Sunday, July 27, 2014

It's OK to say No

So here we are, in the belly of the beast. It’s wedding season full swing, which means the rest of us have to refinance our mortgage to fund your cocktail of pre-nuptial activities. This thought snapped into focus for me as I watched a caravan of Escalade Limos on the northbound side of 87 last night, no doubt ‘Toga bound. Experience has told me limo rides like that will mean two things 1) the night that follows will fall short of the hype and 2) the Citizen’s Bank card is about to take a whipping. If my days of Abercrombie modeling taught me one thing, it’s this: It’s OK to say no.

Last week I was at a barbecue. One of my colleagues was detailing the three-ring circus he’d been bullied into because his high school friend was getting married. Keep in mind this guy’s got two kids, the usual medley of monthly bills, and a good job but not a job that pays Kobe dollars. Not only is he on the hook for a bachelor party in Montreal (Montreal, are you joking me?) at three hundred a head to start, but a cross-country plane trip to Cali, where he’s expected to spend two nights in a hotel to get this guy hitched. Oh yeah, did I mention he’s in the wedding, so he has to rent a tux for two hundred bucks. His wife cannot come to the wedding, because they have two kids and can’t afford to sink the whole family into this insanity. Oh yeah, he has to take two days off from work to make the trip and buy this guy a gift. Guesstimated price tag: three grand.

Truth: He doesn’t even want to go. Who would want to suffer through that at 34 yrs. old? He’s glad his friend is getting married, and wishes him well, but the whole affair is bringing nothing but stress to the household. He doesn’t care about Montreal, can’t afford the money, his wife doesn’t want him traveling to Cali without her and the kids, and the days he has to take off work are the third and fourth day of the school year. He’s a teacher. Doing that is taboo in the teacher rack. But he feels he has to. He feels obligated. He feels guilty. I respect that stance, sure I do, but a young family man shouldn’t have to shoulder this load. It’s too much. I told him it’s OK to say no.

Same barbecue different colleague. She’s planning her own wedding for next year. Money’s tight, she’s trying to put a toehold into her own life and house and soon-to-be family. But before any of that happens, she has to flush away hundreds and hundreds this month on multiple bachelorette parties because ‘Toga-bound limos need to be paid for and drinks need to be bought and a night of saying “woo!” has to be floated. She’s miserable. She doesn’t want to do it. She doesn’t have the money. But she feels like she has to sign on because that’s what friends do. It’s OK to say no.

I’m tired of that line: That’s what friends have to do. At this age (thirty something), you’re chief obligation is to your family and that’s it. Besides, what kind of friend let’s his/her wedding guests go through this because it’s their day and it’s about them? We want you to be hitched and happy, but we have lives too. I don’t have eighteen hundred bucks to drop on your Caroline Street bachelor party and Franklin Plaza Wedding. Here I will buttress what I’m saying by admitting that the same etiquette does not apply to people getting married in their twenties. Everyone at that age is self-absorbed and should be and none of your friends should have mortgages and families at that point, so order the limos and bring on the strippers.

Perhaps my attitude on this subject would be softer if the ordeal had done a drop of evolution in my lifetime. Bachelor parties with limos and strippers. Limos are the lamest things on earth and the stripping business hasn’t progressed since the caveman age. Girl. Pole. Sweaty dollar bills. Wake me up when this is over. Wait a second . . . you actually want strippers at your BP? You like strippers? Who’s your favorite JERSEY SHORE Character? Ronnie or the Situation?

There was a time when I prescribed to this whole notion of going to ‘Toga and dropping big bucks on some dude’s bachelor party. But that time is no more. First off, ‘Toga might be the most over-hyped place on the planet. And second, bachelor parties in the made-for-the-movies sense are not fun. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good jubilee and appreciate the company of great friends. But getting older means the crowd gets smaller, the conversations get more meaningful, and renting limos is something dorks do. It’s OK to say no.

This year we have one wedding on the docket, and to this man’s credit, he’s gone low key and kept it mature. He’s asked us to do the following: show up, bring a gift, and have a nice time. And right now I can’t wait to do all three. I wouldn’t miss this one for the world. And when a guy does it right and treats his guests well, it’s NOT OK to say no.

Brian Huba

Sunday, July 20, 2014

On Second Thought

. . . Look no further than the Thompson Hill Casino Project. Here you have the Hard Rock Franchise trying to anchor a multi-million dollar construction that would turn East Greenbush into a national destination spot, but a handful of home owners have tied themselves to a tree, and this Hard Rock bid is going bye-bye, bet your bottom dollar.

