Archive for March, 2009

Flag Football


I read somewhere once, that in the late 1950s a radioactive cloud from a nuclear test in Nevada blew over Los Angeles, and because of the inversion layer, it stayed in place over the city for several days. It wasn’t reported in the newspapers or on television, and life apparently went on as usual, and over the years I haven’t heard any more about it. Several reports have been released and posted on the internet though, that document the movement of nuclear radiation over LA to the Pacific Ocean in the 60s, but none make mention of any clouds that lingered over the city for any long periods of time.

I’m not sure if it had anything to do with the Atomic testing in Nevada, but I do remember that on several occasions while my friends and I were playing flag football outside, some of the boys complained that their lungs burned, and it hurt to breathe, and I had felt it too.

In those days we played flag football a lot, even at school. Every morning we’d all gather out in the east field at Ramona School, and the captains would choose up sides. We never chose the captains, it was more like, “Who wants to be captain?” and the same two boys, Hank and Roy would always volunteer to be the captains. Hank was always the captain of my team, and I usually didn’t have to wait too long to be chosen. I wasn’t the biggest or strongest guy out there, or the best player, but I was one of the fastest. Hank wasn’t a great player either, but he was a great leader like Harry Truman, and he always played Quarterback.

The teams always came out practically equal and pretty well balanced. I don’t think anybody ever won; we would just play until the bell rang, gaining and giving ground, eking out a few yards here and there. We didn’t have much of a passing game, not many boys could catch a pass in stride, but we had good blocking and, our secret weapon, the Statue of Liberty play. The Statue of Liberty play was like the atomic bomb because it nearly always went for a touchdown, but like the atomic bomb we dared not use it all that much. As soon as Hank would fall straight back to pass, everybody knew what the play was and the defenders would all yell out as one, “Statue of Liberty play,” as if they’d all seen an atomic bomb flash;  I’d slip around behind Hank and take the ball from his cocked-back throwing arm, and sweep around the end for a touchdown or a long gainer. Hank always seemed to know just the right time to call the Statue of Liberty play, always catching the other team when they were tired or out of position.

One day a new boy came to school, his name was Moses. He was tall and thin, and we soon found out, he had run track at his old school. Moses was fast, in fact he was so fast that nobody could catch him. Roy snatched him up that first day for his team, and after that the game was never quite the same. Roy would wait for the right moment, before giving the ball to Moses, and Moses would dash away for a touchdown, leaving all of us in the dust.

For thirty days in May, or you know, whatever month it was, our team struggled, wallowing in our defeat, doing what we could to stay in the game, praying for rain or something to slow Moses down. It just didn’t seem fair for one boy to be so much faster than everybody else, especially in the nuclear age. Well finally God must have heard our prayers, because lo and behold another boy showed up whose name was Larry. Larry knew Moses from his old school or club, where they had apparently run track together, and it turned out that Larry could not only catch up to Moses, and negate the advantage he had over the rest of us, but he was also a pretty hard-nosed football player, and he became Hank’s everyday first pick.

Not long after Larry’s arrival, the faculty broke up our teams anyway, taking all the bigger and faster boys to play with the 8th graders for what they called the Heavyweights, and leaving the rest of us 7th graders for the Lightweights. Surprisingly Larry stayed with the Lightweights and we picked up several older boys from the 8th grade, and though we did lose Moses in the deal, we had a pretty good team, even defeating several of the other schools in the area.

I don’t know how our Heavyweights fared that year. We never got to see their games and only had one scrimmage against them, and they were so much better than us, for most of the afternoon we couldn’t make any yardage against them at all. The coach had taught us a single-wing formation, and given us a playbook with some plays, but the Heavyweights knew all the same plays and we had no Statue of Liberty play to call. We did have one trick play though, where the center hiked the ball, not to the quarterback, but directly to the blocking back, which was me. When we called the play that day, it must have caught them by surprise. I got the ball and ran right away through the opening in their defensive line and I had picked up 5 or 6 yards, when suddenly I saw one of their best players, an 8th grader named Rex, coming up from his safety position to get my flag. I ran straight at him, thinking I could get 3 or 4 more yards, and a first down before he snatched off my flags, when suddenly he took hold of my hips and I felt  his knee digging into my thigh.

