The long haul

And now we rest ... Sort of.

For the first time in six months, Kates, Phoebe and I are together for the foreseeable future. And it is good.

Of course, we couldn't close our chapter in K-Town easily. Very little throughout these last six months has been easy. Why would finally closing on our house and making a cross-country, 9-hour move with a  2-year-old be easy?

Starting with flying to Milwaukee on Wednesday night. It had been sunny and clear that day in The 'Ville, but I'd seen weather alerts that were far less favorable for the upper midwest. My friend Mallory took me to the airport, and I arrived at the terminal to a long line and a lot of disgruntled people ...

I overheard talk of a tornado in the Chicago area. And on the board, the flight times were loaded with ...

Next day

Next day

And then ...

Milwaukee     847     On Time


I checked in. Got through security. Flight left on time and landed in Milwaukee less than an hour later. Kates was waiting for me at the gate, and we made the trek down I-94 once more ...

Back at our house in K-town, a bit of sadness crept in ... The fireflies flickered throughout the back yard. The wet green grass. The crickets chirping. The fresh flowers. And the moon illuminating all of it; I always loved the way the moon lit up our back yard, especially when the light reflected off the snow in winter time.

Our good friends Laura and Kevin welcomed us inside; they stayed at the house to watch Phoebe while Kates and I did the airport thing ... The greeting was brief. We knew we'd have more time to talk over the next few days ...

And it was going to be a long weekend.
* * *

On Thursday morning, the house was buzzing ... And the goodbyes began in earnest as we took Phoebe to her daycare for the last time.

As I did that first day two years ago, which seems so long ago now, I got the honor of taking her for her last day, too. Only Thursday was so much more fun ... Phoebe gleefully gave Kates a goodbye hug and kiss. Then she proudly carried her lunch bag with one hand and held my hand with the other as we walked through our back door, chattering all the way. It felt more like a first day of school then the start of a bittersweet, busy weekend ... Phoebe also was excited because she knew the kids were going in the pool for part of the day.

"I see Noni's house!" Phoebe said from her car seat, pointing down the block. She knew we were getting close, but we were still at least three blocks away.

We are forever indebted to "Noni" for the love and environment she provided Phoebe these last two years, and the personality she helped bring out of her. From Phoebe's mastery of numbers, letters and shapes to her interactions with others, it's tough to count all of the benefits. She became a part of our extended family, and all three of us will miss her.

After I returned home, Kates and I took advantage of having most of the day to ourselves. While Kates spent the morning packing boxes inside, I worked outside -- mowing, pulling weeds and admiring the beauty of my flower gardens one last time ...

Around 4, Kates and I went to Phoebe's daycare for the emotional goodbye. Noni had already given Phoebe a new baby doll -- a little sister for the older, much dirtier baby doll. When Kates and I arrived, we helped Phoebe unwrap a special t-shirt with the handprints of each of her daycare friends, and a photo collage of Phoebe at the daycare during the last two years.

The centerpiece of the the collage was an ode Noni wrote to Phoebe ...

To my precious Phoebe
A little chatterbox
You're as neat as a pin
And smart as a fox

You love to learn
Flash cards are your game
Not having you around
Just won't be the same

Your baby doll
Is always with you
You can sing the alphabet
Through and through

I love you precious Phoebe
I'll miss you very much
Maybe we can Skype
Just to keep in touch

When we finished exchanging cards and gifts, there was barely a dry eye in the house. Phoebe gave her signature goodbye hugs and kisses to everyone, including two of the little boys who have attended the daycare with her from the start. It was pretty sweet.

Then, one of the most memorable and comical moments of the weekend happened as we drove away ...

"I go to Mommy's house now?" Phoebe said.

"No, Phoebe. We're going to our house," Kates said. "It's Daddy's and Mommy's house."

To which Phoebe replied, "Oh! It's OUR house! Oh my God!"

Kates and I burst out laughing for a few seconds before Kates could say, "She did not get that from me."

"I can tell," I said. "I know exactly where she got it from. It sounds just like Noni."

We returned to the house and Kates' parents arrived a short time later. You know about the rest of the night ...

Hello, Summerfest. I love you.
* * *
Friday was mostly a blur.

Kates and I continued our packing and cleaning while Phoebe bounced around the house and watched her Barney videos ... We met our realtor to pre-sign all of the paperwork for our closing, and faced the grim revelation that we needed more money to pay for the closing that we first thought ... I met some of my newspaper colleagues for a lunch in downtown K-Town ...

Then, around 5:30 we entered a new depth of depression in the moving process ...

More than a month ago, I reserved a 24-foot truck from Budget -- the same mover I'd used for the move in January. Because I'd had a great experience with the company then, and the rates were fantastically economical.

But at 5:30 p.m., the dealer called me to report he had no 24-foot trucks available and he didn't think any would be arriving by the morning. He said Budget was overloaded with trucks in need of repairs, leaving a limited number of trucks available ... Disgusted, I told the dealer we needed that truck on Saturday morning. He said he'd do the best he could to get one for me.

So I drove to Milwaukee to pick up my parents (They were leaving their car at the airport so they could drive the moving truck and return from Kansas City by plane) under a dark cloud of wondering how the #$@% we were going to find a large moving truck on short notice, not to mention how we were going to afford it -- and come up with enough money to pay our closing costs so we could finally put our nightmare in home ownership to rest.

On our way back to K-Town from the airport, my father did the best thing anyone could have done. He changed the subject and asked, "How was Summerfest last night?" I began gushing and told him, "So worth it." I wanted to talk about anything but real estate and moving, and he knew it.

Back in our house, my parents retired to their air mattress in the basement rec room. Kates and I stayed up past midnight working out an emergency budget that would get us through our closing and the next week.

* * *

Dad and I were at the front door of the Budget dealership by 9 a.m., and then waited for another 10 minutes before the shop owner, an older Middle Eastern man in a half-buttoned shirt, appeared sauntering down the driveway to meet us and unlock the door.

With two 15-foot trucks sitting in the parking, Dad and I had hoped we could swing a deal to get the two 15-footers for the price of the missing 24-foot truck. But the dealer snuffed out that idea, saying it was reserved for another customer. Yeah, well, we reserved a 24-foot truck and apparently that didn't mean anything!

(I'm being really nice with my description. That and it was such a terrible experience that I'd rather not rehash every detail another time.)

