Thursday, December 29, 2011

A growing gap?

I was reading an article yesterday from Time magazine. I was in a doctor's office so I'm sure it was several months old. The premise of it was that there is a growing gap between the American public and those that serve in the military. As I started reading, I was intrigued.

The author states the growing gap is due to improvements in pay and benefits that an all volunteer force is now provided. This force is better educated and has a stronger work ethic. Our current force often is more of a family affair where it is not uncommon for brothers and sisters to join, or sons and daughters of previously serving soldiers. Much of what was stated I can see, however I believe some of the article was built on a false pretext.

One of the foundations of the article was that there are fewer and fewer who had parents or other family members who had previously served in the military. He based this on the previous generations who had served through WWII. While that is true, the veterans of WWII were there often by choice but it was during a time of unprecedented emergency. At no time in our history had there occurred such a mobilization of men into uniformed service. It was an anomaly. It is not fair to use that as a basis of this article. Serving in uniform at that time was not a career choice but a temporary situation.

To be fair, benefits now issued to the armed forces are what they should have been, even though they now out-pace the benefits of the average citizen. And it is not uncommon for family members to gravitate to serving in similar situations such a firemen and police officers. They are members of groups where they feel more comfortable than in other groups. The enlisted and officers it was stated also have a higher degree of education than the population as a whole. That is understandable as leaders tend to fall into that classification as a whole.

I however, do not believe soldiers of this country are any more disenfranchised from the population than any other group, be they soldiers, police, priests or doctors. Each of us tend to gravitate to groups more like we see ourselves. Doctors and priests likely fall into all of the same classifications discussed in the article. We are a people as a whole made up of multiple groups whose membership has banded together from common insights and bonds. The military as a group is no different than any of the other groups, they just serve a different function, though it is a function not all of us could perform.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Hypocrisy, thy name is NCAA

We have spent the past year learning all about the foibles and transgressions of various Ohio State coaches and football players, each of whom was adjudged to be in violation of one or more rules as decreed by their judge, jury, and executioner, the NCAA.

While many people (especially locally) have decried many of these rules as stupid, outdated, unnecessary, and in other non-flattering terms, it comes down to this: a rule is a rule, and when you sign on the dotted line for good old State U, you agree to abide by said rules, on which you are tutored and instructed regularly. If you fall afoul of these rules, you (usually) have yourself to blame.

One of the transgressors from our dear old State U was penalized for accepting an improper benefit in the amount of $200.00, allegedly for work he did not perform, but for which he received recompense.

Many people are not aware that it is a violation of NCAA rules for a fan/booster/follower of dear old State U to do something so simple as, say, see an athlete in your local McDonald's and tell him, "Great job last week!. Here, let me get that Big Mac for you."

Nope! Said athlete is instructed to tell the person making the offer that it is not permitted for you to buy him so much as a sandwich, because he would be receiving that benefit solely because of his athletic expertise, UNLESS you are going to offer to buy a Big Mac or other like delicacy for any/all other students who attend dear old State U. If you do it that way, you can then pick up the tab for that sandwich. Another oddity is doing something (real case cited here) as simple as dropping off a plate of homemade cookies to athletes, even those from non-revenue sports, puts you/them in violation of the heretofore agreed upon rules of conduct. Since you are offering a free plate of homemade cookies to a university sports team you must be doing it simply because of the abilities of said athletes.

And then one reads an article in the sports pages of the Sunday December 25, 2011 edition of the Columbus Dispatch newspaper, wherein it is detailed the amount of "swag" (their term) the football players from Ohio State are legally (NCAA definition) allowed to receive simply by showing up to participate in this year's Gator Bowl football game. Each player is permitted to receive up to $550.00 in merchandise this year. That is merchandise that is given to the student-athletes solely on the basis of their athletic skills.

So, the rest of the student population of, in this case, The Ohio State University, is not entitled to get this sack of swag because they do not possess the necessary skills to put them in the position to be able to receive a bag of swag.

One Big Mac is an NCAA "crime", punishable by however the NCAA feels this week, but a bag o' swag is OK for the athletes to receive, solely because of their athletic abilities.

As stated above in the title of this piece,...

Oh, and MERRY CHRISTMAS to one and all.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

She's a way or another

It's that time of year again when we mortal men must do one of the things we hate; buying clothes for the lovely women in our lives. Now, I don't mind the gift shopping and the gift giving. Heck, I'll even go out of my way for something special, but the annual clothing thing I just can't handle.

Guys are simple to buy for. There are 'boys' sizes and 'teen' sizes and then the rest of the adult males. On occasion you may throw in 'big and tall'. Women on the other hand have sizes for girls, petites, juniors, misses and women. That's not too many more categories until you consider that none of the sizes mean the same thing. A ten is not a ten which is not a ten. When you buy for a guy there is small, medium, large and x-large. When you buy for a women they are numbered and I don't know a single guy that knows what those numbers mean. And recently I learned that the numbers from one designer/maker isn't the same as those from another. Really? Isn't that what a size is for?

Perhaps we guys are just stupid to need our pants labelled with 36-inch waist and 30 long, but as least we know what we're getting. Try that when buying the wonderful present for your wife or girlfriend and see if it gets returned. Often in my case, I have just enough taste that My Beloved likes what I buy but the size is always wrong. I made the mistake one year of buying sexy unmentionables thinking the size on those matched the size of her other pants. Boy was that an incorrect thought process.

Here's the best advice I can give all the men out there as they muddle through this for Christmas; buy a size you know is too small and tell her that's how she looks in your eyes.

Merry Christmas

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A writing sample of White Staff

I thought I would post a sampling of the writing in White Staff for those who might be interested. This is just a few paragraphs from a random chapter. There is a preview available on-line through Amazon which is several pages long.

“Lay still and do not move. Utter no sound. Death is above us.” Hafram reached over and startled Eston covering them both in Hafram’s black cloak. “We are hunted from the skies.” Hafram’s words were spoken in hushed tones. “Death circles above.”

“How do you know this?” Eston returned his in kind.

“I am a wizard,” Hafram replied with a raised brow.

They lay still for several minutes before Hafram would allow them to rise. He peeked carefully from beneath his cloak scanning the sky. No star now twinkled from existence again to relight. The shadow had passed.

“What was that?”

“The tables are turning. The stakes have just been raised in our hunt.” Hafram again looked to the stars to make sure in his mind the shadow was gone. “Blackness rides the night sky. My captor has a new method. He rides a night-demon, nearly dead but not so. If he had seen us the garrison would be upon us. We must change direction.”

“We can not afford to lead Dreash to Aethan.”

“You are correct. I think it is now time to make contact with both of them.” Hafram took his customary position and began his journey. He purposefully moved his thoughts north, the opposite direction of Dreash’s travel.

His thoughts were bent on Aethan and Falton. He needed to make sure they were in no current danger. The Noran Dur loomed before him as his eyes passed over the shadows below. He covered the landscape with his thoughts but the recognition he sought would not come. He found himself moving westward, over the scrubby town of Kohl. He was being pulled in that direction, but why? A new thought burst into his consciousness. Cirah!

He let his thoughts free themselves completely and the grounds below passed with great speed. The mountains of Noran Dur gave way to the Hallerstrom and the lands of Korsand. His spirit dove as he now found himself within the city walls of Thyroborn the ancient capital of this northern world. The pull from Cirah was strong. Hafram’s spirit entered the great hall as his form lay now before all present.

