Subscribe: The Beach Bum Report
http://thebeachbumreport.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default
Added By: Feedage Forager Feedage Grade A rated
Language: English
Tags:
back  baseball  beach bum  beach  blog  bum  day  don’t  friend  friends  game  good  home  night  time  years   
Rate this Feed
Rating: 1.4 starRate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feed
Rate this feed 1 starRate this feed 2 starRate this feed 3 starRate this feed 4 starRate this feed 5 star

Comments (0)

Feed Details and Statistics Feed Statistics
Preview: The Beach Bum Report

The Beach Bum Report



My rants, raves and occasionally humorous views of Life, Liberty and especially the Pursuit of Happiness.



Updated: 2017-12-10T22:13:21.690-05:00

 



Thanks

2009-11-11T12:31:18.762-05:00

Last night I received the following email message from my friend Paul (Loopy):


Thank you, Kagnew Vets.
Thanks for serving this country and this flag.
Thanks for the difficulties that you who went to Viet Nam faced and endured.
Thanks for being part of a brotherhood that still endures today.
Thanks for sharing your knowledge and expertise in dealing with the VA.
Thanks for caring still in your elder years about where this country is going.
Thanks for disagreeing with a modicum of dignity when your brother rants and raves about our government’s direction.
Thanks for agreeing to disagree while still paying respect to the other's viewpoint.
Thanks for all the memories we share of everything that Kagnew represented.
Thanks for welcoming me into this group that has become such an important part of my life in retirement.
Thanks for your friendship.
Thanks for being my brothers.

May each of you have a safe and happy Veteran's Day tomorrow.


I would also like to say thanks to all the Kagnew Vets, especially those who made living in Africa bearable. Long lasting friendships were formed that still exist more than 40 years later.

Thanks to all Vets for sacrificing a part of their life to serve their country.

Thanks to all active military personnel who are now sacrificing, and may or may not become future Vets. I salute all of you.

Finally, a big thanks to Applebees’ Restaurants for serving a free meal to all active military personnel as well as Vets this Veteran’s Day.

The Beach Bum



Semper Fi

2009-11-11T13:05:32.768-05:00


Today is my youngest daughters’ birthday. She is now Jack Benny’s perpetual age. How time flies.

We usually have a few drinks together to celebrate, but this year she is 1000 miles away. I’ll just have to have a few extra cocktails tonight. She is in Maryland because her Great-Aunt had hip surgery yesterday. The surgery was successful and soon she’ll be walking around like a normal 85 year old.

Today is also the United States Marine Corps birthday, therefore the title of this Blog. My cousin was a Marine and served two tours of duty in Viet Nam. I have several friends that proudly served in the US Marine Corps; most of them spent at least one tour in Viet Nam. Two guys that I knew in High School died there.

Semper Fi is a shortened version of the Marine Corps motto, Semper Fidelis, the Latin for always faithful. They are faithful to the Corps, their fellow Marines, and most of all to our country. They do a job that few of us would consider doing and they do it well. Some die and others are injured for life; both physically and mentally.

Before I started to write this Blog, I stood at attention and rendered a hand salute to all present and past members of the Marine Corps. And then I said Semper Fi plus a prayer for them.

Mister President, please bring our troops home!

The Beach Bum



Chestnut Brown Canary

2009-10-27T19:18:25.113-05:00

A few days ago (or maybe it was a few weeks ago) I received an email from a friend that mentioned the names of several Folk Music groups from the 1950’s and 1960’s. He was in the process of transcribing his vinyl collection onto a more current media. I went through this process about 4 or 5 years ago, but selected cuts from various albums rather than copying the entire album. I made two CD’s, one loaded with MP3’s and the other containing some favorites on a .wav format. One of the Folk Music group mentioned in the email was the Chad Mitchell Trio. The Chad Mitchell Trio was the very first group that I saw in a live performance. It was in late 1959 or early 1960 (snow was on the ground – so it might have even been early spring 1960) at the Chicago Historical Society (if you ever go to Chicago, this is a place that you want to visit).The group was performing nightly at a club (bar) a few blocks away at North Ave. and Wells St. (in Olde Town) and took the time out to do a gratis set on a Saturday afternoon at the Historical Society. Fortunately I was there, with a few of my fellow students, attending a lecture about Chicago history.After the lecture we were asked not to leave the auditorium, because we were in for a special treat. We would have a musical interlude, so to speak. Not one of the 40 or so people left the room.Enters the Chad Mitchell Trio!The first song that they performed (and the only song that I can remember by name) was “No Irish Need Apply”, and I was overwhelmed when hearing the live music. It sounded so different from listening to music on the radio or on the Hi-Fi. I’ll never forget that day!Now, here is how my neural processors (RAM) work!I read the email, I think of the Chad Mitchell Trio, I think of the Historical Society, I think of my old friends, I think of a guy named Joe (who was at this mini concert with me) and then I feel compelled to speak to Joe about the “good old days”.So I call him!After the usual salutations, talking about the weather and our ailments, I switch the conversation to Folk Music.Joe and I (as well as a few others) went to “Mother Blues” in Olde Town Chicago to see Joan Baez (with guest performer Bob Dylan – fairly unknown at that time) and we also went to a Peter, Paul and Mary concert (I believe it was at the Goodman Theater behind the Chicago Art Institute) in 1961. Joe recalled the PP&M concert and asked me “Didn’t you have a crush on Mary Travers?” I answered by saying that I had a crush on “every thing in a skirt”. "Don't you remember our High School Art Teacher, Connie?” “I was like a puppy in Connie’s class, I would fetch for her and do anything that she wanted, just to be close to her.”He remembered and he laughed!As the conversation continued we spoke of other Folk Music artists. Joe brought up the fact that many of the 1960’s Rock Artists had a Folk Music background. I brought up the fact that some Folk singers never went over to “the other side”, they were purist. Sure, Dylan electrified his band, but he did continue to write Folk, not Rock.I mentioned that one of Bob Dylan’s most covered songs is “Knockin’ on Heavens Door” which has been covered by many major rock groups throughout the years. But they’re not like the original version; they lack the compassion in Dylan’s voice.Then he brought up Judy Collins (who did some Dylan). I had purchased her album “Wildflowers”, at the PX, while stationed at Kagnew Station in Africa, after hearing the song about “Clouds” (Both Sides Now) on the radio. I had a crush on Judy, but this time I was seemingly an adult. I still had the crush (I’m sure that this has to do with high testosterone levels in a young male viewing an attractive female on an album cover).Joe then brings up Crosby, Stills and Nash. This was one of my all time favorite groups from the late sixties and seventies. Joe then asks me it I knew the origins of the CSN song “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes”.I say no!Joe then i[...]



Politicians

2009-10-15T20:24:55.880-05:00


The other night I was speaking to my friend Loopy and I told him of this Blog that I was planning to write. It’s been taking me three or four day to write a Blog. Mainly because of my pains, I can only write when I am pleasantly anesthetized with alcohol. Usually by that point in time, I do not really feel like writing anything.

Back several decades ago I took a 200 Level English course. The main reasons that I took the course were that it had one of the shortest sign-up lines and all in the line were young ladies. Although it can become a distraction, a classroom full of young ladies is a good experience for a young male with high testosterone levels. It allows you to daydream if the class is boring.

There are many reasons that there are short sign-up lines for certain elective classes. The three predominant factors are listed below:

1) The class is highly specialized and usually boring. The people in the sign-up line more than likely need this class as a pre-requisite for another highly specialized and equally boring class.
2) The Bad Professor syndrome. Either you don’t understand what they are trying to teach you or they are very hard with their grading (I found this to be a major factor when signing up for a class with an East Indian teacher). Except for the gifted few, most students don’t learn a damn thing and inevitably drop out (take an incomplete) or get bad grades.
3) The class is scheduled at an inconvenient time or coincides with a mandatory class.

