When ‘thoughts and prayers’ don’t seem to be enough

It took three tries, but I finally came up with some words of sympathy for a family that lost a wife and mother to cancer at age 54.

I hadn’t seen any of the family for a few years, as our common bond — sons in the same grade who played on the same basketball team — evaporated when the boys went off to college.

I knew of the family’s health crisis, and would occasionally hear updates from members of the community. I hadn’t heard anything for quite some time, and it was a shock to see the obituary. Memories of our sons’ time together came flooding back.

My son had already known his friend’s mom had died when I called him. The next day, and the day after that, I logged on to the funeral home website’s guestbook to offer condolences from our family. As usual, I froze.

Cliches automatically pop into my head when I write condolence notes (too often lately, it seems) and my attempts seem trite, almost empty.

In my head, I scroll through the usual — “thoughts and prayers” . . . “my condolences” . . . “so sorry for your loss,” etc.

It’s difficult enough to stare at a blank sympathy card and come up empty. It’s no better on an online guestbook, where I invariably begin looking at what others have written.

That’s in part a search for inspiration, but also so it doesn’t appear that I’m copying someone else.

This is all silly to worry about, of course. The people who really matter, the surviving family members, are hardly going to judge — or even remember — the specifics of what most people write.

I’ve been on the receiving end of sympathy cards a few times, and those events were such a blur, any written sentiments pale in comparison to remembered acts of kindness.

The grieving family is more likely to be thankful that friends took a few minutes to post something online or, more appropriately, send a handwritten card.

This morning, for my third attempt, I stopped worrying about the exact phrasing. An image of the mom at the boys’ basketball games came to me, so I just wrote something about that.

I hope my son’s former teammate finds comfort knowing that other parents remember his mom’s smiling face at so many games over the years.

Posted in cancer, communication, family, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

At what age are we ‘senior citizens’? Time will tell

Thanks, but no, thanks.

Thanks, but no, thanks.

When I was 49, the constant letters from AARP were bad enough.

Eight years later, it’s Time magazine’s turn to take a cheap shot.

Time’s special offer arrived in the mail the other day, a discount subscription “for senior citizen use only.”

That was just one of three uses of “senior citizen” on the top half of the order form. In case we forgot, I suppose.

As if that weren’t bad enough, the mailer featured a photo of Robert Redford looking … um … well, like he’s “had some work done.” Yes, his face shows some well-earned “character lines,” but the hair — whatever shade that is — has got to go.

Robert Redford on the cover of Time, May 2014

Robert Redford, Time, May 5, 2014

I admire Redford, 78, for his acting skills, environmental activism and support of other visual artists via the Sundance Film Festival. But not as a shrinking news magazine’s answer to Wilford Brimley.

Time’s offer is a fair one — $20 for up to 18 months of the weekly, not to mention a (REDUNDANCY ALERT!) “free gift” of some sort of weather clock. But the senior citizen thing is a buzzkill.

As Redford said in a scene from a certain well-known film, “I don’t mind what you did. I mind the way you did it.”

So I won’t subscribe. I don’t want to be reminded every week that I am considered part of the grumpy old man demographic, shuffling out to the mailbox in slippers.

Perhaps in another 20 years I’ll reconsider. Does anyone know if Time publishes a large-print edition?

Posted in Aging, communication, Irish Investigations, language | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Balloons sent to heaven for ‘Ms. Toots’ on her 2nd birthday

Arie's parents, Kim and William, follow the path of dozens of balloons released in Arie's memory on her second birthday.

Arie’s parents, Kim and William, follow the path of dozens of balloons released in Arie’s memory on her second birthday.

“Ms. Toots” would have smiled and blown kisses to everybody who came to honor her on her second birthday Wednesday.

Arie Baugh lost her fight with kidney cancer in July, two months shy of turning 2 years old.

Arie’s mom and dad decided to mark her birthday by inviting family and friends to release helium-filled balloons from the Butterfly Garden of Hope outside of Syracuse, N.Y.

Dozens of balloons head skyward in memory of Arie Baugh on her second birthday.

Dozens of balloons head skyward in memory of Arie Baugh on her second birthday.

In just 22 months, much of it spent undergoing chemotherapy and other treatments, Arie melted a lot of hearts. She also picked up the nickname of Ms. Toots.

