1.21.2022 – paradoxically

paradoxically
succeeded in curtailing
concern for others

Adapted from the book, “The pleasures and sorrows of work” by Alain de Botton, (Random House – 2009) and the passage:

In New York Movie (1939), an usherette stands by the stairwell of an ornate pre-war theatre. Whereas the audience is sunk in semidarkness, she is bathed in a rich pool of yellow light. As often in Hopper’s work, her expression suggests that her thoughts have carried her elsewhere. She is beautiful and young, with carefully curled blond hair, and there are a touching fragility and an anxiety about her which elicit both care and desire. Despite her lowly job, she is the painting’s guardian of integrity and intelligence, the Cinderella of the cinema. Hopper seems to be delivering a subtle commentary on, and indictment of, the medium itself, implying that a technological invention associated with communal excitement has paradoxically succeeded in curtailing our concern for others. The painting’s power hangs on the juxtaposition of two ideas: first, that the woman is more interesting than the film, and second, that she is being ignored because of the film. In their haste to take their seats, the members of the audience have omitted to notice that they have in their midst a heroine more sympathetic and compelling than any character Hollywood could offer up. It is left to the painter, working in a quieter, more observant idiom, to rescue what the film has encouraged its viewers not to see.

And the painting, New York Movie by Ed Hopper.

Reading the history of the painting on Wikipedia I was struck by three things.

One was the note that “Hopper was fascinated by film, and it is said that, when experiencing creative block, he would stay at the theater all day.

So much community has been lost due to covid and high on that list is the movie theater experience of the big room and the screen, alone in the darkness, surrounded by many.

Though much of this was already lost due to the person next to you or behind you who could not handle the idea that any message they might receive required an immediate response and of course their phone would not be turned off.

Another was the note that fans of the painting and Mr. Hopper have long tried to identify the movie in the painting.

On the one hand easily this is just oh-come-on and just-enjoy-the-painting.

But on the other, for example, when I read an obscure novel and come across an address that lodges in my brain so that years, decades later, reading another novel and this author, for no reason at all that anyone might think, uses that same address and I suspect some form of ‘homage‘ yet one that I may among the few people that get it, I feel I am sitting at a table with both authors.

Picturing yourself at a table with Compton Mackenzie and Jim Harrison is a pleasant picture.

It is a silent picture because if ever I found myself at that table, I am sure that about all the conversation I could come up with would be, “Yes it is warm for this time of year.”

The last thing, I as I read the discussion, was that I noticed that what Mr. de Botton wrote about the painting, that “communal excitement has paradoxically succeeded in curtailing our concern for others” that shows up in the painting, shows up in the discussion as well.

There was one comment though.

Others claim that New York Movie and other paintings of city life are Hopper’s ode to the warmth and endurance of the human spirit in the midst of the dehumanizing existence that is mass living.

Somehow these two statements come can come together as:

While communal excitement has paradoxically succeeded in curtailing our concern for others, the warmth and endurance of the human spirit in the midst of the dehumanizing existence endures.

I like that.

Almost like being at the table with Alain de Botton and Ed Hopper.

And me talking about the cold rain outside my window.

PS – According to Wikipedia, “Josephine Hopper (Mrs. Ed Hopper) wrote in her notes on New York Movie that the image represents fragments of snow-covered mountains.” Which makes me think that the movie must be Lost Horizons which came out in 1937/.

1.20.2022 – we have no reason

we have no reason
to abandon belief in the
ever-present better

Adapted from the book, The Architecture of Happiness (2009, Vintage Books) by Alain de Botton, and the passage:

We should recover a sense of the malleability behind what is built. There is no predetermined script guiding the direction of bulldozers or cranes. While mourning the number of missed opportunities, we have no reason to abandon a belief in the ever-present possibility of moulding circumstances for the better.

I felt this was kind of appropriate for the 1st anniversary of the Biden Administration.

Which isn’t so important for the start of the Biden efforts as much as it is important for the end of the previous administration.

According the The New York Review of Books, this is “A perceptive, thoughtful, original, and richly illustrated exercise in the dramatic personification of buildings of all sorts.”

What I find irrestible in reading Mr. de Botton is his use of language.

