Skip to content

I Wasn’t Supposed To Be Left Handed!

February 17, 2018

Fathers often see themselves in their sons. Hoping the son can be what the father wanted but never became. While my dad was good at baseball, he played for recreation. In me, he saw the potential of going beyond the sandlot.

His vision was for me to be a pitcher. He also knew that left handed pitchers have an advantage. They not only have a natural curve, but can throw to first base faster to catch a runner off the bag. So he made sure that I am left handed.

It wasn’t that long ago teachers, parents, and society felt there was something wrong with being left handed and many potential lefties were turned into righties.  After all 85-90 per cent of people are right handed, let’s make the kid go with the flow. Not my dad.

To his dismay, I was terrible at baseball. I have to give him E for effort as he tried his best to turn me into a Sandy Koufax. We would go out on the front lawn and play catch. After warming me up, he would get into a catcher’s stance and tell me to fire away. Some of my pitches were close enough for him to catch, but after about five or six going over his head or left/right, he would throw his glove down and go back in the house.

59635_10151202356794235_1349089457_nStill, he had high hopes. When spring came and I was old enough for little league, he had me try out and even agreed to coach the team. What he forgot to tell me was that pitchers in a real game pitch off a mound. My front yard was flat. None of my try out pitches made it to home plate, unless you discount the first bounce.

Deciding pitching was not my forte’, and being the only left-hander on the team, they put me at first base. The only problem with that is the first basemen needs to be able to catch throws to first. My catching ability was a hair better than my pitching, but after letting too many runners find second base, my days of playing in the infield were over.

So into the outfield I went. Now the outfield is a cool place, you are out there in your area with no one to bother you and you can contemplate the meaning of life. Unfortunately, every once in a while a batter from the opposing team would hit a ball far enough to head my way. If it was on the ground, no problem, my dad had taught me to drop in front if it and not let it shoot through my legs. But at times a good hitter would hit a fly ball high and in my direction.

There must be a gene missing in my DNA, the one that lets your eye track a ball in the air well enough so you have an idea where it is coming down. I could see the ball against the sky and would wait for it to come down, only to find myself about thirty feet from where it landed behind me. Now when I missed a ball playing first, the worst thing was the runner got to second or maybe third. Missing a ball in the outfield, scrambling back to get it, and throwing to the second baseman, usually meant someone would be crossing home plate.

So after my pitching career ended, my first base stint was over, and my outfielding skills were apparent, my dad found a position for me that I could handle. The nice thing about warming the bench was being able to yell at the other team’s pitcher, rattling his cage. Thanks to my dad, and my early training, I have always been really good at rattling cages.

If left alone, would I have been left handed? I will never know. I throw left handed, write, shoot pool, and bowl left-handed. But I bat and golf right-handed. I am left eye  dominant. Give me a pair of scissors and I can’t cut with either hand. So who knows?

One thing I do is write with my left hand like a right-hander. By that I mean I don’t bend my left hand as if I am writing upside down like a lot of left handed people. This is because I learned early on to do the opposite when instructed. So when the teacher said everyone turn your paper so the top is to the left, I went right. Many lefties didn’t and so had to bend their wrists to write across the page. Only problem is my writing is so bad even I have a hard time reading it.

The only time being a leftie was an issue was when I was in the Army. You guessed it. I found myself saluting with my left hand. After being dressed down several times by officers, I did manage to break that habit. They did not like my explanation that if the salute was originally meant to show no weapon in one’s hand, it made sense for me to salute left handed as that is where I would carry a weapon. Even in the Army, I couldn’t help but rattle a few cages.

Was I meant to be left-handed? Who knows. I do know I must be left brained because I hear people say I am not in my right mind.

 

 

It is a good thing Jesus resurrected!

September 22, 2017

gaugeDue to the racist, immoral, misogynistic, arrogant, deranged man currently posing as the President of the United States, the majority of his advisory councils have quit. Councils were disbanded because of people quitting and of course, #45 tried to take credit for the disbanding, after the fact. While several councils have dissolved there is one that remains, that for me is the most puzzling, the Faith Advisory Council. This is an informal group of ministers that give advice to presidents on the moral compass of the nation.

