Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The DIY fallacy

I swear, if I see one more do-it-yourself show I am so gonna lose it!

DIY, HGTV, and all their sister stations, I hate them. hate them, hate them! It seems that every show I see on those networks all revolve around people redoing rooms and homes that DON'T NEED REDOING! A camera will pan slowly across a room in its 'before' state while an announcer bemoans the fact that SOMETHING simply MUST be done about those dreadful 90's COLORS!

What's wrong with 90's colors? Is the room still functional? I mean, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot people, it's a living room! If your friends care more about the appearance of the room than visiting with you, well, then, I say to Hell with them.

I mean, too, what kind of life do you have when you're embarrassed by a perfectly good living room solely because it hasn't been repainted since 2005? Can't you take a decent shower in a nicely tiled bathroom even if the tile dates to 1977? Come on, folks, get a life!

Decadence, that's what it is, pure and simple. What a crock.

I'll just sign off with mindless, incomprehensible grumbling now. Mumble grumble rackin' frakin' dipwads with too much time on their hands...

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Ariana Grande and the furries

Remember when Sunday mornings were for going to Church? Well, now that I'm firmly ensconced as a Saturday Catholic, my Sunday mornings are free for other fascinating adventures. Adventures such as taking my granddaughter to Tim Horton's for coffee and timbits (doughnut holes). I discovered they have red velvet doughnut holes. Oh joy oh rapture.

While we waited for our order a song played over the store's speakers. As I know little to nothing about popular entertainers, I asked my granddaughter if she know who it was. "Ariana Grande, I think", she answered. She then got out her phone and found the song and artist in less than two seconds and showed me the results. There was a picture of a young woman in bunny ears.

"Why is she dressed like a rabbit?", I asked.

"Maybe she's a furry." my granddaughter explained.

"A what?" the clueless grandfather responded incredulously.

The hip granddaughter patiently explained, "A furry. People who like to dress up like animals." Now that I'm home and online, I find that there's a whole culture of people who like to dress up like anthropomorphic animals.

And now I'm also thinking that I need to just go back to going to Church on Sunday mornings.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Two remarks and an attempted joke

Cuban leader Fidel Castro has died. Not that I had supported him in any way, shape or form, but isn't it a little sad (or maybe pathetic is a better word) that someone who was going to change the world has passed on in relative obscurity? He was going to be the player in the Americas. But then the Soviet Union fell. So too went his real forum. Such is history; I sincerely hope he has made amends with his Maker and that all is now well for him.

Only 4 people shot, with two killed nationwide in Black Friday violence yesterday. That may be some sort of record. But if it is, I'm sure it ain't one to be proud of.

Did you know that I used to be afraid of those folks who went around with wax painted faces and red noses? I sure was, but now I'm cured. It turns out I was being Pennywise and clown foolish.

Please tell me someone gets that joke. Until next time...

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to "recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation, 1789

Anyone who claims that we weren't founded on Christian principles, read these words well and carefully. And have a wonderful and happy Thanksgiving in that light.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Wayne State police officer shot

I left the Roseland Curling Club tonight planning on writing a blog about our curling game. I arrived home to find that a Wayne State University police officer has been shot just blocks from where I live. Police officers were everywhere as I drove home, and I hear helicopters overhead as I write. I see their searchlights flash across my bedroom window.

This is a very sobering moment for me. A curling game sounds unimportant, trite, even, as I think about what's going on just beyond my walls. Someone out there protecting me is fighting for his life, two days before Thanksgiving, for no good reason. And worse, he's the fifth law enforcement agent shot nationwide in the last three days. It is clear that our police are being targeted simply because they're cops.

This is unacceptable behavior. It is symptomatic of an anti-authority streak in these United States which truly threatens our national stability. Yes, I know there are bad cops. But I also know there are worse felons than that relative handful. And I know they are a greater threat to our country.

Black lives matter? Of course they do. But blue lives matter too. All lives matter. Until we understand that, none of our lives are safe.

The Ballad of Marty's transmission.

