18 December 2010

Recent Happenings

Because of my busy schedule the last couple weeks, I have been unable to make regular updates as I had hoped during the holidays. I hope my loyal readers will forgive me! This post is a quick synopsis of everything that's been going on of late. I'll get back to regular posting soon.

My 25th birthday was November 29th. I had a nice dinner with my folks, and the following Saturday got together with a couple friends (Ryan and Travis) for dinner at Red Robin. It was a very good time. Ryan and I discussed politics; Travis and I talked sports (and he educated me on the NHL's point systems and schedules). Ryan and Travis... two very different people, so I don't know how much they'd have had to chat between themselves about, but I appreciate them both coming! Ryan also got me a gift of Karl Rove's biography "Courage and Consequences," which is next on my list to read.

I start graduate school at the University of Arizona on Monday, and I finally got my reading list and assignments list for the next four weeks. I have over 500 pages to read by January 2nd, study questions to do, a web page to set up, and an interview with an information professional to conduct. I set up my interview with Kevin McCarthy, the gentleman who interviewed my in June for a research analyst position at the Arizona Tax Research Association. Kevin seemed like the absolutely best fit for my project, and I really appreciate the half-hour of time he is giving me this Tuesday. On the flip side, my textbook for the class hasn't arrived in the mail yet, so I'm getting worried I may not have it in time to do all of my readings to the best of my ability.

I have a job interview set up on Wednesday morning for a library page position at my local library. The position is minimum wage, and 19 hours per week, but it would be great for my resume and for me to see the inner workings of the library system. Especially since I'm getting my Master's in Library Science! A job like this would also enable me to continue substitute teaching on the days I don't work, and the hours for the library are such that it wouldn't interfere much, if at all, with my normal schedule of activities.

Today was the Christmas party at my local sports card shop, Hot Corner Sports Cards. Every Saturday, they host an auction of cards for people to bid on. I've gotten some very good deals there in the past. Today, part of the auction included pieces of memorabilia as "mystery items" for the holiday. The first one was a dual autographed, game-worn Arizona Diamondbacks batting helmet (from a Spring Training game, I believe) signed by Brandon Webb and Mark Reynolds. It's PRETTY! I'll post a photo soon, I hope. Gonna look really spiffy on my wall with my other Mark Reynolds stuff!

I'll be back tomorrow (maybe!) with a post on some interesting recent developments in politics and in baseball. There's some wacky stuff happening in the DBacks' organization and in Congress with Don't Ask Don't Tell being repealed, tax compromise packages, and Tea Party stuff.

25 November 2010

Happy Thanksgiving, 2010!

Just a quick post on Thanksgiving Day... I am very thankful for:

- My family (who have helped me out so much the past two-plus years)
- My friends (who help keep me sane)
- My blog and my readers (my outlet for creativity and staying active)
- Baseball (my de-stressor)
- My new school, the University of Arizona (for accepting me and giving me a new goal to strive for)
- Our overseas troops and local law enforcement
- My Republican friends and acquaintances, and even a few Democrats (haha... y'all know who you are!)

I trust and hope all my readers are now sitting down to enjoy a fantastic turkey dinner with all the trimmings, to enjoy the company of close family and dear friends. We've postponed our celebration to tomorrow evening because mom is sick today and we decided it would be in all our best interests if we could celebrate and eat when she's feeling better. So I'm still looking forward to turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, homemade applesauce, green bean casserole, pumpkin and cranberry breads, pumpkin pie, apple pie, and sparkling apple cider tomorrow!

A Happy Thanksgiving to all! Thanks for helping make my blog successful this year!

"Here's to absent friends, and to those who are here now." - President Josiah Bartlet (The West Wing)

20 November 2010

AZ LD-19 GOP Election Meeting

Thursday evening was the annual election meeting for the Arizona Legislative District 19 Republican Party, and like any election, it was not without its fair share of drama. I'll start at the beginning.

I learned about the meeting by actively trying to find out when my legislative district meets, as I would love to be able to get back involved with the Republican Party out here. I haven't been an actively productive political person since 2008. Though I have helped at a variety of events (campaign walks, lit drops, sign posting, working the polls, etc.) as longer readers will know, it's not something I've been doing consistently, and I want to get back into it.

So anyway, I showed up at the meeting time of 6:30pm to signs posted on the doors of the Red Mountain Community College multipurpose room declaring that tonight's election was occurring. One man was campaigning outside for his write-in bid to be Chairman of the LD named Wayne Gardner, and he welcomed me and asked me to remember to write him in when I voted. I told him I wasn't voting since I was not a "precinct committeeman" and was only here to observe. More after the jump break:

19 November 2010

Christmas is Coming!

KEZ 99.9FM has started playing Christmas music today!!! I don't think I could be happier... I LOVE Chrismas music!!!

That is all.

18 November 2010

Changing of the Guard

I was informed this morning by a friend that according to the Arizona Capitol Times, Arizona Republican Party Chairman Randy Pullen has not been re-elected as a state committeeman, and thus according to AZGOP rules, cannot remain Chairman. Chairman Pullen, who has served two terms and would have been seeking a third this time around, could still be appointed a state committeeman by LD-11 Chairman Warren Whitney (whom I am not familiar with), but "sources" say it's unlikely that Whitney would do that.

Pullen, who has served as the Treasurer of the Republican National Committee the past term, was ousted because, according to the Sonoran Alliance blog, "he is viewed as untrustworthy and ineffective by the grassroots in the party." I have met Chairman Pullen a handful of times and was once invited to work with him and Executive Director Brett Mecum as a phone banking coordinator during the 2008 elections, but I would say that I echo that sentiment. I think it's time for new blood in the Arizona Republican Party.

As far as I am aware, at this time only one person has announced a candidacy for filling Pullen's spot: Marty Hermanson, Chairman of the Pinal County Republican Committee. Hermanson has the support of Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, who is getting a lot of support and attention in Arizona right now, so that will likely help bolster Hermanson's bid.

It's not much of a shock that Pullen will be out after this year ends, as he never did play nicely in Arizona politics with either John McCain or Jon Kyl, and many Republicans found his leadership ineffective and aloof. With the recent GOP sweep of the state's offices in the midterms, it shouldn't be too hard to find someone new.

16 November 2010

First Annual Guys' Camping Trip

This weekend, I was invited to kick off my friends' first hopefully annual guys' camping trip. Scott and Travis set it all up, and all told, seven people came, so it was a roaring success!

We drove up in three groups on Friday/Saturday: Scott, his brother Chris, and I in the first group; Travis, a mutual friend's brother CJ, and Travis' sister's boyfriend Jesse in the second group; and Scott's father the following morning. My group was responsible for hauling up all the gear, setting up the tents, and essentially making camp. It was due to be very cold (28 degrees or so), so we all packed heavy clothing and lots of socks and sweaters.

We got up to our campsite near Christopher Creek an hour north of Payson about 3:30pm Friday (or thereabouts). It was a secluded little area near the See Canyon Trailhead, and despite a mild slope, pretty much perfect for camping. Sadly, my camera decided not to work, so I don't have any photos to share. We unpacked the truck and within about 90 minutes to 2 hours we had established camp and set up both enormous tents in two nice areas.

By 6pm, the second group had arrived, just as darkness was rapidly descending on the area. It got very cold very quick, and the experienced campers in the group made a roaring bonfire in the camp's fire pit. I should at this time point out that I have been camping perhaps once in about a decade. I'm not a "camper" by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, I am kind of a wuss, with my four sweaters, three pairs of socks, headgear, gloves, and heavy jeans trying to stay warm in a climate less than 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Anyway, we got the fire roaring and that helped a lot, cooked up some hot dogs and chili for dinner (yum!), and played Risk in one of the tents for a while as entertainment. When we tired of that (and thank goodness, because I was about to lose), we used the guys' pellet guns to hit cans off the surrounding rocks. After a while, with sleep encroaching on us, we hit the sack. I slept poorly, a function of a rock jutting into my side and the extreme cold. Though, to be fair, I was well-covered, and the cold wasn't as bad as I expected.

Unfortunately, the cold that did enter my sleeping bag and chill me throughout the night exascerbated a mild touch of some ailment my sister had given me - she'd had a roaring flu just before I left - and by the next morning, I had uncontrollable shakes, exhaustion, and pretty bad nausea. I couldn't sit or stand without my stomach aching. I ended up lying in the tent all day napping until finally in mid-afternoon someone must have seen how bad I looked without getting better and asked if I wanted to just go home.

I felt really bad leaving my friends behind, but I knew they'd also have more fun without me if I was sick. I'm not the kind of person to ask to go home; I'd rather tough it out and make the best of it for my amigos, but in this case, I was also worried about how I'd fare with another night in the upper 20s (ah, gotta love possible pneumonia) and with helping to pack up the camp and not be able to pull my weight the next morning. I decided to take Scott's dad up on his offer to drive me back instead of worry.

It's probably good that I did, because I was sick on Sunday and Monday with stomach pain and a nasty headache. Not to mention recovering from the soreness of sleeping on rocks.

Although my weekend was cut short, I had a good time while I was there that first night. I hope and trust that my friends had as good a time without me as with, and big thanks to Scott's dad for ruining his own weekend taking me back home. Here's to the second annual camping trip in the hopes that it's both warmer and less germy.

11 November 2010


In the spirit of camping this weekend, and geocaching along the way, I have decided to create my own personal "geocoins" that I will attempt to track on this blog.

