Wednesday, December 27, 2006

New Horror movie on the way! Tivo is already here!

I can't wait. The Descent is on its way to me from NetFlix. I will be sure to tell you all about it once I have seen it.
The only thing better than NetFlix is Tivo. Our friends Howie and Darryl gave us a Tivo for Christmas this year. Woah, i just love to fast forward commercials. I really enjoy pausing a live broadcast while i get a soda refill from the kitchen. I think recording movies and TV shows like "Good Eats" to be watched later is very cool.
My Tivo movie waiting for me is Bruce Almighty. I am excited to know that when there really is nothing on TV, I don't have to struggle through some second-rate USA Network movie just for the small entertainment value. I also think that I will be recording all Yankee games available to me for later viewing.
Man, this is going to be great.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

To Kill a Spider

...blah blah blah blah. Self-important blather. Quit patting yourself on the back already! Get to the funny stuff, man! No one wants to read you talking to yourself about how important your writing is. Jeez! Tell us a real story.
Fine. I'll tell you an old one then -- about how I killed a certain spider.

One night this past summer, after a quick dinner of tater tots and fish sticks, the family headed outside to play a little in the evening sun. The plan was run around the yard and wear the kids out a bit before heading out for ice cream cones.
It was still very warm outside; Little Bubba broke out in a sweat almost immediately. That's just what he does. Big Sis, excited to be outside, ran down the driveway to meet her neighbor-friend, Katie.
Katie is about about 10 years old and Big Sis adores her. She loves playing with Katie, and Katie has adopted a "big sister" role with her, taking very good care of her and paying her a lot of attention even when she has her own friends around.
As Kaylin ran down the driveway towards her, Katie points into our pine island and says, "Ew, look at that big ugly spider". I didn't think much of it since we have an occasional wolf spider around, but they generally don't stay in sight for very long.
"Look at the red on it," she says. "Do you think it's a Black Widow?"
Now she has my attention.
My Wonderful Wife scoops Kaylin up after one look at this spider and asks me to join them at the foot of the driveway to investigate. Barefoot, I run to the place in where the girls are pointing and see a spider the size of a nickle making it's way though our yard. It was an ugly bugger with a black sectional body, what looked like pincers on the front of it, and eight red legs. A very strange looking arachnid. Not a Black Widow, but still dangerous looking, mostly because of the red coloring.
"I hope it isn't poisonous. Kill it." I can't remember if my wonderful wife said that or if it was my inner monologue, but that's all the encouragement I needed. No spider is safe from my wrath.
I run back in the house to put on my bug stomping shoes, some old pair of Nikes I keep in the garage to mow the lawn. Ironically, i have to smack them together to make sure i don't stick my toes into more spiders... nope, nothing in there. Once I'm fully armored, I head back down to the edge of the property where the spider is making its way towards the road. I take aim, and *squish*!
"Is it dead? Are you sure?" I poke around with the toe of my shoe to be sure, and yep, there it is, upside down and curled up in that "dead spider" kind of way.
"You're certain?" Oh yeah, that sucker is dead, dead, dead.
Mission Accomplished. Threat averted. Return to your playtime activities.
I couldn't go back to playtime. I was too busy wondering what the heck that spider was and what it was doing in my yard. Was it really dangerous? Will there be more of them?
I excused myself and ran into the house, planting myself in front of my web browser. I pointed my way to Google and searched for "spider red legs black body". In the millions of results, two catch my eye immediately. I click on the first, and get to a webpage called "What's that Bug". Good start, huh? I'm certain to find answers here. Check it out:
Don't feel like reading it? No problem. I quickly found out that I had killed a Red-Legged Purseweb Spider. Not DANGERous, it seems, but actually enDANGERed.
That couldn't be right, could it? I return to the Google web search results and click on the second link, a University of Kentucky site. I scroll down to the bottom of the page and, sure enough, that sucker is endangered.
I feel like I am living in the movie The Freshman, when Matthew Broderick thinks that Marlon Brando is actually killing the endangered Kimono Dragon. Except, I really did kill the Kimono Dragon.
Trouble is, if I saw that ugly spider again, I'd probably squish it again.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Hiatus is over!... a Merry Christmas!

The wait is over. Thank my Wonderful Wife. I am back and I am determined to stick to it and keep up with writing on a regular basis.
For those of you who were avid readers (as Stephen King would call you), I apologize for abandoning you to read over and over the same unfulfilled promise of my return. This has been long overdue. A few of you had mentioned to me that you missed reading these posts, but I just shrugged the encouragement off as polite courtesy. I apologize for not allowing myself to hear you.
I have thought about coming back often, but i just have never made the time. Not an excuse, just the truth.
I got promoted recently at work and my available brainstorming and subsequent writing time was reduced to the hour at night I would spend unwinding to a video game after the rest of the family was safely tucked in to bed. Not an excuse, just the facts.
There are even a few posts that I started last summer that were decent beginnings that I just couldn't seem to finish -- perhaps I was struck with a bit of writers block. Not an excuse, just a dose of reality.
Anyway you look at it, I wasn't coming back on my own. Not without help. Again, you can thank my Wonderful Wife.
She might be the most ingenious person I know. A few times in passing, she mentioned that I should get back to writing, that I enjoyed it so much; that she enjoyed it so much. Yeah, yeah, I thought, she is so sweet to say things like that. I didn't "get it" until she showed me how important this blog was to her in an unexpected and inventive way.
Over the course of the past week, in preparation for her very personal Christmas gift to me, my Wonderful Wife spent many hours selecting, cutting, pasting, organizing, printing, binding, and essentially publishing the entirety of this blog (yes, word for word, all of your comments were preserved). She says it was to ensure that the writing wasn't lost forever in the vacuum of the Internet. What she meant to show me was the actual weight of the work that I had created in a way that forced me to finally realized the value.
I couldn't imagine that I had actually written that much until it was presented to me, boxed and bound. The volume of words was one thing, but the real value of them registered as her father read through the beginining pages, laughing all the while. He'd look up at me shaking his head and smiling, immediately returning his eyes to the paper once he knew I was able to recognize the pleasure he was having reading my writing.
I don't mean to over dramatize this whole thing, (too late) but it turns out that several others were taking this blog more seriously than I. I had started to take this all for granted: the blog, the entries, the ideas, the opinions, the readers. I started to write and then quit once I felt satisfied, never finishing what I had started. I owe it to any faithful reader to continue. And with all the effort I had been putting into the writing, especially knowing how much I love to write, I owe it to myself to continue.
So here I go.
I'll have to start slow.
Writing is a bit like running; you get better and faster the more you do it, and until you are back in shape, you have to take frequent breaks.
I'll try to keep the breaks short.

Friday, September 01, 2006

August is a good month to take off

I'm back.
More to come.
August was long.
I have much to say.

Just not today.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

That was no horror movie.

At best, Resident Evil 2 is an action flick that happens to have scary looking undead marching around eating people.
Ok, that's a little gross, but it really wasn't scary. In fact the undead are almost funny in how they are depicted. Comic lumbering masses, who are constantly rising from the dead. Silly.
Oh well. I'll have to look forward to whatever is next on my Netflix list. Maybe a little "Jesus Christ, Vampire Hunter"? Perhaps.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

It's Horror night!

Tonight I'll be watching "Resident Evil 2". I watched the first one, and it was as much cool sci-fi as it was a thriller. Not quite a horror movie, but it was shocking in a few places.
This one picks up right where the last one leaves off and should explain a little more from the first movie.
Best part? Milla Jovovich, of course! Ok, and the crazy undead creatures that prowl after her. So cool.
I'll give you an update once i am finished with it.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

World Jump Day

Did you feel that? Were you awoken this morning by a certain "bump" in the night? Wasn't an earthquake, can't quite explain it? I can.
It's World Jump Day today and I can't believe you missed it!
According to some very bright scientists in Germany, if 600 million people all jump at the same time, at exactly 6:39AM and 13 seconds EST, a force could be exerted on the earth so strong that it would send it into a new orbit around the sun.
Neat, huh?
Why in the world would we have World Jump Day? To prevent Global Warming, of course. The theory states that if we can push ourselves just a little further from the sun, the world will get a bit cooler and we'll live a lot longer.
600 million people are required for this to work. According to the offical website at 2pm yesterday they were a few hundred thousand shy. Last night there were over 250 thousand more than needed.
What happens if enough people don't actually jump? Will it help a little, or not at all?
What happens if there are a whole bunch of unauthorized jumpers? Will this send us on a collision course with Mars?
We can only guess.
Let me know if you jumped, would you?

Monday, July 17, 2006

It's Dean R. Koontz week!

