Archive for the ‘culture’ Category

SABR: Who We Are Matters

April 20, 2018

 

The SABR Board has now informed the membership that the vote to change the name of our organization from the “Society for American Baseball Research” to the “Society for the Advancement of Baseball Research” has been killed and all cast votes discarded for reasons of violation to the process of getting things done. At least, that is the way we read the e-mail from Board President Vince Gennaro. — He respectfully noted hat it was their late recognition of an unfair treatment of the by laws that has caused the Board to cancel the name change electoral motion and take some time for thought to the process issues involved in this first unsuccessful attempt.

The critical cancellation paragraph was expressed by e-mail in bold type as a Board resolution:

“That the proposed bylaw amendment and name change on the 2018 ballot is withdrawn as improvidently submitted and not properly before the membership; and that any votes on the proposed bylaw amendment and name change on the 2018 ballot shall be disregarded and will be treated as if never cast.”

Thank goodness for small favors. Sometimes process issues may save us from avoiding the substantive issue that is a matter of far greater importance.

The substantive issue is not simply coming up with a new name that still lends itself to our comfortable and familiar acronym “SABR”. When we were kids, we didn’t prefer “TOPPS” bubble gum because the gum itself tasted better than “Double Bubble”, — (Most of us thought it did not.) — we bought Topps because of the baseball cards that came with the gum.

And what became of Topps without the baseball cards? — Do you really need the answer?

Most of us bought into SABR because of how it portrayed our identity. It was, and still is, the Society for American Baseball Research, — meaning that it is an organization dedicated to an ongoing and accurate examination of how “American Baseball” has evolved — and continues to evolve — on a world-wide plane.

We are not English Baseball – or Asian Baseball – or European Baseball. — We are American Baseball, as we continue to evolve world-wide in all those places it has now evolved to include.

We need to be careful that we don’t fall into the language pit that this particular era both invites and encourages — and that is the active association of the word “America” with all the equivocating political forces that use the name of our precious country as a symbol of hatred and bigotry. And, of yes, even if our wonderful beautiful game spreads to every country on earth, which I would love to see, it would still be American Baseball – now played everywhere.

We are not those hateful people who use the word “American” in the name of harm to others; nor are we those sadly neurotic people whose sense of national guilt includes the idea of erasing the conscious recognition of America at every turn in the road. We are people who either grew up in the passion fire of America’s sandlots – or older people who found it as a gift from heaven when it arrived on their shores as something that still says “Made in America” all over it.

Please take this little break in the action for deeper consideration of this matter. It is much deeper than a clumsy process issue. It is, in reality, an opportunity to both preserve and deepen our appreciation for who we are.

We are — The Society for American Baseball Research.

That’s the organization I joined. That’s the organization I will continue to support.

Sincerely,

Bill McCurdy

Larry Dierker Chapter

SABR

 

___________________

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

 

 

 

The Amazing Ichiro Suzuki

April 19, 2018

Ichiro Suzuki
Baseball’s Unofficial All Time Hits Leader

Tuning in late to the Astros telecast of the game at Seattle Tuesday night, I wasn’t giving his almost eternal active presence any thought when up came the legendary Ichiro Suzuki to hit for the Mariners against youthful Lance McCullers. At age 45 years, the now snow-fleck grey haired veteran superstar promptly laced a single to center, recording the 3,087th hit of his 18 year MLB career (2001-20018) and the 4,365th total hit of his whole career, if you include the 1,278 hits he recorded in Japan over his first nine seasons (1992-2000) before coming to America for big league ball.

It all adds up to 4,365 total hits over 27 seasons. – And counting.

Unless you choose to go MLB sticky, that brings the all time hits leader board up to this:

Ichiro Suzuki 4,365 – Pete Rose 4,256.

And, as of the morning date, this 4/19/2018, Suzuki’s favorable hit advantage is  109 – and open to further differential growth only in Suzuki’s favor.

Rose vs. Suzuki, MLB Careers Only

The following little table is little more than a side bar comparison of the MLB stat careers of Rose and Suzuki. Suzuki had no chance of ever catching Rose’s hit total by the time he finally he came over to the big leagues, but his prior excellence in Japan — and certainly his incredible longevity — leaves us with pause to think. – If Ichiro could have, would have, or maybe even should have started it all here in the western hemisphere, perhaps, there would be no wonder about the certain future induction of the greatest it total leader of all time.