It was a good course, not too boring and a hot babe sat next to me (let me rephrase that last statement – I intentionally sat next to the hot babe). The subject of the course was Etymology, which would seemingly be boring, but fortunately we had a Good Professor.

But I have strayed, as usual, from the topic of my Blog; Politicians. But before I get to the point of this Blog, I must say something about my friend Loopy (Paul).

As I did, Paul took 4 years of Latin, but he also took two years of Classical Greek. He therefore knows a lot about the origins of words (Etymology) in this thing that we refer to as the English language.

In our conversation I mentioned the word Politicians and asked if he knew the Etymology of the word. Unsurprisingly we both came to the same conclusion; great minds think alike.

The Etymology of the word Politics according to Webster’s:
Greek politika, from neuter plural of politikos political.

However we, Paul and I, had a different take on the word Politicians. Let’s break it down.

Poli - (no Y’s in either the Greek or Roman Latin Alphabet) so this is the same as Poly, which is a prefix meaning many.
tic – (no C’s in the Greek alphabet) so let’s add K to give it the right sound. This turns it into tick. As we all should know, a Tick is a small blood sucking insect that bores under your skin and causes pestilence.
ians – a suffix from the Latin word “anus” (I kid you not) meaning “from, related to, or like.

Therefore the true meaning of the word Politicians is: Related to many small blood sucking insects that get under your skin, cause disease and expel feces.

The Beach Bum



A Perfect Martini

2009-10-10T13:32:47.171-05:00

For the past 13 days I have been enjoying one of the simple pleasures of life. The Martini! Only one per day; that’s what I had promised my daughter if she would be so kind to procure a bottle of Gordon’s Gin for me. My daughter doesn’t really like me drinking Gin; she says that I get strange, at least stranger than my normal strangeness. Plus she mentions that I have the tendency to fall when trying to rise from a chair when I drink a Gin Martini. This phenomenon has only happened to me twice in the past 9 years; but unfortunately she was present at both times.Some say that Gin is an acquired taste (as is any liquor or malt beverage coming from the British Isles), but I liked it the first time that I drank it, with tonic, when I was stationed in Africa. The Eritrean Bartender at the Service Club said that it was good for me; the quinine in the tonic water helped to prevent malaria. He explained, therefore the more that I drank the better it was for me; it would be good for my health. I bought into his theory because I wanted to drink more gin and tonics. Besides it was a plausible explanation.I drank my first Martini at the Officers Club on Fort Meade, Maryland in 1969. I wanted to appear sophisticated and everyone who drank a Martini in the movies was stylish and sophisticated. I was at the club on my first date with a charming young lady that I had met the week before.I ordered a Martini and she ordered a rum and coke. The bartender asked if I wanted it up or on the rocks, shaken or stirred and if I wanted an Olive or a Twist. I remember that James Bond drank his shaken and served up, so I ordered it shaken and up with both an Olive and Twist. The first sip that I took nearly gagged me; how could anyone drink this concoction? My date asked if she could take a sip, I, of course, said yes and she took a sip. The look on her face was what I was feeling inside but afraid to show openly. I asked her if anything was wrong and she replied “How can you drink that horrible thing?” Nine months later she married me anyway; probably because I had switched back to gin and tonic.In 1976 I went to a bar with my friend Les, who was a regular patron at this particular bar. Les' drink of choice was a martini, on the rocks with a twist. He didn’t have to order his drink because the bartender knew exactly what he wanted. I watched the bartender prepare his Martini. First he put the Vermouth into the glass and swirled it around and then dumped it out. Next he rimmed the glass with a lemon twist, dropped it into the glass and iced the glass. Then he filled the iced glass with Beefeater Gin.On the next round I ordered a Martini telling the bartender “The same as you made for Les, but make mine up and with both an Olive and a twist.” This time I enjoyed my Martini. Les told me that the key to a good Martini was to use as little Vermouth as possible. He was right!Two years later, my favorite bartender, Bob and I created what I called the Perfect Martini (he called it George’s Special). 2 and ½ ounces of Gin (Gordon’s) and ½ oz of Vodka (Smirnoff) chilled on ice in a glass shaker (until the shaker frosted over) and then gently stirred. A splash of Noillly Prat Dry Vermouth and a dash of Bols Orange Curacao were poured into an up glass. Then ice was placed into the glass to chill it. The ice and liquid were then disposed of and the Gin was then poured into the glass (using a Julep strainer) and was garnished with both an Olive (Queen Size sans pimento) and a twist of lemon (the zest flavored the rim of the glass).About 6 years ago, with a young (23 or 24) enchanting female friend, I went to a Martini and Cigar Bar in Tampa, Florida. This place had a list of more than 30 different Martinis with only 3 or 4 made with Gin. Prices ranged from $9 to $24 for a Martini. The crowd was young; in fact the guy sitting next to me was in his late 30’s and probably the second oldest person in the Bar.My[...]



My Friend (Not My Cousin) Vinny

2009-10-03T22:09:26.722-05:00

In 1981, while in self exile from my marriage and my family in Maryland, I live in Cicero, Illinois. At times, these were the best of times and at others they were the worst of times. I really missed being with my children, yet I cherished my freedom from my wife’s domineering family.I first met my friend Vince while walking to a Cicero ballpark to play softball. I was playing in a Bar-League softball game and carrying a bat (an old Jackie Jensen model Louisville Slugger with a thick barrel – I had it since High School). Vinnie was also carrying a bat and was walking a few paces in front of me.I caught up with him and asked him if he was playing in the 2 o’clock game. He looked at me as if I were crazy; then he answered and said “No, I gotta break someone’s kneecap.” I thought that he was being facetious and laughed. The look on his face told me that he was dead serious.The next time that I saw him, about two months later, was in an up scale Italian Restaurant and Bar (and there weren’t many in Cicero at that time); I didn’t recognize him because this time he wasn’t carrying a bat. He yelled across the bar and asked me “Did you win?” I was amazed that he remembered me; we had had a very brief encounter a month or two before. I yelled back that I didn’t remember.He got off of his bar stool and walked over to me and sat in the stool next to me. In a soft voice he told me that it was impolite to yell in a Restaurant. I was going to say that he yelled first; but I wisely bit my tongue. He introduced himself and I did the same. Little did I know that this was a start of a beautiful long lasting friendship.In our bar conversation I learned that Vinnie worked for a Dutchman nicknamed “The Weasel”; although others called him BO Billy (but not to his face). The Weasel was the biggest bookmaker in the western suburbs of Chicago. His bank was Vince’s father-in-law. Vince is a White Sox fan and loves the game of baseball with the same passion that I do. I’ve gone to several Sox games with him (usually the best seats in the house). I’ve taken him to several Cubs games over the course of the years; he always complained that we were in the cheap seats (Bleachers or Upper Deck).Vinnie now works for the largest Construction Company in Chicago and it’s probably one of the top 20 in the US. I think, but I am not sure, that his father-in-law bankrolled their expansion some years back. Instead of a bat, Vinnie now carries a pen.For the past 6 months Vinnie has been hounding me (via email) for the $19 that I owe him from last year. Now this is a guy that makes a two comma annual income. He lives in what my Dad would have called a mansion in the far western Chicago suburb of Naperville (5 bedrooms, swimming pool, 3 car garage and a circular driveway – all this on 1 ½ acres). Vinnie and I have a standing annual wager. He bets $20 that the Cubs do not go to the World Series (he calls it a sure thing) and I bet a dollar that the White Sox won’t go (there is a reason for this that I may or may not explain later). I can’t recall how many $19 checks that I have written over the course of the years.Last April, I did not send him his usual check. When he didn’t get the check in July he began to harass me; calling me a piker. Last night I called him to say that the check (sincerely) was in the mail but that it was written for $38 to include my 2009 losses (as I may not be around to pay up in April).We spoke for more than an hour and he said “You know why I talked to you at the Restaurant that night, years ago.” I said “No.” “Because you seemed to be a good guy and I didn’t know too many good guys at that time.” He also said that I always made him laugh; that I was a funny guy who always faced adversity with a smile. We talked about my health and physical problems. I told him that he didn’t need a bat because my knees were already sh[...]



