The bite of inflation

Let’s begin 2022 by talking about an issue that has bullied its way into our national consciousness in the past year, inflation. All of us are paying more for various items, but in my case it’s measured with a quirky but useful yardstick.

I have a Friday lunch routine that began a couple years ago. In my “real” job I work four nine-hour days Monday to Thursday and have a four-hour Friday, meaning my weekend generally begins at lunchtime on Friday. So to start my weekend I go to Chick-Fil-A and order the same thing each week: a spicy deluxe meal with a side salad in lieu of the fries and a diet Dr. Pepper. (In and of itself, that’s a routine because it’s about the only time I drink Dr. Pepper. The one thing I don’t like about Chick-Fil-A is that they pour Coke products and I’m a Pepsi guy from way back.)

Because I always get the same thing, I know exactly how much it will cost before they ring it up. Thus, I was surprised a few weeks back when the number increased for the second time this year – sure enough, a look at my old bank statements confirmed this. Back in April that combo set me back $8.93, and over the summer it went up to $9.29, which was the number I was expecting. Instead, they told me it was $9.89!

Doing some hasty public school math with my phone’s calculator, the first increase was 4.03% while the second was 6.46%. Combined, in the space of about six or seven months, the price for my meal went up 10.75% – that’s pretty steep, because I don’t recall my income going up 10.75%. (I did get a raise in 2021, but not that much.)

Of course, there are costs involved, and the restaurant wants to stay profitable. So the increase has to be passed along to the consumer somehow, and since CFA hasn’t been cutting corners on the food they’re forced to charge more for it.

First and foremost, the smiling lady behind the Chick-Fil-A counter almost certainly has a higher wage now than she did when the year began, as do all her behind-the-scenes helpers. More importantly, the cost of the raw materials have gone up as chicken isn’t so cheap anymore, nor is produce or bread for the bun. It costs more to power all the food service equipment required to bring my sandwich and salad to my waiting hands.

But our nation got used to inflation that ran maybe 1-2%, meaning we might see just a modest increase every year. Now that we have so much funny money floating about, however, we got saddled with two significant hikes in six months. (And yes, I realize all this started with the last president. But he only did one stimmy, in reaction to the forced shutdown of “non-essential” businesses and complete revision of the service model for restaurants like CFA. In and of itself that was a gross overreaction, but I digress…)

Obviously I’m diving into the anecdotal here, but as a busy family we eat out a lot: usually three to four times a week for dinner. So we are attuned to the steady rise in prices that’s seemingly accelerated since the CCP virus began to take its toll on the restaurant industry and its players almost two years ago. It doesn’t matter if they’re chains like Chick-Fil-A or Texas Roadhouse or local restaurants such as Laurel Pizzeria, Pizza King, or La Tolteca in Salisbury – every time we go there it seems some of the prices have gone up a quarter here and 50 cents there. We get that costs are going up and food service is a brutal business model right now, but there has to be an end somewhere.

Perhaps if we stop with this artificial stimulation of the economy where valueless dollars are printed, we can eventually get back to that nice, predictable, and steady 1-2% annual increase (and bring back the period of not so long ago where wage increases were faster than inflation.) Otherwise, my over/under on my Friday lunchtime meal by the end of this new year is $11.50. Any takers?

We can make a partial course correction in 10 months. Hopefully some inspiring candidates for said change will step forth in the interim here in Delaware.

2021: a monoblogue year in review

As two weeks to stop the spread drags ever closer to two years, it’s time once again to review where I’ve been during the year.

My first post in January had perhaps the best first line of a year and perhaps the worst prediction. I began by saying, “From all appearances, January 6 may be a momentous day in our nation’s history, and grassroots supporters of Donald Trump will either be elated or despondent at day’s end.” But then I made the prediction, “Given that the 6th (a Wednesday) is a regular workday for D.C. and everyone else, I wouldn’t expect a major six-figure crowd there as there was for previous pro-Trump rallies.” Okay then. Upon further review, though, I still think it’s true that “if there really was an insurrection you would have had hot and cold bleeding politicians.” In that month I also had a rare guest opinion regarding Kamala Harris and shared my thoughts on becoming the loyal opposition.

What a way to begin the year, huh? I also started the second hundred of odds and ends, threw shade on my erstwhile professional organization, looked at the Gamestop stock phenomenon and asked what is truth?

It may have come out in February, when I reviewed my pleasing predictions. I also had to inform you of a new local grift as well as deal with another waste of energy and – believe it or not – more odds and ends. But the month gave those of us on the Right the sads because we lost our truth detector, a legend who finally repaid the talent he had been loaned.

I began my March by pondering the prospect of Trump fatigue, talking about some misdirection, then getting into local impact races. I then took a first look at how our state stacks up political district-wise before concluding with (you guessed it) even more odds and ends.

There was more of a Delaware focus in April as I looked at the changing of the guard in state political advocacy groups and attended one of the newbies’ local meetings, which had a heavy Second Amendment influence thanks to its location. That came in handy for a supportive 2A solution my member of Congress would never adopt, even though she should.

Then again, if Delmarva were a state she would possibly have company in Congress. I reprised a post I did in 2017 based on this cycle’s results and found we were still a purple region. Yet I found time to discuss infrastructure, too, and got myself back into practice for both the resumption of the Shorebirds season and a pictures and text post for the first time in over two years, well before the CCP virus hit us!

