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Of Politics, Sports and Sex

OK, so there won't be a LOT on here about sex, but tell the truth, that's most of the reason you entered this site, right? So, I'll slip some things in from time to time just to keep you coming...back.

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Friday, November 15, 2013

My loyal reader...and equally loyal sister, Sherry, called me the other day with a few suggestions for this blog, one of which was to clarify the first half of my previous post about the basketball player, which I have since done. I had a feeling it was confusing when I wrote it, and since she read it quickly twice and didn't get it, that was enough reason for me to go back to edit it.

Her second suggestion was that I write my thoughts on the NFL bullying case that has been such a topic of conversation around the country the past few weeks.

My thought is this: ______________.

I have no thought on it for the overly simple reasons that:
a) For some reason, I just really don't care
b) I don't like to judge and
c) I am a big believer that to really be qualified to express an opinion on something, one has to gather as much evidence as possible coming to a fair conclusion. To truly understand that case, I'd need to read what the victim was alleging, what the alleged bully said about that, and then what the team owners and coaches and even his teammates had to say about it, just to see if what was alleged was true...which takes me back to a) above.

I was bullied a little in 9th grade, but not much. Enough that it was one of the reasons my parents gave to want to send me to Westtown, but I didn't have a lot of courage in those days, so antagonism of any sort seemed pretty scary to me. So yeah, I don't like bullies, and won't try to defend them. But I also know there is a certain amount of acceptable hazing that goes on in pro sports that is just team camaraderie-type stuff, which is not that big a deal to me.

In this case, it's like the situation with the Notre Dame star football player last year and something about a fake online girlfriend? I really have no idea or very little what went on there even though people were talking about it everywhere I went and on every late night talk show I watched. I just didn't care. That is personal life stuff that just doesn't concern me and I'm not comfortable judging the person/people involved or analyzing their personal choices.

So, sorry, Shez. I'm the wrong one to ask about that sort of thing. But thanks for the idea and for the editorial feedback, which is always welcome.

Monday, November 11, 2013

If you disagree with this, I'll forgive you

Driving home Friday night, at some point the juxtaposition of two otherwise seemingly unrelated thoughts drew me to an unlikely conclusion.

The first thought centered around Andrew Bynum, who was returning to play against the 76ers that night. As backround, when the 76ers traded (an awful lot) to get him last season, he was one of the top players in basketball. It was only after getting him that the extent of an injury he had became partially, and eventually fully known. As a result, he never played a single game for the 76ers and the fans have made it clear on sports talk radio that they resent him for it, not just because they were so excited to get him and their team gave up so much for him and ended up with nothing, but because it was alleged that after he had one bad knee and had missed half the season, it was reported that he then hurt his other knee...bowling! With half the season yet to play! And then when the season ended there was a youtube video posted of him dancing the salsa in Spain, on the knees he supposedly couldn't play on.

But now with his contract ended with Philly, he is playing for another team, and is just the proverbial shell of his former playing self, averaging half the minutes and less than a quarter of the points and rebounds he had before he was hurt.

So there was an expectation, since met, was that the 76ers fans were coming to the game more to boo Bynum than to cheer their hometown Sixers. Even though I am a fan of the Sixers and understood why the fans were upset, I felt myself feeling more sorry for the player than angry with him. And, as I say, I felt a certain amount of sympathy for him.

My second line of thinking was being upset with myself for some relatively innocuous thing I'd said earlier that day. I can't even remember what it was now, but it was similar to something I'd said earlier in the week that I still wish I could take back.  I was walking into a meeting with a prospective Head of West Chester Friends School and was introduced as the President of the Board, which I virtually never identify myself as, usually just saying I'm a member of the Board, lest it seem I'm trying to impress anyone.

Someone else in the room, who I admire greatly, then said "He's a very important person!" And when I looked at her, she had her usual big smile that let me know she was just kidding me, but complimenting me at the same time. All I could think of, having somewhat being put on the spot, was that she was right, but only in terms of Trev and Emma and the rest of my family, but under the pressure of the moment, with all eyes on me, all I could think to say was "I am, to some people."

It wasn't until 5-10 minutes later that I thought back to that exchange and thought - what a dolt! That was worse than if I had just identified myself as the President in the first place. It both seemed condescending and self-righteous in one badly played sentence. And I've been trying to find a way to go back to her to apologize ever since. But then I think it seems self-absorbed to even come back to it at all and she has probably long forgotten it.

And so I'm kicking those thoughts around, thinking how unnecessarily hard I'm being on myself when it hit me:

Liberals are much more forgiving of other people than they are of themselves and conservatives are more likely to be just the opposite.

Friday, October 25, 2013

I have a feeling there are just enough obsessed teenage Taylor Swift fans, if any of them were to google deep enough into her name that she'll come across this, that I feel obliged to pass along this story from a friend, who is also a Friend, for those most devoted fans, who might actually be interested in this, unlike my 4-5 regular readers, not including the dozen or so who've visited from the Russian Federation, according to the Live Traffic Feed down the right hand side of my page.

I had heard from my F/friend Howard that a mutual friend had lived across the street from Taylor Swift when she lived up in the Wyomissing area. I'll only identify him as Taylor L., both because that is his name and because that is relevant to the rest of this story.

Actually, I'll let Wikipedia tell some background to the story, edited down somewhat:

Taylor Alison Swift was born on December 13, 1989 in Reading, Pennsylvania. Her father, Scott Swift, is a Merrill Lynch financial adviser.  Her mother, Andrea (née Finlay), is a homemaker who previously worked as a mutual fund marketing executive. She spent the early years of her life on an eleven-acre Christmas tree farm in Cumru Township, Pennsylvania. When Swift was nine years old, the family moved to a rented house in the suburban town of Wyomissing, Pennsylvania.

Swift's family owned several Quarter horses and a Shetland pony and her first hobby was English horse riding. Her mother first put her in a saddle when she was nine months old and she later competed in horse shows. At the age of nine, Swift became interested in musical theatre. She performed in many Berks Youth Theatre Academy productions. Swift then turned her attention to country music.

At the age of twelve, Swift was shown by a computer repairman how to play three chords on a guitar, inspiring her to write her first song, "Lucky You", and now began to focus on songwriting.
When Swift was fourteen, her father transferred to the Nashville office of Merrill Lynch and the family relocated to a lakefront house in Hendersonville, Tennessee. Swift later described this as "an incredible sacrifice" for her family to make.

Taylor Swift sits and leans over her oak guitar while picking a string
Swift performing at age 17 in 2006

Not being a close friend of Taylor L's, I  had never approached him directly about his story, but when we started emailing about something else having to do with Martin Luther King and Bayard Rustin, I decided to ask him if the story about his young neighbor was true.

Here is our exchange:

From: Jamie
Sent: Monday, August 26, 2013 4:26 PM
To: Taylor L.

Thanks for that, Taylor. I’m more impressed however, by the rumor that Taylor Swift grew up across the street from you? Now THAT’s historically significant! (kidding, but still cool if true.)
From: Taylor L.
Sent: Monday, August 26, 2013 5:46 PM
To: Jamie McVickar


It is not a rumor, Scott Swift bought the small truck farm across the road from us and later the small farm adjacent to us on our side of the road. Some years later he married Andrea, then Taylor and her younger brother were born. Scott was under privileged in that he did not grow up on a farm so I taught how to do a lot of things around his farm and helped him with the care of a part of the orchard.

