Sunday, October 22, 2017

A Great Kindness of God

This summer and fall has been a momentous one for me and my family for many reasons, positive and negative.  But today, as well as earlier this summer, I was privileged to participate in baptizing my two daughters.

For those of my readers who may not be familiar with the Christian faith, baptism is a ceremony in which a person affirms his acceptance of Jesus Christ as Savior, and joins himself to Christ, both in his death and burial, and in his resurrection, by which God accepted Jesus' atonement for the sins of his people.  Our tradition uses immersion in water as the representation of this burial, resurrection, and washing - others use the sprinkling method which basically involves either a wet hand or a small container of water being poured on one's head. For some traditions baptism is a necessity for being accepted by God, and others it's more of a public profession of the decision you have already made.

When we had our kids, we had the intention (and indeed, the responsibility) to raise them in the faith so they could make the decision to follow Christ for themselves, rather than thinking they were saved because mom and dad took them to church and read them Bible stories. So for both my girls to decide on their own to do this, and pursue it with the church all on their own without any prompting from us parents was really an answered prayer.  Many prayers for many years, actually!

So for me to be able to participate in the moment for both of them was a very great joy for me, and I am thankful to God for his kindness toward me and my children.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

MSU Radio Network Needs a New Color Analyst

Listening to the MSU-UM game on the radio tonight, and frankly, the Spartans radio network needs to find a new color analyst.  I've said it for years, but Jonathan Strayhorn is just painful to listen to.  His favorite saying is "That's right George", and he uses it on nearly every play.  There's no insight, just agreeing with consummate pro George Blaha.  If that's all you're going to do Jonathan, why do they need you in the booth. I know you're a Spartan through and through, and God bless you for it, but you are not cut out to be a broadcaster.

And I'm just going to say it - George Blaha is the Earnie Harwell of foorball announcers.  He is so smooth and so good, you love to listen to him. Football or basketball, it doesn't matter.  He's just that good.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Gotta say - I liked the White Helmets MSU Wore Today

This is apparently their alternate helmet this year.  In the past they have had a bronze one and a shiny metallic green one.  I like this white one a lot better than either of those.  They wore an all-white uniform today, even though it was a home game.  Which was a win, 28-14 over WMU.

I think they should wear the white helmet, white jersey, and green pants when they visit Michigan in a few weeks. 

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

One thing I'd like to see...

Given the daily reports and videos of the peaceful, tolerant, understanding, benevolent Antifa thugs beating the crap out of some poor schmuck because he's perceived to be a Trump supporter, what I would love to see sometime is to have one of these thugs pick on someone who is an MMA guy or a 5th degree black belt in some martial art, and have the tables totally turned on him. You know it would go viral very quickly on social media.

Yeah.  That would be completely worth watching.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

So now that the Tigers are out of it...

The question I'm asking myself is "Who do you keep and who do you get rid of for next year?"

Position Players
Mahtook, CF.  He's played way above expectations and deserves to return as the starter next year.
Cabrera, 1B.  You have to keep him because of his contract, but confound it Miggy, you have to find a way to get your back fixed this offseason.
McCann, C. Still developing, and playing better of late.  Best of the bunch between Hicks and Holaday.
Romine, OF/IF.  Fills the role that Don Kelly used to, only he hits a lot better.  Useful guy.
Upton, LF.  If he wants to stay, keep him.  He's been the most consistent hitter on the team since last August.

Kinsler, 2B.  If you can get something for him, do it.  Seems to have hit the age barrier and performance seems to be declining.
Castellanos, 3B.  Defense has regressed, probably better at first base going forward, but unless Cabrera moves to DH, it won't be in Detroit that this happens.
Iglesias, SS.  Machado seems to be ready to go here, and is a lot cheaper.  Get what you can.

Fence Guys:
Assorted pieces and parts, keep or package as needed for depth or prospects.
Adduci, Pressley.