I began May with treatises on government dependence and fear before turning my attention to competing endorsements and disappointing results of the state’s school board elections. To make it a trifecta, our state also advanced a terrible idea – but what else is new? One thing new was a radio host with a radical thought I expanded on.

Part of my June docket had to do with the aforementioned radio host, who got some competition that ended an era in talk radio. But I brought back two things in the month: the odds and ends you breathlessly waited two months for and the Shorebirds of the Month I very, very impatiently longed to do for nearly two years.

But we also had to deal with it being pride month and with the avalanche of fake facts, for which I passed along some advice. I also talked about really fixing our Senate and announced someone wanted to fix the House – or at least represent us better – yet again, for the third straight election.

July began with a whimper and not a bang thanks to the Delaware General Assembly closing up shop a bit early, but I still did an accounting on them for this session. I also had some ideas to build up the state’s manufacturing base that led, of course, to more odds and ends. Yet after I discussed how not to be an aspiring writer, I foreshadowed an August post by discussing an upcoming event on Critical Race Theory, which eventually led off our eighth month.

It was a mellow sort of month as I looked at true lies from the opposition, dealt with a #TBT-style correction, and discussed growth in a post-growth town. I even got to do a brief rebuttal to a TEA Party critic because I put up one of my favorite post titles about beggars and hangers-on, too.

A long-neglected division of my site got a two-part update in September, but that wasn’t all. I took an updated look at the new 9/11 two decades later then, in the wake of California governor Gavin Newsom, I fantasized about the idea of a John Carney recall. And while I shockingly did more odds and ends, I had fun looking at my carbon offset and began wrapping up my Shorebirds coverage by detailing the final day and announcing my Shorebird of the Year at month’s end.

Former Trump administration official and Presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson visited a local church to begin October, where we heard he was a pretty good brain surgeon, too. (A brain surgeon starting a new political organization, that is.) And once I got through my picks and pans as a Shorebird fan, I opined about a visit to the land of another potential Oval Office candidate, Ron DeSantis of Florida.

Once we returned home, there were rumblings of a pending electoral bloodbath in 2022 that had the far-left opposition worried. And before I closed the month with another edition of odds and ends I talked a lot about Patriots for Delaware, promoting and covering their Unify Delaware Festival and preliminary report on the 2020 election and voter integrity in the state. I even got one more post in November out of them thanks to the long-awaited return of Weekend of local rock.

Earlier in the month, though, we had a bellwether offyear election with (mostly) pleasing results, but the election in Delmar, Maryland was a broom that swept clean. I also began a look at redistricting I would follow on after my Thanksgiving message and Black Friday tradition.

As always, December began with my anniversary post, a sweet sixteen celebration this year. It was once again quickly followed by another tradition: the induction of a new class into the Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame. I then pivoted quickly into a pair of thought pieces spurred by comments by the chair of the Delaware Libertarian Party before embarking on a three part series on the state’s legislative redistricting. Then I did one last odds and ends for the year before turning my scattered sights to the Pandora’s box of China, criticism of our Congressperson from her left (not much room there), a look at renewable energy, and the annual Christmas message.

That’s where I left it for another year. After a few days away I’m ready to start 2022 strong.

Wishes for a Merry Christmas 2021

Looks like we made it.

Although I always write these a few days in advance, I’m going to presume we weren’t wiped out by the Omega variant, so here’s my greeting to you. I was sorely tempted to repeat last year’s greeting because most of it is still in effect in certain portions of our ailing nation.

Fortunately, the part which holds most true can be excised from it, making this year’s message rather simple:

“Regardless, we must press on, and our biggest asset in that regard is the One who sent His son to be our sacrifice, that Savior whose birth we are celebrating tomorrow… My simple prayer this Christmas is that my readers come home, returning to a life with its priorities in order: God and family first, ‘stuff’ somewhere toward the end.”

With my wife this year, I didn’t buy her “stuff” that goes in a closet or quickly finds its way to a yard sale, I bought her an experience and memory where she will get to enjoy life in a different way for a few hours. The memories will be her gift. I’m echoing the last big holiday in saying I’m truly blessed, as my needs are pretty much taken care of and my wants are few.

In thinking about this holiday, I know Jesus received gifts when he was born and I’m sure all were useful to Him (some more than others.) But there comes a point where we have to ask ourselves what the most thoughtful gift we can give to someone is, and whether we are giving gifts to satisfy needs or cater to “wants” because we don’t want to sacrifice for what they need. In this case I’m thinking more about kids, having been around “only childs” most of my adult life. Some were way too spoiled with stuff by well-meaning family members who thought it would placate the kids, but turned out to do the opposite.

To that end, we’ve talked about inflation and the price of “stuff” a lot this year. While there is a risk of inflation in the waistline from consuming those Christmas cookies from your friends and co-workers and in gathering with the family for the Christmas meal and eating WAY too much, it should be remembered that there is no inflation with God’s love because it remains constant.

This is my Christmas message to all of my readers, as tomorrow my site will be dark.

Merry Christmas.

Reaching sweet sixteen

It’s gotten to the point where every year I have no idea how I did it and am amazed and thankful I’ve gotten through another one, but here we are – monoblogue’s sweet sixteenth birthday has arrived! Last Thursday I counted all my blessings for Thanksgiving, but one other one is this website because it’s enabled me to have a touchstone through the years, a journal of more than just thoughts and opinions but also occasionally of breaking news and first-hand coverage of events that may have slipped through the cracks otherwise.