“What was that all about,” I cried, limping back to the huddle.
“He “knee-holed you”, man,” one of my team-mates said, making the name up, I thought.
“But he tackled me, isn’t that a penalty or something?”

Now that I think about it, it clearly was a penalty…

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I just read this post by the user who calls himself Armand28 on the WWII Online Off Topic forum, and I’m reblogging it because I think it contains great wisdom.

The discussion was in regard to something that President Obama said recently, that we do not need young people to become investment bankers or financial business men, we need them to want to become engineers.

Armand28’s comments came in response to an earlier post in which the commenter said that in his experience many business and law students seem to have no clear understanding that a manager’s job is to remove obstacles that prevent workers from getting work done, because their heads are clouded by numerous facts and case studies, and many saw the large paycheck they would receive as an entitlement due them for their education, and not for being good managers.

“I saw further evidence of this later in law school…fellow students who wanted to go into corporate law, strictly for the money,” he adds.

Armand28 replied:

What wooster saw was a bunch of kids in school. Kids in school always think they know everything, that’s why they tend to vote Democrat.

Once they spend some time in the real world they begin to see how those case studies can be used to help guide actions, not control them, and then they begin to understand how little they really know. Soon they start to realize that their employees know more about what needs to be done around the company than the executives do, but empoyees don’t have the skills to collect, interpret, document and deploy their ideas on a mass scale, that’s what management should be doing. Those MBA’s who knew everything in college then start realizing their job isn’t to know everything, they cannot, but rather their job is to gather what everyone knows and use it to move the company forward.

They start to realize that they are not a producer, but they are a force multiplier. An unmanned spy craft doesn’t actually kill any enemies, but they allow the troops they support to become many times more effective, that’s what a good manager is. Without good management all of the employees’ knowledge and experience will remain locked in the front lines and the company doesn’t move forward. Without good employees you have a bunch of managers on the front lines serving as individual contributors which is a waste of their particular talents.

Whenever I hire a new employee I draw them an org(anizational) chart that has them at the top and me at the bottom. I tell them, “My job is to make you as successful as you can be, so I work for you. If you need something let me know and it’s my job to get it for you. If you are having trouble doing your job because you need your car washed let me know and I’ll wash it for you. I work for you.”

I have been very successful.

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Name That Tourist

[Reprinted from an article at SkyNews.]


‘Undercover Putin In KGB Reagan Ruse
6:10pm UK,  Wednesday March 18, 2009

Julia Alasheyeva, Moscow

A picture has emerged apparently showing Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in his former days as a KGB officer.

Does this picture show Putin pretending to be a tourist? (pic: Pete Souza)

The 20-year old photo depicts two world leaders – US President Ronald Reagan and the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev – in Moscow.

But, according to the man who took the photo, it also captures Mr Putin disguised as a tourist.

Pete Souza, now President Obama’s official photographer, captured the moment when he worked for President Reagan during the political thaw that soon ended the Cold War.

Mr Reagan took a stroll around Red Square accompanied by the Russian leader, who then introduced him to a group of tourists.

In an interview, Mr Souza recounted being surprised at the “pointed” questions these supposed tourists asked the US leader.

They included searching enquiries on the state of human rights in the US…

The planting of KGB officers as bystanders was a common practice in Soviet times.

During the tense stand-off of the Cold War, they would be used to challenge foreign leaders during visits to Russia.

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I Liked This One Best


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My Next Project

To colorize this old little league photograph I found. Here’s the small version. Damn, I was sure good looking then, no wonder Linda liked me.


And here’s the whole team of Eastside Little League “Braves” from 1962. I remember like four of their names, so if you recognize any of them, please help a brutha’ out.


