Penn State: Fight for her honor

image from Associated Press

Penn State prayer vigil (image: Associated Press)

The worst week in Penn State history.  Without doubt.  And some reports suggest there may be more disturbing news to come.   Could there be anything more disturbing than what we already know?  That children were sexually abused by the very people who purported to act as their protectors and advocates?  And that powerful people were more concerned about protecting the image of the University than bringing the perpetrator to justice?

In the news this week the focus was all on Joe Paterno and the question of whether he did enough with the information he had.  In our heart of hearts we could not believe Joe knew anything about it.  We pleaded with the TV screen: “Say it ain’t so, Joe!”  But gradually we learned the truth.  He knew enough.  He should have done more.

The outrage for the victims of these crimes took far too long to surface in the media.  But not on the Penn State campus. It was a poignant moment when, instead of the traditional pre-game rally, students held a candlelight vigil for the victims.

“Penn State’s Old Main lawn glowed with the light of candles late Friday as thousands of students and alumni gathered to pray for the alleged victims of a child sex-abuse scandal that has left an anguished campus searching for ways to heal.

The massive gathering outside the university’s administrative nerve center was the first step toward healing, said its organizers, who felt some on campus had lost sight of the scandal’s greatest casualty, the eight boys former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky has been charged with molesting over a 15-year period.

Jessica Sever, a senior public relations major who organized the candlelight gathering, said her classmates were yearning for something positive amid a torrent of negative publicity.

She was among the somber crowd that filled nearly the entire lawn, where another contingent rioted two days earlier after the university trustees fired iconic football coach Joe Paterno.

Friday night’s crowd numbered as many as 10,000 by some estimates.” (Sadie Gurman

It is interesting to note that the organizer of the rally was a student.  She is a public relations major, but let’s not hold that against her — this was a PR nightmare and she had the right response.   But I am jaded enough to wonder: If she hadn’t organized the rally, would the University’s PR machine have done so?  Frankly, I think she put them to shame by getting it done as quickly as she did.  I envision the PSU marketing and development staff huddled around their TV screens watching the vigil, sort of like you would see on The West Wing when a news story was breaking:  everyone silent, but looking into one another’s eyes knowing they were screwed and thinking how to put the spin on for the press conference.   The Penn State staffers were probably smacking themselves on the forehead for not thinking to organize a vigil themselves.

It is very sad that this marks the end of the career of one of the greatest coaches in college football history.  But I want to think that the Joe Paterno we all thought we knew would respond “My legacy is not important. My legacy will be nothing if the children who were harmed do not find justice.”



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“Consider Alternate Route”

Morning Commute

One morning on my way into town a yellow Mustang convertible pulled in front of me in heavy traffic.  As we slowed to a crawl I saw the driver’s blonde hair blowing in the wind and she brushed it back as it flew around her sunglasses.  From what I could see as she passed me she looked to be in her late forties, attractive, and confident.  I don’t know why I think she was confident, except a car like that seems to give that impression.
I had plenty of time to stare at that car, and I began to imagine what it would be like to drive it for a while, to exchange it for my not-so-cool mini-van just for one day.
And then the sign ahead of us came into view.  I took out my camera and got this shot.  “Consider Alt Route” flashed in turns with the rest of the message of a closure ahead.  I thought, yes, I would like to consider an alternate route.  And I want to be driving THAT car.
What route would I take?  I would challenge the speed limits I’m sure, because why drive a fun car if you can’t enjoy how it performs on the highway?  I think I would head for the least crowded place I know.  Some place where there are few cars, plenty of trees, trails, a lake, and some fresh air.
I would spend the day exploring, listening to birds and the wind and water flapping against the lake shore.   If I got tired of walking and taking pictures, I would find the nearest small town and look for a farm stand.  If they had  blackberries I would buy a pint and eat them right there.  I would take deep breaths, walk slowly, sit on a bench and resist the urge to check the email on my cell phone.   I would try to be “in the moment” as the wellness gurus suggest.
It occurred to me that the woman in the yellow Mustang might be wishing for an alternate route too.  While I was imagining what it was like to be her, she might be imagining her own “alternate route.”
We tend to think other peoples lives are more interesting than ours.  But sometimes an alternate route is nothing more than a detour.  A longer way to the same place.
The traffic thinned and the blonde in the yellow Mustang pulled into the next lane and sped away.   It wasn’t clear why the traffic had been backed up, but now that we were moving again my mind also moved on.   My thoughts shifted to the agenda for the day, and before I knew it I was at my destination.   Stepping out of the van, I decided that I will plan that time at the lake anyway.  Maybe not this weekend, but before the leaves fall again and drain the color from the landscape.   I think it can be healthy to take an alternate route every now and then.

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Warning: Cleaning out your old room leads to mood swings

My sister and I recently went through my old room in our parents’ home to get a head start on the inevitable.    It made my mom upset because she thought we were throwing away things that were important to her.  We were re-arranging her life and now she wouldn’t know where to find things.

Our parents – now in their early nineties – want to stay in their own home forever.  I don’t blame them.  It’s been paid for since 1988.  A small ranch in a suburb on a corner lot with a beautifully landscaped property, now a bit neglected, lined in the back by prolific blueberry shrubs.  The small garden plot there grew lush with my farmer dad’s careful tending to his interesting varieties of tomatoes, cucumbers, and potatoes.  Deer hop over the fence for snacks. Numerous species of birds come to dine at the old picnic table that she faithfully refreshes with their favorite seed.  Who would want to trade that in for a tiny apartment or a hospital bed? Soon there will be no choice.

