Archive for September, 2012

Rentschler Pics

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Here are some pics of Rentschler from yesterday’s Scout Day, all from the Fifty.

Obviously, that last one isn’t from the fifty…

A Good Day

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We met the boy’s fellow Cub Scout buddies around 8:30 this morning. It was just a coffee and donut start to the day. Coffee for me and the other parents, donuts for the kids. Caffeine versus sugar- if we’d left them together for too long, sugar would have won.

The ride down to the stadium went surprisingly quickly. We made one pit stop to pick up some simple tailgating supplies along the way. We were keeping things pretty simple.

We arrived at Rentschler Field a little after 10. Game time today was noon. The boy was full of questions about football. Who to cheer for? Does offense have the ball or defense? What’s a down? I weathered them as best I could while trying to concentrate on not getting into an accident. The boy is constant priority interrupt and the lanes marked out to guide vehicles to a parking lot are narrow. The parking attendants aren’t too friendly either.

I got a brief sense of relief as we drove by the stadium- it looked like we’d have pretty good parking spots within site of the stadium. I even told the boy as much. The thought made him happy ’cause he didn’t want to have to walk very far.

But then we kept going. And going. And going. In the end, I was right that we were still within site of the stadium, but only because of the lights sitting atop it.

Once the parking was set, the boy and his buddies immediately started tossing a football around. There was grabbing and yelling and laughing and occasionally, the ball changed hands and it started all over again. I decided to wade into the middle of it all and started tossing them the ball. We were in between a couple rows of cars with real tailgating going on around us. None of the Scouts had very good control over their throwing and there were several near misses on tailgaters. Thankfully, they took it all in stride.

The time went by quickly. We finished our snacks and then packed up and headed to the field to pick up our tickets and get to our seats. The kids didn’t even bother complaining about the long walk. They were too busy chatting about the upcoming game and rooting for the Huskies.

Our seats weren’t top-of-the-line, but they were pretty darn good- front row, corner endzone on the visitor side of the field. It was Scout day, so we were sitting with Scouts all around us. Once the game started, there was plenty of hooting and hollering. The older Scouts were yelling for the cheerleaders. When they finally came by I joked with our guys to keep their eyeballs in their heads. The boy joked about his sister wanting to be a cheerleader.

The Jumbotron was a huge hit for all the kids. They probably watched it more than the live action on the field in front of them. The boy had an overpriced hot dog and drink. I had an overpriced pulled-pork sandwich. How overpriced? The sandwich was $10; a 7lb slab of pork butt costs $15. Next time, we’ll be a little more aggressive with the tailgating. But then, the boy enjoyed his overpriced soda. At least it was more soda than ice.

Sometime in the 4th quarter, the Boy Scouts made there way down and started pounding on a tarp in from of us, chanting “Let’s Go UConn!” and stuff. Our guys joined in and the camera man came by and filmed them cheering on the Huskies.

The kids started getting antsy in the 2nd half for the field. Being Scout day, it had been arranged that the Scouts would get a chance to go on the field after the game. With about 5 minutes to go, and the game more or less settled, we started heading for the far end of the field where we’d been told access to the field would be granted. Our guys kept trying to race with one another to be the first one. It was pointless though, because the marching band had taken the field. And yes, they refused to yield. I still don’t know what was the deal…

Ahem. Sorry.

While we were waiting for the band’s performance to end, the boys noticed the large crate of footballs that had been brought on th field. They could barely believe their good fortune that so many of them were available. After the band finished their set, we were finally allowed on the field.

Even though I rarely get the opportunity, I still feel at home on the field. I spent the better part of 8 years on them during the Fall. It was nice to be back on one. Even though it was crawling with Scouts.

The boy didn’t actually get a ball when we first got on the field. They had run out. But one of his Scout buddies had, and they immediately starting tossing it around. I wandered to the 50 to take a few pictures. When I got back, the boy had managed to procure his own ball. We tossed it around a bit, then he wanted to throw it through the uprights. So we tossed it back and forth that way for awhile.

