For Kids…See?

Blogging from me (Ken) will be light this week. So I’ll just offer a few quick notes. I’m apologetic.

It’s nice to know that I’m allowed to write about politics if I want. Of course, I’m also allowed to have a root canal without anesthetics.

Bobby Crosby has been very solid on defense, but shaky at the plate. I had expected the opposite. He seems patient early in the count, but if you get two strikes on him, he swings at anything. Kinda reminds me of a young Matt Williams. If Crosby can have a career resembling Williams’, you’ll have some happy fans of the Athletics.

Et maintenant: I have seen Khalil Greene. Wow. He looks spiffy both in the field and at the plate. Suddenly, Rey Ordonez’s character is a lot more sympathetic.

This architectural review of Petco Park is good. I especially like the phrase, “The quality that makes SBC Park so lastingly seductive is that its virtues are born of necessity. [snip] But at Petco Park, and at many of the other 15 major-league ball fields that have opened since 1991, quirks were designed by committee.” Exactly. There’s a difference between real beauty and cosmetics.

Every personality test I take says I’m an architectural type: I am driven to understand and design systems. I love to see a simple system of ideas result in complex functionality. I get jazzed about the simple idea of a logic gate making computers possible. I’m fascinated that the difference between two kinds of human memory can result in aesthetics.

So this explanation of Google’s architecture really excites me. Oh, the possibilities! But I find that my enthusiasm for an architectural vision is usually hard to share. People don’t get it until they can see and touch the final output. I always end up feeling like Tim Robbins in The Hudsucker Proxy. Here’s my great idea:

O

For kids…see? And I think I’m brilliant, and everyone else looks at me like I’m pathetic.

I don’t share Jason Kottke’s enthusiasm that this architecture will make Google the most important company in the world in 5-8 years. I once helped found for a company that was a calculated bet on the Netscape/Java web architecture. I thought that one of two things would happen: (a) Microsoft would change, or (b) we’d be on the winning side. Wrong, bozo. Microsoft found a third path: (c) use your monopoly power to crush the competition. When Microsoft is an obstacle, I learned the hard way not to be optimistically prophetic.

That’s all the time I have, so now I’ll stop waxing poetic.

The French Cousin?

OK, I’ve heard “Who’s on First” a gazillion times, but there’s one joke I don’t get. Can anyone explain this to me?

Abbott: Strange names, pet names…like Dizzy Dean…
Costello: His brother Daffy.
Abbott: Daffy Dean…
Costello: And their French cousin.
Abbott: French?
Costello: Goofé.
Abbott: Goofé Dean.

The audience on the recording laughs at this, but I just go, huh? Goofy Dean? French? I’m missing something. Why is this funny?

Quarters

We put the kids to bed, then I told my wife I had a surprise for her.

“Hey, new shoes! Nice,” said the wife. “Now are those quarters in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?”

For some reason, she wasn’t very happy with my answer, or the surprise…

So I’m happy to welcome my new leader, Scott. Which reminds me of a corny joke I heard today. Don’t know if this joke works outside the Bay Area or not, but:

Knock knock.
Who’s there?
Scott.
Scott who?
Congratulations, you’re on the jury.

The Mailbag

Let’s dip into the mailbag…

You write good but watch out for people stilling poems.
–Mariah

People-stilling poems? Is that some kind of poetic musical chairs freeze tag?
I’ve never played it but I’m willing to try.

Round and round the bases they go
The monkey and the marlin,
The snake thought it was all in fun:
The yankee quotes George Carlin.

OK, who doesn’t have a seat? Sorry, tiger, you’re out. Oh, don’t cry…

Was just wondering if you’ve bailed on Barry Zito forever, forever.
–Ryan

Well, I’m still ticked off that Barry Zito’s uncle didn’t show up that night and change history for me. And if Zito is willing to mess around with the space-time continuum himself, why the heck doesn’t he just go back in time and change those playoff homers he gave up to Posada and Ramirez? I think he’s just full of hot air, that’s what I think. So yes, my wrath may never, ever wane.

But you never know. Time travel creates all kinds of temporal parodoxes. When you’ve got a guy like Zito messing with space-time itself, forever and forever squared are difficult concepts to ascertain.

Does the Prime Minister know of your families past? If so, is he nervous living next to the relative of the assassin of a former King?
–Bill

My brother and Swedish Prime Minister Persson have been neighbors twice, in two different cities, and they once had a conversation in a bar at the Rejkjavik airport in Iceland. Not only is Persson not nervous about it, I think they’re secretly in love with each other.