V. Martinez, DH.  God bless him, he's been a great Tiger and a great hitter, but the legs are gone and he's just a singles hitter now.  The shift has been his downfall.  Give him a coaching job, make him a scout, or put him in the front office, but his body has given out on him.

Fulmer, SP.  New #1 guy, someone you build a staff around.  Only trade for multiple spectacular players.
Saupold, RP.  Found his niche as a long man and has done really well this year.
Greene, RP.  Only thing resembling a closer on the roster right now.  Eventually the closer will be Jiminez, but not yet.
Jiminez, RP.  Just needs to pitch in the bigs.  Nothing left to prove in the minors.
Zimmerman, SP.  Going nowhere because of the money he is owed, but he needs to find himself next year.
Norris, SP.  Another guy that needs to find himself, but too much talent to let go of.
Boyd, SP.  Just needs to pitch in the bigs.  Probably a 3rd or 4th starter long-term.
Bell, RP.  Another guy who is doing well in the long relief role
Stumpf, RP.  Has shown some progress since returning from the minors.

On the Fence:
Rondon, RP.  Big arm, no maturity.  Has to show up to camp in shape and ready to rock or he gets cut.
Wilson, RP.  Another guy who needs to find himself.  Still has potential.
Verlander, SP.  Never thought this day would come, but he deserves to go to a contender and get a championship.  I just hope it isn't the Yankees he goes to.  Must bring a big haul of prospects wherever he goes.

Sanchez, SP.  Whatever he may have found earlier, he has lost again.  Time to let him go.

Lots of roles left after this list, particularly Right field, but there's some guys waiting to step in and some other guys that will be on the market for cheap trying to revive their careers.

One big question left:  Manager.  I always liked Ausmus as a player, but I don't see any fire in these guys.  Jim Leyland used to instill it, but you haven't seen it since Ausmus has been here.  Everyone's cool, calm, collected.  "That's baseball" is a common refrain - "nothing you can do about it.  Just show up tomorrow and start over".  No grit.  No toughness.  No fire.  I say find someone who will light a fire under these guys.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Beautiful Stained Glass

Was at my nephew's wedding recently and saw this beautiful stained glass window above the altar.
It's a little fuzzy, and not as bright as it was in person, but it was the best my old iPod Touch could do.  Still, it's a very moving piece of art.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Well, National Match Week is here again

And how do I know this, you may ask?  A couple of reasons:
  1. The house is quiet again after last minute brass-cleaning sessions with the vibratory cleaner running for hours on end cleaning brass because there aren't enough cartridges made. Also, because my daughter and the usual whirl of activity isn't here, having been dropped off with the team yesterday for an 0300 departure this morning.
  2. A car is available for use by someone other than her.
She is fresh off a 2nd place finish with her partner Jed at the NRA's Whistler Boy match in Indiana last weekend.  Rather an underwhelming event this year as it was not held in conjunction with the National Matches at Camp Perry as hss been their usual practice.  So instead of 20 or 30 teams as there would usually be, there were only 4.  Of those, two of them were from our Junior team from Michigan.

The winning team was a couple of high-masters from Illinois using scopes, while our kids all used their irons.  Still, they showed up and shot, which is more than most did, so they got the hardware.

Monday, July 03, 2017

Your 2017 ID4 Overall winner is...

Lauren Smith.

Yes, this is a brag post.  For those of you who are or have been members at the Capital City Rifle Club you know what the ID4 match is.  For those who don't, it's the way our club celebrates Independence Day every year, by shooting a match with rifles that have some significance in the different wars the United States has fought in.  You can bring a flintlock if you want to! Don't know how well those round balls will do at 200 yards, and rapid fire is out of the question, but it's still kind of cool to think about it.  One of my bucket list items is to build up one of the 2 U.S. Krag-Jorgensen receivers I have into a shootable rifle and have a go at it with that.

Mostly people use Garands, or Springfield 03A3's.  One of my friends shot it this year with a 1917 Eddystone Enfield.  A couple years ago they allowed AR's in, but they are not eligible for prizes, as it really is no contest against all those antiques.  Lauren shot her AR (since we don't have any of those other rifles) so she got no prizes, but she did get the admiration of  other shooters on the line, which is no small thing.

