OK, I've put my philosophical reputation on the line with the title of this blog post.
So I'll buy some time for my mind to come up with the promised deep thoughts by bringing readers of this post up to speed on the thoroughly mind-boggling play that cost the Arkansas baseball team the College World Series championship.
I live in Oregon, not far from Corvallis, the home of the Oregon State University (OSU) Beavers baseball team. So last Wednesday I was rooting for the Beavers to win the second game in the best out of three championship series with the Arkansas Razorbacks.
OSU had lost the first game in the series on Tuesday. So another loss would have given Arkansas the World Series championship.
In the ninth inning the Beavers had a man on third with two outs. Cadyn Grenier was batting. I'll let a New York Post story tell the tale, which you can see in all its historic glory in the video above. The score at the time of the pop-up was Oregon State 2 and Arkansas 3.
Oregon State hadn’t been able to catch a break in the College World Series finals. And then the ninth inning happened Wednesday night.
Three Arkansas fielders watched a foul ball drop between them with two outs. If one of them catches the ball, the Razorbacks would have locked up the national championship.
No one did.
Cadyn Grenier singled in the tying run, and Trevor Larnach followed with a two-run homer into the right-field bullpen to give the Beavers the lead in a 5-3 win that forced a third and deciding third game on Thursday night.
“As soon as you see the ball drop, you know you have another life,” Grenier said. “I needed to refocus and make the most of that extra life we got. That’s a gift.”
Now, things went from bad to worse for the Arkansas baseball team the next night, since OSU beat them 5-0 and walked away as 2018 NCAA Division 1 champions.
So because none of the three Arkansas players apparently called for the ball, and second baseman Carson Shaddy overran the pop-up, this single mistake -- which would be understandable in a junior high game, but not the College World Series -- had huge consequences.
The screenshot above is from the You Tube video. It shows the ball after it bounced off the ground in the middle of the triangle formed by the three players.
Who I have a lot of empathy for, notwithstanding the joy I felt after the botched pop-up led to OSU winning the game, then going on to win the College World Series.
I suspect that these three guys are going to have "If only I'd..." thoughts running through their minds for a long time. "If only I'd called for the ball... If only I hadn't overrun it... If only I'd stepped forward and made the catch."
Yet I hope that I'm wrong, and these three highly competent baseball players are able to stop beating themselves up over this play fairly soon. Because this won't be the last time they'll face a major If Only moment. Life is full of them. It isn't at all unusual to recognize, in retrospect, how a simple failure to do this or that leads to complex consequences.
And those consequences, as in this case, can be far greater than the seemingly slight mistake. Conceptually, this is due to chaos being the way the world often works. Not in the sense of things being totally screwed up and unstable, but in the scientific sense of small causes having large unpredictable effects.
These causes and effects occur in a deterministic fashion, according to chaos theory. Of course, many, if not most, people believe that we humans are somehow exempt from the determinism that rules the rest of the natural world. Meaning, we have free will.
But free will is just a belief.
There's good reason to accept that people are just as much a part of the deterministic world as everything else is. I've read many books that argue just that. For example, in his book "Free Will," Sam Harris argues that if someone does something, and it were possible to rewind the universe so that every atom was in the same state as when the something was done, that someone would do exactly the same thing again.
Which makes perfect sense.
If the three Arkansas baseball players who failed to catch the pop-up were in precisely the same positions, with the same frame of mind, with the same location of the ball, in short, with everything happening exactly as it did before, what else could occur but what did occur in the ninth inning of the second game of the 2018 College World Series?
So "If only..." really doesn't apply in a deterministic world, which appears to be the world we live in, the only things that can happen are the things that do happen, and if the conditions that make those things happen remain the same, the same things are going to happen.
OK. I promised some deep thoughts, and I've delivered.
I've been hugely enjoying watching the Oregon State University (OSU) baseball team wend its way through the loser's bracket of the 2018 College World Series.
Now, I readily admit that I'm a "fair weather" OSU Beavers fan, since every year I only start watching them when the NCAA playoffs start.
(I do have a good excuse, though, since I have DirecTV, and the super-irritating pissing match between DirecTV and the Pac 12 Networks shows no sign of being resolved. Thus it's only when OSU games show up on ESPN that I can record and watch them.)
Back in high school, though, I was an avid San Francisco Giants fan, living as we did in central California.
