I was bumped off …. and survive.

ClemensaNot the kind of bump off Clemenza above from the Godfather (“Leave the gun, Take the Cannoli”) would refer to as going to the mattresses.    …. more like…. I’ll take your job and you take somebody else’s…..

For those of us who were impacted by “bumping” we know it was a process used to reduce our employee workforce during Polaroid’s recessionary period. This process granted senior employee the rights to replace a less senior employee in a particular assignment or job for which both employees are qualified.

As a low seniority employee, I was bumped from many jobs over several years.  In the beginning, I must admit it was painful.  I resisted it, got mad, frustrated and felt worthless. I held roles sometimes for as little a six weeks and then would be bumped off to another new role in a different job family, town and shift. After a while it dawned on me that being bumped off was a great opportunity in disguise. It also suited my restless personality for “learn and move on to something new”….

My journey through Polaroid became a wonderful adventure as got to know new coworkers, gain new skills and familiarized myself with the many different aspects of Polaroid’s businesses. I bounced all over the company to various divisions, locations and workgroups in Cambridge, Norwood, Waltham, Paramus etc..

But the most important thing the bumping process taught me was to love and embraced change… not the kind you initiate yourself but the constant kind that happens to you. Changes that involve moving to different places, meeting new people, difficult challenges keep you flexible and open-minded. Professionally the agility that I learned at Polaroid laid the groundwork managing and driving teams at Sun Microsystem, Oracle and Dell.   In the IT world survival is a constant process of retooling skill sets and adapting to new technologies. Those of us who survived the many years of bumping at Polaroid gained valuable work and life skills for life far beyond Polaroid.








A present for my friends to open….


If you haven’t heard Sara Bareilles’ version of Elton John’s Yellow Brick Road, do yourself a favor and take a listen.  This song is guaranteed to spin in your head for day’s and could drive you mad….it’s that awesome.  After stumbling on it a few weeks ago I have tried my best to mold it into a story about everything from the paths we choose to travel in life to the differences between yellow and red brick roads….  well after a few weeks of dead ends…there is no there…there… so here is a present for you to open…and listen….  a super remake of a good tune…enjoy!


Grave Epitaphs

Until recently I have never been a fan of cemeteries… and as a kid I believed them to be scary places to be avoided.  However, if one has family in residence it becomes more difficult to avoid visitation on special occasions such as Mothers,Veterans, Birthday days etc…  I can avoid it but it haunts me all day so why not swing by and pay respects.  So off I go flowers in tow down to Cambridge to clear my conscience…and feel like a good boy.

In North Cambridge there are two cemeteries directly across from one another, the Cambridge Cemetery and the Mount Auburn.   I guess you could compare the two as the Holiday Inn vs the Ritz.  My family stays in the Cambridge Cemetery (Holiday Inn) side of the street while celebrities on the Ritz side …such as poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, inventor of the Polaroid Camera Edwin H. Land, Senator/Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge and Christian Science Church founder Mary Baker Eddy round out their neighborhood.


As a kid I’d heard all about the spooky rumor of a telephone installed in Mary Baker Eddy’s tomb at Mount Auburn Cemetery.  I later learned that while the rumor is false, it seems to be based on circumstances after her death on December 3, 1910.

Following Eddy’s funeral on December 8, her casket was kept in Mount Auburn Cemetery’s Receiving Tomb until her palatial grave site could be made ready.
To protect against vandalism, the casket was guarded around the clock.

A telephone was installed for the guards’ use, but was removed after the casket was transferred to the grave site in January 1911. So a telephone was ever permanently installed in Mary Baker Eddy’s grave or in the tomb/memorial that was eventually erected there.* But that didn’t stop us from spreading fake news even back then…

It was an interesting story to talk about as a kid but I’m still wondering who would have paid the phone bills, what would you be calling to ask about and was it a party or private line?  Back in the day we had a party line where you had to wait till the line was free to use it.  I suppose if someone did answer it could be a long time before they gave up the line…  Just think about who you could be sharing that line with up there….I don’t think I’d have had the courage to call that phone as a kid then or even now…. Let sleeping dogs lie or no news is good news as they say.

