Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Weekend in Omaha

It was a Cooper reunion of sorts this past weekend, when we visited Omaha, where all three of my siblings and (from May through September) my father reside.

Well, technically, all three sibs no longer live in Omaha. Earlier this year, my brother Mark and sister-in-law Janet (pictured) built a beautiful house overlooking a golf course in rural Council Bluffs, Iowa. It's not Omaha, but you can see it from there.

Wherever we were, a good time was had by all.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Schalk statue-worthy

Steve on CHICAGO SPORTS LIVE takes issue with the Chicago White Sox' selection of former players to honor with statues at Comiskey Park U.S. Cellular Field.

On his list of players more deserving -- topping it, in fact -- is Ray Schalk.

Schalk, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame on this date 53 years ago, receives short shrift because of his low .253 batting average. Some "experts" don't look past that to consider his other attributes, starting with his defense, his hustle and his handling of pitchers (and, some might say, umpires).

Schalk is in the Hall of Fame and he doesn't need me to make his case. But he caught more than 100 games a year (when the seasons were 140-154 games) for 11 straight years. While being a workhorse, he suffered numerous broken fingers, bruises, etc., and kept at it. Playing hurt that often can't help one's batting average.

Anyway, considering how Schalk is so often overlooked, it is nice to see that Steve remembers.

I would add to his list Ted Lyons and Red Faber, still No. 1 and No. 2 on the Sox' all-time victories list.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Grip and grin

When it comes to running photos in the newspaper, I am NOT a fan of the "grip and grin." Briefly, in my opinion, if a paper starts running posed shots of people pretending to be handing over checks, posing the purchase of the first ticket of the fund drive, acting as if they are talking on the phone, etc., they become like a computer virus -- spreading out of control. Every group that makes a donation will want the paper to come out and take a "grip and grin."

(Thankfully, we can now accommodate these images on our web site, in the feature called Your Pix and Flix.)

Anyway, I made an exception today -- not for the Telegraph Herald but for the Iowa Newspaper Foundation, of which I am president this year.

The occasion was delivery of checks for newspaper employees who were seriously affected by the Parkersburg tornado or last month's floods. The money was donated by newspaper employees and professional organizations across the country. More than $50,000 has been raised.

In the top photo, I am grinning and gripping with Dave Storey, publisher of The Gazette in Cedar Rapids, and Jennifer Asa, Iowa Newspaper Foundation executive director.

The bottom photo has Jennifer and me with Waterloo Courier regional editor Dennis Magee (left) and publisher Dave Braton.

Magee's situation is an incredible hard-luck story. His home was destroyed in the Parkersburg tornado; his family recovered household items and put them in storage in Waterloo. Then, less than three weeks later, those items were lost in the flood that hit downtown Waterloo.

Grip-and-grin shots notwithstanding, it was an honor for me to be able to present the checks on behalf of newspaper employees and their associations.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Notable and quotable

"I can't go out and play this year making
$445,000. Come on, man."

-- Devin Hester, third-year pro kick returner,
Chicago Bears, on his contract holdout.

In other news: The federal minimum wage rises 70 cents effective Thursday.

Monday, July 21, 2008

New Cardinals uniform

A relative in St. Louis, knowing that I am a baseball fan, wanted me to know that, in light of the sale of Anheuser-Busch to a Belgian firm, InBev, the uniforms of the Busch-owned St. Louis Cardinals baseball team will be changing.

Cardinals star Albert Pujols models.

I wonder what the uniforms will look like after the Chicago Cubs are sold.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Claire and the mayor

We attended the summer's second installment of Dubuque ... And all that Jazz Friday night on Main Street (formerly known at Town Clock Plaza).

Madame X and I have attended nearly 60 of these summertime events, which attract thousands, during the previous 16 years -- and not once did we get our picture taken with the mayor of Dubuque. Claire attends her first "Jazz," and gets her photo snapped with Mayor Roy Buol. Is that fair?