Since Three Rivers was about halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, albeit in the foothills of the Sierras, about half of the boys who took the bus from Three Rivers to Woodlake Union High School were Giants fans, and half were LA Dodgers fans.
Ah, I fondly remember the heated arguments we'd have on the bus about whether Juan Marichal or Sandy Koufax was the better pitcher. And here's another interesting memory:
The fact that even now, more than fifty years later, I can pretty clearly remember some of the Giants team that won the pennant in one of my high school years: let's see... Tom Haller, Orlando Cepeda, Willy Mays, Jimmy Davenport, Mattie Alou, the aforementioned Juan Marichal.
I mention this because without much success I've tried to explain to my wife, who is utterly uninterested in sports, why I find watching baseball on TV so engrossing.
It's not so much the action on the field that is important. It's feeling like you know the cast of characters on your favored team. Then watching a game becomes a lot like reading a novel. You care about the outcome because you care about the characters, which in the case of the OSU baseball team are real people, not fictional ones.
Even more: in the case of the College World Series, the drama continues beyond a single game, because this is a double-elimination tournament where a team remains alive until it loses twice.
OSU lost its first game.
So the baseball team needed to win four games in a row to make it into the World Series championship series. Amazingly, and happily, they did just that. I'm looking forward to seeing them play tomorrow against Arkansas in a two out of three series.
Thus though OSU started off as a favorite to win the World Series, after they lost that first game against North Carolina they became underdogs who had to fight their way against considerable odds to make it to the championship series.
The final hurdle was yesterday. After beating Mississippi State, a team that was undefeated in the World Series up to that point, OSU had to beat them again, or be eliminated from the tournament themselves. Hence, it was a must-win game for both teams.
And as I just said, the drama is made much more interesting if you feel like you know the players, rather than just seeing them as guys holding a bat, or pitching a baseball, or standing on a baseball field. Yeah, baseball is boring if all you know is what you see.
Which basically is a lot of nothing happening, until occasionally something does.
In yesterday's game, which OSU won 5-2, all of the Beavers' five runs were scored in the third inning. To add to the drama, the four hits that produced the five runs came with two outs in the inning. Four consecutive hits is quite rare, given that a batting average of .333, one hit in every three at bats, is pretty darn good.
So what OSU did, basically, was beat the odds: 1/3 X 1/3 X 1/3 X 1/3 equals 1/81. Meaning, if I've gotten my math correct, if each of the Beavers had a batting average of .333, the odds of four consecutive hits would be one in 81.
But this happened.
And it seemed to happen because some sort of hitting chemistry took place in the third inning. Maybe it was due to the Mississippi State pitcher losing some of his mojo, but watching the game, I felt it was more that the OSU batters willed their way to get the four hits and five runs.
That's the mark of heroes. OSU didn't score again, yet for one inning, with two outs, there was magic on the field -- punctuated by Tyler Malone's massive three run homer that turned out to be the winning margin in the game.
Mississippi State didn't fold, though. In the bottom of the ninth inning they created the baseball equivalent of a "cliffhanger." I was on the edge of my TV-watching seat as a single, a walk, and a hit batter by the OSU pitcher loaded the bases with the winning run at the plate.
And the Mississippi State batter, if my memory is correct, was a guy who had hit a grand slam homer in a previous World Series game.
A quote in today's Oregonian story says this about the OSU pitcher in the ninth inning, Jake Mulholland: "Mully is a drama queen, [Kevin] Abel said." (Abel was the starting pitcher.)
Yesterday's game had all the ingredients of a thriller novel that demanded to be read straight through, it was so suspenseful. Just when you thought the good guys would come out on top, if you're an OSU fan, they find themselves in a highly dangerous situation.
It was spellbinding to watch the OSU coach pacing back and forth in the dugout, powerless to do much except watch the drama unfolding on the field. Mulholland looked unhittable for several innings, but when he needed to get the last out that would put OSU in the championship series, it appeared that nerves affected his pitching.
Which was totally understandable.
If Mulholland made just one poor pitch, the Mississippi State batter could hit a home run, ending the OSU baseball team's dream of making it to the championship series, and hopefully winning it. For the rest of his life that one poor pitch would nag at him. He'd wish he could take it back, but since life only goes in one direction, that would be impossible.
During the ninth inning the OSU catcher, star second baseman, and, I recall, other members of the team went out to the mound to talk with Mulholland. I have no idea what they said. I can imagine, "Relax," "You've got this," "We've got your back," and such.
