Saturday, March 03, 2012

Hearing Rick Santorum

On Wednesday, Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum was in Nashville speaking at Belmont University.  Having lived most of my life in the non-battleground states of Texas and New York, most presidential candidates have not gone out of their way to get my vote.  I'm not sure if Tennessee is a battleground state in November, but it surely is in March and Santorum is apparently doing well here in Tennessee.  I'm not terribly surprised by this.  Most of the time when I hear about a candidate coming to Tennessee it's for $1000 a plate fund raisers in Franklin or something like that.  They surely don't want spares like me running around those events as I don't have $1000 to give to a presidential candidate.  But I couldn't pass up the opportunity to hear what Santorum had to say.

I couldn't leave the house until the girls were in bed and that didn't happen until right at 8 which was when he was scheduled to speak.  I almost didn't go because I thought I'd miss most of the speech, but when I got there I was relieved that it hadn't started yet because he was on the Sean Hannity show.  When he finally got up, he said that he couldn't blow off Sean Hannity and expect to be able to be on his show again.  There's something funny to say here, but I can't think of it right now.

I'm not good at guess crowd sizes.  I've seen guesses of 800 and that seems plausible.  It wasn't as large as I was expecting, but it was a good size.  Some of the students seemed less than 100% focused on the speech- getting up and leaving, looking at their phones, chatting, etc.  Most of the reports I've read about the speech focused on the reaction of the crowd- heckling, boos, etc.  Having never been to one of these before, I can't really comment on whether the reaction was normal.  There were a number of supporters of other candidates there.   The Ron Paul supports that were there were jerks.  I don't mean this as an indictment on Ron Paul, but his supporters were extremely rude and inappropriate.  Some of their comments were completely inane and didn't make sense in the context of the speech.  I don't know if I could ever vote for someone with such stupid supporters.

One of the calmer posters held up by Paul supports
There was some booing and it was hard to tell who exactly they supported, though the best guess I could make was they were Obama supporters.  One of the funniest moments was then Santorum was talking about health care and said, "That's all going to change in 2014!" and the crowd applauded (apparently excited about midterm elections that year).  Santorum clarified that by saying that's when government sponsored health care is to be implemented.  There were some Mitt Romney supporters as well, but they were more polite, therefore they were mostly ignored.  This is the obvious lesson of politics these days.  Act like a jackhole and you get attention.  Act civilly and get disregarded.  I thought Santorum handled the mixed crowd well, mixing ignoring with some answering.  For example, when part of the crowd cheered something about the health care overhaul, he answered them saying that their ancestors who came to America looking for opportunity would disagree with the government mandates. (This is a time I wish I had a notebook to write down exactly what he said because I thought it was a good comeback.)  There were many Santorum supporters as well.  One lady I noticed was really mad that people on floor (like me) weren't standing up and cheering during the red meat parts of the speech.  

Mostly, he avoided the social issues that he is known for.  He didn't talk about contraceptives except indirectly in the health care/ religion freedom context.  He didn't talk about abortion at all or gay marriage or any of those issues.  He stuck to talking about health care and energy and, of course, alot of the America is the greatest country in the world and stuff like that.  Standard Republican fare.  

It was a great experience.  I'm really glad I got to go.  I have some political thoughts that I will share soon.  I've recently had what amounts to a revelation about politics and I'll write those here one of these days.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Old Time Baseball

As anyone who reads this or knows me knows, I love baseball.  I love for baseball falls on the nerdy side (I know, shocking!).  One of my favorite things to do is score ball games, especially when I go to a new ballpark.  I carry at least four sharpened pencils, stick them in my ball cap, and my score book and don't get up throughout the whole game.  I've watched some crazy games and scored most of them.  It helps me remember the game and gives me something to do.  I've scored games at Ranger's Ballpark in Arlington, old Shea Stadium and old Yankee Stadium in New York, Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, Marlin's Stadium in Miami, and Citizen's Bank Ballpark in Philadelphia as well as some minor league games and college games.

My mother in law was going though my father in law's old belongings and found something awesome.  She found a program from a 1957 game between the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Red Sox.  He had been a summer missionary in Chicago that summer and found time to go to a game.  He also scored the game.  By research, I was able to find the game he went to.  It was July 19, 1957.  The Red Sox won 5-2.    He saw four Hall of Famers play that day- Luis Aparicio, Nellie Fox, and Larry Doby of the White Sox and Ted Williams of the Red Sox.  Ted Williams hit a home run that day.  Both teams were pretty good that year, but finished behind the Yankees for the American League Pennant.

