Brian Keaney

Month: January, 2011

Thoughts on my almae matres

Not so long ago I said that it would be nice to go back to high school.  I guess I need to amend that and say that I wouldn’t mind, but it couldn’t be my high school.  I’ve had the good fortune to cover a couple basketball games in the O’Donnell Gymnasium – even a couple good ones – but I’ve been disappointed again and again at the lack of students in the stands.  I’d even venture to say that there are more middle school kids there than high school students.

The only person in the crowd worthy of a slap upside the head is the little brother of two kids on the team.  I wish I was half as smart and half as bold as this kid is when I was his age.  I find myself laughing not only when he yells out comments that I wish I had said, but even things that I wouldn’t have thought to say today .  He’s a funny little kid.

The team isn’t great, but they certainly are not bad either.  Last night I covered a game one town away, and the student fans there were loud in volume and large in number.  The thing is, their team isn’t any better.  The records are about the same, and I bet they would match up nicely against each other.  I don’t know how we can fill our stands the way they do, but it’s discouraging anyway.

Also discouraging is the turn my finances took yesterday.  I logged on to my bank account to make sure my paycheck had been deposited.  It had, but the balance looked low.  Turns out Sallie Mae increased my monthly payment by 65% without warning me.  I’m sure they told me at some point the payment would be jumping, but it has been several years at least.  I lucked out in that the change occured on a payday, but a heads up would have been appreciated regardless.  On the bright side, now I’ll be in my 40s when I finish paying them off, not my 50s.

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A question for Antonin Scalia

Official portrait of Supreme Court Justice Ant...
Image via Wikipedia

On my nightstand I have a copy of Fortune magazine with a rather lengthy interview with Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts.  I haven’t gotten around to reading it yet because I’ve been reading a collection of poems by Henry Wadsworth Longellow.  I’ve never been a fan of poetry, but I enjoy these enough that I at least want to complete the section on The Seaside and the Fireside (more the former than the latter) before I move on.

I did read the much publicized interview with Justice Antonin Scalia in California Lawyer magazine, though.  In it he said the 14th Amendment does not cover women or gays, as a class, because that’s not what the framers or ratifiers of the amendment had in mind when they proposed and passed it.  Personally I think that the word “all” in “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States” is pretty clear, but then again I don’t sit on the court.

I can see his logic, however, and I don’t think the rest of his answer got the attention it deserved, as so often happens.  That aside, I’d like to pose a question to him.  When the framers of the bill of rights were drawing up the 2nd Amendment, they wanted to ensure you could have a musket in your house.  They had no concept of handguns, shotguns, or automatic weapons.

Would the good justice then support as Constitutional a ban on every type of gun developed after 1791?  I doubt it.

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Oh, MLK tree, how lovely are thy branches

In honor of Martin Luther King Day, my roommate and I have erected this tree in our living room.  Notice the way the many diverse colors come toghether to form one beautiful whole.

I think we really understand what this holiday is all about.

The greatest childhood ever

A bunch of the MSC kids last night

Growing up in my neighborhood you left the house at your own risk.  It wasn’t criminals you had to worry about – it was the neighbors.  If you went away for a weekend you might come back to find your house had been painted a different color, that someone wired your front walk to look like a runway at Logan, your car had been turned into a tank, or that they had broken in and riffled through all your personal belongings.

As if that wasn’t enough, they  videotaped all their shenanigans so there would be a record of their illegal but good hearted behavior.  This was just the way things happened when you lived within the territory of the Madison Street Committee.  This was no normal civic group with dues and bylaws and higher purposes.  It was simply a collection of lunatics who somehow all moved into the same stretch of road at the same time.

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Which way?

Every Monday night is spaghetti night at my grandparents’ house.  When I was subbing I used to be a regular, but now that I’m back in an office I haven’t gone much.  I get out later, and they eat earlier, so it doesn’t work.  Every so often – usually on a holiday when we are all around – she will invite my immediate family over and cook for all of us.

Almost all of us had the day off, or at least didn’t have to go in to work, on Wednesday due to the snowstorm.  I was out plowing with my father when she called and invited us over that night.  I’m not so foolish enough to turn down a free meal, especially by such a great cook, so naturally I accepted.

