Month: May 2013 (Page 1 of 2)


Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War – Tony Horowitz.

Although a bit dated now that it’s 20 years old, this still stands as one of the best, recent books about the Civil War. But it’s not your standard rehash or reviewing of the 1861-1865 war. Instead it views the war through the prism of the 1990s South, where in some places you would think the war ended a week ago and in others every reference to the war is carefully buried and hidden behind more marketable local history.

Horowitz, a Virginia native who returned to the States after over a decade abroad, travelled through the South in 1994-95, visiting many of the most important war sites and talking to folks to try to figure out what the war meant 130 years after its end. It’s a very interesting book to read as a Northerner because I can’t help but think many of the people Horowitz talked to during his trek are nuts. It’s not me at my most tolerant, but I’ve always been in the “Shut Up, You Lost The War” camp. I don’t have a lot of patience for people who look (now) 150 years in the past and think that was a better time that needs to be remembered and even celebrated. There are plenty of "southern" traditions that can be carried forward without honoring things that were directly tied to the war (i.e. the Confederate battle flag) or believing that anything Northern is evil because of what happened to your great-great-grandfather.

Two disclaimers. 1) You can find nut jobs in any part of the country, from all political and socio-economic perspectives. It’s not just the South. They get more attention, though, because of our nation’s history and how they’ve clung to the differences that literally split the country for four years. 2) I think things have changed even more since the book was published. Yes, the South is still, mostly, politically controlled by deeply conservative people who use the memory of Southern values and Northern aggression and appeal to “states’ rights” to gain and maintain power. But we’re another generation down the road. History has faded a little more, southern cities are often barely distinguishable from their northern cousins, accents get worn away, and while racism isn’t gone, it gets pushed a little deeper into the closet, taken out only when certain relatives come to visit and even then only reluctantly.

Still, the folks who sit around celebrating the glory of the Confederacy are nuts. Sorry.

Other than that unsettling bit, the part of the book I found most interesting was how many accepted truths of the Civil War were beginning to be rethought, debunked, and rewritten just as Horowitz was taking his trip. Careful examinations of both the written records of battle and the physical qualities of the battlefields were revealing how many stories written by both Union and Confederate survivors and sympathizers often did not reflect what actually happened during the hostilities. Not major changes like, "The Union actually won this battle even though it was generally accept to be a Southern victory." But rather the specifics of battles like Corinth in Mississippi and even Gettysburg were being shown to have occurred very differently that the long accepted histories. I’m far from a Civil War historian, but it would be very interesting to read one of the classic recountings of the war that was written before 1990, and then another written more recently that takes this new research into account. Funny how even a "modern" war can have its history change as time passes.

The New Republic: A Novel (P.S.) – Lionel Shriver.

In The Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives – Steven Levy.

It’s been a tough couple of weeks, reading-wise. I normally have a book or two each year that I start, can’t get into, and give up on. I’ve had two in the last two weeks. “The New Republic” got fantastic reviews, won some awards, and had been on my To Read list for a while. I think I picked the wrong week to try to read it1, because it just didn’t connect. I gave it 20 pages and tossed it aside. I think I’ll give it another shot at some point, because I love the idea it’s based on.

As for “In The Plex”, Levy’s look at the rise of Google, I was surprised I couldn’t get into it. I’ve read three of Levy’s tech-geek books and enjoyed each of them. Where his other books were light and fun, this felt more like a business book, and just did not grab me. I tried for nearly 200 pages, but did not find the story terribly interesting. You can only read so many words about how the engineers at Google tweaked their ad algorithms to get better results and not get frustrated. Perhaps the better, more interesting story was deeper in the book. But I couldn’t take another chapter about the math of Google’s rise. Maybe it’s just because I’m an Apple fan and feel indifferent towards Google, but I liked Levy’s books about the iPod, the Mac, and the early days of the home computer a lot more.

Tenth of December: Stories – George Saunders. Saunders is a genius. Literally. Which makes it tough to write about his work, since I’m obviously not going to come close to matching his words. That task is made doubly hard since this is a collection of short stories. It’s always hard to write about short story collections, as they may have nothing to do with each other but I somehow have to find connections.