It had begun so innocently. I was trying to get to a bon voyage party for a curling friend who was leaving Canada for an overseas teaching position. I crossed the border and my car stopped 'pulling', that is, going forward. A hose had ruptured in a transmission line, spewing transmission fluid everywhere and leaving my van immobile. C'est la vie. It happens.

That issue was calmed soon enough. A friend on that side of the river recommended a mechanic who could fix the problem. And he did, for $325 Canadian, including the tow from the Roseland Curling Club where I left my van to his repair shop. A good price, honestly.

I drove her from July until two weeks ago, when my van again stopped pulling near Muncie, Indiana. But two quarts of transmission fluid later, C'est la guerre, she pulls once more, all the way to home to Detroit.

Then she, my 2000 Chevy Venture, stops pulling right as I was about to get onto the ramp in Detroit from where there was no re-entry into these United States. I managed to get her off the expressway and onto a side street, where I might have her towed to my mechanic. He, my mechanic, found the same hose had ruptured as before. He fixed it, and all seemed well.

Then last night, for it is last night now, as I returned from my Monday night curling game, I could not pull away from the customs booth on the US side as I returned from curling. Now as I've complained much about US customs, it is only fair that I give them credit as due. They cleared me, quite succinctly and deferentially, as I hoped. But then my van would not move. And the guards saw that I had a transmission leak. And they pushed me beyond the toll booths so that I might have an easier time with a tow.

That tells me that the border patrol are not really bad folk after all. I'm not so ready to think the NSA evil anymore. They rushed to help a US citizen obviously innocent of any crime to simply get home.

And that is why I am dismissive of the fears of my libertarian and progressive friends. Innocence breeds trust. It's as simple as that.

Monday, November 21, 2016

The need for humility

People who overvalue themselves are generally not the people we want in leadership positions. Those who are meek about what they do may be our best citizens.

I have written before about the hazards of thinking too much about ourselves and our work. I have found and offer to you an excerpt from a neat little article penned by Richard Mitchell, who wrote under the moniker of The Underground Grammarian. The passage itself may be vaguely dated, having been published in 1983, but the point is universal. You may read the entire piece here: http://www.sourcetext.com/grammarian/

I encourage you to read more of Mitchell's stuff. It's pretty good on the whole. But for now, read this and let it sink in.

ONE of the most delicious ironies of our ironical time is the fact that schoolteachers often make less money than garbagemen. Although garbagemen seem to have reconciled themselves to this curious inequity perhaps out of a phlegmatic realism inevitably induced by their labors, schoolteachers have not.

How can it be, schoolteachers ask in letters to editors all over the land, that "society" holds them so cheap? Have they not labored mightily to make society exactly what it is today, clarifying values, facilitating appreciations, and teaching everyone how to relate? Have they not been the principal providers of universal public self-esteem, creativity, and social awareness? So how come they don't get no respect? What kind of society can it be that better rewards those who haul away garbage than those who produce it?

Such complaints seem, at first, indubitably justifiable. At least, they require of any thoughtful citizen a scrutiny of whatever differences can be discovered between garbagemen and schoolteachers:

While the work of garbagemen is of unquestionable social value, they never hire public relations experts to nag us about their selfless devotion to the common good. They don't even have a bumper sticker. That ought to he worth a few bucks.

When garbagemen ask for more money, they gladly admit that what they really want is the money. As to recompense for the self-sacrifice out of which they consented to become garbagemen rather than executives of multi-national corporations, they say nothing. Such reticence is surely worth a little more money.

Although they shouldn't be, garbagemen are just a little bit ashamed of what they do, and thus deficient in self-esteem. Schoolteachers are not the least bit ashamed of anything that they do. They have great big oodles of self-esteem. Would it not be an appropriately democratic redistribution of wealth to take some money, since they'll never part with that self-esteem, away from the privileged schoolteachers and give it to those emotionally deprived garbagemen?

The shame that arises from believing what the world tells us to believe is a form of slavery, but when shame arises from self-knowledge informed by a principled consideration of what is estimable and what is not, it is virtue.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Shagging flies with Father Smith

I have a bad habit when curling. I tend to jog down the ice when it's my turn to throw a stone, and that's something you should never do: run on ice. I've injured myself quite spectacularly more than once doing that. So even as I tell new curlers not to run on the ice, I turn around and do it myself. With abandon.

