Been There, Done That

commentary on many different thoughts

Month: September, 2014

Another Gimme a Break

More on the continuing hysteria over football players’ abusive behavior. Don’t get me wrong.  I do not condone abuse under any circumstances. Ask Fang.

This morning’s AJC ran a column on spanking, decrying the behavior of the latest football star who was caught beating a 4-year-old with a tree branch.  Now, I am not fond of children (any children), but under no circumstances would this be justifiable, even to me.  On the other hand, the article lost me when the author segued into a diatribe on “discipline” versus “punishment”.

The one item with which I agreed was that punishment should never be administered in anger.  We learned this early on in basic horsemanship.  You do not punish a horse because you’ve lost your temper.  You apply the stick to reinforce a command, to get attention, not to beat. And you stop with the stick or spurs or reins when you get the desired result.  Same thing with a swat on the backside for a kid who is misbehaving.  Once you have their attention, leave off.  (Ask a friend of mine who has raised four impressive young men and women to productive adulthood about her wooden spoon).

The article about which I’m complaining lists alternatives to spanking as “discipline”:  (1) count to 10 and breathe, to make sure that the punishment/discipline is justified.  I’ll go with that.  (2) identify clearly what you want the child to do (rather than what you want the child not to do – comment below).   (3) give small rewards for behavior in the direction of the desired behavior.  This sounds uncommonly like a BRIBE.  (4) praise efforts, not results (give me a break – lack of a swat is plenty of reward).  (5) give larger rewards for achieving the desired behavior.  (in corporate-speak, this is BRIBERY).

Sorry Gracie Staples (author of the piece) but this is exactly why the youth of this and the previous generation have no self-discipline, respect for authority, and no manners.  Bribery, as the Roman Empire discovered in the 300s, and the inhabitants of England discovered during the Viking invasions, doesn’t work.  Once you start paying danegeld, you’re hooked. Kids, like horses, need to be taught from foalhood that “because I said so” is law.  Reasoning with a 1200-pound animal doesn’t work.  Doesn’t work with a child either.

Give Me A Break

There has been much fuss in the papers recently about several celebrity football players who have been charged with abusive behavior toward women and children.  I very rarely agree with anything written by Mary Sanchez (writer for the Kansas City Star and whose editorial appeared in today’s paper), but for once, she struck a high note with me.

She points out that the fuss being made is unilateral:  oh my gosh golly can we get this guy back onto the football field in time to help our team win?  The catch-and-release philosophy made popular by Michael Vick of dog-fighting infamy (no sooner did he get out of jail than he was offered a multi-million dollar contract with another pro team) seems to apply to anyone who can bring in lots and lots of fans and money and win football (or basketball, baseball, etc) games.

To quote Sanchez:

“Yes, the greatest running back of his generation is out of football for who knows how long.  That’s something.  But what’s unsatisfying about all this “concern” is that it’s all about how teams and the league are “handling” the problem.” Not about correcting the fundamental issue:  socializing these young animals and turning them into young men with acceptable social skills.

Bingo. Sanchez goes on to suggest that the NFL (substitute organization of your choice)  “create  a campaign showing  players acting as strong fathers to their young girls”. …”The NFL could [take the] lead … and wrap their mighty heft around … teaching men to feel that it is their place to stop men from abusing women and children”.

That’s fine as far as it goes.  There’s only one problem.  The individuals who play professional football tend to have the collective IQ of a grasshopper and less morals.  They tend to come from what is politely referred to as less than desirable backgrounds, have been courted since their high school (and some before that) days, now have more money thrown at them than their parents saw in their lifetimes, and are encouraged to think of themselves as demigods. They also, need I remind you, tend to be testosterone-poisoned youths in their early 20s.  Once they go pro, there are no restraints, no caretakers and no limits.  Less brains and less self-control. And our youth look up to these barbarians and idolize them as role-models.

Yes, there are good and moral and intelligent football players.  Gayle Sayers and Walter Payton come to mind.  Unfortunately, nice guys don’t make the news.


More Tales of the Weird

Another situation that baffled us.  You may or may not know this, but insurance companies require medical examinations, thorough ones, before they issue life insurance policies over a certain amount.  Each company is slightly different, but as a rule, there is an upper limit to “no medical examination”.  There is also an upper limit on minimal testing (draw blood, urine to test for, shall we say, recreational pharmaceuticals).  Blood test is usually confined to a check for the presence of serious disease and drugs.

Anyway, along came a gentleman who a applied for a policy just under the complete-exam limits (complete examinations include an EKG, standing and treadmill testing, stuff like that, and is usually confined to serious amounts of life insurance).  He met with the agent, provided all sorts of information for the application, denied having any kind of medical condition and made an appointment for the routine tests.

Anyway, when the “routine” test came back, the gentleman tested positive for Hepatitis C.  Also, the application listed the gentleman at 6’2″ and 210 (weighed by nurse practitioner, who should know how to do this) and the lab report listed the specimen donor as 5’9″ and 165.

If you’re going to try to commit fraud by sending in a ringer to take your medical exam, at least do your homework and make sure the ringer is functional!

Three Cheers

Congratulations to Miss Penny at 93.  First in all dances at Cleveland Dancesport Championships!

And congratulations to her teacher and partner, Jari Muller!


Auntie’s Antics

Back when I was busy practicing law, part of my job was fraud investigation.  We received a death claim on a substantial policy on a woman who died abroad.  She’d been on pilgrimage, fell into a “raging river” (witness’s remark) and drowned.  The body washed up two weeks later, and a bit later the beneficiary submitted the claim for the policy proceeds.  So what, you say?  These things happen.

