Monday, March 31, 2008

Walk Off, Zim!

Baseball is back.

It feels so nice to say that: Baseball - is - back. It's been a long winter. And it still seems to be lingering for many of us, but today is opening day for most teams and if warm weather isn't going to remind us of Spring and Summer, then baseball will.

Last night, the Nationals opened their season in their new park. From what I saw on TV, the place looks beautiful. And to top it off, Ryan Zimmerman ended the game in pure dramatic fashion in the bottom of the ninth inning with a walk-off home run:

For baseball fans, if this doesn't get you excited for the season then you must be simple. It's time. It's time for the crack of the bat and home runs to end a close game; It's time for hot dogs passed down the aisle at the hands of nine strangers; It's time for men yelling "Peanuts!"; It's time for the hot and sweaty days of sitting in the open air during an afternoon game.

For me, baseball is an art form. Baseball is poetry. It's easy to dismiss the game for lack of movement or scoring (especially in our Football World of fast paced beer commercials and scantily clad women flashing across TV screens like brainless music videos). Sadly, the beauty of the sport is lost on most. Baseball, like chess, has no clock. The game ends when someone wins. Time does not decide the victor. The action is subtle like a dance, or a few measures of a Bach concerto. If you're not paying attention you will miss it. Baseball forces us to slow down and quietly observe. We are a busy generation. We are always connected. We are constantly running and fetching and jumping. Baseball removes us from that world. Baseball shows us that wonderful things happen when you stop and pay attention.

If I had to choose a religion, baseball would be it. And my church is and always will be Wrigley Field...

One more thing... XM 175 Home Plate... If you're a baseball fan you must listen to this channel.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Happy Friday!

What better way to celebrate the weekend than... A Monkey Riding a Mini Bike!

Thursday, March 27, 2008


Someone once said you should do one thing everyday that scares you. Admittedly, I do not practice this on a daily basis, but there are times when this sentence echoes in my mind when confronted with a choice.

Philosophically, I am always willing to try anything at least once. Sometimes twice, just to make sure. I do believe conquering fear makes you into a better person. So that is why this morning I deviated from my well-known, comfortable, mapped-out route to work and decided to take an alternate, unknown path to work. *If you don't think this counts as over-coming a fear, then you haven't driven in Washington DC during rush hour traffic.

Typically, I take 395 north into Washington DC where it turns into 14th Street, goes over the 14th Street bridge, and eventually takes me into downtown DC. I've been driving this route for seven years. I could probably drive it with my eyes closed. Unfortunately, it's one of only a few ways into DC if you live in Virginia. The amount of traffic is staggering. It usually takes me roughly 45 minutes to an hour to drive the 10 miles to work. BUT this morning I veered off, I took the road less traveled.

Just as 395 passes the Pentagon, there is an exit on the left that I have always wondered about. I tried to figure out where it goes. I even looked on maps, but couldn't quite see. Well, this morning I turn the car into this left exit lane and ventured forth into the unknown -

Long story short: I took a different bridge into DC and shaved many minutes off my commute.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

What Really Grinds My Gears

I drink coffee. Daily. I even brew my own pot of coffee in the morning and bring a Thermos full of it to work with me. But occasionally, I will take a short walk down the block to get a cup of coffee at the local Starbuck's or Caribou.

I like to put cream and sugar in my coffee. I don't have specific numbers, but I reckon there are many of us out there who add cream and sugar to our coffee.

The next time you're in a coffee shop, take a look around. Find the area where people can add cream and sugar to their coffee... Pretty freakin' small, ain't it. My bedside table has more surface area than these "counters" where I can set down my tall coffee and pour in cream and sugar. And 9 out of 10 times there is someone standing at this "counter" adjusting the taste of their coffee via cream and sugar. So then I must wait.

Don't get me wrong, I don't mind waiting my turn for things. The breakdown of lines (or queues, for my fancy English readers) can only lead to anarchy. No, waiting is not a problem for me.