I get the feeling that if you made a spread sheet of all the words, adverbs and adjectives used by Mr. de Botton, you just might find that he used each word just once.

Neat trick in writing a book.

If I knew how to do that, I would.

1.19.2022 – things fall apart

things fall apart
norns, the weavers of fate, with
with sense of humor

Things fall apart.

The phrase is used as re-occurring punctuation in the online news story, Even under the mask, Johnson looked like someone who knew the game was up.

Things fall apart.

It is a story about how the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is trying to get out from under the story that he went to party that no told him was actually a party.

The Prime Minister has initiated Operation Save Big Dog to try and keep his job.

The same page of News also had the headlines, Which is more dysfunctional – the US or the UK? and Is midnight upon us? Doomsday Clock panel to set risk of global catastrophe and America must take steps now to avoid a slide into authoritarianism.

There was a time in World History when the President of the United States wrote to the Prime Minister of England, “It is fun to be in the same decade with you.”

That was Franklin Roosevelt writing to Winston Churchill.

That those two came together at the same time and, well, that they didn’t come together now gets me to thinking about the Norns.

According to Norse Mythology, you know, the Vikings, at the center of the cosmos were three sisters called the Norns who spun or weave the destiny of the world.

There is little agreement on what they are doing, spinning a long string or weaving a cloth, but whatever they are doing, they are responsible for what happens to ever one every where.

Fate.

One writer I read writes that the Norns sit a big loom, weaving a tapestry.

If you have ever seen one of these looms, its a big frame with that separates every other north-south thread in a fabric and a shuttle is slid back and forth with east-west material and then with a motion the north-south threads are switched up and down to create a weave.

According to this writer, just when you have fate figured out, bazoom, the norns slide that shuttle back the other way or, bazoom, they switch the position of the threads or, bazoom, they use a batten to shove the weave tighter.

Whatever they do, it changes the direction anyone thinks there fate is going.

Along with this random action, the norns also select the type of thread, the colors and the patterns so to that extent their choices impact fate on earth.

I don’t believe any of this of course but it is fun to speculate and to wonder sometimes what those crazy Norns were thinking.

For the most part, according to Wikipedia, the Norns could be malevolent or benevolent: the former causing tragic events in the world while the latter were kind and protective.

Reading the newspaper today I realize that the Norns also have sense of humor.

1.18.2022 – four second three beat

four second, three beat
shock horror comprises notes
D#, C, F#

Two duns and a lingering duuun at the end.

Headlines from all over the world and over the morning coffee I settled on “Dun, Dun Duuun! Where did pop culture’s most dramatic sound come from?”

I admit it is one of those mornings where the last thing I want to do is start working.

I know what waits at work today and I am not in any hurry to stand up, set the coffee cup in the sink and make that long trek upstairs.

When I get there and I get logged in, master of my password that I am, they will be waiting for me.

End of the year spread sheets.

In a world gone crazy and where ‘Statistics, more statistics and damn lies” still rule, when it comes to statistical reports I always ask, what do you want then to show?

I think back to the old show, Yes, Minister, where the last thing to do before leaving for a multi national summit was to write the final communique that would be sent out at the conclusion of the summit.

As Sir Humphrey Applebee would say, how would know what to meet, talk about and agree to if you didn’t have the agreement agreed to before the meeting?

I feel that way about stats.

Tell me what you to say or what you want to prove and I will provide the stats.

Do you want to say that 33% of all users embrace the technology or that 2/3 of all users reject the technology?

Just let me know.

Before I read about dun, dun duuuun, I read “Memories of office life: I was trapped in the longest, most anarchic meeting of my life” and when I read the line, “I believed that, gremlin-like, something terrible would happen if I was exposed to spreadsheets after midnight – I would reveal I didn’t actually understand them“, I knew I wasn’t alone.

The history of dun, dun duuuun was just what I needed.

Wonderful and almost all embracing information that had absolutely no bearing, meaning or import to anyone, anywhere.

I have to love the writer and editor that got and gave the okay for this story.

Useless trivia reigns!

I can start my day.

And what is the history of dun, dun duuuun?