While on vacation I love to spend my free time reading. Nowadays, with two kids constantly needing attention, reading time is in short supply.
Before we left for the trip, my Wonderful Wife suggested that I choose a book for her. Her last book, Flirting With Pete, by Barbara Delinsky, was not the page turner that she was hoping for. Even though she finished it and enjoyed it, she wanted something a little more exciting.
I went to the bookshelf and looked past my huge Stephen King collection (you can't take first edition hardcovers to the beach!), and found my Dean R. Koontz paperback collection. I have about 20 different soft-cover Koontz books, each from different points in his career. I have two that I read repeatedly (Midnight and Watchers) and a bunch that I have never even cracked open.
I pulled Watchers off the shelf, since WW told me that she had already read Midnight. Just in case I also grabbed The Door To December for her. That worked out for the best since she turned up her nose at my original choice when i told her it was a story about a "really smart dog." I think i undersold it a bit.
For myself, now in the mood for some of this easy reading, I selected Cold Fire and Twilight Eyes. I have never read either before and they looked interesting.
My wonderful wife began to read while on our journey to the beach; she didn't waste any time. I, on the other hand, had to wait until we got to the island for a quiet time after the kids went to bed.
Once we got to the condo we were staying at, I unpacked all the books and put them on an endtable in the living room. That's when i noticed that my father-in-law had also brought two Dean Koontz books for himself. He was planning on reading Strange Highways, a collection of short stories that he began a long time ago but never finished. The really odd thing was that he also chose Cold Fire for the trip just as I had.
I finished Cold Fire and most of Twilight Eyes (i just have the second half left, added a few years after the original publication. It was not a great book so I'm not sure I'll finish it). My wonderful wife had 20 pages left in her book by the time we made it back home. The F-I-L managed to finish the first (and longest)story in the collection he was reading; he did us the favor of watching Big Sis often while WW and I snuck away to the beach for some quiet reading and sunning time.
So, the final score? I win... but it wasn't a race, i swear.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

All-Star Fantasy Team

Every summer I look forward to the Major League Baseball All-Star Game. For the past four years, a friend of mine from the Deep South, Tony, and I would seat ourselves at a local watering hole and watch the entire game while trading baseball statistics and factiods. Our little tradition started out with just the two of us but has grown to include a larger number of baseball fanatics.
This year, however, I will not be attending the annual event since I am away on Hilton Head Island. Instead, I have convinced my Wonderful Wife that it would be necessary for us to have wings and beer at the local Wild Wing Cafe in the spirit of our annual get-together.
Yep, there is even a Wild Wing on the island, a little slice of hot-wing heaven. If you haven't heard already, I love this place (read my old rant here).
So with the big game in mind, I have examined my current fantasy baseball team and I think I have a winner. Much to the chagrin of some of the whiners in my league, I have assembled a serious contender, and I think I have a very good shot at the championship this year. Let me run down the list of players on my team, whether or not they are All-Stars this year, and how they ended up on my roster.
Offense --
Joe Mauer (C - Min): All-Star, Drafted
Albert Pujols (1B - StL): All-Star, Keeper
Dan Uggla (2B - Fla): All-Star, picked up from free agent list.
David Wright (3B - NYM): All-Star, Keeper
Rafael Furcal (SS - LAD): Keeper
Chone Figgins (Util - LAA): Keeper
Manny Ramirez (OF - Bos): All-Star, Traded Corey Patterson (OF - Bal) for him amid much league controversy. The trade was offered to me, and the originating team manager still wanted Patterson even after several other managers berated him.
Jeremy Hermida (OF - Fla): Drafted
Justin Morneau (1B - Min): Drafted, dropped and picked up again later from waiver wire.
Ryan Freel (Util - Cin): Drafted, dropped and picked up again later from the waiver wire.
Gary Sheffield (OF - NYY): Traded Brad Wilkerson (1B, OF - Tex) for him even though Shef was on the DL.
Pitching --
Roy Halladay (SP - Tor): All-Star, Keeper
Mark Prior (SP - ChC): Keeper
Billy Wagner (RP - NYM): Drafted
Joel Zumaya (RP - Det): picked up from free agent list
Rafael Soriano (RP - Sea): picked up from free agent list
Scott Kazmir (SP - TB): All-Star, Drafted
Francisco Liriano (SP - Min): All-Star, picked up from free agent list
Ryan Dempster (RP - ChC): Drafted
Huston Street (RP - Oak): Drafted
Justin Verlander (SP - Det): picked up from free agent list
Yep, that's quite a team.

Monday, July 10, 2006

The Caiprinha - a great drink while on vacation

While on a date-nite with my Wonderful Wife, we stopped at a local Hilton Head restaurant called "Marley's". The place had an island sensibility and lots of charm. We ordered a dessert of Churros (mexican cinnamon and sugar sprinkled donuts) and some tropical drinks. She ordered a strawberry pina colada, and I ordered a Caiprinha. The Caiprinha is made using a special rum that is made from sugar cane instead of molasses. Very tasty.

1 lime quartered
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 shot of cachaça
1/2 Cup of ice cubes with water

Place the lime and sugar in the bottom of a glass.
Using the handle of a wooden spoon, crush and mash
the limes. Pour the liqueur and ice. Stir well.

I prefer it shaken, which distributes the pulp throughout the drink. You can top off the drink with a little lemon-lime soda to fill the glass.

Saturday, July 08, 2006


On our way to Hilton Head Island for our annual family week at my Wonderful Wife's parent's timeshare, we drove the 350 mile treck in a two-car caravan. Through Macon and across the east Georgia barrens we drove with regular stops to rest and feed the kids. Along the way we passed a town called Metter, a town that boasted on a roadside billboard that "Metter is better." I'll take their word for it.
Leaving Georgia, we stopped for a bio-break (food, fuel, restroom) at a gas station off of I-95 just outside of Savannah in a little town called Pooler. Our two-car caravan stopped and all of us piled out of the car to stretch our legs.
Once a pump opened up, I hopped back in the car to move it to get gassed up. Trying to restart the car proved that the battery was dead. We had already made it 300 miles, but the battery just decided that it wouldn't go any further. My father-in-law provided a jump-start from his car and the two of us made our way to the local Advance Auto Parts.
We really picked a great exit to stop off at; this Advance really was "ready in advance". (Metter might be better, but Pooler is definitely cooler) They had one battery left that fit our car but the tech thought it would be a good idea to test out the existing battery just in case. He wheeled out the oldest looking device and dragged it to our car engine. As he hooked positive sensor to positive post and negative to negative I checked out all the lights and sensors on his testing gizmo.
Sixty seconds pass as numbers scroll by on the display, lights flashing in no particular order on the grey box. With a single buzz, the message "Battery Bad" appears on the screen. That's it. No other information. I guess that we'll have to take their word for it. I kinda expected something more, almost like a printout that you would get from an emission check.
Five minutes later we had a new battery and we were back on the road. All is good in Pooler.

Friday, July 07, 2006

When "Where" is the new "Why"

You know how the stereotypical child is constantly pestering the parent with a barrage of "Why?" questions? Usually after the parent carefully answers the first "Why" they are peppered with another "Why" on top of that? Here is an example:
Parent: "It's time for bed"
Kid: "Why?"
Parent: "Because it's getting late"
Kid: "Why?"
Parent: "Because it's about your bedtime"
Kid: "Why?"
Parent: "Because you are just two years old and 8 o'clock is late enough for two-year-olds"
Kid: "Why?"
Parent: "Because you really have nothing to do after 8 o'clock and frankly Daddy is getting tired"
Kid: "Why?"
Parent: "Because I had a long day at work"
Kid: "Why?"
Parent: "Well, first it was a meeting at 8am... can see where this is going. Yeah, well, that's the stereotype, right? Not my kid. Big Sis's question is "Where". Even when it is completely redundant, she will fire off "Where" questions at me like she is a professional investigator. It usually sounds a little something like this:
Me: "Ok, time to get into the car"
Big Sis: "Where?"
Me: "In the garage"
Big Sis: "Where?"
Me: "Down the hall and out the door"
Big Sis: "Where?"
Me: "About 15 feet away from us now"
Big Sis: "Where?"
Me: "We're here."
Big Sis: "Where?"
Yep, she is super cute.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy Independance Day! Fireworks are now legal in Georgia!

Happy 4th of July.
Fireworks are now legal in Georgia. Not the good kind, the ones that make the big explosions and shoot into the air. We get the sparklers and the pop-its and a few of the cones that you put on the ground that spray out a fountain of colorful sparks. I can't seem to find any roman candles, M80s, bottle rockets or even the firecrackers that i remember as a kid. I think when Bubba is older I will be glad that none of those are available around here.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Fireworks! ...and now I have Kenny Rogers' cell phone number

Tonight the family went out to see Fourth of July fireworks at the local park. Last year we were on Hilton Head Island when we saw the fireworks. We watched them from one of the plantations, right on the water. It was a great setting and Big Sis really enjoyed her first fireworks display.
This year the park we were at was pretty small, and we could see the mortars setup at the other end of the park. I set out blankets earlier in the evening to reserve us some prime picnic and viewing space, and it made all the difference: we were very close to our car, to the consessions, to the play ground, to the band. It also meant that we were very close to the fireworks.
We had been talking up the fireworks display to the kids for a few days now. Big Sis was excited about them. I don't know if she remembered last year's event, but she was looking forward to seeing fireworks tonight.
Dusk settled in and we picked up our picnic area so that we didn't have to when it got dark. As the band was winding down, we strapped Big Sis and her friend, James, into our double-wide stroller. I can call it a double-wide stroller. I live in the Deep South. James is about the same age as Big Sis, give-or-take a few months, and is a regular, rough-and-tumble boy. It seemed like a good place to put them, in case they fell asleep, they would already be ready for the walk to the cars.
The moment the first explosion roared very close overhead, the two kids freaked out. Screaming for mommies and squirming to be released from their bindings, they flailed wide-eyed as bomb after bomb burst into bright lights in the sky. Once in her mother's arms, Big Sis stared blankly at the ground, occasionally wincing at the noise above. James jogged in place, crying, as he was put into pajamas by his mother. He held his hands over his eyes and cowered later in his father's lap. It wasn't long before Big Sis passed out from fear and exhaustion. She slept through the rest of the show.
Which brings me to the point of writing this whole story...
As we were packing up after the show, Big Sis's Grandpa picked up a cell phone off the ground. Obviously lost, I took it from him to deal with the responsibility of finding its owner. I figured that they would eventually call their own cell phone to try to figure out where it was. I'd do the same if it were me who had lost a cell phone.
On our ride home, my Wonderful Wife suggested I browse though the phone list in case there is a listing for "Home". Sure enough, there was a listing for "Home" and I decided to call that number in the morning.
Natural curiousity encouraged me to continue scrolling through the list of names. My curiosity paid off when I came across the name "Kenny Rogers". Holy Smokes! Could it be? Could it be true?? Do I now have access to The Gambler's cell phone? What luck!
Natural curiousity encouraged me to dial the number.
No answer.
I will try it again until I get in touch with him. What would I say? "Love your Chicken, Kenster." Maybe he is free for our New Year's Eve party and would like to make an appearance! What do you think I should say to Kenny Rogers when I call him?

