Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Uncle Karol

In September 1939, on a quiet farm in Western Poland, my Great Uncle Karol was busy tending his cows when he saw a cloud of dust on the horizon. A few minutes later he happily ran into his house, bursting with excitement.

"Marta, come quick!," he said. "Those German boys are coming early for Oktoberfest this year! Maybe they vill bring sum beer!"

If I truly had a Great Uncle Karol - and I wouldn't put it past my gene pool - then he was no more a fool than I was this morning. It serves me right for seeing a banner ad from AOL and posting about how it may be (golly gee!) the long awaited 'save' function for our journals. Poof! - it turns out AOL Journals is going under.

Dear AOL Journals user,

We're sorry to inform you that on Oct. 31, 2008, AOL® Journals will be shut down permanently. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

It is very important that you save your Journals content before the shutdown. We're working on a way to easily move your Journal to another blogging service -- you can expect an email within the next week with more details about how to do it. We want the transition to go as smoothly as possible for you, so you'll have two choices. You can either save your information manually and find another place to blog on your own, or let us handle the migration for you and automatically transfer your Journal to a different blogging service.

In the meantime, please bookmark the People Connection Blog, where you can find out more about AOL Journals. You can also subscribe to the People Connection Blog RSS feed to stay informed about any changes. We'll be updating the People Connection Blog often, so please check it regularly.

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we make this transition. We look forward to getting your blog settled into its new home.


The AOL Journals Team


What crap. What absolute boondoggle. I'll let you in on a little secret. For months I have been sooo excited to reach my 4th anniversary here in early November and have tried like mad to have it coincide with my 1000th Journal entry (counting this one I'm at 954). It is irrational how hurt I am to learn that will not be allowed to happen.


What's worse, for three years I remained skeptical about this whole 'JLand' community, never reaching out, never joining in except on rare occasions. That's all changed in the last year, and I can't fathom not having a steady stable of Journals to read each night.


I will set up another blog somewhere else - I can't not spew words - and AOL has promised to porter over all content, including pictures and video. With due respect, I'm not going to rely on that. This journal includes four years worth of memories, of events, of relationships. That's too important to be trusted to AOL alone, so a webmaster friend of mine is calling tonight to come up with a backup solution.


Meanwhile I'm going to pretend everything is hunky-dory and leave the tears to October 31st. :)

Calling all J-Landers

Does anyone else have a banner across their journal that reads 'A blogger is always prepared. Don't be left behind. Learn how to backup and save your information now,'?

When I click on it it goes to the AOL People Connection page but refuses to load. I've tried the link on two different computers and nada.

Is this the long awaited save and print option for our journals? [insert excited smiley here] Can someone in Jlaand verify it one way or the other?


Monday, September 29, 2008

Fairweather Fan???

When I was discussing the Brewers win yesterday someone called me a horrible name - a fairweather fan.

Yes I said that if the Brewers fell short this year I was through with them. I meant it too, and I don't apologize. Following a team year after year and spending each fall broken hearted might be all well and noble in Boston and Chicago, but to me it just stinks of masochism. You think that makes mea fairweather Brewers fan?

Tell that to the kid who carefully clipped a  Sixto Lezcano card from the back of a Hostess Cupcake box. Tell that to the kid who attended the '82 Brewers trading card giveaway and was confused to see 'Buck Rodgers' in the deck, thinking it was the same guy from the TV show. Tell it to the kid who was there for the '87 opener and some of Molly's streak that magical  year. Tell it to the adult who enjoyed the crap out of Phil Garner's first year here, who clapped in the upper deck until his hands ached when Robin Yount got his 3000th hit. Tell it to the sucker who remembers Yount's 'day' being very nearly ruined by a a horrendous Higuera outing, and who patiently wasted his money on tickets during the Bando years, and then the awful  Davy Lopes era. Tell it to the guy who chanted 'sweep' when Jerry Royster, Jerry 'F'ing' Royster took over the Brew Crew for a minute. Tell it to the guy who went to the Brewers fan fest to find out if Ritchie Sexson' future was still our own, and whose heart ached during the collapse of 2007.

