Free Detroit Tigers shirt turns into a gem

english dSometimes the best things in life are free.

The little train that storms around Comerica Park spitting out free T-shirts dropped one in my lap and people have been raving over it ever since. It is a simple orange shirt with a giant Old English D plastered in front.

I’ve only worn it twice but I’ve received at least a half a dozen compliments. During my  evening walk through the neighborhood I passed a woman walking with her child.

“Oh I just love your shirt,” she gushed.

Minutes before that a woman at the library said she loved the shirt. One of my neighbors asked me to give him the shirt.

I explained to the first woman how I got the shirt and she actually stopped to listen. Maybe she thought I was going to give her the shirt off my back. Not a chance lady.

I almost didn’t get this amazing shirt. I was in section 117 at the Tigers game with my son Brandon when shirts began pouring from the sky. The lady, who sat in front of me, didn’t get a chance at a shirt because she left to get food. I didn’t tell her that the shirt I nabbed feel right in her seat.

I scooped it up and put it in my bag.

“Geez,” the lady said. “I left at the wrong time.”

A sliver of guilt hit me. If she remained in her seat she would have caught the T shirt and taken it home. She noticed that everybody in the row in front of her and in back held a bundled shirt in their hands. I thought about reaching into my bag and giving it to her, but I am not that nice.

Would you give the shirt to the woman? Did I mess up?

I am glad I didn’t because people love it and I enjoy the compliments and conversations that follow.


Alert: Beware of Social Security scam

scam alertI am on the suckers list.

Over the past few months solitors have bombarded my cell phone with offers for hearing aids, opioids, car protection plans, cruises, cheap air fares to destinations I’d never want to go to in a million years (anybody interested in going to Mongolia?) and home protection plans.

Let me save the best scam for last. I received a call from the “Social Security office” who said that my social security number had been compromised in Texas where I just visited and that someone is money laundering in my name, has opened 11 bank accounts for thousands of dollars and rented a car where Texas authorities found two pounds of cocaine and blood in the back seat.

First they tried to get me to confess to the crimes. I didn’t. And then they wanted me to cooperate with them to avoid jail time. I didn’t. To crack the case all they needed was my social security number, what bank I had a legit account with and my home address.

They threatened to close all of my bank accounts, including the one legitimate bank account that I actually have.

The guy offered to do me a favor. I could withdraw money before they closed the account as long as I kept them on the line.

Like I said. I am on the suckers list. But I am not that much of a sucker. I probably listened too long, but the story was so good that the reporter in me took over and I took notes, including jotting down the agents badge number.

I told the old people that I work out with at Planet Fitness and my pal Larry Birds eyes lit up. He got the social security scam call also. They also said his social security number had been compromised and they threatened to cut off his social security checks if he did not cooperate.

He was a little smarter than me. He told the person that he worked for the Federal Government and that if he finds out this is a scam that he is going to prosecute. They immediately hung up.

People beware, especially if you are older. They pry on us old folks being gullible. Once I turned 55 the scams began rolling in at an alarming rate. Old people fall for these scams all the time. I woman told me that her mother fell for a scam. Someone call and said her son had been kidnapped. These people wanted to help her find her son but they needed travel money to investigate.

She gave them the money.

“They must be getting a lot of people’s money or they would not keep doing this,” Bird said.

We are under attack by scammers. They didn’t get me this time and make sure they don’t get you.

The shooting we did not hear about hits close to home

sixth streetMy daughter Celine is finishing up a summer job with Facebook in Austin, Texas.

She works hard and often takes work home with her. I called her last week and suggested she take a break. The weekend was coming. The grind of her junior year in college is not far behind.

“Take a break,” I told her. “Why don’t you go to your favorite spot in town and have a good time.”

She explained that she had too much work on her plate. She was preparing for a presentation and an interview.

She stayed in.

Thankfully she did not listen to dad.

There was a shooting near Celine’s hot spot in Austin. A 20 year old woman was shot and killed. Four others were injured. A few people got into an argument. A man became enraged and began shooting at random. People were hit who had no idea what the fuss was all about.

I don’t know if Celine would have been in harms way if she’d gone out that night. But the incident is a reminder that we live in a scary world. Or scary country.

The Austin shooting did not make the national news. We were focused on the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton when 32 people were killed in two incidents that came within 13 hours of one another.

