May 31, 2009

In play, (runs)

Friday night I finally had another softball game. Last week there were no games because of Memorial Day, and I missed the week before that to judge the battle of the bands in Mount felt like a completely new season this week since it had been so long since my last game. We played at 6:30 at Olbrich Park, which is a nice place to play. The sun was pretty intense behind first base - but there weren't any mosquitoes, so no complaints here.
No complaints about the game, either. I led off again, and this time didn't do anything radically stupid on the basepaths! I started the game off with a single through the right side, but got stranded at first. Oh well. I played center field most of the game, but I think the other team hit maybe one ball to the outfield...nothing happened out there. Pretty boring.

My second at bat came in the third inning I think. Our team had a pretty successful second, so we were up something like 5-0. In the third, I was up fourth. I batted with one out and runners on first and third base...I took a pitch up in the zone and lined a solid shot into center field. Eric stopped at second, so I had to stop at first (probably for the best). The next batter grounded to third, where the other team got the forceout. I was standing at second with two outs as the batter hit a grounder to the third baseman. I am not exaggerating here - she beat me to the bag by ONE STEP...and I sort of hit the brakes about five feet from the bag so I didn't run into her and hurt somebody.

My last at bat was in the fifth with runners on first and second, one out. We were leading 10-2. I stepped into the pitch and pulled it down the right field line for a two-RBI triple (briefly entertaining thoughts of bolting for home before I decided otherwise). Unfortunately, the next two batters couldn't get me home, so I ended the day stranded at third.

Eat at Joe's (1-3)
3/3 1.000 1.000 1.667 2.667 0 0 3

6/8 .750 .750 1.000 1.750 2 0 3

One cool thing about this game was that the opposing team's manager was blind. Twice in the game he came up in the lineup, so they brought out a tee for him to use to hit. He had somebody run with him to first base, and somebody was ready to run for him should he reach safely. Both times he grounded into a forceout at second. It was a cool situation that I've never seen in a softball game before.

May 28, 2009

Rule 3

Thomas B. Marlow is back with perhaps his most controversial rule to date.

Rule 3: Temporal Limits on Pie Consumption, or When Not to Eat Certain Pies.

There is an undeniable link between certain times of the year and what pies are eligible to be eaten. Sometimes, as in the case of strawberry-based pies, the link is primarily agricultural. Fresh ripe strawberries are tops - if you can somehow manage to not eat them while you're making your pie, props to you. Other limits are based more on aesthetics rather than, you know, logic. Regardless of my motivations for determing the vagarities of Pie Law, Marlow's Laws are not to be debated.

There are several pieces of information that jump out from this primitive graphic. First, I think it's clear that under no circumstances is it ever okay to eat Banana Cream Pie. Gross. It would be much preferable to just eat a cream pie and a banana separately. Come on.
Pumpkin Pie is acceptable - even suggested - from October 1st until December 1st.

Apple Pie immediately before Pumpkin, Pecan immediately after...these are all logical.

Cherry Pie is to be eaten on a family vacation to Door County, Wisconsin in mid-August. Otherwise, pass.

Blueberries are gross, but I can almost understand eating them in a patriotic-themed pie around Independence Day. Maybe.

If you wanted to twist my arm, I could probably be convinced to make Pecan Pie a year-round item.

May 26, 2009

Font of Knowledge

On Friday night, I got into a discussion (argument) with my friend Kelly about fonts, of all things. Apparently she's not a big fan of Helvetica or Times New Roman. I don't really care about TNR - but it does have its place. Helvetica, on the other hand, is pretty and doesn't deserve to be hated.

Anyway, this isn't meant to be a defense of one typeface or another. It did remind me of a really helpful mapping tool called TypeBrewer. A grad student at UW-Madison created this site and it's a great way to get a template for your map typography. It's pretty cool just to play with the sliders too :)

May 24, 2009

Whiffleball Match 1

Thursday Joe came to town and we played a game of whiffleball - 6 innings -3 balls is a walk. 2 strikes and you're out. After we had established the distances for doubles, triples and home runs, we started. I was the visiting team, so I batted first. I've had a lead in a whiffleball game with Joe now!! I had a twelve "run" outburst in the top of the first, and actually didn't cough it up right away. The game did go downhill from there; I think I lost 28-19 or so. Some highlights/lowlights:

In the bottom of the first, Joe was batting left handed as 'Craig Counsell' (yes, we adopt the lineups of the Cubs and Brewers. No, we're not 13 years old.) and had a hilarious swing and miss. I must have thrown a pitch with a lot of movement into a left handed batter, because after Joe swung and missed the pitch it hit him square in the crotch. Solid comedic moment. Nasty pitch.