I devoted 25 years to the Brewers losing efforts. That was enough, and either God knew that and granted me a reprieve out of love - or he just thought it funny to tempt me with the playoffs before dumping another quarter century of losses in my lap for shits and giggles - either way, we're in the playoffs and I remain loyal.

Fair weather fan my ass.

* * *

Eleven wins since coming over in July. Ten complete games, SEVEN in a Milwaukee uniform. An ERA under two in the NL and the unquestionable center of the Brewers. NL Cy Young? You betcha. My vote - if I had one - would go to CC Sabathia.

* * *

If you are unfamiliar with Bob Uecker's announcing, you're missing a lot. 'Get up! Get up! Get Outta Here!' Here's his home run call from Sunday (and an extended audio here):

* * *

Here's a picture of my kids as they waited for the Mets to lose:

Ugh. I've rotated it twice on photobucket but it just isn't 'taking'. Sorry.

Here's my reactions:

Sunday, September 28, 2008

On Swingsets, trees, NKOTB, and Lump's 1st and hopefully last car accident

Today wasn't as busy or productive as Saturday. Lisa had switched hours and worked 1st shift, forcing me to take Smiley and YaYa into work with me while I did some morning paperwork in lieu of the manager that quit.

Smiley insisted on wearing his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles slippers.

Then we dropped YaYa off at her religious ed classes - yes, she attends Catholic school, but they farm them out to their home parishes for First Communion classes. That's a lame requirement, but I'm proud of her, especially since she seems to know much more than the other kids in the Sunday School class (duh - they don't take religion class daily).

Smiley and I then returned to work for an hour, then picked her up and attended mass. At heart I'm a very religious person, and very happily Catholic, and it does my soul good to devote a Sunday morning to the church. It makes me feel closer to God, and not in a Nine Inch Nails way.

I picked up lunch then settled the kids in for a nap while I flipped between the Brewers and the Packers. You know how both those stories turned out.

* * * *

I was set to go on a bike ride when my mother-in-law called to say that she and Lump had been involved in an auto accident. No one was hurt, thank God. I drove out to the scene and picked up my baby.  My mother-in-law's car had been hit pretty hard by a teenage leaving Starbucks, that den of overpriced dirt water.

I'm kind of glad it happened the way it did, as far as Lump goes. One of my mild superstitions involves getting a 'first accident' out of the way with as little harm as possible. YaYa was on a school bus that hit a van on the freeway, LuLu was in our van when it was totaled in '06, and now Lump got hers out of the way. Smiley's is still out there . . ah, no! Come to think of it when I was moving my folks I backed our van into a stone wall attempting a Y-turn in a narrow dead-end. Smiley was in the car, and that counts, right?

Upon our return I hit the bike with the kids and wound up at the park where the kids played for about twenty minutes.

When Lisa got home and the Brewers clinched the Wildcard I took the family out to Ponderosa to celebrate (hey, I'm a big guy. How was I supposed to celebrate, with jazzercize and celery?).

Before we went we picked up LuLu from yet another park, where my Dad had taken her to play with her cousin. Here YaYa chose to climb some trees while Lisa hit the swingset herself.

* * * 

After dinner, with the kids in bed, we watched a great VHI special the New Kids on the Block. A lot of rare footage coupled with some genuine insights. Most shocking:  Jon never 'left' the band, as has been reported for over a decade. (Hell, I remember Joe moaning about Jon's 'betrayal' in a VHI piece years ago.)

Nope, turns out he was doing so much whining and 'maybe I should go/maybe I should stay' that the guys got sick of it and put it up for a vote. By a count of 3-2 he was asked/told to leave the group. Huh.

The special was followed by a kick-ass three song set live from a concert in Boston. What a great taste of the concert we'll see next Saturday in Chicago. 