MLB HIT MEN AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BA SA OBP
Pete Rose 14053 2165 4256 746 135 160 1314 .307 .409 .375
Ichiro Suzuki 9918 1418 3087 362 96 117 780 .311 .403 .355

Keep it up, Ichiro! You are an inspiration to all – and especially to everyone over age 40.

 

____________________

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

 

Rest In Peace, Patrick Lopez

April 16, 2018

Rest in Peace, Patrick Lopez!
Your Devotion to Family, Your Love of Life, and Your Artistic Always Growing Gifts to the World Are Your Ongoing Legacy!

Patrick George Lopez
1937-2018

Patrick George Lopez died on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 after a brief stay in hospice. He was born in Houston on January 7, 1937 to Manuel and Carmen Lopez.

He married Barbara Jean Holman in 1961. Survivors include his wife of 57 years, his children (Claudia, Patrick, and Sarah), his grandchildren (Patrick Joey and Justin), and his brother (John David).

As an architectural delineator, he worked with some of the most important national and local architects and architectural firms of the post WWII era, including Skidmore Owings and Merrill, Johnson Burgee, and Helmut Jahn.

He loved his family, his lifelong home of Houston, his pets (Oso!), baseball, the Astros, art, buildings, music (he was a lifelong piano player), fishing, plants (he grew orchids, bromeliads, succulents), and a good meal.

A public memorial will be held in the future at an as-yet undetermined date.

Published in Houston Chronicle on Apr. 15, 2018

Title: “Buffalo Walking” or “Travis Street Park” By Patrick Lopez (at Fair Grounds Base Ball Park), One of Several Works that Patrick did for the 2014 “Early Houston” Baseball History Book researched and written by members of the Larry Dierker Chapter of SABR and published in 2014.

Patrick Lopez finished a year ahead of me at St. Thomas High School in 1955. Although we never really knew each other at St. Thomas, Patrick always impressed me then as a very nice and thoughtful person. He could often be seen staring across the front lawn during classroom breaks, looking far to the south, beyond Buffalo Bayou. We never actually met until the Houston Early Baseball book project arose, nearly 55 years later, but it was only then that the question clarified about this true 21st century Renaissance man came to roost. — He could have been thinking about anything much earlier in life — as long as it was artistic, giving of itself in part to some greater whole idea, then it probably was getting the attention of the naturally artistic Patrick Lopez.

When our team member Mike Vance, with some independent discovery work help from Darrell Pittman, finally found that the Travis Street Ballpark was our best bet as Houston’s first true organized baseball park, we had no pictures of the same, but we did possess some very detailed newspaper writing on the construction of the place.

Patrick Lopez was able to let his creative mind go to bed with all these black worn sentences on fading white paper and put together for our eyes — and the whole world — to see — how it was meant to be seen. The watercolor work featured here is only one of the many he did that gave us all a vision into how the typical game day looked to Houstonians back in the 19th century. If you can hear the sound of horse hooves making a steady beat up and down Travis — and if you can hear the thud of a bat and ball joyously, or sorrowfully, interrupting every now and then, you may actually be able to allow your own mind to travel back to the corner of Travis and McGowan at many spring afternoons of those late 19th century years and actually experience the presence of old time Houston for yourself. And, if you get there, try to remember — the now late Patrick Lopez probably helped you make the trip.

Patrick Lopez
1937-2018

Thank you, Patrick Lopez! All of us are the richer for having known you even a smidgen’s amount of eternity’s time.

And God Bless you too, Barbara! Patrick was lucky to have found and never lost you. That doesn’t always happen.

Sincerely,

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

********************

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Maxwell Kates: “42” – A Film Review

April 16, 2018

“42” – THE FILM REVIEW

A CELEBRATION OF JACKIE ROBINSON DAY

By Maxwell Kates

Maxwell Kates

Five years ago, in April 2013, Legendary Pictures released a film called “42”. Written and directed by Brian Helgeland, the film documented Jackie Robinson’s first season in the major leagues while emphasizing the trials and tribulations involved with breaking the colour barrier.

“42”

The story behind “42” is well known among baseball fans and American historians alike.  After declaring victory over Nazi Germany in May 1945 and Imperialist Japan three months later, American soldiers returned from the Second World War to a country that could not defeat its own Jim Crow laws.  A ‘gentleman’s agreement’ had existed in professional baseball which segregated white and black players into different leagues.

Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford), the President of the Brooklyn Dodgers, is a shrewd businessman, a lawyer, and a devout Methodist.  We learn in the context of the movie that he is haunted by not having done enough to fight segregation as a baseball coach some four decades earlier.  Partly out of religious conviction and partly out of opportunism, he vows to promote a black player to the Dodgers late in the 1945 season.  Rickey admires Jack Roosevelt Robinson (Chadwick Boseman), a shortstop on the segregated Kansas City Monarchs, for his talent and his hardnosed style of play, but warns him that the inability to control his volatile temper is tantamount to failure for Rickey’s ‘Great Experiment.’  In other words, Rickey did not need a player not tough enough to fight back, but one tough enough not to fight back.

Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey

The plot line begins by covering Robinson in spring training both with the Montreal Royals, the Dodgers’ top minor league affiliate, and the Dodgers. After he is promoted to Brooklyn in 1947, the film narrates how Robinson led the Dodgers to the National League pennant in spite of vitriolic players and fans, racially motivated hate mail, and the ubiquity of the press.

The movie was criticized for its lack of character development, a claim I perceived to have been justified.  The Rickey character was developed well, as was Leo Durocher (Chris Meloni), the tenacious yet morally bankrupt manager of the Dodgers who aimed to win at all costs.  However, the movie could have benefit from a more vivid portrayal of Wendell Smith (Andre Holland). Smith worked as a journalist for the Pittsburgh Courier, covering Robinson throughout the 1947 season while attempting to break barriers of his own.  A more thorough description of Robinson’s wife Rachel (Nicole Beharie) would have also improved the plotline, as her support was crucial to the success of Robinson’s campaign.

Jackie and Rachel in “42”

“42” shows balance between the players who supported Robinson from those who did not.  Pee Wee Reese (Lucas Black), Gene Hermanski (Blake Sanders), and Ralph Branca (Hamish Linklater) were three Dodger teammates depicted to have supported Robinson but their characters were scarcely developed beyond that.  The movie did address the difficult matter of Dixie Walker’s (Ryan Merriman) harsh disapproval of Robinson, arguing it to be economic rather than racial.  However, it does not expand on the complexities of the anti-Robinson camp. This group which includes Brooklyn pitcher Kirby Higbe (Brad Beyer) who circulated a petition aimed to prevent Robinson from taking the field, Philadelphia manager Ben Chapman (Alan Tudyk) and general manager Herb Pennock (Mark Harelik), and St. Louis outfielder Enos Slaughter (David Thoms).

The film aptly portrayed fans in opposing National League cities such as Philadelphia, St. Louis, or Cincinnati to be vociferous in their hatred of Robinson but did not show balance – there were many white fans in those and other cities who supported Robinson.

The Pee Wee-Jackie Moment —
As depicted in “42”

Another opportunity was missed in the side plot involving Dodgers infielder Bobby Bragan (Derek Phillips).  As the scion of a prominent family in Birmingham, Alabama, Bragan was raised with segregation and was thereby a vocal opponent of integration.  Accordingly, he refused to initially play with Robinson but later recanted.  A fact which would better drive the point but ignored in the movie is that when Jackie Robinson passed away in 1972, Bragan was among his pall bearers.

A poignant scene in the movie took place on the field at Ebbets Field as the Dodgers hosted the Philadelphia Phillies.  Manager Ben Chapman was among Robinson’s most tyrannical opponents and was not afraid to voice his opinion.  Only with the intervention of Dodgers’ infielder Eddie Stanky (Jesse Luken) a Philadelphia native and former teammate of Chapman’s did the Philadelphia manager back down.  In actuality, Stanky had been one of the players to sign Higbe’s petition but felt compelled to defend Robinson as one of his teammates.

Hank Greenberg and Jackie Robinson

Another opportunity missed was during a brawl following a beaning by Pittsburgh pitcher Fritz Ostermueller (Linc Hand).  At no point did the movie refer to prominent National League opponents who supported Jackie Robinson and the brawl scene would have presented this player in Ostermueller’s teammate Hank Greenberg.  The veteran 1st baseman discussed the racism he encountered in his own career with Robinson as the Dodgers rookie led off the base in a game with Pittsburgh.  Cardinals outfielder Stan Musial was another Hall of Famer who supported Robinson.