Then we started to have a little fun.

It had thinned out a bit around midfield so the boy and I moved into that area. We started about 10 yards apart. After he caught a few, I stepped back a few yards and kept going. He caught a few more and I stepped back a bit more. He caught a few of those and he started getting a smile on his face. He was catching a real football from farther than he’d ever managed before.

After a few more reps, my arm and shoulder were warmed up and we were now about 30 yards apart. I varied between lobbing them in and putting some zip on them. He was into it now, caching them with his hands when he could. Giving it his best shot when he couldn’t. His arm got tired and he couldn’t make the throws back to me anymore, so I’d move closer to make the throw easier, then move back to make a throw to him. We were 35 yards apart with him on the 50 and he was still catching the ball. It had thinned out more where he was at, and some of his buddies were hanging around him.

So I did the only reasonable thing. I stepped back to the goalline and let fly.

There’s something about a football sailing 50 yards through the air. The tight spiral, the arc of it’s flight. It’s just fun to watch. It’s also irresistible to anyone near the landing zone. As such, the boy never had a chance to catch it because every other Scout within 5 yards wanted to catch it as well.

The boy never did catch anything from that far. But he had a lot of fun trying.

Unsurprisingly, he fell asleep on the ride home.

Our arrival back home was well timed. The Wife had just finished making dinner and serving herself and the lass. The lass had scored a goal in her soccer game. The Wife had found some new shoes. A good day for everyone.

Later, when it was time for bed, the boy told me “Dad, I wish we could have stayed on the field longer throwing the ball. It was more fun than I thought it would be.”

That’s the cruel side of fun, that it has to come to an end. But then, there’s always a next time.

M&M

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Keeping up with his martial arts training, the boy graduated to his next belt level tonight. He’s now a full red belt, as opposed to a striped red. He did well, showing off some of his sparring skills and demonstrating the new form he learned.

But the highlight of the night came at the end of the graduation when he was awarded his new belt. The head instructor asked him if he knew what his last name meant in English. The boy nodded and said “The mountain.”

The instructor smiled and then said “Yes, you and your father. I think I’m going to start calling you ‘M&M’. You know what that stands for?”

The boy shook his head. None of use knew.

“It’s short for ‘Mini Mountain’.”

The boy got a big grin on his face and their was a good laugh all around.

I think it’s going to stick- a couple of the higher ranking kids told him afterwards they would start referring to him as “Mr. M&M” in class. The boy, to his credit, took it all without much fuss.

Now that he’s home, he’s not to keen on it. But I explained to him, that’s the thing about nicknames. The person in question doesn’t get any say in their selection.

Will College be Worth It?

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I see a lot of articles along these lines on the intertubes anymore:

When are Americans going to wake up and realize that the 60s and 70s-era nostalgia for the “value” of a college degree is just that — nostalgia?

A degree does not guarantee you or your children a good job anymore. In fact, it doesn’t guarantee you a job: last year, 1 out of 2 bachelor’s degree holders under 25 were jobless or unemployed. Since the recession, we’ve lost millions of high- and mid-wage jobs — and replaced a handful of those with lower-wage ones. No wonder some young people are giving up entirely — a 16.8 percent unemployment rate plus soaring student loan debt is more than a little discouraging.

I really don’t have any idea about this. When I got to be a junior in high school, everyone was talking about college. Or it seemed that way. It was a forgone conclusion that college was a required next step before getting a meaningful job.

Strictly speaking, that thinking was incorrect. But it seems more incorrect than ever now, with the debt load that college imposes on a student, or their parents.

I often think about the plumber for my parents. He’s been taking care of plumbing needs for my parents for years now. He charges minimally $300-$400 for a visit. He typically makes 3 visits a day, 5 days a week. Do the math and that’s a pretty good living. Add in the fact that it’s there are almost certainly a lot of jobs that he charges way more than $400 and it’s likely a real good living.

