Wednesday, January 29, 2014

We Need Three Strikes In Life

When I was a kid, my father drug me to baseball tryouts.

Yes ... he drug me. Kicking and screaming.

Hokay ... it might not have been quite that dramatic. But, as a kid and at the time and searching my memory, I was literally drug to tryouts. Drug kicking and screaming. (You know what I mean.)

I do remember there were tears. Genuine tears. Tears shed because I did not, did not, DID NOT want to go ... did not want to be there ... did not want to participate ... did not want to be put in a position where I didn't know what I was doing, did not know if I was going to succeed, did not want the humiliation of screwing up and being laughed at.

"Tough shit, son. Get out there and do your best," my father told me. "Just do the best you can." (He didn't say "tough shit" ... but he wanted to. I know he did ...)

I pleaded with him, begging him not to subject me to such mortifying abasement. The tears started anew.

"Don't make me mad. Get out there," he responded.

I don't remember the tryout itself. I'm pretty certain I was numb throughout the entire process. I remember catching a fly ball ... and being rather amazed I had done so. Grounders whizzed past me to the left and to the right and straight through my legs. I don't recall ever making contact with the ball solidly when I was up to bat, but I think I might have tipped it once. Barely.

I walked off the field when the tryouts were over and was directed to one of several groups of boys. Right then and there, post tryouts, a dozen or so coaches were picking teams out of the blue. All participants who had tried out on the field were being selected one by one and put on a team.

I remember I was one of the last to be selected. I can't rightly say, but I may have been one of the last ones picked.

I survived tryouts. Then, I realized much to my chagrin, I would have to endure an entire little league season. I didn't know if I had it in me to do so.

But I did have it in me. And, again, my father pushed me through my fear.

But it wasn't without consequence. I was one of the worst kids in the league. And I knew it, too. I dreaded going to practice that year, I hated being in the games. Mostly I was polishing the bench with my backside that initial season, though I was put in the game as required.

But I did have one thing going for me: Power. So as I learned to make contact with the ball, I did find - on that rare occasion - the ball flew off my bat.

And then came the turning point in my baseball "career" when I decided baseball wasn't so bad after all.

I was up to bat one inning late in the game. I remember I had two strikes on me and I just knew the next pitch was going to come down the middle and zip right past me. I just knew it. So, with adrenaline pumping wildly inside me, the pitcher wound up and flung the ball.  I closed my eyes tightly and let my bat fly.

In the movies when "that big moment" strikes and the sound goes mute and everything is in slow motion? That's what I remember happening. I opened my eyes and dejectedly put my bat on my shoulder, ready to take the walk of shame back to the dugout. But then the sound returned. I heard yelling and screaming and cheering. And I felt a hard back slap by a team mate who was out of the on-deck circle and suddenly right next to me with a big shit-eating grin on his face. I had no clue what everyone was going on about. 

Next, the home plate umpire told me "Go on ... round the bases, son."

I'd hit a homerun - my first - and I didn't even know it. I hadn't seen it. I had no clue what had just happened.

I trotted out to first base stunned and unbelieving but - as I made my way to second - a grin began to appear on my face. It was one of the few times during my rookie outing I enjoyed baseball.

And my love affair with the game continues to this day. (Regardless of the fact baseball is a whole different ballgame today than it was of yesteryear.)

Had my father not put his foot down, had he not forced me to get out there and try, I don't know if I would love the game as much as I do. Screw that enablement crap, the milquetoast attitude some foist on kids.

The fact of the matter is you don't learn from your successes, you learn from your failures and from your mistakes.

You do things yourself in order to fully appreciate them and understand them and relate to them. If I wasn't pushed by my father, I still might like baseball. But I don't think I would be the fan and student of the game I am today.

And that's why this post I saw - courtesy of my buddy Douglas Arthur - resonated so strongly with me.

.......... Ruprecht ( STOP enabling everyone ... kids and adults alike )

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Go North, Young Man


Just ... wow ...

In a recent news blip (I won't embarrass or disrespect real news folks who actually do reporting, thus I'm calling this a "news blip") LA Observed editors "convened a task force and asked the LA Observed map department to drop what it's doing and come up with an explainer graphic."

Here is the graphic they composed:

Bonus fun! Click on map to see if
the city of Glendora really is north of Los Angeles!

The real kicker for me is the copy "LA (more or less)" scrawled in red.

"More or less" ... ??? Ouch. Based on this, I'm surprised they even got Los Angeles proper inside the encompassed "more or less" area. But that's another matter entirely ...

Let's assume (and it is) north is at the top of the map, east to the right of the map. Given this information, here's my question to you, Mr. and Mrs. John and Jane Q. Public: 

In the most general sense, where is the city of Glendora in relation to Los Angeles on this map? 

Did you say "east" ... ??? If you did (and I expect 98% of you did in fact and indeed say "east") congratulations: I'm proud of you. Go dust off your high school diploma you proudly have hanging in your house somewhere. 

The gist of my rant is this: I cannot, for the life of me, begin to comprehend why ANYONE would state Glendora is "north of Los Angeles." And especially given the poorly drawn graphic above. (The map department of LA Observed should be fired from their jobs. They don't deserve to be employed in the map department; the deserve to be employed by "The Bozo Nose School of Circus Clownery" department.)

Technically - and, again, in the most far-fetched and broad sense - Glendora is north of Los Angeles, but that's to say its position on the map is more "northerly" than that of Los Angeles. If you were giving directions to someone who was looking to head to Glendora from L.A. you certainly wouldn't tell them to simply "Go north."

If you're in Long Beach? Yes ... Glendora is definitely more north in direction than anything else. But, if you're in Sylmar, nope. So, here we have the difference between "Los Angeles" and "Los Angeles county" to deal with, something the "topographers" at LA Observed must have been intimating ... don't you think? 

