Diamonds in the Desert

by Bob Sparrow

Diamonds in the Desert

Before desert temperatures reached the triple digits, we made two last treks to two different deserts in March to visit our diamonds in the deserts.

Our mid-March trip took us to some old haunts surrounding our Marriott Desert Springs Palm Desert timeshare.  Yes, there was plenty of golf, dining, and stories with the ‘Great Eight’ – the Budds, the Sagers and the VanBoxmeers (Linda and I would make eight in case you were wondering about the math!), but it was the other people we met, that live there, (at least part-time) that turned the trip from great to awesome!

Ed & Stacy Hunter at Indian Ridge

Diamond One!  We were invited to dinner at the home of Ed & Stacy Hunter, who live, during the winter, at Indian Ridge Country Club, a private golf club that has two magnificent golf courses and beautiful and immaculately kept grounds.  The Hunter’s home sits on a ridge with an amazing view of the golf course (the attached photo doesn’t do it justice).  Ed collects wine and whiskeys, and suffice it to say that we certainly consumed more than our share, but didn’t put a dent in his stash.  Stacy is the consummate hostess, serving an exquisite tray of charcuterie followed by a delicious dinner.

Diamond Two!  Two days later, we were invited for dinner at the home of Walt & Patty Schwartz, at Trilogy at the Polo Club in Indio, next to the Plantation Golf Club, which could be the subject of a future blog.  And while the view may not have been as grand, with Walt playing the consummate ‘straight man’ for Patty’s razor-sharp wit, the evening was filled with many stories and much laughter.  Oh yeah, and a magnificent charcuterie tray and another delicious dinner with plenty of wine.

Patty & Walt Schwartz

Linda & Starlet petting a dinosaur

Diamond Three!  Three days after returning from Palm Desert we set out for the Sonoran Desert, which includes much of Arizona.  Our first stop was Apache Junction, and a visit with Linda’s sister and husband, Starlet & Donnie Brummer.  Starlet’s daughter, Denise and her husband, Gene Cobb were also visiting from Minnesota and are always great to be around.  Friends, Bill & Kay Pompei, from Minnesota, who also spend the winter in Arizona stopped by for dinner and cards.  Kay provided me with several subjects for future blogs – thank you!  The following day, Starlet, Linda and I played one of the best golf courses I’ve ever played, Dinosaur Mountain at Gold Canyon.  Not only was the golf course magnificent, but the surrounding mountains and spectacular homes on the course were jaw-dropping.  A picture-perfect day made it the most enjoyable round of golf in a long time.  If you have a chance, play this course, you’ll love it!

Your co-writers

Diamond Four!  Four days into our trip we made our final stop at Scottsdale’s beautiful golf community, Desert Highlands to visit my sister and co-writer, Suzanne and husband, Alan Watson, as well as ‘Dash the Wonder Dog’. While Suzanne and I text, talk or email weekly, we rarely get a chance to see each other, so it’s always special when we get together.  When I explained to her that I was writing this week’s blog about our visits to our ‘Diamonds in the Desert’, and that our visit with them would be number four, she replied, “I hope you don’t label us as the ‘Cubic Zirconium’ visit!”  Not a chance!  We had a great time visiting and then dinner at their beautifully remodeled golf club house, as the sun set beneath a beautiful ‘Arizona red’ sky.  The perfect ending to the many facets of our visit to our Diamonds in the Desert.

 

Phyllis Turns 95

by Bob Sparrow

Phyllis Barnes

My mother-in-law, Phyllis (McMillen) Barnes turned 95 this month.  I’ll do the math for you, she was born in 1926 when the minimum wage was 33 cents an hour, a quart of milk was nine cents and a new Chevrolet cost $525 Marilyn Monroe was born this same year (somehow, I can’t picture her at 95) and Queen Elizabeth II was also born that same year, 10 days later than Phyllis.  We all gathered in Rochester, Minnesota to celebrate this matriarch’s birthday, the group included her three children, 9 grandchildren, two great grandchildren and two great great grandchildren.

Phyllis, our own royalty, was born in Lenora, Minnesota and was a rather large baby at birth at 11 pounds, today she’s only 85 pounds – I’d venture to say that most of us have put on more than 74 pounds during our lifetime.

Phyllis’ mother, Petra, was one of three sisters in town that married three brothers!  Obviously, the dating pool was a bit limited!

