Monthly Archives: November 2019

Good News Friday: A waitress with a 14-mile commute on foot gets gifted a new car. The guy whose layup beat Duke is a Bahamian whose family lost everything. Now they’re getting it back. And a heartwarming before and after “Sesame Street” video will make you smile.

And a Happy Friday, and congrats for surviving Thanksgiving with your family! I had a wonderful Turkey day with my in-laws and my wife’s cousins here in Maryland, where we ate lots of yummy stuff, watched six children all 6 and under frolic and play together (and rarely a cry was heard, it’s true!) and saw the Dallas Cowboys embarrass themselves on national TV (always a good time)

I hope you had a wonderful holiday, and that you stay far the hell away from any shopping center or mall today.

So many good news items to choose from this week, but as always I’ve narrowed it down to three.

First up, a waitress in Galveston, Texas named Adrianna Edwards walks seven miles, each way, to her job at Denny’s every day she’s got a shift.

It takes her, as you might expect, a few hours and is highly inconvenient. But as she says, “I have bills to pay. “I’ve got to eat. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.”

One day recently Edwards was talking to a friendly couple on whom she was waiting, and told them her story.

Later that day, the anonymous couple returned after going Classic Galveston Auto Group and purchased a 2011 Nissan Sentra. Hours later, they returned to Denny’s to surprise Edwards.

“She teared up, which made me happy that she was so moved by that,” said the woman who bought the car.

This incredible act of stranger kindness has changed Edwards’ life. What a wonderful, wonderful move.

**Next up today, Tuesday night saw a pretty huge shocker in the world of college basketball. My beloved Duke Blue Devils, the No.1 team in the nation, saw a 19-year winning streak at home against non-conference opponents come to a stunning end, as tiny Stephen F. Austin University came into Cameron Indoor Stadium and beat Duke, 85-83 in OT.

I was stunned and upset by this result, so why the hell is it in here in Good News Friday? Because for once, all the Duke hatred in the world resulted in something I can appreciate.

The player for SFA who made the winning layup is named Nathan Bain, and he’s from the Bahamas, and his family lost their home in the recent hurricanes that struck the island.

Bain’s father runs a church and school in the Bahamas, and those were devastated as well.

The church got hit really hard,” Bain told KTRE-TV in September. “My house got hit really hard. We lost just about everything. We are still trying to stay positive because more important than the material things, everyone in our circle and immediate family and church family is safe.”

Well, until Tuesday night a GoFundMe page set up by Stephen F. Austin had only raised a few thousand bucks to help Bain’s family.

Then, Bain hit the layup that slayed the giant. And as I type this late Thursday night, the GoFundMe has raised $132, 775.

Remarkable. And it’s not all Duke haters who’ve donated, I noticed as I scrolled through the comments. Many Duke fans gave money and support as well (see? We Duke fans DO have hearts!)

It’s amazing what sports can do. Literally, that win and that shot for Bain will change his family’s life, and the lives of the students who went to school in his dad’s church, forever.

Sports, man. Sports.

**Finally today, this is wonderful. It’s a clip of an old episode of “Sesame Street,” from 1974, of a boy named John and a Sesame character named Harry, and it starts off with little John counting, and well, it changes into something magical about one minute in.

Just so special.

 

The state of South Dakota has a hilarious new slogan. An interview with a rugby player that’s beyond bizarre and awesome. And my Thanksgiving tradition: The classic “Cheers” episode food-fight.

Happy Erev Thanksgiving, my dear readers! While you start to salivate thinking about the turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and noodle pudding you’ll consume Thursday, I just want to take a moment today to give thanks to all of you, the readers, without whom I’d just be out here ranting and raving to myself.

I appreciate you one and all, whether this is your first visit to Wide World of Stuff, or if you’re a regular reader. Truly, thank you so much for coming by.

OK, on with the show. So we start today with news from the great state of South Dakota, which like many states in the U.S. is suffering greatly from a meth addiction in its population.

So in its wisdom, the state government’s Department of Social Services decided to launch a new slogan and ad campaign.

What’s it called?

Yep, that’s what it’s called. It has been, shall we say, widely mocked on the Interwebs, but I certainly understand what South Dakota is trying to say: We’re aware of the problem, and we’re tackling it!

Hey Twitter, the whole point of this ad campaign is to raise awareness,” Gov. Kristi Noem said Monday afternoon. “So I think that’s working…”

The campaign features a new website (onmeth.com), billboards and advertisements with people saying, “Meth, I’m on it.”

I think it’s great, because like Noel said, the whole point is to bring attention to the meth addiction problem.

But… it is pretty hilarious.

**Next up today, this is one of the more bizarre athlete interviews I’ve ever seen, and trust me, I’ve seen thousands of them.

Let me introduce you to England national rugby team star Joe Marier, being interviewed last week and giving one of the most bizarre, rambling metaphors you’ll ever hear.

It’s something about a horse, and then it just goes hilariously off the rails.

