Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Brother, can you spare 17 million?

Saw a screaming headline on Drudge yesterday about how the Democratic party was "out of money" and therefore were going to have to cancel their big convention kickoff extravaganza at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. After reading the actual article I discovered that Drudge had once again told only half the story. The party isn't "out of money", rather, they had only been able to raise 10 million of the 27 million needed for the extravaganza. As a result, they had decided to move the big event to a smaller, less expensive venue. Two thoughts leap to my mind.

Thought number 1.

 What in God's name are the Democrats doing staging anything at a Nascar speedway? I mean, most Democrats I know wouldn't be caught dead at a racetrack. Can you imagine Nancy Pelosi sipping from a can of Pabst on pit road? Harry Reid grilling up some dogs wearing a John Deere hat? Barney Frank screaming.."Gentlemen, Start My Engines!!!" while waving the Confederate flag? I mean, come on Democrats! This is just not who you are. Nobody in America is buying you guys as Joe Sixpack. Be true to your roots, for heavens sake. If you want to have a huge kickoff event, have it someplace more consistent with your core values. Have the world's biggest wine tasting party at a museum of modern art, or rent out a soccer stadium, a sport more in touch with your globalist sensitivities. But, Nascar? That's like the Republicans having their convention in a Union hall!

Thought Number 2.

Let me get this straight. The event will cost 27 million. The party has only raised 10 million. So...what's the problem? You guys are Democrats. What's a little 17 million dollar deficit to you guys? Sounds to me like this would be a great object lesson to demonstrate to the American people the importance of investing in tomorrow. Go out and borrow the money. You're a major political party with over 150 years of history. You mean to tell me that you're going to let a temporary lack of liquidity stop you from throwing a party for your members? What kind of message does that send to the faithful? "Our ability to do fun stuff is limited by a lack of money?" That's a dangerous and conflicted message for a party who on the national level is constantly making the case for stimulus spending despite huge deficits. Whats the problem with a mere 17 million dollar deficit if a 1.5 trillion dollar deficit is acceptable in Washington?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Seven Hours Without Power...One Couple's Experience

Yesterday a storm raced through the west end knocking our power out at 3:30 in the afternoon. Luckily, a cool breeze followed the storm so although we had no lights, at least it wasn't hot. We opened the windows, set out some candles, and tried to channel our inner Little-House-On-The-Prairie, frontier couple identity. In the gathering darkness, we went out on the deck to enjoy the delightful breeze.

Pam: Isn't this nice? I could use a cup of coffee. Do you want me to make you some? ...No, wait, haha, power.

Doug: Look at all the leaves and sticks on this deck! Let me run the blower over this for a second so we can, no power.

Pam: No worries. Luckily, my i-Pad has plenty of battery life. Wanna play Words with Friends?

Doug: Sure. It's the simple pleasures in life that really count..

Pam: WHOA!! A big tree fell over at Hope's and came within 3 inches of her Miata!! Destroyed the fence but the car's fine.

Doug: Thank God Facebook is still up.

By the time it was time for bed, the cell phones were all barely hanging on to the last gasps of battery life, the candles were all spent, and the flashlight beams were beginning to turn dangerously yellow. As we laid in bed in the pitch blackness if we really concentrated we could make out the charming sound of crickets...over the dull hum of generators. Just like the pioneer days. Then suddenly all hell broke loose. Lights flickered. Televisions blared. The air conditioning unit out side our window roared back to life. The little sleep machine on my nightstand spit out it's fake wave sound. The clock radio flashed 3:24 in bright green flashes. And, I'm sure all of the Indians who were at that very moment sneaking across the front yard preparing for their attack, scurried away into the woods, my homestead saved by the return of electricity. 7 hours without power in 2012 and we survived. Somebody ought to make a T-shirt!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Modest Proposal....

