Month: April 2012 (Page 1 of 2)

Three Things

Mercy, there has been some funny stuff over the past week.

M.: She’s picked up two new expressions, which she uses ceaselessly. One, ironically, is “It’s an expression,” often preceeded by a defensive, “What?” Example: “You better clean that up or Mom’s gonna kill you. What? It’s an expression!”

The other saying is “Think about it.” This one is a little annoying, because she loves to use it on her sisters when they don’t understand something a big first grader knows. “Of course cheese comes from cows since it’s made from milk, C.. Think about it.”

C.: She picked up a bug bite while playing outside one evening. After the girls’ bath, she was scratching it, whining about how uncomfortable it was, and begging us to put something on it to make the itch go away. S. asked me to go get the anti-itch cream and C. started screaming.

“NOOO! I just want the plain itch cream!”

It took us a second, but we laughed pretty hard once we realized what she meant.

L.: The littlest sister has also picked up an expression. She likes for you to scratch her back and, while you do so, she yells, “Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!”

Good times!


The Colts passed the off-season with flying colors. At least thus far.

They cleaned house in the coaching staff and front office quickly and completely.

They handled the release of Peyton Manning with respect and honor. While there was some drama to the finals weeks of Manning’s Colts career, it never became a nasty divorce.

They handled the lead-up to the draft perfectly, not playing media games about who they might pick and making an announcement that Andrew Luck would be their selection once they were sure.

And, amazingly, that’s probably the easiest part of the rebuilding process.

I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to say it: there are no sure things in sports. Luck may blow out a knee or arm and never live up to his potential. He may be great but the Colts may fail to put enough talent around him to win games. Robert Griffin III may turn into a game-changing, era-defining quarterback that shadows everything Luck does. A million things can go wrong. The chances of this working out as well as the Manning era are very long. But so far, the franchise has taken the correct step each time.

I never commented about Peyton going to Denver. I was surprised by his choice, like many others. San Francisco seemed like a better fit. I just hope he’s able to close out his career with dignity and not look back and think he should have retired when the Colts released him.

After he signed, I asked my brother-in-law in Denver, a life-long Broncos fan, what he thought. His response: “I love it. I want to take a bath in it.” Safe to say his opinion is shared by many out there.

Predicatbly, after Peyton’s release the local news stations went out on the streets asking for people’s thoughts. I shouldn’t have been surprised, but there were a lot of people who thought the Colts were making a monumental mistake. “They just let the best quarterback ever walk away and are going to replace him with an unknown quantity,” was a common refrain. I have a feeling most of those people didn’t watch a game last season.

I would be remiss if I didn’t say something about the Pacers, who go into the NBA Playoffs as the #3 seed in the Eastern Conference. They’ve been red hot for the last month and get a Dwight Howard-less Orlando team in the first round. They’re not good enough to take out Miami or Chicago, but they’ve made terrific progress this season. Anything less than a first round win and a competitive second round will be a major disappointment.

After that it will be their turn for off-season drama. Larry Bird refuses to comment on his plans, but most expect him to walk away from the franchise and officially retire. After a rough start, he did a fantastic job putting the franchise back together in the post-Artest era. His replacement will have a lot of tough choices in the summer. How much do you offer Roy Hibbert to stay.1 Do you try to hang on to George Hill? Do you try to sign local hero Eric Gordon? Is there money to chase another impact free agent?

The team still has not won back the city. Attendance remains dreadful. As well as this season has gone, this summer will go a long way towards deciding whether the Pacers can be competitive and financially successful in Indianapolis.

  1. Hibbert is an effective big man, but screams of someone who is going to get overpaid this summer and wreck someone’s salary cap for the next 4-5 years. 

New Friends

As I shared last week, we have new neighbors.

They began to arrive Friday night, and then spent much of the weekend replacing carpet, painting, and moving their stuff in. We finally met them on Sunday. Nice folks.

Like we guessed, they have one daughter who is about M’s age and another who is about C’s age. As a bonus, their cousins, two more girls in the same age range, live about a block away. So Sunday all seven girls played together for awhile as the parents chatted.

Tuesday the girls started playing the minute all five were home from school and didn’t stop until I called mine in for dinner at 5:30. I was staining our deck and their dad was working in his garage. At one point he called over to me and said, “It’s a shame our girls aren’t getting along at all.” Seriously, it’s awesome how kids just hook up and start playing, not worried about occupation, religion, politics, or other socio-economic factors. You’re my age and want to play? Awesome!

I’m sure it won’t always be this easy. Sooner or later there will be hurt feelings, broken toys, picking on each other, etc. But they’re off to a great start, which is a relief for us and I’m sure for their parents as well.

R.I.P. Facts

Perhaps the column I’m linking to here is elitist and out-of-touch. But given the state of political discourse in this country, I think intelligent people of all political perspectives will find both truth and humor in this brilliant little piece of commentary/satire.

