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June 29, 2007

Driving 90 miles an hour down a dead end street
Hank Snow

Baltimoreturtle Louhamilton
Click images for desktop size: "Baltimore Turtle" by Lou Hamilton
I woke up Monday morning and couldn't see. My right eye looked like it was gazing through a crinkly panel of frosted glass.
Its gotten better. It got worse, then got some more drugs and it got better.
My mood was lifted when I got email from two of my kids (former players).
One of them, my Right Tackle, was nearly thrown out of school when he was 15 for being "uneducable". They wrote him off as an idiot. I knew he wasn't. He handled my insane blocking schemes with ease. I had a coach who was dyslexic. I went to the RT's school and argued. They tested him and the RT wasn't an idiot, he was dyslexic. He wrote that he, today, is starting his new job teaching computer science at a university level.
I also heard from my CB. He made himself a great player. Went to America and played Football and Baseball (which he likes more than cricket) while getting a degree in Poli-sci. He was raised in a North London Housing Estate. In the US we call them the projects. Its not a great place to start off from in life.
Dracdaughpstr When he returned home he started work for the government in army recruiting! And now he's on the Town Council. (UK politics are strange to outsiders, really odd - if you don't get it that's cool and so is the job.)
And another of my kids continues in his quest to make it to the NFL. He's signed on the practice squad of the Buffalo Bills. That's cool.
I'm arrogant enough to want credit for the good things I might have done. There is nothing I did that contributed to these kids' success. They did the work, they always did. Straight-line - anyone succeeds you can always say they did the work.
All I did was to teach them how to play a game. I believe the game taught them most of what they try and give me the credit for.
The kids have their opinions and they are entitled to them. I take some pride in that they both mention a couple of cardinal points in my philosophy. First that every kid has a right to either succeed or fail. And that we each responsible for our own actions and for the actions of our teammates.
It means a lot to me to see people I know accomplish things that they once thought were impossible. When anyone is strong enough and cares enough to take a chance on a dream, on themselves it makes me happy.
I talk a lot of platitudes and they both quote some of them. I just found it interesting that these were the two they had in common.
Now I've had an exhausting weekend. My puppy played therapy dog at a new hospital. This was a lot different then our usual rip and run sessions, replete with tea parties and plays. This was a straight hospital situation.
She was wonderful, waiting for a signal from the patient before approaching, not shying from wheel chairs and keeping her head at a level for easy petting. She talked to them all too.
Saturday was my last pee wee football practice. Their season starts soon and the deal was that I wouldn't be a coach. It was good. The best part being that they're too small, or I'm too large, for them to carry me around the field on their shoulders. (Something every football player with dreams of doing: toting their coach around the field.)
Then there was volleyball practice. I seem to have given an odd picture as to what this is about. The guy running the program is the HC at the 1A school here. The kids aren't college students. He set up the clinic in "economically challenged" areas. The kids are 7 to 14. The plan is to get them involved with sports and pass on some fundamentals in the hope that they will pursue athletics in school.
Benuk Cosmicpetals 1440X900
Click images for desktop size: "Cosmic Petals" by Benuk
The old "social inclusion via sports" gambit.
I believe in it.
It works.

Last Sunday I felt like giving up, but had to give my foster puppy a bath in order to take her to an "Adoptithon" . . . not my phrase for sure.
Wednesday more doc's and therapy dog playing with my puppy. A woman came over to meet my foster dog. The little foster dog was great but we haven't heard back so this Sunday the drag starts all over again as we go to another "adoptithon." The little girl needs a home.

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June 21, 2007

I made up my mind on the freeway

Click images for desktop size: "Coochy Cooty" by Robert Williams
Poking and prodding.
They tell me I should be in pain. I tell them I am. Then they stare at me blink and say, "A lot of pain."
I say, "Yeah, a lot of pain."
"You seem to be functioning alright."
I say, "yeah."
And they give me a new pain pill. I wouldn't take the other one. It made me too dopey.
I refuse to feel dopey.
They're not dead certain why I feel this much pain. Its the kind of pain that's all over. Even all my teeth are noticeably looser. Bad pain like only a few other times. They've decided its a combination of circulatory stuff and neuropathic junk.
Stuff and junk, got that?
It was frustrating and painful for me. The tests, I mean.
One thing though. Yesterday a nurse was lying in wait for me. She'd heard that I was the guy who owns the therapy dog with the web site. She asked me if I was, really really was.
I said, "Yeah."
Attack Of The Phantoms During a break in my tests she took me to meet the kids in her ward. These kids were different than the kids we normally see,more refined, better mannered maybe. More used to getting things they wanted maybe. Still they're just kids.
They asked me all kinds of questions about my puppy. Mainly they couldn't believe that she lives in their town.
I got summoned abruptly. They needed to make more blood flow out of me.
The nurse wanted me to bring my puppy to meet the kids.
I told her I can't drive. She didn't ask me if my license was suspended for DWI, which is he usual question/assumption around here. She offered to pick my puppy and I up and to bring us home. I'm tough and when I feel bad I get too tough. I'll never be tough enough to turn my back on kids. Its my stupidity and I live with it.
Besides, I figure if I keep busy it won't hurt so bad.
And, its true, I'll do anything for a lift.
And while they were showing me the computer they used one of the kids asked me if I really owned my puppy. A little girl answered, "Nobody owns her!"
Smart kid.

