Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day



I saw his name engraved in granite
In the shadow of the ivy covered oak
a long time tenant in that sacred grove
The wind moves now and then through
barren branches
A bird alights sometimes, as if by chance,
It chirps and then flies on
all else is mute
The marble tomb nearby wear night and day
the sentries, stand with steadfast vigilance
it bears no name.
During the changing of the guards
at preset daylight hours
Upon command the sentries spring to life
and to action
They walk with slow, precisely measured steps
clicking their heels at certain intervals
toeing the line invisible
across expanse of marbled ground
presenting arms and slapping rifle
Flawless in execution and procedures
flawless in bearing and attire
one is the perfect mirror to the other
down to the last detail: just so, no more, no less
Their buckles shine, The honor badge is gleaming
The are the heroes of the Old Guard Regiment
Instant obedience and discipline
thus manifest, are but reflections
on inner core of strength, esprit and gallantry
submerging self for Cause and Greater Good.
(attained by very few)
The changing of the guard has been accomplished
The last command has been obeyed
The guard now on duty now enters his station
Stands at attention over the tomb
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier


The people come from far, here to these
hallowed hills to witness and be cast
in ceremony. They stand in silence
and they stare with awe,
They think of their solemn thoughts with
somber eyes,
Transported by the mesmerizing ritual into
the Presence of a Greater Truth and Order
and brushed by the gentle wings of Destiny,
they seem to hear faint echoes stirring
from the vault of sky and time
evoking visions in their souls and puzzling
memories of what? from where?
Thus paying tribute to the One Unknown
(and with him to the many like him
whose burial mounds and crosses are
stretching far below The Tomb)
They sense that he who sacrificed his life
Decades ago nay centuries was
Now exalted.
(and with him the many like him)
exalting Gallantry and Honor, Honor and Valor.
Spectators in this Shifting scene on
Patriotic state, the people leave
Reluctantly, the Nations Shrine still Pondering.
They wander down the soddy path
They speak in muffled tones, shuffling
Their feet before they exit slowly
Through the Outer Arch.


I saw his name engraved in granite
enlaced with ivy from the nearby tree
I plucked a spring of living ivy
And took it home with me
planted in a pot of earth
upon my window sill
the climbing vine has taken root
and it is greening still
Your body may be buried
you may be long since gone
but cherished memories of you
and your name lives on.
I stepped out of my cabin door
and looked up at the sky
I saw a golden eagle soar
I heard the eagle cry
The eagle soared into the sun
and was soon lost from view
The spirit of the unknown one and you.


Down through the corridor of Time
The eagle sounds its piercing cry
keening over all the fields
where the fallen warriors lie.
Their tattered uniforms and bones
have Mildered in their narrow grave
White crosses bear a name and date
so young and all so brave.
Through countless wars in global spots
they fought in air, on land and sea
They paid the price, they gave their life
so others could be free.
They fought chaotic battles
To victory or defeat
and now they lie in long, long rows
orderly and neat...
A bugle in sunsets glow
is sounding Taps from far away
Soon now the winds of night will blow
And tomorrow is another day.


The Stars and Stripes wave on the ridge
High above Arlington Bridge
in between are stretched the grounds
with all of its heroes earthen mounds
From up high the spirits chide
Forever shall our Flag abide
In Freedom Honor – Valor

by Ruth Mariott (1)

The Sentinel's Last Walk

Millions of visitors to Arlington National Cemetery view the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. A ceremony that is seen but by a select few is the Last Walk of a Sentinel. Only fellow Tomb Guards, family, and close friends may attend the last tribute by a sentinel to the Unknowns when the guard has finished his tour of duty at the Tomb. The final ceremony to honor the Unknowns then takes place after the last Changing of the Guard for the day. The guard takes his last walk - has he has hundreds of times before - walks towards and enters the plaza (a), is inspected one last time to ensure the uniform is perfect (b) - perfection is all that can be offered back to those who made the ultimate sacrifice, walks onto the mat in perfectly prepared shoes (c), walks the exact 21 paces in each direction, pauses exactly 21 seconds after each change in direction, and finally passes on his orders to the next guard for the last time (d). After exiting the plaza and returning to the quarters below the plaza, the guard returns with an armful of roses (e) while a bugler stands and watches and waits (f) - roses instead of a rifle, one each for each of the Unknowns (g) - and gently places one at each resting place, followed by a salute. After placing the last rose, there is a final salute while taps is played a last time (h). The sentinel then exits the plaza and walks for the last time back to the quarters below (i), with all attending standing in perfect silence, watching, knowing the guard's service at the Tomb is complete - having done what his country had asked him to do, ended by a final tribute to those who not only gave their lives for their country, but who also gave up their identity.

