Thursday, September 29, 2011

Miracle Rays




I Won.

A couple of my Blogger Buddies gave some special citations ... Thanks to Gillian (The Daft Scot Lass), I will be profiled on her Blog (click to go there). I am her latest Friday Follower ... tomorrow. Check it out:  

A Daft Scots Lass

I was also given special recognition by Gene Pool Diva at Diminishing Gene Pool for the Versatile Blogger Award. Not sure what the criteria was ... but I am honored that the Diva liked my stuff. 

I am supposed to tell seven things about myself and then nominate others for the award. I agree to do the following:

1. Thank the blogger who nominated me and link to his or her blog.
2. Share seven things about me.
3. Pass along the award to 15 other newly discovered blogs.

So ... here goes:

1. In was born very young
2. I write music. 
3. My family's first name initials spell JEWS (Joel, Esther , Wayne, Sam).
4. It's a good thing I happen to be Jewish
5. I am little bit Catholic (on my grandmother's side)
6. I have three wonderful kids
7. And a wife 

(kidding Debbie ... I knew you thought I wouldn't say ...  I have a WONDERFUL wife)

And my 15 friends are: 

1. 47 and starting over
2. A Swede Abroad
3. A Writers Muse
4. Big Love
5. Bossy Betty
6. by a Daft Scots Lass
7. Carol's Prints
8. Ellie Great
9. From the Inside Out
10. I Shoulda Been a Stripper
11. I'm Here
12. Kitty Tells It As it Is
13. Nanny Goats in Panties
14. No Telling
15. Tales from the trenches of Parenting

By the way ... all links are found to the right under my personal favorite blogs.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

It's Not About the Money

I rarely talk about work in my blog.

But ... I'll make an exception today. I'm gonna philosophize so I will understand if you skip this one and tune in later.

My job is to raise money for USF and manage other fundraisers. 

I love my staff (I really do). They are bright, passionate about the university we represent and ... they dress well. Fundraisers are an interesting breed. They take no for an answer (a lot), when they aren't listening to no they hear a fair share of empty promises amid the "full" ones.

They are the sales force.

Each day, they check their prospect list for that next big gift. They plan proposals, work events, make phone calls, join Rotary Clubs, make more phone calls ... until one hits. They live a fairly schizophrenic life. When they do "close a gift" they are heroes ... when they don't ... well ... they usually blame the economy or something.

So ... What do you need to do to be a good fundraiser?

I'm glad you asked. Here are my top three things:

1. Listen 
2. Be nice 
3. Don't talk about yourself 

Listening is harder than it sounds (get it?). Good listeners practice eye contact, actually paying attention to what is being said and only looking at their cell phones 10 times instead of 50. Some like to take notes while they listen. They feel the person talking will appreciate their thoroughness. I don't ... I think they appreciate their attention much more.

Being nice means just what it says. The opposite is not necessarily being mean ... it can be being indifferent, arrogant or rude. We've all been in restaurants when a server is dressed down by a customer or an office worker is treated as a shade above a servant. Being nice to everyone is recognized by everyone. Being nice to a donor is a given. Being nice to everyone that comes in contact with that donor should be.  

Don't talk about yourself. Try this next time you're in a conversation. Count the number of times others that you might have little respect for talk about themselves. Yep ... that could be how you sound too.

So what does this have to do with raising money?


You see ... people give money to other people. They respect and support institutions ... but they give money to other people. I could give you all the fundraising techniques in the world from closing gifts to prospecting and stewardship. All good stuff ... but substance wins out over style

And besides ... this is stuff only fundraisers need ... right?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Bad Things That Are Good For You

Finally there is hope for those of us who have "bad" habits.

I read a great article this morning, "10 Bad Things That Are Good For You". Wish I had this years ago when Debbie told me how most of my habits from years past and present day will shorten my life (either naturally or death-by-spouse).

