Month: April 2004 (Page 1 of 2)

Of Books And Wedding Dresses

Putting some assorted thoughts down while watching Keith Olbermann’s Countdown Wednesday night. The #5 story was about a backlash against the wildly popular novel The DaVinci Code. I don’t know much about the book, other than I may be the only person to fly American Airlines in the past year who hasn’t read it. Anyway, there are several “rebuttal” books coming out that argue against some of author Dan Brown’s plot developments, especially those regarding the life of Jesus. One rebuttal author appeared on the Countdown story. His assertion was people are getting “confused” by Brown’s use of history in a novel and unless they read non-fiction, historical accounts, they’ll continue to be confused about what really happened 2000 years ago. So let me get this straight: it’s a reasonable expectation that people who read a work of fiction and take it as fact can make an honest assessment of true historical documents? It’s a freaking novel! It’s made up! It’s a series of ideas that popped into somebody’s head and he wrote them down, even if he put them in a historical context. What’s wrong with people?

I’ve watched almost none of the NBA playoffs so far, which is an odd shift from where I was last November. Remember when I was contemplating a future in which I was a bigger NBA fan than anything else? For starters, few of the match-ups are intriguing. The Kings-Mavericks series lacks the sexiness of last year’s series between the two teams. Other series just aren’t good match-ups; especially in the East with sub .500 teams getting into the postseason this year. But most important, the NBA has ruined the playoffs. Seven game first round series are just ridiculously long. Worse, first round series which should be the least competitive of the playoffs, are stretched out over insane amounts of time. Had the Pacers not swept the Celtics, but rather gone the full seven games, the series would have been played over the course of 18 days. That’s just stupid. Perhaps this stupidity is some of the reason that I’m more into baseball than the NBA playoffs this year.

Living in Indiana, which isn’t exactly a battleground state when it comes to presidential politics, we don’t see many of the commercials my friends back in Missouri get to see. Occasionally, however, while watching a national program, I’m lucky enough to catch a Bush or Kerry commercial. I like politics, especially the horse race element of it, but I’ve never seen so many totally negative commercials so early in the campaign. John Kerry isn’t even officially the nominee yet, and the mud is flying anyway. What I do like is the little disclaimer at the beginning, “Hi, I’m Joe Blow and I approved this message.” Two weeks later you read that the commercial is full of lies, half truths, and makes assertions about one candidate that could easily be made about the person paying for the commercial. Makes them look really smart if they “approved” the message, wink wink.

We do have a governor’s race this year in Indiana, though. I’m pleased to see one of the three major candidates thinks the two most important issues the next governor of Indiana needs to worry about are gay marriage and abortion. That is if his commercials are to be believed. All the ills of Hoosier taxpayers would be solved if we could just keep the gays from getting married and women from having abortions. It’d be a veritable utopia here in Indiana if we could resolve those two issues. I’m incredibly proud not only to live in a state with so few problems, but with a candidate who understands them and is willing to tackle them head-on.

I fear I’ve done you all a great disservice this TV season. I’ve talked about a few shows that I watch, but I don’t believe I’ve spent any time talking about my favorite show. No, not Seinfeld reruns. Scrubs. It’s freaking brilliant. There’s never an episode that I don’t laugh myself silly over. It’s exactly the kind of intelligent yet stupid humor (if such a thing exists) that scratches me right where I itch. If you don’t watch, write yourself a note to start watching next fall. Nothing else remotely good will be left on NBC, so it should be easy to catch in between Divorcee Fear Factor and The Janitor.

I forgot to mention the other highlight of our weekend past. We went to dinner at the home of one of S’s coworkers who just happens to be 36 weeks pregnant. There was also a couple present who brought their six week old son with them. You guessed it, dinner discussion was 90 minutes of theories on birthing techniques, when to feed, do you let you baby cry or not, and on and on. And I was into it; I thought it was a great discussion. It wasn’t until later that I realized four years ago, when every Saturday night meant going to the Peanut, if you told me this was what my life would one day become I would tell you that you were a total idiot. Those cats at Johnson and Johnson have it right: having a baby changes everything.

