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Monday, December 22, 2008

A Christmas Travesty ... old

I have endeavored (with a bit of help from Charles Dickens) in this ghostly little tale, to raise the ghost of an idea which shall neither put you out of humour with yourselves ... nor with each other ... nor hopefully with me ... may it haunt your minds delightfully ... "God bless you, merry gentlemen! May nothing you dismay!" ... Henry Beefeater had grown into an uncharitable and begrudging young fellow, along with being an accomplished thief, despite noble efforts by his parents Lamar & Mamie Beefeater to influence the boy to the contrary ... hence, Henry reckoned that the age-old proverb "better to give than to receive" was meant for every living mortal other than himself ... having therefore settled on that mistaken notion, Henry unabashedly presented his parents with his annual Christmas wish list, with intentions of then making a trip to the mall for the purpose of completing his Christmas "shoplifting" ... Lamar quickly glanced at the large piece of paper, Henry's demands and desires scribbled on both sides, then promptly squeezed it into a tight ball, before tossing it onto the glowing embers of the open hearth ... he then set about to explain to the bewildered nestling how that greed and lack of concern for others had finally caught up with him, and that he was to proceed straightaway to his bedroom, devoid of supper ... Henry, hurt and humiliated by his father's terse reaction, ran up the stairs to his room, slamming the door behind him, then diving headlong onto his squeaky bed ... it wasn't long 'till he began drifting off to sleep, but there were no visions of sugar-plums dancing in his head, just angry thoughts ... and images of dread ... Henry had barely commenced to snore, when he heard the sounds of what he thought was something fiercely struggling within his room ... then as mucky water splashed all over his favorite patchwork quilt, he bolted upright just in time to see a tremendous creature, it being nearly five feet in length, with glowering red eyes, and a rusty treble hook embedded in it's fat lip ... lying just inside the thing's jutting, lower jaw was what appeared to be a huge wad of waterlogged tobacco ... Lester Doolittle? ... how could it be? ... Henry's pappy had told him stories about those days when he and Lester were the best of childhood friends ... until Lester robbed the general store, and made off with all that tobacco, only to be turned into a slimy sea monster, doomed to swim around out there in some murky lake or ocean, all by his lonesome, for the remainder of his miserable existence ... Henry mustered up a bit of courage then enquired, "Lester? ... Lester Doolittle? ... is that you?" ... the writhing, scurfy figure paused for a moment, spat a nasty gob of black juice right onto Henry's bedspread, then hoarsely replied ... "Yes Henry Beefeater, I am Lester Doolittle ... first but not last, sent from the briny depths to dissuade you from lying and pilfering folks' belongings ... lest your end be of similar fate, hopelessly swimming alongside I as your mate!" ... Henry attempted a meek answer, but mercifully fainted, as the wretched menace suddenly vanished, after warning of Spirits yet to follow upon the clock's midnight knell ... was it a dream or no? ... again Henry sank into the nether throes of fitful sleep ... Off in the distance, as the pealing bell fell silent ... the curtains on the window cautiously parted, revealing a mysterious, transparent form crawling slowly over the sill and onto the floor ... "Are you the Spirit, sir, whose coming was foretold me?" asked Henry ... "I am," said the voice so soft and gentle, and singularly low ... "Who, and what are you?" demanded Henry ... "I am the Ghost of Christmas Past," it announced ... "Long past?" added Henry ... "No, your past," it said ... as it spoke, it extended it's strong hand, clasped Henry gently by the arm, then hauled him from the bed so effortlessly and light, and down the narrow stairway to where those he foreknew sat looking much younger this night ... the walls and ceiling were arrayed with living green, where bright, gleaming berries glistened amidst crisp leaves of ivy, holly and mistletoe ... a mighty flame roared up the chimney, and out into the chilly air, threatening the stockings hung with great care ... in a corner stood a beautiful spruce, trimmed with sparkling lamps and shiny ornaments of all sorts, heaped beneath it lay piles of gifts, bound together with ribbons and bows ... in the kitchen sat poultry and great joints of meat, mince-pies, plum-puddings, long wreaths of sausages, barrels of oysters, red-hot chestnuts, cherry-cheeked apples, juicy oranges, luscious pears, immense twelfth-cakes and seething bowls of punch, that made the room dim with delicious steam ... on the couch sat Henry's mother and father, glaring proudly at a tiny baby rocking in a cradle at their feet ... "Who's child is that," stammered Henry ... "Why that's you," declared the Ghost, as a dull rap irrupted at the front door ... "My time has come and gone, and so for you," said the Ghost of Christmas Past ... "the Ghost of Christmas Present would now like some time with you" ... As Henry fearfully opened the heavy door, there stood an immense, albeit jolly Giant, with genial face and sparkling eyes, clothed in a simple robe bordered with snowy-white fur, who with a cheery voice proclaimed, "I am the Ghost of Christmas Present, sent here to remind you of those less fortunate than thee, and of those so desperately in need ... come go with me, and in all take heed" ... suddenly there sat Henry surrounded by gifts, while others had none ... his stomach bursting with food, as others begged for scraps ... resting in a warm house, dressed in the finest of clothes, while multitudes wandered homeless, naked and cold ... countless folks barely surviving in squalor and need, as Henry went about spoiled and ungrateful, his heart rotten with greed ... then near the Spirit's side stood a gaunt-eyed boy and a raggedly-clad girl ... "Who are they?" asked Henry ... "Why they are you, meet Ignorance and Want," said the rotund Ghost ... "Beware them both!" ... Henry could stand to see no more, and insisted the Spirit return him back where he had been before ... with a start, Henry was instantly back in his bed ... had this been a dream or no? ... or some poor, disturbed souls returned from the dead? ... he slept again ... Yet another Phantom silently crept 'neath the closed, bedchamber door, slowly approaching the foot of Henry's bed, like icy vapour spreading fright and doom ... shrouded in darkness, it's head and face concealed by misty blackness melding with the night, the frightful form rose to an imposing height ... the Spirit spoke not a word, as it lightly tapped Henry on the knee with an invisible, outstretched hand ... Henry bolted upright, as if unexpectedly seared by an icicle and cried, "am I in the presence of the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come?" ... the Spirit answered not with words, just motioned for the terrified lad to follow ... "are you about to show me shadows of things yet to happen, but will happen in time before us?" asked the frightened boy ... the Spectre seemed to so nod ... "then lead on," said Henry ... "the night is rapidly fleeing" ... at once they were walking down a quiet lane, when passing before the window of a modest tenement house, Henry noticed a group of sobbing children gathered round a sparsely-lit tree, sadly there were no gifts beneath, nary a one -- right away Henry realized that it was he that had stolen those dear babe's hopes and dreams ... straightaway he and the Shadow were legging it amid throngs of humanity on a bustling avenue, and there sitting precariously on the curb was an elderly, decrepit man, wearing dirty, threadbare clothes unbefitting of the intemperate weather, and clutched tightly in his bony, shaking hand was a rusty, tin can, with words scrawled down the side which read, "a penny for my thoughts, a nickel for some coffee, a dime for a slice of bread?" -- somehow Henry knew this unfortunate soul was he ... as they continued along the now dimly-lit street, at their side, just beneath a tiny Shoppe's shattered windowpane, lay a corpse draped with a bloody white sheet ... "Who is that?" Henry asked ... the Phantom was yet to speak, as Henry saw a kneeling policeman pull back that sheet, revealing the lifeless heap sprawled before him amongst the fragments of broken glass -- to Henry's shock and dismay, that pathetic pile was he, shot dead by that officer while trying to loot the place ... sickened to the core, Henry went forth at a quicker pace, only to find himself standing in a most solemn and dreadful place ... brisk wind blew swirls of dried leaves all about the listing, timeworn headstones, which marked the final resting place for various and sundry souls ... the lonesome cemetery felt eerily familiar, as the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come led him to the furthest corner, where it pointed out a solitary, unmarked plot ... "and who lies within, sir?" -- but the Ghost had abruptly departed, and Henry knew that within that forgotten tomb rested the bones of none other than Henry Beefeater ... he began to weep uncontrollably, until he thought his entire being would meltdown to nothing other than a lifeless pool of salty tears ... Henry again heard the rings from the courthouse clock, as he opened his eyes to the gradually, dawning light ... had it been but a nightmare, or no? ... he waited for a few tense moments, but no more Spirits did appear ... he hurriedly got dressed, grabbed all the money hidden under his mattress, then ran downstairs to greet his mother and father, giving them big hugs, along with his sister and brother too! ... he then loudly exclaimed, "Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year to all!" ... "I must hurry to the shopping mall, and purchase gifts for one and all, I've only a day or so afore the Yuletide doth befall" ... as he grabbed his coat and ran out the door ... Henry had the best day of his life ... buying gifts for family and friends ... food, clothing and toys to donate to those in dire need ... dropping cash and coins in every Salvation Army bell ringers' pail, even went out of his way to place a wad of money in an old man's tin can with words which read, "a penny for my thoughts, a nickel for some coffee, a dime for a slice of bread?" ... why ol' Henry had become as thoughtful and generous as that jolly fella named St. Nick ... the Beefeaters were finally granted their greatest wish -- at long last their son Henry had became the man of honour and character they had always hoped for and dreamed of ... Merry Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight! ... I want to take this opportunity to genuinely wish one and all ... friend and foe alike ... a very "Merry Christmas, and a Happy Holiday Season!" ... I pray that my story has brought you a few moments of enjoyment and laughter, may you have many more ... although written as a provocative parody of Charles Dicken's classic "A Christmas Carol" ... it is fraught with hidden truths relevant to all ... Above all else, my heart's desire is that all remember the true reason for the season ... "the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us" John 1:14 ... the celebration of the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ ... --sja

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Braves miss out on A.J. Burnett; Yankees continue Daddy Warbucks imitation

Matt Collier: December 14, 2008

Free agent pitcher A.J. Burnett agreed Friday on a guaranteed five year, $82.5 million deal. The Braves are believed to have offered 5 years, $75-80 million. Between Burnett and C.C. Sabathia, the Yankees have invested $243.5 million on two pitchers seen by most as the two highest-profile hurlers on the market this year. The question is not whether the Yankees can return to the World Series-baseball fans have seen this spending orgy lead to postseason failure with the Yankees before (Jaret Wright, Carl Pavano, etc.).



"Drunken Sailors? I don't see it! Psst, pass the grog, C.C.."

The question before baseball relates to the necessity and viability of a salary cap. With the Yankees spending like, "drunken sailors," according to Marlins president David Samson, should Major League Baseball implement a salary cap? ESPN's Buster Olney rejected such an idea, noting that the Yankees' payroll will actually drop by 10% in 2009 (after the salaries of Jason Giambi, Bobby Abreu, etc. drop off their payroll). In the opinion of this father of two during an economic meltdown, last year is irrelevant. The Yankees outspent everyone in Major League Baseball in 2008, to the tune of $207.1 million. The second-place New York Mets spent $137.4 million. By contrast, the Florida Marlins spent around $22 million, less than Sabathia will earn next year by himself

The question clearly is not whether or not MLB should institute a salary cap. The question is whether or not they will. On his radio show, ESPN's Erik Kuselias noted that while it should happen, the MLBPA fully supports the Yankees astronomical spending because it drives up all player salaries. Since the MLBPA is one of the strongest labor unions in American history, they will never allow a salary cap to exist. Even if they could be swayed, it seems unlikely that Commissioner Bud Selig would be a strong enough leader to force the issue.