Last Friday as I curled I religiously followed that old habit. And I had a lot of change in my pocket. It jingled heartily as I jogged down the sheet. Shing, shing, shing was the sound I made as I ran toward the far hack to deliver my curling rock. And halfway down sheet six last night, as I jogged to throw my shots in the second end, I found myself reminded of a Sunday afternoon quite a few years ago.

When I was young, my dad would often take my brother and I to a field right across the street from our Church and we would all take turns hitting and fielding a baseball. One such day our Pastor, Fr. Smith, saw us as we pretended at baseball and asked if he might play along. And as we had extra gloves and only needed one bat, and as he was our pastor (and good friend of Pops), we said sure.

Fr. Smith took a glove and we all tossed the old pill around to warm up. Then Father hit a few, then grabbed a glove and went out into the field. And I learned very quickly that he was a serious ballplayer.

He tracked down every fly ball anywhere near him. His keys gave away his determination. As pastor of our parish, he had all kinds of keys, and seemed to have them all in his pockets that far ago Sunday afternoon. He stalked every fly ball with almost reckless abandon, running down whatever ones dared enter his territory. And his keys made this emphatic sound, shing, shing, shing, as he tracked down the baseballs which challenged him.

He was a great guy, Fr. Smith. And of all things, I found myself remembering him and that day fondly, on Friday while on the curling ice. Funny, eh?

Friday, November 18, 2016

I was a teenage pinsetter

I was once a pinsetter. Really. The grade school associated with the high school I went to had ten bowling lanes. On the third floor. Honestly. What possessed the builders of St. Hedwig Grade School to put bowling lanes on the third floor is beyond me.

When school was out for the day five of us high school boys would set pins. We got two lanes at a time, and would jump back and forth maintaining them, sitting on a perch in between throws. The lanes were actually semi-automatic. We'd take pins out the pit at the end of the lane and place them in a triangular rack, which was motorized, then hit a switch to reset the pins after the bowler's two throws. There was a track to set the balls on to roll them back to the player.

There were only two real drawbacks. One was that we might be hit by flying pins while on our perches. The second was that there were no rakes. You know, the sliding things which drop down after a ball has hit the pins. That was only a problem when and if a bowler wasn't paying attention and threw a ball while you were in the pit. We learned early on not to return a ball until we were out of the it. Yet that couldn't stop some anxious player from grabbing another ball to finish his turn.

I was only hit by a ball once. While down in the pit I heard the distinct rumble of the ball. I looked up through a window which allowed pinsetters to see the down the lane, saw the ball disappear into the bottom of it, and before any of my choicest expletives could clear my throat, the ball cracked me square in the left shin. Man did that hurt.

The guy who threw it ran to the back apologizing profusely, and it left one large welt. But I finished my shift, and other than that, I genuinely enjoyed pinsetting.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Grandma was okay too

I have spoken a time or two around here about my grandfather. Well, his wife, and obviously my grandmother, was a wonderful grandparent in her own right. Like her husband, she had her quirks. She simply wasn't so loud about them.

The first I noticed was back when I was all of 16. I was getting home late one night, about 1 AM. As I was putting the key in the front door I couldn't help but feel that I was being watched. Turning around, I saw no one, but I thought I saw the curtain at the corner window of my grandparents house next door flutter a bit. So I waved at it, tentatively. Grandma pulled the curtains back and returned my wave with a sheepish grin.

So that became our ritual for the rest of time I still lived at my parents' house. If I was late arriving home, I would put the key in the lock, step back and wave at the window, and she would invariably appear from behind the drapes and return the greeting.

It seemed however that she was determined to keep an eye on me even after I had married and moved. I bought a house down the block on the far side of the street. On day while walking home Grandma asked if I was busy that night. "No," I answered, "Do you need something?"

"Well, I need that tree trimmed," she replied, pointing at the one in her front yard next to the porch.

"I'll be here at six," I told her, moving along.