On second thought, maybe the group’s got it right. I’m beginning to think the Capital Region would be a bad fit for a casino. Think of the epic traffic snafus that sized complex would create. Presently, if you live in Clifton Park and have a 3PM appointment in Albany on any given Wednesday, you better bring a good book and/or comfy pillow because you’re not getting home till 8PM. You can try back channeling via Route 9, but that’s also become a parking lot too. It’s the same blood-boiling scene on Alt 7 out of Troy. There’s ALWAYS an accident. It’s ALWAYS standstill traffic. There’s no escape.

It’s because there’s too much stuff here already (Global Foundries, that Nano Science place, all the two-year and four-year colleges, Saratoga Track Season, the State Offices, Jack’s Burgers in Albia). We’re already trying to shove a basketball-sized plan into a softball-sized setting. We're putting houses on top of houses. To build a casino here would bring that Northway nightmare I just described to every highway system in the area, all day every day. Unless the State is planning on adding fourth lanes to the Northway, Alt 7, and 1-90, that’s what I see happening. I think you have to put a casino in the middle of nowhere.

Are Capital Region residents really casino people? I don’t think so. Casinos demand a sad, depressing kind of individual. It’s not sharp suits and high-risk poker and glitzy and glamorous like in THE HANGOVER. That’s Vegas. That’s not casinos everywhere else. Try walking through the gaming room at Mohegan Sun or Turning Stone. It’s a galaxy of extras from the TV show ROSEANNE. And nothing is scarier than watching that scoop-brained lady pull slots. If you build it they will come. I’m not even going to write about the cesspool of degenerates a joint like that would bring, or the prostitution, or the addicts. We don’t need it.

The state may need the added income of a casino system, but the Capital Region doesn’t. This area has stayed above the fold through the Great Recession and the Double Dip Recession. We’re the economic little engine that could. But maybe we’re just not on Boston’s level or Philly’s level and that’s OK. The roadway construction is already round the clock. If we wanted to go next level, we’d have to rebuild every rung of the Cap Region ladder. It would be construction everywhere you looked for the rest of your life.

Last night we drove home on the Northway at 11PM, and all six lanes were on fire. That’s what happens when track season hits. People from every part of the country come here to wear goofy hats and play the ponies. And when that whole scene gets dull, we have our casino up there. So stop by and see the ladies pull slots. And leave it at that and nothing more.

. . . America is the greatest country in the history of the world, and it’s fantastic that the Group still has serious weight. Suburban mom with her arms crossed and a look of disdain on her face can stop a speeding bullet on the spot. On second thought I'm all right with that.

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Brian Huba

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Two LeBrons

On Friday, LeBron James announced he’s ditching South Beach for Cleveland, back to the fans that burned his jersey in the streets. Again, he’ll play for an owner who bashed him in writing for the public. Forgiveness may be divine, and you can always go home, but LeBron James is the most dominating force I’ve ever seen play pro ball, with the mindset of a melting ice cream cone. This was about reversing the number-one blunder on his record AKA the decision, not about winning rings. He wants people to like him. Jordan didn’t give a damn about his public record. It was about basketball first and PR second. And you can guarantee MJ would never fly back to an owner who trashed him on ESPN. LeBron’s softer than Jordan and Kobe, but he’s a better player than both. He’s a Yankees fan AND a Cowboys fan but isn’t from New York or Dallas. See what I mean?

James stumbled publically when announcing on ESPN he was “taking his talents” to South Beach in 2010. He’s not a bad guy. He’s just has the wrong people around him, and he's easy to manipulate, I guarantee it. For the record, “I’m taking my talents . . .” was originally done by Kobe when he was in high school. So LeBron filtered his most famous line from circa-17 Kobe. But he’d crush Kobe in one-on-one. The duplicity is utterly frustrating.

So who's LeBron James? Let me put it this way: James is best friends with Johnny Manziel, the NFL’s answer to Mike ‘the Situation’ Sorrentino. And I get the impression 5’10” Johnny’s the alpha. When leaving Cleveland, LeBron followed Wade to Miami. While playing with the Heat he conducted postgame interviews alongside Dwayne Wade, like they were equals. Wade missed half the season in 2013-14 and was a non-factor in every playoff game. They’re not equals. When Michael addressed the media, nobody in the Bulls organization was allowed to breathe loudly. But LeBron and Wade are best friends, so they share the spotlight, and no one needs to be the star. Kobe needed to be the star so bad he had Shaq run out on rails. Kobe addresses the media in six-foot mink coats; LeBron wears fake glasses and Justin Beiber t-shirts. That’s the difference. ESPN’s treating LeBron’s homecoming like Flight 370. He’s the biggest star on the planet. But you’d never know it and I don't mean that in a good way. There's such a lightweight energy about him off the court.

