Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Of Bunting and Buffaloes

Tonight is Game One of the 2014 World Series.  Being that this is a year ending in an even number, it would appear that the National League Champions, the San Francisco Giants, are the team favored to win it all.  The Giants have - after all - won the World Series in each of the last two even-ending years (2010 and 2012).  Their opponents, the American League pennant-winners, the Kansas City Royals, have not won Diddley (Bo or otherwise) for almost thirty years.  It should be an interesting series.  As a baseball fan, I hope that it is anyway.  As a baseball fan, I am beyond happy that whether the Series goes the minimum of four games or the maximum of seven games, all of its games shall be played in October.  

The Missus and I shall be sporting our traveling shoes at week's end.  Saturday morning we are off to the great state of Colorado to visit the Front Range branch office of the family business.  On our way north to Fort Collins from Denver we are going to initially veer west towards the People's Republic of Boulder so that I can lay my feet upon some of my favorite real estate anywhere at CU and to watch the Buffaloes play UCLA.  I presume there is symbolism attached to the CU/UCLA football game starting at high noon.  I presume furthermore that if there is, none of it is symbolism that shall be helpful to the home team.   

It is what it is.  There are few places better to spend what is supposed to be a sun-drenched October Saturday afternoon than at Folsom with Margaret, Rob and Jess - even if I do anticipate that the latter shall make much of the fact that her Alma mater is 6-1 whereas mine is 2-5.  She would be a much better sport if her father-in-law ever proved himself to be.   Sadly, he is not.  The dude is, in fact, sort of an assh#le.  Trust me, I know him.  


Monday, October 20, 2014

Good for the Sole

Quite a nice weekend in these parts.  After babying my legs for five days following the LBI 18 Mile Run, I enjoyed two very nice back-to-back 5.5 mile efforts on days that encapsulated what Autumn is all about here in the Northeastern corner of the United States.  I ran both days without music in my ears or sunglasses covering my eyes.  I love the sights and - even more so - the smells of Autumn.  

In another couple of weeks, October shall have ceded the stage to November.  Trees that are presently adorned with leaves of many colors will be barren.  Winter will be so close that we shall be able to taste it.  Until Old Man Winter arrives, I shall embrace every opportunity I have to enjoy the outdoors.

In between my daily constitutionals, the Missus and I spent some quality time at Wardlaw-Hartridge. I enjoyed very much getting to catch up with a number of long-time friends, many of whom I had not seen since this time last year.  As much as I enjoyed that, I enjoyed even more getting to meet people and to hear some truly amazing stories about their lives and not only how they got to where they are today but how they got to Wardlaw or Hartridge or Wardlaw-Hartridge in the first place.  

Among the individuals who was honored on Saturday night was Arthur Blake, who was a member of Wardlaw's Class of '74.  Arthur was presented for enshrinement in the Athletic Hall of fame by his younger brother Jonathan, Wardlaw's Class of '76, and himself a member of the AHOF Class of '04.  Each of them spoke from the heart about not only their relationship with one another but what it meant close to fifty years ago to have been among the first African-American students to enroll at all-male Wardlaw.  Arthur shared a conversation that he and his father had in their car after Arthur had met with Wardlaw's Headmaster Prentice C. Horne one summer day to discuss Arthur's commencement of his studies at Wardlaw that September.  As the Blakes sat in their car in Wardlaw's parking lot, son asked father, "Dad, what's a trailblazer?"  All these years later, Arthur Blake laughed as he told that story, adding that he soon found out the meaning of the word.  

A wonderful, educational time was had on Saturday evening, courtesy of the Brothers Blake and the evening's other speakers and honorees.   Again, it turns out that the great American philosopher Lawrence Peter Berra was right...  

...as if there ever was any doubt.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Math for Dummies

I very well may be the most math-challenged person I know.  Whether it was trigonometry, pre-calculus or calculus, I never comprehended the purpose of the seemingly ceaseless search for "X".  It was right where it has always been, which is bridging the gap between "W" and "Y".  Furthermore, if "X" was willing to invest all that energy and all that effort in remaining anonymous, then what right did the rest of us have to invade his privacy (or her privacy for that matter) and make "X's" identity known.  Move along already people, there is nothing to see here.  

But even Yours Truly, the 21st Century's Alley Oop of mathematics, understands the significance of addition and subtraction.  I have invested the time necessary to not only grasp but actually master the concepts.  

Thus, I can state with the utmost confidence that the world is a better place because of Bob and Linda Carey.  Moreover, it would be an even better place if we had more people like them.  Well, not exactly like them perhaps...that might be too tall an order for anyone to fill.  Although, based upon the videos and the photographs I have seen of Bob Carey wearing his pink tutu, it appears as if one really can catch a lot of air while wearing such attire.  The Careys are a remarkable story.  Impossibly easy people for whom to root...and not just when Bob sticks a particularly tricky landing.  