The Brewers Win the NL Wildcard! The Brewers Win!

We're in! We're in! For only the third time in my life and the first time in twenty-six years my Milwaukee Brewers are in the postseason!

I could not bear to watch or listen to more than bits and pieces of the Brewers game, leaving for a bike ride down by one in the sixth. Socialist was at the game; I would have had a heart attack in his shoes.

At the park, while pushing Lump on the swings, I checked the scores on my phone. The Brewers had tied it up, but to balance the ledger the Mets had come back to tie their contest.

By the time we got home I knew the game was over. Did we win? Did we lose? Was it all over for 2008? Nope! Ryan Braun launched a two run dinger in the eighth for the go-ahead runs and CC Sabathia went the distance again, giving up only one (unearned) run on three hits. Brewers win!

Over to the Mets game on my Extra Innings package. Mets down by two in the top of the ninth! Oh nelly, this was grand. I yelled upstairs to the kids to tell them the news and tell them to prep for victory.

And then it came, a sweet little flyout to center.


Lisa had warned me in advance, "There's no reason to yell. You can calmly say 'good job' and save our ears," she said.

"F no," I replied. "No way."

And true to my word, when that last out occurred I screamed and screamed and screamed.


I'm going to update this with pictures later today, but for now it's out to celebrate with the family.

Brewers win! Brewers win!

Metallica: 'Death Magnetic' A review

When you discuss Metallica you inevitably wind up on one side of a single argument. Was the self-titled (black) album the downfall of the band and the beginning of a 15 year creative lull?  Or was it an evolution that made the band accessible to the world and brought Metal out of the shadows?

Personally, I loved the black album (though it seemed a bit dated and cheesy on a recent listen). I find nothing objectionable in crafting a song with a run time of five minutes or less, or introducing melody and structure to an otherwise pounding anthem. Cutting their damn hair wasn't the worst thing in the world either.

But at the turn of the century Metallica seemed to fall apart. First was the ill-advised attack on Napster, then the less than amicable departure of their bassist and a truly God awful album in St. Anger. (who the hell told them to do an album with no guitar solos?). In addition Some Kind of Monster, a documentary of this period,  exposed the fragile and often whiny relationships within the band - not to mention Lars comes off on camera as a pompous, selfish jag.

With all this in mind, I still picked up their ninth album Death Magnetic, the day it hit the shelves.

It's largely a return to the long winded thrash metal of their youth, but with a notable difference. They learned a lot in  their 15 years riding the radio charts, and incorporated just enough of that flavor into the album to keep your attention glued to the music. Nine minute efforts don't seem quite so strenuous when there is something to actually listen to.

My consistent complaints with the album can be summed up rather quickly. The bass is almost non-existent on most tracks (a mixing issue?), James' vocals are strangely awkward in spots, the songs are just too long (really, there isno reason for anything to tread past the seven minute mark. Tighten it up) and the lyrics are still stuck in the doom and gloom of the '80's Metallica.

[Of those complaints a)most fans would kick my ass for listing song length as a complaint. They're wrong, but they'd still kick my ass. b) what  do we expect from their lyrics? Balladic histories of their kids first day of kindergarten? They're just fulfilling expectations, which after all, is their job.]

Here's my take on the ten tracks.

That was Just your Life - a rousing introduction to the album and, as the first track, a stern warning that the old school Metallica is back. Not my favorite tune. What saves it for me is what happens (first) between 2:23 and 2:43 minutes in. When I heard that riff and that 'sound' I felt a smile cross my lips. "That," I thought."is damn wicked'.

The End of the Line - a longer version of what sounds like it could've been a Load/Reload track. Entertaining.

Broken, Beat, and Scarred - The guitar is back! The whole mesh of post-black meets thrash is very evident here.

The Day that Never Comes - oh, some great hangbanging here!