It’s not just plumbers either. I know other trades people that also make a nice living for themselves.

It’ll be interesting to see where things like this end up by the time the boy and the lass have to worry about these kinds of choices.

Parents Shouldn’t Apologize

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I was sitting at the dojang today watching the boy go through his stripe testing. This time around was kind of a big deal for him, as he’s about to earn his next belt level. The warm-up phase of the class had just ended and the instructors released the kids for a water break. The boy went over to the bubbler, but one of his classmates came over to the parent’s viewing area and asked her Dad: “Do you have my water bottle?”

He kind of raised his hands in defeat and replied “I must have left it on the counter at the house, sorry.”

And I couldn’t help but think “Why is he apologizing?” Is his daughter incapable of keeping track of her own water bottle? If the same thing had happened with the lass, my response would have been “You must have left it on the counter.” And the lass is at least a couple years younger than this girl.

Then I realized that I see quite a bit of these sorts of exchanges between kids and parents: child asks for something, parent sheepishly apologizes for not being able to satisfy the child’s request. I suppose part of it can be attributed to just being an automatic response given the situation.

But that doesn’t mean it’s a correct response or even an appropriate response.

Apologizing to a child puts them in the driver’s seat. You’ve “screwed up” and owned up to it all in one sentence, so now you owe them or need to make it up. That puts a parent at a disadvantage and makes the job of parenting more difficult. They get to blame you instead of owning up to their own mistake. Do it enough and an outsider might begin to wonder just who is the boss in that relationship.

Plus, taking the blame for something a child should be responsible for isn’t doing them any favors. They miss an opportunity to learn from their own mistake. It’s hard enough to get them to do admit to making a mistake as it is; forget about it when the parents starts voluntarily taking the blame. Generally speaking, there’s no better teacher than making a mistake. A child does it a few times and is forced to suffer the consequences, they’ll figure out how to correct things on their own. Heck, it’s the best weapon in the parental arsenal! Why relinquish it?

That’s not to say it’s as easy as all that. They’ll do whatever they can to pass the blame off:

“It was your job!”

Proper response: “Uh, no it wasn’t.”

“Yes it was!”

Proper response: “You mean in addition to feeding you, helping you with homework, driving you to after-school activities, museums and zoos, and cleaning your clothes? I can do all that and you can’t keep track of this one thing?”

“It’s your fault for not reminding me!”

Multiple possible responses: “I did remind you, several times” or “Why should I have to remind you. It’s your class, I’m driving you there, we’ve gone through this enough times that you should know.”

“The dog ate my homework!”

Proper response: “I told you not to do homework at the table after eating a PB&J sandwich.”

Anyway, I think the idea is pretty clear hear. No apologies necessary.

New Nooks Coming

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Lilliputing has some first impressions of the new Nook tablet style readers coming out for the holiday season. The Nook HD and the Nook HD+ are the new additions, the former a 7″ model and the latter a 9″ model.

It’s nice to see that they are running a more modern version of Android, at V4.0, which was supposedly a watershed moment for the OS in terms of user experience. Physically, if the pictures are accurate respecting the final version, looks like the distinctive carabiner is gone, at least on one of the models (the 7″ possibly?) They’ve also made some nice improvements in terms of making it more that just a reader, adding Bluetooth and B&N’s own video store. Most importantly, they’ve got a nice price point with the basic model starting at $199.

I’ll look forward to seeing some more reviews as we get closer to a launch date.

On That Whole “Integrity of the Game” Thing

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Who’s protecting the integrity of the game?

The locked out officials who make more as part time workers than most full-time workers and whose absence is, according to some, lowering the quality of the game?

The NFL players and coaches who are actively trying to take advantage of the replacement referee’s inexperience by bullying or manipulating them?

The sports media who have clearly taken sides against the NFL owners and are blowing up every little call and non-call the replacement officials make into controversies, creating the impression of a league in chaos?

