Month: June 2009 (Page 1 of 2)

Genius Social Experiment

Give a 13-year-old a Walkman for a week and see what happens.

I remember my first Walkman well. It was actually a knock-off, since those early Walkmans were quite expensive. And it was the obvious knock-off: had some crazy decals on it and, worse, a pull-out antenna for the AM/FM tuner. But I loved that thing.

<a href=”http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/8117619.stm”>Giving up my iPod for a Walkman</a> –
<blockquote>When I wore it walking down the street or going into shops, I got strange looks, a mixture of surprise and curiosity, that made me a little embarrassed.</blockquote>

 

Cyber Stalking

As I’m sure you can imagine, I’ve been thinking about Michael Jackson the last few days.* I’ll have some thoughts on the self-proclaimed King of Pop eventually, I promise. That third kid really is affecting my blogging, no?

(Yeah, yeah, Farrah died too. And Billy Mays and Ed McMahon for that matter. I was about two years too young to really get the Farrah thing back in her prime. I remember a neighbor who was a couple years older being very proud of his Farrah poster and me thinking, “She’s pretty and all, but what’s the big deal?” I figured it out a few years later. So very sad that she died, but in a way it was a relief. I saw the two minute, Nightly News version of her recent NBC special that showed her going through cancer treatments and thought, “No way am I watching that show tonight.” Sometimes death is a blessing. I’m not sure what happens to us when we die, but I hope that she is in a better place and feeling no pain if we end up somewhere else.)

Anyway, here’s another story about the curiosity that is the social networking side of the web. Back in grad school I wrote an article for the campus paper about a series of nature walks that took place near campus. As a good reporter, I took part in one of the walks. It was a little new-agey for me and I’m pretty sure the person that lead the walk had some mental issues. This person literally hugged a tree on our walk. I pulled the “I’m a grad student” card and wrote a first person account of the walk, since I had no idea how to crank out a newsy story about this walk.

So that was a couple years ago. Periodically, the person that lead the walk has popped up in the areas of the Internets I spend time in. I forget if they requested to be friends on Facebook, but I do know I got a Linked In request from them.

I have a Twitter account that I use to follow people, but I never post anything to it. It’s hard enough keeping the blog updated and adding something to Facebook on occasion.

This weekend I got a message that the nature walk person was following me on Twitter. Two years after I interviewed them. Who does that? It’s getting a little creepy. If I get a phone call I’m going to freak out, I think.

 

Pacers Draft Preview

Normally this time of year I’m busting out my NBA Draft review, Bill Simmons style. In fact, that was how version 1.0 of site began.

I’ll mix things up a bit this year. I’ll admit I’m not nearly as interested in this year’s draft as in the ’08 selections. Some of that has to do with the fact there are no Jayhawks in this year’s draft where there were at least 50 in last year’s.* But also because I believe I watched a grand total of 15 minutes of the NBA this past year, and very little non-KU college ball. So I’m lacking some of the background that I usually have.

  • I think someone even draft the rights to Wilt late in the second round, just in case.

I am interested in one pick, though. I’m eager to see what Larry Bird does with the Pacers’ #13 pick. Once again the Pacers weren’t good enough to make the playoffs but not bad enough to get into the lottery. That’s not necessarily a bad thing in this, an epically weak draft year. But being stuck in this same spot two straight years with no first round pick the year before that is not the way to rebuild the organization.

Looking back, Bird gets a B-/C+ for last year’s draft. Late in the season, once he got minutes and confidence, Brandon Rush proved he’s an NBA player and a perfect compliment to Danny Granger*. No one expected Roy Hibbert to be great, and his first year play affirmed the fact he’s not going to be much more than a big body that can maybe grab a few boards and offer six fouls to burn through.

  • 18.3 ppg over his last ten games, with two 29 point efforts.