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Back by popular demand.

Ok, you asked for it, you got it. Here is Big Sis singing her version of "Baa Baa Black Sheep".

Thursday, June 29, 2006

My daughter is a singer

Big Sis learned a special song to sing for Daddy on Father's Day. This is her rendition of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame".

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Company Picnic

Oh, by the way...
My company had their summer picnic recently and they decided to limit us to just one glass of beer per person. None of us are discouraged by this since we are an industrious, creative and free-thinking bunch of people.

Just kidding.

I am so freaked out

(continued from the previous article where I talked about my latest horror flick)
I'll just call this my "therapy entry", because after watching that freakshow of a movie I will need some serious cooldown time.
Not so much scary as shocking and gory. Actually, it was a lot less scary than I anticipated. Instead it was just wierd. I did expect the people affected by years of toxic radiation to look deformed and mutilated but I didn't expect them to be so dang violent.
Let's just say that this movie overused the pickaxe.

My WW wouldn't consider watching this movie, naturally. She was scared by the movie poster. We have discussed it and we decided that movies that fall under the "thriller" genre will be acceptable for the two of us to watch together. The Skeleton Key is one that she has in mind; sounds good to me.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Hills Have Eyes

I'm doing it again.
Horror movies late at night.
Actually, this was completely by accident. I had originally wanted to reorder my queue so that I had some other new release in my queue. Instead, I didn't get around to it and I left this one as the next movie to be sent.
The Hills Have Eyes. A 2006 remake of a 1977 Wes Craven classic horror flick. I never saw the original. The tag-line for this movie is "The lucky ones died first..."
Oh yes.
There will be no sleep tonight.
Actually, I know better. This movie is already not going to be as scary as the last one for one simple reason. I recognize almost all the actors. The father of the vacationers is Monk's boss, the mother is Kathleen Quindlan, who has been in movies and television since before the original was even made, and one of the daughters is playing the pregnant girl on "Lost". There are others who look familiar.
If I can recognize these people from other movies, I can suspend my disbelief a little better than when I don't recognize anyone.
Small consolation there. I have heard that this movie is tense, graphic and very scary.
More to come...

Saturday, June 03, 2006

More mediocre poetry

I found another poem from a slow work day. I don't remember the exact context, but it probably has something to do with a "know-it-all" that I was tired of dealing with at work. We all have them, don't we? Someone who we try to avoid because if we actually said outloud what we were thinking about them, even accidentally, it would turn into a huge problem. No? Just me? Oh well then...
Here is the poem:
You don’t understand
You don’t understand because you don’t listen.
You talk a lot
You have little to say.
Think before you speak.
Speak softly and carry a big staple gun.
Use the gun to put the Christmas lights up on the walls.
Forget what I said.
You weren’t listening anyway.
Do you understand?

-- Matt, February 2002

Friday, June 02, 2006

Digital Cable

A few years ago, during my apartment living daze in the Deep South, my roommates convinced me that getting the "digital cable upgrade" from our basiv cable would be a good idea. It would offer us many more options including a whole host of movie channels. Sounded good to me. Plus, it wouldn't be a huge increase in cost since we had our internet bundled in with that service. Even better.
Not long after that, I found myself at work, day-dreaming while on the phone with a customer. Day dreaming enough that I was typing up a stream-of-consiousness poem that I kept to this day. What's remarkable isn't that I actually wrote a poem, something that I loathed throughout my college career as an English Major. What's interesting is the actual content of the poem itself -- a timely explanation of why I was zoning out at work. Here is the poem:
Fast connection.
Super speed is my internet.
Watch the frames
Speed by in Digital.
Digital mind.
Digital Computers.
Digital watch.
Digital world.
Digital cable.
Lots of additional movie channels.
Always something on.
Get less sleep.

-- Matt, January 2002

Thursday, June 01, 2006

I'm on the Board

I have been asked to participate on the Board of the Cobb County Summer Singers, a community choir in it's freshman year. I am flattered by the invitation, and I am excited about the possibilities.
Frankly, when it comes down to it, I am overjoyed with the opportunity to participate in a project like this. It is putting everything I learned putting the Gasball Music Festival on to good use. I don't know if I get an actual title other than Board Member, but there are only five of us so far and the responsibilities are huge. It is up to us to successfully launch, promote and produce a successful singing group performing a concert at the end of the summer.
At our first board meeting the other day, at the local Rib Ranch (yep, we are in the Deep South), we came up with out Mission Statement:
"To offer a Joyful opportunity for singers from our diverse Community
to perform together in annual summer concerts,
providing excellent programs featuring sacred and secular choral music, and
contributing to a deeper appreciation for the Arts while strengthening the bonds of our community Spirit."

I like it. This is gonna be a blast.

There is now a piano in the house!

My wonderful wife was able to find an incredible deal on a used Sterling upright piano. It is 28 years old and sounds great. For a mere $100.00 and about $70 in moving costs we were able to bring this musical instrument into our house.
The previous owner owned it all his life. His mom bought it for him when he was five and he has played it ever since. He recently bought himself a Yamaha grand piano to replace it. Quite a replacement.
The piano is still in tune and the tone is still very nice. I will have to start practicing again so that I can be sure to get Big Sis interested in taking lessons herself one day.

I am writing a blog for my sister-in-law, Adair

My sister-in-law, Adair, is currently on a school trip travelling around Europe. She sends regular emails back to us about the things she is doing. I am posting them all on a blog so that the rest of the family can see them easily. Check it out if you get the chance.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

My Wonderful Wife has a website

WW is a consultant for Creative Memories, a scrapbooking hobby supply retailer. She loves the books she produces, and enjoys helping others do the same. Check out her site at

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Summertime is Jeep time

I love my Jeep Wrangler.
I loved it since the day i bought it six years ago.
I have loved Jeeps even though one almost killed me in high school. (horrible Jeep-rolling accident. No big whoop.)
I had owned a Jeep Grand Cherokee before, but it just wasn't the same. I have owned an assortment of cars: Dodge Ram 50 pickup, Honda Civic DX, Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited, BMW 318i, Dodge Neon. But it wasn't until I bought this car that I realized what I was meant to drive.
I took it with me from the North when I moved to the Deep South. I have taken it on road trips, including ones to the Outer Banks to be able to reach the most northern coastal points where there are no roads but beautiful beaches. I drive it every day to work. I miss it when I swap cars with my wife.
Driving the Jeep up north was great during the winter -- you can get anywhere with four-wheel drive. With it's higher-than-normal ground clearance, I can hop curbs and park anywhere.
Down south it has been even better -- it is a convertable and more. I can take the rear windows out and catch a breeze. I can leave the top up and take the doors off giving it a "golf-cart" kind of feel for cruising around town. It's maneuverable, with a tight turn radius, so I can make my way easily through tough Atlanta traffic.
Best of all, it makes me feel good. I am happy driving that Jeep.
With Summertime here, I need to find a way to minimize the amount of rain that gets inside my Jeep on the days that I am enjoying the Jeep-benefits. The current project is clearing out the garage of the accumulated kiddie-stuff: toys, wagons, strollers (there are four...), cribs, walkers, megasaucers, desks, etc. I need to organize the tools, lawn mowers (there are two of those), wheel barrows, and other lawn maintenance accessories that go mostly under-used. And lastly I need to throw away all the old boxes from gifts, appliances, monitors and other purchases that we have saved "just in case". Once that is all done, there will once again be room in the garage for both cars.
I have the doors off the jeep and the windows out right now. I have the top up to keep the sun off my perpetually thinning dome. I love driving it this way, but I have to pay much closer attention to the weather forcast than I normally would. It is supposed to rain on Thursday and maybe a little more on Friday. After that there will be 10 days of sunshine.
I can't wait.
Remember how I once wrote that I needed to sell the Jeep? I hope that day doesn't come too soon.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Bubba likes food.

Big Boy has shown enough interest recently in people food that we have started him on baby cereal. He was so excited to eat food on a spoon, he quickly graduated from rice cereal (blick!), to baby oatmeal, to a mixture of barley, rice and oat cereal. Those of you with kids know what I am talking about. For the masses who have no idea why I haven't given my kid Rice Krispies yet, you have to understand that this is no ordinary cereal that we are feeding Bubba. This cereal is in a powder/flake form and all you do is add water, formula or milk to it and WHAMMO you have baby cereal: a puree of rice mush. It is worse than it sounds, but our kid loves it.
No one is surprised. Bubba likes food.
After about three weeks on cereal it was time to advance him up to vegetable purees. Oh yeah, you only wish you could eat this good.
Yesterday we opened up a package of sweet potatos for him. Dabbing a little bit of the food onto his lip, we sat back, watched and waited. He went to work on it, probably hoping for some bland cereal. Instead he got the shock of his short life: flavor.
His eyes shot open and he smiled wide. Mikey likes it. After a few small spoonfuls placed into his open mouth, I loaded one up with a good sized bite. So much flavor hit his palate at once, he shook and winced at the surprise. It was almost like the look someone makes when they take a lick of a lemon -- the shocked reflexive reaction when their face screws up from the sour, then a smile of pleasure at the sensations. He squeals for the food until we give him another bite. He eats everything and leaves nothing left over.
No one is surprised. Bubba likes food.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

I can't stop watching horror movies.