And it’s a journal with a lot of entries – according to the back end of my site, where such things are accounted for, this is post number 5,225. I’m not sure if that counts or not my Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame post I have publishing tomorrow but is already completed; regardless, that’s a lot of posts and words to be put up by one person who doesn’t write for too much of his living.

It’s quite apparent how my site evolved from occasional look at the political scene to daily news and commentary until I saved myself from perhaps being consumed by the monster five years ago and took the steps back from both the daily grind and the political world within about a month of each other. I kinda like where I have it now, although along the way I lost about 2/3 of my readership or more. I was looking at this the other night to document this and found that, back in 2014, I had over 70,000 visitors to this site. After the 2016 shift away from daily posts, that number dwindled to a point where 2019 featured less than 1/10 that number, averaging only about 120 visitors a week. Since I haven’t really stepped up my writing pace that much, the increase back over 30,000 this year makes me wonder if it’s counting bots and crawlers incorrectly or not – regardless, I always say that even if I have one reader who I inform or (even better) inspire to act to preserve our liberty, then I did my job.

My site’s been around long enough to make me realize it is sort of a dinosaur – you don’t see many long-form blogs anymore. As an example, a couple weeks ago I told you the story about Karen Wells, who was a blogger before she got into local politics in her town. Ousted as mayor in the most recent election, she put up a social media post revealing her intention to return to blogging along with a screenshot of her former blog from 2009 and its links – out of perhaps 15 blogs there, there are only two still operating that I’m aware of and mine is one of the two. You could say I’m a survivor and I suppose at this point I’m a lifer: I have no face for video and don’t think I can converse for a podcast in such a way to make it interesting. I like this format where I can choose my words carefully and easily edit out the mistakes before (and even sometimes after) publishing.

Another thing I have noticed over the years is that I have several different audiences. There are readers of mine who don’t care a whit about my politics, but can’t wait to see who my Shorebirds of the Month will be and speculate about who will be the next member of the Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame. By the same token, back when I had a lot of Weekend of Local Rock posts and album reviews I had a handful who followed my site just for that stuff. Of course, I also have my “stick to the politics!” crowd, too, as that was (and is still) the bread and butter of my site. While I’m sure it didn’t do wonders for my readership because I didn’t pick a specialty, I can say that I would have never made it sixteen years any other way. The burnout on particular subjects and lack of quality writing on my part was the reason I stopped doing this daily.

So, while in past years I’ve set a number of lofty goals for myself that were (in looking back) probably unrealistic – wealth? I will likely make far more in a month as a staff writer for The Patriot Post than I’ll ever get in the tip jar here – the only real goal I have this year is to try and keep writing good stuff on an occasional basis. I still plan on doing Shorebirds of the Month for next season and will definitely keep my ear to the ground on Delaware’s political races and General Assembly. (Thanks to compiling last session’s votes, I already have a head start on the monoblogue Accountability Project for next year.) If I think about it and have the time, though, I do want to keep working on repairing the old posts where needed because the photos were missing or they were old Examiner posts that are no longer on their site. As I say, don’t let good writing go to waste and that’s part of my legacy here.

So I’m going to close this little state of the blog address by once again thanking all my readers – near or far, every time I post or just one visit to read an obscure tale – because I couldn’t have enjoyed this nearly as much without you. Remember, I only have to impact one to be a success in my eyes so everything else is gravy in that regard.

Happy Thanksgiving 2021

After a hiatus last Thanksgiving, I have returned to write my annual Thanksgiving post. I should explain, though, that the reason there was no holiday post last year wasn’t completely the pandemic, but the Wuhan flu did have something to do with it.

For a couple years, we had been taking vacations as a family – the “we” being my wife’s extended family of her sisters, assorted husbands, significant others and kids, and her mom. In 2020 we were supposed to go in June, but all the uncertainty over the CCP virus led the sister who planned all this to postpone the trip to Deep Creek Lake, Maryland. I’m not sure who had the bright idea to make it a Thanksgiving excursion, but that’s what we did. And I usually don’t take my laptop on these trips and didn’t think to write a post beforehand. So much for tradition.

This year, thankfully for many reasons, we are back to our usual Thanksgiving arrangement, and you get this post.

Speaking of traditions, I’m completely surprised that more isn’t being made that this year is a quadricentennial anniversary of our first Thanksgiving 400 years ago. It makes me wonder what things will be like in five years when America celebrates its 250th birthday, particularly when I remember how we as a nation celebrated the Bicentennial in 1976, when I was 11. I suppose when the 1619 Project and its emphasis on slavery is more of a thing than the 1620 project of pilgrims seeking freedom to worship as they pleased it’s a sign of the times.

And I would imagine that people feel less than blessed these days. There is so much uncertainty in the world as people worry about their jobs, health, and families. At the moment I’m blessed enough to enjoy all three, but it takes some work, some vigilance, and some common sense to keep all of these things, and you can’t take them for granted. But could you ever?

Each day I try to take a few moments with my Savior and often as part of my prayers I pray a prayer of thanksgiving, even for little things like the opportunity to be with our small group. I probably don’t thank the Lord as often as I should for all my blessings: one in this case being the God-given talent of writing and having a place more or less of my own to write at, and another of having readers like you who have cared enough to stop by and see what I have to say. It’s not a number that makes me financially wealthy (not that I’m trying too hard to be) but if I steer one in the right direction I consider this a successful venture.

