A SCARY THOUGHT FOR HALLOWEEN
United States Census Bureau estimates it wont happen until
March, but according to the United Nations Population Division, today
is the red-letter day the day when the number of people on our
planet reaches 7 billion. Thats three times what
it was when I was born!
graph spans my lifetime. The bottom of it represents a
population of zero billion, as in the days of the Garden of
Eden. Notice how rapidly we're moving away from the Garden.
of us enjoy the luxuries of the First World, using as much
electricity and water and oil as we like. Some of us barely
survive in the Third World.
Earths resources are strained to sustain us. Fisheries
are being depleted, reservoirs are going dry, the atmosphere is
filling up with carbon dioxide, and the end of oil is in sight.
Yet we continue to add more people.
to a WWF assessment, we were already living 50 percent beyond the
planet's biocapacity four years ago, and by 2030 humans will
effectively need the capacity of two Earths.
know where we can find a new world?
FORTY-SIX YEARS AGO
I was a senior in high school, the 16-year-old pictured above was
one of the top finishers for the title of Miss Teenage America.
next year, in Dallas on the last Friday night in October, she won
its issue of November 12, 1965, Life magazine published the
picture Ive colorized on the left. The new Miss Teenage
America, Colette Daiute from Paramus, New Jersey, was a
language student who hopes to become an interpreter. She
won by demonstrating her talent as a baton twirler.
years later, I watched her twirl her baton in person. I think
I mentioned that already.
Las Vegas last weekend, we learned just how deadly motor sports can
be. But there are safer types of automotive competition.
Time-Speed-Distance road rallies, for example.
a decade beginning in 1966, I competed in TSD events with my high
school friend, the late Terry Rockhold. Our average speed was
only about 30 miles per hour. As a matter of fact, it was precisely
30 miles per hour if thats what the rallymaster specified.
of my letters about this sport appeared on this website nine years
ago, along with other exciting material. You can actually
listen to Terry and me competing in a Rally!
That article is this months 100 Moons flashback.
travesty of Beethoven, that's what it is.
an adolescent, I played a piano solo preternaturally quickly. Listen!
I wrote nonsensical lyrics for it. Read!
all in a new article in my Poetry section called Bumm
I'M SO EXCITED
do you excite a pro athlete? Change his
circumstances. At least thats what hell tell
you. Interview him and notice how often he uses the word excited.
excited to be here! Im having a great time getting to
know my new teammates. Helping them make it into the playoffs
thats gonna be a challenge, but I'm excited about
it. And is it true were getting a new practice facility
in a couple of years? Im pumped up about that, too.
the typical athlete. Mr. Excitement. But how about you,
Mr. Straight Talker? The trade that brought you to our city
are you excited about it?
really. Im kinda bummed out, to tell the truth. My
old team had a chance to win a championship. The fans were
great. The weather was great. I loved the city. I
just built a new house there last year. And now Ive gotta
come here? To this team of losers? Where I
dont know anybody? Its depressing. Have you
seen that dump where we practice? But its my job, so
Ill have to give it my best effort, I guess.
if more interviewees were that honest? Its an exciting concept.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL BY THE NUMBERS
at a small college generally are there to learn. Sometimes the
football coach finds it difficult to persuade enough of them to come
out for the team.
thats not the situation at Allegheny College in Meadville,
Pennsylvania. The Gators were Division III national champions
in 1990, and enthusiasm is still high. As I prepared to work on
the telecast of last Saturdays game against Case Western
Reserve University, I discovered that there are 131 players on
Alleghenys football roster.
squad that large can cause problems for those of us in the
media. You see, each of those 131 players has been assigned a
number to wear on his jersey. However, three-digit uniform
numbers are frowned upon.
the equipment manager is limited to two digits, he might use
hexadecimal digits, which can represent 256 numbers from 00 to FF
in base-16. But imagine a quarterback wearing E0
throwing to a receiver wearing 3B. That would be frowned
upon as well. So hes actually limited to two decimal
digits, and that allows only a hundred possibilities.
the Allegheny roster lists quite a few duplicate numbers. In
most cases, I could ignore one number of each duplicate pair.
For example, one 23 is a senior letterman, the other a
freshman. If I saw 23 in action, it was a safe bet I was
looking at the senior.
then I consulted the two-deep, a list of the positions
naming the probable starter and his backup. I was surprised to
discover that even on this Depth Chart of likely participants, there
are three duplicate pairs! Is Allegheny trying to make
my job more difficult?
fairness, context allowed me to distinguish the pairs, provided that
I could tell whether a given player was on offense or defense.
One 4 is the starting fullback, the other a starting
cornerback. One 9 is the split end, the other the
placekicker. And one 60 is a backup offensive tackle
while the other is a backup defensive end. In an added twist,
the latter player actually wore 97.
the makers of uniforms keep trying to confuse us. Ive
heard that down in South Carolina that same day, the Gamecocks took
the field wearing camouflage numbers! It wasnt
actually a diabolical plot to cause consternation in the pressbox; it
was a Wounded Warrior tribute to the troops.