So I returned, and set to work at her direction. After about an hour I asked, "So what's wrong, Gram? Why do you need this tree trimmed?"

"I need to see all the way down to your house," she explained matter-of-factly.

From that night on, when getting home late at my own abode, I would turn towards her house from my front steps and wave.

I wonder if she ever noticed?

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Slash Double

Now, it wasn't the best shot I ever threw in curling. It maybe ain't the second best, nor the third. But it was up there, and it felt good.

My vice, Brian, saw it first. There were four stones in the back of the house, all in the back of the twelve foot circle, the lowest part of the scoring zone, but we were shots 2, 3, and 4, which meant our distinguished opponents were first shot, or the scoring stone of the end (the stone or stones closest to the center of the circle, the 'house', score all points) and we scored second, third , and fourth, if we scored at all. Then we caught a break, and our worthy adversaries threw short, into the top of the twelve, and were maybe third, maybe fourth shot. You see, you can't measure, that is, use a device to determine who is shot, the scoring stone, until all stones have been played. You have to guess based on eyesight beforehand.

Never mind that. Brian sees that if I, with my first skip rock, the third last thrown stone of the end (sort of like a baseball inning) throw normal takeout weight (a stone thrown with enough force to drive an opponents' stone out of the rings, the scoring circle) I could hit about a half of that last stone from where it lay and could slash under the face of our opponents' stone (which would have scored them one point and cut our then lead to 4-2) and leave us lying (scoring) 4. Then our friendly opponents, and our opponents are always friendly in curling, must make a very good shot to force us to make a better shot to keep control of the game and maybe make our game close.

I let the stone go after my delivery. I knew the weight (force) of the stone was close to what we needed. My sweepers, Bill and Keith, knew it was close. They said so. Brian, in the house calling the 'line', the path of the stone, as the vice-skip should, waited until it broke (that is, began to curl), ignoring my skip panic call to sweep (as he should have). The stone broke, Brian called the sweep, we hit half a rock...

...and it slashed across the back face of the original shot stone, both stones (the stone I hit first and their 'shot' stone) slid out of the house, and we then lay four.

Then we caught another break and our opposition skip drew short. We had a draw to an open house for five. Game over.

This. Is. Why. I. Curl. To play with friends who understand the game and call it that way. And, yes, to win for the guys who play for me. I love them like brothers. Because they are my brothers.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Thanks Obamacare; ditch it, GOP

Obamacare just came home to me in a very direct way. I've been informed that my monthly health care premiums will jump from $750 to $1175 in 2017. That's around 55-60% if my math is on.

As I'd been told that it was coming, it's not a complete shock. And I will certainly be looking around for better insurance at a better price, if, and I think that's a big if, there's actually something out there in that category.

Don't start about looking into government helping me pay for it. I don't qualify, and I'm philosophically opposed to that anyway. As with so many other things, food, clothes, housing, even education, if you can pay for it yourself, you should. What I want is a market system in health care which forces true competition among insurers and will drive prices down.

That's why I don't like rumblings from both President-elect Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan about not completely scuttling Obamacare but, rather, tweaking or streamlining it. That's not why I voted Republican, folks. I have to deal with the jibes and grief which some of my more liberal friends are throwing at me for less than I expected from the deal with you? I believe I speak for many conservatives to point out and reinforce that point. Don't toss us aside for the sake of playing politics.

If you want me to be self-reliant (and you should) then give me the tools to do that. But if you're just going to be Democrat lite, don't look for my vote in 2020.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Post election blues

The worst thing about the 2016 election being over is that now we have to deal with the excesses of the holiday season.

Just saying.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

What you mean

There are phrases which I hate, everyday phrases which we use all the time. Well, if you catch me using one, swat me across the side of the head with a halibut. Please.

I don't want to make you feel bad, but...

I already feel bad, with that lead in. So I think you did indeed want me to feel bad.

I don't wish to intrude...

Well, you just did. So I believe that you did mean to intrude.

I don't want to tell you what to do...

Haven't you already begun to do that?

Are you doing anything?