Good Fortune - I Doubt It

2009-10-07T20:43:54.530-05:00

On July 3, 1981 the crew of the Valiant sailed out of Burnham Park Harbor (Chicago) with a destination of Michigan City, Indiana. We had slept on board the night before so that we could get an early morning start. The Captain had set the departure time at 7am (give or take 15 seconds – the Captain has always believed in punctuality). We didn’t want to be standing on the dock at 7:02 waving farewell to the crew as they headed toward the mouth of the harbor and onto Lake Michigan (as I’d seen this happen before). At first I didn’t understand why we were going to Michigan City for the Fourth of July; Chicago had a far better fireworks display. I had found, in the past, that it was unwise to question the Captain about matters such as this. Later that day I found out from my cousin (The Admiral) that the Captain (who would turn 40 years old on the Fourth) feared a surprise party and wanted to get out of town.The Captain plotted (manually with a chart) and then set the course for Michigan City. There was a moderate breeze from the Northwest and it was predicted that we would get there in about 7 hours.About half way there (mid-lake) the wind died and we were just moving with the waves. It was like being in the doldrums of the Sargasso Sea, but without the seaweed. The Captain said that we would wait a while before turning on the engines and that it was a good time to have lunch. As we ate, a swarm of flies descended on us. This was the middle of the lake, where did they come from? It seems that they had been on a board that was floating in the water near the boat.The flies were not going for our food, they were going for us. We only had two fly swatters and by the time you would zap one fly; two more would take its place. The Captain turned on the engine (this was a drastic measure, as the Captain did not like to waste fuel)! These flies were biting us like the abominable Wisconsin Deer Fly (People from Chicago call them Kamikaze Flies; they have a 5 inch wingspan and dive right at you). In a short time we had left the Sargasso Sea, the wind picked up and we were able to kill or get most of the flies off of the boat. It was smooth sailing for the rest of the trip to Michigan City and a good time was had by all. End of story.But, it’s not the end of this Blog. During my life I have been attacked by about every flying insect that is known to mankind (I believe the tsetse fly is the exception). I think that these insects innately know that if they come near me, I will attempt to kill them. So like the Kamikaze Deer Flies of Wisconsin, they will tempt the fates by attacking me first. Although it has been a rainy spring and summer, I have yet to see a mosquito. The avian population and the small reptiles that inhabit our yard must be performing their primary function; insect elimination. I can put up with the squawking birds, croaking frogs and chirping lizards as long as they do their jobs by ridding me of the flying insect population.Earlier this summer we were besieged by sand flies; these are sneaky little (about a sixteenth of an inch long) blood suckers that you do not see landing on you and biting you. They will leave a welt the size of a mosquito bite that itches like hell.Next came the invasion of the Gnats. I don’t believe that they bite, but they do have a tendency to fly up your nose and into your eyes (and mouth, if open). This lasted for about a week; the birds and reptile probably finally heard me cursing them for not ridding me of the plague.Last week, while my daughter was in Maryland, it was my assigned task to take care of the dogs (they need to be walked several times per day). On one of my care giving journeys I noticed a rather large group of flying insects attacking a flower bearing shrub in the back yard. They were butterflies. As far as I know butterflies do not bite humans.As I neared the shrub, one of them fl[...]



Potato Chips?

2009-10-26T12:05:15.655-05:00

In my last conversation with my friend Slow Eddie, about his tour of the old neighborhood, he mentioned that the old Pizzeria where we hung out on Fridays and Saturdays was still there and still doing business. He had thought about taking the grand kids into the restaurant, but after seeing the patrons he decided that it was not a good idea and decided to stop at the Home Run Inn on 31st Street instead. The name of the restaurant was the Del Campo Pizzeria and it is located on the corner of Cermak (22nd Street) and Troy. It was about 6 blocks from our high school and less than three blocks away from Eddie’s childhood home and about 6 blocks away from mine.We would go there after a Friday afternoon Football or Baseball games and for Saturday night get-togethers. The pizza was very good but did not compare with the Home Run Inn’s pizza. But the Home Run Inn was more than a mile and a half away from my house and an even farther distance for most of my other High School friends.My Dad would get our pizzas (and pizza was never considered to be a dinner food – although I would argue that it contained all five essential food groups) from a Pizzeria two blocks away from our home. It was a thin New York style pizza but it didn’t have the cracker crust which I preferred. It was owned by two brothers that had emigrated from Italy to New York City in the early 1940’s. They lived in Brooklyn and both went to work for a local Pizzeria; one as a busboy and the other as a kitchen clean-up man. The younger brother was the busboy.This Pizzeria had no wait staff; you would get a number when you ordered your pizza and they would call the number when your pizza was ready. Although his job was only to clean the tables and the floor (and restrooms), the younger brother took the initiative to get the pizzas for the customers. He'd say something like “don’t interrupt your conversation; I will bring your pizza to you”. His fetching the pizzas did not interfere with his job and the owners of the Pizzeria appreciated his extra effort. Plus he would usually find nickels or dimes on the tables when he went to clean them. Soon the nickels and dimes turned into quarters and although he was making less money per hour than his brother; he was bringing home a lot more.I transferred into Cyrus McCormick Elementary School (Chicago) in the third grade. I knew absolutely no one in my class and they didn’t exactly welcome me with open arms. Most of my neighborhood friends, (which I had just met that summer) went to Catholic Schools. The next fall when I entered the fourth grade there was a new transfer student. Now I was no longer the new kid on the block.By this time I had become friends with several of my classmates. I was such an affable character that they couldn’t resist my pleasing personality, besides I was bigger and stronger than most of them and I knew how to throw a punch. A fifth grader was picking on one of my new found friends and I decked him (actually it was a sucker punch that was taught to me by my older cousin Bob). I gained the immediate respect from my fellow male classmates (however, my mom was summoned to the school to explain my inexplicable behavior). Fortunately this turned out to be a good move on my part because my friend’s parents owned the candy store across the street from the school and I didn’t get severely disciplined by my parents.The new student’s name was Giuseppe. On the first day of class our teacher called on him and asked him to introduce himself to his fellow classmates. He said “Ma’am, I go by the name of Joey, I’m Italian but I was born in America.” A harsh silence fell over the classroom; both Joey and our teacher sat down. More silence.I decided that I liked this kid, so after class I introduced myself to him and we shook hands. He lived about a half block away from the schoo[...]



A Pleasant Waste of Time - Sometimes

2009-08-31T16:55:25.941-05:00

In late June I wrote a blog about my signing up for Facebook. Against my better judgment, I signed up to please my daughters. They had signed on a week before at the urgings of one of the former “loves of my life”.

I have 22 Facebook friends (my younger daughter has more that 100); 6 of them are family members, 2 are former “loves of my life”, 3 are former roommates (they were really friends, because anyone who had the forbearance to live with me, had to be a friend) and 2 are former co-workers. The rest are childhood friends of my two daughters, who probably remember me only as “that crabby old man” who would go searching for his daughters when they were out past curfew.

Last week, a friend and former roommate tagged me. A tag is like a meme. I don’t participate in memes and I usually ignore tags (not that I get that many). But the topic of this tag fascinated me.

Rules: Don't take too long to think about it. Fifteen movies you've seen that will always stick with you. First fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes. Tag fifteen friends, including me because I'm interested in seeing what movies my friends choose.

He then listed his 15 movies.

I’ve been known to occasionally bend the rules; almost to the point of cheating (if I knew I could get away with it). So I grab a piece of loose leaf paper and put it on a clip board. Within ten minutes I had a list of more than 30 movies.