Having said that, I don’t think Mr. Persson trusts me at all. Every time I go to visit, Mr. Persson is conveniently “out of town”. Or he’s just “too busy” to invite me over for afternoon coffee. Or he has these mean “security guards” who won’t let anyone in to his home for a chat. Yeah, right. You and I know the real reason: that chicken Swede is worried about the kind of unilateral cowboy action that may eminate from a tough-skinned, unpredictable American brother.

What’s this humbug I hear about Will Carroll?
–Dan

Will Carroll is a guy who has a magical secret place where he can go spend time not talking about injuries. And don’t we all need a place where we can go spend time not talking about injuries? What a lucky boy is he!

He is full of guts and gore, prospectus and condiments, notably horseradish, cheese wiz, bacon bits, and soy sauce. What is humbug, however, is the rumor that Will Carroll contains chutney.

A’s 3, Rangers 1

I’m gonna play Will Carroll for this one.

The protagonists of tonight’s Rangers-A’s game were four players who had injury-plagued seasons last year. They all look healthy now. Mark Mulder and Chan Ho Park dueled it out, and both pitched fabulously. It helped that the home plate umpire, Brian Runge, had a far more generous strike zone tonight than last night’s ump, Dana Demuth.

Jim Mecir took over for Mulder in the eighth. He is quite noticeably thinner; he lost over 20 pounds to take pressure off his troublesome knee. He also pitched great; his screwball seemed to have much more bite than it did at any time last year.

And then there’s Jermaine Dye. Dye won the game with a homer in the sixth off Park. I’ve seen Dye four games in a row now, and he is a monster. The last two years, with his legs hurt, you could blow fastballs by him at will. Now, his hips are rotating quickly; he is getting around on those fastballs, and crushing them.

On Saturday, he took two fastballs off the plate inside and yanked them for a homer and a double. Yesterday, he singled and doubled to right. He’s smoking the ball all over the field. Everything is hit hard, even his outs. Yadda yadda sample size, but unless he hurts those legs again, he looks to me like he’s going to destroy all of those conservative projections for him. This isn’t the Jermaine Dye of 2002-03.

I’m going to the game tomorrow; Colby Lewis vs. Barry Zito. Should be fun.

Mouse Potato: Rangers at A’s

It’s late, these notes will be short, cuz I’m feeling tired.
I’m glad Bobby Kielty was acquired.
The umpire was calling all the low strikes balls.
Hudson ended up throwing a lot of pitches because he wasn’t getting his calls.
The Rangers may have lost ARod, but they can still have a very good offensive attack.
Jermaine Dye is back.
This game was a good one with had a lot of twists and turns.
Eric Byrnes!
The Rangers need a better LOOGY than Mahay.
Arthur Rhodes will probably be OK.

Mouse Potato: Giants at Astros

This game has some moments, and a couple of strange plays. But forget that: only two things mattered here: Barry Bonds and Willie Mays.

Bonds raked two fastballs off Roy Oswalt to left field for doubles. Oswalt walked him next time up, to save himself the trouble.

Mays joined the Giants broadcast booth for an inning, which was pretty fun.
He said he’s going to give Bonds a torch when Bonds hits 661.

In his day, besides himself, Mays decreed, only Vada Pinson and Mickey Mantle had more speed.

Bonds came up in the eighth, with two on and one out, Giants down 4-1. Jimy Williams decides not to put on base the tying run.

Not an easy choice; a hard one to decide; but Jimy’s choice was wrong, one pitch and we were tied.

I don’t think Mays will need that torch as a gift to give, because Barry Bonds shouldn’t see a pitch to hit as long as he shall live.

Mouse Potato: Phillies vs. Pirates

Kevin Millwood and Kip Wells throwing well, the innings fly by fast.

Game Break: Ben Grieve goes deep! Brewers lead 4-1. St. Louis comes back and ties it. Dave Burba relieves Ben Sheets. Dave Burba? Isn’t he from a decade in the past?

Pirates take the lead in the fifth with a double to right by Tike.

Imagine a ballpark designed by Frank Gehry. What would that be like?

Is it the fault of teachers that more kids don’t turn to poetry for enjoyment?

Littlefield and McClendon got contract extensions today? Okayyyy…I guess it’s not brain surgery, and somebody needs to give Raul Mondesi employment.

Royals score six in the ninth to beat the White Sox, 9-7! That’s a surprising Game Break.

Craig Wilson homers. Dude can rake.

Why does the Herald Tribune logo show a clock at 6:12? And does every watch ad show the time is ten past ten?