It's really neat that he saw Ted Williams hit a home run in person.  Looking over my programs and baseball memories, I've seen a few transcendent players- Pedro Martinez, Alex Rodriguez, and Derek Jeter, among others, including David Price in college.

Baseball is awesome and spring is almost here.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Sports PTSD

My friend Dan is from Minnesota and is a big fan of the Minnesota teams, especially the Twins in baseball and the Vikings in football (He may be a huge fan of the Wild and the Bucks, but I don't know for sure). He now lives in the Dallas area so he is well versed on the local teams I root for (the Rangers, Cowboys, and Mavericks). He called me the other day to ask if I had heard about Drew Pearson going into the Cowboys Ring of Honor. He asked if Drew Pearson pushed off on Jerry Jones to be able to get into the Ring of Honor after all these years, an obvious reference to the spurious claims of Viking fans that Drew Pearson pushed off on cornerback Nate Wright, which would have been offensive pass interference, in catching the legendary Hail Mary from Roger Staubach in the 1975 NFC Divisional playoff game. What Vikings' fans don't understand is that it doesn't matter if Pearson pushed off or not because pass interference was not called therefore he didn't commit it. Wait. This post is being written to argue with Dan because he knows I'm right.

What's obvious about Dan and Vikings fan everywhere is that they suffer from Sports Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or Sports PTSD. Sports PTSD is the inability to get over sports misfortune or defeat even after many years. In real life PTSD, people suffer or witness a severe traumatic event (car accident, natural disaster, abuse, etc) and suffer physiologic symptoms when triggered even if the trauma has passed and they are no longer in any true danger. It generally treated with therapy and medication to deal with some of the symptoms (such as sleep disorder).  In fact, in my work, I deal with kids who are struggling with symptoms of PTSD and use cognitive behavioral therapy that focuses on the trauma and the related symptoms. (BTW, in talking about Sports PTSD, I am in no way demeaning PTSD. It is a serious psychological problem that affects many people.)

Sports PTSD occurs when events turns against your favorite team and great disappointment ensues. For true PTSD that disappointment should take place in a big game, normally a playoff game or series. The question is can Sports PTSD be treated? I believe it can.

I think everyone knows what are their own areas of Sports PTSD. For fans of Kentucky basketball, one name: Christian Laettner. For Buffalo Sabres fans, three words: in the crease. For Red Sox fans, two names: Bucky Dent and Aaron Boone. Must I go on?

For me, two of the most serious ones I've faced have been exorcized within the last year. As a Rangers fan for my whole life, I've lived with years of mediocrity or worse. Until 2010, the "glory years" were the late 90s with three division titles in four years (96, 98, and 99). However, each year they were rudely swept out of the playoff by the juggernaut Yankee teams which went on the win the World Series each of those years. After that, the Yankees were the bogyman.
I went to a game in 2000 and had seats 7 rows behind home plate. The Rangers tied the game in the bottom of the tenth of Mariano Rivera, but gave up a lead run in top of the eleventh. The bottom of that inning, the Rangers loaded the bases with no outs and the ballpark is going crazy. Luis Alicea is up and hit the ball about a foot in front of the plate and the catcher touched home plate and tagged Alicea out (he thought it was foul). The next batter (the immortal Scott Sheldon) grounded out.  Complete deflation. 
One of the greatest heroes of the 2000 season was journeyman pitcher Brian Sikorski who shut out the Yankees over 7 innings in his major league debut. He appeared in nine other games that year (starting four) and ended up with an ERA of almost six. I went to Rangers spring training the next year and everyone wanted Brian Sikorski's autograph because he had stuck it to the Yankees. Of course, beating the Yankees in ALCS in 2010 has removed most of the sting of those years.

The other major one that has been healed is the Mavericks choke against the Miami Heat in the 2006 NBA finals. This year, with no one believing in them, least of all their fans, the Mavs stuck it to the Heat. Again, demons exorcised.

Another big Sports PTSD moment for me came in a series the team I was cheering for actually won the series- the 2005 NLCS between the Astros and Cardinals. The Astros led 3-1 and were ahead 4-2 in the top of the ninth and there were two outs as Brad Lidge had struck out the first two batters. Then, a single and a walk and then Albert Pujols hit a ball the landed about three weeks later. My heart is racing just thinking about it. The Astros won that series as Roy Oswalt pitched 7 strong innings and Brad Lidge didn't pitch, but the stage was set for getting swept in the World Series in which Lidge gave up the winning runs in games 2 and 4 including a home run to Scott Podsednick, who had hit none all year. The real killer though, for me, was the Pujols home run. I was able to watch that game and I was so excited and then completely deflated. I wasn't able to watch Oswalt's masterpiece in game 6, so I missed that opportunity for healing.

