There are these stray scraps of paper with blog ideas just laying on my desk…

First, a couple of baseball notes from my hometown stomping grounds of Minneapolis and St. Paul.

midwaystadiumsaintsI found this tidbit the other day in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, where the very popular, minor league St. Paul Saints will soon be building a new ballpark downtown, leaving behind their current home – venerable Midway Stadium, which will then be transformed into an industrial park. I quote from the paper: “The stadium authority will demolish Midway Stadium, a job estimated to cost about $700,000, and then spend millions to clean up pollution and prepare the soil”.

Interesting. What sort of pollution would there be to clean up from an old ballpark? Are there toxic levels of brown mustard and ketchup sediment to be removed via end loader and sealed lead-lined tubs? Two decades of peanut shells and players spit morphing into radon gas needing to be vented by guys in woolen, pin-striped hazmat suits? What is the acceptable level of pickle relish PPM in topsoil, anyway?

It’s probably just ground water contamination from all those years of spilled beer.

Prediction: At least 100 people who read that last line and live near a ballpark will now try to dig makeshift wells in their yards.  Trust me.

Then there was this little nugget in an interview with Minnesota Twins pitcher Glen Perkins, who grew up just outside of St. Paul and is now living the dream playing for his hometown team.

“I grew up here, and I grew up cheering for the Twins and you idolize them. You always think you can’t talk to the players, you can’t approach them. You think that person is untouchable. I think that’s why I like Twitter so much. You can interact with them. What I hate more than anything is when I go eat lunch at Chipotle or I go to Target, and an hour later I get a tweet that says, “Hey, were you at Chipotle?” Or, “Were you at Target?” I always think, “You should just come up and say, ‘Hi.’ ” What I strive to do is relate to the fans because, hell, 10 years ago I was a fan”.

“Hell, ten years ago I was a fan”. A throwback kinda guy in the modern world of Twitter. What’s not to love here? Rock on, Mr. Perkins.

My current linguistic pet peeve might get a rise out of you, too.

Three years ago, I taught a summer school program for ‘rising eighth graders’ – a phrase that simply made me roll my eyes. The class was an English enrichment program for young men who had just completed the seventh grade, and the school wanted to give these risingwhateversseventh graders a leg-up on what they would be dealing with in the fall as eighth graders – rising eighth graders. Whatever that means.

It was the first time I had heard the phrase ‘rising eighth graders’ and at the time I just found it pretentious. Now, my youngest son has completed eighth grade, is headed on to high school, and here comes the phrase variation: ‘rising freshmen’. The more I heard it used at graduation the more I’m thinking the term ‘rising’ for anything grade-advancement related is just…silly. AND pretentious. But it. Is. Everywhere.

Especially here in New Orleans.

I have heard educators at all levels referring to kids who have passed their 4th grade testing as ‘rising fifth graders’ and I have even heard pre-school children described as ‘rising kindergarteners’ . A quick Google of the phrase ‘rising ___ graders’ shows that the term has spread like an insidious etymological virus. Everybody is rising to something…odd because while they are all ‘rising’ their test scores and other metrics are remaining generally stagnant.


To me, if you are a fourth grader headed to fifth, a sixth grader headed to seventh, or a group of teenagers who have completed eighth grade and are now headed to high school – fantastic. Congratulations and kudos. Good luck and keep up the good work. Carry on, do what you need to do.

And keep in mind you are doing simply what is expected of you; clouds will not part with sunshine and harp music raining down upon you. You are not a flock of Phoenixes arising from some middle school ash heap.

Though a few of you sure look like it.

End of rant. Blood pressure no longer rising.


Spolier alert! Nifty segue here, if you try not to think about it…

I had some paperwork to fill out for something, and I was asked to identify my ethnicity. I asked my wife if it would be okay to check Vikingfuneral‘indigenous’ as she frequently refers to my ‘various diatribes.’

Yeah, I didn’t think so, either.

Not to be outdone, eldest son Will is entering his senior year in high school and our mailbox is awash in mailings from colleges and universities prestigious and obscure. Most of the stuff gets tossed, as he has a pretty good idea of what he does/doesn’t want in prospective schools. One school he is interested in sent him a mailing  seeking some more involved demographic information. He immediately sat down to submit his info.

“These guys at least are asking about my ‘ethnicity’ instead of my ‘race’” he stated, adding dryly, “But do I still put ‘white’”? After we briefly recapped family genetics he filled out the post-paid card listing his ethnicity as ‘Nordic’.

That’ll skew somebody’s demographic breakdown.

And finally…

During the last week of school, one of my sophomore students was standing next to me in the hallway asking a question about something, when a pair of classmates walked by, loudly singing, generally acting ridiculous, throwing around a few choice profanities. In other words, a bit over-the-top, but certainly not unprecedented high school hallway behavior. The kid who was speaking to me stopped, watched the pair go by, then looked at me, frowning, sadly shaking his head. “Mr. Lucker…that makes me wanna change my race”.

I’m just glad it’s summer.



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