For her first eight years of education, she attended a 12-seat school house, then after graduating from Canton High School, in southern Minnesota, she attended ‘Teacher’s Training’ and taught one year of ‘Normal School’ (I’m not sure how that differed from Abnormal School).  I asked her what grade she taught and she said, all of them!  All the students were in the same classroom doing different levels of activities.

Model A Ford

In 1945, at the age of 19, she married Warren Barnes and they drove a Model A Ford to Novato, CA (My hometown!) and Warren joined the Army Air Force and was stationed at Hamilton Field.  Not sure how long it took them to cross the country, or how many stops they made along the way, but they only had $75 in their pocket when they started the trip and $5 left when they got to Novato.

They returned to Minnesota and bought her parents’ farm for $20,000 – paying $1,000 a year for 20 years (No interest!).  The house had electricity, but no indoor plumbing, so they had an ‘outhouse’, which in the Minnesota winters was 25 yards too far from the house, but in the summer, it’s 25 yards too near. Phew!!  Fresh water came from a pump next to the house, which among other things was used for the weekly bath on Saturday night, to make sure the kids were ready for church on Sunday morning.  The three kids, Starlet, Dale and Linda were practicing environmentalism back then, as they all bathed separately, but in the same water.

25 yds too far or 25 yds too close

With dairy cows needing milking twice a day – every day, they didn’t have many opportunities to get too far from the farm, but they had a great life socializing with friends and family, bowling, dancing and playing cards.

Today Phyllis enjoys seeing her extended family, aside from three children, she has a total of 11 grandkids, 28 great grandkids, 5 great, great grandkids, most of them living in Minnesota.  She has two sons-in-law, Donnie Brummer and myself and when asked which one she likes best, she jokingly says, “I don’t like one any better than the other.”  So, we’ve got that going for us!

Aside from having a good sense of humor, Phyllis is truly one of the sweetest people I know; in fact at our son Jeff’s wedding in 2019 I said that Jeff reminded me of the two sweetest people I know, my dad and Phyllis.  I did mention for that while Linda and I aren’t particularly sweet, apparently we do carry that ‘sweetness’ gene. It’s one of those things that skips a generation.

One of the biggest changes that Phyllis has seen in her lifetime is in technology; they got their first TV in the mid-50s; broadcasting didn’t start until noon and went off at midnight or before.  They had only two channels and Warren had to go outside to turn the antenna to go from one channel to the other (not exactly a remote control!).  Today Phyllis is a real techie as she is very active on Facebook and reads from her iPad daily, and will often Face Time us. I hope I can be as sharp as her . . . next month!

Dale, Phyllis, Starlet, Linda

Her secret to a long life? She says, hard work, good attitude and great family.  Long live the queen!

 

 

A Gathering of Rare Sparrows

by Bob Sparrow

As Suzanne’s blog last week exemplified, we typically try to comment on things that have broad appeal to our audience – the Masters, Covid, March Madness, St. Patty’s Day, etc.  But with this ugly ‘House Arrest’ still hanging on, we’re left to fend for ourselves at home as best we can.  And ‘best we can’ at our house last week was defined as having Brother Jack and wife, Sharon in from the Central Coast and Sister Suzanne and husband Al in from Arizona, as well as some of our kids and grandkids gathering at our house for . . . well, just for fun and just because we can!

It goes without saying that there was a wee bit of imbibing going on over the last few days, which is to say that I not only had difficulty trying to create an interesting blog, much less coordinating my lest-than-nimble fingers to put word to document.  But I had the wherewithal to take some photos over the weekend, so as any good birdwatcher would do, I’m posting my best photos of these ‘rare birds in action’.

The Mexican Hooded Sparrow

The Irish Imbibing Sparrows

The Shark Fin Watson Sparrow

 

 

 

Young Sparrows leaving nest

 

 

 

The Toasting Camouflage Sparrow

The Parrothead Soaring Sparrow Sisters

The Mush-Beaked Sparrow

 

 

The Rust-Throated Warbling Sparrow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If what they say is true, that a picture is worth a thousand words, I’ve just provided you with an 8,000-word thesis.  Hope you enjoyed.  I did . . . I think!

 

 

 

 

 

All the News That’s Fit to Lie About!

by Bob Sparrow

Jack & Barbara Sparrow in front of the Novato Advance

Hey Dad, I know you haven’t been with us for nearly 20 years now, but you must be turning over in your grave, what with all that’s going on in the newspaper business and news media in general today.

