Friday, June 30, 2017

The evil that I do

It was childish all right. But I did it. We stay young by keeping a childlike wonder in our lives, am I right?

They put new sidewalks in on our block this week. Several sections in front of my house, and in fact three leading right up to my door, were replaced. Nice, fresh concrete. Nice and fresh.

I waited for the workers to finish and move on. Then I went outside (you know where this is going, don't you?) checked both up and down the road, and found a relatively soft spot in the new cement. I signed my name in it.

It looks like a little kid's writing. But I was being a little kid in doing it anyway. And you know what?

I'm still giggling at it.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Don't be rude at work (even if you think it would be funny)

Sometimes I really want to be a smart aleck. That's okay too, among family and friends in playful situations. But generally when working, you have to choke down that urge.

I called a customer yesterday morning to tell him that his machine had me stumped (yes, some things are beyond even old Marty). I told him I tried everything I knew to try but to no avail. I suggested he pick it up and take it to an electrician, as the motor simply would not run. I even suggested a place for him to take it to, someone I've known for years who is honest and does good work in a timely manner.

He came into the Shop within the hour. As he wheeled his unit towards the door he asked, "So what do you think I should I do?".

This is where not being a smart aleck is important. I said, as though I had said nothing sixty minutes ago, to take it to the electric motor shop.

Yet that is not what I wanted to say.

I wanted to say, perhaps, I have no idea what to do, simply to see if he'd remind me I had recommended someone. Because he would, you know, even though he just seemed himself ignorant of what I had said on the phone.

Or, it occurred to me, I might have led him through an entirely new process. I might have explained the situation in snide detail.

I might have started with: Okay, here's the deal. Try to keep up.

I sell and repair drain snakes. It's what I do to make a living.

Are you with me so far? Good.

I wanted to call and tell you that I could fix your machine for this very reasonable price in this perfect time frame, because I sell and repair snakes. I wanted to be able to repair your snake, not send you away.

Still with me?

Now, all that being said, don't you think that if I had had any solid idea what to do I would have done it? Why might I have you pick it up to take somewhere else otherwise?

Got that?

Good. Because I was afraid I might have to repeat it.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The yin and yang of New York City

Random thoughts on NYC...

It certainly is vibrant; at least, the areas I saw were. Lots of people, lots of small businesses, and lots of activity. I know of nothing like it in Detroit. I'm not saying there aren't parts of the city where similar traits exist. Even if there are though, they don't exist to the degree they do in New York.

Yankee Stadium is lovely. It is one great baseball park. I still prefer the classic stadiums such as Fenway in Boston (nothing personal, Yankees fans, and I'm not trying to trip your triggers either) but the new Yankees park is well built. You're reasonably close to the field wherever you are, and the sight lines are fantastic. After seeing it and PNC Park in Pittsburgh, you really understand that Detroit messed up badly with Comerica. I don't quite get why they played 'New York, New York' after a Yankees loss though.

St. Patrick's Cathedral is a gem. I'm glad we went there for Mass.

Times Square was pretty crowded. It was a summer Saturday evening when we walked through it though. I can't imagine what it must be like on December 31st. I don't think I want to know either.

The Oculus is awful; four billion dollars for what amounts to a shopping mall. It looks like a massive skeleton which has been bleached white by desert heat. I read that it's supposed to be a dove extending its wings. A hideously oversized, very dead dove maybe. Plus it's entirely incongruent to downtown Manhattan, where it's part of the World Trade Center. I don't see it as anything more than a monument to hubris quite frankly.

The prices weren't all that bad. Other than the shops which were clearly aimed at the more affluent, and you find those everywhere, I thought that the grocery, restaurant, and cost on general amenities comparable to what I find in Michigan and its surrounds. I do gather that housing and parking can get expensive. Fortunately, that did not affect me.

I don't know if I could live there. There are just too many people, the metropolitan area is so spread out, and the sensory overload of the town can be staggering. But I definitely like New York City. I look forward to my next visit.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

What was and what will be

I have them today: the post trip blues. Having just gotten back from a nice long weekend in New York City, I'm dealing with that bit of depression which most all of us deal with after a long anticipated event is past.

