Sneaking Suspicions
Archives--January 1-31, 2009

This page includes posts from January 1-31, 2009 in the usual reverse order.

Each posting on the home page is perma-linked to these archive pages.

January 17, 2009
Shameless self-promotion

I'm this close to kicking my PC with a size 10 Timberline boot, what with all the fun I'm having trying to make it work with a new wireless printer.

At the moment, I'm attempting an alternate route, in which the software will be installed on Dr. Schranck's notebook computer, which may be less balky.

In the meantime, here are links and the opening lines to the most recent golf columns, which you may enjoy while I continue to test what remains of my self-control:

Harry Vardon's Excellent Adventure
January 16, 2009

Modern-day professional golfers have millions of reasons to be thankful for Tiger Woods. More..

Playing at Bear Trap Dunes
January 9, 2009

I rode down to Bear Trap Dunes Golf Club on the day after Christmas to join local PGA pro Devon Peterson and a crowd of fellow members of Shawnee Country Club, for an outing at the popular Ocean View public golf course. More..

Cape Region Golf Year in Review 2008
January 2, 2009

This week marks the end of this column’s tenth year. 2008 was also a busy twelve months for Cape Region golf. More..

January 7, 2009

We saw Sean Penn’s Milk on New Year’s Eve, and were both deeply impressed.

I appreciated the fact that the movie does not seek to canonize San Francisco’s first openly gay city supervisor, but instead presents a well-balanced portrait of the man, his city, and his times.

When the movie was first announced in the general media, my initial impression was to wonder why it hadn’t been made before now, as the story of his rise to prominence and murder is such an obvious choice for a good movie.

Now that I’ve seen it, however, I think the passage of years perhaps helped. If anything, it may have acted as a deterrent against making a two-dimensional movie suggesting this skilled politician was a pure-hearted victim of a vicious homophobe, his assassin Dan White. Both men deserved far more than that, as this movie shows with some empathy.

I would have liked to have seen more in the movie about George Moscone, the Mayor whom White also shot and killed, but there was already so much else to be covered that it probably just couldn’t fit.

Milk well deserves the Oscar buzz it’s now receiving. I wouldn’t be surprised if it picked up one or two little statuettes later this year, for Penn and perhaps the screenwriter/executive producer, Dustin Lance Black.

January 7, 2009
Personal insight

The current administration is taking several steps to reduce costs and otherwise try to meet a steadily-declining budget target.

These include the recent issuance of a stern edict that all state offices shall have their thermostats set at no more than 68 degrees in winter.

In addition, support services staff are expected to check around for space heaters and similar cheating devices.

All well and good, I suppose, except that the office building in which I work dates back to the late 60s/early 70s, when American architects apparently considered the East German government as their muse. A single large pane of un-insulated glass helps produce a nice cold draft in my office, while the heating unit under the window remains turned off, to help maintain the average 68 throughout the building.

After a few days of this, especially on returning to work on Monday when the heat's been set even lower on the weekend, I had to do something.

So I went to Marshall's and found a Calvin Klein zippered sweater vest for only $19.99, marked down from its original alleged market value of $94.

The sweater takes the edge off the chill, but it has another effect I hadn't expected.

The new daily ritual of putting on this vest each morning means that I have now become Mr. Rogers.

Isn't that special?

Sure it is.

January 1, 2009

Two years ago my wife and I traveled to New York for a Broadway show weekend, and saw John Patrick Shanley’s Doubt, a Parable, starring Eileen Atkins and Ron Eldard.

We enjoyed it very much, not least of which because we both graduated from parochial schools in the mid-1960s. In addition to the play’s primary plot, there were several other markers from that period to savor, notwithstanding the Spartan set design and the limitations of a four-actor ensemble.

As we left the theater, my wife asked me if I thought the priest was guilty. I said, “Absolutely.” She said, “How could you possibly think that,” and we were off on one of our debates.

Just as that discussion began to take off in earnest, however, we heard several other couples around us on the sidewalk, also arguing over whether the Mother Superior’s suspicions were justified.

We took that as a good sign of a well-written play, one that deftly avoids any hint of a resolution to its story.

This week we saw the movie version, and also enjoyed it.

This time, much of what we brought to the play by way of our own school memories was re-created on the screen. The overall look of the film was spot-on, as was the acting.

As we left the movie theater, I asked my wife if she’d changed her mind, now that she’d seen it again. She said if anything, she was even more convinced that the priest was innocent. I said, “So you’re wrong again, I see.” She laughed, and we restarted our debate.

Thank you, Mr. Shanley.

December 30, 2008
A Doggie Samaritan Cautionary Tale

One of the newest members of Delaware’s Superior Court issued a decision this month that reminds us all that no good deed goes unpunished.

Judge John A. Parkins, Jr. is a former Deputy Attorney General and a past partner in one of the state’s old line law firms, and began his first term on the state’s general trial court in August. 

Sometimes I think the senior judges have a role in determining which cases the newbies will be given to handle. That’s the best explanation I can give for how Judge Parkins soon found himself dealing with a summary judgment motion in a dog bite case. 

Fortunately, this is not your everyday doggie lawsuit, because it involved a good Samaritan of sorts. 

Ms. Paloni, a veterinary technician at an upstate vet hospital found out that a female dog named Toots had recently been brought to her place of employment and was to be euthanized. Toots, of an undisclosed breed or combination of breeds, had broken a leg when she fell out of a truck owned by a Wilmington firefighter. Some months before the firefighter had rescued Toots from a fire scene, and had the dog under her care when the accident happened. 

Unable to pay the surgery costs to repair Toots’ broken leg, the firefighter had (apparently reluctantly) concluded that Toots had to rest forever instead. At that point Ms. Paloni stepped in, and signed paperwork suggesting that she owned Toots—a move that created enough of an employee discount for the cost of the surgery to make it affordable.

Toots’ leg was successfully repaired, and a few days later the technician dropped Toots off at the firefighter’s house.

Unfortunately, Toots’ recovery didn’t do someone else any favors. A few months later Toots bit a man named Smiley when the man was in Toots’ neighborhood. 

Smiley then sued the firefighter, the firefighter’s fiancé/husband, and the veterinary technician, courtesy of the ownership papers she signed to save Toots’ life. 

The vet tech’s lawyers argued that under the circumstances, she couldn’t be held responsible for Toots’ decision to gnaw on poor Smiley.

Judge Parkins agreed:

Ms. Paloni was listed as the “owner” in [the hospital]’s records solely for the purpose of receiving a discount on Toots’s surgery. Perhaps more importantly, it is undisputed that Ms. Paloni promptly delivered Toots to [the firefighter]’s house after the surgery in May 2004 and had no further contact with Toots…. [N]o reasonable jury could find that Ms. Paloni owned Toots at the time of the alleged bite.***

Therefore, Ms. Paloni’s motion for summary judgment is GRANTED.

The end result in this case was not hard to see coming. Nonetheless, I also think that the next dog to come to that hospital with a broken leg had better have its own insurance card handy.


Contact Information:

Fritz Schranck
P.O. Box 88
Nassau, DE  19969

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