Wednesday, June 28, 2006

That's Real Turf

Proof that the first game was played on real grass.

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Tonight was the Dude's first T-Ball "game". Even calling it an intra-squad scrimmage would be too formal. It was controlled chaos - but everyone had a good time. M was the official game photographer. As usual she snapped a few mysterious photos (the grass for example) as well as the standard game shots.

[Dude playing first base.]

[M sporting the shorter summer hair-do.]

[The proud parents.]

Monday, June 26, 2006

First Baseball Game

The Dude attended his first baseball game yesterday (Sunday). Boppa had some very nice seats so the Hobbled Runner and son joined him to watch the Twins beat the Chicago Cubs 8 – 1.

Sunday was a great day for proponents of outdoor baseball, but three guys named John sat inside the Metrodome, in the second deck right behind home plate safe from the sun's harmful rays. The Dude stuck it out the entire game. Boppa very patiently explained the game to the Dude, who seemed to "get it" as well as any 6 year old could. A splendid time was had by all.

Classic exchange:

Dude: "How do they grow grass in here?"

Dad: "It's not real grass, it's artificial turf."

Dude: "Oh, you mean it's fake."

You can't fool a six year old.

First baseball game with my son. I know I should be more sentimental – but it's not in me. I realize that many boys /men (and some girls/women) are very nostalgic about their first baseball game. It's often spun into some folksy yarn about fathers and sons – and how it was the first time they ever connected with their dad – or how those memories are now the best memories of their childhood, etc.

My Dad never took me to a baseball game. I don't resent it at all. It would have been very unnatural for my father to take me to a baseball game. He and my Mom attended Twins games after he retired, but I never went to one with him. To his credit, my father never forced me to play sports and I never played little league baseball. In fact, I never played any organized sport until junior high when I went out for cross-country. Once I became active in sports, my father was at almost every cross country and track meet. Those are my sentimental father/son sports memories.

Back to baseball - - I recall my first game – must have been about 11 years old, and my Mom "dropped us off" at the old Met Stadium – parents did that "back then". The Twins played the Chicago White Sox. It was a rather dull afternoon game – but that's all I recall - it may have rained out - - I'm not certain.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Rethinking Law School - too late

Maybe it's not too late for you to rethink law school. Ann Althouse links to an article on the topic and some thoughts of her own:

Smart young people who want to do well but can't figure out exactly what they want to do often go to law school. The theory is they'll at least be progressing toward a real career. Is this such a bad idea? Well, it's very expensive! And it's a lot of work. And if you don't have focused goals, you're quite likely to find yourself bumbling along with the crowd into a job you don't like at all. And having spent all that money and done all that work, you're also going to find it hard to say no to that job. This is all very conventional wisdom among people who have already gone to law school.

Substitute "grad school" or "business school" for "law school" and you cover many of my friends and acquaintances.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Importance of Church Elections

Until my generation, the Lutheran church was our “family business”. On my father’s side of the family we were (and still are to some extent still are) sort of a Norwegian Mafia. My grandfather was a Lutheran minister; three of my uncles were ministers. My grandmother and several of my father’s sisters (as the wives of small-town preachers) played significant roles in their churches: Sunday school teachers, choir directors, etc. Family gatherings often included lots of talk about the "family business". That’s why I found this post at Concurring Opinions interesting:
Bob Dylan was right. You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. The best way to learn that is by following major church elections. Before I moved to Birmingham, I would never have noticed the incredibly important votes being held at the annual conventions of Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and Southern Baptists. If you want to get a sense of the American mainstream, look no further than these meetings.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Farm Art

Aunty Ames - recently returned from her trip to Minnesota - posts some cool "Farm Art" pictures.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Baby Falls Asleep After Eating Arm

Here I am demonstrating how easy it is to get a baby (my nephew Isaac) to sleep. All you have to do is make sure he has enough arm to gnaw on.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Don't Like this Post? - I Planned it That Way

There’s a method to my madness. Even if I could produce quality posts every day, day-after-day, it now seems in my best interest to throw a few lame posts into the mix.

Business Pundit explains it better than I ever could, so I defer to him:

So what happens if the quality of your writing (or music, video, photography, whatever) is stochastic, meaning, what if it is ultimately deterministic but has some random qualities? Users get the same reward as from other high quality media, but because you provide that reward at random intervals, they keep checking in, even when they don't like your content, because they are always looking for that "next hit." If quality is explained as a mixture of several variables that contain elements of personal preference, then it makes sense for digital media outlets to vary and mix these variables in ways that attract different people at different times. That way they can maximize the number of people that visit on a regular basis looking for quality content, but only have to deliver quality content to any given individual at some random interval. In theory, it sounds like a better solution than focusing on providing consistent high quality media to a small niche.