I don't know why I do this to myself.
I have a Netflix account. It is fantastic. I go online, pick out a bunch of movies I want to watch and then they ration them out to me a few at a time. My Wonderful Wife and I share the account, and we each have our own queue. She picks out all the girlie movies she wants and then I have the responsibility for choosing movies that we both would watch in between the ones that only I would be crazy enough to view.
Once every couple of months I queue up a horror flick. Normally it isn't the old fashioned movies, although I have given myself a history lesson now and again. Usually it is the cutting edge of mainstream horror films; the scariest, the grossest, the most tension-giving films you can't even imagine.
I love the rush, the thrill, the adrenaline of being scared by these movies.
But they scare me so much that it is a torture for me to watch them.
Take tonight's fare: "Hostel", a movie about American back-packers travelling Europe, lured by the promise of easy women to a particular, off-the-map, hostel where tourists are captured and used as torture victims for rich deviants. It's gory, it's scary and it's a complete stress-fest.
This movie is only 94 minutes long, but i have been watching it for over three hours. I take breaks to read up on the latest baseball scores, play a video game, write this blog. I need the breaks or I would cry myself to sleep later. I still might.
Normally, after watching one of these movies, I turn on all the lights on the way back to my bedroom. I turn on the one ahead of me before going back and turning off the ones behind me. I normally check all the doors to be sure that they are all locked. Tonight I forgot. On my way to sleep I try to distract myself from everything I just saw, normally without much luck. I sit awake, scrutinizing every sound in the entire house.
An hour ago, Little Bubba stirred himself awake. As a reflex, I paused the movie, went down the hall, entered his (dark) room and closed the door behind me so I can soothe him without bothering anyone else. As he fell back asleep, I realized how dark it was in the room. I realized how dark it was in the hall. I realized how little I wanted to open the door to leave his room.
Silly, right? If the movies bother me so much, why do I watch them?
I have no idea.
I can't help myself.
My wife just shakes her head at me. There is no way she will watch with me.
I actually only have one friend who will go see horror flicks in the theater with me: Darryl. We saw "The Village", "Saw" and some Dragon movie that wasn't really a horror film. Ok, "The Village" wasn't that scary either. But it was supposed to be. Darryl is the only one crazy enough to see these movies with me.
I still have no idea why I do it.
I am sickened by the gore, I am frightened by the shocks, I am upset by how tense the movies are.
I keep renting them.
I have about 10 minutes left in this movie. Probably not much left that will scare me, but I still needed a break to diffuse this stress I was feeling.
I'll do it again. I have fifty different horror movies in my Netflix queue, all just waiting their turn. I won't get to all of them. I'll see a lot of them.
My mother wouldn't let me watch horror films when I was a kid. I never saw any of the classics: Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, The Omen, Amityville Horror, Evil Dead, etc. I did see Poltergeist, and it scared the pants of me. There was a birthday sleepover I went to as a kid and (I remember this distinctly) I spent most of the night in the kitchen with the kid's mother while everyone else watched "The Thing" in the living room. I knew that if I watched it, my mom would be very disappointed.
Now I know she doesn't really care. Well, I'm sure as she is reading this she is shaking her head at me just like my Wonderful Wife does, but that's okay. I have seen most of those old classics now -- I have caught myself up on the essentials.
In high school I went to the movies often. I remember seeing two horror movies in particular: "Serpent and the Rainbow" and "Prince of Darkness". Those two were enough that I didn't watch horror movies very often after that.
In college I watched the Hellraiser series. Nightmare central, my dorm room.
So what's the other movie I have? The one that is "wife approved"? "The Producers", starring Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick. We watched the first 20 minutes of it and it was so awful that I couldn't put myself through another two hours of it. The songs were silly, the acting was over-done, and the jokes were barely funny. I normally like Mel Brooks, but I couldn't handle this. My wife checked out ten minutes earlier than I did, reaching for her book.
So I put on "Hostel" instead.
Three hours later I am tired, and I can't wait to go to bed, but I am so nervous that I am not looking forward to it.
I can't stop watching horror movies.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Let the festivities begin!

My sister, Bean, is getting married! After dating her boyfriend, Mike, for about a year, he decided to make her an honest woman. (whatever that means.)
Wedding dates are tentatively scheduled for this fall, and the planning is underway. I can only imagine how excited she is, and I am very happy for her.
She has asked me to sing with my sisters during the ceremony, the same song that they sang for me at my wedding. I have also been requested to sing a **gulp** solo. I may need some help picking out the song... (hint hint).
More to come.

The best part is that I wasn't the last to know. In fact, I may have been one of the first to know. Amazing.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Warm Beer

The grocery store in the town where my parents live has this special section, near the rest of the beer coolers. I couldn't believe it even existed. Ok, I understand that there might be a need for a "non-alcoholic beer" section. In fact, we should definitely segregate that class of beer off and away from my kind of beer just in case I accidentally pick some of that up. No one will ever be able to accuse me of non-alcoholism.
What really caught my eye was the entire section, large enough to sign it, dedicated to Warm Beer. It's an insult to my eye, but I had to share it.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Shoe Repair follow-up

Here is the response from the Dr. Marten's support center:

Thanks for the clarification. Dr. Martens warrants against manufacturing defects, but not against wear and tear or comfort/fit issues. Though we cannot offer you a refund for your merchandise, we will replace it if there is a factory defect. Unfortunately we do not have facilities for repairs.

Looks like Matt is getting a new pair of sandals. Thanks Dr. Marten's. You have renewed my faith in your product.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Now I can have my Sunday nights back

"Grey's Anatomy" is finally over for this season and I can have my life and my wife back.
I didn't want to watch another TV show.
I don't mean that. I didn't want to get caught up in another TV show.
Too late.
My wife has watched this show from week one, and as a result I have as well. I try to avoid the trivial episodes, but I can't miss the big ones. Ok, maybe i don't actually try very hard to miss them. Maybe I will fold laundry during the show to feign indifference.
I saw the "Code Black" episode after the Super Bowl. Actually I only watched the Super Bowl just so I could know when "Grey's Anatomy" would start.
I had to watch the three hour season finale too. I needed to know what was going to happen.
It's over.
Only one cliff-hanger for the summer. I'll forget about it in a day or so.
What else can I do with my Sunday nights? I'm sure I'll think of something.
A few months until I have to give my Sunday's back to this show. See you this fall, ABC Network.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

My favorite shoes, giving me a problem.

I have a pair of sandals that I love that I can't wear. They cost more than the average pair of shoes, especially sandals. They broke after I had them for about a year, the buckle snapped and what were a barely worn pair of sandals were now an unwearable waste of money. I would normally just return them or refuse to ever buy from that manufacturer again, but these are Dr. Marten's, and if you know anything about "docs", then you know I love these shoes. So here is my predicament: I don't want to give up on these shoes, but I don't have much recourse. They were a year old when they originally broke, but they are three years old now. Not much left to do, but to appeal to the people in power.
Can you see me flexing my internet muscles? I am. I wrote an email and here's how it goes.

06/18/2004 05:46 AM
Subject: disappointed with quality of Fisherman sandals
Hi! I love the shoes, and own five pairs of Dr. Martens. One of the pairs I own I bought last summer, a pair of the 8092DUN in Bark, recently broke. The buckle for the ankle strap completely snapped off and I can't repair it myself. I am very disappointed, because I can't wear them at all anymore. They were very expensive and I would like to return these for replacement. Who should I talk to?

The Deep South

********************* wrote:
Thanks for the question. We have replacement buckles for style # 8092 that we will send to you. Look for them in about 10 business days. A local shoe repair shop can snap them on for you!

Consumer Relations Dept.
Dr. Martens AirWair USA

05/14/2006 11:01 PM
Subject: disappointed with quality of Fisherman sandals
Me again. I am up to 6 pairs of Dr. Martens shoes now, and I still have the same pair of sandals that I wrote about below. I continue to have the problem with the buckles. Both left and right shoes have repeatedly snapped off the buckles that keep my these sandals on my feet.

It's not from overuse -- I barely get to wear them since they are constantly broken. I repair them, and it isn't too long before a buckle snaps off again.
I think it's either a design flaw or some kind of manufacturing defect. I have another pair of DM sandals that are only one year newer, and those have never broken. The problem now is that they have been repaired so frequently that the hole where the buckle snaps into has worn out faster than the rest of the shoe.
It is unacceptable that I have had to incur the cost of repairing this shoe multiple times for something that is an obvious problem with the shoe. It seems that it is enough of a "known issue" that you have packages of replacement buckles ready to send out when needed.
I was originally satisfied with the replacement buckles because I didn't think that the problem would continue. I am no longer satisfied with that solution.
Thank you for your attention.

We'll see what happens.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Dr. Sheila has moved her web address

Ahh, ok, she is working on her doctorate still, but it's fun to call her that.
Her blog has recently moved, so update your links!

Soda flunks out: bad beverages no longer allowed on campus

When I was in high school, I lived on Mott's apple-grape juice and chocolate chip cookies. I would buy both for less than two dollars total from the "snack lady" in the cafeteria. I never ate much for lunch, and by that, I mean I didn't eat much else than cookies and juice. But it didn't seem to matter; I was tall and on the skinny side of out-of-shape, and I still had the wrestler's metabolism from my freshman year.
There were two drink machines in our school, a public school in Connecticut where the average class size at that time was less than 300. One machine was more of what I liked to drink for lunch, Mott's fruit juices in all sorts of flavors. They were tasty and delicious, and I didn't care that they were healthy. It wouldn't have even occurred to me that they would be actually, since they tasted so sweet it felt indulgent.
The other machine was a Coke machine.
That machine stayed turned off until after last period had begun.
I might have liked the Mott's, but I craved Coca-Cola.
It didn't matter that it was pure sugar dressed up as sweet caramel colored liquid goodness. I just new that it tickled my nose and made me hyper. As if I needed any encouragement.
It didn't matter that there were rumors that the phosphoric acids in it would stunt my growth. (coke lore link) I was already over six feet tall and rising. With my coordination I had no hope of ever getting a basketball scholarship.
Looking back, however, I think I was pretty active. Active enough to balance the soda I would wait patiently for. Eventually, after a few college years of drinking alternative carbonated beverages, the cokes would have a greater effect on me.
Nowadays, Diet Coke is the way to go. One of the first things I eliminated from my diet was "sugar sodas" and I think that was a huge help in losing the first fifteen pounds. After a while I didn't even miss them. Diet Coke tasted almost as good as the real thing.
Anyway, there is a recent development that has soda machines being locked permanently in schools. This is probably a good thing, but I think that just taking the fat kid's soda away won't solve the problem.
Get the kid off the couch and back onto the soccer field, and then you will reduce the obesity problem in kids. But that's just my two cents.
Here is the link to the article: (link to the St. Louis Post Dispatch)Worth a quick read.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Poll reveals Connecticut's favorite baseball team

There seems to be some discussion about which team is more popular in Connecticut, the Red Sox or the Yankees. As if there was any dispute.