The worst thing about it I believe is the feeling that it didn't actually happen. It did of course. But upon the return home there's a sensation that it in fact did not. It's not like it's simply gone. It's as if it was never there.

Part of that is wistfulness tinged with a vague melancholy speaking. Then too it reflects the natural human desire that the good things keep going. But as I told my son Sunday night when it was too obvious that we both needed to get some sleep, we have to recognize when the party's over. You have to know when you have to move on.

It's the right way to approach such things. Because humanity is imperfect we must earn our daily bread. We have to take the breaks as we get them, and see to our more regular needs the rest of the way. For after all, it's the seeing to those needs which make the vacations possible, right?

So I'm home to earn more time off with family.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Mulberry Season 2017

Funny, isn’t it, how we sometimes identify people with certain times, places, or things.

In the alley behind our old family repair shop there is a row of mulberry bushes which have been there for years. My grandfather would, in the late spring or early summer when they were in season, always stop and treat himself to a few of the little fruits as he went to and from work.

Little? Well, mulberries are small compared to most fruits. In context, they’re like raspberries who have spent a lot of time in the gym; a scant few are a handful. They’re juicy and sweet, and Grandpa Joe liked them. I remember vividly his picking and popping them into his mouth as he made his way down the alley, as though he were a kid again.

Time passes, and so, sadly, did Grandpa Joe. Yet the mulberries still grew, and I couldn’t help over the years but develop a liking to them myself. As I hike to and from work nowadays I’ll stop and have a few. As it were, my daughter also came to know and like the mulberries too. Often we’ll take bowls and go fill them with the little purple black fruits, snacking as we pick, and my wife will make pies out of those which make it back home. I like the idea that three generations of a family have been able to enjoy those berries ripening on the same bushes.

Now, I’m not all that naive; I know that Joe Cosgriff was ornery and arbitrary, with a hair trigger temper. I know it from the tales my Dad and his siblings have told, and from the personal experience of having worked with him for a good 15 or 18 years. I know too that there was a part of him which was somehow kind and appreciative, and that there were moments when these came out despite, perhaps, himself. There were good times and trying ones, and lasting impressions. I find as I grow older that, in the end, it is the good times which matter more than the difficult, even if it seems there were more tough days than easy. I believe too that the smallest, almost innocuous memories can also be the greatest insights into the honest character of someone.

What prompts me to write this? It’s June, and the mulberries are in. And I’m thinking about you, Joe.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Saturday in New York

Hey Pops, how are you today?

I'm in New York City, would you believe? Frank and I went to Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral. It is a gorgeous, impressive Church. I can see why you liked it. It seemed to come out of nowhere too. We were walking among all those skyscrapers and all of sudden, it seemed to me, there was a Church. As big as it is, it still seemed dwarfed by the other buildings. And it is big, as you know.

We also took in a ballgame. We went into that den of iniquity, Yankee Stadium. But I gotta tell you Pops, it's a great baseball venue. You're close to the field all the way around, and the sight lines are fantastic. You'd have liked it. You could actually follow the ball, not just watch the fielders react as you do from so many seats in Comerica. Just a good, solid baseball park.

The Yankees have this rookie right fielder, Aaron Judge, and he's a monster. Six foot seven and close to three hundred pounds. He's hit 26 home runs already, including one yesterday into the Rangers' bullpen (the Yanks were playing Texas) which I'm guessing went 420 feet. It crossed at the 399 mark in left field, so I think I'm close. It was a magnificent shot.

That was the only highlight for the home side though. Texas won 8-1. I actually felt bad that the Yanks didn't win.

I know. Fawning over the New York Yankees, their park, and their star player. I'm going to Hell, aren't I?

Maybe from your view though, you might put in a good word for me with the Almighty just the same?

Until next time,

Marty

Saturday, June 24, 2017

The streets of New York

It's raining in New York this morning. I supposed there's worse fates.

What I really don't like about that though is that it's supposed to get up to 88 today. Rain in the morning followed by sun usually means hot, sticky weather. I like it better when it rains late.

New York City is interesting. I don't know that I could ever live here; there's just too many people, and that coming from someone who considers himself a people person. But there's definitely stuff I like. The neighborhoods, well, the one I'm staying in anyway, does seem vibrant and alive. I doubt there's a comparable one in Detroit, and I do find that a little sad.