Well, yes. As I'm always doing something, then obviously I'm doing something just now aren't I?

I don't mean to interrupt...

Yes you do. Because you just did.

There's more to come. Just give me a minute.

And that also is a phrase I hate, because they usually need more than a minute.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Veterans Day 2016

Why is it that we often only appreciate the American Soldier when he is fighting Nazis?

That is the fault of the Hollywood Left, quite frankly. For whatever bizarre reason, and knowing them it must be somewhat bizarre or selfish, it seems that the soldiers most fondly recalled are those from the WWII generation. Without a doubt, they deserve that praise of course. This isn't to doubt their service or their bravery. We should recall them. The American Soldier, and his compatriots from Canada and Great Britain and France and China and dozens of other nations from around the world fell while fighting that menace. The Nazis were awful, to be sure. They may have been at least to that time the worst threat the entire world had faced, and a threat to the United States as well, to be sure. But were they only reason the American Soldier fought and died?

Did not the American Soldier fight and fall at Lexington and Concord? Citizen soldiers, yes, they were. And they stood their ground, refusing to allow the Redcoats to secure a garrison of patriotic supplies at Concord, pestering the British all the way back to their garrison at Boston. Did the American Soldier not fall at Fort Ticonderoga, or Bunker Hill, or at Saratoga? Did he not fall at the retreat from Manhattan, or while fighting the Hessians at Princeton or Trenton, or was their blood not shed as they attacked redoubts numbered 9 and 10 at Yorktown, the attacks which were key to victory at that famous battle? Why do we not remember that American Soldier?

During the Wars which we do not remember so fondly, at sea against the French in 1798, at the Raisin River right here in Michigan in 1813 during the War of 1812, did he not fall? Was he not injured, did he not serve? At Tripoli during the Wars in 1804 and 1815? Why do we not remember the American Soldier from then?

Do we remember Fort Sumter? Do we remember Antietam? Do we remember Bull Run, battles One and Two, or the siege of Vicksburg? Do Chambersburg and Gettysburg, Gettysburg, the battle which many historians argue is one of the ten most critical battles of World History, World History, mind you, mean anything these days? Do we appreciate what that means to our nation even today?

The doughboys in World War I; do we know them these days? Yes, they are universally gone now. They should not be forgotten.

World War II and Korea live in our memories. Yet we forget Korea. That is, other than with the greatest cynicism, as presented by M*A*S*H. Why do we recall only with disdain the great victories of the American Soldier in Vietnam? Why do we not acknowledge the tremendous victory of the American Soldier of the TET Offensive during the New Year of 1968? The Viet Cong were blown off the field of battle as an effective fighting force for a year, an entire year, and the media which hates conservative America called it a military loss. Why do we forget you? Why do we forget the American Soldier of Operation Iraqi Freedom? Why do we forget the American Soldier who toils each day in Afghanistan? Why do we forget the American Soldier who toils each day holding the Al Qaeda militants at bay at Guantanamo, safe from attacking their fellow citizens?

We should not. We should not forget you any more than we should forget the veteran of Granada or Operation Desert Storm, of Panama or Haiti or the 200 or more military operations in our history. Has every action of the US been right? No; we are human. We have made mistakes. Where we have, nature and nature's God rightly demand we regret them and make amends where we can. Yet even then we must not forget that our sons and daughters have not died in vain. There were part of the greater cause, willing to serve their nation whenever or wherever it called. We must give them their due too.

The Nazis have not been the only evil in the world. They may have been not the worst evil, either. Other evils have arisen; evils whose blood soils the hand of the American Soldier. He was always and everywhere was concerned with rightness and justice no matter what. And that, dear friends, is how we ought remember him.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Angry White Marty

"Nothing like people creating a strawman of your positions and who you are, and then declaring you "disgusting", "anti-woman", "racist", "xenophobic", and "homophobic" based on that false idea of your beliefs."

I copped this statement from my son Charles because he hit the nail on the head. I am thoroughly disgusted that so many friends and family apparently believe I'm a demon when I'm not. I am a principled, albeit imperfect human being (most everyone is), who simply believes my philosophy best for everyone, as most everyone else does about theirs if they are intellectually honest. I firmly believe that principled American conservatism is good for all: women, minorities, homosexuals; every single one of us. And I want the best for every single one of them.

