Tag Archives: CAB

Why Do I Love Baseball?

Originally posted on 17 January 2002 on www.philliesphans.com

Why do I love baseball? You might as well ask why do I breathe air? Baseball is a part of me.

The cold dampness of the NE begins to thaw each February as pitchers and catchers report.

Spring fever hits as camp breaks for the journey north.

The excitement of school ending is embellished because there is now more time to follow the game.

Labor Day signifies the ending of freedom as well as the unofficial close to the season (for most teams anyhow).

The respite the playoffs and Series provides from the real world quickly folds as winter sets in again.

Then we wait again for February.

Baseball has been flexible in my life. There was a time when we put together a game daily. Sometimes it was two of us with the right side of the field closed. Other times it was a full nine-against-nine.

When card collecting days passed, there was the fun of going to games for the social element. Whether it was to take in a Mets series at the Vet or season tickets @ Fenway, there were sights to see.

After the beer guzzling grew old, baseball still held for me. I realized the game makes me think. It provides an outlet for me critical thinking and number crunching.

I imagine that eventually I will reflect on the game as a connection to my youth.

Baseball has been there through it all.

Why do I love baseball? I love baseball because it has grown up with me (or I with it). We are inseparable. Baseball is a part of me.

Geocaching in South Jersey: A Global GPS Stash Hunt

Geocaching Article

Originally published in The Daily Journal on 13 December 2001.

There’s gold up there in them mountains. Well, maybe not, but there is hidden treasure about. It’s true. Right here in southern New Jersey are boxes of treasure.

Down the path, winding, twisting and checking. The receiver says you are close, but where is it? You check with your partner for a clue, but what direction did the three billy goats go?

In March 2000, the federal government descrambled the signals from several satellites. Doing so helped the accuracy of global positioning satellite (GPS) receivers. To celebrate, someone in Washington hid some toys and posted the coordinates to a news group. A few days later some folks had found it. A new passion was hatched.

People all over this world began hiding secret stashes and posting the coordinates on the Internet. As of now, there are 9,427 caches in 85 different countries. Pretty remarkable. The numbers are growing exponentially.

Geocaching, the name for this new sport/treasure hunt, can be done anywhere. Most caches are Rubbermaid or ammo containers. They are identified as caches, filled with goodies (directions, log book, toys, trinkets, etc.) and then hidden somewhere. The owner of the cache then posts the coordinates. The excitement is the hike to find the booty.

The treasure is just a novelty. You would think if you had the coordinates in hand this would be an easy thing, but guess again. Finding the entry to get to the coordinates can be interesting. I approached from the wrong side of a lake in Belleplain in my first hunt. That was not too bad, but later when I was close, really close, I realized I was on the wrong side of the Atlantic City Expressway. I did the proper thing and drove around.

Finding your first cache is exhilarating. A cache is supposed to have a log book so you can record you were there. Sign it; the owner will appreciate it. Some caches have cameras so you can snap a photograph. Most caches have goodies to trade. Whether they are small toys, foreign money or trinkets from the area, you are entitled to one if you leave something in its place.

Once home, you can log your experience at geocaching.com so others can see who have visited the local caches. There is just as much excitement in hiding a cache and following who discovers it. Some folks create puzzles to solve just to make the game that much more challenging.

Geocaching is entertainment for the entire family. Children are learning to read coordinates and compasses and chart a course. At the end of the hunt, they are rewarded with a prize. It’s hiking with a purpose.

So, when you are thinking about a present for that special someone and you just don’t know what to get, let me suggest a receiver (approximately $100-$500). You’ll more than receive your money’s worth. Your family will have a fun-filled activity, and you may even learn a thing or two.

Poor Language

Poor Language Article

Originally published in The Daily Journal on 18 October 2001.

“Because this election means so much more than it did before the tragedy on Tuesday, September 11.” This fragment appeared in campaign literature sent out by the NJ Democratic State Committee/2001 Victory for Bill Hughes, Jr. For me, it hurts his cause rather than helps it.

And so it is with so much that is written today. America has become lax in its writing.

“The reality is that rotating media does fail, both the drives and the media.” Media, of course, is plural and requires the verb do.

Not long ago, Pennsylvania’s license plate extolled the tagline; “You’ve Got a Friend in Pennsylvania.” To my ears one does not need to combine have and got to express where my friends are.

Another trend that has debased our language is what I call verbing. Verbing is the action of using a noun as a verb.

“I’m in need of an idea for a math bulletin board. I teach third grade and I want the board to be some sort of review of math facts. I plan on making it interactive with the students placing velcroed numbers on [it] to make problems. I’m stuck on a title or theme for the board. Any ideas?”