Ms. Toots knew how to say good-bye by curling up her tiny fist and blowing kisses.

She loved it when anyone blew bubbles, so yes, there were bubbles as well as balloons at the gathering on a beautiful evening along the east shore of Onondaga Lake.

A friend said a short prayer and on the count of 1-2-3, everyone said Arie’s name and let go of their green and white balloons. There were some pink ones as well — Arie’s favorite color.

Smiles and laughter outnumbered tears as the balloons rose and drifted with the wind heading east. All eyes were skyward for quite some time.

On what I can only imagine was a very tough day for Arie’s mom and dad, they held up well. William said he’s doing better. Kim said the morning was tough, and I suspect the night wasn’t much easier. But it was clear they both took comfort in the company of loved ones who share their loss.

"Ms. Toots" made everyone around her smile, including me.

“Ms. Toots” made everyone around her smile, including me.

I wish I had spent more time with Arie during her stays at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital. Other than her blowing kisses good-bye each visit, what I remember most is one particular day last winter in the playroom.

It was in the weeks leading up to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation fundraiser for pediatric cancer research (Arie was my honoree this year). Kim and I were talking while Arie played with a toy nearby.

I said something to Kim about shaving my head, and Arie began to rub her own head, which was bald from chemotherapy. I was stunned by how smart this little girl was.

Arie was feeling well enough to attend the Syracuse St. Baldrick’s event in March. Photojournalist Michelle Gabel took a beautiful photo of Arie watching me get my head shaved. The image captures Arie’s reaction, and it is priceless.

Arie was well enough to attend the S. Baldrick's Foundation fundraiser in Syracuse March 30.

Arie was well enough to attend the St. Baldrick’s Foundation fundraiser in Syracuse March 30.

Arie held up very well in a crowded, noisy Irish pub for a good couple of hours. Much of it she spent on her dad’s broad shoulders, so she had the best seat in the house.

I can find some solace that Arie’s presence at the event served some greater purpose — that those in attendance may have been moved by her strength, or by the obvious love of her family and friends, who came out in force that day.

They did so again Wednesday for Arie’s second birthday. In a Facebook post to start the day, Kim used that otherwise pleasant word that no parent of a child with cancer ever wants to use — angel.

Kim with "Ms. Toots" in the hospital last winter.

Kim with “Ms. Toots” in the hospital last winter.

“On 9/3/12 @9:01pm I gave birth to a 2 lb 14 oz miracle baby. In 22 months of life she beat up prematurity, surgeries, radiation, chemotherapy & clear cell carcinoma of the kidney (cancer). Arie had the biggest brightest smile since birth. … Our family & faith became stronger. She beat many odds but on July 8 she became our angel. I love u baby, thanks for protecting us.”

 

Posted in cancer, Children, children's hospital, family, Irish Investigations, Volunteering | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Intent vs. Outcome: ‘What I really meant was …’

A simple and clever sign my girlfriend and I saw on Cape Cod over the weekend made us smile. And it capped a recent rash of lessons about language, and how the words we choose can be crucial.

In a driveway on a busy street in a tourist-heavy region (where summer visitors often get lost) the homeowners had posted a neatly painted sign: “Turns 25 cents.” Under it, a small tin can hung on a chain, presumably to hold quarters.

Genius!

I’ve seen many other signs, in tourist destinations and not, that have the same message but with a much harsher, don’t-you-dare delivery. “No” is usually the first word.

The clever sign in Brewster, Mass. capped several weeks of incidents that illustrate for me the potential volatility of words. A lot of unnecessary conflict can be avoided by using them, written or spoken, carefully.

I don’t mean using proper grammar or being politically correct. I mean choosing and using your words in a way that doesn’t create a rift between you and your audience.

It comes down to a concept I remember from a diversity workshop long ago: “Intent vs. Outcome.” You might say something in a perfectly innocent and well-meaning way, but confusion or conflict ensue because it was misinterpreted.

Often an attempt at humor is the culprit. Sometimes it’s because we fall back on a word or expression that we’ve used for years, but the listener or reader has no context.

One of my favorite sayings, which I often apply to myself, is “lazy man’s load.” I use it when I carry too many groceries or other items into the house all at once, rather than making two trips. My father used the expression when I was a kid, and it stuck with me.