So congratulations to Lauren.  A nice lead-in to the National Matches coming up soon.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Calls to investigate mosques to have a backlash against Christians, Jews?

In the wake of the murderous Manchester bombers, there are increasing calls for investigation of the religious activities of the plotters, and the teachings of the imams in various mosques they attended.  Compounding the angst is the fact that once again the bomber was on the radar of the authorities, but they "didn't do anything to stop them".

An article on today tells the tale of two Minnesota muslim men who were arrested recently with ammunition, rifles, "electronic bomb making materials", and a grenade in the trunk of their car, and the outrage that one of them has already been released.  The other is being held on federal weapons charges.  The gist of the article is that we should be asking them about their religious beliefs and the preaching they have been listening to at their mosque.  It also talks about the islamic enclaves that have formed in many places around the world (this location in Minnesota being one of them), and the fact that Sharia law is the defacto law in these areas, rather than the laws of the localities and countries that contain these enclaves.

Finally, I am reminded of the court battle a few years back where the Mayor of Houston, Texas was embroiled in a battle with several area pastors over a local gay-rights ordinance and the effort to repeal it.  The Mayor, Annise Parker, subpoenaed sermons and other materials from these pastors, allegedly to investigate any disparaging comments they may have made about homosexuals, gay marriage, or other topics the mayor didn't want them preaching about.  This act by the Mayor was roundly criticized on First Amendment grounds, and ultimately the courts rejected the Mayor's actions.

These kinds of things are testing the boundaries of the First Amendment, and I'm honestly troubled by the knee-jerk reactions of most of the comments I have seen toward increasing the reach and power of the security state even into religious matters.

So here is the question: if we are outraged by Annise Parker's actions, shouldn't we also be outraged by the calls to investigate imams, if we want to be consistent?  Isn't that the state trampling on the religious freedoms of the muslims? Aren't we all equal before the law?

And if the answer to this question is no - we're going to investigate the imams and mosques because one or two or some of their attendees killed a bunch of people while chanting an islamic text - then we have just given the state jurisdiction over the things that are said in any church or synagogue or temple in addition to the mosques in question.  And if the state doesn't like that fact that a particular religious assembly speaks out against gay marriage or school prayer or any other topic that society has deemed "wrong", then we're going to investigate you and possibly shut you down because you don't agree with "us".

And yes, I understand that this sort of thing could happen regardless of which side of the political spectrum the Mayor/Governor/Attorney General/etc. comes from.  Power is a seductress, and those who can stand up to the seduction are rarer and rarer.

So, in our haste to root out the evil among us, let's not give politicians the right to govern our religious speech at some (near) future time.  Because we all know what happens when politicians get involved in things like this, and it isn't pretty.

Monday, May 22, 2017

My Little Girl has Graduated

Yes, this is a proud parent post. 

We had my daughter's Senior Recital and Open House this weekend, and it was wonderful.  She is a terrific flute player, and it showed.  Here are a few pictures.

First up, just Lauren-

Next, with her friend Allison.  Who wrote the piece they played.  And is getting some notice from people who know about such things.  And who is going to Interlochen this summer to study composition.  And she just gave it to Lauren, and played it with her.  Yes, I'm bragging on her too, because she is all this and just as nice as can be.  I'm glad Lauren has friends like you, Allison!

And finally, Lauren's private teacher, Dr. Tess Miller.  We're very grateful to her and all the work she has done with Lauren - both musically and personally.  If you are looking for a flute instructor, you can't go wrong with Dr. Miller.

I have some video coming, and I'll post that when I can.