My friend Archie, a New England native is often accused of being a Sox fan because of his roots. Not so. Couldn't be further from the truth. link

While I was recently visiting CT I noticed more Sox hats than I remembered in the past. If it wasn't for one measly World Series in 80 or so years, one particular team wouldn't be so obnoxiously popular.

Here is the poll results, as reported by the unbiased Hartford Courant: article

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


Back at Wild Wing Café tonight, and Wings are on the menu. Additionally, I am sampling a new (to me) appetizer called “Buffalo Chips” which is their own, home fried potato chips, sprinkled with blue cheese crumbles, and accompanied by a southwestern-style ranch dip. Yum.
The wings for tonight will be the JoJo’s Red Dragon Wing, which is a hot teriyaki, and the Gold Rush Wing, a spicy honey BBQ. I have been looking forward to this for weeks. Originally, the plan was to meet at a different local restaurant to watch the Yankees-Red Sox game. A well deserved stop off at Wild Wing trumps the opening innings of the game – when you don’t get out much, you have to make sacrifices.
The beer special is the 24-ounce Miller Lite. Ok, it’s cheaper than I like, but we’re on a budget. This place has a huge beer list. It comes in a laminated notebook, filled with the names of unusual bottled beers from all over the world. There is even a decent variety of draft beers to make it easy to find something you would like. But it’s Miller Lite tonight. At $3.50 for a 24-ounce tall-boy bottle, I can’t beat the price.
But no Yankee game tonight; it's rainy in Boston so I'll have to make do with a Braves game.
Someone at the table next to me ordered the hottest wings on the menu, the Braveheart. Just a sample. They brought him two or three wings in a small bowl with the warning, “these are hot.” His first bite seemed to go down easy, until he sniffled. That’s when his eyes started to water. His second bite was drenched in ranch dressing, but by then it was too late; he couldn’t close his mouth anymore. The wings were so hot (much to his pleasure, “these are awesome,” he said), he breathed with his mouth open for the rest of his meal, whistling breaths through his open lips. It was funny to watch him “enjoy” his meal.
By the way, the official diet will resume tomorrow. No one here is skinny, except the waitresses (but not all of them). Fried in oil, then dredged through a butter based sauce, Buffalo-style wings are not for the calorie conscious.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Odd Baseball Statistics

Baseball is an intellectual game. It is a game of finesse as well as a game of skill. It is also a game surrounded by statistics.
Players are ranked and compared based on a number of production statistics: how many home runs they hit, how many batters they strike out. These are the kind of stats that put people in the seats. It's those great numbers that fill baseball stadiums and pique people's interest in the sport.
Baseball statisticians then can crunch all those numbers and make predictions about how certain players will perform in certain situations against certain teams in particular ball parks at specific times of the day. Yep, they get very granualar.
Some statistics are very interesting. For example, Jason Giambi of the New York Yankees is currently having a great season. He leads his team in home runs (9), has a high number of RBIs (27) and has a great batting average (.328). Sounds like he is Mr. Steady, right? Ole Reliable he is not. Actually, if you are an opposing team, you are praying that you play the Yankees at night. While during day games Giambi is hitting a super 8 homers, 21 RBIs and .556 batting average, at night he is only hitting a meager 1 home run, 6 RBIs, and .162 average. Awful. This is the kind of information that makes the game of baseball all about matchups, and strategy based on statistics.
An unusual stat was brought to my attention recently. It is so oddball that I needed to mention it here. The Kansas City Royals team doesn't have much to celebrate in the past twenty years. Their team is, well, miserable. There is one thing of note, one thing that the statisticians found to give the Royals credit for, and it has to do with the right side of their infield. The two players who currently play first and second base for the Kansas City Royals hold the record for the longest names for active first and second basemen on the same team. Their names are Mark Grudzielanek (2B) and Doug Mientkiewicz (1B).
When Skip Carey, radio announcer for the Atlanta Braves, was informed of this particular feat, he noted wryly, "oh, that'll bring 'em out for the games."
Everyone has to have something to brag about.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Lunch catered by the Varsity

Our company had a great first quarter so they sponsored lunch for the entire company provided by The Varsity. They show up in a grungy truck and hand out greasy chili dogs and hamburgers and fries. Yum.
Three chili dogs with onion and mustard, a plate of fries and a Pepcid later, and Matt is a happy camper.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Quit hitting your kid

This will be a very straightforward post, because I don't feel like dancing around the subject.
Quit hitting your kid.
I don't care that he is a maniac.
I don't care that she screams in public.
I don't care that you feel embarrassed.
Get over it.
Get over yourself.
Count to ten.
Take the kid out of the situation.
Distract them.
Learn better parenting skills.
Get yourself into anger management.
Quit hitting your kid.

I was at a restaurant tonight with my wonderful wife and our four month old baby. Aside from being the biggest kid on the block, he is an angel. We shower him with love, affection and attention and I think that is 100% the reason he is such a good kid. He fussed a little before the meal arrived, and it wasn't any big deal. We expected it, it was almost his bedtime and I knew that if I just held him close, rocked him a little, he would be easily soothed.
I was right. We pay attention to him, we meet his needs and then some. He went to sleep and there was nary a peep from him the rest of the meal. I brag, I know, but I am a proud father.
Of course our boy is more portable than most -- he is still only four months old, and a nap is almost like party time to him, so getting him to fall asleep was no challenge.
But the fact of the matter is that if he couldn't be soothed, and he screamed his head off, it wouldn't ever cross my mind to smack him the way the lady next to me smacked her son tonight.
Quit hitting your kid.
It seemed to be her birthday dinner. Accompanied by her husband, their three kids and one set of grandparents, our restaurant neighbors were enjoying their dinner. As the evening wore on, the kids were allowed to get up from the table and weave in and out of the chairs, under the table and through the aisles. This was allowed to persist until the mother reached her end. She reached behind her to grab who she obviously thought was the worst offender, jerked the thirty pound kid up by his shirt collar into swatting range and spanked the boy.
I barely noticed that the kids were fooling around at the table next to me. It might have had something to do with the great food, the wonderful company, or the engaging conversation we were having, but I think it has a lot to do with the fact that I have kids. Since Big Sis showed up on Planet Earth almost two years ago I don't bristle at the sound of whiney, screaming kids. Not anymore. It's like her arrival changed my tolerance towards kids being kids. Lucky for Big Sis.
Since the kids weren't bothering me, (and as far as I could tell weren't doing anything they weren't already allowed to do,) corporal punishment and child abuse just didn't seem to be necessary in this situation. And in this shameless, public way that mother punished her kid, I don't think that she agrees with me. I am sure that she felt it was the right course of action for the situation. The way the kid cried, I can't imagine how it could have been.
Why do you have to hurt your child?
Why do you have to humiliate your child?
How can you be so unfeeling?
How would you like it if someone who weighed six times your own weight smacked you on your ass? Can you imagine a half-ton gorilla chasing you around whenever you did something wrong? You probably won't do anything wrong ever again, right? Maybe so, but I am sure you would think that there is a better way to teach that.
Quit hitting your kid.
Find the better way. Its out there. It may not be the easy way, but it's worth it.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Now I understand why she didn't answer her phone.

Not long ago I tried to call my sister on her phone but the number was disconnected. I just figured that no one told me that she switched services or that she's now sharing a line with her boyfriend. No big deal, I'll find out what her new number is eventually, right?
In the true spirit of this blog, I just found out that my sister was mugged recently. It happened a few weeks ago I guess, I still don't have the whole story.
The part I heard goes something like this: on the way home from my friend Archie's sister's birthday celebration, two hoodlums rode up on bicycles to my sister, KB, and her friends. They ripped KB's purse off of her arm and rode off with it.
There were witnesses, but none who responded to her pleas for help. She called for people to help her stop the two robbers, but no one would assist her.
KB is, to my relief, safe and sound. She has replaced her phone too, so I expect her to call me and explain this entire event to me soon.
Details to come.

Speaking of Archie...
I am playing him in my fantasy baseball league this week. Gateway Archrivals vs. Scooby's Snacks (that's me). Wish me luck! ...I'll need it.

I bought a new mower, and I bought it at Sears with pride.