“Peace be to you Hillarsol, Sovereign of Korsand."

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Trapped in my own idea

Okay, here's the situation, a real one, not the stomach-board idiot from Jersey Shore. Sometimes we can be a victim of our own good ideas.

About a week ago, I left a little note to My Beloved in the guise of the Twelve Days of Christmas song. A day or so before she had a scratchy throat and wanted a roll of cherry Life Savers but couldn't find them anywhere. On a trip to the grocery, I saw the book of five rolls you always see at this time of year. (I always used to get one as a stocking stuffer. Doesn't happen much any more.) So I put the note on the table with the Life Savers. My gesture then went on Facebook with her 'friends' wondering what was going on. Well, you can see my dilemma. Instead of just a nice little treat for My Beloved, I now need eleven more days. I have delivered two more 'Days of Christmas' and have ideas for three others. But now I'm getting stuck.

Here's your chance to help a good idea that got in trouble. I'll take ideas!!!!

Then again, if it was a good idea I wouldn't be a prisoner to it.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Who needs facts anyway?

In one of the local community newspapers here in our great metropolis, there was an article concerning where the buses should turn around at the end of their run. It is needed as at some point buses do indeed need to turn around. The current location used just happens to be out my front door at work, however the owners of the shopping center have asked that it be moved so they can further develop the property. Understandable, as in these economic times, development can be a good thing.

Now the debate on where to move the site rages on. As is generally the case, no one wants this type of thing in their backyard. Everyone has their opinions but when arguing, one should use facts as opposed to just making it up. One resident, a particular Mr. Cox stated in his arguments that the buses should not use a residential area to turn around (as it happens to be near the area where he lives) and should continue to use a commercial area. He stated the exhaust dissipated better into the atmosphere in those areas. He also stated moving the exhaust to a residential area is not eliminating the problem, just hiding it. Well, isn't that what you are asking as well?

Now, I'm no scientist but I'm not an idiot either. In our metro area we're not talking about comparing wide-open tracts of wilderness to a heavy industrial area. I'm fairly certain that the 'air' in the shopping center and the 'air' near his home a mile away (or where-ever) is likely the same and will have no bearing on how the exhaust dissipates.

I would like to see the study that shows this distillation point from Mr. Cox or his buddies from the Sierra Club. Until then, if he can't beat you with facts he'll just make it up as he goes along, a typical NIMBY.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


The (formerly) august body known as the Library of Congress has signed a deal with Twitter(!) to receive the entirety of Twitter's archives.

Reportedly, this would help those who do such things to study the contents and perhaps uncover what passed for trends and other "important" information for this particular time period.

I wonder how "important" things such as "OMG!!!!!!!!!!!I JUST SAW KIM KARDASHIAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!OMG!!!!OMG!!!!!!OMG!!!!!!!!!!" really are?

Gee, I hope that did not use more than 140 characters.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Till the bitter end

Coaching is a job unlike any other. It is demanding and an often consuming profession. You are either the hero or the goat and there isn't much of a middle ground. Once ensconced in the upper echelons of coaching as in college and pro sports, things can get bizarre. Things can happen in those realms that happen nowhere else in the real world.

Case in point, Rick Neuheisel, the head football coach at UCLA was fired from his position. That is not unusual as coaching is often a ring-around-the-rosy job. You are hired just to be fired. What I don't understand is how an institution can fire a coach and then ask him to keep coaching. Neuheisel has been asked to coach the team in the inaugural PAC 12 championship game. They have told him his performance was not good enough, but hey, you're all we have so keep coaching until it's over.

How many of us would ever find ourselves in that position? Can you imagine your boss firing you on the eve of a big conference but sends you anyway? I can't see my employer saying gee Bob, you aren't getting it done so you're fired, and by the way, can you work Black Friday for us? This has happened before and most of the coaches seem to continue until the end. It happens in baseball as well. Some commentators have stated those coaches are finishing what they started and they may feel they owe it to the players.To that end I can see a reason to carry on but it is the players often who didn't get the job done that put the coach in that position.

I for one wouldn't take up the mantle and carry on. If I get my pink slip, I'm walking, especially in the rarefied airs of high-dollar sports. They still owe me the money from my contract so I'll be collecting it as I sip a bourbon and coke on a beach somewhere.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Urban Renewal

The worst-kept secret in sports was confirmed officially yesterday when The Ohio State University unveiled Urban Meyer as the 24th head football coach in the program's history.

This comes on the heels of a traumatic year for supporters of the Buckeye footballers, (and the team itself), because of the various scandals that have threatened to bring the program down, and may still do so, since everyone is still awaiting the NCAA sanctions to be imposed.

Kudos to newly-demoted interim coach Luke Fickell for his loyal and thankless service to a football team that often appeared to have both hands and one leg tied behind its back. Fickell was given the job Memorial Day weekend, late enough that he had to keep the entirety of Jim Tressel's staff intact, and adding an ex-NFL player and OSU grad, Mike Vrabel. That they did as well as 6-6 this year is enough of a miracle, given the neanderthal play-calling of his offensive coordinator (until the last game), that Luke should have earned a million-dollar bonus just for not slicing his wrists at midfield one midnight.

Almost since before Jim Tressel was let go/resigned/retired the mob has been calling for the Buckeyes to hire Urban Meyer, late of Florida and employed as an analyst on ESPN. You remember Meyer, the guy who twice inside a year stepped away as coach at Florida while citing health issues, and a lack of balance in his life.

Today's Dispatch has an article stating that Meyer's wife looked into his eyes and believes he is ready to do the job, while still spending time with family, working out regularly, and delegating responsibilities to his to-be-hired assistant coaches. She believes he has found that balance.

I am not a fan of Mr. Meyer; however, he is our coach now and I welcome him, and certainly hope he can rebuild the Buckeye football program to the heights to which all loyal Buckeyes believe is their destiny: an undefeated, unscored-upon juggernaut who wins the national championship every year, whilst beating Those Scum Up North 100-0 or worse every year.

Good luck and good health, Urbie! You'll need it!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Twinkle twinkle, call the fire dept

Well, it's that time of year again when grown men turn into master electricians. Yep, it's time to put up the Christmas lights. We have had an abnormally warm stretch this year and the other day I thought I would venture out and give it a go.

Several years ago I decided I no longer wanted to put the lights up on the house. I have several peaks that are steep and slippery and it just wasn't fun any more. Once I decided not to do that I found I enjoyed putting up more lights but lower, and the house looked just as good.

Even though it was warmer this year it was raining all day. I dutifully slipped up into the crawl space and pulled the lights and other decorations out into the basement. I rummaged through the boxes and toted the outside lights to the garage. One by one I plugged them in to make sure they worked, and to my utter shock, nearly two-thirds had to be thrown away. It happens every year. They work when you take them down but don't when you want to put them back up.

Mini-light strings have to be one of the biggest scams sold to consumers. They take the cheapest electrical device they can make and construct it poorly then sell it to consumers who now take these twisted strands of wire that are one step away from an electrical fire and tie them all over their homes. We then subject them to wind and rain and snow and hope to hope they don't catch fire and burn the house down. Then at the end of the season we take them all down and hope they work next year which they usually don't and we have to buy them all over again.

Here's hoping you don't burn your house down this Christmas season. Joy to the world!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A super failure

With the failure of the super-committee to reduce the national debt, it appears that Congress has once again failed those who elected them. Time and time again we are subject to the party-line and not what is best for the people or the country. Both parties are so intractable they can't see the forest for the trees.

