Back from the dead

April 29, 2016

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Things have been very quiet around here lately, mostly because work had been consuming my life for the year or so.  The good news is that my work hours have now dropped off significantly (to 40ish, down from 65 or 70 recently).  That should give me quite a bit more time to write.

I’m probably be doing quite a few book reviews at first, because I’ll also be reading a lot more than I have recently.

So, no real context in this post.  Just wanting you to know that I’m still alive.

The Burglar Who Counted The Spoons (Review)

August 12, 2014

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Late late year I (along with several others) was contacted by the publicist for my favorite author, Lawrence Block.  Would I like to receive an Advance Review Copy of his forthcoming book.  Absolutely!  I’d read the book and then write a review soon after.

Life got in the way, as it tends to do.  Winter gave way to spring and then summer, and no review.  By that point, I had forgotten some of the key points of a book I had throughly enjoyed.  So I did the only logical thing – I read the book again.

Over the years, Block has often remarked that fans of Bernie Rhodenbarr are the most, er, persistent in wanting to know when the next Burglar book is coming out.  I try not to harass the man, but I’ll admit that I’m one of the Rabid Rhodenbarr Rooters.  I enjoy many of Block’s series character, but Bernie is far and away my favorite.  The Bernie books are lighthearted, even when the bodies hit the floor.  This book hit the (virtual) shelves in record time, thanks to Block self-publishing the book.

The main characters return in The Burglar Who Counted the Spoons.  Carrying the bulk of the load are Bernie and his expository device best friend, Carolyn.  Policeman Ray plays a supporting role, as usual.  Spoons is a departure from previous books in that Bernie never finds himself under the investigatory glare of Ray.  Ray actually leans on Bernie for his professional advice in an attempt to solve a murder.  At the time, Bernie is actually engaged in a series of thefts for hire, but we don’t have to tell Ray about that.

True to form, Bernie’s love life also takes some twists and turns.  The poor guy never seems to be in a relationship very long, but not for lack of trying.  I’m sure this time he’ll end up in a long-term relationship, right?

A key aspect of any good mystery is that the author is able to hide the solution from the reader until the end, while still playing fair.  That is, the author will leave a trail of crumbs that make it technically possible to piece things together, given the right mindset – but not enough of a trail to make it easy.  Spoons succeeds in this regard.  I was following each independent thread, knowing that they would come together at the end, but unable to piece it together. Then Bernie lays out the facts at the end, and it all makes perfect sense.

Another benefit of a Lawrence Block book is that you will learn something while reading his books.  In the case of Spoons, you learn about U.S. history.  I have a solid base of knowledge of our nation’s history, but I learned quite a lot.  I’m not usually the type to sit down and read a history book, but I do enjoy a spoonful of learning in the midst of a fiction book.

Juneau Lock?  Oh, I think you will.

You can buy the paperback version for $12.90 or the Kindle version for $4.99.  If you’re a member of Kindle Unlimited, you can download it for free.



What’s going on

October 26, 2013

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I’m not writing nearly as much as I have in the past.  That’s because life has been really busy lately, mostly with work (no, I don’t get overtime pay).  I’ll try to write more regularly.

I got an early Christmas present on Wednesday.  My favorite author, Lawrence Block, announced that he has a new book, The Burglar Who Counted The Spoons, due out on Christmas day.  Fifteen minutes later, I received an email from his PR person, asking if I would like an advance review copy.  Do I want a free copy of my favorite author’s new book, two months before it goes on sale?  Absolutely.  The $10 I save is nothing compared to to joy of getting the book early.  This is the third time in a row that I’ve received a free copy of a Block book.  He or his peole have always offered – I’ve never needed to sweet talk anyone.  I’ve reviewed several Block books on this site in the past, and also profiled him.  Sometimes people take notice when you show an appreciation for their work.