Well, something didn’t smell right (and I’m not talking about auntie and her two weeks in the river).

The person who identified the body said he was the nephew.  He identified the body by what he said was a deformed toe.  So far, so good.

Police investigation showed that auntie’s body surfaced in the wrong river, approximately 1500 miles from where she should have been, at least according to the beneficiary’s explanation.  OK, mistakes can happen.

The autopsy report showed a female of the correct age, in the correct state of health (at least prior to her immersion).  The report added that this female was of the appropriate height and weight, with all of her female plumbing intact and dental records confirmed all teeth present and accounted for, including wisdom teeth.  So what, you say?

A review of the medical examination taken prior to issuing this substantial life insurance policy showed a female of this height, weight, age, etc.  Previous medical history showed a total hysterectomy approximately fifteen years before, and extraction of all wisdom teeth.

Amazing the regenerative talents of this person.

Fall Has Fell


What more can I say?

Storm Warnings

I’ve been watching The Weather Channel programs on storm chasers.  These crazy guys are the ones who actually head into (rather than away from) tornados.  Some do it for thrills, some do it for science.  But they are all NUTS.

Anyway, couple of comments on these:  first off, the movie Twister.  It’s about tornado hunters, starring Holly Hunter.  It’s not a bad movie as far as action thrillers go, but when you get down to brass tacks there are some huge holes.  First, there is machinery with moving parts, and the Hunter character handles this machinery with shoulder–length hair flying in the breeze.  If you’ve ever gotten hair caught in moving machinery, that’s something you’ll never do again. And, as an experienced scientist, Hunter should have known better.

Yes, I know, I’m nit-picking, and it does look romantic and dramatic, but still…..

More importantly, I lived for 7 years in Indiana, tornado country.  Indiana is flat.  You can draw a topographical map of Indiana with one line.  As you get further and further out of the city, you can see for miles and miles.  And we learned from experience, any time that you saw the storm chaser trucks out on the road, the rest of us turned around and ran the other way.


Once I got over the spooks of living at the Jamaica Inn, I had the horses to take care of.  We were on the coast (the show grounds were on a long meadow.  At the edge of the meadow were the famous Cornwall cliffs and shoals.  There was nothing (literally) between the show grounds and the Labrador coast except for about 4000 miles of ocean.

This would have been spectacular scenery but for one thing.  The equinoctial gales were blowing in (from Labrador) and the show went on in pouring rain and hurricane-force winds.  In England, if the sun ever shines on a horse-show day, they cancel and postpone, since the horses have no idea what to do in sunshine.  So we went on.

It was a show sponsored by the Army.  Each jump had two soldiers stationed beside it.  Their assigned task was holding the rails up on the fence until the horse and rider approached, so that the jumps wouldn’t blow down and add faults to the horse’s rounds.  The guys who had the plank fences really had their work cut out for them to hold them against the wind.

We were soaking wet and freezing cold by the time the show was over.  The Army had two wonderful after-parties with towels and hot drinks and lots of food:  there was one party in the big house for the owners and riders (the nobs) and another in the enlisted-men’s quarters for us grooms.  Not quite in the same league, but warm and good food.

Jamaica Inn

If you haven’t seen the early (very early) Alfred Hitchcock film of Daphne du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn, it’s well worth renting.  Charles Laughton gives a magnificent performance. The sets are period-accurate and the costuming is brilliant.  It’s in black and white;  Hitchcock filmed it in England, shortly before he came to Hollywood.  And, it introduces a rising star named Maureen O’Hara (you might have heard of her).

The subject matter is fairly historically accurate:  the story deals with wreckers in Cornwall, England, in the early nineteenth century.  The wreckers were bands of hoodlums who sabotaged lighthouse beacons on the Cornish coast in order to lure sailing ships onto the shoals and rocks, destroy them, murder their crews, and steal the cargo. Charming sorts.  And historically accurate.

The plot fairly follows the book’s story line.  I know this because I was given the book to read by the woman I worked for in England.  We were going to Cornwall for a regional horse show and she said that it would give me a picture of the Cornish countryside and coast.  What she didn’t tell me was that we spent three days at the real Jamaica Inn.  In true gothic form, there were massive thunderstorms every night, the sign creaked in the gale-force winds (as it does in the opening scenes of the movie), and generally it was a spooky sort of place to stay!


27 Dresses

Just watched this very silly movie on the tube.  Gives you some idea of a boring Sunday evening.  Brought an anecdote to mind:

Back many years ago, I had a secretary who had a boyfriend who headlined at a drag club downtown.  Kevin (the boyfriend) was about my height.  The three of us used to get together once in a while and go out for a really nice dinner, or go to a club (they were both excellent dancers) and generally enjoy each others’ company.

Anyway, Kevin constantly complained about the difficulties inherent in being a drag queen on stage.  Makeup, hair, and the high price of evening gowns.  At that point, it occurred to me that in my closet were about half a dozen bridesmaids’ dresses that I had worn once each and would never wear again.  I invited Kevin and his partner over one night and told Kevin that if he could get into these dresses, he could have them.  Turns out Kevin looked better in them than I did.

So anyway, Miss Bunny Foo-Foo (Kevin’s character) appears on stage every weekend in my bridesmaids’ dresses!  One way of getting some use out of them.