Friday, September 30, 2016

A True Spartan Sportsman

Amid all the sordid news about bad conduct by athletes and coaches throughout the sporting world, it is good to note there have been many instances of true sportsmanship. Two recent unrelated events caused me to recall one of my favorite positive sports stories.

Last Saturday, I watched the Michigan State University football team in action because they were hosting my Wisconsin Badgers. The next day, Arnold Palmer died. Palmer dominated professional golf for years, first on the regular tour and later as a participant with other older stars in the Legends of Golf tournament and similar events.

Throughout the 1980s and 90s I played golf many Saturday mornings at a course near our home in  Ogden, Utah, with a group of men who jokingly referred to themselves as the "Local Legends." Some of us were as old as Palmer and the rest of the real "legends," but none of us came anywhere close to their skill level. It was easy to join our group; anyone who wanted to play could.

By the luck of the draw, one Saturday I wound up in a foursome with a newcomer named Jones who was a professor at Weber State University. Dr. Jones was a big man who hit golf balls a long way, but not terribly accurately.

It was fall, and the chit-chat in our foursome naturally turned to football. "Did you ever play?" Jones was asked.

"Oh yeah," he replied, I was a  defensive tackle for a couple of years at a small west coast school."

"Which small school?"

"Stanford."

That exchange got some laughs, and also led to a question about Jones' experiences on the gridiron. He said only one was memorable.

"We played Michigan State. They had a lot of talent that year; we were pretty lousy. They beat up on us every which way.

"After we took our licking, we were sulking in our locker room when the Spartan coach knocked on the door. He asked our coach if he could speak to us. No one I know ever heard of an opposing coach doing that.
 
Daugherty earned many well-deserved honors
"Duffy Daugherty stood in the middle of the room and told us we had nothing to be ashamed of. He said even though we were over-matched, we had played our best to the very end, and he was impressed. He told us it had been an honor to coach against us that day. He said if we lived the rest of our lives with the perseverance we had shown, we would always have reason to be proud of ourselves."

Although he didn't specify the contest, Jones probably was referring to a game in 1961 when the Spartans beat Stanford 31-3. That year MSU's record was 7-2; Stanford went 4-6.

Several years later, Daugherty's Michigan State team was named national champions in a poll of coaches. Dr. Jones' story led me to believe coach Daugherty was one of the true champions we sorely need today in sports.  

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

We Must Thump Trump

I watched the first televised presidential debate in 1960. It pitted Richard M. Nixon against John F. Kennedy. Nixon appeared sinister with his dark "five o'clock shadow" beard and evasive answers to questions. In contrast, Kennedy's image was one of a handsome, confident young man making clear, crisp comments.

As a confirmed Republican, I voted for Nixon anyway. That turned out to be one of the major mistakes of my lifetime.
 
She got it right, he got it wrong.
Last night, we watched a bully talk over his opponent and interrupt both her and the moderator increasingly as the debate wore on. Donald Trump's comments more often than not were exaggerations, inaccuracies, far off the point, or downright lies. Hillary Clinton stayed calm throughout the onslaught, made only two questionable statements I could detect, and was clear and crisp in presenting her positions.

Electing a deceitful racist whose interest appears to be limited to himself would be a tragedy for America and the world.

I'm not going to repeat my 1960 mistake. Hillary Clinton clearly is the candidate who as President will continue working hard to make America stronger and the world a better place.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Well, Well . . . Some Prices Fell

We fully mature adults living primarily on pensions are acutely aware of price increases, some of them enormous, for things we increasingly need such as medical and dental care. Any cost of living increases included in our incomes haven't come close to covering our expenses for some time. And any interest on risk-free savings has dropped 50 percent or more in the past few years. Sometimes it seems if we live long enough we are destined to wind up joining the ranks of the poor.

But some prices have fallen. Basic clothing prices have declined for years as the U.S. textile industry moved to countries with low wages. Gas prices are about half of what they were a year ago thanks to a glut in world oil supplies.