Dad, Jack Sparrow, graduated from high school in 1932, into a world that was trying to climb out of the Great Depression.  His choices after graduation were to get a job or . . . get a job.  So, he got a job at the local newspaper in San Rafael, California, the Independent Journal – which, in those days, was actually INDEPENDENT.

He worked hard at every level of that newspaper from reporting to running the linotype.  Then in 1941, at 26 years old, he purchased the Novato Advance and at the time became the youngest newspaper publisher in California.  Since television wasn’t a popular media until the mid-50s, newspapers were where everybody got their news.  The goal of the newspaper and the news reporter, was to report the events as they happened and let the readers come to their own conclusions.  Today’s reporters must have missed that day in their journalism class.

Today the media see themselves as influencers and whoever pays them the most, in whatever form that payment may be, gets the good news.  Today, politics plays a huge role in what a media outlet will report and how they report it, or even if they report it.

The basics of a news story in the old days were covered by the “Five ‘W’s”:

  • Who?
  • What?
  • When?
  • Where?
  • Why?

If a reporter could get the answers to these questions, he had a good, and complete, story.  News stories today have a different standard and are measured very differently:

  • Spin it – use bias, vague, dramatic or sensational language, which moves the reported story away from objective, measurable facts
  • Make Unsubstantiated Claims – use statements that appear to be facts, but do not include specific evidence.
  • Use Subjective statements – don’t forget to use statements based on personal opinion, assumptions, beliefs, tastes, preferences or interpretations
  • Look for opportunities to use Sensational language – be dramatic, yet vague, use hyperbole at the expense of accuracy
  • Bias by omission – don’t cover stories at all or omit information that would support an alternate view
  • Bias by placement – The stories that a media outlet features “above the fold” on the front page or prominently at the start of the broadcast, tells you which stories they really want you to read or hear.

OK, maybe I got a little too deep into the weeds there, I guess I could have summed it up by saying that most media outlets, print or electronic have rolled all the above standards, or sub-standards into one term – Fake New, but that’s nothing you don’t already know.

I know, Dad, we used to be able to say, “Yes, it’s true, I read it in the newspaper.”  Yes, really!  Sound ludicrous now, but newspapers used to have a noble goal – inform the public and help keep our politicians/government honest – be the people’s watchdog.  Now, the ‘fourth estate‘ is the politicians ‘lap dog’.   We’re at a point where we cannot trust anyone or anything you hear or read; you must consider the source; no one is watching the watch dog!

So, Dad, we’d sure appreciate it if you could somehow reach down and teach our news “personalities” how to report the facts…just the facts.

 

The Lost Resort

by Bob Sparrow

Timeshare salesman

This week, every year since 1993, our family has vacationed in our timeshare at the Marriott Desert Springs Resort in Palm Desert, and we should be there now, but as everyone knows, the world has turned upside down.  When we bought the timeshare 27 years ago, Linda and I both had pretty good jobs, two young kids and very little savings, which is why we accepted the Marriott’s invitation to come out to the desert, spend two nights and play two rounds of golf.  The only caveat was that we had to listen to a 90-minute presentation about a timeshare, with a tour of the property including a boat ride on the man-made lake that goes inside and outside of the hotel.  We decided that since we didn’t have any ‘extra money’, we were a safe bet to resist the high-pressure sales tactics that we knew took place during those 90 minutes.

Taking a ‘boat tour’ of the Marriott facility

So we packed up our two kids, who were 7 and 9 at the time, threw in our golf clubs and left the frigid January southern California 68 degree weather, for the balmy 80 degrees in Palm Desert.  We walked into the timeshare presentation with kids in tow feeling pretty smug.  They immediately shuffled the kids into a fabulous playroom, designed to keep them fully occupied while their parents were being given the ‘third degree’.  The presentation was very convincing, but we knew we were safe because we were broke and nearly gagged at the price to purchase a timeshare week – $32,000!!!  At the end of the presentation, we thanked them and started to get up and said we just couldn’t afford it at this time (we were actually thinking, or AT ANY TIME!).  They then mentioned that, with a small down payment, we could pay over time, with ‘low, easy monthly payments’ (I thought they were going to throw in some swamp land in Florida too).  We looked at each other and sat back down.  “Just how small is the down payment and just how low are those easy monthly payments?,” we asked.  I don’t remember the numbers, but it was something we thought we could afford, so we bought, hoping we wouldn’t have ‘buyers remorse’ as we drove home.

