Friday, September 7, 2012

The Old and The Disrespected

                Part of the fun of moving to a new area isn’t just getting adjusted to work life, it’s getting used to life in general in your new community.  Finding a parish (which I still need to finalize!), learning the local geography, and finding out about the local grocery stores.  Here in Connecticut there are the usual characters Walmart and Target, but no Kroger, Bigg's, Meijer and of course there will never be another Jungle Jim’s (besides the second location that’s being built in Eastgate.)  As far as regular old grocery stores there are Stop and Shop, Price Chopper, Stew Leonard's and, the latest one that I’ve had the pleasure of entering, Shop Rite.  Finding a good deal up here is at a premium since the cost of living is much higher than back in Cincinnati.  But some of the same things that affect your bottom line are the same everywhere: clipping coupons, buying what’s on sale, or just plain getting lucky that the things you need are on special.

                However, what caught my eye upon exiting the local Shop Rite in Southington, CT was a small, almost unnoticeable sign inconspicuously taped to the wall near the door.  As you can see in the picture below, it reads "Every TUESDAY, here at Shop Rite of Southington we honor our Seniors with a 5% discount."  In addition, Shop Rite clearly goes above and beyond the call of duty by piping in older music from the 40s, 50s, and 60s that customers of that generation would enjoy.  It may seem like a little thing, but it really tugged at my heart strings to see a store do something for the older folks in this area.
                 I never really developed this appreciation for the elderly until my grandmother moved into my parents’ house a few years ago.  Grandma Colucci was living by herself after my grandpa passed away when I was in high school.  However, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and came to the point where she could no longer take care of herself.  My mom decided that the best course of action would be for Grandma to move in with us.  It took a little getting used to but I quickly developed a deeper and more wonderful relationship with her than I ever thought possible.  We would sit in her matching recliners, she on the left and I on the right, spending time watching episodes of the Golden Girls on cable or listening to stories about what it was like to grow up in a time gone by.  Eventually Grandma’s Alzheimer’s got worse and we had to move her into a local nursing home when we as a family were no longer able to give her the care she needed and deserved.  Eventually she passed away on December 27th, 2008 due to complications of the Alzheimer’s and old age.  While I was sad to see Grandma go, I knew her suffering was finally at an end and she could be in paradise with God.  I always I know that she’s looking down on me and taking my prayers right to the foot of Jesus.

              I think it’s far too common for people in their teens, 20s and 30s to simply buy-in to the stereotypes that are so often perpetuated about the elderly.  They serve little purpose, they smell weird, they balk at technology and complain about every last thing about modern life.  And while some of these things are true here and there, I say that older folks are essential and valuable members of our society.  Their wisdom is so often overlooked and I’m sure they chuckle at the problems that so many of us younger people bring upon ourselves.  This would most likely be a proper time to bring up how much emphasis that Eastern cultures put on respecting the elderly, but I don’t think we need to take things that far in this country in 2012.

All we really need to do is just stick to the teachings of Christ to show a little care and compassion for those around us.  Old people don’t always need special treatment, they just want to be loved and respected like everyone else; those desires never go away with age.  Maybe if we have the courage to strike up a conversation every now and then we’d learn something valuable or perhaps have a new story that we can share with our friends.  Not that this should be the reason for doing something nice for others, but it does feel good when we treat people with such respect.  But the best reason of all is that it brings us closer to Christ when we show love towards others with not expecting anything in return.

