Manny Ramirez signs with Tigers

February 27, 2009

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[Disclaimer: this is a work of fiction. The author has taken dramatic liberties with the personalities of any real person portrayed within this story.

Note: when reading this, keep in mind the fact that the exchange rate is roughly 100 yen per 1 US dollar]

The Soap Boxers has had some well placed sources eavesdropping on the Manny Ramirez situation. As a result, TCO is the first media outlet to bring you this breaking news – Manny Ramirez has signed with the Tigers.

No, not those Tigers. The Hanshin Tigers of the Japanese Central League. TCO sent our Chief Observation Officer, reporter Scoop Chevelle, to the Ramirez compound to get the inside information. When Scoop arrived on the scene, Manny was dressed in a kimono, resting in his Lazyboy and sipping some red sake.

Scoop: Manny, I must say that I am shocked at this news, as is the rest of the sports world. It really seemed to come out of nowhere. Why did you decide to sign with Hanshin?

Manny: Well, Scoop, they offered me a three year deal at thirty million yen per year. Thirty million! I was having a lot of difficulty getting the Dodgers to give me even twenty five, and then Hanshin drops in with an initial offer of thirty. Needless to say, I was very impressed. I was able to negotiate the deal myself – I didn’t even involve Boras in the deal.

Scoop: Are you sure that it was wise move to negotiate the deal without an agent?

Manny: Yeah, I saved a few bucks cutting Scott out of the deal. He takes a big chunk of the money.

Scoop appears to be on the verge of making a comment, then thinks better of it and remains silent.

Manny: Also, they’re naming the stadium after me. Very cool.

Scoop: How familiar are you with the Japanese culture? Do you expect to have any difficulty adjusting to a new country?

Manny: Me, have trouble adjusting? No, way, man. I’m like a chameleon. Manny the chameleon is what they called me in Boston. I blend in wherever I go. I’m really looking forward to experiencing the Japanese culture. I love egg rolls and fortune cookies, and I’m anxious to see that wall that everyone is always talking about.

After wrapping up that interesting interview, Scoop jumped on TCO’s private jet and flew across the Pacific Ocean to talk to Hanshin manager Akinobu Okada.

Scoop: Congratulations on signing Manny Ramirez, Mr. Okada.

Okada: Thank you Scoop. We were actually pleasantly surprised at how quickly we were able to negotiate a deal with Mr. Ramirez. We think we have a deal that is fair to both sides.

Scoop: Manny mentioned that Hanshin will be naming the stadium after him. Is that really true?

Okada: That’s not quite true. We’re actually naming the field after him. We will play on Manny Ramirez field at Koshien Stadium. You might say that we’re taking a page out of the book of your Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Scoop: What do you expect from Manny? Do you anticipate any problems with his adjustment to the Japanese style of baseball?

Okada: We think that Mr. Ramirez can really help strengthen our offense. Hanshin not won a Japan Series since 1985 nor a Central League title since 2005. Our fans deserve a title. We feel that signing Mr. Ramirez gave us the best chance to win. We certainly don’t expect any problems with Mr. Ramirez’s adjustment. The American players typically adjust fairly quickly to the mindset that the players must always follow the orders of the manager. We foresee a quick adjustment for Mr. Ramirez.

Scene shifts to TCO Studio

Scoop: Well, there you are, folks. After months of wooing Manny, the Dodgers had him stolen away at the last minute by Japan’s Hanshin Tigers. The addition of Manny should put Hanshin in a position to battle Central League juggernaut Yomirui for the league title.

Teens girls pimping schoolmates

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CNN.com has a disturbing article about two 16 year old girls who pimped out other girls at their school (age 14 to 17). They rented an apartment for the sole purpose of setting up sexual liaisons – in essence, running a brothel.

The girls are being tried as adults – one girl faces thirteen felony counts and the other girl faces four felony counts. The grandma of one of the girls (the one facing four counts) is stunned that they are being tried as adults. Personally, I’m not surprised that they are being tried as adults. This was not some childish prank or someone unable to control their childish anger. There was a level of sophistication that you do not typically see in juvenile cases.