My understanding of the concept of Affirmative Action is as follows: Whereas minorities have suffered discrimination for generations in America, government should aggressively seek to balance the scales for today's minorities by giving them advantages and preferences in areas such as education, employment etc. In this way, the years of disadvantage they have suffered will eventually be ameliorated. At some point in the future, the scales having been balanced, the need for Affirmative Action will have passed, at which point employers and admissions officers can go back to offering positions to the best, most qualified applicant, be they male, female, or transgendered, black, white, or transcolored.

Well, as a sports fan, I would like to suggest that there are endless injustices in the world of sports that could use a liberal application of Affirmative Action. For your consideration, I propose the following suggestions.

1. NASCAR....Poor Danika Patrick can't make it through a single race without getting put into the wall by some good old boy who can't handle getting beat by a girl! It's clearly not enough that Danika is allowed to compete with these neanderthals. Something needs to be done to help her overcome the overwhelmingly misogynistic headwinds that she faces. Affirmative Action remedy: Give her a two lap head start.

2. NFL....To even the casual fan, the almost total lack of white players at the skilled positions in professional football is appalling.When the offense trots out on the field in practically every NFL stadium on Sundays, its always the same story. The two wideouts are black, the running backs are black and now increasingly, the quarterback is black. Oh sure, there are white guys on the field, but inevitably they show up on the offensive line, or at defensive tackle, or even worse, as a punter or field goal kicker. I've heard all the explanations about athleticism, but must everything be about speed, jumping ability, and reflexes? Affirmative Action remedy: Limit each team to only one black corner back and one black outside linebacker, thereby opening up opportunities for slower white running backs and wide receivers.

3. THE CHICAGO CUBS....It's been 104 years now since this woe-begotten franchise has won a World Series, and with all due respect to Theo Epstein, nothing is going to change until an Affirmative Action remedy can be found: Grant the Cubs an extra out per inning at all home games.

4. NBA...There exists nowhere on earth a more glaring example of height discrimination than at an NBA game. The size of these guys is literally through the roof. Used to be that your center might be 6'8", but now even point guards are giants. Don't even get me started on these 7 foot freaks that roam the lanes every night. Height ism is out of control in basketball, making it nearly impossible for that scrappy 5'6" kid with a dream to have a chance. Affirmative Action remedy: Impose a height-cap which would work just like the salary-cap. Team rosters would be limited to gross inches, not to exceed for a 12 man roster say, 900 inches. This would allow teams to keep certain over sized players but would open up roster spots for legions of short guys needed to get the team under the height-cap.

This is just a start. There are many other injustices throughout the world of sports that cry out for government scale balancing, the near monopoly that Korean women have on the LPGA tour, the practically complete non-existence of Jewish football stars in the SEC, just to name a couple. But the world's longest journey begins with a single step. A little social engineering with the use of Affirmative Action can go a long way to righting these outrageous wrongs.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

2012 Book Reviews

It's been quite awhile since I did a book review blog. So long in fact that there's 12 of them to review. That could make for a long and boring post. So, I've decided to review these books using the Twittered-up, text-messaged. truncated writing style that has come to dominate modern communication. This might be fun!

38.  Calico Joe...John Grisham

Don't like Grisham.  Only bought book because it had a baseball on the cover. About a middle aged guy who's father is dying and who was a horrible father. Another whining, woe is me, look how terrible my baby-boomer upbringing was sort of book. But at only 125 pages, not a total waste of time.

39. Starting and Closing....John Smoltz

Smoltz was one of my fav baseball players because of his incredible toughness. But reading him telling me how tough he was, lowered my view of him. I can marvel about how clutch Derek Jeter is but if Derek Jeter held a news conference and said.."Man, I'm probably the most clutch baseball player ever"...well, you get the picture.

40. Shadow Street.....Dean Koontz

My first disappointing Koontz book. Just too danged weird,  creepy and pointless. The characters were unlikable, usually a Koontz strength, and the whole time-travel, haunted house, end of the world stew he was cooking up here just bored me.

