Flag Day and Father’s Day

In case you missed it, and judging by the number of houses not displaying the Stars and Stripes you probably did, last Friday was Flag Day. If your first question upon reading this is “what flag?” someone, to be as blunt and honest as possible, needs to come by your desk at work and punch you in the face.

Anyway, I like flag day. I like displaying the flag. All kinds of flags. I have three different American flags. Really like the Betsy Ross flag. Also have my fall football Friday flag which is a very sharp cardinal and gold Cyclone flag. I am, however, a bit embarrassed to admit that I do not own a Steelers flag. So I’m sometimes flagless on Sunday. You’d be surprised at how difficult it is to find a simple gold or black flag with the Steelers logo on it. This flag either isn’t produced in large numbers or is so popular you can’t find it anywhere. Like Old Frothingslosh beer in Pittsburgh back in the 70’s. Or a Love Boat episode without Morgan Fairchild guest starring. Anyway, in addition to my affection for flying flags, I like to teach the girls about the flag. Which is why I was really, really proud of Kinsey.

Kinsey wrote an essay on the flag in May. Which, as you recall, is a month I missed and by the law of transference, missed learning about this essay until much later. Regardless, every 5th grader in the district wrote about what the flag means to them. She came running into our room during one of the last school nights of the year to tell Mom and I that she received a Top 10 award from the local American Legion for the essay. The award wasn’t a college scholarship unfortunately. Wasn’t even one of the sweet tiger-camo boonie hats. It was a certificate. Needless to say this award is a direct result of excellent parenting. Also my suspicions regarding the teaching of American history and government in the local public school district may be overblown. Or Kinz simply overcame the left wing indoctrination so rampant in teacher education programs at our major public universities and then perpetuated in the public school system.

But maybe that’s just me. A failure to articulate what the flag means to you is akin to living through the late 70’s and not remembering Ponch and Jon. Or Seven Mary Four and Seven Mary Three respectively.

Regardless, Kinz never was given the essay back yet so I haven’t been able to read it. Which means I don’t really know what she said. But I’m pretty sure it was awesome. It also makes me leery that the Pelosians may have conveniently disposed of the Top 10 essays so they wouldn’t influence other students and foil their neo-Marxist plan to program the next wave of mindless Obamabots.

Last Sunday was also Father’s Day. I’m sure you remembered. Interestingly, it doesn’t have a flag. Although if it did, it would almost undoubtedly be a flag of every Dad’s favorite NFL team. I suppose there are those of you who would choose to fly the flag of your favorite MLB team. Or NBA team. I guess hockey too. If you’re from the Confederacy, maybe NASCAR. But God help you if a Manchester United flag or some such crap was on the front of your house. Why don’t you just fly a flag with a picture of you spitting on a flag that says “Father’s Day?” Or a flag with Darth Vader wearing a cape emblazoned with the Soviet hammer & sickle while he smashes the Lombardi Trophy under his boot and shoots a bald eagle with an AK-47? It’s the same thing. And listen, while I understand not everybody watches youtube highlights of 1978 NFL Today shows and shares my deep appreciation of NFL history and how the sport is woven into the fabric of America itself, that doesn’t mean I accept that you don’t .

What? I’m not the one with the problem, you are.


The Year of Polamalu

Turned 43 last month. Which of course makes it the Year of Polamalu. Hopefully that means Troy stays healthy this year, turns back the hands of time, and looks like the old Troy from 2008. Conversely, it may also mean that life is simply disguising its blitz packages and at any moment a Somoan safety could come unexpectedly flying across my desk and give me a grade 17 concussion.

Anyway, people react in varying ways to their birthdays. Most, if not all, of your reaction is based on your new number. When you turn 21 its this:

When you turn 30 its this:

When you turn 40 its this:

43? Well, I’m not sure. It’s hard for me to believe I’m 43, even harder to come to grips with the fact that once it gets to about 8:30 at night I’m pretty much shutting it down, but I really just can’t fathom that Return of Jedi came out 30 years ago. I remember going to the theater with my buddies Greg and Dan and being as impressed then as I am now with Admiral Ackbar’s coolness under pressure. Still my favorite Star Wars movie. I know its cool and fashionable to say Empire is the best one but c’mon, nobody really enjoyed all that time Luke spent bromancing with Yoda. Other than that I don’t really remember all that much about turning 13. I do remember caring a lot about keeping my hair properly feathered. And that we treated the comb in our back pockets the way Riley treats her cellphone. Oh, and that the video for Chris DeBurgh’s Don’t Pay the Ferryman was weird, Markie Post was the hottest bail bondswoman on TV and the Pirates were still wearing these:

1983 was a long time ago. And I feel bad for those of you who don’t remember it.