Lauren - you have become a very lovely young woman, and I love you dearly.   Can't wait to see what your life has in store for you.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

The Nuclear Option? I'll believe it when I see it

Speculation is swirling in Washington as the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court continues to make its way through the Senate.  Reports are now that there are 41 Senators committed to support a filibuster when the nomination comes to a vote.  These reports then blithely state that the Republicans will "invoke the Nuclear Option" in order to confirm Judge Gorsuch.  For those of you who went to public schools and thus never had a civics class, the Nuclear Option means that the Senate will change its rules to allow confirmation of a Supreme Court nominee via a simple majority (51 votes) rather than a three-fifths super-majority (60 votes).

The first thing we all need to realize is the Republicans, especially their leadership, have no courage at all.  They have proved this over and over during the 8 year reign of Barry the First, and even during the W administration when they didn't do anything they said they were going to do when they had control of both the legislative and executive branches.

So when I read these offhand remarks about Republicans invoking the Nuclear Option, I have to laugh, because they have never shown the least inclination to do anything that is hard, or will subject them to criticism.  And the criticism will be loud, long, and intense, starting with the vote they will have to take to change the rule in the first place.  Mitch McConnell has never shown the courage to face the outrage the press would put out when they find that this rule change is going to be brought to the floor.  He will pull the rule change, allow the confirmation vote to go forward and lose, and then shake his head sadly while lamenting the democrats intractability and unwillingness to cooperate on this very important nomination, and how sad it is that such a good man and eminently qualified judge will not be on the Supreme Court.  And once again a party and a philosophy that has lost over a thousand seats nationwide over the last decade will have won the political war, over the clear will of the people of this country.

Monday, April 03, 2017

Tigers Baseball 2017

Traditionally I have done a preview post on my favorite baseball team, the Detroit Tigers, as the regular season begins, so here is my attempt for this season. 

And honestly, I have no idea about this team. It's hardly changed from last years team that barely missed a wildcard slot and missed the playoffs for the second year in a row. 

There are aging veterans in key positions (Verlander, Cabrera, Victor Martinez, Kinsler) but there are younger players in others (JaCoby Jones, James McCann, Matthew Boyd, Daniel Norris), and who knows how they are going to perform?

So here it is: if they stay reasonably healthy and everyone plays to their norms (or expected norms in the case of the youngsters) they should be somewhere in the vicinity of 90 wins and contending for a playoff slot. Otherwise, it's a third year of watching the playoffs instead of playing in them. 

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Healthcare repeal failure

I sent this message to President Trump via the website, so I'm sure he'll get it :)
I didn't vote for you to get Obamacare Lite, I voted for Repeal
I have written before in this blog about the "Replace" part of the commonly referenced "Repeal and Replace", and the need for government to get out of the healthcare business and into the tort reform business - thus "Repeal" is as far as I really want them to go.  Let the insurance companies (or other entities for that matter) sort out how healthcare gets delivered and paid for.

I also have to say that Paul Ryan has to go as Speaker of the House.  He seems to have no spine, and seems to be working for someone other than the people of this country.  And now he's walking away from repeal in a snit, saying "we've got other priorities". 

I would like to know what other priorities are more important than avoiding the collapse of the healthcare system in this country, and the great heaping mountains of federal money (created out of thin air, of course) it will take for it to continue to operate between now and that downfall?  Mr. Ryan, and yes, you too Mr. President - this is just irresponsible.  We elected you to extricate the country from the financial morass created by Emperor Barry the First (and yes, W as well), not to just walk away at the first resistance you got! Get back to work!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Why is local Sanctuary City "uncooperation" different than 2nd Amendment "uncooperation"

Attorney General Jeff Sessions yesterday intimated that federal funds were going to start being withheld from Cities and States that had passed "Sanctuary" legislation instructing their police and other local agencies not to cooperate with federal law enforcement efforts against illegal aliens within their jurisdictions.

There seems to be widespread approval of Session's action from the political right.

But I remember not so long ago that many on the political right were applauding the State and Local governments that were doing the same thing regarding the enforcement of federal laws concerning firearms, instructing their police and other local agencies not to cooperate with federal law enforcement efforts against gun ownership.

So, are we on the right now becoming that which we have so roundly criticized, because the guys we helped elect are now in power and doing it to those we have disagreement with?

