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Category: Friends

July 4th, 1976

July 4th, 1976 – July 4th, 2016

It’s hard to believe it has been 40 years.


In 1976 the United States celebrated its Bicentennial Celebration. It’s 200th anniversary of being an independent country. The Vietnam War ended just a year before. Despite the civil unrest that war caused, it seemed patriotism was at a high in 1976. There were so many celebrations and observation for months leading up to the 4th.

In school we re-examined this key time in our history and studied the Declaration of Independence in-depth. All the fire hydrants in town were painted with patriotic colors and some to look like patriot soldiers. There were ‘76’ flags with 13 stars everywhere. For a young teen, this was a special and memorable time for me.


On this day 40 years ago on July 4th 1976, I was fortunate to be right in the middle of Operation Sail, which is a special occasion featuring “tall ship” sailing vessels from around the world. The Operation Sail for the Bicentennial was especially large.


My best friend at the time, and next door neighbor was Joe Danaher. His father John served with the Coast Guard for more than 20 years – including during WWII – and rose to officer status. He remained active in the reserves for many years. As such he had considerable clout and had Joe invite me to go with them to Governors Island to watch The Parade of Ships for the Bicentennial Celebration.

Governors Island went into service in 1776 during the American Revolution and became an Army post from 1783 to 1966, when it became an active Coast Guard station until 1996. It sits right at the divergence of the East and Hudson Rivers – across from the Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island. It affords a commanding presence and view of every ship heading up the Hudson.

We caught a Coast Guard ferry, from Pier 6 in Brooklyn for the short ride to Governor’s Island. Once there, Joe’s father let us roam on our own with directions to meet him at Castle Williams later that afternoon. We explored the 170 acre island from end to end. It was a hot, sunny day, but the ocean breeze kept the temps manageable. In the mess hall, they had set up a veritable smorgasbord of food of all type and ice cream – all you can eat – for free.  We stuffed ourselves and went out to do more exploring.


Castle Williams where we stood to watch Operation Sail in 1976

When Operation Sail started we were right there at Castle William where the road juts out into the river, and we watched the tall ships, such as the USCGC Eagle, the Amerigo Vespucci (from Italy) and the Gorch Fock (from Germany) among a dozen more tall ships and hundreds of smaller sailing vessels.


Then the massive aircraft carrier USS Forrestal sailed up and stopped right across from us. On board was President Gerald Ford (a WWII Navy vet), reviewing dozens of mighty modern warships sailing up the Hudson.

USCGC Eagle and the USS FORRESTAL Operation Sail

USS FORRESTAL and the USCGC Eagle Operation Sail


President Gerald Ford

That night, the fireworks commenced from barges anchored in the river. It remains one of the most spectacular fireworks displays I have ever seen – and I have seen many large events. I remember the colors and the sounds. Most of all I remember the power of the explosions from the mortar rockets was so great I could feel the concussion in my chest as well as my ears.


The day I spent on Governors Island, July 4th, 1976 is one of my most cherished childhood memories.


  • President Gerald Ford passed away on December 26, 2006.
  • Governors Island has been open to the public since 2003, as a public park space.
  • In 1967 there wa a massive fire on the USS Forrestal, after a missile misfired and hit a fully fueled fighter jet, which then set off a chain of explosions and fire which claimed the lives of 134 sailors and injured 161.
  • On that ship was Senator John McCain. The missile hit plane right next to his. He was lightly wounded in the event. The pilot of the plane that was hit, Cdr. Fred White, was one of the 134 killed that day.
  • The USS Forrestal was decommissioned in 1993, and was completely scrapped as junk by December 2015.

Ghost Hunters Halloween Party!

Okay, had to take a break from NaNoWriMo prep to go to an awesome Halloween Party at the Spalding Inn, in Whitefield, NH. The Inn is owned by Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson of Ghost Hunters fame (on the SyFy channel). 

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Live a Life of Purpose

Many of us feel there’s more to life than what we’re now experiencing — but we have no earthly idea what that might be or how to find it.

We may have cultivated wonderful relationships or built successful careers, but we get a vague feeling of being unfulfilled. There’s a sense that something else is at the controls of your life and you’re simply along for the ride.

