Monday, January 9, 2017

Polar Ball

  It started as a joke during our summer weekend volleyball games that we should get together on New Year's Day and play, regardless of the weather. As our outdoor season came to an end, the idea had grown from "Ha ha, yeah, right!" to "We're really going to do this."
  A discussion about how many people would actually be available on New Year's morning resulted in the change to Saturday, January 7th. Then came the logo...
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  And then came the day we were scheduled to play, with a temperature of 22 degrees and plenty of snow in the forecast. Would anyone actually show up, especially since it started snowing an hour before game time?
  You betcha! Twenty-six crazy volleyball players had a great time for two hours, and "Nobody's going to believe we did this" was heard more than once.
  Afterward, it was off to a nearby pub to warm up and have lunch.
  Of course, to commemorate the event, there were t-shirts.
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Yours truly with Chris and Sammy modeling our shirts

  And even a video by Roy, who had a "helmet-cam," which you can check out here. (You can see me doing an over-the-shoulder return at 1:35 in the video.)
  We're already planning for next year!


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Men Seeking Pizza 2016

  Our second year as Men Seeking Pizza had us expanding our horizons, exploring pizzerias in nearby Plainedge and North Massapequa along with revisiting many of the Farmingdale ones we'd ranked in 2015. As with last year, we found a few really good pies, many that were middle-of-the-pack-but-I-wouldn't-turn-it-down, and a couple places that, well, let's just say we're not going to bother going back in 2017.
   This year had an interesting turn of events when the pizzeria we ranked as #3 went out of business (and came back as a Mexican restaurant weeks later). We decided that there was no accounting for taste in that neighborhood as the rest of the pizzerias in the area, some of which we ranked very low, are still in business.
  As it turned out, our semi-finalists for 2016 were three of the top four from 2015 - Mary's, Piazzetta, and Marino's - along with newcomer Crostini's. In the first round, Mary's, the 2015 champ, beat Crostini's and Marino's outscored Piazzetta.  The final face-off ended with two great pies and a close vote, with Marino's coming out on top as our 2016 champion.

Friday, December 30, 2016

54 Years Later

  Going through a box of our father's papers, my brother unearthed this photo of my 6th grade class. Though I haven't seen any of them in more than fifty years -- all but one of the girls and I went to a different junior high and high school -- I was surprised at how many of their names I remembered.
  That's me in the white shirt and bow tie, second from the left in the top row.

Mrs. Levine's 6th grade class at Belmont Boulevard/Clara H Carlson School, 1963...
Top row: Nick Tortorella, me, Mark Bernstein, Ed Forte, Stephen O'Rourke, Tom Bock, Robert Becker, Robert Morris, Bill Schade, Rick Margaroli.
Middle Row: Mrs Marsha Levine, Wendy Bergmann, Marilyn Verna, Joan Belauskis, Ronnie Feldman, Sharon Doherty, Gail Ludwigsen, Barbara Kuno, Denise Aquino, ?, Vicki Keller, 
Front Row: Bobby Bouchard, Carol Hilt, Larry Henn, Kathy DeLuca, Robert Woods, Eva Bialt, Michael Mannion, Susan Stripp, Billy Cook, Craig Burdi

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Majority Rules

majority is the greater part, or more than half, of the total. It is a subset of a set consisting of more than half of the set's elements.

Just to make things clear to those folks who do not seem to understand what a majority is:

* The population of the United States is approximately 322 million people. Donald Trump was not elected by a majority of the people in the United States.

* The number of registered voters in this country is approximately 200 million. Donald Trump was not elected by a majority of the voters in the United States.

* The number of votes cast in the 2016 presidential election was approximately 125 million. Donald Trump was not elected by a majority of the people who voted in the United States.

* Hillary Clinton got 60,274,974 votes and Donald Trump got 59,937,338. Head to head, Donald Trump was not even elected by a majority of people who chose between him and Clinton.

* The only majority that Donald Trump won was Electoral College votes and that is why he is President-elect. 

The same situation occurred most recently in 2000, when George W. Bush won over Al Gore, despite having lost the popular vote. That it has happened for a second time in less than two decades will no doubt spark another debate about the value / necessity of the Electoral College.

Got it? Good.

Now don't get me started on what a mandate is!

Friday, November 4, 2016


  The Farmingdale School District recently had to vote on a $36 million dollar bond issue that would provide funding to build an "aquatic center" and what, according to the artistic renderings, looks like a minor league baseball park complex at the middle school.

  Playing the ever-popular political game of "Fun With Numbers," proponents of this bond claimed that property taxes would actually go down with its passage. Closer examination of this claim showed that when a current bond is paid off in 2021, taxes would indeed be reduced. The new bond would cost less than the old one, so the net effect would be lower taxes, ignoring, of course, the fact that they would be substantially lower without the new bond.
  Despite claims of the proponents that they presented this plan to numerous community groups, all of which were in favor of it, it became apparent that much of the community had no idea it was even being considered until shortly before the vote. One can only presume that those groups in favor were Little League organizations, swim clubs, etc. rather than people far less likely to view it as a great idea.  In fact, virtually all the people I spoke to about it were against it.
  The Farmingdale school district has a total population of 109,000 in some 37,000 households. If we presume that half the population is under 18, that means we have 54,500 eligible voters. Even if we go further and assume there is only one eligible voter in each household (which is highly unlikely), that is still 37,000 people.
  How many voted on this bond issue? Three thousand. Eight percent of my smaller estimated number of potential voters; less than 6% of the more likely number.
  The bond passed 1610 to 1390. A difference of 220 people determined that the district should spend $36 million. And the response from a number of people who complained about it? "I never thought that would pass! I should have voted!"

  My point here is simple: You can't take anything for granted. Don't presume that you don't have to bother voting because "that could never happen." It can and it does and it will.
  Go vote!