If you have found one of my geocoins, congratulations! I hope you had as much fun in finding it as I did in creating it and placing it! I ask that you please "log" the find using my comments section below so I can "track" the movements of my coins. Please provide me with the "tracking number" on the reverse of the coin, tell me where you found it and when, where you've released it and when, and any other fun comments about your adventures!

For my non-caching friends, please visit my prior blog posts on geocaching HERE and HERE. Geocoins are metal coins (no monetary value, sorry!) that are embossed with a tracking number and design from the owner that fellow cachers find, log, and then release into a new cache for others to find. My geocaching handle is "TimeTraveler09" and I have decided to make my own geocoins because they're actually kind of expensive, and I don't have much disposable income at the moment. Here's my design:

The front is an hourglass enclosed by a rectangular holder. The hash marks around the circumference represent the hours on the face of a clock, and the TT 09 stands for "TimeTraveler09" - my geocaching name. The reverse says "TFTC! [Thanks for the Cache!] Pass me on!" and gives the web address for this specific post. Underneath that (which I have skillfully cropped out!) is a tracking number unique to each coin. I have the list of numbers and where I placed them so I can keep apprised of where each one goes.

What do you think?

#1608 - Found by cacher vegas5701 at "Alice's Wonderland" (GC1RJRM) 11/23/2010

07 November 2010

The Suspension of Keith Olbermann

Keith Olbermann, MSNBC journalist and host of the show "Countdown with Keith Olbermann," was suspended "indefinitely" this past Friday following a report that he had donated a total of $7,200 to three Democratic candidates during this election cycle: Jack Conway for the Kentucky Senate, Raul Grijalva of Arizona's 7th district, and Gabrielle Giffords of the Arizona 7th.

Olbermann has been a sportscaster for ESPN's "SportsCenter" and "SportsNight," Fox Sports Net's anchor for sports shows and baseball coverage, NBC sports anchor, and on-again-off-again MSNBC host since 1997, and an avid blogger (I read his MLBlog "Baseball Nerd" at http://keitholbermann.mlblogs.com/ with regularity). He was initially suspended for violating MSNBC's rules on political donations. Those rules, put in place after the 2006 elections cycles, currently allow donations with the approval of the President of NBC News, but Olbermann never sought or received such permissions.

I say initially suspended because if you read the headlines (anywhere but MSNBC.com, which has no mention of this newsworthy topic anywhere), The Huffington Post is calling Olbermann's time off without pay for Friday's and Monday's "Countdown" episodes "the shortest suspension in the world." As of tonight, Olbermann is to be reinstated for Tuesday's "Countdown" - officially because according to Phil Griffin, President of MSNBC, "After several days of deliberation and discussion, I have determined that suspending Keith through and including Monday night's program is an appropriate punishment for his violation of our policy. We look forward to having him back on the air Tuesday night."

Unofficially, MSNBC executives may have been bowing to outside pressures by competing news agencies and the public. Olbermann's recent Twitter tweet, "Greetings from exile!" garnered him a mass following of support, and a Progressive Change Campaign Committee petition to put Olbermann back on air garnered over 300,000 electronic signatures as of this writing (including mine). CNN's Eliot Spitzer called the suspension "rediculous" and "silly," frequent MSNBC guest Dan Choi boycotted the network, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) criticized MSNBC for their decision, and even the Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol (a conservative, by the way) called on Republicans "of the world" to "Keep Keith!"

Personally, I agree that even if Olbermann did violate an MSNBC "rule," I believe that personal donations in politics are akin to free speech. Anyone should be allowed to make them without fear of reprisal from one's bosses or another entity. In Olbermann's case, such donations wouldn't make me think he had some sort of agenda. He's a well-known liberal pundit, and his donations to three Democrats in very tight races isn't exactly at the top of the "Most Surprising Things of 2010" list. I'm glad they're putting him back on the air. If the media themselves are being silenced over political donations, what hope do the rest of us have?

06 November 2010

Softball Tournament Fall 2010

The fall, 2010 softball leagues are now officially over for my team with the conclusion of our playoff run this evening. The single-elimination tournament for our league's eight teams would have meant we needed to win three consecutive games to take a title in the C-league. Sadly, we were eliminated early by losing our only game. But it was perhaps the best game of the entire year!

We were playing Celebration Church, the red team that we'd won one game and lost one game against during the regular season. We expected a barnburner for the tiebreaker and it didn't disappoint. We started off slowly, and in the second inning the score stood 0-6, them, thanks to a few good hits. In the third inning, we got back two runs, and picked up four more over the next three innings, but by the top of the seventh and final inning, we still trailed 6-10. Somewhere in there, I think the fourth or fifth inning, I had a play at the plate on a runner trying to score an inside the park home run on a really well hit ball to left-center. The throw to our shortstop, Caleb, was perfect, and Caleb's throw to me at the plate was spot on. I made the catch and tagged the runner out by about three steps up the line! Another play at the plate resulted in a poorly thrown ball that I wouldn't have made an out on, but to my credit, I blocked the ball in the dirt, and prevented a run from scoring by sticking with it.

Bang, bang, bang, and darned if we didn't score four runs that seventh frame to tie the score! Despite some confusion from the scorekeeper and umpire (they mistakenly only counted three of the runs until we corrected them - during which time the red team was prematurely celebrating), we sent the game into extra innings. This eighth inning - the only extra-inning game of the season for us - as a tiebreaker inning starts off with a runner already on second base, to help speed the game along. Tragically, we scored only that one run in the eighth, but we thought it could be enough if we could hold them.

Bottom of the eighth: runner on second, no outs. Batter 1 flew out to center field, but thanks to a baserunning error where he didn't tag and advance to third, he was stranded on second. Batter 2 hit a single to center, which scored the runner on second, and retied the game. The batter-runner advanced to second on a throw to me at the plate, but there was no play. Batter three fouled out. With 2 outs, runner at second, batter 4 hit a short single to shortstop. The throw to first was misplayed, and the runner at second advanced to third. Our first baseman tried to throw him out, but could not. The catch at third was also misplayed, and the runner continued home. I got the throw from third and tagged the runner OUT by a half step, but his slide into my glove jostled the ball out, and he was safe when I dropped it.

After the play, I walked away for a moment, kind of ticked that I'd not held the ball and had lost the game for us, but I quickly got over it and congratulated the other team. Their coach came up to me personally and shook my hand, clapped me on the back and told me I'd done a great job, which really made me feel good. I told him they'd been spot on the whole night, and that I was glad to have played in such a good game.

Looking back on it, I might have been able to better hold onto the ball, but with the literal split second I had to snag it and make a tag, it would have been hard for anyone. I was a little sad that my glove had been the final straw that cost us the game, but considering our come-from-behind inning to tie the game and my other contributions at the plate and behind it, there's no way I can complain.

I went 2-for-4 this game. My first at-bat resulted in a flyout to left/left-center, and my third at-bat I struck out looking, but in my second AB I hit a Texas leaguer to left that probably should have been caught, but someone wasn't communicating properly and it dropped in there. And in my final trip to the plate, I hit a scorcher to short which was bobbled, then misthrown to first and went out of bounds, which got me awarded second base automatically. Woot!

I can't wait to try to improve next year! Our spring season begins early January! Thanks to my teammates for helping me out and playing hard. Tough loss tonight, but a solid season overall.

03 November 2010

Thoughts on the 2010 Election

Last night, I was fortunate enough to be able to get out to not one, but two election watching parties. The Democratic Party was at the Phoenix Wyndham hotel, and the Republican Party was across the street at the Hyatt. They were very different atmospheres.

As most people who read the blogosphere and news will now know, Republicans have retaken control of the House of Representatives with gains pushing 65 seats - a major upset. To compare, the Newt Gingrich-led Republican upset of 1994 (with the "Contract with America") resulted in a 54-seat gain for the GOP, and the 2006 Democratic landslides only resulted in a 31-seat gain for them. The 2010 elections represented the largest gain by one party over another since the 1938 elections in which the Democrats lost 81 seats to Republicans and minor parties in the wake of several New Deal policies.

In the Senate, the GOP gained a net of 6 seats to bring the Senate to 51 Democrats, 2 Independents, and 47 Republicans (I count Murkowski in AK as a Republican, and Democrat Patty Murray as a victor in WA in this assessment, though neither has yet been declared a winner as of this writing).

In Arizona, voters swept the state government for the Republicans, with every statewide office going red. Governor Jan Brewer, Secretary of State Ken Bennett, Treasurer-elect Doug Ducey, Corporation Commissioners Brenda Burns and Gary Pierce, Superintendent of Public Instruction-elect John Huppenthal, and State Mine Inspector Joe Hart all won their elections by comfortable margins. As of this writing, Attorney General-elect Tom Horne has declared victory over Felicia Rotellini, though she has not yet conceded. The AP has called the race for Horne, but several thousand early ballots remain uncounted yet.

As for the propositions, for which my predictions garnered this blog a lot of viewers and comments, Prop. 106 (Healthcare) has passed, as has Prop. 107 (Affirmative Action). Props. 109, 110, 111, and 112 (Right to Hunt and Fish, Land Trusts, Lieutenant Governor, and Initiative Filing Deadlines) have all failed (though 110 and 112 are still very close, and could change). Prop. 113 on Secret Ballots has passed by a wide margin, but Prop. 203 (Medical Marijuana) looks likely to fail by a very slim margin, and both 301 and 302 (on revenue restructuring) have failed.

And thank you, City of Mesa voters! You have approved Prop. 420 to help build a new Cubs Spring Training complex! Yay!

Finally, in the State Legislature, if I've done my math correctly, and assuming there are no weird changes, Republicans should hold 40 seats in the House and 21 seats in the Senate, both of which are the 2/3 majorities commonly known as "supermajorities." Politically speaking, Republicans should have no problem passing almost any bill into law in this state now that they control the Governor's office and have supermajorities in both chambers of the Legislature.