A scary thought for Pirate fans: they’re going to the pen.

Rollins drives in a run with a sac fly. Philly down 2-1.

Mesa mows ’em down in the ninth, and the Pirates have won!

Mouse Potato: Cubs vs. Reds

Top 1, Corey beats Cory, as Patterson takes Lidle deep. “Dusty Baker doesn’t want to see that,” says Joe Morgan, immediately placing his unique logic on full display.

Sosa pops up. Alou flies to left. If they’re hitting the ball in the air off Lidle, the Reds are in for a long day.

Adjectives: there’s no reason to fear them.

When Lidle struggles, he nibbles, and now he loads the bases. Alou doubles to clear them.

Reds scratch out a couple against Wood, but the rally dies when Casey strikes out.

GMail looks tempting, but privacy makes me pause with doubt.

Barrett hustles himself into a triple. He should have been out at third.

7-0 Tigers. Perhaps picking the Tigers to win the AL Central wasn’t so absurd.

ESPN shows Sandy Alomar Jr. homering in Ozzie Guillen’s managerial debut. My wife says: “Ozzie Guillen? Ozzie Guillen is managing? Whose idea was that?”

5-4 now after a double by Casey at the bat.

Hey, Ruz, it’s Mike Wuertz! He throws strikes! He goes 1-2-3! He knows how to perform!

Stretch time. The last few innings have been quiet. The clam before the storm?

My spelling is gelling!

Kent Mercker? Isn’t he too old yet?

Cubs score two when Dunn arrives at a fly, but then forgets to hold it.

Wow! A single to center with men on first and third becomes a double play: 8-2-5!

Borowski’s save looks shaky, but he manages to survive.

The True Giant in the Lineup

I went to the A’s-Giants game yesterday, and saw something yesterday that may never be repeated. Granted, this was just spring training, but still…

Ricardo Rincon was pitching, top of the 7th, game tied, one out, one run in, runners on second and third. First base was open and Barry Bonds was up. Pedro Feliz was on deck, with A.J. Pierzynski following.

So you walk Bonds, right?

Not Rincon. He has a huge lefty/righty split, so he prefers facing left-handed batters. So Rincon goes right after Bonds and gets him to pop up. He walks the right-handed Feliz semi-intentionally on four pitches, then retires the lefty-batting Pierzynski to escape the rest of the inning unharmed.

I laughed. It’s as if Rincon said to himself, “OK, Bonds, Pierzynski–easy outs. Just don’t let Pedro Feliz beat you. You always gotta be careful with Pedro Feliz.”

Watchin’ and surfin’

Surfing the web while watching A’s vs. Giants on TV.

“Jerome Williams looks like he still needs a note from home to pitch in a night game.” Ah, it’s so nice that Hank Greenwald gave up being a retiree.

Top of the first, Eric Chavez takes Jerome Williams yard.

If Ed Cossette can complain about Sears, then I can proclaim that I’d rather work side by side with the Poopsmith all day than stand in line to return something at Home Depot. Why must they make it so hard?

I didn’t want this: a reason to bring my laptop to the game.

Zito walks Snow. His fastballs are up too high. Grissom pops up on a high 3-1 fastball with Bonds on deck. Then Bonds pops up, too. It didn’t take Zito long to rediscover his aim.

Williams’ sinker looks good tonight. The Chavez blast didn’t leave Williams shaken.

Who is this SB Poet person? Isn’t that name taken?

“Mohr struck out 106 times last year, and is not unfamiliar with that walk back to the dugout,” says Hank.

Things I never considered before and never will again #298: the fine art of avoiding dishes that clank.

Greenwald on Zito’s batting: “Some guys would be happy to hit their weight. Barry would be happy to hit his number.”

The other Barry, Bonds, rakes a line-drive double to the wall even though he broke his lumber.

Neifi Perez is worth $6.1 million! Statistics now show it!

This explains everything: a good programmer is a poet.

Zito has a new upright position out of the stretch. A’s pitching coach Curt Young is on mic and says Zito thinks it puts him closer to the same motion as his windup. The better posture also gives him a much better pickoff move, it helps take pressure off his knee, and just generally makes him look more handsome.

Just to prove Curt Young right, Zito picks off Cody Ransom.

Oh no! What happened to homestarrunner.com?

Zito is mowing guys down. If you were worried about Zito losing it, be calm.

I’ve wondered why my poetry is so much better than my prose; now I found a tool that shows me the reason.

I don’t agree with all of Will’s politics, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a “curiously nattering philosophy of treason.”