"So, Hank and Hal, can I get a loan?"


So what is the answer for teams like the Braves, who have some financial resources but cannot enter the Yankees' atmosphere? There are two areas where the Braves could invest the $50 million that was earmarked for free agency. First, the Braves should sign a left-fielder who can hit and play respectable defense. Juan Rivera and Pat Burrell are two possible options. Second, invest in scouting and player development, especially in the international realm. Such investment will yield sustainable long-term success.

The Braves built their dynasty around home-grown players like Chipper Jones and Tom Glavine. Brian McCann, Kelly Johnson, Yunel Escobar, and even Jeff Francoeur continue that tradition. As the Braves bring up the next generation of pitchers like Tommy Hanson and Cole Rohrborough, they will return to the ranks of National League giants.


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Saturday, December 13, 2008

End Of An Era? ...

The Doolittle clan had been peddling lemonade each summer for several decades now from a movable stand situated in the center of the town square ... an endeavor which had become a family tradition ... this industrious undertaking had always been an extremely profitable enterprise, until just recently ... the local economy had tanked, and folks weren't spending much money on lemonade these days ... at least they weren't spending it at the Doolittle stand ... which under such inauspicious conditions, appeared to be hanging on the brink of certain failure, and ultimate closure ... could it be the end of an era? ... Lester Doolittle was an indolent young fella, but had always considered himself to be a thinker of the highest order ... so Lester took it upon himself to think of a way to assure the continued existence of Doolittle Lemonade Inc. ... consequently, he settled on the idea of going before town council to request a huge monetary bailout ... he would simply tell them how important it was to the town's future economic vitality that Doolittle Lemonade not be allowed to go out of business ... no matter the cost ... On the day council members had gathered to hear Lester's urgent appeal ... he combed his hair, donned his best Sunday-go-to-meetin' suit, climbed on his shiny, new Schwinn bike and headed across town to council chambers ... to his surprise, as he wound his way through the tree lined streets, he saw numerous other lemonade stands with folks waiting in long lines to purchase tall, icy glassfuls of his competitors' lemonade ... the sounds of laughter, children playing and birds singing filled the balmy, summer air ... life seemed good ... how dare they buy lemonade from anyone other than a Doolittle! ... When Lester's turn came to present his petition before council members ... he nervously rose to his feet, gathered his composure, then sheepishly proceeded to explain how folks weren't buying Doolittle lemonade ... how the town's economy wouldn't be able to survive without the Doolittle lemonade stand ... how the Doolittle lemonade stand would have to go out of business unless an enormous bailout was awarded on behalf of the town ... finally, Lester surmised that if Doolittle Lemonade Inc. were allowed to go out of business, that certain doom and everlasting destruction lurked just around the corner for all of civilized humanity ... Senior councilman Smith cleared his throat, raised an eyebrow and began to speak ... "Mister Doolittle, your family has been operating a lemonade stand around these parts for as long as I can reasonably remember ... and the Doolittles have made a lot of money over the years" ... he continued, "I also recall that the Doolittles have always used bad lemons and cheap corn syrup when making their lemonade, while other lemonade stands use only the finest lemons and pure cane sugar as their ingredients ... the Doolittles have served their lemonade in small Dixie cups with no ice, while other stands utilize tall glasses with plenty of ice, and even a straw upon request ... the Doolittles were never dependable, only opening their stand when convenient to the Doolittles, while other stands are open on a regular basis ... other stands reinvest the majority of their profits back into their lemonade stands, the Doolittles never put any profits back into Doolittle Lemonade Inc. in order to improve Doolittle lemonade or to maintain the Doolittle lemonade stand, the Doolittles however do use their huge profits to purchase luxury items such as fancy clothes and shiny, new Schwinn bikes ... and last, but not least, the Doolittles currently charge a dollar for a small cup of so-called lemonade, while other stands are charging no more than a quarter for a tall, icy glassful of superior quality lemonade ... the Doolittles can only blame the Doolittles for their own precarious and long foreseen conundrum ... it would be neither fair to your competitors, nor prudent for the taxpayers of this town to subsidize the continued, extravagant and reckless existence of Doolittle Lemonade Inc. sir!" ... "the answer is emphatically NO!" ... Lester slowly ambled out the door bearing the stark realization that he would now have to go out and find another job ... the Doolittles had known for quite some time that their lemonade was deficient in quality and excessive in price, but they had never been genuinely concerned with the concept of customer satisfaction, and had done nothing ... the Doolittles were only interested in making a quick and easy dollar ... eventually Lester was able to obtain gainful employment selling lemonade for one of his previous competitors ... lemonade stands were still flourishing all around town, and the town's economy had not collapsed under the weight of the loss of Doolittle Lemonade Inc. ... the sounds of laughter, children playing and birds singing filled the balmy, summer air ... life seemed good ... the end of an era had come and gone with little fanfare ... A poll relative to this post is located in the sidebar --sja

Sunday, December 7, 2008

"A Date Which Shall Live In Infamy" ...

Just a reminder ... early in the afternoon of December 7, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his chief foreign policy aide, Harry Hopkins, were interrupted by a telephone call from Secretary of War Henry Stimson and told that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor. At about 5:00 p.m., following meetings with his military advisers, the President calmly and decisively dictated to his secretary, Grace Tully, a request to Congress for a declaration of war. He had composed the speech in his head after deciding on a brief, uncomplicated appeal to the people of the United States rather than a thorough recitation of Japanese perfidies, as Secretary of State Cordell Hull had urged ... President Roosevelt then revised the typed draft--marking it up, updating military information, and selecting alternative wordings that strengthened the tone of the speech. He made the most significant change in the critical first line, which originally read, "a date which will live in world history." Grace Tully then prepared the final reading copy, which Roosevelt subsequently altered in three more places ... On December 8, at 12:30 p.m., Roosevelt addressed a joint session of Congress and the Nation via radio. The Senate responded with a unanimous vote in support of war; only Montana pacifist Jeanette Rankin dissented in the House. At 4:00 p.m. that same afternoon, President Roosevelt signed the declaration of war ... Franklin D. Roosevelt's "Day Of Infamy" speech is as follows: To the Congress of the United States: "Yesterday, December 7, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan. The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with it's Government and it's Emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific. Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in Oahu, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to the Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. While this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or armed attack. It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time the Japanese Government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions for hope of continued peace. The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian Islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. Very many American lives have been lost. In addition American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu. Yesterday the Japanese Government also launched an attack on Malaya. Last night Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong. Last night Japanese forces attacked Guam. Last night Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands. Last night the Japanese attacked Wake Island. This morning the Japanese attacked Midway Island. Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation. As Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense. Always will be remembered the character of the onslaught against us. No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory. I believe I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make very certain that this form of treachery shall never endanger us again. Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger. With confidence in our armed forces - with the unbounded determination of our people - we will gain the inevitable triumph - so help us God. I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December seventh, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire." --President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, December 8, 1941. *Information taken from the U.S. National Archives --sja

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Abraham Lincoln's Proclamation Of Thanksgiving ...


According to most historical records, the first American Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621, to commemorate the bountiful autumn harvest gathered by the Plymouth Colony after an extremely harsh winter ... in that same year, Governor William Bradford proclaimed a day of thanksgiving ... the colonists celebrated this day as a traditional English feast, to which they invited the local Wampanoag Indians ... days of thanksgiving were celebrated throughout the colonies after fall harvests. All thirteen colonies did not, however, observe Thanksgiving at the same time until October 1777. George Washington was the first president to declare the holiday, in 1789 ...

We are all familiar with the Thanksgiving holiday as a time for family, feasts, football and parades. All of these are great American institutions, but we forget too easily the meaning of this national holiday as it was first established by President George Washington on October 3, 1789, and reaffirmed as we know it today by President Abraham Lincoln on October 3, 1863, exactly 74 years later. A mere glance at their Thanksgiving proclamations reminds us of the noblest purposes of government ... moreover, the simplest meaning of Thanksgiving reminds us--contrary to secularist courts and professors--that these presidents were proclaiming a holy day, a day for prayer and recognition of Almighty God's authority over man ... a day for acknowledgment of our many transgressions ... a day of praise and thanksgiving to our Creator for His gracious gifts of mercy, forgiveness and abundance of blessings toward all mankind ... please read carefully President Lincoln's following proclamation, for within this historic text lies the true essence of Thanksgiving ...


Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards it's close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of such extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abunda
ntly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foriegn lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hands to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eight.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State



The above is the proclamation which set the precedent for America's national day of Thanksgiving. During his administration, President Lincoln issued many orders such as this. For example, on November 28, 1861, he ordered government departments closed for a local day of thanksgiving.

Sarah Josepha Hale, a prominent magazine editor, wrote a letter to Lincoln in 1863, urging him to have the "day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union festival." She wrote, "You may have observed that, for some years past, there has been an increasing interest felt in our land to have the Thanksgiving held on the same day, in all the States; it now needs National recognition and authoritive fixation, only, to become permanently, an American custom and institution." This document sets apart the last Thursday of November "as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise."

According to an April 1, 1864, letter from John Nicolay, one of President Lincoln's secretaries, this document was written by Secretary of State William Seward, and the original was in his handwriting. On October 3, 1863, fellow Cabinet member Gideon Welles recorded in his diary that he complimented Seward on his work. A year later the manuscript was sold to benefit Union troops.


I wholeheartedly agree with the spirit and essence of President Lincoln's proclamation ...



*Proclamation text and other info taken from Abraham Lincoln Online --sja


Thursday, November 20, 2008

End Of Innocence ...