The movie included several historical errors and inaccuracies.  For example, the Mississippi bred broadcaster Red Barber (John McGinley) did not speak with the brogue of a New York Irishman.  Nor did Robinson wear number 9 with the Montreal Royals – he actually wore number 20.  It is unfortunate that the movie did not expand on Robinson’s time in Montreal, where he led the Royals to the International League pennant in 1946. According to Montreal sportswriter Sam Maltin, “it was probably the only day in history that a black man ran from a mob with love instead of lynching on his mind.” Lastly, in light of Robinson’s pact with Rickey to be tough enough not to fight back, the altercation with Dixie Walker in front of the Ben Franklin Hotel could never have taken place.

The real Jackie Robinson at Montreal in 1946.

Why did they make “42”?  For one thing, the events took place in 1947.  Infants born the day Robinson took the field are now 71 years old.  Of the journalists in the Ebbets Field pressbox that afternoon, only Jim Becker of the Associated Press is still alive and he is 92 years old.  The story of Jackie Robinson is an important one and it is important that the legacy of Jackie Robinson and what he stood for continues.  The film received criticism for its liberal use of ‘the N-word.’ To understand history is to understand context. It is only by exposure to unpleasant aspects of the English language, like ‘the N-word,’ that we become aware of their meaning and why they should not be used.

Whom did they make “42” for?  The answer to that question can be expressed by discussing the character whom I understood to have been the most important in the movie. That was the young African American child in Florida who saw Jackie Robinson in a spring training game with his mother.  Viewers learn at the end of the film that the young fellow grew up to be Ed Charles, clubhouse leader of the World Champion 1969 New York Mets. Charles, who died earlier this year, credited Robinson as an inspiration for him growing up in segregated Florida. It was important to bridge the gap with this young fan to show why Jackie Robinson was inspiration to him and many others.

Ed Charles

Of equal significance, there was one scene where Rickey tells Robinson about the white fan on a Brooklyn street who tried to be like Jackie Robinson when he played.  Robinson broke into the major leagues in 1947, seven years before Brown v. Board of Education and seventeen years before the Civil Rights Act was signed into law.   Therefore, it is important to understand the context of the odds Jackie Robinson faced and the insurmountable mental toughness he required to overcome them.  The movie was made for young people of all races and nationalities to understand the harshness of prejudice and that any individual is capable of achieving personal triumph in spite of it.

“42” is definitely worth the price of admission and is an enjoyable movie to watch with an important message to convey.  At one point in the movie, Pee Wee Reese, a Kentucky native, tells Jackie Robinson that “maybe tomorrow we’ll all wear 42 so that nobody can tell us apart.” Tomorrow being April 15, Pee Wee’s oracle will see the light of day.

Toronto, Canada

April 14, 2013

EPILOGUE

Young Boston Bombing Victim Martin Richard and Family.

One day after I wrote this film review of “42”, the city of Boston was rocked by an unthinkable tragedy. At the finish line of the Boston Marathon, two brothers detonated two homemade explosives, killing three and injuring hundreds. One of the victims, eight year old Martin Richard, lost his life as he awaited his father Bill to complete the marathon. After his death, a photo of young Martin holding a placard bearing the message “No more hurting people. Peace” circulated around the four corners of the globe. In doing so, Martin was carrying out Jackie Robinson’s legacy. His life remains important as it continues to have an impact on others.

Fenway Park, Boston
Jackie Robinson Day
2013

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Post Note. The Pecan Park Eagle also did a review of “42” after attending one of the opening day matinee features in the company of one of the very few remaining survivors who played in that earlier landmark color line-breaking game in 1946, when Jackie Robinson broke the organized baseball race barrier as a member of the Montreal Royals. It was our lucky day at the Eagle to watch the flim with our own Larry Miggins, who played third base for Jersey City that historical day. The date of our first publication on this topic was April 13, 2013. And here’s the link to its contents:

https://bill37mccurdy.com/2013/04/13/42-a-beautiful-profile-in-courage/

Hope you enjoy this doubleheader.

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Rest in Peace, Little Sister

April 15, 2018

It was the time that brothers John, 9, and Bill, 13, helped their little sister Margie celebrate her 2nd birthday at home in the Pecan Park section of Houston. The date was August 19, 1951, the same day that vertically challenged Eddie Gaedel pinch hit for the St. Louis Browns up in Sportsman’s Park in Missouri.