It’s a team in need of size, a franchise point guard, and another shooter. Perhaps most of all, they need a player that is going to step in and contribute. The Pacers are hemorrhaging money, Conseco Fieldhouse is facing its own financial issues, and there are persistent rumors that the Simon brothers, who own the team, may be looking to sell if things don’t turnaround soon. There is allegedly an interested party in Vancouver and both Kansas City and Seattle would love to grab a team. The Pacers’ future in Indianapolis may rest more on getting a solid if unspectacular player who can play 80 games than on drafting a talent with potential that may not develop for 3-4 years.

With that in mind, here is my ranking of the players the Pacers should consider.

1 – Jordan Hill, F Arizona.
2 – Jonny Flynn, G Syracuse.

Neither of these guys are going to be available, but if by some miracle either slipped to 13, they would be my top choices. Hill is tough, can rebound, and is athletic. Flynn is the same thing, just packed into a guard’s body. Either player would make the Pacers better.

3 – Eric Maynor, G VCU. This is who I think the Pacers should take. He’ll step in and play from day one, is good on both ends of the court, and will turn into a solid point guard. He’ll never be an All NBA first teamer, but neither will be a bust.

4 – Jeff Teague, G Wake Forest. Feel good story, the local kid ends up playing for his hometown NBA team. Teague still needs to develop, but he can do it on the court. Perhaps as important as his NBA readiness is the feel-good angle he gives a franchise that is still trying to win the city back after the Artest/Jackson/Tinsley era.

5 – Earl Clark, F Lousiville. Not a true big at this point, but he fits well with the Pacers’ current offensive style, and certainly has room to gain weight and strength to turn into a more traditional NBA big.

6 – Brandon Jennings, G Italy. This is the tipping point. No one doubts Jennings’ raw ability. But he didn’t exactly light things up in his year in Europe, and there are questions about his maturity and work ethic. If the Pacers were stocked with talented veterans and had time to break in a raw talent like Jennings, he would be the easy pick. But given their current state, I don’t see them taking him.

7 – DeJuan Blair, F Pittsburgh. There was a lot of Blair buzz for awhile, but it has faded a bit. He’s wide, strong, has a huge wing span, and a good chemistry guy from what I understand. But he’s not that big (6’7ish”) and allegedly lacks ACLs. Another guy they can’t risk taking.

8 – Tyler Hansborough, F UNC. I’ve been anti-Ty for a long time, for many reasons. And I’ve always maintained he was going to be an awful pro. We saw on April 5, 2008 what happens when he plays against guys who are bigger, stronger, and more athletic than he is.

But apparently he’s worked out well and GMs are falling in love with him. The more I think about it, the more I see him having a Nick Collison type career. Nick averaged nine and nine a season ago and is a 8.2, 6.9 player for his career. That’s solid and offers a lot of flexibility. But the Pacers don’t need to waste a first round pick on a guy who’s going to be a back-up for most of his career. They’ve done that enough this decade.

There are a few other options, Ty Lawson for example, but I expect the Pacers to pick one of these players. If they get Hill, Flynn, Maynor, or Teague I’ll be pleased. Clark and Jennings are intriguing, Blair and Hansborough concerning. The clock’s ticking, Larry.

El Viaje

Yeah, so the trip was pretty spectacular.

Good friends in Michigan put this trip together, and of the nine or so couples they invited, six ended up heading to Cabo together. We knew two of the couples. One of the couples we didn’t know lives here in Indy; the other in San Francisco (half of that couple is a KU alum). What about couple #6? Well, they are newlyweds and we’ve known the bride for years, but the groom was new to us.

Anyway, our organizer, after months of looking, selected the Dreams resort, which is pretty close to halfway in-between Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo. It was a beautiful place: clean, very nice rooms, a great pool, excellent restaurants, and reasonably close to anything else you might want to do.

It is an all-inclusive place, and was much, much better than our previous all-inclusive experience. The drinks at the pool were watered down, but when it’s 100 you don’t really want a pina colada that’s going to knock you on your ass. The big bonus was the mini-bar was stocked each morning with Coke, Diet Coke, water, and two Coronas and two Pacificos. Everything you need to get the day started right or refuel during the day.

