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The Samurai's Heart by Walt Mussell

The Samurai's Heart

by Walt Mussell

Giveaway ends October 20, 2017.

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Changes in Attitude instead of Changes in Latitude

Last Friday, we ran out of milk. This isn`t an unusual event. Between Christopher`s love of the chocolate-flavored version and Andrew`s preference for drinking it straight, my boys can, by themselves, handle a single cow`s production. They inherited this from the Dad, who used to ingest a gallon a day when he was a teenager.

What was strange, however, was our decision that evening: we didn`t rush out and get more. With current gas prices making every trip in the car seem expensive, we inserted it in our schedule to pick up more milk on Sunday. We knew our boys wouldn`t suffer. We had plenty of juice in the house. They could also drink water. However, gone are the days where we rush out to the store and pick up a single item like this. For example, if we have a specific dinner planned and we forget one ingredient, we used to drive down to Kroger or over to Wal-Mart to get it. These days, we change the meal.

How have current gas prices changed the way you do things? What are you doing to conserve? Please post your thoughts here. I`d love to hear them.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A Book to Read for the Summer


My friend, author/columnist Susan Reinhardt, has a new book out. The title is Dishing With The Kitchen Virgin. It details the culinary efforts and mishaps of a woman who thinks a Nobel Prize should be awarded to the inventor of Tuna Helper. The book contains great essays, such as stories on how to finish preparing a family dinner when having contractions, and recipes both edible and inedible. I would tell you its hilarious, even if I wasn't in it. (I have two recipes in the book as well as an interview. Hopefully, my recipes fall in the "edible" category.) Click here or on Susan's name to be taken to the website. You can find a free chapter to check the book out.

And, if you're wondering, no that's not the author on the cover.

Friday, May 16, 2008

A Season Ends With Sportsmanship

The Atlanta Braves (Buford Sports t-ball version) ended their season on Tuesday, going down to defeat to the A’s in the playoffs. It was a valiant effort. Christopher’s team tried its best and made all of us parents proud. I will remember forever remember the play when Christopher tagged a kid out at home, turned around, and then raced to second to tag a second kid out there. (Unfortunately, under the t-ball rules, the kid at second was ruled safe. It’s okay to tag a runner out at home, but only the second basemen or the shortstop can tag a kid out at second. Other players have to throw a ball to one of these two.)

Another play, this time from the other team, will also stand out in my mind. It was the second inning. The A’s had scored four runs in the top half of the inning and led 9-5. (Teams are limited to five runs per inning.) Christopher’s team was now at bat. His teammate at the plate took a huge swing and knocked the ball down the third base line. However, the boy lost his balance and fell down, landing on his own arm. Had he not slipped, he would have made it to first base easily. Instead, he rose slowly and stood at home plate crying while his dad, who was also one of the coaches, tried to comfort him. With plenty of time, the third baseman threw the ball to 1st base for the 2nd out. It was the first 5-3 putout (third baseman throws to first basemen for the out) I’ve seen all season in one of Christopher’s games. The kid walked to the dugout, drying his tears, while his mother stood by the side of the dugout, waiting to check on him.

As the boy sat down on the bench, the coach of A’s got the umpire’s attention and did something I hadn’t seen before. He told the umpire to put our player on first base. The out was taken off the board. The next player up struck out, but it was now only two outs instead of three. Had the out stood? Christopher’s team would have scored no runs in the 2nd inning and trailed 9-5. Because of the coach’s act of sportsmanship, Christopher’s team scored three runs and trailed only 9-8 at the end of the second.

Had the coach not done what he did, no one would have thought anything about it. My wife and I, like every other parent in the stands, just hoped the kid was okay and viewed the incident as a bad break. (Fortunately, the previous sentence was not a pun.) If the kid were older, something like this, where a coach gives an opposing player a base, would not happen. Yet, this simple act of kindness in a teeball game pointed out that it IS a game and that the kids were there to have fun and enjoy themselves.

I would like to think all parents and coaches would have the same view of the game as this coach did. Yet, we often hear stories of parents and coaches getting out of hand, yelling at coaches or at opposing parents.

It’s refreshing to see such sportsmanship displayed and to know it’s being taught to the kids.

A Season Ends With Sportsmanship

The Atlanta Braves (Buford Sports t-ball version) ended their season on Tuesday, going down to defeat to the A’s in the playoffs. It was a valiant effort. Christopher’s team tried its best and made all of us parents proud. I will remember forever remember the play when Christopher tagged a kid out at home, turned around, and then raced to second to tag a second kid out there. (Unfortunately, under the t-ball rules, the kid at second was ruled safe. It’s okay to tag a runner out at home, but only the second basemen or the shortstop can tag a kid out at second. Other players have to throw a ball to one of these two.)

Another play, this time from the other team, will also stand out in my mind. It was the second inning. The A’s had scored four runs in the top half of the inning and led 9-5. (Teams are limited to five runs per inning.) Christopher’s team was now at bat. His teammate at the plate took a huge swing and knocked the ball down the third base line. However, the boy lost his balance and fell down, landing on his own arm. Had he not slipped, he would have made it to first base easily. Instead, he rose slowly and stood at home plate crying while his dad, who was also one of the coaches, tried to comfort him. With plenty of time, the third baseman threw the ball to 1st base for the 2nd out. It was the first 5-3 putout (third baseman throws to first basemen for the out) I’ve seen all season in one of Christopher’s games. The kid walked to the dugout, drying his tears, while his mother stood by the side of the dugout, waiting to check on him.

