New Year I suppose.

Looking back over the year just past always strikes me kind of like carving notches on your gun for each time you've been shot--you don't necessarily want to be reminded. Like Satchel Page, I think I'd rather look ahead. Of course this is tempered by the suspicion that while hope spring eternal, stupidity is forever.

The placement of New Years, at least in the West, is counterintuitive. Instead of walking out into the warmth and light of the new year the morning of 1 January, the door opens, a blast of cold air rolls in followed by the four horsemen in the shape of ice, snow, rain, and wet cats. Wouldn't it make a heck of a lot more sense to kick the year off on, say, Easter morning? It's sunny, warm, baseball season isn't that far away, and, best of all, there are bunnies! You got to admit as an opening sequence, Jesus' rising from the dead comes pretty close to equaling that of Star Wars IV: A New Hope.

I realize that our present New Years comes from the Romans. Their god Janus ushered it in looking both forward and backward. Now I ask you, would you really trust someone so two-faced? That was one of attractions of the Christians' God--he didn't kid you.

Moving New Years to the spring could even be seen as trying to meet the government halfway. After all, theirs starts 1 July.

Over the Fence

Speaking of baseball, from time to time, I'm going to include short pieces from Homer Smute, who bills himself as the world's oldest minor league baseball player. He lives in Virginia and plays Short Stop for the Fox Run Stump Busters in the Blue Ridge League (not to be confused with the two leagues that disbanded in 1930 and 1950).

Homer is one of the few people I know these days who communicate by letter. He has a child-like faith that if he addresses it correctly, puts a stamp on it, and puts the flag up on his mailbox, the U.S. Postal Service will safely deliver it to my door (so far, he seems to be right).

I figure the more he writes, the less I have to.


I remember my greeting from the Busters' manager, Bill Hoarwell, the first day I showed up. When the manager's first words to you are, "Don't unpack your bags," it ain't a good feeling.

Looking at major league scores (2-1, 1-0, 4-2) and minor league scores (8-0, 16-12, 14-2), consistency is not necessarily a minor league virtue.

Around the Busters, you don't tend to hear the same things you do around the majors when the subject of money comes up:

"Much much will I sign for? That depends."

"On what?"

"Whether the rehab works and what happens with the lawsuits. Drugs and alimony, palimony, and child support ain't cheap."

Oh for the problems of the majors.

Watching baseball on TV, I think I've got to the point where I prefer to watch a game between mid-level teams. There's no real pressure or players strutting around convinced of their value as deities (despite the fact many are complete losses as people) and you can settle in just for the game.

"Washington: first in war, first in peace, last in the American League." Well, the league changed anyway.

Fellow down in the Valley said he'd put our play-by-play online for us if we'd call it in to him during the game. But we couldn't get passed Miz Friddly and Miz Deal on the party-line.

Looking back over my record so far, the fact that my daddy named me "Homer" shows the perversity of the man. Him with second sight and all.

Catholic Writers Conference Online Provides Practical Help

World Wide Web--This year's Catholic Writers' Conference Online, which will be held February 26-March 5, 2010, will focus on the practical things the writer needs to succeed.

The conference is held via chats and forums at Sponsored by the Catholic Writers' Guild, the online conference is free of charge and open to writers of all levels who register between October 1, 2009 and February 15, 2010.

"We've always concentrated on workshops and chats that teach the writer skills or provide information in the areas of crafting, publishing and marketing their works, but this year, we're adding critique workshops and some incredible opportunities to pitch to leading publishers," said organizer Karina Fabian.

This year, publishers hearing pitches include well known Catholic publishers like Pauline, large publishers like Thomas Nelson, and smaller presses like White Rose. Thus far, eleven pitch sessions are scheduled, running the gamut from Christian romance to Catholic theology.

In a new program, at least fifty attendees will have the opportunity to have pieces of their work critiqued by successful editors and writers. In addition, there will be forum-based workshops and chat room presentations covering topics from dialogue to freelancing to how Catholic fiction differs from Christian fiction.

"Even in good economic times, it's hard for writers to attend live conferences," said Fabian, "but this year, we think it's even more important to help careers by utilizing an online format. We're so grateful that our presenters are willing to share their time and talent."

Early registration is recommended. Although the conference is offered free of charge, donations are accepted; proceeds will go toward future conferences. Non-Catholics may attend, as long as they respect Catholic beliefs and the conference's Catholic focus.

To register or for more information, go to

1 January 2010: Solemnity of Mary-Mother of God, Emancipation Proclamation takes effect in Confederate territory (though not in Federal) 1863, Ellis Island opens 1892, "Law for the Prevention of Genetically Diseased Offspring"- Germany 1934, Navy SEALs established 1962.

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