As you all know, I moved away from Kansas City last June. I immediately filed the appropriate paperwork with my employer to stop the withholding of the KCMO earnings tax. Wednesday, I received a bill from the fine city of Kansas City, MO requesting immediate payment on approximately $550 of back taxes, penalty fees, and interest. So immediately I was pissed, despite the fact I know I owe nothing. I read the document further, looking for the process for letting them know they’re wrong. I found the official dispute policy which makes great pains to point out that the balance is due no matter what. There is no phone number to call, only a mailing address and fax number. I spread the word with a couple coworkers, one of whom went through the same thing when he worked in Overland Park a couple years back. He chose not to pay the fee while he protested, which resulted in a warrant for his arrest. He went ahead and paid the $200 he owed to get the warrant removed, only to have the city return the money a few months later when they found his story to be believable. Anyone else gone through this mess? I think it’s safe to say there will be no checks written to the city of Kansas City from this house, regardless. I’ll also make great pains to ensure I’m not pulled over by any traffic police while the balance is still pending. Idiots.

Larry Star, eBay legend. He’s on Countdown right now. A genius for the common man! I salute you! The famous wedding dress went for $3850.00 tonight. Some of the high bids were apparently joke bids that had to be weeded out before the auction could be closed. Still, he cleared about $2500 more than the dress originally cost and has dreams of a new motorcycle that he can ride to Mariners games. I’m sure the Ex will be claiming her share of the bounty soon.

 

April Rules

The perfect adult weekend: ideal weather (sunny, highs in the low 80s, just a hint of humidity but not enough to make it truly sticky), an entire day in the yard, another day spent out on the back deck listening to baseball, and the wife has been in Florida the whole time. Wait, that last part isn’t ideal, don’t quote that line ever. But pretty much everything else about the weekend was perfect. I’ve got a few more hours before I head to the airport to pick S. up, so I’m holed up in our sun room (although it’s truly lovely outside, it’s extremely windy and each new gust loosens another wave of dead limbs and leaves towards me; I need the protection) with the Old School Rap Music Choice channel cranked, enjoying the last couple hours of sun. It’s about a month early, but it would really be great if they slipped DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince’s “Summertime” into the mix.
I’ve slept with the windows open the last four nights, the ceiling fans have been running the past two days, and I nearly turned the air conditioning on today (it was 85). The trees are starting to bud, so we’re seeing less and less of our neighbors behind us. The squirrels and birds are going nuts. A few more weeks and the night air will be full of the masses of cicadas predicted for this year, and other night time performers. But for now, the nights are warm, breezy, and silent.

While I was cleaning up after my yard work yesterday, blowing leaves and clippings back into our tree grove, I decided to aim the leaf blower under the deck to give our friend Mr. Opossum a welcome to spring. Forgetting the fact he/she may well have moved on by now, I didn’t take a second to think, it’s an opossum! It’s not going to come running out because I aim some high powered air in its general direction. It’s going to curl up and act dead until I leave it alone. I need to remember the facts I picked up while reading my National Geographic animal cards when I was a kid.