Or the NFL owners, who, faced with a labor issue created by their current officials and compounded by forced solidarity from college officials, had to rely on more inexperienced people to officiate the games? These replacement officials have been receiving constant training from the league the entire time so the NFL could continue with it’s season.

Just wondering.

About that Touchdown Call…

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Well, last night’s post was timely, no?

They say “reasonable minds can disagree.” By that standard, last night’s controversial ruling by the officials demonstrates that the sports media is completely unreasonable. As for fans, we already knew they are unreasonable- that’s the point and the joy of being a fan.

I’ve watched the replay from all the different angles and I’ve come to the conclusion that the call was a reasonable judgment by the officials. When the players come down to the ground to establish possession, both players have both hands on the ball. That cannot be disputed when watching replay. There’s plenty of BS about Tate only having one arm on the ball, but it’s false. He has an arm and a hand. The defender is on top of him and able to make it look like he has “more” possession of the ball, but that doesn’t matter. Both players can reasonably be determined to have possession; thus, simultaneous possession.

As for the missed PI call- bah. Happens all the time. But that gives me a chance to point something out that is being missed in the rush to crucify the replacement refs and, by proxy, the NFL owners.

The regular officials make controversial calls all the time. They make mistakes all the time. But because they are the “regular officials,” everyone gives them deference.

Not so with these replacement guys. They get no deference what-so-ever. Not from the players. Not from the coaches. And not from the sports media. Thus, anything that could have been ruled another way is magically transformed into “the regular guys wouldn’t have made that call.” Any missed calls become “The regular guys wouldn’t have missed that call.” Any incorrect calls, like the roughing the passer call on the Packers last night, become “The regular guys wouldn’t have made that mistake.”

These comparisons are all crap. I’ve been watching pro football avidly since 1980. I’ve slowly watched the pass interference penalty evolve from an obscure, almost-never made call to become a staple of the game now- along with the introduction of defensive holding and the 5-yard zone. I watched instant-replay go from a media-driven wishlist item to become a full-blown part of the game. In all that time, I’ve seen more blown calls going every which way imaginable- phantom holding calls that affected Super Bowls, blown overtime coin tosses on Thanksgiving day, uncalled pass interference penalties, missed fumbles. You name it, it’s happened on the “regular official” watch. In prime time games and doormat games.

Until now, though, people pissed and moaned with only the most die-hard fans holding a grudge. There was no one else to make those calls, and the NFL wasn’t in the business of overturning game results. Not one game in all the years I’ve watch has been overturned by the NFL.

But now, the script is different. We’ve got a bunch of new guys making calls, and suddenly, every mistake, real or perceived, is up for debate. Suddenly, the “regular officials” with years of mistakes and blown calls behind them are a “gold standard” for officiating who have never made mistakes. Thus, the press and all the Monday- and Tuesday-morning armchair football geniuses in the country are completely “justified” in declaring, or implying, that every little nit to pick could affect the outcome of the game. And more importantly, that the regular officials would magically make all the correct calls because they “always” did before.

For some, the replacement officials are scapegoats. My team lost? Blame it on the replacements. My fantasy receiver had a sub-par game? Blame it on the replacements. My girlfriend left me? Blame it on the replacements.

For others, the replacement officials are a cudgel with which to whack the hated NFL owners. The replacement guys are ruining games, so the NFL owners are sacrificing the integrity of the game so they can screw the regular guys. The very use of replacement officials proves that NFL owners are greedy bastards who will do anything to make a buck. Plus, controversy is good for ratings.

So, here’s a little perspective. Last night’s touchdown ruling was completely reasonable. Any unbiased look at the replay will confirm this fact. Green Bay fans and players need to get over it- you did not get screwed anymore than any other player, team or fan has as a result of a controversial ruling in the past. Yes, there was a PI call that was missed. How many of you picked up on it in real time? That’s right- none of you because you were all too busy watching the football fly through the air. Would the regular guys have missed it? The right answer is no one knows, because they’ve missed those calls before.

