Wednesday, June 30, 2010

an admission

Here is an admission. I have been blogging for more than three years under the BIRCHES, and I'm losing interest in most of the things I've talked about, not because they're unimportant nor have I changed my mind, but because I don't find much new to say. (e.g., sometimes I rant about the easy availability of guns and the slaughter they cause, but I really don't have new things to say about it.)

During these years, I have tried to be clever, tried to be sarcastic, and tried to be topical. As a matter of fact, blogging is an egocentric activity, although not necessarily self-centered. Does that make sense? It satisfies, at least for awhile, the personal urges to be creative and to make public statements about public matters. Naturally one hopes that others are paying attention, and I know some people are.

Lately, I have begun to lose interest, not in blogging, but in the topics. I find I just don't want to comment on many of those things I used to talk about. For example, I don't really want to hear about what the Republicans are doing anymore, and I take it for granted that anyone still reading BIRCHES agrees with me about those people. And as for the Democrats, I feel they are incompetent to be governing these days, and only Obama seems to make a real difference.

The negligent destruction by a huge international company of our Gulf of Mexico is so disgusting and so dismaying to me, that I almost don't want to hear about it anymore. I certainly don't have anything new to add to what's already been said, and once again, I bet those who still read BIRCHES agree with me.

I was enthusiastic about the World's Cup competition, but now that the U.S. has been eliminated, no one among my friends cares about it. So, I will follow the playoffs alone.

Often I've invited other people to post things on my blog, and some people have. They usually get a small reaction from other people and then the topic is gone with the wind. I particularly want to thank my good friend, John, otherwise known as "Dashmann", for his frequent offerings, and my good friend Bob, otherwise known as "Sparty" for his contributions.

Therefore, I am looking for new stimuli for the mental part of blogging. I haven't quit, but once more, I may be changing.

Here are some things on my mind recently:
1. I have this urge to have a new car. I love new cars. My wife has a great urge to buy some property up north. I said, let's wrestle for it. She agreed and now I guess we're going property hunting again. Yes, she kicked my ass, but that's because I'm old.

2. The Jehovah's Witnesses came to my door. A nice lady only slightly older than I am handed me some paper and said, "Here's an invitation to come to the Dow Center for our meeting. The only thing you need is your Bible." Here is what I was going to say: "Tell me your address so I can come to your house and harangue you about my religious beliefs." But, I didn't. This is because I know the Witnesses are an important source of income for a friend of mine who owns a coffee shop. (So, I guess I have sold out my sharp tongue if not my principles for the sake of capitalist enterprise.)

3. I went to have coffee with IRISH MIKE this morning and learned all sorts of new things. I found out that many high schools have started bowling teams, for example. Mike told me, because I was going to the Farmer's Market next, to buy some of the gumbo at the snack tent. I did. It was terrific. So, if you're going to the Farmer's Market, give your gullet a gift of gumbo.

4. ELENA KAGAN is a smart-aleck who can phrase things very diplomatically when what she really seems to want to say is, "Senator, you're an asshole!" I haven't listened to most of the hearings, of course, but from what I've seen, she's well qualified.

5. A friend told me that he won't read my blog anymore because I'm too violent. No kidding. Am I?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Goodbye Robert Byrd

On his most confused day, Robert made more sense than a lot of the others. And, he may have been slightly less corrupt than most of them.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Grandfather's Clock revisited

DASHMANN - writes that this is a "more fun" version of Grandfather's Clock

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

McChrystal's plight

There is in American history, a fairly long list of military officials who have used their mouths to commit insubordination, and who have been fired, busted in rank, or otherwise disciplined.

Two of the more famous are General George Patton (World War II) and General Douglas MacArthur (Korea). Lincoln struggled with military officers who got their mouths ahead of their judgment.

Now, there is another. Gen. Stanley McChrystal's sins are not yet clearly known, but he has been recalled to the United States from Afghanistan to explain his words of criticism of the war effort and of his superiors.

This is really not a close call. The Constitution instructs us that the President is the Commander-in-Chief. No matter how talented or untalented the President may be in making war, he is nevertheless the guy. This notion of civilian control of the military is not novel to the United States. Democracy probably cannot survive without it.

Presumably, McChrystal will be punished. He, himself, would expect it.

on my mind

Farewell to the French Soccer team. They lost and they can go home. They got to the World Cup games by an illegal procedure and now they've been defeated! Viva la justice!

Wednesday morning the Americans can prove they are mighty. They could live up to their potential. They have to defeat Algeria.

Monday, June 21, 2010


June 21: Someone asked me at coffee club this morning "How's your summer going?" and I said "I don't know, it just started." This is a snotty answer isn't it?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

from the "Loyal Opposition"

The latest efforts of the opposition to find just the right, and right-wing, attitude toward our centrist president:

Saturday, June 19, 2010

add to your day -- reminiscence

I didn't know until just today that Johnny Cash recorded this song.