 

Retired History Professor Margery Ruth McCurdy passed away in Beeville, Texas at age 68 on Saturday, April 14, 2018, at 7:09 PM, following a lengthy illness. She is survived by brothers Bill and John McCurdy, sister-in-laws Norma and Linda, nephews Daniel and Casey, nieces Jennifer and Emily, numerous cousins and friends, and every Coastal Bend College student who passed through her life over the years in pursuit of a better understanding of American and Texas histories.

Goodbye, Little Sister. I’m still numb from the news of our loss, even though it comes as no great surprise due to the slow way this thing has taken you from us.

That being said, the essence of my faith remains intact:

God is Love. Wherever God goes, Love goes too. — And once filled with Love — we have no good choice but to either spread the love further — or suffer the consequences of depression that accompany the rejection of genuine joy in the sweet spot of life we’ve come to know as the here and now.

Goodbye, Little Sister — but not to all the Love I still hold for you in the here and now.

Love is Forever.

God is Love.

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

Cell Phones as History Changers

April 2, 2018

“Listen, my children, and you shall hear,
Of a phone call made by Paul Revere.”

Have you ever thought about how much cell phones might have changed history, had they been around earlier? Or how about all those times in fictional books and movies in which the plot evolved around mysterious phone calls or the mad search for a usable phone booth during a point of crisis?

With a cell phone handy back in the 18th century, there would have been no need for a  “midnight ride.” Paul Revere could have called it in: “Hello, is this Major Tom Brady? – Paul Revere here. It’s by sea. The Brits are pouring into Boston Harbor right now. I can see ’em getting off at the dock, even as we speak. OK? – Now, if you don’t mind, I’ve got a great dart game to finish over here at Sullivan’s Pub before I scat home to finish polishing some silver. – What’s that? – No problem! Glad to help.”

Perhaps, the following could serve as a few other examples:

1) Non-Fiction / Pearl Harbor, Dec. 1, 1941, A call comes in from Cell Phone Float Tower 29, about 180 miles NW of Oahu, at 7:39 AM:

“HELLO, PEARL! Listen up. This is Cappy Hunt, and I’m out here NW of Honolulu, doing a little fishing off the banks of Tower 29. – Listen real good. – You’re going to need to get some people out here to see what I’m looking at right now as the dawn comes up on us. – It looks like Hirohito has sent the whole dad-gum Japanese Navy out to greet us and it don’t look friendly in any way. As far as my eyes can see, they got destroyers, cruisers, battle ships, and flat tops – and one way and another – they is all loaded to the gills with big guns or them Mitsubishi Zero planes – as they is all decked out to fly, fire, and bomb. Send enough men to do the roadkill work and get everybody braced at Hickam Field and Pearl ready to defend everything we’ve got – with every thing lethal that we’ve got. I’ll hang loose as your lookout for as long as I can out here, but, granddad gummit, I forgot to charge this phone last night.”

2) Fiction / Barbara Stanwyck plays a disabled New York socialite who accidentally over-hears plans for a woman’s murder in the 1948 big movie, “Sorry, Wrong Number”. By the time she learns that she is the intended victim, it’s the last scene in the script and the killer is standing over her bedside, as her husband also calls to check on her, gets the killer, only to hear him say, “Sorry, wrong number” as he finishes the job and the movie through her screams. Had there been digital cell phones in 1948, Stanwyck would have had a suspicious phone number or a GPS on the scary caller – or something early enough – to have saved herself from starring in one of the creepiest bad ending movies of all time.

3) Weather News / Remember the old days, when some really bad storms, like the deadly tornado that struck Waco, Texas in 1953? As per usual, there were plenty of horrifying, but few, if any actual newsreel photos of the twister itself in real time. And we would always say or think: “It’s too bad someone didn’t have a camera handy when this monster hit!” – Now. in 2018,  there are no shortages of cameras – anywhere there are people. It’s all about the digital phone and how we now use them.

4) Cell Phones & The Bullpen / Do we really still need those clunky dugout wall phone land lines to be in touch with the bullpens during big league games? It’s imaginable the bullpen coach could even reply to a manager’s call with a phone video if he really wanted to see for himself if a certain reliever appeared ready.

