Friday, June 07, 2002

Within acceptable bounds of conformity, I am a rebel.
All dressed and packed for my weekend trip. The execution and timing of this both reflect traits I get from my mother: Procrastination but astonishing packing skills.

Well, not that impressive: As usual I pack light. The blessing in disguise last February was that forgot to bring toiletries to Portland with me. A quick trip to Walgreen's later, I had what has become such a well-stocked bathroom kit that I never again have to worry.

Anyway, about the title. My desk at work is messy. Apparently this adds character to it, aside from the e-mails now and then asking people to clean their desks to prepare for important visitors. (I sort of half-heartedly obey these missives.) My approach to the morning commute is very hit-or-miss. Punctuality is not my strong suit. The problem with this is that, whether true or not, it can easily come off as lack of respect for one's peers or even bosses. Then again there are easy ways to mitigate this:

Try as much as possible to keep things within bounds, or at least be inconspicuous if not contrite.

Show your concern (and respect) for co-workers by always being available to answer their questions and being considerate and polite as you help them through their problems. Your own problems can wait, as long as nobody's blocking on you, until the early-evening when the office is relatively empty.

My supervisor at my first real job (the baseball statistics) shaped my office persona for good or bad. More to the point he let me be who I am. He had a very high tolerance for arriving somewhat late, as long as people didn't abuse this. He strongly encouraged everyone to ask any question they had, no matter how stupid. He placed near 100% emphasis on results. Every night we had a job to do, and the whole point of being there was to do it and do it right.

I always cringe when I hear people say that you shouldn't ask questions or hint that other people's time is too valuable for newbies.

Anyway, I'm out the door now. Most likely the next entry will be Monday.

Thursday, June 06, 2002

The comments widget: Superfluous?
People rarely if ever use the comments box. This isn't a complaint, just an observation. When people do comment, I'm less likely to see the comment than if someone had e-mailed me with the same thing. (John's comment about the What's Better adult subserver, for example.)

To me it looks as though (other than being an impressive gadget) the comments widget is useful only for some of y'all to see what other of y'all had to say about these posts. Is that in fact useful?

I'm thinking of removing the comments links. I'd love to know your opinion one way or the other; feel free to click the comment link on this post (below), or just e-mail me, either way.

Also, should I be spam-guarding my mailto links? The Yahoo! box is probably a lost cause but it's also by far not my primary account anyway. Those of you who know my work e-mail, you know that (at least if I'm at work) that gets far more immediate attention.

(Downside: Sometimes if I'm at home or wherever, I neglect to check my work e-mail, or even if I do check it, when I'm at home the most convenient way I can write BACK to my work e-mail is actually via Yahoo!)
Phone Warez
Ordered a cell phone on Wednesday, eight days ago.

The confirmation that I was supposed to get in e-mail within 24 hours, I just now received this morning.

It's as if Sprint PCS decided to take a week off.

Now that at least I have confirmation info, I won't rant so much. (I deleted the previous rant.)

This weekend will suck a little but worse things have happened.

Wednesday, June 05, 2002

Mandatory Metallica
As I listened (volume quite soft) to KSJO's nightly 10 p.m. Metallica block, Matt mentioned that Metallica had played a secret gig last night at which they began the set with four straight Ramones covers. Go trivia people!

About to drive home now. By my count, counting Joon's place twice, I've pulled up to and stopped my car in front of six Berkeley house/apartment places tonight, all within a span of five hours. You can make it seven if you count my "cameo appearance" here (blogging alone has made it 45 minutes instead of five).
In other baseball today
The Giants and Red Sox both put on routs for my listening pleasure, between the Bonds slam and the Motown smackdown. Combined score: 23-2, coincidentally the single-game score of Tuesday night's Twins-Indians massacre.

