Sunday, November 30, 2003

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. We had a very nice time with the various relatives and ate lots of turkey and such (including A.'s awesome pecan pie!). The kids had a blast being the center of attention and being doted on by everyone.

The thing I'm most greatful for these days is the Red Sox acqisition of Curt Schilling over the weekend. Of course, this guarantees nothing, but Theo did shore up one of the two major holes in last year's pitching staff, a true number 2 starter behind Pedro. Of course, you could ask the question who is number one and who is number two, but that's a whole different topic. The next step is a bona fide closer. Despite Williamson's postseason success, I'm not sure he's consistent enough to handle the role for an entire season.

Enough of that, though. The Sox improved themselves hugely over the long holiday weekend. I wish Spring Training started today!

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

This is shamelessly stolen from the Whiner Line on WEEI, but I thought it was really funny so I'm repeating it here:

Heard in Grady Little's home on Thanksgiving, "I don't think it's done yet. Let's leave it in for a while." This is best read if you imagine it in Grady's southern drawl. :-)

OK, here are my thoughts on the recent proposed transactions for the Sox:

Curt Schilling - this is a no brainer if they can pull it off. Who knows if Fossum or Lyon will ever amount to anything, and Curt Schilling is one of the half-dozen best pitchers in the game. I'll take my chances with a starting rotation including Pedro, Schilling, Derek Lowe and Tim Wakefield.

Keith Foulke - Again, a no-brainer. He had five blown saves in 48 opportunities last year. By contrast, the Sox had 21 blown saves in 47 opportunities. Despite the bullpen's postseason success, I think they really need a top of the line closer. Other than Timlin, there wasn't one pitcher in that bullpen who was consistently good all year.

Terry Francona - I think he has a chance to be a pretty decent manager with this team. He appears to have a lot of Grady's clubhouse skills, and also has many of the organizational skills that Theo and company seem to like. He didn't have a great record with the Phillies, but he also had a terrible team. If you're not going to get a marquee name like Torre or LaRussa, Francona is probably as good as anyone out there.

If the Sox can sign Schilling and Foulke and keep most of the rest of the major players from last years team relatively intact, they should be one of the favorites to win the World Series next year. They would have filled their two biggest holes (a number 2 starter and a closer). Even if the offense suffers a bit with the departure of Todd Walker, you've got to think the rest of the team can pick up most of the slack.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Just a quick entry tonight. I went to the wake for the father of one of my co-workers. The co-worker is one of my direct reports and is one of the nicest people you'll ever meet and is tremendously liked and respected by everyone in my department. Several of us attended and I think he appreciated the show of support.

I heard an amusing story on the radio the other day. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's apartment was broken into recently. The thieves got away with a 27" television. The interesting thing is what they didn't take. Apparently, Brady's Super Bowl MVP trophy was in the same room as the TV, and it was left alone.

Big doings with the Red Sox the last few days. I'll get into the Curt Schilling, Terry Francona and Keith Foulke situations in tomorrow's entry.

Sunday, November 23, 2003

A. and I went to the Premium Cinema at the AMC Framingham theater last night. The Premium Cinema is a great, if somewhat expensive way to watch a movie. It's set up with a restaurant in the front and then a state-of-the-art theater with very comfy leather seats. It also has a full bar and free popcorn and soda is included with the admission charge.

We went for dinner last night. We got there a bit later than we wanted because our babysitter's car broke down and she had to wait for her boyfriend to drive her. By the time dinner came, the movie was about to start. No problem - we just took everything into the theater and ate on the table in front of our seats. The steak tips I had were good, although not the best I've ever had. (That honor belongs to the Three Stallion Inn in Randolph, VT; more on that another time). The THX sound system in the Premium Cinema is really top notch; as good as I've ever heard. There's a decent sized screen for the room as well.

The movie we saw was Love, Actually. It starred Hugh Grant, Alan Rickman, Liam Neeson and others. It was made by the same director who did Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill. If you liked those movies, with thier very British sense of humor, you'll like this one. There were a few laugh out loud moments. There were what seemed like about 10 storylines going at the same time, which got a little confusing. I'd question the choice of Hugh Grant to play the Prime Minister of England, but maybe that was part of the joke.

Earlier in the day I took J. to see Brother Bear. It was a nice, fairly innocuous Disney tale. Certainly not the best work of the House of Mouse, but a pleasant way to spend 90 minutes or so. J. thought it was "a little sad" - the brother of one character dies and the mother of another one gets killed as well.

Between the two movies and some work around the house, we had a pretty full Saturday. It was busy, but not crazy, and I certaily enjoyed having some "adults-only" time away with A last night.

One last thing, from the "contests I would be least interested in winning" department. A recent issue of TV Guide advertised the opportunity to win a meeting with Rueben and Clay of "American Idol" fame. Being far from a reality TV fan, I can admit to having absolutely no interest in meeting either of these guys. Good luck to whoever it is that does.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

We do quite a bit of shopping by mail order. Because of this, we get just about every catalog in the universe. Especially now, when the holiday shopping season is gearing up. I'm amazed that our mailbox is able to bear up under the strain of all the catalogs we get.

