My Best Friend And A Ball Game

Baseball, probably more than any other sport, is constantly promoting the next big give-away day at the ballpark. Teams also have “special events” such as a 4th of July Fireworks show to lure in more fans. As a Phillies fan, one of the biggest events the team has each year is celebrating the Phillie Phanatic’s birthday. Mascots from everywhere show up, some recognizable, some not. This year marked the Phanatic’s 38th birthday in human years, not really sure what that adds up to in Phanatic years, and of course his mom Phoebe was there to help celebrate the big day, along with the Zooper Stars (Ken Giraffey Jr., Shark Mcguire, and the umpire-eating Clammy Sosa).

Unfortunately the Phanatic and I don’t get along ever since he climbed into my car at a public appearance and knocked a box of popcorn out of my hand, (true story) making my then 2-year old daughter cry. Apparently it’s okay for him to unroll that tongue of his in your face, but don’t ever give him a playful slap to the back of his fuzzy green head. He doesn’t like that. Of course my daughter being just 2 got over it, but being somewhat of an adult, I just can’t let it go. 

This month’s Can of Corn Challenge is to write about your favorite give away day that you’ve attended. For the sake of transparency, I’ve never been to a baseball game where something was “given away”. I did almost get a foul ball once, however my friend was able to grab it from underneath of the woman’s seat next to him before I could get to it…

…the ball’s live until it’s in someone’s hands. Beneath someone’s seat doesn’t establish ownership.

That was our rule back then, but to be honest, I always thought he should have given the ball back to her so she could give it to her grandson. Especially since he was sitting right next to her. But, it was the Vet in the late 1970’s after all, a place where manners and common courtesy went to die many deaths.

My choice of games to attend would be one of the newer, more popular event days baseball teams have, an event that is on the schedule of over 20 Major League teams…Bark At The Park.

Dog days, or nights, have become so popular in 2016 that many teams are offering them multiple times during the season. In Arizona, the Diamondbacks have made dogs welcome every Sunday in 2016. The Texas Rangers even combined a bobble head give-away, (for you traditionalists), followed by a post game concert by Cody Johnson. I don’t know who that is since my music knowledge ends at 1990, but I’ll assume he’s a Country & Western singer?

In May this year, the Phillies held their Bark At the Park Day for 300 of our Best Friends and their families. Dogs were encouraged to wear their Phillies gear for the chance to win the Becst In Show contest, and participate in the on-field parade prior to the game. The opportunity to be on a Major League Baseball field was a dream I was encouraged to give up when I was 12. Who would think a 13 inch Beagle would give me the best chance to ever “live that dream” imagesome 40+ years later? Of course, just like my inability to hit a curve ball, his love of a good cheesesteak would make it a challenge to get him by the concession stands in Ashburn Alley and make it on the field for the parade. I know, I know…the Phils are too smart to allow dogs in Ashburn Alley, they prefer them to be on the field. (You can interpret that last statement however you want.)

Bark At the Park Night also helped to raise money and awareness for PAWS (the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society) and ARF (Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation). Representatives from PAWS had some adoptable pets on-hand and fans were encouraged to bring much-needed items like food and cleaning supplies.

Maybe someday Bailey and me will make it to a Bark in the Park game because I can’t think of a better way to spend a day with a loyal best friend. 

Image

 

PA House Bill 1947…

…and the protests of the Catholic Church.

I never planned to use this blog site as a forum for a discussion on social or political issues. However, events in Harrisburg last week and at the church I attend have given me a reason to reconsider that plan.

The issue at hand is PA Houuse Bill 1947 which amends current child sex crime laws in the state. The bill was overwhelmingly passed (180-15) by the House in April and discussions in the Senate were held last week, much to the dismay of the Catholic Church in Pennsylvania.

The Bill and my understanding of it:

House Bill 1947 would allow any survivor of child sexual abuse who has not yet reached age 50 to seek civil justice and file a lawsuit against perpetrators of sexual abuse and other responsible parties which permitted the abuse-i.e., a priest and a diocese or a teacher and a public school district. The current civil statute of limitations gives victims until only age 30 to bring a civil lawsuit.