All Nightmare Long -  to me it sounds like a bad song from '90's Metallica

Cyanide an interesting 'sound', rather metal-radio friendly at its core

The Unforgiven III - slow, solid  tune.  'how can I blame you/when it's me I can't forgive'

The Judas Kiss - every time I hear it I think 'eh, it's just ok' - but it's the song that continually plays in my head when I think of this album.

Suicide & Redemption - instrumental. very good, but far too long. It should have edited down to a more compact and powerful length

My Apocalypse - bookending the album, this song also tries to permanently imprint on you the idea that the classic Metallica is back. I think the lyrics are just downright stupid 'tyrant awaken my apocalypse/demon awaken my apocalypse/heaven awaken my apocalypse/suffer forever my apocalypse'. Yeah, sure James. You're a forty-something millionaire. Deal with it.

3.25 out of 4, 81 out of 100

Saturday, September 27, 2008

My Saturday

A long, strange day. Not bad, just strange.

It started out early with the first day of swim class for both YaYa and LuLu. Lu was up first and because of her age I had to accompany her in the water.  She outpaced all the other kids, using her noodle or kick board to go as much as thirty feet further than the rest of the students, and sometimes had time left over to do it twice.

I was a little confused. When you take her swimming, be it in a lake or a pool, she is super timid and scared of the water. Today was a different story, obviously, but I can't fathom why.

We'll see if it continues. The teacher was pleased to see only six kids had registered (as opposed to 17 in some of her other classes) and so promised to push them all. By the end of the class she wants them to swim a crawl across the width of the pool with their face in the water.

Good luck with that.

At the high school that hosts the classes there is both a girls and boys pool, although the classes mix genders for both. LuLu's pool was a beautiful oasis of small decorative tiles with an early 20th century flair, like something you'd have seen on Titanic. That was the girls pool. YaYa's class took place in the boy's version, a dark and somber affair.

More perplexing was the mix and match locker rooms. Because both genders were using each pool there were curtains and dividers put up to separate the sexes, but in an awkward and haphazard fashion. I changed in a girls 'makeup room' while YaYa had to walk through a locker room full of little boys to get to her pool. I'm not so prim as to find evil in her seeing a four year old's wee wee in an innocent setting, but geesh - I'm sure someone is calling their alderman tonight.

I didn't stick around for YaYa's class, choosing to drop Lu off for the first sleepover at my Mom's new digs, but I'm told she did great.


* * *

Afterwards one of YaYa's friends came over for a visit, which was just about the last thing I wanted on a Saturday when the Badgers played in Ann Arbor. What's worse, she didn't bring over her bike, meaning it was going to be a 'in the house' kind of a day.

So I packed Smiley and her friend in the bike trailer, tossed YaYa on her bike, and pedaled her home to grab her wheels. She lives a few miles east of us and there's quite a few hills between our respective homes. I still managed the round trip in under forty minutes and only had to take one hill on foot, plowing through the others.

Unfortunately, I also had my first bike accident in a quarter century. Coming off a steep hill I was enjoying the downhill speed, thinking to myself 'I'm going to pay for this on the way back home' when the bill came due right then and there. I couldn't brake in time and jumped a curb. I started to drag my feet to slow down but still managed to jump the median, knocking my handlebars out of whack before coming to a stop.

As accidents go, it was a 1.2 on a scale of 1 to 10. I didn't fall, no passengers were hurt, we were in no danger of being hit by a car, and I walked away with only a few scrapes and a bent toenail. It certainly doesn't match the infamous Riding my Bike While Wearing Roller Skates as I Pass the Hornet Bush incident of '82 or '83.

Lesson learned: Must. Go. Slower. and. Brake. Sooner. On. Hills.

 * * *

Then work called to say that one of my managers, a long time friend of mine, quit on the spot. There was no real need for me to go into work to finish her job, as the end of day procedures are elementary and intuitive, but as Rob Roy said 'There's a price to be paid for being the leader of men', or, in my case, mostly women.  So with Lisa at work I snagged a babysitter and trudged in for a largely wasted half-hour or so.