5) The Cell Phone Immediacy App / (Maybe we already have this app and I just haven’t gotten the word on it.) How about a cell phone app that shuts the instrument down once it detects that the phone is moving through space that exceeds the power and speed of human assistance alone. – And maybe the same app could have the same capacity for broadcasting to the first 100 car-length of phones behind you why everyone is stuck on the freeway and not moving at other times. And it may also throw in some alternate route suggestions to boot.

Footnote: The problem with effective need-serving phone apps is that they immediately convert from need service into entitlements – and we start treating them immediately as desirable conditions of life that we have a right to expect every day from womb-to-tomb that we spend alive on Planet Earth.

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

A Tale of Two Poems

January 31, 2018

Trees

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

 

 

Altuve

By The Pecan Park Eagle

 

I think that we shall never see

Another Jose Altuve.

 

A fire to play and never rest

Burns within this hero’s breast;

 

A fire that feeds from God all day,

And lifts his supple arms to play;

 

A fire that bears the summer wear

For laurels in his autumn hair;

 

A fire that holds its winter glow

Just waiting for the springtime go.

 

Poems are made by fools like me,

But only a God could make Altuve.

 

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Morals:

(1) The forests deserve our protection. There’s more to life than forests filled with trees, but the game of baseball would be stuck with the ping of all those ugly metal bats without them.

(2) If every batter could hit like Altuve, the forests would be thinner than they are today.

(3) Never take a natural wonder for granted. And that goes for beautiful forests – and remarkable human beings like Jose Altuve.

 

********************

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Be Careful How You Turn Off Your Cell

January 31, 2018

How smart do you have to be to operate one of these things?

 

Be Careful How You Turn Off Your Cell

Have you ever wondered what you would do if you suddenly lost all the ID-tagged phone numbers from your cell phone? Would you be able to call your nearest relatives, closest friends, or most important work or business contacts? Are you up to blind-call answering a number that comes onto your phone screen like it had a real place on your business agenda for the day? Have ever wanted the answer as to why you no longer need a telephone call secretary to screen and direct your incoming and, sometimes, out going calls? Etc. Etc.Etc.

Believe me. You don’t want to find out the hard way.

Late Thursday night, January 25th, four days ago. I got to find out.

I made a normal “press-the-button” move to shut off my phone before carrying it with me on silence for an overnight recharge at the little station we have set up at home for this purpose. Then, before I could even start the re-charge, I remembered a call I was expecting and turned the very exhausted phone back on to make sure I had not missed it.

A curious thing happened when I looked at the screen. There was nothing there but non-sequitur words and numbers. Nothing remained of my home page or directory of numbers. It was a just a peek before the whole screen went fat black from exhaustion. I plugged in and rechecked it Friday. Now my screen of nonsense was powered up to play all day, if that’s all I needed it to do. I could call out with an accurate manual peck dial. And I could also receive if I took the call as a ringing live mystery. Would it be one of my SABR friends or doctors – or would it be another opportunity to buy tickets to the Police Officers Ball?

What a maddening waste of time? Catching live numbers today is like watching the salmon swim upstream every year. Neither fish nor phone numbers bear identities and – in the swim of things they all sail into our lives looking pretty much the same. – Have you ever tried getting a salmon’s phone number after he or she already has made their jump in your direction?

What did I do?

On Friday, January 26th, I drove over to my local Sprint office and presented the problem to them for whatever help they could offer. We had transferred from Verizon to Sprint in 2011 after several years at the first company using only flip phones – and much more sparingly than now. I’m still using my first android smart phone from the 2011 change, but I did transfer quite a few numbers into the new phone when we made the service switch. Since then, I’ve added a ton. Although I never counted them, I probably carried about 1,000 numbers of all types. And all were lost.

Sprint theorized that I had inadvertently dumped my cell phone directory when I hit one of the other internal finger-pressure buttons on my phone in conjunction with the power-off button. And that may have occurred when I did the sudden move to check for a call number and first noticed the loss.

What did Sprint suggest?

Our Sprint experts said that my phone – and its 7-year collection of numbers – had simply been wiped clean of its memory – returning my phone to the state it was in when it first came out of the box. They suggested I contacted Google to see if there is any way to restore the material. Sounded reasonable. And I decided to wait until today when my more technically son, Casey, would be here to help me pursue the matter.

What Casey learned and corrected today.