41. In The Garden Of Beasts....Erik Larson

Real life story of the U.S. ambassador to Germany during Hitler's ascension to power in the thirties and his family as they tried to live their lives in Berlin during those hell years. Very interesting read, although the author tries too hard to describe the ambassador's daughter as something other than what she actually was...a high class slut with a weakness for young Nazi officers.

42.American Sniper....Chris Kyle

The story of the Navy Seal with the most confirmed kills of any such warrior in U.S. military history. This dude managed to kill 160 enemy combatants and quite a few more innocent bystanders with a single shot snipers rifle, a logical progression from his days as a boy hunting pheasant and deer growing up in (you guessed it) Texas. Amazing stories and fascinating reading, but not sure I want this guy anywhere near the steak knives at my next cook-out. Kinda creepy...

43.December 1941....Craig Shirley

Book for history nerds only. It's essentially an examination of what daily life was like as reflected in the newspapers from around the country each day of December leading up to and just after the attack on Pearl Harbor. As a nation we were so wrong about practically everything concerning our understanding of the Japanese threat.

44. The Tyranny Of Cliches....Jonah Goldberg

A well written critique of phrases that are thrown out by mostly liberals and accepted as truth and meant to stop inquiry in it's tracks..phrases like.."Would rather 10 guilty men go free than one man be wrongfully convicted"...easy to say unless those ten guilty men were set free and moved in down the street. Fun book, but preaching to the converted. Won't change any one's mind.

45. They Eat Puppies, Don't They?.....Christopher Buckley

Hilarious story. Just the latest in a long line of hilarious stories written by this guy. The apple didn't fall too far from the tree here. Buckley is simply the best humor-novelist in America. This is right up there with Boomsday, Supreme Courtship and Thank You For Smoking.

46.Homer & Langley....E.L. Doctorow

Beautifully written novel about two brothers who live in a huge house in Manhattan and spend their lives increasingly isolated in it as it crumbles around them through years of neglect. One of the brothers is brilliant but unstable, the other(the narrator) is blind and by the end deaf. The story spans America from WWI through the hippies. Well done but ultimately depressing.

47. The Big Miss.....Hank Haney

When Tiger Woods hired Hank Haney to be his swing coach it made Haney's career. Hank even ended up with his own reality show(the final arbiter of success in America). So how does he repay Tiger?  By writing a tell-all book describing what a rotten human-being he really and truly is. But that's something all of us already knew. What a really learned in this book is what an insufferable ingrate Haney is.

48. D-Day............Stephen Ambrose

A re-read of a book I first discovered ages ago. It holds up well. Detail, detail, detail. reading this makes you wonder how in God's name we actually pulled it off. A miracle.

49. A Blaze Of Glory.....Jeff Shaara

The first book in a new trilogy from Shaara, this one about the western theatre of the civil war. This book is about the battle of Shiloh and is as engrossing as all of his other "you are there historical fiction. Can't wait for the next two.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Thrill of Victory...and the Agony of Defeat

Remember ABC's "Wide World of Sports"?  Back before cable, before the Internet, before ESPN, the only visual guide to sports was this awesome Saturday afternoon show. It started with footage of triumph and tragedy while Jim McKay breathlessly gave us the tag line.."Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sport..the thrill of victory..and the agony of defeat." I bring this up because this week I have experienced a little bit of both.

The thrill of victory occurred Wednesday night when I walked outside to my "garden" and picked two beautiful, yellow, ripe squash. Pam proceeded to slice them up, throw them in a frying pan with some butter, salt and pepper and a few onions. She fried them until they were starting to turn brown, all caramelized with the butter, just the way I like them. They tasted like summer and brought back great memories from my childhood. There's nothing like the feeling of growing your own food. For a brief moment and in the most insignificant way imaginable, you actually feel independent from the rest of the world, off the grid in some small way. It's like no matter how insane the world gets, nobody can stop you from growing a squash plant in the back yard. And if I want to turn a healthy dish like fresh squash into something artery-clogging by frying it up with a half-stick of butter, well then, that's MY business. Long live liberty!

