Sunday, October 10, 2010

Fall Break 2010: Utah Adventure - Day 4 #2 (I wear my sunglasses at night)

I have more pics to share, these ones are of the Salt Lake Valley at night. My camera (and my camera phone) aren't great, but I hope it gets the idea across of how cool the lights look.

I really like how the clouds show up in these pictures

If I do this again I definitely need to get a tripod. The shutter speed is so slow for these that it's impossible to hold the camera still long enough.

Fall Break 2010: Utah Adventure - Day 4

So much for updating this business every day. Anyhow, I'm winding down my fourth day here, only a few more to go before I head back to Raleighwood. I don't have anything interesting to say, so instead I'll share some of the sweet pics of the Salt Lake Valley I've taken.

View of the Oquirrh Mountains (pronounced "ochre" for my non SL friends) from the east side.

Same view as before, this time using the panoramic picture feature on my phone

Wasatch Mountains to the East, they don't look as big because I was already partway up the damn thing anyway.

I want to say the peak on the left is Mount Olympus, but I honestly have no idea.

The southern end of the Oquirrh's

It's kind of tough to see, but that's a view of the Bingham Canyon Mine. Near where I grew up.

Downtown Salt Lake City, not a whole lot to it.

Mount Olympus (I think?) and rich people's houses.

Again, no idea which mountain this is... Loan Peak? Not sure.

Another view of the copper mine.

As you can see I went kinda crazy with the mountain pictures. I'm always bragging about Utah's mountains to my NC friends, so I thought I'd show them what I'm talking about for once. My amateur photography skills don't quite do it justice, and they look completely different when the snow season starts, but I still think they're pretty awesome.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Fall Break 2010: Utah Adventure - Foreward

So I'll be leaving for the airport in about an hour. I spent last night at home doing laundry and packing, since then I've unpacked, and now I'm roughly half-packed for my trip. Just gotta stuff the rest of my crap on my carry-on and I'm good to go.

After moving to Raleigh four years ago it's seemed like I'm in a completely different world that Salt Lake, and it warps my mind a little bit to think that in about twelve hours I'll go from strolling to class through the Court of Carolinas (pictured above) to spending time with some old friends in Utah. I know, that's the miracle of air travel, but I don't make the trip often so when I do it makes these two worlds feel awful close.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Obscure Band Names

Today in the shower I started thinking about obscure band names, yes, these are the things I think about while getting ready to attack my day with optimism. I started thinking up some good ones, good enough I thought I'd share. If you're an obscure, better-than-average band, and you end up using one of these, just put me in the "thanks" section of your cd-book-thing when you get famous, or name a song after me, that's all I ask.

Anyhow, here goes:

Not Quite Ikea
Optimistic Lemmings
Accidental Lepers
Redundant Repeaters
Diesel-Powered Welcome Wagon
Pessimistic Peon
Accidental Optimists
Affluent Marxists
Advantageous Salad
Viva la Ensalada!
Shallow Gravitas
Fourth-Line Goons
Malicious Linguists
Accidental Trendsetters
Reluctant Rainwater
Sunburnt Viking

You're welcome, I'll probably come up with more of these as the day goes on. Can you think of any? Share them here!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Adopt-A-Team 2010, Part 0 (aka, The Ground Rules)

I apologize to both of my readers for the delay in getting this Adopt-A-Team project rolling. The last few weeks have been full of packing, moving, unpacking, cleaning, throwing stuff away, laundry, napping, etc. But I did jot down a few ideas on how I'm going to do this thing, unfortunately the notepad I jotted on didn't survive the move, so I had to start over. Here's what I'm thinkin':

First off, if I'm going to pick a new favorite team, I need to set aside my biases and consider all 30 clubs on a relatively even playing field. So yes, I'll devote a post to Mr. Steinbrenner's club, even though pinstripes make me queasy.

Also, I'm going to try and make my analysis consistent by using a basic set of criteria to compare each team by. Of course I'll probably deviate wildly from time to time, but at least I'll have some sort of direction to start. I'm thinking I'll cover the aesthetics such as the team name, logo, mascot (if applicable), their uniforms and color scheme, and their ballpark. Then I'm thinking I'll look into the history of the club (aka the "Tradition"), the city they play in, the current team as it is now, their prospects for the future and then whatever else I feel like throwing in there.

Yes, I know, I'm a dork.

So that's how I plan on attacking this bad boy, I'll pick the teams randomly and start the fun before the end of the week (hopefully).

Sunday, May 02, 2010

I have no dog in this fight (The beginning of my search for a new favorite team)

I love me some baseball

It was definitely my first love when it came to sports. It was the first game I learned to play, and more importantly it was the first -and really, only- game I was ever really good at. I set the Hunter Elementary 6th Grade Softball Tournament record with 15 home runs, in eight games! At twelve years old I was the best player in the neighborhood. Unfortunately I hit my peak at fourteen, after which I decided it was more fun to be a shithead than a ballplayer and spent the next two years being grounded for one reason or another, and thus not being allowed to keep playing little league. By the time I stopped antagonizing my parents at 15 and tried out for my high school team the pitchers went from throwing 60 mph to the mid-70's, and the pitches moved in ways I'd never seen before. I went from hitting line drives in the gap to foul tips in the catchers mitt, and that spelled the end of my baseball career.