If you want to engage me, engage me. But name calling however indirectly is not engagement. It is insulting and nothing more, and degrading even to your own beliefs.

I am an educated middle class aging white male who voted GOP. I am not a demon. Stop calling me one.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

President Trump: congratulations, now govern

President Donald Trump. I did not expect it.

I suppose first that I owe an apology to the President elect and his supporters. I really didn't think that he could win.

The next thing I expect, that I demand, is, simply, prove me further wrong. Give me another Scalia on the Supreme Court; reduce the deficit, and govern on sound conservative principles. Drain that swamp. Talk is cheap. So don't talk anymore now, show me.

Too many Republicans have failed that test. I expect much from you. So do your supporters, Mr. Trump and the GOP. Finally, now that you have the opportunity, prove yourselves.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Election 2016

Well, I cast my vote. I suppose that means in some quarters that I support World War III. Tonight I will substitute in a curling match in Canada, a game which I agree to play last week.

Right after my friend asked me to play, he then remarked that he hadn't thought of it being Election Day here in the States. I replied that I didn't mind curling for him as the distraction would be nice.

I do wonder if the border will be slow this evening. I intend to be home by 10 or so, and will likely watch a lot of the elections returns. Don't expect any live blogging; I don't intend to pay that much attention.

Who will win? I still believe that Clinton will win the White House but the GOP will keep Congress. I can live with that.

I'm just glad it's all coming to an end. Tomorrow will finally be just another day.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Two golf balls

Life does change. Once I had one golf ball to keep all my life. Now I have two.

The first one is from my only birdie. The Eighth hole at Dearborn Hills with Zeke, my Uncle John. August 1991. On the green, 180 yards, with a 4 iron. Then one putt, a hard left to right, about 25 feet. Drained it. Still have that ball.

Yesterday I earned my only other keeper. I hit it off the tee and it drove hard to the right. Way to the right. My buddy Ron yelled, "Fore!", as he should have. It landed, took a hard bounce, grazed the brim of my friend Kevin's hat, whistled by my other friend's (yes, I have two friends) Scotty's ear, and landed in the basket of the golf cart they were in.

But the story does not end there. I ran over to them, apologizing profusely. Then I asked for my ball. Hey, those things cost, like, three bucks apiece. I wanted it back.

They said they left it off the fairway behind them. Jerks. So I walked back to the spot where it lay, and picked it up. And carelessly written on it, in indelible ink, was a message. It read: 'Nice try Marty, but we're still alive. Scott and Kevin'.

I'm keeping that ball.

Friday, November 4, 2016

All stove up

There are things which folks say which I never understood. Pops used to say, when disgusted at some tool or whatever, "Whoever invented that ought to be beat through Hell with a beefheart". O-kay.

Grandpa Joe used to talk about being all 'stove up' I never got that one either. Until recently.

What he meant, speaking in general terms, was that when you had been active for a while and then sat for a while, your muscles tightened up. You became stiff and sore; achy. It might take a few steps before you were walking comfortably because your joints weren't limber.

Well, after curling the last two days I came to realize exactly what Grandpa meant. Immediately after each game I felt okay, but well after each game as I stood up from the table after a pint and a bit to eat, my back was tight, my shoulders sore, my knees aching, and it took about 15 steps to walk fully upright comfortably. I was all stove up.

Sometimes you just have to experience something to get it.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Cubs, the Tribe, and the Lions

I'm happy for Cubs fans, and sad for Indians fans. Baseball has a way of playing the fates; as most of you probably know. Chicago and Cleveland respectively were the longest without a championship in their league. Now the Indians own the distinction of longest drought in the game. I was personally rooting for the Tribe. Now I content myself that, just maybe, they'll begin to get the attention that the Cubs and earlier Red Sox held for so many years.