We were desperate for any moving truck, and the dealer kept assuring us he would find a 24-foot truck for us. So we grudgingly signed for the 15-foot truck -- at the same rate as the 24-footer, which made no sense -- and moved on ... Oh, and Dad discovered once he was back at the house that the truck hadn't come with packing blankets, which we also reserved. I turned my car around and drove back to the dealer, only to have him tell me he didn't have the blankets either. Before he could give me another excuse or apologize, I turned around and pushed through the door without acknowledging him.

By the time I returned, we had a full house of friends and family standing by to begin loading the truck. Meanwhile, my father and Kates' father were standing over her at the kitchen table while she worked on calling every truck rental dealer she could find in a 60-mile radius ...

As Kates worked the phone, we started loading the 15-footer. The mattresses, a dresser and a couch went on the truck ...

During that time, another one of the most indelible images of the weekend was etched in my mind: My mother sitting with Phoebe on our rock wall in the front yard as they watched us carry furniture onto the truck. Phoebe was sitting so contently, with her hands in her lap, observing closely while Mom described what we were doing. ... When I built that wall years ago and planted the bulbs -- which were finally maturing this summer -- I envisioned some day sitting our children on the wall and taking pictures of them in their Sunday best, or dressed for the first day of school, with all the colors of the flower garden as a backdrop. It struck me as I noticed Phoebe sitting there, that was the closest I'd get to experiencing my vision. And that mental picture was the only one I could capture.

We were a few minutes into loading the truck when Kates came up with a 26-foot truck at a Uhaul dealer in a village 20 miles down the road. It would cost us about $400 more than the 24-footer we were supposed to get from Budget -- not to mention the 15-footer we did get. I told Kates, "Book it. And tell the dealer we need that truck. Don't let him give it anyone else. We need that truck."

So we turned to unloading the furniture we'd moved onto the 15-footer, and trying to get our money back on the sour deal with Budget. While the others continued packing, I retreated to our garage and called the dealer. I calmly told him we could not use the truck he'd rented to us, and we'd reserved a bigger truck at a different dealer. "We'd like to return the truck we have and get our money back," I said.

When he replied with, "I'm sorry I can't do that. You accepted the truck." -- I lit into him. We reserved a 24-foot truck more than a month in advance of our move. He called us less than 24 hours ahead of the pickup time to tell us he didn't have a truck; we had almost no time to make other arrangements.

"You didn't fulfill our agreement!" I told him, my voice quivering. "This is not right!"

"Let me call you back, OK," the man said, and he hung up the phone.

So I called Budget's corporate number. After waiting on hold and pacing our garage for about 20 minutes, a customer service representative picked up. I explained our situation, and made my argument for getting a refund. The woman echoed the dealer's point that we accepted the 15-foot truck, but agreed to contact the dealer to see if something could be worked out. She put me on hold again, and returned about 10 minutes later, saying the dealer agreed to reduce our charges to a one-day fee. That meant we'd at least get a few hundred dollars back, and that was better than nothing.

Several minutes later, we were returning the truck to the dealership, and the dealer softened. Without even broaching our earlier phone conversation, or the fact that a rep supposedly had spoken to him, he said he would give us all of our money back ... I did all I could to hold back a smile and thanked the man. And Dad told the dealer he'd better get with his manager and get Budget's business practices figured out  -- or words to that effect.

Redeemed, we boarded the car and headed to the Uhaul dealer ... It felt as though we'd entered a different part of the country. The Budget dealership was being run out of a small shack in a parking lot; the Uhaul dealership was being run in the corner of a secondhand country store located in the walkout basement of a gas station convenience store. The Budget dealership was being run by an edgy, grumbling Middle Eastern man; the Uhaul dealership was being run by a jubilant, down-home white guy who made no secret of his Christianity.

In no time, we had the truck checked out and were heading back to the house -- but not without one more hiccup. Dad was driving the Uhaul, while I was trailing him in the Forester. He pulled out of the parking lot and then picked up speed as he headed toward a busy stoplit intersection. Clearly, Dad had a green light and entered the intersection -- just as some kid in a sports sedan tried turning in front of him. I gasped and braced for an impact. Dad slammed on his brakes and barely missed broadsiding the kid's back corner. The car ended up on the median, its front end just missing a light pole. In the meantime, Dad drove through the rest of the intersection and pulled over while the rest of us parked at the intersection looked around with holy-crap expressions on our faces. Before Dad could get out of the truck to make sure the kid was ok, the kid sped off.

Back at the house, the others were finishing lunch. Dad and I wasted little time filling our plates and took a couple seats on the deck. Put through the ringer in the morning, the clock was now moving past 1 in the afternoon, and we still had a long way to go.

Soon enough, the furniture was moving onto the truck. We fed the boxes to Dad, and he worked his magic on the truck, filling every nook and cranny with belongings ... Phoebe was running all over the house and through the yard, occasionally convincing us to let her inside the truck where she proceeded to dance and jump around ... Inside Kates was trying to direct the packing process for our remaining belongings, but the boxes were being packed and loaded onto the truck so fast that we could hardly track what was being put where.

As the sun was setting around 7 o'clock -- and with no more than a couple feet of space left on the back end of the truck -- we were looking at the stuff left in the garage and trying to make decisions about what had to get on the truck ...

Somehow, some way, we did get all of our belongings on the truck. And we did it all before the sun went down.

After a quick snack in our newly-dim and empty kitchen, Kates and I spent the rest of the night cleaning the house, patching holes in the walls and painting over the remnants of our six wonderful years in the home.

For the third consecutive night, it was past midnight before we headed for bed.

* * *
We awoke around 6:30 a.m. Sunday, and promptly returned to the cleaning we hadn't finished the night before. Kates went back to cleaning the kitchen, and I went back to patching and painting walls ... Mom and Dad, meanwhile, boarded the moving truck and started their trek to Missouri shortly after 7. The plan was for us to pass them somewhere along the way, and have all of us in The 'Ville by late afternoon.

That was the plan.

When the clock passed 8, a multitude of things remained on our to-do list. I told Kates, "We have to be out of here by 9." Knowing we had at least an eight-hour drive, plus a couple gas-restroom-meal breaks ahead of us, we were risking an evening arrival in The 'Ville if we didn't get on the move.

Kates continued cleaning our kitchen appliances, while I struggled to fit what was left into our car. Between our bulky television and Phoebe's stroller, there was a time I was afraid we were going to have to leave some things behind. Luckily, Kates agreed to sit in the back seat with Phoebe, which gave me more room to play with in the front seat -- and the perfect amount of space for our vacuum.

Meanwhile, Phoebe played with her matching game in the empty living room, oblivious to all of it.