There are a lot of disturbing angles to this story. I’ll touch on just a few.

The girls that were recruited
These girls recruited 14 to 17 year old girls with the promise of lots of cash. They claimed that it would be a better environment for the girls, since they wouldn’t beat them up like a male pimp might.

Did any of these girls stop to think for a minute and realize that they were placing their lives in the hands of 16 year olds? Teenagers aren’t always known for having the best judgment. Who knows that sort of guys the prostitutes were being set up with. Then, of course, are the obvious dangers of STDs. Teenagers also occasionally overreact to perceived slights. What if one of the prostitutes has unknowingly insulted one of the girls – would they have intentionally put her into a dangerous situation?

These girls should have seen lots of red flags.

The customers
Granted, we’re not talking about model citizens here. And perhaps the 14 year olds really looked like they were 18. But at some point, people were finding out about this brothel by word of mouth, and this word of mouth likely originated at the high school. It’s possible that all of the customers were high school kids, but it seems likely that some older men were involved. Apparently, some of the kids who were spreading the news thought it would be a good idea to create a situation where the men would be committing statutory rape (note: the article does not mention anyone being charged with statutory rape). These men might want to reevaluate the people who are giving them advice.

The families
How did everyone overlook the warning signs that something odd was going on? At the very least, they were probably spending considerably more money than they had in the past . The one girl was staying with her grandma after leaving her mom’s house – perhaps this caused things to slip through the cracks a bit.

The school administrators
They were actively recruiting girls and the school administrators didn’t hear any gossip about this? At some point, you would think that a girl would have rebuffed their offer and reported it to the authorities.

The landlord
These girls rented an apartment to use as their brothel. How, exactly, do two 16 year olds rent an apartment? I would think that their credit history (or lack thereof) would have raised some red flags. Perhaps they paid an older friend to rent the apartment for them. In this case, that “friend” should have been curious why they wanted to rent the apartment. Did they pay with cash every month? Again, this should have raised a red flag. Complaints from neighbors about strange men coming and going at all times of the night? Red flag.

Tax issues
Taxes are probably the least of their worries right now. However, income from illegal sources is fully taxable. If they don’t claim the income on their tax return, the IRS might also take a swing at them. Additionally, there is the question of whether or not the girls they recruited were independent contractors or employees. Does the fact that a brothel was used (as opposed to having the girls find their own accommodations) tip the scales toward employee? In that case, they would have been responsible for withholding income tax and FICA.

Modern technology in banks

February 26, 2009

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Cameras

For years, I have been frustrated by the apparent lack of interest that banks have shown in security cameras. Any time video or photos were shown on TV, the images seemed to be grainy. This always seemed odd. If any business were going to invest in high quality cameras, wouldn’t it be the business that is trying to protect a vault full of cash?

In October, a local bank was robbed. The security photos were awesome. The images were crystal clear, and the robber was even nice even to turn to the side and give the camera a nice view of his profile. Someone actually correctly identified the robber within the comments section of the TV station’s web site. The guy was a local. (Hey, maybe consider robbing a bank more than 20 miles from your house?) Needless to say, it did not take long for the cops to arrest him. Just one day, in fact. They managed to find him in possession of they money, which tends to help the criminal case a bit.

Hopefully more banks will move to higher quality cameras.

Trick doors

In January, a bank robber in Ohio got a bit of a surprise when he tried to flee the scene. After he passed through the first door, the teller flipped a switch the locked both of the double doors, trapping the robber in the entryway. The glass doors were bulletproof, so the robber could only wait until policy arrived to arrest him (of course, this particular robber didn’t have a weapon, anyway).

Not only is this a cool way to stop the robber dead in his tracks, but the bank might even making a profit selling the video to COPS. The robber’s first few frantic minutes running around inside his cage could be quite entertaining.