The song was in one of my mother's piano books 60 years ago. I could still remember the lyrics from the first verse, and have often sung it to myself over the years.

It's Caturday!

FELIX's friends

Sunday, June 13, 2010

a soccer fan watches baseball

I was watching the Tigers play the Pits the other evening. I noticed that there were a few moments of true excitement when someone hit a home run. After that, it was just a bunch of people throwing balls around and sometimes catching them. Then someone would throw a ball in the direction of the umpire where he could not possibly misjudge its trajectory, but he would. Sometimes someone occasionally hit that ball, although not often.

Here's a question. How can you stand a mere 60 feet away from a target and throw a heavy ball at it and miss?
That should be child's play. (Oh, wait, it IS child's play isn't it, in a thousand sandlots around the country every Saturday? Baseball is a child's game. A game for sissies. Now if you want to be daring, your children should be playing rugby. )

Have you ever noticed how heavily armored baseball players are? Why they even wear silk gloves to handle the bat
with. So dainty. And helmets, and elbow guards and shin guards and ankle guards --- and God knows what's hidden under those uniforms. Bullet proof vests?

Then I saw a guy --- well, this guy, dressed like a medieval knight --- supposedly get hit in the gonads, and the whole game came to a standstill for five minutes while he clutched at his nuts and pretended to be hurt. The camera concentrated on the umpire talking to the pitcher for no discernible reason whatever, a conversation that seemed to go on endlessly. Meanwhile, a couple of guys jabbered in the background about this and that. Then, after a minute or two of commercials, the game "resumed".

Finally, when nothing happened for a hour or so, the pitcher allowed someone to come on "home" and the game ended. It ended, even though the inning wasn't over! They quit the game just because someone was hopelessly ahead! What kind of crap is that? It reminded me of Ara Parsighian, winning a game and then going home without letting everyone play! It's not like football or soccer, or hockey, or even basketball, where you have to go on playing against a hopelessly superior team until the time runs out.

The thing about baseball is that every game victory is a gift. The catcher might give the game away by missing a catch and the runner on third comes home. The pitcher might throw the ball over the base in just the wrong way, and the hitter accepts the gift, and gets the hit that wins the game. Maybe the outfielder drops the ball. Maybe the shortstop throws himself on the ground and pretends he can't catch the rolling ball, and bang!, the game ends.

No one ever deserves the victory, it is always a gift!

So many baseball games end with these little teeny-tiny scores. It might be 1-0 or 1-2 or something. The game can go on for two hours and no one ever makes a point, for crying out loud. ("This is an exciting game. Here we are in the 8th and it's a scoreless tie!") The rest of the time, nothing happens except people running round. How can Americans go for something like that? We like excitement and motion, we like to SEE THINGS HAPPEN! We are an impatient people.

Another complaint I have about baseball is that you never know when a game will end. It could go on for an hour and a half, like a soccer game, or for three or four hours, while nothing at all happens! If you go to see a baseball game, and it lasts 12 innings, you'll see that most of the crowd has already left, and people who have free time on their hands complain because those folks went home early. My advice is, if you have anything at all you need to do this afternoon, don't go to a baseball game. You might be there till midnight.

I just can't see how baseball became the most popular sport in the world. Um-m, that is what happened isn't it?

(If you get this far, let me assure you that I like to watch baseball, the Tigers, the Wolverines, the Gamecocks, at least. I'm just sayin', a lot of B.S. is mumbled about soccer by people who don't understand it. It reminds me of Andy Griffith describing football. CLICK)

Friday, June 11, 2010

World Cup starts today. USA plays tomorrow, June 12, on ABC.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Add to your day -- ARLO

Thanks to FELIX for prompting this memory.


Cheney triumphant!

We are all united in our dismay and anger over the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. From this event, there must be lessons to learn. For example, the trend toward deregulation begun by Ronald Reagan and embraced triumphantly by Bush and Cheney has to be seen as being at the root of the eruption.

However, I'm quite sure that some people have not learned this lesson. Many people did not learn the lesson when deregulated financial misdeeds collapsed the economy 2 years ago.

By the way, has anyone out there heard anything from Dick Cheney? He was all mouth and tongue a few months ago whenever he wanted to take a pot-shot at Obama. Where is he now? Who can blame him for trying to keep his head down?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

from SPARTY. baseball

SPARTY - sends this from the New York Times about the role of umpires. While I don't disagree with any of it, it doesn't mention anything about the obligation of fans to boo and condemn the umps for bad calls, or even for imagined bad calls.

I hadn't thought about the idea of a perfect game before.

Your comments are always welcomed.

Umpires have been ingrained in major-league baseball since the inception of the National League in 1876, somewhere approaching 200,000 games ago, and it’s likely that the umps have botched a call or two in every one of them since then. Somehow this has not eroded the fan base or undermined the integrity of the competition, which is something that the players and the owners have periodically done.