So whether you eat during the Lions game (they’re 0-9-1 and playing the 3-7 Bears, so I don’t blame you) or eat at dinnertime like we do, just take time to count your blessings, too. I’m going to get back to something I did for a few years and close with Philippians 4:4. Have a Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving!

Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.

Thoughts on traveling to and through the land of DeSantis

In my last post I closed by saying I was going to take it easy for a few days. Well, it was definitely a white lie I uttered there because at the time it posted I was sitting (not so comfortably) on the AutoTrain heading south toward the outskirts of Orlando. So I was taking it easy but only as far as leaving some of the driving to others. (I did most of the driving in Florida, and dealing with Disney-area traffic is FAR from easy.)

I haven’t been to Florida since 2009, as the last time I saw my parents they visited me in Salisbury for my 50th birthday celebration. Seeing that being a blogger isn’t much for making a man wealthy, it took a long time for the stars to realign and allow for a long-anticipated return…fortunately, both my mom and dad are hanging in there as they’ve both passed the 80 barrier since I last saw them. Since we also took a day to visit Kassie’s half-brother and his significant other, it made for a week-long trip that spanned the state from the little bump along the Georgia border north of Jacksonville where the half-bro lives through the town of Sanford (where the Amtrak station for the AutoTrain is) to the orange groves along U.S. 27 downstate where my folks retired to 15 or so years ago.

In most instances, it seems like life is pretty much back to the pre-pandemic normal in Florida. People are out and about dining and going through life without the face diapers, the only exception being the motel in Sanford we stayed in the night before we boarded the AutoTrain back. (Seeing Orlando-area traffic, that was the best decision I made. I would have sweated out a 3 1/2 hour drive to catch a train had I left from the parents’ place, but instead we stayed 5 minutes away and had time for a leisurely breakfast, albeit at an IHOP next door.) But this hotel had a manager who was more cautious, as evidenced by the tray of disinfectant we were asked to leave the room key cards in. (And no, I didn’t take a picture. You’ll have to trust me on this one.)

Otherwise, I’m struggling to recall if any of the wait staff in the restaurants we ate at had masks on. I could be wrong, but I don’t think they did. (Honestly, though, I think I would notice them having masks first.)

On the other hand, they go WAY overboard with this at Amtrak. Basically from the minute you set foot on their property to get on a train to the second you get in your car to leave, they want that face diaper on you. Some people can deal with that for 20 hours or more and get some sleep, but I belong in the other category where it destroys any comfort I might have. And just an observation: traveling in a trio is no fun when you’re the odd one out and sit with a stranger – a nice enough lady, but still someone I don’t know – and something of a bonus when the train is emptier and you have the pair of seats to yourself. I may have snatched 2-3 hours of sleep instead of being awake almost all night for the 16-hour trip each way.

Being that it was October, though, I think we hit a sweet spot of sorts in that there aren’t as many people at Disney and the other theme parks because school is in session, nor are there the snowbirds who come down in late October and early November. My parents share a duplex (two houses placed side-by-side with a common wall) with one such snowbird, who is expected back in a couple weeks. Thus, aside from Orlando and going through the torrential downpour I hit going into Jacksonville the first time, I enjoyed driving in Florida – nice roads, good signage and pavement markings to help me along, and real speed limits up to 70 on the interstates and 65 on the other highways. It meant the traffic flow was about 75-80 mph, which is good for getting through half a state. (Imagine U.S. 13 as a 60 or 65 mph highway and you have U.S. 27 in that part of Florida.)

One other thing I noticed (or didn’t notice) is that there weren’t “help wanted” signs everywhere. I think the people have pretty much gone back to work, although there are probably fewer places to work now since the CCP virus and our government’s overreaction caused so much turmoil in the business world.

But, except for dealing with Amtrak and somewhat higher gas prices, I really (and surprisingly) felt like it was how travel used to be in 2019. Hopefully the next time I go that way, things will be even better.

Oh, and one last thing: I think we got to see Florida Man. We were driving down I-295 in Jacksonville on the St. Johns River bridge and there he was on an untagged dirt bike, zooming down the center lane doing a wheelie, then shifting to where he was standing on it. Then he motioned us to go by him, probably so he could get a better shot on his GoPro camera he had on his helmet. Definitely Florida Man, and definitely nuts.

Picks and pans from a Shorebird fan, 2021 edition

It’s been a loooooong two years since I last wrote some of these, and to be honest I thought a lot about it would change. But the funny thing? My first pick was the then-new concourse, but I never made it out there this season. Perhaps because it’s still underutilized despite my suggestions.

It was no surprise that attendance was down this season: no benefit of a “normal” offseason, having a somewhat shorter schedule overall, and getting a lot of questions about COVID restrictions after beginning the season with limited capacity all took their toll on the gate, which tumbled to a franchise-low 110,281 for the 60-game home season. Yet even the best six-game week only brought 14,249 to the park, which was about 4,000 fewer than an average pre-COVID six-game week would draw.

But I can’t really pan the staff this season, because if ever a group deserved a mulligan it was this one. Here’s hoping that, with the pandemic beginning to recede, 2022 will become a good comparable to 2019 – albeit with four fewer openings as the low-A schedule compressed to 132 games, 66 home and away. That makes a difference of about 12,000 fans. Drawing 200,000 once again next season would be an achievement but it’s doable. Getting back to full staff will also be a big help.