I spoke my friend later and was pleased to hear her reasoning was impulsive but at the very least triggered by some actions that took place there today. It doesn't make the method of her departure any better, but as her friend I'm glad she didn't quit just because she was having a bad or 'blue' day.

* * * *

Upon my return I found Socialist on my porch. Together we moved that old stand-up freezer from my shed down the cellar steps and into the basement. It's resting spot wound up being right next to some of my NKOTB collection, which I pointed out to the man.

"You are so gay," Socialist said. "Just come out already."

* * * *

When Socialist was helping me I asked him the Badgers score. 19-0 was his reply. Fast forward to me turning on the TV to find Wisconsin down 27-19. There were some last second heroics, capped off by what seemed to be the tying two point conversion, but it was called back on a penalty. Game over, Michigan victory.


I was so ticked I asked the sitter to stay and took Smiley on a bike ride to work off some stress

Then the Brewers lost to the Cubs. With one game left they're tied with the Mets for the wildcard spot. There is a certain nostalgia to this announcement. Back in '82 we entered the final regular season game tied with Baltimore for the Eastern Division lead. With Jim Palmer on the mound for the O's, shortstop and future Hall of Famer Robin Yount tore him apart by yanking two homers out of the park and leading the Brewers to the playoffs.

I wouldn't mind a repeat tomorrow, with any Brewer playing the role of Yount (Braun?).

* * *

Cute detail of the day: I cut the lawn tonight, as always with the old fashioned manual wheel mower, when Smiley trotted out to join me. It took me a second to notice that he was pushing a toy mower alongside me. We continued on like that for quite awhile, with a smile on my face the whole time.


I'm angry - free speech isn't so free anymore

Pretend for a minute that you aren't a Democrat or a Republican, because that shouldn't matter here. If you heard a political party - be it Dem or Republican or Nazi or Green - was enlisting sheriff's, prosecutors, and attorney's to use threats of imprisonment and financial loss to restrict what was said about their candidate, what would you think?

Would you worry that this was restricting the process of free elections? That it was a waste and corruption of taxpayer dollars? That it was an affront to free speech and an insult to the intelligence of the voters it 'protected'?

I think it's all of the above. The Barrack Obama Truth Squad - I'm not making that name up - has enlisted Missouri D.A.'s and law enforcement to immediately squash any 'attack' or 'lie' about their candidate. What constitutes a 'lie' or 'attack' is no doubt in the eye of the beholder, the beholder being an employee of the Obama campaign.

On all that I care and love, I swear to you this isn't about partisanship - it just plain makes me sick. Oh, if the shoe was on the other foot and the GOP did this I'm sure I'd  squirm and fidget and dodge and dash for a minute before coughing up the truth, but in the end I'd still have to say - THIS IS WRONG.

Watch the video here.  What really bothers me is the cavalier attitude the 'Truth Squad' members show about the whole process. They are employees of the people, with salaries paid for by taxpayers, sworn to uphold the law, and they are that flippant about trumping the 1st amendment?

Keep in mind, their sole purpose is to police, on our dime, any 'attack' upon Obama. No mention of similar dilligence on behalf of McCain, or Nader, or anyone else. How the does that fly in America?

From what I understand this is in fact a legal process as the result of a state 'ethics' law regarding speech, just another example of the softening of our rights  to quote protect unquote our fragile little selves from the words of others. Please realize this isn't about some Klan propaganda. This is to confront items of speech no worse than what I've read daily in JLand about Palin, the usual safe throwaway crap that's a by-product of the deep emotions of politics.

Lord knows it's 1000% times less personal and less revolting than the Media attacks on Palin and McCain. As evidence, from the supermarket checkout aisle:

Nice huh? Maybe the Missouri D.A. will file charges against the paper's distributor in that state. Probably not.

BTW, if something I've written here is read in Missouri and offends your sensistive ears, feel free to have that DA shoot me an email. I'd love to talk.