Stores and businesses abound; there certainly is variety. And the traffic isn't really that bad. Again, at least not where I am; I'm not trying desperately to get to a home an hour or two away. It isn't particularly noisy either. I had expected noise.

We're going to the Yankees game this afternoon. They play the Texas Rangers. It is, in a certain manner, my favorite kind of baseball game. I don't particularly care about the outcome. Interestingly, that makes it easier for me to watch any given sport: not actually caring who wins.

But tomorrow I'll let you know what happens anyway.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Hobo Joe

I'm not to going to complain about Amtrak today. Oh, it'll get its day under the Marty microscope. But not this day. I'm on a short vacation here in New York City and will keep things properly light.

Me Grandpa Joe rode the rails back in the 1920s. He hopped freights whenever the spirit moved him. Consequently, he lived all over the United States in his late teens and early twenties. I have to admit there's a part of me who admires that roaming lifestyle. Go where you decide when you decide. It was certainly easier to do that a century ago, to stay off the grid and just live your life. Ah well.

He wasn't a bum, though, as many folks think of those who traipsed around the nation as he did back then. He was a hobo. Hoboes worked their way around. When Joe got off a train somewhere, he looked for a few weeks' work. Even hoboes needed a couple bucks.

Consequently he worked on many farms and in factories, and even a couple stints on ranches, once in Montana and once in North Dakota. Part of his job in Montana, oddly, interestingly enough, was taking the ranch owner's wife to Church. Joe was a serious Catholic and went wherever he landed; in that case the rancher wasn't and didn't attend Church, but his wife was and did. So when Joe was there he drove woman to Church. He was going anyway and at the time it saved the boss the trouble. It didn't hurt that he apparently made a couple extra dollars on an off day doing what he would have done anyway.

But to the real point. Hoboes worked (well, okay, other than with the stolen train rides) while bums just wanted a handout. Hoboes looked down on bums. Joe was a hobo. Don't call nuthin' but that.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

De train! De train!

I-a fixin' to go to New York to visit my son. We're going to take in a Yankees game Saturday. I never thought I'd look forward to seeing the Yanks, but so it goes.

I'm taking the train there. I have to drive to Toledo to catch it as there's no Amtrak service from Detroit to New York except through Chicago. That would add about 6 hours each way to my trip and better than a hundred bucks in cost. For a C-note and a half day's time, I'll drive to and from Toledo.

My first thought at discovering that was, gee, no train between Detroit and Toledo? That's when I had to remind myself that the trains don't exist for Marty's convenience. Indeed it set me to wondering whether passenger rail is necessary at all these days, especially when underwritten by the Feds. Yet that is perhaps another issue this moment.

As it is, I like the train. I've taken a couple train rides before. It has been and will no doubt be nice to travel without watching the road, to be able to cat nap or read or, who knows, post a blog as I ride the rails. If Amtrak isn't running late (and it is notoriously tardy) I may even say something nice about it.

But don't presume too much. I am becoming a curmudgeon, you remember.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

For the conspiracy theorists

For many years now a rather strange thing has happened with haunting regularity right outside of the place where I work. An alley runs immediately alongside our shop, and every time it rains a circle of about five feet in diameter dries out, in the exact same place, well ahead of the the remainder of the alleyway.

When it snows, the snow will melt faster, sometimes quite amazingly fast. So fast that there will still be several inches of powder running smack up to the circle, leaving the edge of the snow with the appearance something like surface tension on an almost overfilled glass. Consequently, in the winter we often have the unusual sight of perfectly dry cement on extremely cold days.

I have long wondered about that spot. I would love to know what causes it; is it caused by some alien object buried along ago, unnoticed until the alley was run over it about 100 years back? Are there rays from the sun who have decided it was their duty to keep the circle dry and safe for all its life? Might there be some supernatural explanation? Could I have, right outside my own back door, the equivalent of the mysterious crop circles which appear around the globe?

I don't believe any of that, not for a minute. There has to be some perfectly natural reason for the regular appearance of the dry spot in the alley. Perhaps there are electric lines under it, although I can't imagine electric lines creating enough heat outside of a problem we would have found by now. There certainly cannot be heating ducts there, can there? If they ever rip out the cement, I would dearly love to be there to see what the might find in the dirt below. The bottom line is, there must be a rational explanation for it, right? But that wouldn't be much fun, would it? Would it?