Because of the lack of staff, I can’t really pan the food too much – however, if I were to make a suggestion (and integrate my other idea) it would be nice to have a select-your-own sub (as in hoagie) station out on or near the concourse. It could even be cold subs or something not requiring a great deal of cooking, but I think it would be a nice idea for variety. Also, I wouldn’t mind them bringing the supreme pizza back – not that I ever recall eating it when it was here a couple years ago. (These guys make a surprisingly good pizza, even if it is just cheese or pepperoni.)

And now that we have some assurance that the team will be here, perhaps it’s time for more of those back-of-the-house improvements. (They did update the restroom at the entrance level concourse this year, refinishing it.) But even better, I think there could be a lot more done with the lobby and entrance to the Eastern Shore Baseball Hall of Fame.

In looking at it over the years, I think the original intent of the stadium was to have most of the people enter by going up the stairs to the upper concourse where most of the concession stands are, then work their way down to what used to be the general admission bleacher seats. The lower center entrance was probably envisioned more for the box seat holders, but it’s become the predominant entrance over the years to a point where the upper entrances were barely used this year. (Maybe once or twice.) I’m not sure how to do it without looking at a plan, but it seems to me that they could make it a better experience than just walking down a nondescript hall. If you get the kid’s perspective of going up the stairs then reaching the top, smelling the smells, and then crossing the concourse to see the green grass of the field – although that view is unfortunately blocked by the elevator tower – maybe you’ll understand why this is something that interests me.

But looking forward to 2022, it will be nice to have the full amount of time to prepare promotions for next season. We did manage several fireworks shows, Scrapple Night, and a Gallos de Delmarva night at the tail end of the season, so it wasn’t a lost season by any means. Get the giveaways to be available on their appointed night and we should be all right.

Speaking of picks, instead of predicting the 25 players we were going to get (which would have been nigh-upon-impossible given this spring’s situation) I predicted how the league’s teams would finish. Here’s how that turned out:

  1. Down East Wood Ducks (Texas) (72-48, 2nd overall, lost championship series)
  2. Delmarva Shorebirds (Baltimore) (68-52, 4th overall based on tiebreaker*)
  3. Charleston RiverDogs (Tampa Bay) (82-38, 1st overall, won pennant)
  4. Lynchburg Hillcats (Cleveland) (58-62, 7th overall)
  5. Columbia Fireflies (Kansas City) (48-71, 10th overall)
  6. Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Chicago Cubs) (59-61, 6th overall)
  7. Fayetteville Woodpeckers (Houston) (55-85, 8th overall)
  8. Salem Red Sox (Boston) (71-49, 3rd overall, won our Northern Division)
  9. Carolina Mudcats (Milwaukee) (68-52, 5th overall)
  10. Kannapolis Cannon Ballers (Chicago White Sox) (40-79, 12th overall)
  11. Augusta Greenjackets (Atlanta) (54-66, 9th overall)
  12. Fredericksburg Nationals (Washington) (44-76, 11th overall)

(*) We defeated Carolina in the season series, 8-4.

Given these numbers, I would say the surprises were Salem and Carolina, which didn’t look like they would have very good teams based on their systems but turned out to be two of the teams in contention until the final days. Lynchburg and (especially) Columbia, on the other hand, seemed to be the real underperformers. Aside from those outliers, though, teams tended to finish a position or two off where they were expected to be (except Myrtle Beach, who hit their 6th place target by a game over Lynchburg.) So maybe I’ll try again for next season, with the added bonus of knowing each team’s schedule.

So there you have picks and pans. I’m going to take it easy for a few days.

The final day

This post is intended to be a pictorial diary of a day in the life, but it’s more than that.

I jokingly refer to Arthur W. Perdue Stadium as my “summer home” since I spend a lot of time there each season. Last Sunday they played their final home game against the Fredericksburg Nationals, and while I normally take my 35mm camera to get the player photos I use for Shorebird of the Month, I also have my cell phone to get the obligatory picture I take and share on my social media.

In years past, though, I did more of a social media story on the last day but since I had companions for the game this season I was a little bit too engaged for that. In fact I sort of forgot I took these until I cleaned out my cell phone photos today – luckily, the pictorial is still appropriate because today was the Shorebirds’ actual finale as they finished on the road at Salem.

So most of the rest of this goes in with my long-standing “pictures and text” format. Hopefully you’ll enjoy this fan’s perspective.