More than anything, the focus on the officiating has shown just how difficult a task officiating an NFL game is. Making calls in real time, with emotions and egos running in the red-level on all parties involved takes guts and a level of cool-headedness that clearly the majority of NFL nation, and most certainly the football press, lacks. Making matters worse, these replacement officials are under more scrutiny that the regular ever were, being subjected to an unprecedented level of scrutiny on every call and non-call imaginable.

But they are not ruining the game. The ones ruining the games are those complaining about every mistake, reasonable or otherwise, made and then blowing them up into a full blown scandal. Those people are called whiners and sore-losers. They are called that because they never accept responsibility for their actions- someone else is always to blame. Just ask the replacement officials.

Replacement Refs a Work in Progress

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Overall, I still say the replacement refs are doing just fine. I know they’ve had some screwups the past couple of weeks, but the idea that they are ruining the game just doesn’t hold sway with me.

Looking at various sites like ESPN, Deadspin and PFT it’s clear they are trying to put pressure on the NFL owners to cave and do whatever it takes to get the locked out zebras back. I still say this is a fantasy.

I do still believe that the replacement refs will figure things out and there will be peace unto the land. Stuff like erroneously awarding reviews and miscounting timeouts are fixable issues. I’ve seen some rumblings that coaches are trying to intimidate them to get favorable calls, although it’s more likely to buffalo-them with BS to confuse them than anything. Assuming these aren’t being overblown in the first place by the sports media, I expect these sorts of tactics to become useless quickly.

Also, I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect these guys to make all the same calls that the real ones “would have made.” That’s putting the locked out guys on a pedestal they don’t belong on. We all know the locked out officials missed plays all the time. They were not, and are not, infallible. I mean really, if they were so great, why was everyone screaming for instant replay years ago? And yet all these years later, we’re still arguing over what a catch is…

The bottom line is the replacement refs will be around for a couple more weeks, probably more and everyone needs to get used to that idea. I still say they will improve and that, ultimately, the players on the field will be deciding games. Not the guys in stripes.

The Boy- Firestarter

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With temps supposedly heading for the high 30’s tonight, we heading squarely into fire-starting territory. This actually won’t be the 1st one of the season, but the third. The past week or so has been beautiful weather up here, with low humidity and comfortable temps in the low 70’s. We’ve had a couple nights where temps dropped down into the low 40’s, which is also fire-starting temperatures. I took care of getting those fires going.

The boy took care of tonight’s.

This afternoon, I chopped up a bunch of the leftovers I had from the bigger operations earlier in the year. While I was doing that, I had both kids gather wood shards from around the driveway. I use those to start new fires because they’re dry and small- perfect for getting a fire going. They filled one of their beach buckets with these pieces.

The boy was clearly excited about starting the fire, because he started asking me if he could do it before we’d even had dinner. He took a beating from the Wife in a game that was not Monopoly, but awfully close. After licking his wounds, he went over and decided that he was going to start the fire.

I was all set to tell him “No”, but then I thought- why? So I could have the pleasure of starting the fire, again, for the 100th time? The stove is great for saving us money on heating the house, but it’s, frankly, a pain in the ass and there’s only so much interest I can take in starting yet another fire. What harm was there in letting him try? We’ve got insurance…

The lass was immediately jealous, and tried to insert herself into her brother’s operation. But there’s only so much room and she quickly realized that her brother had the driver’s seat.

So I talked him through starting it, trying to explain things so he would be able to get it going. He was over-zealous with the wood initially, putting too-large pieces on, but I got him on the right track and soon he had a flame to work with. From there, it was just a matter of containing his own exuberance so that he didn’t shove a bunch of wood on it and snuff his hard fought gains.

The next step will be to let him do it without any direction. Unfortunately, he’s still a bit young for swinging an axe; but then, he can operate the log splitter. Also, he’s still a bit intimidated by the fire for loading logs, but if I play my cards right (and contain my own exuberance) maybe I won’t have to start any fires this year.