“Are we there yet?” Yes!!!

As it turned out, it was one of the best purchases we ever made.  As mentioned in the opening, we’ve spent a week there every year; we’ve never changed the time of year or ever tried to exchange it for some place else.  We loved it! Our kids loved it.  Our friends and family that we invited out to stay with us, loved it.  What’s not to love? Great accommodations, great golf courses, great restaurants and great weather.  The best feature of all might be the fact that we didn’t have to get on an airplane to get there – we could just throw stuff in the car, drive for and hour-and-a-half and we’re truly in a whole different world.

The kids brought friends out, played in the pool and park areas, rode the shuttle back and forth between the villas and the hotel and later enjoyed meeting kids (some of the opposite sex as they grew older) around the pool and as they got much older, at the night club on site – Costas

Since that time, several of our friends have also purchased timeshare weeks at Marriott Desert Springs – at a more reasonable price on the ‘Black Market’ I might add.  So we’ve continued to enjoyed getting together out there for golf and socializing and the kids still make an appearance with their own families.  Up until last week, we were hopeful of spending our 27th year there in spite of all that is going on, as the timeshare villas were open and available as was, first, both courses at the Marriott Desert Springs, then just one.  We decided that if that golf course stays open, we could just as easily sit in our villa there, wash our hands and have an opportunity to get out in some fresh air and play some golf.  But alas, the other course, along with virtually every other golf course in California, closed.

The sun has set on the Marriott Deserts Springs Resort for most of 2020

We’re told we won’t lose the week as they may let us switch it for a week in August when the temperature there is typically north of 100 degrees. So, this week, instead of enjoying our 27th year in the desert, we’ve resorted to watching movies and washing our hands at home.  I knew this timeshare thing was a scam!

So our 26 year streak is broken, but we’re hoping that next year we’ll start another one.

Stay well!

Macklin Makes Dramatic Debut

by Bob Sparrow

Wednesday, Feb 26,2020

The Borrelli Family pre-Macklin

5:45 a.m.  Daughter, Dana Borrelli, 39 months pregnant, checks into Huntington Hospital in Pasadena to be induced

7:35 a.m.  Linda and I call Dana to see how she’s doing.  She says not much going on, she feels fine, contractions are still far apart

8:30 a.m.  We ‘Face Time’ Dana; she’s resting comfortably, still no urgent contractions.  We tell her we’ll be coming up to check in on her later this morning

10:45 a.m.  Linda and I, along with Addison, Joe & Dana’s two-and-a-half year old daughter, whom we’ve had for the evening, depart Orange on our way to hospital in Pasadena

10:57 a.m. We get a call from Dana’s phone, but it’s not Dana, it’s husband, Joe.  He says he’ll call us right back, that there is “Something’s going on”

We’re now in panic mode, not knowing what this ‘something going on’ is

11:05 a.m.  Joe calls us back to tell us that 10-12 hospital personnel just rushed in and quickly wheeled Dana into surgery, with one nurse holding in the umbilical cord that was ‘presenting itself’ first.  The umbilical cord coming out first is not good – it is a condition called ‘umbilical cord prolapse’ and can cause significant complications during a delivery if the cord is pressed and collapsed by the baby’s head, thus compromising the oxygen supply to the baby.  Joe is not allowed into surgery, he tells us, “This is not good”.

We are now past panic mode and are still about 30 minutes away from the hospital.  We tell Joe to give us an up-date as soon as he gets one.  He nervously agrees

Macklin Carmine Borrelli

11:37 a.m. Joe calls to tell us that Macklin is here; born at 11:11 a.m. and that both he and Dana are fine, that an emergency C-section was performed.  We were told later that because of the speed with which the surgery had to be done, that Dana lost about 2 liters of blood.  As a point of reference, an average adult has a total of about 5 liters total in their body, although pregnant women can have around 7.5 liters.  Still a lot of blood loss made Mama Dana look a bit pale.

11:45 a.m.  Linda, Addison and I arrive at the hospital and wait in the waiting room about 30 more minutes before Joe comes to get us to see Dana and Macklin.  Dana, always the warrior, says, with a smile, that all is good, and Macklin, while smaller than anticipated at 6 lbs 7 oz, is healthy.