By 9 o'clock the cleaning wasn't finished. Fortunately, Kates' cousin, Jessi, had offered to step in and clean whatever we could not. So Kates made the call, and Jessi started making her way to our house while we started making our way out of K-Town.

Like just about everything that played out during the weekend, our final moments in the house were hardly the way I envisioned them. There was no sweet laughter as we walked through the house and shared some final reminiscing about the scenes that played out in certain corners. There wasn't a final stroll around the yard under a summer sun. There were no final family photos. There were no tears and consoling hugs.

Instead, I did a brisk final walk through the house while a storm brewed outside. Then I anxiously waited for Kates with an armload of things at the back door while she whisked up Phoebe to carry her to the car. It began pouring and thundering ...

As we stepped through our back door and onto our deck for the final time, Kates held Phoebe close and said, "See Phoebe, Kenosha is crying for us because we're leaving." It wasn't at all how I envisioned it, but that is a goodbye moment I will always cherish -- a fitting, bittersweet cap.

We pulled through the drive-thru at our beloved library to drop off one last batch of borrowed books, videos and CDs. And then we made our way toward the interstate in a relentless, heavy thunderstorm.

We were on our way.

* * *

Despite our late start, we made good time driving through Illinois. We stopped at the infamous Iowa 80 truckstop and found an Arby's for lunch. Another half hour, I figured, and we'd be catching up to Mom and Dad in the moving truck.

Then there was more trouble.

Phoebe hadn’t been a shade of herself since we left K-Town. It was easy to think perhaps she was simply sad and confused about what was happening ... But there was more to it than that. She wasn't smiling, she wasn't talking, she had no interest in eating her Goldfish crackers --which is Phoebe's ultimate comfort food.

After we sat down to start eating, Phoebe let out this scary burp that made Kates and I brace for flying food. In another moment Kates was rushing Phoebe to the bathroom in anticipation of whatever else was about to come out of Phoebe’s little mouth. But they returned several minutes later and Kates reported the bathroom trip was uneventful … We finished our Arby’s beef n' cheddar sandwiches, but Phoebe just picked at what was left of her chicken nuggets.

About a half hour later, we were belted back in the car, and I had my mind set on picking up more time, passing the moving truck and pulling into Maryville by 5 … But we had been driving for barely 10 minutes when Phoebe couldn't hold back any longer. She threw up in her lap.

Phoebe burst into a crying fit, and I hurriedly pulled off at the next exit ramp I saw. We ended up in the parking lot of Iowa State Patrol headquarters, and Kates took Phoebe to the grass under a shade tree for a cleaning and changing. In the meantime, I got the task of cleaning off Phoebe's car seat and airing out the car as best I could.

We parked for about a half hour and let Phoebe run around a bit before we started driving again ... But no sooner had we resumed the journey and Kates announced she was feeling nauseous. I pulled off the interstate once more and we landed at a general store inside a small town so Kates could use the restroom.

By the time she returned to the car, I calculated that it had taken us about two hours to travel like 30 miles. I figured we had fallen at least two hours behind Mom and Dad. We had yet to reach Des Moines, and at our pace, we'd be pushing 9 o'clock before we arrived in The 'Ville.

On the other hand, if my cross country travels have taught me anything it's that Iowa roads are excellent for picking up driving time.

So we set our minds on the homestretch. I stepped up my speed a little and Kates kept Phoebe occupied with some games in the back seat ... Around 6, our friend Gina called to ask about our ETA, and I told her I was hoping to have us in The 'Ville around 8; word on the street was she could assemble quite a moving crew ... Around 7, my mother called to say they were close to arriving -- turned out they made a wrong turn and lost some travel time, too -- and I instructed them on where to park the moving truck.

Sure enough, I cut an hour off our travel time, and we were driving into The 'Ville around 7:50. The sun was shining. All of us were smiling. The sense of relief, and anticipation for our fresh start, was enormous.

We pulled up to our new place, as Dad was parking the moving truck in our driveway. On cue, Gina and Jeff pulled up -- with a birthday cake in hand. Within minutes a dozen more friends and colleagues arrived, and the unloading party officially began.

Dad took his position in the truck again and began feeding me the boxes. I handed off each box and told our movers where to take them ... We worked at a furious pace and had the truck unloaded within a half hour, before sundown. Dad didn't think it would be possible, but I assured him we'd get it done.

Once the truck was empty, Gina was cutting the cake and I got an impromptu birthday celebration with our new friends. A birthday I will never forget.

* * *
We made a point on Sunday night of setting up our bed so we could at least spend our first night in the new place sleeping in it.

The rest of the house, however, was a disaster area. There was hardly a path to walk -- anywhere.

Eventually, I got to a point where I needed to escape, and went into my office ... The first words from the mouths of almost everyone I saw around campus were, "What are you doing here?" There was no easy to way answer that.

Around 5:30, I returned home with a pizza for supper. When I pulled onto the driveway, I caught Phoebe watching for me at the living room window and announcing “Daddy’s home!”

After six long, draining and twisting months of separation, I couldn't have envisioned a sweeter homecoming than that.


Closing time

So this is it.

It hardly feels like six months have passed since I was saying that at the beginning of this adventure.

The paperwork is signed. The moving truck will be loaded tomorrow. And on Sunday morning we will officially close the book on this grand chapter of our lives. Six years, one month and 28 days.

It’s bittersweet. 

At several points this spring, fighting through the stresses of selling our house, I found myself repeatedly recalling the line my brother spoke years ago when he had to get rid of his beloved Mercury Capris convertible. It had been a great car for him, but by the end he’d become so fed up with the problems it caused him that when my father asked if he gave the car a good kiss goodbye, my brother replied, “I gave it a good kick goodbye.”

I’d begun to feel the same way about our house.

Kates and I were in love with it almost the moment we stepped in the door six years ago. We'd missed the boat with offers on two other houses -- what did we know? --  and the housing market was roaring …
Take this recent New York Times story. The first paragraph could have been written about us ...
In 2004, newly married and having decided to embark on the next phase of adulthood, my wife and I bought a house. This was back in the delirious days of multiple offers and outlandish escalation clauses, when you had to bring your checkbook with you to an open house, just in case someone else tried to buy the place while you were poking around the attic.
I remember the delirious night in April 2004 when our realtor called us to share the news that Kates and I had beaten out two other bidders for the 52-year-old ranch home that we thought would be perfect to begin raising our family. Our mortgage broker helped us sweeten the bid by offering the sellers a couple thousand extra dollars if they paid our closing costs. We secured a home equity loan and a home equity line of credit, and didn't have to put down a dime. Having not yet reached the age of 25, we thought we were set for life.

