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Jay Paterno: Bits and Pieces in Life's Winding Road

by on April 05, 2012 6:00 AM

Early this week, I found myself without a hot topic to discuss. I found a bunch of pieces that fit together so I put them all together in this column. I’ll warn you, the road through this column is winding.

I was out of town Monday. As I checked into my hotel and headed upstairs, I turned on the national news and found out that a gunman in Oakland was shooting people and that seven people were believed dead.

That seemed to be a pretty big story — not big enough apparently.

There were two “big” stories as I flipped the dials in disbelief. The first was the identity of a Maryland woman believed to be one of three winners of a humungous national lottery jackpot. The second big story was the coming morning show ratings “feud” between Katie Couric at ABC and Sarah Palin on NBC. For the record, I checked out ABC not because of Katie Couric or any aversion to Sarah Palin. I watched to see Penn Stater Laura Spencer.

But back to the big stories. CNN’s reporter filed a report from the Maryland Seven-Eleven store where the ticket was purchased. The highlight? Showing us the machine that sold the ticket and the camera that records the purchases.

As for the big morning show “feud,” I could understand ABC or NBC coverage promoting programming on their networks. However, CNN and Fox News were talking up the feud. If I were on the CNN or Fox morning shows, I’d wonder about my own network focusing attention on a competing morning show.

Maybe I don’t see the angle in promoting a show on another network, but it does seem to fly in the face of common sense.

The apparent lack of common sense also showed up on the Monday coverage of Tuesday primaries in Maryland, D.C. and Wisconsin. The prevailing line of questioning revolved around whether Mitt Romney wins in all three primaries would seal the nomination.

Now I’m not a math professor, but most people could do the math and see that Romney wins in all three primaries would not add up to the 1,100-plus delegates needed for the G.O.P. nomination.

So now they head to Pennsylvania. Despite the pressure to bow out, I believe Rick Santorum should stay in and fight. A good nomination fight is healthy for any party. It forces people to discuss issues and ideas even if the people covering campaigns will not talk about them.

A still relevant Pennsylvania primary is good for the state’s television, radio and media outlets and their advertising revenue. Many saw extra revenue in 2008 when then-Senators Obama and Clinton rolled into the Commonwealth for a three-week battle in their unresolved nomination contest. This time around it is the G.O.P. candidates that will be in the state spending money. That money goes all over the state, including smaller towns.

Driving home Tuesday in a rural part of the state that appeared to be part of Radio Free Pennsylvania, I was listening to iPhone music through the stereo system in the car. I am a person that appreciates people who write great things, poetry, literature and even lyrics. Every so often I’ll hear a lyric in a song that I wish I’d been sharp enough to write.

Tuesday afternoon I heard one such lyric as I listened to a song from the Dave Matthews Band.

I confess I was never a huge fan even though I had seen the band’s early days playing bars and fraternities in Charlottesville, Va. while starting my coaching career at The University of Virginia.

Tuesday, I heard one that I wish I had written when Dave Matthews sang “The space between the bullets in the firefight is where I’ll be hiding waiting for you." The powerful imagery spoke to something every person in a strong, passionate relationship can understand.

My wife and I are both people with strong convictions. Every once in a while those convictions clash. But what that lyric reminds me is when the figurative “bullets” are all gone we’ll still be there for each other when everything settles down.

That is the beauty of a true, deep love. The ability to occasionally disagree yet not wound each other. When the bullets stop flying, what remains are the two of you standing there for each other.

When I got home and saw my wife, I realized that I needn’t write or sing with the voice of angels to appreciate every day of life no matter how silly the world around us may get. No matter who wins the morning show feud, or who bought the Maryland lottery ticket or how the Pennsylvania primary shapes up, it is home that matters most.

The winding road of life and of this column brought me right back to where I began, home with the woman of my dreams.

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State College native and Penn State graduate Jay Paterno is a father, husband and political volunteer. He’s a frequent guest lecturer on campus and at Penn State events and was the longtime quarterbacks coach for the Nittany Lions. His column appears every other Thursday. Follow him on Twitter at
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