(1) Ruth Mariott, author of the poem "Arlington" passed away on July 11, 1997, shortly after learning that her poem had been published in the Congressional Record after it was read by Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia. She received a military funeral with the Old Guard rendering honors. Adapted from information given at the Website:

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sword Arch, Naval Academy Chapel Wedding

I personally know of two couples who had been married at the U.S. Naval Academy Chapel. Chapel is an understatement for the structure - it is a cathedral. Yesterday, a good friend of our son was married there, the day after graduation (1). The weddings are scheduled one hour apart, as the production line continues to service the waiting pairs in rapid order one-after-another.

Our son was the groom's best man - and faithfully executed his duties. He and the groom had been roommates in Brancoft Hall all four years - plebe year to graduation. After the wedding ceremony, the newly married pair exited the chapel through an arch the groomsmen formed with their new swords (2). The arch of swords for weddings is authorized for commissioned, warrant, staff non-commissioned officers, and non-commissioned officers only. The arch of swords ceremony is an old English and American custom, which gives a symbolic pledge of loyalty to the newly married couple from their military family.

The ushers normally form the sword detail (a), however other officers, warrant or staff non-commissioned officers may be designated as needed. Customarily, six or eight members take part in the ceremony (b). The swordsmen form at the bottom of the chapel steps, in two equal ranks, at normal interval, facing each other, with sufficient room between ranks (3 to 4 paces) for the bride and groom to pass (c). The senior usher is positioned in the left rank furthest from the chapel exit. The command officer gives the order "Officers, Draw Swords" and the swords are drawn from their scabbards in one continuous motion (d), rising gracefully to touch the tip of the opposite sword. Then, at "Invert Swords" there is a quick turning of the wrist so that the cutting edge is up. Only the newly married couple is allowed to pass under the arch (e). To add color to the newly married couple's exit, each rank of swordsmen may lower their swords as the couple approach, and demand a "kiss" - not allowing them to pass until a kiss is provided (f). Immediately as the couple pass the last rank, the command officer may prepare to give a single swat to backside of the bride with the broadside of the sword (g) (3), after which the duties of the sword arch party are complete, and they may then retreat back to the chapel (h).

(1) Midshipmen cannot be married and attend the Academy, so once graduated and commissioned, there are no regulations barring matrimony.

(2) Proper use of the ceremonial sword (or saber) is given in Field Manual 3-21.5: Drill and Ceremonies, Appendix F

* When performing Manual of Arms, please keep these important points in mind:
* Blade tips are relatively sharp; exercise care during use.
* Sword and saber manual of arms is a developed and practiced skill. Do not be flamboyant when handling a drawn sword.
* WKC swords and sabers are intended for ceremonial use only. Horseplay, re-enactment fighting, and sword-to-sword impact is dangerous and can result in damage to the blade and personal injury.
* Children have a natural fascination with swords and often mistake a ceremonial sword for a weapon. Supervise children closely and teach them that the misuse of a sword is dangerous.

Army Sabers/Swords Manual of Arms

The saber is worn by officers while participating in ceremonies with troops under arms, or as directed. It is carried on the left side of the body attached to the belt by the scabbard chain with the guard of the saber to the rear. The sword is worn by all platoon sergeants and first sergeants while participating in ceremonies with troops under arms, or as directed. It is carried in the same manner as the officer’s saber.


The nomenclature for the saber is saber for all officers, model 1902. The blade is 31 inches long (more information about sword lengths). The nomenclature for the sword is non-commissioned officer’s sword, model 1840. The figure to the left shows the nomenclature for pertinent parts of the saber (sword) and scabbard.

