Month: June 2004 (Page 1 of 2)

‘Tis The Season

‘Tis the season for life changes. This time last year, we had just moved, gone through our first wedding, preparing for the second, S. had finished one job and was preparing for another, I was learning how to work from home. This year, we’re getting down to the last few weeks of being prospective parents before we become real parents, I’m going through some changes in my job, we’re finishing the year-long “fill the house before the kids get here” project, we’re researching camcorders, and biggest of all, we’re about to switch from a PC to a Mac. Life is full of surprises! Along with this wave of activity has come some strange writer’s block. I can’t seem to find anything that charges up my creative juices this week. On my run last night, I thought about a few things that seemed blog-worthy, but by the time I got home, stretched, showered, and ate dinner, they had all passed.

I am going to the dentist for the first time in at least six years later this afternoon. I know it’s been longer than that, just can’t recall exactly how long. I was a strict twice a year guy until the one year I didn’t have dental coverage. Taking that year off somehow destroyed my habit of going, and I’ve never been back since. Fortunately, I’ve never had any trouble with my teeth, so hopefully this will just mean they give me the especially tough abuse they save for people who haven’t been diligent about visits. Perhaps that visit will generate some stories worthy of sharing.

More later, perhaps…

 

 

Happy Anniversary, Blog!

What does one get a blog for its first anniversary? More storage space? New fonts? Lots of links? I gave it the weekend off and $10 to have a couple drinks. The whole point of starting the blog was to use it as an electronic postcard back to my friends in Kansas City, as well as those scattered elsewhere in the country, after moving to Indianapolis last summer. Along the way, I wouldn’t have minded if I wrote something exceptionally brilliant that got some attention from an outside source that launched my brilliant literary career. I think I’ve accomplished goal #1 pretty well. I guess #2 with be a focus for year #2. My thanks to all of you who have added comments or sent e-mails over the last 12 months. The feedback is what lets me know I’m not just writing a diary, but serving an audience. With a baby on the way, the coming year promises all kinds of good blog material.

We had an excellent weekend. Saturday we went downtown for a long walk along the canal, and then had Mexican food at about 4:00 because the Little Girlfriend was hungry. Sunday, we did some shopping (purchases included a Super Soaker for spraying squirrels on the bird feeder) then went to the in-laws for a shower. That meant last night, when I was tired from the sun hitting my eyes at 5:15 AM, we were putting together a swing, trying to figure out the car seat, and organizing books. Preparation for every Christmas Eve for the next 20 years, I suppose. Now that we have the car seat, we’re literally ready for the baby. I’m not sure if she’s ready, though. I keep hearing how late in the pregnancy, the baby’s movements will lessen as they run out of space and move into position for delivery. This kid was going nuts all weekend. She now sticks her ass (or what we think is her ass) waaaaay out and wiggles it, moves her arms or legs around, and switches her back from side-to-side in mommy’s belly. Other fun games are stop on the bladder and punch the lungs.

A conversation between a married couple:
Wife: You know, I’ll be the first to admit I’ve been very luck with pregnancy and haven’t had any problems so far, but I’ve been pretty pleased with how things have gone. But those women who say they miss being pregnant are nuts.
Husband, roughly ten minutes later: So what was it you said about women who wish they were pregnant again awhile ago?
Wife: Oh, they’re crazy!

In my epic read adventure for 2004, I finally hit a wall. I checked out three books from the library three weeks ago. I raced through The Fortress of Solitude. No problem. I started Alan Paton’s Cry, The Beloved Country which is a novel about South Africa in the 1940s two weeks ago. Normally when I start a book, I work through the first 50 pages slowly, then hit my pace and quickly get through the rest. For some reason, I just couldn’t connect with this book. It’s a compelling story, beautifully written, but I just couldn’t progress. I took it and book #3 back to the library yesterday on their due date rather than renew. I feel like a failure. Expect for the fact I bought a book Friday night and had finished it by Sunday morning. For those into politics, Thomas Frank’s What’s the Matter With Kansas? is a very interesting read. Frank, who was raised in Johnson County and went to KU but now lives in Chicago, explores how the extreme right wing has taken over the political structure in Kansas, decimating what was a traditionally moderate Republican dominated system and taking a history of left wing radicalism and swinging it to the opposite side of the political spectrum. Even if you’re not from Kansas (I know a few of you break out in hives if you have any contact with the state) or consider yourself a conservative, it’s a valuable primer on how political decisions are made by citizens in this era

