A week to remember

.facebook_1435413810312Dear Grandpa Diff,

I have not written for quite some time, but the events of the last week suggest I need to say something, perhaps enough to stop you spinning in your grave.

Ah….where do I start?  Well, to put things in perspective, you will recall that our Supreme Court way back in 1973, discovered the right to abortion hidden in the US Constitution.  You and I know darn well it isn’t there, but the folks on the Supreme Court somehow fantasized its presence.  (The abortion ruling didn’t work out so well for more than 55,000,000 babies who should have been born since 1973.)

Unfortunately, they have been continuing their investigations (and fantasies) and have found new things covered in our nation’s founding documents.  For one thing, they have found the right for men to marry men and women to marry women.  (I’m not going to try to explain why that would interest anyone.)  And they have discovered that when they review laws they have the right to approve what they like and disapprove what they don’t – irrespective of the Constitution.

The result is that we’re having a bit of a constitutional crisis, although lots of politicians call it progress.

Symbolic of that progress, the White House was illuminated in rainbow colors this week, the first time it has been illuminated by anything but regular old bright, white, light.  The rainbow colors are symbol of “gay rights” – as demonstrated by the legalization of gay marriage.  I expect you are wondering why the White House would be displaying such rainbow sympathies; so am I.

My dad (your son-in-law), my wife’s father and my wife’s uncle were imperfect but brave men.  They spent some of the prime years of their lives in the Pacific during World War II.  They saw suffering and death and were ready to sacrifice everything for the country and people they loved.

They were men who could relate to your favorite expression of shock at things that didn’t add up to you:  “Oh, for the love of our country.”

That phrase has been running through my head a lot in the past week.  I know priests and ministers who are going to risk public attack, perhaps even jail, by proclaiming biblical truth.

Oh, for the love of our country.

People will be denied jobs and opportunity because they refuse to condone gross violations of natural law.

Oh, for the love of our country.

Many of us will face a “soft” persecution, marginalized and ridiculed.  We may not be put to the sword, but who knows?

Oh, for the love of our country.

This must all sound terribly negative.  Perhaps it is a bit unsettling to you – and shame on me for unsettling the dead.

But I’m hopeful.  Man is trying so hard to make his own plan come true on earth:  do what feels good and what fulfills you desire for fame, glory and things.  This has been tried before.

Man tried doing things his way in the Garden of Eden.  It didn’t work then and it won’t work now.

Grandpa, pray that we earthlings come to our senses and try it God’s way.


A rare "Cubs Win" sign.
A rare “Cubs Win” sign.

As a fan of the Chicago White Sox, I’m not surprised that the Chicago Cubs would get their most publicity from a fan catching a foul ball.

A few days ago (as you might have seen on social media) a fan caught a foul ball while holding a baby who was drinking from a bottle.  It is a remarkable, skillful, well-coordinated catch.  And it has generated lots of comments:

  • What a great dad!
  • The baby didn’t miss a drop of his bottle!
  • That guy could be playing baseball!
  • Talk about staying calm in a difficult situation!

OK…I don’t know the guy and, generally speaking, he may be super dad.  But it isn’t how this dad would have played the ball.

If I were holding a baby and a foul ball were headed my way, I would turn my back to the ball and shield the child with my body.  I wouldn’t risk misjudging the ball and it hitting the baby.  I would make sure that if the ball hit someone, it would be me.

This little incident makes a cute story.  I expect it will be shown again and again and family gatherings.  When the baby grows up he’ll probably tell his friends, “I was the baby when the guy – my dad – made that great catch.”

My priority would be protecting the child, not getting a foul ball.  I’m just glad the baseball didn’t smash the kid in the head.

It need not be dirty

Peter Falk as Colombo
Peter Falk as Colombo

I spent four hours watching television Sunday night.

First, let me assure you that this is not an endorsement of any particular network or program.  Second, I recognize that what you are about to read will shock anyone under the age of 40.

Yes.  It is true.  I was tuned to MeTV, a network that shows vintage shows, some of which appear in black and white.  The Sunday evening lineup is amazing (to a fan of old mystery and detective shows):

  • 7 p.m. – Colombo – Two hours of Peter Falk as a quirky, slob of a detective who always figures out the crime (1968-2003).
  • 9 p.m. – Man from U.N.C.L.E. – Robert Vaughn and David McCallum save the world from the plots of THRUSH (1964-1968).
  • 10 p.m. – Mission Impossible – The team does amazing things that Tom Cruise could only dream of (1966-1973).

These programs are engaging, tense and compelling.  But there are things these show lack:

  • Profanity
  • Mutilated bodies
  • Naked people groping each other
  • References to deviant sexual behavior

If you want current mystery and detective shows, you probably think you can’t have an interesting program without those elements.  In fact, you can.  And I’m willing to forgive the folks from several decades for smoking on camera and having bad hair.