It’s funny how the mind works. The first movie that I wrote down reminded me of other movies featuring one of the actors (actress) in that movie. Then your mind leads you to a director. My hand was writing faster than a speeding bullet. I write a lot faster than I can type; and I don’t have to constantly use a backspace key.

I sat back and looked at my list and decided that some of the movies on the lower end of the list should have been closer to the top of the list. It was a hopeless cause (where is St. Jude when you need him?). So I decided to give up on this tag game and not participate.

After speaking to a friend (Richard Feder) yesterday, I decided to bend the rules and edit my selections. But I would not put the results on Facebook; instead I would write this Blog. The first movie listed is still the first movie that popped into my mind. It was the first non-animated movie that I had seen in color. The second was also second on my original list.

The List:

1. The African Queen
2. Casablanca
3. On the Waterfront
4. Star Wars
5. Forrest Gump
6. M*A*S*H
7. Animal House
8. Blazing Saddles
9. Goodfellows
10. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
11. 2001: A Space Odyssey
12. The Godfather
13. North by Northwest
14. Alien
15. Raiders of the Lost Ark

Five movies that just missed the final cut were:

1. Caddyshack
2. The Maltese Falcon
3. Donovan’s Reef
4. The Terminator
5. Charade

The problem with these tag games is that the list requirements are either too long or too short.

The Beach Bum



You Can't Go Back To The Past

2009-10-26T11:54:45.601-05:00

I received telephone calls from concerned friends on both Saturday and Sunday.

The Saturday call was from my old Chicago friend Slow Eddie. After the traditional Howya doin’ conversation:
He sez “Howya doin’?”
I sez “Ok, howya doin’?”
He sez “Ok”.
We both lied!
He said that he called because I haven’t written a Blog in over three weeks and that he was concerned. Basically he was just checking to see if I was still among the living.

We then talked about Baseball. He a White Sox fan and I am a Cubs fan. He was boasting that he has watched more than 100 Sox games this year and even some Cubs games. He retired last spring so, like me, he has a lot of time to watch Baseball.

I boasted back saying that I have seen more than 250 games this year (predominately the Tampa Bay Rays). Plus I have seen every MLB Team play this year.

He also asked me why I was a Cub and not a White Sox fan, after all I did grow up on the south side. I told him that I had told him the story nearly 50 years ago and maybe I would blog about it in the near future.

After about 15 minutes of talking Baseball, he switched the topic to our High School days and the old neighborhood. A week ago Slow decided to show his grandchildren our old neighborhood and what once was Harrison High School. A big mistake says Slow, since he hadn’t been there for about 25 years. Slow has lived in Berwyn of more than 30 years.

His grandchildren live in a northwestern suburb named Schaumburg and except for going to the Lake or the Downtown/Grant Park area they have never seen the real city up close. Both of his sons will come to visit him in Berwyn and bring their children to see Grandpa. He told me the route that he took and I cringed. It was very similar to the route that my cousin, the Admiral, took to show my daughters our old neighborhood in 1996 (I remember him saying to “make sure the doors are locked and the windows are closed”).

Slow Eddie was surprised to see all the changes on 26th Street (South). He said there was a sign in one store window that said English Spoken Here. He said that it must had been a joke because he didn’t a single white person on the streets that he traveled (Eddie considers Spanish speaking people to be non-white – it has something to do with the Moors invading the Iberian Peninsula).

The kids couldn’t wait until the tour was over and neither could Eddie. He took 31st Street back home and stopped at the “Home Run Inn” to get a pizza for lunch. He decided to take it home because “except for some of the staff there wasn’t a white person in the place”.

After the story about the trip to the old neighborhood, he decided that he is considering moving from Berwyn to Schaumburg, He would sell his house and buy a condo outright. I asked him if it was to be closer to his children and grandchildren. He said that and the fact that some Salvadorians had moved in across the street from him and that they do not speak English. Besides he was tired of mowing the lawn and shoveling the snow.

So I sez “how do you know that they are Salvadorians?” He sez “the Mexicans that live three doors down told me.”

Slow Eddie closes the conversation with “I’ll really miss the neighborhood Bars, all that they have in Schaumburg is high class yuppie places.”

The Beach Bum



A Pip of a Chip

2009-08-03T13:15:34.879-05:00

I don’t eat a lot of snack foods. Not that I don’t like them and the hollow calories that they provide (if my body craves hollow calories, I usually drink a beer), but it is a habit (one of the very few good habits that I have) that I developed as a child.

My parents didn’t keep snack foods (except for potato chips, which were only to be eaten with lunch) in the house. My Mom would always tell us that these foods would ruin our appetites for supper. Snacks were only eaten after supper. And most of the time we were too full to eat them before nine at night.

The snack foods that my Dad ate were pickled herring, sardines in mustard sauce and occasionally popcorn. Needless to say, as a child and a teen the popcorn was the only one of these snacks that appealed to me.

We also always had Ice Cream on hand, but Ice Cream was considered to be a dessert and not a snack; the only time we ate it was after supper, as a part of our dinner. My favorite was Spumoni which we would get from a nearby Italian Pizzeria (more about this in my next Blog).

As usual I have digressed from the main topic of this Blog; which is Potato Chips.

When I was a kid my parents would buy a Potato Chip Brand named Jays (not to be confused with Lays); these were Chicago’s most popular potato chip, at that time. Their slogan was “A Pip of a Chip”. They came in one and a quarter ounce bags (I believe that there were also family size bags available). My Mom said that this was the prefect portion to accompany a lunchtime sandwich. If we bought the larger bag we would tend to eat more than we should and therefore ruin our appetites. She also monitored the bag count daily to make sure that no one was cheating on their potato chip intake.

I have always enjoyed eating potato chips with a sandwich.

The other day I ate a sliced chicken breast sandwich, and of course, I wanted potato chips to accompany this sandwich. My daughter had purchased a box of (fifty count) one ounce bags (vending size) of Lays Potato Chips at Sam’s Club. When I buy chips, I usually buy the 12 and ½ ounce to 14 ounce bags (ounce for ounce it is less expensive – especially when they are on sale – but is it really less expensive?).

Here is what I found in the one ounce bag. There were 85% whole chips, 15% broken chips and no crumbs. In the big family size bags you are lucky if you get 60% whole chips, 25% broken chips, 12% bits and pieces (not worth eating) and another 3% crumbs (also not worth eating). You end up feeding 15% of your purchase to the birds and insects, or worse yet putting it into the trash.

I used to attribute this to the grocery store’s mishandling of the bags when stocking the shelves, but now I’m beginning to wonder. Does Frito-Lay put their scraps in the larger bags so that they can put them on sale more often? Also, why aren’t potato chips packaged in clear bags as Doritos are?

I want to know!

The Beach Bum



A Perfect 9

2009-07-26T11:10:38.143-05:00

In modern day Major League Baseball it is rare to see a pitcher throw a complete game. Rarer yet is seeing a no hitter pitched. Before yesterday I had seen six no hitters and one of those in person. But the rarest pitching feat in baseball is the perfect game.

In my lifetime, I would estimate that I have seen more than 7000 MLB games. Two of those have been Perfect games. Actually two and a half (I was able to watch the last four innings of Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series – I’ll never forget Yogi Berra jumping on Larsen after the last pitch).

The first perfect game that I watched was on our new 17 inch color television. I believe that my Dad (who would always say “color television hasn’t been perfected yet.”) had bought it so he could watch Baseball games in color. It sat on top of our old 27 inch B&W on which he would watch almost everything else.

This game was the Cubs versus the LA Dodgers in Los Angeles. Sandy Kofax was pitching for the Dodgers. Although we were both die hard Cubs fans we found ourselves cheering for Sandy during the 9th inning. My Dad had never seen a perfect game.