The agony of defeat took place the next morning. I had a tee-time at Richmond Country Club with some friends at 8:15. The forecast called for 98 degrees and dreadful humidity. I left the house without eating breakfast. The front nine was terrific fun and I was playing well and thoroughly enjoying the competition. Then, after hitting a poor shot on the 9th hole I chose to walk the 120 yards or so up the hill to the green instead of riding in the cart. By this time it was probably 93 or so and suddenly, I started to feel dizzy. After finishing the hole we went into the clubhouse to get some Gatorade. The air condition made the small room feel like walking into a meat locker on the coldest day of the year. After maybe two minutes of this it was back outside into the Amazon rain forest and I was done. I somehow played two more holes with very blurry vision and then realized that I really was done. I left. I quit in the middle of a round of golf because I couldn't just shake it off like I've always been able to do before. Unbeleivably demoralizing. Of course, a case could be made that not eating a hearty breakfast made this an unforced error on my part. True. But I've probably played at least twenty rounds of golf in hotter conditions than yesterday, without breakfast, and drinking beer in stead of Gatorade and somehow never had to walk off a course. Those days are apparently over.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Looking for a growth industry...try Food Stamps.

Just read an article in the Wall Street Journal that had me  teetering on the razor's edge between laughter and tears. I'll save you the trouble of reading it by offering this summary:

Apparently, some senator from Alabama introduced a bill designed to reign in some of the inefficiencies of the sprawling food stamp program. You've heard of food stamps, right? That's the fastest growing government program in history,  the one that is projected to spend 700 BILLION dollars over the next decade, and whose use has skyrocketed over the last 3 years or so because of the recession. Well, hard to believe, but it seems that eligibility standards have become ridiculously generous lately, to the point where people with million dollar homes, with nobody in the job market and tens of thousands of dollars in liquid assets, are now eating free food courtesy of the tax-payer. In addition, the federal government has begun paying states bonuses totally over 500 million dollars for aggressively enrolling people in the food stamp program. The effect of the reforms introduced by Senator Sessions of Alabama would have resulted in savings of 20 billion dollars in the program over the next ten years. That's right...his modest proposal would have trimmed a whopping 2.8% over ten years, a crippling .28% reduction in spending every year. In today's Washington, that doesn't even qualify as a rounding error. With trillion dollar deficits as far as the eye can see, this might have qualified as the tiniest of baby steps in the long journey we face back to fiscal health. Each of his reforms went down to defeat by votes of  56-43 and 58-41, with every self-described "deficit-hawk" in the democratic party voting against.

I begrudge none of my fellow citizens food in time of crisis. Food stamps can provide a literal life line to those in desperate straights. But, as is often the case with well-intentioned charitable efforts, something has gone wrong with a program designed to prevent starvation and mal-nutrition among the indigent, when it has turned into a middle class entitlement. Besides, I'm confused. Is our problem one of starvation, hunger and malnutrition, or is it the epidemic of obesity? Our first lady is daily chastising us for our cro-magnon eating habits, disastrous food choices, and appalling lack of exercise.

I must allso here mention the fact that if we are going to throw money around I would much prefer that money to be thrown around on food stamps than to see it lavished on car manufacturers, banks, and brokerage firms who are "too big to fail". Still, it is disheartening to see how unserious our representatives in Washington are to our budget deficit and the mountains of debt it is creating. When a .28% yearly reduction in a 70 billion dollar program goes down to defeat amidst cries of "cold-heartedness" ..we are in deep trouble. cry or laugh...that is the question.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel...a review

Went to see The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel last night with great ambivalence. On the one hand, the trailer was interesting and it featured great actors like Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and Tom Wilkinson. On the other hand, it's about old people and aging, a topic I increasingly wish to avoid. The first thing I noticed about this film was the nature of the previews. As I sat trying not to eat too much of my popcorn while they were playing, I noticed that in 5 separate movie previews I hadn't witnessed a single explosion, no post-apocalypse zombies trudged across the screen, no not-of-this-world 3D cleavage thrust in my face. What was going on here? I had stumbled into the tiny adult section of the Cinema.