The Swifts had horses and built a riding and jump rink. Taylor learned horses at an early age and seemed quite good with them. Other than the horses and a monster swing set Scott built for her, she was not an out-doors girl. Some years ago a TV program featured Taylor correctly explaining pictures of her on the horse farm on which she lived as a child. The announcer then thanked Taylor for describing her horse farm in Wyomissing. (Those living in the 1/2 to 30 million dollar close together houses in Wyomissing make sure there are no horse farms in Wyomissing.)

The Swifts sold the farm and moved to a rented house with one of the best addresses in Wyomissing when Taylor was about 10 years of age. Her publicity says she is a Wyomissing native. She is a Cumru Township, Freemansville Road, native and only lived in Wyomissing about four yeas before moving to Nashville, TN. Scott and Andrea were good level headed people, it is not surprising that Taylor seems to be the same.

From: Jamie
Sent: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 11:37 AM
To: Taylor L.

Wow, this is a great story, Taylor, thanks. I saw a recent story, in the Inquirer maybe, or NY Times about the family who bought their house and is now selling it. The article gave the address and just for fun, I googled it and it was more McMansion than farm, so I wondered about the farm references until I read your email which better explains things. I am a fan of her music and her approach to her celebrity status, which as too many young women (Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, Miley Cyrus) have shown, is not an easy road to navigate.

Obviously her parents showed their appreciation for your help on their farm by naming their first born child after you. J

From: Taylor L.
Sent: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 9:16 PM
To: Jamie McVickar


Your saying "naming their first born child after you" may be an overstatement.  When she was born, Scott came over to announce the birth and her name, he said that one of the names Andrea considered was Taylor (Taylor was becoming a popular girl's name at this time) and Scott said I was a pretty good fellow and thus he had no objection to the name Taylor.

So now you know the rest of the story. Kinda cool.

Friday, October 18, 2013

This is no great revelation, but I think that whether or not you like a movie has a lot to do with the mood or mental space you are in when you see it. I once saw a movie called Far Away with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman that I absolutely loved, but it didn't get good reviews, and in retrospect probably wasn't as great as I thought it was at the time. But I saw it with a girl I was really into at the time and it was a beautiful spring evening and we had a really fun time that night.

Similarly with Saturday Night Fever, as Mike Rellahan continues to torment me about. I think I saw that movie 3 times when it came out and it was at the right time in my life. I can remember trying, even successfully to some extent, to copy some of the dance moves, OK maybe just one in particular, from that movie in parties I went to at Earlham that spring, my senior year. (If I tried the same move now, I would permanently rip most of the ligaments and cartilage in both knees.)

So, all that is prelude to explaining my reaction to this 9+ minute video:

It is a TED Talk and deals primarily with the importance of making the most of every day we live. Well, we can't really do that in the way we think we should. I can't go out everyday and do whatever my heart desires. We all, most of us, gotta earn a living, gotta take care of our families, gotta write our blog posts (more often than some of us actually do).

But I'm thinking more of the days when I don't have those responsibilities, primarily on weekends. My favorite time of every day is when my car pulls in at the top of our driveway coming home from work and I start the 10-yard walk up to our amazing house which always seems so full of all kinds of love and joy and energy.

As I said about 12 years ago when Cheryl, Ev and Liss moved in, that walking into our house each night was like when Dorothy stepped out of her black and white house into full-color munchkin land, not knowing what excitement was heading her way. For me it was true on a daily basis but also in the even bigger picture, where my life up until then had been black and white and now, with Cheryl and the kids coming into it, made it so full of color and excitement.

But getting back to the video and my weekends, as I say, my favorite time of every day is coming home from work, but my favorite time of every week is the first 2-3 hours after I wake up Saturday morning, when I go out and get the Philadelphia Daily News, bring it back, usually with a donut, tho since I started this diet I've been on for 45 days now, no donut, but still a big cup of coffee and I lie on my bed and read the paper, do the 5-star hard sudoku and just do plenty o nuthin. Then I slowly rev up to go out and do 2-4 hours of yard work, which I also enjoy way more than I ever thought I would.

But so the point is that I wonder if I'm being too selfish with my Saturdays, especially with two growing children in the house. Am I making the most of that time? I've practically lost the window with Trev who would rather spend all day on Minecraft, but once we boot him off, he'd probably still do something with me if it were interesting enough. And Emma would love to do just about anything outside the house, I think.

Last Sunday at 1:00, another of my great selfish joys came along: watching an Eagles game on a Sunday afternoon, which has gotten harder and harder to do since I started this awesome family. I was all set, ready to watch, had made a nice lunch for myself, had cleaned up the kitchen, done an hour or so of cleanup outside, when Emma came up to me and asked if I'd go down in the yard and play soccer with her. I sighed and said No Freakin Way! The Birds game is on!

Just kidding, I went down and kicked the ball around and played on the swingswith her and walked around the property a little and then came back and watched the game. Now I have to admit, the decision was made easier by my being able to DVR the game to watch later, but having watched that video above, at least it had a short term impact on me.

My goal now is to make it a long term change as well. Ask me about it sometime down the road to see if I kept to it, please. Oh, and give yourself a gift of taking 10 minutes to watch that video, please.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Spending time with two of my favorite women in a bar last night (sounds like a country song is about to git writ), my wife and also my sister, Laurie, we came to a little bit of a revelation.

There was a big campaign a year or so back called the It Gets Better Project (, intended " communicate to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth around the world that it gets better."

Here's the video:

And I think it goes without saying that that message is equally applicable to anyone in those tough teen years, especially, when you question where you fit in and wonder if you're doing "it" right...doing everything right...doing anything right.

And to anyone under the age of about 30 who is going through a bad stretch, it's a great message to tell them that It Gets Better.

What Laurie, Cheryl and I realized last night is that past a certain age, when one is going through a bad stretch, particularly with family or health problems, the way to feel better about your current situation?

It Only Gets Worse.

So, remind yourself: These are the good old days!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

I don't know which part about Miley Cyrus' VMA performance I liked least:

 - how raunchy it was and the message it sends to both young males and females about what is expected and is acceptable for a young woman to do in public, or

 - that that was my reaction to it.

It makes me sound like our parent's generation used to sound talking about anyone from Elvis Presley to Madonna. And things like that don't get better in future performances, they only get worse, especially given the impact on TV ratings and the publicity they generate for the performer. So, we have that to look forward to.

On the other hand, there was a story on Huffington Post yesterday showing clips from Miley's new video coming out soon, featuring her naked on a wrecking ball (yes, you read that right) and well, yeah, I clicked on it and watched (and no, I'm not including a link here). 

But she kept her tongue in her mouth so it was fine.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Most people love fireworks. I never really understood why until I figured out a week or two ago that I like fireworks sort of in the same way I like sex.

The first 10 minutes or so of fireworks is like foreplay. It's fun and all, but I'm mostly just looking forward to the grand finale.

At least until I met Cheryl that is! (Seriously.)

Sometimes I think my kids will get a kick out of this blog some day when they stumble across it and then there are posts that make me hope they never find it...and after reading this one, they will probably feel the same way.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Miscellaneous thoughts, all in one post, since none of them seem worthy of their own post:

Jamie's Rules:

 - The word "dish" should only be used in relation to food and never to words, as in: Matt Lauer dishes on Katie Couric! The most annoying thing about the way this has come to be used is that, in the unfortunate event one should try to read such drivel, it is mostly just the first person describing something about the second person that none of us would associate with our usual expectation of what we might see.