Perhaps Sports PTSD can never be healed.  You'd think after last year, I'd have a little confidence in the Rangers.  But instead, when they fall behind, I often still get the depressed feeling that causes me to think they will NEVER WIN A GAME EVER AGAIN!!!!!!!!!  Of course being a fan of the Rangers is like have a friend or family member with Bipolar Disorder.  They go on these crazy hot streaks and destroy everyone in their path and then they look like minor league team flaying at sliders and kicking the ball all over the field. 

So what are your moments of Sports PTSD? What gets your heart racing or mind running whenever you see a replay or hear someone mention it?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Comment on my comment?

One of the blogs I read just about everyday is Jesus Creed, a blog by theology professor and author Scot McKnight. He links to interesting articles usually related to Christianity, the church, and culture. I usually read the comments, but I don't often comment myself because who really wants to read my thoughts, anyway. I don't have a tremendous amount to add anyway. Tonight was a different story. The story didn't really do much for me, the comments got me going a little bit and I tried to post an opinion and try to mix in some snark. I love some good snark. The link is about Christian music and marketing, but it goes deeper than simply "what's the deal with Christian music?" It's about marketing and authenticity. Granted, Christian music in general comes up woefully short IMHO, but again, not the real point here.

I won't repost the whole excerpt, but I will repost my comment. I'm curious to hear others thoughts. Am I missing the point?

I hate it when Scot posts something about Christian music because everyone piles on with the whole, “I hate Christian music. I want something with real spiritual depth.” It’s like a big group of hipsters who say “Meh” to everything. “Christian music sucks, except for what I listen to.”

I’m not defending Christian music here. I tend to agree with alot of what has been said. (Though if you want to catch some good Christian music, check out See, I’m do it too.[sic])

But the point of this excerpt isn’t that Christian music is terrible. It’s that too often 21st century Christianity has tried so hard to be relevant that there is no difference between the church and the world. And if there’s no difference, then what’s the use? The church has bought the consumerism garbage and is paying the price (no pun intended). The slick packages and the cool presentations just make it all look fake. As we all know, the worst thing in the world is to be fake.

Comment by Russell — August 15, 2011 @ 11:42 pm

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

I hate Craigslist

For many years we have loved Craigslist. While living in New York we: found two of our apartments, Jeanette's job, a couch, and more. We also got rid of most of our furniture that we didn't want to keep before we moved to Tennessee. We almost bought a van to bring our stuff to Nashville (before we wised up and realized that was a stupid idea). Now in Nashville, Craigslist has had some good things. We have found great garage sales. We bought a Joovy stroller and some other small things. But my recent experience has driven me to hate Craigslist.

I recently posted an ad to sell 8 different cans of baby formula which we won't be using. There are 4 of one brand(I'll call SA) and a single can of 4 other brands. Each one would cost around $15 in a store, but I was asking for $40 for the set(for those who struggle with math that $5 a can). I also listed the size of the can and the expiration date. I thought that was pretty straight forward and easy.

The inquiries started early with a question from SS as to whether I would just sell the four SAs. I replied that I would take $20 for the four. Then RC wrote and asked the same thing. I held off replying to RC waiting to hear from SS. No response by the next day so I sent the same message to RC (4 cans for $20). No response from RC either. Four others wrote with similar questions about breaking up the set. To each one I replied that would take $5 for a single can. No responses from any. I wonder why that is. Do they have trouble with the math that $40 divided by 8 is $5? Are they surprised that I want some money for the cans and I don't want to just give them away to some idiot I have never met? Are they cruising Craigslist for just any free can of formula they can track down? Did they realize they don't really even have a baby and have no need whatsoever for formula? The world may never know.

This morning things got ridiculous with two different people asking for two different individual cans. AS e-mailed and gave a number to text with information. Here is the exact text conversation:
ME: Regarding Craigslist formula, I will take $5 for (formula). Can you come this evening? Russell
AS: How many oz? (As you will recall I posted this on the ad.)
AS: And is it sealed?
ME: It is sealed and unopened. The size of the can is on the listing and I don't have it in front of me. I know its around 12 oz. (Do you think she thought I was being sarcastic? Besides who would sell an open can of formula?)
AS: Ok um have to talk to my husband and wat time n where I will let u kno for sure asap
ME: Ok, call me if you decide you want it and I'll give you our address. (I wrote our general location.)
AS: Ok we live close thanx
time passes
AS: Ok wat time is good
ME: I'll be home around 6. My address is (I write my address). (I always use proper capitalization and punctuation when I text. At least I try to.)
ME: I'm home. Let me know if you need directions.
AS: Well I won't b comin today sorry ill let u kno if or when thanks

Needless to say, I'm not holding my breath to hear from her.

