Saturday, February 22, 2014

Last Place

By Julie Rahm

A ten-member Fantasy Football league in Omaha, Nebraska has a unique twist. He who finishes last gets tattooed! The intent of the loser’s tattoo is to make the fantasy footballers play as hard as humanly possible every week. The fear of getting tattooed is a tremendous motivator. League members devote large amounts of time to reading scouting reports. They do extensive research on their players. The smallest details of a player’s potential performance are scrutinized. The difference between getting tattooed, or not tattooed, might be a dropped pass or an inadvertent injury to a key player. The young men who participate in this tattoo league are “over-the-top” involved. Nobody wants to sport a losing tattoo for the rest of their lives. And, to make finishing last even more punishing, the winner gets to choose the loser’s tattoo! To say the tattoos are heinous is an understatement. The losing tattoos are quite large and awful. The one bright spot for the last place finisher is that he gets to place the tattoo on his body. Most try to conceal the heinous body art within their underwear. Still, these reminders of a last place finish will be with these men even in their graves! (Yikes!)

Ironically, in 2010 the founder of the league, “Spud” Mann lost. He now sports the loser’s tattoo on his upper thigh. It is a sparkly-horned, red-mane unicorn leaping to kick a football over a rainbow. A little red heart adorns the unicorn's haunch. Beneath the fanciful scene, Mann's thigh reads, “FANTASY LOSER”.

Mann will wear this tattoo his whole life. As for explaining it to a potential future wife, he said, “If a unicorn on my leg is a reason you wouldn't want to be around me, there's probably other problems.” Of course, there is regret. Mann wishes he would have had Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick on his team. “For the rest of my life,” Mann said, “I'm going to look down at the tattoo and say, I should've drafted Vick.”

This year's Tattoo League winner designed the perfect pop culture tattoo that would make any loser miserable. The losing tattoo is fantasy expert Matthew Berry's face on Miley Cyrus' body swinging on a wrecking ball made in the image of Jay Leno's face. Miley Cyrus is holding a sign that reads “Fantasy Twerker Loser”. Twerker is crossed out. Yes, it is as disturbing as it sounds! Grown men! Some with college degrees! Anyway, I tell you about the last place finisher in the tattoo league so I can tell you about this “last”.
This is my last column in Pamlico News, at least for a while. I have enjoyed writing and greatly appreciate all the accolades. However, after three plus years of required weekly creativity, I’d like a respite. My thanks go out to editor, Maureen. She has been super-accommodating and simply wonderful. Thank you readers! And, as always, you can find me through my web site at and

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Sweep Streets

“I want to ask you a question, and that is: What is your life’s blueprint? Whenever a building is constructed, you usually have an architect who draws a blueprint, and that blueprint serves as the pattern, as the guide, and a building is not well erected without a good, solid blueprint. Now each of you is in the process of building the structure of your lives, and the question is whether you have a proper, a solid and a sound blueprint. I want to suggest some of the things that should begin your life’s blueprint.

Number one in your life’s blueprint should be a deep belief in your own dignity, your worth and your own somebodiness. Don’t allow anybody to make you feel that you’re nobody. Always feel that you count. Always feel that you have worth, and always feel that your life has ultimate significance.

Secondly, in your life’s blueprint you must have as the basic principle the determination to achieve excellence in your various fields of endeavor. You’re going to be deciding as the days, as the years unfold what you will do in life—what your life’s work will be. Set out to do it well.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, the great essayist, said in a lecture in 1871, ‘If a man can write a better book or preach a better sermon or make a better mousetrap than his neighbor, even if he builds his house in the woods, the world will make a beaten path to his door.’

And when you discover what you will be in your life, set out to do it as if God Almighty called you at this particular moment in history to do it. Don’t just set out to do a good job. Set out to do such a good job that the living, the dead or the unborn couldn’t do it any better.

If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music, sweep streets like Leontyne Price sings before the Metropolitan Opera. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well. If you can’t be a pine at the top of the hill, be a shrub in the valley. Be the best little shrub on the side of the hill. Be a bush if you can’t be a tree. If you can’t be a highway, just be a trail. If you can’t be a sun, be a star. For it isn’t by size that you win or fail. Be the best of whatever you are.”

So, have you figured it out? The above is from a speech that was given by MLK to a group of students at Barratt Junior High School in Philadelphia on October 26, 1967, six months before his assassination. It is little known but one of my favorites.

