Here’s a handy spelling tip.   You will have to wait for it, so don’t read ahead and cut corners.

Are there a handful of words that you always misspell? Take the word misspell for instance.   When I just typed it now, I was sure that it only had one S, but Autocorrect had my back (or my six if you are in the military), and boom, a second S appeared out of mid air.

misspellIf Autocorrect were a super hero, its powers could only be described as an entity that combines both Like a Good Neighbor and Helpful Hardware Man powers.   Not to say that Autocorrect is a Man.   Most likely Autocorrect is part man, part woman, with an affinity towards both cats and dogs.   Autocorrect is neither white, nor black, nor red or yellow.    Picture a gray colored person whose tree reveals Autocorrect to have 16 Great Great Great Grandmas, all of different ethnicity.

So now that I have taken the appropriate measures to not offend anyone.   I do need to call out a very important discrimination, an injustice, a blight on our very society that needs fixed, and that is the plight and struggles of Autocorrect itself.  Sadly, its 2015 and we still live in a world where some applications and programs with text based data entry systems that don’t support an Autocorrect spelling feature.

It is deplorable really and smacks particularly hard to those of us who spent our youths on the peaceful protest circuit against the white-out ink industry many years ago.

And before I get to the tip, I should point out that Mr. Red Squiggly Underline can’t carry Autocorrect’s Jock… I meant to say  Sports Bra as the Autocorrect super hero wears both.

wells fargoNOW FOR THE TIP

Based on this discrimination, Autocorrect won’t always be there.  Everyone has particular words that sometimes trip them up.   Take the word definitely for instance.   I always start out spelling it with an “a” as definately.    It just looks right to my eye.   So, here’s how to correct your troubled words.  Spell it correctly, and make it your password for everything you do on the internet – Facebook, your bank account, your fantasy sports league, etc.  Within hours you will never misspell misspell again.   And no, I definitely don’t  have any online banking accounts at Wells Fargo.   Or at least any with very much money in them, but if there are any would be hackers out there, please feel free to make a deposit into my account for this very worthwhile spelling tip.

A long time ago in the late 1980s I stuffed groceries in paper bags in a small town that you most likely have not heard of, but if you are from a small town, its the same, its like your small town.    For my services and skills with paper bags, the suits that ran the place from their far off ivory towered corner offices in a slightly larger mid-sized town, paid me and those like me next to nothing, somewhere near the minimum wage, which was then around $4 an hour.

For my younger readers,  or for those that are reading this on my family tree file in the next century, paper bags were just as they sounded, they were bags that held groceries that are made out of paper.   This form of bag became extinct in 1994, never to be seen in grocery stores again.

Now, to be clear, I also sacked groceries in what was at the time just the latest grocery store fad, plastic bags.    Plastic was cheaper, it didn’t kill innocent spruce trees, and relegated paper sacks to the ash heap of Piggly Wiggly history.    Plastic bags have been filling up landfills ever since.

Talk about difficult:  I had to sack in a bygone era in both paper and plastic sacks.   Even more demanding, is with each and every customer that came through during my shift which sometimes stretched on for almost 3 whole hours, I had to ask them if they would like Paper or Plastic for their provisions, with a really disingenuous smile on my face, no less.

It took a special talent to sack both paper and plastic, but try telling that to those suits at the corporate office.   They felt that my lack of job experience, my Stridex laced face and coke bottle glasses deemed me unworthy.

I showed them, though.  I learned to sack extremely fast, always keeping the cold groceries like the sherbert bucket paired nicely in bags next to the frozen peas.   The soaps, cleaners, and mouse poison always separate and quarantined from food items.   For the elderly, I would keep their bags lighter than normal.   Sometimes I would double bag a heavy item for them, like a melon for instance, so as not to make their walk in to their adult living center apartment similar to a Gallagher skit, only without the hijinks.

And finally one day, one of the suits came up to me, and said that I was really getting the hang of sacking, but they thought I might be able to handle even more responsibility.  Some of the cute girl cashiers needed to take breaks periodically, so they asked me if I wanted to be a checker.   You bet, I jumped at the chance, and after a half day of training and passing the arugula species quiz, I was soon a certified checker.

Bam!  50 more cents every single hour!

Suits like Ronald McDonald putting on a happy (or creepy) face despite a minimum wage rebellion

Now my checking career was less distinguished.   I’d make mistakes, hand out the incorrect change periodically, hit the food stamp button when I should have hit the WIC button, and alas, there was also that one time which I have never before confessed to where I actually sold cigarettes to a 10 year old girl.   Its not like I didn’t know she was 10, I was just completely spacing out as my shift stretched into its second than third hour, I just wanted to get home and watch Magnum PI.   And to be fair, she did have an era of confidence far beyond her age – like maybe a 12 year old would have.   But I did it.    Fortunately, no one else would know, and my rocket ship career progression would be allowed to continue.   Sadly, I eventually came to find out that the little girl is no longer with us, perishing with a rare form of childhood emphysema.