It took a few years, but my mower finally died.
My father-in-law delivered this push lawnmower to our house a week after we moved into it back in 2003. A brandless mower with a Briggs and Stratton 4HP engine, it was the epitome of a no frills lawn tool. No bag, small deck, but it cut the grass so how can you complain, right?
It was his back-up mower even then, with miles and years of wear on it. The choke no longer worked, so on cold days you really needed to negotiate with it. It wasn't quite dead back then, but it was close. Frankly, it was Undead. This mower, beyond all my estimations lasted through three hot-lanta summers. It cut all the weeds in my lawn indescriminantly, just like any old blade of grass.
Good mower. Nice mower. DOWN MOWER! DOWN!
Here we are in 2006 and I haven't mown my lawn yet. Not that I haven't tried... my zombie mower has just decided to not run for more than 4 seconds unless you kneel down by the discharge and continually press the primer bulb. Yeah, that's safe.
So, fueled by the embarrassment that is my yard, I headed to my computer to do my research. I was able to quickly list out all the features I needed and some of the thinks that would be "nice to have". I shopped as many home and garden websites as I could and decided that, for everything I wanted in a mower, the Sears Craftsman series would be in my budget.
I wanted a mower with a 21-22" deck, side discharge, rear bag, 6.0+ horses and a 12" rear wheel. I knew exactly what I wanted. Of course I checked out the Snapper, Toro, and John Deere models, but paying $600-$800 for a lawn mower just wasn't high on my priority list. Sears would have to do.
I mentioned my decision to a friend who immediately panned Sears. Actually his words were, "Are you kidding? Everything at Sears sucks."
I said, "but it's the Craftsman model."
"Yeah," he says, "that's what I mean. Sears sucks. It all breaks. You are wasting your money."
Interesting. If you ask anyone over the age of 40, their opinion of Sears is completely the opposite. Reliable, effecient, cost-effective. A company that stands by it's products. Even if you have a problem, they take care of it.
Ask someone under 35, and you get the same response my friend gave: don't waste your money.
What happened to people's opinion of Sears? Sad really. I am right at that middle age where I could go either way. I don't think that the Craftsman product is the best on the market. But I think that it is the best for the money. I remember Craftsman products in my Dad's workshop, and I remember reading the Sears catalog as a kid.
When I think of Sears, I think of a true American company. I think of my parents, and how I look up to them. I think of the times I have shopped there in the past and received a fair deal and good products. There you have it; that's where I am shopping. Boy I hope that mower was made in the U.S.A...
Anyway, Easter Sunday came and it turns out the mall is open. The store was probably running short-staffed and it probably worked out in my favor. I navigated the store to find the row of lawn mowers, picked out the one I wanted and was ready to buy. Even better, the model I wanted was on sale for an extra 30$ off. Perfect.
I tackled an overworked salesman and he rang up my mower, handed me a receipt and shooed me off to the "merchandise pick-up" department.
It turns out that they didn't have any more of the mower I paid for. As an apology for not having what I already purchased, the manager upgraded me to a model that cost 30% more than what I paid. I got all the features I wanted except one (the side-discharge), but in addition I got a self-propelling mower. Neato.
The best part was I didn't have to ask for the compensation. He just offered it. He made it easy.
Thanks Sears. I'll be back. But first, I am gonna tell my friend about how I made out like a bandit.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

2000 visits!

In just 75 days, this page has received another 1000 visits! That's 13 visits a day! Ok, that's not that much. Some days are better than others.
A lot of the recent traffic has been due to the Fantasy Baseball 101 articles I have written. People are always looking for an edge when it comes to this pasttime, and the internet is one way to get it. I hope my articles were helpful. Find them here: Rookie, Draft Strategy, Stadiums, Draft Strategy II, and The Market.
I still get a surprising number of hits because of people looking for info on "Nobody Jeans", which sends people to my "The Decline of Western Civilization" article. I also see a lot of people searching for "Dehydrated Water". Funny.

Monday, April 10, 2006


This past weekend I experienced my third tornado since moving to the Deep South. This was, by far, the closest call.
When I first moved down here, within the first few months we had a tornado touch down pretty close to where I was living. It wasn't really that close -- I was never in any danger, but I had a great view of the town, and the storm, below my apartment on a hill. I was amazed by the color of the sky, the noise of the storm, the force of the wind. I was drawn out to the deck to watch the funnel cloud in the distance, but I couldn't see it. Friends watching the story unfold on the television threw a fit when they found me outside standing alone in the storm. I didn't realize how dangerous the storm could be.
During that same Spring, on a long drive home visiting my Wonderful Wife while she was working in Raleigh, I got caught in a flash storm. On a long stretch of empty road I found myself barely able to drive 10 miles an hour because the rain was coming down too hard. I was acutely aware of the green colored sky and scanned the radio for news of the storm. What I could hear through the static of an AM Radio station confirmed what I already knew to be true: a tornado was near. As the hail started to fall I finally found the shelter of a gas station's roof. Feeling brave, I got out of my car and headed into the store for some snacks. Sideways falling rain had be soaked before I made it to the store's entrance.
I still haven't had a bad experience with a tornado, thank goodness, but this weekend was a lot closer than I ever want to come again.
I spent the past weekend at home with only Little Sis to keep me company. My Wonderful Wife took Bubba to San Francisco so that they could attend the wedding of one of her best friends. Little Sis and I had a great time all weekend, but that is another story all together.
At 3:30 AM on Saturday morning, the tornado siren went off. It was a complete coincidence that I even heard it -- earlier that night I decided that it was warm enough for the first time this year to open the bedroom window. I am a pretty heavy sleeper, but that sound woke me up. I didn't exactly remember what the siren was for at the time so I dozed off. A few minutes later I sat straight up in bed when I was awakened by the familiar sound of hail. I remembered what the siren was for. The wind was picking up, noisier than I remember the usual thunderstorms being. It was actually so loud that I felt my heart race a little.
Calm down, I told myself, what is it that I have to do here? Go get my kid.
I quickly entered her room and scooped her up in my arms. As I was turning to head downstairs, I stopped and grabbed her sock monkey. I am not sure if I grabbed it for me or for her. I gave it to her. Still (mostly) asleep, she hugged it instinctively, and I held her tightly with both arms.
Down two long flights of steps to the basement. Don't fall, don't fall, don't fall.
At the bottom of the basement staircase I stood for a moment listening again to the sound of the wind pushing against my house. The noise of the tornado was getting louder, closer. I look around for a good hiding spot and decide that the best spot is actually at the foot of the staircase, where both corners of the basement are fully below ground.
The lights flickered once and went out. Not great. Losing power made the storm feel even closer. As if it was an answer to my failing nerve, the lights came back on. We are going to make it.
We live in a twenty-year-old house. It is a great home, lots of character, and not outdated feeling since we changed some of the paint and removed all the wallpaper. With some of the updates we have done, it is sometimes easy to forget that it is that old (with all the recent development in the area, twenty years is ancient). This storm made the house sound weak and thin. It was as if that house was at the chiropractor and the storm was cracking every old bone in the house. The wind was relentless and it rattled walls and windows for twenty long minutes.
Then, without flourish, the storm quieted down to where I could barely hear it over the quiet rainfall.
With Big Sis still (mostly) asleep, I loosened my lock-grip on her and stood up. Exhausted, I carry her up the stairs back to her room. Laying her down in her bed, her eyes immediately flip open. "Watch Tee-Vee?" OK, kid. Whatever you want. I am too spent to argue.
I brought her into my room, set her in the middle of my huge bed, resting her head on thick king-size pillows. She looked tiny under the enormous down comforter. "Watch Tee-Vee?" You got it, kid. But it's gonna be the Weather Channel... hope you don't mind.
Five minutes later, forty-five long minutes after I had first heard the siren, the T.V. was turned off and we were both quickly asleep, safe out of the path of the storm.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Laughing Boy

Our kid is getting a sense of humor. By that I mean that he thinks that everything we do is funny. When he is giggling, it consumes his whole body.
I think that he saw this photo and is trying to imitate this kid:

Monday, March 20, 2006

I thought my nephew was a giant...

It turns out that our family just makes "big boys". I took Little Bubba in for a sick-visit to his doctor last Friday and he weighed in at 18 pounds 2 ounces. He is just 14 weeks old.
Big Boy.
I can no longer touch fingertip to fingertip when i hold him around his chest, under his arms.
Very Big Boy.
I mentioned to the doctor that since he has caught this cold, he hasn't been eating as well. The doctor said that he didn't think that anyone would notice.
VERY Big Boy.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Fantasy Baseball 101: Taking the Rookie Risk

My friend, Archie, recently posted on his website that the highly anticipated rookie Delmon Young will start this season in the minor leagues. ( He then poses the question: Is the "sure-fire prospect" worth a roster spot even if he will start in the minors, or do you use that bench position for a player who can impact your team today?

It's a tough question: How much is that rookie worth? You rarely can tell even from reading what all the sports writers pontificate about any particular freshman player. No matter how they did in the minors, college or high school, there is no predicting the success of a rookie ball player.

So how do you answer the question? There are lots of factors. First, decide if this rookie is a guaranteed performer, baseball prodigy and future hall of famer or is this new recruit just a sleeper pick with a big upside. How can you tell? That's where the sports writers come in. I can't visit all the spring training camps, or watch any of the winter ball played in Latin America (someday maybe...), but I can read about it. If everyone is talking about them, chances are that they will make a big splash; consider them the "sure-fire prospect". If you only read news on a particular player only on seldom occasions, or if that player is stuck in the system behind another super-star (like Andy Marte waiting for Chipper Jones to kick it the past few years in Atlanta), that player is a greater risk and is best considered a sleeper.

Another factor is the kind of league that you play in. If you play in a league where you draft an entirely new team every year, future hall of famers do you little or no good if they are not yet playing in the major leagues. However, if yours is a keeper squad it might be worth the risk to spend (and maybe waste) a roster spot to stash away that star in the making.

Beware of the hype surrounding any rookie. It is easy to get sucked in by the likes of Mike MacDougal (fireballer who started out strong in Kansas City, but who burned out quickly), Nick Johnson (touted by the Yankee farm system as the next Babe Ruth, never saw that potential due to limitations caused by his injury prone body), or even Jeremy Reed (who was supposed to revolutionize Seattle baseball last year but ended up striking out once every seven plate appearances and struggled to break a .250 average). Catcher prospects rarely fulfill their pre-season hype. Last year, JD Closser and John Buck broke into the majors last year with high expectations but both had great difficulties adjusting to the workload of a major league season. Closser's confidence has been so negatively affected by his rookie season that he is no longer the starting catcher in Colorado.

There are some players for whom the hype is reality. Albert Pujols, David Wright, Miguel Cabrera, Alfonso Soriano are all the kinds of players that you read a lot about before they even played their first major league game. The day they arrived they made an immediate impact to their teams, and everyone expected them to. Even Johnny Estrada, who worked his way through the Philadelphia farm system and spent two years with the Phillies before being traded to the Atlanta Braves, turned out to be as good as expected. The Braves knew all about this guy, traded star pitcher Kevin Millwood for him and he didn't disappoint. In his first full year with Atlanta he played in 134 games and hit .314 -- he was chosen to the National League All Star team that year.