Many believe politician's are so focused on getting reelected they can no longer perform the job at hand. I would hope that is not the case for the majority of high office officials, however that is how it is portrayed in the media. Many also believe, and I do to a point, that Congress has set itself so far apart from the common people they have no basis in the reality of their constituency. In their wisdom to exempt themselves from their own laws which may have had realistic reasons two-hundred years ago, many of those reasons may no longer be valid. And surely they will not undo what they have done. Well, I have a solution.

There is more than one way to amend the constitution. It does not need to be an act of Congress. Keep in mind, I am not usually a party to altering the fundamental documents of this country on a whim, however Congress will not do it so we might as well. States may call for and pass an amendment with no intervention permissible from either Congress or the president. If three-forths of the states pass an amendment that Congress is no longer exempt from their own laws, upon the passing of the amendment by the thirty-eighth state, it is the law of the land.

Perhaps that will get Congress moving.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Within the past ten days or so we have had a number of stories in our morning paper relating to the performance of the Columbus public school district, as well as the current superintendent, one Gene Harris (don't be misled by the name; Gene is a female, FYI).

One story had to do with a new statewide report card comparison in which the state ranked 936 traditional and charter public schools, from 1-936, in a measure of various criteria. The Columbus district ranked 725th out of the 936, and 600th out of the 611 traditional public school districts.

That is a record of poor performance, any way you measure it.

There was also a story in which a group of past Superintendents of the Year named Gene Harris the title of Superintendent of the Year this past week. The award was based on "her work and experience, specifically as related to leadership, communications, professionalism, and community involvement." One of the past supers was quoted as saying this award was long past due for her. You will note there was nothing in there about actual education.

And then we were treated to Ms. Harris offering her version of targets to be reached for the district's students to improve their reading performance before the end of next school year, as the students in grades 3-8, and 10-11 are currently failing to meet the state standard. In other words, they are "earning" a failing grade in reading. Ms. Harris presented a non-detailed "plan" to the board to bring about a double-digit increase in reading performance by next year, after which the board president said if the district fails to meet these goals, (as set forth by the superintendent, whose job it is to lead the district), it was "unclear" whether or not it would be used against her in future evaluations.

So, to sum up, the Columbus school district ranks very far down the list of Ohio schools when it comes to performance, as indicated by (among other things) 8 grades failing reading, the woman in charge gets honored as Supt of the Year, and failing to improve reading to meet the state standard might not have an affect on her future evaluations.


Better yet, by virtue of being named Ohio's Superintendent of the Year, she is automatically in the running for National Superintendent of the Year!

If she is our best, I cannot fathom how bad our worst superintendent is.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Now I lay me down to sleep

This blog, as I have noted before is as much about a life's journey as it is about discovery. Each day we have the potential to learn something new and add it as another footnote to our own history and experience. Then again, sometimes it's not about discovery because you already know and understand the experience. That song has played before.

This evening My Beloved and I released two small souls we dearly loved. Our fifteen year old golden retriever Sara and her constant companion Kalicat who was eighteen went to sleep for the final time. Although I am a Midwestern boy I have never lived in a rural setting. I understand the uses of animals on farms and working dogs, but mine have always been my pets. I have never understood the concept of an outside pet. Pets are to be inside where it is warm and comfortable, underfoot, shooed off the furniture and loved. Sara was my constant companion at home for the last decade and a half.

I offer no delusions as I know they are not 'my children' as others affect them. But they are beings whom we loved and cared for from nearly birth to death. I find myself looking to where she would lay, and she is not there. Kalicat is not walking across my keyboard trying to get attention. Tonight I have no one to sneak a peanut to or give a bit of licorice. I will miss them.

This evening our home is quietly subdued.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Don't rock the boat

The recent events at Penn State University are tragic to say the least. But it points to a fundamental flaw in American society. This event as well as what has happened to the Catholic church in recent years and the reported scandal involving the returning remains of military personnel all point to one thing. We as a collective group are not supposed to rock the boat.

When you think back at all these events and the people who are involved they all share similar traits. These people are leaders that are in roles of respect. They are highly educated. You don't rise to the ranks of college presidents, priests and bishops and high ranking military officers without many years of higher education. Along with this education are often moral and ethical courses one is required to complete. So, where is the breakdown?

Even in the government ranks there are special "whistle-blower" laws that were needed to protect those who are actually doing the right thing. Even with these laws there is a collective consciousness of don't rock the boat. Several members that reported the scandal in the military were fired from there jobs or relieved of duty. It wasn't until they were protected by these laws they were reinstated.

So what is it that causes this highly educated leadership to turn a blind eye no matter what the crime? It's simply a culture of don't rock the boat. I as a leader like things running the way they are. Therefore I will bring pressure to bear on those who report to me to keep things the way they are. It is simpler this way. No one really gets hurt, of course except you if you rock the boat. You as the underling are expendable.

I understand the genuine fear of those who report crimes and abuses to those in power. Your livelihood is possibly placed in an untenable position. You as an underling can't afford to lose what you have. It is a powerful hammer hovering above you life. But there is no way to change the culture if abuses are not reported. Those who promote a cover-up culture are just as vulnerable as the rest of us. Let their house of cards come crumbling down.

It's time we as individuals challenge abuses and follow through. When you see the outcry, you'll know you did the right thing. We can't condone an "it's not my problem" mantra in the real world, especially when it comes to protecting children. Give me a baseball bat, I'll protect them one way or another.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Till we vote again

Election day has at last, and thankfully, come and gone. Much of the time there are important issues to vote on, and sometimes not. I get up as much as any average citizen on many of the important issues and major races but sometimes, I just can't work up much interest for the smaller ones.

This November there was a pleasant mix of both with only one or two issues competing for the voting hearts of the public. Sadly, much of what we are subjected to are near lies and half-truths from all sides. I researched several claims related to Issue 2 in Ohio, the repeal of SB5. (For those outside of the land of Buckeye, Issue 2 was to repeal Senate Bill 5 passed earlier in the year that restricted some collective bargaining rights for public employees). Both sides are guilty of 'over-reaching' on the truth. SB5 would not have limited the amount of bullet-proof vests police officers could wear as it was claimed any more than it would have automatically raise taxes to cover expenses. Likely, if you lived in this state you had an opinion. Apparently telling the truth to the voters doesn't matter as long as you win.

I saw a yard sign for a local school board race that stated the candidates name and beneath read, "for families and teachers". Really? Wow, I'll bet that slogan helped you. What did your opponents say, I hate children, puppies and police? I hope you bring more to the table than that as an elected official, assuming of course you won.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Success at all levels

Interesting article in the paper this morning. A local school jumped from a 'C' to an 'A' on their state evaluation report card. They did it in a matter of a single year. The solution was considered radical and not everyone is enamored with the solution.

In fact what they did was quite simple. The students were placed into three groups; advanced, average and slower learners. Notice, I didn't use a derogatory term. We're not talking about dummies or trouble-makers. What they managed to do was to let each group learn at their own speed. Too often the liberal thinker mandates that everything is equal for all. What they then fail to consider is their equality is holding back all these groups. The 'fast' kids are held back because the process they are subjected to is too slow for them. Slower learning kids continue to fail because they can't keep up with the faster kids.