My sister-in-law who works in the travel industry pulled some strings and got us upgraded to a suite, which was very nice. We didn’t really need to extra room, but we were able to host all our friends for a bit before we headed to the bars one night.

We spent almost all our time on the resort. We had seafood one night, a Mexican buffet the second, and went to the Asian/sushi place the third night. With the exception of the rolls we had at the sushi place, which weren’t great, all the food was quite nice.

Our one excursion was to take a sunset catamaran cruise Friday night. We cruised out to Cabo’s most famous geographical feature, El Arco, then around the tip of the cape into the open ocean for awhile (not sure if we were technically in the Pacific at that point or still in the Gulf of California). We made it back in time to watch the sun drop behind the mountains that ring Cabo.

During the days we did what you’re supposed to do on a tropical vacation: sat our happy asses at the pool. The main pool was magnificent. It was an infinity pool that offered a great view of the ocean. There was an adult pool near our room that we never bothered to check out, other than to gaze at it from our balcony in the mornings. I did not know that along most of the coastline you can’t get into the water because the surf and undertow is so intense. The waves along our stretch of beach were massive and thundered constantly. At night, they shook the screen door on our balcony. I was just fine with the pool.

As with most tourist spots in Mexico, language is kind of a mish-mash. Most people you will deal with speak some English, and a good percentage speak fairly good English. But it’s still fun to try to use some of the Spanish I picked up in the six years I studied it. Naturally, that was mostly limited to “Mas cafe, por favor,” or “Dos Coronas, por favor,” but still I like to think my accent is a little better than most.

While English is generally fine, we did amuse ourselves with some of the strange translations in the literature the hotel passed out. I forgot to pack them to give examples, but some of the placement of words suggested the text had been written in Spanish then just plugged into Google to translate.

It’s always fun to point out the little things that are different. Diet Coke is Coca Cola Light. Frosted Flakes are Zucaritas, or little sugars. Don’t ask me what they call a Whopper. We didn’t go to Burger King.

Our travel was largely incident free, but we did have a fun moment upon arrival. We’ve been to Mexico before, so understand what to expect when you get through customs and officially become a target for people to sell things to. And apparently we faired better than some of our friends in getting through the mass of people trying to sell you time shares. But it is kind of intimidating to have 50 people suddenly charge right at you and start telling “Senors, excuse me!” and “You need taxi?” etc. Some of our friends got nabbed when a guy told them that he was their ride. That’s what they get for reserving their transportation beforehand!

We did venture out to the beach one day to deal with the vendors. It’s a very different scene than in Cancun, where people are actually on the beach and in the water. Here, the hotel has a rope that marks the end of its property. A group of vendors sets up just across the line and waits patiently for people to come down. You might be looking at a necklace and someone will come over and politely suggest you want to buy a hat or a “handcrafted” bowl* or some other item. If you shake your head and say “No thank you,” they politely walk away. It’s pretty low key. A friend went down with us while we were getting some gifts and she bought a dress. As I stood behind S. while she looked at some jewelry, the dress salesman decided to try to sell me a dress.

“Senor, I think you look good in this one. I have your size!” he said with a laugh. See, I can deal with them if they have a sense of humor.

(Friends were offered a “handcrafted” bowl made from a lemon tree. The vendor asked them to smell it to prove his claim. They said it smelled not like lemons, but like lemon-scented floor cleaner. I guess they don’t expect the Gringos to know the difference.

We had to walk for about 20 minutes along the piers to get to our catamaran Friday. The boardwalk was loaded with vendors trying to sell us jewelry, water taxi rides, hats, shirts, and even live iguanas. Friends who were in the same area earlier in the week, at night, said that in a ten minute walk to the ATM, they were offered marijuana, cocaine, a massage, and a blowjob, in that order. That’s some progression.