The only real difficulty is that they charged me a lot more than I was prepared for. Not a whole lot but enough to bankrupt me. But its paid for - in full. Put that way - in full - it seems an obscenely small amount of money. More than I've got though. I've got plenty of dog food, but not many treats left. Both the foster nor my puppy are going to like that.
I've got 6 meals left. I'll get by somehow.

My co-worker, the one who had the dog that I took care of Memorial Day weekend, is trying to dump the dog. I'm pretty furious about it. He seemed to me like the worse person in the world to care for a dog. He found it in a box by the side of the road. The box had a sign on it that said, "Free Puppies".
She's a good dog but his lack of training and his unwillingness to teach the dog, play with the dog have resulted in a large 6 month old 55 pound hyper ball of energy. She's scared. He's just trying to evade the responsibility he took on.
Click images for desktop size: "Vampi" by Frank Frazetta
He tried to dump the dog off on another co-worker. He told her if she didn't take the dog he was just going to dump it at the pound.
I told him that if he did that I would be very disappointed in him.
I've done a lot of thinking and there's no way I can take the dog in - time, money, space. I'm trying to find a suitable home but that's too rare for a problem animal.
I'll keep thinking.

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June 16, 2007

I just hold the ball like this and then throw the hell out of it
Steve "Lefty" Carlton

Benny Darkday2 1440X900
Click images for desktop size: "Dark Day II" by Benny
Every pitcher I've ever known has had the same mind set as a Weakside Line Backer on a run blitz.
Justin Verlander just threw a no hitter for the Tigers a couple of weeks ago. It still resonates. That's one of the things I love about baseball. The game stays the same forever. A no hitter today conjures memories of every no hitter before it. It augments the legend and illuminates the beauty of one man and his team rising to a level of perfection. And it makes perfection real and attainable.
Verlander got his no hitter the way I like them, with 100 mile an hour fastballs.
The last no hitter I saw was in person was Nolan Ryan's, way back when he was a California Angel. Ryan threw the hundred mile an hour fastball. HE had the rep of being a "nice" guy. He also had a rep for having control problems. Control problems - One of Ryan's records is striking out the side on 9 pitches. No fouled balls, just 9 pitches in a row three batters couldn't even touch. That isn't a control problem.
1959 - Hot Money Girls I always figured that Ryan kept the control problem ruse going to give him an edge. You know a 100 mph fastball can kill you, break bones if it hits you. If you were facing a guy who had control problems you're going to have to work awfully hard to on concentrating after the first pitch slips away from him and comes at you head high and behind you.
I think the ruse was more effective than Don Drysdale's. Drysdale's wasn't a ruse though. Drysdale remembered anyone who got a game winning hit off of him and then would proceed to intimidate, head hunt and humiliate you for the rest of your career. Batters really had to decide how much they wanted to win when Drysdale was on the mound.
How much simpler and saner to have "control problems". How much more intimidating when you never know when death's retaliation will come hurtling down at you.
He was a beautiful pitcher and one of the best I've ever seen.
The first no hitter I'd ever seen was Sandy Koufax's perfect game. I was 7 or 8. My grandfather took me that day. Back then I played baseball at the parks or empty lots, always running through my batter's litany (which I ran through even at my last game). Keep the label up. Don't close you eyes when you swing. Drop the bat, don't throw it before you run down to first.
Even with that limited knowledge Koufax was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. When I caught my first 6 foot peeler a few years later Koufax was the reference point I used to describe that waves beauty, power and elegance.
When I look at art I see few that can compare and only a handful of paintings or sculptures that can stand up to the glory of Koufax in the 9th inning of that game.
I was a decent hitter. Like most batters I divide the strike zone into a base 9 sectioned rectangle (High, low, middle - inside, outside, middle) and then I quarter each section. I know where I can hit the ball in that diagram. I know where I can't hit it. The diagram shifts depending on the umpires view of the strike zone and then shifts again depending on the speed and delivery of the pitcher.
I'm All Ears
Click images for desktop size: "I'm All Ears" by Unknown
I think Koufax saw the strike zone as a series of floating dots, the size of dimes. He remembered what you did to the ball the last times you were at the plate and marked it down in his head, then he threw the ball to the dot where he knew you couldn't do anything with it.
When I was in my 20's a friend got a coaching job in San Luis Opisbo. He got a house in Half Moon Bay. His next door neighbor was Sandy Koufax. I went up there and we spent a Saturday watching Koufax practice his golf swing, mess around in his yard. It was a remarkable day.
Later my friend got friendly with Koufax and said I should come up for a BBQ or something like that and meet him. I didn't. I never wanted to talk to him. What if he didn't like me? Or, far worse, what if I didn't like him? He was a work of art, a monument. I couldn't have lived if he'd just been a man.
Delinquent Parents (Hs) X01 On Wednesday I have to go to the hospital for some tests. There was a delay to schedule me for "the machines". I'm not fond of machines where they strap me down naked underneath it while they put on lead aprons, welding masks then stand behind 6 inches of lead impregnated glass and another wall of solid lead. ZI'm not so stupid that I don't know its safer to back there with them!
The tests are for some weird numbness in my right arm. No stroke or heart attack. The easy answers gone they go to the machines. I only have to pay the same 20 bucks as for a regular doctor visit so its cool.
Worse is that one of the dogs I cared for Memorial Day weekend has "offended" his owner. He wants to dump her and sees no correlation between his treatment of her and the way she is. I threatened him. I can still draw the fire so maybe he'll listen. I doubt it but he does know I'll carry through if the puppy suddenly "runs away".
And the next door neighbors and I had a set to. Two dogs gone, one dead from being mistreated, another found running down a busy street (8 week old tiny puppy). There's a 3rd dog living there . . . as abused as the others.
I made my point with them but cowards who take their hate and neglect out on an innocent tiny puppy aren't capable of listening.
My ride just showed up for volleyball.