As for the parties, I'll be putting up another post soon with my experiences on those, including a few pictures I took.

01 November 2010

The Pre-Election Landscape

If you have not mailed in your early ballots yet... DON'T! The deadline to mail them in was Oct. 29th, and if you stick them in the mail today, they will not be counted! That being said, you can drop early ballots off at ANY polling place (doesn't have to be your own... just anywhere you see the big "VOTE HERE" sign) tomorrow from 6am-7pm. If you mailed your ballots in AFTER the deadline and are worried about your vote not being received in time or counted, you can go to your polling place (and yes, it must be YOUR polling place) tomorrow and ask to vote a "provisional ballot." You cannot be denied this right, just bring your proper identification with you (picture ID works best with your most current address on it). If you have any problems or questions, contact the Arizona Secretary of State's election offices or your local County Recorder's Office. That information can be found at http://www.azsos.gov/ on the "Elections" page.

Okay, now that my words of warning are out of the way, it is time to take a good hard look at the pre-election political landscape. I've done a lot of statewide posts recently, and all signs point to a close election in CD-1, CD-3, CD-5, CD-7, and CD-8. Republicans may win big here, and will certainly retain many of the statewide offices, such as Governor and Secretary of State.

Nationally, Republicans are poised to capture upwards of 40, perhaps 50 or more, seats in the House of Representatives, and will make it a lot closer in the Senate with pickups of around 7-9 seats. The way the Congress currently looks is 255 Dems-178 Reps in the House, 59 Dems-41 Reps in the Senate. And as of this morning, the polls are indicating that the House is going to be 168-224 to the GOP with 43 tossup districts. It only takes 218 votes to lead, so all indications point to a big Republican landslide there this year. The Senate is much closer, with http://www.realclearpolitics.com/ saying that it's looking like 48-45 to the Democrats with 7 tossups. I'm thinking it'll end up 52-48 blue.

Another interesting angle is the Tea Party, which nationally was the talk of everyone from the political analysts to the kitchen-table moms and dads. It was supposed to be this big, enormous, Libertarian-ish movement capturing the votes of the politically disenfranchised and the grassroots activists, but it seems that in reality, Tea Party campaigns aren't really faring much better than regular old established Republican campaigns, and while many candidates are claiming Tea Party morals, support, and ideals, in reality few are actually associated with the movement itself. I predict that after this election, when the GOP takes the House, the Tea Party movement will be forgotten as just another fad of the last decade.

1. Exit polling. Due to better security of exit polling data, there won't be many of those cryptic "Senator X is pulling ahead in the exit polls" before about 5pm Eastern time. So for those of us in Arizona, come about 2:15pm, we'll start seeing the very first accurate exit polls for the East Coast. Disregard most of everything before that, especially if you're watching the major news networks, whose only goal is to get you to watch their network over their competitor.

2. The weather! It might sound crazy, but when it rains/snows, less people turn out to vote. Who knew?! Fortunately for almost everyone, http://www.weather.com/ is showing that most of the country will stay relatively dry and clear tomorrow. The exceptions being snow showers in Washington state which could accumulate up to a foot of snow over the next 48 hours, and 1-5" of rain in the Louisiana-Arkansas-Mississippi-east Texas area. No big problems, though, so although turnout in Louisiana could be lower than expected, it shouldn't affect the big picture.

3. Turnout. Speaking of turnout, it's usually really low in midterm elections - under 40%. Anything higher probably means Democrats are turning out in higher numbers, and that could mean a few surprises throughout the night. The demographic information will be important as well and could point out the winners before anything else. If reports show 18-29-year-olds turning out in greater than 10% numbers, Democrats might have a less-than-awful night. Conversely, if we're seeing more than 50% of the voters as over-50, Republicans likely will make huge gains.

4. 3pm and 4pm. The first polls close in parts of Indiana and eastern Kentucky at 6pm EST (3pm for Arizona). 4pm marks the first major round of poll closings on the East Coast. In IN/KY, three "bellweathers" marking close contests could show how the night'll turn out for the political parties, as the IN-2, IN-9, and KY-6 contests are close ones between moderate candidates. Also, the KY Senate race being called in favor of Rand Paul (R) by a wide margin could have people huffing about the Tea Party impact.

Either way, sit down with your families and watch the results pour in. Talk to your kids about what's going on, how to interpret the results, what it means for the country, and such. Or do what I did and print out blank maps of your state's Congressional or legislative districts and as the returns roll in, color them red/blue/green/yellow for the different political parties! Should be a very fun night!

30 October 2010

Softball Games 11-14

As some of my astute readers might have noticed, I didn't post a separate post for last Saturday's softball games. Partially because I was busy/tired and partially because we lost both games. Badly. Badly enough that the first game didn't last more than 30 minutes, called because of the mercy rules.

No more info to be had there. I went 2-for-4 total in both games, both singles, and I was stranded on base both times. I also had a couple chances on plays at the plate, but I missed a catch and a couple throws were wide so I couldn't make the plays even if I'd had a chance. Blah.

But this week was better. In fact, we won both games - the final two games of the "regular season." I still didn't make any plays at the plate, but I'd like to think my shouting and words of encouragement helped boost morale! I also went 3-for-7 hitting, a couple singles and a single/fielder's choice which turned into two bases via a rundown between third and home plate.

Thus, my Fall Season stats overall:
- Actively made/assisted 8 outs at home plate.
- 1 error (missed catch)
- 23-for-47 hitting, a .489 batting average

Next weekend is the C-League tournament, so I'm hoping that we can have a good showing. If I remember last year's tournament, it was single-elimination, and our team was the first out of contention. I'd rather play a couple good games this time around!

Also, as an addition to this post: Rangers won tonight's Game 3 of the World Series in Texas, so they're on their way to catching the Giants, who won both Game 1 and Game 2 by rediculous scores. Go Rangers!

24 October 2010

Rangers-Giants World Series

Last night, the San Francisco Giants clinched their first World Series berth since 2002 over the Philadelphia Phillies in a... weird... game. This came a day after the Texas Rangers clinched their first-ever trip to the Fall Classic in their franchise's history (Nolan Ryan is proud!) over the "vampiric" New York Yankees.

So, while my playoff predictions have turned out to be a bust, I think a Rangers-Giants World Series should be huge for Major League Baseball! Two teams we almost never see in the championship series, both vying for their franchise's first World Series title. Yes, I know the NEW YORK Giants of pre-1958 fame won World Series rings, but since the team's move to San Francisco in '58, they have not won a title, and have only been to the World Series 4 times. The Rangers have never won, so this should be exciting. All the more so because of how they got there. Texas came out of nowhere to win the AL West by a more-than-comfortable margin, and San Francisco won their race on the last day of the regular season. Both teams are also giant-killers, having bested their league's strongest opponents in the Phillies and Yankees.

With players like Tim "The Freak" Lincecum and Pablo "Kung Fu Panda" Sandoval up against Cliff "Never Lost a Playoff Game" Lee and Josh Hamilton, the 2010 World Series should be one to remember!

(By the way, GO RANGERS!)

23 October 2010

Bobblehead Collection

Today, I found a garage sale with a woman who was a big baseball fan (D-Backs in particular) and who was selling off some of her bobbleheads and assorted memorabilia from her rather extensive collection. I picked up eight new figures, only one of which was a "stadium giveaway," but since they were of nice quality, I didn't mind. They look great with my others, don't you think?

18 October 2010

Softball Games 9/10

Okay, a short interlude from the very good conversations I've been having on the Arizona ballot propositions and candidates. I would like to thank everyone who's visited and commented on my recommendations. I appreciate the chance to help support my choices and get new information on the ones I don't support. Also, in case any of you stats majors out there are interested, my 2010 Arizona Ballot Propositions Recommendations post is now my all-time single highest viewed page here on "The View From Arizona." So yeah, thanks!

Anyway, this post is just a quick update on my softball games on Saturday for the very few of you waiting on the edge of your seats for info. Our games were at 2:30pm this time around due to scheduling conflicts with the fields, so it was a semi-hot 90 degrees at game time. In game one, we picked up another W thanks to some sloppy defense by our opponents and our immensely fast lineup. Who knew younger people could run faster than older people?! Ha.... I ended up with two hits in four at-bats thanks to a bloop single into shallow center field and a botched fly ball in left. Both times I made it no farther than first base, though, so my contributions at the plate were limited. But behind the plate I had four chances for outs, all on pop flies, none on plays at the plate involving runners. I made two of the four plays myself, strangely by tipping both into the air on fouls straight back to me, then catching the balls on their way back to earth. Might have looked funny to a bystander, with me bobbling them a couple times before landing them, but it got the job done! The other two were pop flies right in front of the plate that I could have gotten, but I gave way to another infielder who had a better chance. We got all four outs. Woot!

Game two was a much closer contest because we were tied or within a run or two all game, and ended up losing by four runs. I think our defense was hot and tired, and combined with above-average defense by our opponents and some timely hitting on their part, they took the victory. I went one-for-four in this game, with a good, high pop fly, two grounders to short, and a zinging double down the left-field line, which I was proud of myself for keeping fair. I also had about three chances at home, one more pop up to me like the prior game which I caught, and two chances on runners at home which I missed. All told, not a horrible game, but a loss is a loss.

My stats, updated to this point:
- Actively made or assisted making 8 outs at home.
- 1 error on a missed catch.
- 3-for-8 this week, so 18-for-36 overall, a .500 average.