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to watch my second perfect game. It was an afternoon game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Chicago White Sox. Mark Buehrle was the White Sox pitcher. It was shown in the local market by Fox Sports Florida. The announcers were Dwayne Staats and Brian Anderson (I would have much preferred to hear Steve Stone and Hawk Harrelson call the game but it wasn’t on WGN America).

During the eight inning, Staats spoke about the possibility of Buerhle getting his second no hitter in the last three seasons. Shortly after that statement Pat Burrell slapped a ball up the left field line. Fortunately it went foul and Burrell lined out to third base on three pitches later to end the inning.

At the beginning of the top half of the ninth inning both Staats and Anderson intimated that Buerhle was flirting with a perfect game as well as a no hitter: mentioning that the Chicago fans had not seen a no hitter in their ballpark for a long time. This is usually the “kiss of death” as players as well as fans tend to be superstitious. In the old days it was an unwritten rule that broadcasters did not mention these possibilities.

At this time Sox manager Ozzie Guillen made a defensive move placing Dewayne Wise in center field.

The first Rays batter in the ninth inning was Gabe Kapler. After a two and two count Kapler whacked a pitch to center field; it was heading for the center field stands and would surely be a Home Run (Gabe, Mark and I knew that "crack of the bat" sound well). This would end the perfect game, the no hitter and the shutout for Buerhle.

But center fielder Wise timed his move perfectly, jumped high and caught the ball just before it went into the stands. The look of amazement on Buerhle's face was an awesome sight to see. Now, for me, that’s baseball excitement!

Two outs later Buerhle was swamped by his fellow players; he had pitched a perfect game. I cried, thinking about the time that my Dad and I watched Kofax’s perfect game.


The Beach Bum



My Evil, Evil Ways

2009-07-16T12:35:48.000-05:00

During the past 9 days I have started to write 5 different Blogs. They sit here in a folder waiting to be completed along with 8 others from the past 6 months.

It’s not because I do not have the time or inspiration to complete them; but for the reason that I have become easily distracted lately.

I’ll begin to write and then get an hour long telephone call from a friend or sometimes the pain that I suffer within my body becomes too intense for me to bear.

Talking to my friends and family is very important to me because I have no social life where I am now living. I’ll receive two or three calls a week and make another three to four calls. The average length of these calls is usually over an hour long.

One of my shortest recent calls was from my friend Lurch, who lives in the hoity-toity Brentwood area of Los Angeles. He called to get my address (which he already had, but couldn’t find) and we were on the phone for about 30 minutes. Lurch is really a character and a half; in California they call him Dr. Demento.

As for the pain and suffering; most of it has been self inflicted over the course of the past 50 years. What were just aches 20 years ago, have now become major pains. I never took care of myself when I was younger; feeling that I was indestructible.

I don’t take prescription medicines; although they have prescribed them for me at the VA. The Doctors there plan to do a major psych evaluation on me because I refuse to take pain killers; to ease my pain. I refuse to go back there because I feel they are going to lock me up and throw away the key. Of course, they say, that it would be for my own well being.

I medicate with natural supplements, alcohol (a natural pain killer) and nicotine. The Doctors (and some of my friends) think that I am crazy for this course of action. But then again, back in the spring of 2004, the Doctors gave me 2 to 3 years to live if I continued my evil, evil ways. I, of course, ignored them. I, like Dr. Demento, enjoy doing evil things. And five years later I am still amongst the living.

I’ll catch up on my Blogging soon.

The Beach Bum



For My Good Friend Raymond

2009-07-07T08:26:34.683-05:00

My very good friend and brother in arms, from Texas, Raymond, recently left a comment (well, actually two separate comments) on my Blogs from last week I first met Raymond at Kagnew Station in Africa in 1967. He was a quiet person that didn’t hang out with the people in my coterie. We worked on the same shift (Trick) and saw one another on a daily basis. I found his Texas drawl and the colloquialisms that he used to be very amusing. I was a city boy from the North and was amused very easily with the language that southerners used. Raymond was what we called a “ditty bopper” (Morse Intercept Operator) and I worked as a Non-Morse Communications Analyst. He spent seven eights of each work day listening to the high pitch sounds of Morse Code (He did the same while stationed in Viet Nam), I, on the other hand, wore headsets for about two hours per shift. I have a little impaired hearing in my left ear. Raymond is on VA Disability with total hearing loss in his left ear and has to wear a hearing aid in his right ear. Others from our unit suffer the same problems, but to a lesser extent.One of Raymond’s comments was “NOW this is the ZAZZ I love to read.”For years Raymond has lived vicariously through some of my emails about the former loves of my life. Most of these stories are not exaggerated or embellished (maybe slightly to make my physical prowess look better than it actually was).Therefore I will relate a story (on this Blog), for Raymond, that I have not previously told to anyone living or dead.The Story!It was in the spring of 1969 that I met a lovely young lady who worked for the Central Intelligence Agency at a party in a neighbor’s apartment in Laurel, Maryland. I was still serving in the Army at this time.This girl, Nancy, was a Columbia graduate and had been recruited by the CIA in her senior year of college. She wanted to become a field agent but instead was put into an administrative position. She was not a happy camper! But the CIA kept leading her on and she continued to work for them. She was from Glen Cove, Long Island but lived with her grandmother, just off New York Avenue, on 1st Street NW in Washington DC. Not one of nicest neighborhoods in DC. Nancy and a few others of her female co-workers (as well as several young ladies that worked for the FBI and No Such Agency) would travel to Laurel, Maryland on the weekends to attend the bacchanalian parties that were held at a place simply referred to as T-2 (the apartment number). They came to drink, dance and find male companionship. As I recall, there were usually more female guests at the party than male guests – this was good odds for me.The night in question I was chasing after a blond named Dewey who worked for the FBI and lived in Arlington VA. The farther the distance from the party the better chance that you had with the young ladies spending the night. Plying them with alcoholic beverages also helped.After drastically failing with my pursuit of Dewey, I moved on to Nancy. We danced and we drank. She was a nice girl and I was a bad guy. Opposites tend to attract. At roughly one in the morning, I suggested that we adjourn to my apartment a short block away. She agreed. When we arrived, we immediately headed for the bedroom (which I shared with a roommate - Marty). Much to my chagrin, Marty was laying planks with Dewey. I grabbed my pillows and a blanket and headed onto the living room floor with Nancy.We made love for several hours (not an exaggeration), and then exhaustedly passed out. We lied naked on top of the blanket.At the un-Godly hour of 9 in the morning there was a knock at the door. It was our upstairs neighbor, who also served in the same Army unit as[...]



Fireworks

2009-07-05T13:28:45.238-05:00

Last night, at dusk, I left the relative safety of “the Shed” and relocated to the Pool Deck to watch several neighbors’ fireworks displays. It seems that they compete between themselves to see who can garner the most oohs and aahs from the other neighbors.

In 2006, my daughter and son-in-law participated in this neighborhood event; spending more than $300 on fireworks. Their display couldn’t even come close to the competitive neighbors’ displays (costing $500 to $750).

All day long I heard firecrackers and M80’s being shot off. Our dogs are not too fond of this type of noise and barked continually during the day. At times their barking drowned out the sound of the distant fireworks. Bang Bang Bang and Woof Woof Woof simultaneously.

The neighbors on the street behind our house were also shooting off fireworks (their displays were not worth watching), in fact, it seemed like everybody within a quarter mile radius of the house had some sort of fireworks.

After the “competitive neighbors” finished their pyrotechnical show, I remained on the Pool Deck to finish my evening cocktail. I could still hear the sounds of other fireworks going off throughout the neighborhood.

The sulfurous aroma of gun powder permeated the air.

I closed my eyes and used my imagination. With your eyes closed, it allows your other senses to be heighten.

