Thursday, June 23, 2011

Another one down

Not often but sometimes we reflect back on where we have come from and where we were or started out. Tomorrow I begin the 54th year of my life. That is a long time ago but not as long as for others. We have come along way.

Some common facts and items from 1958:
Average annual income: $4650
House: $30,000
Gallon of gas: 19 cents Milk: $1.01
Swiss steak: 75 cents/lb
Sunkist oranges: 5lb/49cents

The Donna Reed show premiers; George Burns/Gracie Allen show ends; Elvis Presley has four top singles; movies, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Vertigo

The Brooklyn Dodgers move to Los Angeles; the Hula Hoop debuts; the first Pizza Hut opens in Kansas City; the US launches Explorer I into space; VISA and American Express cards are introduced; the Boeing 707 goes into production.

As you can see much has changed during my lifetime. When I was born there were no computers or color televisions (at least in production) and most cars were adorned with 'fins'. Air conditioning was years away from being anywhere near a common appliance. I look back and see where we and I have come from and I am proud to have grown as a man and a person, all the while keeping my integrity. Not that I am perfect. I have made my share of mistakes along the way but hopefully I have learned from them as I have grown older.

One foot forward. 54 starts on Friday.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Long live the king

This past weekend the golf world announced a new presence they already knew was in their midst. Rory McIlroy captured the US Open title in dramatic fashion. He set several records including best open score and youngest player to win the title. It wasn't very exciting but it opened up a new era in golf.

Unfortunately for Rory, Kobe, LeBron and others who will come or have come in the past, why is it they must all be hung up as the next greatest of all time? Golf for its own reasons had never been more popular than when Eldrick was at his heights. They desperately need someone to take his place and carry on the sport. Basketball has been looking for the next Michael for ten years and still hasn't found him. But, every young buck who lights it up early is supposed to be the next great whomever.

The sports media in today's world seems to be at the heart of the coronation events. Is it because sports has become a 24/7 event with fifty channels? That quickly means we will run out of things to talk about. They have to champion the next great so the comparisons can start. One of the things many of these former champions have in common is they are so polarizing. You either love them or hate them. Love Eldrick, hate Eldrick. Love Michael, hate Michael. Often you love or hate based on how badly they beat your team, especially in the playoffs.

I for one have never had a love/hate relationship with sports figures (at least once I became an adult). For me, they are who they are, great in their sport. I don't look up to them on a personal level, nor do I overly admire them. Sure, I wish I could golf half as good as Eldrick, but then I live in the real, everyday world and many of them do not.

Here's hoping Rory succeeds and leads the golf world into a new era and does it his way, not Eldrick's way. Long live the king.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

When aliens invade

As we get on in life we get comfortable with our routines. My Beloved and I are very settled in the manner of how things work and get done in our home. Then, the aliens invade!

This past weekend Ragin Cage visited us for three days. That would normally not be a problem but My Beloved was down sick for all three days. That left Paw-Paw to be the man. Now, I'm a great Paw-Paw but I have not been subject to the whims of a two-year old for such an extended time, and by myself. There aren't many options; duct tape him to a chair or follow him around while he explores.

Since duct-taping is out, that leaves the other option. It is quickly evident that our home is not Cage-proofed. Problem number one is he is extremely fast. By the end of the weekend, every toilet paper roll has been unrolled and half flushed down the toilet. Every kitchen drawer and door below three feet has been opened and it's contents strewn on the floor. And now since he is capable of opening doors, the Lucky Charms in the pantry has all Lucky and no Charms remaining.

It's not so much just watching him as I let him wander around, much to My Beloved's dismay, but it is hard to get anything that requires being done, done. The only thing I could do was vacuum because he likes the vacuum and wants to help. But he want to help with everything. He wants to dust, throw laundry around and put things away, which means putting everything on the floor since I have found that two year olds have a propensity to throw everything on the floor. All previously folded laundry is also 'helped' to the floor. Partly that is a result of having the attention span of a dog. That was fun, then move onto something else with Paw-Paw left to clean up.

I have a new respect for parents of small children, especially those with multiples. But I'd take him back for days in a minute; once I find the duct tape.

Friday, June 10, 2011

All In

Today I filed my paperwork for retirement.

I am 55 with 34 years plus a one-year buyout to get to 35 years of service. When we ran the numbers it actually benefited me more by going now than it would have had I stayed the additional 5 years I was planning on.

The buyout was unexpected, given the state of the state's economy. At least 7 of the top 10 employees in seniority have taken the money and are running. As of the end of July, I will relinquish my title as #1 employee (in seniority!).

Unlike a number of my current and former co-workers, I never dreaded going to the office each day. On occasion, granted, it was a pain in the backside, but those occasions were few and far between. The man who sits next to me almost daily swears his undying hatred for his job and "this ******g place". I won't miss him.

If he is that unhappy, he should go elsewhere, but deep down he probably knows he would be just as miserable at another job. It must be a real drudge to go through life so thoroughly miserable.