15 October 2010

Expanded Coverage: Prop. 203

Again, because of some good comments below on my prior Ballot Proposition Recommendations post, I have decided to expound on Prop. 107 (post below) and Prop. 203 (relating to medical marijuana).

Prop. 203 creates a new regulatory system for the distribution and oversight of medical marijuana for patients with a prescription from a physician for certain types of specific ailments, such as chronic pain. The new regulations would be governed by the Arizona Department of Health Services.

The Confusion: A couple commenters on my blog, or since they are anonymous it might be just one, called me naive on the subject of pain management via marijuana and that I was attempting to mislead people into thinking it was more harmful than it might be. That argument was supplemented by the statement that prescription drugs are, in some cases, as or more addictive than marijuana, and that no one ever died from smoking it (though, considering a research study published in the BMJ medical journal showed that persons driving after using marijuana was twice as likely to be involved in fatal car crashes as "sober" people, I would challenge that).

What I Found Out: The federal Food and Drug Administration released results in 2006 of their study on the medicinal uses of cannabis and the risk-reward factor in using it as a prescription drug to treat ailments. It says that marijuana is a schedule 1 drug (the most restrictive category) because of three criteria: it has a high potential for abuse, has no currently proven acceptable medical use, and has a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision. Scientific studies by the FDA and other Department of Health and Human Services agencies found that "no sound scientific studies supported medical use of marijuana for treatment in the United States, and no animal or human data supported the safety or efficacy of marijuana for general medical use."

AZ FactCheck on http://www.azcentral.com/ similarly reports that the US Drug Enforcement Agency, American Cancer Society, American Glaucoma Society, and National Multiple Sclerosis Society all state on their respective websites that medical marijuana may provide some benefits to patients with chronic illnesses, but that there are also negative effects that go along with those benefits. All but the DEA cite the need for better research before openly allowing medical marijuana. In addition, the Drug Enforcement Agency states that medical marijuana - or at least the part of it that helps manage pain called THC (the "active ingredient" in marijuana) - already exists in pill form called Marinol. While this pill has the same benefits as actually smoking the plants, it may also have negative side effects.

The argument really boils down to this, now that I know that pill-form marijuana exists and is approved by the FDA: proponents of 203 want to SMOKE pot. If this issue were really about the medicinal value of the plant, there already exist pain management medications and weight loss and appetite stimulants (like Marinol). While such pain meds like Vicodin or Oxycontin do have the potential to be addictive, they are much more controllable than marijuana, which has a high potential and probability for abuse by both prescribed users and non-prescribed users. Considering the valid FDA and DEA claims that marijuana's benefits do not at this time outweigh the potential negative effects of the drug, the only conclusion I can reach is that medical marijuana (the plant) is not an appropriate narcotic to use for medicinal purposes.

The Bottom Line: Medical marijuana provides little reward for potentially greater risk. Regardless of the passage of Prop 203, the federal government will continue to pursue and prosecute individuals using marijuana. Also, considering how hard it is to make something harmful illegal versus making something legal, if marijuana is found to have a negative impact on the state, it will be really difficult to repeal Prop. 203 in the future to fix the problem. Better to just vote no and leave this drug a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance, illegal in the country and in the State of Arizona.

Expanded Coverage: Prop. 107

Because I have had a few very good comments on my 2010 Proposition Recommendations, I have decided to expound a little on one of the more controversial ones: Prop. 107 (relating to affirmative action programs).

Proposition 107 is the so-called "anti-discrimination" constitutional amendment for the State of Arizona and its cities, towns, universities, community colleges, and other governmental entities. It basically says that in issues of public employment, public education, and public contracting, no one can be given preferential treatment on the basis of sex, race, color, ethnicity, or national origin.

The Confusion: My commenters have been interested in knowing whether or not Prop. 107 would hurt programs like WISE (Women in Science and Engineering), Upward Bound (giving scholarships to first-generation college students), or foundations that provide grants to (among other things) women for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathmatics) professional fields.

What I Found Out: I referenced a few different sources in trying to answer this question of exactly how programs would be affected. One was the AZCentral.com FactCheck section, which attempts to answer whether statements made about candidates or about these propositions are true or false (or somewhere in between). I also found a couple news articles about the implementation of very similar laws passed in California, Michigan, and Washington. What I found out was that only programs which are state-run or state-sponsored could (not necessarily would) be affected. Privately funded groups, like a foundation that provides scholarships to only women, only Hispanics, or only Chinese students (as examples) would NOT be affected by Prop. 107's implementation.

A program like Upward Bound, which gives grants and scholarships to first-generation college students without basing the application process or the decision-making process on race, color, national origin, or sex would also not likely be affected by this amendment. Because first-generation college students could include white male English students just as much as it could include black female Mexican students, the program is not in violation of anything.

Programs like WISE at ASU and UA exist in California, Washington, and Michigan and provide money for women (or minority groups) going into certain fields in order to promote continued diversity within those fields. In all three other states, their WISE-equivalent programs were not overly affected by the passage of the similar anti-preferential treatment laws. Those that might have been terminated by the law usually just expanded their applications processes to include both males and females, or all races instead of just one. WISE could still exist, and it could still actively target women, but if a male student applied to the program, he would need to be given equal consideration under the law. The other possibility is that programs like WISE, which is operated by the universities and state, could simply be privatized. That way, there would be no problem with the state sponsoring the preferential program.

Bottom Line: Voting yes on Prop. 107 DOES end preferential "quotas" in public hiring, education, and works to turn back the practice of reverse discrimination, which is becoming a factor in some aspects of state-sponsored programs. Now that many racial groups and both sexes are much, much more equal than they were 30 or 40 years ago, preferences for women are starting to hurt men, and preferences for minorities are beginning to hurt non-minorities (especially in Arizona, where Caucasians are no longer the majority race in the state). We might have a few kinks to work out if implementing the law raises problems that weren't foreseeable, but it's a good basis for making everyone truly equal in the state.

13 October 2010

2010 Candidate Recommendations

The time has come... with early ballots out to voters and just 20 days remaining until the results come pouring in, we as Arizonans and citizens of the United States have a lot of tough choices to make regarding who will serve our communities in the next couple years and beyond. The following are my recommendations for the Arizona races:

United States Senate: John McCain
While I have never been a die-hard supporter of our incumbent senator, his opponents in this race lack the experience I am looking for in a US Senator. John McCain does, and his next six years in office should be much improved now that he has said he will no longer seek election to the presidency in 2012.

US Rep. District 6: Jeff Flake
I supported his challenger in the primary because I wanted a change in my district, but in the general election, Jeff Flake outshines all of his opposition exponentially in terms of how he approaches his representation of the 6th district. He will work hard for Mesa and Gilbert, and he deserves two more years to try to turn things around in Congress.

Governor: Jan Brewer
Brewer has been controversial over her support of SB1070, and if it weren't for that, she might be neck-and-neck with her opponent. Just the same, Brewer is willing to fight for this state against even her own party against tough odds to try to improve Arizona. I support that mentality.

Secretary of State: Ken Bennett
A tireless leader for many years, Ken Bennett's reelection to the #2 position in the state is virtually assured and vitally important. I can't wait to see him run for Governor in a few more years.

Attorney General: Felecia Rotellini
Rotellini was not my first choice for the AG spot, but she will bring an attitude of "can-do" to the position against her opponents obstructionism.

State Treasurer: Andrei Cherney
With promises to conduct audits of state systems, I believe an overhaul of Arizona's failing government infrastucture is necessary to help us rebuild the state stronger than before the recession. Cherney is the best bet in my opinion for the job.

Superintendent of Public Instruction: John Huppenthal
After reading both candidates' statements, I believe in Huppenthal's ideology of improving teacher merit pay and making sure teachers are actually working in sustainable environments. A substitute teacher myself, while his opponent may be a parent and teacher, sometimes you need a political mind for a political position, and Huppenthal should get results.

State Mine Inspector: Joe Hart
The incumbent Hart has done a great job for many years now, and deserves reelection to this post, which garners little attention at the ballot box or media, but is important to the State of Arizona.

Corporation Commissioner: Gary Pierce and Brenda Burns
The two I supported in the Republican primary election, I haven't changed my mind: Burns and Pierce will work to aid small business and promote healthy and sustainable business practices in the Arizona corporate market.

Maricopa County Attorney: Bill Montgomery
Virtually running alone, Montgomery is a respectable candidate with a long-term vision for making Maricopa County a safer place. His proven record of stopping crimes and his ability to work with all levels of local law enforcement make him the ideal candidate to fill the county's top legal spot.

Central Arizona Water Conservation District (vote for 5):
Tim Bray, Jim Holway, Karl Kohlhoff, Mark Lewis, and Sid Wilson
These five candidates have backgrounds and experience in dealing with water issues and conservation issues, all prerequisites for serving on this board. These five candidates, two of whom are incumbents to the board, are most likely to be able to continue to make smart decisions on how to manage our water usage into the foreseeable future.

Maricopa County Community College District: Jerry Walker
State Senator LD-19: Rich Crandall
State Rep. LD-19: Kirk Adams, Justin Olson
Clerk of the Superior Court: Christopher Rike
Justice of the Peace (East Mesa): Mark Chiles
Constable (East Mesa): William Taylor
Mesa Unified School District #4 (vote for two): Dave Lane, Michelle Udall
Judges (vote to keep all EXCEPT): Barker, Irvine, Aceto, Barton, Bassett, Bergin, Brotherton, Fenzel, Foster, Grant, Heilman, Hicks, Pineda, Reinstein

This is only my recommended guide for voters based upon my own opinions of the candidates and their positions after doing my own, independent research on each person. If my candidate choices match up with yours, awesome. I encourage each person to do their own checking of the candidates and come up with their own lists. Good luck to the candidates!