Pick just about any one thing #45 has said or stands for and that would be reason enough for the ministers to walk away. But alas it seems, at least so far, they are hanging in there. Since nothing he does seems to awaken the moral backbone within these ministers, maybe a reminder from the book they hold above all else will.

Let us start with Psalm 1:1 – Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, (NIV).

Any part of that verse taken to heart would tell a believer to stay far away from the orange haired one. But ironically, if you use the King James version of the first part that says, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly,” you even have the word counsel which makes it very clear in this case.

Not enough yet! Okay, let us go back to the beginning. Genesis 1:26-27 (NLT)

 26 Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.”

27 So God created human beings in his own image.
    In the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.

The next verse says, “and He blessed them.” He blessed all human beings, not just the white ones. So if we are all God’s creation, and blessed, how can ministers sit with a man that spouts white supremacy, supports hate groups and refuses to oppose oppressors?

Actually this one is not all that surprising as the evangelical community was fairly silent in the sixties when the battle for civil rights was taking place.

Okay, still on the council. Let us bring out the big guns. Words from Christ’s lips.

Matthew 23:25-

25Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.” (ESV)

What is keeping these “men of God” from leaving the table. They may proclaim morality on the outside, and as Johnnie Moore, former vice president of Liberty University, said, their job is to give advice to the White House, not take it. That sounds good on the surface, but how many are on this council because of the prestige of sitting next to the President of the United States? Or in this case, the president of a small minority of the country.

Seeing #45 surrounded by clergy, head bowed in prayer, acting as though he has even an ounce of morals, should be repulsive to anyone with an ounce of faith.

Oh, I see we still have some hangers on. Okay, the next big gun Matthew 6:24.

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” (NAS)

The word mammon, here translated as wealth, is from the Aramaic mamona, meaning profit, wealth, money. Who represents wealth or profit more than #45. Yes, technically the members are not serving #45, but they are in that they are providing an air of legitimacy to his presidential performance.

One of the basic requirements of a shepherd is to know the difference between a wolf and a sheep, and especially a wolf in sheep’s clothing. In my opinion, #45 has pulled the wool over the eyes of any minister willing to still sit on the Faith Advisory Council.

 

A Couple of Small Tweaks Can Mean Awesome Service!

May 9, 2017

c--documents_and_settings-casey_reichel-my_documents-wyckwyre-blogs-server_medium

Being a server in a restaurant is not an easy job. J.Q. Public can be demanding, infuriating, and downright rude. While the majority of people may be pleasant, a server needs a tough skin to keep that smile on their face at all times.

Having said that, there are a couple of things servers can do to take a night out from good to awesome, at least in this writer’s opinion. Admittedly, some of what I am about to say may not apply to every eating establishment, but imagine how awesome even a Sizzler might be if servers there followed these simple ideas.

The first has to do with the wine. Yes, I just eliminated more than a few places to eat but bear with me. Every server should be trained in how to open a bottle of wine, it is not that hard. It is painful watching a server struggle with such a simple task, often ending up with a broken cork. I blame management for this one, all they need to do is have a server open a few with them and voila!, mission accomplished. Once the bottle is open and someone has tasted it, pour some in each glass, but if it is white two things to remember. First, white wine has been chilled and pouring too much in a glass means that it will warm before consumed, so pour less than you would with red. Second, since it is chilled it will need a cooler, and here is a simple trick to make that experience better. Most servers put ice in a bucket bring it to the table and try to force the bottle into the ice. The problem is the bottle is now sitting on ice, not in ice. The trick is to use less ice, add a small amount of water, then the bottle sits down in the iced water and stays cool.

The second idea for taking an evening out from okay to great is pacing. If I order a salad and an entree, I want to be finished with the salad before the entree appears. Having had too many negative experiences with this one, I tend to order my salad and after finishing it, order my entree. A good restaurant will have the pacing down so this is not an issue but a good server should be the fail safe here. If I want to be rushed I can go to a fast food joint, but in a restaurant I want to be able to enjoy the great food they prepare.