I think there's a fixed amount of total goodness and total badness, though. Fantasy baseball is suddenly going sour for me, thanks in large part to the breathtaking Hideki Irabu flameout. (Perhaps better illustrated here.)
"We never score when Score is up!"
SEA 0 2 0 0 0 2 0 0 1 - 5 13 0
OAK 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 - 0 4 0

WP- Moyer (5-2)
LP- Lidle (1-6)

I may never again go to Dollar Wednesday. Basically I feel myself becoming ever more of a snob about ballpark seating. Also, today's game (which I decided to go to no more than about half an hour in advance) was one that I paid less attention to than most games.

'Twas Joon, Andy Penner, Matt Levine, and myself: The three of them arranged it via Berkeley quiz-bowl, then I got on in the last minute, resulting in Joon getting ride both ways and Andy and Matt getting a ride back.

So I really wanted to borrow Win Shares from Mike Develin. Actually from Joon since it's his copy but for whatever reason Joon has left it at Mike et al's place for weeks on end. Neither Paul nor David were home and Mike was going to be leaving his place by 6:30. So I had to catch him before he left.

(Well, I didn't have to catch him, but suppose I really really wanted to read Win Shares ASAP, which I do. Except that I probably won't tonight.)

This worked out very conveniently in that it also meant I gave a ride home to a co-worker, sparing her from walking to and from a bus in heels.

The best part is, I honest to gosh really do want to read Win Shares. The worst part is that the A's lost tonight and Cory Lidle takes forever on the mound.

The even worse worst part is that it's going to be Lidle on the mound on Monday, when I sit in my usual high-roller seats again with TBA.
I'm writing this from Vectiv but only because I was on my way back from an A's game and the computer here is faster. Also, since I took off surprisingly early this evening, wanted to be sure nothing broke in my absence.

I wonder what this week will mean to me next week, a month from now, a year from now. I've been very busy but it's a good kind of busy. Actually "busy" is the wrong word. Got a lot done at work Monday and Tuesday in a situation where there appeared to be the risk of crises snowballing. What happened instead:

1. A ton of bugs seemed to fix themselves all at the same time around 5 p.m. Tuesday. (More to the point, the root cause of various and sundry bugs suddenly became obvious. Fixing the root cause not only made the bugs go away in practice but also could be shown in theory to be the correct fix.)

2. Nobody of note is on vacation this week. Contrast this to early to mid May when seemingly everyone was on vacation.

3. It's easier to wrap up an overdue release than to fix problems on code already in production. This is true almost by definition given that the stuff in the overdue release is already mostly done. (The existence and timing of that release also contributes to why now is much much better than May, since instead of a 2 vs. 2 on Major Things To Do it's really more of a 2.75 versus 1.25.) Also, paradoxically it's easier to prepare to go live for a customer than it is to prepare for a trade show demo. Or is it? Hard to tell and I'm too lazy to elaborate either way.
Kitten Hamburger vs. Cat Driving Toyota
Ah, What's Better?
Here's a good link on Pure Quality Starts
PQS straight from the horse mouth. The page appears to be non-login.
A new one-line record for exclusively non-alphanumeric characters?
(excluding comic strip obscenities)

"I smile, give you a knowing wink and ask, 'was that from Slashdot?'"
My workload is suddenly astonishingly light.
This the weird (but ought to be expected) consequence of having an insanely productive Tuesday. No crises are happening. Knock on wood.

Tuesday, June 04, 2002

People named after subatomic particles.
I thought I knew two of them but on further review topquark seems not to count, since it's a handle that he chose for his on-line correspondence rather than a moniker foisted on him at birth.

But I do still know one of them, since Vectiv's newest employee was named after the neutrino. Had she been a boy, her name would actually have been Neutrino; instead, because of the English language's gender-specific name endings, she is Neutrina, or just Trina.

As stories of names go, this makes me very happy. There's an outside chance she's brilliant; it's too soon to tell. Factors in her favor:
The daughter of a physicist has almost certainly inherited some intelligence.
Her alma mater (UC-Berkeley) sets a high floor for her intelligence.
I claim her lefthandedness gives her a higher expected intelligence but I probably exaggerate here.
Most of all, for her to have gotten a job so fast in the current market suggests that she's outstanding on paper.