Forty-five years ago to the day, on November 22, 1963, the gusty winds of change were howling at gale force as one of America's most gleaming flames of hope was suddenly and violently doused ... gunshots heard round the world overshadowed the parade-like atmosphere that fateful autumn day at Dealey Plaza, conveying shock and sorrow before the watchful eyes of a horrified nation ... no one then alive can forget where they were when they heard the woeful news that became forever embedded in our national consciousness ... our hero was dead ... our joy was turned to sadness ... our confidence became uncertainty ... our fears became stark reality ... our hearts were forever broken ... it was the end of innocence ... John Fitzgerald Kennedy was killed by an assassin's bullet as his motorcade wound through the streets of Dallas, Texas, he was hardly past his first thousand days in office. Kennedy was the youngest man ever elected President; he was also the youngest to die. Of Irish descent, he was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, on May 29, 1917. Graduating from Harvard in 1940, he entered the Navy. In 1943, when his PT boat was rammed and sunk by a Japanese destroyer, Kennedy, despite grave injuries, led the survivors through perilous waters to safety ... Back from the war, he became a Democratic Congressman from the Boston area, advancing in 1953 to the Senate. He married Jacqueline Bouvier on September 12, 1953. In 1955, while recuperating from back surgery, he wrote Profiles In Courage, which won the Pulitzer Prize in history. In 1956, Kennedy nearly gained the Democratic nomination for Vice President, and four years later was a first-ballot nominee for President. Winning by a narrow margin in the popular vote, Kennedy became the first Roman Catholic President ... Kennedy's Inaugural Address offered this memorable injunction: "Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country." ... as President, he took vigorous action in the cause of equal rights, calling for new civil rights legislation. His vision of America extended to the quality of the national culture and the central role of the arts in a vital society. He wished America to resume it's old mission as the first nation dedicated to the revolution of human rights. With the Alliance for Progress and the Peace Corps, he brought American idealism to the aid of developing nations. Before his untimely death, he laid plans for a massive assault on persisting pockets of privation and poverty ... As with any great leader, John Kennedy also had flaws and failures, his most glaring occurring in April 1961. Known as the Bay of Pigs Invasion, Kennedy permitted a group of armed and trained Cuban exiles to invade their homeland in an attempt to overthrow the regime of Fidel Castro. This event became a disaster and an embarrassment for the young President. Soon thereafter, the Soviet Union renewed it's campaign against West Berlin. However, Kennedy also displayed unfaltering creativity, courage and resolve, and decisively responded to the Soviets by reinforcing the Berlin garrison, and increased American military strength, including new efforts in outer space. Confronted by this reaction, Moscow, after the erection of the Berlin Wall, relaxed it's pressure in central Europe ... President Kennedy's most shining hours came in October 1962. Discovered by air reconnaissance, the Russians were seeking to install nuclear missiles in Cuba just 90 miles from the coast of Florida. Enforced by a naval blockade, Kennedy imposed a quarantine on all offensive weapons bound for Cuba. While the world trembled on the brink of nuclear war, the Soviets, under the direction of Nikita Khrushchev, backed down and agreed to take the missiles away, total global annihilation of all humankind had been averted ... Kennedy then contended that both sides had a vital interest in stopping the proliferation of nuclear weapons and slowing the arms race - a contention which led to the test ban treaty of 1963. The months that followed the Cuban Missile Crisis showed significant progress toward his goal of "a world of law and free choice, banishing the world of war and coercion." His administration saw the beginning of new hope for both equal rights of Americans and the peace of the entire world, but dark days lurked just beyond the horizon ... As long as I shall live, I will remember sitting there as a young boy, watching an old black and white TV, as Walter Cronkite announced that President Kennedy had been shot while in Dallas, Texas, then minutes later, Cronkite, his trusted and familiar voice breaking, would deliver the awful news to the anxious throngs that our dear President was dead ... an entire nation languished in silence and stunned disbelief. How could this have happened? The President of the United States of America, the most powerful nation on earth ... the leader of the free world had been gunned down in broad daylight, in the middle of a public byway, like some animal, and before the gaping eyes of the entire world ... During the ensuing days, as the nation sat in a state of darkness and mourning, and as our slain prince was ultimately carried to his final resting place, many impressions and images were indelibly etched into my young psyche ... images of the President being struck by the assassin's bullets ... his wife Jacqueline climbing onto the trunk of the presidential limousine in an effort to retrieve parts of her husband's skull which were blown away by the gunshot ... her pink dress drenched with his blood ... Lyndon Baines Johnson being quickly sworn in as thirty-sixth President of the United States while standing aboard Air Force One ... Jack Ruby cold-bloodedly shooting Lee Harvey Oswald to death on live national TV as he was being led from the police station to jail ... Then the seemingly endless days involving the pageantry surrounding the fallen President's state funeral, which was patterned after that of Abraham Lincoln ... the entire trip, from Capitol to White House, to St. Matthews Cathedral, to Arlington National Cemetery was six miles. An estimated one million people lined the route. Diplomats and heads of state from around the globe were in attendance, along with Kennedy's family members and close friends, all of whom stood with blank and empty expressions on their haggard faces ... the clopping sound of the horse's hooves striking the hard pavement as they proudly drew the caisson bearing the President's coffin, and the haunting sound of the steady cadence of muffled drum roles that accompanied the cortege were particularly poignant and memorable ... perhaps the most heartrending moment took place on the steps outside St. Matthews Cathedral when Jackie leaned over and whispered to little John-John, who smart and crisp, proudly saluted his father's departing coffin ... the President was finally laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery, and at the end of the burial service, a soldier handed Jacqueline a lighted taper with which she lit the John F. Kennedy Eternal Flame. The presidential memorial was inspired by the eternal flame at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, which she and her husband had seen during a visit to France in 1961, and/or took inspiration from "candle in the wind" of Arthurian legend, and the Broadway Play "Camelot." ... Scarce are the words that are yet to be uttered as to this tragic and unspeakable act that graved a deep and painful scar on the furrowed brow of American history ... it matters not whether you agreed with Kennedy's political philosophies or religious beliefs ... it matters not whether you liked the man personally ... John Fitzgerald Kennedy was a human being, he did not deserve to be openly slaughtered in such an inhuman manner ... John and Bobby Kennedy both gave the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country, they deserve the utmost in respect and honor ... I often wonder what great accomplishments and progress that could have potentially been made had they not been prematurely and swiftly robbed of their lives ... what a shame ... please remember John and Robert Kennedy this week, and say a prayer for the remaining Kennedy family ... the end of innocence ... "He didn't even have the satisfaction of being killed for civil rights .... It's--it had to be some silly little Communist." --Jacqueline Kennedy, on hearing that a leftist had been arrested for her husband's murder. *Some biographical information supplied by the U.S National Archives --sja

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Christmas Travesty ...

I have endeavored (with a bit of help from Charles Dickens) in this ghostly little tale, to raise the ghost of an idea which shall neither put you out of humour with yourselves ... nor with each other ... nor hopefully with me ... may it haunt your minds delightfully ... "God bless you, merry gentlemen! May nothing you dismay!" ...

Henry Beefeater had grown into an uncharitable and begrudging young fellow, along with being an accomplished thief, despite noble efforts by his parents Lamar & Mamie Beefeater to influence the boy to the contrary ... hence, Henry reckoned that the age-old proverb "better to give than to receive" was meant for every living mortal other than himself ... having therefore settled on that mistaken notion, Henry unabashedly presented his parents with his annual Christmas wish list, with intentions of then making a trip to the mall for the purpose of completing his Christmas "shoplifting" ... Lamar quickly glanced at the large piece of paper, Henry's demands and desires scribbled on both sides, then promptly squeezed it into a tight ball, before tossing it onto the glowing embers of the open hearth ... he then set about to explain to the bewildered nestling how that greed and lack of concern for others had finally caught up with him, and that he was to proceed straightaway to his bedroom, devoid of supper ... Henry, hurt and humiliated by his father's terse reaction, ran up the stairs to his room, slamming the door behind him, then diving headlong onto his squeaky bed ... it wasn't long 'till he began drifting off to sleep, but there were no visions of sugar-plums dancing in his head, just angry thoughts ... and images of dread ...

Henry had barely commenced to snore, when he heard the sounds of what he thought was something fiercely struggling within his room ... then as mucky water splashed all over his favorite patchwork quilt, he bolted upright just in time to see a tremendous creature, it being nearly five feet in length, with glowering red eyes, and a rusty treble hook embedded in it's fat lip ... lying just inside the thing's jutting, lower jaw was what appeared to be a huge wad of waterlogged tobacco ... Lester Doolittle? ... how could it be? ... Henry's pappy had told him stories about those days when he and Lester were the best of childhood friends ... until Lester robbed the general store, and made off with all that tobacco, only to be turned into a slimy sea monster, doomed to swim around out there in some murky lake or ocean, all by his lonesome, for the remainder of his miserable existence ... Henry mustered up a bit of courage then enquired, "Lester? ... Lester Doolittle? ... is that you?" ... the writhing, scurfy figure paused for a moment, spat a nasty gob of black juice right onto Henry's bedspread, then hoarsely replied ... "Yes Henry Beefeater, I am Lester Doolittle ... first but not last, sent from the briny depths to dissuade you from lying and pilfering folks' belongings ... lest your end be of similar fate, hopelessly swimming alongside I as your mate!" ... Henry attempted a meek answer, but mercifully fainted, as the wretched menace suddenly vanished, after warning of Spirits yet to follow upon the clock's midnight knell ... was it a dream or no? ... again Henry sank into the nether throes of fitful sleep ...

Off in the distance, as the pealing bell fell silent ... the curtains on the window cautiously parted, revealing a mysterious, transparent form crawling slowly over the sill and onto the floor ... "Are you the Spirit, sir, whose coming was foretold me?" asked Henry ... "I am," said the voice so soft and gentle, and singularly low ... "Who, and what are you?" demanded Henry ... "I am the Ghost of Christmas Past," it announced ... "Long past?" added Henry ... "No, your past," it said ... as it spoke, it extended it's strong hand, clasped Henry gently by the arm, then hauled him from the bed so effortlessly and light, and down the narrow stairway to where those he foreknew sat looking much younger this night ... the walls and ceiling were arrayed with living green, where bright, gleaming berries glistened amidst crisp leaves of ivy, holly and mistletoe ... a mighty flame roared up the chimney, and out into the chilly air, threatening the stockings hung with great care ... in a corner stood a beautiful spruce, trimmed with sparkling lamps and shiny ornaments of all sorts, heaped beneath it lay piles of gifts, bound together with ribbons and bows ... in the kitchen sat poultry and great joints of meat, mince-pies, plum-puddings, long wreaths of sausages, barrels of oysters, red-hot chestnuts, cherry-cheeked apples, juicy oranges, luscious pears, immense twelfth-cakes and seething bowls of punch, that made the room dim with delicious steam ... on the couch sat Henry's mother and father, glaring proudly at a tiny baby rocking in a cradle at their feet ... "Who's child is that," stammered Henry ... "Why that's you," declared the Ghost, as a dull rap irrupted at the front door ... "My time has come and gone, and so for you," said the Ghost of Christmas Past ... "the Ghost of Christmas Present would now like some time with you" ...

As Henry fearfully opened the heavy door, there stood an immense, albeit jolly Giant, with genial face and sparkling eyes, clothed in a simple robe bordered with snowy-white fur, who with a cheery voice proclaimed, "I am the Ghost of Christmas Present, sent here to remind you of those less fortunate than thee, and of those so desperately in need ... come go with me, and in all take heed" ... suddenly there sat Henry surrounded by gifts, while others had none ... his stomach bursting with food, as others begged for scraps ... resting in a warm house, dressed in the finest of clothes, while multitudes wandered homeless, naked and cold ... countless folks barely surviving in squalor and need, as Henry went about spoiled and ungrateful, his heart rotten with greed ... then near the Spirit's side stood a gaunt-eyed boy and a raggedly-clad girl ... "Who are they?" asked Henry ... "Why they are you, meet Ignorance and Want," said the rotund Ghost ... "Beware them both!" ... Henry could stand to see no more, and insisted the Spirit return him back where he had been before ... with a start, Henry was instantly back in his bed ... had this been a dream or no? ... or some poor, disturbed souls returned from the dead? ... he slept again ...

