April 21st, 2014


My favorite player in the big leagues today, Carlos Gomez, got in trouble again for playing the game with a Latin flair. After stroking a pitch deep to center, he hung around home plate a little while to enjoy the flight of the ball. After he finally took off running, he made it to third on a triple. If he hadn't lingered in the batter's box, he may have had an inside-the-park home run.

But no matter. In today's hyper-sensitive baseball culture, the pitcher, some Pirate named Cole, was more offended that Gomez enjoyed himself than he was relieved that he didn't score. He swore at Gomez as Carlos slid into third. You can hear it on the tape. And Gomez went after him. As well he should have. 

Gomez plays baseball with elan. More power to him. Baseball is a game.  Baseball players are entertainers. Babe Ruth understood it. Mark Fidrych understood it. Kirby Puckett understood it. Players today, however, are, oddly, etiquette fundamentalists. If you break some sort of unwritten rule, usually by playing with a bit of panache, the ultra-sensitive have to get their revenge. 

What players should realize is that the more who play like Gomez, the more everybody profits by baseball becoming more entertaining, more flashy, more bigger-than-life. Fans are sick of watching a four-hour chess match. They want action. They want personality. They want drama. 

Gomez gives them all three. All hail Carlos Gomez, who the Twins should never have traded. 

Corrupting a generation, cont.

More on the Fox effect...

April 20th


Spent this beautiful Easter Sunday moving. The idea was to move a minimum of stuff to the duplex in town, as we don't know for how long we will be there. But once you start evaluating, you end up hauling a lot more than you anticipated. 

After eight years--plus! --in the swamp castle, we're getting ready to rent it out. At that point, you notice things you have been putting off. The living room carpet needs stretching, for example. And you notice eccentricities which might not be appreciated by a renter. Some of the art, for example. Or the Christmas ornaments hanging above the fireplace for no particular reason. 

Moving is a pain, but when there is a purpose, it it is kind of fun. For the next six months, I have one job: working hard to get elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives in District 1-B.



April 19th

Grandpa's shadow...


Grandpa has a new shadow, and the language barrier is collapsing as Champoo is picking up English in a hurry. Of course, she is lonely for her friends in Thailand. I can't imagine what is going through the poor girl's head! But she and Grandpa are on the same page. She loves to sneak on the back seat of the golf cart without Grandpa noticing. 

Grandpa plays checkers with Champoo, but is perplexed at her rules, which have so far resulted in her winning every game. 

Such is Grandpahood. 

April 17th

Local incident

A bewildering incident involving two local young men happened this week. First, and most importantly, it is good that the Norman County deputy was not seriously hurt. Second, however, it is tragic that one, probably two, young lives are going to waste. Kudos to the good people who reached out to the boys before this incident, and who are not abandoning them now. The consequences for their senseless actions will be severe enough. 

Corrupting a generation...

A interesting and accurate take on the influence of Fox News on people who were basically decent in their views, but have been worn down by the constant and insidious propaganda spewing from their television. 

Key quote: "I don't think the malignant impact of Fox News on the older population can be overstated."

April 15th

Sad story

Here is a compassionate and well-written account of the sad death of Steve Smith, a long-time Republican legislator in the Minnesota House of Representatives. When I served as a page, Smith was known and respected by House staff as one of the good guys. He was smart, independent of mind, humble, and kind to the staff no matter how low their station. I never heard him speak on the House floor, perhaps because he was in the minority that year. But he had a reputation as a brain. 

April 13th

Nursing home rates

Thanks to my Uncle Dale for pointing out this article from Rochester. What Mr. Noble does not say is that the rate increases are only for wages (which are needed, to be sure) but include nothing for the operating expenses. The annual rate of loss in northwestern Minnesota is at least the same or worse. The rate equalization of 1976 was a good idea, and probably still is a good idea, but only if the funding levels are adequate. 

Learning curve

This political campaign will be a learning experience more than anything. I have already learned a lot from visiting with people with a stake in what state government does. In particular, I have had two chances to visit people involved with group homes for the developmentally disabled and mentally ill. The source of the funding difficulties group homes face can be debated, but there is no debating that their employees are over-worked and underpaid enough so they are moving on to other jobs, which leaves the group homes understaffed, and which simply perpetuates the cycle of overwork. 

Some are non-profit, others are for-profit.

So, the question arises in my mind: Is it ethical to farm out the care of vulnerable people to for-profit organizations, however regulated they might be, when the customers themselves--the residents of the group homes--often lack the ability to choose their situation? Is this really free enterprise? Is the care of our most vulnerable an area which is best addressed by free enterprise? 

When I studied nursing homes, I found a study which concluded that a mix of non-profit and for-profit nursing homes was best, as (so went the argument) they spurred each other to improve. The study figured the ideal mix was 75% non-profit, or public, and 25% for-profit. That is roughly the mix we have in Minnesota, while most Sunbelt states have the exact opposite mix. 

Non-profits are not angelic. Some become so large they lose sight of their mission and behave more like for-profit corporations. Nor are for-profits always skimping. The answers aren't that simple. 

However, things come into focus a little more when you keep the interests of the vulnerable--be they the developmentally disabled, or the dependent elderly--first in mind and work backwards from there to figure out how best to provide compassionate care.



April 11th

Secret Agenda

I'll be honest: I have a secret agenda if I get elected to the legislature. I want the Voice of Minneapolis to speak again. As long as we have the Legacy Amendment (which I voted against as a regressive tax, incidentally) dollars available, they should go towards preserving our heritage. The 1928 Kimball, one of the world's great instruments, sits in storage. My revered organ instructor, Dr. Edward Berryman, attempted to save it. He is gone. In his memory, I would like to hear the Kimball speak again!