The movie itself was nice. The story was thoughtful and witty, the acting superb. Judi Dench, age 77, remains a beautiful woman and lit up every scene in which she appeared. The entire British cast was terrific. Each character was likable on some level which made the film enjoyable for me. The plot revolves around a run down hotel in India run by an enthusiastic if incompetent young Indian man who is determined to bring the place back to its colonial-era glory. He wants to make his hotel a haven for the elderly from all over the world from countries who "don't like old people". He lures guests there by offering to pay their air-fare. In this way, our cast is randomly thrown together, seven pensioners and their back-stories which play out before us amid the chaos, color, and squalor of modern India. There were humorous moments, but this was a movie with a lot to say about getting old, regret, and redemption, and did so with intelligent reflection rather than witty repartee, and it worked. I felt smarter when I left, but more determined than ever to die in a sky-diving accident at an age when I still have all of my faculties.

One minor irritant. Even this movie could not make it through 2 hours without a gay-themed plot line. It seems that every script-writer the world over must take a pledge or something. Every movie has to have a gay character nowadays. In this case, it was one of the more moving scenes in the film so I have no objection to it as such, it's just curious to me. For a segment of the world's population that registers between 1% and 5% in most studies, its amazing how many of their number find themselves with major rolls in motion pictures. Of course, I suppose that an argument could be made that for years they were completely ignored in films so now their sudden prominence is affirmative action of a sort to rectify past exclusion. Come to think of it, some classic films of the past would be very different if written today by modern screen-writers....

Gone With The Wind....Scarlett admits to Rhett that she was always attracted to Ashley because he was so effeminate, which was the closest she could possibly hope for in 1864 since she was hopelessly in love with Mammy.

Citizen Kane....."Rosebud" turns out to be a gay speakeasy in Santa Monica

Casablanca....the on screen tension between Rick and Captain Renault gives new meaning to the "beautiful friendship" line at the foggy airport.

The Godfather....It turns out that Fredo is a bumbling incompetent mobster, not because of his goofy nonchalance, but rather because he is being blackmailed by Moe Green, his gay lover.

I could go on this way all day, I suppose. Anyway, the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was a nice movie and worth the time and money. Oh, and it's special effects budget came in at $38.66.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Celebrated Out

Yesterday my nephew, Ryan Roop, graduated from high school. This was a big deal. Graduating from high school is a milestone, one of the three or four most remembered events of your your wedding day, the birth of your child, your baptism, your first IRS audit. So, it was fitting and proper that we celebrate the thing as a family. For logistical reasons, the soiree took place in my back yard. 25-30 people gathered back there on a beautiful night for a picnic. There were folding tables and folding chairs, camp chairs, two appetizer tables, a drink table, a gift table, a bright red blanket on the ground filled with toys and games for the little ones, a red-neck golf game set up back by the fence, citronella candles ablaze and a "Congrats Grad" banner cheerfully hung at the gate. As the adults sat around talking and the kids tormented the dog, Ron was busy grilling  what seemed like a bushel basket of freakishly large chicken breasts..for the second time. Yes, you see, ever the planner, Ron had done a "preliminary grilling" of these beasts the night before to speed up the process. Now he was finishing the job. I was flitting around from table to table making sure the appetizers were plentiful and in the right places. There were chips and salsa, chips and bean dip, fruit-kabobs- that labor intensive treat that no summer picnic can be without, and cranberry-lime spritzers. Once the chicken was ready, I was in charge of consolidating the two appetizer tables into one to make way for the main course of twice-grilled chicken along with homemade macaroni and cheese, baked beans, 125 homemade rolls, potato salad, Greek salad, macaroni salad, the salad that cannot be named, and 6 gallons of sweet tea.