Sometime when I was pitching, Joe popped up a pitch behind me and to my right. This was during one of my rough pitching innings, so I really needed to catch the ball. Outs were not coming along too often. Anyway, I ran back (yes, as 'Ted Lilly') to catch it. I briefly had it in my hands but I was an idiot and dropped it. To make matters worse, I lost my balance and fell - right into some dog crap. I got up and thought to myself, "That's weird. My hand's all muddy, but the ground isn't that wet. Huh...oh. OH NO come ON!"
This is where the 'imagining we're cubs v. brewers' thing falls apart - they don't have dog poop at wrigley field (unless you count Neal Cotts! ZING!)

After the game we threw some more pitches back and forth, and let's just say that next game is mine. We found out that I have a little Mariano Rivera-esque cutter (minus, you know, the velocity. And effectiveness.) and a huge sweeping Randy Johnson slider (early vintage Randy - you know, with absolutely no idea where the pitch is ending up). Once I use these new pitches and hopefully learn to lay off the pitch 6 inches off the outside corner, I'll be unbeatable!

May 19, 2009

Rule 44: How to Toast the Perfect Marshmallow

Recently I have discovered that the proper method for roasting marshmallows is not universally agreed-upon. Here we will set it straight.

Rule 44: The Perfect Marshmallow

The Perfect Marshmallow is a vital component of any backyard barbecue or bonfire or camping trip. Holidays that are likely to include toasting marshmallows are Memorial Day, Flag Day(?), the Fourth of July, Labor Day, and any gorgeous summer weeknight. However, the enjoyment of these holidays can be marred by improperly toasting one's marshmallow. The Perfect Marshmallow is gently toasted until golden brown on all sides with a delightfully gooey interior. This might take patience, but the end result is well worth waiting for.

Under no circumstances is the marshmallow to be plunged into the fire, ignited, and left to burn to a black char.
In my experience, burning the marshmallow is a clear mark of a toaster who lacks the skill and artistry of proper marshmallow toasting. Despair not, friends! It can be learned - I will give marshmallow toasting lessons for the low fee of 1 half bag of marshmallows. Call for details.

Feasting on the Lake

Sunday, my roommate Greg graduated. In honor of this momentous event, I was given a blank check and complete control over the party menu. I had spent the week before getting the menu lined up and fairly planned out, and looking back at the was as close to perfect as we could have hoped. The food turned out really well, everybody was really happy for/proud of Greg, and the weather was sublime. I was pretty anxious about cooking for the party - did I get enough food? Did I pick the right food? Would I be able to make the food well, and would people enjoy it?

Historically, when I've planned things like this, they've tended to, ah, not go all that well. From all sorts of hare-brained schemes with Joe to the ill-fated "Green Man Group" performance in French class to carving a chicken in the extended stay hotel in Green Bay this year, I have a history of not executing my plans as well as I imagine them.

But Sunday was different. Everything worked. Here is the menu that we enjoyed:
Shrimp Ceviche
Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
Artichoke Dip
Smoked Salmon Spread
Caprese Salad Skewers

Tequila Lime Chicken
Mahi Mahi with Mango Pineapple Salsa
Vegetable Kabobs with an Herb Garlic Marinade
Garlic Chili Grilled Shrimp

The entrees were served right off the grill, with a bed of rice available if people wanted it.

Summer Fruit marinated in White Wine and Mint

You can see pictures from the day and also from a a sunday afternoon two weeks ago here. One of the things about the menu that I really enjoyed was that I bought probably 90% of the food in the produce section or from the fish guy at copp's. None of it was pre-prepared, unless you count me cooking at 2:30 sunday morning.

What really made the day perfect was Alissa calling me at 6ish and inviting me to Cosi to help her eat s'mores - that, I believe, is going to deserve it's own post however. Some issues arose focusing on proper cooking treatment of marshmallows!

May 14, 2009


I have had an epiphany this week up here in Green Bay. If (when) this archaeology thing doesn't pan out, I believe I may have found my next line of work - but it's more than that. It might be my calling.

While Krysta and I wait for Rodney to put his boots on, or check the map, or mess with the key or something, I have begun to practice balancing my shovel on my boots. It's way more fun than it deserves to be. Anyway, so far my personal longest time balanced is 9ish seconds - and it was really windy today! Given that I'm feeling a little uncertain in my job security at the moment, I naturally began to wonder if this newfound skill was something that could be translated into income...and it dawned on me. I could T
OTALLY join a circus!

Think about it. I am developing a circus-like skill (shovel-balancing...possibly able to balance other objects), have plenty of experience painting my face for sports events, don't really have a problem with people laughing at me, I'm already on the road much of the year, and here's the kicker - I HAVE PRIOR CIRCUS EXPERIENCE!