In the end, Mulholland threw a pretty good pitch, the Mississippi State batter hit it to the OSU shortstop, and after a bit of trouble getting the ball out of his mitt, he threw it to Nick Madrigal for a force-out at second base.
Happy ending, for OSU fans. Sad ending, for Mississippi State fans. A thriller, for everybody watching the game. Baseball can be hugely entertaining. But really only if you know the cast of characters, which makes a drama much more engrossing.
Yesterday Laurel and I visited the 2018 Salem Tour of Homes. Here's photos of what appealed to us when we visited seven of the more expensive homes in south Salem.
As much as we enjoyed the "eye-candy" of various architectural features, I end the Adobe Spark web page with these thoughts:
So in the end, as happens every year we visit a Tour of Homes, we return home -- our minds filled with visions of what we'd like to have in our house, but also happy to know that what we do have has helped make us happy for the past 28 years, and will continue to do so for as long as we live where we are.
Wishes are one thing. Reality is another. Truth be told, we wouldn't trade our house for any that we saw on the Tour of Homes, because our house, well, feels like ours, and the others didn't.
When Father's Day comes around I don't spend much time reminiscing about memories of my father, since I only spent one hour of face-to-face time with him in my entire life.
(These are the only photos I have of my father. Obviously I don't remember these baby moments with him.)
I wrote about this disturbing experience in an appropriately-titled blog post, "One hour with my father."
Here’s a contrarian Mother’s Day story about the one hour I spent with my father. Note: the one hour, period. This wasn’t the best or worst hour, nor the happiest or saddest hour. It was the only hour I spent face-to-face with him.
My half-brother, Mike, opened the door. Apparently my father needed some support during this visit. John walked up to me and shook my hand. We didn’t hug or anything. No tears of joy. Nothing that you see in the movies. Real life isn’t like the movies.
What is real life like? Real life is having one hour in your life face-to-face with your father, and spending that time looking at General Electric manuals that he had arranged on the bed prior to my arrival, efficiently opened up to pages that he wanted to impress me with.
I sat down on the edge of the bed. I dutifully thumbed my way through manual after manual, listening to my father’s stories about how he went into GE plants that were having problems and got them back up to speed. “What the hell?” I kept thinking to myself. “If this is how my father wants to spend his time with his long-ignored son, so be it.”
We got through all of the manuals. I shook his hand again. When the door shut behind me and I started walking down the corridor to my rented car, I was so happy. Not happy that I had finally gotten to meet my father—happy that I would never have to see my father again.
Which I never did.
Now, with the passage of time, several decades, actually, I've wondered if I should have made more of that one hour with my father.
What bothers me, as I thought about that hour today, is that I can only remember a few minutes of it with any clarity. Basically, just the first few minutes before he started to show me the General Electric manuals, and the minute or so when we shook hands, said goodbye, and I walked out of his hotel room door.
I'm pretty sure that I would have remembered if we'd talked about anything genuinely personal, or if I'd asked him any of the questions that still rummage through my mind, unanswered forever now that he is dead.
Why, according to my mother, did you refuse to accompany her to a drier climate when this was supposedly the best thing to do for my half-sister Evie, who was born with a heart defect and died when I was about four years old after my mother had moved to Texas? (And divorced my father.)
Why did you never have anything to do with me until my mid-30's, when you called out of the blue after you knew you were dying, and initiated a telephone relationship that mostly consisted of you telling stories about what an amazing genius guy you were, revealing next to nothing about yourself other than your professional exploits as an early computer expert and, later, as a kick-ass efficiency guy with General Electric?
Both of these questions have an accusatory tone about them. I'm expecting that my father, who by all accounts was a mysogynist jerk, somehow would have been willing to be openly self-revealing about sensitive issues in his life.
This realization came to me after I had coffee this afternoon, as I do most Sundays, with an old friend, Jim.
I shared with Jim my regrets about the one hour I spent with my father, saying that now I wished I'd interrupted his General Electric manual-sharing with a statement like, "Look, we've only got a short time together. I wish we could talk about something personal."
Jim offered up some wisdom. "Almost certainly it wouldn't have made any difference if you'd said that. People such as your father don't change instantly. Likely he would have ignored your request to talk about personal stuff."
Jim was right.