The 'equalitarians' fall into their own trap. Being equal across the board doesn't raise the level of everyone, it often does the opposite, dragging all performances down. They succeeded by letting the faster students learn at their own rate thus succeeding. The slower learning succeeded by, guess what, doing the same thing, learning at their own rate and thus succeeding. Grouping by ability doesn't need to have a stigma as the opponents claim, it raises their success rate by giving them the chance to succeed, thus negating any stigma by having a positive outcome.

It's not about the end justifies the means, it's about doing something that works.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A long time coming

If you have visited this blog over the last few days you may have noticed a different top panel on the right. It has been a long time coming. In fact, writing a book has been something I have wanted to do for some time, and a long time coming it has been.

Slightly over twenty years ago I bought my first computer. I wasn't even married then (Feb 1 will be twenty years for My Beloved and I). It was a Tandy computer model 80, I think. I bought it for the specific reason of trying to write a book. The internal memory wouldn't even hold a single chapter. As I developed the first book I had stacks of floppies containing the chapters. That first effort took several years to complete. It wasn't so much the story but learning the process of writing.

I have discovered that writing is most definitely an art, an art that is a long process of development and discovery. One of the reasons for this blog is as much just keeping my hand in it. As with anything else the more you write the better you write. Every once in a while things get sloppy because you get lax in editing. Editing is as much a part of writing as the original script. It is also very hard to edit yourself as you tend to read not what you wrote but what you think you wrote. Often I receive an email from North of 50 with a private correction to a posting. It is appreciated, and that being said, he has been the prime editor of my past and current writings. (Yes there is another book in the works).

It took a long time to publish for many reasons. In this day and age, everyone is a writer or a singer or a something. That fact alone makes it difficult to break into the world of success as it is a small group of gatekeepers that guard the door to the publishing world. And as with everything else, life gets in the way. The real job pays the bills, keeps a roof over your head and keeps a family together. To that end, I would like to encourage anyone who has this or a similar dream to "keep on keepin' on". I may never have great success as an author but I can now look at this accomplishment and say, "I did that".

Now do your part and go buy it!!!, and thank you very much. I hear it makes a great Christmas gift.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Dig deep, find nothing

I read this morning an article about a study by researchers in New England that teens who heavily drink soda are more likely to be associated with violent acts using a knife or gun. Other than the fact that someone actually thought this was something worth studying, I have a few thoughts on the matter.

First, as stated above, who thinks this is even worthy of studying? Not having statistics before me I would hazard a guess that eighty percent of teens drink at least one or two sodas per day. Now you have to decide what constitutes heavy drinking. If it is anything like alcohol studies, three per day would mean you are a raging alcoholic. I would guess that based on those types of research, three cokes per day constitute heavy use. I personally don't believe that constitutes heavy use.

Now, there are two things that can be said when you begin to study things that can happen. You either are above the line of a supposed norm or are below the line. Unless there is a significant swing either way, there is not much that can be said to draw a conclusion. I think too often studies proclaim one way or another a correlation that has little statistical significance. (The article I read did not say what the statistical significance was). One could make an argument for virtually anything if you look deep enough.

Another thing that comes to mind is the saturation of this product in American society. Soda is so prevalent it would be extremely difficult to determine it this was a predominant factor. I could pick any number of products that have this type of saturation and proclaim some similar statement. I proclaim that teens who heavily listen to music on iPods get average grades in school. Well, what does that mean? Some would make the correlation that iPods have a detrimental effect on teens. But, more likely iPods don't have that effect but teens simply put off doing the studying they should be doing. That effect could also be attributed to television or video games or any other number of tech devices.

Unfortunately this type of study does nothing but find a small and meaningless statistical aberration concerning two unrelated items. It could also mean that teens that heavily drink sodas also drive faster than those that drink orange juice. It means nothing except to those who proposed this study because they now don't have to go out and find meaningful work, and I'm sure my tax dollars got mixed in there somewhere.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

That's a wrap II

Tonight I ended my 15-year career as the public address announcer for Pickerington High School soccer, having spent 6 seasons at the now-former Pickerington High School (now called PHS Central), and the last 9 seasons as the voice of the Soccer Panthers at Pickerington North.

I have voiced both boys and girls matches in separate seasons at PHS, and in my time at North I did both squads, whichever team was at home that particular night.

It started when Dearest Kelley was but a frosh and playing on the JV team, and no one was set to announce the games. I asked at a boosters meeting if anyone ever did the JV games, and was told no. I said I would do them, which then lead to doing both JV and Varsity matches the same night. When Handsome Son began playing at PHS, I switched over to the boys team and did their matches, as Kelley had by then given up sports to cram extra courses into her Junior/Senior year so she could graduate a year early, which she did.

When Handsome Son graduated I figured my p.a. days were over, but that was the year the new school opened, and several of the moms whose daughters were transferring to the new school asked me to announce the games for the Lady Panthers. Since I ran the scoreboard and kept stats as well, I told both the boys and girls coaches I would do their home matches as long as they could find someone to do their stats at away games. I did JV and Varsity for several years before concentrating solely on the Varsity squads the past 5 years, thus saving my knees and back some wear and tear, as I needed to be standing the entire time while doing the matches.

I always knew I would know when it was time to hang up the mic, and various factors each played their part in leading me to conclude this would be my final season.

It was fun and I will miss it, but a still-growing family and all that it entails will now be more of a focus than it was.

Robert T once gave me the moniker The Voice of God for hearing me all the way over at his house when the breeze from the stadium was just right.

So after tonight TVOG is resting, having made his traditional final call, "Thank you for coming out this evening, ladies and gentlemen. Please have a safe drive home."

Monday, October 24, 2011

Our little world

I think most of us live our lives in a relatively small cocoon, at least that's what we believe. We live in a small world of daily and weekly occurrences, the majority of them repetitive. In our worlds, we affect only a small amount of people on a regular basis.

When I started this blog I really didn't know what to expect. Who would read it? Where would they log on from? If others had the same thoughts as I, we would be thankful if our circle of readers would be slightly more than known acquaintances. The longer we have continued to post on this site, it seems the larger our audience has become. The 'stats' button shows how many hits we get and where they come from. I use another statcounter that tracks things as well. I don't take it very seriously but it is fun to watch.

North and I now have what seems to be regular readers in Russia, Australia and Europe. It is hard to track them as IP addresses change. We have had regular hits from Indonesia and occasionally the Middle East. We also have regulars from across this great land. It is humbling to realize we have touched someone enough to make them regular visitors.

All I can say to that is...
Большое спасибо
Thanks mate
Thank you very much

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Father goes to war

I am not what one would normally call a family historian. Although I am interested in where I come from and who came before me, I have never been one to do the research. I recently have begun a small project, that hopefully doesn't turn into a big one.

Beloved Father was never one to speak of his experiences during WWII other than an occasional funny story, and none of us ever pried into this part of his life. Perhaps it didn't occur to us or perhaps it was simply how we were brought up. One didn't question your parents on much and digging into their past never seemed an option.

Beloved Father has now been over the rainbow for almost twenty years. I had a thought while on the computer one evening and looked into how easy (or difficult) it might be to get hold of his service records. My idea was simply to see what units he served in and what path he took. From what I think I know he came up through North Africa and into Italy. I believe he served mostly in the supply side of the war but I don't know that for a fact. Baby Sis was able to supply me with his service number; why she knew this I haven't the foggiest.

Hopefully my initial inquiry will yield some solid results and some sleuthing may get underway. If it doesn't, my search could be over before it starts. If that's the case, a new challenge may be set before me. I hope I'm up to the chase.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Age is just a number...