Yet another Phantom silently crept 'neath the closed, bedchamber door, slowly approaching the foot of Henry's bed, like icy vapour spreading fright and doom ... shrouded in darkness, it's head and face concealed by misty blackness melding with the night, the frightful form rose to an imposing height ... the Spirit spoke not a word, as it lightly tapped Henry on the knee with an invisible, outstretched hand ... Henry bolted upright, as if unexpectedly seared by an icicle and cried, "am I in the presence of the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come?" ... the Spirit answered not with words, just motioned for the terrified lad to follow ... "are you about to show me shadows of things yet to happen, but will happen in time before us?" asked the frightened boy ... the Spectre seemed to so nod ... "then lead on," said Henry ... "the night is rapidly fleeing" ... at once they were walking down a quiet lane, when passing before the window of a modest tenement house, Henry noticed a group of sobbing children gathered round a sparsely-lit tree, sadly there were no gifts beneath, nary a one -- right away Henry realized that it was he that had stolen those dear babe's hopes and dreams ... straightaway he and the Shadow were legging it amid throngs of humanity on a bustling avenue, and there sitting precariously on the curb was an elderly, decrepit man, wearing dirty, threadbare clothes unbefitting of the intemperate weather, and clutched tightly in his bony, shaking hand was a rusty, tin can, with words scrawled down the side which read, "a penny for my thoughts, a nickel for some coffee, a dime for a slice of bread?" -- somehow Henry knew this unfortunate soul was he ... as they continued along the now dimly-lit street, at their side, just beneath a tiny Shoppe's shattered windowpane, lay a corpse draped with a bloody white sheet ... "Who is that?" Henry asked ... the Phantom was yet to speak, as Henry saw a kneeling policeman pull back that sheet, revealing the lifeless heap sprawled before him amongst the fragments of broken glass -- to Henry's shock and dismay, that pathetic pile was he, shot dead by that officer while trying to loot the place ... sickened to the core, Henry went forth at a quicker pace, only to find himself standing in a most solemn and dreadful place ... brisk wind blew swirls of dried leaves all about the listing, timeworn headstones, which marked the final resting place for various and sundry souls ... the lonesome cemetery felt eerily familiar, as the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come led him to the furthest corner, where it pointed out a solitary, unmarked plot ... "and who lies within, sir?" -- but the Ghost had abruptly departed, and Henry knew that within that forgotten tomb rested the bones of none other than Henry Beefeater ... he began to weep uncontrollably, until he thought his entire being would meltdown to nothing other than a lifeless pool of salty tears ...

Henry again heard the rings from the courthouse clock, as he opened his eyes to the gradually, dawning light ... had it been but a nightmare, or no? ... he waited for a few tense moments, but no more Spirits did appear ... he hurriedly got dressed, grabbed all the money hidden under his mattress, then ran downstairs to greet his mother and father, giving them big hugs, along with his sister and brother too! ... he then loudly exclaimed, "Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year to all!" ... "I must hurry to the shopping mall, and purchase gifts for one and all, I've only a day or so afore the Yuletide doth befall" ... as he grabbed his coat and ran out the door ... Henry had the best day of his life ... buying gifts for family and friends ... food, clothing and toys to donate to those in dire need ... dropping cash and coins in every Salvation Army bell ringers' pail, even went out of his way to place a wad of money in an old man's tin can with words which read, "a penny for my thoughts, a nickel for some coffee, a dime for a slice of bread?" ... why ol' Henry had become as thoughtful and generous as that jolly fella named St. Nick ... the Beefeaters were finally granted their greatest wish -- at long last their son Henry had became the man of honour and character they had always hoped for and dreamed of ... Merry Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight! ...

I want to take this opportunity to genuinely wish one and all ... friend and foe alike ... a very "Merry Christmas, and a Happy Holiday Season!" ... I pray that my story has brought you a few moments of enjoyment and laughter, may you have many more ... although written as a provocative parody of Charles Dicken's classic "A Christmas Carol" ... it is fraught with hidden truths relevant to all ...

Above all else, my heart's desire is that all remember the true reason for the season ... "the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us" John 1:14 ... the celebration of the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ ...

--sja

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My First True Love

They say your first love is always the best. I'm sure this is true no matter your station in life, whether you or 16 or 60, one will always think fondly of their first. My first true love was a 1955 Ford Fairlane Sunliner. Born of Detroit, she was magnificent in my eyes; her sleek lines and two tone paint would make any young man's heart beat faster as she flirted shamelessly. Wide whitewalls and fender skirts gave her a rakish look and her duel exhaust Hunkajunk Fronthad just the right sexy throaty tone to make one want to rev up the RPMs of her 272 cubic inch V8. Yes, she would allow me to cruise the drive-in and the eateries. Yes, I had visions of all of the cute little sock hoppers who would want to be seen in such a fine machine. Yes, I thought I would have the perfect ticket for the submarine races. Perhaps it is true one must experience abuse to appreciate what it means when one is truly loved. HunkaJunk was one of the worst abusers to ever grace the highways. Oh sure, she was a beauty but she was a fair weather friend. Many a rainy night she would leave me stranded, forcing me to walk miles for assistance. She was the devils spawn but that did not prevent me from spending nearly every dime I could earn to satisfy her never ending demand for attention. Tires and brakes were expected expenses but having to shell out for shocks, generators, starters, carburetors, wheel bearings, ring and pinion, convertible top motor, radiator, transmission, ball joints, and tie rod ends to name but a few of her dark secretes she hid so well when I first took possession of her. She truly had a dark and evil soul, always returning just enough pleasure to keep me strung along. Teasing me, taunting me into believing she would give something back instead of always taking. Alas, it seems I was always spending with the idea that so many things could not possibly be wrong with one automobile. The promise of better days was always in sight but never realized. How quickly I learned that having a flashy car was no advantage when you did not have enough money left to buy yourself a 15 cent hamburger much less pay for your date. Always having to work so you would have something to drive to work. No, one needs to give consideration to the fact that girls require attention too but HunkaJunk was a jealous wench. She would always make sure no money was left from a 16 year old's meager earnings to be able to afford a date. While she did not try to strangle the occasional date I was able to muster, she was every bit devious as Christine, the '57 Plymouth Fury depicted by Stephen King in the book by the same name. Hunkajunk BackNo, she was more subtle. Things like having the door fly open when taking a sharp turn and leaking antifreeze on my date's foot from the heater core. Even though HunkaJunk abused my affection and took advantage of my youth, I could not stand to part with her. No, I drove her for three long years, always thinking she was worth it. Finally, she paid me the ultimate insult by catching fire. After all the work, the blood, the sweat and the tears shed trying to coax her into becoming a reliable companion, she committed the ultimate selfish act and became a worthless pile of scrap before my eyes. She gave me no hope of ever recovering my investment or allowing me to enjoy her charms. Yet even today, I remember her with fondness as she did give me moments of elation and shear joy. She also taught me a valuable lesson in life to always look deep beneath the surface before giving my heart away. Like they say, beauty is only skin deep but ugly goes clean through to the bone… or frame…

Friday, November 7, 2008

time to play ball with obama

grand old game and grand old party . . . must now give way to obama ball commentary from journalist jimmy smith everybody knew where george bush stood on baseball. loves the game. but george bush's time has passed. it is now obama time. bloggers might ask: where does obama stand on baseball? a casual fan? a devoted fan? or no fan at all? did a young obama play baseball? does president-elect obama own a baseball glove or bat? much is made of obama shooting baskets on the basketball court. does obama spend any time in the batting cages? can obama catch and throw? have the obama girls been taught to catch and throw? can anybody hit? al gore could not throw a baseball to the plate even when standing in front of the mound. unfit for the presidency. george w bush still throws a strike to the plate. two terms. obama organized communities. george bush organized the texas rangers. was baseball played in those communities? was that baseball being played by the texas rangers? obama has been seen wearing a chicago white sox cap. will obama govern believing in the designated hitter? obama would raise the taxes of all major league baseball players. does that sound like something a baseball fan would do? would somebody do that to uh, chipper? journalist jimmy smith has gathered some photos that reveal barack obama to be a player and a fan. of course, there are bowling pictures, too, but please disregard those in favor of the baseball pictures.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Christmas Travesty ...