Here there are connections, though. Most of the stories are about finding identity in the modern world. Whether through moral stands or finding the right mix of pharmaceuticals, Saunders’ characters are all faced with moments in which they can either carve out their niche or fade into anonymity. Plus each story is a little dark, a little twisted, and, at some point, kind of painfully fun.

  1. And stop sniffing glue. 

Big Day

So I drafted this earlier today, before the news that the Royals have replaced their hitting coaches with George Brett and Pedro Grifo. So I guess something did happen. Whether that’s big news or not is another story.

It feels like a big day for sports.

Tonight, the Pacers take on the Heat in game five of the Eastern Conference Finals. With the series tied 2-2. Huge game. The Pacers have to win a game in Miami to snatch the series away, but I don’t think that happens tonight. After LeBron “fouled out” at the end of game four, I sent my buddy E-bro a message saying LBJ would go for 47-20-12 tonight. You don’t piss off the King. He’s not letting them lose tonight.

I still maintain this is the Heat’s series. But three games have gone down to the final minute and the Pacers could easily be up 3-1 right now. Or down 3-1. Or swept, since Miami won the lone blowout of the series. The Pacers are right there in it. Their size gives Miami fits, their bench hasn’t matched Miami’s but has provided some nice lifts in key moments. Lance Stephenson has had two big games. Roy Hibbert has been an absolute man in all four games. Paul George, though, has faded after two stellar games to begin the series and must to find his legs if the Pacers want to extend/win the series.

Less important is the game in St. Louis between the Cardinals and Royals. The Cardinals are on fire and the Royals, losers of nine straight and 13 of 16, are turning this into another disastrous campaign. Adding insult to injury is last week’s Sports Illustrated cover story on the Cardinals, which pointed out how they’re over a decade into a cycle of being almost perfect with personnel decisions. They’ve pulled off the very difficult feat of being very good on the field, winning two World Series and losing another, and putting together an outstanding minor league system. The Royals can’t even manage to do the second part right, with the most recent crop of phenoms all dropping into the Bust column.

It feels like a big game because, between the losing and some dumb media comments by members of the organization and growing anger in the fan base, this could be the point when something will happen with manager Ned Yost. I doubt owner David Glass will dump General Manager Dayton Moore mid-season, especially with the draft around the corner. But the moment seems ripe for making a change in the clubhouse.

Not that firing Ned will make a difference. I don’t think he’s a good manager, but this mess isn’t entirely his fault. Removing him isn’t going to turn this team into a squad that plays .600 baseball for six weeks and gets back in the race.

It’s another lost year in Kansas City, which is a freaking shame. True die-hard fans1 have waited patiently for far too long for the franchise to get its act together. The organization has sold promise since Moore’s arrival, and the delivery on that promise was supposed to have begun by now. Instead, it looks more-and-more like the prime of the players who have panned out, Alex Gordon and Billy Butler in particular, will be wasted as the organization goes through another cycle of rebuilding from the front office down. Meanwhile a dynasty is budding across the state and there’s really no compelling reason for kids from the western half of Missouri and across Kansas to not choose the Cards over the Royals.

  1. I freely admit that does not include me. Although I’ve followed them closely again for nearly a decade now, I did abandon them through most of the 90s. 

Sand Through The Hourglass

I do, ohhh, let’s say 80% of the laundry in our house. S. will do a load or two on the weekend, and occasionally after a trip or long weekend she’ll get all fired up and spend 12 hours getting every single thing washed and folded and put away. But normally it’s me doing the day-to-day laundry, from start-to-finish.

Where I am not involved, though, is in the seasonal changes in the girls’ clothes. S. has a system of plastic totes where clothes are put away after each season, and recalled when the next sister has grown into them. They are clearly labeled and carefully organized inside. I’m not allowed anywhere near these, because I would just mess them up.1

With this crazy spring, we still have closets full of winter clothes and it’s become a chore to get the warm weather stuff squeezed into drawers and onto hangers. But it seems we’re finally in warm weather for good, so today I started pulling some of those cold-weather clothes out and getting them stacked up so S. can do her thing with them this weekend.