Factors working against her: They didn't actually hire her as a techie. Rather, she's on the implementation team, doing QA for now. The fact that they plan to rotate her through assignments (all within the implementation team, though) leads me to believe that perhaps she has a bright future. Or just that they want her to have breadth, take your pick.

I'm deeply curious what her background and talents are.

She is Asian, which probably enhances my belief that she might be extremely smart.
A guy with earrings and an alcoholic
(Not literally an alcoholic; nonetheless it's someone whose drinking skills are well known throughout the league.)

SEA 0 0 0 0 2 1 1 0 0 - 4 11 0
OAK 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 - 1 5 0

WP- Garcia (7-4)
LP- Harang (1-1)
S- Sasaki (13)
HR- Mabry (1)

Box Score | Recap | Game Log

I had the rare pleasure tonight of simultaneously heckling Arthur Rhodes and Kaz Sasaki as they both warmed up. The fun part is that I have both of them on my highest-profile fantasy team.

Line of the night (not from me): Hey Kaz! Shinjo's dating your sister!

Afterwards I couldn't decide whether it would have been inappropriate to recite lines from the Mr. Sparkle commercial.

Mike D. expressed grave concern tonight, lamenting that "the A's lost tonight because Seattle is a better team." We came to the game hopeful about Aaron Harang. We still have great hope, at least I do, but tonight Freddy Garcia outpitched him.

Both were equally good until the fifth. In the game's defining moment, with runners at first and second and nobody out, Harang fielded a bunt and tried to get the force at third but was too late. Mike and I were adamant that the uniquely correct play was the safe one, the out at first.

For all that, Harang did in fact get a quality start, as barely as possible. (In his case exactly three runs and exactly six innings.) For those of you who subscribe to Baseball HQ (and if you don't, you don't know what you're missing), where did Harang rank tonight in Pure Quality Start terms?

Given that I kept the AL Starting Pitcher Logs last year (still in an Excel file somewhere around here), I still remember the formula for this. Let's see...
At least six innings? Check.
One or fewer HR allowed? Check.
At least N-2 strikeouts for N innings? 5K in 6IP, so check.
Fewer hits than innings? 5H in 6IP, so check again.
The only thing he's missing is the K/BB ratio (5 to 3), but still, a 4 PQS start is pretty darned good for your second major league appearance, especially if your debut was a 5.

Harang is a keeper!
The Lance Berkman human interest stories just keep on coming.
A couple weeks back I blogged about USA Today's feature article on Berkman, praising it as human interest sports stories go and comparing the straight-up USA Today site with the smarminess of ESPN. Lo and behold, ESPN Magazine now has a smarmy Lance Berkman profile.

The two callers I'll always remember from my years at Howe Sportsdata: Jason Dellaero's* father, and the Lance Berkman fan. Dellaero's dad called so often, pumping us to get free info instead of paying for some report package, that at one point the day crew specifically instructed the night crew to refuse to tell him how his son had done unless he signed up for something. (These days with the Internet I think he could track cumulative stats on the Baseball America site. It's unclear how this has affected the SportsTicker business model vis a vis the former Howe Sportsdata.)

The Berkman fan called far less often, but often enough that I remember him. Perhaps it always happened to be times when I was around. My two current working theories are that it was his dad or (seems a lot more far-fetched) that it was Berkman himself.

*- if you know of Dellaero (White Sox system) as the former shortstop converted to pitching then you follow baseball way too closely

Monday, June 03, 2002

Paradoxically, what keeps me from caring too much about fantasy baseball
Is just being in too darned many leagues. It gets so hard to even keep track of who I'm supposed to root for.
A Rockies Lament
What he said.

Anti-Disclosure: You'd normally expect someone making this complaint to be a bitter rotohead who had loaded up on Rockies hitters. I'm decidedly not that person, at least not this season. Picked up Bobby Estalella as a free agent in one league, had Jose Ortiz as a keeper in another and Ben Petrick keeper in still another but that's about it. No Larry Walker here; no Todd Helton or Juan Pierre or whoever else the big boppers are there.

