I do believe in ghosts, I do believe in ghosts, I do, I do, I do…

All about summer storms, power outages, PECO and haunted houses…

So yes, I must admit to believing (sort of) in ghosts. Call me crazy but there have been times in my life when things happen – weird things – without any explanation at all. And trust me I have looked for the explanations.

Most recently I was sitting in my kitchen on a chair when I felt what I would call a “whisping” feeling – if there is such a word. I felt something or someone sort of brush by me. It was a strange sensation. And of course I generally don’t talk about stuff like this because people like you folks are now thinking I am nuts. Well maybe so but not due to this stuff. But there was no one else in the room, no fans or AC blowing at the time. I looked around and … nothing.

But this stuff has happened — and more than once. So I can relate to all those people who have these experiences but never dare mention them.

When I lived in Havertown I lived in a house where the owner had recently died – in the house. Bob Shugg was the former owner and we came to affectionately call him “the Shuggster.” Again, call me crazy but the more we laughed about it and his name the more strange things would happen.

For example, numerous sets of lost keys, other lost items including a gold cross where the chain was found but not the cross. A bit unusual? Me thinks so.

Then there was the time when we went away for a couple of days and came back to find Ryan’s hamsters in his room but out of their tank. Now there was nothing for them to climb on to get out and the screened top was in place. But no hamsters. We found them and plopped them back inside their safe home. But the question remains: how the heck did they get out?

And of course there was the recent disappearing wallet incident. There is absolutely no reason or explanation for that. And I just don’t make it a habit of losing wallets. Anyone in my family will tell you that I am such a cheapie that my wallet NEVER gets lost. Not ever. I have never lost a wallet in my life. Keys? Maybe – and probably because of the Shuggster.

Which brings me to the other night – a night of more summer storms.

There was no thunder, no lightning but a lot of rain. I got home late of course – around 8-ish – and popped a plate of food into the microwave. Switch on and … nothing. The plate barely turned so I took it out and found myself staring at cold ravioli. Then the stove lights and clock went out, followed by the dishwasher.

Meanwhile, the kitchen lights remained on. I walked into the laundry room and flicked on the lights. They went on and then immediately went off. Then the TV. Then the kitchen appliances came BACK on only to go off a moment later. And of course the kitchen lights, well, they were still on.

I walked down the basement to the fuse box. Every breaker was on. Hmm. I went back upstairs and voila, the kitchen appliances were on again. Oops. Nevermind, they are off again.

So at this point I am thinking to myself, “OK, I know I have had crappy luck this year with ‘stuff’ going bad. Washers, dryers, cars, etc. But is it really possible that all this stuff is blowing up all at once?” Of course, how else could you explain basically a partial power outage in your house? How can lights be on in one room and off in another?

Well then there’s PECO’s website to the rescue. I went onto the site and found that indeed there was an outage at my house. Sort of. The power was certainly on, but it was also certainly off as well. There were PECO trucks in front of the house so I went out and flagged one of the guys down and asked him what was going on.

Naturally he asked where I lived and I turned and pointed back to the Amityville Horror house and he explained in PECO-speak what the issue was. There you go. No ghosts, no haunting, just something about a 120 this or that line and that they were working on it.

Now, if I could only find that darn wallet…

– Andy Hachadorian

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It’s a time just feeling a bit older…

 

It’s an interesting time of life these days. I suppose that’s the best way to put it. Things are changing, lives are entering new phases. And it’s not just me. My pal and Delco Times Editor Phil Heron just had a daughter marry. I saw his photos on Facebook. Other friends whose kids were just babies not so long ago are whisking them off to middle schools and high school come fall.

Yes, time is marching on.

In my own house my youngest son just turned 16. My only daughter turns 21 on Monday. The other two are (almost) 25 and 28. Whoa, where did all the time go? Funny thing is I remember me turning 16 and 21, 25 AND 28. Seems like just yesterday – but it’s not.

Soon my youngest will be learning to drive — amazing since I can remember him flying up and down our street in a motorized little truck. It had forward and reverse and he would spend forever out there in the driveway going back and forth, back and forth.

I remember when he started playing sports. Soccer was his sport in his younger days. He was actually pretty good at it and he also playing T-ball and Little League. But he decided baseball wasn’t his game and he stuck to soccer – until a couple of years ago when he turned to ice hockey. I swear I had nothing to do with it although I have enjoyed watching him learn how to skate and then learn how to play the game.