Amelia Tait, tech and internet phenomena writer for the Guardian traces the history of the sound to 74-year-old composer Dick Walter, who has arranged music for programmes such as The Two Ronnies and The Morecambe & Wise Show.

“It’s musical shorthand which says a lot very quickly,” Walter says of the first of five melodramatic exclamations that run all the way down to Shock Horror (E). But where did he find the inspiration? Walter’s mother, an amateur pianist, used to play Edwardian and Victorian melodrama in the house, while he was a lover of jazz as a teen. He explains that for centuries, composers have used a particular musical interval to denote tension. Its name? Diabolus in musica – or “the devil’s interval” to you and me.

The devil’s interval is a dissonant combination of tones that unsettles the listener because it is unresolved. You’ve likely heard the devil’s interval as the opening two notes to The Simpson’s theme tune, as well as the beginning of Maria from West Side Story (Walter helpfully sings both). Yet in both cases, the tension is immediately resolved with the next note, producing a pleasant effect. “But if you don’t resolve it, you’re left feeling unsatisfied,” Walter explains, “That’s what it boils down to.”

Diabolus in musica – or “the devil’s interval”?

This is so perfect.

This IS JUST the way to start the day.

And, as Mr. Walter says, “That’s what it boils down to!”

Dun, Dun Duuuun!

1.17.2022 – so you may master

so you may master
the intricacies of the
English language

In his famous sermon, Paul’s Letter to American Christians Delivered at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery, Alabama, on 4 November 1956, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “So American Christians, you may master the intricacies of the English language. You may possess all of the eloquence of articulate speech. But even if you “speak with the tongues of man and angels, and have not love, you are become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.”

In a famous documentary of Frank Lloyd Wright, Architect Philip Johnson says that he doesn’t know how Wright designed his buildings.

Mr. Johnson then says, “If I knew how it did it, I would do it.”

Listening and reading the speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I say to myself, how did he do that?

Listening and reading the sermons of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I say to myself, how did he do that?

If I knew, I would do it.

I ask myself, what must it have been like to be a regular at the Ebenezer Baptist Church when Dr. King was in the pulpit.

I grew up Dutch in West Michigan.

I also grew up Baptist.

That meant church twice on Sunday, Wednesday Meeting, Tuesday Bible Club and Monday Awana.

I heard a lot of preaching growing up.

I often felt that Sheriff Andy Taylor’s assessment of the preaching in Mayberry when he says that he, ” … holds with Rev. Tucker. But he can be as dry as dust,” could apply to my years growing up Baptist.

The church I grew was strongly associated with both the Grand Rapids Baptist College and Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary.

Both places still exist but now that the word ‘Baptist’ is a determent to marketing, they are known as Cornerstone University and Grand Rapids Theological Seminary.

My Church did not so much have ‘Preaching’ as it had ‘Teaching’.

If ever in need of what was known as ‘Pulpit Supply’, the Church leaders would turn to the Seminary for someone to preach on Memorial Day Weekend, Labor Day Weekend or in the event that the Church was without a Preacher.

Once when searching for a new Pastor, Dr. Leon Wood of the Seminary spoke for two years using his course and latest book on the Prophet Daniel as the basis for his Sunday sermons.

Dr. Wood’s style was to teach, word by word, through each verse, and explain in detail, the meaning, history and use of the word.

My Dad used to remark on how many verses of the Book of Daniel that Dr. Wood might cover in a Sunday Sermon.

The average was about 2.

I was 10 and when I was told about the upcoming Sunday Sermons, I was excited because the Book of Daniel had those great stories of Daniel in the Lion’s Den and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

I was so excited, my Mom got me his book for my birthday.

I loved the gift.

I loved that I GOT a gift.

I loved that my Mom remembered.

But what was really cool about that gift was how it came about.

Every summer, my Dad would take a week off and we would take a State of Michigan vacation.

This meant Sleeping Bear Dunes, Mackinaw or Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

This vacation also usually happened around my Birthday on July 17th.

That meant my birthday was celebrated on the road.

For me, this was (as Jim Harrison writes in his book “The Big Seven”) the kind of injustice that weighs heavily on children who collect injustices for later possible use.