My mom, dad, brother aunt and uncles are buried in the Cambridge Cemetery.  Mom and Aunt Evelyn’s grave is on one side near the river and the boys are in the Military section near the road.


As I roam about trying to locate the boys markers I spot many names from my childhood which paint pictures of the characters that made up our close knit community.   Their memories make me laugh… They remind me of my favorite epitaphs …

  • Here Lies John Yeast – “Pardon me for not rising”
  • Spanks – “Arthur Spanks …his wife Katherine”
  • BUTT – “Think of me and smile”
  • “Rest in peace Cousin Huet, we all know you didn’t do it”
  • Rodney Dangerfield – “There goes the neighborhood”
  • “Here lies the body of Johnathan Blake stepped on the gas instead of the brake”
  • “She always said her feet were killing her but nobody believed her”

Shakespeare’s epitaph was thought to have been written by the Bard himself to prevent his corpse from being dug up for research purposes, which was commonplace at the time. So far, his warning seems to have worked.

“Good friend for Jesus sake forbeare, To dig the dust enclosed here. Blessed be the man that spares these stones, And cursed be he that moves my bones.”

I guess if you gotta go out ….you might as well go out leaving them smiling. If you had to write your own epitaph what might yours say?  Would it be funny? Would you leave a coded epitaph that spells out a word, a riddle or a message about a secret hiding place or clues about a family secret?

I think I’d like leave something that prompts a quick chuckle… something like the following:

Whomever shall tell my life story ….Please end it with an exclamation point.  Something simple,short and sweet…elaborate if you must  … such as….Well Don!



*The Boston Globe, Oct. 29, 1987; Robert Peel, Mary Baker Eddy: Years of Authority, 513-514, fn. 116; Gillian Gill Mary Baker Eddy, 551-552; and Michael R. Davis, “The Mary Baker Eddy Memorial,” Sweet Auburn newsletter (Winter 1997/1998).


Street Signs….

newburyport-ma-high-street-lanterns-at-sunset-toby-mcguireThe strangest thing has been happening to me lately, which has me wondering if it is coincidence or some sort of personal message.

images2I have been finding random amounts of change everywhere I go…. but mostly while running. At first it was a dime one day and a nickel then next but then I started seeing multiple coins on the same day… a penny on Merrimac Street and a nickel on High Street.

Then a day after I found a quarter on Federal Street and then a penny on Ferry Street and a dime in the parking lot of Stop and Shop.

imagesWhen things happen with relative frequency it makes you wonder if they are connected.

Someone once told me that found pennies are from heaven.   My wife believes that finding pennies is good luck if you recite the words “find a penny …pick it up…. all day you’ll have good luck”.

So I looked on-line to see what other meanings I could find.  As you can imagine there were many accounts for the meaning of finding coins ranging from the spiritual, psychic, to the numerical.

Some believe that found coins are spiritual breadcrumbs that guide us in a certain direction toward our outer purpose in life as well as our inner purpose (but not both).

I pick up pennies when I find them just because I like the “find a penny” chant,  I thinks it’s the idea of having a good luck day that appeals to me.   As far as the other coins go, I tend to leave the dimes, nickels and quarters alone. Choosing to pick the coins up means that you allow yourself to be guided ……whereas leaving them on the ground means that you consciously give others an opportunity to walk that path.


Leaving them means you don’t believe you need the coins to find your way home and that those coins are signposts laid down only for those who need them.

Choosing to leave coins where you found them is viewed as a great spiritually empowering action on your part.
After a great deal of refection I’ve conclude that finding money on the street is sign that positive changes are afoot that are a reward or token of approval from beyond.

I have chosen to believe that my ancestors and deceased loved ones want me to know they’re looking out for me. I generally believed these thoughts to be true anyway but having my pathway lined with coins is a good reminder that change (see what I did there?) appears to be in my near future.  That’s my $.02 on this topic … and you can take that to the bank!