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June 9, 2007

I would live with him in hell. He is my happiness. Kawajari Mastomo

Wallpaper 85 Cube Symbols 1600X1200
Click images for desktop size: "Cube Symbols" by Unknown
Where I live the ground is rich red clay.
Red clay has 3 states: Clay, sticky mud and dust.
It makes red dust. The red dust is so heavy that it collects in the shower pan in the morning. It lives in your hair and in your skin.
Its stronger and heavier than the black dust from cars. Its stronger and heavier than the gray dust from skin and flesh.
It is always here.
One of my friends used to speculate how much dog hair we must eat in a day (she had more dogs than even me).
I wonder how much red clay dust i eat and drink each day. I wonder if its good or bad for me and if anyone has ever worried enough about it to figure it out.
But mainly I wonder when something will come along to interest me more than the red dust.
1956 - Godzilla
I'm exhausted.
I have a new measure of fatigue. My hand cramps get significantly worse the more tired I am. Response to toxins, maybe?
Today at pee wee football practice was the oddest. They all cramped in groups of two, each pair right after the over.
I have to use an outside lever to unbend my hands when it happens. It was hard to do that when there are so many kids about. Hard to do so they won't notice, I mean.
Its been a busy week.
I was worried because this is a small town and I'm not great at entertaining house guests in any circumstances. I just want them to be at ease and happy.
The most exciting part was meeting my puppy's "little brother". She's larger than him.
They seemed to get along fine, although I was hoping for some deep outpouring of familial secrets. It didn't happen but they acknowledged each other and got along fine.
My foster dog fell in love with him, badgered him constantly. I worried about it bothering him but I noticed several times that if she left him alone he'd go and provoke her.
Work was rough this week. Nothing new there.
The weather here has been wretchedly hot and miserably humid. I expect it to get worse. There's no cooling at night or even during the rain storms.
Even so 50 kids showed up for Pee Wee Football. The 8 who were there last week took sadistic pleasure in showing off their extra skills.
The hardest part for me was getting the other coaches to back off and let the kids have extra water breaks. I'm starting to wonder if my fellow coaches have any experience in this sport. 96 degrees is not the right temperature for pushing children. They won't get tougher, they'll just get cramps and learn to collapse.
Blacktree Mercatecnia
Click images for desktop size: "Black Tree" by Mercatecnia
Volley Ball practice was even more packed. Nearly 200 kids, enthusiastic kids.
I was dying and worried about my sun block holding up. The kids are getting used to me. A few of them tried to make out like we're buddies. I understand that and it doesn't worry me. My fellow coaches there are very experienced and we all know that its just the youngsters way of trying to find their place in this world.
They do ask some incredibly personal questions though.
Tomorrow I have to get my house back in order and try and rest.
My legs feel like they're leaden, just constantly sore and tired. Same with my hands and shoulders. I made the 1.4 miles to the bus stop in 17 minutes today. It took me 20 yesterday.
I think a solid day of vegging out and watching movies would be the cure though.
I stole my neighbors dog again. They killed one puppy with neglect and stupidity so of course they got another. I picked it up while it was wandering down the street in front of traffic. I may have found a home for it. The people seemed okay and are willing to get him his shots and keep him a week.
Tonight I heard a puppy crying on their back porch. Another one. A different one.

