Advertising for the toughest job in the world: Mom. The hockey fans who threw underwear on the ice. And a co-ed basketball league sounds really cool

Gotta lead off with this today, because it’s just so damn brilliant, and because it will soon apply to my life as a full-time stay-at-home father.

A company in Boston called Rehtom posted a job on its website listed generically as a “Director of Operations” position, and got 2.7 million people viewing the opening.
Only 24 applied, and were granted interviews, thanks to some of these requirements of the job:

– Must be able to work 135+ hours a week
– Ability to work overnight, associate needs pending
– Willingness to forgo any break
– Work mostly standing up and/or bending down
– Must be able to lift up to 75 lbs. on a regular basis
– Ph.D. in psychology or real-life equivalent
– Crisis management skills a must
– Proficient in handling sticky situations (literally and figuratively)

What makes it hilarious is that the company then videotaped their interviews with prospective employers, before halfway through explaining to them that the job is simply “Mom.”

So great. Shout-out to all the Moms out there who do all this and more, each and every day.

 

**Next up today, this is something you just don’t see every day, but more proof of sports doing good. Last Saturday night fans of the Bakersfield Condors minor-league hockey team littered the ice with 6,000 pieces of clothing, including a whole lotta underwear.

On what the team called “Undie Sunday” (which has to be a descendant of the great “Married With Children” episode about “Bundy Funday Sunday”), fans threw 1,096 pairs of socks, 2,773 pairs of underwear, 1,747 diapers and 55 bras, all to be donated to the Mission at Kern County and the Kern County Network for Children.

Sure, there were probably some people leaving the game who were a little uncomfortable and missing some clothes, but hey, it’s California, they’re all crazy hippie weirdos out there, right? (Kidding of course).

mixedgenderbasketball

**And finally, heard this really interesting idea for a sports league on NPR’s always-awesome “Only A Game” show this week. An entrepreneur in Harlem named Dr. John Howard Jr. has come up with the idea of the Mixed Gender Basketball Association, a new basketball league that will have men and women competing against each other.
Each game will feature three men and two men on the court for each team in the first quarter, then the reverse in the second quarter. Three-point shots for women will count as four points, and there are some other cool innovations as well.

Will this work out, and will fans come out to see it? I have no idea. But it sounds really interesting; check out the NPR story here.

“Mad Men” back, with Don sober and faithful? 4 babies, all laughing at their father. And a man exonerated after 25 years in prison.

mad-men-season-7-premiere-ratings

There are certain things you can count on whenever a new “Mad Men” season begins, as the final one did on Sunday: (SPOILER ALERT. STOP READING AND SCROLL DOWN TO THE NEXT VIDEO IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN IT YET)
– Roger Sterling will be entertaining. His very-1969 forays into group orgies in the season premiere certainly was very much in character, and delightful.

– Pete Campbell will give me reasons to hate him. Although Pete seemed like a new man out in California when the show begins, his obnoxiousness came out quick once his realtor girlfriend showed up.
– Peggy Olson will be aggrieved, and Joan will be disrespected. Check, check.

– And Don Draper will engage in some self-destructive behavior and generally bring misery down upon himself.
But actually, that last one didn’t happen, which made Sunday’s premiere pretty interesting to me. Given a chance to once again cheat on his wife Megan (who I really thought we were done with after last season, but nope, Matthew Weiner continues to inflict her on us), Don turns down the mysterious woman on his flight (Neve Campbell! And where the hell has she been?) and goes back home to his bachelor pad he’s now sharing with Freddy Rumsen, improbably.

Is this a new chapter for Don? Might he actually be giving up alcohol? He’s still kind of a cad; his interactions with Megan were stilted and he seemed like he’d rather be anywhere else, but it feels like the show is going to try to redeem Don after 6 seasons of awful behavior by him. That would definitely be an interesting turn.
The other characters also seem to be in a lot of flux; Joan is finally getting a chance to be taken seriously by clients, poor Ken is overwhelmed by his new job, and I can’t wait to see what little Sally Draper has been up to.