Here we are, the front entrance to Arthur W. Perdue Stadium. Through those front doors awaits another episode in the continuing saga of young men living out their dream of being paid to play baseball. One thing I’ve noticed this season is that the steps have seldom been used for gates to the upper levels. That may have been a staffing shortage issue.
My first stop on this last game – which is always Fan Appreciation Day – was to drop my name into a bucket for full- and half-season ticket holders to have a chance to win prizes. It was a little different this season, probably due to the pandemic, in that winners didn’t randomly select their prizes on the dugout between innings.
This was a sampling of what all the fans, including but not limited to season ticket holders, could win. This year I kept alive my 16-season string of never getting my ticket number or name drawn, as did those who I was there with. It didn’t look like the swag was quite as valuable as it was in prior years but that’s all up to the sponsors and they’re probably feeling tough times as well.
This concession stand, which was renamed this season, is generally my first stop once I get situated at my seat. I’ll get into this aspect more when I do “picks and pans” next month, but I have no complaints about Carolyn and her helpers. A lot of times this season this was one of only 4 or 5 stands running when the park has (by my count and memory) 8 concession spaces. I’m sure that’s another staffing issue.
Back at my seat, with the teams warming up. You can see part of the 9/11 tribute they painted onto the field after the game on the 10th. I was thinking about it, and since 9/11 occurred in 2001 this is probably the first time they’ve played at home on the date – the season normally ended Labor Day and since 9/11 occurred they had not made it beyond the first round of the SAL playoffs, meaning our games was done well before the 11th of September. The delayed start this season allowed us to play that late in the summer for the first time.
He’d probably hate me for putting this up because he’s a “behind the scenes” type, but Shorebirds General Manager Chris Bitters always takes a few minutes before the final game to thank the fans and staff. It’s hard to believe that, in a field where staff turnover is the norm, that we’ve had Chris around for almost 15 years (and his assistant Jimmy Sweet for about as long.) This season he acknowledged what a difficult campaign it was to put together given all the uncertainty and lack of staff (like about 30 food service workers in a summer where the normal number is over 100) but was pleased the fans came out. And, most importantly to me, we actually played this summer.
I know this wasn’t the first pitch, but it was early on in the action. It was a nice afternoon for baseball but the Shorebirds were down 2-0. The FredNats got an early lead off pitcher Jean Pinto, who came on in the second inning to relieve the rehabbing Ty Blach, who pitched a scoreless first. Pinto eventually settled down to allow just the two runs in six innings.
The game progressed on a warm, sunny afternoon. One difference, though, between this and most other games was that there were no between-inning promotions because they were drawing winning numbers for the raffles at those times. So Sherman got to skip out on a couple things he was normally involved in, like the mascot race where he always figures out some way to overconfidently snatch defeat from the jaws of victory over a little kid. Yet one tradition that remained was the chicken dance that came at the end of the seventh inning, a frame where the Shorebirds finally got the lead for the first time, 3-2. They were primed to make a winner out of Pinto.
Instead, it turned out to be an exciting finish after all. The FredNats tied it in the top of the eighth but the good guys got a single by Connor Norby to lead off their half then, two outs later, Billy Cook singled him in to give the Shorebirds their winning 4-3 margin. Despite giving up the tying run in the eighth, Daniel Lloyd picked up the win.

As you can see, this one was closed out almost in record time as they finished in 2 1/2 hours. We were leaving the park at about the same time we would come in for a normal Sunday game in the summer that starts at 5:05. (In the spring months, they start at 2:05 like this one did.)

Also unlike a lot of seasons, we have not yet seen the schedule for next year. (We knew what the 2020 schedule was supposed to look like in mid-August 2019, for example.) From the schedules I have seen for the AAA level, it looks like minor league baseball will retain its six-game blocks for the most part as well as the Monday day off, with the exception of playing on Memorial Day and Independence Day. Teams will be switching venues between Sunday, July 3 and Monday, July 4 so that all teams will have a chance at a fireworks night (which was an omission on the 2021 schedule.)

It also appears we would go back to a more traditional schedule where the season begins in April and ends on the Sunday before Labor Day. Having a 22-week season (132 games) as we are now supposed to have for low-A ball would then slot the opener for us on April 5, 2022.

If so, then my count for waiting is anywhere from 198 to 205 days, depending on where we open. Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, I’ll be there.

As I’m finishing this, the Shorebirds are finishing as well. They held on to win the finale 9-7, knocking their opponent Salem out of the playoffs as well. We finish the season 68-52.

A little out of practice

I’m running a little late on this, and this is definitely in the category of a lighthearted personal post.

For those of you new around these parts, a tradition that’s been around almost as long as there’s been monoblogue is the selection of a Shorebird of the particular timeframe – until the end of the 2016 season I did this weekly, now I do it monthly but select both a pitcher and a position player. And since I’ve moved to Delaware and opened up the audience a bit, I probably should remind people that the first Thursday of each month during baseball season is reserved for my two honorees. Had the season began in its regular timeframe, this coming Thursday would have been the first installment. And boy, did I miss it at times last year!

So the reason I said I was late is that I time the posts for 7:00 Thursday night, which is the time the Shorebirds begin their games. If it’s a Thursday and the Delmarva nine is home, I am usually there so this fills any gap I have.

Anyway, what reminded me to do this post was the news the other day that the Orioles had promoted pitcher Jay Flaa to the team. It was an agate-type sort of promotion, as the pitcher only stayed for two days before being sent back to the Alternate Training Site in Bowie, but it made a little bit of history for me. Counting Flaa, a total of 49 players who were selected to be Shorebirds of the Week (or Month) have now reached The Show. (One has made it twice, first as a player and now as a coach.) There have been seasons where I didn’t have three make the bigs all season, especially early on, but with Flaa’s promotion I had three new members of the Hall of Fame in less than a month to start the season – all called up to the Orioles. Usually if I get three in a month, it’s September when rosters expand, so to have it in April means this could be a huge season. (Conversely, the change in roster rules to expand to only 28 in September means opportunities for a callup are fewer.)

So to prove I’m just an armchair analyst, this is what I wrote back in December when I weighed the prospects of the upcoming Class of 2021: “The HoF may only have 2 or 3 next year, although there’s big potential for surprises thanks to this lost season.” I guess you can color me surprised since I already have three, one of whom (Flaa) I didn’t hold out a great deal of hope for.

Yet the way baseball is going, I may have a class like I did a decade ago when I had seven honorees. Hopefully they will collectively be better, since that Class of 2011 had 4 guys who didn’t play in the majors beyond 2011 and two others who were (or have been) 4A players. (It also has Zack Britton, who has carved out a nice career for himself.) Those were pretty lean times in the Orioles’ system.