Linda and I give a big collective sigh of relief that mother and baby are healthy and happy.  The birth of a child, I have always believed, is one of the most special miracles ever, even though it sometimes come with a little too much drama.

A special thank you to the amazing staff at Huntington Hospital in Pasadena, who sprung into action immediately to save the day.

Whew!!!!  All’s well that ends well!

Death of a Bachelor

by Bob Sparrow

Death of a Bachelor by Panic at the Disco was the first song that Jeff and Pam Sparrow danced to at their wedding.

Pam & Jeff

The ‘festivities’ started a week ago Thursday with the arrival of the ‘Minnesota Gang’ which included Linda’s 93 year old mother, Phyllis, Linda’s sister, Starlet, her husband Donnie and Starlet’s three daughters, Denise, Debbie and Melissa.  Melissa came in from her home in Houston and was glued to the TV watching ‘her’ Astro defeat the Yankees to earn a trip to the World Series.  Linda’s brother, Dale flew in from Florida. My brother, Jack and wife Sharon came in from Santa Maria on Thursday and our daughter, Dana dropped by to see everyone and to see what was going on.  My sister, Suzanne (you remember her from last week’s blog) and niece, Shelley came in from Arizona on Friday.  All arriving for the marriage of our son, Jeff to the now, newest Sparrow, Pam Lechtenberg (her last name is now so much easier for me to spell).

Some of the amazing Barnes-Sparrow ladies at rehearsal dinner. Missing: Shelley (Sparrow) Watson, Sharon Sparrow

Friday night was the rehearsal dinner at our house and daughter, Stephanie joined the aforementioned group as did all the out-of-towners from Pam’s side of the family, including Pam’s parents, Tom and Betty.  Jeff and Pam wanted a Hawaiian theme dinner, so I brought in hundreds of palm trees that had to be back at the nursery by Monday.  Just kidding, those who have been in my back yard know that it’s already has a fairly tropical theme.  We had 55 people coming to dinner and we worried about lighting and heating and wind and . . . almost everything else one could worry about, but all for naught – it was a perfect evening, not too cool and no wind – the Hawaiian gods were smiling on us.  The caterer’s food was very good and the open bar seemed to keep everyone happy.  Gosh, those young kids can drink!!

Addison pushing Will down the aisle

One of my favorite photo of the night: Jeff dancing with his grandmother, Phyllis Barnes

The Wedding ceremony took place on Saturday at sunset on the Hornblower’s Endless Dreamswhich cruised Newport Bay on a weather-perfect evening.  The wedding ceremony which was on the top, or third deck, commenced with Addison, the flower girl, pushing Will, Pam’s sister, Jen’s son, down the aisle in a small car, followed by the wedding party and finally Pam escorted by father, Tom.  The dinner was served shortly thereafter on the first deck and once the speeches and toasts were done, the party was adjourned to the 2nd deck where the DJ and bar were located and the dancing commenced.  The four-hour evening went by in a flash and the next thing I knew there were 25 people back at my house to finish off the evening.

For my short speech I welcomed Pam into our family and told her that she would add to the already-great legacy of the Sparrow-Barnes women.  I told Jeff that he reminded me of two people, my Dad and Linda’s Mom, two of the nicest, kindest, most caring people I know and reminded him that while his mother and I really aren’t all that nice and kind and caring, we carried the gene for all that stuff and passed it along to him.  You’re welcome!

Best Man, Chase Johnson giving his hilarious and heart-felt toast to Jeff & Pam

 

Linda, making sure her mother didn’t fall when dancing with Jeff

 

 

 

 

Sister, Suzanne, with empty cake plate in hand, ‘photo-bombing’ an otherwise classy picture of the ‘Barnes-Sparrow’ girls with Jeff

It was an exhausting and exhilarating weekend and it was great to connect to family members new and old.  Jeff and Pam are going to take a few months to rest up before heading to Thailand for their honeymoon in February.

Thanks to all who came and made it such a great event.

Fond Baseball Memories

by Bob Sparrow

(Details for this blog came from a one-page account that my father wrote about his baseball experience in the 40s and brother Jack’s recollections) 

Dad, Jack & me about the time we started playing catch

The crack of the bat, the smell of freshly cut grass, the ‘pop’ of a hardball hitting a leather glove. Baseball’s spring training has started with the regular season just around the corner. Baseball is still called America’s pastime, but as far as popularity goes, statistically football, basketball and NASCAR get more viewers.