We live in a lawless society. Recently, Mt. Sinai Hospital in Chicago stopped accepting new patients and ambulances because there were too many gun shot victims in the emergency room to accept new victims.

Several countries have issued a tourism advisory for the United States because of the recent mass shootings. We’ve had nearly 300 mass shootings this year already and more are to come.

Three years ago I began fighting for a longer life after suffering two strokes in part because I want to be there for my daughter. I want to support her when she graduates from college, gets married and has her first child.

If Celine was killed that night by a stray bullet I’d be done. Part of the reason I want to remain on Earth would disappear.

One family in Austin is grieving. That does not match the hurt people are feeling in Dayton and El Paso. But that is still one life too many and that is not acceptable.

We should be better than this.






My prayers were answered

prayerWe were on a softball diamond talking about my latest health scare when the man asked if he could pray for my recovery.

I gladly said yes. I need all the help I can get.

Here is what has had me worried the last month. I was losing blood at an alarming rate and doctors could not find the source of the leak. They want my hemoglobin or blood levels to be a 13.0.

Mine had dipped to 10.2 in about six months. I was told 9.0 was a dangerous level. Two test failed to find the problem. Possible surgery or a blood transfusion loomed in the distance.

Later on that day when I was on the softball field I was supposed to get the long awaited diagnosis from my doctor. And I was supposed to take another blood test to see if my hemoglobin dipped again.

The man prayed that I’d find new healthy blood, that my body would reverse the downward trend and I would be sound again.

My hemoglobin had not returned to normal, but it increased to an 11.5 from a 10.2 in a month. That meant no surgery, no blood transfusion, no procedure where they fuse the holes in leaky blood veins.

Here is my treatment. Iron pills, blue berries, spinach and more red meat in my diet.

I guess prayers do work. Mine were answered.

When I had my stroke three years ago, I had a sleepless night where I wondered what my legacy in life was. Was I an uncaring jerk? Did I care about people? And who the hell would care about me if I did not emerge from this illness healthy?

I knew my family would care about me. And so did this guy walking off the field after his morning softball game.

People told me that they prayed for me while I was in the hospital. I felt your encouragement and it gave me hope.





Daughter’s first job with Facebook includes sea weed chips. Nasty

face bookAustin, Tx — My daughter Celine is in this bustling city for a summer job with Facebook.

Of course my wife Abs and I had to be dorky parents and duck our heads into Celine’s work place because that is what dorky parents do. I want to announce that Celine does not work in an office. She works in a high rise amusement park.

Momma wanted to yell at her because Celine wore a Texas Facebook t-shirt and bootie shorts when she got off the elevator to greet us and escort us upstairs. I told Abs to back off because the girl that got off the elevator with Celine was wearing even less.

Let’s start with the food. I counted four cafeterias, which sounds about right because they feed their employees three square meals a day for free. I wanted to ask how come everybody is so skinny and does not weigh 800 pounds each.

I saw why when Celine grabbed a bag of sea weed chips. They looked as disgusting as they sound. If my chips are not made of potato and drenched in grease I don’t touch them.

Celine assured us that beside the salads and seaweed chips that Facebook provides well balanced meals of hamburgers, fries, pizza, pasta and fancy dishes that I can neither spell or pronounce.

When I first started working I got 30 minutes for lunch. Celine’s lunch break is “whenever” or whenever you finish eating and feel like going back to work.

Next we went to an area that appeared to be set up for pillow fights and fun time. It was the employee lounge.

A high school basketball player had to duck down to enter my first office for an interview at the Freep. The ceilings at Facebook are so high that you could play a full court game of basketball.

Employees are encouraged to write their feelings or a smart ass quip on a giant wall. If I wrote on the wall at work I would be suspended for two days and be forced to spend five minutes in the penalty box also known as the smelly men’s bathroom. Celine gets a pat on the back and a promotion.

So where is Celine’s desk? She went to another large screen that had a lay out of the office. She typed in her name and a light lit up locating her desk. Fancy.

And about that desk. As usual Celine’s desk was full of mess but it was so large that the mess looked kind of cool. You could fit a family of four underneath the desk. Mom and dad must have been hunting for seaweed chips because I only saw a boy and girl under Celine’s desk.

