Monday, May 31, 2010

MLB & Memorial Day

For the last few years, Major League Baseball has honored Memorial Day by having all teams wear either all red or blue hats. Today players all across the country will be wearing white hats to salute Veterans. There are two more times this season players will wear their white hats -- can anyone correctly indentify those occasions?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Our National Pastime

Yesterday I went to my first baseball game of the season – I know it is almost June and not one outing to Chavez Ravine. Worse yet, remember how I was in Miami in April, do you know who else was in Miami at the exact time – my beloved LA Dodgers. I was dying that I didn’t make plans to see them beat the Marlins. But back to my second favorite team, or my favorite American League team, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim who yesterday beat the Blue Jays in the ninth inning with Abreu’s walk-off single that even included a Rally Monkey sigting. What’s not to love about our National Pastime?

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Year of the Tiger

2010 is the Year of the Tiger, and now as it is nearly half over, hasn’t it seemed to have been full of crazy, unimaginable and unlikely supernatural events? Earthquakes in Haiti, Chile, China, Turkey, Baja California, the Dominican Republic, Afghanistan, Papua New Guinea and just the other day, Peru? Plane crashes in Ethiopia, Libya, the one in Western Russia where the entire Polish cabinet and President died, India and Indonesia. Severe weather of all sorts – flooding in Brazil and Nashville, the road to Machu Picchu covered with mud, one of the worst winters on record for parts of the Eastern Seaboard and did I mention the Icelandic Volcano? The 2010 Winter Olympics start with the tragic death of a Georgian Luger – horrific images that remain all over the internet. Riots in Greece and Thailand and probably a whole lot of other places I can’t remember, Coal Mine explosion in West Virginia, foiled Times Square Bombing, British Election a mess and perhaps the worst oil spill in modern history?

And while although I am not someone inclined to subscribe to all of those Armageddon/Doomsday messages (If Raptured, this car will be unmanned), I can’t help but wonder (SATC), if maybe there is really something up this year? I know, human kind throughout history has always said things like this, also “kids these days,” “the world is going to hell in a hand basket” and so forth, but perhaps we are really standing on the brink of human history.

I remember on the Eve of the first Persian Gulf War thinking it was, as REM said, “The End of the World as We Know It,” only to have all of the fears fade away like the Iron Curtain. While I was more worried about not getting my driver’s license in 1991 than the total collapse of human history, Desert Storm thankfully ended with very little change in our global civilization. And then again in 1999 with all of the hype about Y2K, there was another wave of Doomsday talk that I never really bought into, laughing at all those who bought generators and stockpiled non-perishables. Still laughing.

Again, 9-11 brought on another strand of these sorts of ideas, but time has passed and so what if Osama Bin Laden is the Anti-Christ, he remains marooned in a cave in remote Afghanistan where he will likely live out most of his days. Maybe Barrack Obama is the Anti-Christ; perhaps the Pope or ever Scott Brown. Okay, not really Scott Brown but all of the Tea Party nonsense is another dynamic to the unfolding drama that is the Year of the Tiger thus far.

Bring on hurricane, fire season and perhaps worst of all the tenure of Lane Kiffin as USC’s head coach.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Let the Great World Spin

All of the lives we could live, all the people we will never know, never will be, they are everywhere. That is what the world is.”

Aleksandar Hermon, The Lazarus Project.

This thought provoking quote begins Let the Great World Spin (LTGWS) by Colum McCann the lastest chapter in my book report entry.

LTGWS is a very charming story written seemingly as a nod to 9-11 if not the Trade Towers themselves. The novel hinges around Philippe Petit’s tightrope walk between the towers in August 1974 interestingly the eve of Richard Nixon’s resignation. The narrative bounces back and forth between a several different characters whose stories eventually converge which is kind of the point of the framing quote (I think?). An Irish Jesuit in love with a sultry Central American widow, his brother, the wife of a prominent judge dealing with their son’s recent death in Vietnam, a mother & daughter prostitute pair living in the projects, a misguided artist trying to find herself and a no-nonsense black child of the depression who defied the odds and becomes the story’s unlikely hero.
Having traveled to New York about a year ago, I felt an instant kinship with the setting. As well, the plot lines engaged several of my passions – theology, social justice and urban poverty. On the whole, a great read. And as a strange aside, I am currently reading another book where one of the main characters is a Jesuit Priest.

Monday, May 10, 2010


Please note: As to protect his privacy, Elijah is not the given name for the child being described…

Elijah is easily one of the most likeable third graders you will ever meet. Most days, at the tutoring program I lead, he is the first kid to arrive, eager to help, smiling, sunny and quick to give an update on all of the other kids who eventually make their way into the library. He is popular with classmates and tutors alike. Adding to his charm, he is a good four or five inches shorter than the class average; what he lacks in stature, he makes up for with charisma.

The other day, Elijah was absent and other kids had reports he was at school but left early. Later that week I asked him about his absence and told me his mom picked him up because she lost one of her jobs. He very proudly told me she still had her night job (whatever that is) but she won’t be a nurse (her day job?) anymore. He kept his smile up, but it seemed fairly obvious this wasn’t a good thing for his family.
As we starting working through the kids’ homework, I ended up working with Elijah. His main assignment was a page of converting; gallons to pints, pints to quarts, millimeters to meters, hectograms to grams and a bunch of information deep within the foggiest regions of my memory. We trudged along, but honestly I think I was making matters worse teaching him a method far different than the one his teacher had.

Somewhere in between the quarts, meters, cups, and decimeters, I noticed Elijah eyes’ were watering which surprised me as I have always known him to be a very well-adjusted nine-year-old. In fact, I asked him if he had allergies or if there was something in his eyes believing him not to be prone to crying. But, this only made dear Elijah cry worse, in the brave, strong trying not to cry way that only macho little boys can. With all of my heart, I wanted to cry alongside Elijah, but like him, knew I had to fight off the tears.