Recently, Wonderful Daughter told me of some questions her son had asked of her, regarding her age. WGGS#1 is almost 5, and his questions were as follows:

"How old are you, Mommy? Are you 50?"
She told him she was younger than that; she is 30.

A few days later he again asked her her age. "How old are you, a hundred?"
Fortunately, she is not.

A few days after that, he politely asked her if she saw Jesus nailed to the cross!
She told me she needs a serious dose of wrinkle cream if that is the case.

Her slightly older cousin, however, apparently looks considerably older than my daughter, at least according to her own children, as one of them asked, "Did you ride dinosaurs to school when you were little?"

Ah, the mind of a child!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The science of God

The other day I caught the last hour or so of the movie 'Angels and Demons'. Based on the novel by Dan Brown it involves a plot to assassinate the Pope and destroy most of the Vatican. It was a decent movie but it got me to thinking not so much about the plot but the characters within the plot of the movie itself.

The most intriguing part for me comes at the end when a priest is exposed as having developed the entire episode. His premise was that science was essentially taking the place of God. Science was on the door step of explaining creation. If that would happen, what is left for God, he explained. Even the most learned and intelligent individuals sometimes can't see past their own beliefs. We see it mostly in the political world but it happens in all walks of life. The battle between religion and science is nearly as old as religion itself. Sometimes the it's the ones you least expect that hold the most polarizing views.

How is it that we are so sure our viewpoints and beliefs are the only way things can be? Are we so intractable we can see no validity in another point of view? As we grow older we generally find out the world is not always so black and white. I have always believed that science is simply another way of discovering the miracles God created. The more we know, the more we can appreciate the natural world and how it came to be. Never stop learning, never stop growing.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Popcorn anyone?

We all make choices in life that help to place us where we are as we either grow older or learn how life works. Us from the slightly older crowd hopefully have learned the lessons of life and make better choices as we age because we should better be able to foresee the consequences. Sometimes, the younger generation does not fully come to terms with consequences as they make life decisions.

In Ohio there is a lawsuit filed by a death row inmate that has altered how the prisoners are fed. Due to the lawsuit, pork has been completely eliminated from the menu. The lead plaintiff says this product does not conform to his religious beliefs. There are other inmates that have as well joined the suit. The problem I find is this; if you are on death row, likely you have not followed the tenets of your religion or you wouldn't be in the position you are. That being said, eating a pork sammich at this point in your life isn't likely to affect the outcome of your final place in the after-world, whatever that happens to be depending on your particular religion.

The second problem I have with this is that once convicted and sentenced to incarceration, I believe you essentially have no or should have almost no rights to say what happens to you. Should you be physically punished (by that I mean beaten or tortured) at any time? No, this is America and that doesn't happen, at least by the state. What happens between inmates is another matter. As for the judicial system that keeps these lawsuits alive, that is another ramble all together.

Inmates aren't going to starve in American prisons. You decided to make a choice in your life and that choice caused serious harm to another or others. You must live with the consequences. If you don't like what you are served at meal time, don't eat. That's another choice you have. Make it a good one.

Monday, October 3, 2011

What color was your dress?

I saw online today an excerpt from the news conference after yesterday's Philadelphia Eagles football game. A 'reporter' (and I use that term lightly) asked Michael Vick how he felt after losing yet another game. (The Eagles are now 1-3 and much ballyhooed going into the season, and on a personal note, I don't really care for Vick). This reporter asked Vick how he felt after losing this game.

If that is the best question you can offer on a national level as a reporter, you have no business being there in the first place. "How are you feeling?" Really? Who are you, Barbara Walters? Did someone just get divorced? Did someone just get outed on something? This is a football question and answer session. Get involved with the game, fella.

I guess the first question I have is, does this person know the first thing about football? Too often these Q and A sessions are nothing more than players and coaches giving canned answers week after week after week. I don't watch them but they are the same from team to team. At least these questions should be something about the game itself. What happened on this play? What defense were they in or why did you audible out of the play on the goal line?

I think if The Shield insists on having these absurd sessions, every reporter must submit questions beforehand to be screened. Any question that stupid enough should be cause to have the reporter suspended from these sessions for a period of three games, or until one can prove they are man enough to get out of touch with their non-football side before they enter the locker room.

At least Vick had the sense to ask the reporter if he was serious. "You really want me to answer that question?", was his response. If I were the reporter's boss, he would be reassigned to the Society Page where his sensitive side could be explored.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

To DC with love

We constantly read about the divisiveness in the political world in our nations capital. I as well have rambled about it previously on these pages. Gripe and complain. Gripe and complain. How can we get anything done? How can we as a people and a nation move forward? Well, I'm here to tell ya, it doesn't start or stop there.

Part of my three martini lunch happens to be walking next door to the grocery store and grabbing a steaming hot pocket or something similar. I trek back to the store, pony up my lunch bucket and on occasion, grab the community newspaper. There you will find everything from the local high school sports to job opportunities to puppies for sale and everything in between. You know what else I read? Every week there is a column or report about the local area commission. And guess what, its filled with constant infighting and arguing.

Apparently what happens in Washington starts in the local community chambers and committees. No one sees the greater good of the community they serve, they only see partisan viewpoints and justifying their own positions. Article after article is rife with complaining about one elected member or another. And it's not just the community that is complaining its the elected or previously elected representatives.

The more I read these news reports or the letters to the editor the more I wonder if any of these people ever graduated from high school. Its one big Suzy loves Johnny hates Johnny gripe-fest. I say, lets send them all to Washington and then cut it off and let it float into the ocean. Perhaps it will be hit by a hurricane and we can find someone else to do the job. It couldn't get any worse, although with all the bitching I can see why talented people don't want anything to do with it.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

My favorite month

Living in the midwest one is used to the constant progression of the seasons. At the moment we are on the verge of the autumnal equinox. Often, those in the far south or the southwest do not understand the connection we midwesterners have with the seasons. Specifically, many I have spoken with in Florida want no part of the winter months. Sometimes I can't blame them.

What most fail to realize is the winter months just don't happen all at once. Most only remember the coldest, rainiest days but we aren't just plopped down right in the middle of it all. There is a gentle transition into the cold that helps us adapt. It's called fall (or autumn if you prefer). Even though summer is still underway, late August begins the adaptation. The days are still hot but the nights begin to cool slightly. And then, it's my favorite month of the year.

September is my favorite time of year as several things come together and blend the summer with the early fall. My favorite sport begins as college football comes alive, hockey is just around the corner and baseball is almost ready for playoffs. If that weren't enough, the weather is as perfect on a regular basis as one could hope for. Now, I love being on the beach and sunning near the water but as a mid-west boy, my soul belongs to fallen leaves, crisp nights with baked goods coming out of the oven and warm, sunny days with bright blue skies and vibrantly lit cumulus clouds.

There are no holidays in September (except for football Saturdays) and as September passes into October, at least I know the fun of Halloween is just around the corner. But if I had to live only in one month, it would be September, even though Christmas would never get here.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Follow us on Twitter!

Yesterday I heard a radio advert for a sinus medication that included the tag line, "Follow us on Twitter!"

I have never been to Twitter and never plan to go there, but what kind of sad individual signs up to "follow" a sinus medication of Twitter? Seriously, what do you get when you "follow" a sinus medication?

"Hey gang! Methusulah Persnicketty of Lower Eastgoatsbelly Mississippi just sprayed our product into her nose! Way to go!"