Sports roundup

February 25, 2009

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Baseball

Rockies
Today is the first game of the season for my Colorado Rockies! We play our hated rivals, the Arizona Diamondbacks. Sure, it’s a “meaningless” spring training game, but I am absolutely stoked to finally have games. This also means that I need to resubscribe to MLB audio so that I can catch all the games this season (it’s a bargain at $14.95!).

I definitely will be watching a few battles during spring. Rockies top prospect Dexter Fowler will be in camp, and I’m pulling for him to win the centerfield job. I want Ian Stewart to somehow win a starting job. Preferably, this would be at 3B, although this would probably require a trade of Garrett Atkins, which seems less likely since the Twins have now filled their 3B void by signing Joe Crede. Stewie might end up at 2B or in the outfield. With SP Jeff Francis out for the year, a lot of players will be competing for jobs at the back end of the rotation. I’m hoping that Franklin Morales can harness his talent and make the team. And of course I want to see my favorite player, SS Troy Tulowitzki, get off to a hot start.

World Baseball Classic
The World Baseball Classic begins on March 5. Since baseball has been dropped from the Olympics (at least in 2012) this is going to be the best international tournament we see for a while. Many of the top major league players won’t be playing, but there will be some familiar faces. Six Rockies will be participating. Catcher Chris Iannetta and outfielder Brad Hawpe will play for the USA. Rockies pitchers Ubaldo Jimenez (Dominican Republic), Jason Grilli (Italy), Manny Corpas (Panama), and Adam Bright (Australia) will suit up in the uniforms of our enemies.

The WBC is divided into four pools (A,B,C,D) with four teams in each pool. There is a double elimination tournament in each pool, with the top two teams in each pool advancing to the next round (pools 1 and 2). Once again, there is double elimination. The top two teams from each of those pools advance to the semifinals. The champion of each pool plays the runner-up of the opposite pool to determine the finalists.

The USA is in a pool with Venezuela, Canada, and Italy. Here are my predictions. Japan, Korea, Cuba, Mexico, USA, Venezuela, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico advance to the second round. Japan, Cuba, USA, and Dominican Republic advance to semis. Japan loses to Dominican Republic in the finals.

Taipei and South Africa could be on the wrong side of some really ugly games. Pool D is probably the toughest, top to bottom. It features the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Panama, and The Netherlands (which includes the Netherland Antilles).

Manny watch
Manny Ramirez and the Dodgers continue their negotiations. Manny originally wanted 100M over 4 years. However, with the economy being in the tank, the Dodgers being his only serious suitor, his reputation as a malcontent, and his age (36), there is absolutely no chance of this happening. We’re about five weeks away from the start of the season, so it’s about time to end this game of chicken.

Football

Vikings
My Vikings are apparently on the verge of trading for Houston Texas backup QB Sage Rosenfels. Sage and I share an alma mater (Iowa State) and I am a big fan. He was the QB of a 9 win season in 1999 – the first 9 win season since 1906. It would have been 10 wins if not for a bad call on a field goal at the end of the game. I’m not much of a fan of current Vikings QB Tarvaris Jackson, so I would love to see Sage take the starting job away from him.

Bad first impressions
Last week was the NFL’s scouting combine (“the combine”). For those of you who might not be familiar with the combine, it is an event where all of the top college players get together in one location. They are measured, weighed, interviewed, given an IQ test, and put through a variety of physical drills (weight lifting, 40 yard dash, and everything in between). This is the opportunity for players to make a strong impression with the scouts. It is an extremely important day for these players.

Perhaps not so important for Alabama offensive tackle Andre Smith. Smith had previously been touted by some experts as a top 5 pick. He showed up at the combine overweight, with the explanation that he got a late start with his training. He didn’t offer an explanation (such as an injury the impaired his ability to train), leaving the scouts to wonder why he got a late start. After all, he had been suspended for Alabama’s bowl game for violating team rules (red flag) so he basically had 3+ months to focus on getting ready for the combine. Smith then abruptly left the combine early.