12 October 2010

2010 Arizona Ballot Proposition Recommendations

Ever wondered how and why we have all those confusing ballot propositions ever couple years? Not only are they usually strangely worded, but what's up with not numbering them consecutively? 101, 304, 425.... Never makes much sense. Well, here's the gist. Propositions are the result of either the state government wanting to change something with Arizona's laws or Constitution, or the public wanting to do so. And to accomplish this, we classify propositions according to four criteria: (read more after the beak jump!)

2010 Postseason Update 2

Well, with one final game tonight left to decide the remaining NLDS Champion, I thought I'd go ahead and recap the Division Series games now and compare my predictions. On October 1st, with a couple days remaining in the regular season, I predicted the Phillies over the Reds, Giants over the Braves, Yankees over their rivals (in this case, the Twins), and the Rays over their rivals (the Rangers).

How'd I do so far?

The Philadelphia Phillies won their series over the Reds three games to none, 4-0, 7-4, and 2-0, with the 4-0 game being Roy Halladay's second no-hitter of the 2010 season, and just the second ever no-hitter in the postseason! Congrats, Doc!

The San Francisco Giants won their series in four games over the Braves, winning games 1, 3, and 4. The finals scores of each game were SF 1-ATL 0, SF 4-ATL 5, SF 3-ATL 2, and SF 3-ATL 2. But the most interesting factoid of the series is the record-setting number of errors by Brooks Conrad (ATL), who committed three errors in game 3 of the series to lose it for the Braves, and four overall. The Braves made 7 total errors in what is now retiring Manager Bobby Cox's last series in baseball.

The New York Yankees won their series over the Twins three games to none, 6-4, 5-2, and 6-1. Considering the Twins came into the series having won one postseason game against the Yankees in 10 years, it wasn't a far stretch to think who would win. The Yankees have now won nine consecutive games in the postseason versus the Twins, and have swept them in the ALDS three times in a row.

The Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers are currently tied at two games apiece as of this writing, with Game 5 tonight at 8pm EST for all the marbles. Texas won both the first two games at Tropicana Field, 5-1 and 6-0, but lost both games at their home Ballpark at Arlington 6-3 and 5-2. Tonight's game is not only win-or-go-home for one team, it's going to be interesting to see which team steps up their game. The Rangers have to be favored considering they already beat the Rays at home twice in this series. They seem comfortable playing there. Yet the Rays just beat the Rangers twice in Texas, which has to be both a blow to the Rangers and a momentum swing for the Rays. Either way, it's Cliff Lee (never lost a playoff game) versus Cy Young candidate David Price tonight!

If the Rays win tonight, I'm 4-for-4 in playoff predictions this year! I've already predicted the Yankees over the Rays/Rangers and the Phillies over the Giants in the ALCS/NLCS matchups. But note that the Yankees don't have home-field advantage against either the Rays or Rangers, so you still never know what could happen! Watch for another update as the 2010 MLB Postseason continues!

10 October 2010

Softball Games 7/8

Because of a gigantic wall of dust rolling across the valley last weekend, our softball team got a week off when the games were called due to visibility issues and lightning/rain. We'll be making them up later on in the season. Yesterday's games were in pretty much perfect weather, and we were matched up very nicely with a pair of teams. Both games were quite close, and we ended up winning the first game and losing the second game.

The first game we started off ahead and never lost the lead, but our opponents were within a couple runs of us the whole time. Thanks to some timely defence from our outfield (including two running backhanded catches on "Texas League" fly balls) and solid infield play, we won the game. I made two catches on pop flies at the plate, which really are not that easy to do. You have to look up while running (not hit the umpire, runner, or bats), track the ball, not run into the fences, and then actually catch and hold the ball (which nearly always involves a basket catch - not a very stable situation). I did it three times - twice for outs and once as a foul ball hit the fence and bounced back at me. Woot. I also went two-for-four on two singles and scored one run for our team. My other two at-bats were both lineouts to the shortstop, which I was all right with because I at least squared up the ball both times. I just had the unfortunate luck to hit it right at someone.

Game two opened against another solid team, but this one was a back-and-forth kind of contest. We were first down 3-0, then up 5-3, then down 10-5, then up 11-10, then tied at 11, then finally ended up losing it in the last inning by 4 runs 15-11. We made a couple miscues, though nothing really major, and had some good defensive moments and some bad defensive moments. One play in particular that keeps running through my mind is my only play at the plate that game. With runners on first and second, the batter hit a long fly ball to right field, which went over the head of our fielder. Both runners scored, and by the time the ball got back to me, the batter-runner was barrelling in from third. He slid, and I tagged him (very hard... sorry!) on the head. He was called safe. It was a really close play, and for my life I cannot feel that the umpire was wrong... I think he was safe on the play. Darn it. Anyway, I did again go two-for-four with two singles, a flyout to left field, and another lineout to third.

Thus, my "stats" so far: I have actively made or assisted five outs at home plate (two tags, two popouts, and one assisted tag play), without - in my humble opinion - making an error yet. I was 4-for-8 this weekend, and that should bring me to 15-for-28 on the season, a .536 batting average. Yay! Over .500!

03 October 2010

2010 MLB Playoff Update

The season is finally over, and the last teams standing are celebrating with champagne. Here's the final victory list:

American League:
East: Tampa Bay Rays (96-66)
Central: Minnesota Twins (94-68)
West: Texas Rangers (90-72)
Wild Card: New York Yankees (95-67)

National League:
East: Philadelphia Phillies (97-65)
Central: Cincinnati Reds (91-71)
West: San Francisco Giants (92-70)
Wild Card: Atlanta Braves (91-71)

This means the playoffs will differ slightly from what I said in my last post.
ALDS 1: Texas Rangers vs. Tampa Bay Rays
ALDS 2: New York Yankees vs. Minnesota Twins
NLDS 1: Cincinnati Reds vs. Philadelphia Phillies
NLDS 2: Atlanta Braves vs. San Francisco Giants

Watch for more updates!

01 October 2010

2010 MLB Postseason

The regular season might just be decided by the end of this night, as only two playoff-bound teams are left to be chosen and only two pennants awarded. As I predicted on September 14, the following races have been won:

AL West: Texas Rangers
AL Central: Minnesota Twins

NL Central: Cincinnati Reds
NL East: Philadelphia Phillies

The American League also features both the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees making the cut, but only one of them will win the AL East division; the other will be the AL Wild Card winner.

The NL West comes down to tonight's game between the San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants. The Padres must sweep all three games in this final series to force a one-game playoff for the victory. If the Giants can win any of the next three games (four if a tie is forced), they move on. Also, if the Padres happen to lose two games out of the final three, or if the Atlanta Braves win two, the Braves will become the NL Wild Card winners. Currently, the Braves are losing, so if the Padres can win one tonight, they'll still have a shot at the Wild Card. If the Padres win two and lose one, and the Braves win one and lose two, they will end up in a tie and force a playoff for the Wild Card. Confused yet? Basically all you need to know is that if the Padres have a snowball's chance in the the underworld of making the playoffs, they need to win the series against the Giants. Otherwise, kiss it goodbye 'til next year.

So, what does this mean for the playoff structure? Here's how the postseason will shake out:

ALDS 1: Texas Rangers vs. New York Yankees
ALDS 2: Tampa Bay Rays vs. Minnesota Twins
NLDS 1: Cincinnati Reds vs. Philadelphia Phillies
NLDS 2: Atlanta Braves vs. San Francisco Giants

Assuming this is how it all shakes out and nothing wild or crazy happens with the Padres or the final standings, I therefore predict the Yankees will beat the Rangers, Twins will beat the Rays, Phillies over Reds, and the Giants over the Braves.

ALCS: Tampa Bay Rays vs. New York Yankees
NLCS: San Francisco Giants vs. Philadelphia Phillies

If this is truly the case, the Yankees will trounce the Rays in four games, and the Phillies will again beat the Giants in 6 games.

World Series: New York Yankees vs. Philadelphia Phillies

The Yankees will win their 28th World Championship. Yeah, I know... I don't like it either. That's just what will happen.

30 September 2010


Last night via email I found out that I have been accepted to the School of Information Resources and Library Science (SIRLS) at the University of Arizona in Tucson. As I wrote in my post, "Directions Pt. 2" on August 30, I intend to pursue my MA in IRLS beginning this December 20.

Because I've been fielding congratulatory emails and texts wondering when I'm moving to Tucson, I wish to clear up a couple things. First, thank you to everyone who has been supportive of my decision to go back to school - many of my friends and my family members were instrumental in my making the choice to continue my education, and without people like my folks and my close friends, I might not have done so alone.

I will not be moving to Tucson for this degree. I mean, I could, but I'm not. The degree is offered completely online, save for a 7-day face-to-face introductory course at the Tucson campus. I will for the foreseeable future be working from my home in the Phoenix area in order to save a little money on housing and such until I can get on my feet financially. That said, I do intend to start seriously job hunting in the Tucson area in case something pops up that would be beneficial to me.

Technically, I am still waiting right now to hear from the Graduate College whether I am formally accepted to the University of Arizona, but I expect that will not be a problem since I have now been admitted to the SIRLS program. After that, registration for classes takes place in November, followed by my SIRLS 504 Intro class December 20-January 11, 2011. The 7-day Tucson portion of that class is scheduled for January 2-8. After completion of that course, I start a 12 credit hour regimen of classes in information technologies, librarianship, resource management, etc for the next two to three years, again, all in online classes unless I choose to move to Tucson. Practically, for me this likely means two courses per semester for six academic semesters.