Once everyone had loaded up there clear glass plates ( plates that because they weren't made out of paper had to be WASHED AFTERWARDS!!!!!!!!!), Paula stood up to say a few words about the graduate. She read two letters that had been written to him by two of his teachers. They were moving and heart-felt and reminded us all of the enduring power of influence and the incalculable value of a great teacher. After the meal there was cake and ice cream. Through all of this Molly only threw up once.

I must here freely admit that I am exhausted. I am celebrated out. This party planning stuff is brutal work. The majority of it fell upon Pam and for the past two days she has had a cold, popping Advil Cold and Sinus like an addict, and she never missed a beat. Whoever claimed that women are the "weaker sex" has never met my wife. But seriously, I'm kind of done with celebrations. In the past month I have participated in uproarious celebrations for Kaitlin's birthday, Patrick's birthday, our 28th wedding anniversary, Mother's Day, Ryan's birthday, and Ryan's graduation. It's as if I can't possibly make it through a week without being forced to memorialize some important milestone in someone's life. And now Sunday is Father's Day. Of course, there are three of us in my world, my Dad, Pam's Dad and me. That's a lot of paternal celebrating. Sunday night there will be a snack supper over at Mom and Dad's where we will all finish eating the food left over from last night. But my girls know me so well. Here's what they came up with for MY Father's Day party. Pam and Kaitlin and Jon are taking me and Russ to a Flying Squirrels game Saturday night!! Now, THAT''S what I'm talking about. Awesome ballpark food, warm beer and Double-A baseball, with no cleanup required. Perfect. Happy Father's Day to me!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Brief History of my Presidential Election Voting Record

Next year, I will participate in my 11th Presidential election as an American of voting age. In the spirit of full disclosure, I have listed them below along with which candidate I voted for:

1976  Carter v. Ford.  I voted for Jimmy Carter who won with 50.08% of the vote.

1980  Reagan v. Carter.  I voted for Ronald Reagan who won with 51% of the vote.

1984  Reagan v. Mondale.  I voted for Ronald Reagan who won with 59% of the vote.

1988  Bush v. Dukakis. I voted for Bush who won with 53% of the vote.

1992  Bush v. Clinton and Perot.  I voted for Ross Perot who lost to Bill Clinton who won with only 43% of the vote.

1996 Clinton v. Dole and Perot. I voted for Dole who lost to Clinton who won with 49% of the vote.

2000 Bush v. Gore. I voted for Bush who won with 48% of the vote.

2004 Bush v. Kerry. I voted for Bush who won with 51% of the vote.

2008 Obama v. McCain. I voted for McCain who lost to Barack Obama who won 53% of the vote.

2012 Obama v. Romney. I voted for Romney who lost to Barack Obama who won 51% of the vote.

So, there you have it, my voting record. A few words of explanation.

1976 was my first vote. I was 18 and fittingly liberal. I liked Jimmy because he was an "outsider" and from the south. I associated Gerald Ford with his pardon of Nixon. Ford seemed old. Carter was a fresh face. Having zero experience living in the real world, Carter's policy prescriptions seemed fair and reasonable. After 8 years of Tricky Dick and his amorality, I was ready for a man of born-again sensibilities. I have no regrets for that vote. As horrible as Carter turned out to be as a President, there's no guarantee that Ford would have been any better.

1980.  It was difficult to admit that my guy had been a wretched failure, and there was alot to be suspicious of with Reagan, a B-List actor who was also pretty old. But after 4 years of amateur hour, I was willing to take a chance.

1984. Loved, loved, LOVED Renaldus Magnus, everything about him. Loved his style, loved his upbeat attitude and his will...and I wasn't alone. Reagan not only won a landslide in the popular vote, but won the electoral college tally by a crushing 525-13.

1988. Didn't much care for George H.W. Bush. He was the same age as my Dad and a nice enough guy, but a career politician if ever there was one. The Democrat in the race was an embarrassment..Dukakis?  Really?