The last point is a simple one, listen to the customer. This, for me, is usually when it is time for dessert. My wife does not eat dessert, she does not have a sweet tooth, she has no problem watching me but she does not eat dessert. So when I order a dessert and say she does not want one, don’t bring two forks and say just in case. Because then I have a pissed off wife and you just lost part of a tip.

Which brings me to the last point, tipping. If the service is bad, I leave zero tip. I was told once by a restaurant manager that this is the best way to communicate dissatisfaction. Leaving a small tip just implies one is a cheapskate and the point is lost. If the service is good but you brought two forks I will probably leave you fifteen percent. If the service is good, if you paced things correctly, then I use my special formula for tipping. It goes like this. Let’s say the bill is $132.00. I round to the next highest whole number that is easily multiplied, in this case $140.00. I take ten percent of that, which would be $14, then I double that, which would be $28, divide that amount by two, which is $14, and add the $14 to $28, resulting in $42. Astute mathematicians will realize what I just did. $42 is thirty percent of $140.00. Some might think this is over tipping. While some restaurants do pay servers better than others, not all do. Also, I have no problem acknowledging a job well done.

So my basic point here is that while serving is a hard job, sometimes thankless, it only takes a few tweaks to make it an awesome and rewarding experience for both you and the customer.

Bon Appetit

Side note: As a Scotch drinker who likes it neat, I am surprised at how this term is so misunderstood. Neat is simply “a single, unmixed liquor served without being chilled and without any water, ice, or other mixer.” As a server, I realize you are not a bartender, but for us Scotch drinkers, please learn this term or at least if you hear it, ask the bartender before showing up with a glass of Scotch violated by water or ice or God forbid both.

 

A Minor Pet Peeve

March 25, 2017

3242196

There are many things to enjoy in life, and some that just get under your skin. Keeping a positive attitude makes each day go smoother. It makes the day more fun and leads to a good night’s sleep. Most days are like that, at least for me, but occasionally a small thing can be just enough to make me question the intelligence of the human race. Long ago, I failed to be surprised by the things that people do, but still have to shake my head at times.

One of my minor pet peeves is going up to a cashier to make a purchase and having them ask, “Did you find everything you were looking for?” On the surface this is a legitimate question.

Except for two things. First, asking the question implies I am too stupid to have sought out help in finding what I may have been looking for. But second, and more important, is what the cashier does when I answer the question.

If I say, “Yes I did”, we both go on with our day and no one has been hurt. If I say, “No I did not, you were out of so and so, or you don’t seem to carry so and so”, it is the response that sends me over the edge. Usually it is, “Oh sorry”, and that is the end of it. If that is the response, then why ask me in the first place?

A better answer would be, “Oh let me make a note so I can tell the manager”, or “Did you want to speak to our manager?” At least give a response that implies some kind of action will be taken.

My most recent experience with this was at our local #Ace hardware store. I went in looking for a spring door hinge and a Kidde smoke alarm. The hinge was easy but they did not carry the brand of smoke alarm I was looking for. Okay, no big deal, I knew I could get it online (which is a future blog).

At the register, the cashier asked if I had found everything. I told her no, they did not have type of smoke alarm I wanted. Her response was, oh. Being used to getting this as an answer would have been ok except for two things.

One, I had been looking in the store for the alarms and after a time ran into a worker and asked where they were. The response was gruff and I felt like I had asked for their first born. Second, and this was the kicker, at the cashier after the caring concern for not having the product, I was asked if I had an Ace rewards card. I said yes and gave her my phone number, part of which is six-one-two. She punched my number in the register and said it didn’t come up. She asked for my name and zip and with those found me in the system. She then said, it didn’t come up because my number was six-twelve.

I’ll let that sink in for a second.

I couldn’t help myself, so I said, “Wouldn’t that be the same as six-one-two?” She looked at me as if I were stupid and proceeded to ring me up for the hinge. So with these three events, I would say my experience was not up to expectations, and I left the store asking myself, did she just say what I thought she said?

I have been in stores and have asked clerks if they can check into carrying certain items, and have had great responses. They either pass the word or get the manager who then is very accommodating and the next time I shop, there is the product. Sometimes they say they can’t get the product and that is fine.

