Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Way back in 1988, I went to Disney World with my friends Bismo, Elliriel and Mojo. We spent a week down there, and one of the Disney World attractions we visited was the Enchanted Tiki Room.

Throughout the course of the week there, we built a whole mythology around the Tiki Birds, as presented in the Enchanted Tiki Room. We brought the story home with us, and introduced the power of the Tiki to our Star Trek club, the USS Christa McAuliffe. The phrase "Hail the Tiki" is often invoked when something good happens. The whole Tiki thing has been part of our group for the last 18 years.

So imagine my surprise when R. and I spotted this name on the back of a stroller parked in front of the Enchanted Tiki Room on Sunday.

Now I know it's not spelled the same way, but as far as I'm concerned, it merely proves that the Tiki work in mysterious ways.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Greetings from Florida!

R. and I are down here for her trip. As you may remember, J. and I took a trip to Florida during school break last year, and this year is R.'s turn. We arrived yesterday via JetBlue with no problems.

Today we went to Sea World, which is R's favorite theme park. We did pretty much everything there was to do at Sea World, other than ride the Krakken roller coaster (for which R. is too short and I am too chicken). The highlight was the dolphin show, called "Blue Horizons". I'm not going to get into a lot of detail, but it was an amazing show. Without a doubt it was the best animal show I have ever seen.

We also had lunch with Shamu. Shamu, as you may or may not know, is a killer whale and is to Sea World what Mickey Mouse is to Disney World. I had scheduled this a while back, and it turned out to be a lot of fun. A buffet lunch was served along one of the tanks they keep the whales in. Several of the trainers were there as well, and they explained how they train the whales and showed off some of the behaviors. It was really interesting to get a bit of the "behind the scenes."

The food was OK, although not up to Chef Mickey standards - actually, food has always been Sea World's weak point. Good news and bad news on the beer front; the good news is that beer was included with the meal. The bad news is that since Anheuser-Busch owns Sea World the only beers available were Budweiser and it's sister brands. A minor quibble, though, since I did drink down a Bud.

All in all, we had a great day. Sea World is a fun place if you are into shows instead of rides - one good thing is that you don't wait in line much.

We're off to my brother's house tomorrow, then we have a day at the Magic Kingdom on Sunday. All of you up north, enjoy the snow that's headed your way!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Manny is already being Manny.

The Sox slugger, who said he wanted to be traded over the winter, told the team today that he wouldn't be showing up at camp until March 1, the last day he can report under the collective bargaining agreement.

Terry Francona said that he was "OK with this." What else is he going to say? Criticizing Manny would almost certainly be counterproductive. History shows that when managers get into pissing matches with superstars, the manager almost always comes out on the short end of the stick.

So I'll say what Tito can't, at least not in public. Manny is having his little snit fit that the Red Sox didn't cave in and trade him as he wanted. He's taking things right to the limit to show his displeasure, and he knows there's nothing the Sox can do about it.

So we'll let Manny have his tantrum. He'll come to camp, act like nothing ever happened, and start to hit.

Big Papi had the right shirt for the occassion down at Fort Meyers today...

Monday, February 20, 2006

Sports broadcasting legend Curt Gowdy passed away today. In the Boston area, Gowdy was known as the voice of the Red Sox from 1951 to 1965. He was most famous during his Red Sox stint for his call of Ted Williams' last at-bat home run in 1960.

This isn't how I remember Gowdy, though. When I was coming of age as a sports fan, he was the number one announcer for NBC. Gowdy did all the big events - Super Bowl, World Series, All-Star Games, Olympics, whatever. He was the voice of whatever was important in sports at that point in time.

Despite the fact that he was probably the biggest name in sports broadcasting, Gowdy had a way of making you feel like he was just talking to you. Part of it was no doubt the fact that he had that folksy Wyoming drawl. Gowdy always brought knowledge and enthusiasm to whatever event he was broadcasting.

Vaya con dios, Curt. We'll miss you.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Greetings from Flu Central, where R. and I are both down with a nasty bug.