Inappropriate

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We took the Wife’s Mother out for a nice dinner for her birthday. The place we went to offered a very unique dining experience as it isn’t the typical restaurant. For one, you can only go there with a reservation. For another, upon arrival, each party is assigned a waitress who takes care of everything from the cocktails through to dessert. In between, there’s a hayride and a nice view of a large farm. The food isn’t bad either.

Shortly after the appetizers were finished, the boy paid the bathroom a visit. He had a little trouble finding it, but the staff was happy to help him out.

After the dinner portion was complete, it was my turn to go. So I asked the boy where it was. He described it as being by the mirror.

His directions were completely adequate. Upon entering the bathroom, it was impossible to miss the piece of art work hanging above the throne. I’d been reading some of the clippings around the establishment and one of the original owners (who has recently passed on) was a decent painter in her hay day, including a nude portrait that she had done.

Hanging there above the throne, was said portrait. It was tasteful, as these things go, if not a little oddly placed.

When I returned to the table, I sat down and very coyly asked the boy what he thought about the artwork in the bathroom.

“What do you mean?” he asked, a very broad grin spread across his face.

“You know, did you like it?”

No he was giggling. He said “I didn’t really look at it.”

“You didn’t look at it?” I replied, feigning an incredulous demeanor. “How could you not look at it? It’s right there over the toilet…”

He replied “I looked down…” and he was starting to turn a little red.

By this point, everyone else at the table was wondering what the hell I was talking about. The lass, in particular, kept prodding her brother about what the painting was. He replied “It’s inappropriate…” He still couldn’t keep himself from grinning.

Five years from now, the boy will want to go there just to visit the bathroom…

Words With Friends Glory

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I won’t divulge any incriminating identity evidence, although I suspect there might be a little crowing. Suffice it to say that I’m part of a regular stable of Words with Friends junkies and we’ve just had a new personal best play for the group. This individual was so proud, that I received email and texts with screen shots.

So here it is, GLYCINES for 185:

In my opinion, this is the hardest combo to pull off: the TW-TL-DW. It requires a rack with a bingo, plus 1 helper tile on the board that doesn’t snork up one of those 3 special squares.

(imagine deep-voice-guy saying the following)
So here’s to you, oh master of the dictionary. Grab the ice cold beverage of your choosing and drink up, because you put the words in Word with Friends.

Working on Vocab

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Every now and again, the boy let’s fly with a word that’s bigger than he is. These occurrences are always obvious since it’s a regular “I do not think that word means what you think it means” moment. Complete with accent.

Anyway, with the kids home from school, they’ve been making the most of an otherwise beautiful day by running around and playing and burning off all their energy. Mostly, in a positive Dad-doesn’t-need-to-separate-them way.

At one point, they were wrestling-play-fighting, or whatever you’d call it. The boy was on the ground on his back and the lass was running around kicking at him as he kind of pivoted around keeping his legs between them. I’m sure the next part won’t surprise anyone imagining this scenario in their minds: he took a shot to the berries.

Not just a glancing blow either, more like a step-in-half-soccer-kick to the Family Jewels (yes- that’s a proper noun ’round these here, er, parts…)

After writhing on the ground for several seconds, the boy then revealed that was the third time she’d done that. Come to think of it, his voice was a bit high-pitched…

Anyway, he follows that up with “You are VIOLATED from doing that anymore!”

My first thought was, “No, you were ‘violated’.” Then I said, “She’s ‘violated’ from it, huh? I don’t think that…”

“OH, WHATEVER THE STUPID WORD IS!!” he yelled at me, cutting me off.

I gave him a mulligan on the yelling part. The word was clearly “pain.”

The Real Problem with Replacement Refs

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Right here is the real issue:

With the replacement officials not flagging illegal contact (after all, the penalty doesn’t even exist at the lower levels of the sport), a league source tells PFT that coaches are telling defenders to hold as much as they can, until the officials call it.