Sometime later on, one of the other suits came to me, and said we’d like to see if you would want to manage the Dairy section of the store.  Who doesn’t like milk and cheese, and…

Bam! 50 more cents every single hour!

I was living the dream.  Things were going so well, the suits would ask me to work the overnight shift for an extra dollar for every darkened hour.   Sometimes, I’d get lucky and get a shift on a Holiday and they pay me time and a half.

But it all couldn’t last.   I learned that while the grocery store business was extremely glamorous and all, and I was accumulating such wealth that I could afford many different colors of sock ties, I just didn’t care that much for people.   Every time I would walk into the break room and see that sign on the wall that said, “The customer is always right”, I cringed and pondered:  in which universe is the customer always right?    The suit that came up with that slogan back at corporate clearly never met my customers.

So I gave up that promising career and decided to go to school.   I would hone a vocational skill.   In my case, my vocational skill turned out to be writing and broadcasting.   However, still greedy like when I wanted to score the higher paying Sunday shift back at the Dairy counter, I learned that even though I had a promising start on the radio reading the news and weather while in college at an iconic Midwestern radio station where even Ronald Reagan once worked.  Inserted caveat:  Promising start, if you call working the grave yard shift where about five people were actually listening.

Radio just wasn’t going to have as big a payout as doing what I ultimately pursued after college.  It wasn’t going to pay back those college loans at quite the same speedy seven year clip.    And so I pivoted to Selling.   And as a young seller I was trained early on a premise that I had heard somewhere before that the Customer is Always Right.   So ironic that was, but sticking to that tenet and a modicum of success followed.   Hopefully I’ll never see the minimum wage again.

Fast food workers at places like McDonalds want the minimum wage raised from $7.50 an hour to $15.  Presumably the person or persons that came up with the harebrained idea that the suits were just going to double their pay like they just had a season with Robinson Cano’s slugging percentage we’re not people that were actually making minimum wage, but then again with that logic, maybe they were.

I never had the good fortune to work in the fast food industry, but I am a customer on occasion (occasion being this op-ed’s top understatement).  A better case could be made to lower the minimum wage.   It’s not like today’s McDonalds worker has to work as hard as they used too.   Cashiers rarely even take peoples money anymore.   They don’t count it, they don’t make change.  Whenever the cashier tells me, “Go ahead and swipe your card” what I want to say is “Why don’t you swipe my card you overpaid  &#^%%!”    Yes, they can’t even swipe your card for you anymore.

And don’t get me started on those automated drink machines at the drive up window.    It’s not like in my day when the fast food workers used to hold down the Grape Nehi button on the drink machine, let the fizz die down, push the button again, keeping a watchful eye out for spillage.   The customer today does more work when they ordered the drink by telling the machine what drink to pour than the worker does.

So instead, let’s riot in the streets for lower minimum wages.   Cut it in half.   After all, if today’s grocery sacker (or shall I say, slacker) is only doing plastic, and not paper, they are only doing half the work.

An Addiction to Christmas Lights

Posted: December 3, 2013 in Uncategorized

The purveyor of the Small Ball Report is addicted to Christmas Lights.   Its not as strong as some of my other addictions like Taco Pizza or mowing my yard in alternating diagonal directions – sometimes 4 times in a day, but its close.   What started small 10 years ago has grown to over 50,000 lights twinkling in the December night on my acre size corner lot.   Actually, they don’t really twinkle; I haven’t gone so far as to do an automated light show.   I’m not that big of a geek, yet.  I am a big enough geek to know how many lights I have as it’s all in my Handy Deployment Spreadsheet and that is one of the first signs that you know you have an addiction is when you actually have a Handy Deployment Spreadsheet.  But, how else are you going to know how many lights you can plug into each outlet so that you are not blowing up the power grid.

Being on a corner lot makes it hard to intensify the lights in one area of the yard so I’m waiting until I get up to about 75,000 to 100,000 lights before I start breaking out the Mannheim Steamroller music.    My light strategy to this point is to put as many lights as I can in my 8 big trees, numerous evergreens and on the house.    One tree alone has over 5000 lights.   That tree has lights wrapped around every branch that I can reach without falling out of a tree or ladder and having to activate my Obamacare.   Did I mention Obamacare?  Here are my thoughts on that, click here.


I’d like to hire some well trained monkeys to climb even higher in the tree, but so far I haven’t found any monkeys that would help.   I know that Monkeys can ride bikes and juggle as I’ve been to a circus, but I am not sure if they would be able to wrap LED lights around my Linden Trees and I already have a handful of kids that keep the pantry cleaned out of bananas.   So there is that.