Pitchers and catchers officially report to Fort Meyers tomorrow. In that spirit, here are the top five things that have to go right with the pitching staff for the Sox to be a serious contender in 2006.

1. Schilling has to be healthy and win 16-18 games.

2. Foulke has to be healthy, have his head screwed on straight and return to his 2004 form as the closer.

3. Josh Beckett has to live up to his potential and avoid blisters, shoulder issues and any other oddball injuries and win 15-17 games.

4. The projected starting rotation should be Schilling, Beckett, Wakefield, Clement, Papelbon. Wells goes to San Diego, Arroyo goes to the bullpen and Clemens either goes back to the Astros or goes home. Arroyo provides great insurance if one of the starters goes down or Clement can't get it together.

5. If the bullpen of Arroyo, Foulke, Timlin, David Riske, Julian Tavares and Lenny DiNardo stays healthy, this could be a strength of the Sox in 2006. On top of these guys, you have Manny Delcarmen and Craig Hansen waiting in the minors. A giant monkey wrench gets thrown into the plan if #2 doesn't happen, though.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Happy Truck Day!

For those of you not in the know, Truck Day is the day that a big moving truck leaves Fenway Park with all the stuff the Red Sox need for spring training. Truck Day has evolved from a cheesy photo op in the local papers to a full fledged celebration of the impending arrival of spring (and baseball). It's a little like Festivus .

I know, it's a little wierd. Welcome to Red Sox Nation.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

A quick medical update. A. got her cast off on Thursday, and started physical therapy on Friday. Things are going remarkably well. She's already walking on crutches and her recovery seems to be going exactly as it should.

So far, so good. We'll hope things keep going this way.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Return of the Rocket?

The latest rumor to hit Red Sox Nation is that the Sox are making a very serious attempt to get Roger Clemens to return to Boston for his final season. The rumors allege that Sox Chairman and TV mogul Tom Werner is behind this attempt, even down to the production of a slick video to convince Roger that Red Sox fans really want him back. Roger understandably has some reservations about how much he is still liked in Boston, no doubt due to memories of his treatment by the fans in the 1999 ALCS. In case you don't remember, Roger got pounded by the Sox and Pedro beat the Yankees 13-1. Sox fans were, shall we say, less than sympathetic to Roger's plight. Unfortunately, that was the only game of the series the Red Sox won.

I don't think that Roger has anything to worry about on that front. Once Clemens left the Yankees, I think much of the resentment against him evaporated. I think the prevailing attitude among Red Sox fans about Roger is that Dan Duquette made a giant mistake in letting him go, and most folks respect him as one of the greatest pitchers of all time.

So why are the Sox trying to get him back? It's not to sell tickets, that's for sure. It's at least in part a baseball decision, of course. Clemens is still one of the best pitchers in Baseball, even at age 43. He led the NL in ERA with Houston last year and helped pitch them into the World Series. If the Astros could have generated some more offense (Roger pitched in nine games in which Houston got shut out last year) he could have easily won his eighth Cy Young Award. Put him at the top of a rotation with a (hopefully) healthy Curt Schilling and Josh Beckett and the Sox sound like favorites in the AL East again.

I also think the Red Sox are pursuing this for the story. Obviously, Roger returning to Boston has some irresistible angles to it, and I'm sure Tom Werner's head is spinning with the ways he can exploit this on NESN.

Do I want him back? Of course. Why wouldn't you want one of the best pitchers in baseball on your team? I go back to seeing Roger come up with Pawtucket, so there is no question I would like to see him end his career in a Red Sox uniform.

Do I think it will happen? Here's how I'm handicapping it. I think there's a 50% chance Roger will pitch somewhere else (with the Yankees, Rangers or Astros as likely landing spots), a 25% chance he'll end up back at Fenway, and a 25% chance he won't pitch at all.