Smith definitely left an impression on the NFL personnel, albeit not a good one. Some people are suggestion that he will fall to the late first round or early second round. The average first contract (multiple years) for a late first rounder is about $20 million less than the average first contract of the #5 pick.

Now Smith admits that he didn’t handle things very well. Of course, a good media skewering tends to get you to look in the mirror.

Injury
The top wide receiver in the draft, Texas Tech junior Michael Crabtree, was unable to compete in the combine due to a stress fracture. He does not have blazing speed (but does possess awesome talent in every other area) and he could have erased some doubts with a fast 40 yard dash time. The injury may cause him to fall in the draft. I personally think that it would be a serious mistake to pass up Crabtree. While it is true that he benefited from a pass-crazy offense at Texas Tech, Crabtree has crazy skills and could be a special player in the NFL.

Drivers who drive me crazy

February 24, 2009

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I have one “housekeeping” item today: I’ve been playing around a bit with the RSS feed, and it appears to be working properly. If you have already subscribed and don’t seem to be receiving updates, you might need to unsubscribe and resubscribe.

Parking space hog

Parking spaces can be hard enough to find to find, especially when people take up two spots so that their precious vehicle doesn’t have to be anywhere near the vehicles of the unwashed masses. In one particularly gutsy case, I saw a vehicle taking up eight spots – it was parked at a 90 degree angle to the correct direction and was straddling the midpoint line that divided the halves of row of spots.

Last minute mergers

The flashing signs say “construction 2 miles ahead, merge left” but these drivers decide to keep going full speed ahead until the last minute, at which point they try to force their way into the left lane, to the great annoyance of people who played by the rules. The message they’re sending is clear – their time is more important than ours.

Left turn on red

They’re not only running a ripe red light, but they’re making a dangerous left hand turn when the cross traffic has the right of way. They’re an accident waiting to happen.

Too fast one ice

The road is a sheet of ice, and these drivers are zipping from lane to lane at 70 mph. Take traffic conditions into account when you’re driving.

Too slow on ice

These folks take a good thing too far, driving 20 mph when there are light flurries. A rear end collision is inevitable.

Traffic jam honkers

Traffic is backed up for a mile, and people at the back of the traffic jam begin honking. Seriously, I have 100 cars ahead of me – what do you really expect me to do?

Griffey goes home (again)

February 23, 2009

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They called him “The Kid” and “The Natural”. I was coming of age as a sports fan in the late 1980s, at a time when Ken Griffey Jr. was breaking into the major leagues and establishing himself as an elite performer.

Griffey broke into the major leagues at the tender age of 19 and had a strong rookie season, hitting .264 with 16 homers in 127 games. During his eleven season with the Mariners, he became one of the most feared hitters in the game, recording six seasons of more than 40 home runs (including two seasons of 56). Griffey also compiled a .300+ batting average in seven of those seasons. He won ten Gold Gloves awards for his spectacular defensive play. He was also a durable player, having at least 500 at bats eight times between 1990 and 1999. He was the American League Most Valuable Player in 1997 (.304 with 56 homers and 147 RBI).

After the 1999 season, at the age of 30, Griffey signed as a free agent with the Cincinnati Reds. This was not simply a case of selling himself to the highest bidder. Griffey had grown up in Cincinnati, and he wanted to play in his home town. With 398 career homers at such a young age, Griffey seemed like the heir apparent to Hank Aaron.

Griffey’s homecoming started out with 40 homers and 118 RBI in his first season with the Reds. Unfortunately, this is where the injuries began to mount. After 520 at bats in 1990, he had a total of 1027 at bats in the next four years. The fact that he was able to hit 63 homers is so few at bats, while recovering from injuries, is actually fairly impressive.

Griffey bounced back with 35 homers in 2005, 27 in 2006, and 30 in 2007 as he continued to fight through injuries. in 2008, he struggled through a season in which he hit .249 with 18 homers for the Reds and White Sox.