**And finally today, one of my favorite annual traditions here at the blog, my Thanksgiving tribute to the greatest TV scene in this great holiday’s history. The great “Cheers” Thanksgiving food fight episode.

As I always say, every time I watch this I laugh really, really hard. Today watching it, the look on Frasier’s face right before Diane starts talking just slays me.

So, so, great. I could watch this every day of the year and not get sick of it.

 

“Modern Love” an outstanding Amazon show, with awesome cast and sweet stories. A climate change protest delays Harvard-Yale game, fascinatingly. And the Jets stay hot, Ryan Tannehill is unstoppable, and more NFL thoughts

Very rarely do I come across shows like “Modern Love,” the new Amazon streaming series that is adapted from the wildly popular New York Times column that lets New Yorkers tell their unique love stories.

It has a different cast in each of its eight episodes, and the episodes vary wildly in tone. You watch the third episode (my personal favorite), starring Anne Hathaway, and then watch the seventh one, featuring a gay couple looking to hire a surrogate mother, and they’re completely different in almost every way, save for the New York backgrounds.

But the one thing they all have in common: a great heart, and lots of love. I really, really loved this show. It brought together a bunch of A-list actors like Hathaway, Tina Fey, John Slattery, and Catherine Keener, and gave them wonderful material to work with.

One episode (my wife’s favorite) deals with a single woman and her long-term friendship with the doorman at her building. Another follows a couple on a second date, when a broken glass gets lodged in one of their arms and we see the extent of true devotion.

There are serious issues dealt with, and funny issues, and not every episode is perfect (the Fey/Slattery one, oddly considering how great they both are, was maybe our least favorite.)

The power of love courses through each one of “Modern Love”‘s stories, and I found myself wanting more each time. The final episode does something great that I won’t spoil, but is very very satisfying.

Each episode is 30 minutes each, so you can easily binge the whole thing like we did in a week or two.

If you’re looking to feel renewed, about love and life, I highly highly recommend it.

**Next up, this was something very strange and possibly fabulous that happened Saturday: Harvard and Yale, besides being probably the two most prestigious universities in America, have had a long and storied football rivalry, going back more than 100 years.

They’ve played many famous games, including one in 1968 that saw a miracle comeback by Harvard, scoring 16 points in the final 42 seconds of the game, leading to the classic headline in the Harvard Crimson newspaper, “Harvard beats Yale, 29-29.”

Anyway, Saturday’s game turned out to be fabulous, too, with Yale rallying and winning in double overtime, but that’s not why I’m writing about it. At halftime, more than 150 students from both schools stormed the field and disrupted the game for more than hour, nearly causing it to finish in darkness since the Yale Bowl has no lights.

The students were protesting both school’s holdings in the fossil fuel industry, as well as urging the U.S. government to cancel Puerto Rico’s massive debt.

It may be because I’m a liberal who agrees with these positions, but I think it’s great what these students did. Nothing gets more attention in college than a football game, and no game at these two schools gets more attention than Harvard.

So this was a chance to get maximum attention for a cause. Will it work? I have no idea. But whether it’s student groups getting offensive statues taken down from campus, or the names of racists taken off buildings, college kids have been getting results when making protests like this for years.

I say good on them. It’s just a football game, after all.

**Now of course all that said, I’m now going to spend a couple hundred words talking about football games. (Hypocrisy, thy name is Michael Lewis. What can I tell you.)

First I have to start with the stunning, shocking, and downright mystifying 34-3 win by my New York Jets over the previously thought to be pretty good Oakland Raiders.

In the cold and rain of MetLife Stadium (and I can’t for the life of me understand how thousands of fans sat out there in this weather, it was awful here on Sunday), the Jets just destroyed the 6-4 Raiders. Sam Darnold looked awesome, the defense was stifling, and Le’Veon Bell even looked pretty good.

So now my previously-pathetic team is 4-7, with two winnable games upcoming against the putrid Bengals and woeful Dolphins, and it wouldn’t seem so crazy to start dreaming about them being 6-7 and in the playoff hunt in a few weeks.

Except, it’s the Jets, so I know they’ll lose one of these games (hey, they already know how to lose to Miami, they just did it a few weeks ago) so there’s no need to stupidly waste time about saving this season.

Still, nice to see Darnold finally improving and looking like a franchise QB.

In other news from the league where they play for pay…

— I hate the Patriots but man they are really freaking good this year. Tom Brady is basically throwing to high school receivers and they’re hardly scoring the last few weeks but they keep on winning thanks to a ridiculously good defense. I think only Baltimore has a legit shot of stopping a fourth straight Patriots Super Bowl appearance in the AFC.

— Wild game in New Orleans, where God clearly has a sense of humor when he allowed the NFL officials to overturn a non-pass interference call in Carolina’s favor with the game tied at 31 and the Panthers driving inside the Saints 10. Because the football gods didn’t want a riot in the Bayou, New Orleans ended up winning.
But this challenge thing on pass interference calls has been such a joke; hardly any get overturned, even blatantly obvious ones. 