The "sub"-program I am going to be working on is the "Information Professional" program, which will prepare me for research, database management, and information management. It involves four "core" classes: the program intro in Tucson, Research Methods, Organization of Information, and Ethics, and then 8 more classes with titles such as Government Information, User Interface and Website Design, Database Development and Management, Digital Libraries, Business Information Resources, Information Seeking Behaviors, and Online Searching. I also have options to complete an internship for credits and to write a thesis for credits.

On a much more serious note, though, I've been trying to figure out how to support both Northern Arizona University (the Lumberjacks) and the University of Arizona (the Wildcats) at the same time.... I think I'm going to have to go with "LumberCat" because "WildJacks" just sounds silly...!

26 September 2010

Softball Games 5/6

Our lean, mean Green Machine team won both of our games this Saturday, edging out our opponents in close contests. Our first game was a two-run victory for us in which I went 2-for-3 with two singles and managed one play at the plate out of three or so chances. Our opponents matched up well with us, and it made for an exciting game - we were ahead, then behind, then ahead, then behind, and finally pulled ahead and closed out the game soundly for the W.

In game two, I played against a real major leaguer. No, seriously! Apparently Russ Ortiz, the former pitcher for the Arizona Diamondbacks (2005-2006) was playing shortstop for the other team. I didn't recognize him during the game, but afterwards was told that's who we were playing against. Ortiz was in the Major Leagues from 1998 until early this year, battling injuries since his time with the Diamondbacks and bounced around between a few clubs before deciding to finally retire from the Dodgers organization this year. How very cool to be able to say I played against a former MLB player! (And even cooler that our team won in a great game!)

Game two was all about our offense. I was able to go 3-for-4 with two singles and a triple (helped by a throwing error and a fielder's choice play at home) My other at bat was a strikeout via foul balls (in softball you get two strikes, and if you foul out on the third strike it counts as a strikeout). But I made good solid contact on my other hits and even laced one single nicely into left field over Ortiz's head. I didn't have a lot of work at the plate - no real plays to speak of, but I did hold a couple runners on third well enough that they didn't score. Going into the final frame, our team was up 17 to 5, with the other team needing 12 runs to tie. They ended up getting 6 runs in the bottom of that inning, but a nice pop fly to third base ended the game with our victory! Caleb, our left fielder, had everyone buzzing with his speed and defense out there, and our pair of first basemen made some excellent digs on solid throws from 2nd and shortstop.

Oh, and we all now also have nicknames from the movie "Top Gun." Maverick, Slider, Cougar, Ghost Rider, and the like. I'm Merlin.

20 September 2010

Winter Softball 2010

As some of you might know, I signed up to play softball this year for the winter league with my church group. I got the chance to play in a couple of games as a fill-in for missing players last year, and decided to sign up to play the whole season this time around. Because this is my blog and I like writing about it, I'll be posting weekly updates on our league and my personal stats in the hopes that I can build on them as the season progresses.

So far, we've played four games - two last weekend and two this past Saturday night. Frankly, the first two games we played we were really not very good. And by that I mean bad, and in part it was my fault. Sadly, to get a copy of the 2010 American Softball Association rules, by which our league plays, you have to be a dues-paying ASA member, so I'm not as read-up on all the rules as I should be. Those first two games, I did get three hits (two singles and a single/error that left me on second base). However, I didn't know that if I wasn't touching the base when the ball is pitched, I could be called out... so yeah, I kind of killed a rally there. Not a mistake I'll make again, though, that's for sure. In the second game that night, I was the third base coach with two on, no one out when our batter lined to second base (though I still believe that ball hit the ground) and both runners were doubled off their bases for a triple play... not easy to do in softball. Needless to say, we lost both games.

This past Saturday, our first game was a close contest for the first five innings, but we made a ton of late errors (mostly throwing errors when people tried turning double plays) and ended up losing by a much less close score than we should have. I had one opportunity to make a play at the plate when our shortstop threw the ball into me and I tagged the runner out by about a half-a-step, but the force of him running into my arm jarred the ball loose from my glove, and when I fell backwards, it popped out of my glove. (I tweaked my shoulder nicely on that one too!) Not really any blame to assign there other than I need to try my best to keep two hands on the ball. It was a hard play. I did go 1-for-3 that game with a single that turned into a double play with the next batter. In the other two at-bats I lined out to shortstop and grounded out in that direction.

The second game we played we won 17-3, and I went 2-for-4 with two singles and a run scored, grounding out in my other two plate appearances. We broke it open early with 7 runs scored in the first frame, and thanks to some good pitching and a lot of pop flies, we held the opponents to just one run over 4 innings. I made two plays in this game. The first was on a slow roller down the first base line which I quickly ran over and grabbed and threw to first. Thankfully, the runner slowed and never actually touched the first base bag, otherwise he was definitely safe. I think he assumed he was out. I'm not complaining. The second play was a relay from center field to shortstop to home plate in which the throw beat the runner home by three steps and I caught it cleanly. The runner stopped running and clearly thought about trying to get back to third, but he tried to dance around me instead when I ran up to tag him, and I got him cleanly in between third base and home. Our team's "fans" cheered when I nabbed him (which was really quite a nice feeling!) and I made sure to give the love back to our shortstop Caleb for the perfect relay throw!

I'm still a bit sore from the games, especially my shoulder from the collision at the plate and my back from being a tall overweight person, but it was definitely fun to win a game, so I'll live with it. We are now 1-3 on the season, and I'm 6-for-13 in hitting (a .462 average). If I were an objective scorekeeper I'd say I've made no errors yet. Still waiting on my first home run (ha ha)!

19 September 2010

Cubs' Colvin Impaled by Broken Bat

During the second inning of today's Cubs-Marlins game, the Chicago Cubs' Tyler Colvin - a very promising rookie outfielder - was impaled in the upper torso by a broken bat while he was running home from third base. I suppose "impaled" is a little melodramatic, but Colvin was struck in the chest just below his left collarbone, puncturing his skin and taking him out of the game to go to the hospital. There, doctors performed a "pneumothorax" procedure (a procedure to prevent air that has entered the chest wall from causing damage to the lungs and prevent a collapsed lung from occurring), and the Cubs have said that Colvin is done for the remainder of the season.

For video, check out this link to MLB.com: http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20100919&content_id=14847072&vkey=news_mlb&c_id=mlb

NOTE: There's no blood or anything, but this is still not a video for the squeamish... it looks like it hurt.

Obviously, baseball cannot completely prevent injuries from occurring to fans, players, umpires, or other people entirely - it comes with the territory of the game - but it does raise the debate over maple versus ash bats again in the sport. For the last few years, it has been conclusively shown that maple bats, when they break, tend to shatter and send pieces flying all over the field or into/near fan seating areas. Ash bats, on the other hand, being made of a softer wood, tend to crack, but not shatter. That said, many players prefer maple bats because the denser, harder wood has less "give" on the baseball when it is hit, and can produce more power and a farther hit ball.

Cubs catcher Wellington Castillo was using a maple bat to hit when it cracked at the handle and sent the javelin top half into Tyler Colvin, who didn't see it coming as he was watching the ball dump into left field. Over the last few years, the debate has raged about whether or not Major League Baseball and Commissioner Bud Selig should ban maple bats from being used to play, a campaign that Diamondbacks fans like me hear often whenever a maple bat shatters and sends shards onto the field from announcer Mark Grace. Opponents of such a ban can use stats to make a point, though: of the thousands and thousands of at-bats in which maple bats have been used, few have resulted in the type of explosion of wood that would cause injury, and far, far fewer have actually caused injury. Colvin's accident was just that: a freak accident. There's not really any need to overreact and start banning things because of one incident.

Frankly, with all the technology out there, I have heard of a company that was testing a material like a thin film (I guess somewhat akin to safety glass film for windows) that would wrap around the barrel of the bat down to the knob and help prevent a bat break which could result in splintering. MLB at one point was checking its effectiveness and testing to see if it would have an adverse effect on the game or the ball. If it works, that sounds like an effective compromise to me. Because while I agree that maple bats may indeed pose a risk that is unnecessary and detrimental to the game, we as fans - and those who make the decisions on this stuff - should also remember that this really was a freak accident and not go ballistic.

I'd love to hear from my readers on this: what do you think? Ban maple bats or let the game continue as is or something else?

16 September 2010

Jeter, Cheater, Pumpkin Eater?

Watch the following video of Derek Jeter selling a hit-by-pitch to the home plate umpire, even though the ball clearly hits his bat -not his elbow - in the replays:

A little extra hay against the New York Yankees shortstop is being made right now with this video about whether or not the shortstop cheated. Here's the situation: top of the 7th, no one on and one out. The first pitch by (former Arizona Diamondbacks closer) the Tampa Bay Rays' Chad Qualls comes in tight to Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter who (rightly) spins out away from the ball. The ball, according to replays, actually hit the know of the bat, square on the end, and as it connects, Jeter grabs at his elbow, drops his bat, and grimaces in mock pain. The umpire, convinced by this rather impressive acting, announces a hit by pitch and awards Jeter first base. The Yankees' trainers come out to check on Jeter (who sells it all the way to first) and Rays manager Maddon comes out to argue. To their credit, the umpires did huddle up at second base to confer on the call, but no one saw it as anything other than a hit batter.