Included in my light inventory is over 30,000 environmentally friendly LEDs, older technology incandescent lights, and a cast of characters that include 2 Polar Bears, 2 Deer, 1 Horse & Sleigh, a rocking horse, a camel, a pig, a swan family, a penguin, a snowman, 3 dogs, 2 Eskimos, and numerous self made mini trees and candy canes of 3 different sizes.   I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this years new addition, a pair of Tinsel Soldier Moose that guard the front door.   Because nothing says its Christmas like a pair of Moose at the front door.

This season at no extra charge the Small Ball Report will be sharing my top recommendations for doing Christmas Lights.   Check back later for more handy tips, but here’s today’s entry:

Tip # 1:

After Christmas Shopping Frenzy

In the early years I would buy my lights before Christmas just to get the inventory up.  This year I haven’t even been to the store yet as over the past couple Christmas seasons I’ve shopped for lights on the day after Christmas for 50 percent off deals.   Wait until January 2nd for even deeper discounts.   The 2 aforementioned Moose were January purchases.

LEDs are way over priced so I would never buy them at full price.   After all, the same Chinese teenagers that make incandescent bulbs at the sweat factory also make LEDs on the next assembly line over, so there is a huge profit margin socked into them.   The best place to buy cheap LEDs is the dome style lights at Walgreens which sell for $5 a box in multi-color, $6 for solid reds, greens if you can find them and you won’t, blues and gasp – pink (this year I have a pink tree which I have dubbed the Breast Cancer Awareness Tree).   Since there is a Walgreens on every corner where I live, I usually hit at least a dozen different Walgreens the day after Christmas and clean out there inventories.

Finding cheap solid white LEDs is trickier, but then last year on January 2nd I stumbled onto a mother load.    Lowes had dozens of 100 count white LEDs at 75 percent off.   That they still had that many inventory should have gotten someone fired.   I bought 84 boxes – buying any more than that would have been obsessive, but don’t think I wasn’t pondering taking out a 401k loan to buy more than that.

Since LEDs are still largely overpriced, I haven’t completely phased out my old glacier melting white incandescent lights.   Partly I like to keep incandescents in my inventory because I just like to type the word incandescent really fast and see if I spell it correctly or get that red squiggly underline misspell fail – I get it right 68.7 percent of the time now.   Tangent over, I still have 9650 of them according to my Handy Deployment Spreadsheet.   Those will gradually be phased out as they breakdown, but some strands are at least 8 years old and are like dear old friends who I have shared wonderful memories with to me now.   And that will be part of a future tip – Splicing up the Season, coming soon.

For more half-truths and outright lies visit the Small Ball Report at

If reading the headlines or watching the nightly news were any indication, last month signaled the end of Conservatism.  The dastardly planned government shuttering was bound to cause a sweeping backlash for the Republicans that orchestrated it.  They would pay their political comeuppance.   They were finished, and likely to be bloodied to a pulp like a Bearing Sea baby harp seal after a crippling civil war within the party that would cause a sweeping takeover of the House in next year’s midterms.  The previously gavel callused hands of Nancy Pelosi would soon regain its grip.

Or, perhaps in the words of the not so great Coach, but definitively entertaining post coaching career College Football talking head Lee Corso:

Lee Corso questions the End of Conservatism.   And, Alabama is good at football apparently.

Lee Corso questions the End of Conservatism. Coincidentally, Alabama also is really good at football.

Not so fast!

With an equally great bewilderment now the signals emanating from the punditry is that Liberalism as we know it will soon vanish.  Obamacare’s shoddy roll out and false promises being the culprit.   The backlash of his brazen Affordable Care Act overreach will finally be the straw that breaks the Donkey’s back.  It was one step to far in the expansion of government’s role in our lives and those Democrats that supported it would be swept from their swing state Senate perches like the Spotted Owl reminiscing for his favorite Douglas Fir.

The Small Ball Report has a prediction just in from the Prognostication Desk:  Neither prediction is true, or in any case, permanently true beyond the prism of the next news cycle, or election cycle, or how long is left on the spin cycle on my Sunday clothes that are in the dryer?

And further, the Small Ball Report also has one tiny request of the pundits:  stop making silly sweeping predictive statements based on your political wishes.   For every left leaning pundit that predicts the end of the right on MSNBC, their is a conservative on Fox that just knows that this is it for the progressives.    What would be simpler is if we could just muzzle the talking heads, maybe double bag the ugly ones that should still be on radio and dismiss it as folks just eating up airtime or trying to hit the  magical word count on their blog.

The President at work on the Affordable Care Act. Besieged by more second term scandals, sources are reporting that Obama didn’t rake the sand trap.

The political tapestry in today’s America is not something where one side will permanently gain a foothold and trounce the other side.  History has proven that both sides are entirely capable of gaining power, reading the tea leaves incorrectly, and screwing things up so badly that ultimately the other side will regain their footholds.   That is the nature of things, much like when the football defense catches up to the latest new-fangled Wildcat offense.