I now regret having regrets about the one hour I spent with my father. Life turns out the way it does for good reasons. Naturally we all have fantasies about how our life would have been different, meaning, better, if only we'd done such and such instead of what we actually did
Those thoughts are natural. But they aren't realistic.
I wish I'd had a better relationship with my father, and that our one hour together had gone differently than it did. However, Jim helped me recognize that almost certainly the time I spent in his hotel room wouldn't have been a Hallmark Moment no matter what I said or did.
Regrets sometimes are justified. In this case, I've come to see that they aren't.
I find many things weird. Most of them reside within my own cranium. After all, that's really the only place weirdness resides -- in a human mind. Like, mine.
One of my weirdnesses is that even though I'm an avid blogger, for the past year I've largely avoided writing about the Central Fact of my life since May 2017.
Namely, my 68 year-old bladder deciding to call it quits during a visit to central Oregon, which led through a series of increasingly disturbing events to my current state of being an Old Man Who Has to Pee Via a Catheter.
I can sum up my situation in two words: not fun. At one point I could have done this with one word: depressing. Fortunately, I've moved on to not fun, though depending on my mood, at times I'd use stronger language, like fucking awful.
I'm not sure where I am on the Seven Stages of Grief.
I'm past Shock, mostly. Denial is tough to hold onto, since I've been doing my catheterization thing for a year. Anger is there, though not as much as it used to be. There's nobody to Bargain with, since three urologists have told me my damn bladder is never going to recover, and I don't believe in a supernatural being who could, say, accept my immortal soul in trade for a fully functioning bladder.
(Since I don't consider that I have an immortal soul, I'd be glad to surrender that nonexistent thing.)
I've gone past Depression with the aid of a Mirtazapine prescription and the passage of time. So that leaves Testing, since I'm nowhere near Acceptance of a condition that I find annoying, irritating, limiting, and distasteful.
Testing, says the image above, involves finding realistic solutions. That's a downer, because I'm much more attracted to unrealistic solutions, like staying high or drunk all of the time.
Given that I've meditated every day for the past fifty years or so, having started during my college Yoga phase in the late 1960's, I've been thinking that more mindfulness could be a step toward a realistic solution, as I wrote about on my other blog in "Mindfulness has become my meditation."
So I've been reading Jon Kabat-Zinn's big thick 600 page book about mindfulness-based stress reduction, "Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness."
One of the things I like about mindfulness approaches is that they don't have the sort of goal-oriented focus that meditation often has. Like, God-realization, a calm mind, emotional control, higher powers, that kind of stuff. Instead, Kabat-Zinn says that mindfulness is simply about remembering as best we can to be present in all our waking moments.
So if I'm sad about having to spend the rest of my life sticking a plastic tube up my uretha five times a day so I can artificially pee and avoid kidney damage, that's OK. I just need to be aware that I'm sad. And because emotions always are changing, at some point I will be less sad. Maybe even happy.
Until I'm sad again.
Which for me these days, doesn't take long. Unless I drink coffee. Then the sadness is temporarily ameliorated, though the urge to pee is hastened. So that's the problem with being high on caffeine all the time, which otherwise strikes me as a fine idea.
It's tough for me to travel long distances given my bladder problem. So I've only left Salem four times in the past year: twice to go to Portland for medical appointments, and twice to central Oregon to spend time at a house in Black Butte Ranch that we have a 1/4 share interest in.
Since mindfulness has roots in Buddhism, and I find Buddhism unduly serious compared to Taoism, I figure that part of my "realistic solution" should be grounded in Taoist philosophy. Here's a quote from the Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English translation of the Tao Te Ching that offers up a semi-spiritual rationale for staying close to home.
A small country has fewer people.
Though there are machines that can work ten to a hundred times faster than man, they are not needed.
The people take death seriously and do not travel far.
Though they have boats and carriages, no one uses them.
Though they have armor and weapons, no one displays them.
Men return to the knotting of rope in place of writing.
Their food is plain and good, their clothes fine but simple, their homes secure;
They are happy in their ways.
Though they live within sight of their neighbors,
And crowing cocks and barking dogs are heard across the way,
Yet they leave each other in peace while they grow old and die.
Sounds good. Aside from the knotting of rope in place of writing part. I'm going to stick with my MacBook Pro.
