Red Sox sweep the Cards to win the World Series!
(This is so cool that I will forgive Fox Network for the cuts to the "multi-national" force in Iraq watching the game.)
It's just over 36 hours since I got back from Vegas and I'm still feeling it. Still, I'm in much better shape than I was yesterday morning. Man, I hate redeyes (until the trip home this past March, I probably haven't been on one in almost 10 years), but I opted for the non-stop and full day home before returning to work over traveling all day. I'm still not convinced that was the best decision.
We were ostensibly out in Vegas for the Lucky 7s Frisbee Tournament, but I think most people were really just using it as an excuse to go to Vegas. That's fine by me, I wanted to play some disc this fall since I never got around to finding a team for Sectionals. And I can't say that I minded going to Vegas. Especially with this crew. We appropriately dubbed our team "Shenanigans."
The tourney was a lot of fun, but clearly not the highest priority for some people. For one thing, THE SOX MADE THE SERIES! When we were scheduling flights back in September, we already knew that the tournament was happening during the first games of the World Series... but I don't think any of us considered that the Sox would be playing. We had a bunch of Sox cheers, and received a bunch as well, including a "1918" cheer, but also several GO-SOX! from other teams. Most of us were also exhausted from the flight out, getting to bed late, and having to get up and get ready for a 9:05 start. And, of course, there was the whole Vegas thing. One of our numbers didn't show up for the 2nd day, preferring to spend it making "donations" to the local economy.
Highlights and lowlights:
Once again, Bill Simmons has an excellent column on game 7 of the ALCS series. However, he opens with:
I just watched my beloved Red Sox win the American League pennant. That's only happened twice in my lifetime. I watched them rally back from three games down in a playoff series. That's never happened before, not in the history of baseball. I also just watched the Sox beat the Yankees in a deciding playoff game. Not only has that never happened before, it's a possible sign of the apocalypse. (emphasis mine)Oh no! Terrorist attacks, plagues (frogs, locusts and squirrels), and then Bush is going to get re-elected.
The Evil Empire has fallen. The Sox didn't choke in game 7. Their come-from-behind ALCS victory was unprecedented. It's not about the past, the darkness, the fear. It's about fighting the good fight and beating the odds. The Sox have beaten the Yankees in the postseason. It's a sign that anything can happen. It's a sign that good things can happen.
It's still a tight race, but Kerry's still in it. He still has a fighting chance.
I still believe. I have faith. I have hope.
And I'm gonna keep staying away from the political blogs so my blood pressure doesn't go through the roof.
Two down, two to go.
What I meant to say was: four down, four to go!
We heard a strange crackling from outside. We went out to investigate...
We whooped it up; screamed in support. (I hope we didn't wake up too many neighbors.) The last two nights have been amazing, amazing, amazing.
11pm, Ortiz lobs one into short center field to drive in Damon, the winning run.
When I was playing disc earlier tonight, there were four teams on the field in Lexington, engaged in competition. The team cheer from the other game: "GO SOX!"
On our field, I arrive late. Another group of players come after.
"Hey, what's the score?"
"four-two," I say.
Another answers, "One-zero." Oh, right -- our game, not the Sox.
The radio is tuned to the game on the sideline.
There are four teams on the field, and really, we're all on the same side.
I can watch Sox games again.
We all have our superstitions: last year, they lost every time I watched a game. Except when I was actually in the Fenway and watching the game, from bar to bar. But the extra inning loss in the first game of last year's ALDS (from my living room) was heartbreaking. And I'm sorry, game 7 just didn't happen. At least not after the 7th inning.
This year, I avoided games 1-3, but couldn't help myself in game 4, turning on the TV to watch D-Lo strike out the last two batters in the top of the 2nd. And flipped on the TV just before Ortiz cranked the game winning homer in the 12th. A friend of mine said the Sox only did well during Game 3 when someone was in his kitchen. They got ahead when he was there getting drinks for people. I was going to cut my hair after my birthday, but I caught a clip of Johnny Damon, Captain Caveman, and now I'm gonna keep it long until they win it (we're not gonna talk about that other possibility right now).