Now it probably is true that since Democrats have won the popular votes in 5 of the last 6 Presidential elections that there is a demographic shift at play.   The Elephant in the Room is not Chris Christie’s mug on Time Magazine, but how do the Republicans deal with a shift where more minorities, more broadening income gaps mean government needs to do different things for different people.   If Obama is paying for your cell phone its hard to compete with that.

The Right might have some help though with the Affordable Care Act.  When given the chance with both houses of Congress, a once in a generation filibuster proof 60 votes in the Senate and the Oval Office, the Democrats gave us legislation that forsakes its name – Affordable.  On what planet will it really be Affordable?

Sure Obama lied about people being able to keep their insurance and the spinsters are doing their best jujitsu with that fabrication.   After all, so many of those people with their Clunker plans were victims of the Predatory Insurance Industry that preyed on unsuspecting consumers that were too worried about their arthritis flareups when they should have laid awake at night wondering how to get a free breast pump.  Or so they would have you believe.

But the biggest lie is retold every day of the week – affordability.   Obama claimed that for most people, the Affordable Care Act would mean that premiums would go down by $2500 per year.   Its questionable on what planet you are on where the premiums will go down by that much.   Most plans have already spiked at passage, they will spike again when the full employer market comes on board next year.   Perhaps the recent Mars Mission will find not only an intelligent life form on the red planet, but also one that is saving $2500 on their premiums.   If they also have lower copays and deductibles than fire up the space ships.

No the Affordable Care Act when fully implemented won’t be affordable to almost anyone.   Once the current website malfunctions are all patched with new code and refreshed during the next pre-scheduled server upgrades, people will finally get enrolled and get their new Obamacare ID Cards (probably with his picture on the card as that would be so like him),  But, than it will be on to the next phase of the rollout – when the payment systems don’t work and the only doctor you can pick in your network is Patch Adams because ever since Doogie Howser got laid he has gotten too big time for you.   Unless you have one of those Cadillac Plans.

The popular coinage of the time is the Death Spiral.  Its not quite as popular as What did the Fox Say?, but in our sloganed-up culture that is what we are left with, the Death Spiral as that is what Obamacare may be headed toward, and with it Obama himself, politically speaking.  Not that it will matter to him, as he has no more elections and is just biding his time until his post presidency wealth building years.   He won’t need Tony Rezko in a few years to help him buy his next half priced mansion.

But the progressives are far from done, they will have a bench.   Hillary is there after all, ready to make history for the ladies.   Ready to win the War on Women.   But long live the pundits they’ll keep predicting things that every political die has been cast for all time.

By Anthony Liebrandt

I am a great driver.   If everyone drove an automobile like me, there would be less road rage, and less stress and angst on individual Americans.  A less stressed commuter would mean a more productive workforce, enhancing the innovation and performance of American companies.    With innovation our economy would soar, normal people would find jobs, smarter people would solve our world problems, cancer would be cured, the ice bergs would not melt protecting habitats for mama polar bears to nurse their cubs.

All of this would occur if people just drove like me.    Here’s today’s tip (consider it an order).

Today’s DRIVE LIKE ME Tip – Always be in the proper lane at the stop light of an intersection

See the attached picture.    The silver car is in front of the orange sports car and it plans on going straight through the intersection as soon as the light turns green.   Is the silver car in the correct lane?

Emphatically, no.

Perhaps the orange sports car wants to turn right, or maybe there is another car not yet seen in this picture that will come up behind the orange car and need to turn right on red.

The correct driving technique is for the silver car, even if it has been driving in the right lane to change to the left (or center lane on three lane roads) when it notices that the light is changing to red.  This doesn’t mean that the silver car should drive in the left lane, in fact it should stay in the right lane if it not maintaining the proper speed, but if it has the ability to get into the left lane at the stop light it should do so.

By blocking the right lane, the silver car has caused unnecessary stress to other drivers.   This may prompt the driver of  the orange sports car to be late for work, making him rush through his tasks at work, causing his manager to give him a failing performance review.   When the wife of the driver of the orange sports car learns of the poor performance review she has second thoughts on whether she should go forward with her breast enhancement surgery, causing a loss of revenue for the plastic surgery industry, and a fall off in the economy.

The other alternative to good intersection execution is for American society to embrace European like round-abouts (and listen up Wisconsin don’t think I haven’t noticed that you are trying to go that way) but, that seems like a threat to our very way of life.   So for now, please follow this DRIVE LIKE ME tip.    We’ll see you at the next intersection.

For more half-truths and outright lies visit the Small Ball Report at

“No matter how silly the idea of having a queen might be to us, as Americans we must be gracious and considerate hosts.”     Officer Frank Drebin, Police Squad.