While doing so, I realized that when we get L.’s clothes down and prepare to store them, we’re doing it for the last time. So goodbye Hello Kitty Valentine’s shirt that C. and L. wore. Goodbye dress that all three girls wore to their preschool Christmas program. So long pig jammies that kept each sister warm through multiple winters. There were some clothes that were only L.’s, but quite a few had been worn by at least two sisters.

I’m not saying I had some kind of Lifetime movie moment and got all emotional while putting clothes away, contemplating the near-end of having preschoolers in the house. But you know I am a reflective cat and it was a little sad to say goodbye to all the winter 4’s clothes for the last time.

  1. That’s my self-criticism, but I’m sure S. would absolutely agree with me. 

Ain’t That America

We spent the long holiday weekend as most Indiana residents who don’t go to the Speedway did: sitting near a body of water, listening to the Indy 500 on the radio1 while drinking beer with friends and waiting for some food that was slowly roasting on the grill to be ready. The weather was not ideal; it was unseasonably cool Saturday, overcast most of Sunday, and didn’t warm up until Monday afternoon. So there was no swimming or floating. But it was warm enough to enjoy the outdoors, light a fire early in the afternoon, and enjoy the pleasantness, knowing the oppressiveness of the Midwestern summer isn’t too far off.

And you can cast a line into the water, which we did. Each of the girls caught fish, and M. caught two. L. got her first-ever fish while M. and C. had each caught one last summer. Hell, I even caught a fish, only the third of my life and first since 1981 if I remember correctly. Lest any of my old-school friends think I’ve become some kind of outdoorsman, the girls only fish when we have an expert around to help them get their gear in proper shape and then can help when they land a fish. I’m cool with getting bait on the hook, helping to cast, reeling the catch in, etc. But I don’t know how to tie a knot, attach sinkers and bobbers in the proper way, or how to get a hook out of a fish. I suppose I should learn so the girls can always fish even if one of our resident experts isn’t around.

We all caught bluegill, which are plentiful and breeding right now. L. caught a pretty solid looking one which shot its fins out in defiance when I pulled him in. “He’s an angry one, L.!” I told her. Turned out he damn near swallowed the hook, and we had some issues getting him unhooked. When we tossed him back, he just floated for awhile. L.’s a smart kid and despite our attempts to deflect her attention, she decided that Jake II2 was dead. Moments later, he either shook it off, popped up, and swam away, or something bigger from the deeper water came up and claimed him. I just heard a splash and thought I saw the shadow of something bigger swimming away. But if I insisted that was true, I’d start to sound like a real fisherman, wouldn’t I?

When she was telling S. about her first catch later, L. kept it simple. “He was big and he was angry. He was bleeding and then he died.”

Well ok then.

I’d love to add that I was super-pumped about the Pacers after their big Game 2 win in the Eastern Conference Finals and spent Sunday evening in rapt attention in front of the TV, but that would only be partially correct. I was indeed pumped after the Pacers stole Game 2 Thursday. But I knew one win didn’t change the math and it was still LeBron’s series. And our get-away spot has no TV, so I couldn’t watch if I wanted to. I did sit by the fire and keep track of the score on my iPhone. But since Miami seemed in control the entire night, I only did that occasionally.

Anyway, that was the bulk of our Memorial Day weekend. We hung with friends, wished for warmer weather, but had a good time all around anyway. It’s the first weekend of what we hope is a great summer.

And now L. and I get four days of limbo. She ended school last week, but M. and C. had four more days of school: three scheduled and one to make up the first day after Spring Break when we were digging out of the biggest snowstorm of the year.

  1. Annual reminder to folks not from Indiana: the race is not on live TV in the Hoosier state. So to follow the race live you can either attend it or listen on the radio. Fortunately roughly 75% of the radio stations in Indiana carry the race, so it’s easy to tune-in. 
  2. The girls were all naming the fish they caught after their Bettas at home. 

Double Pisser

Wednesday was a great sports night. And an awful one.

I spent most of the night covering a tremendous high school baseball playoff game.1 I got home in time to catch the last out of the Royals’ dismal loss to Houston. Losing two of three to the worst team in baseball is not cool. At all. Especially when they blew another great start by James Shields. The next two weeks will likely determine the Royals’ fate this season. Their next 11 games are against the surging Angels, the red hot Cardinals, and the very good Rangers. They can’t do any worse than 5-6 in that stretch if they have real hopes of contending this season. It won’t matter whether Danny Duffy and Felix Paulino come back strong in July, or if the ice cold bats of half the team finally wake up if they’re 10 games back of the Tigers a week into June. I’m not optimistic and think it’s going to be an ugly summer in KC as the heat on Ned Yost and Dayton Moore gets cranked up.