At seventeen, LeBron was already the world’s best player, not even close. But instead of filling the role of the “Chosen One” and blazing an original trail, he decides to keep Jordan’s #23 into the pros. Then a few years later, announces no NBA player should ever wear #23 again. Why even raise that issue when you’re the most visible culprit? Classic LeBron. This past season in Miami he started publically working in references about “his guys” and “leading the team” and “It’s up to me” to reverse the PR perception that he can't lead. Sorry, not buying that from a guy who went back to Cleveland so people up there would stop booing him. What does LeBron James owe Dan Gilbert or that city? He was holding all the cards here but decided to people-please. There are a handful of NBA ballers all time who are defined by rings won, and LeBron's one of them. This was a demotion. This was a backwards move. This was weak.

Bird’s Boston, Kobe’s LA, Jordan’s Chicago. How are we supposed to archive James’ successes on South Beach? LeBron choosing to reassume his relationship with Northern Ohio is the same as Timberlake getting back into NSYNC. Why did LeBron even leave in 2010? What was the point? A week ago, Pat Riley--in his role as Heat Prez--met the media and talked “staying the course” and mental toughness in hard times. “Trend this,” he said, “I’m pissed.” He was calling LeBron out, just like Dan Gilbert did. Only difference is Riley treated LeBron like a son; Miami treated him like royalty, but he had to "Go Home," and ESPN's acting like he's Martin Luther King Jr. for doing it.

Going to Miami in the first place was a mistake. LeBron’s South Beach dynasty didn’t inspire anyone except fourteen-year-old boys. People grew tired of the Heat. Miami’s a fine town. I’ve been. We ate Cuban food. But actually live in Miami when I’m globally the best in my profession? Miami isn’t even the most relevant city in its own state. It’s second, to Disney World, a place of make believe. If he ends up winning in Cleveland, that will be wonderfully regional, but we’re talking about a once-in-history skill set with James.

Truth is he never needed Miami or Dwayne Wade or Pat Riley. Anywhere LeBron went in 2010 would’ve immediately been the best team because they had LeBron. The Carmelos and Durants and Garnetts would’ve come. FIELD OF DREAMS inspires us because Costner builds it, not the other way around. What has LeBron built? New York was always the answer. There’s nothing better or more important than winning in NYC, and LeBron dodged it . . . twice. He chose Hidden Pond, when he could’ve had the East River, Hudson River, and Atlantic Ocean. Jordan’s six in Chicago and Kobe’s five in Hollywood are historical, but being the first to hang dynasty banners in MSG, that would’ve been something. Instead he’s moving back into his mother’s house to do selfies with Johnny Football.

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Brian Huba

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Group

Countless things have changed about America from the first July Fourth to the one that just went by. But one thing remains constant: the Group is the most powerful force going.

99% of the nation’s wealth is controlled by the top 1%, the middle class is evaporating, a NY Yankees ticket is $900.00, and we have a black guy in the White House, but when eight housewives get together and decide they want something a certain way, you better believe that’s how it’s happening. Look no further than the Thompson Hill Casino Project. Here you have the Hard Rock Franchise trying to anchor a multi-million dollar construction that would turn East Greenbush into a national destination spot, but a handful of home owners have tied themselves to a tree, and this Hard Rock bid is going bye-bye, bet your bottom dollar.

It’s not just casino constructions though. Think about teachers and school employees. If one community member doesn't like something, and that community member gets a group of his/her friends to follow lock-step, it’s checkout time for the offending teacher or school official. You see it in the news constantly. Remember the Bullied Bus Driver? People got together and raised her $400,000 and an all-expense-paid trip to Disney because some fifth grader called her fat. There truly is an unbreakable strength in numbers and some things never change.

