Sunday, April 25, 2021

Better Unread Than Dead

My New Year's resolutions in 2015 and 2020 were relatively similar: I wanted to make a conscious effort to reconnect with people I haven't seen or heard from recently. With 2020 being a wash for obvious reasons, I extended this vague goal into 2021. I have give or take 2,500 FB friends, so someone is naturally going to be left behind. For anyone that isn't on FB or largely skirks social media, it makes for a fun challenge. Having been on social media since the mid-2000s, and being in college when this unique interconnectivity was at its advent, there aren't that many people my age or younger that are "off the grid."

I often wonder about the people that don't answer their messages. The ignored texts, the overlooked emails. Do I have old contact info? Did I land in the spam folder? Admittedly, I used to take this sort of thing a lot harder. I still find it rude, but I have a better understanding of why someone might not reply; most often, they're too busy. By no means do I expect a reply within the hour; I'm perfectly happy with a short reply. Too often, I feel like I'm shooting an arrow through the air; where it lands? No idea where.

The weirdest feeling is when you figure out someone has blocked you on Facebook or Instagram or something without cause or explanation. I've run into that a few times; if I do have that alternate means, I typically write a "hello, how are things?" without directly addressing the snub. Usually, in those cases I don't get a reply. I'm not afraid of confrontation per se, but I'm not going to send an unprovoked "WTF" text either. I'm socially awkward, so misunderstandings can abound.

In any case, I hope they're doing well. I wouldn't reach out to just anyone.

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Wednesday, March 31, 2021

30 Teams, 30 Haiku: My 2021 Baseball Preview


 It's haiku time!

If it feels like I just posted this seven and a half months ago, well, that's because I did. We're entering our second season of baseball with COVID, and the trepidation has evolved into something peculiar. How many people will be allowed in the stands? How much money will MLB stand to lose between the pandemic, sky-high free agents, and skepticism about the exposed Astros? I don't know to answer those questions, but I know how to break down all the teams in 17 soma

