, strangely enough.


But now what? Another regurgitation of the year’s events, grandbaby drool stories, the horror of modern-day travel, drive-thru frustrations, why morons continue to text and drivewould that bring a smile to your face and have you nodding in sympathetic understanding? Ahh the comfort of tried and true rant material… 


Or would you rather hear how a text notified me at 35K feet that my older sister had suddenly passed – you know “passed” cause it’s so much nicer than died – maybe some details on her decades fighting opioid addiction until her body simply succumbed in a bathroom alone. Would it help to understand how it felt standing in her empty kitchen spooning her ashes from one big box to a number of smaller ones; the memories cascading like so many fine particles? No, I’m guessing not…  


So, by now a few of you are like… “holy shit he’s completely unhinged this year…” Well no actually but sooner or later we come to the realization that the accumulation of life experience forces a certain clarity. The sharp pinprick of this present reality if you will… The young have the pleasure of rushing headlong into that blurry and distant place those of us that have some years already inhabit, but once you’re here – if you haven’t started, it’s time to pay attention. 


It struck me on a night drive – Tammy and I take a drive every evening, grab a coffee, cruise around the lake, and catch-up on the day; something we’ve been doing for years – anyway, I realized I had started measuring things by how much time I might have left. Freaked me out a little I have to say – I have always kept a “list” of things I wanted to accomplish in life and ticked a few off here and there… we all have one and sure it matures with time and experience, but I had never really considered there might be an expiration date on some of it; sobering to say the least. I am pretty sure we all have these moments: the loss of a loved one or a friend, catastrophic events like 9/11 or a school shooting – all are milestone reminders… it’s the paying attention that’s important however. 


I am okay with the running out of time part  I am not okay with running out of experiences. It’s not as simple or cliché as living without regrets or the common refrain of “leave it all out there…” I want to make sure I love deeply enough; touch not only the hearts of my children, but their minds and spirits as well. Help strangers where I can, stand for what is right without regard for personal cost, and embody what it means to be a true friend. I want to breathe in clear cold mountain air, and feel the warm sun on my head as waves break against the shore… and I want to share all of this with as many as I can.  I used to believe life was about fulfilling some list of material accomplishments: job, money, stuff… but the longer I live the more I understand life is about the living. 


So, what does all that mean, you might be asking… and uhh not really a rant dude… I hear you, and don’t worry I still get irritated by the ass in the Prius that doesn’t know how to order at Starbucks – by the way have you tried the Peppermint Brownie cake pop? Oh my God! Or the fool that thinks it’s okay to pick out each individual donut in their two-dozen order at the Dunkin’ drive-thru. What about service animals that are not really service animals on planes, do I really need to go into this? Millennials with beards… not a good look young lady… How about not vaccinating all the little bio-terrorists running around, or making medicine you can’t live without unaffordable for most folks. You get the point, there is still plenty to rant about, plenty to make you shake your head and say $%@#$%@# (you know what that means right?). 


Admittedly, I still do most of those, but I have had some experiences this year, some realizations, and come to some conclusions that lead me to believe maybe all that really isn’t as important as I thought; and I may even be questioning the overall level of my response to these situations cause is that really how I want to use my time, my experiences… probably not. 


Unbelievable, simply unbelievable… dude just ordered a soy decaf peppermint mocha latte with two shots of espresso, extra whip and chocolate drizzle… I don’t care if he is driving an F250 that’s a bullshit order – get the F’ out of my drivethru moron!


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays… and oh by the way – the middle part is the important part… 




Life on the Net

So, I spent about an hour on FB this morning and this is what I came up with… Has your life become an internet meme? 

Do you think to yourself, I should do something I love cause then I’ll be happy? Broke, living on the street, un-showered but fucking happy as hell! 

Are you tired of reposting, reposting, reposting… so some kid you don’t know can get better – wouldn’t it be nice to have an update on that shit – AMEN?

What about having to look at all these food pics that you know you can’t make and neither can the asshole that posted it and besides didn’t you just spend $300 on some super shake solution that tastes like shit?

Politics – just fuck all of them…

Olympics – yeah fuck them too – well except the Russians – cause anyone that can drill a hole in the lab wall and pass clean samples back and forth deserves a fucking medal…

Motivational posts – seriously you are trolling FB all day – I don’t think they are working on you. 

Your baby, puppy, kids, blah blah blah – do I even need to say it? We are all glad yours are so much better than everyone else’s! oh and fuck off…

You’re so blessed – fine we get it now stop rubbing that shit in our faces

You blessed someone else – fine you’re the greatest person in the world now stop rubbing that shit in our faces

You’re kneeling, standing, crawling, running, walking whatever shut the fuck up – we’re all just trying to get through the day… just leave everyone the fuck alone already

Happy everything, hope you have a wonderful fucking day – do I really need to keep hearing about it? 