Bottom line, if you’re going to ask if I have found everything, at least make some attempt at caring if the answer is, No!

The Top Eleven Things You Will Never Hear In Heaven

June 21, 2016

Version 2

 

11.  Three’s a crowd.

10. Sorry, this isn’t my table.

9. At the tone, please leave your name, number, and the time you called.

8. Paper or plastic?

7. This is a test, had this been a real emergency…

6. No personal checks accepted.

5. Three out of four doctors recommend…

4. http://www.anything

3. No shirt, no shoes, no service.

2. This program contains mature subject matter and may not be suitable for younger viewers, parental discussion advised.

1. Will work for food.

If it is one, then it is all…

April 14, 2016

When I was in elementary school, one of my pet peeves was if someone in class acted up, the teacher would punish the whole class.  Someone would throw a paper ball or a pencil and since no one wanted to confess, we all were made to miss recess or endure some other form of punishment.  Because one person was “unruly”, we were all considered “unruly”.  In high school this mentality morphed into a dress code that said a male could not wear a tailed shirt untucked. If you did you were considered a “hood”, because hoodlums dressed that way. My father had obtained a couple dozen white dress shirts for cheap and I wore one most days, untucked. Daily, I would have discussions with my teachers as to why they thought I needed to tuck in my shirt. My grades were good, I was not a hood, and to me the rule was pointless. I lost most of the time. It was either tuck in or go home. In the Army it was as bad. If one guy in the platoon did something wrong, we all suffered, usually by doing push-ups. This thought process of making the majority suffer for an act by the minority surfaces time after time.

Our world today is filled with examples. Someone jumps off the Golden Gate Bridge, solution – put up nets and ruin the view for all of us. One guy tries to light a shoe bomb, we all suffer the hassle of taking off our shoes when we go through airport security. Someone doesn’t want to pay for car insurance, our rates are higher. Someone shoplifts, we pay more for products.

Sadly, this mentality is also the basis for prejudice, hatred, and misconceptions. Oh, you’re a Muslim, then you must be a terrorist. You’re a Christian, then you must be an extreme fundamentalist. You’re a Democrat, then you must be a far left winger. You are a Republican, then you must be a far right winger.

We have become a nation of label makers. If we can slap a label on someone, then we think we  know who and what they stand for. While this is an easy solution to dealing with each other, it is not only lazy but promotes ignorance, bigotry, and hate.

Yes there are Muslims who are terrorists, Christians who are extremely fundamental, far left Democrats and far right Republicans. For some reason we want to put one label on a group. I guess that just keeps it simple and comfortable for us, keeps us from having to think.

The homeless are a perfect example. The reasons for being homeless are as varied as the number of people on the streets. Yet, we would like to think they are all drunks, and addicts. If we believe that they are, then we can excuse ourselves from helping them, have a clear conscience when we just walk by them, ignoring their existence. Not that this is the right attitude, as we should be doing more to help any person who finds themselves homeless. But, when you sit down and actually talk to someone on the street, look into their eyes, listen to what they have to say, you find an actual human being.

Apply this process to anyone. If you are a Christian, sit down with a Muslim and have an intelligent discussion. A Democrat, sit down with a Republican. On the far left, sit down with someone on the far right. Somewhere along the line we lost the ability to hear each other out, and actually find out what someone else stands for, what they really think. Maybe we have never had the desire.

Facebook has widened the divide, enhanced our ability to just label and carry on as usual. I constantly see posts putting down liberals, conservatives, Democrats, Republicans, Christians, Muslims, gun owners, anti-gun owners.  The ability to say something derogatory about a group is made all the easier by not having to be face to face.

All of this reminds me of the Buffalo Springfield song, For What It’s Worth, that says, “There’s battle lines being drawn, nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong.”  We all can’t be right, we can’t block out ideas that we may disagree with, we can’t ignore a person or group that might think just a little differently than we do, we can’t live in a constant state of fear of other people.

Behind every label we may use, there is another human being, not that different from ourselves. It is complete arrogance to think that we are better than someone else because of those labels. As long as we stay comfortable with our narrow views, the issues and problems that face all of us will just keep getting worse.