With all that swimming around in your head, as you read the news and updates about your potential super-stud, read between the lines. Delmon Young is practically the second coming of Dave Winfield, but why is he not going to start in the majors this year? What is it that we are not being told? Although all the prevailing wisdom is telling us to hold on to this kid, that he will be worth the wait, do so with a nod to the risk you are taking by locking up that roster spot on your fantasy team with a player who will not generate any stats for you.

I think that in this case he is worth the risk. In my opinion, it is a good move to make if you can afford the roster slot, you are in a keeper league, and if you don't have any other players you are taking the same risk on.

Other rookies that are worth taking a look at:
Jeremy Hermida (home run power and speed)
Ryan Zimmerman (a lot of talk, not much proof yet)
Francisco Lirano (touted as the next Johan Santana)
Prince Fielder (bigger than his Daddy, hits farther too)
Matt Cain (great ERA and WHIP projected)
Matt Murton (a bit of a sleeper, if he can hit consistently)
J. Gathright (speedy outfielder, could hit for power)
Kenji Johjima (another Japan pro turns MLB rookie)
Josh Barfield (will he be better than his Daddy?)
Joey Devine (Closer of the future for the Braves)
Boof Bonser (wasn't he the tough guy in Teen Wolf?)
Eric Duncan (first baseman of the future for the Yankees)
Josh Willingham (not a strong catcher, might play LF to keep his bat in lineup)
Justin Verlander (Detriot fireballer had rough 2005, but could be a star)
Ian Kinsler (a good hitter in a hitter's park. nice.)

The risk is high with any rookie on draft day. It is unusual that their freshman year is anything superb. Even for Rookie of the Year candidates, a lot of talk is spent on how much potential they have. That being said, i still have a hard time staying away from the allure of the rookie phenom. I am a sucker for a good story, and lots of rookies have that "story". I believe that for all the risks, it is the successful rookie pick that can make or break your fantasy team. I believe that the winner at the end of the season will not only have a team made up of seasoned veterans, but also of several very good rookies who turn out to be better than the middle of the road journeymen usually available on the waiver wire.

Last year I was successful with a team that picked up Huston Street and drafted David Wright. But I had also taken Draft Day chances on JD Closser and Jeremy Reed, neither or who stayed on my roster for very long. Archie, in the same league last year picked Clint Barmes and Dallas McPherson on Draft Day. If either stayed healthy, they would have been stand out picks. Barmes will get another chance to start this year. McPherson is all but done.

So to answer the question: "to take a chance on Delmon Young or let him go," I would take the chance in a keeper league, and let him go if it's not. DISCLAIMER: Past performance is not indicative of future results.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Monday, March 13, 2006

My mind is on auto-pilot

Sometimes when i am distracted I can go on auto-pilot. It happens a lot when I play video games. I can have a full conversation and later have no idea what we talked about. Television does it to me as well -- my wife says I get "sucked in". It happens other times when I have most of my focus trained on one difficult task.

This weekend I was helping someone move out of their apartment into their new house. During the move, while i was wrestling with a large piece of living room furnature, a friend asked me, "Are those new sneakers you're wearing?".

** sweat pouring down my face
** muscles straining under the weight of the furnature
** body overheating under the afternoon sun
** my mind, barely able to focus on the question, reaches back for the most logical answer

"They were new when I bought 'em." It made sense to me at the time.

But what was really going through my mind at the time was something like this, all in slow motion:
Of course she can see by the scuffs that they weren't brand-spanking-new-right-out-of-the-box-yesterday, right?
Or does she mean, did I get them recently?
Does she think five months ago is recent?
Ouch, i wonder if anyone could hear that pop in my back.
Is she making a statement on how I am not wearing Converse All Stars?
Does she know that I run regularly now?
Is she making fun of my shortie-socks?
How could she interrupt me while I am so obviously engaged in something else?
What was it that she was asking me?

"They were new when I bought 'em." It was the best answer I could muster under the circumstances.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Atlanta Traffic

I love to drive. I love it so much, the last car I bought (over five years ago) was a Jeep Wrangler; a great car for cruising on local roads. I also love to take road trips. I enjoy it so much, I used a 15 hour road trip as a "compatibility test" with my wife right after I first met her. But that's a story for another day.

I am from New England. More specifically, I have lived over 80% of my life in the Greater New York/Connecticut/Massachusetts area, and have experienced all sorts of driving conditions. When I say that I love to drive, I mean that for all kinds of weather conditions, in all sorts of places on all kinds of roads. That is, until I moved to Atlanta.

The roadways up north are busy, to say the least. There are stretches of the Saw Mill Parkway in New York that are so skinny, it takes a while to get used to that claustrophobic feeling while you are doing 70 down the winding roadway. There are highways through Hartford that my Massachusetts friend refers to as the Indianapolis 500 -- speeds are high and the roads are wide yet curvy; if you aren't paying close attention you end up in someone else's lane fast. Then there are the "rotaries" in Massachusetts (known as "traffic circles" everywhere else in the country). What Chevy Chase driving through London in "European Vacation" is a regular possibility if you don't just take a chance and put your car into the traffic. It is easy to sit on the side of the road waiting for that opening, but if you just put the pedal down, you'll make it in (this is unusual though -- in MA, people dart in and out of traffic without much notice as a rule, so drivers learn to expect it. Out of State drivers refer to Massachusetts Motorists as "Mass-holes" for this reason).

Growing up outside of New York, you learn quickly how to drive aggressively. Actually, "aggressively" is not the right word -- it implies that I drive with the reckless intention of getting ahead of everyone else on the road at all times. Although that might be the case if I am late for a meeting at work, it usually isn't the norm. What I really mean is that driving up north teaches you how to drive assertively. To signal your intentions and then to do just that. To push ahead and avoid rubbernecking, yet yielding to other traffic when you should. Driving up north, when traffic is actually moving, is a lot like a dance -- there is lots of movement, weaving, speeding up and slowing down. Roads are never straight, and there are lots of hills. Conditions are rarely perfect, and when they are bad, they are downright horrible.

When I moved to the South, I was warned by the good folks who lived down here that "traffic is horrible." I immediately discounted that as the opinion of good folks who have never lived anywhere else. I have seen it before during my travels across the country: local people always think that their traffic is bad, especially around "rush hour", but I have rarely experienced anything longer than a couple of minutes delay navigating what I would easily mistake for regular Waterbury, Connecticut backup.

I was wrong about Atlanta.

Atlanta traffic is awful. Atlanta traffic is ridiculous bad. It is as if everyone gets into their cars at the same time every morning and then goes home at the same time as well. All the radio stations talk about using mass-transit, car pooling, alternative work hours, and even tele-commuting, but when it comes down to it, no one is doing it. This is obvious when rush hour traffic dies down dramatically during the months when school is not in session. I don't know where all the drivers go during the summer, but I wish they would stay.

I can handle traffic. I can handle slow traffic. But this is different. In the land of generosity, humble pie, home cooking and good natured church-going people, once those same people get into cars they are transformed into mean, rude people. To not let someone into your lane when their lane is merging must be part of the driving lessons here. The turn signal on my car at times goes completely unnoticed -- drivers will speed up to "close the distance" between the car in front of them so that another cannot get in front of them.

Add in the number of televisions I see in cars now, and now we have a bunch of dumb as well as aggressive drivers. We have all seen those crazy people who read while they drive, right? It's bad enough when drivers are using a phone while trying to smoke a cigarette and sipping their morning coffee, all while negotiating the roads. Now these nuts have televisions to grab their attention. Nice decision.

To top it off, the traffic around here makes people more reckless. No one drives anywhere near the speed limit, because they all know that at any second there could be a traffic jam that could add an hour onto their drive time. If they can just hurry up and get where they are going, maybe they can avoid the traffic. Right. That works. Hello? Yes, Dumb Driver? You are the one causing the accidents. Ok? Buh-bye.

I am not the only person who thinks that the traffic around here is awful. Some students at a local college created a short film based on Atlanta traffic, focusing on the speeding problem on the highway nicknamed "The Perimeter". I-285 is notorious for high speeds and bad traffic jams. This film, worth all five minutes of viewing time can be found here: "A Meditation on the Speed Limit". It was intended to be a drama, but it ended up winning the Best Comedy award in the Atlanta contests.

Almost three years now...

My Wonderful Wife's birthday is coming up -- she is turning 29 for the second time. I intentionally exaggerate the effect it will have on her by not actually NAMING the number of years, mostly because I think I am so funny. I don't think she minds it one bit though; she has accomplished just about everything she expected to before she reached this age. I wonder how many people can claim the same successes?
I hit that milestone a few years back and have tried hard not to look back. I am lucky enough to have so much to look forward to that I don't notice so much the time gone by. These two kids of mine occupy more and more of my head every day-- I can't wait to meet them when they get older, I think they are going to be great people. I constantly think about all the places I want to take them, all the things I want to show them, all the things I want to shield them from.
Protective? Yes. Obsessive? Nah, just short of that I bet. Interested? Heck ya. I just love knowing them. They are a lot of fun to be around, and it makes me so happy everytime they let me focus my attention on them. Smothering? I'll try not to be. I have to remind myself to give them just enough space for them to spread their own wings.
(wipes misty eyes)
Aw shucks. These are great times.
And it all started with that one long roadtrip with the girl who would be my wife. We have been married almost three years now. And there is still so much to look forward to.

Recent visitors to the site

I get regular reports on how many people visit this site, how often they stop by and where they are from. I see the usual hits from my family's home state, a bunch from some of my local friends here in the Deep South, and some scattered hits from long time friends who have spread out across the country.