That thing we feel is missing? It is PURPOSE.

We all crave to have meaning in our lives. But instead of taking the time to find our purpose, we spend more time planning a vacation or watching reality shows – than we do mapping out our lives.

Your purpose is a combination of your skills, passions and values. It’s your mission in life and identifying it can provide clues to a more satisfying one.

If you love your life and are surrounded with the people you love, then doing work that you love will add life to your years and years to your life.

Don’t get gridlocked by life.

If you go through life dragging through the days, doing work you hate and feeling half-alive, it’s time to break free of the gridlock. If you’re not challenged by your life and feel like you’re just going through the motions, it’s time to seriously rethink your purpose. Here are some suggestions on breaking free from that life gridlock:

  1. Take risks – try something new out of your comfort zone
  2. Unplug for a day or weekend – go on a technology and media fast
  3. Learn something new like a language or instrument, take up dancing or an acting class or go on a photo tour
  4. Challenge the beliefs you have about yourself
  5. When invited to something out of the ordinary, don’t say no. Go with it.
  6. Try something new each day. Eat something you’ve never tasted, walk somewhere you’d normally take a car, go to a museum or show instead of sitting in front of the TV
  7. Take a longer view of your life and write a personal mission statement. It will help you find purpose, make choices and add meaning to your life

Hit the Pause Button.

In the busy hustle and bustle of our lives, we never give ourselves time to think and reflect on who we are and what we truly want. Change it. Hit the pause button on life and take some time for yourself. After all if you don’t take time for yourself, someone will use your time for you.

Living purposefully demands that you focus on what’s important. To make that happen take a 12-hour media fast. Turn off your cell phone, TV, computer and other gadgets, and do a personal re-boot. Sit quietly, breathe deeply. Your heart and mind will stop racing and you’ll have more time to look inward and consider what is most important to you.

Define Your Passion.

What’s missing in your life? What are you curious about? What issues or problems do you feel strongly about? Think about what gets you up in the morning — and keeps you up at night. And this is not about worries and anxieties. It’s about your passions, interests and activities that excite and motivate you.

Make a list of the things that you enjoy doing and believe you do well. What sort of books, magazines, websites and blogs do you read or frequent? What sort of shows to you like to watch? Perhaps you’re good at home improvement projects, or are good at writing or graphic arts. Maybe you have a passion for healthy living or crafts. You see possibilities where others see the same-old-same-old. Perhaps you’re a good listener or problem solver. If you’re not sure what you’re good at, ask your friends and family what they consider are your strengths.

Create a Vision Board.

This is a powerful tool to help you visualize what you want and why you want it. To create your vision board, print out online images or cut out pictures from magazines that inspire you and motivate you into action, make you happy and represent your life goals and dreams. Add quotes and inspiring words that encourage you.

Paste all of these onto a piece of white foam board, or tack them onto a corkboard. Add an inexpensive frame and hang your vision board on the wall of your office, den or bedroom, where you will see it every day.  Take a picture of your vision board and upload it to your computer and use it as a screen saver or wallpaper.

Create a Mastermind Group.

Successful people often have a group of trusted acquaintances with whom they bounce ideas off of, debate issues with and discuss new strategies. All of us should have such a group. Going it alone, without differing views and objective input from others, can keep you stuck. Ideally, you should have one person in your life you can count on just to listen when you need to work through options in your mind — someone with whom you can share your deepest feelings and fears.

You need another person who can be the one to give you the kick in the pants to get you off your butt and get going, spurring you to take action. It can be a simple as signing up for a course to learn to speak Spanish or starting a new business. Finally, you need a wise elder, someone at least 10 years your senior, who can serve as your mentor and provide perspective on your options and decisions.

Take it in Stages.

Finding your Purpose and putting it into action takes motivation, courage and patience. If you have a family to support and a mortgage to pay you can’t just quit and simply drop everything to follow your passion. For others taking such a big step is just too far out of their comfort zone. What to do?

The answer is: Start small. Take baby steps.