That year we were in Eagle Harbor Michigan up in the Keweenaw Peninsula of Michigan’s Upper peninsula, on my birthday and we trooped into a restaurant for lunch and with about 10 or 12 of us, we took three tables of 4.

Understand that by car, Eagle Harbor Michigan was a far away from Grand Rapids as Washington, DC,

Check a map, it is a LONG way there to get there.

I sat with Mom and Dad and probably little Stevie who would have been about 6.

Not sure why, but it seems like I always got to sit with Mom and Dad.

And most likely I was moping about it being my birthday and no cake or celebration as I was not going to let such an opportunity to whine get by when my Mom reached into her purse and pulled out a wrapped present.

She had packed it away and kept it hidden from me the entire trip.

Few gifts through out my life have been more a surprise.

And it was Dr. Wood’s book on Daniel.

I did read it – or at least tried to read it but I was just 10 years old and I still have it my shelf all these years later.

But I digress.

Dr. Wood, as I remember it, spent three weeks of Sunday Services dissecting the word, word history and meanings of the word ‘pulse’.

(For those who weren’t there, pulse is the veggie diet that Daniel asked for in place of the royal food’s that had been offered up before the Babylonia gods)

Where was the lion’s den?

Where was Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego?

Daniel’s 70 weeks?

And the missing week?

Minutes seemed like hours.

And hours seemed like days.

Years later, moving to the south, my wife and I (she grew up the same church) decided that anyone who attend our church when we did should be award a M.Div degree from the Seminary AND if anyone, and I mean ANYONE, had tried to preach any of those sermons in the south, biblical stoning would have made come back.

And I have to wonder why.

To be sure, Dr. King had a gift.

But was there anything else?

Dr. King after attending Morehouse in Atlanta, went off to post graduate work at Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania to work on a Bachelor’s of Divinity degree in 1948.

Dr. King took some 35 courses.

Of those 35 course, 11, almost 1/3 of the course of study, were classes on HOW TO PREACH or other pulpit skills.

Dr. King took the following courses.

Preaching Ministry of the Church
Public Speaking (twice)
Public Speaking I
Preparation of the Sermon
Practice Preaching
Preaching Problems
Conduct of Church Services
The Minister’s Use of Radio
Church Music
Choir

Thinking about my experiences with sermons and preaching, I checked the current catalog list of required courses for a Master of Divinity or M.Div at the Grand Rapids Theological Seminary.

There are 32 required classes.

BBL-501 Biblical Hermeneutics
BBL-510 Greek I
THE-501 Program Introduction
BBL-511 Greek II
THE-540 Systematic Theology I
MIN-500 Christian Spiritual
MIN-543 Christian Formation in the Church
MIN-545 Teaching & Learning
THE-640 Systematic Theology II
MIN-560 Global Impact
BBL-516 Hebrew I
BBL-672 NT I: Introduction to Exegesis. 3
THE-641 Systematic Theology III
BBL-517 Hebrew II
BBL-601 Experiencing the Ancient World of the Bible (Israel)
BBL-677 NT II: The Gospels
MIN-685 Ministry Residency I
MIN-510 Organizational Leadership General Elective
BBL-640 OT I: Intro to Hebrew Exegesis
BBL-678 NT III: Hebrews to Revelation. 3
Ministry Specialization Course
MIN-686 Ministry Residency II
BBL-641 OT II: Exegesis in the Pentateuch
Historical Theology Elective
Ministry Specialization Course
MIN-781 Ministry Residency III
MIN-711 Program Completion
MIN-782 Ministry Residency IV
BBL-642 OT III: Exegesis in the Prophets and Writings
THE-676 Apologetics and Moral Issues in Christian Ministry
Historical Theology Elective
Ministry Specialization Course

For specialization in Pulpit Ministry, Homelitics (the art of preaching or writing sermons) I & II are recommended Specialization courses.

Otherwise, nothing on how to speak or preach.

Boy Howdy!

That course list reads like a list of sermon titles I have sat through.

I held with the preaching, but it was dry as dust.

Now I am not saying that just the study of preaching and the classes that Dr. King took might have helped but I will say it wouldn’t hurt.

How much did it help Dr. King?

That is hard to say.