Oh wait, Jack Cust. Sitting on my bench in a deep league, awaiting his callup if he ever gets one.
I've just been handed Comfort Eagle
I love my co-workers. It almost makes me wonder whether somebody up there is reading this.
Setting new records for rate of blankety-blank
Until now I'd never heard of Cam'ron but his (their?) video is #4 on the Billboard top-5 video chart via RealOne.

The '80s top 40 stream is getting really bad about repeats. Either that or something broke and they started over, but I just couldn't take a second go-round of McCartney and Jackson dueting about "the doggone girl is mine."

But anyway, apparently RealOne doesn't want to broadcast cusswords or something. So that takes out half the lyrics of "Oh Boy." The chart is one soul diva (Ashanti), one rap act (Cam'ron), one Latin (Marc Anthony), a second rap act (P.Diddy), and then the redoubtable Eminem on top to give rap the clear majority and leave good old fashioned rock out in the cold. Guitar? Who needs one?
Copied and Pasted from Instant Messenger...
kubiwan: Ecuador put up a spirited fight for a goal this morning....
kubiwan: but scoring on Italy is, alas, all but impossible
StrategyPattern: 0-0 then? :-)
kubiwan: 2-0
kubiwan: Italy struck quickly
StrategyPattern: once that happens, game over man
kubiwan: yup.....
StrategyPattern: who else in that bracket?
kubiwan: hmmmm
kubiwan: Mexico and Croatia
kubiwan: Mexico won 1-0
StrategyPattern: oh yeah. I have Mexico and Italy advancing, as I imagine everyone does
StrategyPattern: eh, Italy and Mexico to be exact
kubiwan: yup....
kubiwan: well, remember....
kubiwan: Croatia was 3rd at France 98
StrategyPattern: I'd forgotten about that
StrategyPattern: hey, if Mexico goes really far then I want to see Nomar and Mia whooping it up. or just Mia (guess Nomar is preoccupied)
kubiwan: had a 1-0 lead over France in the second half of the semis even
kubiwan: why Mia?
StrategyPattern: Nomar is Mia's "beau"
kubiwan: Mia who?
StrategyPattern: Hamm
kubiwan: ummm...dude....last I knew she was married to a Marine
kubiwan: does Nomar know this?
kubiwan: :-)
StrategyPattern: I think your info is out of date. I'll look around...
kubiwan: damn!
kubiwan: If I knew she was a free agent........
StrategyPattern: And it's been a long time coming. Which, of course, is due to the fact that until recently, Mia was a married woman. Hamm and her hubby, Marine fighter pilot Capt. Christiaan Corry, split last spring and are now divorced.

kubiwan: :-(
StrategyPattern: I agree!!
Fun with data architecture
Thought about this on the way into work: The data model for What's Better? strikes me as both easy and fun. I obviously don't know what they actually do behind the scens but it's not hard to guess.

item_id (primary key)
item_type_id (foreign key)
name (varchar2)
image_path (varchar2)
keyword_string (varchar2)

(The item types are "Geek", formerly "Adult" (they seem to have gotten rid of adult), and whatever the default is)
item_type_id (primary key)
name (varchar2)
code (varchar2)

winning_item_id (foreign key)
losing_item_id (foreign key)

The SQL necessary to update various pages is left as an excercise to the reader. For an application of this scale I'd be willing to bet that their servlet (their CGI? Based on the URL, it's Python, a language I currently know nothing about) hand-rolls its own SQL.

But, like, you may have noticed a big change in the top rankings in the last week or so. For my part, I noticed the adult stuff is gone.

Presumably, they also deleted from the Vote table (or equivalent) any comparison for which either entry was an "adult" item. Hence the upheaval.
I like the concept. Templates are a pain in the ass to update anyway. Time to remove the "recent music" from the sidebar given that I haven't updated it in months?