But if I direct the phrase at someone who has never heard it, we might have a problem.

Another is “twiddle my thumbs.” I used this expression (one of my mom’s favorites) recently — and innocently — but it didn’t come across that way to my audience.

My intent was to show I was eager to do some work and make good use of my time. Instead, the listener wondered if I was bored and annoyed at the prospect of just sitting around.

In this case, the misunderstanding was cleared up after I explained the origin of the expression and that it didn’t necessarily have a negative connotation. (Does that count as blaming my mother?)

The potential for trouble only increases, I suppose, when you add in differences between speaker/writer and audience that are based on ethnicity, religion, geography, etc.

The old lessons still apply: Know your audience. Think about what you’re going to say before you say it. Some things are just better left unsaid.

For the record, we didn’t turn around in the polite homeowners’ driveway on Cape Cod. But I should have pulled in and taken a photo of their sign instead of twiddling my thumbs as we drove past.

I would have gladly paid the 25 cents.

Posted in communication, driving, Irish Investigations, language, Travel, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

It’s not a bucket list, it’s a GAF list

The principal of the high school where I taught English many years ago once showed up at a faculty picnic wearing a baseball cap with ‘DILLIGAF’ on the front.

When I found out what it meant, his approval ratings went way up.

I thought about that hat recently, because I’ve been reassessing what I give a … hoot … about, and how the list has changed in recent years.

Some things I used to care about no longer interest me. Most sports, television, movies, the news. I’m not becoming a grumpy old man, and my world isn’t getting smaller. It’s merely tilting on its axis.

I am sorting through my life as if it were a closet. Old stuff is going to the curb to make room for new stuff and a select few “keepers,” things I’m passionate about — the most urgent wants and needs, the most compelling causes.

A few years ago my interest in sports began to wane, and I thought about my father because the same thing happened to him. He was probably in his late 70s when he stopped following baseball the way he once did. (In retrospect, maybe he didn’t feel well much of the time and it was a struggle to keep up.)

I once followed the sports seasons like a madman, focusing on how my favorite players and favorite teams fared each day, each week. Now, on the other side of 55, I barely pay attention to anything except two baseball teams, Ohio State football and major marathons.

I watched some of the World Cup, but skipped the Super Bowl.

This, from a lifelong sports fan who learned how to do math by reading baseball box scores and figuring out batting averages and earned run averages.

Whatever’s “trending” or “breaking” holds little interest for me — rather pathetic for someone who used to work for a daily newspaper.

Most news these days I find depressing, polarizing or manufactured, designed to manipulate the masses and make money for the “digital content providers.”

This makes me more of a cynic than a skeptic. Not good, I know. So what the hell do I care about? What do I spend my mental and physical energy on?

Good stuff, primarily. My relationship, my kids, my family. My health, which is damn good thanks to being a runner and a vegetarian. My friends. Good books. Helping the homeless. Kids with cancer. And trying to figure out how to spend my remaining years in this body, on this planet.

That includes writing stories. About real people who aren’t “news,” but who are certainly worthy of our attention. People overcoming hardships and trying like hell to make it. People who give more than they take. People who stick up for what’s right, and who stick it to the man.

There is so much of this to do, so many stories to tell. Yet so little time and so many obligations.

Yes, I’m grateful that I have a reasonably fulfilling job that pays well and allows me to use my brain and not ruin my body. Last week I watched four younger men move a piano and a truckload of other furniture, and it hit home how hard that work is. How it must shorten life, lessen the quality of it.

I can’t afford to retire for a few more years, and I’d like to still be in shape mentally and physically to do the things that make me feel alive. To tell the stories of good people, and maybe achieve some greater good in the process.

DILLIGAF? Yeah.

Posted in family, fantasy football, Irish Investigations, running, Volunteering, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Team’s visit to children’s hospital is a big win after a bad loss

Syracuse Chiefs pitcher Mitch Lively signs a team photo for a patient at Upstate Golisano Children's Hospital.

Syracuse Chiefs pitcher Mitch Lively signs a team photo for a patient at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital.

A professional baseball player whose team gets clobbered, yet shows up the next morning at a children’s hospital — I mean really shows up, doesn’t just phone it in —  is more than OK in my book.