Not that I feel vindicated ... here's a partial list:

- BEER. That's right ... beer is good for you. Moderate beer intake can actually improve cardiovascular function. For my friends out there: Moderate is when you can button your pants and feel your tongue. And ... unfortunately, I didn't read anything good about chicken wings and dogs.

- ANGER. Go ahead and get it out. When you have finally had enough ... blow up. I'm sure your wife will appreciate this health tip when you tell her that holding it in will make you sick. I should warn you that the side-effects of this could be life threatening and may include choking, savage beatings and perhaps knife throwing (all from your spouse, of course).

- COFFEE. Get this ... coffee is a major source of antioxidants and can help lower your risk of diabetes. Something in the beans is also thought to ease the onset of cirrhosis of the liver and pancreatitis. So I guess what this proves is that you can drink beer the night before to help your heart and then have a jolt in the morning to stabilize your liver ... and after a few more cups ... scream at your co-workers. (I love this list so far)

- LSD. This is my favorite. In heavy drinkers (NOTE: To my friends who wake up in strange towns), small doses of LSD have been thought to bypass the rock bottom stages of alcoholism and prevent relapses. Meanwhile, a study of 36 volunteers who took the drug in a lab setting reported mystical experiences like dating Peter Max and riding in the back seat of a De Lorean searching for some guy named Biff.

- MARIJUANA. Remember when everyone was doing pot and couldn't remember their names? (If my kids are reading this..."You are old enough now to know that daddy ... was ... simply retelling things his friends did.") Well now it's been found to prevent "brain clumping" and actually stave off Alzheimer's. I think that's right ... I can't remember.

- MAGGOTS. Yes ... I think we all know that these disgusting creatures munch on dead tissue and bacteria to help prevent infection. The other day, in fact, I was watching a football game where the quarterback was crushed, his helmet dislodged and there was a gash across his forehead. The trainers rushed out to the field and immediately threw a bucket of maggots on his head. Oh ... you know what ... I take that back. It was the other team's trainers.

- SUNLIGHT. Even though it can burn the hell out of your skin and give you cancer ... our friend the sun has a positive side. In addition to putting you in a good mood, it can also suppress the immune reactions that cause asthma in mice. Wait a minute ... how do scientists find mice with asthma?

They check for tiny inhalers?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

You Missed a Spot

Every two weeks, a special visitor comes to our house.

Debbie calls her the "cleaning service".  Since I haven't seen the movie The Help yet, I still call her "the maid". Either way ... it's the day that we both look forward to.

I never know the actual day she comes ... but I pick up signals from Debbie. Signals like telling me ... "Joel, you need to clean your closet, pick up your dirty clothes, wash the dishes and help me strip the bed."

This comes after Debbie has cleaned the bathroom, done the laundry and basically ... finished the heavy housework.   

Why ... you may ask ... do we clean the house BEFORE the maid comes?

I'm really not sure. One of the things that Debbie has explained to me is that the maid is responsible for specific cleaning duties (although I'm not sure what's left to clean after Debbie finishes). Apparently, the maid has a limited amount of time to complete her assigned duties and my cluttered closet is an impediment to her speed. I have learned that her time is much more valuable than mine.

But ... Debbie is very picky about the quality of the maid's work. So much so that we have gone through about 7 cleaning services in 3 years.

You know ... it's really hard to get good help. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Do I Feel Hot To You?

I feel like crap today.

Do you feel sorry for me? I didn't think so. If you're like most people, you could care less ... you've got your own problems.

Today, I'm working from home. That means I'm eating everything in the house (yes ... when I'm sick I usually get hungrier), watching a movie about people getting eaten by mutants and writing my blog (about writing my blog).

Debbie just came home and made me a sandwich before she headed back to the office. Yes, she IS too good to me. I was very appreciative ... I didn't even tell her that she forgot my drink. I got it myself.

Oh man ... it's already 1 o'clock ... time to figure out whether I should take a nap, watch another movie or call somebody up and whine a little more.