Accepting reality

C14V73FQJHI was going to be a star.

Of course, I wasn’t alone.  Any kid growing up in the early 1960s in Columbus, Ohio was going to be a basketball star and play for the Ohio State Buckeyes.

My dad, my uncle and a couple older cousins had all been college athletes.  I would grow up to be six-foot-five and enjoy the speed of a gazelle.  I just had to work hard and let my dreams come true.

Work hard I did.  But I never got much beyond five-foot-ten and developed the slovenly speed of a basset hound.  (Actually, comparing my speed to that of a basset hound is an insult to the noble dog.) I made the basketball team in high school, but the biggest challenge I faced was not getting too many splinters from all the time I spent on the bench.

At the opposite end of the athletic spectrum was Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner.  Speed…strength…coordination…Olympic Gold.  But we apparently held something in common (no…not THAT).  We were both disappointed by the genetic hand we were dealt.

In my case, I had to come to terms that the world of college and professional basketball would proceed without my direct contribution.  That required acceptance of the reality of nature and God’s plan for my life.

In Jenner’s case, he decided to do something about his inner desire to be, well, a woman.  Hormone treatments.  Surgery.  Makeup.  Cover of a fashion magazine.  The problem is, even with all of today’s science and technology, a human being can’t change the hand dealt by nature – and God.  But with the help of God, he can accept who he is.

Jenner’s situation combines sadness and arrogance.  He needs our prayers.  And much more than more medical treatment, he needs an honest counselor and a brave spiritual director.

An alternative to preschool

Conrad the Green Cheek Conure
Conrad the Green Cheek Conure

A new study finds evidence that watching Sesame Street has about the same benefit for kids as going to preschool.  Read all about it in the Washington Post.

This could change everything.

I went to preschool when I was a little darling.  They didn’t have Sesame Street back then, but I watched Captain Kangaroo and Romper Room.

My son and daughter also went to preschool and neither much liked Sesame Street.  But even if they had loved the show, we would have sent them to preschool where they interacted with live humans.  (To be honest, one of the preschool teachers was a little like Oscar the Grouch, but she did keep the kids in line.)

I don’t remember how much we paid to send the kids to preschool, but it had to be lots more than turning on the television and tuning to PBS, which you don’t need cable to view.

I did a little googling of the own and learned that in Chicago you can find a number of preschools that charge more than $1,000 a month per rug rat.  You can pay even more in New York or Washington.  It would be much cheaper to buy the best flat-screen television Wal-Mart has to offer and watch Sesame Street.

My further research found that if you like Big Bird (apparently the most star of Sesame Street) you can get a real fancy bird of your very own for under $1,000:  White Face Pied Cockatiel, Violet Indian Ringneck, Blue Mountain Lorikeets, Severe Macaw, Pacific Parrotlets or a Green Cheek Conure.

So, a parent can be way ahead of the game by getting a huge television, a fancy bird and making the kids preschool dropouts.  In my case, my kids are too old for preschool and I don’t have a fancy television.  But I do have a bird.

A man ahead of the trends

IMG_0520This likely will sound a bit prideful, but I was reading a column earlier this week in the New York Times and realized that I already had in place a really important trend in office furniture:  the smart desk.

According to the column, people are spending upwards of $4,000 for something called a smart desk.  With one of these gadgets you can raise or lower the desk and it will make you healthier by reminding you (with an alarm of soothing voice of your choice) that it is time to take a break, go for a walk or, perhaps, go for a mocha-caramel-nonfat-latte with chocolate sprinkles.  (That is the sort of thing a person with a $4,000 smart desk must drink.)

I, on the other hand, have long incorporated smart desking into my work routine.  (Note natural, unposed picture of my desk accompanying these words.)  Here is how it works…

First, my desk is in my basement home office, which is far in the corner past the furnace, water heater and exercise machine.

Second, the bathroom is directly above the office, but the only way to get there is to walk all the way to the other end of the basement, go up the stairs, then walk to the opposite end of the house.

Third, I drink coffee or water, therefore causing making periodic pilgrimages from the desk to the bathroom an absolute necessity.  This is a complete natural process that requires neither an alarm nor soothing voice.  And sometimes, just to bolster this healthy process, I stand in front of my desk while talking of the phone.  I have even been known to pace, a healthy process that predates the smart desk for thousands of years.

All this isn’t to say that I have anything against a technologically advanced desk.  If the family got me one for Father’s Day I would use it.  But we’ll likely to use the funds that could buy a smart desk for food, water, light and heat, all things that are smart to have in your house.  That’s OK; as long as I get my coffee first thing in the morning, my system will work.