Archive for March, 2008

Bruce

Monday, March 31st, 2008

I may have missed one of my very last chances to see Bruce Springsteen with the original E Street Band Saturday night. I’m kind of pissy about it.

I’ve seen him twice but never the whole shabang stadium-type show with the cast of characters. Don’t get me wrong, both shows were great with a lot of talking, but they both felt like a college lecture than a rock show. I mean, this guy was explaining things and talking as though there was a Storytellers episode playing. But I have completely missed out on the whole E Street experience.

The one that really is weird is the fact I had great tickets for him for the day after Big A was born. But, since she had no patience for such things, she blessed us a couple of days early and I missed the show for something better…having a kid. He went almost three hours! It’s considered one of the greatest performances by him and the band ever done on the West Coast.

So Big A got Hannah Montana and I may never see my favorite in concert. And so it goes.

But I do have a bunch of bootleg concerts (thanks for your help in that Dave) that I have acquired over the years from soundboard masters (remember when you could just rip the hell out of music?).

My favorite is from a singalong of Jersey Girl at a Giants Stadium concert. I love my Jersey Girl and I love the lyrics. I think this is the same version I have, just hearing how he played loose with a couple of lyrics.

General musings

Sunday, March 30th, 2008

I have been lucky enough to have several conversations with military generals over the years.

Blanket observations:

They believe in the Powell Doctrine of overwhelming force and leaving.

They are really, really, REALLY intellectual on lots of subjects.

They use few words when talking about Middle East policy.

.

.

Not that any of that adds anything. I only though of it because I want to get my base creds updated this week so I can duck hunt this fall.

Figuring out Accardo from Ryan

Sunday, March 30th, 2008

Today is my fantasy baseball draft day.

It’s crazy.

No, it IS crazy.

For well more than a decade I have prepared harder for this than almost anything else except for marriage and birth.

It’s so irrational. But it’s pretty cool, too.

Forget the money, even.

I love baseball and stats. The last couple of weeks have been an orgy for my math senses as I figure things out. In a few hours, I go against some of the best players in the country, with my partner Brian, and see if we can come out ok in the first phase (draft day).

(NOTE: Ummmmm…most of our competitors are sports writers or have written books about the subject. We are like lambs near an altar.)

Love it. Just love it.

Baseball and I are so intertwined it sounds crazy. I was even good enough at playing it at one point that I had JC scholarship offers (which is even better than an offer from a big school if you are only serious about just baseball).

But for me, it’s the numbers. It’s the math and odds and statistics and more numbers. It’s at the root of how I think about numbers. It’s how I teach Big A math. Baseball stats, well, the formulas, are so important to thinking quickly it makes me want to come up with a formula to prove it.

Here’s a simple example: Most people draft a guy because he hit X number of home runs or another guy because he has Y number of saves. In the scoring for the league X and Y are equal. But if you take the number of total home runs the league can produce, and see how much slugger X produces as a percentage, versus the total number of saves the league can produce and the percentage owned by closer Y…Y is waaaaaaay more valuable.

It’s simple math and logic.

Since no one will read this before the draft…

Brian and I are going to pull a stunt starting about 10 minutes after the draft begins at noon. We have the sixth pick in a 15-team league. We’re going to draft closers off the top. It’s a huge gamble. It’s contrarian to everything you’re suppose to do.

But the math says to do it. Well, at least in the early rounds. Then we’re going for steals. (See the math of saves v. homeruns…think number of steals v. homeruns.)

Regardless, I have to thank P for letting me do this every year. So one last story…

I once had to be at work in another state on draft day. P not only showed up at the draft, she hung with me on the cell phone and drafted for me. It took almost three hours, but she sat there and called out my picks from thousands of miles away, because she is awesome.

She is awesome, but I think she knows that this game is fun. She is as gritty as I am when it comes to winning.

Draft Day! Giddyup!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dith Pran Dies of Cancer

Sunday, March 30th, 2008

Dith Pran, who was the subject of the 1984 movie “The Killing Fields” died today of pancreatic cancer.