But I still have a more personal connection to baseball, even though I only played Little League for two years and one year in high school and not that well. That connection came from my Dad, who started throwing a baseball with Jack and me from the time we were old enough to . . . catch it.

Dad loved baseball. As a freshman at Willows High School in northern California, he made the varsity squad as a second baseman, but it was the pre-Depression era and his father made him get a job instead of playing baseball. He was heartbroken. He did get to play high school baseball when his family moved to San Rafael and played well enough to get offered a tryout with the Sacramento Solons of the Pacific Coast League, but his dad again insisted that he get a job, as they were now deep into the Depression. I’m sure this experience weighed heavily on Dad’s decision later in life to make sure that Jack and I had every opportunity to play high school sports.

However, Dad did get to play baseball again. Our hometown of Novato had a semi-pro ‘Merchants League’ made up of 20-30 year olds from town that played other teams from the surrounding area, including a team from San Quentin prison, who only played ‘home’ games! At Novato home games, several of the wives would ‘pass the hat’ in order to pay for the umpire and some baseballs and bats; brother Jack was the ‘Bat Boy’ for the team. After the home games, win or lose, the team would go to the local watering hole, ‘The Village Inn’ where the owner, Lydia Quarg would buy them their first drink and the kids had a table in the back room where we had sodas and popcorn.  During hot games Lydia would send a case of cold beer into the dugout for the team to enjoy.

Dad was a great fielder, had great hands and could turn a double play from second base with the best of them, and he could also hit fairly well, not the long ball, but lots of singles; some that could have been doubles, but due to his slowness of foot, he had to stop at first. His teammates in Noavato kidded him by saying, “Maybe he doesn’t know that you don’t have to stop at first, that you can turn left.” Dad was one of the older players on the team and after several seasons he was getting a little ‘long in the tooth’, but because he was such a nice guy, the team didn’t really know how to tell him it was time for him to retire. They knew he had a great sense of humor, so the last home game of the season, before he got to the game his teammates put a rocking chair out at the second base position. When he got there, he took one look, laughed and played his last game. Such a great memory.

Dad’s love of baseball included taking us to games in San Francisco to watch the San Francisco Seals in Pacific Coast League play at Seals Stadium. I remember the first game we saw was against the Oakland Oaks and I can remember to this day several of the Seals players – Roy Nicely, Les Fleming, Dario Lodigiani and Cliff ‘Ears’ Melton. When the Giants moved from New York to San Francisco in 1958, they first played in Seals Stadium until their new stadium was finished and Dad took us to a number of Giants games where we got to watch the great Willie Mays play.

Willie Mays at Seals Stadium

So spring practice is when hope springs eternal and every team is saying, ‘This is the year’. I’ve been lucky as a lifelong fan of the San Francisco Giants that they’ve had recent World Series wins in 2010, 2012 and 2014. I know they’re hopeful this year as it’s Bruce Bochy’s final season as their manager.

Whether the Giants win another one this year remains to be seen, but as a new season gets under way, I’m reminded once again of playing catch with Dad and Jack in our yard and watching Dad play for the Novato Merchants – truly great baseball memories.

 

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Thanksgiving Epilogue

by Bob Sparrow

The Family

Yes, as always I ate too much, and I’m not sure if Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because of it or in spite of it. It’s a holiday with no debate about whether you say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays, there’s no pressure of buying gifts or accepting unwanted gifts with a gracious, but insincere, “I love it”. There is no dressing up and begging for candy and there is no drinking as much as you can and staying up past midnight. Although Madison Avenue is trying like hell to put the focus on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it’s really still just about family, friends, food and football.

It is truly a time when I actually think about how grateful I am as well as think about those less fortunate – families of fire victims, shooting victims, the homeless, those with debilitating diseases or handicaps. It especially a time to be thankful for all the first-responders who put their lives on the line coming to the aid of others.  It’s also at Thanksgiving I am reminded of how fortunate Linda and I are that we had such loving, caring parents, who taught us love of family, mostly by example. We still love and communicate regularly with our siblings and our three kids love each other and have given us three amazing grandchildren . . . so far.