By the way, my actual current NP: Barry Manilow (no kidding!), Read Em and Weep, a song I'd never heard before.
Visualize Seething Resentment
I listened to some of the fourth quarter of this game on the way to the Afghan place. I was tempted to stay in the car and hear the rest but I'm glad I didn't.

Worth nothing here that I'm not even really a basketball fan, and yet this still strikes me as easily the most distasteful of the dynastic teams of any major U.S. sport. Even before I moved out here, even the Yankees didn't annoy me nearly so much.

I dislike the "winter" sport finals enough already (mainly resentment that they encroach all the way into June) without dwelling on the fact that it's two dynastic wannabes against two relatively uncharismatic Cinderella wannabes. Okay, I guess I can root for Carolina given that their color analyst is Tripp Tracy, my old classmate. But New Jersey? Nope. Gah.

Maybe they'll both be sweeps and the NBA and NHL will return to the obscurity they deserve.
Double Your Minigolf Context
By reading this weblog (alas no permalinks -- note also that whoever MAtt is, isn't me). It just now occurred to me that Cindy had a link to her. Hmm, Cindy has no link to me though. Probably just as well.

So there were exactly two women in the group today: Susan, and the woman described by her. Susan I've known for years (but well enough to call her Susan? I have this strange urge simply to write "Groppi" -- this vaguely relates to a rant that will come either at the end of this entry or in its own entry); that woman is a relative stranger. Come to think of it I remember neither her name nor her boyfriend's name.

The cute couple played in the front foursome. Susan and two Mike's (one who I link to constantly; one who's a big friendly teddy bear but ruins it all by being a Yankee fan) played in the middle, relatively apathetic trio (but who probably had the most fun).

Marshall, Stephen, and I may have been the quietest three people of the ten. Just a very workmanlike trio but we got some nice shots in without being excessively competitive. I wonder if we collectively would have gone faster had the four people not been in front -- they seemed a bit slow. (Paul, about whom I've written here, and Dave Alpert, about whom I probably haven't other than maybe in the Google context or the hosting social events in Cupertino context.)

Despite her mild self-critique, I think Susan would look reasonably good in "that skirt," at least no better or worse than anyone else would. I have to admit that I didn't notice for the life of me whether our compatriot was good-looking. Maybe I screened her out as accessory-to-boyfriend or maybe I had my Asian Filter on. (Please don't be offended, but I often fail to notice either the beauty or the lack of beauty of Asian woman. It's unclear what causes this. Would this be an anti-fetish?) Or maybe everything else about her -- she had kind of a screechy voice, and mannerisms that are hard to describe other than that Susan's entry basically covers it -- made me not care whether she'd be easy on the eye.)

Anyway, I think at some point I saw Groppi prom pictures and was suitably impressed. She strikes me as a very natural-looking person, the sort of person who I find fetching even (especially?) in jeans and a generic shirt, partly because such an outfit fairly reflects who she is. It's possible that all in all I've written myself into a corner tonight.

Oh yeah, my rant!
I think I'll start referring to people, even my friends, on a last-name basis. There's a lot of last-name basis in the product loft at work, where other people may refer to Jake or Eric or Kim or Brian (less often Brian, given that there's both a Brian and a Bryan) but to each other they're a Hobson or a Fain or a Carlson or a Hicks. Guy seems to be the exception, if only because Guy is an inherently fun name given that there's also "guy" the common noun.

What made me sour on first names, perhaps for good, was a quote from this story. (The quote was repeated on ESPN's Astros clubhouse page earlier this week but I don't see it anymore.) Quoth Houston's general manger: "Richard has to get his act together, like a lot of different players on this team, and he has to realize that."

Maybe he didn't mean it that way but doesn't that sound incredibly condescending? It sure did to me, yet I wouldn't have been quite as offended had the quote just been Hidalgo needs to get his act together... Does the difference make sense?

Sunday, June 02, 2002

Curiously, one of my happiest moments was also in Kansas.
Mike Develin rhapsodizes a bit.

