Say what you will about Tiger Woods, in my opinion, he has been good for the game of golf. Make that great for the game of golf. While we all might criticize or condemn the actions which led to his fall from grace, it is not a distraction from the greatness of his golf game.  Tiger’s exploits on the links are legendary.  His prowess with wedge and putter has spurred tens of thousands of young people into the game.  His success over the years sparked an uptick in rounds played.  And he has a foundation that provides palpable benefit. . . . . 

On any Sunday afternoon when Tiger is in the hunt, what red-blooded golfer doesn’t at least turn a weather eye toward the television?  I was there on the big screen 50 yard line watching Tiger win his 8th at Torrey Pines on Sunday.  Wow!  Sure Phil, Rory, Bubba and others play a role.  But I think it’s still Tiger who draws the crowds.  And he’s got a few years left. . . .  

Setting a Bad Example

Lauren was about 3 years old.   I remember the moment.  It was a sunny day.  We were standing on a bridge looking down on a bubbling stream.  Several rocks jutted out from the rushing water — just below the bridge.  

Now understand that when guys are standing on a bridge, looking down, there is a genetic hardwiring that impulses every man to do something.   Spit.  So, without thinking,  I did and hit a rock down below.  Lauren thought this was really neat.  Lauren giggled and she puckered her lips and began drooling royally.  Smiles.  🙂  Laughs.  🙂 More drool.   “Noooo Sweetheart.  This way — ‘pffft’.”  And I hit the rock again.   More drool.  Laughs.  Smiles.  More drool.  Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.  I guess it really is a guy thing. . . . . (sigh). . . . .


I don’t mean to sound snooty but I really do not watch television. I watch “Squawk Box” on CNBC for perhaps 20 minutes while I have my breakfast. I will watch snippets of an occasional Chicago Bears football game (if they are in the hunt) or maybe“Honeymooners” episode (see June 7, 2012).

Last year, Donna got video recordings of the first two seasons of “Downton Abbey.” She asked if I would watch with her. I said – quite flatly – “No.” She said “please.” I responded “I’d rather not.” And started to walk away. That’s when she pulled the “You know I would really like for you to watch – just an hour – of this program with me.” Now I am not quite as dumb as I look and I read into this request all that might lay behind it. So I  turned, smiled and said “sure.” And I watched.  The first hour of “Downton Abbey.” 

When she leaned over and said “do you want to watch the second episode?” I said (without much coaxing) “sure.”

I know some of you may not “watch t.v.” I can relate. However let me offer my observation that “Downton Abbey” is not just t.v. It is wonderful — and well-worth the time spent — programming.  I now can’t wait for Sunday night.  If you’re going on vacation, get the first and second seasons on DVD (so you have context). 

I still don’t watch television apart from the occasional Bears game, “Honeymooners” episode or “Squawk Box.” But I do watch “Downton Abbey.” WOW!

The Masters

Last weekend, I saw my first commercial for THE MASTERS. If there is anything that can swat the winter doldrums, it is a reminder that THE MASTERS is not far away.

THE MASTERS is one of four “Major” PGA golf tournaments played each year. Unlike most tournaments, THE MASTERS is always hosted by Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, GA. The tournament was first played in 1934 (the year after the Club opened) and adopted the present – iconic – name in 1939.  The tradition of the GREEN JACKET began in 1949.  Interestingly, the course played the first two years with the back nine as the front and the front as the back.  At the end of 1935 it was changed permanently to the current order.  Prior to being a golf course, Augusta National was a plant nursery.  Each hole today is named after a plant or shrub with which it has become associated. 

There have been some truly amazing shots and plays at THE MASTERS.  There have been 73 holes in one with a record five in 2002!  Do yourself a favor and sit back for four minutes and 22 seconds and watch three of the most amazing golf shots in THE MASTERS’ (and golf) history.  I saw all of these live (on t.v.).  One day I hope to add a great shot of my own to this mix.  No, I’m not gonna hold my breath. . . .  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jaq_SAtm3J8 – 1 minute 3 seconds

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1nJfhUGM4Yc – 2 minutes 18 seconds (I get tears in my eyes watching this one)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZoUJZ0yDTA – 1 minute 1 second

Facilitating Payments

Let’s say you are a trucker.  And you have arrived at your destination in Canada to deliver a load of paper.  The official at the paper plant says quite plainly – “you may not unload your truck . . . . unless you give me fifty dollars.”  You hem and haw and he tells that unless you fork over the fifty, you will have to drive back to Oklahoma City.  You then agree and hand him a fifty dollar bill.  Is that a bribe? 

You want to influence a public official to admit only your company’s product into a particular city in Costa Rica.  You offer the official a thousand dollars to keep your competitors out of the city.  She accepts the grand.  Is that a bribe?

Answer?  The first situation is probably legal.  It might be considered a “facilitating payment” under American federal law.  The second is a bribe.  Hands down.  And you can go to jail.  There is a clear difference between the two situations.  While a facilitating payment (or “grease payment”) might be considered to be a questionable business ethic, there is nothing legally wrong with it. 

A “facilitating payment” is defined by the Foreign Corupt Practices Act (1977) as a payment to a foreign official, political party or party official for “routine government action” (such as processing papers, issuing permits or other duties) which are non-discretionary which an official is already bound to perform.  The payment is not intended to influence the outcome of an official’s action — only the timing thereof.  Facilitating payments are one of the few exceptions from anti-bribery prohibitions of the law. 

I sometimes suggest to Donna that a facilitating payment on her part might be in order for my doing the dishes or organizing a closet.  Unfortunately it normally takes a bribe on my part to avoid such tasks.     

