The W.C.

It should be comforting to know that four national organizations have now identified 22 different genders.  Being a “man” or “woman” is no longer the norm. I’m not sure if this means we will now have 22 different bathroom doors to choose from but we may be going in that direction (see CBS News report http://www.cbsnews.com/news/transgender-gender-identity-terms-glossary ).  That said, I have a suggestion.  

We just got back from Europe having been on a Baltic Cruise (Regent).  We left Copenhagen a few days ago.  Europe has a much easier solution to this situation.  Unisex bathrooms.  Everyone walks in the same door (marked “W.C.”) and goes into a stall.  In some countries, the men who stand up to do their business simply go behind a chest high partition while others – men and women – pick a stall and walk in.  There are no looks.  No questions.  No embarrassment.  Everyone – and I mean everyone – belongs.  And is accepted.  To me, this makes a lot of sense.  It’s smart.  Rather than having to decide between door number 11 or door number 16. . . . .  

Once Upon a Time. . . .

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess. She lived in a big castle and had a cat. The cat’s name was “Flashy.” One day, the beautiful princess stepped outside the castle with her cat – and THEN . . . .  

Donna and I happily entertain our granddaughters with regularity.  It’s always special to share time with them.  When we have a meal, we normally encourage some sort of interaction.  It’s more than “how was your day” or “do you like your spaghetti.”  Donna or I will whirrrrr our arms around and point to one of our granddaughters and say “You begin a story.”  The 3 or 6 year old will begin a story – often like the four lines above.  Sometimes – they’ll start a story on their own.   After “and then” — the obligation shifts to the next person at the table to continue the story.  We’ve had some verrrry interesting adventures come out of this round table authorship.   I often include the beautiful – yet powerful – princess going to the local golf course and shooting a sub par round from the back tees.  

Another staple for dinnertime discussion is “Rose and Thorn.”  Everyone is asked the “Rose” of their day — the happiest or most exciting part of the day.  Then we will  ask if there was a “Thorn” in their day — something that happened that wasn’t pleasant or happy.  We learn a lot – from our granddaughters and from each other from these simple yet insightful interactions of dialogue.  What was the Rose of your day?     

Blind Date

When I was in law school, a great friend of mine from Augustana College – Diane – was living nearby while going to grad school.  One day, Diane said to me “Scott – I have this girl that I think you should meet.” In my own inimitable way, I probably said something like “Duhhhh-okayy. . . .”  And drooled . . . . . 

A few weeks later, at the appointed hour, I knocked on the door of my blind date. This cute girl opened the door, smiled and I fumbled for words “duhhhhhh hummna humna . . . . nice pad ya got here. . . ” [those were among my first words].  She probably wondered what sort of bozo Diane had fixed her up with.  “Yes. . . . uhmm. . . thank you.”  I remember sweating a lot and making a lot of “duhhhhh” sounds but for some inexplicable reason she must have found these qualities endearing.   So we went out.  Double-dated.  To the racetrack of all places.  And then dinner. 

A few months later, the most cosmic of coincidences occurred (see post of August 2, 2013) which probably sealed the deal.   A couple years later, we were married and we’re still at it.   Duhhhhhh. . . . . 

1913 “V” Nickel

[An update on one of my very first posts – of August 3, 2011]  The Liberty Head five cent piece (the “V” Nickel – because of a Roman numeral “5” on the reverse) was made from 1883 to 1912 and was America’s second “nickel.”   In 1913, the United States Mint produced Liberty Head nickels but they were never intended for circulation.   Colonel E. H. R. Green (the son of the famous Hetty Green) owned 5 strikes of the 1913 nickel.  These five rarities have since been dispersed to collectors.  

Around 1960, I was a Boy Scout working on Coin Collecting Merit Badge.  The merit badge counselor was a gentle man named Herman Noll (he lived in Mt. Prospect, IL).  He had an amazing collection of coins housed in a walk in closet off the living room.  Apart from quizzing me on and helping me with the merit badge requirements, Mr. Noll generously gave me some assorted coins for my collection.  I remember him telling me that his father was an employee of the U.S. Mint that produced the 1913 “V” Nickel.  His father took a few — apparently beyond those belonging to Mr. Green.  Mr. Noll never told me where the remaining 1913 nickels were or what had been done with them.  On August 14th, a 1913 “V” nickel sold for $4.5 million (see http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/rare-nickel-sells-for-record-breaking-dollar45-million/ar-BBM0vFy?li=BBnbfc ).   I wonder if they know about Herman. . . . .