We promptly went to work fixing up the place, going as far as thinking seriously about adding a second floor. Fortunately, we didn't get that far …We repainted all but a couple rooms and retreated all of the windows. I tore up parts of the yard and went wild, adding pockets of flower gardens, retaining walls and a stone walk. We replaced the roof, added a deck, replaced the carpet in the basement rec room and remodeled the bathrooom. We invested thousands in the home.

Then, in the blink of an eye, things changed. I was confronted with a dream job opportunity, and the housing market went in the tank.

* * *

I’ve purposely remained quiet on the travails of selling our house, out of fear of jinxing it. Call me superstitious; I prefer to think of it as taking nothing for granted and being mindful of worst-case scenarios. But here’s a brief synopsis of how it played out …

When we put the For Sale sign in front of our house in February, Kates and I were confident our investment would hold. We’d taken excellent care of our house, and we thought it showed. Compared to other parts of the country, the housing market in K-Town had been fairly stable. Most of the things our realtor was telling us were in line with that positive outlook, too. We studied the comparative market analysis and listed the house at an 8 percent increase from our purchase price six years ago.

And then it sat with little interest for what seemed like an eternity. In mid-April, we lowered the listing price to about 4.5 percent above our purchase price, and began calculating the what-if scenarios. Not even the promise of a government tax credit spurred interest … To say we were frustrated is the understatement of the year. Painful seems more appropriate. We were selling a nice home, dang it!

In the end, we sold the house to a man who was buying it for his daughter -- whom we learned from a neighbor may have two young children of her own. So I suppose we can take solace in the notion that the home will be a nice place for another family to grow ... During a couple weeks of negotiations in May (which included an infuriating inspection that, had it been a court case, we won, and an appraisal process they took down to the wire, which we also won) he wore us down to a sale price of $5,000 -- about 3 percent -- less than our purchase price.

Add on the fees we doled out to the realtors and we now must come up with more than double that to clear the books.

Despite all of the ups and downs, the truth is Kates and I couldn't be happier with the way things turned out.

Do we wish we had received a better offer and recovered our entire investment? Oh yeah! ... But we're also cognizant of the market we're living in, that other home owners are dealing with far bigger losses and it could have turned out a lot worse for us.

* * *

Even with all of the harsh feedback and remarks we’ve endured about our house these last few months -- some of it was so far off it made us wonder if people were really talking about our house -- Kates and I wouldn't trade our six years of home ownership for anything. Heck, we may just build a replica of this house in The 'Ville -- with a few slight modifications and updates, of course.

Although, Kates and I never expected to live the rest of our lives in this house. We had started casually looking at bigger places before this big change presented itself …

We were, our property research tells us, the fifth family to live in this home, and our tenure was the third longest of those. We bought the home from a family who lived here barely a year.

To be frank, it was not a pretty house when we bought it. The brick patio in the backyard was in sad shape and caving in toward the foundation. A third of the grass in the backyard was sand. The bathroom was only partly refinished, with pieces of baseboard missing. The bushes were overgrown.

But Kates and I saw loads of potential in it. We made it our own and made infinite memories around every corner … My tireless work on our yard. All of the handyman projects my father helped me with -- from our deck, to the storage shelves, to the thresholds in the doorways and the quarter-round molding along the baseboards, to installing the bathroom sink.

We redid the living room and the bathroom. Phoebe's room and the guest room got multiple re-dos ... And, after years of being stashed away in boxes, my sports memorabila collection finally got its very own space in our basement rec room.

This was our first home, and the memories that come with that can never be replaced.

It’s the home where we began our family and started raising our first child.

We celebrated birthdays. And Christmases. And we took Phoebe for her first trick-or-treating experience in this neighborhood last fall.

I’ll miss the way our music filled the home -- from Phoebe’s playlist to our impromptu family dance parties in the kitchen. And, of course, dancing endlessly to “Fireflies,” which Phoebe now calls “Daddy’s Song.”

I'll miss the summer nights on our deck, gazing at our yard and taking pleasure in the fireflies flickering like I'd never seen them anywhere before.

I'll miss eating breakfast and reading the newspaper at our kitchen table on Saturday mornings during the summer and the quiet neighborhood view that always brought me so much calm.

I'll miss the quirks, charms and action of K-Town.

As we embark on the next phase of this adventure, we have far more questions than answers. It will take years for us to know whether we've made the right move ...

But as we lock the door on Sunday morning and close it behind us for the last time, we can be sure of this ...

We spread a lot of love in this house,
and we're leaving it in a lot better shape than we found it.


If it makes me happy

And you thought my Summerfest days were over!?

I’ve said it again and again about my concert experiences … And I’m saying it again again. Dreams came true last night …

We saw Sheryl Crow. Live. At Summerfest.

So worth it. The woman can rock.

A while back, in the midst of my summer concert mourning, I bargained with Kates for a Summerfest date as a last hurrah before we left K-Town for good. I conceded that I’d already seen Guster, OAR and Counting Crows multiple times -- as much as it pained me to give up a chance to see them again -- but reasoned, of all our options, if I had to pick one show, Sheryl Crow was the one I didn’t want to miss.

We stuck to the plan. Left Phoebe with the grandparents. And made the summer evening trek up I-94 once more to the World’s Largest Music Festival. … Walking on the grounds again felt like reuniting with an old friend. After these six long months and the chaotic weekend ahead of us, it was the ultimate escape.

With Ms. Crow scheduled for the Miller Lite Oasis, we headed there first and grabbed our food. Kates a white mocha and I a fresh made-to-order burger from Rupena’s, along with some chips and guacamole from La Perla, and -- of course -- my bucket of Mountain Dew from one of the manned barrels throughout the grounds.

By the time we began our search for seats around 7, Lynhurst was wrapping its set, and with three hours to go, there were surprisingly great spots available for Sheryl Crow. Kates and I slipped onto a bench in the seventh row, just right of center stage.

Around 8, the benches still weren’t filling, and I was itching to catch a glimpse of Colbie Caillat who had just begun performing two stages down at the Briggs & Stratton Backyard … “Go!” Kates said finally, and I was off before anyone could say “Bubbly.”

I sifted through the crowds and arrived at the packed Briggs & Stratton Backyard … I continued sifting and found an opening on a picnic table. I stepped onto the table and came up with a clear view of Colbie strutting across the stage in a sparkling silver dress.