I have recently been getting lots of hits because Fantasy Baseball season is starting up. Some of my FB101 essays have garnered huge interest lately, including one i found most interesting: The Army Corps of Engineers, Washington DC.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Is Home Schooling a possibility for the kids? Nope, not in this house.

I am the dish washer in the family. Tonight, as I was washing the dinner plates, something i cleaned up reminded me in an off-hand, round-about way of a conversation my friend and I had.

This friend of mine, who I've known since I was five, told me that he was going to put his kid into a private kindergarten next year. The neighborhood they live in is very nice but it is in the middle of a larger part of town that is not-so-nice; the school district has a bad reputation and he has decided that it would be worth spending the extra money on a private school.

My mind started reeling at the idea of spending big money on my kid's school. Of course I would pay, if it came down to it. My children seem pretty smart so far - I sure do want to give them every advantage. But how do you afford it?

Then there is always the "alternative" method of schooling your kids: home schooling. If you home school your children, you don't have to send them to those "poorly staffed" schools with those "bad influence" kids. In fact you might even get a break on your property tax since you have opted out of an expensive part of your county's services. All that aside, I still don't think I could handle the responsibility of teaching the kids everything they need to know -- how could I possibly handle it.

Then it occurred to me... I could at least teach them chemistry.

You know how every bit of matter in it's natural state exists in either a gas, a solid or a liquid? Introducing energy in some way to that matter can change the state -- exciting the molecules or slowing them down. For example, Carbon Dioxide exists at room temperature as a gas -- but if you cool it down it becomes a solid (dry ice). Even water is another great example -- cool it down and it freezes into a solid, but heat it up and it becomes a gas.

With this knowledge I have discovered that I may already have the tools, or at least the "classroom" to teach a chemistry class: my kitchen. Did you know (and it is a bit of a shock to me as well) that milk demonstrates this principle very well? Cooled in the refrigerator or warmed in the body of your neighborhood cow, milk will act like a liquid. But, lo and behold, if you leave that milk out all night so it can return to room temperature it becomes a solid, it's natural state!

Amazing. I have found my calling as a science teacher after all this time. And all because I am the dish washer.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Fantasy Baseball 101: Pre-draft Strategy

So many players, so little time. As the date for your Fantasy Baseball draft looms, your stress understandably grows. How do you create a successful pre-draft ranking for your live or auto-draft Fantasy Baseball League?

Trust me, I know the feeling. One false move and you have got Kirk Benson on your team instead of Barry Zito. If we were playing Fantasy Baseball Wives, then that might have been a good pick. Normally, it wouldn’t be.

So what do you do? In an “all baseball” fantasy league, there are a huge number of players for you to consider for your team: on 29 major league teams, there are 5 starting pitchers + 2 top relievers + 9 position players = 29*16=464. Add in the backups, the rookies and the platoon players, and you have well over 500 players to evaluate. No one expects you to have a short bio ready for each player on draft day. But it sure does help to know who the top players are at each position.

Ok, I confess. I probably know something about each one of those 500 players. But I am not normal. There once was a time where I didn’t know much more than who last year’s players were on my favorite team, and I went into the fantasy draft with just my Yankee-love. In the following years, after a dismal start in fantasy sports, I learned how to learn. I taught myself where to go, and how to gain the knowledge. It took some time, but it was worth it to me.

First thing to know is that you don’t have to put in any extra time if you don’t want to. Most fantasy sports pages provide you with a standard ranking system. Yahoo’s page provides its users with two ranks: a basic Rank, based on last years performance, and an O-Rank, an overall assessment of that players worth, past, present and future. The lower the number, the better the rank; draft players with better ranks wherever possible. Simple, isn’t it?

Other websites provide a dollar value to each player. A player who is valued at $50 is worth more than a player worth $16. Seems obvious, right? What’s nice about this kind of ranking is that you can see the relative difference between players that might be harder to figure out by the Yahoo ranks. Yahoo may rank Jorge Posada and Javy Lopez as the fourth and fifth best catchers in a given year, respectively. A dollar-value based system may assess Posada at $24 and only give Lopez a value of $18. You can see how much difference there is between two players ranked right next to each other as well as compare that value to players at other positions with the same dollar value.

So, basically, with almost no time invested, you have a simple guide to who will be a better pick for your draft. Leagues that use Yahoo’s website for their auto-draft will automatically suggest the default Yahoo O-Rank as their draft pre-rank. With no work at all, Yahoo will make the choices for you, based on who the next best players is available from their master O-Rank list.

One of the things that make it enjoyable is that you don’t have to spend more time than you have. However, I am not satisfied with the Yahoo list alone. Yahoo doesn’t make any pre-draft adjustments for injuries, trades, free agency, or World Baseball Classic participation. So what do you do now? Where do you go to get all that juicy information that makes your draft so successful? There really is no secret. I don’t pay for any of it. All my data is available for free somewhere; in magazines, on TV, on the radio, and on the web.

Every little bit helps. I was always told by my teachers in elementary school, “The more you read, the smarter you are.” In high school and college, my creative writing professors told me that the same holds true with writing, “The more you write, the better you become”. One of my favorite bands, They Might Be Giants, subscribes to the same point of view: the more music you produce the better you become at producing music. Of course, we all do it more because we love to do it in the first place. But the rule holds true to Fantasy Baseball. The more you read about, listen to, watch and look up about baseball, the more you know about baseball.

I’d also say that doing a little bit at a time helps. Cramming might help you score well on that one test, but you are bound to forget all that info faster. If you learn a few things each sitting, you are more likely to retain that knowledge and make better decisions throughout the course of the season.

Most of us regular guys can’t be employed by ESPN and travel around from camp to camp during Spring Training. Very few have that luxury. Instead, we are all in the same position to begin with, knowing as much as those people choose to report. Read as much as you can, and you can try to know just enough that you might be able to get the jump on that one budding star, or to avoid that injury prone dud.

Here are some of the resources I have used in the past:
I subscribe to The Sporting News. Ok, it sounds simple enough, but this magazine gives me a weekly summary of every recent newsworthy baseball observation and how it affects each team. There is commentary on recent transactions, player health, manager opinions, and other expert articles. I rarely have time to read the entire thing, so, when I have time, I sit in my big chair and skim read for the player names in bold. When I notice that a particular player is noted to show promise or greater potential the next season, I circle their name. If a player is mentioned to have some sort of injury or fatal flaw that should keep them off my team, I put an X through their name. When I have time I use the results of this method to bump players up on my master list or eliminate them completely.
I listen to Sports Radio. It doesn’t matter what station you listen to, but any news you hear is more than you already knew before.
I watch SportsCenter. I actually don’t watch many sports on TV until baseball season starts, and then if there is a game on, the TV is on. I might tune in for a good college basketball matchup, but it is not essential. If I see some bit of news on the ticker at the bottom of the screen, I consider that a bonus.
I surf the web. I surf it like crazy. I surf it so much, Bodie from Point Break called and wants to meet me and catch a gnarly wave. There is a veritable encyclopedia of knowledge out here that few people know how to find and read. Here are a few of the sites that I have found to be the most helpful.
I pay attention to what the experts do. Most of the Fantasy Baseball experts I have read all post their own predictions as well as their own fantasy teams. One expert I like to follow is located on Yahoo’s site, Brandon Funston’s “Big Board.” Updated weekly, this will rank the top 50 players at any given week and 100 players during the pre-season (the Bigger Board). If you are looking to see how your superstar shortstop is ranked against the rest of the studs, this is a nice place to look. Funston is generally very objective, and he will tell you which players he himself has selected in his own expert’s drafts.
I review as many mock drafts as I can. Mock Drafts are drafts that act like “practice drafts” for anxious players. From these you can see what other rabid fantasy baseball fans think about the value of each player. You will see player movement trends early enough to then do the rest of the research on other websites to figure out why some people are giving more or less value to a particular player.

Once you have done all the research you can, get yourself a master player ranking list. This list would have player names, positions, teams, probable rankings and maybe even last year’s stats. Cut and paste it from a website, borrow it from a friend, or hand type it yourself, it doesn’t matter. Its value is great. If you can even rank players by position on different pages, that gives you a better look at things. Using this list, for players that you have read favorable news, bump them a little higher on the list. Players that have received poor press or who are injured, bump them down on the list, or eliminate them completely. This will give you a good idea on what you think certain players belong in the draft – when you think they will get picked.

Finally, it’s important for you to have a plan. Nothing huge, just have an idea on what positions you think there are fewer good players at. This year, there are a multitude of very good shortstops available – if you don’t want to pull the trigger on the best one or two out there in early rounds before they are picked by others, wait until later to make your choice. Keep an eye on who has been picked as the draft progresses, and if it fits in the plan, grab one before most of the good ones are gone. Other positions are generally thinner when it comes to available talent. You might want to try to grab one of those players earlier in the draft so that you aren’t left out in the cold when all the decent talent is gone.

Spread it out. Don’t draft too many of one position all at once. My suggestion is for every five rounds pick at least one infielder, one outfielder, one starting pitcher and one reliever. Use the fifth pick to fill in the holes. Another suggestion is to spread out the power/average/speed picks as well. For every power hitter you grab, you should also target one player who hits for average and another who can steal bases. There is no perfect order or formula, just spread it around. The same rule applies to players on the same team. The year after the Angels won the World Series, a friend of mine went out and drafted their entire starting lineup. Of course, many of those players were very good and helped his team weekly. There are reasons that some players bat at the bottom of the order, or pitch at the end of the rotation. Don’t fall into the trap of drafting every player on your favorite team; if just doesn’t work. Every fantasy team will have players from lots of different teams, even teams that have no chance at making the playoffs, let along a World Series.

Ultimately, you should have an idea about what kind of team you want to have by the end of the draft. Do you want to focus on pitching strengths or batting? Are there certain players you like more than others? As you figure that out, I encourage you to keep one thing in mind – pick yourself a team that you love to look at every day; it’s a long season.