In closing, I’d like to give kudos to Shop Rite for doing something little some nice for the elderly in our little Connecticut community.  They don’t stand to gain a lot financially from something like this but they’re doing it anyway.  I will certainly be rewarding Shop Rite with my business a little more often because of this.  It’s not always easy, but we can help to influence corporate culture with our wallets.  If you have issues that you care about, I would encourage you to do a little research and maybe see if the companies that you patronize on a regular basis line up with the values you practice.  If we all did that, maybe some of these corporations would finally wise up and stop trying to unsuspectingly change the culture, in ways we don't approve of, from under our noses.  Most people don’t take heart to stand up for what they believe in and while we won’t be able to see major change right away, we can still show our appreciation or dissatisfaction with our dollars and a little accompanying communication to the store manager or to the corporate headquarters.  Sure it takes a little extra effort, but isn’t it worth it in the long run?  Keep me in your prayers and I’ll do the same for you!  St. Anthony of Padua, patron saint of the elderly, pray for us!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Saying Goodbye to an Old Friend

                On a random Thursday I walked out of the apartment building I was staying in at the time and came to a very startling conclusion: my car had been stolen.  By now you’ve probably heard the tale of how some thief in the night swung by the parking lot, took my old Accord, stripped it of all the important parts and ditched it.  It doesn’t make you feel very safe, especially when you’re trying to get adjusted to a new area of the country.  There was nothing I could do, I just happened to have an easy to steal car and crime is quite a bit more rampant here.  I’m not going to bore you with all the details here but the short version of the story is that I’m now the proud owner of a 2004 Saab 9-5 Arc.  It’s a great car, has plenty of awesome features (including anti-theft!), and was a very good deal.

                I know we’re not supposed to get attached to material things because they’re of this world and mean very little in the grand scheme of life.  However, that was my first car, the only one I ever really knew.  I took my driving test in that car, picked up my first date in that car, and it was the car that held out long enough to bring me to Connecticut.  I have so many memories, good and bad, in that car, but just like everything else that was going on in my life; I suppose it’s time to move on.  I know it was probably time to trade up, but I guess we all just want to do that kind of thing on our terms instead of a random thief’s terms.

                In other news, I’m finally getting settled into my new apartment, one that is much safer and secure than the last one turned out to be.  Since my parents brought my furniture and my decorations from home it really is starting to feel like home.  Central Connecticut isn’t Cincinnati by a long shot, but I’m learning that different isn’t always a bad thing.  For one, the people up here know how to cook and finding a decent slice of pizza is easy, not a chore.  I’m still learning the ins and outs of this new area I’ve moved to and finding a permanent parish to join is still on the top of my to-do list.  But for now I’m just trying to become a part of the community instead of just being content to occupy space.  Work is progressing well; still getting adjusted to the unique culture that flows throughout the ESPN campus.

                Through the trials and tribulations of the past few weeks, I feel like I’m becoming closer to Christ despite these misfortunes.  I know that Satan is always going to try and pry at our insecurities, doing his best to keep us away from what God calls us to truly be.  But I’m not going to let him win and get me to turn away from Christ, it never has happened and it never will.  My Mom reminded me that it could be so much worse, like Job in the Old Testament who lost everything and still remained faithful to the Lord.  It’s not an easy thing to hear, but I’m trying to do my best to approach life with a much more hopeful, optimistic and positive outlook.  Maybe my life isn’t totally where I thought it would be at this point, but I’m very thankful for all the blessings I do have and I’m going to work hard to make my other dreams come true.

                I apologize for the long break in the updates from Connecticut, which I learned on Jeopardy tonight is the 3rd smallest state (Rhode Island and Delaware are smaller) and also has the 3rd oldest university in the US, Yale (Harvard and William & Mary are older).  I pray that the traumatic life events are over for now and since I’m getting into a regular routine without having to buy cars, move, or unpack boxes anymore I know I can make a better effort in the blog.  I hope all of you are doing well back home, especially since today is the start of the High School football season in Ohio.  I’m going to miss Friday nights at The Pit, working on the Prep Sports Radio Network broadcasts, heading to LaRosa’s on Boudinot for some postgame fellowship and fun.  But don’t worry; the purple is still being worn every Friday to keep that Panther pride going on from over 800 miles away, along with the Bearcats, Reds, and Bengals!  Thank you for your constant love, support and prayers.  It means the world to me and I know that I have so many people pulling for me.  Stay safe and God bless!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises, Sacrifice and Starting at ESPN