Conspiracy theorists, I may just have something for you.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Extremes in sales

In sales, you just never know what will happen. Chicken one day, feathers the next, Pops used to say. There's a lot of truth to that.

I remember on June 1, 2015, I had 65 lengths of main drain cables in stock. That's a decent amount, and an amount I should sell in a month.

I didn't that month. I didn't sell a single cable in June. But July would be better, right?

Right. Didn't sell any of those cables then either. I was beginning to wonder if I was doing something wrong, if I had lost my touch.

August 4 was the first Tuesday of the month that year. Out of nowhere that day, spread over 7 or 8 customers, I sold all 65 of those cables in 90 minutes.

In sales, you just never know.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Humor on Father's Day

Happy Father's Day.

Fathers tend to be the subject of jokes, and that's okay. They joke too, and most that I know can also take them. There's a lesson there, one of many which our dads have taught us. It might be their most important lesson: have a sense of humor.

Many things in this world are important and need to be taken seriously. Yet we aren't going to save the world. Indeed, we often must simply take a step back and regroup. Humor helps us do that.

So have joke with old man today. If he's gone, think about his jokes and laugh along anyway. Yes, even the ones he told dozens of times. If he liked them, why shouldn't you?

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Don't know, don't care

A car, me old Grandpa Joe always said, is good for one thing and one thing only: to get you from point A to point B. That's all it's good for; there ain't no style points.

To be sure, as those of you who knew him will attest, he took the idea to an extreme. He drove vehicles which he probably should have not. Yet I think his basic idea is well and true. It taught me, rightly, I will assert, not to care too much for what I drive.

Consequently I tend to have cars with quirks. Take my current van, for example. If you hit the gas too hard when you pull away from the curb or a traffic light, it rumbles before smoothing out and going on. But when I accelerate easily, it does just fine. Why? Don't know, don't care. It gets me from A to B and that's it's job.

The door ajar and check engine lights stay on constantly. Why? Don't know, don't care. The old girl starts every time and that's all I need her to do.

Sometimes when I roll the driver's window down it won't roll back up. But when I restart the engine it rolls back up. Why? Don't know, don't care. It rolls back up. That's good enough.

Joe's right. It's just a car. And it does what I need it to does. That's good enough for me. If it ain't good enough for you, I can live with that.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Ram parts

One of the many neat tools you can buy from Electric Eel is a little cylindrical unit called a Kinetic Water Ram. It has a pump with which you can build up air pressure, and a trigger whereby you release it. You stick it over a drain opening, build up the pressure, and wham! A burst of air opens the line. Neat, huh?

But like anything else it requires service from time to time. After a lot of use the washers inside the unit wear so that it won't hold pressure, for example. There's a repair kit available for when this happens.

One day a customer called and explained his trouble and I said he needed that kit. He asked if I'd order it and call him when it arrived. Fair enough; we do that regularly. I told him sure.

When the Ram repair kit came a day or two later I called the guy to let him know it was in. Thanks, he said, but he was by then in the middle of a large plumbing job and couldn't get to my Shop for a couple days. No problem, I replied, we'd hold it for him.

As I hung up the phone I sat and I looked at the kit. O'er the Ram parts we watch, I thought.

Good eh?

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Perking coffee

You've had your morning joe, haven't you? I've had mine. But what's more, I make mine differently than most of you I'm sure. I perk it.

Yeppers, I'm old school with my coffee. I've heard, though whether I believe it or not, that the drip method is better. Not that I can taste. I've also been told that the French Press method is the best way of making your brew. Maybe so, maybe no. Yet that just sounds weird. Borderline disturbing in fact. Naw, give my perked pot of Chase & Sanborn any day.

Oh, I don't doubt that my preference is partly psychological. Me Grams always perked her coffee (okay, I suppose most everyone did before about 1970) using a glass, nine cup Pyrex percolator. I remember sitting in the kitchen and watching it work up to a boil, the hot water becoming coffee drip by drip as it brewed. She must have noticed my fascination, for our wedding gift was an exact duplicate of that large glass coffee pot.