As the boy sat down on the bench, the coach of A’s got the umpire’s attention and did something I hadn’t seen before. He told the umpire to put our player on first base. The out was taken off the board. The next player up struck out, but it was now only two outs instead of three. Had the out stood? Christopher’s team would have scored no runs in the 2nd inning and trailed 9-5. Because of the coach’s act of sportsmanship, Christopher’s team scored three runs and trailed only 9-8 at the end of the second.

Had the coach not done what he did, no one would have thought anything about it. My wife and I, like every other parent in the stands, just hoped the kid was okay and viewed the incident as a bad break. (Fortunately, the previous sentence was not a pun.) If the kid were older, something like this, where a coach gives an opposing player a base, would not happen. Yet, this simple act of kindness in a teeball game pointed out that it IS a game and that the kids were there to have fun and enjoy themselves.

I would like to think all parents and coaches would have the same view of the game as this coach did. Yet, we often hear stories of parents and coaches getting out of hand, yelling at coaches or at opposing parents.

It’s refreshing to see such sportsmanship displayed and to know it’s being taught to the kids.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Zin'kiv (continued)

My cousin and fellow Auburn grad, Nathan, the one working for the Peace Corps in Zin'kiv, provided me with additional information on his town. The place is quite interesting.

Zin'kiv is the region center (akin to a county seat) for the Zinkivski region of the Ukraine. The town was founded in 1604 and recently celebrated its 400th anniversary. The river that flows through the town is called the Tashan.

Before the Soviet Union there were 9 churches in Zinkiv, now there is only one, which was built ten years ago. This is not uncommon. The Soviet Union destroyed many churches or converted them to government use. Restoring them to their original purpose is one of the challenges the Christian church faces in that region.

Any more facts on Zin'kiv and the Zinkivski region would be appreciated.

Praying for a Gork

“…one extra flare a week, a gork, a ground ball, you get a ground ball WITH EYES, you get a dying quail. Just one more dying quail a week and you’re in Yankee stadium. "
- “Crash” Davis (movie character from Bull Durham, discussing the difference between a .250 and .300 hitter)

The regular season for both my son’s baseball teams ended last night in depressing fashion: both teams lost. It was a long night for the family. Christopher’s t-ball (ages 6 and under) game began at 6:00. The games can go for 75-90 minutes, but this one was stopped early due to the mercy rule (one team has a double-digit lead and limits on runs per inning make it impossible for the other team to catch up). Andrew’s minor league (ages 9-10) game was scheduled for 7:30, but the start was delayed until almost 8:00 due to a previous game that ran long. Andrew’s team lost 14-7.

One of the things I remember most about the season for both of them is hitting. Christopher hit off the tee for half the season and, because he is a good hitter, hit off the pitch for the rest of it. He treated us happily to many extra base hits, until the last two games when he struck out every time at the plate. Christopher hates losing, but I wonder if he doesn’t hate striking out worse. The previous game, he threw a fit, as he was so mad at himself. Last night, he walked from his game to Andrew’s game, crying his eyes out. I took him to the concession stand and bought him a red PowerAde. We played “did your tongue change color yet” until Andrew’s game started.

As for Andrew, hitting remains difficult for him, as he's as athletically inclined as his Dad (i.e. not much). Sometimes, the bat doesn’t even get off his shoulder. Andrew hasn’t gotten a hit all season, but still gets on base at least once a game via either a walk or being hit by a pitch. Sometimes he gets on twice. He has a batting average of .000, but an on-base percentage around .700. After last night’s game, I told him how proud I was of him. “Daddy, we lost,” he said. “Yes,” I responded, “but you swung away at good pitches and I like seeing that.”

Despite sub-.500 records (more losses than wins), both teams will still go to the conference tournament, meaning there’s still more baseball to play. I look forward to what’s left. I hope to see at least one more victory for each team before the season is over. For both my kids, though, I also hope to see a hit. I don’t care what kind: a solid hit, a gork, a bloop, a dying quail, or a ground ball with eyes. I just know a hit will lead to a smile.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

A Book To Read


My friend, author/columnist Susan Reinhardt, has a new book out. The title is Dishing With The Kitchen Virgin. It details the culinary efforts and mishaps of a woman who thinks a Nobel Prize should be awarded to the inventor of Tuna Helper. The book contains a numbers of recipes and cooking-related essays. It is hilarious and I would say that, even if I wasn't in it. I have two recipes in the book as well as an interview. Click here or on Susan's name to be taken to the website. You can find a free chapter to check the book out.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Brenda Novak Auction for Diabetes

May 2008 is the month for the Brenda Novak Auction for diabetes. This is the 4th annual on-line auction. The first three raised $250,000. The goal for this year is $300,000.

The auction would be of particular interest to writers, but many people will find interesting stuff at this auction: autographed sports memorabilia, jewelry, purses, laptops, religious items. The list is huge. Please check it out by clicking on the title of this blog post or else the link here.

Buddies

A week or so ago, I brought up the situation Andrew was having with bullies. We’ve addressed it as best we can and, with less than three weeks to go in the school year, it looks like we’re done for now.

However, with a look towards next year, my wife, Mo, is examining a way to address the situation not just for Andrew, but for kids with special needs, kids who are new, and kids who just might need help. Mo recently heard about something called a “buddy system.” Everyone is familiar with a buddy system from school field trips. Kids pair up with other kids to ensure that no one gets left behind away from the school. This particular program pairs up kids in school. It could pair special-needs kids with other children or peers that could look after them or just be around to be helpful. It could also be used to pair up new kids in school (kids who moved in mid-year) with a peer to look at for them and help them get settled. It could also be used to pair up younger kids with older kids.

Does anyone know of a similar program already is use at your kid’s school. Please let me know. Any information would be appreciated. Thanks.

Coming Soon: The Greg Norman shopping method