According to his transcript, Dr. King got a C’s in public speaking.

1.16.2022 – there are certain things

there are certain things
can only say in english
(but not fiction)
because fiction flows

This haiku went off the rails in regard to the original arrangement of the words.

So I broke the rules which was easy as this is my blog and I make the rules and I added the non-boldface words in parenthesis so you read them but don’t see them.

I was working from the quote, “You know, I find that I forget how to talk in Spanish, because there are certain things that I only say in English. I can write nonfiction in English, but fiction, no, because fiction flows in a very organic way. It happens more in the belly than in the brain.

The quote appears in the online article “Isabel Allende: I still have the same rage.

Isabel Allende is reported, by Wikipedia, to be the “the world’s most widely read Spanish-language author.”

And I have not heard about her.

I was also drawn to the quote:

I have three things that all writers want: silence, solitude and time. But because of the work my foundation does with people at risk, I’ve been very aware that there is despair and violence and poverty.

Maybe its time to see what the spanish speaking world has been reading.

1.15.2022 – will you still need me

will you still need me
give your answer, say the word
mine for evermore?

To the love of my life on her Birthday – turning a certain unmentioned number.

Here are the lyrics of the song written just for her but not by me.

I adapted the Haiku from the words though.

So this is, I guess, a collaboration between me and a 14 year Paul McCartney.

At least that Sir Paul wrote this when he was 14 and that it was the 2nd song he ever wrote is what Wikipedia says.

Kind of appropriate when you think that I was 14 and my not-yet-then-wife was 16 when we happened to meet at the beach one summer.

We grew up together at church, but that summer was the first time I saw her in a swimsuit.

She looked very good.

It was a really nice swimsuit.

She made that swimsuit look really good.

I remembered it the rest of my life.

She forgot about it in the next minute.

She walked away.

I watched and walked into a wall.

Sauvé.

It took me about 9 years to get up the nerve to ask her out.

It took her all of another minute to say nope.

It took another 5 years after that to regroup and ask again.

This time she said yes and we went out together with my mother.

Well, see, we had tickets to the same event that my mom and some of her friends had tickets to so it wasn’t like she went out with us, but she was there.

The story goes that they could see us from where they were sitting and at one point, my Mom’s friend leaned over to her and said, ‘They seem to be speaking together quite animatedly.”

I think I should mention that this friend had a Ph.d in English and taught at GRCC so more than likely she did indeed use the word, “animatedly.”

I know that my wife doesn’t like birthday’s or at least she doesn’t like her birthday or at least she doesn’t like recognizing that it has been another year.

But I like birthday’s.

I like that it is her birthday.

I don’t like the fact that on the morning of her birthday, when I was letting her sleep in, one of our neighbors, who rides a harley, had to get up at 7AM to go for a ride and also had to make sure that his on board radio, the one that plays loud enough to be heard over a harley, was operating correctly by playing the Go-Go’s.

But I digress.

And I know that in the song, it is the singer is the one who is 64 so I guess that means I get to use this again.

ANYWAY …

Love You and Happy Birthday.

Me and the birthday girl on the steps of the house where Humphrey Bogart married Lauren Becall.

When I get older losing my hair
Many years from now

Will you still be sending me a Valentine
Birthday greetings bottle of wine

If I’d been out till quarter to three
Would you lock the door

Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I’m sixty-four

You’ll be older too
And if you say the word
I could stay with you

I could be handy, mending a fuse
When your lights have gone

You can knit a sweater by the fireside
Sunday mornings go for a ride

Doing the garden, digging the weeds
Who could ask for more

Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I’m sixty-four

Every summer we can rent a cottage
In the Isle of Wight, if it’s not too dear
We shall scrimp and save

Grandchildren on your knee
Vera, Chuck and Dave

Send me a postcard, drop me a line
Stating point of view

Indicate precisely what you mean to say
Yours sincerely, wasting away

Give me your answer, fill in a form
Mine for evermore

Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I’m sixty-four

1.14.2022 – that morning headache

that morning headache
flat thick heavy ache feeling
on top of my head

My mornings aren’t what they used to be.

Back in the day there was this commercial that showed people driving tanks and dropping out of helicopters and running across deserts, all first thing in the morning.