1992. By 1992, my interest in politics was at it's highest level, from which it has never recovered. I was fully engaged and starting to believe that the country was in trouble.I didn't believe that Bush deserved another term, and there was something sleazy about Clinton. Ross Perot captivated me. After 10 years in business myself, finally, here was a tough-talking no nonsense businessman who I could relate to. In addition, he wasn't a lawyer ( a profession I had grown to loathe ) and he wasn't a politician. So I cast a ballot for Ross- Freaking- of two presidential votes that I regret and
the only one that I am profoundly embarrassed by to this day.

1996. Which brings me to my second voting regret. As slimy a guy as Bubba turned out to be, and as certifiably nuts as Ross Perot turned out to be, I ended up voting for Bob Dole. In retrospect, Clinton deserved a second term, but I was stubbornly anti-democrat and for the first time in my life voted "party". A mistake.

2000. I had big-time reservations about George "frat-boy" Bush. Was uncomfortable with the legacy implications with his family etc.  But there was no way in hell I was going to vote for such a pathetic, stick up his behind, arrogant smuck like Al Gore. Gore's weirdness meter since having gone off the charts confirms that I was right about him all along.

2004. No contest. The French-looking John Kerry, who as we all were told a million times, "served in Vietnam" was a cartoon character from the left. The democrats couldn't have nominated anyone more aloof and out of touch if their lives had depended on it. Although by this time I was thoroughly disgusted with George, I overcame a huge temptation to sit this one out altogether. Voted for Bush wearing a hat, raincoat and dark glasses.

2008. I remember standing in the voting booth looking at the ballot and thinking that something had gone badly wrong with the democratic process. I had been reduced to making a choice between a far past his prime war hero who looked and acted every day of his 70 years, and a complete novice junior senator from Illinois who had never held a real job in his life and about whom the public knew virtually nothing. Voted for the war hero with absolutely no joy.

2008. This time when I stood in the voting booth looking at the ballot, I KNEW that something had gone wrong with the democratic process. Once again, the Republicans had nominated the man whose turn it was, a Morman millionaire who seemed like a decent enough guy, but with the people skills of Hillary Clinton. Still, Barry didn't deserve, in my view, another four years, so I voted for the stiff white guy. Sigh...

My record so far at picking winners stands at 6-4. No matter who wins in 2016, my life will go on as
planned on November 7. The one thing that these 11contests have taught me is that the quality and purpose of my life isn't affected by the outcomes of elections.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Coolest golf story EVER!!

So, yesterday I had a wedding to go to at 4, and since I had done most of my weekend chores on Friday afternoon, I had some time to kill. Against my better judgement I decided to go play 9 holes of golf somewhere. I figured my chances of getting on  as a single and without a tee-time on the weekend were slim and none, but even if I couldn't get on, I could at least  hit a bucket of balls. I couldn't even decide where to go...The Hollows, The Crossings, Hunting Hawk? At the last minute I took the right at Berea Baptist church and headed to Hunting Hawk.

The girl at the desk told me that a threesome had just teed off of number 10 and if I hustled I could catch up with them and play the back nine. From what I saw of them playing number 10 in front of me, it looked like I was in for a long nine holes. They were horrible. But they were also friendly and welcomed me with enthusiasm as I sank my par putt on the 10th green. On the 11th tee box they all began apologizing for their terrible play and asking my forbearance. One guy, Jim, admitted that he had lost 8 balls on the front nine on his way to a tidy 53! I reassured them all that I wasn't much better and besides, all I cared about was having a relaxing walk on this beautiful day. Then it got...weird.