This year – his junior year – will be his second full season at the JV level. I helped coach his team last year and it was definitely cool seeing him find the back of the net for the first time. Anyone who plays the game knows what a feeling it is to score a goal.

As for my daughter, she’s learning the skills to work in a hospital in the medical records field. She enjoys it and decided that college wasn’t her thing. No matter. I wouldn’t mind her getting a license soon though. Being the family taxi driver does get a bit old.

The older two are more on their own although they seem to drift back home as those their age tend to do these days. Heck, why not sponge off mom and dad? Some free food and lodging…

And yes, getting a bit older is starting to hit home a bit; a step slower on the ice – not that there was a ton of speed to begin with – along with the waking up in the middle of the night. Throw in some habits like watching Andy Griffith and Hogan’s Heroes reruns and boom! I officially sort of feel old.

But like everything else I don’t plan on going quietly. I will continue to overdo it skating and taking on more “stuff” in my life. I believe that when you start to slow down is when things go kaput. And I can’t let that happen. I see what happens to older people who they start to ratchet it back a bit – it gets darn near impossible to turn the gears back up.

Maybe I am just tired and getting used to the warm summer weather. It would be nice to lie down under a big old tree and take a nap. Wow, does that sound pathetic or what? No time for naps. Gotta get back out on the ice and get that personal plate full of things to do again.

– Andy Hachadorian

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Really missing my missing wallet

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Lately I will have to admit that I am a bit scatterbrained. I think it’s a matter of trying to take on too much. Whether it’s dealing with typical home stuff – new washer, car inspections, taking the dog to the vet – or work issues, I have found myself allowing stuff to fall through the cracks. And most of the time I have noticed and filled those cracks before they became caverns.

Not this time.

Over the weekend, I lost my wallet. This was the first time in my adult lifetime that I lost a wallet. Misplaced a few times? Sure, but easily found with some step tracing. This time, though, it may be gone. Notice I hedge.

Losing (even temporarily) a wallet for me is a killer. It was never about the money although I am not that rich to lose a couple hundred bucks and not be upset. No, it was more about the stuff – or junk as some tell me – that I carry in my wallet.

I have always been the kind of person who made my wallet my personal history book. From a wedding photo from 1981 including a silver leaf from the cake to a $2 bill given to me by my dad a long, long time ago, losing that wallet was like taking a valuable history book and lighting it on fire. Gone. Forever.

Also in that wallet were two tiny pieces of paper – one from my oldest son wishing me Happy Easter to another from my youngest wishing me a Happy Birthday. Those are two things that may have also been vaporized by my loss of focus.

Funny thing – I retraced all my steps and I have narrowed it down to an ill-advised stop on a New Jersey highway shoulder – it should not have happened and wouldn’t if I had just kept the darned thing in my pants pocket.

I stopped at a local BJ’s gas station and got gas in my car. The nice folks at BJ’s even checked the video of me pumping gas (a little creepy I would say but helpful now) and they figured I put my wallet back into the pocket of my pants. So I didn’t lose it there.

I tore my house and car apart and nothing so my highway “drop” is the likely place. And I plan to retrace the trip as I know pretty much where I stopped.

When you lose something like a wallet, there are the pain in the neck chores like calling banks, credit card companies, etc., to alert them to your irresponsible behavior. I can see the eye rolling on the other end of the phone and it is embarrassing.

But it’s that feeling of not knowing where it is. It’s like when the family pet takes off and you don’t know where the dog or cat is. It’s unsettling and not knowing kills you. And of course my wallet loss means the finality of the loss of that wedding cake leaf. And that hurts the most.

So I am in the process of reassembling my wallet. New pictures, new cards. It won’t be the same but I guess I will get over it. I do plan one more trek down that New Jersey highway this weekend to scope out the shoulder looking for my friend the wallet. Maybe I find it, maybe not. But I wouldn’t feel right without giving it one last shot.

– Andy Hachadorian

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Make sure you call your dad on Sunday, or keep him in your thoughts

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Yeh, so I do really know that people on Facebook are in love with posting soupy sayings, quotes, crap to make them feel better. But hey, who are we to criticize? If it works what’s the issue?

I give my only daughter a hard time about it. We tease her and repeat the cornball quote of the day she posts on her Facebook page but in the end it really doesn’t matter. She likes them so that’s all that matters.

This Sunday is Father’s Day. I will likely spend the day doing dad-like chores like fixing stuff, cleaning stuff, cutting stuff. It’s what we dads do. We complain about it but we realize it is part of the deal.