Now, don't get me wrong: I dislike the Yankees just as much as the next true American patriot (sorry, Yankees fans!), but Jeter really didn't do anything wrong. Selling the hit-by-pitch is just as much a part of baseball as anything else. Seriously, what did you want the guy to do? Tell the umpire that the ball DIDN'T hit the bat and that he wanted another chance to strike out? When you look at the video in real time, it happens so fast that it's impossible to tell whether the ball strikes his bat or his arm - I can't blame the umps for missing it.

But all you fans out there who decry this as cheating... it's not. And it really wouldn't be such a big deal if Jeter's HBP didn't end up resulting in a 2-run homer that inning by a later batter. But considering the Rays won the game, it makes little difference now. Also, after the game, Jeter admitted that the ball didn't actually hit him - adding more fuel to the "he cheated!" speculators. I dunno about all of you, but I find it really hard to criticize a guy for doing what I would expact any member of my team to do in the same situation.

Good acting, Derek.... just don't do it against my Diamondbacks next time we meet!

14 September 2010

Races Heating Up

I love this time of the year when I get to talk about two types of interesting races, political and baseball, in competing posts! This post is about the baseball races, which looked pretty solid all of a couple weeks ago, but have started to really become tense for a few teams who stand on the cusp of making the playoffs.

Back on August 11th, I posted some analyses about the various NL and AL races. Here's an update:

10 September 2010

2010 Midterm Update

All throughout today, I've been having fun reading polling data in some of the Arizona races for the 2010 midterms in November. It's starting to get really interesting in a few different races, and I thought I'd share a few viewpoints with my loyal readers.

First, nationally speaking, if the election were to be held today, most of the spreads I've seen have the Senate split 49-49 with 2 too close to determine, and have the House split 218-217 in favor of the Democrats. This represents a major shift in public perception of politics and of Congress (and, further, of the President) over just the last two years. Consider for a moment that in 2006 the Democrats took overwhelming control of the House and Senate, and in 2008 completed the trifecta by winning the White House. In fact, the Democratic Party had a 59-40-1 supermajority (with the one Independent caucusing with the Democrats) in the Senate just two years back. Now, projections indicate that they will lose at least 8 seats. In the House, the Democratic Party currently holds a 255-178 advantage with 2 vacancies, but Republicans are being projected to gain around 35 seats this year to even the score.

Why the shift? I believe it is a combination of the anti-incumbency movement sweeping the nation combined with a distaste for the recent policies pushed forth by the Democratic Congress. A failing economy combined with a massive, flawed stimulus has left a very bitter taste in the mouths of the Independents who voted anti-Republican in 2006 and who got swept up in Obamania in '08.

For me, it's very evident in Arizona, where four of the top contested races in the country are going on right now: Arizona's 1st, 3rd, 5th, and 8th congressional districts.

CD-01 pits first-term Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick against challenger Dr. Paul Gosar, a northern Arizona dentist and Arizona Dental Association leader in governmental affairs. The most recent poll done for this race was completed back on August 29, 11 days ago, and shows Gosar leading Kirkpatrick 47% to 41%, despite 54% of respondents saying that they had never heard of Gosar. Considering all the attention that the Kirkpatrick campaign gave to Rusty Bowers in the primary election even though Bowers wasn't likely to win the nomination, Gosar stands a decent chance to unseat Kirkpatrick this cycle.

CD-03 is closely watched this election because it's the seat being vacated this year by Republican John Shadegg. Even though I haven't read any polls on the matchup of Republican Ben Quayle, son of former VP Dan Quayle, versus Democrat John Hulburd, most places expect the seat to remain solidly in the GOP column after November 2nd.

CD-05 intrigues me most of all the Arizona races right now because David Schweikert (R) is currently polling ahead of Harry Mitchell (D) 50-44% according to an American Action Forum/Ayers poll I found on http://www.realclearpolitics.com/. The 400-likely-voter sample of people in the Tempe, Scottsdale, and Fountain Hills areas seems to indicate both that the economy/unemployment/jobs is far and away the #1 issue in the district (as opposed to 7% answering illegal immigration and healthcare) and that voters in CD-5 distrust Mitchell to be able to lead in fixing that problem. Indeed Mitchell's favorable/unfavorable rating is 42%/46% - within the margin of error by 0.9% but also not exactly good for him.

CD-08 also lists good numbers for the Republican candidate Jesse Kelly over incumbent Gabrielle Giffords - a deadlock 46-46%. As in CD-5, voters listed the economy as their #1 issue and have unfavorable opinions of Giffords and her politics.

There is a good possibility that the GOP could gain all four of these seats back (okay, in the case of CD-3 it'd be a hold) during this election cycle and return the state to a 6 Republican, 2 Democrat red state again (currently we sit as a 3 Republican, 5 Democrat blue/purple state since 2006). A lot of that probably has to do with the popular SB1070 immigration law, which many Republican candidates this year have been very quick to support and defend against the Obama administration lawsuits and Democratic "boycotts" which have been threatening the Arizona economy. Combine the bad economy with the stupid lawsuit from Obama and a multi-billion-dollar "stimulus" package that hasn't done much of anything yet, and it's not hard to see why anyone would vote in favor of the Democratic status quo this year.

The other interesting polling data I saw today was on the Arizona gubernatorial race - Brewer vs. Goddard - in which Brewer leads Goddard by 60% to 38%, up from 57-38 two weeks ago, and which has continued rising since the last poll showing Goddard ahead was conducted back in early May, 2010. Again, this one is no surprise: it's all because Brewer is riding the SB1070 wave, and even despite her, shall we say, pitiable debate performance against the current Attorney General she's projected to cruise to victory in the next 8 weeks.

30 August 2010

"Directions" Pt. 2

Way back in the olden days, and I'm talking 2004 here, I graduated high school and was chosen to give one of three student speeches at commencement. No, I wasn't valedictorian or salutatorian; my speech was just a class representative student speech. I had to interview for it, give it in front of a panel of teachers and the principal, and make revisions before mine was chosen out of a pool of applicant candidates.

That year, I was the "vice-president" to my good friend Scott of the "Skyline High School Literary Arts Club," and we produced a student literary magazine filled with short stories, art, poetry, and such. I wrote a poem and the magazine's foreward, a piece I entitled "Directions." My speech was modeled directly after that foreward:
Life is like a cyclone - ideas, concepts, trials (and errors), and a whole lot of luck - thrown into a swirling vortex of people and places that are ever-changing. At times, it seems as though I get so turned around by the winds of change and the sands of time that I don't realize what direction I am traveling afterwards.

Ah, directions. Mind you, all of them are grand - North, South, East, and West; even combinations of the four. However, the best sort of places to go are those without names. Directions that are based on a value system of decisions that allow you to choose the sidewalk you get to walk on. Our teachers, our parents, our friends, and our other, higher powers all help to place us on the right path, keep us from hitting the cars should we fall off the curb, and keep our moral compasses handy....

For the class of 2004, many of us will be moving in vastly different directions - from college to the armed services to stright into the workforce. For virtually all of us, our parents will be gone, our friends spread North, South, East, and West, and our teachers (who knew us all by name) will be a lonely summer's time back in the opposite direction.

This... is dedicated to all those who have helped to guide us through more than seventeen years, twelve grades, heartbreaks, arguments, good times and bad, our strays from the moral path of life, and our towering achievements.
Today, I am take pride in a new direction I have chosen to pursue for my life. I sent off my application to graduate school at the University of Arizona's School of Information Resources and Library Science, where I intend (upon my admission) to pursue my Master's degree as an Information Professional for eventual work as a research analyst.

Lately I realized that my "moral compass" was spinning without finding true North, due to my lack of success in job-hunting, my guilt for being a burden to my parents, and my other indiscretions. I re-read this foreward and speech and realized I had been traveling in the wrong direction for my life. I was afraid of racking up more debt by going back to school, even though I knew I needed to in order to obtain my goals.

Thus, about a month ago I made a decision that I am not only excited about, but proud of, and I began to put together my grad school application: transcripts, financial aid documents, resume, residency forms, immunization records, letters of recommendation from my NAU RHD when I was an RA and from my teacher colleague at one of the schools I sub for, and most importantly my statement of introduction. (And I would be a huge jerk if I didn't mention that Scott, Ryan, and my parents helped me proof it and improve it immensely!)

That package of documents - the sum total of my life's work to this point - got sent off this morning and should make it to U of A by tomorrow noon (thanks to Express Mail!) just under the application deadline!

Two quotes I like on directions:
What comes first, the compass or the clock? Before one can truly manage time (the clock), it is important to know where you are going, what your priorities and goals are, in which direction you are headed (the compass). Where you are headed is more important than how fast you are going. Rather than always focusing on what's urgent, learn to focus on what is really important. - Anonymous
May we be fearless... from friends and enemies...from known and unknown ... from night and day...May all the directions be our allies. - Atharva Veda

26 August 2010

Poll Working

I mentioned in my last post that I had been a poll worker for the election on Tuesday, and I gave a short summary of how that went. So for this post, I thought I'd explore the topic a bit more in-depth.

The tale begins over two months ago.... I signed up online at the elections poll worker signup website to work at the polls. My information was to be forwarded to recruiters who would call people in each precinct to find enough workers. Well, I waited.... And I waited.... And I continued to wait until I got bored with waiting. I re-entered my information on the website, called the Maricopa County Recorder's Office and spoke with someone there, and finally got fed up with not being given the courtesy of a phone call. So I wrote Secretary of State Ken Bennett an email, which I am sure someone on his staff read. It went much like this: "Dear Mr. Secretary: My name is Andrew M. and I have helped out on your campaigns in the past and met you a few times at various events. I doubt you remember me. I am looking to become a poll worker for this primary election and have as-yet not been called by any of these recruiters for the positions. Can your office please forward my information to whomever needs it to get this process rolling?"