(3) An ideal result from the broadside-of-the-sword-to-the-back-side-of-the-bride is given in this photograph - no bruising or drawing of blood is desired. This brief extra is a great crowd-pleaser, and the bride is said to typically not be expecting it since the earlier marriage ceremony is a great distraction.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Drop of a Hat - New Naval Officers

Today, we no longer have a Midshipman in our family - we have an Ensign, an officer. The Vice President's speech had good self-deprecating humor, some good motivational words, not too much politics, and a story that tugged at your heart about a dream realized by a first generation emigrant and the loss of his fallen officer (1). We celebrated a job well done by the Class of 2010, cheered for company mates whose names who have become familiar over the past four years, and realized that this special group won't ever be as close spatially or temporally as they are today. Our son commented a few days ago how quickly he has become disconnected from the Academy - moved all of his things out of Brancroft Hall, moved off the Yard, and checked out. His email traffic is down to a trickle - there are others now picking up the leadership roles left behind.

With right arms bent at 90° angles and right hands held up, solemn promises were made, three-cheers given by the Classes of 2011, 2012, and 2013 for the new Ensigns and Second Lieutenants, followed then by three cheers for those they leave behind, covers thrown high into the air and barely reaching the ground before throngs of children and not-so-young-children dashing to retrieve one or two or three - and some times more.

Then the stands full of family and friends made their way down to the field where the new officers were surrounded by their well-wishers and many posed photographs were taken in all the possible combinations of posies - with the only constant among each the display of shiny Marine rank insignia bars or Navy shoulder boards.

(1) Vice President Biden singled out Huy N. Truong, who had been injured while serving in Iraq before he entered the academy. "He could barely speak English, he'd just received his green card, yet he put his life on the line for the nation," Biden said. Truong, a native of Vietnam, caught the attention of his command staff, who helped him apply to the Naval Academy. From the Baltimore Sun, May 28, 2010.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Six Jet Airplanes - Excuse Me While I Kiss the Sky

Today was the Navy's Blue Angels exhibition at the United States Naval Academy - one of the scheduled activities that are a part of Commissioning Week for the Class of 2010. It seems like a good part of the Annapolis community shows up for the display. The photograph to the left tells it all - a mixture of families of soon-to-be Marine Second Lieutenants and Navy Ensigns.... proud family from Maryland, Hawaii, California, Colorado, Oregon, North Carolina.... a mixture of veterans from World War II, Vietnam, the Global War on Terror.... and even an Air Force Academy graduate and Army Tomb Guard thrown in for balance.

It was a good day for watching. Six jet airplanes zipping by, as if the sky was made for them to slip between sheets of air overhead. A place and time when necks strain and eyes squint and mouths ooohh's and aaahhh's as the groans of turbine engines spin while burning kerosene as the blue and gold-trimmed darts are thrusted forward at imaginary targets in the sky that no one but the pilots see - a celestial heads up display.

There will be 232 Naval Pilots from the the Class of 2010, with an additional 80 Naval Flight Officers (back-seaters like Goose in Top Gun). It is fun to hear the stories from the Midshipmen about their experiences attaining their dreams, and a bit of a shared let-down when disappointments hits - not getting their selection choice to fly or being disqualified for one reason or another after touching it for a short time. Regardless, I appreciate having the opportunity to shake a hand and say "congratulations." They are all rock stars in their own ways - like the heavy metal and rock bands' music playing during the Blue Angel demonstration. What a privilege to have been able to meet them and follow their progress over these past four years. It's was a beautiful day.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Plebes (Herndon) No More

Naval Academy Holds the Grease
Safety-First Monument Climb is Quick Sans Oil Slick

By Arthur Hirsch, The Baltimore Sun
8:54 PM EDT, May 24, 2010

Minutes before members of the U.S. Naval Academy's Class of 2013 were to begin the annual first-year-ending assault on the Herndon Monument Monday afternoon, a chant went up from some of the hundreds gathered for the traditional climb: "Grease the pole. Grease the pole."

