Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Return of the Champs

Thanks to a Christmas gift from Cheryl, we went to the Giants' first game in San Francisco since the World Series (which, in case you had not heard, the Giants won). It was a spring training game against the A's, but that didn't stop a crowd of 38,000 people from coming out to the park on the first day of good weather the region had seen in about a month.

I had wanted to be at the first game back, and it was worth it. We made an outing of it, cooking hot dogs and wrapping them in foil for the trip to the park, hauling in peanuts and Crackerjacks for the game itself. The Giants played well and won the game, but the most gratifying part was what we heard in the game reports in print and on the radio the next day. The story of the game was the crowd. The players and broadcasters marveled at the size of the crowd and how enthusiastic we all were. The stadium, with the pent up energy born of a winter's afterglow of the championship, had the energy of a game from a late season pennant race, with raucous cheers for every 2010 hero (Rookie of the Year Buster Posey, whose jersey Michael was wearing, getting the loudest ovations). Not bad for a preseason game that didn't count.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Savinging Us All From The Tyranny Of Hyphenation

The AP Stylebook has announced that henceforth it will refer to electronic messages as "emails," not "e-mails." This comes on the heels of the Chicago Manual of Style excising the second space after a period at the end of a sentence, saving typists everywhere entire milliseconds over the course of their lifetimes.

In a tight economy, any savings is good savings. The thought of the energy saved by eliminating those pixel-hog hyphens makes me giddy.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Game Day

Saturday was one of the sports-intensive days we get every once in a while. We were on the go from 8:30 in the morning until after 4 in the afternoon, with about a total of an hour at home over the course of the day.

Because of a rainout the prior weekend, Michael's first baseball game was up first.

We were up against what most people consider to the be the best team in the league, featuring the two best players. The top player could easily play (and dominate) in the next division up. Our Cubs lost, but we played reasonably well. Michael played second base with distinction, making three critical putouts.

He worked a walk in his first at bat.

He stole second, but was stranded there.

He took three great cuts to finish the game against that great player. He struck out, but did so with style.

Next up was Kelly's first volleyball game of the season. Her team is "Penn State" again, as it was last season. Oddly, all but one of the other players are from Lafayette, so she does not really know anybody on the team. She showed off her skills, though, saving the team repeatedly with tough digs and strong serving.

It was clear in the first game that the other players are comfortable deferring to her, the first time she has been in that position in volleyball. She seems to be okay with it. Whatever works; her team won easily.

We finished the afternoon with Michael's last indoor soccer game. This was a more casual league, with a team hand-picked by Michael's soccer coaches from the fall. He missed a few games due to illness or conflicts, but had a fair amount of success, scoring four goals in the five games he played.

Our group of suburban kids always played visiting club teams from more urban areas, but we held our own, finishing with a record around .500. We discovered indoor soccer to be a very fast-paced, intense sport that taught Michael some additional skills.

We are now settled into the routine of baseball and volleyball for the spring.

Until swimming preseason starts in three weeks.

Friday, March 11, 2011

A Bad Day In Japan

This image, from the US Geological Society's earthquake reporter, shows how active the ground has been off the coast of Japan over the last day:

The boxes that are the most numerous indicate aftershocks in excess of 5.0 on the Richter scale (red means within the last hour; blue means within the last day; yellow - a few of them peek through the mass of blue boxes - means within the last week). A 5+ shaker is quite a jolt if it is nearby; the sheer number of aftershocks of that size or greater is staggering. It is of small comfort that nearly all are away from land, since the tsunami danger has proven to be very real.

So It Begins

We met with the student counselor yesterday at the high school Kelly will attend in the fall. Or, rather, Kelly met with her counselor, and we were allowed to be in the room. With great intentionality, the counselor directed Kelly to the prime visitor's chair, and pointed out to us where we could find additional chairs. Her discussion of Kelly's proposed schedule was a conversation between her and Kelly. At the end of the discussion, she asked if Kelly had any questions. After that, she turned to us to see if we had any questions. We did, and she answered every question we asked.

The whole exercise is designed to indicate to students that they have a right, privilege and responsibility to begin taking control of their own lives. The message is aimed more specifically at the parents, however. For some kids and their parents, that transition has already begun. For others, and I would have to put us in that category, a parents are still heavily involved in the child's life, an arrangement that suits of the parents and the child. From the very first meeting, then, the school sets a new course for the parent-child relationship, at least as it pertains to school.

The experience was not as off-putting as it may sound. I spent most of the meeting being amused by the counselor's kind but firm focus on Kelly and away from us. Message sent and received.

I don't take it personally; I know the high school still loves us. They will prove it every time we get an athletic boosters/drama boosters/choir boosters/textbook fund/PTA fundraiser letter.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

An Open Letter

To the person in front of me on the narrow two lane country road near home driving seven miles per hour below the posted speed limit:

You know you are doing it. If you have looked in any one of your three rear-view mirrors in the last 10 minutes, you know I know you are doing it, since I am close enough to dust off your rear license plate. Let's not kid ourselves. The only reason you have not pulled over into one of the three dozen wide spots on the shoulder is because you intend to annoy me. Know this: I am not so reckless as to put myself or anyone else at risk by crossing the double yellow line to blast past you in a cloud of dust and blatting exhaust. I will not give you that satisfaction. I will not give you the opportunity to wave your arm in self-righteous frustration at me as I accelerate all the way up to the speed limit to pass you, allowing you to then lapse back into your vehicular torpor. I will make you acknowledge the intentionality of your rolling roadblock by living in your trunk every millimeter of this road, to force you to contemplate your utter failure as a driver.

And to the bicyclists traveling in a pack on the same narrow country two lane road:

Your all-too-clingy spandex fools no one. You are a rolling advertisement for companies that suckered you into wearing their bright colored garb without even paying you. You are dangerous. You are not a Tour de France competitor on a training ride -- riding three abreast does not mean you are in the peloton, it means you poseur and a moron. You and your "teammates" take up an entire lane of the road on which people with actual jobs are commuting, a road with blind hills and curves. You force cars in both directions to slam on their brakes to avoid hitting each other while at the same time trying to avoid hitting you. And for the record, I do not deserve your glare as I have to pass you in the opposite lane after waiting for all other traffic to clear your aerobic road-clot. I deserve your thanks for exercising enough car control and patience to keep both of us on the road and out of physical contact with each other or any of the other cars passing by.

Running late for baseball practice dramatically lowers the temperature at which my blood boils, it appears.