 

More Friday Nonsense

Blogger appears to be a little jacked up. I haven’t been getting the automatic e-mails when people post comments for the past couple days. The two posts I added this morning didn’t show up for nearly an hour. I highly doubt Christie took the time to type her comments up five times (at last count) either! Oh the price I pay for using a free application. Hopefully things will work out soon and none of you are having trouble accessing the site or posting.

A few quick thoughts on the NBA draft, of which I only saw and hour or so. Based on what I read today, I’m in a tiny minority on this, but I just don’t get the whole Ben Gordon thing. Great college player, absolutely no question about that. But the dude is listed as 6’2”, which means he’s 6’1” at best. That makes him undersized to play the two spot in the NBA. He doesn’t have a pure point mentality, so I don’t see a smooth transition there. And then the Bulls, who already have Kirk Hinrich and Jamal Crawford in their backcourt, take him? There were rumors the Pacers wanted to trade for him, which I don’t get either. I may be way off here, but I just don’t look at him and see NBA star. Also, I don’t understand how the league can be so high on him, yet so low on Jameer Nelson. Nelson might be small, but he’s a proven point who can punish defenses with his outside shot. He’s not going to be a star, but I can see him being a high quality role player or backup for a long time.
I buy into the backlash against all the high school picks about 75%. I’ve lamented the rash of high schoolers thinking they belong in the Association for several years. I think it hurts the NBA, college hoops, and the players themselves. For every LeBron that’s clearly ready, there are three Kwame Browns who aren’t ready physically, mentally, or ability-wise and will never live up to the hype they arrived in the league with. Is it just me, though, or does ESPN orchestrate a backlash du jour (since I don’t know how to say “year” in French) for each year’s draft? Last year, we heard four hours of xenophobic rantings against foreign players. This year, it’s pile on the high school kids. Sure seems pre-planned to me.
Dick Vitale still knows nothing about the NBA.
Apparently ESPN poured most of their budget for June into the marketing for SportsCenter in HDTV. Memo to Bristol: You might want to get some decent audio equipment and test it before next year’s draft so we’re not forced to listen to reverb and feedback, not to mention entirely too much crowd noise, all night. It was like someone talking to you from the end of a long hallway. Then again, with Mike Tirico and Stuart Scott serving as hosts, maybe less is better.
Tom Tolbert’s magic suit must have been at the cleaners.
I’m always torn on Stephen A. Smith. Anyone who can get into full rant mode and still make complete points deserves respect. But not every opinion requires a rant to back it up. However, a nice counterpunch to David Alrdrige’s smooth personality.

In other sports news, the Royals Revival of the early 00’s is officially over with Carlos Beltran’s trade to Houston last night. When I was a kid, the Royals just didn’t lose homegrown talent. Here’s to hoping David DeJesus develops as everyone says he will, the young pitchers currently playing stay healthy, the young pitchers on the DL come back next year, and the prospects in the minor leagues develop quickly. Oh, and a new economic structure for baseball and/or an ownership group willing to spend money in order to win.

I received my Livestrong wristbands in the mail today. If you’ve not heard about these, it’s the marketing tool the Lance Armstrong Foundation is using to raise awareness and money for supporting those who live with cancer. $10 buys you ten bands. I’m married to the daughter of a woman who lost her battle with cancer ten years ago, and am the step-son of a man who beat cancer 15 years ago. $10 plus a donation to the foundation seems like a small price to pay to support a cause that touches my life so closely.

Where Were You When?

I finally heard the trade rumor I’ve been waiting for: Paul Pierce to the Pacers. Unfortunately, it came in a column that was being funny rather than serious. But, as my wife said, a boy can dream.

I found this list of questions yesterday on a blog I frequent. Some outstanding cultural milestones in our lives worth remembering and sharing. Your memories are welcome in the comments.

