Annual Beloit College mindset list

Ah, the Annual Beloit College mindset list.

Good stuff.

Read the entire list here.

The day the ground shook

So there was an earthquake in Virginia today. Yeah. That was crazy. ... When the news hit about 1 this afternoon, my TweetDeck nearly caught fire because the tweets and updates were coming in so rapidly.

And yet, that's not the news that rocked my world today. Not even close.

A picture perfect shot of Ryan Braun, Nyjer Morgan and Prince Fielder. It's beautiful. I'm so framing it once my baseball museum is up and running again. 

Talk all you want about curses. But after a late night dinner with some old newspaper friends, I came home and did what I've done every night since I broke down for an MLB TV subscription. I tuned into the Brewers game online and watched them put the finishing touches on an 11-4 win over the Pirates.

Heck, I've even got Phoebe watching with me now on some nights. Her favorite player is Prince Fielder ... whom I call, simply, Prince. "No, not Prince," she says. "It's Prince FIEDER!" She doesn't pronounce the L.

I told Kates last night that if anybody acquires tickets to a certain baseball series that shall not yet be named but is played each year in October -- except for 1994 when owners and players got a little greedy -- I will take a vacation day, or two, and drive through the night to attend the game.

The beat goes on.

Update 08.24.2011: Here's a good read about the SI cover jinx.

* * *

Meanwhile, as the Cardinals continue to fall apart in St. Louis -- the Brewers are now 10 games ahead by the way -- the kind of headline that you don't see every day appeared.

I cannot begin to imagine the pain. One of the aforementioned newspaper friends I had dinner with tonight is a staffer with the Post-Dispatch who gave us the low-down when we met for discussion with journalism students this morning.

My favorite part: Holliday kept the moth, which was still alive when the trainer retrieved it from his ear. It later died.


How It Should Have Ended

So a student turned me on to How It Should Have Ended tonight.

This could be hours of fun.

Check this one out for Toy Story 3.


Oh, hail

Well, last night turned into an interesting one.

It started a little before 7 p.m. We had just finished supper. Phoebe was entertaining Kates and I by leading us in singing the ABCs while she played with her refrigerator magnets.

I was debating whether I should mow the lawn. The sky was darkening, but my take on the weather radar was that the storm would miss us to the north.

Before I could get out, though, some menacing clouds started swirling above our house. The sky was so captivating, we actually stepped onto our deck for a minute to observe. The clouds appeared so low that you could almost reach up and touch them. And they were moving at a furious pace.

Interestingly, there were never reports of anything more than a severe thunderstorm. And the sirens never sounded across town. But, boy, did this storm tear through the city.

Not long after we stepped back inside, the hail started falling. Dime-sized. And it just. kept. coming. I’ve never known a hail storm to last so long. Piles measuring a few inches high started forming on parts of our deck. ... This video hardly does it justice.

Amid all of the commotion and noise from the storm, Phoebe was rightfully scared. We told her the hail was like ice cubes falling from the sky. The answer satisfied her, and she’ll be repeating that to anyone who asks her about this storm for days to come.

Eventually the power went out. While the hail continued. The wind whipped at speeds of 70 to 80 mph, according to most estimates. We watched not only our huge oak trees sway violently, but our basketball hoop, too. … A lot of people today said the storm felt closer to a hurricane than a tornado.

At one point, I even made a valiant effort and successfully rescued the umbrella for Phoebe's sandbox. The wind had pulled it straight from its base and blew it into the middle of our yard, where it rolled around for a few minutes. Then it suddenly shot back toward our back door, allowing me to quickly reach out and snatch it up. 

When it was over, the sky took on an eerie orange. All of our neighbors started appearing in their front yards  to survey the damage. And my phone started lighting up with phone calls and text messages in reference to the damage sustained at the university.

On our street, the road, driveways and lawns were plastered with leaves. Large limbs were everywhere. A couple trees had snapped. One home’s siding had been ripped off.

Fortunately, the extent of damage was minimal at our house. We lost a board from our wood fence and a couple large tree limbs. The hail also punched a few holes through the screen on a garage window.

But in the west, the sky was darkening again. Lightning was flashing, and another round was on its way. For some it wasn’t as severe as the first round; for others, it was worse.