House Bill 1947 would also eliminate the criminal statute of limitations for sexual abuse crimes going forward, and would eliminate state law immunity for public schools which act in a negligent manner in permitting the sexual abuse of children.

To sum it up: Both Public and Private sectors would be liable both civilly and criminally for all sexual abuse crimes until the victim reaches the age of 50 once the bill is signed into law. But, only private sector institutions, such as the Catholic Church could be held retroactively, possibly allowing many out-of-date suits to now be filed and opening the Church up to additional financial liability. In addition, the threshold for suing public institutions are lower than those in the private sector due to the law of sovereign immunity.

Recently many churches in our Archdiocese read a letter from Archbishop Charles Chaput voicing the church’s objections to the bill from a political and financial viewpoint.

Before I start to comment on this, I’ll give you my personal disclaimer: I am not Catholic. My wife is however, and we’ve raised our kids as Catholic. I attend church almost every Sunday, however I chose not to convert to Catholocism for personal reasons.

I will include some excerpts from the letter if you haven’t seen it along with my thoughts on its content and what I feel is its meaning. I found the content of the letter to be an insult to my intelligence and obviously, extremely self-serving:

“A bill is currently pending in our state senate, HB 1947, that poses serious dangers for all of our local parishes and for the ministries, charities and schools of our archdiocesan Church.”

  • Is Archbishop Chaput telling us that due to the possibility of increased financial liability from victims of clergy abuse that church programs may be cut and churches or schools closed? And why if money is donated through the church to fund a specific charity, would that money go anywhere other than to that charity?

“…and especially to oppose any retroactivity provision in the civil statute of limitation covering sexual abuse.”

  • Eliminating the retroactivity portion of the bill would eliminate any currently out of date civil liability. The church would clearly benefit financially from maintaining the current statute of limitations. The Archbishop doesn’t even mention the criminal portion of the bill which tells me the objections are clearly driven by money.

“All of us are rightly angered by the crime of sexual abuse. Over the past decade the Church has worked very hard to support survivors in their healing, to protect our children and to root this crime out of Church life.”

  • The church has absolutely worked harder to make children safer. Parishioners who take part in ministries such as the CCD Program and other ministries are now screened more responsibly and must be certified that they have not been charged or convicted of this heinous crime. As for Priests or Deacons, I don’t know what the process is, I only hope it is enough to weed out any child predators.

“The problem with HB 1947 is its prejudicial content. It covers both public and religious institutions — but in drastically different and unjust ways. The bill fails to support all survivors of abuse equally, and it’s a clear attack on the Church, her parishes and her people.”

  • Simple question. Would the church be satisfied if the bill inPublic and government institutions are covered by the laws of Sovereign Immunity. It’s not a new concept and the church knows that. They choose to ignore it however in any discussions of the bill. Today, the general rule is that public institutions such as our state and federal government have immunity from actions that arise while carrying out their official government duties. Otherwise, most claims aren’t precluded by sovereign immunity. If I understand this, would child molestation be included in carrying out official government duties? Would the Vatican enjoy the laws of Foreign Sovereign Immunity? It does, and don’t think they won’t use it. HB1947 is not an attack on Catholic parishioners. Predator priests and the criminal actions of hiding them by church hierarchy are however.

“This is not just an archdiocesan problem. In other states where similar legislation passed, local parishes have been sued, resulting in parish and school closures and charity work being crippled.”

  • Is that because the courts have already ruled on the constitutionality of recent changes in other states? They did and it is. And again, the Archbishop uses the threat of school and parish closures as a result of this bill passing and not the abusive acts or mismanagement of the church. He doesn’t get it.

“Please act now to contact your senator, and members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and urge them to oppose HB 1947 and any effort to impose civil statute retroactivity.”

  • Again, only mention of the civil portion, or the financial liability of the bill, not the criminal portion. As I said earlier, I think this is just totally and wholly a money issue. In the past insurance companies may have paid for part of any past settlements, but there is a growing sentiment that these actions are deliberate and heinous and should not be covered under a church insurance policy. For once, I agree with the insurance industry.

This bill is a Pennsylvania House Bill, however similar bills have already been passed in other states including California, Minnesota, and Delaware. 