The only good news is that we're pretty good about recycling, so at least the catalogs we toss don't go completely to waste.

Batman is coming to Framingham this weekend!!! Yes, Adam West, the guy who played the Caped Crusader on the campy '60's TV show, is going to be at a collectibles show over at the Sheraton hotel.

This particular incarnation of Batman was a huge deal during my formative years. When I was about four years old I had a Batman cape and would spend hours running around the neighborhood wearing it and keeping Pawtucket safe from the likes of the Riddler and the Joker. I would cry if I missed the show - no VCRs or TIVO in those days, kids! You had to wait until the reruns came around if you missed an episode.

I saw Adam West once before, at a Creation Convention in New York many years ago. I'm not sure if I'm going to go to the collectors show or not. The tickets are pretty pricey - $16 and I'm sure that West is going to charge for signing. It's a tough call, but I've got a little time to make up my mind.

Monday, November 17, 2003

I took R. to a birthday party for a couple of her friends yesterday. Her friends are twins, so Mom and Dad get two parties for the price of one. I turns out that the aunt of these kids is a girl I went to high school with. She's married to the twins mother's brother.

We weren't particularly close in high school, so it took me a few minutes to puzzle out who she was. At first I thought it was someone I worked with at a previous employer - the two of them look remarkably alike, but I finally figured it out. She recognized me pretty much right away, though. Either she has a better memory than I do or I'm just more memorable. Maybe it's the big nose.

It was a very strange feeling seeing this person that I literally hadn't even thought about for 20 years. It was doubly strange seeing her in a setting where I wouldn't have expected to see anyone I know outside of the parents of some of R.'s classmates. Most remarkable is the fact that she's related to my daughter's friends. What are the odds of that?

The "Bill Bowl" in Foxboro last night turned into a nice win for the Patriots. Barring a huge, Red Soxian collapse the Pats should be a shoo-in for the playoffs. After all the hype about the meeting between Parcells and Belichick, it turned out simply that the team that made fewer mistakes won the game. The Cowboys had 3 turnovers to the Pats one, and New England had fewer penalties at critical times.

Let me put it this way. If Belichick was coaching Dallas and Parcels was coaching the Pats, would Dallas have won the game? I don't think so. The Pats had better talent, so they won. End of story.

Alex Rodriguez won the AL MVP today. It was kind of an odd MVP race, as there was no real obvious candidate from any of the contending teams. Nomar probably would have had a shot if he hadn't had such a cummy September. I think David Ortiz lost points because he didn't play much at the beginning of the year and he was mostly a DH. While you could argue how "valuable" A-Rod was to a last place team, I don't think you'd get much argument that he's the best player in the American League, so I don't really have a problem with him winning it.

The thing that annoys me is that A-Rod gets a $500,000 bonus for winning the award. If you're paid $25 million a year, shouldn't you be expected to win the MVP, or at least finish in the top five, pretty much every year?

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

A few rants on life, the universe and everything...

The shingles are still hanging on. Things have improved quite a bit the last couple of days, but I'm still not 100% yet. The worst part is trying to resist the urge to scratch the itchy areas. It's taking quite a lot of willpower, plus the fact that I know I'll be worse off if I scratch it. Still driving me crazy, though.

Looks like the big rumored Red Sox trade is more fiction than fact. To refresh your memory, the trade involved sending Nomar to Anaheim, David Eckstein and prospects from the Angels to Texas and Alex Rodriguez from the Rangers to the Sox. I can't see how the Sox could possibly take on A-Rod's contract without getting rid of Manny's. As much as I'd love to see Rodriguez in a Sox uniform, I can't see it happening.

Can someone explain to me what the big attraction is to the Olive Garden restaurant in Framingham? The place is always crowded. The parking lot seems to be full even well before dinner hour or late in the evening. The food is decent, but it's not THAT good. I just don't get it.

Veterans Day made me think a lot about our troops in Iraq. Does the Bush Administration have an exit plan to get these people out of there sometime in the reasonably near future? I have a bad feeling that the U.S. is going to be in Iraq for a long time to come. God bless those men and women, and all our veterans everywhere, for doing a difficult job and serving our country with honor.

A. has been volunteering in J.'s kindergarten class. It astonishes me how many parents of his classmates don't take an active role in their children's education. The teacher sends materials home in a folder nearly every day and she says that several of them are never touched. Some of these kids are never read to. Now, I know lots of people are spending lots of hours trying to make ends meet, but I can't believe that they can't find 15 minutes to read to their kids at bedtime.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

I was reading J. a book about Korean customs tonight and it reminded me of a funny story from our first trip to Seoul to pick him up.