After the Royals last out, I flipped over to the game one of the Pacers-Heat game. We had been casually following the score in the press box at my game, and I checked it several times on the way home. Each time the Pacers somehow had a 2-4 point lead. Miami finally got a little cushion right about the time I turned it on, but the Pacers made one more run, keyed by that ridiculous Paul George three that tied the game at the end of the fourth quarter.2

The Pacers had the game won at least twice in overtime, and managed to blow it each time. As crushing as the loss was – between a couple bad decisions by players, some awful turnovers in key situations, a key hustle play by Miami where the Pacers stood around and watched, and Frank Vogel choking on a two major coaching decisions – I don’t think the Pacers had a chance to beat the Heat four times in seven games. But this was a classic setup to steal game one on the road and change the complexion of the series.

Miami still has LeBron, though, who can do things no other human can do on the basketball court. It doesn’t matter that Paul George is turning into a top-tier star,3 that Roy Hibbert is living up to his contract, and the Pacers’ bench is performing well. Whatever they do, LeBron will always have a counter. His ascension to the top is complete. He may not yet have, or ever get, Jordan’s six rings. But he’s in the same place relative to the rest of the league that Jordan was at his peak. Between his skills and his will, he will always find a way to win.

Dumb loss. Multiple members of the Pacers had major mental vapor locks late. But this isn’t their series. It’s LeBron’s world and we’re all just living in it.

  1. More about that in my next Reporter’s Notebook entry. 
  2. In my KU-heavy Twitter feed, there were plenty of references to Trey Burke’s ridiculous tying shot in Dallas in March. Coincidentally that was the last time I sat in my basement until nearly midnight watching hoops. 
  3. Dude has to learn how to handle the ball better, though, if he wants to be elite. 


It was a busy, hectic weekend dominated by C.’s seventh birthday. Actually, I should say C.’s birthday was the anchor to which the weekend was attached, because we were so busy her big day seemed to pass rather quickly.

It was kind of a reserved birthday in terms of gifts. We just got her a few small things, as she had already received her big present last month: we cleared out our guest room, got some new sheets, moved a few things around, and turned it into C.’s bedroom. Now each of the girls has their own room, which C. loves. I think L. has struggled with it a little, as she’s been appearing in our bed at night more often than she had done for a while. But she’ll get over it. C.’s room is always a mess, when she cleans it up, she is very proud to show it off.

Other than the small gifts we gave her Friday, she still had a solid birthday. She got to take Pop Tarts to school for a class treat. Her buddy next door gave her a BFF pillow that separates so they can both keep half. We had dinner at Dave & Buster’s with the neighbors, so C. was running around the arcade like a maniac, thinking the tickets she won, and turned into a couple pieces of cheap candy, were the greatest thing ever. And on Saturday her grandmother took her to a nail salon to get all of her nails done. M. has done that before, and loved it. But I think C. appreciates it on a whole other level than M. did. Girliest girl and all.

And so for my yearly State of the Daughter post, I will say that C. has made great strides this year. She still has emotional outbursts, which are utterly maddening to us. But they’ve gotten a little better, so the trend line there is good. She’s had a very good first year at St. P’s, making lots of new friends and great progress academically, too. Even with the first year of kindergarten at her old preschool, she struggled a bit with things like sight words and simple math last fall. Some of that is just her personality. She doesn’t have ADHD, but has that high energy, always active, easily distracted quality to her that can make you wonder sometimes. But she settled down, got the sight words down, and a few months ago started reading to us. Now she brings home books from the library and sails through them. We find little notes all over the house with her best guesses at words she hasn’t learned yet, which are utterly charming. I’ve started getting the books where a parent reads one page and the child reads the next and have had great fun working through those with her.

She’s also turned into quite the little artist. She’ll spend hours working on drawings and other art projects. It’s really the only thing that can get her to settle down and focus. Each day after school her folder is full of pages of brand new artwork.