Only about a dozen “Mad Men” episodes left, and it’s all happening in 1969. Should be a really fun ride.

**Next up today, this video is a few years old but I’d never seen it: A father entertains his quadruplet children by making them laugh hysterically. The table is genius, by the way.

Nothing sweeter than babies laughing.

fleming.released

**And finally today, another story that angers those of us who believe our criminal justice system is so very flawed. A man who spent 25 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit was just released, as it turns out his original alibi, that he was at Disney World at the time and not in New York City where the murder happened, was finally verified.

Jonathan Fleming, now 51 (hugging his lawyer, above), was convicted for a 1989 slaying where the key witness was a crack addict who later recanted his testimony.

Yet Fleming sat in prison for a quarter-century until his lawyer urged New York’s new district attorney to look into the case, and phone records showed that Fleming was indeed in Orlando when the crime happened in NYC.

It’s amazing how many innocent people are sitting in our prisons. Truly amazing.

The U.S. gov’t acts disgracefully in collecting debt from 40 years ago. A beautiful tale of leaving notes for kids. And NCAA hypocrisy exposed again

matzoh

I’m saving my review of last night’s “Mad Men” for Tuesday (oh Pete Campbell, you’re just so California cool!), but it was pointed out to me by numerous people on Twitter that every single date this week is the same written forwards and backward (4/14/14, 4/15/14, etc.)

I don’t know what that means, but I think we’re in for a weird, weird week.

And Happy Passover to my fellow Members of the Tribe! I hope you all enjoy the matzoh and gefilte fish, while my brother-in-law Flyers fan and I argue over who’s going to win the Rangers-Flyers series starting Thursday.

A few people I know were outraged about this on Facebook, but quite honestly I never took the time to read the story until this weekend.

Now I’m outraged, too. According to the Washington Post, the Treasury Dept. and the Social Security Administration have been going after the children and grandchildren of people who either received too big a tax refund or owed a debt to the IRS.

In most cases, the children and grandchildren never knew about any such debt, but they’re being notified and having their tax refunds withheld by the government.

This is affecting hundreds of thousands of people, and most of them

The Treasury Department has intercepted $1.9 billion in tax refunds already this year — $75 million of that on debts delinquent for more than 10 years, said Jeffrey Schramek, assistant commissioner of the department’s debt management service.

What’s even more ridiculous is that in many cases, the government can’t prove if any extra benefits were even awarded to the families of the now-deceased.

From the lawyer of one of those individual affected:
“The craziest part of this whole thing is the way the government seizes a child’s money to satisfy a debt that child never even knew about,” says Robert Vogel, Grice’s attorney. “They’ll say that somebody got paid for that child’s benefit, but the child had no control over the money and there’s no way to know if the parent ever used the money for the benefit of that kid.”

Just awful and unfair.

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**Next up, something a little sweeter. Like tons of other parents (and like I’m sure I’ll do one day), Wendy Bradford’s husband got in the habit of leaving notes for his three children in their lunchbags every day.
Wendy didn’t leave notes. And her kids noticed.

And so she started to, and her kids started writing notes back… and it’s just a really sweet little story. Check it out on Wendy’s blog www.mamaonetwothree.com.

**Finally today, two pieces that continue to show the insanity that is the NCAA rules. First, Jon Stewart satirizes and mocks the idea that the players who make millions for the NCAA get bubkes from the deal.

Then there was this eye-opening piece on SBNation.com by Steve Godfrey, a semi- first-person account from an NCAA “bag man,” a fella who delivers cash to athletes at a major college, explaining how it’s done, and how easily it’s done.

Here’s the lede to get  you hooked:

The Bag Man excuses himself to make a call outside, on his “other phone,” to arrange delivery of $500 in cash to a visiting recruit. The player is rated No. 1 at his position nationally and on his way into town. We’re sitting in a popular restaurant near campus almost a week before National Signing Day, talking about how to arrange cash payments for amateur athletes.