— My friend Buddy S. is a swell guy and I love him, so I had to feel for him a little bit Sunday night. Buddy is a Dolphins fan, so not only has he had to suffer thru a miserable season, not only does he have to watch ex-Jets coach Adam Gase finally start winning with my Jets, but now he’s got to see the former QB of the future for the Dolphins, Ryan Tannehill (that’s him, above), play like Joe Montana the past month for Tennessee.

Tannehill, who was wildly erratic and injury-prone with Miami, has been incredible given a second chance to start. He accounted for four touchdowns Sunday in the Titans’ 42-20 demolition of Jacksonville. Ryan Tannehill, who knew???

— The Redskins won. No, seriously, they did. I checked a few different websites to make sure it was real. But after nine straight losses, they actually won.

— The Bills are 8-3 and the only team they’ve beaten who’s even moderately good is Tennessee. Strangest 8-3 I’ve ever seen. They’re about to play the Ravens, Steelers and Patriots though, so we’ll see how good they really are.

 

Good News Friday: Man proposes to his girlfriend on her final day of chemo treatment. A world-class violinist uses his talent to entertain shelter dogs. And an awesome initiative encouraging stranger kindness

Happy Friday, my people! It’s a mere six days before Thanksgiving and I have lots to be thankful for this year, including the fact that my 5-year-old’s reading proficiency is amazing more and more every day (Harvard and Duke, our applications will be in the mail shortly.)

Wanted to start Good News Friday this week with a pretty unusual but great wedding proposal story.

A man named Max Allegretti met the woman of his dreams, Jillian Hanson, the way we all meet our loves: when they were teammates at a dodgeball tournament in college (It’s true: If you save someone from a flying object smacking into their skull, they are legally obligated to go out with you.)

Allegretti and Hanson fell in love and their relationship endured through the usual ups and downs, but suffered a huge down a few years ago when Hanson was diagnosed with breast cancer.

But like a good boyfriend, Allegretti stood by her side, and a little more than  a year ago, on the day of Hanson’s last chemo treatment, Allegretti proposed to her, right there on a bed at Memorial Sloan Kettering hospital in Monmouth, N.J.

The video is awesome, especially when the nurses all get excited when Max proposes.

The two got married on Oct. 18, and love really does triumph over all.

**Next up today, a feel-good story combining music and animals, but no don’t worry, it’s not about a porcupine who plays a killer saxophone.

From Upworthy.com: Martin Agee has played his violin all over the world, at some of the most prestigious venues with some of the most venerated orchestras, but he readily admits that his favorite gig is playing for his furry friends at the local ASPCA shelter.

“I’ll never forget my first day,” he said to Medium. “Many of these dogs have been traumatized. Here they enter a process of recovery. We’re being kind to them. Some days, I have to hold back the tears. The dogs I play for, it’s at different stages of their recovery, have been injured and/or neglected.”

This is a very cool idea, and having someone as talented as Agee play for the pooches must be very soothing to them.

The power of music extends to all living creatures.

**Finally, wanted to bring a little attention to a wonderful initiative my good friend Catherine Pearlman wrote about on her blog this week. I’ve written about Catherine on here before; she donated a kidney to a total stranger a few months back, an act of generosity that still boggles my mind.

This week Catherine kicked off an initiative she’s calling Stranger Kindness, asking friends, colleagues and just good people of the world to try do as many acts of stranger kindnesses as they can between now and Valentine’s Day.

From Catherine’s heartfelt post:

During the holiday season, we all tend to give a lot to our family, our friends, maybe our neighbors and our coworkers. That’s all good. But the thing is there are lots of people who don’t enjoy this time of year. It’s expensive. It can be extraordinarily lonely. It is often stressful with all the shopping and parties and planning. And there tends to be more depression and anxiety than other times of the year.

There is so much we can all do to help others as we would help our inner circle. And maybe doing it for a stranger will make that act more meaningful. With the holidays approaching, I’m ready to get back into giving business. I want to see if you will join me.

For the next three months let’s make the world a better place by being nice to strangers. I mean make an actual concerted effort every day to do something nice for someone outside of your friends and family. Go big or small. Spend money or don’t. All you have to do is find ways every day to do something nice for a stranger until Valentine’s day.

Why stretch this giving thing way past the holidays? Because lots of people help out during the Thanksgiving to Christmas stretch. But often people feel more alone in the dark days of January and February. Valentine’s day stinks for a large portion of the country. So, let’s do this all the way until the promise of Spring is upon us.

As Catherine goes on to say, this could be acts as simple as putting money in a stranger’s parking meter, or paying for their coffee in line. Helping someone else costs so little, but often means so much.

She’s asking people to use the hashtag #strangerkindness when they do something nice, so if you can, please do.

