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January 4, 2012

New Year, Nurses, Nancy & Nick

Norman M. Covert

Looking back on 2011 is a notion that Leroy (Satchel) Paige said we should avoid because chances are “the Devil may be gaining on you!” The late, great professional baseball pitcher knew from which he spoke. I am forging into 2012 with optimism.


A retrospect does give pause that something good can happen with me and mine these next 12 months. With my medical fixes and new devices, you might compare me to my 1996 Saturn. It received a new water pump, battery, and serpentine belt and nails were removed from two tires. Quality workmanship and parts promise fewer calls to AAA™ and Medicare.


Looking ahead means wishing Happy New Year to: Ally, Amanda, Ashley, Erin, Jasmine, Kara, Katie, Kim, Kristen, Laura, Linda, Marianne, Megan, and Tara. They are guilty of providing professional and compassionate medical care to me at “Lower Tidmarsh Hospital” recently.


Yes, I know the real corporate name of the hospital on West Seventh Street. The editorial moniker, brainchild of the late British comedian Benny Hill, was bestowed in my disappointment at care during August confinement. All is forgiven, however.


AUTHOR, AUTHOR. When I read Nancy Luse’s latest contribution to the Daily Blather’s family pages last Thursday, I was reminded that Santa Claus again didn’t bring me a copy of her book, “More Than The Meal.” Can it be that the book was published in 1977 and I never got a copy? Plain procrastination!


Nancy came to Frederick from rural Pennsylvania and quickly earned her reputation as a professional in George Delaplaine’s employ at The News and The Frederick Post. She was retired last year as city editor of The Randall Family’s combined publication. Fortunately for us, she continues to contribute her popular column of the same name.


We owe appreciation to whomever convinced Nancy that many of us would benefit from having a printed volume of her columns. The columns are “slathered” with delicious musing about food, family, and friends. The underlying theme is that no excuse is needed to gather and enjoy good victuals, friendship and love.


She imparts homespun narrative with lively and descriptive words and phrases. Her columns have you expecting “more and better” as the next paragraph begins. You will also like the recipes at the end of each commentary. My brood is anxious to try her macaroni and cheese!


As penance for my sin of omission, I took action, sending Nancy an email and following her directions. If you, too, missed getting a copy of “More Than The Meal,” her email address may be had at I’m sure she will get one to you.


My book came on Friday. I only regret I did not get extras as gifts, but there is still time. I will share the book only when I’m finished this go ’round, but you can’t take it home. If you’re nice I might read you a passage or two.


NEW YEAR DIGITS. New Year’s Eve was about as festive an occasion as could be from the vantage point of my recliner. Was that Dick Clark I saw on television, briefly?


I recall being awake for the arrival of the new year when I was 11. That occasion saw me try writing out the numbers 1-9-5-5. A strange number, I thought. Likewise I’m having trouble with 2-0-1-2. I finally figured out the 2-0-0 part inscribing progressions of the past decade and must be careful to avoid writing 2-0-0-1-2.


Arithmetic was never my forte; my eyes glaze over and my brain goes into neutral. I once discussed this syndrome with colleague Nick Diaz, a whiz banger at math, also a tutor, coach and educator.


Prof. D shed his motorcycle leather on Sunday to explain on Facebook™ that 2011 was a prime number (I didn’t see it that way). He says 2-0-1-7 also will be, or is, a prime number. He expressed this phenomenon as an arith-metic (sic) expression: “2^2*503.” (Sigh!)


I’m confused, as usual, but certain he will explain it. Prof. D did opine that my angst with numbers was founded in not having been taught correctly. He should have met Mrs. Taback, who opened the windows of Algebra I for me in eighth grade – alas, it lasted but a moment.


I did achieve greatness as a senior in high school when Mrs. Mary Beth Stokes challenged me with a semester of general math to earn an “A” and that critical graduation credit.


Later in life, I learned adults rarely have to figure it out, they cheat. Only top tier mathematics students and engineers understood a slide rule, replaced by equally complex calculators. For example, a broad assortment of charts was available when I became a sports writer having to figure won/lost records, games behind, batting averages, earned run averages and such.


Some basic arithmetic and geometry (A = L x W) helped me later with publication layout and design. The mystery of working with photographs was a snap using the proportion wheel. Yes, I did use some pencil and paper, working off the equation and derivatives: X% of Y =? (or is it Y = X? [Sigh!]).


So Prof D, what are the odds that my cubes will roll sevens and elevens in 2012? I’ll just have to roll ‘em and see.


Best new year wishes Dear Tentacle reader.


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