“Nah, there’s no way we’re landing him, but you still have to do it,” he says. “It looks good. It’s good for down the road. Same reason my wife reads Yelp. These kids talk to each other. It’s a waste of money, but they’re doing the same thing to our guys right now in [rival school's town]. Cost of business.”

Technically, this conversation never happened, because I won’t reveal this man’s name or the player’s, or even the town I visited. Accordingly, all the other conversations I had with different bag men representing different SEC programs over a two-month span surrounding National Signing Day didn’t happen either.

But that’s OK, NCAA< let’s just keep the status quo. Everything’s just fine.

The BatKid storms San Francisco again. Derrick Gordon comes out, bravely. And a Montreal hockey player does a great thing

BatKidfirstpitch.GoodNewsFriday

Sorry about the lack of a Thursday post; meant to do one, but then I started looking at the incredible amount of stuff soon-to-be parents need to buy before the kid comes, and I looked up and it was midnight. Man oh man, running a baby store must be the easiest business in America…

And a Happy Friday to all of you. Three feel-good stories to take you into the weekend (Spring is finally here! Hey, it’s only mid-April, not like we were sick of winter or anything.)

First up, the continuing awesomeness that is the BatKid saga. Maybe you remember the huge fuss made in San Francisco a few months ago, when, thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and a wonderful city, a sick little boy who adores Batman named Miles Scott got to have the experience of a lifetime, a whole day being feted as a hero in his city.

Well now, the BatKid is back: He got to throw out the first pitch at a Giants game, and the photo above just might be the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.

**Next up, another athlete in a major American sport came out of the closet this week, and yes, it’s still a big deal. Sooner or later, it won’t be, but right now, Derrick Gordon, a UMass basketball player, told his teammates, then the world, that he was gay.

Watch this interview (below) he did with ESPN’s Kate Fagan (random trivia: Kate replaced me on the sports staff at the Glens Falls (N.Y.) Post-Star many moons ago. Her career has skyrocketed since then. She’s good people.), and realize that for so many of these gay athletes, it’s still so hard to tell your family and friends, and your teammates, who you really are.

I thought his first answer to Fagan’s question was so telling: “How do you feel?” she asked.

“Awesome, actually. Honestly I didn’t think I’d feel this way afterwards until 3 or 4 years later.”

Hopefully, the more athletes who find the courage to come out, it’ll get easier.

**And finally, having interviewed many hockey players over the years, I know one of their greatest fears is hurting someone, especially a kid, with a slap shot that got deflected and shoots into the stands.

If you’re P.K. Subban of the Montreal Canadiens, owner of the hardest slapper in the sport, it’s got to be doubly bad.
In a recent game, though, one of Subban’s missiles hit a Habs fan named Thomas. The kid wasn’t seriously hurt, but Subban showed he’s one of the good guys. Look at what he did for the boy afterwards:

The nursing home that hired a male stripper. A powerful anti-drone message. And Henry Aaron, still the home run king

magic-mike-1

I don’t anticipate living in a nursing home for a long, long while, but if I do end up in one, I hope it’s as much fun as the East Neck Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, in West Babylon, N.Y.
East Neck was in the news this week because of a lawsuit filed by the family of a former patient there, an 85-year-old woman was “subjected” to an unwanted performance by a male stripper in 2013.

That’s right, it was “Magic Mike” time for the octogenerian set! Bernice Youngblood’s son found a photo in January, 2013 of the stripper gyrating in front of his mom.
According to this story, the image also shows Youngblood shoving dollar bills into the dancer’s underwear.
So, you know, it doesn’t sound to me like Bernice was hating the show so much, eh?

An attorney for the nursing home said the event was organized by a 16-member planning council of residents who decided to have the strippers, and that Bernice willingly attended.

So many jokes to be made here. Was the stripper paid in dollar bills, or in hard candy? Did the women compare the hunk to Humphrey Bogart or Gary Cooper?  And for the love of God, did the women take off their bras and throw them at the guy, because that could just be classified as unsafe working conditions.