The Royals are quickly transforming from exciting to depressing. Can anyone on this team hold a lead? This is getting to be reminiscent of the 1999 team, except that team was supposed to be awful so 11-10 losses seemed like hope for the future instead of a failure of the carefully assembled talent. Proving it’s something to do with me, I listened to my first Indianapolis Indians’ game today. Each Indians lead was met with an immediate Richmond Braves answer. Finally, the Braves won in 10 innings (I think, I turned it off by then). Luckily, there were two other baseball stories this weekend. First, the first Yankees – Red Sox series. I can pretty much echo my comments from the UNC-Duke game in March: we know it’s a great rivalry, do you really have to hype it so much? In the grand scheme of things, this series was totally meaningless. If Boston had won Sunday and gotten the series sweep, it would have absolutely no bearing on a possible playoff series between the two teams later this year. That’s what’s great about baseball: in a 162 game season, while rivalries are important for fans, they don’t make or break a team’s season. Settle down, people, we’ve still got 150 or so games to go before they really matter to franchises like Boston and New York. Second, Barry Bonds’ revival over the weekend. The whole steroids in baseball thing is hard for me to work with. On the one hand, performance enhancing drugs should be strictly policed and banned. But as the old saying states, the hardest thing to do in sports is hit a baseball. I find it hard to believe Barry hasn’t used something less than savory to improve his performance (I think the same about Mark McGuire). Whether it was true steroids or not, I won’t hazard a guess. However, any “supplements” either player used may have turned 425 foot home runs into 450 foot shots, but neither guy hit a lot of cheapies. And they still had to hit the ball. For all his surliness, inappropriate actions, and outright hostility to fans and the media, Barry is arguably the greatest player ever. It’s been a joy to watch him perform over the course of his career. He’s really the one baseball player that commands your attention at each at bat. I hope he stays healthy and can give the Hank Aaron record a run.

All that said, Yankees suck!

I did watch a pretty good chunk of the Fox broadcast of Friday’s Sox-Yanks game. One of my favorite things about Tim McCarver is how he is always trying to prove how smart he is. He has a unique method of pronouncing the names of foreign born players to attempt to show his worldly knowledge. What I love about it is how he almost always does it wrong, pronouncing them as a New Yorker would rather than how a fluent speaker of Spanish (most often) would pronounce them.. Example: Friday he kept referring to Enrique Wilson of the Yankees as “on-REE-kay”. As anyone who’s ever taken Spanish knows, the letter E is always pronounced the equivalent of a short E in English, “eh”. So it should be “ehn-REE-kay”. Give him credit for being consistent, though. Joe Buck always came back quickly with the correct pronunciation, which was a nice victory for those of us concerned with such things.

Some of you might wonder what I think about Roy Williams’ comments in Sunday’s KC Star referring to KU fans assuming he was some how behind David Padgett’s decision to transfer. Listen, I don’t think he was directly responsible in any way. I think it’s fairly obvious that David’s father has a different idea for how his son should play than Bill Self does. No biggie, that happens all the time in college sports. David did plan on coming to KU and playing for Roy, so it’s understandable that there may be some lingering issues from last year’s mess. But once again, Roy is proving he has either an extremely limited or selective memory. A year ago at this time, he was shocked when someone asked him about his promise to not have another press conference about his coaching status until he retired, despite making that statement on a night 20,000 of us went to Memorial Stadium to listen to him say exactly that. Now, he’s somehow incredulous that anyone would find it likely that David Padgett might end up and North Carolina. Apparently Roy has forgotten how he teared up just about a year ago and talked about how hard it was for him not to be able to coach Padgett and Omar Wilkes. Perhaps he has forgotten how he, for the first time ever, came out strongly in favor of letting recruits out of the letters of intent when there is a coaching change. It was well into last summer when he finally acknowledged his “press conference” comments. Maybe he’ll finally remember him referring to Padgett being “stuck out there” (Yet never once mentioning the names Wayne Simien, Keith Langford, or Aaron Miles) in a couple months and understand why some people are still pissed and him and North Carolina for ruining what should have been a great ten days for the players on the 2003 KU team. The only good thing about the end of the basketball season was the first year was over. There will always be comparisons between Roy, Bill, and Bruce Snyder by fans of North Carolina, Kansas, and Illinois. But once the first season is over, people can settle down and not fixate on those comparisons. Roy, perhaps in an attempt to make sure he’s not forgotten in Lawrence, is doing his best to not let us move on.