Thus now I've got mindfulness and Taoism as two legs of my Testing/seeking realistic solutions stool. It seems like another leg is needed for stability. I'm leaning toward humor, especially of the cynical, self-deprecating variety, to help prop me up while I'm staying mindfully close to home, leaving my neighbors in peace while I grow old and die.
David Sedaris is a good humor model for me to emulate. I read him early on in his writing career, then lost touch with him. Recently I saw Sedaris interviewed by Steven Colbert, and I liked his style. Got to admire a gay guy who wears shorts to an interview on network TV.
Having bought Sedaris' new book, Calypso, I'm feeling more inspired to take a stab at writing about the humorous side of using a catheter. That will wait for another blog post, since I've blabbed on enough in this post about my favorite subject, me.
I'll simply note that I admire David Sedaris' honesty and sometimes caustic humor. He is marvelously adept at writing about everyday life in ways that simultaneously make me want to laugh and cry. Calypso, I've read, is a bit darker than his other books, which is fine with me, since it matches my mood most days.
Here's a passage from the book that's appealing because my bladder problem has caused me to follow an ironclad rule: I never go anywhere where I can't escape -- for whatever damn reason my body or mind conjures up. Here Sedaris is talking about friends of his partner (maybe husband), Hugh.
His friend Jane saw some ugliness as well, and though I like both her and Sue and have known them for going on twenty years, they fall under the category of "Hugh's guests." This means that though I play my role, it is not my responsibility to entertain them.
Yes, I offer the occasional drink. I show up for meals but can otherwise come and go at my leisure, exiting, sometimes, as someone is in the middle of a sentence.
My father has done this all his life. You'll be talking to him and he'll walk away -- not angry but just sort of finished with you. I was probably six years old the first time I noticed this. You'd think I'd have found it hurtful, but instead I looked at his retreating back, thinking, We can get away with that? Really? Yippee!
The recent suicides of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade have gotten people talking about the problem of taking one's own life. That's good.
But I don't feel like we're talking about an important issue that is almost a taboo topic: the gray area between (1) the black badness of people killing themselves when there are better options available to them, and (2) the white goodness of people taking control of their death when they are suffering and only have a few months or less to live.
What I see as a gray in-between area is when a person considers that life doesn't seem worth living, but they aren't terminally ill, and there really isn't much or anything that can be done about the bleak situation they're in.
Is it OK to kill yourself in such a situation? I lean toward saying "Yes," but I'm not completely sure. Which is why I call it a gray area.
Now, I want to be clear that my use of the term gray area doesn't mean that someone is semi-suicidal, as in this person's description of how they feel most days. What I'm talking about is the middle ground of a societal agreement about when it is right or wrong to kill yourself.
As noted above, virtually everybody would agree that if a person is thinking of committing suicide when there are better options open to them (such as mental health treatment, or changing one's situation), every effort should be made to prevent them from taking their life.
And at the other end of the suicide spectrum, if medical professionals agree that someone is near death, and they're seriously suffering from their terminal condition, there's increasing agreement that assisted suicide, or medical aid in dying, is morally acceptable.
(Seven states currently allow this, including Oregon, where I live.)
That's the black and white of suicide. The difficult gray area is when a person has very good reasons to feel that they don't want to keep on living, and there's little or no chance of changing those reasons, and they aren't terminally ill.
On a personal note, fairly recently I had direct experience of what it is like to be so depressed, the idea of not being alive held considerable appeal for me. Fortunately, I got help with my depression and am feeling much better now. I wrote a blog post during my dark period, "Too depressed to do anything else, I'll write about my depression."
I mention this because it was a wake-up call for me, given that I've been a person who had a distinct fear of death, which to my atheist mind means being gone forever -- a disturbing sensation I described in "Death and the primal fear of non-existence."
So it was a decidedly unusual experience for me to be aware of my thoughts about death during my depressed period, which were along the lines of You know, being dead doesn't seem so scary anymore. In fact, it sounds pretty damn good.
Thus even though I wasn't really in the gray area that I'm talking about here, because my suicidal tendency was situational, curable with an anti-depressant, plus the support of loved ones and the passage of time, now I have a better understanding of how someone can feel like life isn't worth living, because the situation they're in is just so damn shitty.
And sometimes shitty situations can't be changed, as when someone has a chronic medical condition and it seriously affects their quality of life.
Like I said, I'm undecided about this gray area of suicide.