Strippers in a nursing home. Hell, it sure beats BINGO night.

pakistan.drone

**If there’s one reason above all others America is hated in Pakistan these days, it’s the unceasing drone attacks from our military that has been going on for years.
Whether you favor drone strikes as a necessary evil (as I do), or deem them inhumane and unnecessarily dangerous to civilians, they don’t seem to be going anywhere. President Obama has escalated their use and, quite frankly, turned into much more of a hawkish President than any of us thought he’d become.

The Pakistanis can’t fight back against the drones, not in any real military way. But this ought to be pretty powerful on its own: A group of artists have created an enormous poster featuring the face of one of the victims of a drone attack. The poster is large enough to be seen by aircraft flying overhead, and it’s pretty haunting.

Since unmanned drone strikes began in earnest in 2008, the attacks have killed more than 3000 Pakistanis

**Finally today, Tuesday was a great anniversary in baseball, for it was on April 8, 1973 that Henry Aaron passed Babe Ruth on the all-time career home run list, by smashing his 715th in Atlanta’s Fulton-County Stadium.

To me, and I’m sure millions of others, Aaron’s career total of 755 is still the all-time record: What Barry Bonds achieved with the aid of steroids disgraced the game, and his 762 ought to be stricken from the record book. But alas, that’s not the way baseball works, sadly.
It’s amazing the pressure Aaron was under that 1972 season, and the winter leading up to ’73. The racism he faced, from fans and others around the game, was unlike anything a player has had to face since. Death threats to him and his family, constant police protection; it was all what he had to endure. He held up through it all, showing grace and humility, and he’s still living his life that way, too.

Truly, a (home run) King among men.

UConn wins a most improbable national title. A teacher in Belgium with an awesome punishment idea. And Honey Maid fires back with a beautiful ad

UConnwins

If, three weeks ago, you gave me 20 chances to guess which team would be cutting down the nets Monday night after the NCAA Tournament, I wouldn’t have picked Connecticut.
Hell, if you gave me THIRTY chances I wouldn’t have picked the Huskies. But that’s what me and millions of others love so much about the Tournament: You just never know.
And so Monday night, the most improbable NCAA men’s basketball champion in 29 years was crowned. Led by Shabazz Napier, the only real star the Huskies have, UConn parlayed an incredible three weeks of basketball into a title.

Truly, I’m stunned. With all the good teams in this Tournament, to think that UConn, who barely survived its opening game, an OT win against St. Joe’s, could topple teams that on paper looked so much better, is amazing.
They beat No. 2 seed Villanova in the Round of 32, then knocked off No.3 Iowa State, No. 4 Michigan State, and No. 1 Florida to get to the title game.

An incredible job by coach Kevin Ollie and Napier’s teammates, especially Ryan Boatright and DeAndre Daniels. What a crazy, crazy story, that UConn has won four NCAA title in the last 15 years.

Some other scattered thoughts from Monday’s title game:
– So happy that Satan Calipari lost. Someone on Twitter mentioned that hatred of him is the only thing that could ever bring Duke and North Carolina fans together. We all rooted against him tonight.

– Still, as much as I hate Cal, gotta give a lot of credit to his team. As usual, they fell down by a lot early, then battled back and were right there at the end.

– Looking for “One Shining Moment?” It’s right here. Solid job on it by CBS as always, though we saw hardly any buzzer-beaters and Wisconsin and Michigan State got shafted in the highlights. But the McDermott father-son hug gave me chills.

– Napier cracked me up when, in his postgame interview, he railed about the NCAA holding UConn back by not letting them in last year’s Tournament, and acting all angry. Shabazz, bubbeleh, your team wasn’t in last year’s Big Dance because UConn’s team academic performance was so poor in previous years that you were put on probation! If your team could pass Freshman English, y’all would’ve been fine!

– We take him for granted a lot, but CBS’ Jim Nantz is really, really good at calling big games. Excellent voice, knows when to get excited, and lets his analysts talk.

– Even if you’re not a big women’s basketball fan, you should check out tonight’s women’s final. Undefeated UConn against undefeated Notre Dame, in the women’s game’s hottest rivalry right now. Should definitely be a great one.