Ten players from the Syracuse Chiefs, the minor league Class AAA affiliate of the Washington Nationals, did just that Tuesday. They brought a lot of smiles to pediatric patients at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital in Syracuse.

The players stayed a good two hours, handing out souvenirs, talking with kids and their parents and signing autographs. Pitcher Matt Grace read a children’s book aloud (“Knuckleball Ned,” by Toronto Blue Jays knuckleballer R.A. Dickey). None of the players seemed to be in any hurry to leave, and the adults in the room were just as happy as the kids about that.

Three players were particularly impressive.

Syracuse Chiefs

Starting pitcher Taylor Hill leaves the mound in the fifth inning of Monday night’s loss.

Taylor Hill was the starting pitcher for the Chiefs Monday, and his night didn’t go well. Hill lasted just four-plus innings and gave up seven runs in a 9-3 loss. He’s still having a very good season, with 10 wins and 6 losses, and a solid Earned Run Average.

At the hospital, you’d never have guessed from Hill’s demeanor that he had taken a tough loss just 12 hours earlier. He was full of smiles and very “present” with the children. As he and his teammates prepared to leave, Hill was more than gracious to a hospital representative.

“Thanks for having us,” he said. “This was awesome.”

Syracuse Chiefs

A patient’s autograph book featuring signatures of Syracuse Chiefs baseball players.

Mitch Lively, another pitcher, was acquired just a few weeks ago from the San Francisco Giants organization. Lively took a great deal of time with several patients, even sitting down next to one and taking turns drawing a Chiefs’ logo with him.

“Look how much better yours is than mine,” Lively told him.

Greg Dobbs, who went hitless in four at-bats the night before, took his time with the patients as well. During introductions at the beginning of the Chiefs’ visit, Dobbs said his seven-year-old daughter was starting second grade this week and it was difficult to be 3,000 miles away.

Pitcher Taylor Hill with a patient at Upstate Golisano Children's Hospital.

Pitcher Taylor Hill with a patient at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital.

As a Class AAA minor league team, the Chiefs are one step away from the majors. Several Chiefs, including hospital visitors Hill, Dobbs, Aaron Barrett, Tyler Moore and Blake Treinen, have been in “the bigs” off and on and are trying to work their way back up. (Dobbs was a member of the Philadelphia Phillies’ 2008 World Series champions.)

The Nationals are in first place in the National League East, and the Chiefs are atop the International League’s North division. That kind of  success will make for some interesting player decisions next month as the post-season arrives.

I’ve been a baseball fan all my life, and those close to me know I’m partial to the Boston Red Sox in the American League and the Washington Nationals in the National League. After the hospital visit by the Syracuse Chiefs, I’ll be rooting for these guys as well.

Syracuse Chiefs

Greg Dobbs of the Syracuse Chiefs signs a team photo for a hospital patient.

 

Posted in Baseball, books, children's hospital, Irish Investigations, role models | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Enjoying the peace and quiet … of peace and quiet

Even before a timely visit from a butterfly, I’d been thinking a lot about peace and quiet.

My girlfriend is reading Susan Cain’s book, “Quiet,” which champions “The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking.”

A couple of weeks ago, one of my sons sent me a link to an article in the Atlantic about the last 12 places in America where you can go more than 15 minutes without hearing any human noise.

Then over the weekend I accompanied my girlfriend on a nature-oriented video shoot that took us to a nearby creek. Standing so close to the rushing water, I quickly was lost in its soothing sound. There was no other noise except for occasional birdsong and the unwelcome roar of trucks on the road behind us.

As I stood next to the creek, the rushing water swept all the clutter from my head.

This dragonfly alighted on a sunny spot on this branch and stayed for quite a while, fluttering its wings occasionally.

This butterfly alighted on a sunny spot on this branch and stayed for quite a while, opening its wings occasionally.

And then the butterfly showed up.

This cool little insect landed on a fallen limb overhanging the creek. Its patience was remarkable. It stayed in one spot for about 10 minutes, opening and closing its wings, then fluttered away only to come back again and again.

Merely by being “present” at that moment, I was able to concentrate yet do so in a relaxed, stress-free manner. Everything slowed down.