And the tiny doll house table I have to use to add cream and sugar doesn't really bother me that much either. No, my real problem is the jackass who is standing at the cream and sugar table. Next time in a coffee shop, observe the behavior of this oblivious, miserable sap. This is the guy I must stand behind and wait for as he does this:

He adds cream, he adds sugar, he gently sips... he adds a little more cream, a little more sugar, he gently sips again... nope, still not right - he adds more cream, he adds more sugar, he gently sips... now his face looks like that of a wine taster. Minutes pass... my core body temperature rises... he sips, he adds... he sips again, over and over, as if he sculpting the perfect cup of coffee.

If I were in charge of the cream and sugar table, you add cream and add sugar and then you're done. You move on. You get what you get. That's life. Learn from your mistakes so that tomorrow you'll know to add slightly more sugar. None of this sipping and tasting and judging and contemplating your Tuesday morning cup of coffee that you probably won't finish anyway, while busy people wait behind you. No, sir.

And now that I think of it, if you don't know how much cream and sugar to add to your coffee by now then you have no business drinking coffee. Go back to your Diet Cokes and Mocha Frappuccinos. ("Mmmm, it's like a chocolate shake!")

Monday, March 24, 2008

John Adams

It has been quite a while since television gave us significant entertainment. Granted, I supported the writer's strike, but that doesn't mean I don't miss some of my favorite shows.

Then suddenly, HBO does it again with the mini-series John Adams. All I can say is this is the best offering television has given us in years. Years.

Based on the highly popular biography by David McCullough, Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney star as John Adams and Abigail Adams. It's hard to believe this man has not won an Academy Award yet, but this performance will surely bring him an Emmy. Both actors are magnificent.

Watching actors portray our forefathers in a way we've never seen is nothing short of eerie. Eerie because we forget that these men (and women) were not godlike or giants, but rather ordinary people, facing impossible odds and enduring the harshest conditions physically and emotionally.

Episode three aired last night. I'm constantly commenting on how shabby our school system must be if this rendition of history is at all accurate. The things I did not know about my own country! Epic political debates and the creation of monumental documents get one or two sentences in our "history textbooks." We surely take these moments in time for granted. And watching John Adams has brought me to that realization.

Aside from its stark vision of history, John Adams is beautiful. Famous, historic locales have never been recreated in such a way. I am so enthralled by this presentation.

Once again, HBO delivers gold. If you have HBO and aren't watching John Adams, then you, sir or madam, are a moron.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Happy Easter!

In case I don't see you, have a happy Easter, Everybody!
Mmmmmmmm, Easter...

Friday, March 14, 2008

Happy Pi Day!

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Sunday, March 9, 2008

Superman by Chris Appelhans

This is one of the coolest and most beautiful interpretations of Superman I've ever seen. I love it.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Bullseye, Target

Hypocrisy is a funny thing.

I know it's not fashionable for me to say this, but I do not hate giant corporations. I do not hate Wal-Mart. I do not hate Starbucks. I do not hate Best Buy. (While we're on the subject, I also do not hate Microsoft.)

Yes, I am aware that smaller, independent businesses have shut their doors due to the existence of a nearby Starbucks or Wal-Mart store. BUT, you have to ask the very real question of why. Why did the small, inconveniently located, overpriced store go out of business? And why do the American people continue to patronize these larger entities?

I like to use my nudie bar analogy for this argument: When the wife finds out her husband frequents a strip joint, who does she blame? Usually, it's the strip joint. How many of these establishments get picketed or protested against due to the product they offer? Might we look towards the consumer who is venturing into these places and giving them his money?

We demand services and stores offering certain products, but when those places finally pop up we blame them for the decisions we make. New flash: the porn industry makes BILLIONS of dollars a year. That billions with a B. Who do we "blame" for that?

Remember, these places wouldn't continue to exist and thrive if WE didn't continue to give them our money. Now THAT'S consumerism at its finest. (America made its bed... now it has to sleep in it.)

My point today: DC got a Target! It's the first "big box" store in the city. And the local bloggers are buzzing. Mostly, these blogs are negative. Like I said, it's quite fashionable to say these stores are bad. That they lack character or charm. Or that we are like sheep filing into these buildings, zombie-like, ready to spend.

But guess what - this Target was a genius idea! Now all the young, liberal hipsters no longer have to drive their fancy Prius's out to the suburbs to stockpile all their cheap toilet paper and particleboard end tables.

As far as the neighborhood losing its charm, we're surely going to miss all those boarded-up crack houses and trash-lined streets unsafe to drive on past 6 PM.

By the way, as soon as an independent coffee shop and electronics dealer with ample parking and low prices opens up near here, I am so there.

I'm no business expert, but here's a lesson that might work: Provide a product the people will want and do it better than your competition. Sounds easy.

Let's not forget, Starbucks started out as a simple, little independently owned coffeeshop. Now we want to hate them for being successful. Bah!

Oh, and Microsoft... thanks for making the computer operating system a part of everyday life. You may not have invented it, but you sure did make it popular (something Apple couldn't do). Go Word!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Gygax is Dead

My heart hurts a little today. Rest in peace, Gary.


Gary Gygax, 'Father of D&D,' Dies at 69

Reading this headline sent me back to 1987, seventh grade, science:

We knew we were getting a new science teacher that year. Mr. Wheeler. He was a large man reminiscent of Santa Claus. From the neck up he had the head of a giant yard gnome. Or maybe he looked more like a well-fed monk. His beard only grew from below his mouth, not above. And his bald head was shiny.

In class, he demanded our attention. His voice was booming and passionate. Academically, he expected excellence. I remember one specific lesson when he spent an entire hour teaching us the importance of stating the unit of measurement when giving a number. For example, it's not 56 outside, it's 56 degrees outside. And I use the word teach loosely - we were scared into stating the unit of measurement.

One time, while preparing for our individual science fair projects, Mr. Wheeler required we all have private meetings with him to discuss the progress of our experiments. I don't remember a single student coming out of that meeting who wasn't sobbing. The man was able to make me cry with merely a look on his face.

So the school year went on with all of us fearing our new science teacher. Until one day, my friend Andy saw a colorful book on Mr Wheeler's desk: "What's a Monster Manual?" Mr. Wheeler looked slightly embarrassed. His face and bald head turned a light shade of red. "It's for a game called Dungeons & Dragons."

After that moment, a select few of us stayed after school every Friday night and played Dungeons & Dragons in the science room. Mr. Wheeler took on the role of Dungeon Master (the person who runs the game) and we learned the technical rules and intricacies of what seemed like an exclusive club that we were honored to be a part of.

Mr. Wheeler didn't come back to be our science teacher in the eighth grade, but we continued our new tradition of playing Dungeons & Dragons. I became the new Dungeon Master and tried very hard to fill the mighty shoes of our original Dungeon Master.

We played D&D for a few more years until we discovered girls had boobs (that required touching for some reason). Suddenly, we started driving and getting girlfriends and we didn't have any more time for D&D. But I'll always look back at those years with fondness and longing.

I never knew what became of Mr. Wheeler. We did learn that he and Gary Gygax were friends and that Mr. Wheeler probably had a hand in the development of this wonderful game.

And yes, given enough nerdy friends and at least one free night a week, I'd play D&D in a heartbeat.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Best Wife

In case you were wondering, Lynette is the best wife ever. Evar. Seriously, she's the tops.

On Thursday, she bought me a gift. It has been two years since we quit smoking. Apparently, Lynette thinks I'm kind responsible for our success. And to show her appreciation she bought me a Playstation 3.

I had mentioned it would be nice to have for the built-in Blu-Ray player (since Blu-Ray officially defeated HD-DVD in the format war). I am a big fan of the technological toys and video games, etc. So we ran out and picked one up. And I've been like a kid on that thing ever since (big surprise). I even (almost) ruined dinner last night because of it - busy saving the world and whatnot. *Also, another thanks to Lynette for saving dinner last night.

Anyway, I just wanted to make an official statement here that Lynette is awesome.