However, Southeast Conference officials had trouble reading the
numbers during warmups. Citing league rules about visibility,
they made the players change back to regular black home jerseys
before the kickoff.
CHANNELING W.C. FIELDS
away, kid. You bother me.
mister, I just wanna ask you a question.
wish to make an inquiry of me?
What are you doing to save the rain forest?
am I doing ! Kid, you flatter me, but I lack the
omnipotence which you seem to presume. I cannot save the rain forest!
without a great deal of assistance. What are you doing
to save it, if I may ask?
gonna recycle this comic book.
yes. A great help that will be. If we are fortunate, it
might preserve an entire twig.
my part, to conserve the worlds resources I have adopted an
enlightened personal strategy. My policy far exceeds the
efficacy of any mere recycling efforts.
dont get it.
Im not having any kids like you!
intrigue their customers, restaurants have been throwing more and
more ingredients into the basic sandwich.
they add a second type of meat, plus multiple cheeses and multiple
sauces. They pile on jalapeños and chili and bacon and
guacamole and sometimes even an egg. Yum, doesnt that
cant open your mouth wide enough to take a bite out of a
sandwich this thick.
its difficult to control. The chicken breast slides out
one side, the barbecue sauce drips out the other, and the spaghetti
slithers every which way.
fries and cole slaw are usually side dishes. But here in
Pittsburgh, Primantis even adds them to the stack of
stuff between the slices of bread.
I was served a crab cake sandwich last week, I eyed the inch-thick
patty inside. Inspiration struck. I used my fork to
remove the patty from its bun and condiments.
I had not one but two items on my plate: the crab cake, and an
easily manageable OLT sandwich. (That's Onion, Lettuce &
Tomato on a toasted bun with horseradish.) There was also a
pickle. I took a bite from each in turn and enjoyed them all.
says its a good idea to mix all the flavors in every bite?
CLASS WARFARE IS NORMAL
havent heard this point of view expressed before. So
when a Pittsburgh blogger
wrote about it, I decided to post the following edited version of
what he had to say.
all this nonsense about disparaging class warfare? What is
capitalism, if not class warfare?
is a natural tension between the poor and the rich, and there always
will be. The poor are trying to get rich. The rich are
trying to get richer. Class warfare is built into the freakin' system!
shouldn't the rich want to keep their money instead of giving it to
you? Why shouldn't the poor want to take some of the money from
the rich? It's called human nature. It's called
greed. It's called, welcome to reality.
GOP says the rich are the "job creators." Yet, the
facts show the major corporations are sitting on piles of cash and
creating zero jobs. Taxes used to be higher on these "job
creators" and the economy was better. Hence, soaking the
rich (a bit more than we are now) does not by definition kill jobs.
rich are richer than ever before compared to the rest of us.
We're human. We want to eat. We can't find work, or if we
can, it doesn't pay. So we want the rich to pony up some more
so we can survive. What's wrong with that? Guess what
they're still going to be? Rich.
don't want to "tax the rich, feed the poor, 'till there are no
rich no more." I want the rich to be around so that when
we need money, we know where to find it. Welcome to the Willie
Sutton School of Economics.
only people who don't like class warfare are the rich. And
there ain't enough of them to win elections. If we're a
democracy and most of us happen to be poor, why can't we tell the
greedy selfish minority what to do? But because they've duped
so many of you into believing one day you'll be rich, you join
forces with the wrong side, and corporate lackeys get in, instituting
policies which continue the trend where the rich get richer, and,
well, you know the rest.
contraption there is sitting?
moving, never flitting,
vibrations still emitting
inside my chamber door?
added the explanation to Digression #2 of my earlier article about The
official. With a loss this afternoon to the St. Louis
Cardinals, the Pittsburgh Pirates have extended their all-time record
for North American professional sports teams. They did so by
clinching their 19th consecutive losing season. Every year
since 1993, theyve lost more games than theyve won.
through 2011, the Pirates prospects looked much brighter.
As we can see from this Diamond Brick Road
chart, they occasionally made it into the golden left half (a .500
record or better). They even claimed first place in the
National League Central Division for a few days (shown in blue).
high point came on July 20: a half-game division lead with a
record of 51-44, seven games over .500. The fans were excited,
and baseball in Pittsburgh was fun again. But were the Pirates
that talented, or had they merely been fortunate?
were still in first place on July 26, but late that night, the
downfall began. The turning point as it had been in 1992
was home plate in Atlanta. In the bottom of the 19th
inning, umpire Jerry Meals ruled a Braves runner safe at home with
the winning run.
that controversial loss, the Pirates won only one of their next 12,
sliding into fourth place and out of contention for the rest of the
season. Now theres no way to make it back into the gold
half of the chart, even if they win every remaining game.
happened? A blogger called it a case of implosion to the
mean. Broadcaster Steve Blass explained, The
pitching went south, and that exposed the fact that we dont
really have much offense. In 35% of their games this
year, the Bucs have been unable to put more than two runs on the
scoreboard, and their record in those games is 6-46.
why are these TV colleagues of mine so jolly? Probably because
the long season will soon be over. I work only home telecasts,
but these guys have also accompanied the Pirates on the road.