Why are only women ever described as being "sassy" or having sass? I guess a male can sass someone: "Don't you sass me, boy!", which along with the phrase "Oh no, you didenh!" has to be said in the supposed tongue of a large black woman, but you'll never see a male described as sassy anywhere.


According to my analytics, someone found my blog by googling: I'd like to be able to say that I just really don't even want to know, but I guess I did since I googled it. Nothing in google matched those words, but the bigger question is how the heck did that bring them to my site?

Other ways people got here? By googling: sports and sex and Taylor Swift in a bra. Sorry to disappoint you guys.


In the past week, 93 people from Russia have visited my site.

Ochin Pryatna, (former) comrades! Menya savute Jamie!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Note to self: Instead of trying to get ourselves to stop buying things we don't need, Cheryl and I should start wearing high heels when we shop.

TUESDAY, Aug. 27 (HealthDay News) -- The higher your heels, the smarter the shopper you will be.
That's according to new research that found having to focus on physical balance tends to lead to more balanced buying decisions.

"If you're someone who tends to overspend, or you're kind of an extreme person, then maybe you ought to consider shopping in high heels," study author Jeffrey Larson, a marketing professor at Brigham Young University, said in a university news release.

His team found that when consumers' minds are focused on staying balanced, they are more likely to consider all of their buying options and choose a mid-range product, as opposed to something high-end or of low quality.

Yo, Jeff, did you also consider the possibility that when you're wearing heels, your feet hurt so damn much, you don't want to spend all day shopping in them, you want to just get home and change into something more comfortable? Huh? Didja, huh?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Plus ca change, plus ca change.

Among the many things to remind us of how the world has changed since the 60’s when I was growing up, here’s one more.

The Phillies signed pitchers last week from these 3 teams:

-      The Normal Corn Belters

-      The Washington Wild Things

-      The Canberra Calvary
Possibly also worth noting...Two of the signed guys’ most recent ERA’s were 13.50 and 5.93.

Phillies add two new right-handers to GCL roster

The Phillies have needed some pitching help lately at the lower levels and have reached into the ranks of independent baseball and the Australian Baseball League for help. In the past week, they’ve signed three young pitchers, with the latest two joining the GCL Phillies.

Last week it was left-hander Ryan Demmin, who was signed by the Phillies after his contract was purchased from the Normal Corn Belters of the independent Frontier League. Demmin made a start for Lakewood last Friday, going eight innings and allowing just two unearned runs, which unfortunately was enough for him to suffer the loss. In the ever-popular procedural roster moves, Demmin was shuttle back-and-forth between Lakewood and Clearwater and there are rumors that he is heading to Reading to make a start for the Fightin Phils later this week.

Over the past few days, the Phillies have also signed two right-handers, Jordan Elliott and Chris Motta.

Elliott, who is a graduate of Delaware State, had his contract purchased from the Washington Wild Things of the Frontier League. According to one Phillies scout, Elliott was on the Phillies list of potential draftees in this past year’s draft, but they didn’t believe they would have room for him on a roster. Now, with pitching getting thin, they have signed him to a minor league deal for the remainder of the season.

In five seasons with Delaware State, Elliott was a combined 28-13 with a 4.08 ERA in 62 games, 55 of which were starts. With Washington this season, Elliott pitched in two games for a combined 1 1/3 innings and posted an ERA of 13.50 as a Wild Thing. He holds school records for wins (28), Innings Pitched (329) and is third in strikeouts (248).

Motta, pitched for the Canberra Cavalry of the Australian Baseball League last season. Motta made 12 starts for Canberra and was 3-3 with an ERA of 5.93, walking 30 and striking out 46 in 57 2/3 innings of work. Motta graduated from Concordia University and was recommended to the Cavalry by former Phillies pitcher Steve Schrenk, who is a former manager of the Cavalry.

Motta started his career at Concordia as a catcher and volunteered to take to the mound when the pitching staff was worn thin. A scout saw him pitching and recommended to him that he abandon catching for a career as a pitcher. Motta took the advice and finished his career at Concordia as a pitcher, going 1-1 with a 5.30 ERA in 10 relief appearances, totaling 18 innings.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

In fact, just the thought of it gives me a hashtagging headache.

Call me Old School but I don't use hashtags. I use the pound sign.

There was another one of "those" studies that came out recently that "found that employees who have sex frequently have significantly higher salaries than those who don't."

This raises a number of questions for me:

1 - When employers start to wonder if employee productivity has started to wane, should they encourage their employees to hook up with each other...maybe even re-purpose a little-used conference room? People people! I need your attention. I'm passing around a sign-up sheet for the Conubial Room for everyone so we can perk things up around here! Please remember to check off whether you would rather be paired up with your same gender, the other one, or for a solo session."

2 - Does it count just as much if one is uh, self-enjoying? Or could one do better by visiting some ladies of the evening? (Maybe that too should be in the employee benefit package if it helps the company.) But so was any of that covered in the study? Huh - was it?!

Oh darn - I just read past the headline to the rest of the article. It says that "The link between sexual activity and wages is the highest among employees between the ages of 26 and 50."

Talk about your diminishing returns. Time for a study that determines if there is a link between the theory that women lose interest, and men lose some physical ability after age 50 (neither of which happen to be true in our household, I feel it unfortunate though necessary to add!) with this study. Do wages decrease as the activity does? Or is it vice versa? Are people already satisfied with the income levels at those ages and don't need to increase it?

I think I need to write a government grant to study this further. Just don't count me in as a volunteer...unless they pay me...and it increases my income. Or maybe that's why it was true in the first place.

News item:

Reading Fightin Phils – Double A

The Reading Fightin Phils split a doubleheader with the Altoona Curve at Peoples Natural Gas Field in Altoona, Pa.

I’m not sure I’d want to go to a game at a stadium honoring Peoples Natural Gas.

It struck me today that as much as we on the left like to make fun of our right-wing friends for all the mistakes they've made in predicting the results of the Obama Presidency (still waiting for the economic collapse, the double digit inflation and stock market crash), we were just as wrong about the GW Bush Presidency.

Obama has been so, so much better than the Rs predicted, to their great dismay, and GWB was so, so much worse than we our great dismay.

Monday, August 12, 2013

It sometimes bugs me how many Republicans are constantly booked on the Sunday morning political talk shows - the most obvious, quantitative measure of how the main stream media skews to the right - all statistics show there are consistently more men, more Republicans, more white folks booked on those shows than Dems, women or minorities.

But after yesterday, I'm starting to think it's not such a bad thing, as explained by this article in Huffington Post:

As the author wrote: "Here is a message to the Republican Party, from me: Guys, I don't know if you've noticed this, but you are getting rooked pretty badly by the Sunday shows. Did y'all wake up today thinking that the best thing for your message was to have it carried by guys like Trump and Louis Gohmert and Steve King? I am guessing that's not the case. But that's who got booked, because nothing is better for ratings than a bunch of hot messes on the teevee."

"Look, Republican Party, there is probably nothing you can do about Donald Trump, because he is a unique, sparkling gas-sack unto himself. But can you guys see about keeping Gohmert and King occupied on Sunday mornings? Maybe give them both a sack of jacks and a rubber ball to bounce, or something? It would make my life better and it might even make your jobs easier as well."