A couple of days later, on a Monday morning, I wonder: Why aren’t there more such moments? Why must we escape to a remote stream on a weekend just to decompress and realize we’re all moving too fast (and maybe talking too much)?

It makes sense that one of my favorite songs remains Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sounds of Silence.” Sure, I can be loud and even inappropriate at times, but I prefer peace and quiet.

Being around chronically loud people is emotionally and physically draining. The same for people who, as Susan Cain says, “can’t stop talking.” There are days when I wish my bad ear was worse than it is, and I could turn my head accordingly when Mr. or Ms. Loud tries to take over a room.

Maybe in those situations we should pretend we’re at a creek listening to the rush of water, and put a twist on what parents tell their noisy children: Use your outdoor voice.

Posted in communication, Irish Investigations, music, peace | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

‘… a time when every summer will have something of autumn in it’

If you recognize the quote in the headline, you’re a fan of baseball and great writing.

Those words sum up the urgency that accompanies growing older, the passion with which we can live our lives — and for me, how I want to be remembered by those I love. The quote came to mind again Sunday, and baseball had nothing to do with it.

The Elders perform "Men of Erin" with the Holy Cross Academy chorus at the Great American Irish Festival, July 27, 2014. Photo by Mary McKeever.

The Elders perform “Men of Erin” with the Holy Cross Academy chorus at the Great American Irish Festival, July 27, 2014. Photo by Mary McKeever.

My sister and I attended the Great American Irish Festival in Frankfort, NY, outside Utica. This is the third or fourth year I’ve gone, but a first for my sister.

We went to hear the Elders, a ridiculously talented band from Kansas City led by native Irishman Ian Byrne. As such, he would understand why I have already chosen songs for my memorial service later this century.

He also would appreciate that I have put my three sons in charge of that event, including buying the beer.  (For the record, I plan to surround myself with great people, craft beer, strong coffee and excellent music for a long time.)

My sister has also chosen some songs she’d like sung or played at her service some decade hence. The Elders will be well-represented at each. For me, “Men of Erin” is a must. My sister decided, after Sunday’s Elders show, to add “Appalachian Paddy” to her wish list.

“Men of Erin” was written by Byrne after the death of his father, and it is sheer poetry, a beautiful gift from an Irish father to his son. It’s sung a cappella, ideally with the help of a high school chorus. “Appalachian Paddy” celebrates the story of how Irish music came to America, and its messages are classic Irish — sing to the angels, shake your fist at the devil and kiss whoever happens to be next to you.

Listen to these and other Elders songs, and it’s impossible not to feel alive — every emotion, pleasant or unpleasant, rises to the surface to be embraced or wrestled to the ground. Irish or not, if you’re at an Elders show and don’t smile like a child, shed a tear and have the urge to get up and dance, you may already be dead.

My sister is a few years older than I, and therefore her summer has a bit more of autumn about it than does mine. But we are of hardy Irish stock, and our parents lived to be 90 and 91 — and that was without taking good care of their health.

So we both have plenty of time. What the hell, sister, let’s shoot for 100. You go first. That gives us plenty of time to plan two rowdy send-offs for our loved ones to remember us by. To the Elders … you guys are invited. My sons will spring for the beer.

THE HEADLINE: The quote is from A. Bartlett Giamatti‘s classic baseball essay, “The Green Fields of the Mind.” Even if you don’t like baseball, read it. Better yet, listen to the former baseball commissioner’s reading of it to a live theater audience. (Note: written versions of the essay use ‘autumn about it,’ but Giamatti, reading it aloud, uses ‘autumn in it.’)

Giamatti died of a heart attack at age 51 in 1989. His “Green Fields” essay, focusing on the last day of the 1977 baseball season at Boston’s Fenway Park, is some of the best writing I have ever come across. It is full of wisdom, perspective, raw emotion and the rewards and punishment of living life passionately. If it doesn’t stir something within, you may already be dead.

Posted in Baseball, family, Irish Investigations, music, peace, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Making sense of, and accepting, ‘second-class’ behavior

“Most grown-up behavior, when you come right down to it, is decidedly second-class. People don’t drive their cars as well, or wash their ears as well, or eat as well, or even play the harmonica as well as they would if they had sense.” —  John Gardner, “The Art of Fiction”

Parking2In another career 30 years ago, I wrote a lot of fiction. I also read a lot about the craft of writing, in particular the work of literary critic John Gardner, a brilliant and sometimes caustic observer of writing and those who attempt it.