What the hell. Debbie will be back in an hour. Maybe she'll make me another sandwich.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

It Was A GOOD Week

What a week ... events every night.

Thursday night, we celebrated a very successful fundraising year at USF in a big way. Unstoppable You was the theme of this year's President's Council dinner and Broadway production numbers were the order of the day.

We wanted something special to give to our donors and we got it.

Quentin Darrington, Broadway star of Ragtime and ... currently ... Memphis, joined us to host and produce a great show. Quentin is an alum of USF and a recipient of a first generation scholarship. He was the first in his family to go to college and he wanted to "come home" to thank our donors personally.

He worked with our music and dance students and put on a hell of a show. I joined him on the keyboard for the last number, "The Impossible Dream".  (Okay ... so I had a bass player and a drummer playing VERY LOUDLY so that my impossible dream didn't damage his.)

Last night we played FAMU and won (70 - 17). We are now ranked 18th in the country.

Yes .... it was a good week.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Bag Ladies

How do you feel about purses?

I know that's a strange question ... but it's been a big topic of conversation in our household (not just any purses, by the way .... we're talking BIG purses ... Very BIG purses).

They don't really make sense to me.

I speak for the entire male species when I say that very big purses are beyond our intellectual capacity. If it doesn't fit in our pockets, it wasn't meant to leave our houses. For me ... Even a comb sometimes is difficult to manage. I can lose a comb a week.

How many hair products, cosmetics, change purses and pill bottles do you need with you at all times? It's as if my wife, Debbie, feels like we might be evicted from our house when we leave ... so she better be prepared.

I get the fashion statement thing.

But we have all seen 4 foot tall women hauling 5 foot tall bags ... and 6 foot tall women carrying little sparkly purses. Maybe it's me ... but something's wrong with that picture. In my opinion, the bigger bags on little women do not make them look taller. And the little bags on big women ... well ... that's a whole different story.  

Maybe one day it will all make sense ... when I'm 80 and waiting for my wife at the store dutifully holding her bag ... while she shops ( for more purses).

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Notre Dame Memories

Here are some of the scrapbook memories I have from Notre Dame:

1. Picture of me on the field during the game. 

The official field pass wrapped tightly around my neck cut off the circulation to my tiny brain ... this is not a "bulls sign" as you might have guessed. It's the universal sign for 2 minutes of oxygen left. 

2. Touchdown Jesus.

Yes this is the famous one ... bet you didn't know it is OUTSIDE the stadium. You did? I thought it was inside. You can actually see Jesus from the top seats and it LOOKS like it's inside. 

Rudy thought it was inside.

By the way ... there's a "Number 1 Moses" a few blocks down (not kidding!)  

3. Halftime from the tunnel.

The longest game in history took a break for a few hours while the lightning and rain took center stage. 

The tiny scoreboard says USF 16 ND 0. 

If you look real close you might see the ghost of Knute Rockne doing a rain dance.

4. Cheerleaders shaking pom-poms

Because ... That's what they do. (by the way ... where does pom-pom come from? Was there ever just a pom?)

5. Skip getting the weather forecast from the refs.

Here's the actual conversation:
Skip ... "So fellas ... whaddaya think?"
Ref 1 ..."I think it's raining outside."
Ref 2 ..."I felt a drop or two."
Skip ... "You fellas never felt rain before?"
Ref 1 ..."Nope ... I put some right here in this bottle so I could see it for myself."
Skip ...  "When do you think we can go out and play again."
Ref 2 ... "Well ... the Notre Dame folks want to test this here water bottle, get an expert to tell us when this liquid stuff might slow down ...
Skip ...  "Seriously fellas???"
Ref 1 ... " Just teasin you Skip. We should be ready just about the time that your boys are tired and the Notre Dame boys are whipped into a frenzy." 

Sunday, September 4, 2011


Lee Roy Selmon died today.