 I wish I’d asked a few more questions . . . .      

Talk Like a Pirate Day

I can’t wait! September 19th is “International Talk Like a Pirate Day.” Do you know about this special day? 

In 1995 two guys from Albany, OR (John “Ol’ Chumbucket” Baur and Mark “Cap’n Slappy” Summers proclaimed September 19th as the day everyone in the world should “talk like a pirate.” The whole idea stemmed from a racquetball injury. One of them reacted with an “Arrrggghhh” as he lay on the floor in pain – and along came an idea. For seven years, it remained an “inside” idea but in 2002 they sent a letter about their “holiday” to humorist Dave Barry.  Barry liked the idea, pushed it in a few columns and the rest is history.

Actor Robert Newton (who starred as Long John Silver in the 1950 Disney film “Treasure Island“) is considered the patron saint of Talk Like a Pirate Day.   So remember, on September 19th, when anyone says anything to you, tilt your head, give them the eye and say “Avast you scurvy lubber.  Prepare to be boarded. . . . ”  

I suggest writing your Congressmen and Senators to make this a national holiday.  Since all politicians are scurvy bilge rats, this should be a natural for them . . . . .

Loeb & Leopold

The “Crime of the Century” occurred in 1924. Two 19 year old law students coming from two wealthy families in Chicago murdered a 14 year old boy – Bobby Franks. The reason?  They wanted to have the experience of killing someone.  And they intended to commit the “perfect crime.”   The two were caught thanks to the unique hinge on a pair of eyeglasses found near the body.  And a match between the typewritten ransom notes and some class notes of one of the young men.  

Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold were arrested and grilled by police.  After being confronted with the evidence, they confessed.  And the public clamored for them to hang.  In a dramatic “end run” to avoid a poisoned jury, their lawyer Clarence Darrow pleaded them guilty to murder and kidnapping.  And placed the decision of life – or death – in the hands of the court — Judge John L. Caverly.  Following a month-long hearing on aggravation and mitigation, States Attorney Robert Crowe argued for five hours demanding that the two be hung by the neck until dead.  Clarence Darrow argued for eleven hours.  Pleading for mercy.  Pleading for life.  It is said that when Darrow finished his closing argument, there was not a dry eye in the courtroom — except for the dour States Attorney.  Two weeks later, Judge Caverly delivered the verdict.  His decision?   “Life” in the penitentiary.

For the last twelve years, I have been performing in a one act play – “Pleading for the Future.”  Early on, the production ran for four nights in a northside Chicago theater.  Today, the play provides continuing legal education for law schools, bar associations and law firms.  It is a real life account of the murder and the closing arguments – complete with slides and music.  Famed reporter and author Ben Hecht (played by lawyer and former U.S. Army Stars & Stripes reporter Bill Hannay) provides the introduction and prologue.  Todd Parkhurst (a veteran actor, lawyer and LifeLine pilot) has the role of Clarence Darrow.   And I (former States Attorney) am States Attorney Bob Crowe. We continue to perform gratis for various groups and organizations.  The play has taken on a life of its own.  Now if only we could get Steven Spielberg, Disney or Warner Bros. to pick it up — keeping the original cast of course . . . .      

Typing

I had some good courses in college.  But the most useful was a year long course on advanced first aid which ended with me getting a Civil Defense medical responder card (remember – this was 1966).  I thought – I’m an Eagle Scout – this’ll be a snap.  It was not.  But the knowledge gleaned from this course has come in very handy over the years.   

Of all the subjects I endured in high school — far and away the best course I ever took was typing.  It was called “touch typing” – a skill developed by Frank Edward McGurrin (a Salt Lake City court stenographer) in 1888.  Thank you, Mr. McGurrin!  I use this skill every day.  In abundance. . . . . 

I am able to type the way one was meant to type. Accurately. Fast.  Fingers flying (whooosh!).  None of this two finger business.  I often type my own letters, lengthy reports and loquacious emails at a speed of perhaps 60 words a minute with minimal error.  Rarely looking at the keyboard.  Typing.  What a value-added learning tool for a young person today.  But do schools teach typing the way they did?  I dunno but if not, it belongs on the menu. 

By the way – do you know the longest word in the English language that you can write using the letters on the top row of a typewriter or keyboard?  “Typewriter.”  Yep . . . .