You must have a lot of time on your hands.

January 16th, 2017 by John Morris
This is said to me from time to time.  It’s a light hearted comment with a piggybacking insult.  I do spend a lot of time surfing the internet for long forgotten gems.  Recently I stumbled upon a real winner.
In baseball, a grand slam is a home run hit with three teammates on base.  Just as the ball clears the field of play, the home crowd will either give a loud, appreciative cheer or go mute.  Four runs scored with the swing of a bat.  It’s an impactive game changer.
A player hitting two grand slams in the same game has been done only thirteen times in baseball’s 146 years.  It’s quite the feat.  Hall of Fame stuff.
Even more scarce is a player hitting two in one inning.
This amazing feat happened on April, 23, 1999.  The St. Louis Cardinals were playing the LA Dodgers.  On this day, Cardinal Fernando Tatis captured immortality.  Adding to the oddity of his feat is he victimized the same Dodger pitcher, Chan Ho Park both times. 
Reading about this made me think about how one guy’s best day comes at the expense of another worst day.  Tatis is revered as the only major leaguer with two grand slams in one inning and the holder of the most RBIs for an inning (8). His feats rest in honor at baseball’s Hall of Fame.  His time in baseball lasted another eleven years.
At the same time, Chan Ho Park left this game needing to restore the confidence every pitcher must have.  He had a lot on him.  Park was the first Korean MLB player and once held the win record for Asian pitchers with 184.  His career in America lasted another ten years.  
These two men locked horns on a spring day.  One performed in such a way the body struggles to contain the jubilation bouncing inside.  It was the best of days.
The other was left to search the skies for understanding about what went wrong.  It was the worst of days.  




Fernando Tatis 3B  St. Louis  04-23-1999  3rd  Chan Ho Park  3rd  Chan Ho Park

Use it or lose it

January 7th, 2017 by John Morris

The brain is a remarkable, resilient organ.  The more we work it; the stronger it gets.  It has so much potential we don’t get close to using it all.

But then there’s dementia, a disease causing breakdowns in the way a brain works.  Since Alzheimer’s Disease was identified, most Americans have learned to fear it above all others .  Having seen what my Mother went through, I’ll say they should.

I’m fighting off Alzheimer’s by exercising my brain in all the ways I can.  One favorite technique is to study a new language.  What’s happening here is the brain uses fresh methods and makes the brain more nimble.  Anything that makes us think is a plus in the battle versus Alzheimer’s.

When there was a lot of dementia research in play, I decided to do my part.

One of my Doctors hooked me up with the University of Pennsylvania and their full blown Alzheimer’s research programs.  Whenever asked to join a study, I’d say, “Count me in”.  I have annual studies and some much shorter.  My hope is, by the time I may get a visit from dementia, the research being done now will be there to benefit me.

When UPENN asked me to join a Cognitive Comedy Workshop, I thought it may also be fun.

A young visionary named Leah Lawler believed getting senior citizens to perform improvisation comedy would help them use their brains better.  I’m in my second “season” with the comedy workshop, and I can say without pause that Leah has something with her idea.

All in our groups are over sixty with some nearing ninety.  We come from varying segments of the Alzheimer’s world.  My entry was my work as case study subject.  Others are dementia patients or care givers.  Some of our group have multiple qualifiers.

I’ll address the elephant in this post.  Filling a room with old timers doing comedy where some have Alzheimer’s may invite cruelty and ridicule.  Not so.  While we make a lot of mistakes, Leah taught us to cheer rather than to react in hurtful ways.  This helps keep the mood light and cordial.  Because of our work together, I’ve seen team members with Alzheimer’s improve after a few sessions.

Even though we are diverse, our group has grown close.  Much like those in combat do.  We have group names to help with the bonding.  Last year, we were “Leah’s Legends.  This season we are “Cornucopia”.  We even have cutesy nicknames.  I’m know as Papa John.

I’d grade this group study as a massive success that should be mimicked throughout the nation.

And they should name it “The Leah Lawler method”.


Associated reading:

Bill Lyon’s series on his battle with “Al”.

UPENN’s Cognitive Comedy Workshop



The old boy writing this blog wears many hats: Vietnam Veteran, husband & father, salesman and techno-dude. After my service with the Army Security Agency, I operated a sign company for nineteen years, The sign industry changed after CAD/CAM machines made the task easy enough for the non-talented. I sold my company and never looked back.

Life has granted me a life partner better than I deserve. My wife, Lyn is a transplanted Kansas gal. Her bliss is teaching kindergarten and first grade.

I am the most proud of my children. My son, Adam lives an international life teaching English and living in Sozhou, China. He is married to one of life's truly lovely women, Yuri Kim. My daughter, Beth grew up in a small town and found her way in life means working and living in major cities like Chicago and New York. She and her life partner, Julie Sterling married in LaJolla, California in 2010.

I like getting the newest gadgets, but also I like to use things until they are useless, i.e., my last personal car was an 88 Honda Prelude Si.

I wrote a Vietnam Veteran newsletter for nine years. During this journey, I learned I like to write. It is a harmless exercise that rewards honest effort while tolerating failure gracefully. I been away from it for too long. My son gave me the blog, and it was a lifeline back to writing.

My best advice is to show the world what you can do but to accept only your opinion of who and what you are.

Update: In August 2008, my job became one of the half-million jobs that went away that month. I took the following year getting the home ready for my official retirement.

In October 2009, I took a part-time job as a saleman at the vaulted Maxwell's Hardware.

On November 29, 2011, I reached my 66th birthday, and I officially started Social Security. I intend to stay with Maxwell's as long as I can contribute.