My 2nd and 3rd favorites teams are facing off in the World Series.  That’s pretty cool.  I wore my Cardinals Matt Holliday shirt over the weekend and received several compliments.  I don’t actually have any Red Sox apparel.

The Dominican Winter League is also kicking off.  I was attempting to learn some Spanish prior to the start of the season, but that plan flopped due to lack of time (see paragraph 1).  After a couple attempts to stream Licey’s game from their web site, I realized that for whatever reason, it wasn’t working on my iPhone 3GS, despite the fact that it worked on my Mac.  I paid $1.99 to download the Lidom Movil app, and eventually figured out to “Click acqui” to get the live streaming.  By then, I was only able to catch the final inning of the game, which Los Tigres won.  If you’re a baseball junkie, consider following the DWL.  The experience is probably a lot better if you understand more than a dozen words of Spanish, but even with that limitation, it should be fun for me.

I’m fairly active on Twitter these days.  I’m always a bit surprised at the people who seem to take great joy in bashing a well-known person every chance they get.  It seems very weird that someone would follow a person that they don’t even like.  There are a number of baseball announcers that I dislike, but I don’t Twitter-stalk Joe Buck.


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Why Does DiMaggio’s Family Want Hannah’s DNA?

August 22, 2013

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James DiMaggio is the man who kidnapped Hannah Anderson after killing her mother and brother.  The sister of the killer is now asking the family to provide the DNA of Hannah and her brother for DNA testing.  Why?  Because they believe DiMaggio may be the biological father.  For the record, the family states that Hannah’s mother didn’t meet DiMaggio until she was six months pregnant with Hannah (which is difficult to independently verify) and that the body of Hannah’s brother Ethan was identified via a DNA match with his father (easy to independently verify with the police).

When I first read about this, my first reaction was “What the hell are they thinking?”  I don’t understand the logic of putting a grieving family through this.  You’re essentially accusing the dead woman of adultery, and to what end?  There may be more complexity to this situation than was immediately apparent, but that doesn’t mean you can just start making demands of the family.

I discussed the topic with a friend, and his response was that it had to do with family honor.  If DiMaggio was the biological father and the murders and kidnapping were the result of an argument about visitation rights, the perception might be that he’s somewhat less evil than a guy who didn’t have a “reason”.  I don’t buy this logic on a couple of levels.  First of all, regardless of the motivation, he killed two people.  I don’t see killing the mother of your child and your child as being less evil than killing a family friend and her son.  Even if this is something that would improve the public perception of DiMaggio, doesn’t it make sense to weigh the possible gain for your family against the hurt you would be causing the victims’ family?

I’m not a lawyer, but I don’t see where DiMaggio’s family has any legal basis to force DNA testing.  If DiMaggio were still alive and his status as biological father would help his case, I could see some logic that this is exculpatory evidence and might possibly be basis for a subpoena (again, I am not a lawyer).  However, since DiMaggio is dead, there won’t be a trial, so this would seem to undermine the basis for a subpoena.

The stated reason is that the family is curious about why DiMaggio left $110,000 to Hannah and Ethan’s aunt.  They find it “strange” that this was done, and are wondering if Hannah and Ethan are his biological children.  Well, there are other explanations for such a bequest, and idle curiosity isn’t a particularly good reason to be requesting a DNA test.  Curiosity be damned – it’s none of your business.

My advice to the Anderson family – tell the DiMaggio clan to go pound sand.

All Star Game Reactions

July 7, 2013

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The media tells us that fans don’t really care about baseball’s All Star Game.  I’m the counterpoint to that – I loved the All Star Game as a kid, and I still enjoy it today.  The ability to see all the great players congregating in one place makes the event bigger than the Super Bowl for me.  I’m not particularly interested in ancillary activities like the Home Run Derby – I’m all about the game.  Here are my reactions to this year’s game.