Mine wasn't merely also in Kansas but happy for almost the exact same reasons that his was happy. I was northbound on U.S. 169, en route to a chess tournament that took place at Baker College (somewhere near Manhattan). This was July 1994, when I was playing the best chess I've ever played. I was driving my 1968 Chevy Malibu, light green exterior and slightly darker green interior.

I had a boombox in the front seat for when I wanted to listen to tapes (the car had AM radio, no tape deck) but that evening I listened to baseball because it was there. Royals at Blue Jays. I had no particular rooting interest in either team but it was an interesting game to listen to, like the ones I hear on the Internet at work but more special because webcasts weren't available back in 1994. (Also more special in hindsight given that the strike was a month away.)

My happy day had no threatening clouds but was overcast. It stayed light out pretty late, this being summer, but the sun had no glare. Instead there was just a lot of wheat and/or corn, swaying in the breeze, and a lot of straight road.

Like Mike, I think one day I'll ultimately find happiness by myself. It's been forever since I had a nontrivial-length conversation with even my roommates. But I have to sharply disagree with him about something, almost as fervently as I disagree with him about (ahem) the ethics of minigolf price structure. (My last word on that subject: I guess it's no different from paying for one movie ticket and staying within the ticketed area all day. It's still... I guess what really disturbs me is my own inability to explain clearly why it seems wrong.)

Anyway, he writes: if the gloom and doom actually happens, it is what will trigger the withdrawal (whether via running away, becoming a hermit, or suicide -- these are all equivalent from your point of view, or at least i fervently believe that they should be.)

Quite the opposite: If someone kills himself, I know for a fact that any future happiness he feels won't be on this world. Roll the dice on the next world I suppose. But if someone just runs away or becomes a hermit, I can imagine that somewhere he found (or made) the things he likes and is in the process of having a good time. I'd even say, "hey, when it happens, find a way to get the message to me that wherever the hell you are, you're having fun." But the obvious drawback is that then there's pressure (even though it's really trivial) for him to have fun on my behalf rather than on his own behalf alone. Worse yet, he'd have to ask himself: am I having fun?

The best times I ever have are when I don't ask that question. Either it doesn't occur to me to ask or I don't have time to ask or for whatever reason I don't even need to ask.
Friends from College
(Well, sort of, I was the second-oldest in the group, a plurality of whom graduated in 2000.)

I did indeed have a good time minigolfing today (followed by a group meal at an Afghan place in Fremont, hence the entry below this one), although it's a group of people collectively with whom I still feel a bit guarded. Almost unanimously fine individuals but the dynamic of the group (at least its on-line incarnation) often struck me as selfish if not nasty. Has there ever been a clique that didn't take on that form when it was at its worst?

Anyway, wonderful people to spend pleasant time with, if not necessarily people whom you'd count on once your life depended on it. (My minigolf-cheating friend is actually someone whom I'd thought of as relatively well-grounded morally. It's the stupid math major overanalyticism combined with his having way too high a marginal utility of marginal wealth.)

So who would I trust with my life? Excluding family, the first three people who randomly came to mind were Kubi, Joon (who had to miss the minigolf outing because of a weekly church commitment), and Allyson. Take it as a compliment if appropriate; otherwise, don't be offended, it's entirely possible that you (generic reader, or not-so-generic reader) are someone who I should have thought of but happened not to pop into my head.

On a lighter note, I got straight 56's. I have no idea what par was. I was somewhere in the 5th to 7th best range of ten. (We played in groups of 4-3-3.)
Afghan food
I had never eaten such before. As with most South Asian food the focus seems to be on fried rice with meat in it. It's much dryer, though: The sauce is almost nonexistent. In that sense Afghan food is almost the exact opposite of Thai food, with Indian in the middle.

Vietnamese food, at least the kind one gets at a mall food court, seems a lot like Chinese food to me (and unlike Afghan, Indian, or Thai). It's still the Panda Express paradigm: Choose what kind of rice you want, then add N meat selections. Mine on Friday were shrimp and pork.