– Can’t wait till next season. Duke’s undefeated so far in 2014-15.

**Next up, you may remember a few weeks back I wrote about a fantastic HoneyMaid commercial that went viral, showing families of all kinds coming together in love.
Of course, because there’s still so much homophobia and racism in America, HoneyMaid took a whole lot of flack from right-wing groups and individuals for the ad.
So as a perfect response, they released this commercial the other day. Just picture-perfect in every way.

gameofthrones

**Finally today, I heard this on NPR last week and thought it may be the most creative teacher punishment I’ve ever heard.
An educator in Belgium has a class full of fans of the hit HBO show “Game of Thrones.”
And to keep them in line, he’s threatened them with the ultimate cruel torture: Revealing spoilers for the upcoming episodes.

Yep, the unnamed educator apparently told the students in his math class that he’d read all the George R. Martin books in the series, and would reveal which characaters would die next if there was any more noise in the room.

The kids fell into a hush when the teacher started writing characters’ names on the board, and promised to behave.

So awesome.

“Muppets Most Wanted” almost as much fun as the last movie. I hold my nose and root for UConn tonight. And R.I.P., John Pinette

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One of the first things that my wife and I bonded over when we first started dating was our love of The Muppets.
I mean, yes, everybody loves The Muppets, but she really, really, really loves the Muppets. Like, more than is probably normal.

So of course we saw the first Muppets movie of their “reunion”, the one that came out two years ago and starred Jason Segel and the always-awesome Amy Adams, along with new Muppet Walter.
And it was fantastic. Funny, smart, and the songs were great, too.
So of course, we had to see the sequel, though unfathomably it took us two weeks of being in the theaters for us to catch it, finally seeing it Sunday.

It was good. About as good as I expected. It wasn’t as good as the last film, but hey, it was a sequel, so you can’t have too high hopes.
Ricky Gervais was really good, playing “Dominic Badguy” which is such a Muppets movie name for a character. Tina Fey was great as (naturally) a Russian prison warden in love with Kermit, and Ty Burrell brought the funny as a bumbling Interpol officer.

I’d explain the plot to you but would it matter? It’s just ridiculous enough to keep you interested, and the jokes, as expected, went over most kids’ heads but made the grown-ups laugh.

The roster of cameos is typically bizarre and varied for a Muppets movie: We get everyone from Usher, to Ray Liotta, to Salma Hayek, to James McAvoy, to P. Diddy, and they all contribute something.
And the songs are once again really good, and we left the theater happy that the Muppets are back.

Can’t ask for much more than that. Go see “Muppets Most Wanted,” with or without kids, if only for the fantastic final musical number. It was fabulous.

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**A sad night tonight for me and other college basketball diehards, as the national championship game is played, followed by “One Shining Moment,” the greatest three minutes of the television year in my opinion. It should be a great game, but it’s sad because it’s the last meaningful men’s game until November.

It’s tough for me to root for either Connecticut or Kentucky tonight, because I hate both programs intensely. I hate UConn because they dealt my Duke boys two of the most painful defeats of my lifetime, in the 1999 title game and in the 2004 Final Four, and because the Huskies under Jim Calhoun were a dirty program run by a classless lout.

I can’t root for Kentucky, of course, because they’re coached by Satan and have the most obnoxious fans in human history.
Still, when it comes to Satan or UConn, I’ve got to pick the Huskies. (My preview, with keys to the game, should be up on ThriveSports.com by the time you read this) I think Kentucky will win because they are a better team, but both teams have been winning so improbably these last three weeks that I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see UConn win.

Come on Huskies, don’t make me and America watch John Friggin’ Calipari cut down the nets again. That’s just a miserable sight for so many.

**Finally today, sad news Sunday that John Pinette, a hilarious stand-up comedian and a guest star on the very last episode of “Seinfeld,” died at age 50 of a pulmonary embolism.