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Neil Gorsuch and his "I'm just here to help the team" statements

Listening to some of the answers Neil Gorsuch was giving to the Senators during his confirmation hearings the last couple of days, I was reminded of a scene from "Bull Durham".  (Warning: R-Rated language)

Now, I understand that you have to say stuff like "Heller/Roe/whatever is the law of the land" so you can impress (or confound) the Senators questioning you without really saying anything they can blow you up with, and you get confirmed.  I do - I get it.

But here's my question:  at one time, Dred Scott was the law of the land, and if we applied this sort of legal logic, especially at the Supreme Court level, we would still be sending free blacks back to their southern masters.  Is that really what we want?

My point is that the legal doctrine of Stare Decisis only goes so far, and one of the jobs of the Supreme Court is to overturn bad precedent, rather than just slavishly sticking with it because that's the way we've always done it here.   That's just crazy.

So if Judge Gorsuch really believes in the "precedent uber alles" method of legal decision-making, then we have a problem here.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Know your enemy

An article by Gabriel Suarez, a man who grew up in Castro's Cuba. My only (minor) quibble is his use of the term "soft communism" to describe much of what we see today. My contention is that there is NO soft communism, only different faces and masks of the  core of evil that communism is. 

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

They can really stand there with a straight face and say this stuff?

Reading with some interest about the Senate debate over the Jeff Sessions nomination as Attorney General of the United States, and I came across this statement by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), who we most recently saw standing alongside Hillary Rodham Clinton in her failed bid to prolong her political career:
"Any attorney general must be able to stand firm for the rule of law even against the powerful executive that nominated him or her. In this administration I believe that independence is even more necessary"
And I had to stop and look again.  Did he really say that?  After eight years of Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch not standing up to the extra-constitutional shenanigans of Barack Obama, Tim Kaine steps onto the floor of the Senate and has the gall to say this? And indeed, beyond those two not doing their jobs, if you felt this way Senator, where were you when Barack Obama was trampling on the constitutional rights of the citizens you purportedly represent?  Why weren't YOU holding that powerful executive accountable for his lawlessness?

There were no reports of Sen. Kaine's tongue bursting into flame after this utterance, so I guess God was in a merciful mood today.

Thankfully, Mr. Sessions was confirmed despite the complete lack of conscience shown by Mr. Kaine during the debate. 

Thursday, February 02, 2017

On a cold day in February, it's important to remember...

Pitchers and catchers report to Lakeland, FL on Feb. 14th!  Tigers Baseball begins anew!

Today it was 21 degrees here in my little corner of Michigan, with 25 MPH wind gusts.  I need facts like that to get me through this month, especially since my job keeps me outside all day.

Thinking of the greenest grass you ever saw, and the smell of popcorn and hot dogs and beer.  Of clean white home uniforms and the duller grey or blue of the away togs in the bright afternoon sun.  Brown or red dirt on the infield, white chalk foul lines and yellow foul poles presiding over the limits of the field, and the smack of baseballs leaping off of bats and settling into gloves.  It's all closer than you think, and the thought of it gets you through when the cold wind wants to strip the skin off your face.  Baseball's coming.  The trucks are already hauling the gear south.  In two weeks it will have already started.  You can get through two weeks, right?

I can't wait.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

McDonalds wonders why sales are declining in U.S.

Reading an article in The Detroit News this morning about McDonalds wondering why its sales are still declining even after they started their all-day breakfast menu. So they are trying to think of other gimmicks to lure customers back to their stores. 

Well, I thought I might help out those execs a little, as it seems like they're missing something here. The bottom line from this side of the counter is this: your food isn't all that great, and certainly not worth the price you charge for it. 

Think about it. If you go and get a "Value Meal" you're going to spend $7 to $8 for it. I can go to my favorite Chinese buffet and get more and better food for not much more than that, and it usually includes ice cream or a couple of cookies. 

McD's - your niche is "fast, cheap, familiar". Your price point is $5.  Do what you have to do to stay in that range and see what happens.