The man who hit .300 seven times in eleven seasons in Seattle managed to do this just once in the next nine seasons (.301 in 2005). The man who won ten consecutive gold gloves in Seattle has never won another.

Injuries and the approach of father time have robbed Griffey of his once elite skills. With 611 homers, he will not catch Barry Bonds. With 2680 hits, he may not even reach 3000.

At the end of the 2008 season, Ken Griffey Jr. became a free agent. His decision came down to a choice between Atlanta and Seattle. Atlanta would seem to have a stronger core of players for 2009. However, Ken Griffey Jr. once again decided to go home – this time to Seattle, to once again play in front of the legions of fans who adore him.

Train of thought

February 22, 2009

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Click on the photo to see a larger version

This photo is one of my all time favorites. I had just moved back to Iowa a couple of months earlier, and I had the day off from work. It was a beautiful day in March, and I jumped into my ’99 Taurus and hit the road. I drove north to Guttenberg and headed down the Great River Road – a road that hugs the mighty Mississippi River.

It was a leisurely drive, and I stopped in several towns along the way to admire the view, enjoying a burger and fries at a Dairy Queen along the way.

Eventually, I reached my turnaround point – Bellevue. I stopped at Bellevue State Park (Nelson Unit) to walk around before driving back home. The park has nice view of the river, as you can see from this photo. You can still see some bits of snow and ice on the river. I really liked this scene, and was ready to take some photos. At that point, I noticed the train. It was in the distance, and it was stopped. I waited a half hour for the train to finally start moving. The end result was this photo – the train snaking through town, against the river backdrop.

Good things come to those who wait.

Why aren’t people helping Nadya Suleman (Octomom)?

February 20, 2009

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As you probably know, Nadya Suleman is the woman in California who recently have birth to octuplets. Typically, when a family has experience a large multiple birth, there is an outpouring of support from the public. This has not been the case for Nadya. In fact, a recent survey by USA Today showed that only 25% of people were sympathetic.

Nadya says that she is being unfairly criticized because she is a single mother. Is this true?

In a word, no. There are a couple of aspects to her situation that would turn people off, regardless of the marital status of the parents.

Lack of honesty

Nadya’s original story does not seem to be holding up. She originally said that she was going to raise the octuplets (and their six siblings) on her own and would not be on welfare.

Later, media outlets found out that she is receiving SSI benefits and food stamps for some of the six older children.

Then we found out that the hospital was requesting reimbursement from the state of California.

Then we saw the website requesting donations from the public. (I have made a conscious decision not to provide a link to the web site.)

Is this your definition of raising kids on your own?

If she didn’t walk to speak to the media, that would have been fine. But once she starts talking to the media, there is the expectation of honesty.

Apparent disregard for others

Nadya’s other six children are all between the ages of 2 and 7. At an age where kids need a lot of attention from their caregivers (apparently Nadya and her parents, in this case), there was already a lot of competition for the attention of the caregivers. At this point, Nadya chose to have eight eggs implanted, guaranteeing a situation where the kids would have to fight even more for attention.

Nadya’s parents are ten months behind on her mortgage payments and face foreclosure. For those of you who are good at math, you would realize that they were behind on payments at the time the eggs were implanted. I guess it is possible – but probably not likely – that Nadya is not receiving financial support from her parents (meaning that she wouldn’t be the direct cause of the financial trouble). However, she and her fourteen kids are living with her parents. This means that Nadya’s parents really don’t have the option of downsizing to a smaller house. I feel bad for her parents, as they are in a very awkward position. If the foreclosure goes through, a family of sixteen could be homeless.

It simply seems that Nadya may not have been considering the best interests of her children or her parents.

I hope I am wrong …

I really hope that Nadya does find success in her career field when she finished college. I also hope that the fourteen kids all have strong, positive relationships with their mother. Unfortunately, I am a bit pessimistic about that possibility.