If "pole" seemed a disrespectful way to refer to the 21-foot granite obelisk erected for Capt. William Lewis Herndon, perhaps it expressed the measure of dissatisfaction in the throng. By order of Vice Adm. Jeffrey L. Fowler, superintendent of the service academy, the monument was not slathered with lard nor coated in Crisco, neither was it buttered as in one year gone by, nor treated with the dark petroleum-based, rust-preventing goop called Cosmoline.

The "pole" was dry this year, as it has been sporadically since the ritual began in 1940, and that made for a quick afternoon — and some letdown in the ranks.

A greaseless Herndon is just not "representative of the struggle," said plebe Max Cutchen, of Marietta, Ga., who said he and his classmates were "very disappointed" to hear their Herndon would be 100 percent fat-free.

Nonethless, they came running by the hundreds out of the Tecumseh Court toward the monument in their shorts, T-shirts and socks, hurriedly gathering around the stone base to form a human platform for others.

By tradition — if never in actual fact — the plebe who grabbed the cap perched at the top would be the first member of the class to reach the rank of admiral.

In seconds, the plebes were making headway, absent the slapstick slipping, sliding and sloppy groping that makes the monument climb the amusing spectacle that it is.

Midshipmen Josue Castejon, Class of 2012, pointed to a plebe maybe a third of the way up the obelisk mere seconds into the assault.

"It took us forever to get up that high," said Castrejon, whose group made the climb last year. It took them one hour, 43 minutes, 38 seconds to send Schyler Widman to the top to grab the plebe cap perched up there.

That wasn't bad, and certainly better than, say, 1995, when Stephen Charles Fortmann of the Class of 1998 grabbed the "Dixie Cup," as the blue and white cap is called, in 4 hours, 5 minutes, 17 seconds — the longest since the climb began.

This year the lack of grease would make all the difference in time and travail: no slips, no falls, no bumps, no bruises, no sprained ankles or neck injuries.

The Herndon climb has generated such casualties in the past, and Fowler, the departing superintendent, had seen enough of that. This year, he decided that concerns about safety would dictate a greaseless climb.

Fowler said publicly a couple weeks ago that the Academy might do away with the ritual entirely, shifting the emphasis of the end-of-plebe-year celebration to the Sea Trials, a series of competitive events that has been part of the annual rituals since 1998.

Based on the Marine Corps' Crucible and the Navy's Battle Stations recruit programs, Sea Trials is a more serious affair involving relay races, stick jousting, an obstacle course, underwater events, a hill assault and bridge defense exercises.

And no lard, butter or other lubricants, which are considered too dangerous. Not everyone in the crowd was buying the safety argument.

"They send these guys to war, come on," said Laurie Lizotte of Grafton, Mass., whose son is a member of the class of 2013. She was pointing a camera at the monument, lamenting the prospect of the Herndon climb going the way of warships under sail.

Mike Williams of Montgomery County, who was there to watch his son Philip run the Herndon ritual, seemed less troubled about the lack of grease than the notion of the tradition being no more. "I think it's a rite of passage, it's part of the whole mystique of being at the Naval Academy," said Williams. "I don't see any reason why it should be done away with."

Midshipman Jordan Davidson, Class of 2012, said whatever the possible dangers of the climb, "the memories of Herndon definitely outweigh the risk."

Keegan Albi seemed unconcerned about safety as he climbed the northwest side of the monument, gaining quickly on the peak. The 20-year-old redhead from Eugene, Ore., reached to the Dixie Cup and got it. In 2 minutes, 5 seconds. Not quite a record, but close to the 1 minute, 30 second time recorded for the last greaseless run, in 1969.

"It was pretty easy 'cause they didn't grease it," said Albi, whose classmates were already calling him "admiral."

"I just climbed on people. …If they keep it and I defininately think they should, they should grease it."