Where were you when you heard that Ronald Reagan died?
Sitting on the couch reading something when my wife saw the crawler on CNN and told me about it.
Where were you on September 11, 2001?
I had just arrived at work and was getting some coffee when one of my least favorite coworkers came in and told me a plane had hit the World Trade Center. I tried to get away from her as quickly as possible thinking, “I don’t know what’s really happened, but this can’t be the person I will always remember told me about this.” I remember how slow all the major news websites were working that morning then going down to one of our conference rooms to watch coverage after the towers had collapsed.
Where were you when you heard that Princess Diana died?
We had just returned to Bella after a night out in Westport or on the Plaza. Stayed up at least an hour watching CNN.
Do you remember where you were when you heard that Kurt Cobain had died?
As discussed here in the past, sitting on my bed reading a book about college basketball recruiting. I had the radio turned on at low volume and noticed the DJ seemed to be talking a lot. Turned it up and found out why.
Take one for the Gipper: what’s your favorite flavor of jelly bean?
Can’t say that I have a favorite. I generally eat anything in the bag except for the black licorice flavor. And I pretty much only eat jelly beans if someone else bought them and put them in front of my face.
Where were you when Magic Johnson announced he was retiring from the NBA due to HIV?
Brushing my teeth, getting ready to go to work at the cafeteria in McCollum Hall. When I got to work, I told one of my basketball buddies who didn’t believe me. He was a Celtics fan and thought I was just trying to mess with him. “You better not be joking because that’s pretty sick.” Why would I joke about that?!?!
Where were you when Reagan was shot?
Sitting in Mr. Dice’s class in 4th grade at Norfleet Elementary school. Mrs. Patterson came running in and said “The President’s been shot!” and they wheeled a TV in so we could watch the coverage.
Where were you when the Challenger exploded?
I first heard about it combing my hair in the boys restroom at Raytown High (That’s what we did after lunch, we combed our hair. Literally, no Weird Science euphemisms here.) Found out for sure when I got to science class two periods later. Our math teacher refused to speak about it.
Where were you when the OJ verdict was announced?
Sitting in my apartment in Lawrence. I had a roommate that year that was from Peru who started tossing racial bombs when the verdict was announced. We were scrambling to shut the windows before he got us all shot.

 

Movies and Rednecks

I failed to mention that we watched two outstanding movies over the weekend: In America and Big Fish. I freely admit I cried like a baby at the end of In America. Hey, throw in a story line about a baby being born prematurely with problems and you’re going to get me every time now that I’m a prospective father. I thought it was a charming, heartwarming movie full of outstanding performances. I really liked Big Fish as well. It’s one of those movies that makes you smile throughout, not just because it’s amusing, but because it is so well crafted. The man became his stories, and thus he became immortal. It’s not an idea that’s going to change the world, but it is a wonderful way of looking at how those you’ve loved and lost have made a mark on you, and how you will hopefully make a mark on others over the course of your life.

I caught a rerun of Newlyweds the other night and had to laugh at Nick watching his Bearcats in the NCAA tournament. At one point, while they’re getting absolutely worked by Illinois, he says, “That guy is hitting every effing shot. Somebody guard him.” I believe I’ve shouted that exact same analysis at the TV many times, although I tend to put the effing in front of guard rather than shot. “Someone effing guard him!”

It appears as though I’ll get out of any possibility of doing a draft log tonight as we have dinner plans. Fine with me, the prospective trades floating around are far more interesting than any actual in-draft drama this year. The city of Indianapolis offered its collective yawn towards the process by running a front page story not on potential Pacers trade or draft targets, but on Greg Oden, the local high school junior-to-be who just dominated a national high school camp. Everything I read about the kid is great, from his game to his family to his attitude. Getting this much attention, hype, and expectations at the age of 16 can doom a kid for failure. I hope he has the makeup and support structure to get through the next two years unscathed. Not even LeBron had this much hype at the same stage. Can you imagine people guaranteeing you’ll be the number one pick in the draft before your sophomore season has even ended?