So I had the game on from the 7th inning on. The SOOTTAD got back to the house just in time to watch the hometown boys tie it up in the bottom of the eighth. And then the craziness started, as opportunities were missed and peril was averted. We started doing shots at the bottom of the 12th.
We were pissed when Francona pulled Arroyo, but were totally behind Varitek and Wake. Anticipated every Ortiz at bat. Our hearts went out to the struggling Damon, and were happy to see him make good defensive plays and bust out for the winning run. (Bill Simmons gives an excellent rundown.)
Tomorrow, game six in New York. Schilling starts.
Two down, two to go.
Two (odd) things I got in the mail yesterday:
A birthday card from my State representative. Boy, what a swell guy! He must be a really great
friendState rep to have remembered; I should vote for him!
Ok, so my State rep has a mailing list of his constituents and their birthdays. Seems an awful waste of time and money. And it skeeves me out just a little, as it reminds me that privacy has become a fairly tenuous concept at best these days, and really, is more like an imaginary curtain we draw across our eyes to make us feel better.
Marketing propaganda from IBM's "Business Development Executives focused on sales in the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) segment." (No really, that's what it says.)
Again, two things:
Perhaps this is just a story about the difference between cats and dogs.
Things that go into the bathroom trashcan are by nature awful things with awful fluids and waxes on them, so having them regurgitated and strewn about the floor is by nature unpleasant and punishable by death. But we love Chuck and the most harm we ever do to him is bring him into the bathroom to the scene of the crime and shout NO! NO! NO! several times while hitting the toilet paper and tissue and used q-tips. Trust me, it?s more painful for us than it is for him....I can't help but recall my friend's cat, Guido.
Guido was a giant furball of a cat, who eventually grew so large and fat from the overindulgence of owners whose children have moved out of the house that he had to be reclassified as a small herd animal.
But when they first got him, he was a cute fluffy kitten that pretty much had the run of the house. And he was quite cute and adorable except for one minor problem -- he would occasionally not poop in the litterbox. (I'd like to think that Dooce would appreciate this post because I'm mentioning "poop," although it's about kitty poop and not people poop. And it should be noted that I'm not mentioning poop because I want to make Dooce happy, but because poop is, in fact, integral to the story. I'm actually having some fun with this. Can you tell?)
Anyway. Guido would sometimes not poop in the litterbox. And it wasn't like he just missed 'cause he was a kitten and just had his little kitty ass hanging out the wrong side of the box or something, he actually pooped smack in the middle of the bedroom (living room? I can't remember now -- it's been a long while -- but you get the idea), a room with wall-to-wall carpet. When they discovered that this had happened, my friend later recalled, they did what they thought you were supposed to do: they took Guido, brought him over to the mess, put his nose in it and gave a stern "NO!"
Sadly, this did not achieve the desired effect.
Unless the desired effect is to train your cat to be afraid of its own poop.
Apparently after this punishment/training (I'm not sure how many times they did it), Guido continued to poop on the carpet. The only difference being that after said pooping, he would immediately run in terror from the room and the punishment incurring substance.
So again, maybe it's cats and dogs. But I think one must always keep in mind, that it's not always about whether a message is received, but if you're sending the right message.
There's probably a point in there somewhere, but I honestly (HONESTLY) didn't try to make one. Which I suppose means I'm not even following my own advice.
I was listening to the radio again this morning (big mistake), and they were talking about the post-debate rhetoric and I heard W's voice telling a crowd:
"Kerry is too liberal for America."*
And that just pissed me right off.
Not that this is anything new, of course. And that would be both the part about me getting pissed off about things coming out of W's mouth and the part where Bush is demagoguing his opponent by painting him as an ultra-liberal, way outside of mainstream America.