She had just finished a song and told a story of her bout with stage fright early in her career. Then she went into “Fearless,” one of my favorites from her latest album.

The song sounded even more lovely live, and it was all I needed to hear. Having heard one full song and feeling satisfied, I jumped off the table and walked back to the Oasis.

I soaked up the Summerfest scenes along the way … At the Harley-Davidson stage, The Tempters were revving up a crowd with “Get Ready” and twirling in white suits.

I strolled past the Milwaukee Bucks draft party at the SportsZone just as Cole Aldrich‘s name was being announced. I saw the kid who’s always doing tricks and juggling on a unicycle. And the grills were fired up with mouth-watering food.

Back at the Oasis, Kates and I still had plenty of breathing room around us, and Tyrone Wells had taken the stage … The guy was good, and Kates and I took a liking to his folk-pop sound. A highlight of his set was a covers medley of Train’s “Soul Sister,” Maroon 5’s “She Will Be Loved” and Leona Lewis’ “Bleeding Love.” (I'm not a fan of Leona's version, but Wells' toned-down version made it worth listening to.)

As the clock struck 9, Orrin and Kelli joined us for the show … Soon after that, the fireworks started popping over the lake behind us. A June night in Milwaukee at its finest …

Then, around 10, the stage went dark, and the silhouettes of her band members started appearing on the stage. And finally, Sheryl Crow appeared wearing a pink top, black pants and a gobs of huge rings on her fingers.

I’ve admired Sheryl Crow since she hit the radio waves and I was hitting high school in 1994. Her “Tuesday Night Music Club” album was one of the first CDs I bought, and “Leaving Las Vegas” and “All I Wanna Do” still rank among my all-time favorite songs; the album is arguably the best of her long career … Then you start thinking of all the other things she’s done -- touring with Michael Jackson and accompanying a ton of other musical legends, acting, beating breast cancer, nearly becoming Mrs. Lance Armstrong. The woman is a pop music legend in her own right.

She opened her set with “Hole In My Pocket” and gave us a taste of what we were in for with a loud, rocking “Everyday Is A Winding Road.” … Another Crow song I always relish is the pounding “Can’t Cry Anymore,” and her live version delivered, which she weaved with a verse of “I Can See Clearly Now” (just like this). She also interjected a bit about flying into Milwaukee the night before, saying “That was a hell of a storm you guys had here.” I knew; I was flying to Milwaukee Wednesday night, too.

Here's a snippet of Crow doing "Everyday Is A Winding Road" ... As usual, the video does it no justice. The loud music is too overpowering for my little camera.

The band, which included a pair of background vocalists, was tight. The guitars were roaring. With Crow on the organ for a few songs, they went off for a jam on nearly every other song.

But the first half of the show also had a distinct mellow vibe to it, which, in a way suited the older crowd well. Several songs carried a slight country twang.

Crow really mellowed things midway through with a series of slower tracks, starting with “The First Cut Is the Deepest” -- even while two beach balls bobbed around the crowd. On “Strong Enough” she strummed her guitar and endeared the crowd, rambling “… I want a man who has a job … I don’t care if he makes more money than me …”

As she strummed the opening of “Picture,” Crow teased the crowd by saying, “I’d like to bring Kid Rock out …” She paused, and the crowd cheered, before she added, “I really would but he’s probably in a bar drinking somewhere.” … Instead we were treated to her bassist singing Kid Rock’s portion on the last half of the song, skillfully doing his part on the wailing lyric “I was off to drink you away!”

The band showed more life as Crow uncovered the Terrence Trent D’Arby song "Sign Your Name." Each of the band members went solo for a few bars, including the drummer who was sweating like a hog and drawing louder cheers as the night went on with a few terrific solos.

Then, the band amped the energy level way up … They belted out “All I Wanna Do” and a high-energy, crowd-singing “If It Makes You Happy” that was arguably my favorite song of the night … I recognized the opening whine of “Soak Up The Sun” immediately and shot my arms in the air, excited for another sing-along … Crow ended her opening set with “Steve McQueen,” a song I’ve never admired, but the band’s all-out energy on it, along with another extended jam, had me changing my mind. I can’t get the song out of my head this morning.

After the band did their customary leave-the-stage-let-the-crowd-cheer-and-return bit, Crow did a great-sounding take on “A Change Would Do You Good” -- an appropriate song for the weekend.

And then the stellar finale. Bolstered by the last few songs of Crow’s opening set, the energy level shot higher with every song … When the drummer started tapping out the opening beats of Led Zeppelin’s “Rock n’ Roll,” Orrin and I looked at each other and hollered. We knew exactly what was coming and so did most of the crowd. “It's been a long time since I rock and roooooooolled!” … The band delivered a screaming good version of the song, capped with a drum solo that would not end. (It’s been added to the list ... There's footage of a much earlier version here.)

The last note played out. The crowd cheered. The band gathered at center stage and took their bows.

This morning I’m dealing with a Summerfest hangover, though alcohol intake has nothing to do with it. The symptoms are ringing ears, the slight headache, the remnants of secondhand smoke in my throat, a hoarse voice and the memories of a fantastic night.

So worth it.

Here’s Sheryl Crow’s set list …
1. Hole in my Pocket
2. Everyday Is A Winding Road
3. Can’t Cry Anymore
4. 100 Miles to Memphis (new song)
5. My Favorite Mistake
6. The First Cut is the Deepest
7. Summer Day (new song)
8. Home
9. Strong Enough
10. Picture
11. Sign Your Name (Terrence Trent D’Arby cover)
12. All I Wanna Do
13. If It Makes You Happy
14. Soak Up the Sun
15. Steve McQueen
16. A Change Would Do You Good
17. Rock n’ Roll (Led Zeppelin cover)

Also see: The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's comprehensive Summerfest guide.


The last five years

Tonight marks the beginning of the end of our move from K-Town to The ‘Ville.

The closing on our house is scheduled. The packing has moved into full gear. Tomorrow night I’ll be flying to K-Town once more to reunite with Kates and Phoebe for good. And Sunday morning we'll be shipping out … I'll save those stories for another post.

This weekend will be filled with lots of reminiscing, meeting up with old friends and saying good-bye to the life we’ve known for the last six years …

Five of which have filled the pages of this blog.

So to kick off our weekend of reminiscing and celebration, I’ve searched the bowels of this blog for some of the most memorable highlights and lowlights of our life on the corner of 79th and 18th ...

