Sunday, July 29, 2012

The hole

I am by nature one who does not like a bunch of crap, stuff, clutter generally lying about. To me it is an annoyance. Nothing is more uplifting than a clean and breezy home. Don't get me wrong, I like a few mementos about reminding one of family and the like, but all the other crap can just go away.

Try as I might, that just doesn't happen. It occurred to me today that is due to life changes as we age. My Beloved used to say if you can't find it I either threw it away of put it in the crawl space. When we moved into our current abode, we placed many things in 'the hole' and never touched them again. A few years ago it was time to make things go away. I agreed to a garage sale although I hate fooling with them. We pulled all the stuff our of the bottomless hole and sold much of it, old dishes, clothing, scuba gear and general miscellaneous things we had accumulated over time. It was very liberating.

Since that time our lives have evolved and there are simply new things to take their place. Gone is the near-antique drafting table and the scuba gear and replacing those are baby bouncers and porta-potties for our grandson. He is now of the age that he no longer needs these things. Well, sell them off.

Not so fast, gramps. As our home is regularly visited by family that is now rolling through the next baby boom, these things will likely occupy my basement for the foreseeable future. I wonder what comes after that? Someone will likely give me a box containing the old game 'Twister'. I'll have to hold on to that one. The next baby boom will need it as they hit the pre-teen years.

It starts all over again.

Monday, July 23, 2012

And so, sports fans, it all comes down to this...

Usually when you hear that phrase it means the final play of a closely-contested football game, in which this play will determine the victor. I most distinctly hear the loud nasal tones of the late Howard Cosell uttering it.


That is really, at it's core, what the Penn State cover-up was all about.


The scandal was two-fold; child molestation over a long period, and the attempt to hide that from the public.

Because of money. Money that would cease flowing into the university coffers from their sparkly-clean football program, and the other (preferably large) donations that seem to go hand-in-hand with a winning football program. Trying not to tarnish the reputation of a prestigious university was a part of that cover-up, but really it was all about money. And today's sanctions levied by the NCAA against Penn State bore that out.

 - a $60 million fine (approximately one year's gross revenue to the Penn State football program), to be used to set up a foundation to combat child molestation

- a four-year bowl ban (millions of dollars from the larger bowls now not available)

- a reduction of scholarships for the football program (fewer opportunities for the program to bring in elite players, thus preventing the team from competing as easily for those bowl dollars)

Non-financial penalties include the school vacating all football wins from 1998-2011, inclusive; be on probation for 5 years, and allow any incoming or current football player to transfer schools and play immediately at their new school, should they choose to do so.

The Big 10 conference commissioner also decreed that the school will not receive their share of the Big 10 bowl games revenue split for the next four seasons, and still reserves the right to boot the school out of the conference.


For that, the revered head football coach as well as several higher-ups in the university attempted to hide the fact that a former assistant football coach was raping and sodomizing young boys, on campus, and blatantly covered up their knowledge of these despicable acts.

There are many who believe the university should have been given the "death penalty", at least a one-year shutdown of the football program. I am of the opinion that the "death penalty" is justified because of the dreaded "lack of institutional control" the bigwigs showed, deferring to the wishes of their head coach to not reveal what was going on. Others argue that would be too harsh, since it would further impact all the innocent players, and all of the businesses that would suffer because a large portion of their business would be greatly affected by shutting down the football program. Not fair, they cry.

Again, money lies at the root of the problem.

Whenever an athletic program is penalized, it is usually the innocent players who are most affected, as their chance at further glory is diminished. Well, unfortunately, life is definitely not fair, and often the innocent are made to suffer for the actions of a few. And the actions of the university administrators showed they had no regard for anyone but themselves.

The university and its administrators are being or will be sued for damages, costing untold millions (or more); the reputations of the university, the administrators and the revered late head coach are forever shattered, and no amount of rehabilitation will succeed in making them whole.

Had the administrators and/or the football coach had the guts to stand up and say what was happening in 1998, they would have been praised for their openness and action (firing the person responsible), and who knows how many young boys would not have had their world torn apart in so vile a manner in the years since.

Why did they not do so?

Because of money, in the end. They cared more for the almighty football dollar for fourteen years than concerning themselves with stopping the commission of disgusting crimes by one of their own.

All because of money.

May they rot in hell, each and every one of them.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Your front porch

I read this morning in my local newspaper an editorial from Frank Bruni who writes for the NY Times. His thoughts explore how we in this country have bent our lives on our own selfishness. After reading his column I would most heartily agree. We have become a nation of 'what's in it for me and no one else'. That is a sad state of affairs.

Then I began to think about a bigger picture within that context. Is he correct in his notions? Yes, but what is the catalyst for those actions? I think one possible cause is too many of us look beyond our own front porch. The grass is always greener so I need to get a piece of that action. How many times have you encountered those who look down at others simply to keep themselves elevated (within their own mind)? Or, I don't have what you have so I will work at tearing you down. My needs come before yours or the common good.

In our culture we have put so much on our plates, or wish to put so much on our plates that we aren't satisfied with the basics. I need to have the next iproduct even though I still can't use the one I have. That car is nicer looking so I want that one. That house is bigger so I need it. How familiar do these silent/public rants sound? How much simpler would our lives be if we quit worrying about what the other person has and simply take care of our own needs?