Fast Tracking Students

Ann Althouse has a say on the topic of grade-skipping - moving kids ahead a grade when they have the ability to do so:

It is stunningly efficient. You don't have to set up special classes for the quicker students, and the students themselves have their time saved. And I like that idea that these students are just going faster, replacing the idea that they are gifted, belonging in a separate room, on a separate track. "Gifted" sounds preening and even rather religious. It sounds as though there's something wrong with giving the student credit for achievement.

Getting to go faster because you're actually getting the work done faster has a more egalitarian feel to it. All kids can understand the concept, which is similar to the idea that if you finish your homework an hour early, you can do whatever you want for an hour. It's a nice incentive. Imagine if kids were told: If you finish your homework an hour early, we'll give you an extra hour's worth of homework. So letting the quick kids finish early ought to inspire the other kids to try to get their work done fast. Wouldn't that be better than for them to see those kids given harder work?

And she asks the question many in cube-ville often ask:

There's some real justice to it. If you can do more work earlier, aren't you entitled to finish the task -- in this case, high school -- earlier? Why should you be burdened with additional work? It's like what I hate most about a 9 to 5 job: You don't get off early for getting a lot done.

[Emphasis mine]

Monday, June 12, 2006

Cabin, and the latest New Coke

I was not the only one driving Highway 10 last weekend:

The drive up was serene; no construction anywhere. I took Highway 10, which was the old route between the Cities and Fargo; it pierces a dozen small towns, each of which have their own character. Some have a solid contentment – the resorts and cabins feed a good economy, enough kids stay around after high school, and the downtown, while decades past its prime, still has a movie theater. If there’s a second floor, there might be something up there besides ghosts and rodents. When you stop at the Dairy Queen, you will be find a giggle of tween girls in the back chattering into cell phones; the new gas station has six kinds of coffee and the Wall Street Journal. You’re in the middle of civilization. Two minutes at 75 MPH, and you’re in the middle of nowhere. Which is how they like it, I imagine.

Left the wife and kids up at the cabin – in the good hands of Grandmama, Boppa, Aunty Amy, and new cousin Isaac. Left late enough (7:15 p.m.) that I flew home. New car got 35 mpg on the highway – very nice. Made only one stop – in Rice – for gas, bathroom, and snack. I selected a new Coca-Cola Blak - for a little “pick me up” - - $1.99 for 12 oz.

The girl behind the counter at the Holiday does not work for Coke. She sneered, “Have you ever tried one of those?” if I had set down a pack of chocolate covered grasshoppers or something equally strange.

“Nope” I said, "but I like Coke and I like coffee, so I thought I’d give it a try,” was my genial response. Should have taken her “advice”. The official review: Very sweet – like a Coke/Espresso mix, and I nursed it for 90 miles. In the end, I did not finish it.

After 12 hours and three teeth-brushings I can still “taste” it.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Winnie, Neigh – Pass the Oats

I never considered myself much of a clothes horse. In fact, I waffled for a few weeks: do I just give up, like most people and dress down – like I’m at the cabin or bumming around on Saturday errands; or, do I strike a blow for decency and professional attire, and actually buy some more nice dress slacks, a nice dress shirt and tie or two – and how about shoes while I’m at it. The question was answered yesterday when I dropped a cool few hundred at Men’s Wearhouse.

I always get a sick feeling in my stomach when I spend money like that – though I probably shouldn’t since the last time I did it was 2002. Come to think of I haven’t purchased a sport coat or suit in this century – or this millennia to make it seem more dramatic. But I’ve got a new job – one where I meet people outside my department on a regular basis, and will sometimes even travel and meet (gasp!) customers. So it’s time to spiff-up. Can’t wait to get my cool new pants back from alterations (not to mention all my old ones being taken in and up – losing weight and growing older – really make you change shape.)

Peekaboo - I See You

Johnny Googlequist – that’s what they called me in my old job. I got the moniker for always “Googling” job applicants. It’s become common practice these days – as this article in the New Scientist points out:
"You should always assume anything you write online is stapled to your resumé. People don't realise you get Googled just to get a job interview these days," says Callas.