Pinette, the heavy-set guy who always poked fun at himself, is one of those comedians I discovered 20 years ago on some cable comedy show, and I remember laughing so hard my sides hurt when I first heard is “four hour” Chinese buffet routine (above).

He was a funny, funny man, and he’ll be missed. We can never have enough laughter in this world.

http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/wireStory/comedian-john-pinette-50-dies-pa-hotel-23216157

Good News Friday: I’m going to be a father! A hockey mascot makes kids’ dreams come true. And An Italian soccer player adopts a baby left on a train.

fatherhood.blog

I’ve been called lots of names throughout my 38 years on Earth.

Brother. Son. Husband. Friend. Uncle. Sportswriter. Teacher. New Yorker. Fool.

But I’ve never been called the one thing I’ve longed to be called, the absolute most important name I could ever hope to be called:

Dad.

Until this September, when gloriously, amazingly, miraculously, I will get to be the father of a child.

Yes, the cat’s out of the bag. I am going to be a Daddy, and the word “excited” doesn’t even come close to covering how I feel.

I want to scream it from the rooftops, I want to broadcast it all over world.
So, yeah, I’m pretty pumped.

So many wonderful things have been happening in the last few months, and I’m enjoying them all: the first appointment at the OB/GYN, where my wife’s pregnancy was confirmed. The first sonogram, and hearing the first heartbeat of my baby boy or girl (we’ve decided not to find out the baby’s gender, because hey, life is full of surprises, and this one should be a doozy!).

Seeing my beautiful wife get a little bit of a baby bump over the past week, as she enters Week 19 of the pregnancy today. (and if I ever say anything as stupid as “we’re pregnant” in print or out loud, please take me out back and lash me 40 times with a belt. Can’t stand when a man says something like “we’re 31 weeks.” Dude, YOU are not growing a human.)

So yes, it’s all happening, and I’m alternately thrilled and terrified as I learn more and more about being a father, preparing for the arrival of a newborn, and trying my best to get used to the idea that come September, I’m not going to sleep for about a year (or two).

The best news so far is that my wife has been feeling well , and that the baby, genetically, seems to be perfect through all the testing to this point.

It’s going to be an incredible ride. I have no idea what’ll happen to this blog once the kid comes; I’ve heard new parents don’t have much free time, so who knows how much energy I’ll have in keeping up this little online home that I love here on the Internet. I’m sure the blog will survive in some form, and I promise to try not to be one of those parents inundating readers with every single detail of my baby’s life.

But truly, making predictions about how my life will change are futile.

I’m just going to enjoy the journey once it begins.

**Next up today, a little happy news from the world of sports mascots. The Calgary Flames’ famous mascot, Harvey the Hound, failed to show up at a scheduled appearance at a youth hockey game in Alberta recently.

So of course, the kids were really upset. But Harvey lives to make kids happy, so he made it up to them.
Boy, did they ever. Watch this video and think about how lucky these kids are; man, to walk into a locker room of an NHL team and see that… incredible.

FloroFlores

**And finally today, a story of an Italian soccer player, a baby abandoned on a train, and the goodness of people.

From FoxSoccer.com: “According to Football Italia, a baby believed to be three or four days old was found abandoned in a bag under a train seat. When Antonio Floro Flores heard of the story, he was so moved he inquired about the young child. After attempts to find the birth parents failed, the forward began the process to officially adopt the boy. Flores has three children of his own already.”

“After seeing the profile of little Francesco, we followed what our hearts told us,” Floro Flores said on Twitter. “Before being a player, I am a father. I’m certainly not a hero! We are going through the regular procedures.”

Great story.

A 12-scoop baseball helmet sundae? Sure. A beautiful gesture from the Boston firefighters, honoring their own. And the 12-year-old who shattered the Girl Scout cookie sales record.

helmetsundae

Unbelievable, that there was another mass shooting at Fort Hood military base in Texas Wednesday. That’s two at the exact same base in five years!  Four dead, many more injured. How much longer until America makes the mental health of our soldiers a bigger priority??? Thought back to the incredible David Finkel book about the subject, “Thank You For Your Service.”  Cannot be said strongly enough, which I felt after reading that book, which anyone would feel reading that book: Mental health care for our soldiers coming back from 10 years of American wars is a huge, huge, HUGE issue that is not being taken seriously enough.
OK, getting down off the soapbox now.