The acrid smell of gun powder was now more prevalent. The distant sounds of fireworks reminded me of mortar fire, rifle shots, automatic weapon barrages and grenades exploding. One sound reminded me of the small Howitzer, at Fort Meade, that was shot off every night at Taps.

After five minutes I began to daydream and vividly saw American soldiers fighting in a war. I though that I heard them screaming and yelling (but it was just the neighbors across the street partying). The smell, the sounds and the muffled voices became all too real. It was like taking a trip on LSD. Maybe I was having a flashback.

Therefore, I immediately opened my eyes and returned back to “the Shed”; turned on the television with the volume up loud enough to drown out the noises of the continuing fireworks outside.

While in the Army, I fortunately never saw any combat. But on occasion, I dream about fighting in a War (probably from watching too many War Movies), and these are not pleasant dreams.

Bring our troops home!

The Beach Bum



Sacrifice

2009-07-02T14:08:30.024-05:00

Saturday is the Fourth of July, the day that we celebrate our Independence from the British Empire.

Tomorrow morning my son and grandson will be driving down to Florida from Maryland. They will spend Friday night and Saturday morning with me and then they will pick up my son’s live-in girlfriend (actually he is a live-in boyfriend – it’s her place) at Tampa International.

They are spending the weekend in a motel, on the beach, at Treasure Island. There are much better pyrotechnical displays and a lot more things to do there than here in Nowheresville, Florida. I’m sure that he’s bringing his rods and reels and plans to do some fishing in while he is here.

He misses living in Florida and plans to move back some day.

Also on Friday morning my older daughter is driving from Maryland to Florida with her two boys to see the father of her children. She’ll be spending most of the summer here, so that the boys get some quality time with there father (he’s good with the boys, but bad for her). She said that she would see me next week.

Younger daughter is currently away from home, working on “legal stuff” for her maternal grandmother (AKA The Wicked Witch of the East) in Maryland, and will be arriving Saturday on the same flight as my son’s girlfriend. She’ll probably spend about a half hour or so with her brother at the Airport; before she returns home, and he, his son and girlfriend go to the beach.

Personally, I don’t really care to watch fireworks displays. But whenever I see fireworks I think about Francis Scott Keys words “the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.” And I’m reminded why we celebrate the Fourth of July as a National Holiday. We celebrate the sacrifices that were made for freedom and liberty from tyranny.

These sacrifices are still being made today, more than two hundred years later. And by those who will not be watching a pyrotechnics display, but the real thing, the “rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air”, in the Middle East.

On Saturday, I’ll be thinking about and saluting our troops that are currently sacrificing for us. I will stand each time I hear the National Anthem played and ask God to bless our troops (even though, I know, for a fact, that God doesn’t listen to me).

When I was a kid, I asked my Dad (a WWII vet) why we had to stand before the ballgame began. He told me “to honor our flag and those who gave their lives defending it and our country.” I have never forgotten this and will do so until the day I die.

Have a good Independence Day, but don’t forget why we celebrate this holiday.

The Beach Bum



Lime in Beer - Yuk

2009-06-27T12:20:05.049-05:00

Yesterday I spoke to my friend The Prince who is probably in Atlanta, Georgia as I write this Blog. Yesterday when I called him, he was in Tallahassee visiting with our friend World Traveling Dave. He planned to spend the night with Dave and then trek back to Wisconsin, stopping to see a business associate in Atlanta and then having a sleep over in Nashville before returning to Wisconsin.I was going to wait until he returned home before calling him, but after the tongue lashing that I received from my daughter; about being a bad host (I let The Prince cook our dinner on the grill and then allowed him and his wife to clear the poolside table on which we dined). This was a faux pas in hospitality etiquette; but they volunteered to do so and I feel that one should treat their guests like members of the family.So yesterday, I called him to apologize for my breach of good manners. He just laughed! He and World Traveling Dave were working on their fourth or fifth Corona, with lime, at the time; therefore there was no apology necessary.I had bought a 12 pack of Corona for The Prince but he only drank three in 5 hours because he was driving north that evening. If he had stayed for the night they would probably all be gone. But I had no lime; which also probably slowed his beer drinking down to nearly a halt. I don’t drink Corona (there are far better Mexican beers) nor would I ever put a lime wedge in a beer. It’s the same thing as ruining a glass of water with a lemon wedge. I like the citrus taste, but only in a Martini, a Bloody Mary or a tonic drink.This all reminds me of a story that I have told to people for many years.After the Seventh Love of My Life and I parted ways (I was not marrying material), I went in search of a new Love of My Life. This is usually a long involved process; at least for me it is. I found that the best test of compatibility was to spend 4 or 5 days together at a Beach Resort, especially in a foreign country. You learn a lot about a potential bed partner on these trips.In the screening process I chose a candidate to accompany me to the Mexican island of Cancun. We stayed at a wonderful Hotel (on the beach) called the Cancun Palace. Our room (with King Sized Bed) faced the beach, the pool and had a Jacuzzi on the balcony. Our first full day consisted of having breakfast, then we'd have a few Margaritas and go to our room and make love, get in the Jacuzzi, after having a few more Margaritas and we had lunch. After lunch we would return to the room and again make mad passionate love. Then we would sit on the beach for a few hours drinking beer.Soon it was dinner time, so we ate and then would go to a place called Carlos and Charley’s for a few shots of Tequila and a few more beers. By ten at night we were back in the room having sex. We did this routine for three straight days and on the fourth day we took a trip to the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza, it was her decision not mine; I’m not much into tourism. I missed out on having our afternoon sex break that day, but we made up for it on our last night in Cancun.After returning back home to Maryland, she became the Eight Love of My Life. Enough of this jibba jabba and I will finally get to the point of this Blog.The first day while lounging on the beach our server brought us each a beer. In the beer there was a lime wedge. I pointed to the lime and asked her “why did you put a lime in our beers?” She smiled and said “to keep the flies out, senor.” The College kids that go to Cancun for Spring Break probably never asked this question. These Spring Break kids would drink the least expensive b[...]



Two Good Days for the Beach Bum

2009-06-23T13:00:19.042-05:00

I had planned to write this Blog yesterday, but a good friend from Wisconsin (The Prince – I gave him the Nickname 42 years ago) arrived at the Beach Bum Shedquarters earlier than I expected. Although we speak on the telephone often, there have been no in person visits for two years. He and his wife still look the same. And though he wouldn’t admit it, I have changed for the worse during the past two years (I know because I see myself in the mirror on a daily basis).

And now to change the subject, which I get better at doing with each passing day.

Years ago I told my children not to waste their money on Birthday or Father’s Day Cards. Unlike my wife (she probably has to rent a storage bin for them), I usually don’t save these cards unless something very special has been written on the card. I’ve saved a few for posterity’s sake; perhaps my grandchildren will read them some day.

This Father’s Day I received two cards; one was a hard copy and the other was an E-card.

The hard card was delivered to me by one of my younger daughter’s dogs (Sanibel). Both dogs know me as Grandpa. When I speak to them, I refer to my daughter and son-in-law as Mommy and Daddy. I’ve been spending a lot of time with the dogs lately because of my daughter’s frequent missions of mercy to Maryland to help her Grandmother with legal matters.

The E-card was from my eldest daughter (42 years old). I would like to share it with you (without her permission). It made my day!

Although it is always spoken and implied, my daughter rarely puts her feelings in writing.

This was the best card that I have ever received on Father’s Day!

Hey Dad!

Just want to let you know that I'm thinking about you. I know I don't tell you very often...but I think the world of you. You've always been there for me. Whenever I've needed someone to talk to or to just listen to me...you're my favorite person to come to! I miss you a bunch! I miss your b-b ques ...all that yummy chicken and ribs or steak that you loved cookin'. I miss hangin' out and having a beer (one of yours...no doubt LOL) with you and just talking about old times. I just miss being close to you. Some of my best and funniest memories are with you!!! You always make me laugh that's for sure!!! Anyways, I just want you to know that I LOVE YOU with all my heart and I miss you...especially this day.
Happy Father's Day, Dad!
Love, Kim xoxoxo


The Beach Bum



About Face

2009-06-21T13:55:21.814-05:00

Well I finally did it; I succumbed to pressure from friends and family.