Saturday, January 11, 2014


By Julie Rahm

My husband, John spent most of his Marine Corps career as a pilot in Harrier squadrons. As you may know, Harriers are jets that hover like helicopters. Harriers have the capability to hover because they do not have exhaust tail pipes like conventional jets. Harrier tail pipes are actually four moveable nozzles that are mounted two on each side of the jet. The nozzles are rotated down for hovering and pointed aft for forward flight. Anyway, Harriers are very demanding to fly. Only pilots with exceptional skills are chosen to fly Harriers. There are very few Harrier pilots. They all know one another. As a result, squadron pilots form very close fraternities. The bond between these men is real and unique. To perpetuate these bonds, often there are squadron rituals that unite the men into a singleness of purpose. One of these squadron rituals sticks in my mind. It was the “Bites” game.

The premise of the “Bites” game was if one of your fellow pilots called (yelled) “bites” before you called “no bites”, the “bites” caller got a bite of your lunch sandwich. Some pilots did not bother to pack their own lunch. They feasted on others sandwiches! It was important to call out “no bites” before you opened your lunch. Failure to preempt a “bites” call with a “no bites” call always resulted in a lost portion of sandwich. As time went by, the game progressed. It grew beyond the squadron building. There were “bites” calls at fast food restaurants. There were “bites” calls while food shopping. The bites were not small. Mostly, sandwiches were crammed into mouths to get the most for the one “called” bite. The game got crazy. What if two people called “bites” at the same time? Controversy was the by product. How many times could bites be called? For how long was a “no bites” call good? The game needed some structure. So, in military fashion, the pilots formulated the rules for the Bites game. Here is short version of the rules.

The Bites game could only be played from official sunrise to official sunset. A “no bites” call was good until official sunset. The game could only be played in the squadron building. The operations duty officer, who executed the flight schedule, was the witness for all “no bites” calls. As a protective measure, one could call no bites under the awning, before entering the squadron building. And lastly, the Officer of the Day was the sole arbiter of any dispute. As you ponder this…

These are grown men in their twenties. All have college degrees! All but a few had some post-undergraduate education! It is difficult to comprehend why twenty-six men would promulgate this sandwich poaching behavior. John still calls “no bites” when he carries a sandwich into a room! So, I tell you about the Bites game in order to tell you this.

It does not matter. Some things just are. Because, every puzzle need not be solved!

Saturday, January 4, 2014


By Julie Rahm

Many words in the English language have multiple meanings. Our different uses of the same word make English difficult to learn. As a consequence of context, English has many rules that dictate proper use of a word. Take the word “even”...

When “even” is used as an adjective it means flat, smooth or uniform. Also as an adjective, “even” can mean unbroken or undamaged. As a comparative adjective “even” would be “evener”. And as a superlative adjective “even” would be “evenest”. Although, “evener” and “evenest” may be correct, they are awkward to speak and seldom used.

In mathematics, “even” is equal (number, amount or value), the same, identical, like, alike, similar, comparable or parallel. “Even” could be in the same plane, in the same line or level. Or, “even” could mean tied, drawn, square or balanced! “Even” means exactly equal to a round number, not having any fractions or divisible by two without a remainder!

In sports, “even” usually means equally balanced or equal for each opponent, usually for a score. Are you still with me? However, in casual conversation, “even” is most often used as an intensive.

An intensive is used with comparative adjectives and adverbs. Intensives imply a greater degree or extent. For example, when my husband John fell off the pier (see my column, Pamlico News, December 7, 2011), he was wet but “even” more embarrassed. Intensives can be used to indicate something that is unexpected. For example, John did not “even” consider the possibility of falling in the water. Following the same example, “even” can mean at the same time. “Even” as I watched, John fell in the water! Also, “even” means to a degree that extends fully. “Even” the big splash surprised John as he hit the water. Also as an intensive “even” could be exact or precise. It was “even” as I said John was going to fall in the water.

I would be remiss by not mentioning “even” as an idiom. For examples, keep on an “even” keel. Do not worry about getting “even” with him. And, we hope to break “even”. Had enough of “even”? “Even” though all this is interesting, I must get to the point.

So, I tell you all about the word “even” to tell you this. In successful relationships, there is “evenness”. Whether relationships are personal or business, where there is unevenness there is struggle. And, where there is evenness, success comes with ease. Unevenness primarily stems from wrong thinking and misperception. A common reason for unevenness is lack of consideration for another person or visa versa. Or, you may think you’re better than someone, or they’re better than you are. At work, although a management hierarchy is modeled, evenness can be alive and well. When all involved have consideration for each other, feel strongly in their roles, and eliminate jealousy, the “evenness” in the environment produces self-motivation. No books, tapes or talks are required!

If your family or organization struggles with unevenness, contact me for solutions through

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