So strange, said plebe McLean Panter of Memphis, Tenn.: "All year we were waiting for it and it's all over in two minutes."
Copyright © 2010, The Baltimore Sun

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Pop Goes the Tortoise

My wife and I have been anticipating our oldest son and his wife arriving, with their three little kids in tow. With all of the wildlife activity in our yard, we figured there will be a fair amount of interest on the little kids' parts. Yesterday morning I noticed a tortoise making its way across one of our garden paths. I called for the kids to come and look. Grandma and the two boys looked from the patio window as I made my way out of the door. As I was looking at the specimen, I said "come on over." The rest of the gang had followed me outside, but asked "Why?" They had seen a second animal on another path and run out to it for a close look, not knowing I had seen a different one and was staring at it on the other side of the yard. Who would have known, two tortoises, both walking across paths, in different parts of the garden at the same time.

Unlike the photograph on the homepage of the Mid-Atlantic Turtle & Tortoise Society showing an Eastern Box Turtle in a forest habitat, the two images I caught yesterday in our backyard garden, the environs of our suburban setting, have proved to be hospitable to the species the past several years. I assume the top photograph a. is of a male (this one happens to be engrossed with the earthworm he has captured - much like the robins that have descended on our front yard since I have been finishing defining and establishing our new flower beds - especially the scale plates on the front legs and the pronounced beak on its mouth.

These are fascinating animals. We have noticed these two hanging around for at least two years. The species is under distress, with their population in decline due to loss of habitat and too much collection out of the wild. Maybe with this pair, we will find out one of these days that there are a catch of little tortoises in our yard - just like our grand kids this and next week. (1)

(1) News update, May 23, 2010: This morning at 6:00, I looked out the upstairs bathroom window and saw the two tortoises walking together - one after the other - from the gravel path into the bed of lavender. I wonder if there is a deeper significance to this than surface appearances?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

By Any Other Name

Roses are divided into 150 or so species, some of which have been garden plants for many centuries. Stems are often prickly or thorny and can be erect, arching, scrambling, or trailing. Flower form may be flat, cupped, rounded, high-centered, urn-shaped, rosette-shaped, quartered-rosette, or pompon. Flowers are often fragrant and range in color from white to nearly black. Species and cultivars are divided into old garden roses (in existence before 1867) and modern roses. Each division has many subgroups. There are many thousands of cultivars. Grow roses as specimens, in the border, as hedges or climbers, in the rock garden or cutting garden, or in containers. They can fill pretty much any garden need.
Noteworthy characteristics: Some species have been used in gardens for hundreds of years. Beautiful, fragrant flowers that are often good for cutting. Work well in a variety of garden situations.

Care: Even though many consider roses to be high maintenance plants, in reality they can tolerate a wide range of conditions. They usually prefer an open site in full sun, however. They grow best in moderately fertile, moist but well-drained soil that is rich in humus. Plant in early spring or late fall. Suckers should be removed from rootstock. Plants flower best with regular feeding.

Propagation: Softwood cuttings can be taken from the time of the first bloom in spring to summer; take hardwood cuttings in fall. Bud in summer. Sow seed in containers in fall.

Problems: Roses are susceptible to a wide variety of pests and diseases including aphids, leafhoppers, spider mites, scale insects, caterpillars, sawfly larvae, Japanese beetles, rose stem girdlers, thrips, rose chafers, rose midges, rose slugs, leaf cutting bees, black spot, rust, powdery mildew, dieback, canker, crown gall, viruses, and downy mildew. Deer and rabbits can munch on plants.

From the Website of Fine Gardening.

Our favorite garden flower is the rose, even with all of the problems one can encounter. It has taken some special effort to keep from completely tanking while trying to grow roses here in Annapolis. As mentioned before, the Japanese Beetles were the first unexpected surprise we experienced (see the earlier post), but those were easy to remedy with a phermone trap the second year. Black spot disease caused by Diplocarpon rosae took better than two seasons of adjustments, and a lot of fungicide sprayed early in the season in two week intervals and through out the summer - a lot of extra watering beyond what our drip irrigation system applies helps, too. The low maintenance version of the rose that we discovered after two yers was the Knockout Roses.

Regardless of all the problems listed above, we liked the looks of the roses in our Oregon garden - deer withstanding, and the looks of our roses in our Annapolis garden - despite several years of failures. We would like them in any garden - I'm sure. Of course, we also have no problem with roses gracing our table in doors as well.

Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose
Loveliness extreme.
Extra gaiters,
Loveliness extreme.
Sweetest ice-cream.
Pages ages page ages page ages.

Gertrude Stein, 1913, from "Sacred Emily", published in 1922, in Geography and Plays.

a. The Cecile Brunner rose in our garden was grown from a cutting we made of a specimen in Bob and Lois's yard, our next door neighbors in Corvallis. The plant climbed high into a white oak tree and would bloom every spring, sending the smell of roses through out the neighborhood from the tens of thousands of blooms. We have the memory preserved on an arbor over on of the gates into our back yard (b).

Two climbing roses - red and salmon (c and d) - cover another arbor (f) over the second gate into our back yard. I have no idea of what varieties these are - one of the previous owners had planted them.

e. Rose are a gift that can keep on giving. Our friend Vicki grew a plant from a bouquet of roses picked in our Corvallis garden. When we moved East, she gave us a cutting back from the plant that was now flourishing in her garden.

g. Knockout roses are simple to grow, and seem to be resistant to black spot disease, as well as Japanese Beetles. We have them growing in a bed near our front door (h), as well as in another bed in the back yard.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

New Carrollton Station Parking

For the last eight months I have been commuting to Downtown Washington, D.C. (see the earlier blog.) I typically park in the structure at New Carrollton Station, and then catch the Metro for a 30 minute ride to work. The first step to an uneventful commute back to Annapolis - remember where I parked my car. The eight-level parking structure is made up of multiple ascending and descending ramps that are wide enough to park cars on the left and right sides of the driving lane. There are breaks mid-way in the supporting walls that form passages for walking between levels, and that can serve as short-cuts for exits if cars are not parked in them. Not only do you have to remember what level you are parked on, but also which of the three lanes you parked in, and whether on the left or right side, and at the proximal or distal end of the level, relative to the elevator or stairs.

There have been four times in the last four years of using Metro that I walked to where I thought I had parked my car, only to not find it where I thought it was. When that happens, all you can do is try to think back and retrace your actions nine or ten hours earlier. It is easy to spot other commuters in the same situation by way they walk, stop, and then have that stair-ahead-in-space-look - you know they are thinking "where did I leave my car?" I have even seen people looking for their cars, while I walk in circles through the structure looking for mine. (It would be a good Twits sketch if Monty Python's Flying Circus was still active.) One of the technological saving graces of finding a lost car in the labyrinth is the electronic key fob. As long as there are no cars exiting so it is quiet, I can press the unlock-door button and then carefully listen for the distinctive Toyota sound. The unlock-door button is superior to lock-door button because you get two beeps instead of one - a kind of sonar beep that beings to give reassurance that I am close to finding my way back home. A car search typically adds an additional half-hour onto that evening's commute home. When I realize that I didn't remember where I parked my car, the last thing on my mind has been to time how long it takes to find. But my wife can tell because I always text her when I arrive at my Metro stop - she then times dinner being ready with my arrival home. When I don't show up in 40 minutes, its either bad traffic, or a lost car.

This past week as I was exiting the parking structure, I saw this family of Canada Geese walking across the street. I stopped, unzipped my brief case, and dug out my camera to take a quick shot. I kept looking in my rear view mirror to be sure I wasn't holding up anyone - some drivers get impatient with the littlest things so honk their horns. No other cars were in sight, so I got this portrait of part of the proud family - not the greatest composition, but at least captured the moment.

It is amazing how wildlife adapt to the Washington, D.C. urban environment - just as commuters looking for their cars have to do so in multilevel parking structures, or they would never get home for dinner.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Senior Moment

A quick update to an earlier post: Jamie Moyer becomes the oldest pitcher to throw a complete-game shut-out. See the post about Moyer at the beginning of the season - if only my back wasn't so sore from doing yard work yesterday.
May 7, 2010

Record-setting Moyer fires two-hit shutout
Phils lefty, 47, oldest hurler to record complete-game blanking


Jamie Moyer stood in the middle of the Phillies' clubhouse late Friday night at Citizens Bank Park, his left shoulder wrapped in ice, and talked about becoming the oldest pitcher in baseball history to throw a shutout, when at 47 years, 170 days old, he threw a two-hitter in a 7-0 victory over the Braves.