Why are we so petrified of the almighty group? Look at the fiasco in North Adams over the closing of the Regional Hospital. It made absolutely no sense (or cents) to keep that facility operational, but enough people griped and complained and carried on, and they’re gonna find a way to keep it going, I’m telling you. Does this fear begin in grade school when staying aligned with the popular pack is the surest bet for personal/social survival? We feel empowered when we’re in a group vs. being alone, and when a group comes up against us, we feel that same feeling in reverse. Am I onto something? Facebook is such a scary tool in today’s culture, because you could truly accomplish anything if you mobilize enough people, and what better place to rally the knuckleheads around a cause?

In some cases the power of a group is a good thing, but so often it’s a dangerous deterrent to progress, and here’s why: People are sheep. The same way they picked on Little Timmy in third grade because the cool kids were doing it, they’ll raise fists to fight a casino or get a teacher terminated. They’re just doing it to do it. Was that ever-more obvious than that nonsensical Occupy Movement? They literally could not verbalize why they’d halted their individual lives and gathered. But thousands and thousands blindly/sheepishly went along with the protest.

America is the greatest country in the history of the world, and it’s fantastic that the Group still has serious weight against the wealth and raised Yankees rates. Suburban mom with her arms crossed and a look of disdain can stop a speeding bullet on the spot. But before we storm the Capitol Building to protest Common Core Standards or whatever else is buzz-worthy, let’s make sure we know the pros and cons of said issue. Fighting this fight (or any fight) because Helen from across the road said so is not good enough.

The power players in this country know all about appeasing the Group. Everything in this country is marketed to target the masses, and it works. NASCAR is the most watched sport in America. Justin Beiber is worth 200 million dollars. The Kardashians still get 3 million viewers a night. If you watch the Kardashians, I don't want you spearheading any major movements. And maybe that's the scariest part about the Group Dynamic. Smart people can mold and manipulate them into fighting the wrong fight or buying into the wrong side. Look at the epic saga this country turned Donald Sterling into. Oh my God, the outrage. They destroyed a man's name and his business because he said black guys on a tape.

ESPN's Colin Cowherd said it best. He talked about being in sports radio for twenty years, but admitted if a group of listeners got irritated or offended by something he said on-air, even if those listeners misunderstood what he'd said and why, his ESPN career would be over. And he's right. God Bless America.

Brian Huba

Sunday, June 29, 2014


The World Cup is here which means time for everyone to pretend they care about soccer. Literally, as I’m writing this, I’m watching my next door neighbors leap around their back deck like they have spiders in their festively-patterned bathing trunks and screaming “Goal” and slapping five and pumping fists. Why you ask? Because the Mexican National Team put a ball through the back of a net. They’ve got the TV outside, the grill going, and the above-ground pool crowded with colorful floats and tubes.

And this has been the scene every single day since the World Cup commenced and my property line turned into a Manchester tailgate party. I think they might’ve quit their jobs. Where do they get the energy to fake-root for Spain or Croatia or Brazil with such cartoonish passion and epical energy? It’s quite a spectacle. If you’re concerned about said neighbors reading this and getting offended, don’t worry. There’s far too much soccer to scream at and dance around like lunatics for to waste time reading or even putting on a shirt apparently.

But it’s not just my neighbors. It’s everyone everywhere. People who’ve never said a word about soccer before are suddenly Facebook posting about it and planning inner-office lunches to watch it. Every time the local news runs a live feed from Biergarten in Albany, there they are: hundreds of impassioned nail biters with eyes on the game, then the powder-keg celebrations when someone scores. This has to be fake, right? Nobody’s genuinely carrying on like this over soccer eight countries from here. Anything to be involved.

I can’t flip a switch in my brain and transform into super-duper-uper soccer nutcase fanatic just because it’s World Cup, and in a week it'll be over. I don’t know anything about any of the teams or the players or the rivalries. I'm not a fan. But I am a fan of the NY Giants, because I love Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning and know their stories inside out. The franchise and the game of football have meant so much to me. Sorry, I can’t fall off a cliff about this soccer tourney. It’s not my game. Period. It has no bearing on my existence. Plus, the culture of soccer doesn’t interest me. I don’t care about 5’7” guys named Caleb. I don’t care about Landon Donovan. I don't care about David Beckham. It’s not my game.

The sport itself is confusing and troublesome to me. The clock doesn’t tick down to zero, it runs the other way. I can’t make heads or tails of the rules. American soccer leagues: are you serious? Trying to follow the domestic season is more complicated than solving quadratic equations. Nobody in this country gives a hoot about soccer till the World Cup rolls around and I’m-a-sheep season officially starts. The one World Cup game I tried watching this year was last Sunday between America and Portugal. I quasi-devoted an afternoon to following it, and found myself sort of getting invested, because I guess I have do that whole "USA! USA!" thing at least once before I bash it. My neighbors were well ahead me on the Americana card. At one point during last Sunday's game, I swear I saw my neighbor’s head spin entirely around like in the Exorcism. In the end of all that mania: Final score 2-2. A tie. Ah soccer.