It's kind of like the Republican debates, where the more people watched, the more people laughed at pretty much everything about the right-wing, from cheering the death penalty and their willingness to let people without health care just die to booing Iraq War vets. Shameful, yet shameless.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Interesting how according to the metrics/analytics of this blog, some of which only I can see and some of which can be seen down the right hand side of this blog, all the most viewed posts on this blog are of things having to do with sex or have pictures of sexy women (I should gratuitously add one here just to get more hits), but generally the only posts that get comments are on politics and are from the usual kinds of blog trolls, most of whom, from reading their writing, seemed to have dropped out of school in about 5th grade, which only seems to reinforce the stereotype of the standard uneducated Republican voter.

And oddly, the more stupidity I see in the comments only embolden me to write more about politics so said trolls have a chance to see a point of view they don't generally see from the overwhelmingly right-wing, conservative mainstream media that they feed on.

It's also remarkable how rarely the comments address anything I actually wrote in the post. More often, they see the topic and without speaking to the point I've made or trying to think it through and analyze the concepts (again the 5th grade education thing), they just pull the string in their backs and recite the right wing mantras that have virtually no basis in fact or merit.

And even more telling is how they all prefer to stay anonymous, hiding behind their screens, afraid to present themselves as clearly as I do, with no fear of their angry, self-incriminating comments. I actually feel sorry for them, that they don't have more pride in themselves.

One exception was a post some time back by a local gentleman named Anthony Oleck, who did have the courage to identify himself and I respect him for that. I actually wrote him a response to his comment, but it never posted for some reason. I thanked him for reading and for his comment and gave a few reasons why I didn't agree, and I also told him that I had written the editor of the Daily Local News and suggested that he and I do a weekly column in the paper debating any given topic, keeping the vitriol out of it, but presenting strong, fact-based arguments for our points of view.

Sadly, but predictably, the email to the editors of the Local was not responded to, probably for fear that they would be forced to actually present an occasional progressive view of something on a regular basis, which must have terrified them.

So, Mr. Oleck, if you check in again, thanks for reading, and for your comments.

Sappy stuff

Yesterday was my son, Trevor's 13th birthday. I don't want to write about that in the usual context of how old it makes me feels, since it doesn't and because that's not what's important here. And it would be easy to write the ole Where has the time gone?! But that isn't fair either, though it has an element of truth.

Instead I'll say the same thing I said in this Facebook page, which is that the last 12, though actually, it's 13, years of my life have been by far the best, though I could also frame it as the last 15, when Cheryl, Ev and Liss came permanently into my life, or the last 9+ since Emma was born.

But even more in terms of the Trevman, what I'd like to say is just how incredibly proud I am of him and the person he's become. I have never ever met anyone so relentlessly happy and upbeat. He never lets anyone get him down. Oh, his little sister knows how to push his buttons fer sure, but other than a quick flash of exasperation, Trev doesn't let that impact his overall mood.

And besides that attribute, I just love his enthusiasm about everything, including even himself.  "What did you like best about vacation, Trev?" "Everything!" Who was your favorite camper at Onas, Trev?" "Me!" And with no sense of conceit or ego. I just think Trev likes who he is. He likes being Trev. And I dare say pretty much everyone around him likes who he is too.

One other thing I'd like to say from a selfish standpoint, which is that I always imagined what it would like to be a dad, and the 4 kids I have have helped me exceed any and all dreams I ever had about what it would be like. I had ideas of things we would do together and the fun we would have and all that has happened many times over, but what I never realized was the capacity for love that I have and the way my kids make me feel.

This morning, getting ready for work, I saw one of the 100 or so unnecessary plastic objects in our house on the floor of our bedroom. It was a toy of some sort that one of the kids left there. And though my first reaction was probably a quick Grr that they'd left it there, that was quickly followed bya reminder of what that toy represents - the fun the kids have in their lives and the fun they've brought to my life and also that welling and swelling of love in my chest, that almost literally can take my breath away at times.

So, Trev, Ev, Emma and Liss - this is to all 4 of you, and you too, Ammar. Thank you so much for all you've done for me. Gawd knows, and you probably do too, the many things I wish I could do over differently and do better as a dad/stepdad, but I can only hope that each of you someday experience the love and reward that you have all given me many thousands of times over. And thanks to each of you for that.

I love you all.
 - Dad/Jamie
Wow, it's been a long time since I posted anything. I've had a number of thoughts of things I'd like to post, but I often wonder if I've already written it here somewhere since they are often things I've thought about a lot over the years. That leaves me with 3 options:

1 - Go through the whole blog to see if I've already written it.

2 - Don't take the time to look it up but write it anyway.

3 - Don't do either 1 or 2 above, taking the chance it'll never get written for fear of writing it more than once.

I think I'll go with #2 above based on the idea that if I don't remember if I wrote it, the readers probably won't either. So please excuse the possible early signs of Alzheimer's if you see the same topic written about twice.

(I am SO tempted to copy this entire post and then re-post it a second time, wondering if I'd already written about this. Oh, the hilarity.)

Friday, June 14, 2013

I was again thinking about the phrase I've heard so many times over the years about marriage, about how hard you have to work at it to make it a success, and again wondered what exactly that means, since I don't feel like I have to work all that hard at it.

It came to mind one evening as I was scrubbing a sink full of crusty baking pots and pans and it made me wonder if one definition or example of that hard work required is whenever you do something like I was doing just then, or doing anything that you wouldn't normally want to do if you were single - the things you do just for your partner, because he or she wants it that way, when you couldn't care less. For me, that includes a lot of little stuff like making the bed in the morning, keeping the bathroom counter clear, putting away shoes so they aren't all out on the floor near the side door and more than anything, swallowing some of my thoughts when they might lead to an argument because I know the argument just isn't that important.

I mentioned all that to Cheryl and she said, "Well, yeah, it might mean those things, but I think it just means not taking your partner for granted."


Unless he only used it to play Fourth of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)

If you were looking for a room to rent, and this ad intrigued you, I seriously think you need to reevaluate where your life has taken you:

Hello, I am looking for a lodger in my house. I have had a long and interesting life and have now chosen Brighton as a location for my retirement. Among the many things I have done in my life is to spend three years alone on St. Lawrence Island. These were perhaps the most intense and fascinating years of my life, and I was kept in companionship with a walrus whom I named Gregory. Never have I had such a fulfilling friendship with anyone, human or otherwise, and upon leaving the island I was heartbroken for months. I now find myself in a large house over looking Queens Park and am keen to get a lodger. This is a position I am prepared to offer for free (eg: no rent payable) on the fulfillment of some conditions. I have, over the last few months, been constructing a realistic walrus costume, which should fit most people of average proportions, and allow for full and easy movement in character. To take on the position as my lodger you must be prepared to wear the walrus suit for approximately two hours each day (in practice, this is not two hours every day - I merely state it here so you are able to have a clear idea of the workload). Whilst in the walrus costume you must be a walrus - there must be no speaking in a human voice, and any communication must entail making utterances in the voice of a walrus - I believe there aer recordings available on the web - to me, the voice is the most natural thing I have ever heard. Other duties will involve catching and eating the fish and crabs that I will occasionally throw to you whilst you are being the walrus. With the exception of this, you will be free to do whatever you choose, and will have a spacious double room, complete run of the house (with the exception of my bedroom and my workshop), and use of all facilities within. I am a considerate person to share a house with, and other than playing the accordion my tastes are easy to accommodate.