As a lawyer, I have to say – This is not legal advice (except perhaps when dealing with your spouse).   

Scoring Points – Part III

In my posts of May 6 and 8, 2012, I talked about how my cooking scores points. Well, I’ve done it again. Donna spent much of Saturday with our daughter helping out with the baby.  Donna called mid-afternoon and said she was tired and that she’d be home around 6:00.  “Would you like me to fix dinner?” I asked. “Would you?” she responded. I smiled “Just you wait.”

I went out and bought about 3/4 pound of fresh prosciutto sliced thick, a Vidalia onion (what else), LeSeur peas and some Laurel Hill fire roasted red peppers. I chopped the prosciutto and onion into small pieces. I sauteed the prosciutto and onion slowly (covered – stirring often) with some shaved garlic in a nice olive oil. I wanted the prosciutto brown and the onions somewhat absorbed.  I heated the peas and tossed in one of the red peppers (cut up) for color.  I cooked a Prince spaghetti (al dente) and when all was done, I mixed it all in a bowl with a jar of Elki artichoke lemon pesto (heated with extra olive oil).  I roasted some bread crumbs in olive oil to sprinkle on top of the dish and offered grated parmesan on the side.  Voila!  

The table was set.  The candles were lit.  Sinatra was crooning in the background.   Donna walked in.  She smiled and sat down.  A Caymus Vineyards Meiomi red was the perfect accompaniment.  We had a caramel gelato for dessert.  In retrospect, the lemon artichoke pesto made the dish too lemony (though it was still very good).  Next time, I may stay with olive oil and some extra garlic or peperoncino.  But hey — I scored some points.  Major points after doing the dishes.       

The Chicago Literary Club

The Chicago Literary Club is one of the oldest literary groups in the United States.  It was founded in Chicago in 1874 as an all male bastion of those who loved literature.   The Club opened in the year after Chicago’s Fortnightly Club opened for women with literary interest.  Members would regale their fellows with discussions of politics, the labor movement and reminiscence of the Civil War.   Today, the Club is coed and meets every Monday from October to May.  Dinner is usually served and a paper presented at 7:30.  Papers will run from 25 to 60 minutes.  The papers are published online at the Club’s website – www.chilit.org

On January 7th, I delivered my sixth paper to The Chicago Literary Club.  The title of the paper was “The Renaissance Hombre.”  I’ll bet you can guess the topic.   You can check out my paper online at http://www.chilit.org/Papers%20by%20author/Petersen%20–%20Renaissance%20Hombre.htm   R.H.  

Joe Miller’s Joke Book

I always wanted to be a stand up comedian — but I just don’t have the legs for it. . . .

I love good jokes.  Comedy.  The Three Stooges (“are you kidding Petersen?”).  The Honeymooners.  Seinfeld.  I love to laugh.   Belly laugh.  The person I’d like most to have dinner with?  Aristophanes (see post of August 28, 2011).  My favorite funny movie?  “Planes Trains and Automobiles.”  Rent it.  Please!  Or maybe it’s “Airplane.”  Or “Young Frankenstein.”  Or “The Pink Panther.”  Humor is a great medicine (see post of July 28, 2011). 

While Aristophanes was the first stand up comedian in about 400 B.C., the first book of jokes wasn’t published until 1739.  It was Joe Miller’s Joke Book, then known as Joe Miller’s Jests or The Wit’s Vade-Mecum.  Joe Miller (1684-1738) was an English actor who played a large number of humorous/comedic parts.  When Miller died, a chap named John M0tley (1692-1750) published Joe Miller’s Jests in 1739.  It was a collection of contemporary and ancient witticisms.  The first edition had 247 numbered jokes. 

A famous teacher of Arithmetick who had long been married without being able to get his Wife with Child.  One said to her ‘Madam, your Husband is an excellent Arithmetician.’  ‘Yes, replies she, only he can’t multiply.'”   (That’s number 234) 

Joe Miller was referred to by Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (1843) (“Joe Miller never made such a joke as sending [the turkey] to Bob’s. . . .”). 

Maybe after I croak, someone will write a book “The Renaissance Hombre’s Joke Book.”  I have a card file full of them!  Yeah. . . . .   

A Culture of Violence

On Saturday mornings when I was growing up, I could watch one hour of television.  I was not allowed to watch “Superman” (the old one with George Reeves) because my mother thought it was “too violent.”  So I usually picked “Mighty Mouse” and “Sky King.”  On Saturday nights, I could sometimes watch “Have Gun Will Travel” and “Gunsmoke” with my father.   In the old Westerns, if a bad guy was shot, he’d fall down.  Narry a drop of blood.  No coughing.  No twitching.  No movement.  And no gloating.   

In 1969, Sam Peckinpah ended that age of innocence with his iconic “The Wild Bunch” in which blood flowed in rivers and the carnage was suffocating.  I remember seeing the movie and going “whoa!” 

Today we accept that young people can watch movies that glorify horror, death and fear.  They play (often for hours on end) the most violent, brutal, cruel and bloody video games.   There is the scalding inhumanity of and bloodlust for ultimate fighting and the degrading and debasing reality television shows where manipulation and back-stabbing win.  Hollywood sinks lower.  And lower.  But – hey – don’t you dare try and impose your values on anyone.   Don’t even think of mentioning the word “God” in school or a public place.   And heaven help you if you bring a Bible to school.   The ACLU and secular “progressives” (who want to impose their values on you) will sue you and run you out of town under the guise of safeguarding liberty.   

When you see the horrific violence that we as a society wreak upon ourselves, I have to wonder if our culture of violence, the casual acceptance of it and the disintegration of traditional values — don’t invite it. . . .