“In other words, no matter how many sales per square foot a retailer logs in the real world, a failure to reach out to customers online can mean that you’re in danger of being Woolworthed.”

It becomes great sport to find gaffes in print.

Microsoft goofed when it distributed mail that read, “Yes! Register my colleagues and I for the Microsoft Discovery Tour.”

A local company wrote to its employees, “This day provides you with an opportunity to have a child look up to you and be proud of what you do, or quote unquote, be their hero.” Yes, quote and unquote were written. Obviously, this notice was transcribed literally. The use of their as a possessive pronoun of child is equally troubling.

The Internet is a haven for improper English. Random House noted in a discussion of the word salubrious that it is often misspelled celubrious. This is why teachers emphasize the use of a dictionary. If you do not know how to spell a word, look it up!

Be careful, however, of what source you rely upon for spelling. “Here, here for Oakland” is not picked up by spell checkers as the San Francisco Chronicle learned recently. A much better source electronically is Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary.

Poor language usage is nothing new. George Orwell wrote a wonderful essay, Politics and the English Language in 1946 in which he described the state of the English language as “ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish.” He continued, “but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.”

Hear, hear.

Tax Rebates

Originally published in The Daily Journal on 30 August 2001.

Thank you Mr. President, Congress, and the IRS. I am looking forward to next week when I receive my rebate check.

There’s a lot of confusion about the rebate. Without a doubt, the government hopes the rebate checks will spur the economy on a bit. Yes, the economy is sagging right now. We knew it was coming and here it is.

But what should be remembered is that this rebate is money that was taken from you. It is your money!

A government is not supposed to make money. It is not a business. So when the Treasury Department finds more revenue than it needs to pay the bills, it is only right to return it to those who paid too much.

That includes you and me.

Three hundred dollars from millions of people could do much for the economy.

Our children are heading back to school and may need book bags, shoes or supplies.

Labor Day is Monday—lots of hot dogs and burgers could be had with our rebates. Maybe even a quick trip down to the shore.

Oh heck, let’s just head down to the mall and blow this thing. We could have some lunch, buy some CDs and load up at your favorite store.

Others may time their rebate with paying the bills. Perhaps the credit card with the lagging Christmas expenditures is ready to have a hunk taken from its balance.

If the early numbers are an indication, it sounds like most of us are not wildly spending our rebates. Perhaps we are heeding what we know intuitively. Maybe we are investing our rebates.

Many folks do not even have a savings account. Three hundred dollars would be a nice opening balance. Savings accounts provide money for times when you might need emergency money.

Planning for retirement is a worthy effort. Your rebate could open an IRA account that will set you on your way to retirement.

Investing in your home or car may be the sound thing to do presently. New storm windows may save you enough in your heating bills this winter to make this the way to go. A tune-up for the automobile may also reduce the wear and tear you experience.

Look into opening a dividend reinvestment plan (DRIP). This type of account allows you to regularly contribute to purchasing stock directly from the company. This cuts out the middlemen and thus saves commissions.

As for me, Mr. President, I thank you for returning my money. I appreciate a government that recognizes it cannot just take as much money as it wishes. I look forward to your budgets that will severely cut needless federal spending so I may keep even more of my money.

All-Star Game

Originally published in The Daily Journal on 12 July 2001.

Cal Ripken played his last All-Star game Tuesday in Seattle and Major League Baseball arranged to make it a memorable one. Before the first pitch, we had Cal moving to his old position at shortstop. We had interviews, tape from his minor league days, and Joe Buck, who appears to be Ripken’s personal biographer. Fox hit it big when Ripken launched a home run his first time up.

Before the start of the sixth inning, we heard his replacement announced. The game was stopped to honor Cal’s historical achievement (accomplished in 1995). All the players came out to greet him. Tony Gwynn, who was also honored, was subjected to questions about Ripken. To complete this spectacle, Ripken was named the game’s most valuable player.

Contrast this love-fest with the 1970 All Star game at the newly opened Riverfront Stadium. It was the bottom of the 12th inning. The score was tied. Pete Rose was standing at second when Chicago Cub Jim Hickman singled up the middle. Rose rounded third and sprinted for home.

Cleveland catcher Ray Fosse came up the line to take the throw. Rose fiercely collided with the catcher to score the winning run. The National League won its eighth consecutive All-Star game.

There was a time, not too long ago, that the All- Star game was an occasion for the players representing their respective league to play hard for bragging rights. Other than spring training and the World Series, the All- Star game was the only time the two leagues played each other. With the inter-league schedules, the movement of players on a regular basis, and the bonuses for making the team, the All- Star game has lost its luster. Some have even stated the Home Run Derby has surpassed the game.

