ↁ's Notebook

The Latest from ↁ's Notebook

A Night About Nothing

This is so great in so many ways.

The Brooklyn Cyclones minor league baseball team will be hosting a Seinfeld night on July 5, the 25th anniversary of the “Seinfeld Chronicles,” the original name for “Seinfeld.” They’ve put some thought into this. Activities will include:

  • MCU Park will known as Vandelay Industries Park for one night only.
  • Mailmen in uniform get to throw out a ceremonial first pitch (“Hello Newman!”)
  • Anyone who has a business card indicating that they are in fact a “Latex Salesman” will also receive a free ticket to the game. If we call the number and it’s some apartment on the Upper East Side, you won’t qualify for the freebie.
  • Fans can visit the information table for an “airing of grievances.”
  • Closest to the pin / whale’s blow hole competition (“Is that a Titleist?”)
  • The foul poles will be known as Festivus Poles.
  • “Low-Talking” PA Announcer.
  • Elaine Dancing Contest
  • Players in puffy shirts for batting practice.

That is some good stuff. I can’t see anyone doing something like this for a current show 25 years from now.

Brave New Worlds

Three large pieces of news. Well, maybe not to everyone. But enough to justify a new post.


First, Cait, after nearly a year of being close, decided she was ready to ride a bike without training wheels over the weekend. Twice last summer she was on the verge of staying on two wheels full-time, but each time she went back to her bike with training wheels.

She’s complained for some time about her training wheel bike. She hates the loud clatterings of the training wheels. Saturday she decided enough was enough. Suzanne helped her cruise around for about five minutes and then turned her loose. She zipped along with no problem and never stopped over our gorgeous weekend.

She does struggle with stopping. Like many kids, she doesn’t quite grasp the concept of the coaster brake. Being Cait, she doesn’t even really try to slow down. She just puts her foot down and then leaps off before the bike crashes. I have a feeling this will be a problem at some point.

But the good news is she’s made a big leap in the transition from little girl to big girl. It’s fun to watch her and Meghan zipping around together.

Lia got to move up to Cait’s old bike, which made her happy. But I think she really wants to try going on two wheels too. I’m not quite ready to do that yet.


Next, Meghan began her kickball career last week. Her team played their sister team from St. P’s and got pounded. It’s damn near impossible to follow the score if you don’t have access to the scorebook, but the score was in the range of 45-20. Not the best start for her team, although I learned afterward that they were missing four or five girls who were either sick or had other activities that evening, and another girl had to leave early. Hopefully attendance will be better going forward.

Meghan had a solid day. She went to the plate four times and reached safely three times. She scored a run. She got forced at third once. And then she was standing on second when the final out of the game was recorded.

In the field she mostly chased the ball and then quickly threw it back to the infield. But she was paying attention the entire time, which was the important thing.

Game number two was scheduled for Monday night but postponed due to some Lenten church activities 1 and the rain and cold that was moving in.

Expect a post detailing all the highlights of a typical CYO kickball game in the near future.


Finally, not nearly as important in the grand scheme of things, but significant nonetheless, we’ve cut the cable cord. Kind of.

After hemming and hawing for over a year, we decided to slash our cable stream down to just the local channels in high definition. This seemed like the time to do it as A) summer entertainment expenses are coming up, B) college basketball is over and the need for multiple ESPN outlets is gone, C) our TV time will dwindle anyway as the weather gets warmer, and D) most of my TV time will revolve around MLB.TV, which streams through our Apple TV.

I’m sure others have made a similar investigation, but the cable companies and content providers, especially ESPN, really have customers over the barrel when you attempt to trim your costs. To go from the plan we were on down to the next lower plan, which still had lots of non-local content but cost us the ESPN and Kids tiers, would only save us about $15 a month. From there you have to go down to local channels only if you want to cut costs.

I figure we can do this until late November/early December and then reevaluate. Every Colts game will be on local TV. I can manage just watching whatever college football games the broadcast networks air. And there’s always the Watch ESPN app on the Apple TV, which I’m hoping will allow me to watch the World Cup and then the occasional ESPN game I’m missing. The girls still have plenty of choices on Netflix and the various Disney apps on Apple TV.

And even with boosting our broadband speed to allow for better streaming, we’ll be saving about $50 a month.

In general I’m a fan of the tiered cable service, as that allows for a lot of niche programming, especially networks aimed at kids, to get support that they would lack if cable was a la carte. As our girls get older, though, and we’re less in need of programming aimed at toddlers and preschoolers, I’m growing more fond of paying for only what you absolutely need.


  1. Games are played in the school parking lot, which also serves as the church parking lot. 

Zander

The name Zander Hollander may not mean much to the majority of my readers. But for some of us, mostly men who grew up in the late 70s and early 80s loving sports, he played a huge role in our formative years as sports fans.

Mr. Hollander, who was the creative force behind the Complete Handbook series, died last week at the age of 91.

caption

One of the few splurge purchases I was allowed to make when I was young, and my parents were short on cash, was the occasional book from the Scholastic book flyers that came home from school. Whenever one of Hollander’s new guides to the NFL, NBA, or MLB appeared, I pounced on it. Once it arrived, I quickly turned to the section on my favorite team and devoured all the profiles and stats. Then I flipped around and read the details on my favorite players who weren’t on my team of choice. Then I’d read through the reviews of the previous season and previews of the coming season. Eventually, I made it through the whole thing, although never from front-to-back.

As this terrific profile from last summer states, Hollander’s books were the best source for information-hungry sports fans in the pre-Internet era. They were jam-packed with statistics, schedules, and essays to keep you busy for months, but small enough to throw into your book bag or take along wherever you went.

I think I’ll go dig through the boxes in the attic and see if, by chance, any of my old Complete Handbooks have survived 30-plus years of moves and purges.

For Sports Fans, Before the Internet, There Were the Complete Handbooks

The Walkman

Another quick one before the weekend begins.

A couple sites have linked to this modern, design-based review of the Sony Walkman. It focuses on form rather than function, but is still interesting to read/look at.

Like the iPod, the Walkman isn’t truly the first of its kind. There was a cassette player before it called the Stereobelt. It was big, ugly, expensive and only lived on as a patent. What the Walkman did was make the idea of a portable cassette player into a marketable, attractive consumer product. That’s the genius of Sony.

Sony Walkman TPS-L2

It’s fun to look back and see how dramatically personal music consumption has changed within our generation’s lives. Through most of our first decade, the only way to listen to music, on your own, around town, was to carry a small transistor radio and listen via a single ear bud. No stereo sound sound for you! And you were limited to whatever stations were within reach of your radio’s antenna.

Then the Walkman came along and offered you freedom. You could throw a cassette in and listen to the songs of your choosing, skipping the ones you didn’t like or listening to your favorites over-and-over. Throw another cassette in your pocket, or a handful into your briefcase/purse/backpack, and you were set for the day.

During the Walkman era, any traveling I did meant I had my knockoff Walkman and headphones in my bag, and a small carrier that held 12 cassettes in their cases. That made those long car trips across Kansas and Missouri, or the occasional flight to California and back, more tolerable.

And then the iPod changed things exponentially. Today you can cart along pretty much every song you own, each instantly accessible, and carry the device into your front pocket. An iPod Nano will even tuck into the coin pocket in your jeans. Or you can stream every song you could ever want to hear, on demand, straight to your phone.

Pretty amazing. And makes you wonder what could possibly be the next step.

Friday Vid

“Sahara” - Bear’s Den
A bummer of a video for a beauty of a song.