Coming Out of Left Field

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Zzzzzzzzzzz

If Rogue Slayer hadn't beaten me to it, I might have called this post "Has anyone seen my brain?" Actually, the fact that I couldn't come up with an interesting title is a good indication of how damn tired I am from the last several days.

I did get a break last Friday, getting to go to the Jewish preschool where my wife works. Aside from the weekly Shabbat activities, many teachers and students dressed up for Purim, several of them as King Achashverosh. This resulted in a bit of comedy when one little boy, who was also the Shabbat helper from my wife's class, stood up during service and announced, "I'm the only king!", not once but several times. Awfully cute and, as it turns out, typical for him ... later on, when he asked my wife about me, he said, "Where's your daughter?" (My wife was not amused.) It was a good visit, and one of the other kids even made me a "chocolate and vanilla pie" while we were out on the playground. Since the ingredients were mud and snow, I was glad to be summoned back inside before actually tasting the proffered pastry.

Also fun, if more challenging, was the Chinese class the wife and I went to last night. Even though we've both taken some of the language before, we both felt we wanted to start at the beginning. Most of the first session was spent on pronunciation of the various sounds, which has always been hard for me. My dad says that people from Beijing speak better than people from Taiwan; they definitely speak clearer, and distinguish between sounds that for other folks are virtually the same. That, plus the usual anxiety about being called on in class, kept me second-guessing myself before I opened my mouth. Good thing both of us are taking it -- I need to practice, and I wouldn't want to inflict my accent on total strangers.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Draft doings

This year's EA baseball league had its autodraft yesterday. The nice thing about having only four teams is that you're more likely to get a really strong lineup. Here's mine:

C V. Martínez
1B J. Thome
2B M. Giles
3B S. Rolen
SS M. Tejada
OF V. Guerrero
OF C. Beltrán
OF B. Abreu
Util C. Crawford
BN E. Chávez
BN M. Mora
BN N. Garciaparra
BN C. Jones
BN J. Reyes

SP J. Schmidt
SP M. Prior
RP Fr. Rodríguez
RP F. Cordero
P R. Oswalt
P B. Sheets
P K. Wood

The flip side of that is that everyone else has a really strong lineup too. Plus, one of the other teams snagged most of the Red Sox starters, plus Cabrera and Lowe from last year (!). Looks like I'll have to dig deep into the free-agent pile if I want at least one hometown player on my team ...

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Monday, March 28, 2005

Diamond dream

While checking on the draft status of the EA fantasy baseball league, I ran across this gasp-inducing offer:

Compete for the "Fantasy Front Office" job

Whoever survives the various rounds (which start out with trivia questions and work up to a special fantasy league) will become an Assistant of Baseball Operations for the San Francisco Giants. It's worth a try for anyone heavily involved in fantasy baseball -- if you're obsessively reading scouting reports and juggling rosters anyway, why not get paid for it? As for me, well, anyone who manages to finish third out of four teams just doesn't belong in that level of competition. *sigh*

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Thursday, March 24, 2005

What Greek god are you?

Apparently I'm the god of sleep:

Morpheus
Morpheus


?? Which Of The Greek Gods Are You ??
brought to you by Quizilla

(Quiz found through fellow Morpheus Rogue Slayer)

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The West Wing: "In God We Trust"

This was a great episode for Alan Alda, playing a rare subspecies of presidential candidate, Nonpanderia Religeria. Vinick is becoming more attractive as a replacement for Martin Sheen, though a Republican being elected might mean a lot of turnover in the White House. That would be sad -- while I couldn't care less about the VP or his chief of staff, I would miss CJ, Donna, Josh and of course Jed Bartlett. Either way, we probably won't find out until next season, since there are only two episodes left this year.

Random notes:
-- The ice cream scene was hilarious (POTUS and his potential successor eating right from the carton).
-- Toby was in a particularly hopeless and snarly mood this episode. I can't help wondering if he'll leave the show when Sheen does, or even before.
-- Will trotted out his "the VP's our man, so get on board or get out of the way" bit, which didn't go very far with CJ.
-- I bet that the VP, in true Bingo Bob fashion, will ignore the presidential warning, attack Santos, and wipe out whatever's left of his chances for the nomination.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Stump Sprouts sojourn

Over the weekend, the wife and I, along with a bunch of other folks, paid our six-month visit to Stump Sprouts in Western Mass. As usual, it was a relaxing if busy time. Depending on people's moods and energy levels, you could explore the great outdoors, or stay cosy indoors with books and board games. I joined an impromptu beginner's snowshoeing lesson and, once I figured out how to put the darn things on properly (what do you mean, the back loop is for the back of my foot?), was up and walking, if not running. Which is a good thing -- with snowshoeing, it's easier to look around and enjoy the scenery, and much easier, at least for me, to actually stay upright for more than five minutes at a time.