 

An Ohio bill allows students to give scientifically wrong answers if they say it’s because of their religious beliefs. A reminder that LeBron James is still awesome. And thoughts on tonight’s Democratic debate, where once again way too many people will be on stage

OK, I told you the other day I was all fired up and hot and bothered by two stories I read last weekend; one was the ridiculous N.J. lawsuit involving a kid getting injured from a baseball slide and the parents suing the coach, that I wrote about Monday.

Now, let me rant for a few hundred words about an equally-ridiculous story, and this one actually did make it into law.

In the Ohio House of Representatives, which sadly has made it into this column a few times over the years for batshit-crazy legislation, a new law was passed last week.

It’s called the “Student Religious Liberties Act,” and it states that under the law, students can’t be penalized if their work is scientifically wrong as long as the reasoning is because of their religious beliefs.

Let me say that again: Ohio students CANNOT be penalized if their work is wrong, as long as their reason for giving the wrong answer is because of their religion.

HB 164 is real, folks. I’m not making this up. So as an ACLU director in Ohio, Gary Daniels, said in this story: “On the other hand, Daniels said that if a student submitted biology homework saying the earth is 10,000 years old, as some creationists believe, the teacher cannot dock points.

“Under HB 164, the answer is ‘no,’ as this legislation clearly states the instructor ‘shall not penalize or reward a student based on the religious content of a student’s work,” he said.”

This is insane. Absolutely, positively insane. There is science, pure, unadulterated, proven science, that children learn in schools every day of every school year.

The idea that creationism has crept back into schools in the past few decades is scary enough. But now the idea that students will be able to use religious doctrine to OVERRIDE science on exams is ridiculous and frightening.

Now, the sponsor of the bill, an Ohio Republican named Timothy Ginter, says that’s not how it will work, that a student who doesn’t accept science on evolution would get a lower grade in a biology class about the subject, and that the students have to give answers on exams that’s consistent with what’s taught.

Ginter says this “religious beliefs” part of the law only applies to kids doing book reports or term papers on religious figures like Moses.

Uh-huh. I’m not buying it. Not. At. All. This is one more attempt from the “Fake News” part of our country, the part of our country that wants to have its own opinions and also it’s own facts, to call into question accepted and irrefutable truths, because they don’t square with the Bible or another religious teaching.

Good God almighty, this is ridiculous and asinine.

Teacher: “Tommy you got 5 answers wrong on this science test.”
Tommy: “But I got 3 questions wrong because of my religious beliefs!”
Teacher: “Oh OK then, my bad, you only got 2 wrong. Good job.”

 

**Next up today, LeBron James is in his 17th NBA season and still doing things like this, he’s off to another amazing start and I once again get to laugh and people before the season who were saying he’s too old to be as effective as he used to be.

Watch that dunk I posted above, and tell me that. He’s the greatest basketball player of all time, folks. And he’s not stopping anytime soon.

**Finally today, there’s another group of Democratic Presidential candidates gathered on a stage tonight, with each one getting to speak for 35 seconds or so with no opportunity to really challenge each other.

Or, you know, as they call it, a debate. I don’t want to beat a dead horse by railing about the ridiculousness of having 10 people on stage at one time being antithetical to an actual, you know, DEBATE, so I won’t beat that dead horse.

Instead, since I’ll be watching (9 p.m. on MSNBC), a few things I’m looking for out of tonight’s debate:

— So help me God if they again spend the first 35 minutes arguing about the minutiae of health care, Medicare for All, and why this person’s lying about their plan. There are SO many issues that don’t get talked about in these debates (environmental issues, the rise in hate crimes and hate speech in the U.S., poverty, nuclear issues worldwide, just to name a few) that it kills me to see them ignored for yet another drone-a-thon about health care.

— So it’ll be interesting if Pete Buttigieg, fresh off a new poll showing him with a big lead in Iowa, becomes a target of others’ attacks for the first time. Last debate it was Elizabeth Warren who suddenly got the slings and arrows, and she handled them, only OK. Is 37-year-old boy wonder Mayor Pete prepared to deal with his new status as a serious threat?

— Can my two favorite candidates, Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, do anything to finally break the 5 percent polling ceiling they’re both at? I knew going into this campaign that Booker was a longshot, but I really and truly believed Harris had a legit great chance to win. It hasn’t happened for her, and I’m very puzzled as to why.

— Will impeachment be discussed in a meaningful way? Now that the hearings have been underway for a week and we’ve seen in plain sight just how many impeachable offenses the Man-Baby-in-Chief has committed, will the candidates talk specifically about the case?

— Finally, will someone remember to get Bernie Sanders some water on stage? Guy has sounded hoarse and ill in every debate so far. Can a brother get a lozenge?

A high school baseball coach gets sued because a player got hurt sliding into third. A baby and a dog will give you a Monday smile. And the Jets roll, the Ravens look unstoppable, and more NFL thoughts

There are two stories I read over the past three days that got me all hot and bothered.

The second one, I’ll save for Wednesday’s post, because you don’t have the time or energy to read two rants from me today.