So while I wasn't destined to play the game, I still love watching it and keeping up with the goings-on, but growing up in Utah meant I didn't have the luxury of a natural home-town team. Salt Lake City is 500+ miles from Denver, and slightly further from Phoenix and any of the California teams. My first favorite player was Mike Piazza, mostly because he was a bad ass and played my favorite position, catcher (because they get to wear all that cool gear) and he could hit the ball a freakin' mile, so at first I gravitated toward liking the Dodgers. It helped that the guy my mom married around that same time grew up in L.A., but that all came apart the first time I actually went to the "City of Angels" I cried for half the flight as the change in air pressure made my head feel like it was going to explode, and my experience got only slightly better once we finally landed. The first thing I remember seeing was all the smog, it was a concrete jungle, and the people were assholes and drove like it, too. Disney Land was crowded as hell and then there was all that smog. I fell out of like with that city in less than a week, I've been back a handful of times since and my opinion of the place hasn't changed. Oh yeah, then the Dodgers shipped Piazza to the Marlins (who then slung him over to the Mets a week later). After that I've regarded the boys in blue with mere ambivalence.

After that I kind of floated around, we had a AAA team in Salt Lake, the Buzz were an affiliate of the Twins at the time, who had an awesome farm system which allowed me to watch players such as LaTroy Hawkins, Todd Walker, A.J. Pierzinski and David Ortiz before they moved up to the bigs. Then later when the Angels became the affiliate I got to see the likes of David Eckstein, Chone Figgins and John Lackey suit 'em up. Still though, I never felt much for the Twins or Halos, they were too far away, and never showed up on TV.

Speaking of TV, I watched more than my share of Cubs and Braves games on WGN and TBS, respectively. I developed something of an affinity for the Cubbies, Wrigley Field is an awesome venue, and they played games in the daytime, and Mark Grace was an awesome defensive first-baseman (which is what I was playing in little league at the time) but I never made the leap to claim them as my team. As for the Braves, their fate was sealed during my time as a Dodgers fan, when the two teams faced off (one of the few times I got to watch the Dodgers on tv since TBS was really good at covering almost every Braves game back then) the Braves always beat the crap out of the Dodgers, I appreciated the all-around talent of Chipper Jones, but their embarrassment of my favorite club left a sour taste that never really went away, even after the Dodgers fell out of favor.

Finally around 1999 my team found me. The Red Sox grew on me. They had a goofy-looking ballpark, an ambiguous nickname, a knuckleball pitcher (Tim Wakefield, the Dodgers had Tom Candiotti back in the day) and eventually they had player that I'd actually seen play live (David Ortiz). I also really liked to watch Carl Everett play, it's kind of embarassing to admit, but this is before I understood how much of a douche he was/is.

Anyhow, the Sox and I had a great run. In High School one of my best friends was also a Soxman, and in 2004 we went batshit crazy when they came back from three games down against the Stankees to win the series in seven then swept the Cardinals in the World Series, it was a great time.

As the next few years passed by I stuck with the team, but I started to waver a bit. The Boston front office started trading away all of their prospects and handing out gargantuan contracts much the same way their nemeses in New York did, it's hard to call the team in the Bronx the "Evil Empire" for topping $200 million a year in player salaries when you're own club is close behind at around $175 millionish. The free-spending and lack of homegrown talent never sat very well with me, but it didn't push me off completely.

My Red Sox fanhood has slowly unraveled since moving to the East Coast in 2006 for a few reasons in addition to what I've already mentioned. I came to realize more and more the meaning of the term "Masshole" the Sox fan base, instead of loathing in self pity was now filled with feelings of entitlement, and I honestly believe they'd eat their own young for another World Series win, and the routine booing of their own players never sat well. The tipping point came when news surfaced that David Ortiz, next to Kevin Youkilis my favorite player, and one of the main reasons I became a Sox fan to begin with, had been using performance enhancers in 2003. I'm not one to put athletes on a moral pedestal of any kind, but this caused me to lose all respect for him as a ballplayer, Big Papi was a cheater, and in hindsight that was when I decided I was finished with the Sox.

Another thing happened in my personal life that completely removed me from the Red Sox nation. I spent the summers of 2008 and '09 working at a summer camp with little access to the outside world. This baseball sabbatical has wiped the slate clean in my mind, I didn't move away from the Sox, rather they moved away from me, so it's time to move on.

So here I am, a baseball lover without a favorite team, I don't like living in this limbo, but I don't want to jump from bandwagon to bandwagon either. My plan is to use this blog to systematically explore the merits of every team in the league, and hopefully by the end I'll be able to adopt a new franchise as my favorite. At this point I only have a rough idea of what my criteria will be, but I'll figure it out in the next little while and try and get it in place before I go through the search team by team. It should be fun.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Free your mind and the rest will follow

In case you didn't know, I have a symbiotic relationship with my MacBook, one of my favorite things about my Macky is all the sweet free applications people come up with.

For instance, right now I'm trying to outline an essay for my Modern American History class, to help with my notes and outline I'm using freemind, a mind mapping software that's very similar to some other applications out there, only freemind is... you know... free (and also works with Windows and Linux). I remember learning about mind-mapping in the fifth grade or something, but I never gave it a second thought until about a year ago when I stumbled upon this app, it took some getting used to but now I'm a believer.

It's probably not an app for everybody, really depends on how your mind works, but I definitely recommend giving it a try, it allows me to keep more organized notes and if I change my mind (which has been known to happen) I can easily drag and drop and shift nodes around until I come up with something more suitable, also it gives me a place to jot down anything I may be thinking (which I make sure to format using a little cloud-bubble thing so when I come back to it later I know not to take it too seriously)

Anyway here's an example of some of the work I've been doing the last few days, enjoy (and obviously click on the thumbnail if you want to see a larger and somewhat legible version):