Soccer Tournament Weekend


If you’re a new parent, or expect to be a parent someday, here is some information you will need.

In America kids play soccer. In the rest of the world, kids play football, sometimes called futbol. They’re all the same.

Don’t confuse this with American football. American football players, each wear more protective gear than an entire Marine battalion in combat; they “play” for about 15 seconds by banging into one another, usually ending up in a pile on the ground. After that there’s a three minute pause while officials take measurements and the teams reposition themselves for the next play. If it’s professional, college, or whatever and televised add several additional minutes for advertisements. The football is occasionally kicked, but more often it is thrown by hand.

American football players are generally from America, often recruited from American colleges where they played as highly paid amateurs. After playing American football for a few years, most players suffer enough head trauma so as to forget whatever they learned in college, the fact that they ever went to college, and the fact that they aren’t supposed to drool.

American football is divided into four quarters, each of which lasts 15 minutes, but the timer is stopped at the end of certain plays, when a team calls for a time out, for station identification and commercials, or for review of instant replays. The last five minutes of the fourth quarter usually lasts several hours.

In soccer, the players also wear protective gear—shin guards. The game is divided into two halves; for adults, each half lasts 45 minutes. The players play for the entire half, running approximately 250 miles during the average game. Except in cases of extremely serious injury (e.g. missing limb, sucking chest wound), the halves last 45 minutes. In case of rain, snow, or extreme heat, the halves last 45 minutes. Lightning is the one exception; lightning strikes tend to take out entire teams, the spectators, and tend to ruin the expensive soccer balls.

Professional soccer players are international—this means that they are not necessarily from the country where they play soccer. They may not speak the local language, or even knew that the football club, city, or country where they play existed before arriving. Because of such issues, hand signals are used for official rulings and severe penalties are communicated by colored cards. Yellow means, “You better watch it, Bub.” Red means “Yer outta here, and your team can’t send in a substitute.”

Most American kids do play soccer but don’t go on to play professional soccer the way their American football counterparts do. Professional soccer is not as profitable because after supporting children’s soccer, soccer parents cannot afford to attend professional sports matches or live in decent neighborhoods. In fact, if soccer uniforms, travel, and gas for the car were allowed to be deducted for tax purposes, most soccer families would qualify for food stamps.

But if their kids go to college, they’ll remember that they went, and much of what they learned, even if that material in Economics 101 evaporated shortly after the final exam was completed.

Video Killed the Radio Star, etc.

TVt amazes me, and I’m not easily amazed, as to what people will do to get on television.

When I was growing up (the age of black and white TVs with round picture tubes) the local weatherman would drag his Plexiglas map onto the sidewalk and write backwards, so it looked okay to the camera, while various people tried to get into the picture. I guess you’d consider it the mid-twentieth century version of photo bombing.

Then there were game shows. If someone’s vacation took them near the Price is Right studios, they’d stand in line for hours dressed like a turnip or something, yelling, “Pick me! Pick me!” If they got picked and made a complete fool of themselves on national television, they would call all their friends, everybody they knew, and everybody their friends knew to make sure everyone knew the channel, date, and time to watch them.

It was not a quantum leap to the “reality” game shows, like Survivor, which have as much to do with reality as the US Tax Code.

I read today in Biblical Archaeological Review about an archeologist who changed his professional opinion on a particular ancient artifact just so—you guessed it—he could be on TV.

It’s no wonder that we’re seeing nut cases get as many guns as they can carry and shoot up a theater/school/colonic therapy center/or whatever. Why? Because they know, live or die, for the next few weeks, a couple of months after that, and on the anniversary of their savagery, their picture and name will be all over the television, newspapers, internet, and possibly even the cover of Time?

What would you be willing to do to be on television?

The Briefcase Trials

Photo by Nalilo (angry_goose_by_nalilo.jpg)

Photo by Nalilo

For years I carried a heavy duty cloth briefcase/computer case to and from work. It eventually got so worn that I had the shoulder strap clasps secured with duct tape (but black tape, to match the bag).

Around that same time I began an online course in editing. Since it was for my job, and the reference books were handy for work and essential for the course, I carried many books each day. Eventually I switched to a backpack—there were a number of hand-me-ups from my kids readily available.

Bad move—I soon developed back pain. My doctor managed the pain. I switched to a rolling briefcase. Problem solved.


A rolling briefcase is subject to one major problem – Canadian Geese. Canadian Geese are large, mean, and prone to leave a tremendous trail of fecal droppings.

Some people call them “Northern Geese.” I suspect this was started by the Canadians because they certainly don’t deserve to be saddled with the geese’s well-deserved reputation.