It’s Time For A Change


Times They Are A Changin’
My daughter Izzy left for school this morning but before she left she cheek to cheek bump me and said, “have a great day, beautiful man”.  I stood at the kitchen sink and was both glad to be blessed with such wonderfully loving daughters but sadden that a face bumped and a have a good day somehow now counts the same as an old fashion hug and a kiss.  When did that change happen?  It reminded me that times do change as Bob Dylan wrote in “Times They Are A Changin” (I love this cover of Dylans song by Brandi Carlile so I included it here.).  It became the change anthem for the 60’s… But back then we were more tactile and gave strong hand shakes or dapped, pinched each others cheeks, hugged and spun one another around with embraces that felt like they meant something….

But do we ever really change?

In the 60’s America was in knots much like we are now.  Political, social, race, drugs, war and environment issues divided us as much as they do today.  Listen to Dylan’s lyrics in this song and I’ll bet you agree that they are just as relevant today which makes me think life is more of a cycle than ever changing.   American’s go from being at odds with one another with lines drawn in the sand to coming together over tragedy, victory and things we have in common mostly..  When we come together we express our unity with old fashion bear hugs, smackola kisses and genuine smiles that fill our souls.  This Thanksgiving let’s shake off the Politics, News, War, Race and that which divides us and come together … and be just plan old thankful for a change.

Thanksgiving is a time for food, family and sharing…

My change plan is to go old school this year… it is time for a change…back to the future so to speak.  When family comes to dinner this year bring back the big hugs, smackola smooches and be truly thankful you are blessed to have them all…   for as the song goes:  As the present now, Will later be past, enjoy them while you got them….the times they are a changin’

Have a great day !

Song By: Brandi Carlile and the twin brothers Tim and Phil Hanseroth















Its Sunday night and the Patriots (Pats) are playing the Kansas City Chiefs at home on a cold October, New England night. There is no better place to be on a night like this than to be sitting in a recline-ah (recliner) sipping on an ice cold “bottle” of beer while watching the Pats. In my world that’s liv’in large baby….

Before the game I stock up on libations at the local “Packy” before kick off.  My local package store “Leary’s” is historicalbeer1 as it has been in continuous operation in the same space since 1897.  It claims to be the oldest Packy in Massachusetts.  The building was constructed in 1876 and was originally a warehouse for Caldwell’s a Rum Distillery just across the street. Old photographs of the place show horse drawn carriages with beer barrels and in later years Model T’s loaded for deliveries. Most of the locals back in the day’s before cars used to come to Leary’s with buckets and pails to get their beer and rum. I’m not so sure I’d have ever made it the 10+ blocks back home if I was carrying a pail…a lad might get pretty thirsty walking that far I wager.

IMG_2681So why do we call it a liquor store a Packy ?
It’s short for “package store”.   I suppose like everything around here in the NE we say things differently.   Like, bang a right woodjah, Let’s watch the Pats in the pahlah… or pass the clickah I wanna change the channel…. One thing we never say is, “Pahk the Kaah in Hahvahd Yahd”…because we know there no freaking pahikn in the Harvard yards…. or anywhere else around Harvard Sq.

Another thing about people in New England is we also do not like to be seen carrying booze around the streets… Why? ….Because we believe it’s nobody’s business what we drink and especially how much!  We even went so far as to have the state legislature mandate that our Mass State liquor stores sell all their goods in brown paper bags “AKA” packages.


I have always had a place in my heart for a real Packy.  Buying booze from a big box store or supermarket just does not have the same mystique. I remember the 1st time I ever legally bought beer at Easy Ed’s in Cambridge… we called it Easy Ed’s because he never asked for an ID and he always thanked me for my business.  Leary’s is the Easy Ed’s of Newburyport.  The beer is cold and the service is great…  It’s almost game time and I’ll be settling into the old recliner shortly…cold beer in one hand and the clicka for replay and volume control in the other.

PS..  Pats kicked a field goal in the last minutes of the game to beat KC in yet another come from behind win…  Come backs just never get old for Pats fans. If the KC Chiefs stop by our Packy’s tonight on their way out of town … We’ll pack their booze (Boo’s)  in brown paper bags to give then something to wear home…


The Value of A Coin

uss-constitution-009Silver Dollar Salute – Coins play a unique part in Military tradition. My first introduction to their history was after saluting a friend who had just received a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps, aboard the USS Constitution (Old Ironsides).