Lawrence Block author profile

February 19, 2009

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One day in the waning years of the last century, my friend Linda S loaned me the book Burglars Can’t Be Choosers. This small act has had a big impact. This book introduced me to Bernie Rhodenbarr and his creator, the author Lawrence Block. Over the course of a decade, he has become firmly entrenched as my favorite writer.

Block has several majors characters, and I ended up reading dozens of his books. First, let’s take a look at his characters.

Bernie Rhodenbarr

Bernie is a bookstore owner. He is also a part time burglar (thus all of his books contain that word). Bernie is semi-retired from the profession (mostly due to a distaste from the “free government housing” fringe benefit of the job). Nowadays, Bernie only takes the occasional job from a friend (or friend of a friend).

Unfortunately for Bernie, he has a tendency to stumble across murders, and usually ends up as the prime suspect. He has to figure out who the real killer in order to get off the hook.

Bernie’s books also feature his friend Carolyn (a lesbian who owns a pet grooming service) and his cat, Raffles. The books are very funny, and are my favorite of Block’s books.

There are ten books in the Burglar series, published between 1977 and 2004. I have read all of them. We should be seeing another one soon, right?

One of the books was turned into the movie “Burglar”, starring Whoopi Goldberg. Don’t blame Block for the movie, though. He didn’t like it, either.

Matthew Scudder

The Scudder books are a complete 180 degree turn from the Burglar books. The Burglar books are quite funny, whereas the Scudder books are devoid of humor.

Matthew Scudder is a former cop who now works as an unlicensed private investigator. He is also a sober alcoholic, so he generally finds the time to attend a couple of AA meetings during the course of a book.

The Scudder books have a tendency to be violent, especially when he is hanging out with his friend Mick Ballou, a bar owner/criminal (probably not the best situation for a guy fighting alcoholism, but Mick is an old friend). Scudder’s moral compass tends to point fairly close to north, though. He does some bad things, but he does them for the right reasons.

Scudder’s significant other is Elaine. Elaine and Scudder have a long history. They met when Elaine was a high priced hooker and Scudder was a young cop. Midway through the series, we are introduced to TJ, a kid with street smarts who proves very valuable to Scudder.

There are sixteen books in the Scudder series, published between 1976 and 2005. I have read all sixteen.

Evan Tanner
Tanner served in the Korean war and suffered a serious injury. The result was that the “sleep center” in his brain was damaged. This means that Tanner never sleeps – literally.

Tanner ends up as a spy, where his ability to be awake all the time is very useful. Tanner’s job take him all around the world.

I’ve read a couple of the Tanner novels, but they didn’t grab me. They weren’t bad, they simply didn’t have that ge na sais quoi of the Burglar and Scudder novels (those guys set the bar pretty high). I actively read a billion authors (well, maybe twelve) and Tanner’s books just miss the cut, unfortunately.

There are eight novels in the Tanner series. Seven were written between 1966 and 1970, and the last was written in 1998. That book – Tanner on Ice – features Tanner being awaken from a cryogenic state.

I have not read all of Block’s book. Here are some of his other characters:

Keller – A professional hit man. I have read one of the Keller books. They just aren’t my type of book. There are four Keller novels, published between 1998 and 2008.

Chip Harrison – There are four books in the Chip Harrison series, all published between 1970 and 1975.

Paul Kavanaugh – There are three books in the Paul Kavanaugh series, published between 1969 and 1974.

Other novels – Block has also written a variety of novels (and novellas) that are not a part of a particular series. Some of these have been published in collections. This is a great way to acquire multiple books for a good price.

Books for writers – Block has written four books for writers – Writing the Novel from Plot to Print (1979), Telling Lies for Fun and Profit (1981), Write for Your life (1986), and Spider, Spin Me a Web (1987). I have read Telling Lies and Spider, and they are great books for the aspiring writer.

