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C-Notes, Part 10
Assorted thoughts in 100 words or less

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SEPTEMBER 22, 2006:

During the 1972 Olympics hostage crisis, ABC-TV was desperate for updates.  They switched to a live press conference by a Munich police official.  The feed was audio only — and in German.

My parents and I were watching this, so I took a stab at simultaneous translation.  The official droned on for minutes, saying something like, "Naturally, a situation of this sort presents numerous difficulties . . . ."

My mother remarked that Jim McKay would be disappointed when he learned that no real news of the hostages was being disclosed.

My question was, why couldn't ABC come up with a translator?


OCTOBER 18, 2006:

When my father retired in 1973, he must have been bored.

Witness this pattern in our front lawn, which he achieved by mowing diagonally, skipping every other stripe, and then doing it again crosswise.

SEPTEMBER 22, 2006:

Traveling with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1987-93, I connected with each city I visited through its local newspapers and newscasts.

In 2006, I went back on the road with the Pirates for a couple of months.  However, this time I had a laptop computer.  Online, it was easy to read stories from the Pittsburgh newspapers and even to listen to Pittsburgh radio stations.  I rarely got around to buying a local paper or tuning in the local news.

The Internet can broaden our horizons, but it can also enable us to retreat into a familiar shell.


OCTOBER 12, 2006:

The most popular Beatles song from my college days ends with a long, hypnotic coda.  But hearing it again recently, I also realized that the verses have an intricate rhyming structure that adds to their appeal.

Hey Jude, don't make it bad.____
Take a sad____
 song and make it better.
Remember to let her
 into your heart,____
Then you can start____
 to make it better.

Hey Jude, don't be afraid.____
You were made____
 to go out and get her.
The minute you let her
 under your skin,____
Then you begin____
 to make it better.

OCTOBER 12, 2006:

The new TV network formed from the remnants of UPN and The WB is called "The CW."  Presumably the letters come from parents CBS and Warner Brothers.

I didn't think "The CW" was a good name.  Every time I saw it, I thought of "C&W," country and western music.  But then I realized that western disappeared long ago with Gene Autry and Roy Rogers.  For forty years this genre has been called simply country.

The only people who would associate "The CW" with Nashville were old fogies like me, and we are not part of the TV network's target audience.


OCTOBER 12, 2006:

When I was about 12, my mother conducted a little experiment.  She gave me a dish of beige ice cream and asked what flavor I thought it was.  I tasted a spoonful and came up with the right answer, "coffee."

Being a youngster, I had never tasted coffee itself, so we were both a little surprised that I could identify it.  But I had smelled coffee.  And in cases like this, it's the sense of smell that's more important.


OCTOBER 12, 2006:

Here's my first TV camera, a prop that I made in 1961 for a skit in eighth grade.


I covered a cardboard box with white shelf paper, with appropriate attachments.  The lens was a toilet paper roll.

The tripod came from a music stand, from my abortive career as a trombone player.  On top of it, I stacked two polyethylene cups from a thermos set, the smaller fastened upside down atop the tripod and the larger taped to the underside of the box.  These nesting cups formed a functioning (though non-tilting) "pan head."

An actual camera, one that made it to the moon before the decade was out, looked surprisingly similar — down to the music-stand tripod.

Westinghouse-built color TV camera used during the Apollo 12 moon landing, November 19, 1969.


OCTOBER 12, 2006:

Some high school sports rosters still list uniform numbers in two columns, "home" and "away."  Both are usually identical.  But once they had to be different.

As I recall, when I was in school the home basketball team was supposed to wear even numbers and the visitors odd, to eliminate ambiguity when the referee called a foul on 34.

No one could wear 1 or 2.  The referee used those numbers to signal "one free throw" or "two free throws."  Digits 6 through 9 were prohibited.  The ref's hand didn't have that many fingers.

An ideal set of sixteen uniforms . . .


OCTOBER 16, 2006:

After an afternoon baseball game, Bill Shissler and I placed our orders at an outdoor restaurant in Old Town San Diego.

A sparrow flew up and perched on the back of a chair.  "Hello, there," I said.  It looked at me.

Unfolding my arms, I gestured across the empty table, saying, "I'm afraid we don't have any food here."  The bird gravely observed this, then looked at Bill.  "Is this true?" it seemed to be asking.  Bill just grinned.

"Well, okay, thanks anyway," I imagined the sparrow saying.  It made a hopping 180° turn on the chair and took off.

I knew what the bird was seeking because another sparrow had perched at my outdoor table on Maui a few years before.  He had shrewdly waited until my sandwich arrived, so I was able to be a good host by tearing off a morsel of bread and tossing it his way.

In 2016, Ken Levine vacationed with his family on Maui.  He reported that a restaurant called Coconut’s Fish Café has good fish tacos.  However, they “do not serve chickens – either as an entrée or customer.  There are live chickens walking around their outdoor patio.  This is not uncommon in Kihei strip malls.”

OCTOBER 17, 2006:

Motorists once used small ferries to cross rivers.  Above:  my Grandma Buckingham with me on the Ohio River at Ripley, August 24, 1955.  "Pull forward, apply brakes, stop motor.  Do not proceed until signaled to do so."

A century earlier at this spot, former slave John P. Parker served as a conductor on the Underground Railroad.  In the years before the Civil War, Parker escorted more than 500 fugitive slaves across the river from Kentucky to freedom in Ripley and beyond.

I took the other pictures the following April, at the mouth of the Rough River at Livermore, Kentucky.

The highway and railroad bridges spanned both the Rough and the Green.  To get to Livermore from the "point" between the rivers, drivers needed the ferry.

For power, I believe a man walked the deck pulling on a cable fixed to both shores.

(Click here for older and newer views of this place.)

OCTOBER 17, 2006:

The Amish school shootings . . .  how quickly life can end, even for the innocent!  But when I read about the tragedy's aftermath, what moved me was the Amish response.

There were no hateful vows of revenge, no angry calls for reprisals against the outsiders.  Instead, the community accepted that sometimes terrible things happen.  All we can do is move on.

Did they burn down the deranged gunman's house?  No.  They took up a collection for his widow and his children.

It was an inspiring example of brotherhood.  Those you'd expect to be filled with rage instead reached out to help.


OCTOBER 17, 2006:

The alternative is holding a grudge forever.

In Iraq, Sunnis and Shiites are killing each other by the dozens.  Why the enmity?  It dates back to a dispute over who should succeed Mohammed — more than 1,300 years ago.

Pittsburgh pundit John McIntire asked whether U.S. media will ever get past the annual bemoaning of 9/11.  Some listeners insisted we must never, never, never forget.  But "Professor Steve" told McIntire's blog, "Not moving on leads to the notion that every small act requires retaliation, which leads to more and more a quagmire, which is where we are today in Iraq."


OCTOBER 23, 2006:

According to Google Earth, there are some very steep mountains rising out of the rolling suburbia north of Pittsburgh.

I use the program each week to scout out the next high school football stadium I'll be visiting.  The tilt function gave me this startling perspective of Pine-Richland's field.

The apparent "mountains" must be the result of anomalous elevations in the database.  (Did airplanes confuse the satellite's radar altimeter?)

The nearest peak, seen from another angle at the right, is allegedly 3,618 feet high — over 2,300 feet above the surrounding terrain.  It's at 40º 40' 33.43" N, 80º 01' 39.03" W, if you'd like to climb it.



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