"Cool," he said.

Just cool?

"Just doing my job."

Moyer downplayed the accomplishment, but what a remarkable moment in front of a sellout crowd that seemed to understand the rarity of the performance. Phil Niekro had been the oldest pitcher to throw a shutout when he threw one for the New York Yankees against the Toronto Blue Jays on October 6, 1985, at 46 years, 188 days old.

Satchel Paige had been the oldest non-knuckleball pitcher to accomplish the feat, when he pitched for the St. Louis Browns and threw a 12-inning shutout against the Detroit Tigers at 46 years, 75 days old.

"We knew it was Eighth Wonder of the World type stuff," relief pitcher Chad Durbin said.

"There's no ands, ifs or buts about it," Braves third baseman Chipper Jones said. "We didn't really barrel much hard. The guy is 87 years old and he's still pitching for a reason. He stays off of people's barrels. That's what he did. ... That's about as well-pitched of a game by a guy who throws 80 mph that I've ever seen."

"That amazes me," said manager Charlie Manuel.

"It was impressive, regardless of how old you are," ace Roy Halladay said.

Does Halladay expect to be throwing shutouts at 47?

"No," he said immediately.

What does he expect to be doing then?

"Fishing," he said.

Moyer got plenty of support early. Jayson Werth hit a three-run homer in the third inning. Raul Ibanez and Wilson Valdez each plated two runs with singles in the fifth.

Moyer allowed a leadoff single to Troy Glaus in the second inning and a leadoff single to Glaus in the eighth inning. He retired 17 consecutive batters in between. He walked nobody. He struck out five. He threw just 105 pitches.

He even enjoyed a three-pitch second inning.

"That was a nice inning," Moyer said with a smile. "I enjoyed that."

He located. He changed speeds. He did it all.

"There weren't a lot of good at-bats," Halladay said. "It's pretty impressive. It's fun to watch when he's on like that. He does everything. He throws a little bit of everything and just keeps them off balance."

This was Moyer's third two-hit shutout. He threw one Aug. 16, 1986, in Montreal when he pitched for the Chicago Cubs. He threw his second on June 2, 2006, against Kansas City when he pitched for the Seattle Mariners.

Braves infielder Brandon Hicks, who had the first plate appearance of his big league career when he pinch-hit for Derek Lowe in the sixth inning, was less than a year old when Moyer threw his first gem against the Expos. Moyer struck him out swinging on a changeup.

"It's interesting to see their reaction on just how slow it is," said Ryan Howard, asked about watching young hitters face Moyer for the first time. "His fastball is like 80 mph. And then when he throws you a changeup, you just hope you don't throw something out of socket."

"You ever heard the old saying, 'Taking him to school?'" Manuel said. "Well, he can do that."

The Phillies saved several game-used balls. The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum might be calling for one. The rest will go to Moyer and his family.

"What did I do with the ball?" Moyer said. "I think one of my kids has it. I don't know if it's in the [batting] cage and they're hitting with it, or they're going to give it to one of the dogs at home."

Moyer's wife, Karen, and five of their eight children were at the ballpark. His three sons patiently waited for him at his locker while he talked with reporters. Kyle Kendrick entertained 6-year-old McCabe by playing catch.

Moyer said it was nice to know that some of his children are old enough to have vivid images of this historical night.

"Yeah, I hope they do," he joked about his boys. "Two of them are teenagers."

Maybe they were fiddling with their iPods instead?

"There might have been some cute girls around, too," Moyer said. "I enjoy my family being there and we try to be together as much as I can, so that's special."

Moyer is asked constantly about his age, which definitely gets old for him. But nights like Friday night must make him wonder if there really can be an end to his baseball career, right?

"I never really thought about it that way, but now that you say it, this kind of stuff pushes you or pushes me," he said. "And I enjoy this. This is what it's about.

"I feel like there's plenty of time when I retire to reflect on things. I'm sure at home we'll talk about it tonight. It'll be a topic of conversation. As far as sitting back, tomorrow I'll probably sit and not necessarily think about what happened, but kind of rehearse the game in mind, go through the game again and be able to see pitches, and thoughts will come back.

