Nap time: the play-by-play

Snippy got tossed out of the bed like he was a combatant in the 1992 Royal Rumble.

I’m sitting her blogging while my youngest coo-coos as she reigns a holy terror in my bedroom. 

9:05: I laid her down five minutes ago, at 9 a.m., about an hour before I normally do. I noticed she was holding her ear and yawning and picked her up. When she put her head on my shoulder, I figured it was time. She was groggy and snugly when I put her head on the bed. 

Somewhere between my shoulder and the bed, she apparently consumed 16 ounces of Mountain Dew.

9:07: My oldest child crawled. The second child butt scootched. If you don’t know what that is, the only way to describe it is the child is in a sitting position and with her legs stretched out propels herself along the floor.

This move has two benefits. First, it’s adorable. Second, you don’t have to mop your floors as much. Mary spends half her time butt schootching and the other half crawling. Right now, she’s buttschootching around the bed.

9:10: She’s humming and eating a toe while I try to listen to the Poscast. 

9:12: She put her head down.  Here we go.

9:12: She’s up. Damn.

9:13: In a move that would have made Brett Hitman Hart proud, I picked her up, flipped her around and gently put her down without coming anywhere close to injuring her.  

9:16: After playing with her Snoopy Doll, using moves that would also make Brett “Hitman” Hart approve, she’s down. Her head is on my shoulder. Her right hand is tugging on her ear.  Her left thumb is in her mouth. Is this victory? 

9:19: The eyes are shut! The eyed are shut!

9:20: Do I move her to the crib? It’s safer there, but she might wake up. I would prefer to start this process in the crib, but Mary appears to believe falling asleep in the crib will lead to her being drawn and quartered.  That’s the only way to explain the way she cries then. 

Also, her being on our bed means I can clean her room. 

9:23: Time to clean the kids’ rooms. The Poscast is breaking down the MLB Postseason. 

Nap time: the play-by-play

Postseason predictions guaranteed to fail

October baseball is here. It’s time for Major League Baseball Postseason games. Miracles will happen, dreams will be crushed. Heroes will rise and fall. No one can know what will happen, but it’s fun pretending we have some idea.

So here’s my fearless forecast for how we’ll get to the Fall Classic.

Wild Card games

Minnesota Twins at New York Yankees

The Twins are this year’s Cinderella team. They’re the first team to make the playoffs a year after losing 100 games. This is the type of team the Yankees, baseball’s most decorated franchise, routinely devours. The Yankees have beaten some good Twins teams this century and the game will featureĀ  a match-up — Louis Severino vs Ervin Santana — that slightly favors the Bombers. I’d give anything for the Twins to win, but this one likely goes to the Yankees.

Colorado Rockies at Arizona Diamondbacks

This game will feature two teams most Americans aren’t familiar with. However, both teams have stars that could capture the imaginations of fans young and old. Colorado’s Nolan Aranado and Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt are MVP candidates. Charlie Blackmon and J.D. Martinez are also fantastic players. My guess is Arizona wins because they have stronger pitching.

Continue reading “Postseason predictions guaranteed to fail”

Postseason predictions guaranteed to fail

Five questions about mental health on a day like today?

I’m not a mental health expert, let’s get that straight. However, I covered some mental health issues during my career. 

Let me tell you something, the craven scapegoating of the mental health industry and those it serves on is not just revolting in its cowardice. It’s reprehensible in its politics. 

First of all, study after study has shown that people with mental health issues are far more likely to be victims of crimes than perpetrators of them.

Second of all, on days when this type of gun violence strike, certain politicians, pundits and citizens will say we need to concentrate on mental health issues. This is a dodge that has lasted for far too long. 

If these people really care about mental health issues, ask yourselves – or them, if you’re capable – these five questions.

1. What specific public policies do you support to fix the mental health system? Do you want to see more tax dollars going to programs that would help educate more psychiatrists? As republicans attempt to repeal Obamacare, how do you address parity? Should we force insurers to treat mental health issues equally with physical health issues?

2. Should public policy address the issue of people with mental health issues having access to guns? This is a tricky question, and if you actually care about mental health issues, you should have put a lot of thought into it already. What mental illnesses would we draw the line at? Does this mean certifying every gun owner?

3. What has your preferred candidate/political party done on this issue? Have they cut funding? Expanded it? What is their relationship to special interests on this issue? What mental health advocates have you heard from?

4. What is the other side – politically or culturally – saying about mental health issues? This is far from easy. Listen to the other side on this discussion. What valuable points are they bringing up? What are they saying that you’ve never thought about? Some mental health issues are cut and dried. Others are very gutsy and no answers seem obvious.  

5. What about this specific shooting makes you think it was a mental health issue? This is a tough question. Are you basing it off of your own gut reaction or research? What have mental health advocates and mental health groups said about it? Do you call all forms of mass violence mental health issues? Or just some? What makes you differentiate between San Bernadino, Columbine and Las Vegas?

Look, we need to talk about gun control and public safety at times like this. But we also need to talk about mental health issues more often than when blood has been spilled. 

Which leads me to a bonus question: When was the last time you took part in or watched a political discussion about mental health issues and it wasn’t right after a mass shooting?

Five questions about mental health on a day like today?

You had me at “hello”

I picked up Sarah Vowell’s “Lafayette in the Somewhat United States” earlier this year even though I already had more than 90 books on my To Read shelves. I don’t often push newly bought books to the top, but I tossed the book to about No. 15 on the list. 