It was the Summer of 1441.   Richard III, Duke of York led his troops in battle outside of Pontoise, a suburb of Paris.   Paris did not yet have an Eiffel Tower or Champs Elysees or Louvre or a population of entitled stuck-ups who will frown at reckless Americans putting too much ketchup on their fries.     At that time, the Hundred Years War between England and France was in full flight, the Throne of both countries changing hands multiple times via a Battle of —– here, or a pre-arranged marriage over there.    That a war could last a hundred years can only be attributed to the fact that circa 1400s hippie college students weren’t yet skipping classes to protest and dissent.   But, let’s not digress.

Richard was away in battle that summer of 1441 for several weeks.   This steadfast commitment would eventually earn his lineage over at The House of York the crown in its ongoing tit for tat with the House of Lancaster in a series of feuds that would later be known as the War of the Roses.    The burden he must have felt that summer in the middle of France, so many miles away from his lovely bride, Cecily.   Her vibrant encouragement, and soft corseted bosom would have undoubtedly perked his spirits.

At left, Richard, the 3rd Duke of York. At right, ahem, cough, cough, chuckle, his son, King Edward IV. What is not known is whether people of the 14th century were truly this ugly or whether the artists of the day were endowed with almost no talent.

And then it happened.

Nine months later, Cecily gave birth to Edward, a bouncing dark haired baby boy who would one day grow up to become King Edward IV, the first King sired from the House of York.

Wait, back up.

It was nine months after Duke Richard was away from his lovely wife that she would give birth to Edward?   Yes.  And, that might have explained why the Duke didn’t careen through the castle halls chucking “It’s a Boy” cigars to every servant and pauper.

For more about how babies are created you might want to read this post, its about Moko the Dolphin, but there is also something about how to make babies, and it is a a good blog technique to put in links to other posts:…ko-the-dolphin/

Luckily, back in that time they didn’t have the National Enquirer poking their tabloid noses in their aristocratic business, laying questions at the feet of the throne on how this birth could have occurred.

Wait, they did?

Yes, even in his day there was much speculation, gossip, and chatter among the eminent class that questioned whether Kind Edward was truly the son of Richard.   It didn’t help that Edward would grow to 6’4″ tall, the tallest of any Royal ever and no doubt, Shaq-like tall for the 15th century.   He also had a much rounder face which differed from the narrowed gaunt of his alleged father, Richard.   In time there would also be rumors of a tryst that Cecily had with an English archer who was very good at hitting his target while the Duke was away.

So if Edward IV was an illegitimate son of Richard, than wouldn’t that eliminate his claim to the Throne of England?   Would not the very authenticity of the royals that descended from Edward IV right on down to today’s rotating cast of People Magazine CoverRoyals be in doubt?    Yes to both questions.     And that means you Queen Liz, Charles, and the Will and Kate Reality Show.

One of the two Queens pictured above is a Fake Queen. Is it the stoic one on the left or the Queen pictured with Officer Frank Drebin in happier times. Or, are they both fake?

It turns out the true heir to the thrown is some 37 year old guy living in Australia who is known as the 15th Earl of Loudoun.   Sure he could be King, but don’t think he hasn’t used this to his advantage trying to pick up girls at the bars over the years.     If it were important to the story on who that guy was, his name would be listed here _______________.   It is not.

The true mystery is why a nation of such world stature as the United Kingdom still recognizes a Monarchy at all in any sort of official capacity.   In America, it is popular today among some during this campaign cycle to call out America’s privileged class.   By comparison, that is just silly.

For more half-truths and outright lies visit the Small Ball Report at

It was a shot over the bow to Cialis.   It turns out that sitting naked in a meadow, on the beach, or in the middle of a wheat field in matching, side-by-side claw foot bathtubs may actually cause Erectile Dysfunction, the very affliction that it is designed to cure.    Cialis, the company that has long played wingman in the market to the more popular Viagra, was nonplussed by the announcement, the drug maker announced yesterday that it has no plans to pull its controversial commercials.

“Wow you were fantastic honey. That Cialis really did the job. Do we have to wait for the tide to come in to get water in these tubs?”

“The claw foots stay,”  a spokesperson for Cialis confirmed yesterday.    “We have always tried to profile our customers in such a way that is realistic, romantic, and represents their passions in a reasonable way.”

Which seems a little ridiculous.   It’s bad enough that every child in America who has ever watched a game on TV with Dad knows about Erectile Dysfunction and the dangers of a 4 hour erection.

Every Cialis commercial takes the same approach.     The not quite over the hill couples are usually in the kitchen goggling at each other in a rather gross way.   They get  increasingly more excited as they frolic about cutting up celery stalks.   Ultimately they embrace, but are nice enough to interrupt their foreplay to look at the camera and give 15 seconds of disclaimers to end the 30 second commercial spot.   Perhaps the reason that the guy can’t get it up effectively is that he is too worried about the 20 different questions he is supposed to be asking his doctor before trying the pill?