The little item above, though, really did hit home. It’s so true. When we’re really young we love our dads. Then we begin to ignore them. At some point we consider them unbearable then we flee their rule.

Not soon after we realize our dads were right about most stuff and we do want to be with them. We are afraid of losing them and at some point we would give up everything to spend time with them all over again.

It’s so, so true. However, some of us never even got the chance to go through the whole process. I never knew my grandfather and I’m pretty sure my dad didn’t have his dad for very long.

Me? Well, I think I was still in the I love my dad phase a lot moving to the slight rebellion stage when he passed away – nine days before Christmas. He was teaching me how to drive and had already taught me a lot about sports. All my friends loved my dad because while being the tough guy he was the only dad who would toss the football with us, or be the “steady pitcher” for a neighborhood baseball game. He showed us all how to throw a curveball and no one – no one – beat him in ping pong. Only my friend Carl came close and it was only because he felt onto the table.

My dad taught me right from wrong. He taught me to treat people fairly and to demand hard work from everyone since he did himself. Put in a full day’s work for a full day’s pay, he would say. Don’t take advantage of people and try to help anyone you can. Those were parts of his fabric and I guess I learned those things from him. If you don’t leave work sweating then you didn’t give it all that day.

So no, 16 years of having a dad wasn’t much in time measurement but it sure was a rich and meaningful 16 years. I learned a lot in a short period of time. Perhaps that’s what the plan was. If it was then it was a success.

My favorite dad story was one about a mentally-challenged guy who was working at a bakery next to the store where my dad worked. One day my dad was out back of the store checking something and found the guy crying. When he asked what was wrong the guy told him that the owner had yelled at him and kicked him out because he broke a plate. My dad stormed inside the store, demanded the lady let the guy back in, apologize to him and then promptly tossed a $20 at her. Was it totally the right way to handle it? Maybe not but the guy learned that people are out there who will help you and hopefully the lady learned to quit being a jerk.

Other than Christmas time Father’s Day is probably the day I miss him the most. I always wonder how my life would have turned out if he were still around. Would I still be doing what I am doing now?

For myself and for my wife and kids I try and stay healthy. I try and eat right and get exercise so at least I will be around for a few years. That’s the one thing my dad neglected and the one thing I’d like to be able to tell him. Maybe he was too busy trying to be a good dad and husband to realize it.

So come Sunday I will take some time and think about my dad. I will recall the lazy Sundays with him drinking the bad coffee and reading the paper, watching horrible Eagles and Phillies games, tearing the basement apart so it was “finished.” He would yell at me for using his tools and not putting them back.

Funny, I find myself doing some of the same things he did. I only hope I pass on as many good things to my kids as he did to me.

 

 

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Sterling, Ford are bad…Those who betrayed are worse

I guess it’s the getting older, wiser and more patient thing happening. In any event when the whole Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling fiasco broke I admit I was tempted to jump in. But I waited.

Let’s make one thing perfectly clear: Donald Sterling is a racist and a bigot. His basketball team, unfortunately for him, isn’t the only “court” relationship he has known. He has been a player in the courts of justice and now the court of public opinion.

And all around, he’s a loser.

Switch gears for a moment. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, someone with obvious substance abuse problems, says he is taking a break from his re-election campaign to get help for alcohol issues. CNN.com reports that Ford made that announcement hours after a newspaper reported on a new video that allegedly shows him smoking crack cocaine.

CNN.com says that the video is part “of a package of three videos the dealer said was surreptitiously filmed around 1:15 a.m., and which he says he is now selling for ‘at least six figures,'” according to the Toronto Globe and Mail.

Two people. One is a disgrace to society with his horrific comments and views on women and minorities. The other is someone suffering with a substance abuse problem. The common thread? Both were duped either with video and/or audio now haunting them and sending them into the hall of shame.

Sterling has been banned by the NBA for life. Ford is likely never returning to public office.

I suppose the question is this: what happens to Sterling’s girlfriend who recorded their conversations? And how about the guy who videotaped Ford?

Time has published an opinion piece from former NBA great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar who spoke about the whole Sterling affair. I heard Philly sports talk radio reference the article.

Here’s what Jabbar had to say about the recording of Sterling:

“Shouldn’t we be equally angered by the fact that his private, intimate conversation was taped and then leaked to the media? Didn’t we just call to task the NSA for intruding into American citizen’s privacy in such an un-American way? Although the impact is similar to Mitt Romney’s comments that were secretly taped, the difference is that Romney was giving a public speech. The making and release of this tape is so sleazy that just listening to it makes me feel like an accomplice to the crime. We didn’t steal the cake but we’re all gorging ourselves on it.”

