Friday, January 27, 2012


... to the new normal. Again. Every time I say what ELSE can happen, I find out. And it is never good. I cannot describe what it feels like for an entire community to be hit in the belly over and over. This new normal sucks. Really sucks. And I fear it is only just beginning.

Paterno was a good man, some will tell you great. He put his money and actions where his mouth was. He was smart, sarcastic, competitive, and meant what he said. He was also "untouchable"... until November. I won't rehash, or take back, what I've already written. I still think it's valid. However, he built something here that will not be replaced, and should be acknowledged. Many times I've attended sessions and meetings in the high tech auditorium and reading rooms in the Paterno Library. It is gorgeous. Many students are benefiting from the Paterno Fellowships, in Liberal Arts. My spidey sense tells me that there will be a cancer wing with the Paterno name on it at the medical center in the near future. (A wing is already under construction.) And most certainly the new Penn State Catholic Center and Chapel, also under construction with a large gift already from the Paternos, will be similarly titled. And this does not account for all their contributions to Special Olympics, THON, etc. There is no other athletic coach in history who has contributed this much for the greater good outside his/her sport. None.

So I fervently wish that the coach who, by all accounts went the "extra mile" for his players, staff, students and university, had also gone the extra mile back in 2002. Realistically, I understand why he probably didn't. One just wants to put something so heinous away from themselves as fast as possible. Do the appropriate thing and move on, fast - but it wasn't enough. The beleaguered board of trustees, did the right thing, in a ham fisted way. I can't blame them either, considering the circumstances of that week. 

 I have one memory of running into him, many years ago, after a football game. He was walking home from the locker rooms. DH and I just said "Hi, Coach", he said, "Howya' doin'?" No biggie, and I hadn't thought of it in years, until you start hearing the stories of the students who were thrilled when he barked at them "Get to class!", when they greeted him.

So the era ends. We knew it would. I wish the circumstances were different.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

View from the cheap seats....

These are the things I think, I think:

I think you have to live in our insular world to have any concept of what has happened here, and continues. This is what I've finally sorted it down to. Hopefully, this will put it to rest for ME, for a little while anyway.

I think the alumni, university community, and neighbors who are still railing about the "unfairness" of the firing of Paterno (there is at least one new whine about this daily on the op-ed page), and to a lesser extent Graham Spanier: folks, think about this. If you were unable to do your job any longer, no matter why, would your employer keep you on? Maybe some do want to place "blame" at the feet of Paterno, and certainly it is their right to do so, however, that, in my opinion, had nothing or little to do with the board's decision. Paterno and Spanier, were "players" in the NCAA and Big Ten communities. They sat on rules committees, boards and other groups that literally guided the ethical approach to college athletics and academic integrity. Even though, recently, he was a coach in name only, Paterno was still the moral/ethical leader of the football and athletics programs. This was a large part of both of their professional responsibilities. With the exposure of a possible crime that was committed under their watch, they lost the authority to represent a cogent ethical presence. Was it fair? Nope. But life is anything but fair. Ask the victims, particularly the victim who was "outed" by overzealous NYT reporting. (Nice work that.)To the cry babies who lament that he was "fired by phone". Please remember what the environment was like that Wednesday evening (and if you weren't here, take a gander) - the hordes of media outside the Paterno home, and the conference center where the board meeting was held. What would the pictures have looked like if a contingent of grim reapers marched up to the Paterno's home? Why would you want to do that to ANYONE? They attempted to keep a sad and bad business as private as possible. I'm tired of your whining. I'm sorry, but I am.

I also think Paterno built the culture that ultimately was his undoing. He had "control" issues. So do a lot of athletic coaches. In Paterno's case, it started out to be a good thing. Mandatory study groups for his players, EVERY NIGHT, mid-semester reporting for all athletes. (I once had a football player in one of my classes who missed a fair number of classes because he had an extraordinary number of relatives "die". In my mid-semester report to his adviser I mentioned that I hoped his family was coping with the tragedies (wink, wink). Not 24 hours after receiving my report, the adviser was on the phone to me asking me about my comment, we talked about the student's progress, how (and if) he could make up for lost time, and at the end of the conversation, the adviser said "His mother is going to KILL him!" I had to laugh. This was a good student who was getting lazy. He finished well. This is the only problem I've ever had with ANY athlete in more than ten years.) But in Paterno's case it progressed to other university aspects. He wanted to do EVERYTHING under the athletics umbrella. This athletics' omerta means that in general, unless you are here, and have some connections to athletics you didn't hear the "other stuff". I did, so I, and many others were not fooled by the press clippings. It was "normal" some good, some not so much. This is your wake-up call. Everything was not rosey all the time. The clue phone is ringing pick it up.