Anyway, I just realized last night that we don’t get a break from any of the kids’ activities this summer. Normally, July has a week or two free from the scourge of child transportation. Not so this year. The only breaks we get are when we’re “officially” on vacation. Riley will have summer dance crap into August while both Kinz and Bails are trying out for competitive tournament softball teams next week. So I kinda feel like every morning starts with “WTF?”

Anyway, favorite summer song from 1983:

I Missed May

So I missed May. Both on this blog and pretty much everywhere else. And I think that kinda sucks. My birthday is in May, it’s my second favorite month and the unofficial start of summer is contained within its boundaries. But, it turns out, EVERYONE else thinks May is so awesome that everything should be scheduled in it. People do the same thing in December to a certain degree. But in May we get dance recitals, dance performances, dance banquets, orchestra concerts, band concerts, chorus concerts, church picnics, softball games, softball tournaments, and the tremendous stress caused by the fact that all the girls are staying home this summer. Oh and May is the busiest time of year at work for me. And Mom was out of town for a full week. A week when I had to miss two of Kinsey’s softball tournament games. Which meant that I missed the game when she not only broke up a no-hitter but did with her best hit of the season. Somehow though I managed not to miss Bails spilling a container of glitter all over the kitchen floor. That stuff gets everywhere including the corners of her mouth. Bonus was that she looked really sparkly.

I’ve concluded that the other months conspired, out of a jealousness not seen since Ashton Main tried to get her brother-in-law captured and/or killed by Confederate troops because he rejected her in favor of her sister Brett in North and South, to bring down May’s approval ratings by putting so much stuff into the month that getting punched in the face by Clubber Lang would appear to be a welcome respite. I wouldn’t put it past February to have led this nefarious scheme either. Nobody likes February. It’s cold, has few advocates and without the recent addition of the Super Bowl, has nothing to offer. It’s the Eric Holder of months.

From May 3 until May 26 we didn’t have a single day unoccupied by some type of kid activity that required us to make multiple trips, commit multiple hours and get irritated multiple times due to logistical challenges. I understand this doesn’t make us special. It’s just makes us parents of three girls between 3rd and 7th grade. Most parents face similar issues. But WTF? From 4 p.m. on Monday, May 20 through 4 p.m. on Saturday the 25th we had 6 softball games/practices, 2 regularly scheduled dance classes, 2 dance recital rehearsals, 2 dance recitals and an orchestra concert. And these recital practices have elusive ending times. Mom barely beat me home and this was the week when I didn’t get home from work before 9 p.m. until Thursday.

Surprisingly, that week did not include Kinsey’s 11 day stretch when she played or practiced softball every day. But that also included her 10U team winning its bracket in their most recent tournament and her rec league team winning the third place game. She has two brand new medals. She’s very proud. Her 10U team won the championship when our pitcher struck out the batter on four pitches. Pretty cool. But cooler when the tying run was at third and the winning run at second. Oh and the pitcher showed up just before gametime from her baton twirling recital in full makeup with sparkly eye stuff and everything. Welcome to 10U softball…

Depending on how things fall this weekend, we could end up playing 4 games in one day. So it’s kind of a win/win. If they do well, they keep playing. If they lose, we get to come home. Tough to be angry about either outcome. As long Kinz makes contact at the plate. That’s her definition of a successful at-bat. Not a hit, not a walk, not a sac fly, not even a hit-by-pitch. Contact. Could even be a crappy foul down the 3rd base line. But its contact. The ride home from games when she strikes out without hitting the ball is awful. Horrible. Like being forced to watch every episode of After MASH. Kinz wears her emotions on her sleeve and tends to tear up and/or cry when things don’t go her way or she feels she’s disappointed the team. Mom and I find this unacceptable and after many, many attempts to change this behavior…Mom finally reached the breaking point.

Before the day Kinsey’s team went 3-0 and won their bracket, I had her practicing off the tee. I put the tee up to armpit level which forces her to keep her hands high and hit line drives instead of dropping her hands and popping everything up. Well, Mom and I have different coaching strategies. Mom offers alot of feedback on everything while I’m a bit more selective. Anyway, Kinz started whining while hitting off the tee in front of Mom. The whining led to tears which led to crying. It was a lot like Britain signing a mutual defense pact with France and Poland in 1939. One thing led to another until Stukas are chasing your backside out of Dunkirk and Mom is dragging you by one arm away from the tee and up the stairs into your room where both Mom and Dad chew you out for crying and being a wuss.

Sometimes the only option is actual force. Not a show of force but actual operational action. Often times there are casualties. One of them was Kinsey’s wussiness. She hasn’t cried since. We could tell she wanted to a few times but she’s held off. So far. Mission accomplished, I guess.

Hey so its summer and here’s one of my favorite summer songs of all time. ELO. 1979 baby. Jeff Lynne’s white man fro and beard. Flashing neon hot dog. And bassist Kelly Groucutt’s fu Manchu. Tell me you don’t want that fu Manchu. It’s so awesome it should be mentioned in the liner notes as a member of the band.