I'm having a second cup right now, brewed from that same pot. I watched it perk the whole way too. Me Grams, she knew how to make coffee.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A little Old Glory for you

Today is Flag Day. We don't seem to hear much about it anymore.

The day traces its roots to June 14, 1777, when the Continental Congress adopted the original 13 star, 13 stripe design for our national banner. Still, Flag Day hasn't become as important as other holidays. It isn't even formally recognized except in Pennsylvania on a state level.

Oh, it would just be shoved to the nearest Monday if it were made a full holiday. So maybe it's just as well that it stays on June 14 year in and year out. Your flag should fly everyday anyway.

Still, I miss watching that large old flag which would be unfurled down the face of the old downtown Hudson's store. I think it covered 11 of the 14 floors of building. It was pretty impressive. I saw it happen live twice as a teen, with my mother after dentist's appointments. That to me was Flag Day.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Calling a sales bluff

I've been in sales for a while now, and I like to think I have an idea how the game is played. One piece involves discounts. I'm not opposed to them...if the volume is there. So, as it's said, show me the money.

One time a fellow did just that. And I still have his money.

Someone I'd never seen before came to me about buying an Electric Eel, the snakes I sell. After going through all the early process, showing him a unit and what goes with it, we came to the real nitty gritty. We began talking cost.

"I'm going to be big, Cosgriff, real big," he was preaching to me. "I'll bring you all my business. Can you help me out?"

"Whaddaya want?"

"Ten percent. I'm gonna buy a lot of stuff off you, man."

I hedged. You can usually tell when you're dealing with someone who's putting you on, painting a grand vista; playing with cow cookies. Yet this time, instead of turning him down flat I thought I'd call his bluff. "What's your initial order?" I asked.

"Five," he answered without hesitation.

"Deal," I answered in kind. At the time his total was around $6,000. I'd go ten off for that.

"Write me up Cosgriff, and I'll give you a down payment," he says, with an unwarranted degree of self assurance. "I'll pay the balance when you get the stuff." So I wrote him up.

He gave me twenty dollars.

I never even bothered to process the order. And here at least a decade later, I still have his twenty bucks.

Monday, June 12, 2017

The intermittent starting conundrum

As a repairman of sorts, one of the things I hate is when a unit works some of the time and not others. It is much easier to diagnose an issue when something simply doesn't work than when it takes spells of not working. Now my car is doing the same thing.

The first mechanic who checked it said that his diagnostic program didn't show anything wrong. So of course the car worked for about a week afterwards before becoming reticent.

Yet the next day it started all right. I took it to a second mechanic, whose diagnostics told him that the 'cam sensor' was bad. I won't even bother with the details of what such a thing is or how it works, but I do remember another van I had where that same thing went bad. When replaced, that van worked for the rest of its useful life.

Of course my Aveo worked for about a week and decided not to start again. And of further course it started immediately for that second mechanic, whom I took it back to as he had most recently dealt with it.

He's going to let me know what else he might find later. In the meanwhile, my horse, my horse, my kingdom for a horse!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Getting people in the pews

I long ago came to the conclusion that Vatican II was ill advised. I will not do what some of my traditionalist brethren have and call it a mistake; at some point Faith must direct to us that God would not lead His Church into serious error. That does not, however, mean that She will not occasionally employ less than ideal judgment.

The liberalizing effect of Vatican II has not been without noticeable waves of trouble. It does not seem coincidental that the drop in vocations began in earnest after the Council; The Dominican nun who was the counselor at my son's school has told me that the in the very first year after the changes of the Council went into effect candidates for the sisterhood in her Mother House dropped by well over three-quarters. Further, Mass attendance has slipped so far that many churches have closed. The question is, why?

Though there are other pertinent factors, I rather believe that it lies to a degree in the loss of the spiritual aspect of Catholic religious practice. We don't appear so interested in saving souls as we are in social justice (whatever that means) and just getting along. Not that justice and Christian charity are unimportant values. It's just that, social justice (if you simply must force the arguably pointless adjective social in there) without regard for the soul is an empty vessel. Feeding the hungry is one of the key callings of our faith. Yet to feed only their bellies cannot nourish them in the wonders of Heaven or necessarily set them on the road to a fruitful relationship with God. It only maintains a body which, on its own, will eventually rot, and nothing more.