C. is a silly, sweet, sensitive kid who is always bouncing off in different directions, physically and emotionally. Life is never boring with her around.

Sports Legends

I have been out covering spring sports the last two nights. Tuesday I caught a county tournament baseball game, which was a scintillating 15-0, five inning win. Last night I had a first round girls tennis sectional match, which was a 5-0 wipeout. But I’m not complaining. It was dry and warm both days, which has been unusual for this spring.

When I got home last night everyone was already in bed, so I flipped around and came across the Marcus Dupree 30 For 30, The Greatest That Never Was. It was already 20 minutes in, but I was captivated for the next hour and forty minutes. Between the old Big 8 highlights,1 hearing Charlie Jones call the 1983 Fiesta Bowl, lots of Barry Switzer goodness2, and Dupree’s legendary flameout at the beginning of his sophomore season, it had a good base to work with. And then there was Dupree’s legendary fashion sense.

I vaguely recalled Dupree ending up in the USFL, but I don’t think I ever watched a USFL game. So I forgot he was actually pretty good at first. Then came the career ending injury and inevitable financial troubles that left him in a sad spiral, sitting at home in Mississippi, fat and alone like an old man at just 23. At the midway point, as he walked through his grandmother’s tiny home that was filled with the trophies and photos of his glory days, it was thoroughly depressing. Another promising athletic talent wasted.

But then came the comeback, which I did not remember at all. He went to an NFL game in 1989, got a spark, and thought, "I want to do that again." In three months he dropped 100 pounds and the next year he was on the field with the Rams. Nuts. He played for two years, until the Rams cut him before the 1992 season, despite leading the team in rushing in the preseason. He wasn’t bitter or upset. He was, rather, proud that he got his shot and took advantage of it. He claimed control of his life and remained in control. Since his career ended he’s worked steady, if unspectacular, jobs as a truck driver and helping clean up the Gulf Coast after the BP oil spill.

The best part of the film, though, was the closing scene. The producers sat Dupree down at a computer and had him watch his grainy highlight videos from high school. Mostly silent, all in black-and-white, he galloped through hopeless, hapless defenders. He sat in silent awe, as if he had forgotten just how good he was and why there was such a fuss about him. It seemed absolutely genuine, and thus was completely charming to watch.

We can all talk about athletes we saw as kids who never made it, for any one of a thousand reasons. I always thought Marcus Dupree never made it. Turns out he did make it, both in football and in being a normal, decent human being.

After that, I watched this lovely, mini-documentary about Morganna Roberts, aka The Kissing Bandit. It’s a little NSFW-ish, but is a must-watch for anyone who grew up watching baseball in the 1970s and 1980s.

  1. KU in lighter blue jerseys with a bird on the helmet, Colorado in their UCLA colors, OU fans throwing oranges on the field. Was there a better part of going to a Big 8 school than throwing oranges on the field? If you went to a bottom-feeder school, you threw your oranges ironically in the first couple weeks of the season before OU and Nebraska came to town and hung 70 on your team. 
  2. I hated Barry. Still do, to be honest. But that dude was the best. 

College Basketball Is Fun Again

I kept thinking there was a shot, even if small.

I’m not going to try to convince you that I believed Andrew Wiggins, the top high school basketball player in the country, was going to pick KU over Kentucky, North Carolina, and Florida State. I had thought for a long time he would make the easiest decision and go to Florida State, where his parents went to school.

Still, I thought KU had a shot.

There was the weekend he visited, when KU turned senior night against Texas Tech into an extended dunk session, soaking in the crowd’s love all evening. With plenty of time to kill in a blowout, the ESPN crew kept telling the national TV audience how McLemore could be this year’s number one pick, and Wiggins could take his place in the KU lineup and be the #1 pick in next year’s draft.

There was the national writer, who had followed Wiggins closely, who Tweeted to the world how great KU campus visits are right after Wiggins was in town. He said even recruits who went to other schools raved about their time in Lawrence. Was the reserved Wiggins sending a veiled message through an intermediary?

There were the comments Wiggins made after playing with future Jayhawks <a href=’′>Wayne Selden</a> and <a href=’′>Joel Embiid</a> in All Star games, about how they were great players and he would love to play with them.