At least the Tribe made the big show this year, and the Cubs had been the team to go the furthest without even appearing in their sport's championship. Now, unless I'm miss my guess (I'm being too lazy to try and look it up) are our own Detroit Lions. They haven't been in a Super Bowl at all, and last appeared in the NFL Championship in 1957. That's the year my parents got married. I blame them.

So the long cold winter begins. To quote Rogers Hornsby, the old baseball great for among others, the Cubs, commenting on the offseason, "People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring."

I hear ya Roger.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The minority vote

The minority vote is taken for granted by the Democratic Party. That's a shame, when you consider how badly that group has played minorities over the years.

Democrats want to take credit for all the advancements in civil rights in recent times, indeed for any and all forward movements on civil rights in our entire history. Yet at the least, the GOP deserves more consideration in what it has done in that area over time.

It was a Republican President, Dwight Eisenhower, who sent federal troops to insure that minorities were allowed in public high schools. Going back much further, a Republican, Abraham Lincoln, did the most to free the slaves. Say what you want about what he said at the time, his actions were what ended slavery.

How quickly too we forget the Dixiecrats, Democrats who opposed civil rights legislation. They opposed the many rights which minorities now, rightly, have. It is interesting to note that Republican support of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was actually stronger than Democratic support. As a Party, the GOP voted for the Act by about an 80% - 20% margin; Democrats, while overall in favor of it, voted at about a 62% - 38% figure. Indeed, not enough Democrats in the Senate voted for the measure to have passed it on their power: only 46 Democratic senators voted aye. That means that it would not have passed the Senate without Republican support at a time the Democrats were the majority party by a tremendous number in that chamber, 67-33.

Why don't we hear about this in schools and the media? Because it's not history that they like. It's not the narrative they want to drive. It makes conservatives in general and Republicans in particular look too good. So much for the objectivity of the journalists and educators.

When you throw in the fact that many minorities are social conservatives, one cannot help but conclude they need to rethink their ties to the Democratic Party. But when the race card gets played, well, we'll see who's actually played.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Curling: the good sport game

Living in Detroit, it's hard not to develop an appreciation for things Canadian. One of those things for me is the sport of curling, which I learned to love while watching it on the CBC (that's the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation for you neophytes) when I was in my teens. I've played for years now. It's not merely that the game itself is grand, but in playing I've discovered that, of all sports, curling is the most sportsmanlike and curlers are great people. At all levels.

As an example of this, I'll never forget a curling tournament in Windsor, Ontario I had quite a thrill: I was lucky enough to meet David Murdoch, a Scot who has now been the World Curling Champion twice: in 2006 and 2009. He was walking right past me and I said, somewhat stupidly I'm sure, "You're David Murdoch!" He replied, with huge grin, "I am! And who might you be?" We went on to talk for several minutes about curling as a friend snapped a picture of us. Too cool.

Though he was the only one I was fortunate enough to meet up close and in person, it demonstrated that virtually every curler at virtually every level is very approachable. The reason is simple: every curler is an ambassador for the game, and even the top ranked ones know and accept that. They are sportsmanlike on the ice yet, more importantly, sportsmanlike off the ice.

Murdoch could blown me off. He unfortunately had a poor tournament and there's a degree to which I would have cut him slack had he been terse in our meeting. His team had been eliminated by that point, and at 11 PM on a Friday who could have blamed him if he simply wanted a pint or two to drown his sorrows, as many of us may want at the end of a bad week ourselves. Yet he wasn't short or snippy. He was quite gregarious, and generous in giving my friend Ron and I the ten minutes of his time that he did.

Curlers are ambassadors for the sport. I'm not saying that there aren't athletes in other sports who think likewise and approach their game that way. Yet it certainly is a feeling which could be more widespread, and it certainly doesn't seem as ingrained in others as it is with curling and curlers. But the bottom line is this: in promoting the sport we are promoting the attitude which goes along with it. We are promoting the attitude of sportsmanship and fair play and proper consideration of others.

Curlers are a brotherhood, sisterhood, sorority and fraternity all in one. If we can promote that among ourselves it might eventually spread to everyone we come in contact with in our daily lives. It's hyperbole in this case, perhaps, but what's so bad about that?