The tagline was something like, ‘The U S ARMY – we do more before 8AM …’

That was me for a big part of my life.

Not only did I have to get up and get started, no small task, I had to get the kids up and going and either off to school or to school.

It was a part of being a Dad I had not envisioned.

There is an episode of that old show, Frasier, where Dr. Frasier Crane tries to explain, in detail, the way HIS day has to start so that HE can function.

Boy Howdy!, but that was me.

Most of ‘my way to start the day’ went away for a long time.

Like I said, getting kids up and going.

Getting kids off to school.

Getting kids TO school.

Getting to work.

Believe there is ‘getting to work’ and there is ‘getting to work.’

At one point I was getting up and then getting up kids and then getting kids TO school to a school that was in a different direction from downtown Atlanta that I needed to go and then getting to work in downtown Atlanta.

When I used the term, ‘dawn broke …’, it had an entirely different meaning.

It seems to me that I went to bed filled with both anxiety and apprehension.

Anxiety and apprehension not over what the new day MIGHT bring.

Though there was a lot of concern over what MIGHT show up each day.

But my plate was quite full with what I KNEW was coming.

I didn’t suffer in silence.

Seems like there is a family story of one of the kids asking “Why is Dad so crabby in the morning?”

Of late, my morning roll call is down to just me again.

My morning commute is to walk upstairs.

I almost look forward to getting in to bed and not much more on my mind than maybe the weather.

Still, there is HOW I wake up.

Of late, there are three ways I wake up.

My favorite is to come back to consciousness from REM dream sleep and let the realization that it is time to get up slowly, dreamily, drowsily, sink in.

Then there is waking up for the day, most likely to the sound of the beeping of the coffee maker and it is time to get out of bed so I get out of bed.

Maybe in those cases I am already awake, lying in bed, waiting for those beeps.

Then there are those headache mornings.

They usually start sometime early in the morning when I roll over to look at the clock and its 3AM.

The time about which Francis S. Fitzgerald said, “In a real dark night of the soul it is always three o’clock in the morning.”

(Yes – F. Scott Fitzgerald was named after Francis Scott Key … if that didn’t contribute to the …)

And there is a flat, thick ache across the top of my head.

My first thoughts are of despair.

Oh great, the headache.

The 2nd thought is how to hold it off.

I try to arrange head on the pillow to either put some pressure on the ache in hopes that the ache might go away or relive the pressure on the ache in hopes that the ache might go away.

I have been doing this for years and for years I still try the same things.

I try but I know it is not going away.

Then I get to resolve.

Resolve that I know I will have a headache when I get up, that it will rob my morning, if not the whole day, of action, of the new day’s freshness.

Resolve that even though I know this, I can fight back with my morning shower, my morning coffee and my morning advil.

And with that in mind, I settle down to wait to get out of bed.

I don’t like the headache but, like my morning, they aren’t what they used to be.

My and a morning headache have reached the nuisance stage of a relationship and while I wish it would go away, I will push on.

There was I time that when the morning headache hit, I would find myself at work after getting the kids to school and getting myself to work and having no clear recollection of how I got there.

And that was a good day with a bad headache.

Like my new mornings, much of what caused the headaches is gone.

Much of the stress and anxiety and lifestyle that contributed to the headache is muted.

I might even venture that I know what is the main cause of today’s headache and it is physical rather than mental.

And it is something that I am doing to myself, every day all through the day.

It is these screens!

I stare at the these doggone screens all day long.

My computer screen.

My TV screen.

My iPhone screen.

My iPad screen.

My kindle screen.

Screens to the point of screaming!

I use all the tricks.

I dim the screens.

I set timers to have my tablets go darker at 8PM.

I have the ‘blue screen’ shades for my glasses.

But when I get an e book I can’t put down …

When I start reading something on a tablet and forget the rest of the world …

When I focus on my work and anyone had to poke me with a sharp stick to get my attention …

The last thing on my mind is a headache.

Is there anything new here?

Screens and eyestrain are just a latest in eyestrain.

The classic, ‘2 Years Before the Mast’ was written because a Doctor told the author, Richard Henry Dana Jr., that he might be able to hold off his apparent oncoming blindness by taking a long sea voyage.