So what we have is a woman taping a private conversation and a man taping Rob Ford possibly using drugs. How does this stuff happen? Is this what we have sunk to?

Make no mistake, Sterling got what he has deserved for a long time and Ford, well, the man needs help. But aren’t the people doing the tapings just as bad? Perhaps worse? As Jabbar points out, we can’t all cry out about the NSA invading our privacy and then we take on the mob mentality with Sterling and Ford and audio and video recordings? Talk about double standards.

The assumption these days must be to say nothing – to anyone. Let’s face it, if you can’t confide your inner most secrets, opinions, etc., to someone you call your girlfriend – or your alleged drug dealer – then who can you trust? Nothing is sacred anymore. No more secrets. No more private conversations. Everyone has a cell phone with audio and video taping capabilities so you should be careful – at least as private citizens go.

Now let’s be honest and admit that there have been times in our own houses that we have made statements we know never should see the light of day. Sometimes they are made in anger, frustration, but they are made within the confines of our own home – a private area. Well, no more.

I’m glad Sterling is gone. And I wish Ford the best. I hate to see someone’s life ruined by drugs and/or alcohol.

However, Sterling’s mistress and the video-taping drug dealer are no better. They are sleaze looking to cash in. Plain and simple.

– Andy Hachadorian

 

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When Chuck Stone passed away, we lost more than a great writer

Chuck Stone

I know it’s tough to convince anyone younger to listen to what I have to say. I was once young – a long, long time ago. And I’m certain I was as hesitant as they are to listen.

It’s equally tough to realize that maybe I was wrong about someone. Maybe that person I initially thought was more or less a jerk was really a good person.

I learned that lesson as a 19-year-old while working as a copyboy at the Philadelphia Daily News.

Way back when at the Daily News they had people like me to run around doing errands like picking up newspapers, dropping off paychecks, getting company cars gassed up and picking up an occasional lunch for someone.

When I was hired at the DN it was like I was dropped into a movie set. There were all these famous Philly journalists, reporters, editors and photographers. The men and women whose work I read all the time were actually sitting and standing in front of me.

There was Pete Dexter, Larry Fields, Larry McMullen, Ray Didinger, Sam Psoras, Will Everly, Gil Spencer, Zack Stalberg. And then there was Chuck Stone.

Stone was the first black columnist ever hired by the Daily News. And in a city like Philadelphia where in the day minorities had trouble with proper representation, someone like Chuck Stone was the best thing to happen.

At the time, however, I didn’t think so. At least when I first met Chuck.

At first I thought Stone was rude, arrogant and a person just looking to stir the pot. I remember one evening working on an election night when he came downstairs in the Municipal Services Building where a bunch of us from the paper were working, collecting data and phoning it back to the DN editors.

Chuck came flying into the room, bowtie, weird looking glasses, looking around and just gawking. I wondered what the heck he was doing. His answer was that he wanted to make sure that there were minorities represented as elections were sacred and that it was the right thing to do. Yeh, whatever, I thought. Who did this guy think he was?

Over the next year or so I got to know Stone a little more. When he would come into the newsroom I would engage him in small talk. I tried to see what kind of guy he really was. What I found out was that he was smart, really, really smart. He also cared about the people of Philadelphia and not just the minorities of the city. He cared for anyone he felt was getting a raw deal.

There was the time he negotiated the release of hostages taken at Graterford Prison. Soon after people sought by the Philadelphia police would seek Stone out to secure their safe arrest. At that time the Philly police were having an issue with some rogue cops who felt that brutality was an OK thing.

I recall a Sunday night working at the paper. It was around 10 or so at night when the elevator doors opened and three men walked in. Two were in suits, one not. I asked if I could help them and one of the “suits” replied that they were looking for Stone. The less than well-dressed man was there to surrender to Stone. I led them to a couple of chairs just inside the newsroom and not 10 minutes later, Stone emerged from the elevator. That was just the way he was. Never mind that it was late on a Sunday night when other people were at home. Chuck was there to do what he thought was right and that was making sure the guy the cops were looking for made it to the police administration building in one piece.

Stone was 89 when he died Sunday at an assisted-living facility in North Carolina.

People like Chuck Stone don’t seem to be in large numbers these days. In our news world we are all caught up in getting the news out quicker than ever. There are tighter budgets, fewer people, less time to think about the greater work, the greater good.