I was out driving around Saturday and passed the local high school sports complex. I noticed the parking lot was full of cars and busses, so assumed there was a track meet or something going on. On my way back later, I saw it was actually a tennis tournament that was going on. Does it make me a dirty old man to have noticed, while passing roughly 1000 feet away at 55 miles per hour, that high school girls are wearing shockingly revealing clothes on the tennis courts? I swear I saw a couple navel rings even from that distance.

When I was a kid, I thought dandelions were kind of cool. Now, they’re public enemy #1 in this household.

Why was it news that Emeka Okafor was declaring for the NBA draft? Didn’t UConn already retire his jersey? Wasn’t that kind of a hint that he wouldn’t be back next year? It’s bad enough that Duke has taken to retiring jerseys on worthy senior’s final home game. UConn did it for a kid with a year of eligibility left! Not that he wasn’t deserving or that he doesn’t carry himself on and off the court in a manner other players should aspire to, but what if UConn got upset early in the tournament? Is his career tainted? Until UConn beat Georgia Tech, he was just another very good player who happened to play on the east coast, and thus be considered an all-time great prematurely. Would UConn have looked silly for hanging his jersey so soon? What if he decided to come back for his senior year? Would they quietly have removed his jersey from the rafters for another year?

I’m in the middle of a baseball reading project. I just finished Daniel Okrent’s Nine Innings, which is supposed to be an explanation of the anatomy of baseball as told through the nine innings of a real game. In addition to relaying the on-the-field happenings and strategies of a game between Baltimore and Milwaukee in 1982, it also explains the then relatively new concept of free agency, minor league systems, ownership groups, managerial concepts, and on an on. I bought the book in 1986, but don’t think I ever read it all the way through. I found two rather interesting bookmarks. One was the wearing schedule for my first pair of contact lenses. It appears as though I picked them up on July 21, 1986, so I believe that confirms details of a certain letter also written that summer that was exposed publicly last year. Seeing the card certainly brought back memories of trying to get my finger into my eye to put in/remove my lenses. It took about 150 tries each time I put them in, took them out. Second, I found a McDonald’s Dick Tracy scratch off game from 1990. Looks like they still owe me a cheeseburger. I started Michael Lewis’ Moneyball today, which is part two of my reading project.

While we’re talking about projects, I have a very special one lined up for later this week that I hope you all will enjoy. Not letting it out of the bag yet, in case I don’t get around to it when I plan. But it should be something of interest to all.

 

Purchase

I bought my first outfit for my daughter last night. I got her a Safari themed bodysuit from Baby Gap. Lions, crocs, elephants, monkeys. How will she not be happy wearing this?

In a nursery update, we made the final major additions to her room this week. We had a chair rail put around the top of the wall to serve as a border for the animal alphabet cards we got. The rocker arrived last week. The crib has been assembled for two weeks. We’re just waiting on the changing table to arrive and we’re pretty much done.

Happy Monday

There’s nothing like logging in on a Monday morning and finding out someone has been trying to get you to take their place, without your knowledge, at a meeting that would require you to book and get on a place Monday night. Sometimes people are just far too generous.

As if ripped from the comments box, we had the proverbial big weekend. Three trips to Lowe’s! That brings us to a total of seven trips in the past seven days. We pulled more weeds, and then mulched most of the afternoon both Saturday and Sunday. We stained a chair rail we’re going to use as a border in the baby’s room yesterday as well. For what it’s worth, always go with the water-based stains whenever possible. In addition to not killing your pregnant wife, I like the way they basically peel off of your skin in easy strips when cleaning up. The stain peels off, not your skin. And today we’ve got a handyman in the house, putting the chair rail up, doing electrical work, and some other odds and ends that involve climbing the roof that I refuse to do. Ain’t home ownership grand?

It looks like we’ve officially reached the awkward, difficult stages of pregnancy. S. has felt uncomfortable more and more over the past week. Some moments, she has trouble catching her breath because there are tiny feet in her lungs. Others she just moves slower than she did two weeks ago. We were watching ER last week and I noticed she was straining forward a little. She slipped her toes under the edge of the coffee table and pulled her body up so she could stand. She got a pathetic look on her face and I just laughed. Another moment where I’m glad I’m not the one carrying the kid.