There was his brother playing for Wichita State, which just might make picking Lawrence for his one year of college ball easier on his whole family.

There was his quiet handling of the entire recruiting process. No interviews or weekly Twitter updates. Not even a televised press conference when it came time to announce his decision.

There was the lack of hats at his announcement. KU never wins when hats are involved. <sup><a id=’ffn1′ href=’#fn1′ class=’footnote’>1</a></sup>

There was the drama at Kentucky, that seemed very opposite what Wiggins personality seemed to be.

There was the tidbit that floated around a week ago that his family was fine with him going to KU if he didn’t chose Florida State.

Always just little glimmers. But in the recruiting game, you hold on to the slightest hope. Maybe they would all add up to a player who was going against conventional wisdom.

Tuesday morning, I still thought he would pick Florida State. But there was that glimmer tickling the part of my brain where I had tucked those little notes away.

And then we got the word, Andrew Wiggins will be a Jayhawk for the 2013-14 season. There was much rejoicing, giddy texts and emails were sent, and for the second time I did a second celebratory lap of my house for a recruit. <sup><a id=’ffn2′ href=’#fn2′ class=’footnote’>2</a></sup>

This completely changes next season for KU fans. A month ago it seemed to be a classic rebuilding year, with a batch of exceptional freshmen coming in, but none who appeared good enough to single-handedly carry the team deep into March. This was a recruiting class made to stick for several years. Until Joel Embiid rocketed into the top fifteen and Wayne Selden crashed the top 20 and then Wiggins made it one of the best classes in school history. The reduced expectations of a rebuilding year are out the window. KU is back in the group of teams expected to compete for a national title in 2014. So much for watching the young pups grow and think about how good they’ll be in 2015 and 2016. The future is now. Or this coming season, at least.

As for Wiggins himself, I think all the hype about him being the best player since LeBron James is ridiculous and unfair. He’s an exceptional athlete, a skilled basketball player, and loves the pressure and responsibilities that come with being the Alpha Dog. But he’s not LeBron, a once in a lifetime talent. As freakish as Wiggins’ athletic ability is, he has more of a classic basketball player build than the tight end in basketball shorts that LeBron was when he finished high school. Wiggins can run by and jump over people, but I don’t know that he’ll be able to overpower them the way LeBron did to players his age at 18.

So he’s not going to be LeBron. He may not even put up the numbers that Kevin Durant put up during his one year at Texas. He’s still going to be really freaking good, though. He will be KU’s best player from day one, and will embrace that in a way Ben McLemore didn’t want or wasn’t able to do. He may not have the beautiful shot that McLemore had, but his overall game is better. He won’t shrink and defer when things aren’t going his way. <sup><a id=’ffn3′ href=’#fn3′ class=’footnote’>3</a></sup> He will have rough patches like Ben did, like Xavier Henry did, like Brandon Rush did, like Paul Pierce, like Danny Manning did as freshmen. But those rough patches aren’t going to get him down.

Recruiting hype doesn’t always translate into a great college player, especially in the age of One And Doners. Wiggins is it, though. He’s the best KU recruit since Danny Manning. He won’t have the same impact on the program Manning had since he’ll only be in Lawrence for one year. But he has a great opportunity to hang exactly as many national championship banners as Manning did. Which is why coaches spend so much time chasing these high school kids around.

Welcome, Andrew Wiggins.

And Rock Chalk, bitches.

<ol id=’footnotes’>
<li id=’fn1′>As far as I know the first hat ceremony was when Baron Davis picked up a KU hat, pretended to put it on, then threw it on the ground and grabbed a UCLA hat. Recruits have worn KU hats when announcing they will be Jayhawks. But anytime there is a row of various hats, KU always loses. <a href=’#fn1′>&#8617;</a></li>
<li id=’fn2′>The first came the day Paul Pierce announced he was coming to KU. <a href=’#fn2′>&#8617;</a></li>
<li id=’fn3′>Not bad-mouthing B-Mac at all. I loved him and his year at KU. I loved his humbleness and goofiness. Just pointing out the holes in his game vs. Wiggins. <a href=’#fn3′>&#8617;</a></li>

Evil Tiger

Turns out there may be more to Tiger Woods’ return to prominence than anyone initially believed. There was Dropgate at the Masters. He may or may not have taken another incorrect drop while winning the Player’s Championship this past weekend. And now at least one marshall who was with Tiger Saturday is countering Woods’ claim that he was given an all clear when he grabbed his club and, allegedly, distracted Sergio Garcia as he took a swing.