Reading so many of these posts again now, the memories come rushing back. Not only do I remember vividly the events that inspired theses posts, but the scenery and emotions that enveloped me as I authored them, too ... Enjoy.

... Sept. 22, 2005: The night I nearly burned down the house.

... Jan. 7, 2006: The burglary.

... Jan. 16, 2006: The Chinese joint down the street. ... I think Kates and I single-handedly kept it in business over the years -- and this post was written early in our run.

... Dec. 1, 2006: The 17-incher.

... Jan. 24, 2007: My constant complaining about winter.

... March 26, 2007: The night we thought we needed a new vacuum.

... Feb. 6, 2008: The 22-incher.

... April 7, 2008: The night of Mario's Miracle.

... July 8, 2008: The night a car chase went by our house.

... Dec. 29, 2008: Getting sick for Phoebe's first Christmas.

... Jan. 8, 2009: The day our furnace broke. ... With this, the burglary, the tornado and all the snow -- January never was a good month for us.

... April 13, 2009: Phoebe’s first birthday

... Dec. 29, 2009: The living room concert.

... Feb 23, 2010: Packing up. ... The video of Phoebe ranks as one of my all-time favorites ... “Mommy do it!


Happy Father's Day

... A little while ago -- having reached a stopping point in my painting and cleaning -- I decided to dial up Kates and Phoebe on Skype  to check in and see how their day was going ...

Kates answered and Phoebe, as usual, came running to the computer. Phoebe knows the routine, and Kates lifted Phoebe on to her lap so she could see me.

Then, with a huge smile on her face, Phoebe shouted out, "Happy Father's Day!"

Then, while Kates and I are tearing up, she pulls herself from Kates' lap and announces, "I go get my present!" ... Phoebe's little head bounced out of my picture, and she returned with a flower pot she made at her daycare for Mother's Day. She proudly held it up and said it was her Father's Day present.

It was such a moment, I can't describe it ... Best Father's Day present. Ever.

Three more days.


Phoebe's new room

With a week to go before the big move, I’m painting Phoebe’s new room this weekend.
I had forgotten how much of a chore painting can be.

Picking the color. The taping. The priming. The touch-up.

We’re not painting any of the other rooms in this place. Just Phoebe’s. And for her, to see the expression on her face when she sees her new room, it’ll be worth it.

We’re hoping it will ease the transition for her a little also.

We’re moving her into one of the downstairs bedrooms in our duplex, which the previous renters also had set up as a baby’s room, with caramel-colored walls. One of the walls was accented with pink, purple and brown circles.

For Phoebe, we’re going with a deep yellow, which will be a change from her orange-colored room in K-Town, but it still matches a lot of her d├ęcor … And she loves just about anything yellow.

Although finding the exact shade has been a chore in itself … We’ve always used Easy Living paint, which has yielded us a whole shoebox of color cards and samples. Since Sears stores carry Easy Living and there are Sears stores in K-Town and The ‘Ville, we figured -- No problem. Kates could pick a color, tell me what she wanted and I would find it here.

But when I went to the store to retrieve the color -- Natural Blonde -- I discovered they only carried Valspar. And no other store in town carried Easy Living.

So I sent Kates to the K-Town Lowe’s store, which carries Valspar, and she found a similar color there. She relayed the new color -- Golden Butter -- to me and the next day I returned to The ‘Ville store to pick up the paint.

But I couldn’t find the paint color. When I asked a saleswoman about it, she asked, “Where did you find the color?” When I told her Kates found it at Lowe’s, the woman nodded her head and explained that Valspar sends different colors to different stores. Seriously.

Nonetheless, I purchased a can of primer, unpacked the box of paint supplies I’d brought back with me during my trip a couple weeks ago, and I started the transformation on Phoebe’s room last night.

Kates finally just dropped the paint color she likes in the mail, and I’ll do my best to match it with something I can find here this weekend …

Phoebe’s new “big girl” bed also is on its way. After a maddening afternoon of trading text messages with Kates, while she searched for beds at Ikea and Target earlier this week, we found the perfect bed for Phoebe during a search of the interwebs.

Stay tuned.


Good news, bad news

Good news ...

You could hear the collective sigh of relief across Kansas City this morning. As late as Saturday night the Big 12 was dead! Done! History! The rivalries were squashed, KU and the leftovers were destined for the Mountain West ... Then, Texas steps up to announce they're staying, and the Big 12 boosts revenue ... Hallelujah!

Bad news ...

Belle & Sebastian -- another one of the bands on my must-see-before-I-die list -- is making a rare swing through the states this fall. And they're hitting Chicago in October ... Why are my favorites finally coming around now!? ... As I'm leaving Chicagoland!?

Good news ...

We got wind of this a few days ago, and Kates and I immediately started envisioning the experience. Our living arrangements and new jobs kept us from going in 2002 when it was in Milwaukee, but in 2012 -- we're so going. Whether it's the All-Star Game, the Home Run Derby, the Celebrity Softball Game, or the FanFest -- doesn't matter. We're going.


... So we had a tornado warning over The 'Ville last night ...

There were no reports of a touchdown, and the sirens never sounded. But it sure was exciting watching the menacing clouds roll in from my second floor windows as the meteorologists tracked the storm on local TV.

Then, once the worst of it had passed, the sky let loose with rain ... which it's done every morning for what has seemed like weeks. Every morning I've been awakened by thunder and lightning.

I do enjoy a good summer rain storm every once in awhile ... But I'm ready for it to stop.

Ironically, I also was reading about the infamous Barneveld tornado of '84 last night. With my curiosity piqued, I ventured onto YouTube ...

And found this oldie from 1967. Riveting.


One week

Some week.

It’s been the best of times …

I had a fantastic week mentally and professionally. I was in my sports heaven on Sunday night. The Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup … And I even got to see a good portion of the ticker tape parade in Chicago this morning, thanks to the magic of the Internet and NBC5’s streaming video feed …

Dare I say, watching that parade today was even more memorable than the White Sox celebration five years ago. Chills were running down my back at the sound of the cheers and the sight of the double decker buses rolling down Michigan Avenue with the players. Then, the shots of red and white confetti flying everywhere, the crowd chasing after the buses, and the pans showing the unbelievable enormity of the crowd had me tearing up. (This video shows a neat birds-eye-view of all of it.)

“You absolutely want to freeze this moment in time,” one of the newscasters said.

Admittedly, things did start to get a little out of hand near the end of the parade route. I can only imagine the letters the Blackhawks will be getting from parents of young fans about the display Patrick Kane put on as they drank beer from the Stanley Cup ... especially after their rowdy victory lap the other night.