Through the 19th and 20th centuries, Facts reached adulthood as the world underwent a shift toward proving things true through the principles of physics and mathematical modeling. There was respect for scientists as arbiters of the truth, and Facts itself reached the peak of its power. But those halcyon days would not last. People unable to understand how science works began to question Facts. And at the same time there was a rise in political partisanship and a growth in the number of media outlets that would disseminate information, rarely relying on feedback from Facts.

R’s – Panic In The Streets Of Raytown

Before I begin, I’d like to point out that my generic prediction for the 2012 Royals was that this season would be disappointing. This, though, is not what I had in mind.

Ten straight losses, nine at home. Starters who can’t get out of jams. Relievers who throw gas on the fire. Hitters that can’t climb out of holes. Baserunners who make bad decision after bad decision. Curious managerial decisions.

Let’s face it, this has been a complete team effort to suck.

It is times like these where the life of a modern baseball fan can be tough. I love that we are in an era when you can live away from your favorite team, but thanks to MLB.TV, Twitter, and dozens of baseball blogs, it’s like you’re right there with them. The Twitter side, especially, has been tough to take as the Royals have sunk deeper and deeper. There are so many smart observers of the team who, as soon as something goes wrong, start looking for ledges to climb onto. There are so many otherwise rational humans who, having lived through the last two decades of Royals baseball, see a losing streak, attach 20 years of failure to it, and become incredibly negative. It’s easy to get sucked into that attitude and believe that this season is lost and the “promise” of the franchise is just another false start.

It doesn’t help that the team hasn’t done much to make us want to believe.

My personal nadir has been a return to a hobby of my past: wondering what team I would follow should the Royals be contracted. I must admit, for all the negativity on Twitter, I haven’t seen too many others start considering the C word.

One other thing that’s been tough about the new season is breaking in the new announcers, Steve Physioc and Rex Hudler. It’s always hard to get used to new announcers and their mannerisms and quirks. But these two started with two strikes knowing they were fired by the Angels and pretty much reviled by much of the online baseball community. Physioc had a reputation as being lazy and not knowing the game. Hudler, the eternal optimist, is in/famous for spouting cliches and banal observations.

I can’t say that a couple weeks of baseball has made me like them. Physioc is as advertised. Much of the time it feels like he’s just reading out of the media guide. Sometimes it seems like he’s not watching the game that closely and stumbles over names or plays because he was looking at his scorecard or checking his notes. It gets worse when he switches to radio and shares the call with Bob Davis, who continues to be awful yet somehow keeps a job. For some reason the baseball Gods don’t think Royals fans have been tortured enough and throw that duo at us.

Hudler means well, but so much of what he says is weightless fluff. You can tell he’s trying to get to know this team, and some of the lightness of his comments is based on that. But I don’t think he’s going to morph into a great analyst once he is more familiar with the Royals’ roster.

The weird thing about the new guys is they’ve made me appreciate Ryan Lefebrve, who I’ve never really liked. I wouldn’t say I’ve become a fan of his, but at least I’m comfortable with his style. He and Hudler seem to have zero chemistry right now, and the little sarcastic barbs Ryan throws out, and Rex’s clueless responses to them, have been one of the few fun things this season.

I know it’s too early to panic. This team wasn’t supposed to win this year. But this was supposed to be a step towards contending in 2013. Perhaps it still will be. Perhaps they rebound and make this season respectable. Perhaps the knocks they take this year will help them start off strong next year. Maybe the holes that are apparent in the rotation will force Dayton Moore to make some bold moves next winter to put the team in a better position to compete.

Still, it would be nice if they could at least flirt with .500 and make our hope in the future not seem completely misguided.

Taking A Flying Leap

After a couple of days of preparation, today I begin my latest technology experiment: can I survive with just an iPad?

I’m often struck by the silliness of me switching back-and-forth betwen the iPad and the MacBook Air throughout the day. I always held on to the Air, though, because it seemed necessary for longer writing and for work assignments. After reading a couple articles, though, and doing some more research on my own, I decided to make a few purchases and see if I really could put the Air away.

The first purchase was a Zaggfolio iPad keyboard case. The biggest issue for me with the iPad is the keyboard. I can do some simple typing with it. But if I want speed, accuracy, and the ability to type for extended periods, I needed a real keyboard. While there are a number of iPad keyboards out there, this one consistently gets the best reviews.

I also added a few apps to help recreate what I do on the Air. Numbers for spreadsheets, which are essential for me when I’m attempting to do stats quickly for football and basketball. Textexpander Touch to help with bulk text I need to repeat often. Blogsy as an iOS MarsEdit replacement. I’m sure I’ll add a few more as the experiment continues.

There are a few things that I will not do on the iPad. I will not edit photos. That will still be done on the Air. Same with downloading and managing music. The Air will be running in the office, connected to a monitor, mostly as a print server and for the girls’ computer needs. But I will not constantly be picking it up to bash out a blog post or return a lengthy email. And while I’m not covering any sports right now, I will do some test runs to see if I can still do all the things I need to do once I am in the field again.

So that’s my new project. I’ll report back in a week or so to update you on my progress.

