More Junk Drawer: Charities, Patriots, Accountability

It’s Sunday and as I write, the Patriots are allowing the Eagles to stay within three points of them at halftime. After Neil Rackers and the Cardinals improbably ruined my chances of winning $600 in a NFL knockout pool earlier today, could this be the worst Sunday ever? I hope not.

With that said, it’s time for the Junk Drawer: more random notes I’ve compiled to stun you with.

-A few months ago, I emailed my blog list asking for their financial assistance for a charitable walk our company was taking part in. I asked for just $10 from each for JDRF, an organization that assists those afflicted with juvenile diabetes. After one round of emails, I got just over $200. Not bad, but from a list over 100, I thought I’d get a bit more considering the small amount I was looking for. I looked at the people that didn’t donate and was pretty surprised, but I decided to hit them up again a few weeks later. When it was all said and done, I raised a company-high $310. I was happy, but admittedly a bit unsatisfied considering how little I was asking for and the amazingly easy process of donating.

In the past few months, I have been hit up with requests from people doing walks and marathons with all benefits going toward several great causes. These come amidst the many traditional charities that are out there, constantly in need and always shorthanded like this one which I have seen first-hand. With monthly disasters and making a living that much harder to do for some families, there is no shortage of needy people and organizations out there. But how much can you be expected to give when there’s so many that need it?

It got me to thinking about that charitable portion of people’s souls that make them commit to a cause either financially or by donating their time. Why didn’t more people donate when I asked? Was it the cause? Do they donate to something already or was it simply human laziness and apathy? A recent release by Fidelity Investments stated that 80% of Americans give to charity annually, totaling over $120 billion, but I just don’t buy it. I look around at people I know and while they seem great, most don’t seem passionately moved to donate to those in need. I’m sure you have have friends and family that are the same way, so where does that number come from?

Regardless, it’s crucial and essential for those of us that can commit money or time to charities to do so, because there are so many in need. As you read this, you probably are coming off a weekend where you spent $50 on stuff you didn’t need or was a luxury thanks to your lifestyle. It’s your right because like the song doesn’t say, you work hard for the money and it better treat you right. Take a step back and now multiply that $50 x 20 weekends and that’s a lot of loot. My plea is to give yourself a charitable goal for 2008. Make it something within your means, but essentially set yourself a budget for donating money and then, do it. Be selective about who you give money to and make an effort to spread it around. Then, when someone comes to you asking for money, make an educated choice based on parameters you have already set up.

People need your help and doing a few less meals out or that not buying that Englebert Humperdink replica smoking jacket will mean a lot to people you won’t ever see, unless you like constantly walking by the homeless people on the street.

(Side note/plug: You may notice a new link up to the right. My friend Teresa is training for a half-marathon as part of a Disney Leukemia and Lymphoma run for Team In Training. She is detailing her travels to the marathon in blog form, which is interesting considering she’s not a runner by trade. If you feel like donating, fantastic. She’s less than $1000 away from her goal. If you don’t, then take a few minutes to learn about the cause and see what she has to say.)

-You deserve it. Next week, you’re getting the One Night Stand column. Get your latex and walk of shame asses ready.

-Back in February, I wrote about how spending time with my parents was proving difficult and that the gap that had begun over a decade ago had started to grow further apart. This holiday season is the first where I have no real travel stress as my pro hockey days are now in my rear view mirror. As a result, I was able to call the shots a bit when it came to Thanksgiving, spending a few hours with one set of parents and then, a few with the other. After both visits, I didn’t feel exasperated but really good. For all of their well-documented faults, my parents are both really good people who do their best to take care of myself and my brother when we’re home. Despite alcohol issues, financial issues and cancer scares, they always put their best foot forward in making us feel welcome, which is something I’ve overlooked in the past.

So while I won’t do the ready-made “I give thanks” schmaltz you might expect, I am finding a bit of solace in knowing that going home isn’t as bad as I originally made it out to be…at least for a few hours at a time.

-You know, verbal sparring can be fun when it comes to celebrities. It’s always entertaining to read when two overly-paid actors, musicians and the like decide they need to feud with each other, either due to a real beef or to sell more product. That’s why I’m a little befuddled at why two of my favorite Bostonites have decided to throw jabs at each other when seemingly each have nothing to gain.

I really don’t want to recount the whole sordid tale, but ESPN’s Bill Simmons and comedian/actor Dane Cook have beef. Simmons (in another one of his tales from the Hollywood era that helped evaporate his everyman aura) has said that Cook wore a Yankees hat to tv tapings and, to paraphrase, is a Red Sox fan phony. Cook has played the “Who is Bill Simmons” card, expected for someone that makes millions off making movies that aren’t funny. This has been going on sporadically for month and it’s Petarded. Who gives a shit?

-You heard it here first: Bud Light has created the next ‘Whazzzup’ catchphrase with their line of ‘Dude’ commercials. Of course, this’ll mean the word will become irritating within two months and basically unspeakable by spring-time. Good times!

-The more I read about it, the more I think the fact Jon Lester came back from cancer in less than a year to become a perfectly capable pitcher for the Red Sox is pretty f’ing amazing.

-Another blog coming up: the sex appeal of women rockers. I really, really wish this had something to do with the one night stand piece, but alas, it doesn’t.

-I find it amazingly hypocritical that the NFL airs a promo featuring Shaun Alexander and former ‘NSYNC member Joey Fatone talking touchdown dance moves when they continually fine players for their post-score antics. Cincy’s Chad Johnson got a big score this past Sunday and jumped into a cameraman’s position for a few seconds. Apparently, the camera is a prop and therefore, he’ll be fined. Really? Seriously, Roger Goodell, this is a bit much, don’t you think?

-Saw Hitman as part of the Nason/Clyde post-Turkey Day beers/movie tradition. Great guys shoot ‘em up flick that has a few great naked woman shots. (Hey, I never said it was an Oscar winner.)

-I think upon signing free agents, general managers should publicize exactly what they’re expecting statistic-wise. I thought of this amazing concept this summer after slapping my forehead time after time after time watching Boston’s J.D. Drew flail at pitches whizzing right past him. The front office was quiet on the subject of Drew, giving almost Belichick-ian statements regarding his lack of output. G.M.’s must have some sort of idea of what they expect out of guys they bring on, so why not be publicly accountable for those expectations?

I’m sure the obvious answer would be “that information is private and wouldn’t be fair to the player to have available for public consumption.” My response? As long as I’m paying X to see games and X to buy merchandise and commit hours upon hours of time following this team, I think as a fan, I deserve to know exactly what is expected for this group I’m watching. If part of my financial contribution to the team goes toward player salaries, why shouldn’t we know?

And the Patriots just won…barely. I am now looking forward to the ‘They’re not so good after all’ talk for the next seven days.

Thanks for reading,
Josh