The mayor, who just became a grandpa for the seventh or eighth time the previous day, was more than happy to accommodate my request for a photo with my granddaughter. He was also happy to meet Kate (pictured) -- especially when I mentioned that she is one who is "coming home to Dubuque" -- as well as son-in-law Will.

Confident save

After several years as a soccer official and parent of a player, I've seen a few games. Never a match that filled a stadium -- well, except for the 1999 Women's World Cup matches in Chicago -- but you get the idea. Youth, prep and college matches.

Anyway, this video clip of an unusual save caught my interest. Now that is confidence.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Don't mess with lightning

I came across a blog -- several, actually -- showing the video taken during a rainstorm (why?) when the woman behind the camera suffered a zap of lightning. She survived.

Disclaimer: I don't know if this is legit. I have doubts. One might think the card in the camera would have been fried. Or that the cinematographer would have dropped the camera. But then again I don't know how this could be faked.

In any case, the blog quoted the victim thusly:
From what i understand, it went through my left hand holding the camera, crossed my back and exited out of my right hand holding onto the metal railing. No entry or exit wounds, just a really good zap!

This reminds me of my soccer officiating days. Officials are trained on the facts of lightning -- that if you can see lightning anywhere, it is already too close and you need to stop the game immediately.

Nonetheless, officials received all sorts of grief for respecting the unpredictable and surprising nature of lightning. Parents, coaches and players protesting the stoppage. "The flashes are way over there," some complain. Never mind that lightning may strike 10 or more miles from where it is first observed -- even in otherwise sunny conditions. I even had a high school varsity coach -- a man I know to be knowledgeable and respected in his profession -- argue that the lightning was not yet overhead (as if lightning only travels in a perfectly vertical manner).

Photo: Lightning behind the Dubuque County Courthouse.
Photo by Jeremy Portje, Telegraph Herald.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

'Empty nest' filled temporarily

Claire and her parents are moving to Dubuque -- and they now have, sort of. Until they close on their house in early September, they are living with Madame X and me.

Our 'empty nest' is temporarily filled. Well, not exactly filled. But fuller than it has been the past three years.

As the photo illustrates, this is great opportunity for Claire and 'Pop' to discuss important matters.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Another practice video

Please indulge me.

This video is the result of the collision of having a granddaughter in the house for several weeks and wanting to learn more about my video editing software -- downloading clips, removing sound from the clip, adding music and inserting a title.

And then getting it saved and posted on the web.

Nothing for Funniest Home Videos here. Just Claire eating a PB&J. However, to a grandpa (aka "Pop") it's captivating.

I might not be getting any better. But I am getting faster.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Out of 'retirement' and out to 'Pasture'

After a two-year absence from the links, I found my golf clubs and went out to Timberline golf course and participated in the 24th annual Pasture Pool event.

The feature of the outing is to have farmers take a day (or part of it) off and enjoy nine holes of golf and a great dinner, all as a thank-you from local enterprises that appreciate the farmers' business.

I enjoyed my round with Richard and Mary Lou, and Jim and Bev -- who hardly ever laughed when I lined a shot into the woods.

This event is the 'baby' of Jim Theisen, president of Theisen's, who goes all-out to thank local farmers, putting loads of his personal time and his company's resources into making the event a success.

In the video, Jim talks about the event.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Air show preview

On the eve of Dubuque's massive July 3 air show and fireworks program, the city the past two evenings has been shaken by the roar of fighter jets. Apparently they are practicing or getting their bearings or whatever.

This evening about 7:20, just as I was coming into the house from work, I heard another aircraft seemingly buzzing our neighborhood. This jet passed directly over our house, with its engines in low throttle, and a few seconds later roared to acceleration, its tail exhaust showing a bright flame. I grabbed the camera, returned to the backyard and tried to capture a bit of video. Unfortunately, the previous pass is when the jet was closest to our house.

Apologies for the shaky camera work. And I must add that the sound on the video does not give justice to the roar of the engines. Imagine dozens of those racing over the heads of Iraqis and Afghans every day.