Here's what the radar looked like ...

Our power came back on around 9:30. Phoebe and Kates were already in bed, while I stayed up to keep up with the weather reports and with what was happening at the university. … The storm had punched out several windows in the residence halls, and the 350 or so students on campus were moved to a central building for safety. The storm had knocked out the power on campus, too, along with our computer server, so we spent the night communicating and providing updates to students on social media. Novel! ... In the meantime, those of us on the emergency team maintained communication with texting.

At 12:30 a.m., I finally went to bed.

* * *
And today, the cleanup began.

As I drove to work this morning I got my first look at the destruction, and later I walked the campus with a colleague. There were tree limbs all over the grounds, of course. But it was more heart-breaking to see the broken windows and shingles ripped from the administration building. The beautiful flower gardens throughout the campus had been shredded. Some metal sheeting had been torn from the performing arts center. And, oddest of all, a perfect circle had been torn through the university flag.

Across town, windows were broken. Siding looked as though it had been shot up with machine guns. Downed power lines and trees plugged roadways. On the outskirts of town, barns were destroyed and crops were ruined. One colleague said he hadn’t seen destruction so bad during his 55 years of living in the region.

I was supposed to be enjoying a vacation day today. Instead I was in the office this morning, fielding media calls about the storm and doing whatever else I could to help. Then, I came home early this afternoon and spent the rest of it cleaning up our yard. I filled six trash bags and two full-sized trash cans with leaves, branches and debris -- and that’s just from our front yard.

The chainsaws could be heard all over town this afternoon. There are homes still without power.

But it was also said repeatedly today -- thinking back to the images from the aftermath of the Joplin tornado and what that city went through -- it could have been a lot worse.

Here are a few more pictures … 


The Preschooler

The day has come. We now have a full-fledged preschooler under our roof.
This makes that first day of daycare seem like ages ago. My, how far we've traveled.

Pheebs was so ready for preschool. She's been ready for months, and we've been talking up preschool with her all summer. During the last few weeks, she's regularly gone to the elementary school -- which also houses Phoebe’s new preschool -- with Kates, who’s been feverishly preparing her classroom for the school year. he and Kates made the run to purchase school supplies a couple weeks ago, which fetched Phoebe a pretty sweet pink and floral backpack that is not only as big as she is but may be the most stylish backpack in her class.

Tuesday night was the back-to-school night event and open house. While Kates had to greet new students and parents in her classroom, I got the privilege of taking Phoebe to her new classroom and introducing her to her two teachers, both of whom we know already through our church involvement -- which I found especially interesting because my preschool teachers also attended my childhood church. ... Oh, I could go on and on about all the parallels I'm noticing from Phoebe's evolving childhood in The 'Ville to the small-town experiences of my childhood.

We arrived after the early rush of kids and their parents, which meant Phoebe pretty much had free reign to explore the classroom and all its toys. Then, she didn't want to leave and played with just about every toy. It wasn't until well after the open house ended, most teachers had left the building and Kates arrived at the preschool classroom that we convinced Phoebe we needed to go home.

And that brings us to today. Kates was up and getting herself ready by 6 this morning. I was out of bed around 6:45, and Phoebe was next a few minutes later. She donned a new outfit that Grandma S. made for her. Kates left to begin her work day by 7:15 while Phoebe and I sat down to eat some cereal for breakfast. Then we tried the ritual first-day-of-school pictures, but Phoebe was being frustratingly silly during the photo shoot. So our pictures of the occasion aren’t so stellar.

By 7:30 we were out the door; her school day starts about 20 minutes earlier now than it did at her daycare -- which, in the terms of our morning rush and getting her ready, will be a huge adjustment. Although, I’m very much looking forward to the prospect of walking into my office before 8 a.m.

When we arrived at the school, Kates had come down from her classroom to meet us at the front doors. We walked Phoebe down the hall to her classroom and waited for a couple minutes with the other kids and their parents before the teachers were ready to open the classroom. After a couple minutes, the teachers stepped out and waved the kids inside the classroom. Phoebe was handed a laminated lunch card. She found a cubby with her name on it and hung her backpack on a hook. She turned to give us hugs. And then she was off and running to play with her new classmates.

A full-fledged preschooler.