In an article written by The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, a Catholic advocacy group, and posted on their website:

“In Delaware, where a retroactive law was adopted, more than half of the individual parishes in the state were sued. One parish in Delaware was hit with a verdict of over $3 million. Very few could afford to go to court; none were able to defend themselves on their own. Financially, they had no choice but to join a group settlement without establishing the facts of individual cases. The Diocese of Wilmington had to close two struggling inner-city Catholic schools because diocesan funds were drained paying out settlements. The diocese had to lay off 10 percent of its workforce, and shut down or severely cut back on its Catholic Charities programs that help all people regardless of creed.”

Two immediate questions come to mind. Were the displaced students transported to a different parish school (on public school buses, which is what happened at our parish), and again, why would the Catholic Charities program be affected. Up to 65% of the money received by them comes from the federal government. Is PCC saying the money was used for paying lawsuits incurred by the church because of its predator priests? If so, the government needs to investigate its relationship with the church. In my opinion, that action borders on the criminal.

The sexual abuse of children in this country continues to be a hot button topic, unlikely to go away anytime soon. And it shouldn’t. The abusive actions and cover-ups at both Penn State University  and the Catholic Church should not be forgotten. No matter what your opinion of HB1947, take the time to understand the issues involved and the ramifications of any law changes that might take place in your state.

The opinions I have expressed are mine alone based on how I understand HB1947 and interpret the letter from Archbishop Chaput. Please feel free to comment, agree or disagree, on the contents of the bill and/or the letter.

 

The Origin of Mr.Unremarkable

Some days unremarkable is the best you get.

I was born they told me, in 1960, to the surprise of no one. There was no foretelling of the coming of a new force in the universe, up until that point the only superpower I displayed was the ability to Out-Swim all around me. Hardly the skill of someone of whom much was expected. It must have been a great accomplishment however, because I often heard my father mumble, “I can’t believe you were the one in a million.”

As the years went by, I developed the skill to Un-Inspire those around me, and to Annoy not just the females in my family, but those who were sent to teach me as well. As I grew into my teens, I thought I once developed the power of Invisibility since I was able to walk past most females without any sort of recognition I was there. I soon learned it wasn’t Invisibility, it was just another display of my skills to Un-Inspire and Annoy females.

The super power to Hide, and it’s sub-set of skills, Duck and Dodge, were developed in my early years. Household chores were beneath someone of my self-importance, how was I to develop all of my skills if I was running a vacuum or cleaning a closet? I soon mastered how to Duck and Dodge my father, especially on Saturday mornings when the grass needed to be cut. Unfortunately, my father had mastered the Power of Patience and he knew all he had to do was keep an eye on the kitchen and the refrigerator, I would show up soon enough.

My sisters were a key part in my development into someone Unremarkable. Not only had they worked on their development of the power to Annoy, but Irritate and Tease, were strong powers in their arsenal as well. And because they were older than I was, their powers were far better than any I possessed. Each and every day could have been a lesson in “Why didn’t I keep my mouth shut?”

After leaving behind my sub-par world of high school, I advanced into the world of blue collar labor. It was this world where I developed and drew on the superpower of Dumb As I Wanna Be. Now here, finally, was something I was good at. How could I have repressed this ability for so long? Combined with my ability to Hide, I was soon on nobody’s go-to list, and clearly Un-Inspiring everyone.

But then she came. She had the power of See Right Through Me. I had never encountered another female with a such strong ability. The short-lived and weak power of Dumb As I Wanna Be no longer served me. She learned the places I went to Hide, and soon Duck and Dodge also became just useless memories. She had the powers Smart and Inspired where I had only Annoying and Un-Inspired. She Inspired me to transform my super powers Annoying and Un-Inspired into Mostly Responsible and Somewhat Reliable. 

And after 28 years of marriage and facing The Trials and The Tribulations of raising two of our own one-in-a-million little swimmers, not to mention a Beagle possessing the superpowers of Always Loyal and Forever Hungry, we can’t wait for the day when they have their little swimmers, who we can teach the super power called Spoiled Rotten…

Some Super Hero stories have only a Mostly Responsible ending…

 Origin Story

That Guy Has No…

I always thought I knew-not everything-but more than enough to succeed. It started…as it always does, with a day busier than most days…

I needed to stay close to people who might need my so-called expertise. Since I arrived late today, I thought I would take a walk and let people know I was around.