We took a tour of Seoul on our "off" day between the day we met J. and the day we picked him up to go to the airport. The guide was very nice and took us to a number of places including some shrines, a couple of museums, lunch at a Korean restaurant and the open-air market in the city. We went into a gift shop at one of our stops and saw dozens of pairs of ducks of different sizes available for sale. We asked the guide what all the ducks were for. She told us they were wedding ducks and were traditionally given to a Korean couple as a symbol of good luck.

Then we asked the next logical question: How do you know which duck is male and which is female? We were told that the female duck had a string around it's beak to keep it's mouth shut! :-)

Needless to say, we bought a set of ducks...

Saturday, November 08, 2003

I've been pretty miserable the last couple of days. I came home from work Thursday night, changed my clothes and discovered a pretty nasty looking rash on by chest and back. I went to the doctor on Friday and discovered I had shingles. This has nothing to do with roofing products. Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox. Apparently, once you recover from chicken pox (which I had when I was about 5), the virus lies dormant in your nerve roots. In many people, it stays dormant for the rest of their lives. I'm just one of the lucky ones that had the virus come back.

Along with the rash, which I'm trying desperately not to scratch, I've been having some fairly severe pain. The doctor gave me Percocet for the pain, which helps. I'm also taking an antiviral medication.

Shingles is no fun, folks. I don't recommend it.

Adding to my pain are the revelations from Pedro Martinez's press conference in the Dominican on Friday. According to Pedro, he TOLD GRADY LITTLE HE WAS TIRED AFTER THE 7TH INNING of game 7 of the ALCS. Grady, as we all know, took no action on this information.

I had been feeling a bit of sympathy about Grady losing his job, but that's pretty much all gone now. Even if Grady ignored all the statistics about Pedro's effectiveness after around 100 pitches and the evidence of his own eyes, the pitcher said he was tired. What else did he need to get the message that it was time to go to the bullpen? This just makes me angry about the whole thing all over again.

Based on Pedro's statements, I'm now in 100% agreement with the Red Sox management that they needed to go in a new direction. Grady may be a great guy in the clubhouse, but it doesn't appear that he's capable of making the on-field decisions to put the team in the best position to win. Hopefully the next guy can do better, whoever that is.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

The final book of the Star Wars: New Jedi Order series is out this week. It is, believe it or not, the _19th_ book in the series (plus two ebook novellas you could only get online). I haven't been a regular reader of the Star Wars novel series, although I've probably read about half of the ones they've released.

The thing I like about the Star Wars novels is that there is a nice continuity to them. Characters that appeared in previous novels may show up in other novels, and the characters refer to events that happened in other books. Most of the characters are very interesting and "real" as well. You find out a lot more about characters who had only bit parts in the movies (like Wedge Antilles or Admiral Ackbar), and some of the new characters can be as interesting as the main characters we saw on the screen. It's obvious Lucasfilm cares a lot more about the quality and continuity of these books than Paramount cares about the Star Trek novels.

Anyways, I initially picked up the first book in the NJO series for two reasons. First, there was a lot of publicity surrounding the first book because Chewbacca is killed in it. Second, I happened to pick it up for half price at Bradlees going-out-of-business sale.

So, I read the first book and was instantly hooked. The storyline is basically this. About 25 years after the events of Star Wars Episode 4, the New Republic (which is what replaced the Empire after it was defeated) is attacked by an extra-galactic race. This race, called the Yuuzhan Vong, believe that all mechanical and electronic technology is an affont to their gods, and the people who use this technology are infidels. All the Yuuzhan Vong technology is biologically engineered, so even their spaceships are alive. These aliens have no regard for life in any form, even their own, which they willingly sacrifice to their gods on what seems to be the slightest provocation. They take slaves, murder people as sacrifices and think pain is a good thing. Finally, they don't appear to the Jedi in the Force. That's a really interesting hook, since the Force is supposed to encompass all life. If they don't appear in the Force, are they really alive, or is the Jedi's ability to perceive the Force limited?

If you're interested in starting this series, be prepared for a big investment. 19 books don't come cheap, but I thought the cost was well worth it. The books are all well written and have a consistent storyline. The familiar Star Wars characters can easily be seen as older versions of the ones we know from the classic films, and many of the new characters are welcome additions. I'm looking forward to reading the final book and seeing how Luke, Leia, Han and company save the day this time.

Saturday, November 01, 2003

I thought this was kind of amusing, in a macabre kind of way. Forbes magazine just published a list of the top ten earning dead celebrities. Elvis is #1 in case you were wondering. The King of Rock & Roll raked in $40 million last year between visits to Graceland and sales of 9 million copies of his 30 #1 Hits CD (one out of those millions here!). The two deceased Beatles, John Lennon and George Harrison made the list at numbers four and five.

The list is dominated by authors and musicians, which makes sense since their work can continue earning ever after they're gone. J.R.R. Tolkien made the list on the strength of the Lord of the Rings movies. Charles Shultz and Dr. Seuss also made the list with their immortal characters. Other musicians making the list include Tupac Shakur and Bob Marley. The only people from other professions were race car driver Dale Earnhardt and actress Marilyn Monroe.

If you want to see more, you can check out this link:

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