* * *

It's been one heck of a memorable summer watching her grow and develop. The changes are happening so fast now, our pace of life picking up, it's becoming harder to reflect on the developments. Though we notice them daily.

For much of the summer she was obsessed with counting and singing the ABCs. There was a period that she counted almost everything with which she came in eye contact. Magnets on our refrigerator. Rocks in our gardens. Buttons on shirts. … She learned to count to 30, but hasn't quite grasped the concept that there is a whole series of numbers between 30 and 100. She counts “… 28 … 29 … 30 … 100!”

She knows how to spell her name and she’s on the verge of learning to write it. She’s got the P, B and Os, but Es are still tough. … And don’t dare call her anything but her name. Whenever Kates or I try a nickname on her, aside from Pheebs, or reference her in a way that doesn’t include her name, she often replies with a decisive, “No, I’m Phoebe!” A few weeks ago, Phoebe brought home a piece of artwork she did at daycare, and the teacher spelled her name on it, Fibby - we're not sure why. When Kates pointed it out to Phoebe, a look of horror spread on her face and then utter despair. When Kates asked her how she spells her name, Phoebe said forlornly, “P-h-o-e-b-e?” She is so proud of her name, and that she’s learned how to spell it, it was as if she feared everything she knew had suddenly changed without anyone telling her.

Another of her favorite past times is arranging objects in rows. It's not rare that Kates or I will leave a room and return to find objects in a perfect line on the table or floor. Puzzle pieces. Plastic foods. Blocks. Stuffed animals. If she’s outside, it’s usually rocks or acorns.

She loves to pretend cooking in her play kitchen. She bakes me cakes all the time -- with ingredients that have included beaded necklaces, shredded paper, crayons and all varieties of plastic foods including hot dogs, chips and fruits.

Her favorite meal these days, hands-down, is a ham and cheese sandwich on white bread from Subway. With apples and a white milk. ... The little girl who used to freely eat chicken and rice and all sorts of vegetables has turned into a picky 3-year-old who would live on hot dogs if we let her. But get her the kid’s meal from Subway and she's usually in her chair and scarfing down her sandwich before Kates and I can pour drinks and take our seats.

He favorite “movies” -- which she calls them whether we’re talking about films or television -- are “Little Einstein,” “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” and “Dora the Explorer,” in addition to any animated Disney or Pixar film. I, for one, can’t wait for the day she grows out of the Dora phase. Ugh. … And then there’s the baseball games, in which, with the Brewers streaking and me watching more games online, she’s started to take a real interest. It’s not uncommon for her to wind up on the couch with me to watch a game, thus delaying bed time.

Yeah, bed time. She’s got the whole “I’m not tired” routine mastered, too. At least three nights a week, Kates and I will get her in bed, only to hear her door creaking open a few minutes later and then see her standing at the top of the stairs, rubbing her eyes. Sometimes we’ll shoo her back to her bedroom; sometimes we’ll let her stay up for a few more minutes. Really, she doesn’t want to miss anything. I realize that every time I see her cuddle up to Kates or I on the couch with that “I know what I’m doing” look. … I pulled that all the time when I was her age.

She has a wild imagination. She has names for all of her baby dolls and stuffed animals, most of which are named after Disney characters. She cares for all of them like they’re true family, and regularly holds deep conversations with them. … She has a wad of yarn that she pulls around the house, pretending it’s her puppy, and she’s named it Cinderella. … She also waves and talks to the sun and moon as if they’re old friends. Seriously, I could go on and on.

The pleasure she takes in such simple things is always a refreshing reminder for Kates and I to slow down. The other night, I walked in the house from work to see Phoebe happily dancing on a sheet of bubble wrap.

Her matter of factness can be comical at times, but the logic in her statements is often more hilarious. Most of her answers to questions start with “Because …” And they make no sense whatsoever. In her responses, she often states the effect before the cause. Question: “Why don’t you want to go outside?” Answer: “Because I don’t want to get wet, so it’s raining outside, and my baby is bery, bery sleepy because she’s bery sleepy and she needs to eat, but she doesn’t feel good, so I don’t want to go outside.”

She’s so independent. “No, I do it!” is one of her most used phrases. She also pronounces bring as “fring.”