By tradition, the silver dollar is a coin given in exchange of the very first salute received as an officer. While the coin may be just one dollar, it represents a value far greater to both the giver and the receiver. To new officers it represents a memorial of their newly earned rank the memory it makes and their part in American history.

Organizational Coins Beyond the Military – Challenge coins are now being used by many different organizations. In the federal government, everyone from Secret Service agents to White House Staff have their own coins. Probably the coolest coins are those used to commemorate major events such as the Superbowl and Ironman Championships.

IMG_2601I received this coin from another fellow US Marine Dave Orlowski.  He is one of the original 15 Ironman athletes (third place finisher) of the 1st Inaugural Ironman held on February 18, 1978, in Oahu, Hawaii. Dave motivated me to complete my 1st Ironman and flew to Lake Placid NY to cheer, coach and support me through to finish. This coin given to me then symbolizes our brotherhood and the Spirit of Ironman that Dave helped create.

Challenge Coins – For those of you that have never heard of a Challenge Coin the short story is it’s a military or organization commemorative coin. They are exchanged by members of an organization to instill unit pride, brotherhood and esprit de corps or to reward hard work and excellence.

I received my first Military Challenge Coin from Sgt. Michael Paquette a Marine and fellow Military Policeman. It’s special to me and is symbolic of our brotherhood.

CoinUSMC1-3front-AMany service members proudly carry and or display challenge coins at their desks or homes, showing off the many missions they’ve been on and the units for which they’ve worked.

Looking back I find it nearly impossible to know for certain where the tradition of challenge coins truly began. One thing is certain though: Coins and military service go way back in history.

One of the earliest known examples of an enlisted soldier being monetarily rewarded for valor took place in Ancient Rome. If a soldier performed well in battle that day, he would receive his typical day’s pay, and a separate coin as a bonus.

Some accounts say that the coin was specially minted with a mark of the legion from which it came, prompting some men to hold on to their coins as a memento, rather than spend them on women and wine.

Just Wait A Memento – This is where the story gets interesting… Think about this one moment…. Down through history enlisted soldiers are out on the town on a payday weekend, money and a prestigious commemorative coin in their pockets enjoying wine and woman… What do you think happens to those commemorative coins when their pay is gone? Who buys the drinks now?

The answer was that those glorious bastards figured out a way to hold on to their commemorative coins… and to continue partying…How???
They created the Coin Challenge!


  • THE RULES – The challenge is initiated by drawing your coin, holding it in the air by whatever means possible and state, scream, shout or otherwise verbally acknowledge that you are initiating a coin check. Another, but less vocal method is to firmly place it on the bar, table, or floor (this should produce an audible noise which can be easily heard by those being challenged, but try not to leave a permanent imprint.) If you accidentally drop your coin and it makes an audible sound upon impact, then you have just “accidentally” initiated a coin check. (This is called paying the price for improper care of your coin.)
  • The response consists of all those persons being challenged drawing their coin in a like manner.
  • If you are challenged and are unable to properly respond, you must buy a round of drinks for the challenger and the group being challenged. In Vietnam is rumored that battle tested infantryman used this challenge to force non-combat soldier into buying the house a round.
  • If everyone being challenged responds in the correct manner, the challenger must buy a round of drinks for all those people they challenged.
  • Failure to buy a round of drinks is a despicable crime and will require that you turn-in your Coin.

Presenting The Challenge Coin.

img_2600.jpgAs with anything that is personal and meaningful presentation of a Challenge Coin is ceremonial. Traditionally, the presentation of a coin is passed during a handshake.  Recently on of our fellow Marines required a critical operation involving his heart. The surgeon is a field decorated Army surgeon who practices at New York-Presbyterian Hospital-Columbia and Cornell in New York. After the successful operation we commemorated his service to our brother with the following Challenge Coin. It symbolizes our unbreakable bond for the service he rendered to our friend and brother Marine. We passed this coin along with our handshake to the Doc… and it symbolizes our eternal gratitude.

So how is a coins value determined?

“Most coins lose their value when spent; yet a Challenge Coin gains its value when rendered”.