I recognize that I live in Massachusetts (and despite my previous post, I do realize that we're most decidedly not a red state), but I don't really consider myself that liberal (I am the more conservative member of the household -- being perhaps ever so slightly more center than the SOOTTAD). But even so, when he says that Kerry is too liberal for America, it sure feels like he's saying that I'm too liberal for America, too.
Hello? We're all Americans,
assholeMr. President. Or are you saying that I'm not part of America? That I don't belong here? That I don't count? That I don't matter?
Oh yeah, I forgot.
* ok, I could have sworn I heard those words coming out of W's mouth this morning on the radio, but at this point I can't find a quote, an audioclip or anything about it online, only references to 3rd party attack ads that say as much. If someone can tell me I'm not crazy, I'd certainly appreciate it.
An interesting article on Slate which discusses Bush's latest meme of calling out Kerry as being a über-liberal by constantly describing him as the liberal senator from the ultra-liberal state of Massachusetts. Tim Noah provides a few interesting insights:
Want to know something funny about Taxachusetts? For every dollar it pays Uncle Sam in taxes, it receives only 79* cents back in federal services and subsidies. That ranks it 44th among the 50 states in federal expenditures per dollar of taxes. Indeed, there's a very strong correlation between liberal, pro-government "blue states" and states that are least dependent on federal spending. There's also a strong correlation between conservative, anti-government "red states" and states that are most dependent on federal spending. (Click here for details.) If you think of Red America as stubbornly self-reliant and Blue America as a drain on the Treasury, you've got it exactly backwards.
I think there's some kind of productivity field around the office.
Not that magical safe-space kind of thing where everything is clicking and flowing and you're getting stuff done mad-crazy. No, it's not THE ZONE. I'm talking about an area, a "field" if you will, that just sucks every bit of productivity out of you, so that you're left as nothing but an empty shell of apathy and ennui.
And it feels like there's one at the office.
I've been having trouble focusing. I suspect that part of it is that I've probably got a little of the ADD. There was an ad on TV a few years ago that began with a woman sitting in a meeting, and then suddenly cut to these random images: a garden, babies crying, a car chase, hot naked chicks... Ok, fine. I don't really remember all the things that they showed, but you get the idea. Anyway, they cut back to the woman and she's being asked a question in the meeting that she clearly didn't hear. And I saw this ad on TV and I said to myself: Hey! That's me! (No really, I swear that's never happened to me before. Nope. uh uh. Not me, no sir'ee.) Of course, it could just be that I'm not particularly interested in what's going on at work, especially considering that I'm back working on the project from hell again. You know, the one that just won't die or go away. I mean, dying would probably be bad (this is a product that the company would like to sell, after all) but it keeps coming back and they keep sticking a bunch of us back onto it. Again. And really, it sucks.
It's past one o'clock and I'm having some trouble focusing as I try to sift through code and figure out what's going on with the current bug that's driving everybody crazy. Actually, I'm having trouble even looking at the code at this point, and instead I'm checking my inbox every 30 seconds or so, hoping someone has emailed me a 10-second distraction as I desperately try to fight to urge to surf the web. So I finally decide to take a break and go for a run. I need the exercise, and I really do think it helps get the blood flowing to my brain.
This doesn't always work, but today, it's good. I consciously try to nudge my brain in the direction of the bug, and am surprised to find that it doesn't put up much resistance. Things start to make a little more sense again and I'm finally able to take a step back and think about the underlying problem we're trying to figure out. I remember dependencies, interactions. A few concepts come together -- a get an idea or two, different ways to think about the problem. I'm in THE ZONE, baby!
Like I said, feeling good. The run itself actually kinda sucked (I was sucking wind for a lot of it) I just haven't been doing enough running recently, I think. But mentally, I felt refreshed. Recharged.
And with the building back in sight, all of a sudden I'm thinking about political arguments, how to partition up the functions of a poker odds calculator I want to write, something I wanted to look up on the web...
I hit THE FIELD. And as I enter the building and make my way up the stairs to the office it just pushes all the productivity out of my body. When I get to my cube, I desperately try to scratch down some notes on my whiteboard before it's completely gone. By the time I'm showered and back at my desk, I'm right back where I started. Bah.
I think I need to seriously consider working from home...
Binney PondAlthough I don't like to make a big deal about birthdays, I do like the idea of doing something meaningful for myself. Something a little different that, I dunno, lets me reset or reflect or something. So of late (that would be the last two years), I've taken a day off from work and gone on a hike. Last year we ended up doing a moonlight hike of Mt. Monadnock in New Hampshire. (It wasn't planned that way, but it worked out well enough. I got a flat that couldn't be plugged early that afternoon, so we ended up getting there at dusk -- but it was a known option when I decided on the hike.) This year I figured I'd go hike the Wapack trail that starts at the "base" of Mt. Watatic in Ashburnham and ends at North Pack "Mountain" in Southern New Hampshire. (Sorry, coming from California, I still am embarrassed to call some of the bumps out here "mountains.") I usually do this hike over Labor day weekend, but this year got filled with various events and activities, so I had to skip it.
I usually start out in the early afternoon from the parking lot off 119 in Ashburnham and do an out-and-back hike, turning around based on my best guess as to how much light I'll have left. I usually make it to somewhere around New Ipswich Mountain before heading back. I had hoped to get an earlier start this time, but the margaritas from the previous night (a birthday dinner for my friend JBar) had done a pretty good job on me, so I ended up getting to the trailhead around 1pm. Not really an issue -- I had already assumed that I'd be hiking back in the dark given the rapidly shortening days and had brought a few extra layers along with a headlamp and the best freakin' flashlight on the planet. (Saved our ass on the Monadnock hike when we accidentally got off-trail.) The plan was to try and get to Rt. 124 in New Hampshire, the first road-crossing the trail makes, if not Kidder Mountain. I figured it was a bit less than the halfway point of a 21-mile trail, so guesstimated it to be about 10 miles out. I didn't really think much beyond that. I thought it would be cool to have a tangible goal and set off for the trail.
It was a beautiful day, and it was good to be outside. I'm glad the weather held out, since there had been forecasts of clouds and possible rain that night or the next day. (it ended up holding off the entire weekend)
It being a weekday, I only ran into four or five groups of people:
By the time I made it to 124, I was just about ready to give up and head back. The timing worked out pretty well since the continuation of the trail wasn't immediately obvious to me. (Incidentally, the area around 124 is actually a cross-country ski and snowshoe area -- all the extra signage was a bit confusing until I figured that out.)
I was already pretty tired at that point, so I took a short break (taking the time to find a trail map from the ski area), and then started on my way back. That was probably around 5pm. It was around that time that a few things started to concern me. Sure, it was getting a bit late, but that was expected. (There were certainly a few moments where I had to get the Blair Witch Project out of my head. Annoying.) But my feet had started to hurt. And there was that sign I saw as I made my way down to 124.
Aw crap! I just brain-farted my way onto a 18-mile hike!
At first, I figured I'd be alright. Sure, my left heel was rubbing uncomfortably in my sweat-soaked socks and the laces on my right boot felt like they were starting to crush bone, but it's just a walk. A long walk, but a walk nonetheless. What's the big deal?
Well, the light-hiker socks and the light-weight boots to start. I think the light-hike ended about 3-4 miles ago.
I took a short break on New Ipswich to take in the sunset. I probably would have stopped to eat except for the mosquitoes that would have joined me. I tried to adjust my stride, hold my feet up with my shoulders, use my momentum to get one foot in front of the other, just concentrating on getting back to the car. It was the strangest feeling to have to struggle just to take one step after another.
7:40pm and I'm in the car, chowing down on cheese and pepperoni and triscuits. I actually leave the parking lot at 8pm and catch Ortiz's game winning homerun in the bottom of the 10th on the radio.
I'll be home in an hour.
Postscript: after cleaning up, we grab some dinner downtown. I'm craving noodles so we hit a Korean restaurant in Chinatown and I get jambong -- a spicy seafood noodle soup. Tasty. But having not eaten anything substantial all day, I end up feeling totally stuffed and bloated, and am unable to fall asleep until way late. Oy.
I really have been avoiding the debates like the plague. But I listen to the radio, and the TV does come on once in a while in the house. And even the "non-political" blogs tend to show glimpses of what's going on. (admittedly Left-leaning, which is a lot like living in a strange, alternate reality where people actually recognize that the President is leading us to Hell in a handbasket)
I did see a few clips of the first Presidential debate, and I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought: "Is Bush Wired?"
Of the summaries I've read of the VP debate, there is one particular (factual) element that amuses me. And it has several secondary amusing points.
In fact, we did post an article pointing out that Cheney hasn't profited personally while in office from Halliburton's Iraq contracts, as falsely implied by a Kerry TV ad. But Edwards was talking about Cheney's responsibility for earlier Halliburton troubles. And in fact, Edwards was mostly right.They catch a few distortions by Edwards as well, but it's largely an indictment of Cheney.
I woke up with a headache this morning.
Actually, I dreamt I had a headache, and woke up, still with a headache.
I wonder if it's because it got cold-for-real last night and my head got cold or if I've got West Nile from a mosquito bite or if I've got a brain aneurysm that's about to go. I should probably take some ibuprofin or something.
When I was in 6th grade, a kid dropped dead one day during P.E. He collapsed just as we had gotten back to the gym from a lap outside, and I remember the coaches trying smelling salts (I thought it was "sauce" for the longest time), and then, I imagine, with a look of distress, running off to call an ambulance. I think this was before 911. We later learned it was a brain aneurysm, or something like that. A blood vessel exploded and that was it. No one could have known, and nothing (at least at the time) could have been done about it. I remember the girls in the class crying a lot that week and after. And there was a memorial page dedicated to him in the yearbook. (Yes, my elementary school had a yearbook.) [Thinking back, I note that this was materially different from the kid in my high school class that got himself killed driving (drunk, presumably) into a tree. They built a memorial for him that I think is still at the school. (a strange piece of abstract art made up of steel beams and smooth balancing stones) But that's neither here nor there.]
In my dream last night, the kid who died of the brain aneurysm was still alive. I remember looking at the yearbook page and thinking that it must have been his twin brother who had died, or maybe the guy I saw was actually the twin. And I had a headache.
And I still have a headache, and maybe I should take some ibuprofin or something. And I hope I don't drop dead. But you know, when it's your time, it's your time. And I guess you don't have a whole lotta say in the matter.
UPDATE: Nope, not dead. Felt better after taking some vitamin-I and going for a run during lunch.
Wandi, a friend of ours, witnessed, and was unable to do anything to stop some hardcore badness down in Southie last night. Two of her friends had the crap beat out of them by a bunch of thugs. Ten against two. Three if you count her.
It makes me angry. It makes me sad. And yet I know there's nothing I can do about it; nothing I could have done about it. There's a part of me that wishes I could have been there to help -- to even the odds, to teach them a lesson, to give back a little of what they deserve. But that's crazy talk. I've been brainwashed by too many stories of the triumphant underdog, too many cinematic happy endings. (Too many kung fu movies.) Really, I would have just been another body to get messed up -- I may be tall, but I'm not a big guy, and I would hardly be considered intimidating. And I know that the right thing to do is to avoid the confrontation from the get-go (the same voice tells me to fold pocket kings to an obvious flopped ace pair or flush draw, but I ignore that, often as not too), and if that fails, to try and defuse the situation. But then again, I wonder if it that would have even been possible.