Conversely, and with an equal degree of confidence, I can state how much better a place the world would be if its soulless cowards all simultaneously tripped the mortal coil.  

The Brooklyn Wall of Remembrance is the first 09/11 Memorial that was erected in New York City. Its name describes it beautifully.  It contains a laser-engraved portrait of each of the City's First Responders who died on September 11, 2001 while saving the lives of others.   Among the twenty-three members of the NYPD who died that day was Police Officer Moira Smith from the 13th Precinct.  She was the only female member of the NYPD who died on September 11, 2001.  On Friday night, at Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York, someone vandalized the Wall of Remembrance - and specifically Officer Smith's laser-engraved portrait.  Authorities seem confident that they shall be able to apprehend the asswipe who committed such treachery - given the presence of security cameras at the site that captured the Caucasian woman estimated to be in her 40's or her 50's, using her hands to smudge white paint on the Wall and, in particular, on Officer Smith's portrait.  

Addition and subtraction.  Addition by subtraction.  Either way, it is an easy idea to wrap one's head around...

...even for a math dummy like me.  


Saturday, October 18, 2014

A Different Kind of Homecoming

We are taught to understand, correctly, 
that courage is not the absence of fear,
but the capacity for action despite our fears.
- John McCain

Diana Young Long is seventy-one years old.  She and her husband reside in California, which is where the couple retired to several years ago after careers that spanned four decades.  

1st Lt. Herbert V. "Buddy" Young, Jr. never met his daughter Diana.  His wife and her mother, Zolleen Young, was pregnant with Diana when Lt. Young - who had volunteered for the U.S. Army Air Force after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor - was shipped off to World War II.  Lt. Young was assigned to the Pacific Theater where, as a member of the 321st Bombardment Squadron, 90th Bomber Group of the Fifth Air Force Command he accumulated approximately three hundred hours of flight time during the course of forty-three combat missions.  

On April 10, 1944, Lt. Young volunteered to fly as a co-pilot in a B-24D bomber with a crew that was down a man.  This crew needed a man and Lt. Young, whose plane was too damaged to fly, needed a plane.  The bomber, christened "Hot Garters", was shot down on its mission, over the jungles of New Guinea.   Crews of other bombers on the mission reported seeing five parachutes deploy as the plane spiraled downward.  

Lt. Young's body was not recovered from the crash site.  As per protocol, on April 11, 1945, one year and one day after he had last been reported alive, he was declared missing in action.  The declaration came slightly less than two months prior to what would have been his twenty-fifth birthday.  

Over the course of the past seventy years, repeated searches were undertaken to locate the remains of the "Hot Garters" and its crew.  Finally, in the Spring of 2014 the United States Army was able to positively identify remains unearthed during one of the expeditions as those of 1st Lt. Herbert V. "Buddy" Young, Jr., which news was met with tears from the daughter who never met him but who never abandoned the hope of bringing him home to her.  

On October 15, 2014, 1st Lt. Herbert V. "Buddy" Young, Jr. completed his long-overdue trip home.  He was interred at Prescott National Cemetery in Prescott, Arizona.  On his gravestone, simply and elegantly, it says "Killed in Action April 10, 1944.  Welcomed home October 15, 2014".  

Welcome home Lt. Young.  A grateful nation thanks you for your service.  More importantly, an ever-faithful, ever-loving daughter is simply happy to finally have her Dad home.  After seventy years.  

For the first time. 


Friday, October 17, 2014

"Leading Off & Playing Third Base - Marty McFly"

Don't bet your future 
on one roll of the dice
Better remember
Lightning never strikes twice.
- Huey Lewis & the News

I am saddened for my great friend Gracie and for all of her fellow Orioles fans that their celebration of "Bucktober" stopped one series short of the World Series.  Her sadness - and theirs - notwithstanding, anyone who is a fan of Major League Baseball has borne witness thus far this month to a truly extraordinary development:  the resurrection of the Kansas City Royals. 

As they prepare to host Game One of the World Series on Tuesday, October 21, 2014, the Royals shall be riding an eleven-game postseason winning streak that spans twenty-nine years.  At no point in time between the last out in Game Seven of the 1985 World Series and the 2014 American League Wild-Card Game did a single MLB postseason game take place in which the Royals participated.  Not one.  When one considers that from 1986 through 2013, three hundred fifteen postseason games were played between American League teams, one develops a much better understanding of just how long it has been between sips of water for the Royals.  