How much stress do we pile on ourselves simply to have those things that aren't important? I would say 'a whole bunch'. There's nothing wrong with wanting to improve one's position in life. That's what we should all do but what we often overlook is the fact that amassing more 'stuff' is not improving your life, it is simply adding to the chaos and stress. 'Stuff' does not improve ones situation any more than running over your 'neighbor' with your truck because he has more than you.

Take care of what's on your own front porch and don't worry about what the next guy has. 'Stuff' is just crap that will one day end up in a landfill, (as will we all).

Thursday, July 12, 2012


As a child I really grew up with only one sport. I played baseball in the diamond three doors down, as pick-up games, on softball teams and then finally organized baseball. I was good (in my own mind). I had a great arm and good fielding instincts but once I got to high school I couldn't hit a baseball if you gave me a 2x4 and threw it underhanded. I was however a very good pitcher. I suppose that give me license to comment on the state of major league baseball.

Last night was the MLB All Star game. I haven't watched one on television for many years. I became disconnected years ago as I don't watch much TV at all anyway. But I guess I lost interest because the game didn't mean much anymore. It had lost its luster to the faster paced sports of football and basketball and the various other interests people have. I don't buy the old argument that you need to have a large space for a field in the inner city to play. There are big football fields everywhere. Diamonds are large but games can  be adapted. Streetball is an adaptation. It works in the streets of NY.

Baseball needs a marketing plan in the worst way. Nowhere are the stars of the game marketed nationally. If you don't have a Jeter in your home town, you never see another player until they retire and start talking about prostate medicine. The commissioner needs to promote the game on a national level and not simply to those who already watch the game. Those people are dying off. For all his love of the game, Bob Costas doesn't speak to the average citizen. That's fine to remember the exploits of Mickey and Roger, Babe and Ty, but those heroes might as well be Civil War generals.

MLB has taken some minor steps to keep relevant but they pale in comparison to how the other sports promote themselves. The All Staff game is a prime example. The best players don't get in to see a competitive game but the ballot boxes are owned by those who can beat the voting system. Why should the NL have homefield advantage simply because they blew out the starting AL pitcher in the first inning? The only thing the All Star game should count for is which league will host the game next year.

Quit over-thinking the game and get it relevant again in the eyes of America or face losing it to field hockey as an irrelevant less-than-spectacular spectacle.

 Put me in coach, I'm ready to play, today.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Proud to be an American

David Feherty is a CBS golf commentator, host of a show on The Golf Channel (Feherty), writer, raconteur, funnyman, and former professional golfer. He was born in Northern Ireland but recently became a United States citizen.

What follows is a transcript of his ode to America which aired as part of his most recent episode of Feherty, in which he paid tribute to America's armed forces.

"As we celebrate Independence Day, it occurs to me just how lucky I am to be an American. But I'm not sure that all Americans feel the same way, or at least not to the same extent.

Growing up in the auld sod of Nor'n Ireland, I wasn't exactly repressed, but people generally kept their dreams to themselves, which was at least part of what drove me to drinking and misbehavior in order to numb the longing for opportunity. However, Northern Ireland wasn't ever anywhere nearly as forbidding as some of the countries that hate Lady Liberty for her values, and blame America for their problems these days. 

Unlike some of these places, in America women are allowed to get an education. They're also allowed to drive, and dress in whatever clothes they want. We can say whatever we want, wherever we want to say it without fear of being locked up, and we can attend any place of worship we choose without our government having a say.

Thank you, Thomas Jefferson.

And we have the freedom to play and watch an absurd sport featuring little white balls and ridiculous sticks as if it were important, which it is not.

The reason we have these freedoms is now and always will be, because of the men and women of the five branches of our Armed Forces, who for more than two centuries have answered the call to protect us from those who would inflict their inferior and often brutal philosophies upon us.

We're free because of the Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard, and Marines. I love them all. And whether or not you have faith in where our country's headed, it's hard to argue that defending its interests and values around the world doesn't give me and all of you the freedom to love this America, or hate it, with freedom. 

Happy Independence Day!"

Well said, sir, and welcome home!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


As many are aware, especially those of us who live in the Midwest, we had a wicked storm blow through on Friday. It is something I haven't seen in some time. I won't compare this to the horrific tornadoes that have ravaged other parts of the country. I feel for those of you who live in the plains states. What you face on a yearly basis can be quite life-changing.

But we do not face the onslaught on a regular basis as do you. However, we had quite the weather system pass across our part of the world several days ago. The rains were nearly sideways and trees and poles were snapping all around us. Fortunately for me, we suffered no significant damage.

What I did notice however were two things. I can't believe all the people who complain about not having power. Although it has been very hot, mid to upper 90's, more people complain about not having air conditioning than anything else. If it is so hot in your house go outside where it is generally cooler. Golly, who would have thought of that? It is ridiculous how many are complaining they can't watch television, get on the internet or can't charge their cell phone. You would think the world didn't come into being until fifty years ago when modern communications developed. Perhaps the Bible should have started; In the beginning, God created the air conditioner...

The other thing I noted was how quiet the world had become. There were not the routine electronic sounds we have become used to, no beeping, no ringing and the constant glare of LCD and LED had vanished. When the sun set and night fell into place, there was no light. I saw people outside playing with their children while others sat around a fire chatting. I think that's how the world was meant to be.