Mr. Dana, Jr. signed on as a novice shipmate and sailed off to California in 1839 to find that after a couple of weeks away from law school and legal textbooks, his eyesight returned.

Not that he was able to get out his contract on the ship for the rest of those 2 years, but he did get a classic book out of the deal.

Another story in the back of my mind is one told by a now I-can’t-remember sports writer in Washington, DC whose Father worked at the Library of Congress.

The sports writer, it may have been Shirley Povich, recalled that when his Dad worked on a Saturday, he would tag along.

His Dad would lead him back in the stacks to the GV8 section where the baseball books were and click on a light and leave him there for the day.

‘Don’t go blind,’ his Dad would say as he went off to his job.

What can I say?

You would think that after all these years I would learn something.

And maybe I have.

Maybe my lesson is that, if the price of reading is the headache, well, where are the books?

I did though recently go off on a rant.

A rant about ebooks and epubs and mobis and kindles.

When I worked for the Grand Rapids Public Library, the old card catalog was still in place but not maintained.

Everything was on the computer terminal systems.

From time to time the system would be down.

Patrons would come to the desk and ask about a book.

I got up on my platform and would say that unfortunately the system was down.

Then I would point, majestically and slowly like Moses parting the Red Sea, at the old card catalog and say that in the 110 years of its existence, the GRPL Card Catalog never crashed.

Though that did present a really scary mental image.

What’s that saying?

The best way to hide something is misfile it in a library?

My rant to my ever faithful audience made up of my wife was that at one time I owned 1,000’s of books in my personal library and when we moved, I had to moved literally 1,000’s of books.

From that point of view, e-readers were a blessing.

Holding one small tablet in my hands and I had access to 1,000’s of books saved on my tablet and through the internet, I could access any book any where.

YET.

My rant continued with the anguish and righteousness of Orson Welles playing the Clarence Darrow character in the 1959 film, Compulsion. (worth the watch if you haven’t seen it – might change your life)

Without electricity.

Without power.

I would have nothing.

I would have nothing to read.

“Books don’t need batteries,” I said.

“Books don’t need to be plugged in,” I said.

“No power – nothing to read,” I said in a voice crying in the wilderness.

My wife listened to me as she has learned to listen to me when I get into a rant.

“At night, you would still need a light to read your books,” she said.

My wife is very good looking too.

1.13.2022 – No coach takes a job

No coach takes a job
assuming they’ll fail – think they’re
going to succeed

Little Jimmie ‘I Lost the Brown Jug” Harbaugh made it to the sports page of the Manchester Guardian.

The headline was Jim Harbaugh’s likely NFL return shows college isn’t what it used to be.

Boy you can say that again.

Back when I was in college with Jimmie and he would go practice football and I would go and try to get lost in the grad library, it sure seemed a lot more simple.

A lot more fun.

But someone had to come along and fix it.

Play to crown a real national champion and more fans from more schools will be involved in the process and the game.

Yep that worked out.

I remember how at the end of college football season, as many as 10 or 12 teams would be looking at how their team might be voted the champion depending on how all the bowl games were played.

Now we got a system and just two teams, two teams with extensive fan bases that included the entire state of Alabama and the north east corner of South Carolina, seem to have controlled that discussion.

Boy Howdy and oh boy.

So we can fix the fix this and put more teams into the mix.

Now 4 more games and this seems to be getting the game off the field and into the schools medical and injury support so maybe my old college might benefit.

Just label anything fun and take it out, just like my old job.

Somehow they were able to take college football and turn it into the only national sport were FEWER people are interested in the playoffs.

That’s a pretty neat trick but not one that you would think would want on your resume.

Anyway, reading that article I got to this line.

No coach goes into a job assuming they’re going to fail. They think they’re going to succeed.

How about that!

I am sure I knew this.

I am sure everyone knows this.

Still, it has to be said.

I remember years and years ago watch some game and the poor little reporter on the field has to interview the coach of the visiting team as the half came to an end.

I know that everyone is aware this is a RULE.