Don’t know why my colleagues laughed – the Googling process takes only a few minutes, and while I uncovered mostly trivial stuff on over 90% of the candidates (lots of college and law school activities – school and social organizations), two items stand out:

The MySpace entry where the candidate said she “Hated talking on the phone” – our position required over 7 hours a day on the phone.

The disbarred attorney – We require bar admission.

What’s interesting about the New Scientist article is the discussion that the NSA will now “mine” this social data, just like they do phone calls. It really doesn’t bother me – I’ve never assumed one bit of privacy for anything posted on the web. It amazes me that others still do.

As Ann Althouse says about this subject:
There's also the problem of trying to make people care about the government listening in on phone calls when we walk around everywhere with our phones and talk in front of people all the time.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Dude Wins House (Yahtzee) Cup

The six game tournament came to an end tonight, with the Dude coming out on top - as expected. Both the Dude and Dad got off to a fast start, with the Dude rolling a small straight for his first turn, and the Dad pulling off an awesome full house. The game went downhill from there, with both players scoring their lowest games of the six game series.

Game 6: Dad = 172; Dude = 176.

Overall Score: Dad = 1339; Dude = 1538

Yahtzee Frenzy

The Dude and I are locked in a power struggle - we are engaged in a Yahtzee "tournament" with a Harry Potter theme. We've played several games over the course of several days, and tonight's final game will result in the awarding of the "House Cup" (hence the HP reference). Before you all get on the edges of your seats and chew your nails to the quick - relax - there's no way I can catch up. Over the past four games, he has amassed an impossible score. He'd have to score a 0 and I'd have to hit the impossible "perfect game" of 375 to beat him.

Hope to post pictures tonight or tomorrow of the final game.

[Image from Wikipedia entry on Yahtzee - a source of great info, and other cool images.]

Business Blogging

I'm always on the lookout for new business buzzwords. The Business Pundit has invented one of his own:
Who needs buzzwords for that? People muddy or cover up what they are actually saying using plain old English all the time. In honor of this article, I'm coining a new term - INABATIBS. It means "I Need A Beer And This Is Bulls#!t." So next time you are in a boring meeting, just tell them you need to go work on the Inabatibs project.

Do you work in a voice (phone) driven or email driven organization? Like me, the Window Manager works in an email driven business:
I've found that once you are in an email driven organization, there is something of a competitive advantage to reading and writing email at odd hours, weekends and holidays. For example, just because it is Memorial Day in the U.S. doesn't mean it's a holiday in Japan. So if you respond to emails while others in your organization are out camping, you get to drive the agenda. By the time your organizational competition has put their Coleman lanterns away, you've set the terms and conditions and have a lock on the deal.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Brian and Me

Lileks' Bleat today reminded me of a story. He said,

Learned something interesting in the paper: Brian Setzer, rocker nonpariel and walking embodiment of mid-20th century geetar sensibilities, lives in Minneapolis now. There’s a chance I could run into him in the grocery store. I wouldn’t know what to say, except for Thanks, and Thanks again, and that Gershwin quote you slipped into a song a few albums back made my day, and can you please just hold this pick in your hand for a second so I can frame it? Thanks. Also, sign my child’s arm. Here’s a tattoo needle. I’ll hold her down. She’ll thank me later.

I have a Brian Setzer story. I always liked Brian Setzer - must have been all those Stray Cats videos in the early days of MTV. Back in my law school days when I lived near downtown (Loring Park neighborhood), I was eating at the Brueggers on Nicollet Mall, at 11st street. In walks Brian Setzer. He was in town, playing at the State Theater – I believe with his “big band” though I may be wrong. He orders lunch and sits down two tables from me. Lots of hair, leather, and tattoos peeking out under the hair and leather. One of the young women working there notices him, gets a little giddy, and decides to clean tables over near Brian and I (notice how I’m part of the story now?). The tables didn’t really need cleaning, but it was a good cover. It was pretty obvious why she was suddenly so interested in table sanitation and the old Stray Cat wasn’t fooled. He smiled, said hello, and invited her to sit down. I think that he was so distracted by her cleaning frenzy that he figured it would be easier to just have her sit down with him so he could eat in peace. Setzer seemed very nice, and answered all her questions very politely. I left thinking that here was a guy very comfortable with his celebrity.

You usually hear horror stories about someone approaching a star (major or minor) for an autograph only to get chewed out. I suspect it does become annoying – but the fans are their customers. It just comes with the territory. (I know - Easy for me to say.) It seems to me that many celebrities like to call attention to themselves – traveling with their entourages, etc. In my story, Setzer was alone and went mostly unnoticed except by the Bruegger’s girl and me.