Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Finally.












"DAMMIT CHLOE! I haven't peed or eaten in 24 hours!"(Ahem, don't we mean darn it?)


It took a lot of time and hard work, but I finally finished. Over the past year and a half I've been making my way through all 6 seasons of 24 (the show I love to hate and hate to love). It was grueling! Think what that means. Each season has 24 episodes--24 x 6= 144. Each episode is an hour long with commercials, but I watch them on DVD so they're about 43 minutes long. That's 103 hours and 20 minutes that I spent with my old pal Jack and the crew at CTU. Holy cow. I'm done. Until Season 7 starts in '09 (according to the preview Tony is alive and he's evil. ARGH.).

I love to learn things, so for me it's nice when my entertainment is also educational. I've learned some important life lessons and rules of thumb from my time with 24...

1. You can get anywhere in LA within 10 minutes.

2. If you work for CTU or the president and you get arrested, don't fret because you'll be working again within the hour.

3. On any given work day, you may be required to torture your co-workers and/or kill your boss for some reason (seriously, Season 3, Ryan Chappelle? Worst. Episode. Ever.)

4. It's easy to fall in love during a terrorist threat!

5. Violence is always the answer.

Seriously, as much as I mock it and am generally morally opposed to it, I am a big 24 fan. My dream is to have the CTU ringtone on my phone at work because it's also a Cisco (just like they use on the show!) but alas, it is not one of my choices. I could find it for my cell phone but that just wouldn't be the same.

Anyone else out there? Who are your favorite/least favorite characters? Who are you sad/glad that they killed off?


Monday, April 28, 2008

Drastic Measures

The Mariners looked bad this week. They went 2-4 in a homestand against some less than impressive teams. They currently don't look like post-season contenders, and at this rate they don't even look like they'll be in contention for a post-season appearance. Currently the Mariners are four games out of first place. April was supposed to be the time when we build up a lead over a injured Angels team. So far we're bellow .500 playing a "soft schedule". That doesn't bode well for the long fight for a pennant. Last week I asked if it was too early to jump ship. I determined it was not, but this week I'm getting nervous because the major flaw of this team has only become more apparent: offense.

The starting pitching has been quality. Hernandez, Beddard, and Silva have all been stellar. But the offense hasn't supported them. Yesterday, Felix pitched a solid 7 innings holding the A's to just 2-hits, but the M's only scored two runs. It wasn't enough when the eighth inning rolled around and Felix started to run out of gas. Our middle relievers have been pretty inconsistent so far, so the A's took the lead. It was the exact scenario I predicted at the beginning of the season--our excellent pitchers are going to end up with a lot of "no decisions" because of lousy run support.

On a side note, I'm beginning to question some of what passes for baseball orthodoxy when it comes to "the closer". J.J. Putz is our best relief pitcher, leading the league in saves last season, the guy has great control and quite the heater. It seems to be an undisputed rule that a pitcher like that is there to only get three outs in the final inning. Why exactly does it have to be that way? What is stopping the manager from calling up Putz to try and go an inning and 2/3rds when the game is on the line?

Anyways, the real problem is offense. So what to do? If this team really wants to compete, then its time to stop waiting around hoping that our "black hole" in the 5-6-7-8 spots will turn around. We need some upgrades. Benching Jose Vidro (batting .195) was a start, but we also have Brad Wilkerson in RF hitting an even worse .181. I think an easy move to make is to bring up Jeff Clement from AAA Tacoma where he's crushing the ball in a pitcher friendly park. Put in Clement at DH. But what about RF?

Maybe its time to bring back the most beloved Mariner of all time? One of the greatest to play the game: Ken Griffey Jr. Last year when the Reds played in Seattle for interleague games, he was greeted with an unprecedented excitement. After the game he said in passing that he would love to finish his career back in Seattle. If the Mariners organization is serious about competing, why not put up the money to bring back our best? Before the season started some argued that it would make plenty of sense for Seattle to try and pick up Barry Bonds, but the stain of his steroid use would not be worth the runs produced (in addition to being toxic personality in the clubhouse). Griffey is the healthy alternative in every way.

The plain truth is that the current roster is not sufficient. If the Mariners shelled out big prospects and big cash for starting pitchers, why not make the effort to upgrade a very poor offense? Bring back Griffey.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Hey, wanna see some pictures?














I've been looking at random pictures I have saved and I found some that I think are "blog-worthy." There's no theme here--I just wanted to share some that I hadn't before.

Argh, and dang it, if anyone is smarter than me about Blogger, could you help me out on how to post pictures and type around them? Argh!