We watched Lost in Translation last night. I thought it was great, S. wasn’t so sure about it. It is complex, doesn’t rely on standard story formulas, and focuses on experience rather than dialog or plot development at some times. I enjoyed the portrayal of the feeling of isolation all travelers have that is enhanced by being in a cultural setting where you are utterly foreign. Maybe it’s just the phenomenal soundtrack that made it all come together for me. Bill Murray’s karaoke version of “(What’s So Funny ’bout) Peace Love and Understanding” was classic Murray on the mic. His rendition of Roxy Music’s “More Than This” was arguably the finest moment of the movie, for me, since he sang it honestly, and you see his connection to Scarlett Johansson come to maturity. If I hadn’t already really enjoyed it, the second the first chord of “Just Like Honey” kicked in over the final scene, I decided it was a great movie. In fact, that song has been going through my head since the DVD ended last night. If I can ever get off these conference calls, I plan on cranking it up and playing it about 23 times to get it out of my head.

If you told me a month ago that the Royals would call up David DeJesus in April, I would have told you I think trade offers for Carlos Beltran will be entertained sooner rather than later. It’s too early to panic, but if the pitching staff doesn’t right itself and find a way to avoid the injury plague soon, the season could be lost. Seriously, how many pitchers on one staff can get seriously hurt in 12 months? Throw in Paul Byrd, who got injured as soon as he left the Royals, and there’s not exactly a track record of ideal health over there.

 

 

Pregnant Conversations – American Idol

Scene: Interior, couple sitting on couch drinking coffee in the morning.

Wife: How did you sleep?
Husband: Pretty good, you?
Wife: Good, Little Girlfriend had to wake up early and play, though.
Husband (Leaning over and speaking to wife’s stomach): Your daddy doesn’t like to wake up in the morning. We can work on that once you’re born, ok?

This kid is moving around like crazy. Last night, I noticed S’s shirt jumping. I put my hand on her stomach and felt something move from one side of my hand to the other, a foot or a hand, with some serious determination. I could push gently in that area and feel body parts shifting. A couple weeks ago, the movement was cool: it was little jumps and bumps. Now, it’s kind of like walking in murky water: you feel movement that is intelligent rather than random. You know there’s something down there moving around, but you can’t see when or where the next movement is going to be. Last night was the first time I got freaked out a little by it. S. has felt her flip several times a day. She’s freaked out thinking, “I have 15 more weeks of this, with a bigger kid each day and less room? How am I going to breathe?”

I’ve always been quite proud of the fact for the most part I’ve avoided the reality TV craze. I’ve never watched an episode of Survivor. I didn’t watch the Apprentice. And until this year, I hadn’t watched American Idol beyond the initial episodes when all the random schmoes were on. This year, for whatever reason, like the rest of America, we’ve fallen in love with the competition! (How’s that for a Ryan Seacrest line?) Anyway, last night was a clear example of why I’ve not watched the show in the past. The three women who were by far the best singers; I mean it’s not even close; were the three lowest vote getters. I had no doubts they would be the final three competitors, and all were worthy of getting record contracts. Yet the idiots who called in deemed them least worthy to continue. Seriously, that red headed kid should have been booted a month ago, what’s wrong with this country? He’s a nice kid, and once he grows up, gets his heart broken a couple times, and understands the meaning of the songs he’s singing, he might be a fine lounge singer somewhere. But for now, he’s thoroughly awful each week. We can’t even look at the TV when he’s singing. The 16 year old girl who just screams (Diana?) wouldn’t win a bad high school talent contest, yet she’s still in it. If La Toya London had somehow got the boot last night, I would suggest everyone take their asses to church today because the end is near.