I took a lot of Gardner’s advice to heart, and tried to pass it on to my students — concepts like “psychic distance” and the “fictive dream.”

Gardner’s quote above about “second-class” behavior also stuck with me. Lately I’ve been thinking and writing a lot about driving, which is a reflection of a couple of things:

One, we spend way too much time in our vehicles; two, our behavior inside those vehicles is a good predictor of how we act the rest of the time.

Are we courteous behind the wheel? Impatient? Aggressive? Do we proceed calmly enough to be mindful of other drivers? Or are we always in a Type A hurry, so move the hell over? Those patterns carry over.

That’s an oversimplification, surely, but I think it has some merit. Specific situations on the road can change our behavior, or we may be in a certain frame of mind before we start the engine. We might just be preoccupied, distracted by anything from a song on the radio to a problem at home.

I thought about this yesterday morning as I pulled into the parking lot at work. Another driver was just ahead of me. I watched her choose a space, then park on top of the yellow line on the passenger side and about three feet short of the line in front.

The blue car came up a little short pulling into this space.

The blue car came up a little short.

Effectively, she took up two spaces and possibly caused a problem for anyone who may have parked in the row behind her.

I watched her gather up some possessions, get out of the car and walk away. (I made a note to add her to the terminally distracted characters in my fictitious Irish family, the O’Blivious clan.)

Of course I didn’t say anything to the woman. It just wasn’t that important in the grand scheme of things, and anything I would say in that situation might not have been well-received.

Trying to err in George Saunders’ direction of kindness, I gave her the benefit of the doubt. The parking spaces in our lot are ridiculously narrow, so it’s conceivable that she couldn’t see the lines. Maybe she was just having a bad morning, or was worried about a loved one.

As she walked away, I recalled the wise words of a former colleague of mine, a fellow ink-stained wretch of a reporter. One day I cornered him to gripe about some annoying behavior by a meddling, micro-manager editor.

I was just getting warmed up when my colleague offered his advice.

“Let it go,” he said. “Let it go.”

Posted in books, driving, Irish Investigations, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

How to toot your own horn — in the car, that is

If the light changes and the driver in front of you doesn't move, when and how do you blow the horn?

If the light changes and the driver in front of you doesn’t move, when and how do you blow the horn?

Full disclosure: I am a candidate for the title of Most Impatient Driver.

But mindful of how crazy the world is, with road ragers killing other drivers, I mostly just mutter under my breath when another driver pulls a rude or dangerous stunt. If it’s an outrageous offense, I’ll let out a variation of “Ford Frick!”* followed by some choice adjectives.

That’s usually enough to get the ya-yas out so I can go on with my otherwise mundane existence.

But here I am on a long vacation weekend in Middle America, staying at a home that’s a stone’s throw from a moderately busy four-way intersection.

Three or four times yesterday when I was in the yard, I heard drivers at the traffic signals give the horn a workout because the motorist in front of them waited too long to see the green and get moving.

I admit I’ve tapped on my horn in such situations. If it’s done gently, chances are the other driver won’t mind and will get moving.

In my reckless youth, I may have leaned on the horn more than once.  At worst, this is asking for trouble; at best, it’s inviting classic passive-aggressive behavior by the other driver, who will thoroughly enjoy lingering a few seconds more — just to annoy you further.

(I deliberately stall in the grocery store checkout line when the customer behind me gets in my personal space, or starts putting items on the conveyor belt a little too close for comfort. I go into slow-motion, and probably enjoy it more than I should.)

The subject of road rage is, I’m certain, taught in driver education programs and driving schools. On the subject of horn use, driversedguru.com advises waiting four seconds before tapping on it to let the person in front of you know the light has changed.

The site edmunds.com also offers 10 tips to prevent road rage. Invoking the name of a former baseball executive isn’t on the Edmunds list, but I still think it’s a sound idea.

* Ford Frick was Commissioner of Major League Baseball from 1951 to 1965. As a lifelong fan of both baseball and profanity, I have found that uttering Mr. Ford’s name in such situations is a good way to reduce F-bombs.

Posted in communication, driving, Irish Investigations | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments