Saturday, September 27, 2008

They're Baaaack!


It's that dangerous time of year when MoJo comes home with the Girl Scout Cookies order form. Actually, this is merely the prelude to the most dangerous time - when they're delivered.

It's not like they're enough of a problem for me and my dieting effort already, but they've introduced a new one this year, Dulce de Leche, which they describe as "rich, indulgent cookies... rich with milk caramel chips and stripes." But, there are 0 trans fats! So, I guess they're good for me.

At the bottom of this page, you'll find my playlist widget which includes NRBQ's tribute to GSC.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Presidential Poll Update

We've got five weeks to go to the election, and based on Sullicom's highly (un)scientific poll, Barack Obama is building a sizable lead over John McCain.

The margin now stands at a whopping eight votes, as Obama holds a 20-12 lead over McCain as of this morning. Food Network personality Alton Brown, who I thought would be a formidable third-party candidate, is surprisingly far back with only two votes.

I'm a little surprised that Senator McCain didn't get more of a bump here from the selection of Sarah Palin as a running mate. But then again, he's taken lumps from the media with a bunch of seemingly paranoid missteps in the past couple of weeks. That includes the entertainment media, especially last night after David Letterman took him to task after McCain cancelled an appearance on his show, but kept his date with CBS News anchor Katie Couric. My friend and colleague, David Zurawik, has the story of the stand up on his blog.

Politics aside, again my greatest surprise here is the poor showing to date of Alton Brown. In past polls on this blog, he's been a force. Alton's Army was impressively organized and there was no contest in the Sullicom Food Fight.

I think, considering the seeming stumbles the McCain camp has made of late, it might be worth the Senator's side to seek out what remains of Alton's Army to bring their skills to his campaign.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Cubs Win!



I've learned to take these things one at a time and savor them for what they are.

Yesterday the Cubs clinched the National League Central Division with a 5-4 win over arch-rival St. Louis. And they did so in ironic fashion, as former Cardinal Jim Edmonds, a mid-season pickup, caught a fly ball to center for the final out.

The win also provided a historic footnote in that it was the first time the Cubs had won back-to-back division titles (or league titles) in a century. And as everyone should know by now, it's been a century since the team's last world title.

But let's not go there yet.

I've been a Cubs fan since I was 10. That has provided good life lessons in how to deal with disappointment. The great Cubs teams of the late '60s and early '70s always found a way to come up just short. The teams of the mid to late '70s were amusing if not competitive. One of my favorite players of that era was Carmen Fanzone, a second baseman who was much more proficient playing his trumpet during the National Anthem than he was at doing anything else the rest of the game.

But then, in 1984, they put together a team of kids and former Dodgers and Phillies that won a division title for the first time since WWII. The Remarkable Marcy and I traveled from Columbus, Ohio to Pittsburgh on September 24 of that year to see the clinching game. They jumped up on San Diego two games to none in the best of three, then proceeded to drop three straight to the Padres.

In 1989, the team again won the division. I was in Wrigley Field to see them beat the Giants and former Cub "Big Daddy" Rick Reuschel. But it was their only win in the five-game series.

In 1998, Sammy Sosa hit a million home runs and the Cubbies were the National League wild card team. They ended up getting swept by Atlanta.

2003 was the year my son, Courtland, learned the true meaning of being a Cubs fan. Behind a pitching staff led by Mark Prior and Kerry Wood, the Cubs won the division. They were up three games to one against the Florida Marlins and had Prior and Wood coming up in games at Wrigley Field. In game five, with Prior pitching strong, the Cubs were within five outs of getting into the World Series. Then it happened. First, there was the Bartman Play, in which a foul ball drifted into the left-field stands, just out of reach of Moises Alou. A fan, Steve Bartman, reached out to grab the ball. I don't know if Alou could have made the catch. In any case, the real turning point came two batters later when shortstop Alex Gonzales muffed a routine grounder. That was the moment at which I turned to Courtland and said, "Now you know what it is to be a Cubs fan. I'm sorry." The Marlins ended up going ahead and winning that game, beat Wood the next night and ultimately took the series. Could it have been the curse of the goat?

Last year the team staged an unlikely climb from mid-season doldrums and won the division. They then proceeded to get swept by the Arizona Diamondbacks.

But here they are, back again. Seeming to be a little more confident and aware that the season is not yet done. Will they win? Don't know. This is the point in the season where I take each victory for what it is, each series win for what it is.

When I was a kid I used to pray, "God, don't let me die until the Cubs win the World Series." I've always felt assured of a long life up to this point, but now, who knows?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

"I Hate Banks"



Not an editorial comment, but the title of a wonderfully timely song by Mojo Nixon and Skid Roper.

I hadn't heard this thing for about 15 years, but WRNR FM in Annapolis was playing it this morning. Could be an anthem for our times.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Stain Stink

This morning right before leaving the house I managed to get some ink on my nice white shirt. I remembered seeing one of those Tide stain erasers on one of the kid's dressers yesterday, so I went up and applied it to the stain.

Well, the stain mostly came out, but the stuff in the stick smells like vomit. So now my shirt looks clean, but smells like I puked on it.

Not sure why that's necessarily better than having the ink stain.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Presidential Poll Update

The poll has been up for a little more than a week and it's been interesting to watch for a number of reasons.

By way of disclaimer, let me acknowledge that the response hasn't exactly been overwhelming. Nevertheless, the dynamics are worth noting.

As expected, it didn't take long for Alton's Army to show up. An Alton Brown fan out there was first on the scene, registering a quick vote for the Food Network star.

Then came the McCain camp, fresh on the heels of the Republican National Convention. McCain grabbed five quick votes and held a commanding lead heading into the weekend.

But slowly the support for Obama began to show itself. As of today, the Democrat has pushed into the lead with 9 votes, compared to McCain's 5 and Brown's single vote.

It's also been pointed out that I've left a significant name out of the poll. It's not Sarah Palin or Ron Paul, but Ralph Wiggum, who seems to have a swell of write-in support.

The election is still a long way off - 51 days from the date of this posting. It will be interesting to see how this develops.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Disabled List

The images above were taken yesterday during our son Courtland's surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder. The labrum is a lip-like ring of cartilage that helps hold the arm in the shoulder socket.

Courtland damaged his during a high school baseball game in the spring during an at bat (at least he got a hit, and a big one at that). At first, we thought it was a simple dislocation and he continued playing in that game as well as the next. But it was clear that something was wrong. We went to the doctor and had it diagnosed. Not overly serious, but not good either. With the doctor's blessing, he continued to play baseball all summer long, but was only allowed to pitch and play in the field. His batting for the year was through until we got the surgery. He ended up having a very good summer (here's a link to a nice story about him and his team), but he really missed getting in his licks at the plate.

The photos above are one of two pages of scope-shots taken by the surgeon during the procedure. They're a little hard to see unless you click on the photo to bring it to full size. The scenes are magnified 6.5 times. The top two rows show different angles of the shoulder. It's in the third row where you really start to see the damage and how it was repaired. Row three, column one shows the labrum torn away from the shoulder socket. Same row, second column shows the tool used by the surgeon to start anchoring the sutures, and the fourth row shows the sutures being pulled through to lace the labrum back to the scapula.

Post-op was an interesting experience for us, too. Courtland is a high school senior and isn't the most talkative kid around. But as he came out of the anesthesia, he was amusingly chatty. It was kind of nice to have him open up.

His left arm is now immobilized in a sling that he'll have to wear for at least three weeks. He's now learning how to get through the day using just one arm and it's been an education for all of us to realize how inconvenient that can be. Just putting on a shirt or pulling up pants has required more strategy than you might think.

If all goes well, the sling will come off after three weeks. Then he'll begin some simple isometric exercises as he begins to rehab. Following that comes physical therapy to build up strength in the shoulder. Our target is for him to start throwing a baseball again in mid to late December. We hope he'll be able to start swinging a bat again sometime in January. That puts him on pace to be ready for his senior baseball season in the spring.

It's pretty amazing to me that they've got the ability to diagnose something like this. And maybe even more so, to go in and knit the thing back together. But I'm grateful that they can.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Presidential Poll

Let your voice be heard!

Cast your vote at the right in the Sullicom Presidential Poll. Who do you feel is the most qualified candidate to lead our nation - John McCain, Barack Obama or Alton Brown.

Vote now!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Arirang




I was doing a little blog housecleaning and discovered this post that I forgot to publish.

Back in May, I went to the middle school band concert and saw listed on the program "A traditional Korean folksong
called Arirang."

I said to myself, "Could this be the same song I learned one night long ago at the Black Forest Inn with Jim Leickly?

The Black Forest was a small tavern just north of the Ohio State campus. Once a week, a small, sweet ladynamed Esther
Craw held forth on stage with her accordion, leading buzzed college kids in kitschy singalongs.

Jim, a friend from journalism school, and I were something akin to Esther groupies.

One night, a couple of Korean guys were in the audience and Esther asked them if they had any requests. One of them asked
if she knew Arirang. Esther didn't but said she could fake it if the guy could sing a little. He did, singing in Korean, and Esther
quickly picked up the tune.

She asked him what the song was about. As I recall, his interpretation of the story behind the song went something like:
Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love with girl. Girl's family does not like the boy and moves to the other side of the mountain. Boy
goes to the other side of the mountain. Boy finds girl and... ARIRANG! (wink, wink)

I contacted Jim to tell him about this and he said Esther recently passed away. "Great lady," he said. Yes, she was.