“All growth is a leap in the dark, a spontaneous unpremeditated act without benefit of experience.” ~ Henry Miller

Earth, Air, Fire, and Water

“Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Life is like a game of cards. The hand that is dealt you represents determinism; the way you play it is free will.” ~ Jawaharlal Nehru

Massive thunderstorms this afternoon. Loud thunder booms, but no major downpours in our area. The flower garden could use a good dousing. Corey was out doing errands and said that it was raining hard in other parts of the city, but nothing here.

Eamonn is disgustedly happy to have the Trooper back in his possession, even though I told him that we still need to do a few things to it. I’m hoping that the smoke coming out of it is leftover from the problems that we just had fixed and that once it gets a good drive on the Interstate, she’ll start to run like her old self again. Corey said something about the rings, which sounds expensive. I’m ignoring that pronouncement in favor of bad gas (for the Trooper, not me).

I’ve been pricing tires, and of course, what we need won’t be cheap. Nothing ever is. Moving right along . . .

“Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.” ~ Joseph Addison  

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Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Tomorrow night Corey, Brett, and I are going to eat sushi and then go see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. This is part of Brett’s birthday present. He is the only one of the kids who actually likes sushi, so that gives us something to look forward to this weekend.

On other fronts, I happen to know that Janson and his wife are currently in the hospital awaiting the birth of their daughter Aurelia. He has been Twittering about the progress most of the afternoon. I love the name Aurelia. It lilts on the tongue and sounds like a fairy.

My friend Maureen who lives in Australia is awaiting news from her doctor, so I’m keeping a good thought for her as well. And David Bridger’s wife Janette is scheduled for surgery at the end of July. Finally.

Even though the medical system in this country needs fixing, I have found from hearing from people in other places that national healthcare does have some major drawbacks—like waiting for operations that are necessary or having some doctors refuse to do procedures that must be performed by other doctors. However, I still believe that this country needs a healthcare system that is available to all, and not just to those who can afford to pay the premiums.

As usual, the blogging community is awash with action. My best to everyone. I’m keeping all of you in my thoughts.

“It is what we make of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another.” ~ Nelson Mandela 

Okay, this topic is from David Bridger as well: You are stranded on a desert island, and you can only take ten things. You are one of the ten things. Who or what would you take with you? I’m assuming that food will be on the island so we don’t have to worry about that.

I’m thinking that I need a few different versions of this because, as you know, I have such a hard time making up my mind.

List One: This one is compiled with the understanding that I am not alone in the world, that I have family and pets.

  1. Corey, Alexis (and her significant other), Eamonn, and Brett plus myself. That’s six right there. Must have family with me on this desert island.
  2. Tillie, Alfie and Shakes. Another three. Must have the dogs, even though they take up three spots.
  3. My Lord of the Rings (three books but one story so it only counts as one. I know. I cheat). Must have reading material. But I would give up the books, I suppose, if my sons had companions.

List Two: This one is compiled with the understanding that I am alone in the world, no pets or familydeserted island 1

  1. Myself (1)
  2. My Lord of the Rings (1)
  3. A copy of The Odyssey (because I’ve never made it all of the way through) (1)
  4. Lots of writing paper and something with which to write (2)
  5. A fully-loaded MP3 player and back-up solar batteries (3) (Do solar batteries exist?)
  6. A huge bottle of 4711 cologne to remind me of civilization (odd choice, I know) (1)
  7. A dog for companionship (1)

List Three: This one is compiled with the understanding that I must take that which I need to survive and gather food

  1. Myself (1)
  2. A machete (1)
  3. Two dogs, male and female (2)
  4. Lots of writing paper and something with which to write (2)
  5. A spade (1)
  6. Something reflective (1)
  7. A bottle of 5,000 Ibuprofen (since I cannot have all of my meds) (1)
  8. A bucket
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Tom Hanks and Fed Ex boxes in Castaway

Now the reality is that if I were to be stranded on a desert island a la Castaway, I would hope that some things washed up on shore with me, one of which should be my carryall bag. I could survive months with just the contents of my carryall bag as it contains meds, scissors, a mirror, candy, a pocket knife, my inhaler, a notebook and lots of pens, a mini screwdriver, and sunglasses.

In Lola’s system of counting, the carryall bag counts as one thing just as the Lord of the Rings counts as one thing.

And if I had my purse as well as my carryall bag, I would be in fine shape. Also, if I washed up on a desert island wearing the things that I usually leave the house with, I would have a watch, my glasses, my cross, some earrings (okay, those I can do without), and probably a book and/or notebook.