The get-together for this theme was poetry, celebrated most fully by the first-ever Stump Sprouts poetry slam. Several people contributed original work (my wife wrote an excellent doggerel about chocolate), and one woman recited The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere from memory. Being shy, I was only too happy to have my wife read my selection, Ogden Nash's Very Like a Whale. There were many other fun pieces, too many to remember ... if anyone else from this weekend compiles a list, I'll try to post it.

After so much activity and good healthy food (with more veggies than I usually eat in a week), we somehow found the room for some of Bart's chocolate chunk mousse raspberry ice cream. The little cafe that served it was part of an antique place that, as a little girl remarked to her mom, had "so much junk!" Maybe next time we come out that way, we'll reserve a few hours to browse. You know what they say: one girl's junk is another girl's treasure.

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Thursday, March 17, 2005

The West Wing: "Memories That Linger"

This won't be an episode that lingers in my memory, but it did provide a glimpse of how the interests of a few can almost single-handedly determine a whole nation's policy. The embargo policy against Cuba -- and its lack of results -- also made me think of China's increasingly hard-line stance as far as Taiwan is concerned. In both cases, a major world power spends much time and effort trying to keep down a tiny island that, realistically speaking, isn't a threat to anyone ... unless, I guess, you're a Senator or Rep from Florida.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Red Sox quote of the day

"Can we change the name to the 'Pink Sox'?"

Carson Kressley, from "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy", to Red Sox GM Theo Epstein. Five of the team's players -- Tim Wakefield, Kevin Millar, Johnny Damon, Doug Mirabelli and Jason Varitek -- were made over by the Fab Five. The show will air June 7.

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Monday, March 14, 2005

Tricky taxes

Damn DOMA. It's making tax time much tougher for married same-sex couples in Massachusetts:

"The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling that legalized gay marriage on May 17, 2004, was a sweet victory for gay men and lesbian women nationwide. But it had no impact on the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines a legal marriage as between one man and one woman. Because the Internal Revenue Service will not accept joint married tax filings from same-sex couples, gay married couples are spending more time -- and sometimes twice as much money -- doing their 2004 taxes."

I usually do my taxes myself, but this year when my wife goes to H&R Block, I think I'll go with her. Anyway, it'll be nice to file as married, even if Massachusetts is the only place that recognizes it.

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Friday, March 11, 2005

Red Sox quote of the day

"If Snickers are considered illegal, he may be on them."

Red Sox manager Terry Francona, speaking about pitcher Curt Schilling, who was one of seven baseball players subpoenaed to testify before Congress about steroid use. At least six Red Sox players were tested for steroids yesterday as part of MLB's more stringent testing policy.

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Thursday, March 10, 2005

West Wing: "La Palabra"

A solid if unspectacular episode, though there were a couple of camera tricks in the first few minutes (kudos to whoever did the rolling orange POV shot). I bet Jimmy Smits is having a blast playing Santos. Week after week, he gets to be serious, smart, passionate *and* funny. Janel Moloney, who plays Donna, is probably having fun too. Her character is suddenly playing a bigger role in the campaign, so much so that she ends up almost single-handedly knocking Hoynes out of the running. She deserves a much better candidate than Bingo Bob.

Meanwhile, back at the White House, next week's episode promises a secret powwow with, of all people, Fidel Castro (!), and a more intimate connection between Leo and Kate. All things considered, I'd rather be out with Josh and Matt Santos, or even Alan Alda. Then I could at least pretend the election hasn't already happened ...

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Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Bush's beautitudes

Received via e-mail:

Blessed are the rich, for they have more than they need and still they take with such joy. Blessed are those who mourn, for their numbers shall multiply. Blessed are the meek, especially the liberals, for they will not stand up to me. Blessed are those who hunger for righteousness, for they may wish in one hand and spit in the other and see which one fills the fastest. Blessed are those who are not merciful, for they shall laugh upon those without health insurance. Blessed are the pure in ideology, for they shall promote religious fascism. Blessed are the warmongers, for they shall control the world's resources. Blessed are those who persecute, for they shall trample upon the First Amendment. Blessed are you when you are an abject failure, yet people still think you're doing a fine job. Blessed are you when you base your policies upon a fundamentalist interpretation of scripture. You violate the consciences of millions of Americans. But they're going to Hell anyway.

Blessed are the undecided and those who don't vote, for you allow me to get away with murder. Blessed are the Americans, for God loves us better than anyone else. Jesus said, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." But I tell you, do unto others before they do unto you. And be sure to use cluster bombs. If you are offering your gift at the altar, and then remember that your brother has something against you, have your friends run as many untruthful TV ads as they can. And do not fear to lie, for if you do it often enough, you shall be believed. And if anyone oppose you, yea even if they wear an insulting T-shirt, shake the dust of your shoes in their face, have them arrested, fire them from their job and confine them in a pen called a free speech zone where they may enjoy their freedom in security. Also make certain your friends in the TV media ignore their point of view.