I think the cover of the current alumni magazine, we got it early last week, is brilliant. It is black, with shiny black letters that spell out the name "The Penn Stater" crumbled into a heap. But what is even more brilliant is an article by one of our sociology faculty, Eric Silver. Remarkably he was teaching sociology of deviance (BTW: this isn't exactly what you're thinking), and covering the topic of adult-child sexual contact when the story broke. In his essay, he focuses on the sociology of bureaucracy. It is lengthy, and I wish I could link to it, but here's one quote: "Everybody likes to think they would be the whistle blower. What I told my class was this: Statistically you're full of crap." The reason is that a whistle blower is deviant in his environment. This man is on to something. He also differentiates between moral and professional responsibility. Could we be seeing a decline in a moral imperative in our environments?

I think if I had to pick one of the administrators at whose feet to lay the bulk of this mess it would have to be the former business director. He oversaw the University police and met with the chief of police every two weeks. How hard would it have been to call the chief on the phone and explain what he learned and ask how to proceed. No one is blameless, but jeepers....he met with the chief, regularly. It was his job!

I can't imagine what to think if the state can't get a conviction. I think it is a realistic worry.

The students, themselves, are still struggling to make sense of this - to put it in some context. Most of them were in grade school, when Sandusky allegedly began his crimes. I think this is a worthy attempt to figure it out. Music and lyrics were written and performed by the two students.

Friday, January 06, 2012

I'm back ....

...and wish I could say, "better than ever", but would be a lie.

Here's the short list of what I've been up to:
My mother and father-in-law are celebrating their 93rd and 91st birthday's respectively. Gotta love it. They're slowing down a bit in all aspects, but still living independently. Independently enough to make us wish that they'd consent to bring someone in a few hours a week to help. Not happening yet. This is the cowl I made for my mother-in-law for Christmas. (Still have Blizzard yarn in my stash.) Looks pinker that it really is. It is a pattern that I bought at my LYS. It was knit in a super bulky alpaca. I made it a bit longer so she could slide it over her head if she wished, or could button it up close. The buttons go through the cable crossings.

I'm thinking of making one for me in black alpaca for running. I think it will be very convenient with the buttons.

This is the ornament I created for my sister-in-law who shoulders the primary responsibility for the parents. Every year I bead her an ornament. I try to do something very different each year, but I cheated a little this year. The ornament you see is one of my personal favorites, and I added pearls as a twist. I was especially fond of the large pearl drops you see on the bottom. For Christmas 2012, I'm going to have to start much now. Taking care of elderly parents, is a pretty thankless job, frankly, so we try and do nice things for her whenever we get the opportunity. That included taking dinner with us when we visited, so she didn't have to come to the house for two nights (she did anyway, and we were happy to see her, but she didn't have to worry about someone checking on meds, food, etc.)

The rest of the break we spent finishing up chores (seriously), relaxing, eating and exercising. And just to show you what an exciting couple we are, we bought THREE, no kidding, THREE irons, before we found ONE that actually worked. (My hubby is an ironer, and he's really tough on irons. Well, between him and our calcium rich water, they don't last very long.) So this time we invested a little more (Rowenta) because I was becoming so frustrated with our current iron. (I really didn't like it overall. The hand controls were poor, it switched heat settings unexpectedly because of how it was designed, ugh.) So into the trash. But the first iron we bought didn't shut off as it was supposed to. We depend on the auto shutoff feature, so I returned it, and got another. Different store, different city, and what do you know - this one shut off while one ironed. What the heck?!!!! So New Year's Eve (see, I told you we were an exciting couple), I took it back once more. As luck would have it, it was the same clerk who had taken care of me the NIGHT before. This time I also bought,  an additional (more expensive) model. Well, thank goodness third time's the charm and I got to return the more expensive iron. Now to train my husband to use spring water, instead of tap water. And what store was so patient with a seemingly crazy customer. Target. Never a problem returning to Target. (I do keep my receipts.)

And now I must ask for some advice. In a prior posting, I mentioned that I was making fuzzy feet for my husband. Well, I knocked them out pretty quick. I used Knitpicks, Wool of the Andes, and based on prior experience did not expect any felting difficulties. In fact, I was expecting it to felt like a sonofagun. Well, I would have been incorrect.

Here is a photo of the drying slippers. See anything unusual? Maybe not yet.

How about now? The black, foot portion is felted, and the yellow is completely not. And though you can not see it in the photo, the heel flap on the right one, is also not felted. This is all the same wool folks. Do not consider the white. That is a leftover, from another project and NOT Wool of the Andes. I had two choices. Try and force the yellow to felt, and then the foot would be too small, or just call it a day. Has anyone else experienced this?

I'm thinking that I'm going to stick to wools that have a touch of mohair for felting from now on. Like Lambs Pride. Any other suggestions would be most welcome. I'm putting the Fuzzy Feet in time out for now.

And don't even ask about the new coach. I don't have any idea or opinion. And I'm trying to decide if I even care.