My leaning is toward society being more accepting of people taking their own life after careful and full consideration of the pros and cons of committing suicide, when there is little or nothing that can be done to change the situation that is causing them to contemplate choosing death over life.
Autonomy is a wonderful thing. Conversely, feeling trapped is a bad thing. I readily admit that even in my current non-depressed frame of mind, I feel comfort in the fact that if the quality of my life ever degrades to a really low point, there's the option of ending my life.
Writing those words just struck me as strange. I almost feel ashamed, or embarrassed, to have said what I just did. But it's how I feel. And I know that I'm not alone in feeling this way.
The strangeness of saying "there's the option of ending my life" seems to come from a taboo in our society against talking about the suicidal gray area I'm referring to.
We're accustomed to urging people contemplating suicide for bad reasons to seek help. Increasingly, we're accustomed to praising people who are terminally ill and choose to hasten their death to avoid needless suffering. But there's an awkward silence about those who have good reason to feel that life isn't worth living, and those reasons are difficult or impossible to change.
I don't know how to deal with this gray area. I just wish that as a society, we could talk about it more openly and honestly. This blog post is my small step in that direction.
I rarely channel the Universe, because I'm usually dubious that it has a message for me, or anyone else.
But the recent toxic algae water crisis here in Salem must have caused my cosmic connection to become more finely-tuned, since I'm picking up a communication for our city from the Universe that's coming in loud and clear.
When in doubt, let it out!
After all, the numero uno problem with how the folks at City Hall handled the cyanotoxin water tests was their mistaken decision to keep the initial positive test results to themselves, instead of immediately telling the public, We have a problem, and here's what it means.
In other words, when they had a chance to let the results out, their inclination was, No, let's not.
Now, the good news is that the Oregon Health Authority is poised to issue rules that require municipalities to both test for cyanotoxins and to notify the public of test results. So in one sense the crisis in Salem is over, and likely won't be repeated.
At least, not in the same way.
However, I see this as a learning opportunity not only for City officials, but for everybody in Salem. By and large (an important caveat), this town would be a more pleasant place to live if we all embraced the adage...
When in doubt, let it out!
OK, it's reasonable to ask, let what out? Well, here's a few examples that I'm letting out of my mind.
Sense of style
New business notions
Visions of the future
Regarding the latter, whenever I need to be reminded of the desirability of letting go and getting out of my own way, I head on over to You Tube and bask in the two-minute delight of Twitch and Alex dancing hip-hop on So You Think You Can Dance to a cleaned-up version of Outta Your Mind by Lil' Jon.
OK, I readily admit that it is difficult for me to envision the Mayor, city councilors, City Manager, Public Works Director, or other officials dancing away like this when they're contemplating how to respond to some issue in Salem.
I'm just sayin' that the energy, looseness, and vitality of Alex and Twitch is what we need more of in Salem, both outside and inside City Hall. Again...
When in doubt, let it out!
With the above-mentioned caveat. Nobody likes unfettered expression of hate speech. Nobody likes loud mouths who don't let others express themselves. Nobody likes boring unfiltered monologues. Sometimes it is necessary to keep what's inside ourselves shut tight within our craniums.
But most of the time, it'd be good to let it go more than we do.
Too often we're fearful. Of what might happen if other people knew how we really feel. Of how information we share might be used against us. Of being viewed as rabble-rousers, discontents, eccentrics, weirdos, unhinged, too far out there.
I'll end with an excerpt from former FBI director James Comey's book, "A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership." I read a few pages every day, stifling my inclination to skip right to the Good Parts about Trump.
Here's Comey talking about meetings of a 12-member FBI team charged with investigating the Clinton email server.
Some members moved in and out as a few senior executives retired, but the group remained a collection of very bright people with strong personalities, who frequently clashed with one another, as siblings might. I liked that.
One of the junior lawyers was given to exhaling in disgust at statements she didn't like and then interrupting aggressively, no matter who was speaking. This annoyed many of her colleagues. I loved it. I wanted her on the team because she didn't care about rank at all.
Her directness added value even when she was wrong. I wanted to hear her perspective and knew it would come without prompting, even if she interrupted a senior official to offer it. That interruption would stimulate great conversation.
So my caveat about loud mouths who don't let others express themselves has a caveat of its own. Sometimes this is OK, even desirable. Thought Comey himself clearly has flaws and weaknesses, I really liked what he said in that excerpt. He's a fan of...
When in doubt, let it out!