Apparently a lot of people go to Cabo to get married. There were at least two weddings at our hotel every day we were there. Not a bad way to do it.

Oh, and Saturday’s dinner ended with me doing some kind of strange shot that involved me chugging a foaming glass of alcohol while our waiter shook my head vigorously afterwards.

So that’s that. As I said, it was probably our favorite vacation ever. The location was fantastic. We were with friends, both old and new, and everyone was well-behaved (I remarked to S. on the way home that I couldn’t remember a disagreement over what to do for dinner, which night to leave the resort, etc.). The drinks and food were tasty. In fact, it’s the first place we’ve gone that we’ve said we would go back to. Not soon enough, no doubt.

Back On The Ranch

We have returned from Cabo, tanned, somewhat rested, and very happy. We had a great time and agree this was probably our best vacation ever. We arrived home at midnight last night. S. had to be at work first thing this morning; the girls and I had to leave for swim lessons shortly after. So no time to ease back into the normal routines at all.

Combine all that with a fussy baby who demanded to be held all day today, and I’m quite tired. So the full wrap-up will come a little later. I have pictures up on our site, if you know how to get there.

 

Vacaciones

I may get another link or two posted before we officially depart, but this is your friendly reminder that Mrs. B. and I will soon be departing for a few days south of the border. We’re heading to Cabo San Lucas, where some friends and quite a few beers are waiting for us. It’s going to be a fairly quick trip; we get in mid-afternoon on Thursday and will fly home Sunday. I’m sure that’s enough time to get a sunburn I will regret and probably a hangover or two. Hopefully that’s all I bring back from Mexico. The first time I traveled there, I brought back some kind of intestinal souvenir that made life uncomfortable for about two months. And hopefully our old pal H1N1 will stay under control a few more weeks.

Watch this space for a complete recap of our adventures next week. Some of our friends who are already down there have been known to do crazy things when under the influence, so I may have a story or two.

Hasta pronto.

 

Gearing Up For Superhero Season

I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve received an e-mail from someone who happens upon the blog that goes along the lines of this:

Dearest Blogger,

I recently found your wonderful weblog and have enjoyed it immensely. I especially enjoyed your recent post about potty training your daughter / watching a sporting event on your couch / the old lady who annoyed you at the grocery store. I was so moved by your work that I would like to reimburse you for the enjoyment you provided me. Please let me know what I can buy you to return some of that pleasure back to you.

Sincerely,

A Loyal Reader

I always respond with a nice note thanking them for the comments and pointing out that I blog for fun, not reward. However, these people are often persistent, and eventually I tell them just to buy me something from the Apple Store* and we’ll be even.

I may need to change my ways, though.

This looks someplace where I could use some gear from: <a href=”http://www.superherosupplies.com/”>Superhero Supplies</a>.

  • AKA “Daddy’s Favorite Store!” amongst my daughters.

R’s – Quickie

Great weekend, sweeping the Reds with two of the games in beautiful, standard definition television on my local cable provider’s FSN feed. As hard to imagine as it may be, Luke Hochevar’s performance Friday night may be as impressive as any of Greinke’s this season. Then again, I think the Reds were giving him a lot of help. As good as he was, 80 pitches to get 27 outs implies some guys were coming to the plate with less-than-ideal game plans.

I don’t want to complain too much after a three-game sweep,* but I was again struck by how far this franchise still has to go when I heard they were calling Tug Hulett back up after Coco Crisp went on the DL. Hulett replaces Crisp on the roster, while Mitch Maier takes over centerfield. When Mike Aviles went down, Tony Pena Jr. and Luis Hernandez took his place. These four additions have put up the following numbers in the bigs this year:
Hulett .000/.000/.000 (to be fair, he’s only had four ABs)
Maier .229/.325/.329
Pena Jr. .115/.179/.154
Hernandez .200/.259/.200.

I’m never really sure how to interpret these numbers, but I think that’s probably pretty awful.