“Come to me when you have questions. I’ll know how to answer”, I somewhat boasted. And more times than not, I did. But unlike other mornings, I thought I needed to announce this out loud to anyone who would listen.

This morning things seemed different. Instead of the pleasant “Good morning” reply I received most mornings, this morning I got head nods, awkward stares, and quiet whispers when I turned to leave. “They’re hiding something“, I said to only myself.

No matter how long it takes, I knew I would find the answer for all of this. And then all at once I felt it too. I suddenly became very uncomfortable “in my skin” as they say. “What the hell…”, I asked myself rhetorically. And it suddenly dawns on me, the “so-called expert” is naked. Not even a pair of socks for my suddenly cold feet.

But instead of hiding, I choose to walk among the people, cold feet and all, almost challenging anyone to call me on my level of self-preparedness on this day. But nobody does, and instead I walk around, hearing the whispers now, and seeing the shaking heads of condemnation. “What do they know?”, I reasoned. “I must be right, because who would ever doubt my level of expertise?”

And then, one of the few people, capable of making me look very un-expert-like appears, as if from nowhere…making me now feel… extremely uncomfortable. Fran, from Inventory Control. All I heard was…

Blah, blah, blah, you have no clothes on. Go get dressed, your embarrassing yourself!”

But nothing else mattered after “go get dressed”. Because now people-my people-were openly laughing at me, at my lack of self preparedness, and for some reason, the most important thing, my suddenly challenged, lack of expertise.

And then mercifully, my alarm goes off, and I wake up from my version of, “The Emperor  Has No Clothes” dream…

I still miss that job…

 Embarrassing

 

People Acting Douchey…

I was trying to come up with an adjective to describe some of the people and their behaviors we encounter each day. Here, presented absolutely tongue-in-cheek and in the Second Person viewpoint is my interpretation of people acting douchey…

 Most people who know me would say I’m more of a glass-half-empty person, a drain, not a fountain. I don’t always look on the bright side of life, and I won’t make lemonade out of lemons. Sometimes, I think we need to return-serve some of the lemons aimed our way every day.

Not surprisingly, the word douchey was one of the first words I came up with. Surprisingly, it is in the Merriam-Webster on-line dictionary and is defined as obnoxiously annoying, offensive, or dislikable <a douchey guy> or <douchey behavior>. There are also some who when asked about me would tell you “takes one to know one.”

With all of that being said, “Let’s pull the pin on this grenade”

You’re stuck in slow traffic during your morning commute. You’ve been waiting in a long left-hand turn lane. Finally…it’s your turn. You slowly inch into the intersection, knowing the only chance you will get is when the opposing traffic stops. The light changes to yellow (okay, amber), the last car clears, it’s now or never, you start your turn…WAIT! The first shout-out goes to that guy who leaves you hanging in the middle of the intersection, as he, (could it have been a she?) blows through the intersection on a red light. In fact, not only did Mr. Red Light Runner leave you hanging, but he sped up to do it, while talking on his cell phone!” Well, isn’t that special?

“Let’s see if there is a pony under this pile of manure.”

After an irritating, thanks to Mr. Red Light Runner, but mostly uneventful drive, you arrive at your Wawa or some other convenience store of choice. You figure a quick top-off on the gas tank, buy some food for the rest of your commute, and you’re out of there, except every single gas aisle is full. So you choose an aisle and you wait. The customer at the pump decides it’s time to wash his windshield, and every other window on his car! And then you hear it, that click of the pump that says his tank is full. Yet, he continues to wash the most useless of windows, the rear passenger side window. Patience you say to yourself. And then Mr. Clean Windows out-douches even Mr. Red-Light Runner. After putting the pump back and replacing his gas cap…he smiles at you on his way into the store. Without moving his car. What a douchey thing to do!

“Let’s not try to run and tie our shoes at the same time.”