Imagine if we had a national reconciliation day, where each of us had to sit down over a meal with someone we labeled as different from ourselves. Would we all be better off? Would hatred diminish? Would the world be a better place?

What would happen if we all accepted one another, acknowledged and respected our differences, realized we are all in this together?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Forgetting Our Roots

November 23, 2015

This old cliche’ could not be more relevant than today, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it” (George Santayana).

The current crisis in Syria is a good example of not learning from our past.  The refugees that need asylum have become the Japanese, interned in WWII, of 2015.  There are those that would love to round up all the Muslims in the U.S. and either ship them out or corral them. There are those that would bar all Syrian refugees from our shore, similar to what we did to the Jews who were trying to escape Germany in WWII. It is too easy to label Muslims as terrorists, much the same as we label Hispanics as illegal, blacks as criminals, those on welfare as lazy and druggies. Labels are easy, put a label on, place them in a box and we can feel superior.

Sadly this makes us no different than the Nazis who wanted to purge Germany, no different than ISIS who want to kill all but the faithful to Allah, no different than the trials in Salem that condemned to death anyone different, labeling them as  a witch.

This is not who we are. This country was founded by those who escaped tyranny, religious persecution, and prejudice.  Interestingly, almost every group that has come to this country found persecution, prejudice, and religious intolerance.  Most survived and overcame these obstacles, but have we all forgotten our roots?

The Statue of Liberty has a plaque that reads, “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” How many of our forefathers came from some other country? Unless you are native American Indian, guess what? You classify as a refugee or an immigrant.

Why have we forgotten who we are? The answer lies in several places but let me list a few.

First, we are lazy.  It is easy to slap a label on anyone or anything different from ourselves and set them or it aside. Our stereotypes help us to not look at a person as a human being, but as category. The homeless are an excellent example of this.  After you sit across a table from a homeless person and have a conversation, it is hard to not see the humanity beaming back at you, and come away with a different perspective. For those so adamant about the Syrian refugee issue, I would ask how many Muslims have you talked to?

Second, we are lazy. Rather than gathering facts, information, or truth for ourselves, we have become puppets to those we think have the answers. We would rather listen to those who think as we do, than to discover or even entertain a new or different opinion. Another fitting quote is from Jim Morrison of the Doors, “Whoever controls the media, controls the mind.” The best example of this is Fox News. Distort the truth, play on people’s fears, offer only one side to a discussion and you can control how people think. The number of people that rely on Fox for news shows how stupid some people in this country have become. On the other side are liberals who read only what agrees with their view, or worse get there news from Twitter. It is easier to continue with one’s prejudice than to challenge that prejudice with truth.

Third, we are lazy. Franklin Roosevelt said, “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.”  Thoreau had written in 1851, “Nothing is to be so much feared as fear.” We have become a nation afraid.  We are afraid of people and things we do not understand. Yet, we do not want to take the time to understand , to do the research necessary to ease our fears. Instead we hide behind labels and cower. We are afraid of thinking for ourselves.  We are afraid of having an open, intelligent discussion with those of opposing views. We are afraid of the truth.  As Jack Nicholson said, “You can’t handle the truth.”  What is the truth?

As our forefathers knew, not everyone in America is Christian, hence freedom of religion. Not everyone is going to agree with you, hence freedom of speech. Muslims have every right to be here as do Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Mormons, Atheists, or any other religious group.  Everyone has a right to their own opinion, that opinion can be expressed on social media or any other soap box.

What our forefathers could not see, is a nation intolerant of any religion, any opinion, or a nation so lazy that we would be willing to forget our roots, and shut out refugees from any oppressed nation. It is easy to say I have mine, so stay out. One of our nation’s greatest symbols is the Statue of Liberty, whom some would want to see as a Statue of Intolerance.

There are those who would make Muslims register and carry special ID cards. Why not just tattoo a number on their wrists? Why not just round them all up and place them in camps as we did to U.S. citizens of Japanese descent in WWII? The mentality today of many, including some Christians, is the same as in a different time, different place, caused some to yell, “Crucify Him, Crucify Him!”

“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”  America is at a crossroads, will we remain a symbol of freedom or become a symbol of suppression?