As the late, great Paul Harvey was wont to say, "Not all that we call progress is progress."

Sunday, September 18, 2011

And the winner is

Well, it's the day you've waited for all your life. YOU'VE JUST WON BIG BROTHER AND A HALF-MILLION DOLLARS! And if that aint all, Obama just declared a one day no tax day on the day you won! HooRah!

Now, you get to keep it all, what'cha gonna do with it?

Now we all get to play some. First, about half goes into a retirement fund; well because I'm creeping up there and I need something to fall back on when my $500 per month social security checks start coming in. Second, do I pay off the house or not? Hmmm, I'll get back to you on that. Lets call the next one 2b because I'm still thinking about the house. Now, I like my little Isuzu Amigo but it is twelve years old and getting some miles on it. Looks like a new car is next in line. Not sure what kind even though I've been thinking about it lately. Why? Did I mention mine is twelve years old? Perhaps a sports car like a mustang or a sporty two door coupe. I don't live vicariously through my wheels and I'm a cheapskate, perhaps a small pickup.

Okay, so far pretty boring but you have to take care of the basics first. Third; quit my job? Not likely on only 500K. Maybe I just won't work as hard. Fourth; a nice long trip to someplace exotic. Hawaii is a possibility or perhaps New Zealand. Tahiti isn't out of the question. A nice place to scuba with a massive reef. Fifth; still thinking about if I should pay off the house or not. Sixth; my main television just went kaplooey and it needs replace. This time I won't skimp and will get a nice rig with all the latest gadgets, except 3D because that's just stupid.

I'm moving right along now. Seventh; since I have the new TV rig I'll have to spring for HD. I'm too cheap to pay for it now. Eighth; I think another big trip is on the horizon. I'll ask My Beloved this time where she would like to go. Ninth; I may do a small place on the coast as a vacation get-away, did I mention I may or may not pay off the house? And last but not least; hmmm, I'll have to give that last one some thought.

I'll take suggestions.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Baseball is saved

A milestone in sports was reached the other night when Yankees relief pitcher Mariano Rivera completed his 600th save opportunity. It is a significant record that has been attained only by one other pitcher, Trevor Hoffman. Hoffman retired with 601 career saves, so unless something tragic happens, Mariano Rivera will become the all time saves leader within the week. My congratulations to him, even though I'm not a Yankee fan as is North of 50.

That got me to thinking; what are the proper rules for earning a save? I know the basics as a long time baseball guy, but I couldn't quote you the rule. For most of baseball history, saves were not even calculated. It wasn't until recent decades that this became an official stat.

To qualify as a save, a pitcher must do the following: Enter the game with the tying run either on base or at the plate and preserve the lead; pitch three or three-plus innings and preserve the lead, (something that never happens anymore as 'closers' rarely if ever pitch more than one inning), or enter the game with no more than a three run lead and preserve the lead.

So lets analyse each situation. It does happen but this is not the typical situation. Usually the starter has been left in too long and now needs help. The closer in the last twenty years generally enters the game with a lead and only pitches the ninth inning. That means situation number two never happens. Situation three likely happens eighty percent of the time. Closers always then enter the game with a lead. No manager worth his salt sends in his ace closer when the game is tied.

Here then are the results. A pitcher typically becomes a star closer by entering the baseball game in the ninth inning, holding a lead of at least one or possibly more runs. You are fully rested because you only pitch two or three innings a week. You therefore are awarded a mutli-million dollar contract simply because you don't completely suck at what you are paid to do.

Congratulations Mariano, I wish I had your talent.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Dancing embers

I sat peacefully in front of my fire the other night as I let its warmth and crackling sound wash away the last of the busy day. It was my first weekend off in about five or six weeks. It has been a busy time at work.

Fire is a stress reliever, specifically on a cool fall night as one wraps themselves in front of a camp fire or in my case, my fire pit. The clouds in the sky above looked like puffed marshmallows, some burnt and dark all across their faces, while others were singed just perfectly as they swallowed up the moon's light behind them. Here and there the puffy marshmallow clouds separated just enough to let a sliver of light pass through.

Now, I'm not much of a fire starter. I poke and prod and finally get the spark to take. My wood is usually too wet, or I don't have enough kindling or a proper starter. However I always get it going somehow. As I sat back with a glass of wine in hand ignoring the prime rule of 'no glass by the pool', I was captivated by the orange, glowing sprites flickering above the blaze. The wood was popping and the sparks were dancing merrily.

It reminded me of a time long ago when my daughter brought home a nice young man who was from Colorado. To my surprise, he had never seen lightning bugs. Apparently they are not common west of the Mississippi. Odd, I thought how something I had always thought so common was a rarity to others. I remember leaving my Uncle Tubby's (yet that was his name) many years ago as a child. He lived in the country and when you turned out of his driveway you would come to the end of a road that looked out over a farm field. At night in the summer it was filled with lightning bugs, millions of them flashing in the otherwise utter blackness. That is something I will never forget.

Then, as I watched the sparklers dancing above the crackling fire, a word I never use was revealed in my solitude. Wow, fireflies!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Do they get it?

If you, like me, watched the President's speech on his jobs bill tonight, it almost gave one hope. For him, it was a fiery message aimed directly at members of Congress with the electorate looking on. For once, it seemed as if at least he, "got it". He put the message of the American people first, at least it seemed. It's time the politicians get the job done and leave the bickering to the first graders.

There will always be hard-liners that will oppose those in power at all costs. That's not the way they would do it. It is time for that thinking to be put aside and the needs of the country put first. The government can't fix this all by itself but it should be tasked with getting the ball rolling.

Do they get it? Only time will tell.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Hand in hand?

I work a lot of hours at my type of position. Due to the nature of retail and the back to school season my recent hours have been about seventy or so. Hey, it's a living (until it kills me). As I was pacing about at the store today I happened to notice two young men leaving the checkout, and they gave me pause to think.

How much work gets done outside of my environment? My duties and those of my staff call for fast-paced work. There's a lot to do and never enough time to do it. We work in a structured environment with a specific dress code. I went to a restaurant this evening with the Mrs and friends. The staff around was busy with tasks and they as well were dressed for their collaborative tasks.

Well, what does that have to do with the two young men I saw earlier in the day? Both were using one hand to hold up their britches. Their hands were so low that I'd bet in the fifties they would be pulled off to the side and arrested for inappropriate behavior. It may be the 'style', but how tiring must it be to have to continually hold onto your pants to keep them from falling to the floor? That sure is a tremendous amount of work 24/7 just to walk around. I always get more done using both of my hands.

I have a new solution that will give them the style they like and give them back the use of both hands. Design a pair of jeans that have a normal waist but the crotch is so long it simply hangs down to around the knees. No one would ever know these were cheater pants because the shirts always hang over the waist down to around the knees as well.

Oh, wait. They have those, they're called maternity pants. That's stylin' for ya!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Pizza! Pizza!

In our little corner of the world we are blessed with an almost inordinate number of pizza shops (we used to call them pizza parlors eons ago) that are within a 5-minute car jaunt of my domicile.

We have the venerable Columbus favorite, Donatos, the ubiquitous Pizza Hut and Dominos as well, in addition to a number of smaller shops, most of which serve a quality pie for a reasonable amount.