It’s officially baseball season, which to me, given my flagging interest in the sport over the years, means one thing more exciting than the games: Insanely bad for you, high-calorie new ballpark food!

Every year, it seems, the culinary folks at minor league and major league parks try to outdo each other, attempting to set gastronomic records and induce as many heart attacks as they can by concocting disgusting yet delicious ballpark fare (As George W. used to say, this is ‘Merica!)

This year I’ve been reading about enormous hot dogs wrapped in bacon, crazy $30 tacos stuffed with everything, and other fare. But so far I have to tip my sombrero for the best idea to the Chicago White Sox, who have come up with this beauty: It’s a 12-scoop banana split ice cream sundae, contained inside an actual full-size batting helmet.

Now before you get Dr. Oz on the phone, the White Sox it’s not “designed” to be eaten by one person. It’s for the whole family, they say! (still, three scoops per person for a family of four is still a lot of ice cream, I’d say). The mammoth dessert will sell for $17.

I think the first person who eats the entire thing by themselves should get an honorary plaque at Comiskey Park.
And an immediate ride to the nearest hospital.

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**I like to try to find any sliver of good news in any tragedy, and believe it or not there was a tiny bit of it coming out of that horrific Boston fire this week that killed two firefighters.

The widow of one of the firefighters killed, Kristin Walsh, asked her husband’s brave brothers at the firehouse if Michael Kennedy’s ring was there, as it wasn’t on his hand when his body was recovered.

The Boston crew couldn’t find it in the house, so six of them went back to the scene of the fire and spent 90 agonizing minutes, digging up one scoop at a time, looking for the ring.

And miraculously, they found it and returned it to Kristin Walsh.
They can’t bring her husband back, but thanks to incredible diligence and kindness, they at least gave her a lasting piece of their marriage.

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**And finally, a hearty Wide World of Stuff round of applause to young Katie Francis of Oklahoma City, Okla. who broke a pretty awesome record last week: The sixth-grader shattered the national Girls Scout Cookie sales record, selling 21,477 boxes during this year’s selling period.

Twenty-one thousand boxes of cookies. Man, Katie must be a hell of a salesgirl. Then again, is there anyone who can really say no to Thin Mints or Tagalongs?

Check out Katie on “Good Morning America.”

The anxiety of school testing day, from both students and teachers. And a World Cup announcer calls a blind date, brilliantly

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Tuesday may have been April Fool’s Day in your world, but I’m here to tell you that I was in a NYC middle school all day and not a prank was to be seen.

That’s because Tuesday in New  York was the day millions of schoolkids, and teachers, had alternately dreaded and looked forward to: The first day of the state English test, the beginning of three straight days of seeing whether students had learned the new Common Core curriculum.

The feeling Tuesday was different, for sure; it was a school I had been at a bunch of times this year, but Tuesday felt a little strange. There was anxiety in the air, both from the students, who obviously wanted and needed to do well, and from the teachers, since New York, like many states, has started using kids’ scores as an evaluation method of their teachers.

Now … I’m not going to get into a whole screed about the Common Core, for or against, because quite frankly this is a public blog and I want to keep my position, temporary though it is as a sub.

I do think, contrary to many, that the Common Core Standards are needed and are a good idea, but they’ve been implemented hastily and teachers haven’t been given the time nor the materials they need to prepare student for them.

But anyway, enough about the test itself. My sympathies Tuesday were with the students. I don’t remember stressing out this much about tests when I was a kid; to see some of these middle schoolers Tuesday, you would’ve thought their life depended on the outcome.

I’m sure they all did fine. But 12 year olds shouldn’t be getting ulcers, you know?

 

**Finally today, this was hilarious. ESPN World Cup soccer announcer Ian Darke calls the “play by play” of a blind date. I laughed hard.