So I’m just going to talk about this fantastic, absorbing, and terrifying story I read from NJ.com’s gifted sports columnist, Steve Politi, who brought to light a story I had not heard anything about, and which indeed scared the hell out of me.

The headline of the story jars you right away: “He told a kid to slide. Then he got sued.”

Politi brings us the saga of a high school baseball coach named John Suk, who eight years ago was a 23-year-old leading the junior varsity team at Bound Brook High School in New Jersey. On April 4, 2012, Suk was coaching third base when, with his team leading 6-0, a kid named Jake Mesar hit a line drive into the outfield.

Mesar rounded second, and was headed for third. Suk thought it would be a close play at the base, so he instructed Mesar to slide.

Mesar did as he was told, and suffered a serious ankle injury. Many surgeries and rehabilitation later, Mesar is not able to play sports anymore. Doctors at the time actually feared they might have to amputate his right leg, but that didn’t come to pass.

The injury is unfortunate, absolutely. But what happened three years later is unprecedented: Suk was sued by Mesar’s family for recklessly endangering the livelihood of their son.

That’s right: Because Mesar was seriously injured when Suk instructed his player to slide, the family was suing him.

This is, of course, absolutely ridiculous, and I nearly shook with rage as I read Politi’s story. For four years this case dragged on, the sheer absurdity of it being lost on Mesar’s family.

As Politi so eloquently writes:

I had come to Somerville ready to ridicule, but it doesn’t take long for the gravity of the situation to hit me. If this jury of four men and four women decides Suk was reckless as a third-base coach for making this most routine decision, who else will end up in a courtroom like this someday?

What about the gymnastics coach who tells an athlete to tumble on a mat? Or the swimming coach who instructs a teenager to dive into a pool? Or the thousands upon thousands of parents who volunteer every weekend on soccer pitches and lacrosse fields and Little League diamonds?

If Suk is found liable for an injury that took place because of that slide — and if a seven-figure check is written because of his actions — what will happen to high school sports? Who will sign up for these coaching jobs knowing their reputation and livelihood might be in jeopardy? And how long before school districts drop sports entirely rather than pay skyrocketing insurance premiums?

Who, when you reach a certain age, hasn’t told a kid to dive for a ball and not worried as he or she hit the ground with a thud?

This idea, that because something bad happened during a sports game, someone must be to blame, is so prevalent in our society. John Suk told a kid to slide. And he had to suffer through years of trouble and accusations from a kid he coached’s family.

I don’t want to spoil for you how the lawsuit came out, because I really want you to read Politi’s fantastic piece. But even the idea that this case went all the way to trial, sends a shiver down my spine.

I have two sons. They’ll probably play youth sports in a few years. There’s an excellent chance I’ll coach some of their teams. And the idea that if I’m coaching third or pacing the bench at a basketball game and a kid gets hurt because I encouraged them to slide or dive and I’m going to get SUED for that???

Unbelievable. What a disgrace this lawsuit was.
It’s awful what happened to Jake Mesar. But millions of kids get hurt every day playing sports.

Telling a kid to slide shouldn’t make you end up in a damn courtroom.

Just makes me so mad…

**And now, we interrupt your Monday for a few seconds of a baby and a dog, sliding across an apartment floor, in adorable cuteness.

Carry on.

And now my weekly look at the nuttiness that is the National Football League, where each week up is down, down is up, and hitting someone over the head with their own helmet is frowned upon (more on that in a moment).

— J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets! A two-game winning streak! A destruction of maybe the worst team in the NFL, a week after beating another of the league’s doormats! Four offensive touchdowns in each game! They’re 3-7 baby, Super Bowl here we come…

OK, OK, relax. Beating two crappy teams means nothing. Still, it’s nice as a Jets fan to feel good on back to back Sunday nights, it doesn’t happen often.

— The Baltimore Ravens may be the best team in the NFL right now. Two weeks ago they knocked the New England Patriots from the ranks of the undefeated, and Sunday they demolished a pretty damn good Houston Texans squad, 41-7. Lamar Jackson did more Lamar Jackson things, running and throwing like few QB’s ever have, and the Ravens defense just dominated Deshaun Watson and the Texans offense (oh and they benefited from an atrocious non-call on pass interference; I truly have NO idea what PI is anymore, if this isn’t it.)

— So, I’m not sure how much you followed the Colin Kaepernick/NFL workout circus on Saturday, but for an unbiased, full recap of the ridiculousness of the NFL changing the terms and setting down insane rules for the workout, here’s Howard Bryant, a fine sportswriter, recapping it all.

Kap should be in the NFL. Full stop. End of story.

— Finally, OK, yeah, I have to weigh in on the Myles Garrett awfulness from Thursday night, when the Cleveland Browns star defensive end decided, after being roughed up by Pittsburgh quarterback Mason Rudolph, to rip off Rudolph’s helmet and then, shockingly, whack Rudolph over the head with it.

It’s no exaggeration to say Rudolph could’ve suffered serious brain damage. Those helmets are heavy. It’s also inexcusable for Garrett, until now known as a clean player, to lose his temper and do something so dangerous.