Today’s trivia: “Six players from the 1989 World Series played for both the Giants and the A’s. What are their names?”:

Says Hank, “The 1989 World Series, isn’t that the one where the underdog Giants took the heavily favored A’s all the way to four games?”

Of all the things that happen in April, isn’t National Poetry Month is the biggest event?

Barry Zito’s pitch selection last year: fastball 55.3%, curveball 22.0%, changeup 22.7%.

Bonds pops up to right on a 3-0 two-out fastball. McMillon drops the ball. Santos, on first, wasn’t running hard all the way and gets thrown out at the plate.

Zito goes seven scoreless. He was great.

Ugh. Eric Byrnes gets beaned in the helmet by Leo Estrella. He’s lying prone on the ground. Blood is flowing down his head.

Byrnes gets carted off. Good news, it seems there’s no concussion, just a nasty cut that bled.

Trivia: if you answered, “Dave Henderson, Stan Javier, Bill Bathe, Kelly Downs, Kevin Mitchell, and Ernest Riles”, you were right.

Scutaro makes a nice diving catch in the 9th. I’m rooting for him to win the job at second. Mecir closes it out. A’s win 4-0, game over, and good night.

The Good Old Days

I don’t really disagree that SportsCenter was better in the old days with Olbermann and Patrick. But I don’t think it’s quite fair to blast the current anchors. They have a much tougher job.

It’s far easier to be innovative in an immature art form. Certainly, you have to be talented to innovate at any time. But when an art form is new, you don’t have a whole library of clichés to battle against. Now, there have been over 25,000 SportsCenter shows. What’s left to do that hasn’t been done before? Is it even possible to avoid clichés at this stage? I think you’d have to be extremely, extremely talented.

Lately, I’ve been mulling what the predictors of quality are in daily art forms (talk shows, comic strips, blogging, baseball play-by-play, etc.) It’s impossible to create great work on a daily basis. You don’t have time to refine things.

Half the battle, I think, is just showing up. Longevity seems to be important in judging the quality of daily art forms. The reason Johnny Carson is viewed as being better than Jack Paar is probably because Carson stuck around longer. 40-year-olds don’t win the Ford Frick Award for baseball broadcasting excellence, 80-year-olds do.

You also need a certain level of competence. The best daily artists have moments where they break through the clouds of routine and let their brilliance shine through. But to get to those moments, they need to show up every day and go through the inevitable motions.

Some daily artists, like Gary Larson and Bill Watterson, won’t accept going through the motions, and quit when they hit the wall of clichés. Others, like Charles Schulz, find a way to change things up (getting Snoopy up on two legs) just enough to keep going.

Which of today’s bloggers will be the Carsons of tomorrow? We’ll see who sticks around for 30 years. In the meantime, damn the clichés, full blog ahead!

Big News, Big Secrets Revealed

I’ve been bursting at the seams trying to hold this big news in. It’s been a secret for a long time, but now I can finally tell everyone about it.

Late last year, I got an email from Luke Harrison, a producer for the Tech TV cable channel. They were planning to do a reality TV show about the lives of bloggers called “Houses of Blog”.

Since Tech TV is a Bay Area company, they were looking for some prominent local bloggers who might be willing to participate. They’d come into our home, and set up some cameras, and film whatever we were doing. During the day, they’d send over a cameraman to do handheld shots and follow us if we leave home. We wouldn’t get paid, but we’d get a bunch of free gadgets and video games and other cool product placements.

I talked it over with my wife, Barbie. She was hesitant at first, concerned about the effect that fame might have on our family. But I said, “C’mon, this is Tech TV. Nobody watches Tech TV, you just flip past it on your way to some other channel.” So she agreed to do it, if the kids wanted to.

My 7-year-old daughter, Sofia, agreed as soon as she heard she might be on TV. Jodie, the 3-year-old, initially said “Be on TV I don’t want to!” but when I explained about all the fun video games she would get, she relented.

They started filming in January. The plan was for them to film for three months, and then they’d edit it together and show it in the fall. Those plans are now up in the air, after Tech TV was acquired by Comcast for $300 million last week. Tech TV is now going to merge with a channel called G4, which is only about video games. A reality show about bloggers might not fit their new format.

But we’ll see. Even if the new G4/Tech TV hybrid doesn’t want the show, they might be able to sell the program to some other network.

Anyway, they wrapped up their filming at the end of March. The rule was “No blogging about the filming during filming” so I wasn’t able to say anything about it until now. Luckily for me, my blog is mostly about baseball, so it was easy to avoid the subject. I can’t imagine how hard it was for the other bloggers they filmed who were more in the habit of writing about their daily lives.