Due to the nature of this position I will need to audition all applicants before agreeing to take the chosen candidate on as a lodger. Please contact me if you have any questions.

I mean, seriously, who the hell could live on a day-to-day basis with someone who likes such a thing?

Well, unless he promised never to play the accordion while you were in the apartment. Then maybe we could talk.

Friday, June 7, 2013

My last political post for the day. This one is about the faux "scandal" involving the IRS, which has the usual right-wing media in a froth. Here's what you won't hear about on any major network since they seem to take most of their talking points from Fox:

An analysis of a list of groups approved for tax exempt status, released by the Internal Revenue Service in the wake of its admission to targeting conservative groups for heightened scrutiny, determined that of the groups approved, more than two-thirds were conservative.
The analysis, by Martin A. Sullivan of Tax Analysts, examined a list of 176 advocacy organizations that were ultimately approved for tax exempt status by the IRS during the period when the service admits to having targeted certain conservative groups with inappropriate criteria.
According to Sullivan's analysis, 122 of the groups were conservative, 48 were liberal or non-conservative and 6 remain of unidentified ideology.
The IRS released the list on May 15, after senior official Lois Lerner announced that the IRS had been inappropriately targeting conservative groups in its review of groups seeking tax exempt status for political activity.
The inappropriate targeting included the appearance of keywords like "tea party," "patriot" and "9/12" to sweep up groups for further review. Among the approved groups, 46 had names that include those words, according to Sullivan.
Sullivan's analysis, however, does not illuminate much about the targeting scandal. It shows that conservative groups were reviewed and approved more often than liberal groups, but it does not state the total number of conservative and liberal groups that applied for tax exempt status during that period. The analysis also does not identify the ideological breakdown of groups that applied and have not been approved, since the IRS is prevented by law from providing the names of groups still being processed by the service. All of these caveats are noted in the analysis.
At least one error was readily identifiable in the Tax Analysts' analysis. A group named U.S. Health Freedom Coalition is listed as a liberal or non-conservative group, when it was in fact created by the conservative group Americans for Prosperity as the principal funding mechanism for ballot initiatives opposing the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in Arizona and Ohio. The group is run by Eric Novack, a former Americans for Prosperity fellow and known conservative activist.

Again, if it weren't so serious, we in the Land Trust Community would be laughing over all this, since we've been targeting to the expense of millions of dollars by the IRS, but again, you won't see that reported in the mainstream right-wing media. In fact, it was a series done in the supposedly liberal Washington Post that started the IRS witch hunt.

Not exciting stuff, but pretty frustrating

And more on Food Stamps, which I first referenced in the article below this one. This time from Paul Krugman:

Estimates from the consulting firm Moody’s Analytics suggest that each dollar spent on food stamps in a depressed economy raises G.D.P. by about $1.70 — which means, by the way, that much of the money laid out to help families in need actually comes right back to the government in the form of higher revenue.
Wait, we’re not done yet. Food stamps greatly reduce food insecurity among low-income children, which, in turn, greatly enhances their chances of doing well in school and growing up to be successful, productive adults. So food stamps are in a very real sense an investment in the nation’s future — an investment that in the long run almost surely reduces the budget deficit, because tomorrow’s adults will also be tomorrow’s taxpayers.
So what do Republicans want to do with this paragon of programs? First, shrink it; then, effectively kill it.
The shrinking part comes from the latest farm bill ...which...would push about two million people off the program. You should bear in mind, by the way, that one effect of the sequester has been to pose a serious threat to a different but related program that provides nutritional aid to millions of pregnant mothers, infants, and children. Ensuring that the next generation grows up nutritionally deprived — now that’s what I call forward thinking.
And why must food stamps be cut? We can’t afford it, say politicians like Representative Stephen Fincher, a Republican of Tennessee, who backed his position with biblical quotations — and who also, it turns out, has personally received millions in farm subsidies over the years.
Look, I understand the supposed rationale: We’re becoming a nation of takers, and doing stuff like feeding poor children and giving them adequate health care are just creating a culture of dependency — and that culture of dependency, not runaway bankers, somehow caused our economic crisis.
But I wonder whether even Republicans really believe that story — or at least are confident enough in their diagnosis to justify policies that more or less literally take food from the mouths of hungry children. As I said, there are times when cynicism just doesn’t cut it; this is a time to get really, really angry.

Have they No Shame, part 2 million

There is generally no bill that moves through Congress other than the annual Defense budget bill that get me as upset as the Farm Bill. Seems like an innocuous sort of thing - Save the Farmers and all that. But this article in the NYT summarizes a little of my frustration with it, which usually has to do with the corporate welfare given to mega-agribusiness monstrosities like Monsanto and Archer-Daniels-Midland. Now the Rs aren't content just to do that, now they want to take food out of the mouths of the working poor at the same time:

The current versions of the Farm Bill in the Senate (as usual, not as horrible as the House) and the House (as usual, terrifying) could hardly be more frustrating. The House is proposing $20 billion in cuts to SNAP — equivalent, says Beckmann, to “almost half of all the charitable food assistance that food banks and food charities provide to people in need.” [2]

Deficit reduction is the sacred excuse for such cruelty, but the first could be achieved without the second. Two of the most expensive programs are food stamps, the cost of which has justifiably soared since the beginning of the Great Recession [3] , and direct subsidy payments.
This pits the ability of poor people to eat — not well, but sort of enough — against the production of agricultural commodities. That would be a difficult choice if the subsidies were going to farmers who could be crushed by failure, but in reality most direct payments go to those who need them least.
Among them is Congressman Stephen Fincher, Republican of Tennessee, who justifies SNAP cuts by quoting 2 Thessalonians 3:10: “For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: Anyone unwilling to work should not eat.”
Even if this quote were not taken out of context — whoever wrote 2 Thessalonians was chastising not the poor but those who’d stopped working in anticipation of the second coming — Fincher ignores the fact that Congress is a secular body that supposedly doesn’t base policy on an ancient religious text that contradicts itself more often than not. Not that one needs to break a sweat countering his “argument,” but 45 percent of food stamp recipients are children, and in 2010, the U.S.D.A. reported that as many as 41 percent are working poor.
This would be just another amusing/depressing example of an elected official ignoring a huge part of his constituency (about one in seven Americans rely on food stamps, though it’s one in five in Tennessee, the second highest rate in the South), were not Fincher himself a hypocrite.
For the God-fearing Fincher is one of the largest recipients of U.S.D.A. farm subsidies in Tennessee history; he raked in $3.48 million in taxpayer cash from 1999 to 2012, $70,574 last year alone. The average SNAP recipient in Tennessee gets $132.20 in food aid a month; Fincher received $193 a day. (You can eat pretty well on that.) [4]
Fincher is not alone in disgrace, even among his Congressional colleagues, but he makes a lovely poster boy for a policy that steals taxpayer money from the poor and so-called middle class to pay the rich, while propping up a form of agriculture that’s unsustainable and poisonous.