No, I didn’t go to the Doctor.

About a month ago the seventh “Love of My Life” had told me that she had opened a Facebook account and that I should get one also, “They’re free”; she said. I declined the offer, mainly because I have little time left after I to do the other asinine things that I already do on the internet. Plus I don’t like things that are said to be free; there is always a catch.

Nearly three years ago my son had me sign up for a My Space account, I’ve never used it. I don’t even remember the user name or the password.

Love of My Life 7 (LML7) lives in the same Annapolis, Maryland suburb as my Eldest Daughter and they see one another often. They are 5 years apart in age and both have children and despite LML7’s relationship with the “mean dirty old man” they have been friends for 20 years.

LML7 got my Eldest daughter to sign up for Facebook, who in turn got Younger Daughter to sign up also. Younger daughter then shows me that she had garnered 6 friends in 2 days. I knew most of them from my days living in Maryland.

So I said “OK, I’ll sign up.”

The reason that I don’t like Facebook is that you cannot use a pseudonym (“that which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet”); I enjoy my anonymity; actually I cherish it. People that are friends and family know who “The Beach Bum” is in reality; but why should I let the world know? I might as well post my Social Security number and Bank Account numbers on this Blog.

Since signing up for Facebook last week I have received four friends. Two are family, one an ex lover, and the latest is a young fellow (currently in his forties) that I drank with on occasion and also had attended his wedding (he is now divorced) 15 or so years ago.

Facebook, as well as, My Space is for younger people and not for old pharts like me.

The Beach Bum



Slammin' Sammy

2009-06-19T13:14:41.763-05:00

Wednesday I read some rather alarming news. I was really shocked to find out that Sammy Sosa was on the list of over 100 Major League Baseball players to test positive for performance enhancing drugs in 2003.

Give me a break; who didn’t know this? I was actually shocked when they found his corked bat; I guess that he had to make up for the discontinued use of steroids somehow.

Then yesterday the Chicago Tribune polled their sports writers (the ones that are eligible to vote on the Hall of Fame ballot) to see if they would vote for Sammy. There was one yes, one undecided, and the rest basically said hell no. I wasn’t surprised. I read these writers online on a regular basis. Most of them don’t really cover the sport as I think that it should be covered. If I want to read opinions I go to the Op-Ed page not the Sports section.

Also most these Baseball writers are not as knowledgeable as some of the broadcasters; such as Steve Stone, Bob Uecker and Peter Gammons. In fact, I as well as some of my friends know the game better than the writers do (of course we are much older and have followed baseball for a much longer time). Sometimes when reading their columns I chuckle and just shake my head.

Should Sammy be kept out of the Baseball Hall of Fame? I think not.

I never was a big Sosa fan; in fact I was upset when the Cubs traded George Bell (a fellow Dominican) to the White Sox for him in 1992. Sosa was then hitting in the low .200’s with no “Pop and Hop” and was a satisfactory outfielder at best. Steve Stone was broadcasting for the Cubs on WGN back then and he held the same opinion (of Sosa and the trade) as I did. Great baseball minds think alike.

The Sammy started to play on a regular basis and his numbers went up. The Cubs Fans started to like him, more and more.

Then in 1998, Sosa and Mark McGwire (St. Louis Cardinals) battled it out to see who would beat Roger Maris’ Home Run record (61). Everywhere that they (Cardinals and Cubs) played the attendance records would skyrocket. WGN (a Tribune Company) broadcast all of the Cubs games and I’m sure that they raised the cost of an advertising minute during these broadcast. The Cubs and Sammy Sosa were being seen across the nation on almost a daily basis.

People that would not normally watch these games were now watching. It was bringing excitement back to Major League Baseball and building a broader overall fan base. It essentially rejuvenated baseball.

The fact that both McGwire and Sosa were more than likely using performance enhancing drugs was mentioned, but not really an issue at the time (I knew it, the Sports Writers knew it, and MLB knew it). It’s the same case with Barry Bonds breaking Hank Aaron’s career Home Run record. In all three instances, the fan base and attendance increased. Is this bad for Baseball?

The same Nanzy-Panzy Sports Writers that had previously lauded all three of the aforementioned players are now condemning them.

Is the using of performance enhancing drugs good for Baseball? Definitely not! Should their use of these drugs keep the users out of the Baseball Hall of Fame? Definitely not! These players created a lot of new Baseball fans and brought back some old fans. Their records are tarnished, but they still are on the books.

The Beach Bum



Camping In and Camping Out

2009-06-16T13:19:39.329-05:00

Last night an old friend called me; I hadn’t spoken to him since January. That was shortly after his son, daughter-in-law and their two boys moved into his house. He wasn’t very happy at that time; I could hear it in his voice.

His son had lost his job in July 2008 and the wife was not making enough money to pay their rent and utilities. The son was drawing unemployment, so they had food on the table. They had a little savings and fortunately they had low credit card (which they stopped using) debt and could make slightly above the minimum payments.

Their lease was up on January 1st, so the son asked his father if they could move back in with him until times got better. It’s hard for a father to say no; so they moved in a week before Christmas.

My friend owns a three bedroom house and he and his wife, of 40 some odd years, slept in separate bedrooms. In January he told me to accommodate the incoming family they would have to sleep together; which they hadn’t done for years. To add some levity to our conversation, I mentioned the fact that my wife and I also sleep in separate bedrooms: hers in Maryland and mine in Florida.

When my friend called yesterday he was elated. His son had been working for the past two months and they (the family) were planning to move out in late July. This time I heard happiness in his voice.

To commemorate the occasion he was sending the boys (ages 9 and 12) to camp for 4 weeks after the July 4th weekend. Peace and quite was his motivation.

Our topic of conversation then changed to going to Camp. I had gone to camp for one year and he had gone for three years (he was a Boy Scout; I wasn’t).

My camp experience was when I was 8 years old. My Mom was due to have a baby within weeks, so my parents sent me off to Camp Sokol in Willow Springs, Illinois. I was there for 5 weeks before they bailed me out. When I came home I had a little sister.

In the Bohemian language the word Sokol roughly means physical health. Most of the camp activities were centered on strengthening our bodies. We had daily calisthenics in the morning after breakfast and gymnastics before and after lunch. This would have been great if I was a teen, but it was no fun for an eight year old. Eight year olds just want to have fun.

I did learn how to swim and how to recognize Poison Ivy, Poison Sumac and Poison Oak; valuable lessons for later in life. They taught me how to shoot an arrow from a bow; although I was never really very good at Archery at camp – if the arrow came close to the target, I was happy. We also learned how to canoe and make a fire using a flint.

At night we would sit around a campfire, toasting marshmallows (these were the only sweets at camp) and singing songs. Bedtime (lights out) for the Peewees (8 to 10 years old) was 9pm; the older kids were allowed to stay up until 10 at night. The teenage barrack’s counselors were up until 11 (probably having sex near the dying embers of the campfire – we were a co-ed camp).

I had a good time at camp, but it would have been better if I were 4 years older at the time. I missed my neighborhood friends and didn’t really make any new friends at the camp. Most of my roommates were from different parts of the city and suburbs; I would never see them again.

The Beach Bum



Flag Day - Proud to be an American

2009-06-15T20:46:34.105-05:00

Yesterday was the United States Army’s 234th Birthday. It was also Flag Day, which commemorates the adoption of our flag, by the Continental Congress, on June 14, 1777.

I got a treat yesterday; WGN America broadcasted the Cubs versus the Twins game. WGN is one of the few stations that does not cut to a commercial break when then National Anthem is played and it is preceded by God Bless America. I like this because I can stand up salute and cry (this year I have also been crying more after the Cubs games than in the past few years).