They haven’t edited anything yet, so I haven’t seen any of the film, but I’ll bet our first episode is a doozy. WARNING: Spoiler Alert! I’m going to tell a few things that happened while they were filming. If you don’t want to know any details of the show, SKIP THIS PART and go to where it says END SPOILER below .

The very first day they started filming, we took Sofia to school and then headed to the hospital for Jodie’s doctor’s appointment. Jodie has had speech problems. She was very late to begin to speak, and when she finally did begin to speak, her speech wasn’t normal. We ran all kinds of hearing tests on her, but she hears fine. So then we ran some other tests, of which we were about to hear the results.

We arrived at the pediatrics clinic, and explained to them about the cameraman who was following us around. Dr. Chui agreed to talk to us on camera. We went into her office, and there she gave us her diagnosis. She thinks that Jodie has Habogad’s Syndrome, a rare genetic speech disorder. The symptoms fit her to a T: unusual skin pigmentation, garbled syntax, and a preference for hear books read backwards rather than forwards. Dr. Chui said there is no known cure, but we could try some experimental speech therapies to see if they would help.

Barbie wept. Jodie looked up at me and said, “Sad Mommy is. Why?” I explained that Mommy was sad that there is no medicine that could help Josie talk better.

“Talk better? Heh!” said Jodie. “Medicine? Heh! These I want not. Sad be not, Mommy. Talk I can.”

Barbie nodded, wiped her tears, and we headed home.

So while the morning was depressing, the afternoon brought good news. Or so we thought, at first.

We were sitting around the dining room table for lunch, when Josie shouted, “Coming now mailcarrier is. Quickly she walks, always in motion is she!”

I went to the mail slot and picked up the mail. It was there: the letter we’ve been waiting for. The letter from MIT.

Sofia had applied to MIT last November after she passed her GED and aced her SATs in September. She’s a brilliant young child, a prodigy really, and has dreamed of going to MIT ever since she visited their web page, and found a cute picture of an ostrich staring right at her. “That’s the school for me!” she declared. It seemed exactly the kind of school that would welcome a student who is a little bit different from the crowd.

We decided to open the letter before we had to pick her from from her high school. If MIT rejected her, she might be crushed, and we’d need to soften the blow. We opened it, and–good news! Sofia was accepted to MIT!

We went to pick up Sofia from school. We decided not to tell Sofia in the car; we’d wait until we got home. But there’s really no way to make a three-year-old keep a secret; it’s impossible. Jodie tried really hard not to give away the secret, but she just couldn’t keep herself from giving hints.

“Excited you will be when home we get,” said Jodie.

“Why?” asked Sofia.

“At home something is,” said Jodie.

“Yeah? So what? We have lots of things at home,” said Sofia.

“Something new we have. See it you will,” said Jodie.

“What?”

“Tell you I cannot. A secret it is. But waiting for it to arrive you have been!”

“My letter from MIT?” said Sofia softly. She looked nervous.

Soon we arrived home, and we let Sofia open the letter. She took one look and burst into tears.

“Sofia, honey, why are you crying?” I asked. “You were accepted!”

“I know,” she sniffed.

“So what’s wrong? Are you afraid of being so far from home?”

Sofia looked at the floor, and shook her head no.

“Are you afraid of being the smallest person in your school?”

Sofia shook no again. Jodie piped up: “Already smallest person in her school Sofia is. Size matters not!”

I continued. “Do you want to study something else besides string theory and particle physics?”

Sofia shook no.

“Then what is it, sweetie? Tell me.”

She sniffled again. “I was just thinking, that’s all.”

“About what?” I asked.

“MIT is near Boston right?” asked Sofia.

“Yes,” I replied.

“Does that mean there are lots of Red Sox fans there?”

I put my arms around her and gave her a hug. “Yes, sweetie, I’m afraid there are. If you don’t want to go to MIT or Harvard, that’s perfectly fine with me.”

She lifted her head up and smiled. “Thank you, Daddy. I love you.”

END SPOILER

Now, I have no idea how Tech TV is going to edit this all together, but that should make some great heartwarming television, don’t you think? And there’s three whole months of that kind of stuff! I’m so excited thinking about it, I can hardly contain myself. I can’t wait to see how it turns out!

I just hope this Comcast purchase of Tech TV doesn’t send the whole Houses of Blog project into the trash. That would totally suck. Let’s not even think about it.