I have endeavored (with a bit of help from Charles Dickens) in this ghostly little tale, to raise the ghost of an idea which shall neither put you out of humour with yourselves ... nor with each other ... nor hopefully with me ... may it haunt your minds delightfully ... "God bless you, merry gentlemen! May nothing you dismay!" ... Henry Beefeater had grown into an uncharitable and begrudging young fellow, along with being an accomplished thief, despite noble efforts by his parents Lamar & Mamie Beefeater to influence the boy to the contrary ... hence, Henry reckoned that the age-old proverb "better to give than to receive" was meant for every living mortal other than himself ... having therefore settled on that mistaken notion, Henry unabashedly presented his parents with his annual Christmas wish list, with intentions of then making a trip to the mall for the purpose of completing his Christmas "shoplifting" ... Lamar quickly glanced at the large piece of paper, Henry's demands and desires scribbled on both sides, then promptly squeezed it into a tight ball, before tossing it onto the glowing embers of the open hearth ... he then set about to explain to the bewildered nestling how that greed and lack of concern for others had finally caught up with him, and that he was to proceed straightaway to his bedroom, devoid of supper ... Henry, hurt and humiliated by his father's terse reaction, ran up the stairs to his room, slamming the door behind him, then diving headlong onto his squeaky bed ... it wasn't long 'till he began drifting off to sleep, but there were no visions of sugar-plums dancing in his head, just angry thoughts ... and images of dread ... Henry had barely commenced to snore, when he heard the sounds of what he thought was something fiercely struggling within his room ... then as mucky water splashed all over his favorite patchwork quilt, he bolted upright just in time to see a tremendous creature, it being nearly five feet in length, with glowering red eyes, and a rusty treble hook embedded in it's fat lip ... lying just inside the thing's jutting, lower jaw was what appeared to be a huge wad of waterlogged tobacco ... Lester Doolittle? ... how could it be? ... Henry's pappy had told him stories about those days when he and Lester were the best of childhood friends ... until Lester robbed the general store, and made off with all that tobacco, only to be turned into a slimy sea monster, doomed to swim around out there in some murky lake or ocean, all by his lonesome, for the remainder of his miserable existence ... Henry mustered up a bit of courage then enquired, "Lester? ... Lester Doolittle? ... is that you?" ... the writhing, scurfy figure paused for a moment, spat a nasty gob of black juice right onto Henry's bedspread, then hoarsely replied ... "Yes Henry Beefeater, I am Lester Doolittle ... first but not last, sent from the briny depths to dissuade you from lying and pilfering folks' belongings ... lest your end be of similar fate, hopelessly swimming alongside I as your mate!" ... Henry attempted a meek answer, but mercifully fainted, as the wretched menace suddenly vanished, after warning of Spirits yet to follow upon the clock's midnight knell ... was it a dream or no? ... again Henry sank into the nether throes of fitful sleep ... Off in the distance, as the pealing bell fell silent ... the curtains on the window cautiously parted, revealing a mysterious, transparent form crawling slowly over the sill and onto the floor ... "Are you the Spirit, sir, whose coming was foretold me?" asked Henry ... "I am," said the voice so soft and gentle, and singularly low ... "Who, and what are you?" demanded Henry ... "I am the Ghost of Christmas Past," it announced ... "Long past?" added Henry ... "No, your past," it said ... as it spoke, it extended it's strong hand, clasped Henry gently by the arm, then hauled him from the bed so effortlessly and light, and down the narrow stairway to where those he foreknew sat looking much younger this night ... the walls and ceiling were arrayed with living green, where bright, gleaming berries glistened amidst crisp leaves of ivy, holly and mistletoe ... a mighty flame roared up the chimney, and out into the chilly air, threatening the stockings hung with great care ... in a corner stood a beautiful spruce, trimmed with sparkling lamps and shiny ornaments of all sorts, heaped beneath it lay piles of gifts, bound together with ribbons and bows ... in the kitchen sat poultry and great joints of meat, mince-pies, plum-puddings, long wreaths of sausages, barrels of oysters, red-hot chestnuts, cherry-cheeked apples, juicy oranges, luscious pears, immense twelfth-cakes and seething bowls of punch, that made the room dim with delicious steam ... on the couch sat Henry's mother and father, glaring proudly at a tiny baby rocking in a cradle at their feet ... "Who's child is that," stammered Henry ... "Why that's you," declared the Ghost, as a dull rap irrupted at the front door ... "My time has come and gone, and so for you," said the Ghost of Christmas Past ... "the Ghost of Christmas Present would now like some time with you" ... As Henry fearfully opened the heavy door, there stood an immense, albeit jolly Giant, with genial face and sparkling eyes, clothed in a simple robe bordered with snowy-white fur, who with a cheery voice proclaimed, "I am the Ghost of Christmas Present, sent here to remind you of those less fortunate than thee, and of those so desperately in need ... come go with me, and in all take heed" ... suddenly there sat Henry surrounded by gifts, while others had none ... his stomach bursting with food, as others begged for scraps ... resting in a warm house, dressed in the finest of clothes, while multitudes wandered homeless, naked and cold ... countless folks barely surviving in squalor and need, as Henry went about spoiled and ungrateful, his heart rotten with greed ... then near the Spirit's side stood a gaunt-eyed boy and a raggedly-clad girl ... "Who are they?" asked Henry ... "Why they are you, meet Ignorance and Want," said the rotund Ghost ... "Beware them both!" ... Henry could stand to see no more, and insisted the Spirit return him back where he had been before ... with a start, Henry was instantly back in his bed ... had this been a dream or no? ... or some poor, disturbed souls returned from the dead? ... he slept again ... Yet another Phantom silently crept 'neath the closed, bedchamber door, slowly approaching the foot of Henry's bed, like icy vapour spreading fright and doom ... shrouded in darkness, it's head and face concealed by misty blackness melding with the night, the frightful form rose to an imposing height ... the Spirit spoke not a word, as it lightly tapped Henry on the knee with an invisible, outstretched hand ... Henry bolted upright, as if unexpectedly seared by an icicle and cried, "am I in the presence of the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come?" ... the Spirit answered not with words, just motioned for the terrified lad to follow ... "are you about to show me shadows of things yet to happen, but will happen in time before us?" asked the frightened boy ... the Spectre seemed to so nod ... "then lead on," said Henry ... "the night is rapidly fleeing" ... at once they were walking down a quiet lane, when passing before the window of a modest tenement house, Henry noticed a group of sobbing children gathered round a sparsely-lit tree, sadly there were no gifts beneath, nary a one -- right away Henry realized that it was he that had stolen those dear babe's hopes and dreams ... straightaway he and the Shadow were legging it amid throngs of humanity on a bustling avenue, and there sitting precariously on the curb was an elderly, decrepit man, wearing dirty, threadbare clothes unbefitting of the intemperate weather, and clutched tightly in his bony, shaking hand was a rusty, tin can, with words scrawled down the side which read, "a penny for my thoughts, a nickel for some coffee, a dime for a slice of bread?" -- somehow Henry knew this unfortunate soul was he ... as they continued along the now dimly-lit street, at their side, just beneath a tiny Shoppe's shattered windowpane, lay a corpse draped with a bloody white sheet ... "Who is that?" Henry asked ... the Phantom was yet to speak, as Henry saw a kneeling policeman pull back that sheet, revealing the lifeless heap sprawled before him amongst the fragments of broken glass -- to Henry's shock and dismay, that pathetic pile was he, shot dead by that officer while trying to loot the place ... sickened to the core, Henry went forth at a quicker pace, only to find himself standing in a most solemn and dreadful place ... brisk wind blew swirls of dried leaves all about the listing, timeworn headstones, which marked the final resting place for various and sundry souls ... the lonesome cemetery felt eerily familiar, as the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come led him to the furthest corner, where it pointed out a solitary, unmarked plot ... "and who lies within, sir?" -- but the Ghost had abruptly departed, and Henry knew that within that forgotten tomb rested the bones of none other than Henry Beefeater ... he began to weep uncontrollably, until he thought his entire being would meltdown to nothing other than a lifeless pool of salty tears ... Henry again heard the rings from the courthouse clock, as he opened his eyes to the gradually, dawning light ... had it been but a nightmare, or no? ... he waited for a few tense moments, but no more Spirits did appear ... he hurriedly got dressed, grabbed all the money hidden under his mattress, then ran downstairs to greet his mother and father, giving them big hugs, along with his sister and brother too! ... he then loudly exclaimed, "Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year to all!" ... "I must hurry to the shopping mall, and purchase gifts for one and all, I've only a day or so afore the Yuletide doth befall" ... as he grabbed his coat and ran out the door ... Henry had the best day of his life ... buying gifts for family and friends ... food, clothing and toys to donate to those in dire need ... dropping cash and coins in every Salvation Army bell ringers' pail, even went out of his way to place a wad of money in an old man's tin can with words which read, "a penny for my thoughts, a nickel for some coffee, a dime for a slice of bread?" ... why ol' Henry had become as thoughtful and generous as that jolly fella named St. Nick ... the Beefeaters were finally granted their greatest wish -- at long last their son Henry had became the man of honour and character they had always hoped for and dreamed of ... Merry Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight! ... I want to take this opportunity to genuinely wish one and all ... friend and foe alike ... a very "Merry Christmas, and a Happy Holiday Season!" ... I pray that my story has brought you a few moments of enjoyment and laughter, may you have many more ... although written as a provocative parody of Charles Dicken's classic "A Christmas Carol" ... it is fraught with hidden truths relevant to all ... Above all else, my heart's desire is that all remember the true reason for the season ... "the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us" John 1:14 ... the celebration of the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ ... --sja

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

journalist jimmy smith talks baseball's designated hitter

what is so appealing about the designated hitter? if the designated hitter is so great, why are there no great national league designated hitters? and how does one get designated? and who does the designating? and where does the designated hitter stay while the designated hitter's team is in the field? and does the designated hitter have a glove contract with rawlings or wilson or somebody? if not, then the designated hitter is not a real baseball player. real baseball players must play in the field. shouldn't bat if not playing in the field. do designated hitters wear protective gear? are designated hitters allowed to enjoy seeds and gum from the team seeds and gum tray? and what does a designated hitter do when a game of pepper breaks out? if a designated hitter hits a ball in an empty stadium is a sound made? does someone hear this sound? can prove it? why are designated hitters big and burly and often fat? why not little scrawny designated hitters? singles hitters. what atlanta braves player would make a good designated hitter? and what could the atlanta braves get for that uh, player in trade with an american league team? ten toes for six toes, so to speak. could be a rumor. and until the designated hitter is banned from baseball this economy is not likely to return to health. as goes baseball, so goes the country.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

economist/journalist jimmy smith talks economics on a haircut blog

jimmy smith has a solution for the economic problems now being faced. read on . . . the economic mess this country is in . . . how did it happen? jimmy smith remembers when folks began to favor foreign automobiles. they bought and they bought foreign cars . . . and where did the money go? overseas. atlanta once had three automobile assembly plants and now atlanta has none. the once-big-three barely hang-on. chrysler needed a government bailout - only to be acquired by the germans. growing up, jimmy smith remembers everyone had a favorite pickup truck - be it ford or chevy. and everyone had a loyalty to a gasoline brand - gulf, or texaco, or standard, or amoco, or sinclair, or pure, or . . . and how many brands remain? and how many that are left are american owned? not gulf (bp). not amoco (american oil company, right?) . and all this foreign oil . . . watching our money go overseas to people that don't like us is not reasonable. and congress is impotent. and beer, yes, beer . . . budweiser, and miller, and coors . . . now foreign owned. really, really, impotent. millions of illegals consuming and consuming and consuming our resources - working for american wages - and sending their paychecks back home. that money is leaving the united states, too. and all this buying goods from china - while american owned companies are forced to close . . . americans are allowing the country's wealth to go out the window. even the 7-11 is foreign owned (true, has been managed by foreigners forever). and a good humor bar is no longer american. and who makes nestle's crunch? hmmm . . . and who brags on american cheese anymore? now, jimmy smith, being ugandan, has no grudge against foreigners but enough is enough. soon, our banks and investment houses will be owned by foreigners. we finance now with foreign capital. we buy foreign airplanes and all the while our aircraft industry falters. our troops wear uniforms made in china. every decent piece of electronics comes from japan, jimmy smith remembers the first transistor radios from japan - made from an old tin can. quite frankly, america is letting its wealth get away. the oil fiasco is significant case in point. and now the crux of this post . . . what can be done? jimmy smith sees parallels with the grand old game. fix the game and fix the economy! To wit: (1) eliminate the designated hitter. things have not been right in this country since introduction of the designated hitter. (2) no more wild card and 5-game playoff series. threw everything off kilter. (3) regular season inter-league play must end. something is and has been wrong about this. these simple steps, along with an entirely new congress and a re-written tax code, might right the wrongs now being suffered. this is enough for now. jimmy smith will not go into what jimmy smith thinks about a braves season with 90 losses.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Plato's Place