The companion commercial to the kitchen scene is the one that features outdoor yard work, like raking leaves or washing the car, as those are also activities that can apparently set off the lustful feelings and desires of older Americans.

“It is your turn to get another bucket of water from the lake.”

But, they all end the same way, the cut away at the end of the commercial finds the couple in some exotic location, one that almost impossibly has access to plumbing.   Apparently you can run both hot and cold water as well as Schedule 40 PVC waste lines to the edge of the ocean or to the middle of a rolling field.    After all, it would be pretty absurd if the tubs are empty, right?

“Our findings suggested that men seldom use the tub, preferring the more manly shower,” said Roger Halverstorm from CFACTED, the Committee for a Cure to ED   “And of those men that were surveyed, we found that if they are going to sit it in a tub, they’d like it to have water, some even prefer a nice bubbly gel or soothing whirlpool jet.    But in all our research it was determined, that both porcelain, as well as newer model fiberglass made tubs can both be quite cold on one’s bare ass.”

The good news though is that the tubs may have inadvertently helped rectify that 24 hour erection problem.

Betsy Ross captivates the Patriots and young children as she makes her final needle pulls on the first American Flag. The guy that painted this picture did it in 1930, so he is a good source for knowing what the scene looked like.

So Cam Newton may have gotten paid to play College Football.     Maybe Miss January’s breasts aren’t real.   It turns out Bernie Madoff wasn’t such a smart financier.    

So what will come next?    Betsy Ross couldn’t sew?   She couldn’t make a quilt?   She didn’t know how to mend the holes in husband John Ross’s socks?   

I am waiting for the other shoe to drop on this one, and I’d like to lodge a protest against my high school education.    I’d ask for my money back, but I went to a public school.    That wouldn’t work anyway because all the other high schools in America were teaching us the same garbage, that Betsy Ross created the first American Flag.     

Imagine my shock the other day when over 20 years after taking my high school history courses, and over 230 years since the historical events actually happened – or didn’t – I find out that the Betsy Ross story is a Fraud.    

As I recall reading from my textbooks, Betsy Ross was the widowed matriarch heroine of the Revolutionary War.    She went to the same church as George Washington, so naturally she wasn’t surprised when the General knocked on her door one afternoon.

“The guys and I are off to fight the red coats, can you make us up a flag?”    The venerable General would ask.   “I’ll send Benedict Arnold by later to pick it up.” 

“Sure, I can do that,” Ross replies.   “Did the guys down at the Continental Congress decide on Red, White and Blue like I read in Ben’s paper, and should we go with 13 stars or are you still having problems getting those rednecks from Georgia to ratify?”    

Some of those above quotes are from memory because I don’t actually have a copy of my high school history book right in front of me.    Though, one could presume that even Betty Ross thought the original Georgians would one day exhibit redneck qualities – a savvy hunch on her part because NASCAR was not yet invented at the time of the Revolutionary War. 

It turns out the whole Betsy Ross thing may not have actually happened.   She was long gone before she ever appeared in historical annuls.     Her grandson in 1870, almost 100 years after the supposed events, presented evidence that she was approached to make the first flag.   Who knows why, perhaps he had a devious plan to profit wildly by selling commemorative golden thimbles.    It sounded like a good story, so history books ran with it.    History researchers from the Smithsonian now say it might not be true, she might not have ever created the first American Flag.    

Now let’s be clear about one thing.   By all accounts she had mad skills with the needle and thread.    What she could do with a pair of scissors is the stuff of legend.    She might have been the original designer behind the five-pointed star on the American flag.   But alas, she was not the original creator of the flag.   More likely she was one of several early flag makers in American history.  

That it was passed down through the history books is just the latest proof point that most of what is shared in history textbooks are a series of partial truths, fabrications and nationalistic cheerleading.   Our history textbooks fabricated the story of Christopher Columbus, claiming that he heroically proved the Earth was round, unknowingly discovered a new continent, and died penniless.    All of which conflicts with his own journals.   It reveres him still as a heroic figure each October 12th, despite the fact that his actions led to the annihilation and enslavement of the near entirety of the Arawak Indian tribe.  

Just as it is necessary for us to be skeptical about our current heroes of the grid iron, movie set, and political scene, in the same way, we should also question the recurring characters of histories textbooks.

The other day I thought that E=MC2.  They told me that in high school once.   Now I’m not sure.

For more half-truths and outright lies visit the Small Ball Report at

It’s always fun taking a tour of the house you are about to live in for the first time. Usually a realtor with a folder full of comps and google map print outs shows you around. The Small Ball Report toured our future Washington home as special guests of Barack and Michelle Obama. A lovely young up-and-coming-couple with two beautiful school-aged girls and a handsome Portugese Water Dog named Bo, the Obamas were kind enough to let us meander the first floor halls of their upscale Pennsylvania Avenue home in Washington, DC.