I don’t mean that it is a rule for ‘How to Cover College Sports – A TV Broadcaster Rule Book’ but then again maybe it is.

What I mean is that in the great board meetings that take place where major things are decided that impact all our live, it was agreed upon by all the powers that have the power to be at these meetings that any and all college football and basketball coaches MUST – HAVE TO – GONNA GET IN TROUBLE IN YOU DON’T – take part in these running off the field interviews.

It is in the contracts between the TV Networks and the conferences, the conferences and the schools and the schools and the coaches.

It is a RULE.

It is IN THE BOOK.

So when the young sideline reporter is told at the production meeting to GET THAT INTERVIEW, if the reporter asks ‘HOW?’ as in “HOW DO I GET JUWAN HOWARD TO talk to me?” the producer can yell back, “Don’t worry about that – THEY GOTTA DO IT.”

For the fan I guess.

Some where is the person who thought this up.

That at this moment, we needed someone to yell some questions at a coach.

Either at the half and at the end of game.

Some of the world’s best sports questions and answers have come out of this idea.

One of my favorites was when a reporter as a very fast walking Bobby Knight how his team was able to win the game.

Coach Knight, without breaking stride replied that while he was an not expert like most sports broadcaster he did recommend that if you looked at the scoreboard you would see that his team scored more points than the other team.

He was pretty much jerk in real life too.

Another time, a breathless young reporter (they always seem to get this assignment) run up to Bear Bryant and asked why he ran a certain play.

As I remember it, Coach Bryant stopped and stared at the reporter and said, ‘Everything I do is part of trying to WIN this game.’

The reporter didn’t like that or something so repeated the question.

Coach Bryant repeated the answer.

The reporter again started to repeat with a ‘But ….”

Coach Bryant stared for a second or 2 into the camera, shook his head and walked off.

They more I thought about it the more I thought he was right.

Would a Coach do something that he thought might NOT help win a game?

There is a plan here.

There is a plan when each coach is hired.

The plan is to win.

Even in the NFL were as the writer of today’s article stated:

Parity is legislated in the NFL; it’s equality by design. 

Some how this writer has not experienced the phenomena know as the Detroit Lions.

1.12.2022 – ill discoverers

ill discoverers
that think there is no land, when
see nothing but sea

Francis Bacon wrote in his The Advancement of Learning (1605 – bk. 2, ch. 7, sect. 5) that “they are ill discoverers that think there is no land, when they can see nothing but sea.”

The complete line is, “As for the possibility, they are ill discoverers that think there is no land, when they can see nothing but sea.”

As for the possibility …

That they might be giants.

Mr. Bacon warns, “But if any man shall keep a continual watchful and severe eye upon action, operation, and the use of knowledge, he may advise and take notice …”

Take notice of what?

I offer, in answer, the short story, The Glass in the Field, by James Thurber from his Fables for Our Time.

A short time ago some builders, working on a studio in Connecticut, left a huge square of plate glass standing upright in a field one day. A goldfinch flying swiftly across the field struck the glass and was knocked cold. When he came to he hastened to his club, where an attendant bandaged his head and gave him a stiff drink. “What the hell happened?” asked a sea gull. “I was flying across a meadow when all of a sudden the air crystallized on me,” said the goldfinch. The sea gull and a hawk and an eagle all laughed heartily. A swallow listened gravely. “For fifteen years, fledgling and bird, I’ve flown this country,” said the eagle, “and I assure you there is no such thing as air crystallizing. Water, yes; air, no.” “You were probably struck by a hailstone,” the hawk told the goldfinch. “Or he may have had a stroke,” said the sea gull. “What do you think, swallow?” “Why, I–I think maybe the air crystallized on him,” said the swallow. The large birds laughed so loudly that the goldfinch became annoyed and bet them each a dozen worms that they couldn’t follow the course he had flown across the field without encountering the hardened atmosphere. They all took his bet; the swallow went along to watch. The sea gull, the eagle, and the hawk decided to fly together over the route the goldfinch indicated. “You come, too,” they said to the swallow. “I–I–well, no,” said the swallow. “I don’t think I will.” So the three large birds took off together and they hit the glass together and they were all knocked cold.

Moral: He who hesitates is sometimes saved.