If you're one of the sixteen genuine year-round soccer fans in this country, understand this rant isn't about you or against you.

I’ve been to Hell and here’s the story. About five years ago, when I got convinced we needed some extra money because we'd just done the new-house thing, I sadly signed up to be a referee for high school soccer. The training classes started in August, and three evenings a week I had to drag myself to a summer-abandoned Shaker High School and sit in a science room and learn the rules of referring soccer. There's nothing sadder than talking soccer in a high school in August. Like I said: Hell. It was scheduled for nine sessions of some guy explaining colored cards and corner kicks. After five times, I threw in the towel, told the league they could keep my hundred bucks, and drove home with a mile-wide smile on my face, happy to go broke as long as I never had to sit through anything soccer related ever again.


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Brian Huba

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Whole-y Crap

Whole Foods has arrived in Albany: Start the madness!!!

If you don’t know where the newest organic food store can be found, look no further than the former Sears at the anchor end of Colonie Center, and you’ll see a caravan of Volvos and Subaru Wagons and hybrid cars corkscrewing out to Wolf Rd. When anything opens in the Capital Region, the mob mentality hits high gear and we flock to said franchise like lemmings falling off a cliff. Relax, crunchy-yuppies, Whole Foods is Trader Joe’s and the Fresh Market and the Co-Op with bigger windows and a greener sign. And every place I just named is Hannaford with better lighting and cool Musak.

This isn’t the first time a new operation has had this kind of over-the-top response. Does anyone remember Krispy Kreme Doughnuts on Hoosick Street? When that place first opened you had to get in line the night before for morning goodies. Then people realized they were waiting hours and fighting traffic and missing work to buy, um, glazed doughnuts. Six months later there was a closed-for-business sign on the window.

Same thing when Trader Joe’s opened. Didn’t they have a marching band or something? People called into work and waited hours to buy overpriced potatoes that are fake-organic. And don’t even get me started on Dinosaur Barbeque. When that glorified King’s Buffet opened you couldn’t even get across the Collar Bridge from restaurant traffic. Dinosaur is slop on a plate, and the TIMES UNION called it the best BBQ in the area last week. Really?

I think the Cap Region is on the upswing and I love the excitement that surrounds novel commerce, don’t get me wrong, but can we ever act like we’ve been in the end zone before? This is why Albany will eternally be the little engine that could, just happy to be mentioned. You couldn’t even get inside Colonie Center's parking lot this weekend. And seeing that I ask: who signs themselves up for a Saturday of sitting in traffic then shopping picked-through produce because you CAN’T miss the opening? I bet half the people on line don’t even know what Whole Foods is. They just did it to do it. It’s literally the definition of sheepdom. Shoppers probably had to wait over an hour in checkout lines just to buy whole-wheat-organic-grain fed-sugar free bread. It’s not that urgent, especially when Trader Joe’s sells the same thing.

Is this Whole Foods thing for real? Is it here for the long haul or the latest yuppie trend that can’t last? It was, for me, societally symbolic to watch Sears get bumped for this get-healthy monument to the 21st Century. Sears has seen this country through wars and depressions and recessions. Sears is apple pie and fireworks and hot dogs at the ballgame rolled into one. Now Sears is that little place behind Whole Foods where my father-in-law will be browsing socks as we’re shopping for organic strawberries.

What’s happening to this country? What’s happening to me?

I was at a party Friday night. Everyone was drinking these things called Craft Beers and listening to Imagine Dragons and One Republic. When I asked after the Budweiser and Skynyrd, how it was with my parents, my wife told me I embarrass her when I say things like that. At dinnertime, there were two tables: one with regular meats and salads and sides and a second for vegans and organic and gluten free. And of course all grub was served on eco-friendly, biodegradable plates. The men were playing this frat-house game where you throw Frisbees at garbage cans. I guess nobody’s heard of horseshoes. And what party would be complete without four grown men comparing yoga poses on the grass? My father and his friends used to beat the hell out of guys like us. (For the record my headstand was a forty second thing of beauty.)

It’s a Whole Foods World and I am a Whole Foods Girl . . . I mean Boy.

