Friday, April 28, 2006

Murf asked that I keep up-to-date on my little tiff with the county health department.

So far: phone call transferred three times, each time they claimed to have tried to get in touch with someone else who was "not available". I'm awaiting a return call from the Deputy Health Officer.

My question is simple: What authority does the county health department have to make me prove that I had my daughter's eyes examined?

Thursday, April 27, 2006

A dispatch from the Libertarian front lines...

A couple of months ago the county sent someone to conduct visual screening throughout the county--even, apparently, private schools. We received a report that the screener had detected possible issues with the Bear's vision.

That set off immediate warning bells with me since I'm nearsighted and I know that myopia (nearsightedness) is a genetically dominant trait. I have watched in absolute amazement and gratitude as Junior approaches 14 with perfect vision. Possibly my "dirty" gene is mitigated by the fact that my wife possesses the vision of an eagle. Nonetheless, we immediately scheduled an appointment with a pediatric opthamologist.

For those not familiar with it, there are optometrists and opthamologists. I routinely go to optometrists, who conduct a vision assessment and prescribe and fit glasses. Opthamologists are MDs who can conduct a full medical examination of the eye. So we went the full route and had her evaluated by an opthamologist, including the infamous eye drops that make daylight look like a nuclear burst.

The opthamologist gave her a clean bill, with the usual disclaimer of "right now". She may someday need glasses, but as we speak, she's good to go. As one who has worn glasses for almost 40 years now, I hope that she never has to.

But nothing is ever good enough for the nanny state that the Democrats have created here.

Today I got a note, sent through the school by the county, demanding that I provide the school (It's a private school that has nothing to do with the county) with proof that I've either had her seen by an "eye professional" (whatever that is) or have scheduled an appointment with an "eye professional".

In retrospect, the first note may have had a piece on the bottom to be filled out documenting the fact that we'd had her evaluated, but I honestly doubt it. My wife has a very good eye for that sort of thing and has none of my "Eff you" response to overreaching authoritarianism. She'd have filled it out and submitted it.

So where we stand now is that the county is demanding that I provide evidence that I have followed up on the findings of some minimally trained troglodyte who conducts mass screenings of children throughout the county. Yes, I've followed up. I had her evaluated by an MD, thank you. And I will never, ever, ever skimp on health care for my children. More to the point, I know what it's like to sit in a classroom and not be able to read the blackboard. That was when my parents realized I needed glasses. I will react immediately should that ever occur with one of my children.

I intend to have a very interesting phone conversation with the county tomorrow. I would never *not* take her to the doctor, but I'll be a stone sonuvabitch if I know how the county can force me to submit proof that I've taken her to someone with the nebulous title of "eye professional".

More to come.

Monday, April 24, 2006

I have got to get one of these hot dog grillers. Not only is it practical and a conversation piece, but it will keep my wife from eating the hot dogs...

Hot Dog Griller Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

I should dread this season, and I do, sort of. The phone calls, the scheduling, the ill-disguised anger in their voices when I call managers to tell them there is no umpire for their game, the shuttling back and forth between baseball and softball...

I should hate this time of year. But I don't. It's a time of rebirth, renewal, and the resumption of the game I love just as much as it hates me (sounds like a marriage).

Well, beat the drum and hold the phone - the sun came out today
We're born again, there's new grass on the field
Roundin' third, and headed for home, it's a brown-eyed handsome man
Anyone can understand the way I feel

I guess everyone knows that's John Fogarty's song "Center Field". Rumor has it that the "brown-eyed handsome man" is Jackie Robinson.

Almost got to umpire at Bear's softball game tonight. Got to game time with no umpire in sight and I approached the manager and told her I had been an ASA umpire in the past. She cleared it with the other manager and I was on the field when the league official, who has thus far been invisible, materialized and announced that she needed to find an "unbiased" umpire. As though I'd throw a slow-pitch softball game involving nine-year olds. She dragged another dad away from his daughter's game and he did an ok job. His calls were good, if not done in the "official" manner, but he had to miss his daughter's game. I understand her point in bringing in an "unbiased" umpire, but I was a bit put out by the inference that I might be biased.

The counterpoint to that is Junior League baseball, a highly competetive league composed of 13, 14 and 15-year old boys who have been playing organized baseball for eight to nine years running. I had to cancel a Junior League game tonight when the scheduled umpire called to say he couldn't make it. I gave the managers the option to hold a scrimmage on the field and incredibly, they were able to find a dad in the stands to umpire the game. I'm glad that they did--but contrast that against the much younger girls in the softball league and me, with experience, being turned down because I just might be biased.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

I'm sweating schedules, trying to get rosters from managers, looking for slots to reschedule Saturday's rained out games, tracking down managers to deliver paperwork, distributing balls, umpiring games, shuttling between girls' softball and baseball, shoveling and raking dirt on the field, begging people to work the concession stand, placating parents and going to pointless meetings when I could have a night off.

