Coming Out of Left Field

Friday, April 28, 2006

Unfair fares

I'm starting to wonder if the "T" in MBTA stands for tolls instead of transportation:

T announces proposed fare increases

The T's official site has a bit of official blather about "'flat-fare-by-mode' systems," "value-pricing" vs. "distance-pricing," etc. etc. What it boils down to, though, is always the same thing: we're in debt, it's not our fault, and you're going to pay up.

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The West Wing: "Transition"

Another excellent episode, with a nearly-perfect blend of political and the personal:

-- Santos is briefed on the situation in Kazakhstan, and expresses his unease and dismay with the Bartlet's administration's strategy.
-- An overworked, Blackberry-addicted Josh tries to convince Sam Seaborn to return to the White House. Meanwhile, Donna gets an offer of her own from Helen Santos.
-- Donna and Josh try to figure out if a relationship between them can work.

Even with the season and the show winding down, these characters are still full of surprises (exhibit A: the "good cop, bad cop" approach to foreign policy) as well as some good one-liners, particularly in the scenes between Josh and Sam. And I admit it: as a Josh/Donna shipper, I cheered at their last scene together. While it's hard to believe Josh could have a life outside the White House, it's nice that he's trying to get one.

I've said it elsewhere, but I'll say it here too: it's a shame that we won't get to see the Santos administration in action. Especially since, if next week's preview isn't misleading, Santos will make a very interesting (if improbable) choice for his VP.

Cross-posted to TV Help Web

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Friday, April 21, 2006

Security, of a sort

Over the last few months I've been doing fill-in work here and there at a certain company in Boston. It doesn't pay as much as my last job, but it's really interesting, the people are nice, and between one thing or another I've been there quite a bit. So when I was asked today if I could start coming in two days a week, the answer was a no-brainer.

Aside from not getting benefits, this is actually an ideal job, at least right now. Certainly the wife and I would find it much harder to try the baby thing if we both worked out of the house full-time. And with freelance work, laundry, driving lessons, etc. I don't think I'll have any trouble finding stuff to do on the other three days.

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Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Mourner's Kaddish

Technically speaking this isn't the right day for Kaddish, but since today is also a date that also reminds me of loss, I've decided it's OK:

Yit-gadal v'yit-kadash sh'mey raba, b'alma di v'ra hirutey, vyam-lih mal-hutey b'ha-yey-hon uv'yomey-hon uv'ha-yey d'hol beyt yisrael ba-agala u-vizman kariv, v'imru amen.

Y'hey sh'mey raba m'varah l'alam ul'almey alma-ya.

Yit-barah v'yish-tabah v'yit-pa-ar v'yit-romam v'yit-na-sey v'yit-hadar v'yit-aleh v'yit-halal sh'mey d'kud-sha, b'rih hu, leyla min kol bir-hata v'shi-rata tush-b'hata v'ne-hemata da-amiran b'alma, v imru amen.

Y'hey sh'lama raba min sh'ma-ya, v'ha-yim aleynu v'al kol yisrael, vimru amen.

Oseh shalom bim-romav, hu ya-aseh shalom aleynu v'al kol yisrael, v'imru amen.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

I can think of a lot of great things about marriage ...

... but apparently an anti-gay marriage group in Colorado is having some trouble:

Screenshot from Coloradans for Marriage

Hat tip to brian_igo on Easily Addictive for the link and amykhar on EA for the screenshot.

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Weekend reading

Thanks to Rogue Slayer and her wife The Girl, we had the pleasure of going down to Providence last Saturday for a book reading by one of the wife's and RSLS's fellow Bryn Mawtyrs. Anastasia Ashman and her co-editor, Jennifer Eaton Gokmen, have published an anthology titled Tales from the Expat Harem: Foreign Women in Modern Turkey. The book came out just last month in an U.S. edition, but has already had three in Turkey, and is winning all sorts of acclaim. (If the essay that Anastasia and Jennifer read was any indication, the praise is well-deserved.)

The wife and I picked up one copy for us and another as a birthday present, and afterwards all four of us met Anastasia and Jennifer at Starbucks for an all-too-brief chat before they caught the train. The plan had been to grab some dinner in Providence, but on the spur of the moment we decided to drive to Provincetown instead. The wife and I agreed afterwards that it was the first spontaneous trip either of us had made in a while, and it rocked! After a yummy (and huge!) meal, we walked a bit and tried to do some shopping. RSLS and The Girl found some cool shades, but none of us had luck with sweatshirts, as most of the stores were closed (it being the off-season), and the ones that were open just had overpriced leftovers from last season. Still, it was a great road trip, and the company couldn't be beat. Hopefully RSLS will post her take and some pictures on her blog soon.

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The West Wing: "Requiem"

If there's anything good about West Wing ending this year, it's this: the show's going out on top.

This episode was stellar all-around -- excellent writing, excellent acting, and just the right mix of drama and humor. Even Leo's death was the occasion of (to quote some of the characters) celebration; I especially loved the scene in which Bartlet, CJ, Josh, and the rest trade stories about him. (I still cried at the opening sequence, though some of that may have to do with Mother's Day coming up.)

I was also impressed that instead of letting Santos coast into office (which, with so few episodes left, would be understandable), they're presenting him with thorny problems right off the bat. Too bad we won't get to see him govern, unless one of the other channels pick up the show or do a spinoff. "The West Wing: The Next Generation", anyone?