* * *
Update: The Gov. of Missiouri has issued a press release concerning the Truth Squad.

Gov. Blunt Statement on Obama Campaign’s Abusive Use of Missouri Law Enforcement

JEFFERSON CITY - Gov. Matt Blunt today issued the following statement on news reports that have exposed plans by U.S. Senator Barack Obama to use Missouri law enforcement to threaten and intimidate his critics.

“St. Louis County Circuit Attorney Bob McCulloch, St. Louis City Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce, Jefferson County Sheriff Glenn Boyer, and Obama and the leader of his Missouri campaign Senator Claire McCaskill have attached the stench of police state tactics to the Obama-Biden campaign.

“What Senator Obama and his helpers are doing is scandalous beyond words, the party that claims to be the party of Thomas Jefferson is abusing the justice system and offices of public trust to silence political criticism with threats of prosecution and criminal punishment.

“This abuse of the law for intimidation insults the most sacred principles and ideals of Jefferson. I can think of nothing more offensive to Jeffersons thinking than using the power of the state to deprive Americans of their civil rights.  The only conceivable purpose of Messrs. McCulloch, Obama and the others is to frighten people away from expressing themselves, to chill free and open debate, to suppress support and donations to conservative organizations targeted by this anti-civil rights, to strangle criticism of Mr. Obama, to suppress ads about his support of higher taxes, and to choke out criticism on television, radio, the Internet, blogs, e-mail and daily conversation about the election.


hat tip to And Rightly So!

Paul Newman Dead at 83


CNN.Com is flashing breaking news of the actor's death, presumably of cancer. Check the site for further details throughout the day.

Hat Tip: Chrissy

Friday, September 26, 2008

The important event of September 26th, 2008

Tonight, in front of a live national audience, two opponents face off. They've been chipping away at one another from a distance throughout the summer, and now its time for a final blow. At stake for the winner is a position of power and significance. For the loser, a bleak and somber autumn.

No, not the debates. Pfftt. My choice is clear, and even if it weren't I distrust the scripted rhetoric of these stiff debates, where the prettiest one liner brings 'victory'.

No, I'm speaking of something far more important: Brewers-Cubs to decide the NL wildcard.

It's been a heck of a week. The other day I watched the Brew Crew scrape and claw their way to victory versus Pittsburgh, capped off by a blast from Prince Fielder. Yesterday I missed the game (d'oh!) but swoon at tales of Ryan Braun's 10th inning, walk-off grand slam.

Keep hope alive people, keep hope alive!

We enter the final weekend series against the Cubs tied with the Mets for the wildcard spot. As normal for a Cubs series my business was overflowing with wretched Chicago fans all afternoon.

I spotted a familiar pair around two o'clock.

"Hey," I hollered to an employee helping them, "Don't you dare give these people our best [product]. Lousy Cub fans. Sell  them something you'd be ashamed to give your Mom."

"Not so fast there, " the husband said. " I bet you were doing plenty of  rooting for the Cubs when we faced New York."

"Sure I did," I said. "And thanks a lot for playing your B-team all week.I appreciate you handing the split to the Mets."

"You're welcome," he said and laughed.

"How much you want to bet you won't be resting your guys against us? I don't think I'll see Aramis and Lee on the bench do you? No chance of Lou skipping Dempster eh?"

 I'll say this for Cubs fans. By and large their female fans are hot, although their souls are obviously corrupted. Not that that's bad in a girlfriend, but still . .

Every time I write about the Brewers they promptly mail in a loss (or seven) but I'm hoping I break that streak right here. We need the postseason. We deserve the postseason (debatable, but roll with me). We will have the post-season!

And then we'll all wind up watching the Angels-Dodgers World Series.

Let the games begin! 

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The end of CD's?