(They could easily be on a six-game streak of the defense and bullpen hadn’t sucked it up so much in Cleveland. The offense has perked up a bit this week, though.)

For a team that has very little margin for error, you can throw in the inability to cover for injuries with players from the minors. Omaha is still awfully thin when it comes to providing depth for the big league clue.

Oh, and have I mentioned that I kind of love the Sunday baby blues? One of my goals for July is to rate every team’s uniforms, by the way. I’m sure you’ll be waiting with baited breath for that post.

Seeing Seagulls By The Lakeshore

I thought we were done with stuff like this. The best thing about the Royals this decade is at least the failures have been epic and when you read a list of the most epic, it’s bound to make you laugh. A little.

For some reason I couldn’t sleep after this loss. You’d think I would no better by now, even after all the promise of April, and not treat another June loss by a .424 baseball team like a KU road loss in Big 12 play.

<a href=”http://joeposnanski.com/JoeBlog/2009/06/11/seeing-seagulls-by-the-lakeshore/”>The Kansas City Royals lost Thursday night when the game-winning hit bounced off a seagull.</a>

New Adventures In The Perils Of Fatherhood

This is one that I may regret posting later on. Remember, it is all in good fun.

Stay-at-home parents face many perils. Some are common across gender lines while others are specific to stay-at-home dad or moms. As a stay-at-home dad, I worry that people think I’m just taking a day off when they see me out with the girls, probably over-correct the girls’ behavior because I don’t want anyone saying “That wouldn’t happen if their mom was around,” and struggle to feel comfortable with the social aspect of being a parent during normal working hours.

There’s one other thing that is troublesome to us at-home dads: cleavage.

Before I break it down, here’s a mathematical look at the problem.

Gathering of kids + parents monitoring kids + current fashion trends = dad looking down some mom’s shirt without realizing it.

For example, M. attended a birthday party on Wednesday. S. left for work before it ended, so at pick-up time I had C. and L. with me. As the party was wrapping up, the two little sisters and I sat and watched the final presents being opened and the attendees collect their goodie bags. M. was standing next to one of her friends who was having her shoe tied by her mother. M. was showing me what was in her prize bag and I was being a good dad and acting excited about her collection of Tootsie Rolls and Skittles. As the mom leaned up from her child’s shoes, I noticed she was offering the kind of view I’ve had to pay a cover charge to see in the past. I quickly averted my eyes to avoid any embarrassment. However, I’m sure she noticed before I could look away.

So now I’m worried she thinks I was checking her out. No one wants to be the dad known for checking out all the moms at parties, school events, etc. Well, unless you’re single, I guess. Even then, it’s kind of creepy.

But I’m also a little disappointed. I figure if she thinks I was checking her out and I’m going to be tagged with the stigma of gasp looking at cleavage*, shouldn’t I at least got a good look to see if it was worth it? I mean, if word gets to S. that I have this reputation and she confronts me, shouldn’t I be able to defend myself by saying, “Oh yeah, that mom was totally showing them off. You couldn’t NOT look at them!” If I’m going to be charged for the ticket, I’d kind of like to see the show.

Of course, chances are she probably didn’t notice and I’m over-reacting, or she realized M. was my daughter and she understood I was talking to her, or she realized she was crouched down and anyone could take a look and is either embarrassed for herself or worried that I’m embarrassed for seeing, which was exactly what I was trying to avoid, right?

Anyway, sometimes it’s tough being a stay-at-home dad.

(I’m no religious scholar. I do know there are people of many different faiths, in all parts of the world, who quote religious texts as justifications for keeping women in a submissive role. I would point out to those people that if God truly wanted women to be subservient, he wouldn’t have given them cleavage. Or allowed the bust-enhancing brassiere to be invented. Whatever powers we men think we have over women are all trumped by boobs. If there’s ever a war between the sexes, we men are toast. Legions of well-endowed women will flash us a peak of cleavage and we will be defeated in short order.)

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