November 2013

The Greatest Play

As a life-long sports fan, I was recently watching a program showing videos of great sports plays. It got me to thinking about some of the great plays I’ve seen thoughout my lifetime. As I’m sure many of you have witnessed some great ones, I’ve definitely seen my share. But what was the greatest sports play of all-time? I believe I have the answer.

Now, I don’t want to get into a “my dog is bigger than your dog” situation, but I do feel I have excellent qualifications to make such an assertion. I played several sports growing up and my life’s goal was to be a professional baseball player. Eventually, while playing winter ball with the Los Angeles Angels, an arm injury ended that dream. My wife and I have three sons, all of whom are tremendous athletes, and my nephew whom we consider our fourth son is also an athlete. Our oldest son was a member of Pepperdine’s NCAA Championship Baseball team, our middle son lettered in four different sports, our youngest became a professional baseball player and is now a college coach, and our nephew was a pitcher at UNLV. Probably a little over the top, but getting a chance to brag about these four young men is always fun.

O. K., given my qualifications to judge, what is the greatest play? It happened several years ago when our youngest son was playing for a Little League all-star team at the Little League Western States Regional Championship in San Bernardino, California. You probably expect I will now regale you with some play my 12-year-old made in one of those games. It’s tempting, but I’m going to be very honest. Arriving early to get good seats, we were in time to watch a game being played by young boys from the challenger leagues. These are leagues designed for boys with physical handicaps that prevent them from playing on a regular Little League team. Watching this game was very heartwarming and actually quite interesting. At one point, a very spirited young man without the use of his legs and in a wheelchair came to bat. After striking the ball, he began yelling at he person pushing his wheelchair to go faster. He barely beat the throw to first and was safe. He was so thrilled and animated; he drew the attention of everyone watching the game. What happened next was “the greatest play.” The next hitter got hold of the ball and drove it to the outfield. As the ball was being fielded, the boy in the wheelchair was yelling for the pusher of his chair to go faster. He then made the decision to try for third base. He was yelling “third, third.” The pusher was trying, but pushing the wheelchair in the dirt was a difficult task. By now everyone was on their feet cheering him on. We could see the throw was coming and he was clearly going to be out. At that point, in desperation, the boy unbuckled his safety belt, and with just his arms launched himself out of the chair and flew head first into third. He was safe. It was an incredible moment. He was dirty and scratched up, but the smile on his face was unabashed happiness. The coaches lifted him back up into the chair, and when the next batter got a hit, the young man was pushed triumphantly down the third base line and crossed the plate with both arms outstretched with a broad victorious smile on his scratched and dirty face. His dive from his wheelchair into third base was no doubt the greatest play ever. I don’t think anything else could ever come close.

I’ve never forgotten that young man (I wish I knew his name), and in difficult times I still think about his enthusiam, courage, and effort. If I could meet him again I would say thank you for the inspiration. It’s a life lesson I will never forget.

Hey Joe

While we are on the topic of sports, here’s something you senior football fans might get a kick out of. On a recent trip to Florida while I was checking out at a local grocery store, I saw a gentleman who looked familiar walking out of the store. I rushed outside and said, “Hey Joe.” Sure enough, the man turned around and smiled. It was Joe Namath, legendary Hall of Fame quarterback for the New York Jets. I’m happy to report he was as friendly, funny, and personable as you might guess. We actually talked for several minutes and I snapped this picture of the two of us.

Me and Broadway Joe

Me and Broadway Joe


 Happy Thanksgiving

     My wife Trisha and I would like to wish you and you family a very heartfelt and blessed Happy Thanksgiving.

Trisha and John Parker

Trisha and John Parker

Travel Tip: Avoid Airline Luggage Fees

I recently wrote a blog in which I described how I was able to avoid paying an extra fee for my luggage on several overseas flights. In case you missed it, airlines, especially foreign airlines, have very tight weight restrictions for both checked and carry-on luggage. They also have zero-tolerance policies and extremely high fees for going over their limits. In my blog I described how I wore a jacket with a number of inner and outer large pockets in which I stuffed underwear, t-shirts, camera, etc.

O.K., the word cheap comes to mind (I prefer frugal), but the fact is I saved some real money by employing this clever idea. After writing the blog, I heard from people who thought my concept was great. At that point, my entrepreneurial spirit kicked in and I set about to research and design my new line of “travel luggage.” Unfortunately, like most of us who have great ideas, we often discover others have beaten us to the punch.

While I’ve now found several types and styles on the internet, let me share my favorite with you. It’s called the Stuffa Jacket. I like its concept and design. Other travel luggage I’ve found simply looks like horse blankets with pockets and even the most frugal among us would probably be embarrassed to wear something so grotesque.

For what its worth, and I believe you will save enough on your first flight to cover the cost of the jacket, here is the Stuffa.



Capacity: 3/5

The Stuffa is designed more as an additional storage space rather than a replacement for a bag, but the 12 pockets concealed within the lining of this bodywarmer (which can hold up to 5kg of clothing) along with the two external pockets for your phone, passport or tickets, offer a considerable amount of supplementary storage space, allowing you to travel lighter.

Ease of use: 5/5
The bodywarmer’s mesh pockets can be stuffed full of clothes very easily, then just slip the jacket on: simple.

Durability: 5/5
The Stuffa is a well-made and nicely designed product that looks the part and should stand the test of time.

Style Factor: 5/5
By far the most stylist garment in our test, this looks like a normal item of clothing (rather than a bin-bag) and you could happily wear this out and about without getting any odd looks.

Value: 4/5
It’s twice the price of the Roo – but for that extra money you do get a stylish jacket, albeit one with slightly less capacity.

Best for: stylish light-travellers
If you want to save money on airline baggage charges, and look good whilst doing it, the Stuffa is the luggage jacket for you.

I haven’t purchased mine yet. My wife Trisha says she might not stand next to me when boarding the plane if I’m wearing this thing stuffed to the brim. We’ll see how this one turns out. Saving money is something she is really good at so I think she’ll eventually go along with it. If you see somebody at the airport that looks like a giant hot dog, it just might be me.

John and Trisha Parker

John and Trisha Parker

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Fisher House: A Joy and a Challenge

       This blog is primarily written to inform and entertain seniors and near seniors. Those of us in this age group have lived through numerous wars and tend to be quite patriotic. I’m sure many of you are already familiar with the Fisher House Foundation. It’s one of my favorite charities and my wife Trisha and I have been involved with this outstanding organization for some time. It’s a joy to be part of their efforts on behalf of our military heroes and I want to challenge all of you to learn more and consider how you might play a role in their mission.

          In a nutshell, Fisher House currently provides housing, meals, and in some cases, transportation for the families of injured and ill military personel and veterans. Presently they have donated and operate 62 homes across the U. S. and Germany adjacent to military hospitals. It is a non-profit organization that operates on only 4% of donated funds. It’s refreshing to be involved with such a wonderful charity in which 96 cents of every dollar goes directly to those it serves. As I said, Trisha and I have been involved for some time and can personally vouch for their good works.

          Of course, don’t just take my word. Charity Navigator gives Fisher House four stars out of four stars. The American Institute of Philanthropy gives them an A+. If you would like to donate, here is the link to their web site:

 The Fisher House Program | Fisher House Foundation

          If you are located in Northern California, the Armstrong and Getty radio program is currently fundraising and this is their web site:

 Armstrong & Getty – Fisher House

Thanks for considering this wonderful effort.