So if you see me on social media acting the fanboy about the prospects of another member of the Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame, now you may understand why. And I can’t wait to get it going again, both for the Hall of Fame and the Tracker.

A supportive Second Amendment solution

Some days I impress myself. So as not to let good writing go to waste, I’m going to extend some remarks in this forum.

My Congressional representative that I’m saddled with, Lisa Blunt Rochester, came up with this pablum today:

We, as a country, should be ashamed by this graphic. I remain committed to supporting common sense gun violence prevention policies and to ending this scourge.

Social media post by Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, April 16, 2021.

So I wrote this in response (no blockquote here):

The key to “ending this scourge” isn’t in “common sense gun violence prevention policies” – at least not those expressed by draconian gun laws that infringe on our rights. Problem is, though, the solution is not a quick fix so you can’t run on “doing something about it.”

When the value of life is cheapened to that of pixels on a video game and the culture is such that any slight needs to be addressed with getting a gun and shooting someone, that is the problem.

For decades, rural kids grew up around guns and had access to them, but you didn’t hear about mass shootings despite their proliferation because they were given a moral foundation that taught respect for life and for others. That’s been lost in this world of today, and I think it’s the “participation trophy” generation at fault. I grew up in a rural area and have plenty of respect for weapons because I know the damage they can do if misused.

We are not always going to get our way in life. The Indianapolis shooting sounds like many others: a combination of perceived slights and lack of ability to deal with failure or rejection by a troubled young man. He was going to go out in a blaze of glory and take those who he blamed for his problems with him. That’s not the fault of millions of law-abiding gun owners who use their guns for self-protection, hunting, etc.

Most of all, we need our guns to keep the government honest. The county sheriff where I used to live openly expressed his refusal to participate in any sort of gun confiscation program, saying he wouldn’t send his deputies out on a suicide mission. He was right, and that’s why there’s a Second Amendment – it makes tyrants think twice.

That may sound like a paranoid way of thinking, but I think I understand human nature and once a government gets a whiff of tyrannical power they don’t give it back easily.

*****

I also wanted to add that we have no idea how the perpetrator got his gun and he’s not alive anymore to speak to the subject, going out in the “blaze of glory” I referred to above. Something tells me he probably got it legally, falling in the cracks of the system we have due to his young age (although it depends on what he used as a weapon – only rifles and shotguns are legal for purchase for those over 18 but under 21.)

Should we be ashamed by the graphic? Actually, we should because we are failing ourselves as a society when we confuse a means to preserve our life with a means to end those of others. The shame isn’t in the tool but in the attitude, since we will never know just how many with access to a gun who got angry or frustrated enough to go out and shoot whoever thought better of it when they remembered the life lesson that death is forever and life can be better tomorrow once the situation blows over. That’s what faith is about.

I doubt many of these mass shooters were right with God, but as long as we all breathe life there’s always the opportunity to become so. At that point we realize we have a tool for self-defense, feeding the family, and keeping would-be tyrants in line.

Mt. Hermon Plow Days 2021 in pictures and text

It felt good to be out of the rain. No, actually, to shorten up the song lyric, it felt good to be out.

In thinking about doing this post, I got to pondering how long it had been since I’d done a “pictures and text” post – turns out it’s been over two years. These were once staples of my site, but frequency decreased as I became less active politically. It was understandable about the last year since most events (including the proposed 2020 rendition of Plow Days) were scrubbed, but I can’t figure out what happened to 2019. I guess a lot of it was consumed by our house hunting and move, plus a couple family vacations along the way.

Anyway, the nice thing about using the newer version of WordPress is the more intuitive captioning feature so you can truly have pictures and text.

A little about this event: it was the fourteenth annual rendition, although I’m not sure if last year’s scrubbed event was deemed the thirteenth annual or not. While I don’t believe it’s an official ministry of the Salisbury Baptist Temple, many of those involved locally are also active in that church. As they describe it, “We invite you to take a step back in time and learn how country people lived a century ago when rural America had no electricity and very few tractors.”

As far as my history with Mt. Hermon Plow Days goes, I think this is the third or fourth one I’ve attended and what I recall about the previous events was that it generally seemed cold and windy. Perhaps it was the extra week in April – Plow Days’ traditional date is the first Saturday in April but this year that fell on Easter weekend – but as you’ll see, the weather was warm and sunny. I got a little bit of sun to be sure.

I decided to place these in the order I took them.