And her Phoebe-isms. They come so often, I can't write them down fast enough. But here are few of the best things to come our of her mouth during the last couple months. At least, the ones we were able to write down …

“Don't forget to put sunscreen in the rip in my hair.” (The “rip” she was referring to was the part in her hair.)

“When I'm older, then I'll eat my chicken sandwich.”

Referring to a purse that was stuck around her head and shoulder: “I have a big head that's why I can't get it off.”

Phoebe was talking about riding bikes at preschool, and I asked her what kinds of bikes she rode: “They're red ones like tomatoes.”


For the love of the game

So I recently discovered the wonders of MLB.tv on the Internet.

Let me explain. A few weeks ago I logged on to mlb.com to check some scores and updates when I noticed in the sidebar that the website was offering a free game of the day. I clicked on it -- I believe it was an Arizona Diamondbacks game but don’t remember the opponent -- and, voilĂ , I was watching the game. It was so great!

So then I began checking the site almost daily, eagerly looking to see what teams were playing in that day’s featured game. Meanwhile, the Brewers were getting hot -- very hot. And I started getting a little bummed I couldn’t watch their games for any greater lengths than the Sportscenter highlights.

Now, I’ve always fanaticized about getting MLB TV -- along with the flat-screen TV we're still hunting for to replace the TV that blew up last fall. But I’ve never been able to back up the need for it. And we’ve invested our money, and time, in other things.

Until last week. When I logged onto mlb.com. Wasn’t interested in the free game of the day. And got desperate to catch the must-watch Brewers-Cardinals series. I plunked down my $25 for a month’s subscription to MLB.tv.

VoilĂ , I was watching the game. And I haven’t looked back, having watched every Brewers game since.

Two-of-three against the Cardinals. A sweep of the Pirates over the weekend that ended yesterday in the 10th inning with Nyjer Morgan's sacrifice fly heard round the world.

And now tonight’s 3-0 gem against the Dodgers. ‎Home runs by Ryan Braun, Jonathan Lucroy and Corey Hart. Four terrificly-turned double plays. … And a knock-your-socks-off 4-6-3-2 triple play. According to one tweet, SABR said it was the first 4-6-3-2 trifecta since the Montreal Expos turned one in 1972. Bam! The Brewers have won 17 of 19 and are looking really good standing six games ahead of the Cardinals.

Frankly, as I've watched these games during this run of baseball love, I haven’t been able to concentrate on much else. In fact, since that epic Red Sox-Rays game a few weeks ago I’ve probably watched more baseball than I have in a couple years. And I’m talking about really watching baseball -- no multi-tasking. Just putting other things off, escaping and enjoying the game. Which is both a good and bad thing for my work habits, depending on the perspective.

And, yes, some will call me out for leaving my also-beloved Cubs in the dust. For them, I refer to this 2007 post, and remind you the Cubs, although they have put together a nice run lately, haven’t been worth watching since May. And Carlos Zambrano, c’mon dude. For cripes sake, what were you thinking? The punishment was fair, it’s been a great run, but I hope the Cubs get rid of you once and for all.

* * *
This from the Twitter-verse tonight:
After the #Brewers triple play I thought there's the #1 play on @espn_bbtn & @sportscenter, then Thome hit HR #600 #trumpsall #MLB #Twins
Ah, yes. Good ol’ Jim Thome. One of my favorite players of his era.

I seem to remember my good friend Matt and I having a debate at a Cubs game a few years ago about future hall of famers. When Jim Thome came up in the conversation, I said, hands-down, yes. Matt laughed at me.

Tonight, I’d say Mr. Thome sealed the deal.

Tweeted Joe Posnanski: You betcha.

A couple other favorite tweets …

@SeanyGanc: @SportsCenter is Jim thome a hall of famer? Is ed too tall jones too tall? One answer to both questions... YES! #whatkindaquestionisthat

@Kevin_Goldstein: Jim Thome was drafted in the 13th round of the 1989 draft, when the tough signs were Ben McDonald, Charles Johnson and Roger Salkeld.
And this, I think, is just sad. Man, I loved the ‘97 Indians.

@SI_JonHeyman: interesting thome will be in hall (& maybe vizquel). but arguably bigger indians stars belle, lofton and manny probably wont

* * *
Good baseball reads ...
a How Randy Wolf could win the NL Central
a Phillies, Red Sox and Yankees cement status as game's titans

Whatever happened to 9 to 5?