All of the ones of the flowers and altar are from Evie's memorial. The church looked beautiful that day (during the service the white lights on the garland and Christmas trees were on).

Matt was really sick for a while a couple months ago, and I couldn't resist taking a picture of him wrapped in a shawl with a breath-right strip on his nose. Aw, poor Matt.

The nature pictures are from our trip to WA in December.

And the one of me was before a game of Trivial Pursuit. Don't worry, I filled up that pie! :P













I dunno...

I'm playing around with the format of the blog. I wasn't crazy about the way it looked before, and I'm not crazy about this either. But I need to go to bed. To be continued.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

It's not even hot yet

I hope this isn't indicative of what Chicago has in store for it this season. God help our city!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Cliff Diving

Time for another weekly Mariners baseball analysis. It breaks down into good news and bad news.

GOOD:

  1. The Mariners have won 3 out of 4 series so far this season. Yet seemingly defying logic, they are sub-.500. Do the math and it does add up. See the silver lining.
  2. The Mariners won their first series against division rival Angels.
  3. Raul Ibanez is on fire. He leads the Major Leagues in extra-base hits. He's the AL player of the week. He is providing a lot of the RBIs for the team.
  4. Richie Sexson doesn't suck so bad. He's drawing a lot of walks. He's not batting super great, but he's not the black hole he was last year.
  5. Carlos Silva is so far better than I expected.
BAD:
  1. The Mariners we're spanked 10-5 last night by the Angels.
  2. Erik Beddard missed yesterday's start with a bad hip. If our staff ace is going to the DL, then the costly trade of super-prospect Adam Jones, our best middle reliever George Sherill, and three great pitching prospects will suddenly seem as stupid as many people feared.
  3. Adrian Beltre missed yesterday's game with hamstring problems. If both Beddard and Beltre are added to the DL, that means three of our five best players (Beddard, Felix Hernandez, Ichiro, J.J. Putz, Beltre) will be out of commission. It'll be hard to keep winning games in this state.
  4. Erik O'Flattery, the situational lefty, has shown himself incapable of getting lefties out. That's his job. The word is this morning he's going down to AA for a while to get his head back on straight.
Where does that leave the team? Currently just 2-games out of first, and its not really expected that Oakland will hang on to first place for long. Compare the good and the bad and you'll see good outnumbers bad, and bad is only as bad as it looks if its truly is the worst case scenario. Beltre's injury doesn't sound too bad, Putz is allegedly recovering nicely from his. There are enough good pitchers in the Mariners farm system to easily replace O'Flattery.

I'd say this, if Beddard can get healthy soon there is no reason to panic over yesterday's big loss. The return of J.J. Putz will be a boost, and if the batters keep their good plate discipline, offense will start scoring more and more runs. We've got a lot of baseball still to play and while Seattle doesn't yet look like easy favorites for the division, they are by no means a bad team. In fact, most teams in the Major Leagues are only 2 or less games above or bellow .500--its called the beginning of the season. We're far from panic mode right now. Baseball is a marathon, not a sprint.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Shape it Takes

Today is four months since Evie died. Our grief counselor says that we're appropriately moving ahead through the stages of grief. Yet there are days like today when the wound hurts as much as it ever has, but it is different. My stages of grief have a different feel to them as time goes on, but the extent of the pain seems to heal oh so slowly. We've been able to put on a good face most of the time, but the truth is that we are still incredibly wounded.

In the first weeks after Evangeline died, I can't really remember what it all felt like. I'm sure it was horrific, but perhaps as a coping mechanism my mind is protecting me from those memories. What I can remember was the fear. The first 6-8 weeks of our grief were compounded by a kind of Post-traumatic stress disorder. Both Nicole and I would have flashbacks to the frightening episodes at the hospital. Sounds and images haunted us. Fortunately we're both struggling less with those experiences.

In more recent months, the pain has become a kind of enduring ache. The overwhelming feeling is that something is missing. Every moment and event of the day is a reminder that she's not here. For the first three months I had very few dreams with Evie in them. In recent weeks, I've dreamt about her more--but they all end the same. I dream she is still alive, but the moment I realize its only a dream I wake up. All kinds of things will everyday remind me of what I've lost.

There are some sensitive souls out there who are mindful of us still, especially as we find ourselves around other babies. Yes, it is hard to see you laughing and enjoying your child, but we can't be tip-toed around forever. This is the way life is right now. We don't hate you or your babies for your happiness--except sometimes the jealousy is enough to make us angry. Its not because of you. Its the anger in me. We don't expect people to tip-toe around us. All I ask is that you never forget how lucky you are.