I also received an e-mail from FC about a different can. I replied that I would take $5 for it (notice a trend?). She asked if I would take $3 for it. I should have told them to jump off a cliff, but I'm ready to get rid of these cans so I said yes. Shockingly enough, FC's husband came and got the can. He paid the $3 (though I saw the inside of his wallet and he definitely could have paid $5). I honestly wasn't trying to sneak a peak at the inside of his wallet, but he just about held it open for me to see inside. It really isn't a huge deal that I only got $3. I mean its two measly dollars, but really, it's a brand new can of formula. Did they feel like they won a prize for getting it for two dollars cheaper? Is that two dollars the difference between dinner tonight and going hungry? Are they using that two dollars to start their baby's college savings account that will hopefully mature one day to pay for him to slack off and cut classes? Are they putting that two dollars into the lottery to hope to get their dream house? Again, I don't know, but don't think I could care less.

So there is my experience. Craigslist in Nashville is stupid and waste of time. But if you want 7 cans of formula for $35, let me know.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Mmmm, Yummy Crow

I guess after being nigh on suicidal after game 1 and incredulous after game 2, I should write about the Mavericks unbelievable championship. It shocked the basketball world. In fact, I think it shocked the Mavs. It seemed at the end of the game that as time was ticking down they just looked at each other as if they were saying, did that just happen? Am I dreaming? The Heat were stunned, too. After one of the Heat's final baskets, when they had to foul to try to prolong the game, they let Jason Terry dribble around like it was a shoot around. They seemed to mail the last 5 minutes of the game in, which was a common theme in the finals.

I listened to a podcast of Miami sports writer Dan Lebatard with Bill Simmons recapping the finals. I didn't count, but he probably said 10 times that the Heat were close to winning all the games and if Lebron James had played to his averages then they would have won. I obviously can't dispute any of that, but the question has to be asked why did those things happen? Why did Lebron struggle so much in the series and the fourth quarters in particular? Why did the Mavs own the last few minutes of the games they won? How were they able to take apart the Heat defense late in games? These are legitimate questions because that is what happened on a consistent basis throughout the series.

After the historic comeback in game 2, the assumption (at least on my part) was that the Mavs it was a blip on the radar. They made a few shots and surprised the Heat, but it wouldn't happen again and game 3 seemed to prove that out. But in game 4, Mavs outscored the Heat by 7 in the 4th and won by 3. In game 5, the Heat were up again by 4 with four mins to go, but lost by 9! In game 6, the Mavs led most of the game, but after the Heat got to within four early in the fourth, the Mavs answered quickly and the Heat never got closer than seven after that.

The thing is in just about every playoff game or series, one can always point to a couple of plays here and there that won or lost the game. Rare is the game, especially late in the playoffs when a team gets so outclassed that they can't play the "what if" game. What if that borderline call went our way? What if the shot had fallen in instead of out (or vice versa)? What if that guy didn't get hurt? In the 2006 Finals, Mavs fan were asking what if the Mavericks had been able to pull out game 3 when they had a big lead and looked poised to go up 3-0? What if the refs hadn't given game 5 to the Heat? Here in 2011, what happened in the fourth quarters goes beyond what if. If it happens once, ok, those things happen. Four times? Whatever happened (and I'm still not quite sure how it happened) was real. The Mavs, shockingly enough, were better than the Heat. The Heat clearly had the talent advantage, but this is a case where the Mavericks' whole was great than the sum of it's parts.

For me, I didn't truly believe until the end. I expected them to collapse or the refs to make sure there was a game 7. At last, the Mavs were stronger than whatever forces were arrayed against them. It was a ton of fun.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

How In the World DId That Just Happen????

I just watched that last two quarters of the Mavs game. I pretty much gave up after Wade hit a three to up by 15 with 7 mins to go in the game. I threw the remote on the chair and turned on the Astros game while tried to calm down before bed and finish a few things. I would casually look up and check the score. They'd be within 9, then 4. I wanted to get up and watch, but I was afraid to get up from the Astro game because it's clear that I'm horrible luck for the Mavs. I did get up and watch the end as Dirk hit a three (TAKE DAT WIT CHEW!!!!) and then (after the Heat made a 3 to tie) and Dirk hit a driving layup. Then after a missed shot (did you see Wade try to sell a foul by falling to the ground like he'd been shot?) the Mavs had won to make it 1-1.
I couldn't be more shocked and I have no idea how it happened. Will it continue? No idea. Will the Mavs win the series? Still don't think so. But to quote a wise man, "I've seen alot of stuff in my life, but that...was...awesome."