We are so used to welfare for the wealthy that most of us, sadly, shrug it off. But a Farm Bill extension does give an opportunity to end direct subsidy payments, rein in crop insurance, and protect the programs that are critical to our national identity and benefit those who deserve it.
It’s a simple solution, says Cox: “The legislators could decide not to reauthorize direct payments and invest some of the savings in good programs while still hitting budget reduction targets.” The Congressional Budget Office reports that this action would save about $5 billion per year, far more than the proposed potential savings of cutting SNAP and other beneficial programs while enhancing crop insurance. (The Senate proposes saving less than $2 billion annually, the House just over $3 billion.)
In other words, without hurting conservation or poor people or foreign aid or progressive and traditional farming, you could achieve targeted savings simply by letting direct payments go away and refusing to boost the crop insurance scam.
Boosters of crop insurance on steroids simply want a government guarantee of farm revenue. Maybe you don’t want to scream “communism!” but it’s the type of guarantee that no other industry in this country would dare to dream of.
Avoid fatalism: Call your representative (or at least support those agencies that are doing so) and insist that payments to people like Fincher be ended without replacing them with other subsidies to big ag. Let’s at least try to protect the poor, the environment and our national health.
The alternative is to wait for the second coming.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

My sister, Laurie posted a series of photos on Facebook from her recent visit with us. Looking at the photos of me, it strikes me that I have never looked older, heavier, happier or more in love with my family.

Sure beats being young, fit, grumpy and lonely, as I once was.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

So right on in today's DailyKos:

The media has gone into high boil over the actions of a handful of IRS employees in Cincinnati. The IRS is deliberately targeting political groups! They even admit it! Can impeachment be far behind?
Next step, tie this to Benghazi and any other fact-free psuedo-scandal close at hand. Step two, moan about the general incompetence and corruption of government. Step three, demand scalps — but not before there's time to spin out a good half dozen Sunday talk show seasons on Taxgazi, or Tax and Furious, or whatever brand the pundits decide has the most snap.
You know this one must be the real deal, because every news channel, newspaper, local anchor, radio nutjob, and water cooler wag is singing the same tune. Hell, even Jon Stewart is on step two.
There's just one minor problem: the exact purpose of the IRS office in question IS to look at political groups. Specifically, to weed out purely political groups that promote or oppose candidates from obtaining a tax status that's supposed to go to nonprofit educational organizations. The crime of the IRS agents in Cincinnati? They were doing their job.
But what about the specific targeting of Tea Party groups? Doesn't that show that this was all just a witch hunt against groups with right wing ideologies? Uh, no. It came up at exactly the time the office was getting flooded with a bunch of hastily prepared applications spewing from the Tea Party's messy birth. The edict went out expressly because the office was being flooded with a bunch of hastily prepared, clearly political, applications all using very similar terms. In fact, the entire group of IRS employees in question was created to address the influx of possibly political applications. If the office had suddenly received a hundred applications for exempt status all claiming to be from the Sierra Club, wouldn't you want them to pay a bit more attention? I would. What if those applications had all been from groups using Muslim Brotherhood in their titles? Would the same pundits still be on the air screaming about the IRS getting all political?
Behind all this are the staggering numbers. Out of thousands of applications, only a handful were rejected. You know what happens while a nonprofit organization is waiting to get this approval? They get to operate as a nonprofit organization. The harm caused by this action is exactly zero, and exactly no groups have sued the IRS in response to their rejection. They simply amended the application and tried again.
These are agents doing their job. They responded to an unusual influx of groups with political language in their applications all going after a designation that excludes groups that carry out many political actions.
The only scandal here is that this is being reported as if the IRS did something wrong in injecting itself into politics. The law requires that the IRS inject itself into politics. Don't like it? Change the law. Don't attack the people trying to enforce it.

Not only that, but those of us in the Land Trust community are getting such a laugh out of all this. Land trusts have been targeted for the past 5-6 years by the IRS undergoing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of audits. We even invite them to our annual Land Trust Conference, where the IRS holds seminars to bring us up to date on their progress, but it's all such a witchhunt since they are finding so little relative to what they're spending.

Something tells me the Tea Party groups won't be taking the same approach.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

As much for posterity as any other reason, I'll post this here for future reference.

My letter in today's Daily Local News:|met:300|cat:0|order:4
This was an interesting article in the NYT last week about confidence in women and men. Some interesting quotes from the story and my reactions:

“I firmly believe one of the unintended consequences of the feminist revolution has been that men in my generation are raised without a strong self-identity, and, in essence, grow up to be little more than boys looking for mothers.”

As much as I'd like to believe that, I'm not sure men weren't looking to marry a woman like their mom back in the day anyway. It was just accepted that it was that way. Now a man is expected to do many of those things himself. We don't like it, but we understand it.

One 58-year-old mom wrote that mothers “might as well have had, as a friend of mine puts it, ‘our vocal cords cut.’ We want to talk in nice voices and stay calm and sit down and have a heart-to-heart. Our children want the five-minute version — direct, to the point. They come back at anything we say with smart remarks that knock the wind out of our sails.”

Kids don't want the 5-minute version - they want the 5-second version.

More women wrote about conflicts with other women than about conflicts with men. One retired Army officer wrote, “Girls and women are highly critical of any other girl or woman who exhibits confidence. Men, on the whole, do not ‘shut down’ women who are intelligent and confident, but women do.”

This was my favorite part of the whole article. Women like to blame men for their lack of achievement in the workplace, but this suggests it is other women that play more of a role. Not sure that's true though, or won't be until women are in more positions of power to be in a position to have that power, but maybe it's truer in companies I've never worked for.

 “As a believer in Jesus Christ, I see myself as redeemed, forgiven and covered in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. I believe that this is how God sees me, all the time and without exception. I believe that his smile and delight in me is unwavering. This view of myself is quite simple yet with profound implications. It allows me to accept criticism without self-condemnation and to accept affirmations without exalting myself. This is the ideal view of myself that I am always working at. It is a struggle, but a good one.”

Needless to say, I'm not the classic Christian she is, but I love her point anyway. What's wrong with having flaws, whether we realize them ourselves or others point them out to us, in either a constructive or sarcastic or attacking way. It's all okay. We're all flawed. The main point is to take those criticisms and analyze them to see if we see truth in the observation and try to do better.

(There is another blog post to come, if I remember, based on the idea that "It's all okay...all of it...everything." And it is as simple as it is profound.)

Anyway, I sent the entire article to the ya-ya's and yo-yo's and one of the two reactions to it was this:

Dear Jamie Louise (inside ya-yo humor), Thanks for the David Brooks article I really got a kick out of it because I was just talking to a young 30ths daughter of a friend about the differences in Men and women today.I believe women are no longer willing to put up with "the power over" good ole boy syndrome of the past several hundred years. They are remembering their feminine powers which include use of intuition as a way of knowing, and many old ways of healing,body, mind and spirit. Women also see life in a fuller spectrum of color and emotion,possibly because we give birth and have to be caregivers. Anyway, it's my opinion that throughout history men have found these powers threatening at different times and in certain ways and thus the use of Physical power over was used to control and contain.  History is not a pretty picture. We seemed doomed to repeating our mistakes and there has been continuous war on the planet since the beginning. Maybe" Herstory" could offer something new. Maybe men and women could not compete but work as partners where everyone gets to bring all there gifts to the table.Women wouldn't have to be like men in order to succeed. Love ,in other words could reign, instead of fear. If we look to the microcosm,  a marriage let's say. Where each is loved and respected and encourage to grow and develop and be in true team partnership. How great is that. And couldn't the macrocosm be just an expansion of those principles. I really also don't believe that if given a choice, any mother that birthed a baby wants to send that child to war. Women are on the rise and my prayer is that men will not be intimidated, but will support the movement and we can change the world side by side blowing wind beneath each others wings. These are just some of my thoughts. Love you Jamie and hope to see ya soon, Karen Louise

To which I responded:
J “Jamie Louise” J I love that.