We sat on the edge of the bed, opening one dresser or desk drawer at a time, to see what could be tossed and what to keep.  Most of the time we clucked to each other over why in the world anyone would save so many greeting cards!  Most of them had nothing but a signature at the bottom, no personal sentiment whatsoever.  Nothing special about the illustrations either. 

The rare card with a hand-written note we saved, just because it might spark a memory for mom when most other pieces of her past were lost to her. Anything with my dad’s signature was a keeper – he is a man of few words, the textbook definition of “stoic” and not given to demonstrations of emotion.  But he always greeted her with a kiss and a hug when he got home from work and never said an angry or hurtful word to her in our presence in their 69 years and counting of marriage.  So a valentine from dad with just his name on it – that’s worth keeping.  

A few cards signed “Mom B” we also kept.  Granny lived in our home the last seven years of her life following a stroke and gradually passed into a world of her own.  She was not kind to her fourth child of five during the last few years. She called her “that woman.”  She favored my dad.  That must have hurt my mom terribly but she didn’t let it stop her from being her caregiver.  They say toward the end Granny would talk about how her daddy was going to come pick her up any day now.  And eventually, He did.

The volume of cards now reduced to a minimum, we moved into the realm of piles of old photos, baggies of safety pins, boxes of buttons, bits of ribbon and envelopes full of interesting looking cancelled stamps torn from envelopes.  The usual stuff.

If the cards and photos made us a bit sentimental, the melancholy mood was broken with our most unusual discovery of the day.  I took out a box from one of the drawers and as soon as I opened the lid I burst into laughter.  I looked up to heaven as if to say, WHAT in the WORLD?  Taking the item in my hand I held it up so my sister, who looked very puzzled, could see what all the fuss was about.  We nearly fell off the bed laughing. What I discovered there was the most ridiculous item I could imagine anyone ever saving.  For, nestled in a cardboard jewelry box on a cotton pillow, was my plastic dental retainer from when I was TWELVE.   Finding this ancient artifact of my lost youth struck me as so hilarious that I even called my mom in to let her join in the joke.  We all three had a good time wondering how – not to mention WHY — it had managed to be saved all those years.  

To save or toss?  That is the question. 

There’s only one answer that makes sense to me.  Some day my kids will have to sift through my things (poor souls – but its the only way I have to get back at them for all the years I picked up their stuff!), and they will get a good laugh out of their old mom’s surprises I plan to hide around the house. Maybe I’ll create an elaborate treasure hunt for them that leads them to believe a major item of worth is waiting if they solve the riddle!  They’ll think it was senility or at the very least an evil plot to drive them crazy.  But the motive will have been simply to give them a little laughter while they cope with the sad business of saying goodbye.

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Filed under Family, getting old, Humor, Kids, Nostalgia, parenting, Relationships, Society

Ruptured Rapture: Where is Doomsday Preacher?

According to Fox News as of 6 p.m. Saturday night, calls to (Harold) Camping were not returned.  Other reports say no one was answering the door at his house.

This can mean only one thing.  HE WAS RAPTURED!  And….. we were not.

The only other explanation is that he took all the money he’s been given (the man is worth millions) and faked his own rapture.  Perhaps he is now somewhere in Tahiti sipping mojitos on the beach and laughing his head off at the fools he “left behind.”

If he isn’t sitting next to Jesus in Heaven right now, he better be in Tahiti where one of his now bankrupt followers will not be able to afford the flight to hunt him down.

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Keisel’s beard shaving event benefits Children’s Hospital cancer patients

Pittsburgh Steeler Brett Keisel’s beard donated itself to charity today with the first snip coming at the hands of team president Art Rooney II.  Keisel introduced Rooney by saying “I hope this is the only time he cuts me.”  400 fans paid $25 each to view the event, raising over $30,000 for the hospital.

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Brett Keisel’s beard is tuft of legends










The “Beard Me” game has just gone viral!  Pictures of Pittsburgh children, grandparents and pets are getting ‘shopped with Brett’s beard!  Resistance is futile!

The Beard even has its own Facebook Page! 

There are WAY too many days between the division championship games and the Super Bowl now that the Pro Bowl is played early!  Look what people will resort to in order to be part of the action!  I have a full time job and a family, and I still find time to play with the digital pic toys to entertain myself and perhaps others who can’t afford a ticket to Dallas. 

A seventh ring is truly the stuff of legends, and who wouldn’t want to feel part of that?!  But kiddies… your parents have a deep dark secret for you.  Come close and listen up.  We don’t want to jinx it, and we don’t want to spoil your fun, but — well, we’ve been here before — way back in the day — and that one for the thumb took a few decades to arrive.  We know this doesn’t happen all the time — even to the Steelers.  So get ready for a long dry spell when our ageing stars retire with a fist full of bling.   We can hope for the best.  And we can add another song to the roster of Steelers parodies:  Thanks for the Memories.  Still, we hope they keep on comin!

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Punxsutawney Phil predicts Steelers win!

This is not my work, but it is my favorite Steeler Super Bowl XLV image of the year! 

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