I attended a Tridentine Mass for the first time awhile ago and was struck by the the mysticism of it. It was as though something magical was happening: bread and wine became the body and blood of our Lord. It wasn't just Christ sharing a meal with his friends, as some Vatican II supporters seem to feel of it. It was a true miracle in action. Similarly, there was the Divine Mercy chaplet and exposition of the Blessed Sacrament after Mass yesterday in my parish. I felt that same profound mystery as I did at the Latin Mass.

So I'm thinking we ought to get back to a greater emphasis on tradition rather than appeals to modernism and being relevant to this age (whatever that means), and I am seeing signs of just that. Latin is creeping back into our services, and Catholic prelates are calling out Catholic politicians who don't act Catholic. We are not far removed from the pontificate of St. John Paul the Great, who had encouraged a return to the old values and norms while working for meaningful dialogue among faiths and nations, an ideal Benedict XIV built upon and which Francis I, despite media insistence otherwise, supports himself. There are even indications that vocations are slowly rebounding.

The future, then, is not so bleak as it may seem to a few of my fellows. We simply must get back to the old idea that if you want people to sacrifice you've got to give them something worth the sacrifice. If you want people in the pews you must appeal to their sense of the spirit. Even if all you want is an end to hunger and have decent shelter and health care for all, you need an appeal to the eternal aimed properly at both the servants of the poor and the poor themselves. You must speak to the soul. The rest will take of itself.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Constants

Everyone has at least one. I think you have to one, too. We need a constant, that one thing which over the years keeps us anchored.

What I mean by that is, we need something which is always there. The body likes comfort food; the soul, I'll wager, wants something more sublime. Something which is, like the soul, without substance, yet sustains it along the road of life.

This idea struck me this morning as I was riding around my van doing a few chores. I had the album Mandatory Fun playing on the CD. That's when It occurred to me: I had found my constant, the one thing which speaks to my soul in a way I can understand. One thing which has been with me for better than forty years. One thing which can keep me sane. Yes, I know what my constant is.

Weird Al Yankovic.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Cloyce and my used Model C

I remember a time when I was 16 or 17 that Pops handed over to me a used Electric Eel Model C drain cleaning machine which he had taken in on trade, and told me to clean it up for sale. With it, for honestly the first time in my life, I went all out on a work project. I really put my heart into the job.

I took the motor off the frame, and washed all the grime off both. I painted the motor gray and the frame royal blue, just as they painted them at the Eel factory. I rewired it and installed new wheels. When I was finished with it that baby looked sharp. She was dressed to the nines. I was truly proud of my work. Pops was too. That made me feel very good.

A few days later a regular customer, I'll call him Cloyce just to give him a name, came by. I was busied at some project at a work bench in the middle of the Shop, the old barn where I still work. "Bill,' I heard Cloyce say to my father, "Have you got any used Models Cs?"

My heart sank right to floor. It went right through my boots.

You see, Cloyce was a great guy and a good customer. He never debated nor asked for better prices. He just bought what he wanted and said thank you. But man oh man, he was one lousy drain cleaner. He lost more cables in more sewers than you might think it possible for any one man to lose. I think he lost more snake cable in a given year than entire companies would. He abused his equipment in ways and manners worse than any person I've ever, ever known. In the museum of incompetent plumbers, yes, I mean this, is a solid gold, life size statue of Cloyce. He was simply not good at his job. It remains a wonder to me how he ever got work. Who would refer this guy?

And Pops was going to sell him my Model C.

He couldn't not not sell the man the machine. I get that. We were, are still, in the business of selling new and used drain snakes, and Cloyce's money was as good as anyone else's. Plus, his poor skills weren't our fault. He had to sell the unit. As he took Cloyce's money Pops, for the only time in his life, looked over at me with a sheepish, embarrassed, pained look which plainly said, 'I'm sorry, son'.

Cloyce wheeled that Eel out the door with a bright smile, while I was truly morose. You know those classic theater masks, the grinning one which represents comedy and the crying one which spoke tragedy? I learned that moment how tragedy felt.