Will the Royals lose a single game this October?  Will their improbable playoff run culminate in the 2014 edition joining the 1985 edition as the only two World Series-winning teams in franchise history?  I reckon that someone may know the answer to those questions.  I know for certain that the "someone" is not me.  

Doc Brown? 



Thursday, October 16, 2014

'Neath the Cover of October Skies

Today's silliness falls under the heading - I suppose - of being a "pseudo-PSA".  On Saturday, October 18, the high school Alma mater of Kara, Jill and Yours truly AND the one-time employer of Joanie K. AND (truth be told) the place that WPK, Sr. loved more than anything else, which rewarded that love by working him to death (but I digress) shall celebrate its annual Fall Fair and Homecoming

I attended W-H for eight years - from 5th grade through high school - and Homecoming Saturday was always my favorite day on the school calendar.  Time has done little to temper my enthusiasm for it. 

Saturday afternoon, at or about four o'clock, one of the day's newer traditions shall take place.  For the past several years, it has been on Homecoming Saturday that Alumni Awards have been bestowed on truly outstanding recipients.  Full disclosure dictates that I confess that Jill is included in that number, having been deservedly enshrined in the Athletic Hall of Fame in 2009.   

I have been a Member of the Athletic Hall of Fame Committee for the past two years - although I suspect that it feels much longer than that for the other members of the Committee.  I tend to have that effect.  I am very pleased that once again this year there is a diverse group of talent being enshrined into the AHOF.  

Among the Class of 2014 is the 1984 Girls' Softball State Champions, which went undefeated on the way to capturing the school's first-ever championship in that sport. Wardlaw/Wardlaw-Hartridge is a school that has a very long and proud tradition of fielding successful boys' basketball teams.  On Saturday, two of the most heralded players the school has ever produced shall be enshrined together.  Arthur Blake, Class of '74, and Rob Rizzo, Class of '89, shall both become members of the AHOF Class of 2014.  Each of them tallied more than 1,000 points during playing careers that pre-dated the three-point line.  I do not mean to brag but I managed to tally three points during my high school basketball career also without the benefit of the three-point line.   But enough about me.

Also being enshrined into the AHOF on Saturday shall be Tom Glasser.  He was a member of the Class of '78, which was the first graduating class of the newly-merged Wardlaw-Hartridge School. He was an exceptional track and field / cross-country athlete.

Tom Glasser - 2nd from left in top row
(Photo courtesy of John Ansbro)

As a grown-up, he was a partner at Sandler O'Neill, which offices were housed in the World Trade Center.  On September 11, 2001, while earning his daily bread, Tom Glasser was among the innocents murdered by the cowards who flew jet airplanes into the World Trade Center.  He is, to the best of my knowledge, the only W-H graduate who died that day.   

I am hopeful that a large contingent of his former classmates and his friends are on campus on Saturday to help honor his family, his life and his memory.

If you have a connection to Wardlaw, Hartridge or Wardlaw-Hartridge and are going to be in the vicinity of Inman Avenue in North Edison this Saturday afternoon, then do yourself the service of stopping by to take in at least some of the day's festivities.   


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Half-Freedom Road

I got a cold mind to go tripping 'cross that thin line,
I ain't making straight time.
- Bruce Springsteen

Steven Pratt was fifteen years old in 1984 when - following an argument with his neighbor Michael Anderson - Pratt shot and killed Anderson.  Pratt was tried as an adult.  He was convicted in 1986 and sentenced a term of thirty years at Bayside State Prison in Leesburg, New Jersey. 

On Friday, October 10, Steven Pratt was paroled from Bayside State Prison.  He returned home to Atlantic City. He came home to the home of his mother, Gwendolyn.  She was so happy to have her son home - having watched him be taken away to prison when he was still a teenager that she threw a huge welcome-home party for him.  

On Sunday, October 12, Steven Pratt was arrested again.  Less than forty-eight hours after having been paroled from a prison where he had spent twenty-eight of the first forty-five years of his life, Pratt was arrested and charged with murder.  Atlantic City Police responded to Gwendolyn Pratt's home in the pre-dawn hours on Sunday to find her murdered - dead from blunt force trauma to the head.  Murdered in her own home by her own son.   She was just sixty-four years old. 

One might wonder, "What type of piece of human dreck murders his own mother and does so less than forty-eight hours after having been paroled after serving close to thirty years in State prison for another murder?"  Sadly, that question is not merely a hypothetical.  Even sadder still is that its answer is not merely knowable but known.  

It turns out that an apple can fall very, very far from the tree after all.  

Eight years in, it feels like you're gonna die
But you get used to anything
Sooner or later it becomes your life.
-Bruce Springsteen