I often get in trouble for repeating things others say, but as I point out when you are given such gems it would be a sin not to share them.  Dinner with my grandparents is usually good for at least one or two, and Wednesday was no exception.

After dinner my grandmother was doing the dishes, and apropos of absolutely nothing, she asked, “You know how they say the sun always rises in the east?”  We all agreed that we knew that, and she then said, while looking out the window above the sink, that the sun used to rise over there, but is now rising over here.  How can that be, she wondered?

Without missing a beat, my smartass mouth told her that it’s because “they moved east.”

“They did!” she exclaimed.  “They moved it south.”

I don’t know who, exactly, she thinks “they” are, but that’s some power they have.

The fact that I do tell these stories might explain my grandfather’s comment earlier in the day.  While my father stayed nice and warm and dry in the truck playing with his plow, I braved the elements to  shovel them out.  After I reached their front steps my grandfather stuck his head out the door to say hello.  I told him to remember which of his grandsons was there shoveling when he was writing out his will.

“I already wrote it,” he deadpanned.  “You were out a long time ago.”

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Maybe I’ll go back to high school

Kevin Brennan shoots

For the past couple months I’ve been covering local sports for Patch to make an extra couple of bucks.  It’s not a ton of money, but it’s something, and I enjoy it.  I’ve never written sports before, so it’s been an interesting experience.  I’m reading the sports pages a lot more closely now instead of just browsing the box scores and the occasional columnist.

I’ve learned far more about myself than I ever expected as well.  This winter I’ve covered mostly hockey games, and seeing them I’ve been thinking about how much I miss it.  I was never any good at it, but I always had a good time.  I have joined a 3-D dodgeball league that begins in a few weeks, but next winter I might have to strap on the skates again.

At a recent game another reporter struck up a conversation with me between periods.  She was young, so I assumed – correctly, as it turned out – that she was in college and working as a stringer.  After the game we were formally introduced, and the name rang a bell.  “Wait a minute,” said I.  “Were you the editor of The Mirror?”

The Mirror was my high school’s student newspaper, and where I got my start in journalism.  Aside from the Senior Class Play, it was probably the most fun thing I did in high school.  It’s also really where I began to hone my writing skills, and that’s served me well over the years. From our brief conversations I surmised that this girl was studying journalism, and it took some effort on my part to refrain from talking her out of it. Read the rest of this entry »

I am the Pan

I recently discovered that Quicken has a tax planning feature that will calculate how much you owe, or, in my case, how big of a refund I will be getting.  Last year I had to write a check for all of $9, and it came as a surprise as it was the first time I ever owed any money.

This year I am going to be getting a substantial refund, but I’d almost rather be writing that check again.  It was a small amount, but it meant just about the right amount was being paid all along.  This year I’ve given my Uncle Sam a mighty big loan, interest free.  I know he needs the money, but it’s not like I’m loaded either.

Anyway, it’s got me thinking about what I should do with the check in a few months when it comes in.  I could max out my IRA for the year and save or spend the rest.  I could pay off my Jeep loan.  I could invest it, or save it for a down payment for a house.

Or, and this is what I would really like to do, I could put a nice down payment on a jet ski.  I could buy a used one outright, or wait until this summer when my Jeep is paid off and buy a brand new one, which would be my first choice.  Some of the new Sea Doos look really nice.  Nice enough that even I might look good riding one.

I’m being told I need to grow up, however.  I’m not about to build a Neverland, but I also don’t ever plan to get old.  Besides, I’m hitting a milestone birthday this summer, and I think being 25 is the perfect time to own something like a jet ski.  Since I’m a little beyond that, I think I’m past due.

I plan to die young and make a good looking corpse anyway, so this is the right time for a midlife crisis purchase.  Why wait until you are old?  I always said I wanted to retire while I was young and could enjoy it, and then work when I was older.  The same philosophy should apply to toys as well.

I probably won’t do it.  I’ll probably accept the bribe of a rental on my birthday, and invest the money.  I must be getting old.