Then again, if I’m eating at Jack’s Stack and watching American Idol, that alone might be enough evidence that the end is near.

Yes, La Toya is my pick. Ever since I heard her sing Rufus and Chaka Khan’s “Ain’t Nobody” – one of the great R&B songs ever – and sing it well, I’ve been in love with her.

 

Baseball, Birds, And Barbecue

If you’re not listening to the Royals-White Sox game today, you should be. Ryan Lefebvre is really on a roll.

I’m shocked, SHOCKED, that the Royals lead the American League in home runs.

I was perusing the roster of Your Indianapolis Indians and saw that former Royal Dan Reichert is on the staff. It’ll be fun to see one of the Arms of the Future of the Royals from a few years back toiling in AAA.

There a cardinal couple nesting in the trees just outside my office window. I’ve seen the male popping in and out of the branches for several days. When I went out to get the mail today, I heard a rustling but couldn’t see him. Finally, I saw the female’s bright beak peaking out at me. The miracle of life right outside my office! They seem to know when I’m on a conference call (my window is open today) because they chatter a lot then. It’s refreshing to see even birds want to help make my clients happier!

Another solid story from my trip last weekend I forgot to share. I settled into my seat on my flight from Chicago to Indy Sunday (middle seat, thanks to being in herding, errrr, boarding group C on Southwest) and heard an older gentleman behind me chatting up a younger lady. I heard the girl say she was a student at IU and had been in Kansas City visiting friends over the weekend. Turns out the older man was on his way to meet some buddies for a fishing trip somewhere. At some point, the subject of barbecue came up. “That’s the one thing I don’t like about Indiana,” the girl said, “there aren’t any good barbecue restaurants.” Wow, I like what I’m hearing! For the next few minutes I only heard bits and pieces of the conversation, but it sounded like this girl was a serious fan of smoked meats. I mentally made a note to offer to pay for her tuition next semester, as I could tell she was a fine individual. Sadly, I heard she has a friend whose father works for my company, so I chose not to make contact with her after the flight.

 

The Heartbreak Of…

Heartburn. Or reflux I guess. I’ve got something going on with my stomach that I don’t like. For about a month, shortly after I eat, I’ve been getting these waves of mild nausea. The kind where you think you’re going to throw up in, say, five minutes, but you never get all the way there. I hadn’t had any real feelings of indigestion or heartburn with it until today. I’m pushing four hours of suffering today and the good doctor has the cheery opinion it could be reflux or an ulcer. Great. Looks like I’ll be on the Pepcid for awhile.

Or maybe it’s just the way the Royals are playing today. I ordered MLB Audio and can now listen to every home and away broadcast of each MLB game this summer. The Royals promptly stunk it up big time today. That means I can listen to Ryan and Denny bore me on a daily basis as long as the Royals are still in the pennant chase. Should they drop out of the running, I can start listening to the Red Sox and practice my Boston accent. The wisest $15 I’ve ever spent, I believe.

Since we’re on the subject of spending money, there is now a bookcase, nightstand, and mattress in the Little Girlfriend’s room. Tonight, stomach cooperation pending, the crib will be put together. The changing table and rocker are on order. While I was out of town last week, the Girlfriend’s room was painted. It’s scary how fast this is happening.

While waiting to go out Saturday night, we watched part of the rebroadcast of the first episode of the Bachelor. I was pleased to see a woman named DeShaun on the program, meaning the name is back on the list! If anyone runs across a female LaDanian, let me know ASAP!

That kid can kick, too. I had my hand on S’s stomach Sunday night and she gave me a big wallop. I pushed a little bit back and felt something solid. It freaked me out, because whatever it was, a head, an ass, a leg, pushed back a little, then disappeared. There’s really something alive in there!