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In case you’re wondering if/why some of my stories keep changing, it’s because I keep changing them. Let’s see Mark Twain do that.

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Media Messiah

Media Messiah

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Please do check out the masterful work of Andy Thomas at his website; if you like Remington and Russell, then you’ll love him.  At the very least, you’ll be overwhelmed.

But before you do, here’s a game you can play with one of his paintings titled Pirate Party or The Band Played On.

According to his website:
There are 26 famous musicians depicted.
They span all music styles.
Some had tragic deaths.
The clues range from broad to specific lyrics of a song.
Clues are in no particular order.

These are the clues:

1. This great is having fun on the bayou.
2. He is looking swell.
3. Sheer left-handed perfection!
4. “Dialing for Dollars” was looking for this great.
5. He was a ‘shaded’ man.
6. Time gets all bottled up.
7. They were all strangers before tonight.
8. Imagine the fun at this party!
9. This person is at ‘Home’ at this party.
10. No body can style like her.
11. He’s a hungry fellow.
12. Good Mojo, mahn.
13. Everyone knows what is going on at this party.
14. You just can’t trust some days.
15. A man in evening attire fits in rather well here.
16. 17. They’ll be here till the sun rises.
17. No one here is lonesome tonight.
18. His music was all piano at any party.
19. She is missing her sweetheart tonight.
20. Polly wants a cracker.
21. She can belt out the blues.
22. Apparently, he is out of the slammer!
23. She walked to this party.
24. There is a Queen in the crowd.
25. Stopped by the party but this great is actually at the station..
26. This great wants to dance till dawn.


You can view a slightly larger version of Pirate Party here at Andy Thomas’ website, where, if you click around a bit, you can see a lot of his other stuff too.

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Presidential Poker

Presidential Poker

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Noun Singular
miracle (plural miracles)

A wonderful event occurring in the physical world attributed to supernatural powers.

Every morning when the weather is nice, I get up early, brew a cup of Newman’s Own “kick-ass” Royal green tea and go sit outside in the backyard. It’s always full of peace and quiet out there, and though I try to knock down the weeds and keep it mowed, it’s not exactly an English Garden. Often while I dig or mow, the birds sit waiting on the wires above, or in the surrounding trees to dive down on the freshly turned bugs, and when the grass gets a little tall several of the local cats will jump the back wall, and stalk after the birds. In the tree in the next yard, a family of finches moved in recently, and they like to chat it up and skip through the chain-link fence spokes.

One morning several weeks ago it was so warm and nice, and the sky so clear and blue, that I was moved to prayer; I don’t know that many prayers, but I recited the Lord’s Prayer, remembered the Ten Commandments as I usually do, and finally asked God for His blessing. Since then it has become a ritual for me, and each day the days seem to get ever more beautiful.

The other day, as I was starting to say my prayer, I noticed two ladybugs preening a piece of grass nearby, and a young jay-like bird, perhaps one of the offspring of my old friend, had perched on the wire out over the yard above and before me. When I finished, the bird flew off.

My visitors have been there pretty much every day since then, and each day I have seen a new bird, or a new bug, and one day one of the cats walked right past me to eavesdrop or perhaps just to forage in the bush outside the back gate. I didn’t think much about it, until finally after about a week of this, I turned on the news, and the FOXLA News chopper was flying out over the ocean just west of here, near Long Beach. They were tracking on camera a group of dolphins cavorting in the water, that they said had uncharacteristically for this time of year strayed very close to shore that morning.

And last night I had a dream, that God himself had knelt down to listen too.

Yesterday when I was sitting out there in my shorts getting some sun, a young homeless woman in grungy jeans and tennis shoes and wearing a bulky ski coat, came up the driveway, and when she saw me, she smiled and asked if she could rummage through my recycleable can for tin cans. I told her sure, and she smiled again, and I could see she had really nice teeth, and judged her to be in her twenties, and despite her shabby clothes she was pretty cute.

It rained today, but I’ll be out there early again tomorrow. You never know who might stop by.

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