Rockies Representation

My Colorado Rockies will send three players to the game.  Troy Tulowitzki was the runaway leader at shortstop, despite losing a month to a broken rib.  Tulo will start a rehab assignment tomorrow and might play in the game.  Outfielder Carlos Gonzalez is having a tremendous year and was also voted a starter, as Justin Upton’s lack of May/June production caused him to plummet in the late voting.  Finally, outfield Michael Cuddyer was elected by the players.

Yasiel Puig

The single biggest story surrounding the All Star game is whether or not Dodgers rookie outfielder Yasiel Puig will be in the game.  Puig has only a month of service time in the majors, but he has been arguably the best player in baseball during that time.  That has sparked a lively debated.  Proponents of adding Puig to the roster argue that he’s clearly a star.  Those opposed to his inclusion say that he hasn’t paid his dues.  At the moment, he’s a candidate on the Final Man vote and will most likely be added to the team.

Roster Size

Each team will have 34 players who will be eligible to play in the game.  Additionally, there will be several players who don’t count against that total – players who are injured, or pitchers who pitch in a regular game next Sunday and opt not to pitch in the game.  This means that each team will have around 40 players in uniform for the game.  Have 80 “All Stars” stretches the meaning of the term a bit.

I’d be in favor of a small roster of 25 active player and a hard cap of 30 players suited up for each side.  To accomplish this, MLB would have to do away with the rule that every team must be represented.  Their argument is that fans are more likely to watch if they can watch one of their team’s players.  Of course, as the roster has swelled, a lot of these players sit on the bench for the entire game.  It’s simply not feasible to work 34 players into the game without making the game six hours long and pretty much making a mockery of the process.  If you want to force the inclusion of all teams, make it a rolling 2 or 3 year schedule, where each team is guaranteed a player in specific years.


Who is going to win the game?  The National League, of course.  (Naturally, that’s my prediction every single year)


Cereal Racists, Broken Ribs, and Pringles

June 17, 2013

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You may have seen the Cheerios commercial where the cute kid dumps the Cheerios on the dad.  Many people have seen the ad and reacted with outrage – because it features a biracial family.  Next year marks the 60th anniversay of the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education decision and it appears that there are still many who are fighting for segregation of races.  Segregation of races in a TV commercial, no less.  We have serious problems in society, but there are people who consider the mixing of the races to be an import issue???

I love the fact that I entered college just as the internet was exploding in popularity.  I have met a great many people online over the years.  I met people from the inside out.  In the early days, digital cameras and scanners weren’t nearly as common as they are today, so you might chat with people on a regular basis for weeks or years without knowing what they look like.  Even today, I am a teleworker for a very large company and almost exclusively interact with people via audio conference.  It’s not uncommon for me to work with someone off and on for several years before I meet them in person.  You’ve heard the phrase “it’s what’s inside that counts.”  That’s what I’m interacting with – the person’s ideas and personality.

Socially, my preferences is to interact with people who share interests with me.  Race, gender, sexual orientation are irrelevant.  If you have an interest in baseball, dinosaurs, or true crime, I’ll want to chat with you.  I want to interact with your mental characteristics, not your physical attributes.


The playoff hopes of the Rockies took a hit when shortstop Troy Tulowitzki broke a rib on Thursday the 13th.  Tulo, who was in the midst of an MVP-caliber season, will be out until at least mid July.  The Rockies are currently just a half game behind division leading Arizona.  The Rockies need to find a way to tread water while Tulo is out.  Help may be on the way in the form of Roy Oswalt.  Oswalt was signed to a minor league deal recently, and was sharp in his last outing for AA Tulas, suggesting that he may be in like for a promotion to the big league.  Drew Pomeranz may be close behind him.


I’ve been a longtime addict of Pringles.  I could easily eat an entire can at a sitting.  However, I am now cured of this addiction.  Kellogg recently bought Pringles from Procter & Gamble.  In addition to jacking around with the size of the container, they’ve also changed the taste of Pringles.  The taste that I was addicted is gone … replaced by a “blah” taste.  The winner in all of this is Frito-Lay, as Funyuns have jumped to the top of the heap.