For many of you, this blog has become a path to my opinions in the world of sports and a gateway to my podcast, the Cincinnati Fast Break.  And while that experience has been a rewarding and necessary experience I always felt that I had more to give than just sports.  Let’s be honest: sports are great.  It can often be a good way to escape from the troubles of our modern society or can be something that brings unity and pride to a community and fan base.  But when you get down to brass tacks, there’s more to life than just sports.  My career has been focused around such enterprises; from ticket sales, to fan entertainment, and now, what I hope is the final frontier, the broadcasting of sports-based programming.  I love sports, even perhaps a bit too much at times, but there is more to life.  So as of now this blog is becoming a little more open to other topics.  Sports will still have their place, but I know that there are people who want to hear about my life here in Connecticut working for the Worldwide Leader, and I wish to have the ability to give opinions on other things, things that matter to me.  And if you don’t like it then spend your time online elsewhere.

As I write this particular entry, I’m about an hour removed from viewing the finale to Christopher Nolan’s take on the Batman franchise.  The Dark Knight Rises was nearly flawless in many regards.  From the script to the moving musical score to the brilliant acting performances from an all-star cast, TDKR delivers nothing short of a masterpiece that should be swimming in Oscar gold come February.  I’m not going to give away the plot but some of the themes presented in this film, and its two predecessors, are too often overlooked and overshadowed by the movie industry as a whole.  Despite his flaws, Bruce Wayne/Batman displays virtues that we all should be aspiring to: perseverance, dedication, and, most importantly, self-sacrifice for the well-being of others.  These days it’s rare to see someone sacrifice their own pleasure for the good of those around them, much less the ones they love.  I’m on record as saying that if everyone was a little less selfish and was a little more open to self-sacrifice, the world would be a better place.  Make no mistake, this is NOT a call to socialism or to live your life in squalor, but every now and then just think of someone else’s needs before your own.  Maybe be a little nicer to someone when it would be easier to become angry or have the courage to call out a friend or family member when they’re partaking in destructive behaviors.  I know the ability to sacrifice comes easier to me in certain situations than others, but I know that it can make life easier for me and those I surround myself with.

This concept of obedience and sacrifice is also one of the pillars of Christianity, one that too many of us choose to ignore far too often.  Times are tough and we’re all being forced to look out for our own interests more and more every day.  However, it’s times like these that we need to have the compassion of Christ even more, to help out our neighbors and to expect nothing in return.  As Fr. James Reutter, my pastor at Our Lady of Victory back in Cincinnati, would say, a little blind kindness makes the world a better place to see.  I understand the lack of desire to help those who may not bring anything to our lives, it’s only human nature, but it’s really necessary for our own personal growth and development.  Besides all that, it helps to bring us closer to Christ when we aren’t partaking in the sacraments.  One big disappointment I have about life here in Connecticut is the fact that only TWO parishes in the ENTIRE STATE offer adoration, and both are about an hour from where I live here in Bristol, soon to be New Britain.  So the needs to get additional graces are going to be at a premium since one of my favorite ways to interact with the Lord is not available to me.

Despite the flaws of the parishes here in central Connecticut, it has been the presence of so many Catholic parishes here that has kept me strong during this time of transition.  Moving up here hasn’t been as emotionally taxing as I would have originally thought; the love and support of my family and friends has been paramount in keeping me focused and calm.  It also helps that many of my new co-workers have been supremely welcoming and generous to help me learn the ins and outs of the ESPN culture.  It is a very different place when you set foot on the Mothership; there’s just an air of success that surrounds the place.  I’m very blessed to be working for such an accomplished company, the true leader when it comes to sports broadcasting.  Is it perfect?  Of course not.  But to deny ESPN the respect and credit they’re due is just ignorant.  I’ve had many misconceptions about the company dispelled here in my first two weeks of work, spare me your brain washing jokes, and I realize that it’s really about the talented and passionate people that work here that make ESPN so successful.  Most are so happy when they come to work on a daily basis and it all starts and ends with the way the company invests in people.  Disney, the parent company of ESPN, realizes that if you do the little things right and take care of your employees, they in turn will be happier and work harder as a result.