There was some good crime in Indy this week. A couple of punk kids were driving around holding people up for their wallets. One victim phoned 911 and directed police to the house the kids had holed up in. The kids refused to come out when the police arrived, so teargas was tossed in and eventually they gave themselves up. What made it all so good was a shot of the pickup the kids were driving around. In the back window was a large sticker, nearly covering the entire pane, which said “Redneck” and was colored to mirror the Confederate flag. Outstanding, and not very surprising. Next time some older white person says they don’t understand why young black kids like to parade around like gangstas, remind them of how many white kids run around town proudly calling themselves rednecks. I think we’re even and can just move on.

Life’s pleasures: sitting on the deck on a cool June evening, sipping a beer, listening to the soft buzz of summer insects that are just starting to make their presence felt.

Why is it pretty much every PJ Harvey song I’ve ever heard, I’ve liked a lot, but I’ve never had any desire to buy one of her albums?

Be watching this space later today for a truly interactive experience. I found an interesting list of questions that’s worth sharing and getting comments on.

 

There’s A Team Called The Bobcats?!?!

We’re approaching the one year anniversary of the blog, which has brought the question, “Will you be breaking down the NBA Draft this year?” The answer: I’m not sure. A couple reasons for this vague response. First, last year I was highly interested in the order of the selections, with two Jayhawks expected to be lottery picks. It was the first big event I was able to watch on the big screen. LeBron was involved. It was an opportunity to kick the blog off with a bang. Finally, the lottery was full of players I had heard of and seen play many times. This year, there are no KU players looking at lottery selections (although rumor has it Jeff Graves is a solid 14-16 pick) and I don’t know who two-thirds of the players who will be picked early are. That said, if I find myself sitting on the couch tomorrow night with laptop on lap, I may very well put some thoughts together.

After a week off, Freak Boy called again last night.

For those interested, some bird and beer updates.
Our squirrels discovered the bird feeder Monday. Little fuckers ate their way through about half the feeder before I could chase them off long enough for birds to take over in the afternoon. The chipmunk was out munching dropped leftovers Tuesday morning. A pair of Mourning Doves occasionally drops down from our high trees to feed. My favorites the Cardinals are ever-present now, including several males who seem to be attempting to steal the one female from her mate. Tuesday afternoon, a pair of Carolina Chickadees showed up. These little guys are awesome! I would run out to shoot a water gun at the squirrels and the Chickadees would immediately swoop in. They’d grab seeds and sit less than three feet from my head, staring at me while they crunched. Good times.

In the bar, I’ve added Rogue Brewery’s Oregon Golden Ale. Hoppy, a little more than I prefer, but still a refreshing summer brew from one of Portland’s finest. For an old classic, I threw in a six pack of Mackeson’s Triple Stout. A milk stout, it’s much sweeter than Guinness, although not quite as good. It was the first stout I ever drank so it brings back fond memories of the fall after I turned 21.

 

 

“This Girlfriend Is Doing Something!”

A few fun items from an absolutely perfect weekend in Indy (70s during the day, 50s at night).

Saturday afternoon, we were sitting on the deck admiring the bird feeder I put in our trees. The neighbors behind us were having a birthday party for one of their kids, so there were 10-15 screamers running through the sprinklers. We heard some shuffling in the trees and looked that direction, expecting to see some birds digging in the leaves for insects, or a cat, or even a dog. Nope, our old friend the opossum was hauling ass towards us. I was sitting less than three feet from the edge of the deck yet he just put his head down and ducked underneath. There’s been no sign of the raccoon family, but the opossum is still taking residence in our yard. Bastard.

Walking around with a 34 week pregnant woman can be a lot of fun. First, she’s reached the point where women feel obligated to talk to her. We walked into a restaurant Saturday and immediately some girl behind the counter shouts, “You are sooooo cute! When are you due?”. Sunday, we went to Dairy Queen and the two girls working chatted S. up for at least five minutes about what we were having, if we had a name, etc. (Sidebar: After leaving Dairy Queen with an ice cream cake for my birthday, we talked about how this time next year, Little Girlfriend will love playing in the ice cream cake and smearing it in her hair, getting it in her ears, and even covering her toes with it.) At a furniture store, the male salespeople ignored us, but all the women came running over to grill us on baby details, not what we were shopping for. The best comment came from an older woman talked to S. for several minutes, then looked at me and asked, with cocked eyebrow, “Happy Father’s Day to you I presume?” If I thought faster, these are the people I’d like to mess with. “Oh no, she’s my wife but we’re not really sure who the dad is.” Or, “Well, the baby’s mine but we’re married to other people.” And so on.