And the next day, I got an email and a phone call from recruiters. Ta-da!

25 August 2010

Primary Election Results

In case you missed it: the Arizona primary election was held yesterday, and voters had to decide on many worthy candidates (and a few dopes) to represent the different parties in the November general election. In my humble opinion, the primary election is more important than the general election because it gives the public the chance to cast ballots for those people who really represent their interests, rather than just voting for the Republican because they don't like the Democrat or vice-versa as in the general election. Looking at a GOP or Democratic primary closely and digesting the numbers can really provide a slice of how that party in that area thinks.

I was working the polls in my precinct all day yesterday, so I didn't get a chance to see any results until very late last night and this morning. Here is a rundown of each of the races as they will appear in November:

11 August 2010


Recently, I've done a succession of long-winded posts on politics and the upcoming election, and while that topic is most definitely an inportant one for the future of Arizona, there is something equally as important (to me) going on: baseball. We're only about 2 weeks away now from the first of the statistical "eliminations" of teams from potentially making it to the playoff races this October, and I wanted to break down where things stand.

First, a little terminology refresher: every year baseball statisticians calculate something known as the "elimination number" for every team. This is the number of wins for the first-place team in the division plus the number of losses for the team in question needed to mathematically eliminate them from the possibility of winning a division spot or wild card spot in the playoffs.

09 August 2010

My Candidate Endorsements

As a voter in Arizona congressional district 6 and legislative district 19, as a common-sense person and conservative, and as a politically-minded individual, I do my best every two years to thoroughly analyze and digest statements from the many, many candidates that I have a choice over which to vote. And don't get me wrong, there are LOTS of candidates. In some ways that is what makes the primary elections process more important to the understanding of the mindset of the common voter than anything else or in the general election. People are free to cast ballots for those who best support them, even if that candidate has little chance of making it to the November ballot.

In making my choices, I look for a few key factors: first, an incumbent's voting record. It's all well-and-good to talk a big game in front of a town hall meeting or on one's website, but if an incumbent has voted on key bills in a manner inconsistent with my values and wishes as a constituent, it might just be time for a change. Second, candidate stances on issues. Candidates make a lot of statements during the course of a campaign, and while it's nice to say that one is a "principled conservative," sometimes the facts in their past don't point to that. I try to read as much as possible about any given candidate and how they have responded to questions about their views on a variety of issues. Finally, face-to-face interaction, if possible. I like to get out to actual events and speak to the candidates directly. If I have major questions, I ask them, and if I don't, I try to get a feel for the person behind the yard sign. Some people are phony, and they come off that way in person, even if they look genuine on paper.

With all that being said, I feel qualified in my assessments of the candidates to endorse the following candidates for public office in the 2010 Republican primary election:

04 August 2010

Congressional Races in Arizona

Currently, the State of Arizona has a makeup of two Republican senators and 3 Republican/5 Democratic House members. This post will analyze each of the nine federal races in Arizona through both the primaries and general election:

Arizona CD-1
Incumbent: Ann Kirkpatrick (D)
Challengers: Bradley Beauchamp (R), Rusty Bowers (R), Paul Gosar (R), Sydney Hay (R), Joe Jaraczewski (R), Jon Jensen (R), Steve Mehta (R), Thomas Zaleski (R)
Analysis: Obviously as you can see above, this race is being tightly contested by the Republicans, and there is a likelihood that they could win in November to incumbent Kirkpatrick who will be the Democratic nominee, considering she's running unopposed. Arizona's first district has typically trended Republican over the past several elections. The wave of anti-Republican sentiment in 2008 hit the first district hard - exascerbated by an investigation (and ultimately, indictment) of then-Congressman Rick Renzi. Kirkpatrick won by 50,000 votes or so in 2008, but there is no reason to think that voters wouldn't vote Republican again in the district. Of the GOP primary challengers, Sydney Hay has name recognition from her campaign in '08, in which she lost to Kirkpatrick, and former AZ Senate Majority Leader Bowers, attorney and teacher Beauchamp, and dentist Gosar have been campaigning hard for the seat. In my opinion, Rusty Bowers may have the best shot at defeating Kirkpatrick in the general, but it's likely to be Hay or Beauchamp to win the primary.

Read More: CD-2

02 August 2010

Candidate Reviews

A while back, I promised to give reviews on the candidates vying for this year's primary elections. Well, sadly, I never got to that, but I feel compelled to provide a rundown of the various races and top-tier candidates here.

Janice K. "Jan" Brewer (Republican) - Brewer is the current Governor of the State of Arizona and has been since 2008 when former Governor Janet Napolitano was appointed to head the US Dept. of Homeland Security. Since taking office, she has attempted to fend off a huge statewide financial crisis with a temporary 1% sales tax increase, signed controversial SB 1070 into law and is currently fending off a federal government lawsuit against it. However, her promises to create jobs in the state and to reduce state spending have faltered. Still, despite the controversy around the country (and world) over immigration, she is likely to win re-election in November.
Dean Martin (Republican) - Current Treasurer of the State of Arizona, has "indefinitely suspended" his campaign but will remain on the ballot.
Buz Mills (Republican) - Entrepreneur, has also suspended his campaign but will remain on the ballot.
Terry Goddard (Democrat) - Current Attorney General of Arizona who is term limited at the end of this year. His office during the past year "recovered or seized more than $267 million," from lawsuits. His campaign website regards job creation as "Job One" for the new governor.
Other candidates: Ronald Cavanaugh (LIB), Larry Gist (GRN), Barry Hess (LIB), Matthew Jette (REP), Bruce Olsen (LIB), Alvin Yount (LIB)

Read more after the jump:

30 July 2010

John McCain Town Hall in Mesa

A couple days ago, a robocall from Senator John McCain invited me to a town hall he was hosting at Las Sendas Elementary School for this morning at 10:00am. Since that happens to be just a mile or so down the road from me, I decided to go and see what he had to say. I have to say that I'm pleased that I did.

I arrived at the school early, because I wasn't sure whether or not there would be a lot of people in attendance. At Congressman Jeff Flake's town hall back in August, 2009, so many people attended that they were not all allowed inside the gymnasium where it was held. I stood outside for an hour or so until they let more people in. This time though, I was by far the first person there and no one else showed up until about 9am. The meeting was held in the school's media center, a place I remember well as a member of the inaugural class of kids there back in 1996-97.

Instead of waiting outside, I "snuck" in and talked with the campaign staffers for a while. Pretty soon, the room filled up with what I would estimate as about 100 people. There were also members of the press there - a reporter from a local paper, a man from a TV station with a camera, and a man from the St. Petersburg (Florida!) Times. I was also asked to write myself down as "press" because I introduced myself as a local blogger. Cool.

18 July 2010

Thoughts on Etc

I figured I'd put up a new post today, but I don't know much what I want to write about, so these are a variety of random thoughts for your reading enjoyment:

First, Thursday through Sunday of this week, I'll be housesitting for a friend of my mom's in lovely Prescott, Arizona. She has a house with an amazing view of the city to one side, and of Thumb Butte to another side, and I'll be there relaxing in the pines while I watch the house-cabin and take care of her two dogs. I am looking forward to going to Half Price Books tomorrow or Tuesday and picking out some new reading material for the trip! Sadly, I don't really have any remaining friends in the Prescott area, so I won't have anyone to hang with if I do get bored up there, but I figure as long as there are pine trees and cooler temps, I may try to find some local geocaches and peruse the old shops in downtown while I'm there.

The Arizona Diamondbacks are back to playing now that the All-Star break has ended, and have promptly been swept (again!) by the NL West-leading San Diego Padres. We lost game one 1-12, game two 5-8, and today's game three by 4-6. There were two bases loaded walks issued by DBacks' pitchers, one bases-loaded hit-by-pitch, a run-scoring error by Mark Reynolds, a run-scoring wild pitch by Edwin Jackson, and overall poor defense and a lack of desire to win by the Diamondbacks. The only time I saw any animation from anyone during the series is when Evereth Cabrera of the Padres was picked off third base by Montero/Reynolds in today's game. Cabrera took a cheap shot on Reynolds and intentionally kicked him in the face after a rough tag for the out, but Reynolds responded with a half swing at Cabrera, prompting the benches to clear and Cabrera to run away like a little girl. Cabrera was then ejected for the cheap shot. Me, personally, I'm still waiting for the big brawl everyone knows is coming soon out of the Diamondbacks.

On the job front, I'm still trying to apply for purposeful jobs, though I shy away from jobs involving "closing," "marketing," "indoor/outdoor sales," and food service. I'm still trying to get to a point where I can find some good research or entry-level management jobs to apply for, but sadly with the economy, those are still few and far between. (If you are reading this, and have a political PAYING job, something in research, or something similar you need filled, I would sure love to hear about it!) I will, concordently, be doing more substitute teaching this year to get some pocket change while I look for something with more permanence.

I finished a really good book two days ago called "Too Far From Home" by Chris Jones. It's the story of the three astronauts who were stranded in orbit aboard the International Space Station after the Colombia shuttle disaster, how they coped with the situation, their experiences aboard station, and ultimately, how they got home. It's a somewhat dense book, and certainly not a quick read, but Jones' masterful prose combined with easy-to-understand technical details on the ISS and the shuttles alongside the emotional stories of the three men, their families, and the people at NASA and in Russia's Star City trying to bring them home, it's a book well-worth the time. I recommend it highly.

Anyway, I'll post something about the times in Prescott when I get back. Until then, loyal readers!