That reality, in fact, should tell us something about the nature of baseball, which is the least programmatic, the least technological of games. It doesn’t even have a clock. The fields have widely varying shapes and sizes, and the primary battleground between offense and defense — i.e., the strike zone — is a box of air with dimensions that have proven impossible to specify. There is a lot less science in baseball, a lot more art, than in any other sport you can name. (Golf and soccer nuts, just pipe down.) It’s an irony that only in baseball do there exist perfect games.

This is the main reason that so many baseball fans are so gaga over statistics, because the game’s ambiguities create a hunger for measurement, for exactitude where it doesn’t exist, and it’s the main reason that baseball is the most written about, most discussed, most intellectually parsed game there is.

It’s also the main reason that instant replay feels more like an intrusion in baseball than it does in tennis or football or basketball or hockey, each of which has adopted some form of video review to re-evaluate some officials’ calls. But the prime responsibilities of officials in those other sports have always been to recognize infractions and assign blame, and umpires don’t do that. And it’s worth noting that those responsibilities — calling penalties, faults and fouls — are largely unaffected by instant-replay rules.

The role of umpires in baseball is much more integral. They aren’t observers passing judgment on the legality of given actions so much as filters through which the action passes; nothing can happen — a strike, an out, a run scored — without their imprimatur. They have no prime responsibilities, just the responsibility to see and acknowledge everything, which is why the technological usurping of any one of them feels especially sullying.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

from STEVEN -

From STEVEN: He is a trained "burner" and firefighter for the Nature Conservancy, and he sent this evaluation of his new found skills as a father.

See my fire training can be applied to real life situations

  1. Keep informed on fire weather baby’s conditions and forecasts.
  2. Know what your fire baby is doing at all times.
  3. Base all actions on current and expected behavior of the fire baby.
  4. Identify escape routes and safety zones and make them known.
  5. Post lookouts when there is possible danger.
  6. Be alert. Keep calm. Think clearly. Act decisively.
  7. Maintain prompt communications with your forces wife, your supervisor mother-in-law, and adjoining forces moms.
  8. Give clear instructions and insure they are understood.
  9. Maintain control of your forces yourself at all times.
  10. Fight fire diapers aggressively, having provided for safety first.
Special Thanks, once again, to those who read and enter comments. Really! It's appreciated!


STEVE's nominee for WACKO OF THE WEEK: The State Trooper who shot this cat belonging to his neighbor, because it climbed on his car. Read the story: CLICK HERE

JIM M's manger scene. The shepherd kept trying to escape, so he was lassoed and properly tied down.

STEVE's garden, one of the best I've seen -- well protected against deer and other varmints.

Sharleen and Liam: Easter egg hunt.

Senor Jose came to call.

Down the back alley, up the dark stairs to a hidden room: The Torch, where we celebrated a 40th wedding anniversary.

Grandpa Herpe:

Brenda and Wyatt.

POWERTEACH sent this: His new cell phone. One that a retiree can easily understand.

SPARTY sent this. This is quandary presented to him by some signs. Maybe he went on the River Walk, maybe he didn't.

Monday, June 7, 2010

a few thoughts

Remember, the following items are opinions, not facts. Tell me yours --- either facts or opinions.

1. Helen Thomas, who has been a White House reporter for longer than there has been a printing press, has put both feet into her mouth and tried to swallow them. She's retiring, now. Thanks for the years of good service. It is better to be retired than ridiculous.

2. I am one of those who voted for Obama, but I have never caught Obama-mania. He is not flawless and I often disagree with his positions. In fact, these days, it seems I disagree more and more. But, still, he is a huge improvement over the awe- inducing simian who went before him.

3. I believe that the damage to the economy and to the environment of the United States by the oil geyser will eventually be so huge that it will threaten to pitch this country and the world into a new financial and scientific calamity.


The blogging service, BLOGGER, which hosts this blog, has been having difficulties the past day or so, and people who might have wanted to leave comments were not able to. However, that seems to have been fixed.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

sporting news redux

I know many of you are fascinated by Pat's racetrack adventures. She has had a horse in every one of the Triple Crown races for many years. She has never had a winner. In the Kentucky Derby, you will remember, she had the favorite horse and it came in 8th.

In the Belmont yesterday, she had one of the favored horse, Ice Box, which came in ninth. Another investment gone with the wind.

getting "Joyced"

Now if you really want to read a mealy-mouthed, mamby-pamby essay on that terrible call by the umpire, go read this example in the Detroit Free Press. CLICK

If this keeps up, we won't need to play games at all, just let the umpires make the decisions. Or, would that be "rotisserie" baseball?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

It's Caturday!

Marsha's BABOO
Packed and ready for travel

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Goodbye Rue McClanahan

Only one Golden Girl left.
"There is a fine line between having a good time and being a wanton slut. I know. My toe has been on that line."
See Scot's comments at ARBORETUM


The worst person who ever walked the earth and mumbled B.S.

Thursday Morning Smile Maker

At first I thought I didn't feel cheery enough to post a smile-maker, but I changed my mind. I think, if this guy is really selling balloons, I can't imagine how he could make change.