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hello all
Plato's Academy
The Old Barbershop, circa 300 b.c. ... its first proprietor was also the founder of the Democratic Party though I understand he didn't attend this year's convention, some say it was due to gas prices but, I don't think he was invited ... nice fellow by the name of Democritus, though his shop didn't really start out having no name. Methinks you'll recognize the names of some the lead barbers during those early days: Anaxagoras, Empedocles, Parmenides, Xenophanes, and Socrates. Plato watched Socrates who taught him everything he knew about cutting hair ... turned the shop over to Plato and went fishing with Isaac Newton. Plato designed a complete set of new bowls ... of different sizes and shapes, and some high quality cutting tools too ... truly an advancement in the technology of the day ... and, man could he cut hair ... that was in about 387 b.c., based on some of his manuscripts recently sold on EBAY, that were so dated. He got so famous that the shop became known as Plato's Place, and the lead barbers that followed were famous too ... Speusippus, Xenocrates, Polemon, Crates, and Crantor ... every one a member of the Barbering School Hall of Fame. Aristotle was a long time patron, cut a good head of hair, and made the hall too, but was never the Place's lead barber. Arcesilaus bought out Plato's Place in 265 b.c. ... remodeled and renamed it "The New Barbershop" ... ever since then, folks have referred to Plato's Place as "The Old Barbershop" ... it was before my time but folks say Plato hung a sign over the door to his Place ... "No free Hair Cuts" ... no, methinks that was something Polonius said to Laertes ... Plato's sign supposedly read "Let no one who cannot think geometrically enter". We looked for that sign all over shop ... even under the floor and in the attic ... never did find it ... but, back in the Back Room under all the trash was a battered old sign ... so caked with dirt and crud that you couldn't even tell it was a sign ... not until we used some ST37 to clean it up ... "No Free Hair Cuts" ... it's true! we checked the county records and they show that Laertes owned the old barbershop long before John bought it. Dang! Double Dang!! Well that's a mighty valuable artifact ... and it would be neat to use it, but like Cato's father, John thought it best that we hone our skills and get more patrons before adopting such a rule. Most folks would've been satisfied but finding that old sign really piqued my interest and I renewed the search for other treasures ... more money in finding such things than in barbering, methinks ... and besides, no folks to get mad when you snip off a piece of their ear. I finally found what I was looking for ... that's right, the ancient old sign that Plato hung up in the shop, back when it first opened ... "never give up" ... no, that's what I say, not the sign ... the sign reads "Let no unfair or unjust person enter" ... well, that's not exactly what folks thought it said ... but it was Greek to them so they didn't really know. It's been said by some, and I'm sure thought by others, that I live in an Ivory Tower ... 'tis true! ... No, not that I live in a tower made of ivory, though George would say that's better than pearl ... but that some have so said, as others have so thought. Yes, I misuse and abuse the language ... sometimes even intentionally ... but, even were that not the case, folks usually see and hear what they expect and/or desire. Where am I headed? ... only Mr. Cranston knows for sure, and he hasn't told me a thing ... there may be some misdirection for effect, but chances are it'll simply be me getting my bearings and changing course ... gee, haw, mush, whoa!
Please download Java(tm). Sometimes I think all great thoughts have done been thunk ... and all great deeds done been did ... Methinks it's as easy to become victimized by an overwhelming sense of irrelevance as it is by an unwarranted sense of relevance or self-importance ... I'm not sure which claims more victims, but there are a whole bunch of us that have tasted both ... that's for sure! ... I've been thinking some about history ... The Christmas Stealer is writing about it ... The "Weed's" dad is teaching it ... and we're all living it, whether or not we so realize. And, from a baseball perspective, it appears that the Braves are it ... history. What we are, we are ... what we've been is history ... what we're going to be ... and do ... is history waiting to be written. As a result of what is, it's anticipated that massive changes are in store for the Braves ... we've already had some ... Tex and Kotsay are history ... we're seeing others ... and more are yet to come, or so methinks ... Conventional wisdom? ... bah, humbug! ... Dang, Double Dang! ... Oh the humanity!! ... There's nothing wrong with the Braves!! With the injuries, we could use some pitching perhaps, but we can win it all, mostly with what we've got ... it's not a matter of money ... the talent hasn't disappeared ... it's the heart, soul, leadership and those things above the neck that need fixing! We're still on the outside looking in ... but, close your eyes, use your ken ... there's nothing wrong with your vision, the picture's crystal clear ... No, I don't think this is about baseball ... maybe, but rather what we've been ... what we are ... and what we can or will be. Mama always said ... and Daddy agreed ... first impressions are important, only in that they're hard to overcome ... and Daddy emphasized that it may take a man some time to establish his good reputation ... but only a moment to destroy it! I can attest to the validity of that ... and so can many of you, including Bobby Cox and the Braves, methinks ... at least one or two Understood perhaps by few, and rejected by those who are victims of an unwarranted sense of self, is that we ourselves are the ones most responsible for the perceptions held of us by others ... Regarding the changing of perceptions held by others, Mama said "tain't easy McGee" Fibber McGee... after the 'Fibber' ... "but, telling folks they're wrong is a knife that ain't gonna cut soft butter, much less the cake" ...
Speaking of which ... I can attest to that too ... My abilities at self-expression are admittedly limited, and my bouts of "hoof-in-mouth" disease are infamous in some circles ... as are my attempts to explain my intent and/or rationale ... but, underpinning it all were and are good intentions, at least I so rationalize, and do certainly so hope ...
No, tain't easy McGee, but it's a ride that's been worth the taking, methinks ... and I'm appreciative of all who have tried to understand ... I'm especially appreciative of the few crazies who have an understanding and appreciation of my distorted sense of humor and what I sometimes try to seriously convey ... and all the resulting friendships, goodness ... This isn't where I was headed ... how did I get here? ... or is it hear?
Yes, the insights, imagination and wit of the Ugandan journalist of Cordele ... these are among my most favorite things. Like the wonderful Sarah Cannon said more often than Redundant Robert debased Bobby Cox, "Howdeeee! I'm jest so proud to be here!" with these two unbelievable talents ... and if that sounds contrived to you, then kiss my grits! No, I wouldn't wish my grits on anyone ... I don't eat 'em myself ... but, it's true, every word, give or take a lie or two!
Some may wonder, given his history, how it is that "sja" received total and unequivocal acceptance from Bob, journalist ... he who demanded strict adherence to a standard of behavior deemed unrealistic by most ... while others did not? Have you ever pondered that? ... I'm sure some have ... their conclusions would be most interesting ... Could be it's because we're so much alike ... or maybe that opposites attract .. I'll never tell ... We're all unique ... it's just that John and Jimmy are so much more unique than others! It's hard to comprehend such creative genius ... but it's awfully easy to enjoy! ... The original Bob, journalist was far more of a character than a mask ... though that was never understood, for better or for worse, regardless of repeated efforts to make it clear. However, the preoccupation with the importance of understanding meaning, motivation and intent rather than words was, and is, me. That I psychoanalyze is both a misconception and a joke ... indeed, it's something about which I know nothing ... but I do know the "why" is usually more important than the "what" ... as is effective use of the third eye and ear more important than the use of the other two, or so methinks. Excluding those most severely victimized by an overwhelming sense of irrelevance, most of what the majority of us do is either agenda or self-interest driven ... that's both good and bad depending on how well it's kept in proper perspective, or so I honestly believe ... of course I do support some agendae, oppose others ... stand up, stand up I say ... for that in which you believe ... better that than staying seated, methinks ... the King of England and taxes you know. It seems to me that among those many forces deep down inside that causes John to be what he is ... is a true blue, foursquare compulsion ... God didn't pass that around to everybody. For some, nay for many, friendships are a matter of convenience ... friends are but bedfellows based on agenda, and when the chips are down or adversity must be faced, those folks come up short, or at least those friendships become fractured ... not so with John ... John has that compulsion while most of us do not ... perhaps he does because we don't ... I believe we should, but I'm not sure it's a reasonable expectation. Compulsion or no, my friendships are not agenda based, and I treasure my friends ... all of them ... I'm somehow reminded of having once been told of someone's disappointment in my liking folks who didn't like them ... 'twas the wrong thing to say! ...
I talk a lot about mirrors and self-portraits ... the perception that others have is one thing, how we see ourselves is another. The notion of mirrors and ; Registration code (if you have it) ; Reglink opened in new frame? ; Name of new frame for reglink ; resolution (1-8) ; pause (value = milliseconds). ; Num. of horizontal tiles ; Num. of vertical tiles ; Num. steps for tile rotation (8 .. 32) ; Optional background image ; Red in background (0 .. 255) ; Green in background (0 .. 255) ; Blue in background (0 .. 255) ; Optional image over applet ; Over image X offset ; Over image Y offset ; Memory deallocation delay ; Task priority (1..10) ; Min. milliseconds/frame for sync Please download Java(tm). self-portraits ... seemed rather easy to grasp ... but, when you try to grab hold of it, things just ain't as simple as they might seem, ... danged if some self-portraits aren't almost photographic in their reproduction while some mirrors give distorted renderings of reality. It's not enough to just use any old mirrors for reflection ... they must be of the right stuff and kind. I talk a lot about things of which I know nothing too, but if I didn't, I wouldn't have anything to say ... it's another thing that differentiates John from most methinks ... His ability to reflect and look deep down inside ... and to be honest with himself ... is rare ... at least my experience has been that most either cannot or are unwilling to so do ... it is not coincidence that Polonius, a secondary character, is among the best remembered of the Bard's creations ... for his advice to Laertes ... to thine own self be true ... Most of us hear it ... then knowingly nod, hardly giving it another thought ... but, nothing much compares with it's profundity ... Why? Methinks it's because of recognition, not only of it's importance, but also it's rarity as an innate quality ... and for those who try, the difficulty lies within it's effecting ... I'm envious ... true blue and foursquare John .. who knows himself so well ... it's that for which I strive but fail ... It's true that I sometimes take license when referring to Mama ... but, my mother is the picture I try to paint ... she admonished me, it seems like 10,000 times, when I articulated my weaknesses, limitations and faults ... that's my boy you're talking about ... careful what you say! ... She did more than that when others joined in and articulated my weaknesses, limitations and faults! ... This was my perception of true blue and foursquare John ... but after so writing and reflecting, I'm not sure that I can answer the question ... but it was rather obvious that he was something other than how he was being perceived ... that he was honest, consistent and opposed to apathy was the impression I then shared with others. But, I can assure you that I am sure that he is that ... that, and oh so much more! ... John's my friend, Jimmy too ... so careful what you say! ... PoloniusMother knew Polonius ... and agreed with him too ... though she would loan anyone in need anything she had, without expectation of it being returned, including money. Like Houseman's wisdom ... Mama's words weren't truly appreciated until long after they were received .. though they were the topic of frequent discussion ... Being true to yourself ... knowing yourself .. the individual behind the many masks ... it's a rare gift, perhaps the rarest of all .. the trick methinks, is knowing how to use it ... Knowing who and what we are ... recognizing our limitations ... shortcomings ... and weaknesses ... that's power that the majority of humanity does not possess. Unfortunately, those few so gifted frequently turn it into a liability rather than an asset. They allow the realization of their limitations ... shortcomings ... weaknesses ... and past failures or rejections to give them fear of failure rather than confidence in success as it should ... and when adversity is encountered, they see history repeating itself ... oftentimes giving up in frustration rather than defining and addressing the problems ... Those who confuse self-portraits with mirrors admire themselves and blindly go forth with total confidence, for they believe they possess all the answers, usually surrounding themselves with non-threatening, kindred spirits ... they are the truly enlightened! ... Say it ain't so Joe! ...