Your purpose will evolve and your interests and experiences change. Identify what you are curious about. What is one small thing you could do on a daily basis that takes you closer to your purpose and make your life a better experience?  Tell your spouse or partner why you love them. Show gratitude. Take some time to give someone you don’t know a hand with something, or help a friend with a problem. Change one thing in your daily routine that will bring you more in line with your purpose.

Once these small changes become routine, build on it make another small change that gets you closer to your purpose. Keep building on those changes and you will reach your life’s purpose.

Once you’ve clarified your purpose, you will discover new passions that will add meaning to your life.

This post is an adaptation of the original article written by Margery Rosen, for AARP on Jan. 11, 2012.

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No – End of Life Regrets

Don’t wait to live the life you want to live

I read an article written by Bronnie Ware, who worked in palliative care for many years, providing care and comfort for people at the end of their lives. Her message is important enough to spread around to everyone.

In talking with her many patients, she recognized a common thread when people talk about regrets and how they’d live their lives differently if given the chance. When questioned about regrets they had or if they’d do anything differently, some common themes surfaced. These were the five most common regrets:

1.     “I wish I had had the courage to live a life true to my nature instead of one others expected of me.”

This was reported to be the most common regret of all. When people realize their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it’s easy to see what dreams went unfulfilled. Most people haven’t lived even half the dreams they had and died knowing that it all came down to the choices they’d made…or not made.

It’s important you try and live out your most important dreams. Don’t go to your grave with your best music left inside you. Leave this life used up. It’s too late once you lose your health. Health brings a freedom few realize, until it’s gone.

2.     “I wish I didn’t work so hard.”

Most of the men the caregiver spoke to were of an older generation – every one of them had this regret. They missed out on their children growing up, and the important events in their lives. They also regretted missing out on the closeness of their partner’s companionship. They traded quality time with their family for money. There were some women who also admitted having this regret as well. All of them deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.

Simplify your lifestyle and make conscious choices about how you will live your life along the way. It is possible to scale back and live simpler. By creating more space and taking control of your personal time, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.

3.     “I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.”

Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.

Be open and authentic. We can’t control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.

4.     “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends”.

Often the patients would not truly realize the full benefits of old friends until their dying days, and then it wasn’t always possible to track them down. These people had become so caught up in their own lives they had precious friendships whither over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.

It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People want to get their affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks: love and relationships.

Your friends are the gold lining in life. You can’t pick your relatives, but you do pick your friends. Cultivate and care for your friends. Make time for them and for yourself.

5.     “I wish that I had let myself be happier.”

This is surprisingly common. Most of the patients didn’t realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called “comfort”, the contentment of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to themselves, that they were content. What they truly desired deep down was a longing to laugh heartily and have silliness in their life again.

Along with their regrets she said each of the patients experienced emotions you’d expect: denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. The saving grace is that she also said every single patient found peace before departing. Every one of them.

When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. It doesn’t matter at all.

How wonderful it is to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.

Life is a choice. It is your life. Choose consciously, choose wisely and choose honestly. Choose happiness.

1,000 Words A Day

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Passing Pennsylvania


At the age of 20, living in Long Island, New York, my two best friends and I came up with the idea of a cross-country road trip on the whim of a joke. Two of us were in dead-end jobs and the other was in a job that was sucking the life out of his youth. 

When we decided we were serious about the trip, I immersed myself in the planning process. I was totally psyched to go on this adventure and create this part of my story. As the time to leave drew closer, the doubters and disbelievers came out in force. Almost all of our friends and family members to a person didn’t think we’d go – and if we did, we wouldn’t make it out to California. Days before we left, one of the closest, most important people in my life told me, “You’ll never make it. You’ll get to the end of Pennsylvania, turn around in Pittsburg and come home.” 

That just pissed me off. Everyone who doubted us, who said we’d fail – pissed me the hell off. It showed how little they thought about us and what we were capable of. 

On the first night we did go as far as Pittsburg and stayed at a friend’s house for the night. The next day we left Pittsburg and Pennsylvania. We spent the next 22 days traveling across the United States and back having one of the best experiences of our lives. 

That same person who doubted I’d complete the trip later told me I was really irresponsible. I didn’t think so, but over the years I became a very responsible person – ending up doing the best of everyone under that person’s influence. Once again I proved that person wrong. 