Still, I can't get the Blackhawks adopted theme song out of my head and the grand images of the celebration will be ingrained in my head for days, weeks to come.

* * *

It’s been the worst of times …

Oil is still spewing into the Gulf of Mexico at a rate of who-knows-what. To quote one newsman this week, it’s “relentlessly depressing.”

I almost threw up on my bagel the other morning when I saw the commercial with CEO Tony Hayward assuring me that BP has taken full responsibility to end the crisis ... More active, enlightening and amusing is the infamous BPGlobalPR Twitter account … which BP tried to stifle this week. (Thanks to my friend Mallory for sending this explanation of BPGlobalPR.)

Just get the dang pipe covered already.

And then there’s the sick feeling of watching the Big 12 crumble and die right before our eyes.

The story has dominated local news the last two weeks, and it never fails to come up in conversations with friends and colleagues, too. Big time college athletics in this region will never be the same.

I‘m not opposed to any changes … But I hate the idea that theses changes seem to be driven by greed, money, TV revenue and that stupid BCS.

It’s nerve-racking that a conference with such a strong history and storied rivalries can be destroyed within the blink of an eye. Worse yet, respectable programs like Kansas are hardly being considered. One of the popular lines this week among Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri fans is that one of them won’t have a chair when this game of musical chairs stops.

I’m rooting for them to end up anywhere but the Mountain West. A Big 10 landing would be stellar, but that doesn't seem likely.

Oh yeah, and we’re still navigating the anxiety of selling our house in K-Town.

Two more weeks, and Phase 1 of The Adventure is over.


Finale Wednesday

So the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup last night. And broke a 49-year championship drought.

What a ride it was.

Although, after such a memorable series, the finish was a little anti-climactic -- even with the game ending in overtime. Patrick Kane scored the winning goal so quickly and from such an angle that it took some time for the referees to determine whether he actually scored.

The celebration was somewhat delayed, and we never got to hear that loud horn in all its bliss signifying that Yes, indeed the winning goal has been scored and the Chicago Blackhawks have finally won the Stanley Cup!

I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who began thinking about the Cubs’ 100-year-plus championship drought within moments of the Blackhawks’ win … In fact, I know I wasn’t. Within minutes of the Blackhawks' win, a Facebook friend posted in his status update, simply: 1908. (For the uneducated, that’s the year the Cubs won their last championship).

Let's see: Blackhawks, 2010. White Sox, 2005. Bulls, 1998. Bears, 1985 ... Cubs, 1908.

As another friend posted, “Cubs, you’re on the clock.”

* * *

After the postgame celebration had died, I was on the clock to watch the “Glee” finale.

Judging from the status updates flying during the live finale the night before, I was dooped into thinking it was going to be the best “Glee” episode ever …

Not so much. If I had to give it a letter grade, I’d say it was a B-.

I liked it better than most of the episodes during the spring half of the season. But still not as good as almost any of the episodes during the fall half of the season.

The only bit that drew any strong emotion from me was the climax of the New Directions regional finale performance when the glee clubbers brought out “Don’t Stop Believin.’” Ok, I really liked the splendid “To Sir With Love,” too … I was glad to see Quinn have her baby, if only to put that tired storyline out of its misery.

I think the spring episodes have made me so sour on the once golden “Glee” that I might never recover. (For the umpteenth time, get rid of the theme episodes.)

(Side note: EW has doled out TV Season Finale Awards ... Ooh, the “Grey's Anatomy” and “Lost” finales were good.)

I had more fun after I finished watching the finale episode …

With watching most of the episodes online this spring, I’ve fallen in love with the short and sweet theme for the closing credits … Curious, I jumped on YouTube to see if the closing theme was more widely available. Sure enough, it was.

And then, of course, I got myself sucked into a load of related videos … and I was up until past 1 a.m.

Check out my favorites …

Possible “Glee” movies … These are hilarious …

Possible opening theme sequences -- because “Glee” doesn’t have one …


Media and Twitter

I seem to be on a video-posting frenzy lately ... But my philosophy on this blog has always been if I think it's worth seeing or reading, I'll share it here. Hence, "... my life. my times. whatever."

So the latest is an interesting and insightful interview I stumbled upon tonight between one of my favorite tweeters, Ann Curry, and Twitter founder Biz Stone ...

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Embrace Life

Our friend Leah forwarded this to us tonight ...

Wear your seat belt.


The world spins madly on

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Sunday night sports

I was in sports heaven yesterday.

The Cubs were playing on WGN in the afternoon (They lost. That part wasn’t so heavenly). At night, the Brewers were playing the Cardinals on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball, the Blackhawks were facing off against the Flyers in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals on NBC, and the Celtics and Lakers were battling in Game 2 of the NBA Finals on ABC. The stars were out.

Calling it something special was an understatement.

During the initial two hours of the night, I watched almost all of the Blackhawks game. I only caught pieces of the Celtics game -- mostly during the commercial breaks of the Hawks game. I watched nearly none of the Brewers-Cardinals game. I did see an Albert Pujols strikeout. I didn’t see Manny Para strike out four batters in one inning. I did see Parra walk the bases loaded before getting pulled in the sixth.

Even then, for the ones I wasn't watching on TV, I was following updates on them via Twitter.

Still, for all the love I give baseball -- and college basketball certainly is exciting, too -- I’m convinced no other sport can match the non-stop, heart-pounding intensity that an NHL playoff game, especially a Stanley Cup game, is capable of producing from the opening puck drop to the final second.

The Blackhawks came out with loads of energy, and it was gobs of fun to watch them bury three goals on the Flyers in that first period alone. I couldn’t get enough those first two periods.
In the most important hockey game played around these parts in about four decades, the Blackhawks put together one of their most inspired offensive efforts in roughly the same time frame. (The Chicago Tribune)
Later, I switched to the Celtics game -- just in time to see the Lakers seize their first lead early in the third quarter. Moments after that, I flipped back to the Blackhawks game -- just in time to see Dustin Byfuglien score the Hawks’ fifth goal and put them up 5-2 in the second period.

But by the third period of the hockey game and the fourth quarter of the basketball game, the basketball game took the edge with the Celtics and Lakers playing neck-in-neck. Ray Allen, it seemed, couldn't miss a shot.
It was a world title fight, as basketball audiences in 215 countries witnessed Allen’s televised masterwork. The game was broadcast in 41 languages, and you could all but imagine the superlatives tossed Allen’s way in every tongue from Togo to South Philly. (The Boston Globe)
With the Celtics-Lakers in a timeout, I flipped back to the hockey game just after the Hawks had gone up 6-3. Moments later, Simon Gagne hooked one into the goal to bring Philadelphia back within two, 6-4. Then, the Hawks really put it away with an empty netter, to make it 7-4 with just more than two minutes to go.