The Colors were presented by Honor Guard soldiers that serve in the training Brigade at nearby Fort Sheridan (Highland Park, IL). They had all seen action in Iraq. I rose from my chair immediately after they walked onto the infield, and presented the flag.

First came the singing of God Bless America; then our National Anthem. I snapped to attention and rendered a hand salute. It took about 5 seconds before the tears were pouring out of my eyes. I cannot listen to Star-Spangled Banner without thinking about those that have given their lives and their futures in defense of our Country.

The only criticism that I have of the WGN production crew is that they pan the audience, rather then concentrating on the flag. I did however notice everyone in the stands were standing and several men were saluting; the same as I was doing.

In comparison, I had attended several Independence Day celebrations (On the Beach concerts) on Treasure Island, Florida where people milled around, stayed seated, chatted or spent the time stuffing their faces. For shame, for shame.

When complaining to a friend about this, he said that I was overly patriotic; he is no longer my friend.

Yes, I am a flag waver! I love my country and support its authority and interests. I support the President, the Congress and the Supreme Court; whether I agree with them or not. And I often disagree with their decisions. I carp and complain, as many others do; but I still respect them and their decisions. Our system of government isn’t perfect, but it’s the best that you can get.

If my paternal great grandparents and my maternal grandfather hadn’t left Eastern Europe to come to America, I probably would not be here today to write this Blog. I am very thankful that they did make that decision many years ago.

I am proud of my Bohemian heritage, but I’m more proud to be “in the land of the free and the home of the brave”.

I will continue to be patriotic and will always salute our flag. If you cannot, in your heart, bring yourself to do this; you should go elsewhere. If you cannot bring yourself to support the Constitution and the President; get out of the US as fast as you can. We don’t need you here; whether you are a citizen or not. If you cannot bring yourself to honor our flag; leave the country immediately and go dishonor another Country’s flag.

The Beach Bum



Blogs Of Note

2009-06-09T15:31:04.122-05:00

Today I spent about 3 hours, earlier today reading other Blogs; over an hour on one in particular.

When you use Google’s Blogspot to blog they give you what they call a Bloggers’ Dashboard. This is where you go to post and/or edit your Blogs. There are also other features (tabs) such as Blogs I’m Following (I follow 3) which tells you when one of your favorite Bloggers has just posted a new Blog. Blogger Buzz which gives you tips on how to improve the physical appearance of you Blog (I never go there, what I don’t know about improving my Blog won’t hurt me). Then there is the last tab that says Blogs of Note.

Seemingly the staff at Blogspot has nothing better to do all day but to visit Blogs – there are millions of them on Blogspot alone. How they make their decision on what they choose to be a Blog of Note has always amazed me. I guess that if I was a younger person, I would understand their reasoning.

About once every month or so I will check out the most resent Blogs of Note. I usually leave disappointed at the staff's selections!

The staff tends to select Blogs filled with photos of mainly Flora and Fauna. They are very good photo’s, but usually there is no writing of any sustenance. The pictures of the Flora usually make me sneeze just thinking about the pollen that they are putting out. Pretty pictures!

I like dogs, but not show dogs. Looking at a well groomed Poodle makes me want to vomit! The comments below the picture are usually inane. “Here’s Spot – See Spot pose for the Camera!”

Then there are the Bloggers that post pictures of birds. Birds can be pretty to look at, but if you have to live with them in your back yard – they suddenly lose their beauty. Their beaks should be duct tapped together until sundown.

Today I got a breath of fresh air. The Blog of Note for June 8th was Roz Savage, Ocean Rower . I had read about her several years ago when she single-handedly rowed across the Atlantic Ocean. She is now rowing in the Pacific Ocean. And she writes of her voyages very well.

She’s a Greenik, but I don’t hold that against her, as I am getting more and more Green with every passing year. Soon my friends and family will be calling me Kermit.

I have placed a link to her Blog on the right sidebar, it’s well worth reading.

The Beach Bum



A Gifted Student

2009-06-08T20:19:41.242-05:00

On Friday I read an article in the Saint Petersburg Times about a local young lady named Jem Lugo. She just had graduated from High School and was the class valedictorian. She graduated with an un-weighted 3.98 grade-point average and is going on to Harvard University on a scholarship. Not many students from this neck of the woods will ever be going to Harvard, let alone on a full scholarship. This is a gifted young lady.Valedictorians must give a commencement speech at the graduation ceremony. The School Administrators had informed her several months before, that she was graduating at the top of her class; so she did some research on the internet. She read some former Valedictorian speeches (High School, as well as College) to get ideas and found them all to be blasé and unmoving. She wanted to say something that made a difference to her classmates.She, of course, had to submit her commencement address to the “powers that be” prior to graduation. These powers rejected the speech as being too realistic and asked her to tone it down. This she did, out of deference to the ‘powers that be”. Not only was she a good student, she also respected the system. I have read both the original and diluted versions. You should also! - click hereBack in my day, our speeches were not censored or even read by the teachers or administrators before they were given. My class Valedictorian was a girl named Marie. She sat directly in front of me in many of our classes (we were seated alphabetically – for what reason, I never understood). When taking a test she would move her head to the side so that I could see her paper. This was not to cheat, but to see if my answers were reasonably correct. Marie was a real Plain Jane and she was considered to be a Wallflower (what we irreverently called a mouse). She never went to High School Football games or came out for Pizza with the gang. She was always at home or in the library studying. We were friends in the classroom, but not on a social level.Her commencement speech was excellent. She quoted and/or paraphrased some of the lines in John F. Kennedy’s New Frontier speech (when he accepted the nomination for President in 1960). “We can have faith in the future only if we have faith in ourselves.” Marie's own words were also very stirring; this I never expected from her, as she was never outspoken about anything. I sat entranced and wondered why I had never gotten to know her better on a more personal level. She spoke powerful words; spoken by a seemly un-powerful (but extremely intelligent) person. A Dormouse!Recently, I spoke to one of my former High School teachers. Both he and his wife, who also taught at the same high school, remembered Marie. They didn’t remember me, only my name, although I finished in the top 12% (64th - probably thanks to Marie, and the class Salutatorian Mikki who were my study partners in several of my classes) of my class of 532 students.You always remember the number one (student or athlete), and sometimes forget about the others as the years pass.I was a good, but not an exceptional student. Marie was exceptional, and her commencement exercise words still ring in my mind to this day. I hope that Jem Lugo’s teachers and classmates will remember her commencement address also.The Beach Bum[...]



They Say It's Your Birthday

2009-06-05T13:48:25.065-05:00

Today is the anniversary of the date of my birth. Actually the precise moment was at 0649 hours UT (Zulu) this morning. I celebrated last night!

I have received several emails (most of them calling me a real old Phart or a Geezer) today from friends that are older than me. If I am an old Phart or a Geezer; what does that make them? Are they older Pharts and super Geezers?

I have received one telephone call (actually two – one yesterday from a Chicago friend late last night) today, I hope that my eldest daughter and my son remember to call me later today. I don’t really care about this birthday crap; I just want them to call me for a change (instead of me calling them).

For my birthday dinner I desired a juicy Rib Eye Steak grilled to perfection. But after eating a hamburger last week, that gave me extreme gastric and intestinal distress; I think not. My second choice is Chinese food, but that type food does not agree with my digestive system either. My third choice is a Home Run Inn Pizza, but I am unable to fly to Chicago to get one (the frozen ones sold in the local grocery store are not that bad; but they are just not the same). I’ll probably end up eating a healthy salad.

On the brighter side, this morning I found the pesky and cunning fly, that has been bugging me for a week, dead on one of the window sills. I guest that it was his birthday present to me. Without ceremony, I escorted his remains outside so that the ants could give him a proper burial.

The Beach Bum