If you look past all the hyperbolic screaming from players this past weekend regarding the replacement refs and try to see what, exactly, their gripe is, this is what it really comes down to. Some players, and coaches, are pushing whatever boundaries they can to gain a competitive advantage. Lineman are going “hands to face”, DB’s are frisky with receivers, receivers are pushing off defenders. If these guys aren’t going to call it, then the players will try to get away with it.

The crying is from those who haven’t adjusted, or don’t want to. None of what I saw this weekend rose to the level of costing a team a game. What’s more, it goes both ways, just like with the regular guys. The offense isn’t getting the calls they want and the defense isn’t either.

The fact is, beyond a certain level, the quality of the game is in the players and coaches hands. Always has been, always will be. The question is if the replacement refs are below that level, and, complaints about replays taking too long not-withstanding, I haven’t seen or heard anything solid that says these guys aren’t there.

What it is is different, and some of these guys don’t like it.

The Boy’s Story

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Following is one of the writing assignments the boy turned in last week after all the screaming and crying was done. This particular assignment involved 6 words that he was supposed to work into a mystery story. The Wife sat and worked him through it for an hour-and-a-half. The ideas and words are his, with whatever help the Wife gave for getting him to make it a story, instead of a bunch of barely related sentences.

The girl found an old photograph hidden in an envelope. It had a starry sky and a spooky house. It looked like a bird soared in the sky. As she looked closer to the photograph, the bird was actually flying. She was so surprised that she wanted to tell her class so she announced “Class attention please, I saw a bird flying in the photograph.” The class laughed. The teacher grabbed the photograph and it made a crackle noise. The bird stopped flying. The photograph must have been magic until the teacher grabbed it. The teacher handed it back to the girl. It made a crackle noise and the bird started flying. Is it magic or trick paper?

It won’t win any Sci-Fi awards, but pretty good, I thought, for a 3rd grader with no writing experience to speak of.

How to Scare Dad

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The boy had asked the Wife if they thought their Halloween costumes would scare me.

The Wife took the kids to the local costume store this morning. I guess it’s never to early to get Halloween costumes. They’ve both been talking about their potential costumes for awhile now. The lass mentioned something about vampire-cats and the boy wanted to be a Mummy, last I heard. I haven’t seen what they came back with.

Yet.

So in answer to the boy’s question, the Wife said, “I don’t know, you’ve got to get up pretty early in the morning to scare your Dad.”

The boy responded thusly: “Well, I’ll put it on the night before and just sleep in it. That way when I wake up in the morning, I can scare him.”

Florio Finally Figures it Out

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In what is likely to be a final bid by PFT to tip the scales for the officials, Mike Florio informs us that some of the officials don’t have other jobs. This circumstance is certainly unfortunate for them and may well lead to some officials crossing the picket lines before this is over.

Further on, Florio can’t help himself with one final swipe at the replacement refs:

That number may be small, but they could become vocal as it becomes more and more clear that the NFL will continue to circle the wagons against any and all actual or perceived complaints regarding the performance of the replacement officials.

The fact is, week 1 wasn’t a debacle. Then, in the Thursday night game, they were barely mentioned. The simple fact is the officials aren’t affecting the outcome of games and they are not putting players at risk. That was FUD to begin with and now it’s been born out. Now that the season is in full swing, all of the stories are turning to the players and the games. Like it always has. The players and coaches win and lose the games.

Florio notes:

Right or wrong, we’re convinced the NFL isn’t going to blink.

Exactly. The fact is, the replacement officials have been entirely adequate. At this point, every game they work is that much more competent they will be for the next week.

Florio ends with a laugher:

That’s not picking sides.

HAH! Florio and the crew at PFT picked sides a long time ago. That he’s now trying to play the neutral observer role is as good a sign as any that it’s time for the regular officials to get their deal done, for their own good.