It was one of the biggest losses that our community will ever know. For those of you who don't know, Lee Roy Selmon was the first member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to be enshrined in the National Football Hall of Fame. A graduate of the University of Oklahoma, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as well. Lee Roy was the first Athletic Director for the University of South Florida and built the USF football program. He has been a successful athlete, a successful businessman (Lee Roy Selmon's Barbeque restaurants) and a successful human being.

The latter is the most important.

He was loved by everyone ... I mean everyone. There was not a soul on earth that had an unkind thing to say about this man. And he didn't have an unkind thing to say about anyone else.

I was so privileged to have known him, worked with him and be inspired by him. I remember one night at a USF basketball game, my son and I were sitting by the court and I was talking to donors and friends of the University. My son was bored and just wanted the game to start.

Lee Roy sat down next to Josh. I leaned over and introduced him.

"Hey Lee Roy. I'd like you to meet my son Josh."

Josh sighed and put on a smile and turned toward Lee Roy with his hand outstretched.. "Oh my God ... you are Lee Roy Selmon."

"Why yes I am ... and I hear great things about you, Josh."

Josh turned to me ... bug eyed ... and whispered," Dad ... it's Lee Roy Selmon. His hands are huge ... did you see him shake my hand? You know him???"

"Yes I do ... he works with me here."

Josh turned back to Lee Roy in amazement. "You work at USF? What do you do here?"

"Why ... anything your dad tells me."

He smiled broadly and patted Josh's shoulder. Josh looked up to me with such admiration. He talked to Lee Roy throughout the game ... don't know what they talked about but after the game,  Josh said to me. "He's unbelievable. I can't believe he talked to me so long. It's so cool that you work with him."

"He's a great guy ... the best. You know he was teasing about doing anything I tell him to."

"I know that Dad ... I don't even do that."


This weekend we beat Notre Dame ... a first ... and a great start to the season. Lee Roy was supposed to fly to the game with us and appear at the College Hall of Fame for our tailgate party.

He was there ... I know he was. Notre Dame can have their ghosts running up and down the field ... Knute Rockne, the Four Horsemen, the greats in football.

None of them are as big as Lee Roy Selmon and he was there ... number 63 was on on the helmets of every player. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

How Cool Was That?

When you're young and impressionable, there are people in your life who affect you in ways you never forget. Here are three who affected mine:

1. Mark Covert was one of my early high school heroes. He was The Fonz ... He was Vinnie Barbarino ... He was Jewish.  Actually, so was The Fonz but no one would have believed it. Jewish guys were just not cool. So anytime an MOT (member of the tribe) found a cool MOT ... he became a God. He smoked, he drank, he had "bad" girlfriends and best of all just like Fonz and Vinnie ... he was protective of dorks like me.

There was only one person Mark was afraid of: My mother. She was only 4' 11" but when she called him a schmuck and hit him in the back of the head when he forgot to take his shoes off in our house, he was a different person.

2. Ann McNair broke my heart. She was the first ... the other 328 had less of an impact after that. I found out that she was dating a friend of mine when he called me one night and I heard Ann giggling in the background. I was devastated. I couldn't believe that she would do that to me. The next day I told her that it was all over ... she lied ... I was crushed.

She said, "I'm sorry. I've never done that before ... how did you know about Bill?"

"Who's Bill?"

3. Jeff Adair taught me business skills. He was one of my college roommates. Jeff and his family owned a clothing manufacturing business. He taught me how to sell turtle neck tee shirts on campus and paid commissions on every tee shirt I sold. I think we sold them for $5 and he paid $1 on every sale. Jeff never mentioned that these shirts were either missing sleeves, sewed backward or had mixed colors.

I grew a beard that year.    

Ballad of the Big Prostate

Here’s a little country tune I wrote just yesterday to commemorate a dark day in my history. I don’t have a tune but realized you can use an...