Controversy At The Masters

April 16, 2013

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This was one of the crazier Masters of recent memory.

Controversy #1

Tianlang Guan started off the controversy of the week. The 14 year old Amateur from China, was penalized for slow play. This is the first time ever a participant has been penalized for slow play in the Masters, and the first time on a tour event since 2010. Hopes were high in Guans’ home country of China – which is a phoenix rising from the ashes for the future of golf. (my cousin is there working on golf course design literally as we speak).

On Thursday while trying to make the cut, Guan was paired with Ben Crenshaw and the seeming old man from Italy, Matteo Manassero, who is also a young up and coming golfer on the world scene – mainly on the European Tour. The dominoes all started falling on hole #10, when the group was told they were out of position. For you “non” golf followers, this means get your act together and pick up the pace.

Again they were warned on Hole #12, and Guan was put on the clock. This effectively means you have 40 seconds or less to play your shot, once arriving at your golf ball.

He was warned that he was exceeding the time limit of being on the clock, and received an official warning on Hole #13. He was again warned on hole #16, and finally after exceeding his allowable time on his 2nd shot on hole #17 by what was quoted as “a considerable margin” he was informed that he would be penalized one shot for slow play.

Crenshaw and Manassero both admitted they could have likely stressed the significance of the situation a bit more to him, but they also agreed that there was no question he played very deliberate at times.

Crenshaw and Manessero, both veterans know how to work the system. You get warned, they bring an official over to time you, you pick up the pace of play, and then the official leaves….once that happens you dust back off the tortoise pace and continue on your way with your sun dial 6 ½ hour round that is made for television.

Problem is, Guan is just 14, this is his first big stage event, and hey we are playing Augusta National here…..I am sure he wanted to take a little extra time while playing certain shots. The problem is, he was not well versed enough to know when to kick it into second gear and get the transmission out of idle.

Controversy #2

Where would we all be in golf without Eldrick Tont Woods?

Round #2, right in position where he wants to be, lays up on 15. In a great position, Lets a lob wedge fly….right at the flagstick


Back into the water.

Tiger takes a drop, hits another shot, and gets it in the cup for a bogey. If he misses the flagstick, his golf ball likely ends up mere feet away from the cup and most assuredly would have resulted in a birdie.

And then there is the invention of HDTV.

An anonymous person “calls” in and reports a possible rules infraction of an incorrect drop. It appears that Tiger had mis-applied the drop based on rule 26-1. This applies to a yellow staked water hazard, where you have three options.

1. Play the ball from the drop area – decided against this one, he did not like the angle to the green.

2. Drop the ball, keeping the point where it last crossed the hazard between the hole and the drop spot, with no limit as far back as you can go. Problem here is that the ricochet off the flagstick would make that line much more to the left side of the fairway from where Tiger’s drop took place.

3. Return to the original spot and take a drop as nearly as possible to the original spot from which the ball was last played. – This is what he admittedly did….except….

Tiger freely admitted in a post round interview that he intentionally went back an extra 2 yards.

The Masters Golf Tournament Rules committee reviewed the tape and determined that he had breached the rule, but then imposed a relatively unknown and seldom used rule. This being put in place a few years ago after a similar call in incident disqualified a golfer for signing an incorrect scorecard, after it was deemed –again by a call-in viewer – that a rule had been broken.

There will be a lot of debate if Tiger should have gotten this ruling, or should have been DQ’d. I for one think he should have told the Masters Committee, “thanks for the favorable ruling, but, I need to disqualify myself based on what I see in the footage”

Of course I don’t expect a guy chasing 18 Majors to remove himself from competition in one, but it would have been the right and proper thing to do. In a tournament filled with history, integrity and honor, this would have been the most honorable out.

Instead he played well, but missed a lot of chances, and finished 4 strokes back and tied for 4th place.