Romeo's is a growing chain based in Cleveland, which took over a Minute Man location, swapping out one chain for another, as the Minute Man moved to a different location. PaPa Joe's, another chain, came in briefly but moved from a very small former Dairy Queen building into the former location (larger) of Catalfino's, a locally-owned shop, which took over yet another shop's larger location closer to traffic. We have a Grapevine, a Taranto's Pizza Barn, Pizzeria New York, a Hungry Howie's (chain), and the recent return of Little Caesars, which features a large pie for $5.00, with no advance ordering needed. Years ago when we were desperate for pizza and low on cash, LC's had a 2-fer-tenner deal, but the quality was sorely lacking. They have improved their quality considerably, and the price cannot be beat. Another long-time Columbus pizza name is Cardo's, which has had a boom-and-bust run for many years, and which came back to town last year. It is still here (so far).

One small chain, Eddie's, opened without fanfare, served a decent product for a good price, then shuttered the doors within a month. It, of course, was in a location that had been home to several short-lived shops, attached to a Sunoco mini-mart. Location, location, location, anyone?

A 30-minute drive out to Buckeye Lake is our family's favorite place, the Pizza Cottage, who now has a location right here in Pickerington. Good, but not as good as the original, although much closer.

Outside of our 5-minute car jaunt range is Kingy's Pizza Pub, a good-sized family and sports gathering place which serves a sweet pineapple and pepperoni pizza, a particular favorite of Bro and me.

And then comes the news that the national chain Papa John's will be moving across from Donatos shortly.

Some would say, "Enough already with all those pizza places!"

I am not one of those barbarians, however. All this for a product that I did not know existed until I was 6 or 7 years old, when Beloved Father bowled one year for Pizza Man, and late one night brought home a deliciously aroma'd pepperoni pizza, and my food world has not been the same since.

Thanks, Dad!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

College Cage

An article popped up for me this morning that I get to see every year or every other year. It is known as the Mindset list. It is compiled by a group that looks at incoming college freshmen and what they have known in their lives. When you read this list, it puts your own life in perspective as to what you lived through and the times of your own life versus what the new freshmen class has experienced.

For instance, the internet has been around longer than these kids have been around. (Most of them were born in 1993). They have no idea why O.J. Simpson is famous and LBJ for them stands for LeBron James. Quite the difference from my life experiences. If you consider the major events of my life, none would know of the cold war, 'peace out and free love' or the American cultural revolution of the sixties and seventies. I suppose the Vietnam War might as well be the Civil War to most of them.

That got me to thinkin', how will I compare my life experience to Ragin' Cage when he is ready to assault the college campus? He will likely not know how 9/11 changed the culture of the U.S. He will have always had to take his shoes off and walk through a body scanner to fly on an airplane. He will likely not know gasoline under $4 per gallon or possibly have never driven a gas-powered automobile. Like this group, he will never have known a world without powerful computers. He gravitates to them now like earlier generations flocked to the television.

It is hard to imagine what he will think when talking to his Paw-Paw on his first year of college. He could just be coddling the old guy until something or someone better comes along to fill his time. My life experiences will probably not be interesting to him. I suppose that comes to all of us at one time or another. I went off to lead my life as did my siblings and my beloved parents were just along for the ride. For them we will fall off the relevant wheel and just tag along to watch as they grow older. But then they come back to us as they age, become parents and need our insight and advice, and the bond that has always been there strengthens.

Then the life experiences we have blends with theirs and we can tell them of our history with rapt attention.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The road to fuddy-duddyism

I have discovered that as I pass through this age of fifty-three and it's shadow is cast behind me, I am beginning to become a cauldron of contrasts. I wonder, am I moving toward the world of fuddy-duddyism or am I passing through the temporary world of 'man-o-pause'?

I am finding that I often still have the exuberance of a ten-year-old (especially when my grandson is about), yet more frequently than in the past take a stroll into the land of crotchetydom. For proof, see comment on North of 50's latest post concerning the state of education. "By golly it was better in the old days". Yep, back then we walked up hill both ways.

I marvel at the way things can be done with new technology yet lament that the average person can't figure out the simplest things that are required in everyday life. Reference the line in the movie 'Forest Gump', "stupid is as stupid does". Perhaps it is because I have always been a hands-on kind of guy and I learn best by doing. I take things apart and put them back together and hope I have no extra pieces at the end. With that goes the primal man order #16, (almost) never read directions. Thinking it through is a brain exercise, one that it often seems I rarely get to see in others.

I am also finding I am routinely comparing everything I experience to a time or situation in the past. How is my job performed against the standards I was trained on all those years ago. My profession is one of continual change. Retail has evolved and is virtually unrecognizable from thirty years ago. Nothing against change but I sometimes hearken back to the simpler times; again another fuddyism.

Why is it we always think things from the past are better? Is television better? How does that old black and white stack up against a sixty inch LCD HD? (Actually, I don't have one of those, I'm too cheap to pay for HD channels). I suppose as long as I embrace change and try to see the positive side of it all it can be a defense against fuddy-duddyism.

So as long as I look forward with hope and a smile, I can look back on the memories and keep them close. It's a brave new world we experience every day, but sometimes it's fun to be crotchety.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The state of education today

The State of Ohio will release a report card for each school district next week; according to an article in the paper today, the Columbus Public School System will receive a grade of "C" for the fifth consecutive year when those reports become official.

To "earn" the grade of "C", the district will have met 5 of 26 academic measures for the previous school year. That's right, meeting 5 of 26 goals (19%!), a failing grade in my day, means you get a "C", which is supposed to represent the "average" grade obtainable.

There is progress shown, however (so they say): more Columbus students are earning higher test scores (yay!); there is a "but" coming here, as, according to the article, "even if they're not passing".

Progress can mean we are failing not as badly! Woo Hoo! Pass another tax levy, people, and we can do even better!

Somehow, a 19% "success" rate translates to a performance index of 81.8 points (up from 80.3!), which is nearly a "B" rating, of which you need an index of 90 to achieve. At least, it is "nearly" a "B" rating in the eyes of evaluators in the school system.

Amazingly, and this is a direct quote from the article, "And on the whole, the district's educators effectively taught at least a year's worth of material, according to a calculation called 'value added'."

Perhaps a year's worth of material was not learned, do you think?

The superintendent is pleased; in 2001 the district rated an "F", then spent four years as a "D" school system, before hitting that all-important average grade.

Up, up, and away, Columbus Schools!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Captain Bob the Sequel

Captain Bob did us all a great favor today as he successfully managed to avoid wiping out two branches of the Family Tree.

The good Captain took a flying lesson this morning, and I went along as an unpaid observer, thanks to his Beloved being mortally opposed to augering into the ground with him; either that, or she claimed she had to go to work.

We had a very nice instructor, who has been teaching flying for about 10 years. The plane we went up in was formerly known as Yellow Thunder, the traffic plane for Channel 4/Sunny 95 a few years back. Captain Bob did a smooth takeoff from Bolton Field, and over the next hour, as we traversed the designated flying area for the flight school, we passed over Lilychapel, West Jefferson, near London, and back around toward Bolton. Captain Bob did a variety of maneuvers including turns, the disorientation drill (but no barrel rolls), and additional climbs and descents. He handled everything smoothly, including the landing.

Actually, the landing was done by the instructor, but Captain Bob deftly handed off the controls to our instructor for that maneuver.

Captain Bob now has his own Flight Log that shows he did indeed pilot an aircraft.

It was quite interesting as we slipped the surly bonds of earth and took off into the wild blue yonder.