Everyone should know the story.

Which is exactly why this movie has always been special to me. When I was in junior high, and the movie was just playing in kind of art-house-type theaters, I had a social studies teacher who loaded us onto buses and had us driven to see it. This was a totally public school in the boondocks, but it was also a former Vietnam War colonel who said, who insisted, we had to go see this movie.

I’ve thought about that a few times over the years. It was less than a decade after the fall of Saigon, this guy was a bigtime military person there that was now teaching in junior high, and he was so moved by the movie, the story, he arranged for 90 of us to take buses to a private screening at the now gone Parkland Theater.

I understand the strength of the story, but this teacher had something more raw to tell us through it. He also made us watch Apocalypse Now and read Heart of Darkness. The dude had demons and even though we were barely teenagers, he used everything he had to excise them, I think, by saying the world isn’t all peachy keen.

That teacher didn’t run the war in Vietnam. He was a high-level grunt.

So, with hearing the death of Dith Pran, I think of the fact that you may never actually run a war in life, but you can eventually change humanity a little. I hope. That’s what those two guys did.

Shark Jumped

Saturday, March 29th, 2008

I have officially jumped the shark on EVERYTHING this current dministration could tell me.

And if you don’t know what that means…you’re a shark for another generation.

Admiration

Saturday, March 29th, 2008

Big A has been saying we have to turn off everything at 8 p.m. tonight in honor of Earth Hour. We negotiated. Mom and I could have TVs and flashlights, while she could have a handheld video game, but all the other things in the house would be turned off for one hour.

I didn’t realize what a big deal this was to a kid. But I admire the fact she was pretty radical about it and got a little over-the-top when mom and dad kind of yawned at it at first.

I admire that. So does P. We just didn’t like getting the last-minute appeal for all things electronic being shut off in three hours. We’re as crazy liberal as the next I think, but don’t mess with computers and TVs at the last minute.

P had a great solution, though.

“We can just go out and buy some candy and ice cream.”

Cracked me up.

Regardless, lights out here at 8 p.m., Dear.

Two funny exchanges in two hours

Saturday, March 29th, 2008

The second…

“Let’s have a cheap lunch with a do-it-yourself bar for hamburgers.”

“How cheap is cheap?”

“Well, 99 cents each for the burgers.”

“You mean AM-PM?”

“But you make up for it in sour kraut!”

Laundry Room Talk

Saturday, March 29th, 2008

“You can put anything in with towels.”

“No you can’t.”

“Sure, it’s all good.”

“It doesn’t work that way.”

“Yes, it’s fine. Didn’t you learn anything in college?”

It’s a friendly snow

Friday, March 28th, 2008

It’s been odd the last couple of mornings waking up a little bit early just to make sure there is no school delay for Big A because of the snow this week. A late spring snow is really the best of all worlds, though. It looks really beautiful, but the pavement is all too warm to make the roads very hazardous overall (say for overpasses and shady spots).

Big A has the disadvantage of having her entire district on a half day schedule this week for conferences. So, of course, the districts adjacent were late, but they were going to need a freaking blizzard to cancel school around here.

But can I admit something. Shhhhhhh…

I was kind of excited having enough snow around the last couple of days to actually make me look at the school schedules. I don’t think that will ever NOT be exciting to me in a Peter Pan kind of way. The times weather closes school or makes it start a couple hours late give me a little extra dood-dah in my step, because I know how rare it can be around here year after year.

A few more inches today and tonight, but I should be able to play golf by Sunday. The other nice thing about late Spring snow…it’s a welcomed quick visitor. The best type of old friend to have over once in a while.

Customer Service

Tuesday, March 25th, 2008

I love internationalization. Love it!

Hate customer service from India.

Me: “My order is wrong.”

Her: “Can I have you name again, please.”

Me: “[My name]”

Her: “And your phone number?”

Me: “You mean the one I typed three times to get to you?”

Her: “Yes.”

So, I gave her the phone number again. What was the point of it?

Her: “And may I have your name?”

Ugh.