Jesus said, "But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." But I say that is ridiculous, for it means I'm as bad as those awful homosexuals. Jesus didn't say anything about them. Perhaps that's a gap in the record, like my National Guard service.

Jesus said if anyone would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well. But I say to you, tell the lazy bum to get three minimum wage jobs. That's why we have three shifts. Lay up your treasures on earth, for if you have a lot, you will be eligible for a big tax cut. And I shall let you keep your money for your own benefit, not give it to a bunch of stupid old people on Social Security. I may even figure out a way you can take your treasure to heaven with you, if Dick Cheney tells me what it is.

Jesus said, "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." (Do you ever wonder if Jesus was smoking some of that stuff I got hold of back in the '70s?) But I say, "Bring 'em on!" Bring on all the Arabs and the U.N. and the cowardly French and Germans and Russians and the Canadians and the wimpy liberals and even the New York Yankees! Who cares if they hate us as long as they fear us! Veni, vidi, vici! (Bet you didn't think I know Latin.)

You, therefore, must be perfect, as I am perfect. As I said in a recent press conference, I can't think of a single mistake I've made. And I thank my Father, who makes sure that no matter what I do, I get away with it.

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Monday, March 07, 2005

So many books, so little room

The wife and I had an unusually busy weekend. Friday night we had dinner with her parents and a friend of the family, who gave us much good advice on our next big project, namely finding a house. We came out of it actually feeling better about our prospects; though we don't make much combined, it does look like we can afford something bigger than a corner of a garage somewhere. Saturday afternoon we helped my wife's mom sort through books, many of which ended up coming home with us despite our lack of space for the ones we already have. Yes, this is one of the reasons we need our own house in the first place.

Saturday night we had dinner with friends before heading to the Swingtime dance. I was sidelined most of the evening with a nasty cold, so I manned the door, listened to the music (courtesy of the Mood Swings, a damn fine band), and enjoyed watching the dancers. It was a pretty big crowd, which is nice. Hopefully some of the new faces will become regulars.

Sunday I spent lazing about, reading and trying to get over my cold. I finished Lords and Ladies, part of Terry Pratchett's Discworld series, and nibbled away at Diana Gabaldon's The Fiery Cross. The latter is unfortunately becoming harder and harder to read, since I'm getting near the spot where the author does something unspeakably horrible and entirely unnecessary to one of her characters. I may just have to do what my wife did and skip over the nasty bits, or alternate it with another book. It's not as if there isn't anything else to read in the house!

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Friday, March 04, 2005

The West Wing: "A Good Day"

Appropriately enough, this was a feel-good show. Santos et al. got the better of the Speaker, the suffrage kids enjoyed a brief moment in the presidential spotlight, and Harper's quick thinking averted a war with Canada. I kept thinking that the plot with the hunters was going to turn into a tragedy, but then I remembered that one of the Law and Order series had done that instead. After last week's episode, it was a nice pick-me-up for the characters as well as the viewers; Toby, aka Richard Schiff (who directed), particularly needed a change from all the campaign chaos and cynicism.

Speaking of which, Zogby actually did a poll about the West Wing presidential election. According to the survey, Santos would beat Vinick, 44% to 28%. Of course, this is fictional; someone as moderate and smart as Vinick would never get the Republican nomination in the first place.

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Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Taxing task

I've just started doing my income tax return for 2004.

All I can say is, thank heaven for TurboTax, not to mention the Web. This is still going to be painful, but much better than in the prehistoric days of pencil and calculator.

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Tuesday, March 01, 2005

You know you're living in 2005 when ...

Got the below via e-mail, and it's definitely worth passing on:

You know you're living in 2005 when ...

1. You accidentally enter your password on the microwave.

2. You haven't played solitaire with real cards in years.

3. You have a list of 15 phone numbers to reach your family of 3.

4. You e-mail the person who works at the desk next to you.

5. Your reason for not staying in touch with friends and family is that they don't have e-mail addresses.

6. You go home after a long day at work you still answer the phone in a business manner.

7. You make phone calls from home, you accidentally dial "9" to get an outside line.

8. You've sat at the same desk for four years and worked for three different companies.

10. You learn about your redundancy on the 11 o'clock news.

11. Your boss doesn't have the ability to do your job.

12. You pull up in your own driveway and use your cell phone to see if anyone is home.

13. Every commercial on television has a website at the bottom of the screen.

14. Leaving the house without your cell phone, which you didn't have the first 20 or 30 (or 60) years of your life, is now a cause for panic and you turn around to go and get it.

15. You get up in the morning and go online before getting your coffee.

16. You start tilting your head sideways to smile.

17. You're reading this and nodding and laughing.

18. Even worse, you know exactly to whom you are going to forward this message.

19. You are too busy to notice there was no #9 on this list.

20. You actually scrolled back up to check that there wasn't a #9 on this list.

AND NOW YOU'RE LAUGHING at yourself. Go on, forward this to your friends...you know you want to!

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