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Brian Huba

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Retirement: Who Cares?

This week I received a letter from NYS telling me that I no longer had to take a biweekly deduction from my paycheck towards retirement. The profession I work in carries a pension that’s fully contributed to after ten years of service, which is great, but I’m beginning to think that retirement isn’t exactly the pie in the sky everybody thinks it is.

I’ve never given much thought to saving for retirement. I have no idea what an IRA is and have never needed a 401K. When one of these financial planners with their big-faced wristwatches and slicked hair tries pitching me some idea for investing my money all I hear is blah-blah-blah. I’m not giving some 26 year old with a degree from Schenectady CC a penny. I think people in my economic circle who use a planner are sort of dopey. Bro, you make $44,000 a year, you don’t need a team funneling eight bucks a week in deductions through the market. Whenever I get the email from some old friend who’s in finance now, I hit delete. A month later that same guy’s selling cars on Central Ave.

I’m not that worried about retirement because I "kind of" don’t ever plan on retiring. It’s not a natural thing to just stop working and do nothing. And please don’t think you’re going to retire from your municipal job and travel the globe like a Danielle Steele character on that pension. Retirement, in its purest form, I'm not sure. I don’t want to stop seeking out challenges and opportunities and enterprises. I don’t give a hoot about sitting on some beach. I want to always be working for something bigger, better, greater. You’re never going to have “enough money” to retire so let that whole pipe dream die an immediate death. You could contribute half your paycheck every week for the next twenty years and still fall short.

Does anybody else work with that knucklehead who constantly keeps you abreast on how close he is to retirement? “Just eighteen years and I’m out.” Only 18, huh? I pity that guy. If you’re spending your life doing something you hate and "possibly" making it to the end and getting out is the goal then quit tomorrow, live your life for right now, do what makes you feel alive. And maybe everyone doesn’t have the opportunity to chase some utopian existence and be-happy career, because the kids need to be fed and the mortgage paid. All I'm saying is: we know how the story always ends for countdown-to-retirement guy . . . he croaks a month before the finish line and everyone says, “He was only four weeks from the dream.”

I spent this morning with my father-in-law. He’s 70 years old and has been "retired" for a decade. But he still drives a school bus and works as the town supervisor and keeps himself busy and his vision kinetic. It’s the oldest rule in the book: a body in motion stays in motion. Believe me, money’s not an issue for him. I don’t even think he takes a pay check. My mother-in-law was a teacher for 34 years, retired and now owns a business, volunteers, gets on committees, and is presently building a reading program for teenage mothers. Ask her: 70 is the new 70. Daytime TV is fine but she rather have a three-dimensional reason for getting out of bed, because it’s never too late to help make the world a better place and engage in that betterment. It’s not sexy but it’s sustainable. They’ll both live to be 90 years old.

When you retire and slip into that abyss head-first because you’re retired! the health problems start, we all know that story. I believe your body can sense when the short and long term goals are suddenly non-existent. Humans need goals and things to work towards all the time. Whether it’s the weekend or the summer vacation or the next wedding or the annual Paws in the Park, we can’t function without purpose. That’s how come I think Heaven is a concept that would actually NOT appeal to the human condition. Something that lasts forever and ever and ever and ever . . . even if it has Pearly Gates and a guy named St. Peter, it sounds horrible if you think about it.

Is there anything more depressing than a retirement party?

I will be prepared when the time comes in my life to transition from my profession to the next phase--not retire--and I’m not being fear-mongered into putting a whole bunch of money into some kind of system that may go up in smoke ten years before I can access it. I have things in place and so be it. I don’t have kids and I get a pension plus my wife gets a pension, which is nice, so this may be an easy thing for me to say, I get that. Who knows? I could be dead by the time I hit retirement age.

Sometimes making it to see 20 years from now seems about as likely as tap dancing through a field of land mines and coming out fully limbed. I’m already falling apart at the seams, even though I eat the best foods and exercise every single day and haven’t touched alcohol in years. Life is hard and the obstacles are innumerable. I can’t give up anything else. If I was any more boring you’d have to hang a tombstone over my head. Me at 34: I won’t drive backroads after dark and I still don’t care about retirement. The concept doesn’t interest me. I’m here today and that’s what I’m living for.

Either way I got the call from NYS, saying I don't have to worry about retirement deductions anymore, and to borrow from my boy, Forrest Gump, “That's good! One less thing,” and life goes on.

Brian Huba