Look, I’ve always been a pack rat, ever since grade school when I decided that I needed to take a satchel to school filled with things that I might need. Alexis inherited this tendency, so if she were with me and we got stranded, you can bet that we’d have a lot of things one might need just in case.

I’m not sure about the whole ice skate as dental tools as in Castaway, but the blades would be handy as would the laces. Don’t know if I have it in me to use an ice skate as a dental tool. But unlike Tom Hanks’s character in the movie, I wouldn’t be waiting to open all of the Fed Ex boxes. He was being honorable.

I say that if you are stranded, sealed Fed Ex boxes are fair game. Although given that attitude, the boxes that would wash up on shore with me would probably be things like government proposals, mortgage payments, and car parts. I’m not sure that side steps for a truck would come in that handy on an island  . . .

 “What is important in life is life, and not the result of life.” ~ Johann Wolfgang Goethe

deserted island 3I wish that my lists were more creative, but I think that they actually reflect more about me than at first glance. For example, I could survive without another person with me as long as I had a dog to keep me company. Implements with which to write and record things are very important to me. My choice of a machete instead of just a plain knife show that I am my father’s daughter.

Granted, wanting to take along a bottle of cologne might seem crazy, but if I had nothing else on this island to remind me of home, a smell would suffice. Smells are very important to humans: they conjure happy thoughts, trigger memories, even help with digesting food. The German cologne 4711 would do that for me. It would allow me to remember that piece of me that once belonged to society.

And if possible, having an MP3 player that is full of my personal music choices would serve as a connection to the world. I would have Chopin and Beethoven, the Beatles and Bruce Springsteen, Sarah McLachlan and Annie Lennox, Pavoratti and Broadway musicals. Music, in its varied forms, is communication, and it is something that is universal.

Having music with me would help to alleviate the loneliness, even if there were no chocolate to be found anywhere.

I wonder what other members of my family would choose to take: How Brett would survive without electronics . . . How Eamonn would survive without his cell phone . . . What Alexis would choose of her multitude of things that she must have . . . What Corey would want with him for the rest of his life . . .

Each list would be very different. Of that, I am certain. What and who we value as people is as varied as the sunrises. Not surprisingly. After all, it is that which makes us individuals, unique and the same, as unpredictable as the tides.

More later. Peace.

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Tragedy Unfolds in Real Life

 

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The Baseball Game by G. Fitz

The Rueful Story of One Man’s Doomed Dreams

“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” ~ Johann Wolfgang Goethe 

Right before I hit my writer’s wall, I had planned to write a post about a story that I had read that really touched a nerve with me. It was the story of one man’s lost dreams and eventual suicide, and how all-too-often, people in the public eye, even in a minor way, are treated as commodities instead of people. It was the story of John C. Odom.

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Former Baseball Player John C. Odom

Normally, I do not peruse the sports news as admittedly, this particular area does not hold a lot of interest for me, but when I read the headline—”A Tragic End for Minor Leaguer Traded for Bats”—I knew that I had to read more. This story appeared on March 3 of this year in The San Luis Obispo and was picked up by the AP. Apparently, Odom, a minor league with a fast arm, was picked up by the the Loredo Broncos of the United League for the price of 10 baseball bats.

Odom was originally drafted by the Giants as a 44th round pick in 2003, but his inconsistent record caused the Giants to release him in the spring of 2008. The Calgary Vipers offered Odom a job, but because of a 1999 aggravated assault conviction, Odom was not eligible for entrance into Canada.

What followed was a proposition of such bizarre proportions, that it landed Odom with the unenviable title of “Bat Boy.” Jose Melendez, General Manager for the Laredo Broncos, proposed to Calgary President Pete Young that Laredo buy Odom’s contract for $1,000. Young supposedly said that “the Vipers didn’t do cash deals because they made the team look financially unstable.” What Young needed, he told Melendez, was bats, and he proposed releasing Odom for 10 Prairie Stick bats, double-dipped black, 34 inches long, model C243, at a cost of $665 each.

Odom, who only wanted to play, accepted the terms and drove to Laredo, Texas. What ensued was completely predictable: the theme music to Batman, catcalls of “Bat Man,” and “Bat Boy.”

“Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail. Without it, nothing can succeed.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

There is a saying that “success is never final; failure is never fatal.” But in this particular instance, I must beg to disagree. It would take someone of tremendously strong constitution to withstand such verbal thrashings. Odom did not possess that constitution. Described by his college coach as more of an athlete with a musician’s heart, Odom at first claimed to be okay with the trade, but by June, Odom was visibly frayed. He went to Laredo Bronco’s manager Dan Schwam on June 10. According to Schwam, Odom came to him and said,”Skip, I’m going home. I just can’t take it. I’ve got some things to take care of. I’ve got to get my life straightened out.”

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Within five months, Odom was dead. According to the medical examiner of Georgia, Odom’s death was an accidental overdose from heroin, methamphetamine, the stimulant benzylpiperazine and alcohol. A tattoo on Odom’s right elbow read “Poena Par Sapientia,” Latin for “Pain equals wisdom.” Odom was 26 years old. He died wearing his pain.

“One meets his destiny often in the road he takes to avoid it” ~ French Proverb

Odom’s teammates did not learn of his death until recently. Such had been his complete withdrawal from the limelight, and seemingly, from life itself.

The ten bats from the infamous trade? They have never been used and are currently in storage. The parties involved in the bat trade insist that it was not a publicity stunt and that it was not done to embarrass Odom.

But consider, at 26, after a shaky start, what young man or woman would not be embarrassed by such a publicized trade? For that matter, what 40-year-old would not be embarrassed? And how helpless would a person feel to know that his fate was no longer his own but instead, was due to 10 baseball bats?

I have to believe that someone, somewhere, at some point, had to stop and ask if this was the right thing to do. I cannot believe, wish not to believe, that the powers that ruled in this decision never had second thoughts on the soundness of such a move. If not, why not?

“What we call despair is often only the painful eagerness of unfed hope.” ~ George Eliot

I realize that athletes, in this country in particular, are treated as commodities. Hence the multi-million dollar contracts, the highly-publicized trades, the slaps on the wrist for infractions. The U.S. loves its athletes, but especially its good athletes. Its mega-stars.

But there is a whole other world that many people do not pay much attention to: the world filled with the less than stellar athletes.

Granted, the farming system is baseball’s tried and true method of finding its major league up-and-comers. But it is not a system that allows much room for those players who are different in some way, who do not fit the mold.

One of the best friends I ever had was a minor league player. He had an incredible arm and was blessed with agility and speed. Watching him play baseball was truly like watching poetry in motion, which I have often found to be the case when watching an athlete who is truly, naturally talented. Unfortunately, my friend blew out his rotator cuff and was no longer able to play. I know that that injury cost him in a number of ways, but most profoundly, emotionally, because playing baseball was such an innate part of who Alan was. To be unable to play, unable to fulfill a lifelong dream, was a bitter pill, especially for someone so imbued in the allure of the game.

It would probably be safe to assume that Odom, a player who began as a walk-on with a 90 mph fastball, felt that same allure. Certainly John Odom was not a perfect man or a perfect player. He had his demons. Some who knew him described him as having “black moods,” and an alleged substance abuse problem that he had conquered in the past. So is it any wonder that Odom drowned the “bat boy” persona with pills and alcohol?

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One of the Odom Bats

Odom will enter the record books as the player who was traded for 10 bats: A man’s professional life equating to $6,650. If not for this heinous degrading of a man’s dignity, Odom’s life and subsequent death would likely have remained in obscurity, just one more cog in the machine.

 

“The pain of the mind is worse than the pain of the body” ~ Publius Syrus

Again, I do not purport to know a great deal about the major league. I always preferred college baseball. But I do know about sports and the inordinate amount of pressure that players have thrust upon them from an early age. Living right next to the neighborhood park, I can sit in my room on any weekend afternoon during baseball season and listen to parents yell horrible things at the players, at their own children, at other people’s children.

The verbal abuse hurled at these children is horrendous. I have heard a father chew his son out the entire way from the park to the car that was parked next to my house because the boy missed a ball. The boy could not possibly have been more than 8 years old.

What does this have to do with Odom? Who knows. I know very little about his family, his background, how he grew up and what kind of support he did or did not receive as a player in the pony leagues that exist in every neighborhood in America.

What I do know is that no one comes out better from being called names, whether that epithet is “you stupid boy,” “no-talent so and so,” or “here comes batman.” Baseball is the great American past time, but at times, the price paid for admission to the game is just too high.

If he were still alive, I think that John C. Odom might agree with me.

(Information for this article comes from the original article written by Ben Walker, AP baseball writer (http://www.sanluisobispo.com/346/story/639018.html).