The overlooked story is that Adam Scott, in spite of making absolutely nothing with the long putter until #18 and then again on the 2nd playoff hole at #10 to win the coveted Green Jacket, take home his first major championship, and get the monkey and critics of his inability to win a big one, off of his back.

Likewise, props to Angel Cabrera, who gutted it out down the stretch and hit the best approach of the day on #18 to about 3 feet to set up the tying birdie and force a playoff. Cabrera lost the tournament in my mind when he forced the issue on #13. He hit an iron out of the pine straw and into Rae’s Creek when he really could have hit a lay-up shot and still played an easy wedge into the green and set up a likely birdie opportunity. He had the lead by 2 strokes at the time….and likely did not need to make this play.

But we will never know for sure.

Until next time…Stay Classy Adelaide, Australia.


March Madness Continues!

March 28, 2013

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Weekend #2 of March Madness starts tonight. Gone is the first week of play in games, followed by 32 more games, a bunch of missed days at the work place, long lunches and last minute entries to office pools.

This is also the week that most of the urologists take a week of vacation after performing so many vasectomies last week…..

B1G Rules!

All year long I have thought the B1G 10 was a bit on the over-rated side. I have watched most of these teams play in person, and was not overly impressed with anyone other than Ohio State. (I do coincidentally have “THE” making it a long way in the tourney) Upset wins by Minnesota in the first round, followed by Sweet 16 appearances by Indiana, Michigan State, Michigan and Ohio State shows the conference has flexed their muscle.

I still think Indiana is really not as good as advertised, but the next round of games will really tell the story. Wisconsin is a team that many predicted would do much better than one and done.

In the NIT tourney, the Iowa Hawkeyes have also made a nice run and are headed to Madison Square Garden for the Final 4 of the NIT tourney. The Hawkeyes who had a 20+ win season, but had a poor strength of schedule and some horrible losses have changed their ways. A team known all year to lose the close one and let games slip away late, have found ways to win.

Planting Seeds

The biggest seed left is Florida Gulf Coast. This is the first #15 seed to ever make the round of 16. The Eagles have impressed and excited fans across the country with their high flying playground style of play. They play fellow sunshine state team – Florida in the next round. This will be a much bigger step up for FGCU, will the glass slipper still fit?

LaSalle was a #13 seed and is also in the round of 16. They get this far after winning three games, including the play in game win over Boise St, the upset of Kansas State in the round of 64 and by beating Mississippi, who knocked of Wisconsin. Now they get Wichita State, who disposed of Gonzaga. The Explorers have had the easiest time of it as a few notable teams and higher seeds have been knocked off on the way up the ladder. The Shockers out of the Missouri Valley, played second fiddle to Creighton but ultimately get the last laugh on against the boys from Omaha- as they remain in the round of 16, while Duke send the Blue Jays packing last weekend. Look for LaSalle to continue the dream and make the Elite 8.

Oregon is the only other double digit seed (#12) that is still around to play. Oregon likely was seeded to low, and they have shown that the ducks are a force to be reckoned with as they have beat Oklahoma State and St. Louis fairly easily. That all stops now as they play tournament overall #1, Louisville. Oregon will play them tough, but the only department they will win during this match-up is ugliest green uniforms.

I like Louisville, but secretly am rooting for Ohio State

And on the Women’s Side….

Normally in the Women’s NCCA tournament, the chalk is pretty much what you go with. That makes the local Huskers a good story. A #6 seed making the Sweet 16 on the women’s bracket does not happen very often. Matter of fact, only 4 #6 seeds advanced this far, with no seeds any higher than that making it. LSU, Oklahoma, Delaware and Nebraska keep the hopes alive for the “higher” seeds.

Nebraska is also the only remaining B1G 10 team remaining in the tournament. They play the Blue Devils this round who are 30-2. Like most years the teams left standing at the end are likely to include Notre Dame, Connecticut, Stanford and Baylor.