My first desk at the Detroit Free Press looked like a military desk from the Gomer Pyle Show. Later when I moved to the Detroit News they gave us desk from World War II. But that was still a step up from my first desk at 971 The Ticket.

We sat behind something from Game of Thrones.

So is Celine’s first work place better than dad’s?

You bet.

Except for the seaweed chips.




Down goes Foster: My Texas fall

dell setonAustin, Tx — The back of my left arm carries a deep plum purple bruise and doctors say part of it may turn yellow in the coming days.

Less than two hours after landing here to visit my daughter Celine I was taking a wild spill through the central Texas heat after tripping over a steel barrier near her apartment. My left arm caught the brunt of the fall and scrapped across the pavement.

It was my second spill in five weeks and this was by far the worst. During my fall, which seemed to last forever, I thought of an Eddie Murphy skit where he talks about his Aunt Bunny who falls down the stairs every time she visits the house.

She screams “Oh Jesus help me. I’m falling down the steps. Oh Lord Jesus Christ.” And Murphy makes this hilarious noise into the microphone of Aunt Bunny’s fall. I was Aunt Bunny.

The fall was so long that I had time to think of Aunt Bunny before landing with a thud.

My arm felt fine after picking myself off the pavement. I felt like a loser who was ruining the family trip. I could see the horror in my kids’ eyes as dad stumbled out of control. There was a minor burning sensation, but I was ready to go on with the rest of the day.

The family was taking a casual stroll from Celine’s apartment to Torcy’s Taco, which supposedly has some of the best Mexican food in town. I never found out. While my son Brandon and Celine enjoyed Torchy’s I was at Dell Seton Medical Center near the University of Texas receiving treatment for my arm.

By the time we reached Torchy’s my arm had swollen up so big that I looked like Popeye. Wife Abs said we needed to hit the nearest emergency room and I did not fight her. The arm looked gruesome.

Doctors took x rays of the arm and a half hour later announced there was no break. But a bunch of blood vessels may have exploded in my arm because I am on the blood thinner Plavix following a stroke almost three years ago.

I was told for the millionth time to be careful because the blood thinner causes bleeding. I thought I was being careful, but I did not see the steel barrier that was hidden along a grass line.

Five weeks earlier I found myself in an emergency room near home after falling down one stair in the house. I banged my head on the dry wall and Abs demanded that I go to the hospital.

I did not suffer any brain damage and after the purple mask disappears I should be fine after the latest spill.

I wonder how long it took Aunt Bunny to recover after her falls.

I broke the law in the men’s room

urinalI don’t like to talk when I am at the urinal taking a leak.

But this time I had to stand up for myself when an angry man screamed: “You can’t pee there you piece of shit.”

I looked to my right at the next urinal and did not see anybody. Then I looked down into the boiling face of a little man. He was barely four feet tall and he was huffing and puffing.

“What are you talking about,” I screamed back.

“You are not supposed to use that urinal and you know that,” he said.

Actually I didn’t.

If you go into a men’s bathroom all the urinals are at the same height except they place one about five inches lower than the others. I was standing at the lower urinal.

“The urinal you are using is for children and little people,” small guy said.

I swear on a stack of Bibles that I had never heard that before. I just grabbed an empty space and unzipped my pants. I explained to him that I was unaware of this unwritten rule of the men’s room.

Short stack claimed everybody knew.

“Why do you think one of the urinals is lower,” he asked.

“I thought it was for guys with a longer penis,” I said.

Short stack did not like my joke and called me a mother fucker. That was the last straw and all my senses of being nice went out the window.

He said he had to stand on his tippy toes when he uses the taller urinals. Since he was so mean to me I laughed at him.

He wanted to fight me but I declined his invitation.

“Are you scared,” he rumbled.

“Yes, I am scared actually,” I said. “I’m scared that I will kick your ass so badly that I could end up on the six o’clock news.”

Why fight. I was in a no win situation. If it got out that I beat up a little person many of you would view me as an ass. If I got trucked like Buddy did by small man Peter Dinklage during the movie Elf you’d all be laughing at me and would demand your shot to punch me out.

There was no fight. He laughed at my response and it seemed to settle him down and he returned to a normal, but still short, human being.