Thanks for the flight, Captain Bob.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Captain Bob

This morning I awoke to a riotous tumult. My Beloved was hovering about the front of our abode nervously pacing back and forth. "What's wrong?" I inquired. "We have a problem." Her look was both stern and panicked.

She took my hand in hers and guided me gently to the front windows. She pointed and through the open windows I could hear the sounds of crying carried on the morning breeze through the ageing screening. There was trouble a-brewin'. A mother mallard was squawking and raising a ruckus across the path. She was in a tizzy, circling a rusty iron grate long ago embedded in the hot asphalt pavement. "Something's wrong," My Beloved exclaimed.

Quicker than Santa on a rooftop, Captain Bob sprang into action. Donning his cape he grasped the door handle nearly ripping the massive glass door off its hinges. Powering through the opening he leaped over the sidewalk and retaining wall in a single bound, and blazed down the front lawn leaving a burnt trail of once lush and thick grass (and weeds) in his wake.

Across the street he flew (after first checking for cars by looking both ways) and threw himself into the chaos. His keen intellect instantly surmised the situation. Baby ducks were trapped below ground, locked in their prison by a massive rusting hulk of a grate. With no regard for himself, Captain Bob wrapped his powerful hands about the bars of the grate and with his muscles rippling and straining under the weight, ripped the iron prison door from its station and flung in across the lawn.

There they were, two snugly little ducklings quacking away while mother mallard squawked from across the street. "Save my babies", she cried. (Fortunately Captain Bob speaks fluent mallard). So as not to scare the duckies as there were already traumatised, Captain Bob slowly lowered himself into the seething abyss. Taking his fluffy yet manly cape he wrapped the duckies in his powerful arms and raised them back to freedom and a joyous reunion with their mother.

With a tear in her eye, mother mallard quacked, "got any crackers?"

Captain Bob to the rescue.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Qwerty me

Recently in Indiana the school district in Indianapolis has begun considering a measure to stop the teaching of cursive writing. (For all you who are half asleep now, that is script). And they aren't the only ones out there. Most believe the future is learning keyboard skills and that cursive will have no place in the future. I compare that to a story on CBS Sunday Morning about a collector of fountain pens who has spent over one million dollars on his collection. I think those are laughingly at opposite ends of the spectrum.

I think what these districts fail to take into consideration is the amount of communication that takes place that has nothing to do with a keyboard. If I have to leave notes for my staff or managers I don't always have ready access to an electronic device. How then will they effectively communicate? There are many financial transactions in the real world that require you to write your name. A signature is cursive. I know, have someone sign your name for you and get a stamp made. That way if you are required to sign your name you can just whip out a stamp and...presto!

I think this practice is very short-sighted by any school district considering such a measure. Just because there is more use of keyboard in the real world doesn't mean there is no place in the culture for script. If Spanish were to be considered the second most prevalent language in the US does that mean we should abandon teaching English? Besides, have you ever actually tried to read what is typed out over a keyboard these days? The line between texting and tweeting and writing properly is so blurred that what I read from others is almost a hybrid language.

Besides, who would use all those expensive fountain pens?

Friday, July 29, 2011

Sport of culture

I have never been a big fan of soccer, or football as it is called across the pond. The sport has never been in my blood since I neither grew up with it nor attended games for my children. Until the last few years I had no interest in the sport or much knowledge about its rules. North of 50 is quite the opposite as he even has a favorite Premier League team, Arsenal. I couldn't even tell you what city they are from (unless to my surprise there is a city named Arsenal).

The one thing I have discovered is the game is uniquely suited to the European tastes and culture. It is simply not American due to its nature. Huh, you say? Figure this. The Euro style is very laid back and from my vantage point not punctual. Americans are more of an in-your-face crowd with rigid rules. Soccer seems to have few if any rigid rules as even the time keeping is sort of ish-ish. American's favorite sport is US football and it has very rigid standards and time keeping. At the end of a soccer game the refs determine if they'll play a few extra minutes 'just because'. NFL fans would rip the place apart if that were to happen.

Europeans also seem to run helter-skelter about doing what ever it is they choose. Soccer seems to be the same way. The ball bounces back and forth and is kicked about with no outwardly discernible plays. Football is structured with signals, codes and highly diagrammed plays which must be executed to perfection for everything to go right.

I think the two games mirror their respective continents quite nicely and even the rest of the world as it is the number one sport across the globe. We as a people seem to function much differently than the rest of the world. Perhaps that's why we play differently. But I think if US football ever made it big in Europe, the Germans would likely kick everyone elses 'arsenals'.

Monday, July 25, 2011


I have now been in my role of distinguished grandfather and exulted Paw-Paw for slightly over two years. I have also had the pleasure of up close and personal observations of the Russian twins, Ivan and Sergetov. I have watched them grow and play and holler and cry and snuggle. And, I have come to a single, logical conclusion; parents and grandparents are the worst consumers in the world.

We strive to get everything we possibly can to get our children's children off to a good start in this world. Clothes are one thing and I relegate that duty solely to the women of the family. I can't tell an eighteen month onesy(?) from a toddler jumpsuit. They all look the same size to me. My Beloved often just stares at me in wonderment at my ineptitude.

However, the toys are my department and I am almost as inept in that area. It's not the toy itself or the intent on which I buy them, but how they are marketed to me. Picture the red and blue boxes they come in with a smiling child diligently and happily pushing whatever is inside. We think back to the times when we played as children running cars on the tracks and pushing them down the ramps just like the picture.

That is so misleading as to be comical. I have now watched Ragin Cage and the Russians doing everything with their toys but what is pictured on the box. The cars are thrown, stomped on and beat with any plastic stick or rod. The ramps are trampled underfoot like Godzilla in downtown Tokyo, and broken within hours. Every Lil Tikes plastic thing is rammed into walls and bounced off someones head.

So it is us who are the most gullible of the consumer groups, not the teens or the tweens or the yuppies or the Xs or Ys. It's time we empty-nesters looked into the mirror and said; "wow am I stupid!"

Sunday, July 24, 2011

I'm melting, I'm melting

This afternoon recently retired North, international man of mystery and leisure and I took a stroll down a country lane. My Beloved had gone up to take a nap and Mrs. North was entertaining the Russian twins. That left us to ourselves on a wonderful and warm day down by the lake. Now, we don't live by a lake but he and the Mrs are on a vacation and we were just visiting. Retirement is so taxing he needed a vacation already.

We decided our stroll would take us along the outside property lines and down a newly paved asphalt road. Our conversation drifted from topic to topic as we went, gone nearly an hour and a half. Finally our subject turned to the weather and the heat the country has been under. Drivers would sometimes pass us and wave likely thinking we were nuts walking down the road in the middle of summer's heat. But, then we reflected on our lives and how we grew up. Our family had little money and until I was in my twenties, air conditioning was not a part of our lives. But somehow we survived.

I think most make way too much of weather trends including the current heat wave. Yes, certain groups should take care but my feeling is too many folk simply use the weather as an excuse to do nothing or simply to complain. The news and weather services make it sound as though anyone over the age of forty or under the age of ten will suffer heat stroke. Did everyone die each year before AC was invented? No. Did outside work come to a halt? No. Did children cease playing? No. Last Thursday I painted my deck in the sun on what was reported to be the hottest day of the year. I did it because it had to be done and that was my day off from work. I took the proper precautions and didn't die.

You too don't have to die every time the weather gets hot or cold. Sweating is a natural phenomenon and Dorothy didn't throw a bucket of water on you. You won't melt. Dress for it and stop being a crybaby.