All but one player played in Tuesday’s game. In that 1970 All-Star game, seven players did not make it into an extra inning game. The following year, the American League alone kept seven players on the bench to capture its only win between ’63 and ’82.

The storyline the networks present interferes with the game.

Substitutions are not announced and pitches are not shown because there is an interview in the dugout or tape from long ago played. The game is the background for the story. Shame on baseball.

Historical achievements are usually honored after a player’s career has ended. On Tuesday, we began the farewell tour of this year’s retirements. One can only expect more victory laps as September approaches.

Baseball fans, however, will focus on the pennant race. Let’s go, Phils!

Senator Torricelli

Originally published in The Daily Journal on 24 May 2001.

In the early 1980s, Joe Piscopo built his career at the expense of New Jersey (“I’m from Joisey. Are you from Joisey? What exit?“).

The armpit of America was the battle cry across the land.

In recent weeks, The Sopranos, a fictional cable television show, has again given New Jersey a sour taste in others’ minds. We apparently are nothing more than a bunch of mobsters here.

Yet, it is hard to fault those who pick upon us when we elect folks who do so little for us and so much to reinforce the stereotypes.

Robert Torricelli, now the senior senator from the Garden State, is the focus of a federal investigation that twice in the past weeks barnstormed county political offices to seize memoranda, files, and other evidence of possible wrongdoing from his 1996 campaign.

“I think there is a concern about the dignity of the Senate,” stated Torricelli, 16 January 1999.

Indeed. The dignity of the Senate and our fair state is at stake. This is not a late-night comedy skit or concern over a television show. This is real life. Torricelli’s problems reflect upon all of us.

There was a time when the senator was on all the Sunday morning talk shows and at the Capitol’s microphones sounding off about impeachment. We should have known.

An investigation does not make a man guilty. It does, however, say plenty that our senator cannot keep the appearance of impropriety from splashing the front pages. Perhaps there is a reasonable explanation for the Rolex, the suits, and the quick money made on that IPO at his buddy’s bank. Nevertheless, he has brought shame upon us.

James Madison wrote, “It is a misfortune incident to republican government . . . that those who administer it may forget their obligations to their constituents, and prove unfaithful to their important trust.”

The obligation, Sen. Torricelli, is to represent New Jersey and her citizens in a manner that commands trust. Federal investigations do nothing to instill trust.

Newsweek this week details a senator who pales in Madison’s description: tirades against other senators, jet-setting with the rich and famous, politics to enact personal revenge, and disturbingly similar politics from his college days (http://www.msnbc.com/news/575933.asp) The senator now refuses public appearances to duck the storm.

In a time when our young are so in need of men and women to respect, it is unfortunate that New Jersey elected a man who is derelict in his responsibility.

Let us not forget our obligation in 2002 to elect a senator who will make New Jersey proud.

Spring Training

01-02-15 Spring Training

Originally published in The Daily Journal on 15 February 2001.

Fresh-cut grass — a hint of warmth in the air— newly-lined base lines — the snap of leather — the crack of the bat.

It’s early, spring training has yet to begin, but many are eager for the national pastime to begin. It’s a ritual. We long for our childhood. We know it’s over, however, as spring approaches, we long for the pitchers to take to the mound, the fielders their positions, the batter his place, and the umpire to call, “Play ball!” We remember our childhood.

It was 30 years ago when I first saw a professional ball game. I was entranced by the sight of the field from behind the 300 level at the Vet as we entered.

It was the time when there were twilight doubleheaders, 50-cent seats for children, and the immortals still roamed the diamond.

Roberto Clemente was my favorite player, only because my father told me he was so good. Yes, in those days fathers and sons enjoyed a game together.

My friend, David, and I reveled as the organist played the “Charge” theme. It was childhood and all was perfect.

Baseball still connects us to this time. Our adult lives seldom seem as carefree as the time we would spend all day playing the game, even if right field was closed because we did not have enough players. Yet spring offers us a respite from reality as we float back to our bubble-gum cards and the idolization of our superstars.

In spring, our team is in first place and hope abounds. I long for the first game in order to begin anew what brings such happiness … score keeping.

My mother taught me how to score. I have long lost the scorecards from the Carlton-thrown and Schmidt-whacked games of my youth. Oh, but to re-live those games.

Yet, each year, I break out my scorebook and begin again the passion. Keeping score connects a fan to the game unlike any other activity. One re-plays the game with the same passion that the swing of the bat and the toss of the ball originally brought. Non-scorers do not quite understand.