Last week, I was surprised to discover another area in which prices have dropped dramatically. The revelation started when my computer screen went black for no apparent reason. A visit to the Geek Squad provided a temporary fix, but when the problem returned after everything possible had been adjusted it became obvious a new monitor was needed.

My monitor was eight years old. I dimly remembered paying a fairly hefty price for it at a major electronics store. My recollection was correct; the old receipt for $319.00, including speakers and tax, turned up in a file. Considering eight years of inflation, I expected a heavy hit.

A bit of research showed the best price for a monitor of the same size and brand (Hewlett Packard) with new speakers, and again including tax, came to $192.00. And lady luck helped. The day I
Hey, geezers. "Old fashioned" electronics got cheaper.
headed out to make the purchase, the local Best Buy store ran a big sale. I bought precisely the monitor I wanted for $132.00.


Wasn't the quality lower as well as the price?  Heck no. The flatscreen LED picture is brighter and clearer than what my old monitor provided when new. The styling is far superior, making my office space more attractive. The sound from the new speakers has better range and can be controlled more precisely. The new monitor is better than the old one ever was in every respect.

How in the world can a store sell a superior product for less than half the price it would have received eight years earlier for a piece of equipment that performed the same functions?

Sometimes, "supply and demand" works to the advantage of consumers, and in the case of electronics I think that is just what is happening. Many companies jumped into the personal computer market as demand skyrocketed. That market now is saturated, both because of a higher production total by the competing firms and because laptops and smart phones are now all the rage among electronic gadgets. A lot of competition for fewer and fewer buyers of towers and separate monitors has driven prices down, and probably will continue to do so.

So, fellow geezers, take heart. When the kiddos chuckle at your old-fashioned computer setup, smile and secretly resolve not to change your ways. Staying electronically challenged may be saving you a bundle of cash you can use to pay some of that next dental bill. And your "computer" will never fall out of your pocket and break or be lost as you travel to your next doctor appointment.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Back to Blogging

It’s that time of year—back to school, back to work, back to leaf raking. So why not back to blogging? On June 14, I started a summer break from posting stories here. My thoughts at the time included the possibility of never returning.

Serious writers know that the act of frequently coming up with a new thought and developing it into a coherent story is mildly stressful at best and difficult most of the time. The reward for writing is not found in the act itself, it is in the good feelings authors experience when readers make their presence  known. And readers generate great pleasure for writers when they say they liked what was written.


In my 80th year, it was becoming harder to come up with new material, and anything that smacked of “work” was increasingly distasteful. Although my blog readership statistics continued to increase, the number of comments had been static for some time.

Reader reactions were bittersweet during the first weeks of my hiatus from blogging. It was gratifying to hear from friends old and new who said they hoped my summer would be enjoyable and they looked forward to my return. On the negative side, some people who I care greatly about showed they care very little about my work by not even noticing the absence of posts. Happily, the positive reactions were much more numerous than the negative.

Two anniversaries played the biggest parts in convincing me to return. The most important happened less than two weeks ago. Beautiful wife Sandy wrote on Facebook: “55 years ago today on September 2, Dick and I were married. WOW! It doesn’t feel like that long ago. It’s been a fun and adventuresome ride. . . looking forward to many more!”

Presiding over this blog has been part of the “fun and adventure” for me for a long time. The blog's tenth anniversary was July 11. During our traditional anniversary dinner, Sandy and I agreed that ten more anniversaries are quite likely in our future.

So how is an octogenarian to spend another decade? Embark on entirely new activities? Minimize all activity and concentrate on pure rest and relaxation? Stick with the activities that were part of the fun and adventure of the previous half century? 

I crossed the last item off my bucket list last year. New adventures are not on my horizon. I'm still feeling good, mentally and physically, so doing nothing at all would drive me batty. So, it's back to blogging with no guarantees about frequency or quality. Seeing how that works out should serve to generate some fun while continuing to pursue an old adventure