Enough Rope
Enough Rope is a collection of short stories. It is a massive book, nearly 900 pages in hardcover. I originally received a paperback version of this book as a gift. I quickly realized that this book would be a companion for life, and purchased the hardcover copy (lending the paperback copy to the communal library at my office). You will see many of the characters from Block’s novels also appear in the short stories, as well as several stories about lawyer Martin Ehrengraf. If you’re not sure which of the Block characters you will like, this book would be a good place to start.

There are also a lot of free-standing stories in the collection. All of the stories can be read in one sitting. Two of my favorites are Cleveland in My Dreams and Funny You Should Ask.

If you only purchase one Lawrence Block book, buy Enough Rope (I would recommend buying several books, of course).

The man
Lawrence Block is now 70 years old. In addition to writing, he competes in distance walking (24 hour races, marathons, ultramarathons). You can buy signed copies of his books – and keep up with his exploits – at LawrenceBlock.com

Lawrence Block

Enough Rope

Use it or lose it

February 18, 2009

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Studies have shown that keeping mentally active can help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. The best way to accomplish this is to adapt a lifestyle of learning. How do we do this? I’ll show you what I have done. Hopefully you can springboard from these ideas to other ideas that may work for you.

Games

There are a lot of activities that can be fun and also give your brain a workout. I have developed an addiction to the Facebook game of Wordscraper, which is a derivation of Scrabble (the developers of the game were sued by Hasbro, and a settlement was reached). I play 10-15 games at any one time (it is turn-based, and games usually take several days to complete). In addition to giving my brain a workout as I attempt to figure out the best word to play in a situation, I learn new words from the other players.

Around the lunch table at work one day, four of us were talking about how much we enjoy playing Trivial Pursuit, but that we were unable to find people to play against. Shortly afterward, I brought a game into the office, and we started playing games during lunch (keeping track of the game’s status with sticky notes). The players have varying strengths and weakness, and there are occasional sidebar discussions that can be quite entertaining and educational.

For about a decade, I have played in fantasy baseball leagues. Baseball, in particular, lends itself to lessons learned from economics – particularly maximization of utility. Do you take guy with a lot of stolen bases and sacrifice home runs? Do you ignore saves and focus on the other categories? The successful players have to make difficult decisions during the course of a season.

Try some new magazines

For about a decade, I have subscribed to two types of magazines – sports magazines and computer magazines. I have a variety of interests outside these two areas, so I decided to subscribe to some other magazines in order to expand my horizons.

After a bit of browsing at Barnes and Noble, I decided to subscribe to Popular Science and Archaeology.

Popular Science made a lot of sense, because it’s full of cutting edge science (such as a man soaring across the English channel on a jet pack). Although I don’t have an academic background in science, it has always interested me. For years, I tormented people with my idea of wireless electricity (imagine all the clutter that could be eliminated by getting rid of cords). On the day that MIT researches announced that such a beast existed (which they call WiTricity), I got about a half dozen emails from friends, with the basic message of “hey, you’re not crazy after all”.

I’ve always had a slight interest in archaeology, but the fiction books co-written by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child have ignited it into a larger interest. Some of Preston and Child’s books are based in the southwest, which is a hotbed of archaeological activity. Archaeology (the magazine) covers a lot of different topics within the science of archaeology. The stories of tomb raiders and other thieves hold the most interest for me, but I find myself reading most of the other articles as well.

Write

Not only can writing be a cathartic release, but it also forces you to organize your ideas into coherent thoughts (although this might not be apparent from my own writing). You can write for public consumption (this blog, for example) or simply write in a journal.

Read

Reading, of course, is the old standby when it comes to mixing entertainment and education. Find a subject you like, and start reading again. I love mysteries, which add another dimension of learning, as I’m always trying to figure out the mystery before I get to the end of the book. If you can’t make the time to read, consider audio books. Audio books have the added benefit of making the commute a bit less monotonous. Librivox.org has a great selection of classic books available in electronic format at no cost (although they do accept donations).

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