Well, when they heard that remark from Woods, the marshals were surprised. One of them, Gary Anderson, said on Sunday, “He didn’t ask us nothing, and we didn’t say nothing. We’re told not to talk to the players.”

Hmmm. Now this is Tiger we’re dealing with, so that marshall could be full of shit.

But let’s explore the possibility that he is telling the truth. What if Tiger has come back to competitive golf with an even fiercer competitiveness than he had before. He burns to get to 18, and then 19, major titles to catch and pass Jack Nicklaus. And he knows his physical skills aren’t what they were 5-10 years. He needs every edge and angle he can get.

What if he’s come back as a WWE-style bad guy? He’s going to fudge his drops to get an advantage. He’s going to make noise while a competitor is swinging. He’s going to comment on the green conditions while his playing partner is lining up an important putt. Basically treat other golfers the way his dad treated him when he was a kid and trying to learn how to sharpen his concentration on the course.

Tiger was never really a good guy. People loved him because of the way he played and how often he won, not because he was a lovable guy like Arnold Palmer or a fundamentally decent and honorable guy like Nicklaus. Tiger spent most of his career being a complete dick, but he got away with it because we loved seeing him lap the field at Pebble Beach when no one else could play the course.

But he was never overtly bad, either.

There’s no evidence that Tiger has turned into a cheater and dirty competitor. But if things like this keep happening when he’s on the course, I’m going to start thinking he is. True or not, it will make golf a lot more interesting.

Two Wheelin’

It’s bike ridin’ season, finally. We hope the weather will stay warm and there will be many days of riding ahead of us. The forecast does show temps dipping into the 30s this weekend, so you never know in 2013.

But anyway, it was time to make some moves with the girls. M.’s knees were hitting the handlebars on her old bike. Thus she got an early birthday present of a new bike last Saturday. She loves it, even if it doesn’t have gears like her buddy next door’s new bike. But it does have a hand brake and a cool bell, and that seems to be enough to satisfy her.

The next step is to get C. riding without training wheels. We’ve been casually working with her, but hadn’t done any intense sessions chasing her around. Yet last Saturday, after about five minutes of working with S., she was going 50-60 feet on her own. Now unlike M. a year ago, that doesn’t mean C. is ready to go sans training wheels full-time. She still needs a lot of practice. And frankly I’m a little worried about turning her lose. Where M. was very “Look at me!” when she learned to ride, C. just starts giggling and looking around and increasing her speed without keeping the bike under good control. M. has, amazingly, never crashed. C. is destined for some meetings with mailboxes, sidewalks, parked cars, the fire hydrant across the street, etc. I fear.

And then there’s L.. We’re keeping the training wheels on C.’s bike for now, so she’s riding M.’s old bike when we practice going on two wheels. Eventually we will shift the training wheels to M.’s old bike and that will become L.’s. In the meantime, we let L. hop on C.’s current bike if C. isn’t using it. She’s just barely big enough to reach the pedals, but once she climbs on she has no fear. She’ll charge out into the cul-de-sac and ride with gusto. The problem is she is busy looking back at the parents to make sure their attention is on her. In the process she keeps cutting off the big girls. There hasn’t been a collision yet. But sooner or later one of her sisters or one of the neighbors is going to wipe her out when she doesn’t give them enough time to avoid her. The (kind of) funny part is each time she cuts someone off, she’ll snap her head in my direction, stare at me, and finally say, “What?” as if I’m the one doing something wrong. She’s a piece of work.

Unrelated to bikes, C. was laughing while eating ice cream the other night and started choking. While S. tried to get her to raise her arms and breath, M. screamed, “YOU NEED TO DO THE HEINRICH REMOVER!!!” C. had caught her breath by then so S. and I lost it. That set off another round of giggles by C. and whining by M. to get us to tell her the proper way to say Heimlich Maneuver. When you consider what the act involves, calling it a remover is a pretty solid malapropism.

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