I was a horrible, horrible blogger over the weekend. I had my little notebook in my pocket all day Saturday, but never took a moment to write down any details of the O’Bash. Despite the weather, which really wasn’t as bad as it looked, it was a fine day. As long as the wind stayed out of our faces, it really wasn’t that chilly. It helped that I brought a fairly heavy jacket, gloves, and stocking cap. I have a feeling an unlined jacket and no hat wouldn’t have kept me nearly as snug. As John pointed out, the rain made this year unique and memorable. The last 3-4 years kind of run together because the weather has generally been excellent. It’s the ’97s, ’99s, and now ’04s that stick out because it was an accomplishment to survive the weather.

There was an extra Juntos Podemos t-shirt floating around Saturday, which managed to land in my hands so I could pass it along to S. I’m going to ask my sister-in-law with the Spanish degree how to say Together We Did It in Spanish, and print up shirts that say that. I think Tony Pena would approve, based on his harassment of the Nesbitt newlyweds in Arizona.

The Indianapolis airport may not be a lot of things (impressive, modern, big, clean) but I will say this: they play some outstanding music there. A couple weeks back I heard Johnny Marr’s “Down on the Corner” which is an excellent song. Sunday, I heard Doves “There Goes the Fear”. A better music selection than your average radio station. All at your friendly local airport.

I had a couple other interesting observations, at least to me, Sunday at the Indy airport. First, the entire University of Minnesota baseball team managed to bring all foot traffic to a halt in one area of the airport as they checked in for their flight home. Imagine 30 or so guys, the support staff, coaches, and all their baggage scattered in the check in lines. Later, I heard some woman just screaming at a family member on the phone because whoever was supposed to pick her up hadn’t arrived. I know all about being frustrated after traveling and then having to wait on your ride. But do you really have to scream at people on the phone so the whole world can hear? Finally, I saw a guy make about three passes through the pick-up area, driving slowly, looking for someone. I only noticed him because he had some little rat dog in his lap, peeking out the window. I’ve never understood the whole driving with a dog in your lap thing. But I noticed he had to reach through and around the dog to turn the steering wheel. I bet this guy complains about people who drive and talk on their cell phones at the same time. Finally, his wife/lover/whatever shows up. He parks, gets out, and holds up the dog. This 40-something woman starts squealing like a nine year old. Come on, show some dignity. It was one of those little dogs that shivers a lot, never really looks healthy or happy. I’m sure it brings great joy to her life but please, save it for when the door is shut and I don’t have to listen.

 

Even More Pregnant Conversations

I’m in the process of uploading my pictures from the weekend in KC. I’ll share them here later today. To tide you over, a conversation overheard last night between a pregnant couple. (Not your typical prego couple conversation, but worth sharing anyway.)

(Scene: Interior, pregnant couple sits on a couch watching the Nick & Jessica Variety Show.)

Wife: Really, what’s the point? All anyone can do is stare at her boobs.
Husband, after a long pause: Did you say something?

More Conversations Of A Pregnant Couple

(Scene: Interior, wife is getting dressed for work, holding top under her chin so she can look at her 23 week stomach in the mirror. Husband enters room, laughs.)

Wife: Shit!
Husband: What?
Wife: Look how big it’s getting! (Husband places hand on stomach.) It’s like a basketball.
Husband: Can we paint lines on it?

Catching Up, Part Two

More catching up thoughts, including the occasional comment added during Monday’s game.

Portland is by far my favorite place to visit for work. It’s a tremendous city, full of gorgeous views, brewpubs, a college town vibe, clients I actually enjoy visiting, and most importantly, a group of people I know from previous lives that I can visit with. Unlike most other business trips, I don’t retreat to my hotel room each night with the sum of my excitement being checking e-mail and hoping something interesting is on HBO. On this trip, I met one friend from high school/college who I had only seen once in nine or ten years for a drink. Met another fellow KU fan who I had only known from his posts on a private e-mail list over the past five years for a beer another night. Had drinks with another college friend and his partner (who have obtained a marriage license and are planning to thumb their noses at some prominent politicians with a wedding in May) another night. And finally, had dinner with good friends who are my traditional PDX hosts both nights I was in town. When you actually have something to do, and good people to visit with while you’re on the road, it makes the hours you spend preparing for and sitting in meetings with clients completely tolerable.