I promised him I would never use the short urinal again although I have. And he promised to control his temper better, which I am sure he has failed to do.

Help me. Is this something I should have known? Is this common knowledge that the shorter urinal is reserved for little people and boys?

Educate me.





The ATT rip off

iphone7-front-matblkIn the grand scheme of things I am a small consumer that cannot make a difference.

Most of us are.

I simply pay my monthly bills, accept the service no matter how crappy and move on. Not today though. Not with AT@T. I don’t feel like the company took advantage of me as much as it violated me.

I will have a family meeting with the plan of dropping AT@T as our cell phone service provider.

Here is my story.

On June 26 I went into my normally friendly and helpful AT@T dealer to upgrade my son’s Apple phone. The company was running a buy one, get one free sale.

I know that nothing is free in this world, but I bit any way so I can face time my daughter Celine who is attending school in California and is working this summer in Texas. In order to do that I had to purchase another line, which added $20 a month to our bill.

That’s not free.

I’ve told my wife Abs several times that many pro athletes carry two cell phones. The first is for family and friends to call. The second is the ho line that only their side piece knows about.

Abs did not want me having a ho line and demanded I get rid of it.

I realized within hours that this cell phone was not free and I wanted out of our deal.  The new phone also did not charge and by the time I marched in the next day to make the exchange, the phone was completely dead.

I was told by my normally helpful and friendly dealer that I could not exchange the dead phone and get rid of the ho line without a working phone. The dealer sent me to the Apple store.

I was told I had 14 days to make the switch.

Life lesson.

You cannot just walk off the streets and make a simple exchange at an Apple store. You need an appointment. Apple sent me back to my ATT@T dealer and said to exchange the phone there.

I tried and was told they could not take the phone back, go back to Apple.

I went to Apple three times and could not exchange the phone. Then I was about to play the “don’t you know who the bleep I am card” when somebody at Apple knew who the bleep I was and made the exchange.

That was on Day 14 of my journey. So I thought I was safe and made deadline.

Wrong again.

I got a new working phone from Apple and went to get out of my contract with my normally helpful and friendly AT@T dealer. The user names and pass codes we set up two weeks ago did not work of course.

Finally, we got through all the red tape and I was told to call 611 to finally drop my $20 a month line charge for the ho line. But I was told to wait until the next day until all the paper work went through until making the call.

I called 611 the next morning only to be told by AT@T that I missed deadline by one day and that my normally helpful and friendly AT@T dealer should have made the exchange  the minute I tried to return the phone.

Now I had to pay full price for my free phone to get out of the contract or pay nearly a year of line charges I have no intention of using.

I felt like the company stuck a knife in my stomach and twisted it. I wanted out completely and said I wanted to cancel all of our five lines, in addition to the ho line, and switch carriers.

A part of me asks what good will it do? AT@T will not miss my $200 a month bill and will probably charge me $1.5 million to get out of my contract. I am making the switch out of principle.

This old man does not need a ho line.






PAL students want kid friendly downtown Detroit

downtown DetroitTwice a month I take my 17 year old son Brandon to downtown Detroit for male bonding and fun.

We enjoy treats from Avalon Bakery in midtown, T-shirt shopping at Detroit vs. Everybody and Detroit Hustles Harder in Eastern Market along with strolls down Woodward and some of  the side streets in mid town.

Shake Shack and any of the restaurants in Mexican Town are among his favorite places to eat.

The other day some of the kids I mentor at the Detroit Athletic League media class at the former Tiger Stadium site said they rarely go downtown because it is not kid friendly. For all the wonderful projects that Dan  Gilbert and company have brought downtown, they ask that adults share in the fun with teenagers and young adults too young to drink at The Skip, Harrys Detroit and Founders Brewery which are some of my favorite spots.

They propose three new venue to make downtown better for them — an expansive video arcade, a small amusement park similar to Edgewater Park that closed in 1981 on Detroit’s west side.

Oh and there is one more thing Detroit needs, they said. A gaming arena.

Gaming arenas are becoming popular around the country. It is where people gather to compete in video game competitions in front of screaming fans that are sometimes televised nationally.

The only drawback is that you can play your pals online now. But they said a gaming arena would appeal to people that want to compete for money and other prizes before a live audience.

They all sound like good ideas, but do adults want to share in their downtown play ground?





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