Recently, that same person now said I was taking too much responsibility for my children’s futures at the expense of own. That person stated I would end up broke living in Section 8 housing when I was in my seventies. 

Man that pisses me off. 

I am bound and determined to prove this person wrong again and this time I will shove it in their face – telling them “I told you so – over and over.” Nothing motivates me than a person who supposedly loves me, doubts me so much.

The Meaning of Christmas

Well, here’s another Christmas Season and some folks are all up in arms about whether or not to allow the term “Merry Christmas” to be displayed in public places and in stores.

As you guys know, I had absolutely no religious upbringing – so follow no faith whatsoever.

With that said, here’s what “Merry Christmas” means to me.

First off, I just like the look and sound of “Merry Christmas”. It’s a happy, festive, warm and inviting phrase.

Christmas brings to mind Norman Rockwell images of Santa Claus, colorful decorations and lights, show specials and movies, Christmas trees and presents, colors, scents and good food, anticipation and happiness. More importantly, all my life, I’ve noticed that during the Christmas Season people are more friendly and neighborly towards one another. They smile at each other more and seem to be in a better mood. It’s a time of reflection. It’s a time of gathering with family and friends. A time of giving and a time of warm, heartfelt greetings. This is what Christmas means to me.

The thing I don’t understand about all the hoopla is – Christmas is and always has been a Christian holiday. I never understood why other faith’s get upset when they are not represented during Christmas. It’s never been demanded they neutralize the terminology of their faith’s holidays…

Oh well, in any case…

Merry Christmas !


From: Werner 
Sent: Wednesday, September 09, 2009 9:09 AM
To: Al; Mike; JIM
Subject: What were you doing…

 …at 09:09:09 on 09/09/09?

Me? I was sending this quick note out to my buds.

And always remember to


9/11 – Seven Years Later

—–Original Message—–
From: Meyer, Werner
To: Big Al; Mikey
Sent: Thu, 11 Sep 2008 8:28 am
Subject: 9/11

For the first two years I thought about it almost every single day. Each
of the first 5 anniversaries were gut-wrenching. Last year, for the
first time, the acuteness and intensity of emotion was less as is it
this year, but the mental images and memories of the sense of shock on
that day are still sharp. There is still melancholy.

It goes through my mind there are 2,993 people that were alive this time
7 years ago that should still be today and several buildings that should
still be standing, but aren’t.


From: Big Al
Sent: Thursday, September 11, 2008 9:09 AM
To: Meyer, Werner; Mikey
Subject: Re: 9/11

I can’t help but think of it every day, or at least every day that I go to work. I pass the site every morning. This day always brings tears and anger. I am not the same person I was seven years ago.


Bike Bummer and Weather Blues

This was our fourth rainy weekend in a row. We did get a break on late Saturday afternoon however. The sun actually came out and it was beautiful. The streets dried and I took my bike out to enjoy this reprieve. I was able to ride for over an hour before the clouds began to move back in. As I pulled in the driveway, I detoured through the grass to get around the van. I shut off the bike and started to back it into the garage when I heard a hissing noise. “What the hell is that sound”, I said. Stephen said, “Dad, your back tire looks like it’s going flat”. Upon quick inspection, I found a big old roofing nail sticking right in the middle of my two-week old tire. SHIT!

Now, I need to go out and buy a bike jack, figure out how to get the rear wheel off the bike and bring it to a shop to have the tire replaced. Wonderful, just wonderful.

Thankfully, the weather on Sunday was rainy. I was thankful because I would have felt worse if it had been beautiful and I missed going on a ride with my new club because of a flat tire. It was dark and dreary all day. Tired of being cooped up in the house, I asked Stephen if he wanted to play some basketball before the rain started again. He was all for it. We were having a lot of fun when the rain began. This time though, we decided that we weren’t going to let the rain chase us back indoors. We continued to play even when the rain came down hard in a drenching pour. We were having too much fun and had spent too many weekends indoors. When we were done, we dragged our thoroughly soaked butts in the house, changed into warm, dry, comfortable clothes and vegged out on the couch. I haven’t done something like that since I was a kid. It left me feeling very happy and relaxed.

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