I couldn't help but nod -- and laugh -- while reading this one today from the Chicago Tribune: Whatever happened to 9 to 5?

To whatever degree a 9-to-5 shift ever existed, it's clearly an inaccurate way to describe the workers of today. Many are in the office by 8 a.m. and stay until 6 p.m. or later, not to mention time spent sending late-night emails from home or typing away on laptops on the train to work.
... To take care of this problem, I suggest we petition Ms. Parton to record an updated version of her Grammy-winning song, one that takes into account the desire of today's workers to keep their jobs in a tight economy. Might I suggest:

"Workin' eight to eight

Eatin' lunch while I am typin'

Let me demonstrate

That you'll never hear me gripin'

Might take my iPad

Along with me in the shower

I'll skip my son's birthday

Working extra hours."

Or something along those lines. Call me, Dolly.


Saturday morning

I've been listening to it for weeks with a smile on my face, and I enjoy it more with every play. NBC, on its nightly newscast last night, declared it the song of the summer. (I've come to love NBC's Friday recaps, too, by the way ...)
I've also added the album to my save list for when my eMusic account is replenished next month.

Some good reads about "Pumped Up Kicks" and Foster the People ... not all so flattering.
a 'Pumped Up Kicks' guaranteed Monday
a Song of the Week: 'Pumped Up Kicks,' Foster The People
a The Problem With... Foster the People's "Pumped Up Kicks"


Stock market roller coaster

I've never been one to check my 401k's value every day or even pay much attention to the stock market. But this week has been hard to stomach even for me.


Gone too soon

All of a sudden I have several friends grieving loved ones.

From a baby born prematurely to a son involved in a bicycle accident. All gone too soon.

And then came the news over the weekend of the 30 soldiers shot down aboard a Chinook helicopter in Afghanistan. I didn't know any of them personally, but I have friends who did. And I have a unique connection with two of them that hit home: One of the young men was a graduate of my high school alma mater; another was a graduate of my college alma mater.

A piece of my heart goes out to all of them.


Heating up

Ooh this is getting good ...

The Brewers are surging. They've won 11 of 12 going into a three-game series against the Cardinals tomorrow night.

Seeing the Brewers-Cardinals scores come in last week, in the Brewers' favor, was pure joy. And the highlights from Wednesday's game topped them all. I shrugged off the pitch that went up-and-in to Albert Pujols. Then it came as no surprise to see the Cardinals plunk Ryan Braun. Ok, that's baseball. ... But I gasped as I watched Yadier Molina light into an umpire.

The Brewers appear the better team in NL Central, for now. (What happened to the Pirates!?). And the prospects are good for the rest of the way. ... But they have to prove they can win consistently and beat the really good teams, like Phillies and, eventually, the Yankees, Red Sox or Rangers.

But seriously, ESPN. I enjoy the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry as much as any true baseball fan. And, yes,
last night's game was another extra-inning thriller. But c'mon, can't you go one Sunday or Monday night without showing a matchup that doesn't involve the Red Sox or Yankees?

White gold

Caught this video on ESPN tonight. Fascinating.


Burned down

So it's been an interesting 48 hours in The 'Ville.

Early Wednesday morning a fire destroyed a historic building downtown. Three businesses downstairs. Nine apartments occupied by 13 residents upstairs. The cause: careless smoking.

It's become quite the attraction downtown. Looking at the damage, it's amazing no one was hurt. ... But it made for some cool pictures. 


The only offer

I nearly cried earlier this week when I saw another concert announcement involving another one of my favorite bands pop up on social media landscape. The Mates of State, those darlings of indie pop/rock, are playing the Turner Hall Ballroom in Milwaukee.

I quickly went to the band's website in search of other dates nearby. And there were none. My heart sank -- again. What is it about Kansas City that repels my favorite bands from stopping here on their tours!? I thought.

And then.

More announcements in the afternoon. And it appeared.

Kansas City. Nov. 15.

I was overjoyed. And tonight I bought myself a ticket.

Concert bucket list. Mates of State. Check. ... Wait, I better not say that yet. Let's hope I don't get sick or something.