For example, my parents had a nice little place on a nice little lake where nice people swam, boated, skied, and generally had a good time. Thanks to the not-so-nice geese with their totally-not-nice fecal bacteria, the lake was condemned.

Back to the briefcase. The geese hang out around the Chesapeake Bay area year round. Therefore, having a rolling briefcase means that when traveling from car to office, one must choose whether to focus on not being run over or on avoiding the goose droppings. I have this thing for not being run over, so—I’ll spare you the details.

I wish Doc Brown would invent a hover briefcase . . . .


Now that I’ve got your attention—or so the old marketing trick went.

But as long as it has come up, I would like to point out that I really don’t care about your sexual preferences, gender identification, your Who’s Who of partners, etc.

Why does the news media think these things are so newsworthy?

I don’t care that Bruce Jenner is now a female, although it might be testimony to what happens when you spend your life amongst a brood of Kardashians.

I don’t care about Bradley Manning becoming Chelsea—except for the fact that my tax dollars are paying for his surgeries, drugs, etc.

Same thing goes for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender people. If a nice couple who happen to be (pick one) moved in next door, they’d be neighbors. Just another couple, but I don’t discuss sexual issues with any of my current neighbors, nor do I expect that I ever will. Incidentally, with LGBT wouldn’t you think that this would be one group who would have avoided putting “ladies first?”

I really don’t think it’s breaking news that Bill Cosby is accused of sexual predation for incidents that occurred twenty or thirty years ago. One would think that a wealthy comic and actor would not have needed to resort to date rape drugs, but you never know. However, news means NEW—not decades old.

So, please keep your preferences, proclivities, and personal issues to yourself. If these are the most important things people should know about you, you must be a very sad, pathetic, boring person.

Start Tracking the Next Generation*


Leonard Nimoy as Spock (Thanks, and we miss you already)

My in-laws now live near us, so we can include them in celebrations, or just drop by to visit. Of course my wife is with them to help navigate doctors, health insurance, and the other great mysteries of life.

Our son is headed into his final year in high school; our daughter headed to her freshman year.

In the meantime, my older son and his wife, who are up in New England (it’s true- “You can’t get there from here.”) have added a second granddaughter to our favorite grandson and our first granddaughter.

Life keeps us busy. One of us is attending to parent, child, pet, neighbor or whatever, while the other is equally busy (or busier) elsewhere. It’s bad enough that we pass one another like “two ships passing in the night.” When either of us passes ourselves as we scurry from one duty to another, that’ll grab your attention.

Today I realized that I’ve been parenting for forty years. That should count for something (free perpetual VIP access for all the great bands of my youth, [Eagles. Jimmy Buffet, the Who, Jethro Tull, etc.], as well as all first class cruises, AND an ambassadorship to France, Germany, England, Japan, or Poland, at the minimum).

Alas, that’s not how it works. Instead, as time goes on, we focus even more on others rather than on ourselves.

But then Jesus, Himself, said, “The student is not greater than the master,” and He came to serve, not be served.

I’ll keep trying to follow His example, and in another forty years, maybe I’ll have figured out how to do parenting correctly.

Or, maybe not.

*with apologies to Gene Rodenberry

Thomas Edison or Doc Brown?

The inimitable Christopher Lloyd as "Doc Brow" in Back to the Future

The inimitable Christopher Lloyd as Doc Brown in Back to the Future

I am absolutely fascinated by technology—every time I revel in the fact that I’ve learned something, I find that there is something far more interesting to learn.

I’m frequently soldering or connecting different pieces together to [fill in the blank here]. I’ve created, copied, or modified dozens of circuits, but as quickly as I build something, the next generation is available.

Thomas Edison found “a thousand ways NOT to make a lightbulb”, before he found the correct way.

Doc Brown, from Back to the Future, declared with delight that, “I finally invented something that works!”

It’s really the same—so I may be an Edison, or I may be a Doc Brown. It doesn’t matter—I’ll continue to experiment and attempt to learn. Who knows; in the process, I just might invent something that works!

With My Apologies


I recently had a cataract removed, and a new multi-focal lens implanted. For the first time in my life I’m able to see things clearly. Years ago, a coworker who had her eyesight corrected, told me that she never realized that stars were different colors. I’ll have to wait a few more days, but I’m looking forward to a clear night away from the city to check that out.

However, as part of the pre-operative procedures, the ophthalmologist used a special marker, and first made a mark over my right eye to indicate that was the eye upon which he’d be doing the procedure.

Since the procedure was being partially done using a laser, he then had me stare straight ahead and used the special marker to mark two spots on my eyeball to help align the laser during the procedure.

I have to admit that…

(Wait for it)

It was the first time I ever had my eye dotted.