And yet all I keep thinking about is how how much I love this stupid game and how much enjoyment the kids derive from it.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Well, I've seen paintball now...

My son has been bugging me about it for months. Then this past weekend it turns out that one of dainty nine-year old Bear's friends goes frequently with her father and brother. I reluctantly gave in and ended up with half the boys on the road as well as two small girls. Even though paintball has no appeal for me (who wants to play army with paint when you've done it for real with bullets...), I approached the whole scene with as open a mind as I could muster.

Didn't work. I saw the most pathetic bunch of wannabe losers you can possibly imagine.

I was turned off right away by the sight of tens of thousands of paintballs everywhere. I watched people fill their paint hoppers at tables, dump balls all over the place and simply walk away. The ground was also covered by hundreds of nine-volt and AA batteries. Turns out some of the guns have electronics. The people just threw the batteries on the ground. By the end of the day they'd added dozens of water bottles, paintball boxes, bags, sandwich wrappers and so forth to the mess, despite plenty of trash containers.

They discharged the guns compulsively. Inside the maneuver lanes they'd discharge dozens of paintballs while they waited for the signal to go. After being "killed" they'd stop just before leaving the lane and shoot more. Outside of the lanes they'd remove the paint hopper and walk around discharging blasts of CO2. It got to be annoying very quickly.

The action inside the maneuver lanes was incredibly lame. There could not have been one person in the entire park who had the slightest idea of infantry tactics. There was no fire and maneuver--they would simply walk to an obstacle or tree and stand there pouring literally hundreds of rounds in the general direction of the opposing force. They had two-finger triggers they could jiggle their fingers on and approximate the cyclic rate of fire of an MG-43. With a thousand rounds in the air at any one time, people did manage to get hit, but most of them simply had to leave because they ran out of paintballs. No problem there--they just went back to their table, reloaded while dumping paintballs on the ground, then headed off for the next paintfest.

And one last thing, guys: Desert camouflage doesn't work in a deciduous forest.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Rain... Big time.

Opening day didn't happen. First day of the season and I already have two games to reschedule. Sigh.

I can deal with the rescheduling, more to the point everyone anticipates opening day and it just didn't happen.

Things will resume Monday evening, but it's just not the same. Weekday evening games are rushed affairs, with parents charging home from work, kids squeezing in homework, hurried dinners--you name it. Much better had we had a nice opening day when everyone was rested and anticipating the games. The weeknight games can then follow, but a Saturday opening day would have been nice.
Ah, Cynthia McKinney.

One of the most arrogant people ever elected to a body dominated by arrogant people.

She has pulled out the race card time and time and time again over her dappled career. Now that she actually lives in the US (she was living in Jamaica when her duped constituency voted for her on the strength of her father's political career), she takes a chauffeured limousine two blocks to the Rayburn building each morning. Two blocks. When someone (likely a fellow Democrat trying to preserve image) called her on it, her reply was "I'm a queen".

Well, she apparently does view herself as a queen. Last week she burst into the Rayburn Building sans the lapel tag that congresscritters wear to exempt themselves from the metal detector scan that the common falks have to endure--to ensure the safety of the congresscritters. A guard, not recognizing her, chased her down and asked her three times to stop. After the third request, he grabbed her arm and was rewarded for his efforts to keep congresscritters safe by having her slam her cell phone into his chest.

Immediately, Mckinney took her usual tack by saying she was attacked by a guard because she is black. That assertation is every bit as stupid as it would be for me to assert that she attacked the guard because she's black. She assaulted the guard because she's an a$$hole. White, black, purple, doesn't matter. She's an a$$hole, and she'd be one if she was taupe or ecru.

Now things have come to a head and the Capitol Police have filed charges against her for assault. Suddenly she's repentinent and there's no whiff of race in the air. She's simply sorry for what happened, and sorry things had to go so far.

Well, she's the one who did it, she's the one who took things so far--it's kind of late to just brush it off with "I'm sorry". The charges are real--BUT--I'll get down on my knees on the baseball field and kiss my son's coach on his a$$ if Cynthia Mckinney ever actually goes to trial for her assault on a sworn officer. Her position and her interpretation of race will keep her safe from prosecution.
Apparently NASCAR is annoyed by a proposed NBC television show. The "reality" show will seek to explore American prejudices against Arabs and Islamics by placing them in venues NBC is sure will be hostile to them and then taping the results. NASCAR is rightfully hacked off at being identified as a venue sure to be hostile to Arabs and Islamics.