Back to the basketball game with 1:12 left. Nothing going.

Back to the hockey game for the final 45 seconds. At 9:52 p.m., the final horn sounded and the Blackhawks had won.

Back to the basketball game with 27 seconds left and the Celtics starting to pull away. At 9:58 p.m., the final horn sounded and the Celtics prevailed in what was a heavyweight fight.

Back to the Brewers-Cardinals game, where the Cardinals had just tied the score 3-3 in the bottom of the eighth … And I stuck with them as they headed into extra innings for the second consecutive day (I watched Saturday, too, when the Cardinals won on a walk-off single in the bottom of the 11th.)

At 10:46 p.m. the Brewers hung on and won the game in 10 innings.

Sheesh. What a night ... And I missed seeing Sandra kissing Scarlett at the MTV Movie Awards.


Karate kicks, putdowns and punches

To pass the time during my nights at home last week with no cable and internet, I pulled some random DVDs from our collection to watch ...

"Love Actually" ... "Ben Folds Five: The Complete Sessions at West 54th" ... "Friends: Season 10" ...

But my best night was arguably Tuesday night. I popped in "The Karate Kid." It was a blast -- I just laid back on the couch, vegged out and allowed myself to get totally caught up in the movie ... and all of the '80s nostalgia that came with it ...

With that, check out this mega-montage of '80s bullies ...

John Wooden

When the news of John Wooden’s death broke Friday night I was saddened but had a hard time getting the immediate impact. His legend was formed and retired before I was born, and my most vivid memories of him are nothing more than the camera shots of him sitting in the stands during NCAA tournament games.

My friend Tom was less sentimental, tweeting, “John Wooden dead at 99. Sure, it's sad... but not THAT SAD... he was NINETY-NINE.”

Indeed, the wise man lived a long, good life.

Then yesterday morning I found myself engrossed in the Sportscenter coverage of Wooden and the stories being written about him …

I’d known about the dominance of his UCLA teams and the big names he coached.

But I’d never heard of his “Pyramid of Success.” That he made a name for himself playing college ball at Purdue. That he might have ended up coaching at Minnesota had it not been for a snowstorm that kept school officials from calling Wooden to offer a coaching job. That he was such a big baseball fan. That he was such a man of faith …

One of my favorite stories of the day was about a serious offer he received during the 1960s to coach the Pittsburgh Pirates. But he turned it down, the story went, because he didn’t think the players would respect him.

Then there’s this heartwarmer

More good reads ...
a John Wooden, Who Built Incomparable Dynasty at U.C.L.A., Dies at 99
a Joe Posnanski: Wooden and Love
a Bob Ryan: No loose ends with Wooden


Meant to be

In the too-cool-not-to-post category ...

EASTON, Pa. (AP) -- An engaged eastern Pennsylvania couple were born on the same day in the same hospital - and their mothers even shared a room in the maternity ward.
Amy Singley and Steven Smith were born at St. Luke's Hospital in Fountain Hill on April 17, 1986.
After the mothers were hospital roommates, the two families continued to interact through their church in Easton. Smith asked Singley on a date to the movies when they were sophomores in high school.
Singley says she knew Smith was the right guy for her after their second date. She says people are convinced the 24-year-olds were "destined to be together."
They plan to get married June 12.

Near perfect

Among the things I missed during my disconnect to the world this week were the events in Detroit on Wednesday night …

Because I had no cable, I was utterly oblivious to any of it until I booted up my computer at work Thursday morning and started skimming through my e-mail, Facebook updates and my news alerts for the morning …

Then, there was the headline …

I hadn’t seen the game. I hadn’t seen any highlights, and I hadn’t taken the time to find the play on YouTube.

… Until now. After writing that last sentence, I logged on and spent the last hour reviewing clips from the game.

Clearly, the runner was out.

(There’s some good amateur video of the play, too. And, of course, it wouldn’t be a big moment in sports or pop culture if there wasn’t someone reimagining the cinematic Hitler scene in good fun … See: Northern Iowa beats KU and Michael Jackson’s death.)

On a side note ... Holy Cow! A THIRD perfect game in the span of a month!? A second in the span of a week!?! Are you kidding  me!? It will be remembered as a perfect game, after all ...

The debate about overturning the call started immediately. And Jim Joyce’s candid admission after the game was an awesome turn of events …

Based on that, initially, I would have said overturn the call -- for the reasons Michael Wilbon cited in his column.

But later Thursday afternoon, I saw the headline that Bud Selig had declined to reverse the call and I could immediately understand his hesitation.

By reversing the call, he sets a precedent, and then what? He opens up a gargantuan can of worms that represents more than a century of questionable calls …

...The Bartman play?

...The entire 2005 ALCS?

...The Jeffery Maier play?

...Don Don Denkinger’s first base call in the 1985 World Series?

...Barry Bonds and the home run records?

Selig would get pummeled by the historians and traditionalists if he reversed the call.

In the end, it is what it is. It happened, within the rules of the game. Baseball will go on, just like it always has. It's a game played by humans, umpired by humans, as it should be.

And all of us will debate it for years to come.

Here's some of the good reads -- and mentions -- on the situation ...
a Perfect Game Thwarted by Faulty Call
a Third perfect game? Joyce’s botched call in ninth denies Tigers’ Galarraga
a Bernie Bytes: Jim Edmonds, Bud Selig, Lakers and “Dexter”
a Kristen Stewart leads the Week of Apologies
a Morning Jolt ... Scroll down to see the Photo of the Day
a Replay Gets Another Look After a Gaffe Seen by All
a Worst Call Ever? Sure. Kill the Umpires? Never.
a One day after botched call, Motor City takes higher road
a Ump impressed with support
a Nearly Perfect in Detroit ... An excellent op-ed piece by Paul Clemens

Crazier yet, the entire episode overshadowed the abrupt retirement of Ken Griffey Jr.

He was a great one.

Here's a classic about the enduring popularity (and ubiquity) of the 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. card ... Oh, how I know the card.

Update 06.07.10:

Selig doubts replay use will expand ... After all that's happened, I'm a little dissappointed by this.

An excellent read about Jim Joyce: How Jim Joyce went from Toledo to the bigs to national scrutiny