It’s hard to imagine someone taking the time to make sure some guy they never met gets treated with a little respect, regardless of any crime he committed or alleged wrongdoing he was suspected of.

Chuck Stone was more than just a journalist. He was a splendid human being, someone who combined his writing and journalism skills with that of contributing something of value to the human race.

That’s missing nowadays. And that’s too bad.

– Andy Hachadorian

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DeSean is gone and hopefully so is the habit of tolerating bad players

So the big news today is that the Eagles released wide receiver DeSean Jackson. Thanks to a report by NJ.com sports writer and former Daily Local News staff Eliot Shorr-Parks, the Eagles decided to part ways with Jackson.
According to the story by Eliot, Jackson was under the microscope for weeks after it had been revealed that “a number of Jackson’s associates were either linked to or charged with two gang-related murders from 2010-2012. The investigation also revealed that Jackson was arrested in 2009 for possession of marijuana, but the charges were dropped. “
Here’s what the Eagles said:
“After careful consideration during this off-season, the Philadelphia Eagles have decided to part ways with DeSean Jackson. The team informed him of his release today.
Jackson, 27, was drafted by the Eagles in the second round of the 2008 NFL Draft. He recorded 356 catches for 6,117 yards in his six seasons with the team.”
Here’s Jackson’s statement:
“First I would like to thank the Eagles organization, the Eagles fans and the city of Philadelphia for my time in Philly. I would also like to thank coach Andy Reed (sic) for bringing me in. Secondly, I would like to address the misleading and unfounded reports that my release has anything to do with any affiliation that has been speculated surrounding the company I keep off of the field. I would like to make it very clear that I am not and never have been part of any gang. I am not a gang member and to speculate and assume that I am involved in such activity off the field is reckless and irresponsible. I work very hard on and off the field and I am a good person with good values. I am proud of the accomplishments that I have made both on and off the field. I have worked tirelessly to give back to my community and have a positive impact on those in need. It is unfortunate that I now have to defend myself and my intentions. These reports are irresponsible and just not true. I look forward to working hard for my new team. God Bless.”
So there are a lot of questions as well as a lot of emotion that goes with this decision. There are factions of society that say the Eagles did this because of money – that by cutting Jackson they are saving millions. Then there are those who say the team released him because of his alleged ties to gangs. Jackson recently reported losses of hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and jewelry from his residence. People wondered what the hell he was doing with that kind of cash and jewelry in his residence in the first place.
There are also those people who want to make this a racial argument. It doesn’t help the Eagles organization that wide receiver Riley Cooper screamed the “N word” at an African-American security guard at a concert and then allowed him to remain on the team. Cooper was sent for some “counseling,” was forgiven by members of the team and then went on to have a career year, signing a new multi-million-dollar deal.
Then again the Eagles also signed quarterback Michael Vick whose problems were well documented.
So where does this all leave us as fans – and where does it leave the Eagles? Well, as fans we are ignorant of all of the information that the Eagles have. We can only go on what is reported by people like Eliot Shorr-Parks. On the surface it doesn’t look good for Jackson. There was Twitter talk about Jackson getting arrested himself at some point although there is no evidence of that anywhere. Off the field I didn’t care for his antics; I care about what happens on the field.
I didn’t like Riley Cooper’s behavior and really thought the Eagles should have cut him. And I never welcomed Michael Vick. His baggage was way too much for me. However, in the end both Cooper and Vick have seemed to learn their lessons and have become better citizens.
Jackson on the other hand doesn’t seem to get it. And honestly, despite all the ink, the bling, the so-so associates and the bogus record label I really doubt Jackson is much of anything except a gangster wannabe.
So in the end we let go a superb wide receiving talent and got nothing in return. Perhaps the Eagles will be vindicated in the end or perhaps Jackson will sign on with another team and win a Super Bowl. But I give Chip Kelly kudos for refusing to tolerate any more nonsense. Perhaps he never would have signed Vick and now that his contract was up he never had any plans to re-sign him. (Again, I’m not sure why Cooper was allowed to stay.)
What I don’t want to see now are more antics from any of these players. I want the Eagles to treat every player in the same manner. So if Nick Foles starts sporting gang ink and tons of bling and is hanging out in LA with gangsters, he has gotta be gone. No excuses. Consistency across the board. Put a team together with solid people as well as solid athletes. Let the other teams make headlines with the criminals they support with millions of dollars. I want my team to have some standards.
Can we please now just move on?

– Andy Hachadorian

 

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