I teed off first and bombed my drive right down the middle with a nice draw on the 502 yard par five. We had a breeze behind us and the fairways looked very hard and fast so as the ball disappeared over the hill, I was thinking I might have a shot at going for the green in two. Then each on of my new playing partners proceeded to hit similar bombs..right down the middle. Jim hit last and hit the "best drive of my life"..and joked that I should have joined them earlier. I was a lucky charm! When we crested the hill, there were all four of our drives within 10 yards of each other close to the 200 yard marker, dead center of the fairway. The casual observer may have come to the conclusion that we actually knew what we were doing. The first guy decided to lay up. The next guy plunked it in the water trying to go for the green. Then it was my turn and I too miss-hit it badly into the lake. Then Jim, he of the 8 lost balls on the front nine stepped up to his drive with a 5 iron in his hand from 185 yards away. With an awkward looking swing he lashed at the ball. It sounded great. It looked great, making a beautiful ark against the clear blue sky as it headed on a bee-line straight for the front right pin placement. We all watched it soar. The moment seemed curiously frozen in time like one of those super slow-mo replays on TV. The ball landed 18 inches from the pin, bounced slightly left and disappeared from view. This 20 handicapper had hit the two best shots of his life and I had a front row seat. It's the first and only time I've ever witnessed a double-eagle...a totally legit, awesome, transcendent double-freaking eagle!! As Jim was walking off the green he deadpanned, "All I know is I'm getting Doug's cell phone number! I'll never play with anyone else again!!"

What are the odds? If I go straight through the light at Berea Baptist, I end up at the Hollows and miss the entire magical thing. Jim's name along with mine will be in the paper tomorrow, double eagles being infinitely more rare than hole-in-ones. Amazing.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Graduation Ceremonies and the Police

Are there any adults left in America?  I ask this in response to a story out of Florence, Florida where a mother named Shannon Cooper was handcuffed and escorted to jail for cheering too loudly at her daughter's high school graduation. That's right ladies and gentlemen, lack of decorum is now a jail able offense.

Some background. For ten years of my life I was a volunteer in the youth group of my church. I taught mostly 11th and 12th grade boys. I went to summer camps with them, had them over my house for bible studies..that sort of thing. Our church had a Rather large youth group made up of kids from a variety of high schools. Because I became very close to many of the them, I would often receive invitations to their graduations. Over those ten years I estimate that I attended close to twenty such affairs, mostly at the Siegle Center. Every graduation service started out the same way,  the principle would welcome everyone, then make a statement something along these lines..."During the processional of graduates, we would ask that you refrain from cheering until all graduates receive their diplomas. That way, each and every family member will get to hear their student's name read. Please be respectful during this solumn occasion."  The program would usually also contain words to this effect. The results were also always the same. When certain students' names were called whole families would hoot and holler. As the ceremony dragged on, the outbursts would get louder and more obnoxious. There would be the inevitable shouts of .."You Da Man!!!", and the screaming of embarrassing nicknames like.." Atta boy Butt-Cheeks!!!". Some were worse than others, but somehow I made it through twenty of these services without witnessing the humiliating arrest of a parent.

I am not without sympathy for the desire of school officials to insure the dignity of their graduations. Time was that a high school graduation was indeed a solumn event, and it's importance immeasurable. 50 years ago the most common emotion displayed at such events would have been tears, not uproarious screaming and high fives. But 50 years ago the most popular show on television was the Beverley Hillbillies...uh..times have changed. In a more perfect world, parents wouldn't act like idiots at high school graduations. But in a more perfect world, administrators would come up with a better way of dealing with overenthusiastic demonstrators. A better way than a jail cell! As irritating as some of the over the top demonstrations were, I never saw anything worthy of an arrest, let alone the sight of a mother being handcuffed and frog-marched out by a cop in front of a thousand people. What administrator decided that THIS was the answer?? Again, where are the adults?

Free people make a deal with their governments. We grant them a monopoly on violence in exchange for assurance of it's judicious application. That "deal" seems sour when a policeman handcuffs a celebrating parent. The irony here is that for a country famous for it's devotion to freedom and liberty, we have become the most policed country on the face of the earth. From the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms on the federal level, to State Troopers, County police departments, and city police precincts at lower levels even to mall cops and omnipresent private security..we are crawling with law-enforcers. As annoying as some graduation ceremonies have become, it disturbs me to see a Shannon Cooper hauled off by cop with the encouragement and approval of an administrator  given jurisdiction over the education of the young. This is the judicious application of force?  Somebody needs to go BACK to school!