What Your Uncle Dan Wants You To Know #1 ~ Make Your Own Sauce

Dear Jake,

I’m proud of you for surviving high school as a thoughtful and caring kid. You are perceptive, probably more than you realize, and that, my friend, makes you really interesting. At this jumping-off stage of your life, the most important things I can tell you are 1) character counts and 2) make your own barbecue sauce.

Character — You’ll always have ups and downs. You’ll make a lot of money or a little money or a lot and then a little … whatever. What matters through all of that stuff is who you are. Are you the guy people turn to for counsel? The one whose honesty and good sense folks have faith in? It’s what I admire about your mom and dad, by the way. When Bill and I played golf, he always had to interrupt the game to take a call from someone who needed to check in. What an incredible compliment. Being of service — what can be better than that? And you see it with your mom and the people she helps, takes in, listens to. My mom and dad had that same streak. My dad was a tough customer in some ways. He had a big old stubborn streak and got himself worked up into high moral fever. But that’s a good thing. He cared. He didn’t let things slide. After he died, one of his former college students — the guy was now in his 40s and a professor himself — talked to me about how, long after school, he would call up my father to ask him “big picture” questions. Do I cross a picket line? Do I do the political thing or the moral thing? So there’s Bill getting calls … and there was my dad getting calls. Hmm. The only time I saw my straight-laced father a wee bit tipsy was when his university gave in to demands of student protesters over something. He was outraged at this abandonment of principle. And my mom was the most straight-forward person you could ever meet. She saw the good in people and she believed in helping out.

Me, I was never the most gifted person. Not the smartest, not the best athlete, not the most good looking guy in the room, although I know that’s hard for you to believe. So I knew early on that whatever I got I was going to have to earn. I can’t say I killed myself working in high school — sorry, I know your mom would like me to tell you something more inspiring! But in my working life I did bust my butt and I also had same that sense my mom and dad did, and that your parents do, that it mattered who you were and how you acted. I’m not saying I did everything right. Nobody does and I sure didn’t. But most nights I slept just fine knowing that I’d been honest with people, hadn’t taken advantage. It’s good stuff. You do that too, OK?

Barbecue — Now this is really important. Make your own sauce. Sure, buy a bottle of something if you have to for emergencies. But BBQ sauce is a place where you can stake your claim on a taste and show people who you are. You need:
— White Vinegar
— Honey
— dijon mustard
— minced green onions
— lemon juice
— garlic
— ginger
— really finely diced celery
— beer can be good
— whatever other spices interest you, depending on what you’re cooking and what mood you’re in. Do buy Jamaican jerk flavor in case the mood strikes.

Not telling you how much to put in. You mix things up, taste, and add. OK, I will say go easy on the ginger and be liberal with the honey. But that’s all, not another word out of me.

Jake, it’s a great big fascinating world out there. Go get it with enthusiasm and integrity. Make your own sauce.

Love,

Uncle Dan

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Good Sportsmanship ~ A Rare Commodity

So the first disclaimer here is… I don’t give a hoot about baseball. Good to know dear readers. However, I listen to the radio on the way to work and I heard, incidentally, the wonderful story of the near perfect game. I don’t normally listen to sports news, but this wasn’t really sports news it was sportsmanship news. I had already seen clips of it on the morning news (it was not reserved for the sports segment). Everyone, I think, knows what happened. Armando Gallaraga of the Detroit Tigers was one out away from a historic “perfect game”. I think there have only been 21 in the recorded history of baseball; not many. He pitched, the Cleveland Indians hitter got a bat on it and ran for first. First base umpire Jim Joyce called it out, thus ruining the otherwise perfect game. The players looked at replays and everyone agreed the runner was not safe. But the rules in baseball say that replays are only for questionable home runs. As Matt Lauer put it on the Today Show this morning, if they add more instant replays, the games will be six hours long. The argument over instant replays in baeball, however, is for another day.

Gallaraga was smiling and gracious, even as Bud Selig was spewing in Joyce’s face, understandably angry. Gallarage never lost his cool that I could tell, even when the news clips show him hard pressed and provoked by the journalists to vent. He was a model of good sportsmanship.

Jim Joyce himself watched the replay and quickly admitted, after the game, that he had blown the call. Wow, what a moment in America’s public life, someone rapidly and unqualifiedly taking responsibility for a public and momentous mistake. Joyce then made an apology to Gallaraga. Wow again. The final Wow was Gallaraga publicly and unreservedly accepting the apology.

So for those two, the incident was done. But how rare in our cultural life to see two grown men acting with grace, integrity and rationality. What a wonderful example. Gallaraga had the confidence to know that he was good no matter what, and that was enough for him; how wonderful. Joyce had the integrity to apologize for his mistake; how wonderful. Gallaraga had the grace to accept the apology and move on; how wonderful. Isn’t it too bad that this fabulous example of good sportsmanship will almost certainly be eclipsed at any moment by another anorexic party girl faux-celeb being led away in handcuffs. I don’t know about you, but I know which image I’d like my child to remember.

Stay in touch!