Casey was able to work his way through the robots that stand between Google and the customer and actually make human help possible. As a result, it appears that we have been able to restore all the new numbers that have been added since 2011. On the downside, we have been unable to restore all the numbers that were there prior to the creation of my new Gmail account in 2011. Other, more painful, and possibly fruitless things we may try have been suggested by Google, but it may end up easier to just accept the drudgery and restore what can be identified as lost and found over time.

The lessons for us all.

There are too many for one frustration-inspired column, but there are some:

1) The robots cannot recognize or handle the frustration that comes with this kind of user problem. We need to restore human assistance to Internet technology problem-solving.

2) We are wasting money on the material Internet products we buy. You have to wonder how many new printers get sold because there was nothing easy or convenient – especially for seniors –  about getting the old hardware physically moved to someplace it could be easily and fairly adjusted or repaired. It’s simply easier to buy an installed-free new printer until it doesn’t work either. What a waste.

3) I was never told – nor did I read anywhere – that I should be careful about how I held the cellphone when I pushed the power button, on or off. It only had to happen once to establish itself as the biggest “pain in the ankle of all pains in the ankle” I’ve experienced so far on an ordinary Internet day. And I do realize that this little “pain” is neither the biggest problem any of us could ever have – on the Internet or otherwise.

4) The less we work together to fix life’s small annoyances, the easier it becomes to waste our resources individually by buying something that’s new, workable, and immediately more convenient as our choice for the solution.

Phone Numbers Please.

If you have an e-mail or phone number that you think has been lost to me or The Pecan Park Eagle as a result of this little cell phone number loss, please email me your two lost pieces of data at my e-mail address:

houston.buff37@gmail.com

Thank you.

Bill McCurdy

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

 

Our Lost & Found Dog Story

January 14, 2018

Please forgive our slightly under-the-weather physical state, but our mostly emotionally-hammered emotional scoreboard over the past 48 hours have finally thrown up a wall on my usual relentless writing pace in the short-term. Here’s what happened.

Thursday night, we were bitten at home by the apparently endless teeth of Hurricane Harvey. Our adult son Casey’s almost 10-year old Dachshund, Pluto, went outside for a duty call. Instead of coming back inside for bed time, Pluto found a new crawl space beneath our tilting back fence and decided to exit for a night on the town. By midnight of our first really cold evening in this new front, we had done all we could to find low moving blackness on a night of consuming blackness. We suspended our search until sunrise Friday.

None of us got much sleep that night. Casey was beside himself with the worst fears. He and Pluto have been through so much together, traveling through all the contiguous 48 states over the course of their early days together in West Texas, several working years in Houston, and, most recently, about 100,000 miles in a big rig that Casey drove for a delivery company based in Springfield, Missouri. Pluto was also like the canine grandson connection to the hearts of Norma and me too. Thursday night was tough.

To each his own. Norma and I turned to prayer. And, given our beliefs, Norma and I independently put St. Anthony (Patron Saint of the Lost) and St. Jude (Patron Saint of Lost Causes) on our spiritual speed dials to boot in our pleas for divine help beyond our limited human capacity for problem solving.

Early Friday morning turned light and our power line signs requesting help were up and blowing in the wind like the Fleet of Good Ships Hope that we hoped they would be. Meanwhile, I had to leave for a doctor’s appointment and didn’t get back to the neighborhood until about 11:30 AM. When I drove in the usual way, the urge hit me to bypass the normal first left turn to our house and to proceed straight for one block and then take a right into the neighborhood just east of us.

As soon as I did take the hunch course, I saw Pluto. He was walking in a yard to my right, but I wasn’t sure it was him. I didn’t recognize his blue collar. He also appeared smaller than our Pluto too, but I couldn’t be sure. I had to turn around and check him out more closely. By the time I turned around in the car, I also saw Casey outside his car – far down the same street. With one eye on the slow moving “Pluto”, I drove on to apprise Casey and get his help. We both turned around and went back.

Then Casey got out of his car and called Pluto by name. The two ran together like something out of a movie scene. Pluto jumped into Casey’s arms as they both fell in apparent relief to the ground in hugs and kisses. It was enough to water a stranger’s front lawn in tears of joy and relief.