But wouldn't seeing number 21 stride back out to the Fenway mound be just incredible?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Three things from over the weekend:

- The Super Bowl really didn't live up to the hype this year. The game was dull, the officiating was terrible (and every bad call went against Seattle) and even the commercials were lackluster for the most part. Pittsburgh really played poorly in the first half, and won the game on the strength of a few big plays. The 75 yard run (a Super Bowl record) by Willie Parker and the gadget pass play from wide receiver Antwaan Randle El to Hines Ward really pulled out the game for the Steelers. Seattle couldn't put the ball in the end zone when they had opportunities, and that was their downfall.

- I took the kids to see the movie Nanny McPhee. It was a sort of twisted version of Mary Poppins and was quite entertaining. I liked the fact that as the children in Nanny McPhee's charge became better behaved, the nanny became better looking, with her moles, oddly shaped nose and snaggletooth disappearing. After we left the theater I asked the kids if I would get better looking if they behaved better, to which they both protested, "We're not as bad as those kids!".

- I saw Billy Joel at the Gahden on Saturday night with some friends. I have been a fan of his since the '70s, as evidenced by the 236 Billy Joel tracks I have on my iPod. It was a great show, with Joel singing not only most of his big hits, but also some of the more obscure stuff as well. He had a lot of energy and you can see how comfortable he is being a rock star.

We had great seats, too, right behind the stage. When we first got the seats we were a bit nervous about the location, but they turned out to be outstanding. Joel even turned around to us near the start of the concert and said, "I bet you thought those seats were gonna suck, didn't you."

The one slightly odd thing was that there was a fair number of pretty young people there - people who weren't even alive when some of these songs were hits. But don't worry; there were plenty of old fogies like me there, too.

The only negative to the evening was that A. wasn't able to go, but she gets her cast off on Thursday and hopefully things will start to get back to normal around here.

Friday, February 03, 2006

When my parents moved to Florida, I took possession of an antique Crosley Super 11 radio. According to a Web site I found, this radio was built by Crosley (who also owned the Cincinnati Reds) in 1937. This is a big, floor model radio and belonged to my grandparents before it sat in my parents house for around 20 years. I had always said that when I had some extra money, I would get the radio restored.

There's a picture of what it will look like when it is restored. Mine doesn't look quite that good.

The extra money finally came through, in the form of the fee I had earned for handling my great aunt's estate. So today I called Antique Radio Restoration and Repair, a small company in Connecticut that specializes in bringing old radios back to life. I spoke to the owner for over 1/2 hour about the radio, describing it in detail and getting an estimate as to how much it will cost to repair.

I learned a few interesting things. First, this is an 11-tube radio and was the top of the Crosley line at the time (essentially the plasma TV of it's day). I also learned that most radios during this era were made with paper capacitors, which were not expected to have anything approaching a 70 year service life.

Basically, he will rebuild the chassis (the part with all the electronics) using modern, but operationally similar parts to the original with two exceptions. He will add a resettable circuit breaker to protect it from shorts and an inrush current limiter which protects the tubes from the initial surge of current when you first turn the radio on. This effect is why incandescent light bulbs typically burn out when you first turn on the light. Neither of these items were available in 1937, and should add significantly to the life of the tubes.

He will also refurbish the cabinet, including replacing the broken slat in front of the speaker grille, replacing the grille cloth and refinishing the metal work.

He claimed that when I got the radio back it would look and sound like it did the day it came out of the Crosley factory. He also said that it would be the best sounding radio I ever owned. I have my doubts that 70 year old technology will sound as good as my Bose Wave Radio, but I would love to be pleasantly surprised.

The only thing that's a little daunting is the turnaround. He told me that he currently has between 300 and 350 radios in queue awaiting restoration, so his estimate of the time until I get mine back is 15 months!. Not that I'm in a big hurry or anything, but that's a pretty long time.

My plan is that I'll drive the radio down to his shop in Connecticut some Saturday afternoon after A. is back on her feet. It should only be about a 45 minute drive, which is pretty convenient and I can flip up the back seats on the Element and it should easily fit inside. I'll make sure I take a couple of pictures before I bring it in and I will eventually post some "before and after" pictures when it's all finished.

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