It’s also convenient how so many are overlooking the fact that Rudolph, seconds earlier, twisted Garrett’s helmet around and could’ve seriously hurt Garrett, which is likely what triggered the Browns player’s rage.

None of that is to excuse what Garrett did, of course. But it needs to be considered. It was an awful, despicable act, and it’s good Garrett is suspended for the year.

It’s just so Browns to finally beat Pittsburgh, get your season back on track, finally have something to feel good about, and then this happens in the final seconds.

The Browns, they’re always gonna Browns.

Good News Friday: A 6-year-old autistic boy finds joy in an American flag, and a neighbor’s kindness. An adorable video of an adopted toddler talking about when she met her parents. And a 96-year-old veteran plays the national anthem on a harmonica

And a Happy Friday, my peeps. We’re in mid-November, I can taste the cranberry sauce and the stuffing already as Thanksgiving creeps ever closer, and I can’t wait for the next installment of the new hit TV show “Watch Republican Congressmen vehemently deny President Trump did anything wrong, ever!”

Lots of good stuff this week that made me smile, including “Sesame Street” turning 50 years old and releasing a new Dave Grohl/Muppets duet that you need to see, and this hilarious video of a toddler telling his parents what he did on the potty (“I didn’t poop, I peed!” has become a catchphrase around our house this week).

But these three things made me smile the most. First off, it’s a double shot of Steve Hartman on the blog this week, after Monday’s Veteran’s Day story.

This one brings the beautiful tale of 6-year-old Finn Daly, of West Hartford, Conn. Finn has Down’s Syndrome and is autistic, so of course life is extremely challenging for him.

But one thing Finn loves more than anything is watching the American flag, blowing in the breeze. He can watch it for hours, his parents say, and it brings him contentment and joy.

A neighbor noticed, and, well, grab the tissues and watch this story.

Such a simple, kind gesture from one neighbor to another.

**Next up today, check out 96-year-old World War II veteran Pete DuPre playing the national anthem at a Knicks game on Veterans Day, on his harmonica.

Just simple, sweet and beautiful. Wonderful rendition from a man who has lived nearly a century, and still can play a mean harmonica.

**And finally today, from Upworthy.com comes this video of a little girl named Gabby, a toddler in Dallas, Texas, talking to her Mom about how she felt and what she remembers about the day she was adopted.

When she talks about what happened to her heart when she met her new Mom and Dad, well… it’s enough to make any human tear up.

Adoption really is a wonderful, wonderful thing. Just listen to Gabby.

A beautiful “Jeopardy” moment between a contestant and Alex Trebek. A robot-fighting video makes me scared for humans’ future. And HBO invents a product no one actually needs

Alex Trebek has been in our lives for so long.

Longer than the furniture in your house, longer than your kids’ first-grade report cards as they graduate from college, and longer than most of our friendships with people.

The “Jeopardy” host has been around in charge of America’s best game show since 1984. You know how long ago that is? LeBron James was born in 1984, and now he’s one of the oldest players in the NBA. Trebek has been a warm, comforting presence for so long in so many millions of homes, taken for granted like those old slippers and that warm cup of tea at night.

As has been very well documented, Trebek is battling pancreatic cancer, and after initially getting a very good report following his initial treatment, he announced in September he was going to be getting more chemo, and well, that’s obviously not good.

But he’s still on “Jeopardy!” and this week continues the “Tournament of Champions” starring my man James Holzhauer (who advanced to the finals starting Thursday, and so millions have continued watching, since Alex is part of our lives.

Anyway, I bring all this up because of a little, beautiful moment that happened at the end of Monday’s show. A contestant named Dhruv Gaur didn’t know the answer to Final Jeopardy, so wrote a little message in his response that caught Trebek completely by surprise, and made him lose his composure for a moment on the air.

Just a warm, wonderful human moment that I wanted to share.

Man, the power of words.

**Next up, it’s been a while since I’ve written on here about how robots’ advancement completely freaks me out, but my Dad sent me this clip this week and well, yeah, I’m completely freaked out.

This is as realistic a fighting depiction from robots as you’ll ever see; it’s from something called Robo One, and it’s Metallic Fighter vs. Blue Thunder.

Just look at how intricate this is. Our robot overlords are coming, people of Earth. And they’re coming with tiny swords and really cool outfits.

**Finally today, sometimes ideas for new products from otherwise intelligent people and companies just piss me off.

Like HBO. I heard on NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me radio show this week about this ridiculous new invention the cable giant has come up with.

It’s called the HBO Box, and it’s designed for people who want privacy in their TV viewing habits, if they don’t live alone.

It’s a cardboard box that you assemble, put on your bed, and presumably watch TV in the kind of privacy that you just can’t get anywhere else.

You know, like IN ANOTHER ROOM. Or by putting up a curtain if you share a room with someone. Or, you know, going out in the hallway, or waiting until your roommate or spouse or whoever is asleep. Or, I dunno, just spitballing here, WATCH IT ON A LAPTOP and no one will be able to see your screen!

