Another month begins amidst the joys of social distancing. We hope that all are well. As I mentioned last time, truth be told the restrictions haven’t really impacted Nita and me very much. Nita reads an enormous amount and tends her flowers. I putter around the house, get in the way, and try to put some words on paper. So, at least to this point we have not been much affected by the whole thing.
For baseball fans the mostly good news is that there will be some sort of a season beginning later this month. Sixty games is advertised length. Two adjustments to the rules have been announced that are especially notable. When games go to extra innings, one change begins play with a runner on second base. Several slo-pitch softball leagues have used a similar rule for quite a few years. I understand the desire to speed up the game; I will be curious to see how this change is received. Right now, I hope it will be a temporary, one-time feature in major league baseball. The other significant change calls for use of the designated hitter in both leagues. Again, I hope this will be a one-time aberration. Don’t get me wrong: I will still watch the games, but baseball is a team sport and teams should be rewarded for having assembled the strongest set of 25 players. The designated hitter rule seems to me to be less of a test of the total team (since there is not as much need to go to the bench for pinch hitters, etc). It also seems less of a test of a manager’s ability. In a DH game, pitchers don’t bat. Thus, there are far fewer managerial decisions regarding when to remove a pitcher and employ a pinch hitter. There are some other effects also; it changes the way teams retaliate for an intentionally hit batter, for example. It’s a great game, why tamper with perfection? I mean, would you put an image of Millard Fillmore on Mount Rushmore? Would you change “Four score and seven” to “Eighty-seven years ago?” Would you put speedos on the David statue? You get my meaning.
I am for sure ready for the season, a season of any kind and length, to begin. Several days ago the Peanuts cartoon strip ran a segment that portrayed Charlie Brown’s longing for the season to start. The one I liked best showed him in bed looking out the window, waiting for the sunrise. When the sun came up, it was shaped like a baseball. Exactly!
Just a bit of writing-related news to report on… The first chapter in my book “Battlefields of Nebraska” describes an event that has come to be known as the Villasur Expedition. In June 1720, a small army left Santa Fe on a journey that brought them to present-day Nebraska to check rumors that the French were encroaching on territory claimed by Spain. August brought the Spanish to the vicinity of present-day Columbus, Nebraska. During the night of August 13, several hundred Pawnee tribesmen, hidden in tall grass, surrounded the Spanish encampment. In the early hours of the next morning, the Pawnees surprised and destroyed the small Spanish army. Twenty-four days later the few Spanish survivors struggled back to Santa Fe. As the book notes, it seems implausible that the fate of a significant portion of the North American continent would be decided by a battle fought at of all places, Columbus, Nebraska, but that is exactly what happened. Spain never again attempted in a serious way to exert its claim over the Great Plains region.
This August will mark the 300th anniversary of the battle. I’ve been asked by a couple of venues to talk about the expedition or be present when a book club discusses it. Both seem intriguing but the status of the gatherings is iffy at the moment given the coronavirus issue.
For the past few weeks, I have been working on a story that mirrors current headlines – pandemic, election campaign, protests, widespread disorder, etc. – and imagines what might happen if the country descends so deeply into calamity that, at the request of senior elected officials, the military is called upon to take control of the government. There is a plan (a set of plans, actually) for doing that during conditions under which the nation’s civil authorities are no longer able to carry out their constitutional responsibilities.
Thanks to wise suggestions and superb editing by Jeanne Kern and Kathy Rutledge, the story has been made ever so much better as we have moved through the rewrites. Whether it will ever see the light of day remains a mystery, of course. We are now entering my least favorite part of the process: trying to find outlets who might be interested in publishing the story.
I’ve got a couple of humorous pieces and another more serious work that I will also need to follow up on to see if anyone would be foolish enough to print them. I’m waiting to hear the results on a couple more. The time interval in hearing back is seldom quick – that’s okay, I suppose because the ones that have absolutely no shot are almost always rejected quickly. I’ve had a couple that came back so fast they reminded me of the manuscript that Snoopy tried to send in; it was so bad that the mailbox spit it out.
Now for this week’s truly awful pun:
What did the buffalo father say when his male calf left the herd?
Truly bad. Of all those so far, it has to be one of the worst.
Let’s close with some humor related to the quarantine circumstance. There are countless examples of sorrow and hardship brought on by the coronavirus; we mourn for those who have suffered from it and hold them close in our thoughts. There is the belief though, that sometimes a smile can be very useful therapy. Accordingly, we offer the following bits of humor courtesy of Jim Lloyd.
People keep asking:
“Is Covid 19 really that bad?’
Casinos and Churches are closed.
When both Heaven and Hell
agree on the same thing
it’s probably pretty bad.
Notice from the Association of Psychiatrists
During the quarantine it is considered
normal to talk to your plants and pets
kindly contact us only if they reply.
Ordered Chinese last night.
Little Chinese gentleman comes to door
As I walked out to meet him,
he started shouting “isolate, isolate.”
I told him “You’re not late, I only
ordered it 15 minutes ago.”
It’s been such a joy being home
these last three weeks.
We’ve caught up on all the things
I’ve done wrong for the
past 30 years.
If you receive an email
with the subject “Ding Dong”
don’t open it.
It’s the Jehovah Witnesses
working from home.
Best wishes to all.
Take care of each other.