Before you say, "well it's only fair and NASCAR fans are overwhelmingly white", think about what a setup this is. And think how NASCAR has suddenly become the symbol of Republicans in the US. Just a few years ago the Republican party was the "party of the elite" and it was, to some, symbolized by captains of industry and cigar-smoking young movers and shakers. It was the party of the rich. With the election of George Bush, the Democrats moved to make it the party of stretch pants and teased hair, Wal-Mart and NASCAR. It will remain a modern miracle how Republicans went overnight from being rich and elite to being Wal-Mart shopping NASCAR fans.

I have a huge suggestion for NBC---rather than look in every crack and crevice for prejudices against Arabs and Islam in this country, why not just go to the middle east and soak up their intense, unhidden hatred for Westerners and anyone else who doesn't subscribe to Islam?
Baseball looms large again, so the baseball posts will resume.

Actually, we're already a week into girls' softball season as well, so I'll have posts about that, too.

This evening I went to the field to set the pitcher's rubber in place. A team started practice while I was lining things up and I hoped that they might offer to help. Instead, they started practice all around me while I strung lines from home plate to the pitchers' mound and the manager actually had the temerity to complain to me about the amount of dirt on the mound while one of his coaches batted balls past me. I have some history with that particular manager and just ignored him (the alternative would have been telling him to get stuffed. He's a 400+ lb., 5' 5" tall jerk with red hair and a beard who looks exactly like a garden gnome. I detest him for good reason {he screwed me hard one day last year} but I figure it's no way to start off a new season). I finally got hacked off and left the field with the rubber barely in place. I had to take a wheelbarrow to another field, anyway.

I got back after practice, and the team had ignored the fact that the rubber was only half in place and had stomped on it until one of the anchoring spikes migrated upward through the rubber, ruining it.

I got the last new rubber and dug the site out, put new clay in it, leveled it out and emplaced the new rubber. I hope garden gnome notices it and appreciates it, but I suspect that's waaaay too much to ask for.

On the other side, the Bear has a softball game at 0900. Granddad is coming up for it, so the Bear is psyched. Her games are a bit frenetic--nine-year old girls chasing after balls, but their team spirit and fortitude can't be matched. I get a huge charge out of their games.

Baseball kicks off at 1200. I'll be there by 1130 to hand out balls, and to make sure that the flag gets raised. I'm kind of funny about that. There will be a flag flying over the field as we play ball.

Got a call tonight asking me to umpire two games as well. I didn't return the call as it came in after 10:00 and I was busy with kids, but I'll return it tomorrow. I feel badly for the guy--he's doing the same job I had last year and I know first hand how horrible the job is. I really hadn't planned on being an umpire this year since I'm the junior/senior league commissioner, but I'm feeling pulled to fill in. I will, though, use one tactic I learned from an umpire last summer. He'd line the coaches up and read the riot act to them ending with "You get two warnings, and this was the first one".

It's gonna be a good, fun season. Baseball and softball.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

This is the first year that the Bear has played ball, so it's my first year to evaluate her league. So far--two thumbs up.

Her coaches are great. Instructive, somewhat demanding--a perfect mix. Even the one coach who comes across as loud and demanding is actually a terrific guy who will work with any of the girls at any level. Simply put, the three coaches on the team are great people who want to see the girls succeed. They lost tonight--big time. But not one of the coaches dwelled on that. They emphasized the positive aspects of the game. And, truth be told, there were a lot of positive aspects. Despite losing, they played a good game. In the parlance, they may have been beaten, but they didn't beat themselves. That is to say, they lost the game to a team that outscored them, but they didn't lose simply because they were inept at the game.
Opening day of softball. The Bear prepares to send that ball on the ride of its life.

Note the pink helmet with ponytail hole...

Bear Posted by Picasa
Barb posted a reply that gave me some thought about the UN. Nothing new, mind you, just old thoughts brought back to the surface.

How many here remember the League of Nations? The LoN was established after the First World War exactly along the lines of the present UN. The problem was, nobody took the LoN seriously. Nobody gave a damn what it said. Having no military force, it utterly lacked teeth to enforce anything. Civilized nations continued to be civilized and uncivilized nations thumbed their noses at the LoN. It lasted maybe 15 years, if that long.

So, given the present state of the UN, somebody please tell me just how it differs from the League of Nations. I'll forgive minor spelling and punctuation errors, but gross misrepresentations of politics and personalities will be penalized.