I mean, watch this ridiculous, over the top commercial HBO put out for it. This cannot be a real product!

Who is buying this, my fellow Americans? Ostensibly this is marketed for college students, but no college in America is so small that you have to watch ALL of your TV and video in your room, on your bed.

If we want to watch porn, are there really NO other ways to do it, then put ourselves into this ridiculous contraption?

Who is sitting there going, “you know, I really want to watch this X-rated clip on my laptop, but I just have no way to watch it without being seen. So I’m going to climb inside a giant cardboard box, then no one will suspect a thing!”

I’d say this is a terrific April Fool’s joke, but it’s November.

A box to watch TV in. What a time to be alive.

A beautiful tribute to Mister Rogers, by a man who knew him very well. On Veteran’s day, soldiers remember a fallen comrade 50 years later. And in the Battle of awful N.Y. Football teams, my Jets stink less!

There really never is a bad time to think about Fred Rogers, the wonderful human who for decades gave us the TV show so many of us grew up on.

But with a new movie about Mister Rogers Neighborhood scheduled to come out on Nov. 22, it seems appropriate to think about him a little more, and someone who’s been doing a lot of thinking about this legend is Tom Junod.

Long one of my favorite writers in America, Junod has a major interest in the Tom Hanks film about Rogers, because the flick is about the real-life friendship between Rogers and Junod.

The two became friends after Junod profiled Rogers for Esquire, and they stayed close for years after the article ran (Trust me, as a journalist I can tell you, this rarely happens.)

Junod has written a magnificent essay in The Atlantic this month about his relationship with Rogers, what seeing his life on film has meant (Matthew Rhys of “The Americans” TV show plays Junod, and since Rhys is amazing I have no doubt the portrayal is great), and what lessons he still carries with him from his friendship with Rogers.

Here’s an excerpt from the story, but I highly, highly recommend you take a few minutes to read the whole thing. In this time we live in, with our unstable President and his equally-unstable advisers, a few words from Mister Rogers can’t hurt anyone.

Fred Rogers was a children’s-TV host, but he was not Captain Kangaroo or Officer Joe Bolton. He was an ordained Presbyterian minister who was so appalled by what he saw on 1950s television—adults trying to entertain children by throwing pies in each other’s faces—that he joined the medium as a reformer. He considered the space between the television set and the eyes of his audience sacred, and from 1966 to 2000 he taped nearly 1,000 episodes of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, trying to make that space less profane.

And although he made his living speaking to children, his message and example endure because he found a way to speak to all of us—to speak to children as respectfully as he spoke to adults and to speak to adults as simply as he spoke to children. Such fluency was the result not of spontaneous enthusiasm but rather of the rigorous editing he brought to bear on himself and everyone around him. When I first visited the Neighborhood 21 years ago, one of his in-house writers, Hedda Sharapan, told me what had happened when he’d enlisted her to write a manual intended to teach doctors how to talk to children. She worked hard on it, using all her education and experience in the field of child development, but when she handed him her opening, he crossed out what she’d written and replaced it with six words: “You were a child once too.”

And that’s it, really—his message to doctors was his message to politicians, CEOs, celebrities, educators, writers, students, everyone. It was also the basis of his strange superpowers. He wanted us to remember what it was like to be a child so that he could talk to us; he wanted to talk to us so that we could remember what it was like to be a child. And he could talk to anyone, believing that if you remembered what it was like to be a child, you would remember that you were a child of God.

It’s a terrific piece, written with heart and humanity, by a man whose life was made immeasurably better by knowing Fred Rogers.

Next up, today is of course Veteran’s Day, a day we should all stop for a minute or two and appreciate the sacrifices of all those brave men and women who fought for our freedoms in war.

I thought this would be a nice piece to run in honor of the day; it’s a short Steve Hartman CBS News piece from last summer that I really liked but never got around to posting here. It’s about a group of Vietnam War Army vets who lost one of their soldiers 50 years ago, and how they’re honoring their buddy now.

Really nice stuff.

*** Finally today, it’s a happy night for us Jets fans, which is not something you can say this year. In a battle of the two crappy New York football teams, the Jets were the ones who stunk the least on Sunday.

Yessireebob, my green and white bumbling fools beat the blue and white bumbling fools who share the same stadium, also called the Giants, 34-27.

I happily did not watch any of this “thrilling” contest, but followed online and was happy. Sam Darnold didn’t throw an interception (hey, it’s a start), Jamal Adams, our best player (above), had an awesome strip sack/fumble recovery/touchdown, and for once the Jets defense came up big at the end when they needed to.

Two and seven, baby! Playoffs here we come! (Umm, yeah, n0). Still, it feels nice to beat the Giants, whose fans have had a rightfully-earned superiority complex over us Jets fans for the last 40 years.

More NFL musings…

— The 1-7 Atlanta Falcons went on the road and crushed the 7-1 New Orleans Saints, 26-9. Reason No. 4,573 you should never, ever bet money on NFL games. Wow was that a shocker.