Moving On

Wednesday was a sad day at our house. Our next-door-neighbors, who have lived here for nearly six years, finished three days of packing and left for a new home in Texas. They were pretty much the perfect neighbors: our age with kids, friendly and easy to talk to but not ever in our business.

Their kids and our girls spent nearly every day playing together in the summers, and usually hooked up after school as well. That relationship was perfect, too. Their kids never came wandering into our home uninvited, nor did our kids ever enter their house without permission. There were very occasional minor disagreements, but generally they got along together very well.

I’m not sure it’s really hit our girls what has happened yet. They gave their friends hugs and yelled goodbye, but never acted sad or disappointed. My wife tells me that is developmentally normal for their ages. I’m sure soon we’ll start hearing about how they miss their friends and are sad they’ve left us.

The good news is our new neighbors, who may move in as soon as this weekend, have two girls that look about the same ages as M. and C. While there’s no guarantee they’ll get along, kids that age don’t have a whole lot of trouble making friends. I would bet everything works out. We can only hope the parents are as good neighbors as our departed ones.

Watching them load up and move out reminded S. and I of something important: moving sucks. We are glad we love our home and neighborhood because we don’t want to go through that any time soon.

The Map Is Changing

It’s easy to overstate matters, and say that this moment or that moment is a time of significant change. But, while we are not sure where we are headed, people of many different political and national perspectives view what is happening now around the globe as the end of the era of the United States as the world’s singular power.

Today’s New York Times has an op-ed on that subject, written by a British member of parliament who was born in Africa. I think it’s a very interesting read, especially given his perspective.

Much as the Second World War has been identified as the end of the British Empire, future historians may well see the financial crisis of 2008 as the end of the American empire. Yet, the retreat of American power, particularly in the Middle East, has potentially left the world considerably more unstable and uncertain.

Three Things

This week’s list of things my daughters did that made me smile.

M.: Her class has been busy sending Flat Stanleys all over the place this year. Among other places, they exchanged them with children at a school in Derby, UK. Her friend there returned a package last week that was loaded with cool stuff. British coins, postcards from the Derby area, a sticker of the local soccer team, some Royal Wedding stickers, a British flag, and some plain, universal, girlie stickers.

The best part, though, was that M.’s friend in the UK sent her home address and said she wanted to be pen pals. M. doesn’t really know what a pen pal is, but was excited at the chance to keep sending letters to her friend. On the ride home that day, she planned out all the things she could send back in her next reply. She claimed, in wonder, that she was the only one in her class whose UK friend wanted to be pen pals. And she realized that one day she might go to England and meet her friend! She was giddy. It was quite cute to watch.

C.: The five-year-old is beginning to put all the pieces from her first year of kindergarten together. She’s sounding out unfamiliar words. She’s working through books. And she’s writing down whatever is on her mind. Every couple of days we’ll find a pile of papers with drawings and notes on them. Last week I found a stack that listed her favorite things of the moment.

I luv skul.
I luv ester.
I luv my famile.

I love how these little notes reveal a kid’s character. Way back on President’s Day, her class had to write down what they would do if they were president. Her response was Help people who aren’t as lucky as me. Seriously, from a five-year-old!

L: L. was the best two-year-old ever. She was pleasant, rarely talked back or threw tantrums, and just wanted to snuggle. She’s been developing a bit of an attitude lately, which is disappointing.

On the fun side, she’s also in the ‘repeating things she’s heard’ phase. The other night S. got home from running some errands and when she opened the door, L. was there to greet her by saying, Why do I have to deal with this? Not sure what she was so exasperated about.

One evening the girls came running up from the basement with the news our decorative tree thing had a bent limb. L. marched to the middle of the room, put her finger in the air, and said, I know who da cuwpwit is!

Those are just two that I remember. She busts out about two or three of them a day that break us up.

R’s – Blowin’ It

One lousy game can change everything.

The Royals were looking good Wednesday afternoon. They got another strong performance from a starting pitcher. Alex Gordon finally got off the schnide, getting two hits including a home run. Billy Butler had gone deep for the second time this year. The bullpen was nails for six innings. And there they were, going into the bottom of the 12th with a one-run lead and a 4-2 season-opening road trip three outs away.

Ground out, tying run scores.

Game over.

There will be a lot of excitement at Kaufman stadium Friday as the Royals open their home schedule. But that excitement will be tempered just a bit by Wednesday’s loss. For as much progress as the team has made, that sure felt like a “same old Royals” loss.

It pointed out another interesting argument about baseball, too. The stat-head community insists you should never waste money on a closer. Pick your best reliever, put him in that role, and if he becomes expensive, let him move on and try someone else. They are too volatile in the short term, too fragile in the long term, the argument goes. And for a team that isn’t contending, the need for an elite closer is minimal.

I tend to agree with that idea, yet these blown saves hurt. If they hurt this much for fans, how must they feel to the team? If this starts happening once a week or more, as it seemed to do often to the Royals in the 2000s, I’m not sure it doesn’t have a bigger effect on a team than just the L’s.

Which is what makes these arguments so fascinating. Logic makes me lean one direction. But real world events make me lean another.

Hopefully this won’t be a season-long theme.

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