I love history books, particularly well written and thorough ones. Historians like Edmund Morris and Doris Kearns Goodwin can give you a feast to chew on. Writers like  Tony Horwitz and Rick Perlstein can make you laugh or cry while showing you the characters from our past.  

I’ve been attempting to read more histories written by women because they’re often excellent and, sadly, underpublished. 

So I picked up Vowell’s book hoping for the snark and whit I’d come to appreciate from her radio appearances on NPR. 

I’m also a stickler for historians who don’t peddle hagiography. Our heroes were real people with foibles and faults. Don’t hide that. 

From the first page, I wasn’t disappointed. 

How did the Marquis de Lafayette win over the stingiest, crankiest tax protesters in the history of the world? He trudged to Philadelphia, hung around the building where they signed the Declaration of Independence, and volunteered to work for free. The Continental Congress had its doubt about saddle General George Washington with the teenage French aristocrat, but Ben Franklin Road from Paris that the kid might be of use and, what the hell, the price was right.

So on July 31, 1777, Congress passed a resolution on Lafayette a major general in the army of the United States recognizing “his great zeal to the cause of liberty.” That and the penny less rivals, in their unsuccessful campaign to shake down the king of France, hoped to milk Lafayette’s “illustrious family and connections” back home.

The Founding Fathers, while sticklers about taxation without representation in general, were magnanimously open minded about the French crown overtaxing French subjects to pay for the French navy to cross the Atlantic to lend a hand. Les insurgents, as the French referred to the Americans, wanted what all self-respecting, financially strapped terrorists want: to become state-sponsored terrorists. 

Oh, this is going to be a good book. 

You had me at “hello”

When the president abandons the people

My God!  That’s the President of the United States saying we should abandon our fellow citizens because they’ve been hit with two hurricanes. 

I didn’t know there was a limit. Someone should let Florida know. And Louisiana. And Texas. 

The mind truly melts over the content of this official declaration by a sitting president. While I think he has other reasons for abandoning Puerto Ricans – I’ll get to that in a bit – let’s start with a fresh reminder of Puerto Rican citizenship.

They are citizens. Combined, they pay $3 billion in taxes a year. More than 116,000 Puerto Rican’s are veterans.  They vote in presidential races. 

So Trump’s statements on the tragedy in Puerto Rico and his administration’s lackadaisical response to it, are gross, negligent and evil. 

Based on his track record, we know why he’s reacting the way he is. First of all, Puerto Rico isn’t his base. If you’re not his base, he couldn’t give less of a damn about you. And that’s just slightly less than he cares about his base. Second of all, Puerto Rican’s have a different pigmentation than he prefers. 

The laundry list of evidence that Trump is a White Nationalist is long and horrifying. But this is the topper. People might die because of it. 

Trump’s poll numbers have been swirling in the bowl from the get-go, and this episode should drag them down more. 

We’re long past the point where this little man in the world’s biggest job deserves to be removed. 

But the bigger lesson from this tragedy is that it’s long past time that Puerto Rico becomes a state or it should be given full independence. I’d welcome their statehood. 

When the president abandons the people

Big fam on campus

The boy has been asking me about school. Where do I go? When do I go? Who is my teacher?

So I explained that I go to school on my computer, but that school is right down the street. 

“Can I go see it?”

Why not, I figured. So Tuesday the whole family got together and checked out Wilkes University. Molly made sure we visited the Library, which Minnie and Michael loved. There are some impressive model shops – including Old Ironsides – and a model colonial house inside. We also checked out the education building. And we visited the Aurnaud Marts Center. 

Part of the facility that is used by the varsity sports teams was left open. It’s a little field with hash marks and some equipment was left out. I told the kids they couldn’t touch the equipment, but I didn’t see any problem with them running around on the AstroTurf. They had a blast.  Michael kept trying to beat Molly and I in races. 

One of the other spots we visited was the statue of John Wilkes, whom the university is named after. 

While he wasn’t a founding father, like John Locke, his beliefs and actions inspired many of our founders. I think I’ll do a little post on him some other day because he’s quite the fascinating figure. A real rapscallion. 

Big fam on campus

The best class I ever had

Today is apparently “National Poetry Day.” That made me think of the best class I ever had. It was called “Alternative Voices in American Literature.” Mr. Paul Perrone taught it. This is not a knock on every other teacher I ever had, but if every American could take that class with Mr. Perrone, this country would be far better off. 

No class ever changed me as much as that did. It shook me out of my bubble and showed me the world around me. And Mr. Perrone was an absolute delite. He’s fiesty and funny, brilliant and bold. 

Part of one of the classes I’m taking deals with the fear teachers have to battle with. It seemed like Mr. Perrone didn’t have an ounce of fear in him. He was a master of the subject. He was a master of classroom management. 

Anyway, our textbook was “Unsettling America,” a collection of poems from a diverse selection of poets. 

I don’t know if he selected this poem or if it was one of my fellow students, but when we were done reading this short, potent poem, Mr. Perrone just said,”Wow.”

Then he got us to talk about it. 

When I first read the poem, I thought it was kind of trite and pompous. But I warmed to it quickly. 

The cadence is powerful. And the message comes across in just 39 words. 

It’s become one of my two favorite poems, after “The Raven.”

I think all of my siblings had Mr. Perrone. I know some of them can still recite the poems he assigned. Amazingly, he’s still teaching at Penn State. For that, the world is lucky. 

The best class I ever had