Since obviously no one will tell you – you suck at relationships cause you’re an asshole stop posting about it please… it’s definitely your fault

The 2017 RANT

So, my friends, we have been traveling down memory lane, “RANT” style for about twenty years now – so I decided to use a new font this year to freshen things up a bit… $#%@ you that’s a joke, but seriously it’s a new font.

I wrestle with the same problem every year – how do you recount all happenings and accomplishments without coming off smug and all “look at me, look at me.” I know it always seems to work out with some combination of sarcastic observation about the strange world we live in and what passes for normal combined with a rundown of the family hi-lite reel.

I always go back and read the last three or four years’ worth of Rants before getting started – funny it always kicks up my allergies. This year I decided to start way back in the ‘90s and read forward – oh sweet baby Jesus was that a mistake! It reminded me why I started this mess in the first place – we were a young family, four kids, working our asses off, moving from rental to rental trying to stay ahead of the bill collectors and still buy groceries. Knowing everyday any little ripple could throw it all off the rails, “sorry kids no Happy Meal today, Dad has to pay the electric bill.” You work eighteen hour days, kiss your kids as they lay sleeping, love your wife when she lets you, catch a few hours and back at it – and I’m sure through it all my wife worked harder than I did.

Christmas time would roll around and we would scrape a few dollars together for gifts – those kids never missed Christmas and we did everything in our power to insulate them from the everyday hardships – it was our burden not theirs – we weren’t heroes just parents. Inevitably we would get that holiday letter from our slightly older and much better off friends trumpeting all their blessing and big deeds for the year – how do you not feel like your failing reading that? Most people tape it to the fridge and celebrate their friends good fortune – F’ that I decided to write a RANT instead and so here we are!

Those first Rants probably weren’t very good, and in fact I’m slightly embarrassed by how angry some of it sounds, but it was real and that’s what mattered… They are more circumspect and polished now – I guess I’ve grown up a bit and truth be told passed through that “slightly older better off” phase myself, now I’m just old, grumpy, and probably too acerbic – so almost full circle, but with better writing!

Normally I just plow through the kids one by one extolling their virtues, poking fun at them, and generally irritating them in a fairly good-natured way. But honestly, I just can’t bring myself to do it this year so I’m just going to go with some hi-lites and observations instead.

Two major events this year really have to take the headline though:

  • Granddaughter #2 – Joined the family in July of this year – cute kid, bright blue eyes, big head, drools incessantly! I think big sis is still deciding if she wants to hug her or hit her… Great name on this one and super sweet.
  • So, this second one is a bit more traumatic – my daughter called me about four months ago clearly upset – not something you ever want to have happen. I have to remind you she just had her first anniversary this December so this whole marriage thing is pretty fresh – anyway she breathlessly tells me that Jon has come home and announced that he is “VEGAN” – I have to admit that my first reaction was “well okay, it could have been worse…” but I refrained and counseled her that just because he had lost his mind didn’t mean that she couldn’t continue to eat steak, meatballs, chicken tenders, and all manners of meat. She is doing better – Jon looks a bit withered but that’s just me.

Of course, there’s more to talk about than drool and vegetables, there’s politics, Starbucks, texting & driving, stupid angry people, air travel, and all the rest of the crazy that makes up every day. I’m going to pare it down for you though cause most of it just makes me insane – so hang on this is the sarcastic acerbic section in case you were missing it.

  • Politics – simply put all of it makes me nauseous on both sides and I’m sure however you feel you’re already arguing about it enough and FYI none of the people in DC are listening to you. They don’t care about you, the environment, your kid’s education, healthcare or pretty much anything beyond their own power and comfort – yeah, I know cynical but have you listened to any of these people?
  • Admittedly Starbucks is a pretty consistent theme for me – I have a problem, I know I have a problem, fact is I don’t even order anymore I just drive up to the window and my stuff is ready. However, I just have to say the stupid angry people that can’t place a simple coffee order should stay the hell out of my drive thru.
  • Texting and driving is another favorite of mine but I’m not going to talk about it anymore – what’s the point everyone is doing it – doesn’t matter that it’s like playing dodgeball with cars at 80MPH – have a good time – just don’t hit me.
  • Air Travel – hmmm what’s left to say that hasn’t already been exhausted. It would be nice if they actually tried to wipe the biohazardous material from the last passenger off the seat and tray before shoehorning the rest of us in there – but what the hell I’ve grown used to being sick six months out of the year – popping antibiotics like #$%@#$ Tic Tacs and drinking cough syrup like it’s water.
  • Stupid angry people – where do you even start with this one – they are among us! Let me just say this is Florida and most of us serene older guys are way over armed and we practice – you young angry stupid guys need to chill out and stay out of my yard… Please. All kidding aside there seems to be some kind of mental lapse taking place in a whole generation of very angry young people because they clearly don’t understand how good they have it and seem to have an incredible amount of free time to protest just about everything from every angle.