A very average Vietnamese place used to be across the street from work. I'd always order the five spices chicken. (There's a subtle difference in spice between Vietnamese, Chinese, and Taiwanese.) Now the same space houses an Indian buffet.
Cheating at Minigolf
The way I see it, one of my friends -- he knows who he is -- owes the minigolf place $3.50. Or at least 17/18ths of that, for playing 35 holes for the price of 18.

Everyone else in the group (nine people out of 10) were ethical enough to pay for the second round (we all got the second round half-price anyway), save for one. I'm relieved that this means N-1 of us were "ethical" (I'm amazed: today's the first time I ever heard that word used pejoratively) but it's a bit discouraging that nobody (including me) was willing to say or do anything. I suppose there's the unwritten rule about snitching on one's friends.

An economist would distinguish this from shoplifting by saying that the marginal cost to the club of offering him the "free" round was zero. That would actually be false if we ended up holding up people behind us, though for the second round that seems not to be the case. As far as simple living right goes, it's unclear whether I can make that distinction.

At this point remaining worked up about it serves no purpose, though it's a little sad to realize that this is one less person for me to trust unequivocally. Should anyone be trusted unequivocally? I don't know but I really want to, and will until people give me a reason not to.
At the baseball diamond...
That's where I spent much of yesterday, hence the lack of posts.

Joon, Paul, Mike, and I did the usual: One pitcher, one batter, one shortstop, one left fielder. (Make that a 2B and a RF if a lefty bats; of us four, only I bat left.) Batter gets 20 swings (unlimited takes but it's impolite to be too finicky). Since none of us pitch very well, it's essentially batting practice grooves, often underhand, just for the sake of throwing strikes. One point for each fair ball that reaches the outfield grass, two points if it reaches the wall. "Fair" territory is between the relevant foul line and the line that crosses the plate and mound.

During our second go-round, three other guys showed up with baseball equipment. We merged with them: James, Ryan Quinn, and Ryan (some last name other than Quinn). Looked like about our age. Better players than us -- did as well with a wood bat as we did with aluminum. One of them had a water bottle but instead of water it had rum & Coke. Depending on who hit, we'd have either two IF and three OF or vice versa.

Then these kids challenged us to a game (Paul left right before this happened). Six on six, each side pitched and caught for itself so the other side could have close to enough fielders.

We let them bat last. There was time for four innings before it became too dark to play. Actually it was awfully hard to see the ball from the bottom of the third onward. They won on a dramatic home run by LaDainian Tomlinson. Not the real one or even the fake one (wow: read Joon's biographical note here, it's quite a strong opinion) but at least a guy wearing his jersey.

These were exceptionally skilled youngsters. They said they were the "Richmond All-Stars."

So I'm rapidly losing the ability to tell the age of anyone younger than me. This may be especially true for non-white people. Then again, through high school, every school I went to was about 50% black and I can't remember how well I knew anyone's age even then.
Can we boycott this new Crank Call show?
I see two major reasons to make a point of avoiding it:
1. The cable network that's running it bought up a ton of Internet banner ads. I'm sick of seeing those ads.

2. More importantly, crank calls as a concept are inherently unfunny, at least to me. Your mileage may vary. Exactly two groups of people have gotten mileage out of them (not counting Bart Simpson at Moe's expense):
A. Jerky Boys ("where are they now?")
B. overrated morning disc jockeys

And on that note, Howard Stern doesn't do crank calls, or at least didn't as of 1999. (It's been years since I heard more than two minutes at a time of his show.) Since there's probably nothing Stern wouldn't do if it made for good radio, I infer from this that he thinks crank calls make for bad radio, or at least inferior radio to what he can do.

Okay, never mind, I just remembered he's the one with all the fans who call up other talk shows just to sneak his call screener's name onto the air. But that's them, not Stern himself. I give up. People think the stupidest things are funny sometimes.