A Filthy Habit


I was always taught that spitting was unsanitary, unhealthy and a filthy habit. The only time it was acceptable was when a bug flew in my mouth or I got hit in the mouth while playing a game or just fooling around and you had spit blood. Spitting was never done in polite society.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been watching the baseball playoffs and in just one game I stopped counting at over two hundred spits by the players and that was only in the early innings. At first I thought the only one who doesn’t spit is the catcher because he has a mask on, but then I saw one lift the mask, spit and go back to signaling his pitcher.

I know this is gross, but can you imagine the collective accumulation of saliva in the dirt around home plate and the other bases and especially in the dugout. I’d hate to be the guy who has to swab the dugout floor after a game. And I’d hate to be the catcher who has to look at that stuff in the dirt and then catch a ball that’s bounced in a glob of body fluid. Yea, I know it’s gross, but look at what it teaches our Little Leagues.

Major League Baseball is big, big business. They bill themselves as wholesome family entertainment; they promote high moral and ethical standards among the players, yet baseball is one of the few sports where spitting is constant and the camera always seems to have a close-up of the player in the act.

It seems to me Major League Baseball could suggest and encourage its players to be a little more courteous to the fans who watch on television.

Spitting is a habit and habits can be eliminated with conscience effort.

Santa Ana Winds


Back in October of 1993, I was working in California and experienced my first Santa Ana winds. They are fierce and if there is a smoldering or worse yet, a burning fire in the canyons of southern California the winds bring destruction, tragedy and death.

I wrote a commentary then that seems appropriate to me this morning as I read about the fires and Santa Ana winds of sixty to seventy miles per hour now threatening areas around Los Angeles.

“Today began for me listening to the wind and saying its name.
Santa Ana!

It has the sound of a saint, but a sinister feel. A harbinger, an ill-wind known well to Californians. Santa Ana!

There is nothing we can do to change it, to stop it. It flows quickly from the mountain tops and reminds us of our vulnerability. The tears of loss and smiles of safety on the same face, parallel our conflict and appreciation of nature. The stories of neighbor helping neighbor, confirm our desire for community.

This is a story not only of chewing flames and charred places, it is a story of hopes and wishes, shattered dreams and shock. It times of such destruction, values change rapidly. The acquired stuff of daily living no match for the loss of a treasured family picture or the ache of not knowing if a pet survived.

There is never a quick end to tragedy. No easy answers to the wailed questions of why and no relief when cries have no tears. It is not possible to hold each hand of so many so hurting today.

All we can do, in this human family, is to be aware and to care. There is something powerful in that and it heals.

I’m still listening to the wind, knowing it brings a better day.”

Grandfather Gap


As a grandfather, I am having the pleasure of spending Columbus holiday time with my soon to be thirteen year old twin granddaughters.

Oh my, am I out of touch. So far I’ve learned that Pink is not a color, but a popular singer, so is Rihanna as are the Jonas Brothers and they’ve all been number one on the charts. Hey, I’d never heard of any of them until a day or so ago.

I didn’t know that Victoria Secret has a kids division also called Pink. I did know about the adult Victoria Secret! I’m not that old.

I also learned that dressing up is not what it used to be. I learned that shirts hanging outside of shirts are fashionable and clothing makers have a number. Jeans can cost a hundred bucks or more; Hollister is the preferred brand and when I asked about Levi’s I got a blank look and a “huh”.

Boys are still persona non grata, but I figure that will change this year

I learned that seventh graders know a lot more than I remember learning in the seventh grade with the possible exception of sentence structure and word usage. I learned that language is simplified and texting is the way to communicate with friends. I learned the word “like” is inserted into conversation repeatedly when explaining something. “You know like Pop, like I really like that”.

I also learned that synchronized wiggling in unison, coordinated feet movement, flailing of arms, pointing of fingers, jumping side to side and moving one’s palms up and down and back and fourth to a loud noise called music is dancing. I learned that cool is out and sick is in even though it means cool and backpacks are the thing and those white strings hanging out of the ears can be removed and are not a genetic mutation.

I love this younger generation. I am, like, impressed with their enthusiasm, stamina, innocence and naïveté. Like, wow, they’ve got a lot more going for them than vocabulary, like you know what I’m saying. It’s totally awesome!

Drains! Mine and the Nations


A chromium drainpipe under my kitchen sink corroded and disintegrated and I had to replace it. Water from the drain leaked all over the place. I discovered the corrosion as I tried to fix a leak by tightening a connecting nut. The pressure of my turning wrench severed the already weakened connection. Now I had a bigger problem. As I looked at it I wondered what it had to teach me about current life events, then I called a plumber.

The parallels are amazing. Like the damaged drain, a corroded economy allow stock spills to go all over the place and then be wiped up and tossed with no more value than a wet paper towel.

The corrosion catalysts in both my sink and the nation’s sink are similar. Ill conceived design and then flawed raw material combined with inherent defects created a weakened product which in turn destroyed the integrity of the pipe.

It’s similar on Wall Street. Ill conceived desire, flawed procedure and operational defects allowed corrosion of the system and stock savings leaked onto the trading floor to be wiped up and discarded as false values of personal portfolios.

The plumber came to my home. Congress came to wall street.

My drain works perfectly now and will probably do so for a number of years. I looked at the drain after the plumber left. It was neat, clean, and pristine. A simple solution. Then I thought of how difficult it seems to be to solve the fiscal drain in the plumbing of the American monetary system.

I think I know an answer and perhaps a solution. My drain leakage could be solved with a new, clean plastic pipe. That’s fairly simple if you know how to do it. The American monetary system is a little more complex because it has several components my pipes did not have. Emotion, fear, and greed, without them we’d probably have a nice new clean pipe in which to flow our commerce.