This was the midway when we arrived around 11:30. As you can see, there were quite a few people who were already in shirt sleeves checking out the wares of about ten or twelve vendors selling everything from jelly to cookware to pottery. There was also a petting zoo along here, which I will return to shortly.
These were some of the implements old-time farmers used behind their horses. Each had a little sign with its name and particular use.
We’ve seen this stagecoach a lot during the summer because they keep it at Salisbury Baptist Temple and use it as part of their “Summer Fun” weekly camps. The sign in the background reads “A Day in the Life of a Plower’s Wife” and there were exhibits regarding that as well.
Visitors also got to try their hand at plowing a row behind the horses. It was also a chance for kids to see the horses up close, which they enjoyed. I’m sure it’s a tough and bumpy ride.
Not only were there horses there, but also mules (hey, they can pull a plow, too.) They took their turns pulling, although I think this guy was there more for showing the kids.
Lucky kids got to ride in the rumble seat of this old beauty. It wasn’t quite a century old (the front plate said 1930 as I recall) but close enough. Seemed to run pretty well, although I didn’t get to see if it came under its own power or on a trailer.
The leader of the band, so to speak, is Oren Perdue. The founder of Salisbury Baptist Temple, Pastor Perdue is still active with this event (as well as with his church and the Summer Fun camp, although he’s handed those day-to-day reins to others.) I think I’ve featured the good Pastor a couple times in my coverage of the Wicomico County Fair, where we’ve played hooky from our church to attend his annual service there.
A closer view of how the professionals do it. Not sure which of the seven teams featuring 11 different drivers this was, but they came to this event from as far away as North Carolina. It was actually a down year for participation – because the event was pushed back a week from normal, a few teams didn’t come out. Normally we have teams from five or six states.
This was part of the “Plower’s Wife” exhibit I referred to. There were also three tents on the other side of the steps, but I didn’t like how that photo came out so you just get this one.
I don’t think they were selling autographs, but it was nice that people had an opportunity to ask questions and generally make these visitors feel welcome. Many of them have made it to most of the renditions of Mt. Hermon Plow Days, which has become an April tradition for them. Also, I believe the vehicle in the lower right of the shot belonged to one of the local TV stations so they were out covering the event, too.
This is my “awwwww” factor shot. Not many kids can resist the opportunity to pet these kids. (Nor can my wife!) Just wash your hands and make sure to sanitize after stopping by the petting zoo along the midway.
Actually, it was a good idea to wash your hands anyway because there was food there – not just these three food trucks, but also a tent selling oyster sandwiches (that closed early due to high demand), a former short bus selling slushies, and a booth with kettle korn. My wife waited in line 40 minutes while I took a few of the photos above and grabbed a shady picnic table spot. Next year they might need a couple more trucks!
The last photo is of the midway from the other side – I believe the line to the left was at the souvenir shirt booth. As you can see, the kids had plenty to do besides the animals.

A couple things I missed in my trip around: one was the band, which was a five-piece string group called (what else) the Mt. Olivet String Band. They were just finishing up by the time I walked over there, so I caught them breaking down and that’s not a good picture. I also missed the introduction of dignitaries (generally Wicomico County local politicians and a couple media personalities) who were there. I saw the politicians enough in the last ten years, so I didn’t get up from eating lunch to grab photos. (I did cross paths with Sheriff Mike Lewis enough to say a quick “hi” as he rushed by.)

And we didn’t stay long enough to check out the horse-powered treadmill shelling corn.

If they can guarantee the same weather for next year, we may swing by again. Just teasing – I’m sure we will stop by if our schedule allows. Plow Days is a nice introduction to spring and I’m glad it came back without the wokescolds complaining about how few out of the 1,500 to 2,000 I’m guessing were there yesterday for at least part of the time were wearing face diapers.

It was great to feel back to normal for a day.

The loan repaid

Rush Limbaugh always confided that he had “talent on loan from God.” This morning the bill came due.

We can’t say that his passing was unexpected, given Limbaugh’s announcement in early 2020 that he had stage 4 lung cancer. At the time I wrote that it would be a dicey proposition for him to make it to the election, let alone his 70th birthday. In fact, he made both and even made it into his eighth decade by about a month.

For the most part, I wrote my history with Rush and how he affected my political life upon his receipt of the Presidential Medal of Freedom last year. But there was one thing I left out of that narrative, which was another retelling of my chance to speak to El Rushbo.

October 5, 2007 was an Open Line Friday, which meant I could listen to the entire show because I worked (and do once again) half-day Fridays at work. So I had the motive, means, and opportunity to ask him a question about how his reading habits had changed in creating his “stack of stuff.” Back in the day, he talked about reading several newspapers but once the internet and blogs came to be, he was using that medium to prepare his stack. In truth, I was looking for good sites to link to but he also graciously allowed me the opportunity to plug this little old site.

And what did I get? A Rushalanche that knocked out my server for a bit. Over the years, I have kept the transcript of that call as a private page but today I’ll open it up in case you want to read my attempt at making the host look good. I was shocked that I got through and was the call out of the 1:30 Eastern break.

One big difference between the world of 2007 and the present day, however, is the ubiquitous social media we have now. So once I was informed by my boss – who was listening to the show as he usually does in his office – that Rush had passed, I took a few minutes to peruse social media to see what other thoughts there were. Luckily I don’t have a lot of liberal friends and for the most part they have kept it restrained.

I also read that the future plans for Limbaugh’s show are to have guest hosts, but they would be there as facilitators of the countless hours of content Rush prepared for his wing at the Museum of Broadcasting, so that much of the talking would be done by Rush – basically a long-term “best of” broadcast but tuned to the breaking news of the day where possible. When you figure that he had thirty-plus years of 15 hours a week on the air, that’s over 20,000 hours of radio classified as the “grooveyard of forgotten favorites.”

Regardless of how much longer Rush’s show can and will be carried by the 600-plus stations that comprised the Excellence in Broadcasting Network, the fact that he pioneered the nationalization of conservative political talk radio and made the 12-to-3 time slot required radio listening means he won’t soon be forgotten. Surely there will be efforts made to diminish his impact or insult his memory in the most vile of ways, but when you have “talent on loan from God” the end results will remain in place for awhile.

Rest in peace, Rush. My prayers for comfort and lasting good memories are with your family and vast circle of friends.