"A lot of times at night that happens for me. I usually go sleepless when I pitch -- win, lose or draw. It's usually a long night for me, but it can be fun, because it's nice to reenact things and see things. Maybe a thought that went through your head comes back. Something may come to mind."

Like how special it was.

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Bright Blue Ball

Lots of discussion about the oil well blow out near Louisiana.

Oil continues to flow into the Gulf of Mexico at an estimated to 5000 barrels (210,000 gallons) per day from three leaks in damaged piping on the sea floor. The Unified Command decided to test a new technique to apply dispersants to oil at the source - 5000’ below the surface. Another test and follow-on analysis of the effects of dispersant and dispersed oil in the water column are necessary before the technique is operational, but if successful it could reduce or prevent an oil plume from forming at the surface. Preparation for drilling of a relief or cut-off well is underway - one drilling rig is on site and one should arrive this weekend, but the process will not be complete for several months. Work also continues on a piping system designed to take oil from a collection dome at the sea floor to tankers on the surface; this technique has never been tried at 5000’. High winds and seas curtailed surface skimming and application of dispersant by air today, but production of dispersant has ramped up to 70,000 barrels per day. (1)

Picture a bright blue ball, just spinning, spinnin' free,
Dizzy with eternity.
Paint it with a skin of sky,
Brush in some clouds and sea,
Call it home for you and me.
A peaceful place or so it looks from space,

A closer look reveals the human race.
Full of hope, full of grace
Is the human face,
But afraid we may lay our home to waste.

There's a fear down here we can't forget.
Hasn't got a name just yet.
Always awake, always around,
Singing ashes, ashes, all fall down.
Ashes, ashes, all fall down.

Now watch as the ball revolves
And the nighttime falls.
Again the hunt begins,
Again the bloodwind calls.
By and by, the morning sun will rise,
But the darkness never goes
From some men's eyes.

It strolls the sidewalks and it rolls the streets,
Staking turf, dividing up meat.
Nightmare spook, piece of heat,
It's you and me.
You and me.

Click flash blade in ghetto night,
Rudies looking for a fight.
Rat cat alley, roll them bones.
Need that cash to feed that jones.
And the politicians throwin' stones,
Singing ashes, ashes, all fall down.
Ashes, ashes, all fall down.

Commissars and pin-stripe bosses
Roll the dice.
Any way they fall,
Guess who gets to pay the price.
Money green or proletarian gray,
Selling guns 'stead of food today.

So the kids they dance
And shake their bones,
And the politicians throwin' stones,
Singing ashes, ashes, all fall down.
Ashes, ashes, all fall down.

Heartless powers try to tell us
What to think.
If the spirit's sleeping,
Then the flesh is ink
History's page will thus be carved in stone.
And we are here, and we are on our own
On our own.
On our own.
On our own.

If the game is lost,
Then we're all the same.
No one left to place or take the blame.
We can leave this place and empty stone
Or that shinin' ball we used to call our home.

So the kids they dance
And shake their bones,
And the politicians throwin' stones,
Singing ashes, ashes, all fall down.
Ashes, ashes, all fall down.

Shipping powders back and forth
Singing black goes south and white comes north.
In a whole world full of petty wars
Singing I got mine and you got yours.

And the current fashion sets the pace,
Lose your step, fall out of grace.
And the radical, he rant and rage,
Singing someone's got to turn the page.
And the rich man in his summer home,
Singing just leave well enough alone.
But his pants are down, his cover's blown...

And the politicians throwin' stones,
So the kids they dance
And shake their bones,
And it's all too clear we're on our own.
Singing ashes, ashes, all fall down.
Ashes, ashes, all fall down.

Picture a bright blue ball,
Just spinnin', spinnin, free.
Dizzy with the possibilities.
Ashes, ashes, all fall down.
Ashes, ashes, all fall down.
Ashes, ashes, all fall down.
Ashes, ashes, all fall down.
Ashes, ashes, all fall down.

Grateful Dead, Throwing Stones,
Barlow & Weir

(1) From the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Website.