Let's start out by asking my readers to say 'thank you' to Beth over at Nutwood Junction. She and I disagree over the upcoming election and I've spent many an enjoyable hour commenting on her posts. Why offer thanks? Simple. Commenting over there has sated (sp?) much of my urge to write about politics on Slapinions, thereby sparing you, dear reader, from trudging through those posts :)

* * *

I was a late convert to CD's, making the transition in 1993. Even now, 15 years later, I dislike the silver frisbees. They scratch, they melt, they crack in two. If you have one kid, much less four, you might as well forget about having any in usable condition. MP3's? I like them, but if I'm going to buy an album I'd like something more concrete in my hands than zeros and ones.

So I was pleased to hear that the music industry is introducing a new format to replace (?) CD's. It's called Slot Music. Developed by Sandisk, it's a micro SD card smaller than your fingernail. It will hold an album's worth of songs, liner notes, and cover art with room to spare.

Of course micro SD cards are nothing new; I have one in my MP3 player to boost the device's memory. The 'smaller than a fingernail' bit alarms me, as I imagine I'd lose an album the day I bought it, but each Slot Music will come with its own USB device and should be usable in many cellphones, MP3 players, computers, and eventually car stereos.

By Christmas Walmart and Best Buy will be stocking albums in this format.

Personally, I'd prefer something like a hard, slim shell (roughly the size of a business cared holder) that opens while in the player to expose the tracks without risking damage to the music.

As for SlotMusic, let's throw it open for debate. Do you think this format will catch on?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

KayKay's Volleyball Games

[Irrelevant aside: today was Smiley's 1st ever school picture day. I'll post the pics when I get them.]

In the two weeks she stayed with us we attended both of my niece's volleyball games.  The first week her team lost all three sets to my kids' school (booyah!) but they took 2 of 3 sets the following week versus another team.

(if you haven't been to a volleyball game in a bit, you now play up to 25 and earn points on every volley, whether your team served the ball or not. A similar rule seems to be in effect in professional beach volleyball.)

Both weeks Lisa and I were ticked off at the coach. Her team was horribly handled. A girl twice fouled by serving over the line, they rotated incorrectly, it just went on and on. I don't know much about the sport and I think I could have done a manageable job of correcting the errors.

On top of that the coach's kid is the captain, naturally, and my niece was forced to sit the second set of both games. This, despite the fact she was one of the best players. I'm not speaking (soley) out of bias here. There were girls who couldn't serve, and one in particular who couldn't/didn't get a ball over the net in any capacity either week.

[After one revolting play I turned to Lisa and said with disgust.  "They're never going to win if they keep that girl in. She may wear #7, but she's no Mickey Mantle." This earned me a (deserved) elbow to the ribs. The girls Mother was two rows in front of me, and the girl was a good friend of my niece and had even been to parties at their house when I was in attendence. Oops. My bad.]

In one set my niece was the only member of her team to score a string of points, but was still pulled in favor of one of the yahoos.

"KayKay!," I yelled in between one set and motioned her over. "You want me to say something to her. 'Cuz I will."

"No!," she said, mortified. "Then she'll never play me."

Nice. Classy coach.

Anyhow, here's some pictures of her games.

Some misc. pics, mainly of Smiley

There's not much rhyme or reason to these pics, it's really just a 'clean-out' of my cell phone's memory.

Still, I think this picture of Smiley is awesome. Eh, on second thought I think he's actually upset. I have a dim memory of him sitting down in the greeting card aisle of Wal-Mart, burying his face in his hands, and bawling because we wouldn't let him run free in the store.

Here he is with his cousin. Smiley adores him. They are the only two males in that generation of my family, compared to *six* girls.

Here's a stray pic from the Olive Garden dinner we had a few weeks back, the celebratory dinner that knocked my diet off kilter for a bit.

Here's a photo I include as a reminder. I'll need this to know where to install the 'quick release' on the bike trailer.

Smiley loves his dance class and I've caught him doing 'shuffle whatever' on the sly. Here's a pic of him in his dance clothes, wearing a hat of YaYa's that's very similar to a style I wore the heck out of in '82-'83.