I had previously scheduled the last week of July as a week of vacation, long before this came about, but I am going to take it! My last day in the office will be July 21, so my current crop of co-workers have 41 days left to appreciate my greatness; but who's counting?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Misguided priorities

As I work on a regular basis on Sunday mornings, one of the things I miss is reading the paper. Often in the past the paper has been a wonderful source of things to blog about. As I was catching up on Sunday's news a little ditty that caught my eye came from The Land of Fruits and Nuts. And this just seems to fit coming from its capital, San Fransisco. (Not the state capitol, the LOFANS capital).

Apparently a group has succeeded in getting enough signatures to put in motion a bill to ban circumcisions on boys. Whoever these folks are, they believe this procedure is akin to mutilation, that removing the foreskin of boys is completely unnecessary. While I agree this is not a medical necessity, it does have over two-thousand years of religious tradition behind it. This is a significant step in the Jewish religion and if I am not mistaken, Muslim as well.

I have two issues with this group. Not only have they succeeded in getting noticed they have also sparked a similar following in another LOFANS city. My first peeve is their use of the term mutilation. Males do not suffer any further sexual or medical issues later in life. This in no way can be compared to the ritual circumcisions performed on women in many parts of Africa. Women endure pain the rest of their lives because of this practice. Circumcisions on males is ritualistic, something they seem to fail to understand. If they believe true harm was being done to these children then anyone supporting this petition who has pierced their child's ears to put in a stud has done at least as much damage to the child as a male circumcision. That is no less mutilation and serves no legitimate purpose, medical, religious or otherwise.

The second issue I have is, you've got nothing better to do with your life than this?

Monday, June 6, 2011

What I learned in Algebra and Geometry

Forty-two years ago(!) I entered high school, and embarked upon the study of, among other things, (somewhat) advanced mathematics, or "maths" as they say across the pond. I can add, subtract, multiply, and divide quite well, but I never seemed to get the hang of that "algebra" thing, which put paid to my plans to take Advanced Algebra (with Trigonometry) and Pre-Calculus as I moved up the high school ladder of knowledge. (We'll talk about Chemistry and Physics some other time).

I had Mr T (not the tv star, and not related to the Robert T of this blog). He was a good teacher, although I was not quite up to his hopes for me as a math student. I started off the year with an 80 average, good for a low B, and improved my grade each successive grading period, finishing the year with an 85 for the final term. Even if I did not quite grasp all of it, I believed what I had learned would help me the next year in Geometry.

Well, that was my thought, anyway.

Geometry and I never really got along. Maybe it was me, maybe it was the material (a poor workman always blames his tools), or perhaps it was the teacher, or a combination of all three. Be that as it may, I had the (mis) fortune to be a student under Sister Elizabeth Anne, known variously as Mouse or Peahead; both of which were aptly applied. She was a quiet, soft-spoken nun of indeterminate age who spoke with a thin monotonic voice. She began every class session throughout the day by standing in front of the room with her right hand upon her brow and left hand on her midriff, in the classic "I am beginning to make the Sign of the Cross" stance, and literally would hold that position until she had the attention of each student, whereupon she would recite a prayer. Once that was finished we would commence to learnin'.

After each chapter we would have a test of perhaps 25 questions and problems to do. If we passed with a grade of C or higher, we were free to pay exclusive attention to the material in the next chapter she taught. If you did not achieve a C or better, you would be required to retake the chapter test, this time only 10 problems long, mercifully, until you got all of them right or only missed one. Each time you took the re-test and did not achieve the proper score, your grade went down one point. You could take the test 100 times, but, if you finally passed, the lowest you would get was a 70 (D-). But, hey, at least you passed!

Thus, she made it terribly difficult to fail the class, thankfully. She also had one other saving grace. She required all students with an open period at 12:15 who still had chapter tests to make up to come to her room and begin taking them. At 12:30, she left for lunch and left us unsupervised, whereupon most of us would start to converse among our fellow under-achievers and do a group workup on the tests so we could get out sooner, and hoped we passed. Usually, we didn't.

After my Sophomore year I thankfully parted ways with Peahead.

And when I received my class schedule for my Junior year, there she was again, this time as my Algebra II (sans Trigonometry) teacher. I had to endure another year of her. My grades did not improve, either.

At this point it may occur to you: why did you not ask for help? Well, it did not occur to me at the time, but I probably would not have wanted to spend any more time with her than I already did, not did I have a smart and pretty female in my Algebra (or Geometry) class; they were all in the advanced math classes, and I was a bit shy around girls.

Still am.

Nor did I think to ask a guy for help, since guys just didn't do that. All that is to my eternal regret.

I will say this for Sister Elizabeth Anne: I did manage to learn one thing in the two very long years I had her as a teacher. It was her favorite prayer, the one she began every class period with, The Memorare, a prayer to the Virgin Mother of God. I can still recite it to this day:

"Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided.

Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.


Saturday, June 4, 2011

The honest truth

The writing assignment given to first-graders was simple. The teacher places a sticker at the top of the page and the child writes a story about the sticker. The story was written on primary paper if you remember what that is.

The story as written:
I like hores. Hores have other hores frinds. Hores like carots. You wouldn't think they coud but they can put thir legs strait up. Hores make you feel good. My dad want a hores but my mom says no. When I am 16 or 20 I will buy my own hores.

The sticker on the child's paper is of a horse. God love 'em all.