These young lads were at the forefront of the witty, clever sign making industry which has recently really taken off on college campuses for football’s ESPN Gameday. The lads are getting ready for a nice warm night sleeping under their Hoover blankets.

They had offered a personal tour, but we declined because we wanted to appear to be like any other ordinary tourists with our Metro Subway Route maps sticking out of pockets and clad in our matching DC themed T-Shirts. The matching shirts we chose for the tour said, “Ancient History Will Be Kind to Herbert Hoover” in honor of the only Iowan that will ever ascend to the office. As a side note, how could Hoover have been expected to avoid the Great Depression when the Chinese wouldn’t have bailout money for another 60 years and the Model T wasn’t even a Clunker yet? As least he was thoughtful enough to hand out all of those New York Times Hoover Blankets.

The real motivation for our tour was to begin laying the groundwork for all the changes I plan to make to the various White House State Rooms when I become First Lady, err – First Man. I’m conceding that my college transcript and that one misunderstanding Rodney King Style that I may have had with a couple (or eight) Wartburg College Security Officers may come back to haunt me, so a better alternative for our family run at the Presidency will be to have my wife, Felicity Liebrandt, run for the office. She would be the perfect candidate to make the first serious run at the office from the recently announced Small Ball Party.

By every indication Felicity’s meteoric political rocket ship has launched. While we were in Washington she was running unopposed as a board member at our club, the South Tip Swim and Bath House. Though we forgot to turn in our own Proxy ballot, we assumed she wouldn’t get beat by Mickey Mouse, Cole Trickle or other common write in candidates. From here, she has a very aggressive plan to run for School Board, City Council, Mayor, Governor, and then President. All within the next six years. If the last Presidential election is any indication, she will be over qualified at that pace.

My wife Felicity Liebrandt. This photo was taken a few years ago. She had went off to college at Wartburg because she had a crush on another guy. And then she met me and fell in love with me. Then she went back to him. Then she went back to me. This whole saga lasted 3 seasons (err 3 semesters).

By the time of our tour, we already had an eventful morning.   On the walk over from the hotel two different belligerent insane homeless people started yelling obscene incoherent diatribes in the presence of our younger Liebrandt, but that wasn’t the strangest observation of the morning.   As we were about to cross the street to the White House a tour bus rolled to a stop at the corner.    In the bus window a placard labeled that particular bus the John Wilkes Booth bus.    Are you kidding?     I can only assume that the other buses in the group had placards with names of Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley, Adolph Hitler and Devil.      What kind of tour bus operator would designate a bus after the name of the killer of our second best president?   And no Abe fans, he was no Washington so don’t go bringing that debate in here.   It kind of made me want to put the bus company on my list of people we might want to waterboard.   Actually, I did.  

As our tour began in the basement of the East Wing, we blended in as tourists and not the key dignitaries that we were.    We were first shown the China Room and Library on the basement level.    All 42 former Presidents and First Ladies have one official portrait hanging in the White House.   One of the first portraits you encounter is Hillary, and while she probably was never confused for a Welsley College hottie in the 60s I was shocked to read some internet reports recently that said she was one of the ten hottest first ladies in history, like right behind Martha Washington hot.    Perhaps though, she might have sprung for one of those Glamour shot makeover portraits that were popular during her husband Bubba’s term.    

Soon after I encountered the Hillary portrait, I rounded the corner to the China Room and it was there that I caught me first glimpse of her.   Felicity didn’t notice it, and we haven’t talked about it since,  but I stood transfixed for the next three minutes staring at the lovely lady.     

The lady on the wall was the most beautiful, radiant 50 years dead women that I had ever seen.  The First Lady in the red dress.  She was Grace Coolidge.  Posing with her obedient canine Rob Roy in front of my future home, the White House.    I could picture myself during Felicity’s first term as President sneaking away from the living quarters at night, and instead of going to the White House Kitchen for some milk and cookies, giving my Secret Service detail the slip and going down the back staircase to the China Room.      

Famous First Spouses: Grace Coolidge was clearly the ba-ba-ba-bomb. She was Washington's It Girl in the early part of the last century. Too bad husband Calvin was such a dud. Hillary Clinton dazzles us with the pantsuit.

 I imagined myself imagining myself strolling the White House lawn engaged in hours long conversations with Grace Coolidge while I threw frisbees to her dog, Rob Roy.   Then I nearly tripped out of my dream sequence, when First Lady Grace Coolidge asked me, “What is that thing that you are throwing at Rob Roy and having him fetch?”      