My hope is that everyone has family relations as good or better than we have. Unfortunately the reality is that I’ve heard way too many stories about people who say that they never got along with a parent, or that they haven’t spoken to a sibling in years or have ignored a once-good friend because they had a disagreement years ago. When I encounter people in these situations I can’t help but think of one of the most influential books I’ve ever read about forgiveness, Long Walk to Freedom, by Nelson Mandela. Among other things Mandela was able to forgive those who imprisoned him for 27 years, 18 of which were on isolated Robben Island, for his efforts to abolish apartheid in South Africa. A few years ago I personally had an opportunity to visit his cell on Robben Island and believe me, it is no place you would want to spend even 18 minutes in! Once released, Mandela continued his fight against apartheid and was ultimately elected president of South Africa.  While apartheid isn’t completely gone even today, his efforts have gone a long way towards creating social justice.

The good news is you don’t have to be imprisoned for 27 years to reach out to that family member or friend that you’ve been avoiding for the last several years. This is the perfect time of year to extend the olive branch or an eggnog.

 

Parlays and Teases and Over-Unders, Oh My!

by Bob Sparrow

An early Saturday morning wake-up was the start of a road trip across the vast desert to an out-of-the-way inland river port. The Mojave Desert stretched in front of us and once off the beaten path, it was so desolate that it was as if we were driving on the lunar surface, although I’m not really sure what driving on the lunar surface is like. All I know is that there were miles and miles of nothing buy miles and miles. Our destination is a small town named after the man who created it in 1964 – not that long ago, said the old man. It’s officially fall in the rest of the country, but someone forgot to flip the calendar page here in Laughlin; instead they flipped the ‘on’ switch to a blast furnace – it’s 104. But it’s a dry heat!

The trip to the ‘Casino on the Colorado’ was to meet up with brother, Jack and his wife, Sharon, who were flown in and put up by Harrah’s – so in gambler’s vernacular they are ‘Whales’, so I will watch them closely to see what they do and how they gamble, because no one has ever paid airfare and lodging for me anywhere. I take that back, there was that free night in jail when . . . oh, never mind, I guess that wasn’t free. I digress.

Typically confused Sparrow Bros. clients

The real purpose of driving on the moon or maybe it was more like driving on Mercury with that 104-degree temperature, but truth be told, I also don’t know what it’s like to drive on Mercury either, was to gamble. More specifically our goal was to try to affirm our alacrity in and governance of the betting on college football games, for which ‘The Sparrow Brothers School of Fine Football Forecasting’ was created. We think because we combined to play and/or coach football for a total of 23+ years, that we know how to bet football . . . we don’t.

In the last few years we’ve either bet or ‘mock’ bet on college football games, with less-than-stellar results, but this year we developed a ‘system’ that has worked with ‘mock money’ so now we’re anxious to try it with real money!  I could spend some time here discussing the ins and outs of parleys, teases, over-unders and other terms not typically known by the lay person, but I think it would just confuse you, it did me!

I posted the following bets here on Friday so you wouldn’t think I put them in after the fact. I think the results will affirm that (our selections are underlined)).

Bet:       Ohio State over Penn State giving 3.5 points, parlayed to

Oregon over Cal giving 2.5 points

Result: Ohio State won, but didn’t cover, Oregon won and covered; bet lost.

Bet:   USC over Arizona giving 3 points, parlayed to

Stanford over Notre Dame getting 3.5 points

Result: USC won and covered, Stanford lost by more than 3.5; bet lost.

Bet:   Washington St. over Utah giving 1.5 points, parlayed to

Nebraska over Purdue getting 3.5 points

Result: Wash St. beat Utah and covered, Purdue beat Nebraska by more than 3.5; bet lost.

Bet: Texas over Kansas State giving 9 points parlayed to Wyoming over Boise State getting 16.5

Result: Texas won but didn’t cover, Boise St. beat Wyo by more than 16.5; bet lost.

Yes, you’re reading this correctly, we lost every bet! So we decided to bring our ‘expertise’ to the pro games on Sunday.

I won’t go through the painful details of Sunday, which looked a lot like Saturday – here’s a good indication of how our Sunday went – we bet on Carolina, who had a bye and Bye won by 2 touchdowns!  It’s a good thing we had the U.S. in the Ryder Cup.

The Sparrow Bros. School of Fine Football Forecasting has since filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and will be closing their doors for the season and will be open next year under a different name, for the beginning of the Bangladesh Women’s Lacrosse season. Stay tuned!