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June 2, 2007

Maddie said to Hattie, "We can't take a chance. Let's not be L 7. We got to learn to dance!"
Sam The Sham

Alex Bank Electrofunklover-1600X1200
Click images for desktop size: "Electrofunk Lover" by Alex Bank
Had a white night last night.
Not certain why. The pain level was just enough to keep from falling completely asleep, I guess.
I thought of odd things. Deep memories, physical memories.
If they were of bad stuff I guess they'd be called traumas. They weren't bad. They were some of the things I don't keep in the fore front of my mind but they are high lights. I was rock climbing once and thought I was about to die. My life flashed in front of my eyes. These memories were in that flash. I recall them even last night as vivid and beautiful.
I have an IQ that tests pretty high, which just proves what a poor joke testing is. My memories are physical things, not words or dates but muscles and nerve memories.
It started with a time when I was about 12. I remember it because I had an old Zuma Jay's surfboard. A real clunker I could afford second hand from my paper route.
It was a big winter day. Malibu was packed solid even though the wave wasn't working from the third point to the pier. I pedaled down to Arroyo Secos where a nice hollow face was working.
1944 - Teen Age (1) The old clunker hung a rail and I got tumbled hard along a sandy bottom. The memory is beautiful to me. I was being held down under water, helpless, just dragged along the sea beds. I had no power and no control. Just about the time that I was starting to worry about my breathing the ocean spit me out, threw me up high enough to escape the foam and gulp in fresh air.
I thought this was proof that the ocean loved me.
That thought drifted over into thoughts about baseball. I miss playing a lot. A few days ago I picked up and ball and I was lobbing it at a chain link fence. There was no pain and I was hitting where I was throwing. I tried to make a real throw and the pain was intolerable, like electric irons had been clamped on my elbow while an electric storm ran from my shoulder to my fingertips.
I remembered one of my favorite plays. I was a junior in High School. I don't remember who we were playing but we were up 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth. They had the bases loaded with one away. The runners were off with the pitch. The batter did a bad sacrifice bunt that became a chopper up the middle. Our second baseman, Sammy scooped it up clean and tossed it to me at second. I caught it barehanded and was pivoting to throw to first when the runner barreled in on me. I let the ball go at the same time as the runners spikes caught me square on the right hip. It spun me around and knocked me down but I still looked up and saw Tommy, our 6'4 first baseman make a stretch and an easy catch for the double play.
What was cool was that I felt his spikes dig into me but I felt no pain. I concentrated on the throw the same as always.
When I got up his footprint was on my pants, and indentations where his spikes caught me but my pants weren't torn and neither was the skin.
I decided baseball loved me.
These things need to be in threes. A memory trilogy.
Snowb By Hero Xxx
Click images for desktop size: "Snowboard" by Hero
My senior year of high school. We were in the conference semi-finals. Our opponent had an All State Parade All American had middle line backer. For the first quarter he made my life miserable. He hit me hard and often and he hurt when he hit.
In the second quarter something happened. It was a belly play. I burst up the middle and I felt something run into me. I felt like a concrete block. I noticed something had hit me but it didn't stop me or even bother me. Some of you know I had to wear rubber goggles back then so my peripheral vision was just enough to identify colors and shapes. I had no idea what had run into me. I just kept going.
Back in the huddle I was getting congratulations. The MLB had hit me and then gone flying. I didn't understand it then, less now, so I paid no attention to it. What I remember is that feeling of invulnerability, that noticing that something had bounced off of me and the fact that that something had no more impact than just being something more than that. I can always feel it in my bones.
It went that way the rest of the game. He had no more tackles.
I watched the game film and saw it happen, still not understanding, just knew that the sport loved me.
1952 - Red Planet Mars Next week is going to be interesting.
I have a hectic work schedule and house guests. One of the guests being my puppies brother. Two big black dogs will be interesting and fun. Add in a manic foster dog and it would be great if I could just spectate.
Football was odd. Its been threatening rain all day. Only 8 kids showed up. Most of the kids have to be driven there by parents.
I'm not disappointed. Eight kids means I get to know them better and when you learn one segment of the team well, you can understand the whole team that much better.
At volleyball practice, where the kids are poor and generally have to make their own way there had about 140 show up, or nearly 3 times more kids than the previous week.
I'm not sure exactly what those number imply.
I will, by necessity, be even quieter next week.
The update to the latest Word Press on the 19th of May seems to have broken my RSS feed.
I'm still trying to figure out why. Until then this link should work http://warchild13.com/wp-atom.php in NewsGator or whatever RSS reader you're using, at least until I can figure out how to fix the whole thing.

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