However, what is most fun about walking around town with an eight month pregnant woman is the things she says. For example, we’re walking down the street, she stops dead in her tracks, leans back, looks down at her stomach, and says, “WHOOO! This girlfriend is doing something!” as she rubs her belly. What, I have no idea, but something. This happened at least 25 times over the weekend. Another fun thing she said was, “Holy lopsided! Make up your mind, sister!” This usually came when there was a butt (or head or back) sticking out of one side of her belly. Bottom line, the Little Girlfriend is still enjoying her last couple weeks of having room to move around, and has been as continuously active over the past few days as she has at anytime in the pregnancy.

I chose to run a 5K Saturday morning rather than go watch the practicing/qualifying for the Formula One race. So no stories about Euros dressed in Roman soldier costumes (as a picture in the paper showed). Maybe next year.

 

Why REO Speedwagon Rules

Nothing like an hour delay that causes you to arrive at home at 1:00 AM to really end the week with a bang. Oh, my bad. As loyal reader/poster E-bro in NoCal is headed to Israel for a work engagement, I’ve been instructed not to complain about air travel anymore. So be it.

It’s Formula One week in Indy and there is much consternation about how well attended the least regarded of the three major racing events at the Speedway will be this year. After several years of racing in September, the race was moved up this year to piggy back on the only other North American F1 race which took place in Montreal last weekend. That made me quite surprised to hear a group of about 15 people at the Phoenix airport talking about the race as we prepared to board our flight last night. And none of them were Euros. Who knew gear heads in this country followed European open-wheeled racing?

There are many reasons to choose an airline. Some will go for economics and take the lowest fare first. Others may travel to a few select destinations on a regular basis and choose a carrier based on who flies to those places most often. I like to build up miles, so I fly American on a regular basis. However, if you’re looking to book a flight based on quality of flight attendants, give America West a look. Very impressive.

Long time readers may recall the string of non-functioning automatic faucets I had in airports last year. I’ve now been cursed by always having the seat that won’t stay in the locked and upright position. There’s nothing like the sensation of your chair automatically leaning back at takeoff. I think it’s the sensation of knowing the person behind you is cursing your existence and plotting to kick, knee, and shove your chair as often as possible over the next three hours. We can send a man to the moon, but we can’t make airplane seats that work.

Readers who were members of the 80s Trivia List may recall my efforts to tape “Axel F” off the radio in the spring of 1985. I believe I stayed up until nearly 4:00 AM one Saturday night flipping constantly between Q-104 and ZZ-99 until I got the classic Harold Faltermeyer tune on tape. I don’t know if I’ve ever told of the night in 1981 when I sat in front of our stereo, with headphones on, trying to hear REO Speedwagon’s “Keep On Loving You”. I’m pretty sure the babysitter thought I was some freak child as I sat hunched over for hours, wading through Nugent and Styx and Journey until I could hear my song. I had the Yellow Pages in my lap, open to the radio stations page, debating whether to call in and request it (My first ever radio request came a year or so later, and I believe was Loverboy’s “Turn Me Loose”.) She was right, I am a freak. Why do I share this story (other than to give you more reasons to have fun at my expense)? Last night, on the way home from the airport, I heard that classic REO tune. I have to give them credit; they were very clever. They recognized they had a cheesy song. So they mixed things up. Rather than go verse-chorus-verse-chorus-solo-chorus, Kevin Cronin and the boys threw the very interesting verse-verse-chorus-solo-bridge-chorus at us. No wonder it hit #1 on the pop charts! We’d never heard cheese served up like this before! I have a new found respect for REO. (Worth noting, REO’s classically titled Hi Infidelity was the album that knocked John Lennon’s Double Fantasy from the #1 spot after his death.)
What did you think of the audio blogging? Could everyone play the files? Waste of time?

Happy weekends to all, happy Father’s Day to the dads and prospective dads out there.