I agree with everything you say here, but I would put it another way. I think women have far more power than men, but don't understand how to harness it…or, as you say, may need to remember how to use it. It’s kind of like Dorothy in the WoOz, with her ruby slippers. She had the power all along. All she had to do is use it.
Easier said than done, I know, but you’re right – Love is the most powerful tool of all! I love you too, Karen Louise and I hope to see you and Jack sometime soon too. – Jamie Louise!

Monday, May 6, 2013

This is such a great article in last week's NY Times.

I wanted to excerpt parts of it, but there's not much I wouldn't want to highlight. That said, here is the best of it:

Democrats got 1.4 million more votes for all House positions in 2012 but Republicans still won control with a cushion of 33 seats.

Look at how different this Republican House is from the country they are supposed to represent. It’s almost like a parallel government, sitting in for some fantasy nation created in talk-radio land.

As a whole, Congress has never been more diverse, except the House majority. There are 41 black members of the House, but all of them are Democrats. There are 10 Asian-Americans, but all of them are Democrats. There are 34 Latinos, a record — and all but 7 are Democrats. There are 7 openly gay, lesbian or bisexual members, all of them Democrats.
Only 63 percent of the United States population is white. But in the House Republican majority, it’s 96 percent white. Women are 51 percent of the nation, but among the ruling members of the House, they make up just 8 percent. (It’s 30 percent on the Democratic side.)

 Now let’s look at how the members govern:
To date, seven bills have been enacted. Let’s see, there was the Responsible Helium Administration and Stewardship act — “ensuring the stability of the helium market.” The Violence Against Women Act was renewed, but only after a majority of Republicans voted against it, a rare instance of letting the full House decide on something that the public favors. Just recently, they rushed through a change to help frequent air travelers — i.e., themselves — by fixing a small part of the blunt budget cuts that are the result of their inability to compromise. Meal assistance to the elderly, Head Start for kids and other programs will continue to fall under the knife of sequestration.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Every now and then, a blogger on Dailykos lists some of his favorite signature lines---aka the links, quotes, or other words of wisdom that some add to the bottom of their comments  --- that he's come across.

I see them and I think - I wish I'd thought to say that! Here are my faves from the most recent list:
- I don't mind if you're straight. Just don't flaunt it in public. (Chrisove)

- I can think of no more stirring symbol of man's humanity to man than a fire engine. -- Kurt Vonnegut (SteelerGrrl)
- Lanza's mom ar-15...Glock 20...Sig 9mm...nine full 30 round ammo mom has..cookies. (Arrow)

- You can safely assume you have created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do. --Anne Lamott (zooecium)

- Minority rights should never be subject to majority vote. (lostboyjim)

- The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness. -- John Kenneth Galbraith (richardak)

- Give blood. Play hockey. (flycaster)

- liberal bias = failure to validate or sufficiently flatter the conservative narrative on any given subject (RockyMtnLib)

- Send your old shoes to the new George W. Bush library. (maxschell)

Here's mine:

 - Jamie

Friday, April 12, 2013

And of course it goes without saying that the more we do of #4, the more we'll get of #5

Seems to me women want men to be as complex as they (women) are, so that there is something, some mysterious key to “figuring us out” and women are continually surprised and disappointed that we’re as simple as we are.

1 - Food
2 - Football
3 - Fucking
4 - Farting

(and yeah, probably in that order once we're married. #3 was probably higher before we got married.)

Once women get that, they’ve got 90% of us. Oh, wait, those 4 and:

5 - The need for space…lots of space.

And we men want women to be as simple as we men are and we are continually surprised and disappointed that they’re as complex as they are.

And believe me, I'm not even a little bit proud of any of that from my perspective.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Ask guys in my age-range about their memories of their first experience in going to a ballgame, and I'll bet a majority, even if it's only 51%, would refer to the least likely of answers: The Colors.

Because most of us grew up without a color TV until I was out of college I think, when I went to my first game at old Connie Mack Stadium in 1966 (in fact, here's the boxscore - I remember so much about that game!), as I walked through the vomitorium (look it up - it's not what you think), ok, through the entrance under the seats into the seating area, it was like Dorothy stepping out of her house into Munchkinland - oh, what bright, vivid colors!

The dazzling green grass, the white chalk lines, the fire engine red seats, the blue I-don't-remember-what, I just remember vivid blues too! Just dazzling.

Oh, and I also went to the last game ever played at Connie Mack, which is probably worthy of a blog post of its own, but in case someone comes across a bright red seat in the garage some day and it looks like this:

just the seat part, not the back, well, that's where it came from.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

My first impressions from last night's Phillies opener, as emailed to a friend:

I think Cole really missed Chooch last night. I like Kratz, but the 2 of them didn’t seem to be jiving real well and Hamels’ pitch selections were weird and he seemed rushed. Hopefully first game jitters, but hard to understand from a former World Series MVP.

I like Revere but I don’t see him hitting one out this year without a lot of wind behind him. We have a pool on him in our fantasy league. I have 8/4/13, but that includes inside-the-parkers.

I didn’t mind Cholly starting Mayberry last night. Nix looks totally lost. I wonder if he’ll keep Revere at the top of the lineup against lefties. I kind of hope not. But I do like their lineup in general. I think they’ll score a lot of runs.

Everyone’s concerned about Halladay. I think you can book something in the 12-12 4.20 ERA range. I think Kendrick may be even more of a key and a variable this year oddly. Is he the guy who led the majors in ERA the last 5-6 weeks of 2012 or the guy who got hammered in his last exhibition game?

M Young stunk at 3B last night on 3 different plays, I think. He better get better.

I love Freddie Galvis and I think he could play 15+ years in the bigs. I even think he has an offensive future too. Of course, so do I, and that future is 0/0/.000.

I’m not going to waste any time getting to hate the Uptons. Done.

Oh, I forgot to mention in the email, all the Uptons except one:

Cheryl likes to cite the annual WIP Wing Bowl as an example of the most obvious sign of the coming apocalypse...

but there's a better one in my view.

When I was a kid, besides literally having to walk a half mile to the bus, uphill both ways (to the end of Black Horse Road at rte. 401), it was the kids who tried to cheat on tests (not me!!!) and the teachers who caught them and turned them in.

Now it's the teachers who cheat and the kids who turn them in:

3 dozen school administrators and teachers indicted in Atlanta cheating scandal

By Kate Brumback, Associated Press / March 30, 2013 at 9:35 am EDT


Juwanna Guffie was sitting in her fifth-grade classroom taking a standardized test when, authorities say, the teacher came around offering information and asking the students to rewrite their answers. Juwanna rejected the help.

"I don't want your answers, I want to take my own test," Juwanna told her teacher, according to Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard.