It is Baylor’s to lose.

Until next time, stay classy Fort Wayne, Indiana

My Preeclampsia Experience (Part 2)

March 14, 2013

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here. And now, the conclusion …

It was very hard being in the hospital. I didn’t get much rest in the hospital. A nurse or nurse’s assistant came in my room every 4 hours to take my vitals. Then a nurse would come in after that to give me medicine. Other medical people or staff came in other times too throughout the day. I hated it when people came in and saw that I was sleeping and then left. They woke me up so they should have stayed and just let me know what they wanted. This happened even when I had a sign on the door that said “Mommy is sleeping”.

It got depressing at time being in there all the time. I didn’t feel sick and I wanted to go home. It was difficult.

I told myself that it was better for me to be in the hospital than for my little daughter to be born and in the hospital. I could go on a 30 minute leave from the Mother / Baby Unit on a wheel chair ride. My husband took me on a wheel chair ride most days. We would sit outside or just go down hallways when it was raining.

When I got close to 34 weeks, the doctor told me that since baby and I were doing ok, that I was not going to have my baby at 34 weeks. My next goal was to get to 37 weeks. This is the longest they will let go when you have preeclampsia. It was kind of a letdown, but at the same time, it was great news. My baby had a better chance of surviving and being ok.

My blood pressure started going up again. I was at 36 weeks 3 days. My OB was the doctor on call that evening. She came in to see me. She recommended that I have a scheduled C-section the following morning. She said she would perform my C-section if she was fresh in the morning and that if she didn’t get enough sleep during the night (since she was on call) that she would have the doctor that was on duty in the morning perform my C-section. Luckily, she delivered my baby the next morning.

My baby scored 9 out of 10 on the APGAR test twice. I thought she would be ok and go to the newborn nursery and not the NICU. I didn’t get to hold her or touch her. I got to see her for a few seconds and the nurse took her away to the transition room to see if she would go to the newborn nursery or the NICU. My husband asked me if I wanted him to stay with me or go with our baby. I told him to go with our baby.

I was moved to a labor and delivery room. I was put on a magnesium IV that I would need to be on for 24 hours to help control my blood pressure so that I did not have a seizure. This is the standard protocol for preeclampsia. My husband came in without my baby. She was sent to the NICU for various reasons. I could not go see her since I was on the magnesium IV and she could not come to me since she was in the NICU. If she had gone to the newborn nursery, she could have came to my room even though I was not in the Mother/Baby unit where the nursery is located.

I was monitored heavily for the next 24 hours with someone coming in my room every 15 – 20 minutes. The only picture I had of my baby was on our camera on a very small screen.

About 27 hours after my baby was born, I finally got to go see her in the NICU. I was in extreme pain from the C-section and being immobile for over 24 hours. She was the most beautiful baby. Of course every parent thinks that about their own child. Unfortunately I didn’t get a room in the Mother/Baby unit since she was not in the nursery and all the rooms were full. I had to be in a room 3 floors from her. I didn’t get to go see my baby very much over the next 4 days due to my health issues and because I was on a different floor. My husband slept in our baby’s NICU room. He got to feed her and change her diaper. I couldn’t get up there to do those things. After 4 days of being in the NICU, she was able to move to the newborn nursery! I finally got moved that night into the Mother/Baby unit with my baby.

The next day my blood pressure was still high. The high risk OB let me go home though even though it was over the limit they said it could be to be discharged from the hospital. I went home on blood pressure medicine. I had to monitor my blood pressure at home and take medicine for a while.

My baby was enrolled in a preemie program to monitor her until age 3. That program monitors preemies and provides development assistance when needed.

I realize that both my daughter and I could have died from preeclampsia. I didn’t realize that then since I felt fine. I never felt sick from the preeclampsia. I am very grateful that my daughter is now a healthy, active, and healthy 5 year old.

My Preeclampsia Experience

March 13, 2013

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