Elmore and Jason Steele and Pete Toma, along with director Jeff
Mitchell (not shown), live in the teams hotels. Virtually
every day since March, theyve been sharing their lives with
each other and with the players and coaches and team officials.
there are just four series to go, three of them on the road.
As Chip Caray would put it, Only 14 more days until we can pick
our own friends.
buried Dirk Kruger today, in a cemetery 20 minutes west of where I
live. Many of his family and friends from the Pittsburgh area
were there, including about 20 of us from the TV sports community.
a graphics operator for sports telecasts, including the Pittsburgh
Pirates and Penguins. In the mid-1990s we added a second
device, the Fox Box, to display the score and other
information continuously in the corner of the TV screen.
an account executive at the Pittsburgh Business Times, added
a part-time job: he became our Fox Box operator. He
arrived at the stadium a couple of hours before each game to set up
the specialized computer. Here he is in 2000.
trained other operators to run what we now refer to as the
score bug. He sometimes got to travel with our TV
crew. I remember sharing a long ride (and a long talk) with him
one evening in a rental car, returning from a Southern Miss football
game in Hattiesburg to the airport at New Orleans.
years ago, Dirks day job took him to another city to work for Crains
Cleveland Business, and he moved to the Chagrin Falls area in
eastern Ohio. But he continued to make the two-hour drive back
to Pittsburgh (where his wifes family lives) for most of our
also made the time to spend with his two teen-age sons and their
sports teams. And he found yet more part-time work closer to
his new home. He operated the score bug for a few Cleveland
Indians games. On July 27 of this year, he finally achieved a
long-time dream: televising a no-hitter. Ervin Santana of
the visiting Angels didnt allow a hit in defeating the Indians
Thursday, the Pirates were playing a single 4:05 pm game at
Pittsburghs PNC Park, rescheduled from an earlier rainout.
I wasnt going to be there, as I had a prior college football
commitment, but Dirk was driving in to run the score bug as usual.
that afternoon he was southbound on a straight though slightly hilly
two-line highway, Ohio 44, only about 20 miles from his home.
The entrance to the Ohio Turnpike was a mile ahead. But an
oncoming Dodge Dakota crossed the center line and struck Dirks
BMW head-on. An hour later at a hospital in Ravenna, he was
pronounced dead at the age of 47.
he didnt arrive at PNC Park, the TV crew tried to find out
why. There was no answer on his cell phone. It was
several hours before their worst fears were confirmed. Needless
to say, everyone was stunned.
quickly a friend can be taken away from us! A week later, I
still dont know what to say. So let me quote from some of
the online condolences.
am so sorry I don't have the words to express my feelings. I
worked with Dirk at PNC. He was a wonderful, kind person and
will be greatly missed. My deepest sympathy to your family.
was with a profound sense of loss that I learned that Dirk would no
longer greet me with that lovely smile or regale us with proud
stories about his beloved family. You will so be missed, Dirk.
with him with Indians broadcasts; he was always a pleasant and
professional person to work with.
a statistician on our high school football telecasts:
Dirk was a role model. He was a wonderful family man,
wonderful at his job, and a wonderful person. His TV crew
co-workers are all heartbroken.
the head of our baseball crew: Dirk always added
laughter to our TV truck. His smiling face and great sense of
humor will be greatly missed. He was a great man, father and
husband. I will miss you, Dirk.
from the director and producer of our hockey telecasts:
Our hearts and prayers go out to Dirk's beloved family.
What a profound loss to us all! I will never forget his kind,
patient manner or the generous spirit that he shared with
everyone. . . . For those that had the pleasure of
knowing Dirk, we are better people because of him. I always
looked forward to seeing him. He had a way of making everything
better just by his presence. Dirk was liked and respected by
all. He was a very special man, and he will be missed ... but never forgotten.
in peace, Mr. Kruger.
how one of my colleagues typed the name of the current month. Anyway...)
didn't get to hear Jerry Lewis cry his way through the song
"You'll Never Walk Alone" at the end of this year's MDA
Night-Before-Labor-Day Telethon. Maybe I can make up for that
with my 1978 instrumental rendition. It's in the second quarter
Songs of Broadway.
à la Kramer,
a Toyota wonk,
you are palin-dromic.
Palin a manila P, Liam!
found the first three palindromes as answers to the New York Times
crossword puzzle No. 706. I made up the fourth one. Then
I searched the Internet for ways to illustrate them all.
Googling Toyota wonk wouldnt have gotten me
anywhere, so I Googled professor and found a wonkish
engineer from the University of Texas at Arlington who could be
superimposed over a Toyota.)