Master Sgro

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The boy’s MA school had a special guest this morning. His name is Master David Sgro. From his linked bio, he’s an accomplished martial artist with high ranking dans in Tang Soo Do and Japanese Jujitsu. He was a contemporary and competitor of the head of our school Master Bogdanski.

He was there for 2 purpose this morning. One was to teach what he calls “Combative Techniques.” Simply put, these are jujitsu techniques that are real world techniques for quickly defeating and incapacitating an opponent. The techniques he taught this morning are all ones he has taught to soldiers at Fort Bragg as a fighting expert. The techniques consist of short, violent blows to soft tissue areas combined with joint locks. It was a fascinating class in it’s own right.

The more fascinating thing is that this man had given up (he sold it) his MA school in North Carolina to go and serve a mission in Guatemala. He lives there now with the majority of his family helping to improve the community he lives in down there. He lives alongside the people he helps as they do, which means none of the creature comforts we have here. He lives with 6 hours of running water per day, builds chicken coups, installs stoves, builds gardens and teaches karate as part of his mission.

Augmenting the community wide stuff above, he also procures gifts for the community. The gifts typically consist of things like toothbrushes or toothpaste and other things we take for granted. Once, he passed out several thousand of those plastic balls we have in the bins at Walmart. Those were a huge hit.

The karate lesson was free, all he asked was that people consider giving donations to his mission so that he can provide some improvements for the lives of the people he now lives with. The stove I mentioned before is not a stove like we would think it. It’s a firebox with a metal top and a pipe that extends up through the roof (typically straw thatched) of the house they put the stove in. The “big” improvement is the pipe- families there typically cook over an open fire inside their home, made of some kind of stalk.

On the way home, the boy asked a question about the slide show and video Master Sgro had presented after the class. He wanted to know why “everything was dirty” and why there was dirt in their homes. I had to try and explain to him: that’s their life down there. That there was no grocery store to go to; no restaurants to go to for dinner or lunch; no Game Stops from which to get video games; they don’t know what DS’s are. I’m not sure he gets it. I’m not sure I get it. Living on $2 a day, with 6 hours of running water and cooking over an open fire is barely camping in this country. I don’t know if I could do it.

But Master Sgro does and he makes a difference to these people. He has a web site for his mission here.

Put a Pin In It

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There was a particular moment of genius in the movie Bolt that I didn’t recognize for its worth until recently. I can’t recall the exact details, but it involves the slimey agent for Penny. Bolt has long since disappeared and the agent is trying to convince her that it’s not a big deal, but it obviously is to Penny. Finally, when Penny has more or less outthought the agent he hold up his hands, and says “Whoa, whoa whoa. I’ll tell you what we’ll do. We’re going to take that thought and…” At this point, he makes a motion like he has a Post-It between his fingers, raises his hands in the air and then makes like he’s sticking it to a cork board with a pin. He finishes with the flourish “…put a pin in it right there. And we’ll come back to it later.”

The argument ends at that point, with stupefied looks on both Penny and her Mother’s face.

In a moment of inspiration, under similar circumstances, I used his on the lass and it completely stopped her in her tracks. She knew exactly where I’d gotten it from, and she didn’t like it, but the argument ended. Plus, it turned the dynamics of the argument on its head because now she was trying not to laugh. I’ve since used it with the boy as well, with similar results.

No word yet on how it works with wives. But I’ll post as soon as I know…

WP Mystique Twitter Widget

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The standard Twitter widget that comes with the Mystique theme has a couple of shortcomings, in my opinion. One, any shortened URL’s are displayed using Twitters t.co link instead of whatever shortener the user may actually be using. I’ve installed a YOURLS site for just this purpose, so I’d like to see my site displayed. Second, hashtags are not linked back to a Twitter search.

Below the fold are a few lines of PHP that will address these problems. A brief word to the wise, these mods only work with Twitter’s API V1. API V1.1 will require OAuth to perform this task.

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