Within a month Cloyce brought that Model C into the Shop for a switch or something. The front swivel caster was gone and the frame broken off so that the drive shaft had no support. The paint was scratched and grime covered my first child. I swear it looked up at me in despair and whispered pathetically, "Shoot me."

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Fun with Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo

After weeks of testing and visits to the doctor, I have been told that I have Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo. That's a fancy way of saying that when I lay down on my left side, the room spins. Being a conservative, I kind of like all the obvious jokes that that invites.

Anyway, I did a string of exercises in his office yesterday, was given a new prescription, a list of exercises I can do at home, and the instruction to keep my head and shoulders aligned for the next few days. That means that I should not swivel or turn my head towards the object of my attention, but rather turn my whole upper body when called upon or as necessary.

This has already produced what I suppose should be expected reactions. Whether turning to speak with a customer, or trying to get a look at oncoming traffic when driving, even when just walking down the street, I have experienced a whole new range of looks. The incredulous looks are clearly questioning my behavior; I have gotten many what-is-your-major-malfunction return stares.

I want to yell, "I'm not a creep!" or, "I'm not trying to be creepy!" I'm just following doctor's orders as best I can. I don't intend for it to creep you out. It does lead one to wonder if all this will in fact work, or is just a way for doctors to have fun at their patients' expense.

I honestly don't believe that last part to be the case of course. But I really, really hope this is over in the next two to three days, as my doctor tells me is the norm. I'm really sure that anyone who sees me will hope so too.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Remembering D-Day

D-Day: June 6, 1944. Seventy-three years ago today began the largest amphibious landing of an armed force in world history. As Allied troops hit the beaches at Normandy in the wee hours of the morning, at points code named Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword, the liberation of Europe was begun. The high point of the Greatest Generation was underway.

The Greatest Generation stands now at its wane. Its members are all in their late 80s and early 90s now. The celebrations of their accomplishments are becoming fewer, smaller, and less intense. Even with improvements in medicine and diet, only a mere handful will still be around in fifteen or twenty years. Many if not most of their numbers are gone already.

It is no small compliment to call them the greatest. Has their been any other challenge successfully met by anyone else in any other time? True, we are dealing in immeasurables when we say such things. Yet it's still pretty clear that nothing anywhere close to the magnitude of World War II has occurred in all of human history. Might a greater threat and a greater harm possibly rise? Yes, of course. But to date this is it.

What can we learn from these people? We can learn perseverance, we can learn faith; we can learn to believe that, when a serious threat to home and hearth nears, humanity can rise to meet and defeat it. We can learn the humility which so many of the Greatest have displayed when speaking of their efforts in later years. We can learn that all of history teaches us to respect and remember what those who have gone before us have done for us. We can remember that our lives are here today only because of what they did with their lives, and against terrible odds under unspeakable conditions.

We can learn to respect heroism. We can learn to revere the heroes.

Never forget.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Billy Martin and the Christ

One great gift I have received in my life was Great Baseball Writing, a compendium of articles from over the years at Sports Illustrated. Not that the other gifts weren't great. Only this one spoke to my soul.

Reading about the icons of my sport, baseball, well, it's a treasure. And this book made me realize something I had not known before.

I love Billy Martin.

Yes, that Billy Martin. You baseball wonks out there, you know him. The firebrand manager who transformed teams into more than they were. His fisticuffs and carousing are more well known, but his managerial skill was nothing short of amazing. Incredible. Fantastic. Inexplicable.

In the book is an article penned by Frank Deford from June 1975. In it, Martin through Deford spoke of the best things about people. He spoke of their commitment to all the best things, things which transcend mere sports and games. He spoke of Jesus, the Christ.

Did you know that before he accepted a managerial job with the Texas Rangers, after the Detroit Tigers unceremoniously fired him, he spend two hours in Church praying to God for guidance? Do you know what he (Martin) said about that man?

He said, and I quote, "And anyway, temper is a wonderful thing, if you can control it and it doesn't control you. Jesus Christ took a whip to the money changers, right? Well, that's a temper, and that's not a bad guy to follow".

The Jesus with a temper. You might recall that He condemned the fig tree simply because He was hungry and it wouldn't give Him fruit.

Think about that. And then ask yourself, which sermon you will remember later today? This one? Or the one you actually heard in Church?