Wandi has been trying to move away from Boston for a while now. The thought has bummed me out -- she's wicked cool and fun to hang out with, but I understand where she's coming from. She had plenty of reasons before, and after this, I really couldn't blame her for just picking up and getting the F outta here. But she's tough -- she'll stick around for a while. But I know she's gonna be that much more motivated to check the job listings on the Left coast.
And it's not just about a friend moving away. Being driven away.
I actually like it out here. I think it's a great place to live. Boston is big enough to have plenty of stuff to do (it's got kul'cha!) that you'd expect in a real city (even a pseudo-big city with a chip on its shoulder like Boston). And yet we're close to the country, the woods, the mountains. There are little pieces of conservation land all over the place. And it's small enough to have a sense of community. (some might call it provincial.) And yes, this is probably in large part a head-to-head comparison to L.A. So sue me, I'm from L.A.
But bad things happen -- it's a fact of life. But I forget how close to home it can be. And when it happens, and when there's nothing you can do about it, what can you do?
Sure, but doesn't that mean they win?
It kind of reminds me of a conversation I keep having with the SOOTTAD. (and which has come up in other contexts as well)
The presidential election.
I'm terrified at what a second Bush administration might do to the environment, the economy, the Constitution, the country, the world. There is this background buzz (that I'm desperately trying to squelch) that puts me on edge and keeps me from sleeping at night. The SOOTTAD says (and I think only half jokingly, maybe even 1/4 jokingly) that if he gets re-elected, she's moving to Canada. Pacific Northwest probably. Vancouver.
But, I ask, then what? What does that solve? It's like we're handing the One Ring over to Sauron, leaving Middle Earth for the Undying Lands. We give up. Screw you guys, we're
going homeleaving. And if enough people do that, it's gonna just snowball and it'll never get better. I don't have the power to change things myself, but there are capable people out there. But if we bail, who will get them into a position where they can do something about it?
I guess I know the answer. Or at least an answer. Whether it really works, I really wish I knew. And it's a case where my gut tells me it's the right thing, but is also telling me that it's probably going to suck a lot. The right thing is not always the easy thing. But I remain circumspect that things could be a lot worse -- we personally are not suffering through abject poverty here, I haven't lost my home to the bank or to bombing, haven't been locked up for my beliefs. Not yet, at least, and hopefully not ever.
I'll end this with a small bit of dialog from the first act of 36th Chamber of Shaolin. Our protagonists' town, their province, is occupied by a foreign power, the Manchus (tartars in the English subtitles). After having a run-in with the local warlord and told by an elder (who saves their necks) that they should "humble oneself under enemy's rule," the students pay a late night visit to their teacher, Master Ho, to ask him what he thinks.
Master Ho: One brave man alone is not enough. But unity is strength.And keeping with the theme (with a bit of role-reversal), you can also remember this.
Student: but the tartars are well-armed. We...
Master Ho: Men owes his allegiance to his country.
I'm all registered and ready to go for November 2nd, but I figured I'd take a look anyway, and ended up following a link to a couple of DoJ pages about restoring your right to vote. That'd be if you've lost your right to vote, of course. I've always been curious about the whole Felons-can't-Vote thing, what with the shenanigans that have been going on in Florida (both in 2000 and more recently -- Eek) and the voter referendum that passed here in Massachusetts a few years ago.
So here's what I learned from the Massachusetts page:
It seems like it shouldn't be something that would be abused or called into question, but then I think about things like Jim Crow or the Japanese internment during World War II. And I recognize that those things are in the past and feel like we've moved forward since then. But then hearing about the possibility of the indefinite detention of detainees at Guantanamo Bay (even as non-U.S. citizens) doesn't exactly fill me with confidence.
UPDATE: And I also forgot to mention the number of states that are currently attempting to write discrimination into their respective lawbooks and state constitutions (or have already succeeded) over the issue of gay marriage. (apparently the numbers are: 43 with laws on the books, 5 added or stregthened legislative statutes of the 16 that debated the issue, 4 already in the state constitution, 31 up for constitutional amendment)