The greatest fear we face is the fear of forgetting. As life goes on and we continue to become more normal, how will we still honor the life of our daughter? Its a dilemma that I couldn't have expected when we first began this journey: Feeling normal and feeling good feels bad. I feel guilty about many of the things I enjoy now. Nicole and I might share a nice evening out and have fun, but in the back of my mind I think, "the only reason we can go out is because our daughter is no longer in the hospital." It feels bad to feel good.

So when people ask, "how are you doing?" I don't often have the energy to say what I've just said. We're doing okay. We make slow progress in healing, but it is progress and it is healing. We are most of the time able to put on a good face, and our lives function nearly normally again (not quite 100%). We're not stronger or weaker than most people. There are still a lot of bad days. There are some good days. Its very hard, not much easier than it has been.

Thats the shape it takes.

Monday, April 7, 2008

What Makes Milwaukee Famous...






...makes a loser out of me.

After church yesterday Nicole and I made our way to Milwaukee to go see the Brewers take on the San Fransisco Giants. The Brewers shut out the hapless Giants, 7-0. The Brewers have a pretty good offense, but I think the score more reflects the Giants ineptitude. They're as bad as the press says they are. Seriously, look for SF to lose more than 100 games this year.

A week into the regular season has been somewhat disappointing for the Mariners. Erik Beddard's debut was fine, but not stellar. Felix Hernandez looked good as did Carlos Silva. The biggest disappointments are closer J.J. Putz going to the 15-day DL and poor offensive production. The one silver lining is the plate discipline the hitters have shown, drawing a lot of walks. Still, there isn't enough hitting deep in the line up--particularly impotent are Jose Vidro and Brad Wilkerson going 1-16 so far this season.

So at 2-4, dropping three to Baltimore, Is it time for Mariners fans to jump ship? Not yet. Detroit, Boston, and the Yankees have all been humbled by mediocre teams this week, but no one is doubting them as contenders. Maybe if we go 4-8 its time to start panicking. Until then, lets hope the bats start firing up.

Check out Nicole's helmet of "Cheese Fries". We call that artery cloggin goodness.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Droopy music

For many weeks after Evie died, I was way too fragile to listen to sad music. I didn't think I ever would be able to again! This doesn't seem like a big deal, but most of my music collection is filled with artists who are prone to focusing on the dark side of life (see Neil Young, Lucinda Williams, Emmylou Harris, Ryan Adams, Johnny Cash, and so forth). A lot of the songs I used to love are filled with themes of death and love lost, and up until recently my favorite music just made me feel worse. But now, it kind of makes me feel better. The lyrics mean more to me, and sometimes it's reassuring to have someone else express how I feel in an artistic way. I'd like to share this verse from Emmylou Harris' Hour of Gold:

The world will be my witness
when they excavate my heart
and find the image of your face
imprinted there like some Shroud of Turin
that neither time nor tundra could erase

Good stuff.

Another thing I was unable to do was watch sad or violent TV shows or movies. I thought that actually would be good for me, to have violence out of my life. But, alas, I finally popped in a disc of Season 6 of 24 that I got from Netflix and now I'm once again addicted to the most violent show ever on TV. Darn you, Jack Bauer.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

CFHusband

I've been reading this blog for a few months now, and there is big news today that Tricia, who has Cystic Fibrosis, may be receiving the lung transplant she has been waiting for tonight. Take a moment to pray for this family, and also for the grieving family and friends of the donor. If you want to learn about these folks, here is a link to a news story that was done about them so you can hear their story in brief: http://abclocal.go.com/wtvd/story?section=news/local&id=6038739

I don't know these folks, I just once found their blog somehow. They have thousands of people praying for them, which is so cool. The internet is great for bringing people together!

Judgement Day

There is a long tradition in Science Fiction of the machines who usurp their human overlords. Consider HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey, Skynet from the Terminator series, or the Matrix from The Matrix. Well my friends, fiction has become reality. The future is now.

I fear I have created a monster I cannot destroy. For the love of all that is good, DO NOT try and sync your iPod while simultaneously ripping a CD with iTunes! Somehow it was all just too much for my poor computer and now it has begun whizzing and whirling and I think it is about to turn on its master. The uprising begins.

I think Dell had Felix the cat build this computer.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Logic

So, if I worked out once last week and lost 1 pound, does that mean if I work out 5 times this week I'll lose 5 pounds?

Actually, don't answer that--I prefer to live in my fantasy world of wishful thinking! :)