On Friday, Juwanna — now 14 — watched as Fulton County prosecutors announced that a grand jury had indicted the Atlanta Public Schools' ex-superintendent and nearly three dozen other former administrators, teachers, principals and other educators of charges arising from a standardized test cheating scandal that rocked the system.

According to Howard, Juwanna eventually told her sister and later told the district attorney's investigators. Still confident in her ability to take a test on her own, Juwanna got the highest reading score on a standardized test this year.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Sitting in my car at a 4 lane intersection, waiting with a couple dozen cars waiting for the light to change, I thought:

Wouldn't it be fun to have a fake gruesome head or a big snake that you could hang upside down from the end of a telescoping pole that you could poke out your window and extend it out to the front of the car in front of you and hang over their front window?

We have heard anecdotes about the reactions from people just seconds before they die, such as when Steven Jobs died, he said Oh WOW! and died moments later. And we hear from people who have had NDEs (Near Death Experinces) where they were clinically dead for short periods, and they come back and tell us of the amazing beauty they saw on the other side.

And for the people who experience those NDEs and come back, they often tell of refusing to die, that there was someone or some people they still wanted to spend more time with, such as their children.

I wonder how often people in those situations actually have an option of refusing to die, and how many of them are so overcome with the beauty on the other side that they think - heck, this is nice - I'm stayin'!

Seems like more and more over the past decade you can tell whether someone is more likely to vote Republican or Democrat by figuring out first and foremost which upsets them more:

How little the rich have to pay in taxes or how little the poor have to pay in taxes.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

I went to a few funerals earlier this month, each for someone of my parents' generation. At the second of the two, there were so many people there, in a non-denominational setting, that I had to stand along one side of the packed room, giving me an opportunity to spend time, as I waited for it to start, looking at the assembled mourners.

To say that I was among the 5 youngest non-family attenders of the hundred or so gathered was obvious. It was a very grey looking crowd (not that I'm not!). And it made me wonder...

I think part of the appeal for young women in going to weddings, besides the opportunity to dress up and to dance and drink and celebrate and be among friends, is the chance to imagine what her big day will be like - a day they spend a good portion of their young fantasy life imagining things like what color schemes they'll use, what flowers they'll carry, who'll be in it, where it'll be, who they'll invite. I'm sure I can't even make a dent in all the things they have to consider. All with the goal of making it just perfect.

So, as I looked around the room at the 70- and 80+ year olds, I found myself wondering if part of their interest in attending any given funeral was for the same reasons: to imagine what they want their service to be like - who would speak, where it would be, and ultimately wondering if people would say as nice things about them as were being said about the person they were actually there to honor.

I have to admit, I've given some thought to that last point myself. I'm sure there are enough decent things I've done that people can scrounge up a few fond memories or traits they had the chance to observe, but I also know no one would be out of line in saying a few things about what a grump I could be. I'm not proud of that part of me, but it is me and all's fair, not just in love and war, but also, I suppose, in death.

But in the end, all I really want to know is what Father Guido Sarducci would say about all this

Trev and I go to a thing called Guys Read at the local library every month where dads and sons discuss whatever book they've chosen to read the previous month.

At the meeting earlier this month, the boys were off discussing what kind of superpowers they'd give their own alien, leaving the 4-5 dads to make small talk, which is routinely awkward, none of us being the sort of outgoing, jovial-types who thrive in such situations.

But this time, someone brought up the topic of the Pope having recently announced that he was going to resign and one dad said the rumors had already started as to what the real reason for it could be.

I quickly said that I hoped it was not some new scandal that would surface, as the church, and any of us even barely interested (which would describe my level) had already had way more than they/we could handle.

But then he went on to say that one theory was that the Pope may have been previously married or fathered (Or would it be Fathered) a child, at which point, I, perhaps a little too excitedly, corrected my point, saying I hope that if the scandal involves something illegal, then I hope it doesn't happen, but if it involves something legal, like marriage (gasp!) or father hood (Oh, no, say it ain't so, yer Eminarience!), then I very much hope it does come out as true.

God, I would love that. I'd like to say that the previous sentence was an actual request to God, but of course, he doesn't listen to me, just the Pope, so no point in my trying to bother him.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Cheryl and I had an awesome weekend away a few weeks back. I'd call it a Red Berenson weekend, though to be fair, he accomplished his amazing feat in 60 minutes, where it took us almost exactly 60 hours, going from late Friday night to Sunday afternoon.

I'm not sure he scored again the next night though, so we have that going for us.

Mirrors can have SOME value if used correctly

Dailykos had an interesting piece yesterday excerpting from that day's NY TImes:

This is a great, lengthy piece about young techno-savvy Republicans thinking Mitt Romney lost because of Twitter. But among the wealth of information in it, there's this:

The [young, working-class] all-female focus group [in Ohio] began with a sobering assessment of the Obama economy. All of the women spoke gloomily about the prospect of paying off student loans, about what they believed to be Social Security’s likely insolvency and about their children’s schooling. A few of them bitterly opined that the Democrats care little about the working class but lavish the poor with federal aid. “You get more off welfare than you would at a minimum-wage job,” observed one of them. Another added, “And if you have a kid, you’re set up for life!”

About an hour into the session, Anderson walked up to a whiteboard and took out a magic marker. “I’m going to write down a word, and you guys free-associate with whatever comes to mind,” she said. The first word she wrote was “Democrat.”

“Young people,” one woman called out. “Liberal,” another said. Followed by: “Diverse.” “Bill Clinton.”“Change.”“Open-minded.”“Spending.”“Handouts.”“Green.”“More science-based.”

When Anderson then wrote “Republican,” the outburst was immediate and vehement: “Corporate greed.”“Old.”“Middle-aged white men.” “Rich.” “Religious.” “Conservative.” “Hypocritical.” “Military retirees.” “Narrow-minded.” “Rigid.” “Not progressive.” “Polarizing.” “Stuck in their ways.” “Farmers.”

A similar panel with men didn't go much better:

None of them expressed great enthusiasm for Obama. But their depiction of Republicans was even more lacerating than the women’s had been. “Racist,” “out of touch” and “hateful” made the list — “and put ‘1950s’ on there too!” one called out.

Holy crap! These focus group respondents hate Republicans more than we do at Daily Kos! Asked what would make them change their mind and be more open to Republicans, the respondents urged Republicans to drop social issues, to drop opposition to science, and be more willing to compromise—hilarious advice in the context of the Hagel filibuster.

Democrats need to do more to lock in this vote—show real fortitude in the battle against Wall Street excesses, for one. They have to prove they're on the side of working class Americans, not the one percent. But our team's challenge is nothing like theirs. The more Democrats take the fight to Wall Street, the happier our base. Witness Elizabeth Warren. But Republicans only infuriate their base by de-emphasizing abortion, gay marriage, opposition to science and brown people.

In other words, exactly counter to Democrats, what Republicans need to do to win is mutually exclusive with what the conservative base will allow them to do.

After years of demonizing the "other" and winning elections on racial and gay bigotry, this is nothing short of remarkable.

There is so much here that is noteworthy, but instead of focuing on the (too obvious) shortcomings of the Right, it is another example to me that there is one single issue the Dems need to address that would keep them in majority power for decades to come and it is what i've highlighted in red above. I hear that over and over when people are complaining about the democratic party and is something we need to come to grips with. We are doing a lot of gloating lately, (see my post below about vindication) and with good reason, but we'd be very wise to spend as much time looking critically inward as outward.