Other notes:

-- That was an odd look on Stockard Channing's face when Bartlet started telling stories at the reception. Was she ticked to be pulled away from "Out of Practice"?
-- Nice subplot with Josh-Donna and C.J.-Danny failing to hook up. Though I find it hard to believe Donna wouldn't take one look at the situation and instantly guess what was going on.
-- As for Josh, what's the matter with you? I don't care if Sam Seaborn's available, make Donna the deputy already!
-- One episode down, three to go. *sigh*

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Friday, April 14, 2006

Roster-tweaking

I knew I said I wasn't going to make any drastic changes to my fantasy baseball roster just yet. But that was before I looked at my team and realized the following:

-- I have four guys whose only position is first base.
-- I have only one catcher and one shortstop.
-- I have only two guys who can play second, and neither is tearing up the league at the moment.

So in the interest of balance, I made the following adds/drops:

Drop: T. Helton (1B), J. Cantu (2B, 3B), Mi. Cabrera (3B, OF), M. Texiera (1B)
Add: I. Rodriguez (C), F. Lopez (2B, SS), V. Wells (OF), J. Beckett (SP)

Except for adding Beckett, the pitchers stay the same ... for now, that is.

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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 3

Took advantage of an off-day to catch yesterday's home opener on NESN. It was a good game, though a little too exciting at some points, thanks to Beckett's lack of control in the first (three walks, ugh) and some defensive gaffes. Nixon dove for a ball only to have it go over his head -- injuring himself in the process; later Nixon's replacement, Wily Mo Pena, jumped for a ball but had it bounce off his glove into the stands.

Still, the Sox won with some timely hitting, and Beckett (once he settled down) and Papelbon were pretty solid. Papi got another homer, which ties him with Bronson Arroyo. Yes, Arroyo. Is it too late to get him back and teach him to play outfield?

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The West Wing: "Election Day" (Part II)

If you haven't yet seen this episode, skip this post unless you want to see major spoilers. Otherwise, read on.

First off -- yay!!! Go Santos! I hoped the election would end up going his way, particularly when the episode cut a couple of times to the room of his supporters (in stark contrast to Vinick and his three staffers), but the episode managed to keep us in suspense until the last possible moment. And good for Vinick that he didn't opt for a protracted legal battle. Overall, both Alan Alda and Jimmy Smits have done very nice work this season. I wouldn't mind seeing either actor -- or, better yet, both of them -- in another show. West Wing spinoff, anyone?

As for the Leo storyline, it was heartbreaking, and will be even more so with his funeral in next week's episode. There will probably be some blatant pulling of heartstrings, but for once I won't care. After all his years of stellar work, John Spencer's certainly earned himself a great send-off.

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Saturday, April 08, 2006

Red Sox quote of the day

"Obviously, they were expecting a shutout, but, sorry, my bad."

Pitcher David Wells, who was booed after giving up a two-run double during his rehab start for Pawtucket Friday night. He gave up seven runs over five innings of work, which was still better than Orioles pitcher Daniel Cabrera (seven runs over 1 1/3 innings, in Friday's loss to the Sox) or the Rangers' R.A. Dickey (six homers in a loss to Detroit).

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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Taxing Tuesday

The wife and I spent the morning today at H&R Block getting our taxes done. It really shouldn't have been tiring, since all we needed to do was sit, answer a few questions, and write a couple of checks. But it was stressful and time-consuming, especially with the computers running slow and the married-in-state vs. single-federally stuff to figure out. It'll probably take even longer next year, since I'm going to start tracking expenses for my freelance work, which will mean saving receipts and estimating percentage of office vs. personal use and other not-so-fun things. But after seeing just how much difference my self-employment tax made, I'll gladly trade a little pain now for less pain later.

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Monday, April 03, 2006

The West Wing: "Election Day" (Part 1)

This one could've been called "The Waiting Game", since that's all most of the characters can do. Wait and, er, figure out ways to pass the time. ;) I hope that in the case of one couple it was more than campaign sex. Now I wish I'd seen the episode that flash-forwarded to the opening of Bartlet's presidential library, though knowing how smart the writers are they probably didn't give anything away about that particular plot.

As for this episode, it was pretty good. Its job was to keep us in suspense, and it did. I was a little surprised that we didn't see more of the candidates, especially Vinick, since he was out and about in California. I also would've liked to have seen more of Bartlet doing some campaigning on Santos' behalf -- not just this episode, but earlier in the season. But with the Central Asia conflict and the nuclear power plant to deal with, he's been busy, and there's a slight chance that he's upset over Bingo Bob not getting the nomination. (OK, make that a very slight chance.)

Other notes:
-- Yay, Charlie's back! I was wondering where he'd been.
-- No follow-up on Toby's situation. I guess we're to assume the DA didn't follow through on his threat.
-- Now Leo's really gone. :(

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It's baseball time again ...

... which means it's also fantasy baseball time. Here's my post-draft roster for my EA league team:

Hitters
C: J. Varitek
1B: A. Pujols
2B: C. Utley
3B: D. Wright
SS: M. Tejada
OF: C. Crawford
OF: B. Abreu
OF: H. Matsui
Util: M. Texeria

Pitchers
Starters: C. Carpenter, R. Oswalt, C. Zambrano, R. Harden, D. Willis
Relievers: Fr. Rodriguez, B. Ryan

Bench
Mi. Cabrera, C. Delgado, T. Helton, M. Ensberg, J. Cantu

Unlike in previous years, when I'd immediately start adding and dropping players, I'm going to stand pat for a little while. The lineup and starting rotation are both pretty good, and with only four teams in the league I don't think I need to worry about finding replacements if someone gets injured or hits a slump.

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