— The Tennessee Titans play so many exciting games, and they’re even winning some. Ryan Tannehill! Who knew he could be decent? And the Titans blocked a potential game-tying field goal by Kansas City on the final play of the game Sunday to win, 35-32. The Chiefs are in trouble; they can’t stop ANYBODY on defense.

— Also in trouble: The Rams, who looked awful in losing to Pittsburgh. So much for that high-flying L.A. offense. Also in trouble? The Dolphins’ Ryan Fitzpatrick, who is destroying his team’s plans to tank the season. Miami has won two straight now, after losing seven in a row to start the year. Madness!

— Good for the Browns to finally get another win, and win a close one, over the very-likely-overrated Buffalo Bills.

— I watched the fourth quarter of Panthers-Packers and I am really, really impressed with new Carolina QB Kyle Allen. Kid looks like a 10-year vet and very nearly pulled off the upset.

— Oh, also: Lamar Jackson? He’s good.

— Finally, I don’t care how bad the Jets, Giants, Redskins and Dolphins are, there’s nobody worse than the Bengals. They gave up 49 points Sunday to Baltimore and are destined to go 0-16. Go Bengals go!

Good News Friday: Oklahoma releases hundreds on non-violent inmates in one day, and it’s a welcome breath of change.An 11-year-old’s birthday party was attended by no one. But wait, it had a happy ending. And a Halloween trick or treater does an awesome, generous thing

And a Happy Friday, my fellow humans who can read! It’s getting chilly and darker earlier here in New York, which does not make me happy, but soon I’ll get to wear my heavy Stance NBA player socks which I love so much so that does make me happy.

Lots of good news to get to today, not even including the a-hole governor of Kentucky, Matt Bevin, losing his election on Tuesday.

First, a wonderful criminal justice development, that I hope will be replicated many times over, took place this week.

In Oklahoma on Monday, more than 450 prison inmates, behind bars for low-level and non-violent charges were released across the state.

According to this NPR story, “it’s believed these commutations mark the most prisoner releases on a single day in the history of the U.S. — the nation with the highest incarceration rate in the world.

Steve Bickley, executive director for the state’s Pardon and Parole Board, oversaw the emotional, “memorable” release.

“When you see people reunited with their family and moms getting to hug their daughters, and parents hugging their children,” he says. “Sometimes there wasn’t a dry eye around.”

Oklahoma has the second-highest incarceration rate of any state in the U.S., and it was a Republican governor, Kevin Stitt, who campaigned on a promise of reducing the prison population in Oklahoma. Stitt has formed a task force to continue criminal justice reform in the state, Bickley says.

To help people who are released transition back into society, the state Department of Corrections held their first-ever transition fairs at 28 facilities. Nonprofits came into the prisons to share information about services they offer including housing, transportation, jobs and more.

The state also brought inmates set for release to the Department of Public Safety to get a driver’s license or state-issued ID.

This is such a huge step. There are many parts of our criminal justice system that need reform, but housing millions of non-violent offenders for years and years due to either draconian sentencing laws, or simple cruelty, or a governor trying to look “tough on crime,” is one big problem.

“I think what is really monumental about what just took place is it was a first step,” he says. “And overwhelmingly, everyone said it was the right step. And I think we can build upon that. And I think it’ll create more momentum for more criminal justice reform in Oklahoma.”

Yes, yes, yes! I hope other states follow Oklahoma’s lead, which is not a sentence I get to write very often.

Fewer prisoners, and more people re-integrated into society and given a chance at leading a good life again, is a GOOD thing.

**Next up today, you may have seen this video go viral the day after Halloween, and I love it.
A boy named Jackson Champagne (seriously, that’s his name) was trick or treating in suburban Maryland when he came upon a house that had left a candy bowl out for kids.

After seeing the candy bowl was empty, he started taking sweets out of his own supply and putting in there.

It was all captured by the homeowners’ NEST camera. Really sweet stuff, Jackson.

**Finally today, I sort of hate that these stories have to exist, because they don’t start out happy, but get there at the end.

An 11-year-old Toronto kid named Kade Foster was having a birthday party last week, complete with that awesome Toronto Maple Leafs cake (above). But sadly as sometimes happens, according to his Dad Jason, none of the invited guests showed up.

So Jason Foster put it out on Twitter that his son is a huge Leafs fan, and maybe some of the stars of the team like Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner could send a message to Kade.

Well, Kade got THOUSANDS of messages, from the two Leafs players, from other celebrities like Zach Braff and Dog the Bounty Hunter (no way those two have ever been in the same sentence) and apparently the Leafs are planning a surprise party for Kade in the near future.

From Jason Foster: “We can’t comprehend what has happened today. Kade and the rest of us are just amazed. To EVERYONE who sent Kade a message – thank you from the bottom of our hearts. He is an amazing son and he will never forget this day.”

So much good in the world. So much.