Why does Jim Nantz seem surprised by the most mundane of plays?

Another great benefit of traveling to Portland is my client who is a huge outdoor enthusiast. He gives me an opportunity to meet with the people I need to meet with, and then we retire to the safety of the Willamette River for a two hour kayak trip. The weather was absolutely gorgeous on Thursday: sunny, slight breeze, temperature somewhere in the low 70s. We paddled out to some islands in the river and beached on one for awhile so we could hike into it a little. We climbed a small outcropping of rocks, pulled our selves up to the high point, and could look down on the channel we had just paddled through, then up into hills that were covered with a thousand shades of green: trees, shrubs, mosses, lichens, pretty much anything that can grow was present in layers up the sides of the hills. A coworker who was along for the visit pointed out that the scene looked like something out of a Hollywood fairy tale. On our trip back to the dock, we went through a long area full of breeding geese. It was eerie to see little pairs of geese eyes staring at you from the brush every 100 yards or so, like some feathered version of deliverance. Invariably, when you saw the first head, there would be a mate nearby. We saw a couple territorial battles, with large males honking and chasing each other about on the water and in the air. We saw females who were clearly nesting, a nervous male pacing nearby. It was a sweet reminder that geese aren’t just the obnoxious birds that like to congregate around the church on my regular running route and load up the sidewalks with guano.

If I’m a coach and I have a 7′ oaf, I force them to watch video of Luke Schenscher. The kid knows exactly how to play within his abilities in a way that helps the team. KU fans say David Padgett needs to put 30 pounds on over the summer. I’d settle for 15 and picking up some of Schenscher’s game.

A great unknown band from the early 90s was Manhattan’s Truck Stop Love. Two members of TSL went on to form Ultimate Fakebox, which had a small measure of national success in the late 90s. I listened to TSL’s debut EP on one of my flights last week. I had forgotten how great the songs were; terrific combinations of southern rock, garage execution, and pop sensibilities. It’s a shame they didn’t get more love in the great Lawrence-KC music harvest of the early 90s.

Warning to loyal readers: the Rwanda genocide anniversary is having a strong effect on me. I watched most of the PBS documentary Ghosts of Rwanda last week and started a book by the BBC journalist who covered the genocide last night. I’ll have a lengthy discussion of that topic next week.

Is it just me, or was that the most boring NCAA title game ever? I honestly don’t recall one that was over that early. (Thanks to Google, it looks like Duke’s 20 point win over Michigan in 1992 was the last game to rival this year’s.) That’s what’s so amazing about the NCAA tournament. It doesn’t matter what the match-up is in the finals, it always turns into a thrilling game. Well, almost always. And yes, I puked in my beer when I saw Georgia Tech start shooting free throws like they were a bunch of Chris Dudleys. Why couldn’t they have done that a week ago? It was fun to hear Billy Packer wetting himself over how good the ACC should be next year. Nothing like a blow out to remove what little filter he has over his personal feelings.

Thursday baby update: while the Little Girlfriend was in the middle of her normal evening playtime, we were thoroughly entertained/freaked out by being able to see S’s stomach jump and twitch with the movements. Still too soon to see any elbows or feet sticking out, but there was some serious movement going on. S. stared at her stomach in a manner that reminded me of Alien. I thought it was about the coolest thing ever.

From the limited poll response, it seems like “One Shining Moment” for a variety of reasons, is less popular than it used to be. I need to pull out my tape from 1988, but I swear there are more interviews, commercials, etc. now between the final buzzer and the montage than there used to be. Maybe that’s what makes it so hard to watch; you have to wait through 45 minutes of filler to get there. Unless we get 45 minutes of Bonnie Bernstein, that’s tough to sit through.

 

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