Admittedly, I can't imagine too many troupes would be looking for me to reprise my role as "Elephant" from Ms. Morgan's Red Kindergarten Circus Day, but you never know. On a side note - really, Ms. Morgan? Really? I was an elephant? I was tiny in kindergarten! I know I had good arm-trunk swinging form, but seriously - I was almost assuredly the smallest kid at school! Strange decision, whoever made it.

Back to the matter at hand. If you are driving around the state and see a guy in a safety vest trying to balance a shovel on his foot...honk. That's prob
ably me, practicing for my next endeavor.

May 11, 2009

Forgetting How to Stop

Game Two:

This was a bad game. We got killed by the team I mentioned last week - the one that would "feel good to beat." I was right; they were kind of dickish to us. Which is worse - being a poor sport in a heated contest, or when you're blowing the opponent out of the water (or Warner #3)? I'm inclined to say the blowout - why trash talk a completely random coed softball team with whom you have no history? The history part matters, because when I play Joe in whiffleball, I will trash talk no matter how many fingers and toes I need to count my lead.

By the way, that sound was the gauntlet being thrown down.

Anyway, back to the softball game. I led off for Eat at Joe's (we have shirts now!) and swung at the first pitch. That's a little frustrating. Even more frustrating is that I'm really not making good contact at all right now. This hit went about 15 feet down the first base line. I took off down the line and would have been on first base with a single easily - except for two things:
1. I am an aggressive baserunning idiot.
2. I heard the pitcher (the old dad who needs to loosen up) yell "Let it go"!

When I heard that...I don't know what happened, all of a sudden I was a third of the way to second base and gunning hard for the weakest double of 2009. They threw me out, but it was close. I was probably out by a step. Still a dumb, dumb move. I figure I get one per season, so at least it's out of the way.

Besides getting thrown out needlessly and ruining a potential rally before it even started, there was another negative consequence of my mistake. Sometime between turning on the jets at first and sliding into second, I tweaked my right hamstring fairly badly. Not cool. I really don't get hurt - ever - playing games. I can think of once getting tackled by Ryan Cessna that put me out of a football game for a while, and...that's it. So I kept playing, but I could probably run during the game at about 60%. I was playing mostly left-center or center field, but unfortunately, the other team was hitting balls so far that not even full-strength Jeff could've caught them. My second atbat I grounded into a force play at second, and my last one I grounded back to the pitcher. Maybe another day I would beat it out, but not on half of a leg.

Eat at Joe's (0-1)

1/3 .333 .333 .333 .666 0 0 0

3/5 .600 .600 .600 1.200 2 0 0

Calli convinced me to take some painkiller at the euchre game later that night. By that point in the night, my leg was throbbing, and probably at 30%. I looked like an idiot walking down the street, I'm sure. The pills must have helped, though, because it's pretty close to normal again. That's nice, since we'll be walking all over Green Bay this week again.

No game next week for me; I'll be judging a battle of the bands in Mount Horeb. That should be interesting!

May 7, 2009

Theban Mapping Project

A Warning: What is about to follow will probably make you groan.

So, Mother's Day is this Sunday. In honor of all of our moms out there, I decided to write a brief post highlighting one of the coolest maps I've seen. Why post this now? Because the map is of the Valley of the Kings...FULL OF MUMMIES!!!!

Well, it used to be. They're probably gone now. If you're still reading, you obviously aren't scared of terrible jokes. Honestly, if you read this blog at all, you probably don't mind them too much. Anyway - the site is just a beautiful, fascinating, and informative map of the Theban Valley. Pharoahs buried here include a bunch of Rameses (1-7, 9-11), a couple Setys, Hatsheput, and Tutankhamen. Seriously, it's an awesome site. Who didn't want to find an awesome Egyptian tomb when they were a kid? Take a look around here. It's worth it.

May 4, 2009

Remembering How to Run

This past Friday I played slow-pitch softball for the first time since, oh...labor day? Sometime back early last fall. The team I've played on the last three years, the Shorewest Northeasters, disbanded this year after a pregnancy and other inconveniences prevented enough people from signing up. After putting myself on the MSCR free agent list (I was a free agent! Sadly, I had to settle for the league minimum), I received several calls and found a coed team in the friday night league. I hadn't made it to any of the practices due to job-related travel, so the first-game-jitters were amplified by the new-team-jitters. Here is my Friday night of softball.

9:30 AM - I get strange looks from Rodney, Elizabeth, and Krysta as I bounce up and down in the parking lot of a city park in Green Bay. I also throw some small pebbles around and swing a couple of branches, trying to figure out what my batting stance was.