Back to the trick ... Thanks to Prince Albert Gore's invention ... Internet's Fatherthat which he purloined from Vinton Cerf methinks ... everyone has a potential audience of millions ... nay, billions I say ... and with such potential, folks can easily get disciples and a flock, no matter what it is they're preaching ... Polonius ... Mama ... Jesus Christ ... and the Dalai Lama too ... they each said ... to thine own self be true! In plain talk, don't apostatize! Mama's admonishment was out of concern that I would allow critical self-evaluation to undermine my self-confidence, thus preventing me from being all that I could be ... and though I protested, methinks her concerns were probably well justified ... just think, I coulda been a contender ... I coulda been somebody! I'm uncertain of where I was going and not really sure of where I've been ... but here we are, right back where we started again ... Yes, "TheOldBarbershop" is about history too ... we are what we are as a result of our experiences ... history ... views ... interests ... memories ... stories ... decisions ... beliefs ... our likes and dislikes too ... all reflect our past history ... I hope others will share theirs with us ... in so doing, they'll be making history too ... TheOldBarbershop is diverse from most ... or I would so hope ... if not, you can rest assured that's it's soon going to be. "No Free Hair Cuts Here" ... well, maybe one or two, but everybody carries his weight ... but our sign, all polished up and ready to be hung, is the one methinks Plato first so did, right here in the shop some 875,000 days ago, give or take a few ... "Let no unfair or unjust person enter." No, we ain't replacing no mirrors ... though we're going to watch them close ...Jimmy, John and Me and if you can't think geometrically, that's okay ... the three of us can't cut hair neither, were it not for the bowls, but as you can see ... it was that or jail for Jimmy, John and me! It's done wonders for us too ... I've slept at the Holiday Inn twice, methinks John's becoming more famous than Chill Wills and jimmy smith is now a serious contender for the Presidency! Which one is which? ... Mr. Cranston ain't talking and my lips are sealed but now who do you think might have a whig to throw in the ring?
We truly love baseball and our team(s) and that will always be on the agenda ... but for goodness sake, there are so many Braves' blogs already out there ... and Tigers ... and Mets ... and Yankees ... and Cards ... and Orioles too, just to name a few ... The Proprietor's vision is to feature a flow of diverse topics such as world affairs, politics, religion, tall tales, current events, true stories pertaining to actual life events and sports, including the Braves ... topics that aren't presently being discussed on most of the other sites, and those which may not be warmly welcomed on many others ... topics such as those you might find if you walked into an old barbershop on a busy Saturday morning ... just a friendly and lighthearted atmosphere, with everyone being equal ... simply a place where folks feel welcome and comfortable discussing whatever might be on their minds ... a place that ultimately stands on no other foundation than that of the strength of it's characters and quality of it's content ...
I strongly share and support this vision ... and while implementation will dynamically evolve, his original greeting was truly inspired ... "Welcome to "TheOldBarbershop" ... characters with character preferred, ladies too ... please take a seat and wait your turn ... leaf through a magazine or shoot the breeze with a friend ... when it's your turn in the barber's chair, be ready to share an interesting story, a tall tale or whatever is on your mind ... tips encouraged and appreciated ... no topic off-limits ... if you can't behave, use profanity, pick fights or spit on the floor you will politely be shown the door" ... John's GrandDad ... Cato's Father ... Little Walter ... jimmy smith ... Blue Worms and Baby Seals ... Little HillBilly ... "Let no unfair or unjust person enter." That means we welcome all beliefs and points of view ... just keep it fair and keep it just ... that's a must! No free haircuts except on special occasions but the candy's always on the house! No matter the grandiloquence, regardless the form ... this is what "TheOldBarbershop" is to me ... this is where my passion lies ... it's of little significance whether we have a multitude of visitors each day ... or just a few ... as one good friend said, "to thine own self be true, to hell with the naysayers!"
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The Thinker Do you know me? The intended purposes of this post are two fold ... (1) give folks a better idea of how the layout works and why I'm interested in using it ... and (2) to address my having requested help from the "Braves' Beat Blog" and "?Braves 'n Stuff", including the responses of Carolina Lady and Savannah Guy. Although there are but the two "posts" shown here, "The Old Barbershop" aka "Plato's Place" ... and this one "The Request For Help", hopefully you can see that this format allows us to feature multiple posts at one time ... as many as we like(i.e. the earlier "The Grand Old Game" Post could have been 6 different posts) ... and you will note that the comments all go the same place ... facilitating our having several topics being discussed at the same time in the Barbershop ... consistent with our vision and toward which we're aiming ... much ado perhaps, but it's one of the reasons for us to use this format on occasion. The Proprietor's Greeting lets folks know up front what we're about, and that for which we strive, and I hope those who choose to frequent the Shop will enjoy their visits, join in and help us make it the place that he envisioned. Enjoy!
#Without going deeply into the details, the development of my "The Old Barbershop" Post was both fun and frustrating ... fun because it allowed me to prove to myself that my limited skills, while in total disrepair and outmoded, could still be called from their recesses ... thanks to the help of books and the miracle of online resources. Folks know I mostly work off brain triggers, and it was fun to let my brain take the wheel and just follow where it took me ... and then the frustration started when I tried to write a script where you too could enjoy the ride. I couldn't do much, certainly nothing fancy, but It was also fun to embed applets, videos and polls into the body of the Post ... and hide stuff, that could be called upon command. That is was intended to be humorous is partially reflected in the Applet on the second page where the third of my great thinkers ... the one following Einstein and Descartes, is my father as a young man ... truly the only thing really meant to be esoteric ... but, even my brother missed it and had to be told. It was fun, but, Jimmy, John, Cato, Matt and others know of the frustration too, ... as I solicited their help on more than one occasion during the development of the first of the Posts "The Grand Old Game" ... proudly thinking that I had 'er done, I was taken aback when I tried to view it in Internet Explorer but couldn't. After much frustration, asked Cato and others to take a look and give me their feedback ... Here's the relevant part of one of my emails requesting help, back in late July ... "Would appreciate a small favor ... when convenient, would you take a look at the work site ... and tell me what you see and encounter ... it's obviously still a few days off at best ... but need to know what you see ... what I see is drastically different, depending on the computer, browser and OS used ... and I don't want to proceed without having a better idea of what folks will see. Thanks!" The responses received covered different things as the problems depended primarily on the browser, OS, and Screen Resolution of the user's computer. Cato was one of the first to respond ... "In Netscape, what I see is your article 'The Grand Old Game', text that covers a lot of ground, and pertinent photos. In IE, on both of my computers, I see nothing except the word 'TEST' and a comments option - - no article. My explanations range from full moon to empty moon, but none are authoritative. Cato The changes that had to be effected were significant and as one problem was resolved, it seemed another would rear its ugly head. John was so concerned that he asked on more than occasion if it was worth the effort, especially given my situation. Methinks it was ... but that's for others to decide... it took from late July to 17 August to resolve enough of the issues to feel reasonably comfortable publishing that first Post, though it's level of performance and compatibility was far from that intended. I've long been asking for help ... one thing's for sure, those requests weren't attempts to advertise or promote the shop! Perhaps much ado, for it wasn't that well received ... and those things thought to be obvious and/or self explanatory, were usually totally missed and/or misunderstood ... as were the real purposes of the post. Indeed, most thought it was but one page ... never read the second, and never saw the buttons for access to the other hidden sections.
The ThinkerShoes, Corns and Bunions ... How many different shoe sizes are there? Hard to say, what with all the different systems and variances by manufacturer... but, it doesn't really matter, I say if the shoe fits, ... wear it! One thing's for sure, for every size there are a whole bunch of folks wearing 'em ... problem is, footprints, like fingerprints are rather unique and as a result, a whole bunch of folks have corns and bunions too, Jimmy will vouch for that. If the shoe fits, ... then wear it, but do try it on first. That's especially true for custom shoes ... what looks to be a perfect fit for us or someone we know, may have been designed for someone else ... Tables are like shoes, methinks ... when I say table, some folks see a black maghogany, English Chippendale ... others, a walnut Sheraton ... or maybe a Hepplewhite, and no doubt some, a modern three legged thing, painted white with a glass top ... we see what we want to see, and sometimes what we don't. I once wrote a piece for the paper on Chippendale Furniture ... and, in order to meet the deadline, I called it in ... it caused quite a ruckus ... for everywhere I had said Chippendale, it read "Chip and Dale" Modern Art is like shoes too ... lots of folks are quick to tell you what it means but 'bout the only one who really knows is the artist and they're usually dead ... Shoes, tables, and art interpretation ... things with which one should not trifle ... unless you like corns and bunions. I know,"there he goes agan" ... more recondite musings ... No, it's just that private input from some of our friends of longstanding acquaintence seems to suggest that the much of the humor in my Post was pointed and directed at specifc individuals ... and that my intent and purpose lay within the onion layers. While that may appear to be the case ... and though my name isn't Joe, I was just telling you that it ain't so! ... and in the few cases where the humor is pointed, it's usually aimed at folks other than imagined. Enjoy!
Had folks gone to the second page, they would have seen ... "With all that's been going on, I ask you ... is there any wonder that the establishment of "The Old Barbershop" has gone largely unnoticed? It's only natural, what with no time for haircuts and such. Well, let's chew that rag a bit and find out what characters with character think about this baseball soap opera ... Is it really necessary that some player, coach, umpire or unfortunate fan die or become permanently injured? ... how many close calls and minor injuries have there been? ... and how many more must there be? They've found the simple and easy answer ... blame it on the Maple ... me, I blame it on vested interests and the mentality ... for the problem and the risk has long been obvious, as has their exacerbation ... and yet nothing has been done. In the coming days and weeks ahead, we'll also look back at the events of from 2002 forward ... Barry and BALCO ... the Senate Hearings ... The Mitchell Report ... Roger and Brian ... and finish where we started, ... with Barry ... should be interesting. Yes, the Old Barbershop's liable to get a mite busy over the coming days ... the boss might even have to add some chairs and start taking reservations 'cause we're gonna be scouring the countryside, here, there and everywhere ... Mexico, Japan ...even the Office of the Commissioner ... looking in the nooks and crannies and under all the rocks ... for thinking beyond their ken, Characters with Character who might enjoy visiting and sharing their thoughts on these and other issues currently facing the grand old game" Apologies for the redundancy, for those who've read the old post ... the current version has slightly diferent rhetoric ... but, yes, the Post called for discussion on the "Shattering Bats issue and outlined the plan to broaden our audience beyond that being sought by the blogs just focused on tthe Braves ... seeking Characters with Character from "here, there and everywhere ... Mexico, Japan ... even the Office of the Commissioner" ... our interest is Global, and relative to baseball ... while we follow and love the Braves, not limited to any specific team ... and certainly we're not targeting current Braves 'n Stuff participants. It also proved that, with some work, we could feature several Posts at the same time, different Barbers and Patrons, with the all comments flowing to the same place ... thus facilitating the atmosphere desired for the Shop. Indeed this piece, albeit simplistic, illustrates that possibility. However, additional testing was needed before launching any plan for reaching a broader audience ... first and foremost, modifications needed to be made to the template so that multiple script driven posts could be accessed by patrons at the same time ... I also wanted to introduce some applets ... browser issues were still being identified, and the shop still was being viewed as just another Baseball Blog. Thus, came the second of the Posts: "The Old Barbershop" ... again, fun and frustration ... choosing the "great thinkers" was a hoot, as was making a "barbershop" of Plato's Academy ... and, among other things, it gave me an opportunity to laugh at myself and to express my great admiration and respect for my two colleagues ... to test the applets, the polls, and just have some fun. It was simpler than the first post as there were no large hidden sections but, the frustration was even greater, as John and others can attest. Needless to say, there were and are many compatibility problems ... as there are so many combinations to consider. When I thought I had it ready, I again contacted those who had earlier responded with helpful input and we found that, among other things, it wouldn't even load on John's computer ... while on mine, it would freeze and crash when leaving a page containing an applet ... and on another, the hidden video on the fourth page started playing when the Post was first loaded, and of course, there problems when both Posts were up at the same time. I did my best to solve the problems we identified ... roughly 80% and, as most know, finally published the Post a couple of days ago.