There is no “right” way to score. Some record only the result of the batter. Others track each and every pitch. Whatever the method, a scorecard is as magical as the hot dog and the caught foul ball.

As you hear of the pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training, treat yourself to a visit to a sporting goods store to buy a scorebook.

Spend a few minutes looking over the recommended method the book provides and then tune into the game of the week.

Childhood is back.

Wise Decisions

00-12-28 Wise Decisions

Originally published in The Daily Journal on 28 December 2000.

Christmas is over. Many of us are back to work. The superfluous gifts that did not quite have the oomph you thought they would still sit in their boxes unused.

As January arrives, so will the credit card bills. You can contemplate your extravagance as you write your checks. Once again you resolve to manage your finances better for the coming year and cut out frivolous purchases.

Buck up, you can handle this situation. What’s more, apparently you are not alone. News reports indicate that many folks run up unimaginable debt during the holidays each year. Unfortunately, it is not just individuals, but our government as well.

President-elect Bush, although a conservative, has proposed immense spending for his coming administration. Granted, Congress has to sign off on his desires, but Republicans will be quick to push through his measures and the Democrats, well, they always enjoy spending our tax dollars.

Educationally, school vouchers will come to the forefront soon. No matter where you stand on the issue, the inclusion of federal tax dollars into public education is never a good idea. Additionally, Bush plans to establish a $3 billion technology fund for schools to purchase computers and other devices, $5 billion for reading programs for elementary schools, $500 million for schools that “improve” student performance, $2.4 billion for states that put together teacher-accountability programs, $30 million to re-train military personnel to educators, and vouchers for schools to enact after-school programs.

Unless the staff is trained, computers are dust collectors. Bush’s reading program is to ensure all students can read by third grade. Is it not obscene what elementary schools currently spend cannot guarantee that result now?

Merit pay for schools sounds nice. Methinks, however, it will produce more money for schools already making the grade, thus increasing the gap between the rich and the poor. If public education works under a system that does not currently have teacher-accountability programs, then there should be an outcry over what districts spend on observations and evaluations.

So, as you shake your head at the numerous charges from Toys ‘R Us, Best Buy, and Wal-Mart, resolve to do better in 2001. But also resolve to hold our elected officials to the same frugality. We do not need our government wasting our hard-earned money on feel-good measures that are not likely to fulfill their objectives.

Prediction for 2001: Recession will set in by summer. Can we afford to squander all this on a matter that is but a state responsibility?

Federal Education Spending

00-11-09 Federal Education Spending

Originally published in The Daily Journal on 09 November 2000.

Education is mentioned nowhere in the U.S. Constitution. Furthermore, the 10th Amendment states that those powers not delegated to the federal government are left to the states or the people.

While studying to become a teacher I took a school law course. One of the cases examined was San Antonio v. Rodriguez—a school funding case. The Supreme Court in 1973 determined that relying solely upon property taxes is unconstitutional. More important, the opinion of this case is that education is not a fundamental right protected by federal law.

The question then is why is the federal government involved in education at all? Listening to the presidential candidates, one wonders if they have knowledge of our federal laws.

Each state struggles with a fair and equitable means for financing education as it is their responsibility and power so to do. New Jersey’s Abbott decision addresses our needs, which would not suffice in Illinois, New Hampshire, or other states tackling this same issue. Who better knows New Jersey’s public school ills than New Jersey? What makes us think Washington, D.C. knows what we need?

Gore and Bush raise the education issue: our public schools are failing. Each offers a solution. What is scary, however, is that each candidate proposes commandeering powers that he as president would not have.

Bush proposes programs such as “$1 billion Math and Science Partnership for states, colleges and universities to strengthen K-12 math and science education.” When money travels from the taxpayers’ hands to Washington then back to the states, there is slippage. Slippage is the dollars left in Washington. Minimizing bureaucracy yields more money for education.

Gore counters with multi-billion dollar proposals to test new teachers, pay teachers more, repair school buildings, etc. Again, the deal is that our money has to first visit Washington before any of these programs can commence New Jersey’s newest senator is no better. Jon Corzine states, “Presently the federal government spends about $23.5 billion a year on elementary and secondary education . . . But the needs are much greater.”

It would be refreshing to hear national figures tell us that as much as they would like to cure all of our ills, they are not responsible for each and every facet of our lives.

Yes, public education needs attention. For too long our schools have gone untended, our accountability has slipped, and our curriculum has become misaligned. These issues should be studied and solved here, within our community, rather than from afar.