After all that I’ve been through in the past few years, one might think that I’m ready to settle in and enjoy the ride that I’ve chosen to experience.  But this is only the beginning.  I have a true hunger and desire to truly become the best person I can be; who God is calling me to truly be.  It’s a more holistic approach to life that I’m aspiring to these days: becoming healthier once and for all, to have success in my career, to find a wife and start a family, and, most importantly, to grow closer to and deeper in love with Jesus Christ.  I don’t believe this to be some pie in the sky notion, it’s what God is calling me to be, and hopefully I’m strong enough to be an example of His love through my words and actions.

Feel free to drop me a line on Facebook or Twitter (@Chuges); I’d love to hear from you.  If you have any suggestions or ideas for the future of this blog, please let me know.  I can’t improve unless I get some constructive criticism every now and then.  May God grant you His peace and His blessings.  Our Lady of Victory, pray for us!

Monday, September 12, 2011

UC @ Tennessee & Bengals @ Browns

Finally... The Fast Break has come back to Cincinnati! In this installment I look back at UC's disappointing performance at Tennessee and the Bengals surprising victory over the Browns in Cleveland.
(Photo courtesy of The Enquirer/Jeff Swinger)

Just a couple of other thoughts from the weekend:
  • What an experience at Tennessee.  Even though the Bearcats lost, I left Neyland Stadium smiling.  For those of you who know me well this may sound very surprising because I get very emotional when it comes to the Bearcats.  However, every Tennessee fan that I encountered was so friendly, welcoming and truly glad to have us visit absolutely blew me away.  I'm sure it's not the same when Florida or Kentucky come to town, but that kind of behavior left such a positive, lasting impression.  Can't say I've ever been treated so well even at home games of any team that I follow.  Best of luck to the Vols the rest of the way.
  • All the 9/11 tributes were very well executed and moving.  The NFL just get it and made fantastic decisions as far as their memorials were concerned.  MLB... not so much.  The fact that they did not give the Mets permission to wear FDNY or NYPD hats and that it was former Yankees manager Joe Torre dropping the hammer makes it even more egregious.  Doesn't have to be every year, but with Sunday Night Baseball in town it would have been a very classy move.
  • What a choke job by Notre Dame at Michigan.  If Brian Kelly thought a few signs in his yard and his house getting egged was bad, I can only imagine what his family is going through with a rabid Notre Dame fan base still looking for their first win going into Week 3.
  • I recall Colin Cowherd saying he never felt more confident picking a winner as he did picking the Browns to defeat the Bengals in Week 1.  Sounds like that decision went about as well as his failed attempt to get a sitcom about his life on CBS.
  • I enjoyed seeing the Steelers go down in flames to the Ravens.
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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Yankees Finally Leave and USMNT Moves on to Gold Cup Finals

In today's Cincinnati Fast Break: I cover the Reds wrapping up their series with the Yankees, the impact of Yankee fans and what they can teach us about when we travel, and the US men's national soccer team moving on to the finals of the Gold Cup.

(Photo courtesy of The Enquirer/Jeff Swinger)

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Stanley Cup Finals Wrap Up & Reds Sweep Dodgers

In today's Cincinnati Fast Break I tackle the Stanley Cup Finals, the shameful rioting that took place in downtown Vancouver, and the Reds playing much better ball in completing a sweep of Los Angeles in SoCal.

(Photo courtesy of AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Jim Tressel Out at Ohio State

In today's Cincinnati Fast Break, I discuss the end of the Jim Tressel era at Ohio State, how his negligence will be felt for years to come in Columbus, and the Reds opening a long home stand with a solid victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.

This may be the way Jim Tressel's impact will be felt at Ohio State for a long time.
(Photo courtesy of AP Photo/Terry Gilliam)

(Photo courtesy of The Enquirer/ Joseph Fuqua II)

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