Or ... maybe they really are that deluded ...

(Side Note: I'd hate to see what the department "dropped" in order to come up with the graphic. If it was a contract job I had commissioned them to put together and I saw the report I've linked, I would have withdrawn my request fast enough to make their heads swim ...)

No wonder US Americans need maps* ...

.......... Ruprecht ( STOP saying the city of Glendora is north of L.A. )
*Thank you Tonianne DeMaria Barry

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Parental Appreciation

I don't know what I liked better on CBS Sunday Morning this past Sunday: 

That Charles Osgood announced an upcoming piece by Ben Stein (*Woot!*)... or the anticipation of the often funny smirk Stein ends his commentary with when all is said and done.

Regardless, there is always what he has to say sandwiched right in the middle of the two. And Sunday's appreciation hit home in more ways than one.

I didn't get the opportunity with my mother to thank her before she passed, but I was able to with my father. Funny how being a parent puts everything in perspective and, funnier still, how Stein can bring that out with his wise words ...

.......... Ruprecht ( STOP )

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The "A" Word

Maybe it's nothing more than my grouchiness getting an early start on the year, but I seem to recall reading or hearing about the mitigation of certain materials and usages and phenomena going into 2014.

One such thing - something that's been on the books for a number of years actually - is the use of the word "awesome." It was defined by Barb Sawyers in this article perfectly, as being (and I paraphrase) "monotonously ubiquitous." 

In my opinion, it's one of those words which has not only been used to death, but used as a convenience such that it's lost its true meaning by those who use it to excess.

And it has lost its meaning by those who syllablize it without thought. Sort of, like, those people who, like, can't, like, put together a coherent thought and, like, use the word "like" diarrhea-like.  

Iit's just more evidence of The Further Decline Of Western Civilization, one of my favorite topics. Or, mayhap Devo's concept of "de-evolution?" The idea that - 'instead of continuing to evolve - mankind has actually begun to regress as evidenced by the dysfunction and herd mentality of American society' ... ???

Additionally, my buddy Clark Brooks has summed it up quite nicely: 

"I've placed a personal moratorium on the use of 'awesome' and 'amazing'. Lots of things are pretty good or even great. Very, very few actually inspire awe or amazement. Erupting volcanoes are awesome; the cupcakes someone brought into the company break room are not."

Bully ...

.......... Ruprecht ( STOP ubiquity, practice synonymity

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Ladder Damage? Averted

De-decorating can be difficult work.

I know ... I've been doing it for a lot of years. Too many to mention.

Over the last few days of de-decoration, my jeans and I have been tackling with rose bushes (we've both lost ... miserably), I've taken a rolling backward tumble I thought would result in my being impaled on an electrical outlet (didn't happen ... and, gratefully, I have wrestling training to thank for that) and my hands are their customary mid-January sore, cracked and peeling and crying for gads of moisturizer.

Tired from the long week, I was ready to turn in for the day when I got a text from my cousin: "Please bring back the 6' ladder." I responded I would.

The thing is I had walked to work that morning, the same as I had the last few mornings. So I had a choice: Drive the work van back to the house and deposit the ladder at home or walk it back through traffic, stoplights and more.

I opted for the latter.

Why? Why would anyone in their right mind walk a ladder a mile when they could easily drive it to its destination?

Have we met?

With four day's worth of glitter and dirt and grime on my jeans, a rosebush-torn hole in my knee, my portable coffee mug in hand, a long-sleeved shirt tucked beneath my arm, my camera (I'm rarely without my camera) and my tool pouch hanging from my shoulder and, now, a ladder in tow, I began trudging home.

It occurred to me suddenly I might look homeless. Because ... how many people do you see walking down a busy thoroughfare carrying a ladder?

I smiled. No one. No one I knew of at any rate.

Good. One more thing I can cross off my bucket list. (Not that that was on my bucket list, but ... you know ...)

I walked down the sidewalk a block or so and came to the light. I stopped, put the ladder down and hit the crosswalk button. When it turned green, I gathered all afresh and stepped into the crosswalk.

There were cars everywhere, at all four directions. The direction I was walking didn't have a left turn signal and I realized this just about too late ... because, all of a sudden, a Jeep Cherokee was coming my way unbeknownst to me. I was concentrating on all the other stopped traffic making certain it was safe to cross. I didn't see the Jeep coming out of nowhere, bearing down on me.

Obviously, the driver hadn't seen me either. Hard to imagine - the ladder I was carrying was a bright neon orange. I had to have been a sight to behold but the driver was oblivious to my presence. At the last moment, I heard the vehicle's approach and looked up. It was freakin' on top of me.

I was able to leap out of the way. I side-stepped deftly just as the driver looked up at me. He grimaced and stood on the brakes. There was a squeal of tires, I saw his wife (I assumed) practically smack her head on the windshield, the man shut his eyes in horror and the vehicle ended up stopped with me inches from the driver's door, me looking right at him.

He opened his eyes after a heartbeat and saw me staring at him through the window. I was fine. I mouthed if he was all right. He didn't understand, thinking I'd said something else. I pointed at him and mouthed again: "Are you all right?" He affirmed he was. I saluted him and walked on, hitching my ladder a little higher on my shoulder and getting out of the crosswalk. 

He was still stunned. I'm sure his wife gave him an earful as he pulled out of the intersection and onto the main road.

My ladder and I kept on going.

That must have been a show ...

.......... at least Ruprecht ( STOPed )


Monday, January 6, 2014


See image ... note what elicited the sigh ... win a prize ...

.......... Ruprecht (it appears she STOPs at a single graphic ...)