Okay what’s that leave – right normal crazy and all the regular stuff – that’s cool plenty to talk about. The wife and I have settled fully into the whole grandparent thing. She even traded my truck for a minivan so she has transitioned to full GIGI mode and loves those little ones. I have to be a bit more circumspect about it, wouldn’t want anyone thinking I had gone soft or anything. However, I do spend a lot of time with the granddaughter on the front porch eating popsicles (sugar free) and watching the world go by – its good stuff, believe me and as a bonus I’ve recently started letting the new one drool on me. I also might have indulged in a number of Christmas inflatables on the front lawn this year – what the girls love Minions, blue hippos and pink pigs!

The other unfortunate situation this year has been the evolution of this group of Cruffin loving misfits that camp out every Saturday morning at God awful early to sample the incomparable creations of Jennifer and the girls at Born & Bread Bakery. Why unfortunate you ask, other than the before dawn wake-up call – despite my best and repetitive efforts these folks are becoming friends, I know a chink in the old armor.

Can you believe we are at fifteen hundred words already and you’re still reading this? I know crazy, right? I haven’t talked about all the kids, their jobs, trials and tribulations, relationships, exploits, blah, blah, blah… but this isn’t going to be that kind of RANT sorry. Everyone is doing life, there is some really cool stuff going on in their lives, and there are some struggles – these are really wonderful people and I love them a lot. You should get to know them if you don’t already, maybe see what they are up to – my guess is they have some cool things to talk about and some pretty interesting thoughts and opinions they would love to share… well except Jon he just talks about vegetables and the melting properties of non-dairy cheese.

So, my friends I hope this year has treated you well, and if it hasn’t let’s endeavor to make the next one better together.


Final thoughts for your consideration:

This year I published my second and third novels – if you have read them you have my very sincere appreciation – if you haven’t why not?

My first book “Jake” and its sequel “Peakeville” are intended to create a dialogue on systemic racism and oppression. It’s impossible to ignore the egregious every day demonstrations of intolerance around us – we can do better and if you aren’t experiencing it don’t pretend like it’s not real – be vigilant – there is so much more to say on this, but at the very least just stop acting like it’s not everywhere and folks should somehow miraculously just get over it. It’s not okay to devalue people simply because they are different than you.

My other novel is “Traffic” and is more in the style of an international thriller – but I based this book on the very real problem of human trafficking. If you are on Facebook or any other social media platform you know a week doesn’t go by without us seeing a flyer for the disappearance of a young person – predominantly teenage girls. What you rarely see is any resolution or happy ending to these disappearances. The statistics are truly staggering:

  • The International Labour Organization estimates that there are 20.9 million victims of human trafficking globally.
    • 68% of them are trapped in forced labor.
    • 26% of them are children.
    • 55% are women and girls.
  • The International Labor Organization estimates that forced labor and human trafficking is a $150 billion industry worldwide.
  • In 2016, an estimated 1 out of 6 endangered runaways reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children were likely child sex trafficking victims.
    • Of those, 86% were in the care of social services or foster care when they ran.

There is no official estimate of the total number of human trafficking victims in the U.S. The Polaris Project estimates that the total number of victims nationally reaches into the hundreds of thousands when estimates of both adults and minors and sex trafficking and labor trafficking are aggregated. More information is available at www.polarisproject.org

Stay tuned the follow-up to “Traffic” should be out sometime next spring and I am contemplating doing a third “Jake” book – those take a lot of energy so we shall see.

As always, my very best and remember the journey is long but worth the trip.


The Coffee Rant…

Now here is the thing about going on a “Rant” there is always someone that gets his or her feelings just a tiny little bit hurt. So let me say right up front, that is not the intent of this rant, in fact you should definitely consider this more in the style of say a “Public Service Announcement” (PSA) and if you still think maybe just maybe this hits a little too close to home than by all means feel free to take it to heart, the rest of us are rooting for you!

The coffee drive-thru is a unique animal; not at all like the “fast food” drive-thru. For one it’s a beverage, not food, not a meal, no combos, it’s coffee. Count on it being busy in the morning, most people need that caffeine fix as they start their day… interestingly enough it’s pretty busy at night as well… the night-walkers need their caffeine too apparently. So the question I keep asking myself is… why oh why do we insist on acting like the coffee drive-thru is a fast food drive thru? Read more ›

Fitbit – Unnecessary Steps…

As many of you are no doubt aware I have been actively participating, not voluntarily mind you, in a vigorous morning work out of “Sock Yoga.” Now I am not going to go into any detail on the whole Yoga thing let’s just say it’s a forced participation event based on a condition I like to refer to as “Big Guyism” some irreverent and well downright disrespectful people add “Old” to that, really an unnecessary cheap shot in my book, but there you have it. Anyway, just when I felt like I was starting to make some progress on this front I noticed a lot of folks are wearing these little “Fit Bit” bracelets, what evil spirit from the fiery depths of hell thought this little invention up? Read more ›