 

Freak Boy And The Genius

As noted a week ago, I’ve got a phone stalker. Freak Boy is the guy who accosted me in the office chair section at Costco a few weeks back. For some reason I gave him my cell phone number and he left a message a little over a week ago saying he was looking forward to talking to me. Since that message, he’s called five more times. Twice when I was in Portland. Once over the weekend. Last night. Tonight. Which begs the question: unless you’re dating someone and getting the cold shoulder, why do you continue to call someone who isn’t answering nor returning your messages? It’s becoming equal parts scary and sad.

I know there’s a certain element (mostly those who don black and gold during college football and basketball seasons) who roll their eyes each time I expound on the genius of Larry Brown. Now that the NBA Finals are over, I think we can all agree that Larry is a true basketball genius. What the Pistons did to the Lakers is absolutely amazing. They made a team that was compared to the 96 Bulls, 87 Lakers, and 84 Celtics look bad. Really bad. If you don’t watch much NBA basketball, you have to understand, there just aren’t upsets in the Finals. There are upsets in the earlier rounds of the playoffs, but not in the Finals. It doesn’t happen. Ever. If you told me Detroit was going to win, I would have thought it could only happen if they somehow extended the series to seven games and got lucky in the fourth quarter of game seven. I would have expected that either Shaq or Kobe would have missed at least one game to injury. Never would I have thought it was going to be a fairly easy five game triumph, which could have been a sweep if not for one amazing shot. Much like the 1988 Kansas team he coached to an NCAA title, Brown coached the Pistons to believe in themselves at exactly the right time. The Pistons were lucky to score 25 points a quarter against the Pacers in the Conference Finals. Against the Lakers, they suddenly found their flow, started scoring more easily, and became a team that was fun to watch instead of an embarrassment to the game. The fourth quarter of game five was a joy to watch. The Pistons were all grins, playing free and loose, and until the last two minutes when things got silly, they were hitting everything. Bravo to Larry and the Pistons. Now the Pacers need to trade for Tracy McGrady so they can compete with Detroit next year.

I’m off to Arizona later today, but someone remind me that I need to comment on Larry Bird’s statement regarding white players in the NBA.

 

I’ve Got A High-Flying Life Style That’s Getting In The Way

I’ve not very smartly scheduled a trip to Arizona for the next two days. Actually I was told I should join someone else who was traveling out west this week. This comes after my trip last week, which I’m still trying to wrap up my list of To-Do’s from. So time is a bit tight this week. So tight I managed to totally forget about following the Italy-Denmark match yesterday in the European Soccer Championships. My love for Italia has waned somewhat since the heyday of the mid-90s, but the Azzurri are still my favored international side. I’m also quite enamored of the Dutch style of play, and favor the tradition the English national team brings to each match. As always, though, what’s most important is each game is played fairly. (I’m preparing for my future as a youth soccer coach.)

A very exciting bird update. For the last several afternoons, a peek outside the front windows has brought the pleasant site of the bright red male cardinal picking at the shrubbery in our front yard while his orange-beaked life partner skips through our grass looking for seeds. I hadn’t seen her since the winter, so it’s good to see homey is getting some. I’ve seen him chasing other males off, so she must be pretty hot by bird standards. I took some pictures Saturday. I’ll see if any are worthy of posting.

No sign of the raccoons recently, but I did see a freaking chipmunk hoping around our front yard yesterday. Little fuckers dig up the ground around our flowers and shrubs.

We’ve reached the point in pregnancy where there’s just no room left in S.’s belly. Where we used to feel the Little Girlfriend flip and flop, now she seems to move in a much smaller radius. Her booty (or what we assumed was her booty) was sticking out last night. Seemed like she was wriggling around trying to get comfy. I can’t reproduce the exact soundtrack, but S.’s reaction was something like this:
“Oooo!”
“Ouch!”
“Whoa sister!”
“Hey, those are my ribs!”
“Arrrgggghhh!”
No, S. did not try to pinch the Little Girlfriend’s ass. I patted it a couple times, but S. registered strong displeasure with the sensation she received shortly afterwards. I guess feet to the bladder don’t feel so great but what do I know?

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