Clean Windows finally returns with a bag of groceries and a small bottle of water, waves, and gives you a warm, “Have a nice day!” Finally, after filling your tank, you move your car to a parking spot, and play the parking lot version of the game Frogger as you make your way into the Wawa or other convenience store of your choice, still seething over your run-ins with Mr. Clean Windows and Mr. Red Light Runner. You get your breakfast sandwich, or your 3 donuts for $2.00. You pour your large cup of 100% Columbian coffee, grab a handful of creamers and sugar packets, and race to get in a line 8 people deep. You’re patient, you bide your time making it all the way to third in line…they open up another register…and the employee announces, “I’ll take the next customer in line.”  You do the polite thing and offer it to the person in front of you, who looks at you…mockingly…knowing full well…you don’t stand a chance. You gather your purchases, sprint around the counter in what feels like near-world record time, only to find that customers who were at the end of your former line were able to out-race you to the head of your new line. You’ve gone from almost second in-line to dropping back once again to a disappointing 5th in-line. And Ms. Store Clerk, who called for you, the next person in-line, won’t even acknowledge your existence. Will the douchey behavior ever end?

“We’ve got ’em by the short and curlies.”

Still in line at the convenience store of your choice, you wait patiently as a good and loyal  customer and responsible member of the human race should. But then, a few places ahead of you in line, you see it. Two customers, getting chummy. No, not that kind of chummy. Take your minds out of the gutter, please? Did they come into the store together? You’re not sure, but your spidey-senses tell you, something stinks here. They weren’t always in-line together. Customer 2 just walked up and placed his stuff next to his friends, or as you would describe him to the police, his co-conspirator. Should you say something, do you make a stink about it, what are you going to do? You say nothing, you ASS-U-ME they will check out at the register as one customer. But then it happens. They split their purchases. Or, to put it bluntly, Customer 2 just slapped you in the back of your head on the way to cutting to the front of the line. Still making lemonade are we? Or is it almost time to start returning-serve on those lemons?

I don’t want to put a ceiling on your blue sky, but…”

You put in your 8 hours in the old salt mines, or the place where you also call work. Today you’ve decided it’s now time to finally get that helmet you call your hair, cut. You no longer go to the barber with the spinning barber pole outside, they’re all gone. Much to your dismay, you now have to go to one of those uni-sex hair cutting establishments. So you suck it up, and you usually try to get there right after work. Entering the shop, you look around, only one customer waiting staring stupidly at his cell phone, with 4 cutters working. You check-in, where they tell you your 5th in-line. “Say again, I’m what?” Four other customers checked in on-line, they’re just not here yet is the reason. Like everything else on this day, you decide to take your chances and wait it out, spending your time obsessing over Mr. Red Light Runner, Mr. Clean Windows, Ms. Store Clerk, and Checkout Line Co-Conspirators. And now, for some reason, Mr. Cell Phone, begins to annoy you as well.

“It’s a sh*t sandwich, but we all have to take a bite.”

  • Customer #1 arrives. Young male teen with what looks to be a case of permanent bed head. “I checked in on my cell phone.”, he thinks everyone wants to know. After several suggestions from his “stylist”, he decides he wants to look at a book they have of different haircuts. Really, with that hair?
  • Customer #2 arrives. Female, guessing mid-40’s. She would like her hair colored and styled like Lady Gaga had at this year’s Oscars. Since nobody knows what that looked like, three cheers for Bed-Head Teen  for taking the time to find a picture on instyle.com using his cell phone.

“It’s also how I checked in!”, he reminds everyone.

Barber #4 uses this opportunity to call it a day, exhausted from a long 4-hour shift.

  • Customers #3 & #4 arrive. Twin elementary school-aged girls you guess, with their mom who wants them to get their hair cut like Tinkerbell. They’re going to Disney for summer vacation. She just can’t decide which one, Tinkerbell from the cartoon Peter Pan or Tinkerbell Julia Roberts from the movie Hook. Again, another big smolie-olie to Bed-Head Teen for finding pictures of each on his cell phone.

…he’s been here almost 30 minutes and hasn’t had a single hair on his head cut.

Mr. Cell Phone who was waiting when you entered the shop is still engrossed in his phone. You decide you can’t take it any longer and leave in a douchey huff. As you exit the store you here Bed-Head Teen exclaim…

“Give me a High-Lo Fade and a Medium Pompadour!” 

…and you say to yourself, “how douchey.”