“It’s a Frisbee,”  I replied.   “Sorry, I didnt’ realize it, the Frisbee won’t be invented until 10 years after you leave the White House.”     

Our conversations were mostly about shared experiences, she chatted up the excitement of getting to meet with Charles Lindbergh after his perfect Trans Atlantic flight.   I told her about my thrill on a Colorado campaign junket of getting to meet the real life Balloon Boy.   She talked about how they had invited Louis B. Armstrong to play his trumpet at a White House dinner.   I compared that to Felicity and I booking Justin Bieber to sing his hit song, Baby.  

I also wanted to know how she did it.   How she survived the piercing scrutiny of the mass media.   In our own 2016 campaign, the media had dug up some of my old reporting from the Small Ball Report and they questioned whether the fear mongering that I had stirred in reporting on the Scary Ice Cream Man rose to the level of maturity that was exhibited in the writing flavors of previous first ladies like Barbara Bush, Mary Todd Lincoln, and Betty Ford.    

Finally, I snapped out of my trance.   I could hear the tour guide saying something on the order of, “And it was with great bravery that Dolly Madison saved most of the China that you see in this room from the fire of 1812.  Now let’s proceed up the stairs to the First Floor.”    

The brief day-dream, that momentary insight into the life of my new heroine, Grace Coolidge, changed my entire perspective on the type of First Lady (Man) that I wanted to be.   I began to take copius notes on all the things that I could learn from my predecessors.   But, most of all I tried not to let Felicity notice how turned on I was getting by some of the beautiful first lady portraits.  I can’t be sure but that could be considered weird.  Come on admit it readers, who isn’t turned on by that ravishing smile of Martha Washington.

For more half-truths and outright lies visit the Small Ball Report at

The first First Lady Seductress Martha Washington. Technically she was older than George which would make her the first Cougar to be First Lady.

Overcoming SCOTUS Disease

Posted: May 10, 2010 in Media Frenzy

John Jay just rolled over in his grave.   Surely the venerable first Chief Justice is looking down on us from a heavenly abode.  He doesn’t recognize what he sees, and we are not talking about the ideological landscape of today’s high court.    That Barack Obama has nominated Elena Kagan to the Court as the potential fourth ever woman might be somewhat surprising to Jay.   Afterall, in his day Kagan could have only risen to the level of America’s needle point sweetheart, a la the flag making Betsy Ross.     

John Jay in a Kodak moment. While Sandra Day O'Connor may have broken the gender barrier on the Court, it was John Jay who broke the man with two first names barrier.

But no, the real source of wonderment for Jay about today’s Supreme Court would undoubtedly be “What the hell is a SCOTUS?” 

Now maybe Jay can’t be bothered or worried about things from his afterlife perch.  Perhaps he plays croquet in heaven on alternating afternoons with his Federalist Papers cronies Hamilton and Madison – highly contested games where he often gets razed by Madison for his woeful lopsided Jay Treaty with Britain in 1794. 

“Thanks a lot for that one, Johnny,” fires the salty Madison at Jay right as he is about to mallet the croquet ball towards the target.   “Luckily for you, I bailed your ass out in the War of 1812 or we would still be subjects of the Queen.” 

Maybe Jay is not in heaven at all.  Let’s not discount, however, that where ever he is he still has access to a WiFi connection and is able to get some good old-fashioned New Media piped in.      He can’t be happy that his Supreme Court has been replaced in every third headline with a case of SCOTUS, an acronymic affliction that is ravaging internet news feeds.     If you didn’t know it SCOTUS is the abbreviation for Supreme Court of the United States.    Get it, SCOTUS.    Headline writers far and wide have taken to renaming the Supreme Court SCOTUS because they are lazy, and it has to stop.  It’s not like we are talking about the old media where there was at least the cost of ink at play.    The internet media has no fear of running out of web space, so why not spell it out.  

This latest governmental acronym is just the latest threat to our way of life.   In fact acronyms as a whole have our society on the brink of communication ruin.    Try working in IT or Government or Healthcare on any other profession that has not been overrun with abbreviations and short-cuts.   It’s a HTTP/SQL/DoD/PAC/PDA/LCD world that we live in.   It’s too much to say can you get me the report as soon as possible.   Now it has to be ASAP, or by EOD.   

Elena Kagan in happier times before she found out she was infected with an unsightly case of SCOTUS.

And you – casual social web user – are not helping when you type LOL or LMAO on every third Facebook thread you comment on.     What you are really saying is that I’m too lazy too say, “Wow that was very funny, that makes me laugh.”     

For their part, acronyms themselves are under pressure from one button emoticons such as smiley, frowny and random wink at me faces saving users of LOL two extra key strokes – three if they needed the exclamation point.    That’s no way to communicate.   

And now to that abbreviation heap we add SCOTUS.   May John Jay RIP.

SCOTUS on the loose in today's headlines