The lessons here are many. And our personal beliefs begin with thanks to God and gratitude for the fact that we each now have the opportunity to absorb them this time without the permanent loss of our dear Pluto. Yet, we all know – the surrender of all physical attachments awaits all of us in some partial, temporary, or permanent form eventually. It is the Presence of True Eternal Love in our lives that never goes away. And that Love is available to all of us from the Power that is greater than us all. If we feel it from each other, it is because that Love is passing through each of us – to each other – and right down to the little canine smallest physical member of our little family. We are the network of attached family members through which the great river of Love flows. We rejoice in our connection. We mourn any loss. And we celebrate in quiet peace and gratitude all homecomings – especially the inexplicably miraculous kind that just unfolded with Pluto.

Thank you for your understanding.

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

My Double Play: Old Movies and Baseball

August 23, 2017

“OH BUNNY, WHAT ON EARTH HAS HAPPENED TO YOU? YOU USED TO BE QUITE A NICE BOY – EVEN FORNICASIONALLY”

 

She Said What???

The quote from this early scene in the 1935 movie, “Biography of a Bachelor Girl”, is what some unspecified members of the old movie industry censorship code group (1930-68) thought they heard when they happened to hear them spoken by beautiful lead actress Ann Harding to her old earlier times boy friend, actor Edward Everett Horton.

What Ms. Harding actually said, according to the script, and my numerous replays of that spot on the DVR copy from the movie’s broadcast this past weekend on the Turner Classic Movies channel were exactly these: ““OH BUNNY, WHAT ON EARTH HAS HAPPENED TO YOU? YOU USED TO BE QUITE A NICE BOY – EVEN FUN OCCASIONALLY.”

Close, but no cigar!

Thank you TCM movie host Ben Mankiewicz for alerting us to look and listen for this issue early on in the playing of the film. In a way that is similar to baseball, or in all passions for any area of history, there is always something new to learn. At any rate, it turned out to be a ripple in the stream issue and the movie went forward without editing, but that wasn’t all the case. The movie’s “Hays Code” was named for Will H. Hays, who was the president of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America (MPPDA) from 1922 to 1945.

The Code had been in effect since 1930, but serious enforcement of it didn’t go into effect until 1934. It wasn’t surprising that a 1935 movie would get this kind of close attention.

It also brings home how much the advent of “talkies” in the 1920’s increased the fear that some Hollywood producers would now run morally amuck and bring down the wrath of government regulation upon the entire industry. So, in self-defense, the film industry created their own code of righteousness – regulating that criminals had to pay for their film crimes, and that sex had to be kept out of sight and even restrained from suggestion or plays on words by film characters. An actor and actress could not sit down together on a bed unless they each kept one foot on the floor for as long as they remained there.

Of course, the nation was operating under a different moral compass in those days. It was not one I admire, nor one I’d ever like to see us repeat.

Most movies were all white; people never had mixed race relationships; it was OK for major white stars to don themselves in minstrel show make up and act like buffoons; and to present minorities, mostly blacks, but sometimes Native Americans, Asians, and Hispanics as smiling stereotypical servants and sidekicks; and everybody smoked heavily and drank themselves into stupors with no long-term side effects; and if you were non-white, you had earned the right to fight for your country too, as long as you understood that you still couldn’t break bread, live next door, or attend church with whites once you came home, if you came home.

Let’s hope that most of our younger people shall live to see the day in which each of them only has to show up as a decent human being to earn their places at the table of life. Statues cannot put you there – or keep you away – once that day comes.

Watch a few really old movies from the 1930’s, for example, and you will get to see all the reasons we still aren’t there today as the brothers and sisters we all really are. And you really won’t have to work hard to see these missed opportunities. You’ll simply need to be old enough to get them. It’s all there in what they say. And what they don’t say. In what the characters do. And what they don’t do.

At least the old movies work from a dynamic narrative script. And the same cannot be said for The Fast and The Furious efforts of this day and time.

My Guilty Pleasure

Some nights I will double play a DVR movie from TCM with an ongoing DVR of the Astros game. depending upon how much the game grips my early inning attention span. It works best when Keuchel pitches. In a typical Keuchel game, I will watch the whole first inning of a home game. Then watch the movie for however long it takes “K” to retire the side and switch back to watch the Astros hit. I never miss anything because of the replay capacity. And my mind “sometimes” seems to crave the multi-tasking. The other night I got to watch Harold Lloyd as a 1928 New York taxi driver whose job it was to get a late Babe Ruth (the real Babe) to Yankee Stadium on time for his game. What a hoot! I thought the Babe was going to have to change his pants as a result of that little hop over the bridge from Harlem.

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle