Friday, February 26, 2010

First Rugby Game

We are still COLD here in Middle Tennessee and I am getting increasingly whiney about it. I mean Monday is March 1 and really, I should be at least thinking about wearing shorts by now. But with night-time lows in the low twenties and highs during the day just barely making it to 40 . . . sorry, all of you who are more accustomed to all of this, but I am tired of being cold. I'll be sure to come back and read this during summer when I'm complaining about the heat.

In the midst of these frigid temperatures I attended my first rugby game tonight. That's right, rugby. At Younger Son's school it is a "club" sport which means it's a team that has the name of his school but it's not subsidized and they don't play on the school grounds. Younger Son is playing this year.

So at 5:30 this afternoon Wife and I, along with Older Son and his girlfriend, bundled up and went to watch the first game.

I have much to learn. In my feeble mind, I had this idea it was just football without pads. Not at all. It's played on a similar type field and each team defends and runs toward an end zone, but the ball's in constant motion. If the guy with the ball gets tackled, he can hand it off to one of his teammates. But a guy from the other team can pick it up and run with it too, which makes it kind of like soccer.

But like I said, I have a lot to learn. Younger Son played the entire game and seemed to enjoy himself. He's a "prop" which means, in addition to running all over the place with everyone else, at points during the game he and another "prop" face each other and lift one of their teammates up in the air, kind of like a cheerleader formation (don't tell him that's how I described it) while two props from the other team are right next to them lifting one of their guys at the same time. Then it's kind of a "jump ball" situation.

It's really wild, but fun, and Younger Son's team won. I won't even try to explain the scoring because I don't understand it myself.

I look forward to learning more about rugby and I really look forward to warmer games.

Couple of Comments

A couple of thoughts and then I'll try to stay away from politics for a while:

-- I was working, of course, yesterday, so only caught a few minutes during lunch of the live health care summit at Blair House, hosted by President Obama and attended by a sampling of Democrats and Republicans.

I am often accused of having a Pollyanna-ish view toward our government and elected officials so I will go ahead and plead guilty as charged on this one. But I thought the summit was a grand example of some of the things that are good about our country.

Yes, it was probably about a year late. There was no doubt a backdrop of extreme political motive behind everything that was said and, in fact, the whole motivation for having it was probably political in the first place. There were a few testy exchanges.

But, for even the most tried and true cynic -- should we not be thankful that we live in a country where elected officials who come from opposing points of view sit down together, offer their contributions and at least give the appearance of having the best interests of their countrymen (and women) at heart? And somewhere, in the midst of all of it, shouldn't we have found at least a glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, the health care system in this country will finally be repaired?

Maybe I am too optimistic and perhaps too unrealistic. But for at least part of yesterday, I liked what I saw.


Newly elected Massachusetts Republican Senator Scott Brown, who coasted to victory in the special election that was supposed to be nothing more than a formality for Democrats who thought they owned the seat, has caught flack for supporting a jobs bill that is mostly supported by Democrats.

In response to the criticism, Brown simply said that he went to Washington as an independent voice (after being elected, quite obviously, by independent voters). He thought the bill was good for the country and, more importantly, good for his constituency.

If you thought that I was a robot created in the image of Limbaugh/Palin/Pick-your-arch-conservative, he seems to be saying, maybe you weren't listening.

Again, I like what I see here.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Sad Commentary

With the announcement from Indiana's Democratic Senator Evan Bayh that he will not seek reelection to the Senate, the phrase "another one bites the dust" comes to mind. Incumbents from both parties seem to be dropping like flies as they decide to just go home rather than face an increasingly angry electorate.

The announcement from Bayh, once a rising star in the Democratic party and mentioned as a possible running mate in the 2008 election, should be especially stinging to all of us. Although he still loves the idea of public service, he said, he no longer "loves" being in Congress. He referred to an increasingly "dysfunctional" body that appears to have lost sight of what they are doing.

Indeed, in a recent forum with President Obama, Bayh had the gumption to look the president squarely in the face and tell him it was time for elected leaders to have the courage to make hard decisions.

He will hear no argument from me on that one. And even though I would probably not side with Senator Bayh on many issues, it causes me great sadness to hear that a leader of his caliber can no longer stomach Congressional service.

But who can blame him?

While this or that Senator or Congressperson is busy cutting sweetheart deals with colleagues to win a vote on a bill, another is appearing on CNBC or FOX to lambast someone who sits across the aisle.

While closed-door meetings are taking place to hammer out a health care plan, the House Speaker is saying she no longer has the votes, then insists there will be a health care plan.

The president proposes a joint forum to talk about health care, to get ideas from both sides, but skeptical Republicans grouse about what he might really be trying to do.

Something tells me it wasn't supposed to be this way when our founders laid out the plan for this country. Can you say compromise? Not to mention bipartisanship?!

It is a sad day indeed when good and decent men and women no longer have the stomach to serve in Congress, something that once was considered a privilege.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Concessions and Valentine's Day

Wife and I worked at the basketball concession stand last night. At Younger Son's high school, the athletes' parents work the concession stands and, generally, you get to work at games for sports your child does not play. Since Younger Son is a football player, we usually do basketball games or wrestling tournaments. That way, of course, we don't miss any of the action when Younger son is on the field.

It's a great system and, call me weird, but I really enjoy working the concession stand. I like working with the other parents and I just have a blast talking to the people who come and buy stuff. It's big business, too, and we're always busy. Last night we worked a girls' and boys' game against our cross-town rival so there was hardly a lull in activity.

The offerings are simple -- popcorn, soft drinks, bottled water and sports drinks, burgers, hot dogs, pizza , nachos and assorted candy bars. The menu is prominently displayed but, inevitably, people come up and ask, "What do you have?" and, "How much is so-and-so?" when it's all posted right in front of them. And of course they love to try and custom order things as if we have a chef in the back room. I'm patient with all of that, though, being one who often misses the forest for the trees myself.

I also enjoy handling the money. As a mild anal-retentive, I like lining it all up in the cash box, all face-up, where the presidents' heads point the same direction. OK so I'm easily amused.

Before we went, Wife told me she does not enjoy it as much as I do. She says she feels a bit inadequate. This is a woman who, among her notable attributes owns a business, has raised three children and can whip up a meal for two or twenty-two on a few moments' notice. And the high school concession stand stresses her out?!

And this little exchange led, of course, to the age-old conversation that Wife and I have had for nearly 26 years now, about how, when she shares something that she is feeling, it is not my responsibility to try and tell her why she shouldn't be feeling that way. Quite the contrary, in fact. She is not wanting me to try and help her be rational or help the feelings go away. She needs me to listen and understand. I guess you might be thinking I would have learned this by now.

I'll keep trying.


I'll tell you this, though. I am way smarter than the husband of one of Wife's friends who told his wife he "doesn't believe in Valentine's Day."

Doesn't "believe" in Valentine's Day?! As if what he believes has anything at all to do with the fact that he, forthwith, needs to get himself to the grocery store florist (just like I did this morning) where flowers are very reasonably priced. By tonight, although they might be picked over a bit, they might even be marked down.

I wouldn't risk waiting until tomorrow morning, though, when so many other dumb schmucks will be hovering over the blooms that are left. That will be way too obvious and probably a little late to redeem himself from saying something so stupid.

But seriously, man. Don't try to argue your way out of Valentine's Day. The card makers and florists are way ahead of you and they have deeper pockets. Just go with it.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Mysteries of Life

I can't help but envy blogger friend Debby a bit, going to college here in the prime of her life. Not that I would want to take tests and write papers -- believe me, I did my share of that -- but just gaining that type of knowledge with a few more years to my credit would be attractive to me.

I was a journalism major in college. I did a feature story on one of the psychology professors for the school newspaper and was so impressed with him I decided to take a psych class. I loved it. And I really do envy Debby for getting to take Psychology. I think I would have a completely different view of such a class in my 50s than I did when I was about 20.

I think I would enjoy a psych class at this point in life because I am aware of so many "mysteries of life" that I would like to hear addressed by someone who is learned in the field of what makes people tick, or why things happen the way they do. Here are a half-dozen of my unanswered questions:

1. We don't have a huge house but it is big enough that we can entertain 20 - 30 people fairly comfortably. We rarely have that many at one time but will on occasion have 10 - 12. Our kitchen is a decent size but not one of the really huge ones like some of the newer houses today have. We have a very nice sized family room/den that flows through a cased opening from the kitchen. Yet, inevitbably, when we have folks over and Wife is cooking dinner, almost everyone, to a person, will congregate in the kitchen, right around Wife while she is cooking. She is a very good sport about it, but she has to constantly dodge people who are sipping wine or eating appetizers while she's putting the final touches on dinner. Why is that? Why don't they go where there is more space and they can move around more comfortably?

2. The local YMCA where I go to work out has plenty of parking. When I go early in the morning, I can usually get a fairly close spot because the crowd is rather small. By the time I leave, things are picking up a bit and more folks are coming. When I go to my car, people who are arriving and looking for parking spaces will sit in their cars a couple of car lengths away from those leaving and even sometimes honk, waiting for the soon-to-be-vacant parking place. (Note to the ones who honk to try to make me move faster: this actually makes me stay in the parking space a little longer, checking my phone, fiddling with the radio or rearview mirror or making sure my seatbelt is comfy. In other words, you annoy me). These are people who are coming to EXERCISE but they are bound and determined to get a close parking place so they don't have to walk a few more feet. Ironic, you think?

3. I have a good friend whose wife has been out of town for a couple of weeks with her mother who is ill. He came over and ate dinner with us last night and told us that, while his wife has been gone, he has many times just forgotten to eat at night. 9 p.m. comes, he's gotten busy doing something and he realizes he has not eaten but by then it's too late, he thinks, and he just goes to bed. I, on the other hand, have never once in my life "forgotten" to eat. In fact, I "remember" to eat way too much. And if my wife were out of town, rest assured I would still not forget and would, in fact, probably eat way too much out of sheer loneliness. And I would no doubt gain weight. Why the difference? Why don't I forget to eat sometimes?

4. How is a wife able to articulate, with total and accurate recall, every word ever spoken by her husband since the day she met him? This is not just reflective of my own marriage. I have done an informal survey and every husband I have asked says that it's true of them also. Why do husbands not possess the same ability and have a snowball's chance of occasionally prevailing in a discussion (that some might lable an "argument")?

5. I think I addressed this in a previous post but it's still a mystery. Why do we clean our house before the housekeeper comes?

6. And, finally, this one. I can do a load of laundry and I will have gathered perhaps ten pairs of dirty socks, for a total of twenty socks. I put them in to wash with other clothes. I remove the load from the washer and put it in the dryer with all socks still accounted for. When the dryer is done, I take the entire load to our pool table, which doubles as our laundry folding table, and somewhere between the dryer and pool table at least one sock has totally disappeared and often more than that. The stray sock (or socks) goes into a basket in a closet that holds approximately 50 other stray socks. Every once in a great while a stray that goes into that basket will match one of the other strays, which is a time of great rejoicing (and if you're thinking, "This guy needs to get out more," you'll hear no argument from me). But more times than not, the new stray just joins the others and the stray sock basket just grows in volume. My question, of course, is where, oh where, did that sock -- or socks -- go between the dryer and the pool (folding) table?