4:30 PM - Leave work, walk to the car. Still wearing an ironic all-khaki archaeologist uniform, I go to Michael's Frozen Custard. Not my ideal pre-game meal - a burger and malt - but my car's brakes are not happy at the moment, so I wanted something in between MAP and Olbrich Park. Michael's fits that bill. I sit there for a while, feeling dumb about my outfit and reading a book about the Gnostics while visualizing swinging a bat.

6:00 PM - Head to Olbrich.

6:05 PM - Trade in my archaeologist duds for an equally ridiculous uniform - that of a dorky slow pitch softball player. High blue socks, gray (for now) baseball pants, and a #23 St. James jersey. I try and put contacts in, but my left eye will have none of it. Glasses today. Also, a blue bandana.

6:30 PM - The first game of the season starts...mine is at 8:30. I probably would have gone home, but the less driving I can do for now, the better. I sit in the bleachers and 'scout' - really just keep reading my book.

6:40 PM - One of the teams is full of a bunch of young guys and their wives/girlfriends - they're good, and their pitcher is this hardcore old guy. Later, I find out he's the dad of the left fielder. He seems way too competitive for this. Wouldn't mind having a nice day against him at the plate. The other team is fairly young overall, but has way more fun out there.

7:30 PM - Game 2 starts, and by now I'm cold. The sun has set and I'm freezing. I hang out in my car until 8, when I get out and try and find my new team - Eat at Joe's. I know what one guy looks like - that's it.

8:15 - I find the team. We're mostly young people too, with two older guys and one lady. 7 guys and 7 girls in all. I warm my arm up with a guy Eric, and we start.

8:30 - We're the home team, and I start in center. We play guys at catcher, second, left, center, and rover. Inning one goes quickly, and we head to the plate.

8:?? Who keeps track of the time during the game? - I am the seventh batter in the lineup, and the sixth batter ends the first inning. Not a bad deal, really...I like batting with nobody on base.

Top of the Second - Several walks/infield singles to third (frustrating as hell, btw) lead to the other guys scoring a couple of runs. With two outs and runners on first and second, the batter ropes a hit by the second baseman. I run over from center field to cut the ball off. I slide, grab the ball, and fire it to the rover. He makes a good throw to the third baseman, and we get the runner from first. Inning over.

Bottom of the Second - I lead off. First pitch is a strike, deep and on the inner half of the black. Probably a decent pitch to hit, but I'm too nervous on the first pitch of the year to do anything. It's good to see one. Second pitch looks like it'll be close, so I make contact and push it to the left side of the infield. Not a strong hit by any means, but I'm fast. I think the fielder might have bobbled it, but it doesn't matter. I wasn't getting thrown out. Now I'm on first base with no outs. The girl right after me lines out to third base, and I jump three steps off the base before heading back. Ah, baserunning. The next batter grounds to the third baseman, and unfortunately they throw to first. If they had gone to second to try and get the lead runner (me) I'd have beaten it. Still, I feel slow. Haven't really ran bases in a while.

With two out, I am definitely trying to score on this next hit if at all possible. The batter grounds sharply to the third baseman, and the ball glances off of his glove. I started running at contact, but paused for a split-second while the ball dribbled through to left field. Because I hesitated, my stride was off as I hit third base. I tried to shorten a step and still hit third with my right foot, but basically just succeeded in tangling my feet up. My momentum kept me going around the bag and miraculously I stayed upright. I stumbled into home with our team's second run.

I got a break and sat out the next inning was good because I could barely breathe after my baserunning escapades. I didn't have any defensive opportunities the rest of the game.

In my second at bat, I swung at the first pitch and grounded to the second baseman. I tore down the line and beat the throw...but I also hit the dirt. About one foot in front of first base, there was an area of really soft dirt. My left foot came down right in this patch of loose soil, and while my momentum was enough to get my right foot on the bag, after that it was all tumbling and rolling. Thanks for the rubber ankles, dad! No injuries, just a little dizziness after I popped back up off the ground. I moved to second after a single. A strikeout and popout later, and we were back to me on second base with two outs. However, this time it was a solid line drive to center that scored me - with no embarrassing display of "running" either.

Going into the top of the sixth, we were down 9-6 with the top of our order up in the bottom of the inning. However, our pitcher's control disappeared - after a lot of walks and a couple of timely hits, we were down 16-6. I was up fifth or sixth in the bottom of the inning, but we didn't get to me again. So, the 2009 MSCR season looks like this for me:

Eat at Joe's (0-1)
2/2 1.000 1.000 1.000 2.000 2 0 0

Should be a fun year.