The ThinkerFishing Holes ... Without question, the Old Barbershop needs and would enjoy a broader audience and it's understandable that some have, and others will, concluded that my requesting assistance from the Braves Beat Blog and Braves 'n Stuff was for the purpose of advertising and promoting The Shop ... and pragmatically, that result may have to some extent been acheived. Certainly it's common practice to advertise and promote blogs on Braves 'n Stuff, ... as others have so done but the old barbershop (this one, not the Academy) opted at the outset not to advertise on either ... didn't even publicly give out the URL ... and had never so done ... that's never ... choosing instead to directly contact those for whom we had, or were able to obtain, email addresses ... who we thought might enjoy the further scribblings of jjs, sja, and me ... or otherwise have an interest in staying in touch, inviting them to participate to the extent of their interest in so doing. Some accepted the invitation, some declined, while others didn't respond ... and the converse is true ... all who were invited were folks with whom we thought we would enjoy blogging and/or staying in touch ... and still do. That's important to consider for had I not been made to feel uncomfortable and my presence unwanted by certain elements, I would still be actively blogging with the Carolina Lady. There was and is no real reason to "advertise" on Braves 'n Stuff ... we truly do hope those friends will choose to frequent the shop on occasion, but simply put, we have no interest in seining a small pond what's done been fished ... and to continue to "advertise" to folks what's done been invited would be doing exactly that. Admittedly, there was possibly some marginal utility in so doing on The Beat Blog where we had many friends but few addresses ... We think we're truly different from the other baseball blogs, or at least that's the vision ... roughly half of the posts cover something other than baseball and/or the Braves. We have a somewhat broader focus and as indicated in the "Grand Old Game" Post, ... we would like to attract new fish from other bodies of water. My recent request for assistance may have been ill conceived, but was exactly that... a request for help. No, my interest was not in advertising there ... never did ... and didn't ... had that been our interest, our strategy would have been quite different ... to otherwise think is to not think, methinks. I'm told that the truth will set you free ... so will a corrupt jailer, if he get's his price ... best to rely on the truth ... and that's it.
While receiving good input from family and friends, we recognized that our audience is currently so limited that there is no possible way to cover more than a fraction of the possible configurations in our efforts to address the problems, regardless of folks' desire to help ... so I imposed upon both the Beat Blog, ... my first visit since leaving ... and "Braves 'n Stuff" ... asking for help in identifying the problems. The need for help was and is real and the request sincere ... answering the unasked question, those two blogs were selected because I'm not an active blogger and it's there where I'm known, for better or for worse. I noticed on Braves 'n Stuff that Berigan had just published the lead post ... so I commented and included my request for help ... good, bad or ugly. For those of you having no interest, the rest of the page is what I posted. September 17, 2008 at 3:32 am Nice Post Lincoln Man … how’s your father doing? I’m seriously and sincerely envious of how well you tied it together … but we must agree to disagree on a couple of points … first, I’m not sure we know the WS winner will come out of the AL, but if it does, I would like it to be Tampa Bay. Second, the notion that we “just can’t predict injuries” … those which our players incurred were far more predictable than one might imagine … but those responsible for strategy and risk management would have us otherwise believe. I like too, your choice of words, especially “semi educated guess” … being semi educated, I can relate. You won’t believe it but I just posted something on the Beat blog, a little earlier in the evening. First time to even go there since leaving but needed their help as I do those of you here on Braves & Stuff. Here’s pretty much what I told them … though most of you already know … Jimmy Smith, sja and I are at the old barbershop … a blog powered by Blogger … http://www.theoldbarbershop.com. I’ve just written and published my second post for the site “The Old Barbershop”, and while I designed some web sites back in the day, … I’m only now beginning to realize how much their appearance and performance depend on each person’s operating system, browser, monitor resolution, and plugins … not to mention Internet connection. There are so many variations, and with our currently limited audience, it’s virtually impossible for us to identify, and/or anticipate potential problems or discrepancies… even with everyone’s help … and so the intrusion … Sorta like the injuries, huh? … only different! I would appreciate any and all who might have time and feel so inclined … to visit TheOldBarbershop and look at the two posts … “put them through their paces” and report back any and all problems you might encounter. Your feedback is important, even if you experience no problems … for we need to know that too … and regardless, please include your operating system, browser, monitor resolution, and Internet connection information with your comments … if you know that information. All of my email addresses are still valid but you can also email me (bob@theoldbarbershop.com) or use the “anonymous” option to submit your input/comments if you so choose. And, should you have the time, the shop’s Proprietor (sja), journalist jimmy smith (jjs), along with Columnist Baby Seal and I would enjoy having you stay a few extra minutes … just visit a spell … let us know what how you’re doing, each of you … Mestillthinks we’re all unique, regardless of what Lady Macbeth may have said about the milk of human kindness! … Thanks! That’s what I told them … and that’s what I’m telling you … Thanks for listening, and thanks in advance for your help. Berigan, as expected, was gracious ... and typical Berigan
The ThinkerThanks! ... In spite of the cavalier reception in some quarters, I've received a surprising level of relevant input, including some from unexpected sources ... and some good suggestions which will be given most serious consideration ... thanks to all who were kind enough to respond, including the cage rattler. As a result, the videos should soon be performing properly in most browsers and you'll likely be seeing some changes effected in the format ... perhaps in the fare as well. Lest it gets lost in all my musings ... we have no interest in competing with anyone for audience and there will be no prostitution of the vision for that or any purpose. Though we're flawed and may stumble from time to time, all characters of character are welcome, regardless of view ... a good Liberal is just as valued as a good Conservative ... perhaps even more so, based upon apparent supply ... goodness! For those so looking, that's intended as humor ... the point is that each will be treated with respect, regardless of view, ... with the demands placed upon one, placed upon us all ... and we hope everyone enjoys their visits to the shop. In response to one suggestion, those interested in presenting pieces for publication need but to contact me via email and the Author Search sidebar has been modified so as to facilitate that ... thanks! I hope folks noticed the hot link back on page one and enjoyed Eddy Arnold's rendition of the song that he wrote ... selected for a variety of reasons. Methinks it explains shoes, tables, and art interpretation ... corns and bunions too; better than I ever could ... that is, if you'll click on "the thinker" ... on pages 2, 3, and 4. Thanks again to everyone! Time to more forward ... mush
The Carolina Lady's apparent reaction was expressed as a general comment to the Blog and is best evaluated, according to your individual perspectives ... but it was disappointing and seemed sad I thought, for there was a time when she would have considered such a response as improper and ill mannered, and would have never so done, methinks. Specifically, her response was ... "Are there sites/blogs where I can post free advertising for Braves And Stuff?" ... to which Savannah Guy responded ... "CL, think the folks at the Daliy Kos, MoveOn.org or the Al-Jazeera blogs might like a little Braves talk and kindly advertise Braves and Stuff? Maybe post a link for us too? Being all about freedom of choice and open-mindedness, maybe they’d go for a little diversity of opinion and stuff" ... . Both the lady and the guy are certainly entitled to take any posture they desire but it is both disturbing and disappointing to have encountered such cavalier attitudes toward my request for help ... and perhaps unfairly, I can only conclude that both were designed to encourage the bloggers to follow suit and the request to be cavalierly dismissed. Folks will evaluate those comments, intended meanings and purpose for themselves ... but I would hope that after due consideration, the notion that my posting comments on either of the Blogs was for the purpose of advertising the Shop in an effort to obtain patrons is rejected ... I've already given you the real reasons ... but additionally, had we wanted to compete for the same audience, we would have long ago adopted a different strategy ... that too is for others to decide. I do hope we get the requested help ... at least from those of you who currently frequent the Shop, regardless of whether you comment or simply observe ... asking you folks for help certainly isn't advertising. We think we have a site worthy of your support, or will so strive, given the chance ... we're flawed and make mistakes but our motives are relatively pure, and the need is certainly real ... we really need your help ... it's your feedback that allows us to be the best barbershop in town.
Birth of a Post ... Regarding the shoes, tables, corns and bunions ... Mama never met a stranger nor anyone without some qualities she liked ... enabling her to be friends with most. I may not have inherited that as a trait but, I've had much the same experience and throughout my life, certain of my friends have had difficulty understanding how I could like those who didn't like them ... I guess it depends upon the basis of your friendships ... I've been referencing and explaining that since perhaps my third or fourth week's participation on the Braves' Beat blog ... privately and then publicly ... and more than once did it involve both of my current partners in crime, before any problems surfaced on that Blog ... and suggesting it should otherwise be, was always the wrong thing to say. The post didn't start out as it finished, few things do. There were no references to Plato's Academy ... didn't even know what it was or else I had forgotten. I felt bad that such a heavy load had been placed upon John and Jimmy as a result of my limited participation ... and was attempting to express my appreciation of them and their creative talents in a second post, using the same format as the first. I passed a first draft by John for his reaction which was typical John ... "it's fine but says too many nice things about me" ... and then proceeded to provide a critical evaluation of his work and his performance ... reminding me of Mama's "that's my boy, you're talking about, careful what you say" when I would do the same ... I changed it to "friend" and threw it back at him ... he laughed and it triggered a different direction for the post. For some reason, I had trouble completing the post and on one occasion, told John of my difficulty ... saying that I was about ready to give up ... "All the great thoughts have done been thunk" ... he sent me a couple of photos, including "the thinker" ... I thought it made a great opening line and it triggered the thought of including the applet of great thinkers ... but, when I began testing, it wouldn't load on certain systems, including John's ... so I need a different first page ... Carol was helping and in her search for pictures of the great thinkers, she found the picture depicting Plato's Academy ... something, with which I was unfamiliar ... but in looking at it and reading the document from which it came, my mind turned it into a barbershop because it was obvious that them boys needed haircuts and shaves ... and while I was unfamiliar with all but a couple of the referenced names, they became my barbers ... and so the story took shape ... needed something for that first page so that folks wouldn't get locked out of the Shop without options. The 3 Stooges is how I sometimes think of the three of us, ... not sure if it was John or Jimmy who first made the connection, or perhaps someone else ... but when I saw the poster at my favorite BBQ haunt, I knew it had to be included along with the great thinkers ... but its size suggested other use and I substituted my father's picture instead. It was a lark ... once the vehicle started rolling ... and as many from our current audience know us only through the Blogs, I suppose the trip does travel down familiar roads ... but hopefully, folks will find it humorous, with the original purpose held in tact ... I put John and Jimmy in the class of "Babe", the "Georgia Peach", and the "The Big Train" ... some boys are just better than others. There's hair to be cut, beards to be trimmed, shaves to be given and shoes to be shined ...
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