* note wild card teams


AL EAST

1. Yankees (98-64) Title contenders/(again) even without Judge/or Stanton healthy.

2. Rays* (97-65) Like the Yanks, without/pitching depth; bats blossom for/Arozarena.

3. Blue Jays (82-80) Like the Rays, with less/pitching still; young lineup has/Springer in their step.

4. Red Sox (76-86) Lost in the shuffle/is new-look Bosox; give them/another year, tops.

5. Orioles (72-90) The (John) Means to win/aren't there yet; Mancini will/return to form, though.


AL CENTRAL

1. Twins (86-76) Cruz, ageless bopper/in soft division, power/makes you see double.

2. White Sox (84-78) Quite overrated/there's upside, but will they grow/up? Ask Drunk Tony. 

3. Royals (81-81) Keep your Whits about/you; improved regals have a/stockade of young arms.

4. Indians (74-88) Name change soon, but these/pitchers aren't anonymous/who plays outfield, though?

5. Tigers (71-91) Outside of Miggy/no star power; young, raw, and/often rough to watch.


AL WEST

1. Astros (99-63) Cheaters, remember?/JV injury hinders/orange redemption.

2. Athletics* (93-69) Minimal changes/are concerning; offense depth?/Especially so.

3. Angels (92-70) Everyone here/Ohtani, Adell, *and* Trout/needs a rebound year.

4. Mariners (67-95) Puget Sound youngsters/competent all-around, but/expect to tread water.

5. Rangers (64-98) Newly rebuilding/good outfield... and not much else/Kiner, team leader?


NL EAST

1. Braves (96-66) After LCS/collapse, deep roster has one/goal in mind: World Champs.

2. Mets* (94-68) Hello, Steve Cohen/free agent bonanza has/fans Flushing with glee.

3. Nationals (87-75) Like '19, sleeper/team with upset potential/but must stay healthy.

4. Phillies (79-83) Big bats, no defense/any team with Bryce will be/quite overrated.

5. Marlins (77-85) These fish kinda stink/last year's Cinderella team/are wearing glass cleats.


NL CENTRAL

1. Brewers (90-72) Love the rotation/*and* the bullpen, but Yelich/must return to form.

2. Cardinals (88-74) Nolan boosts aging/core; possible last run for/Waino and Yadi? 

3. Reds (83-79) In Queen City, more/is less; top-heavy pitching/with hot-or-cold bats.

4. Cubs (80-82) '16 seems like a/distant memory; budget/cuts will continue.

5. Pirates (63-99) New Walmart wonders?/Scabs, lack of prospects, so not/much bang for your Buc.


NL WEST

1. Dodgers (100-62) No discernible/weaknesses makes a repeat/inevitable.

2. Padres* (94-68) Ooooooh, that Snell! Friars/have energy to spare; they/just need a closer. 

3. Giants (71-91) The closest thing to/a spoiler; Posey is/surrounded by youth.

4. D-Backs (70-92) Trending downward in/the desert; can MadBum find/his insanity?

5. Rockies (63-99) Forget Chuck, this whole/team is Nazty; Rox' rebuild/not a gorgeous view.


AL MVP: Mike Trout, Angels

NL MVP: Mookie Betts, Dodgers

AL Cy Young: Shane Bieber, Indians

NL Cy Young: Jacob deGrom, Mets

AL ROY: Ryan Mountcastle, Orioles

NL ROY: Ke'Bryan Hayes, Pirates

First Manager Fired: Joe Girardi, Phillies

2021 World Series: Dodgers over Astros in 6

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Friday, March 26, 2021

Dispatches from Arm's Length, Part 15

 One damn year. What was supposed to be a few weeks, maybe a couple months has now dragged on for over a year. I'm glad to see vaccinations are accelerating, but the assumption that just because the weather is warmer means relaxing certain protocols is lazy and dangerous. (Remember when people thought the summer heat would kill the virus?) I feel like we're 75% of the way there, yet we're going to be at 75% for a good while. 

I have both of my shots, but I'm still going to wear a mask everywhere. It's common courtesy, if nothing else. People are getting sloppy and inconsistent about mask-wearing here in Chicago and the suburbs, which is as troubling now as it was 12 months ago.

My annual Spring battle with allergies came and went last year with much of an impact, and I think wearing a mask contributed to that. I get hit again in mid-October too, and I had maybe two days of sneezing and nasal drip. I hope against hope that this March and April will be the same. Otherwise, I'll stock up on Claritin.

Next week: my annual baseball preview.

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Sunday, March 7, 2021

Random Notes, March 2021

 Bouncing off the (news) satellites:

+ I was fully expecting the early days of the Biden administration to be a mixed bag. The worst is gone, but our problems will not be immediately absolved. The decision to bomb Syria to intimidate Iran was concerning, but I like what Biden et al. are doing in regards to the pandemic. 

+ Meanwhile, I have both of my COVID shots!

+ It probably goes without saying I'm not flying to Texas for Spring Break. Money is too tight to travel, on top of... well, you know. I am saving my money for a couple of short, cost-effective road trips, though.

+ If I've been keeping my semi-regular dispatches short, I've been distracted or overwhelmed by other things at the moment. Cleaning out our parents' house has been just as much of a challenge as I expected. My sister and I are sifting through the belongings of not just things we inherited from our parents, but from grandparents, aunts and uncles as well. So much of our once big, sprawling Catholic brood has trickled down to the two of us.

+ I'm guardedly optimistic about my Royals this year. We made a number of good moves, and I have faith in our plethora of above-average arms in the minor leagues. I'll go more into detail when I write my baseball haikus later this month. 

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Monday, February 15, 2021

Dispatches from Arm's Length, Part 14

Nearly half a million Americans are dead. A population the size of Kansas City has been wiped out by COVID. The rise of numerous variants has complicated most forms of treatment. For some, we're beyond pandemic fatigue. For others, we hope for the best, even without an end in sight.

I am now one of the few and lucky to have been vaccinated. One of the districts I sub for offered, and I accepted. I drove to a local high school gym on a Saturday morning, took my sweater off, and there it went. I felt groggy the rest of the day, but otherwise I'm fine. I'll get my second Moderna shot in early March.

Other notes:

+ Former President Trump getting acquitted a second time was disappointing, though hardly surprising. You can blame the Democrat higher-ups or weak-willed Republicans, but to me they're apples and oranges. The prosecution was excellent, but the decision to not call witnesses made the lack of punishment a foregone conclusion. 

+ It took a year, but the epic Minor League Baseball realignment happened. I was half-right about the outcome; the Burlington Bees were shut out, but the Beloit Snappers were spared. On the flip side, the Kane County Cougars didn't make the cut, but now they're joining an "MLB partnership" league that's basically independent ball. Alas, I'm still a season-ticker holder, so I guess I'll witness first-hand whether this works out.

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Monday, February 1, 2021

Still Hiding in Plain Sight

Sorry for the delay, everyone. I had a hard time writing this one without going too much into detail:

Two weeks ago, I had to block a former improv teammate on all social media. I described my situation with his person and a non-for-profit improv organization 15 months ago. I was participating in a goofy contest for the organization via Facebook, and they commented that Funny Bones is transphobic. (This is the same person that threatened to sue and lead a boycott of a children's charity.) I deleted the comment, then they rewrote it 10 minutes later. They did the same thing on Instagram. This was my first direct interaction with this person since they were kicked out in November 2019.

I don't feel great about doing it, especially with how complicated the situation was, but it was probably the best course of action. This person was looking for a confrontation, and I know that no matter what I was going to say, they weren't going to budge. A mutual friend --a woman they dated briefly last year-- was willing to hear me out. She suggested it was argumentum ad lapidem, or "appeal to the stone." This person in question is too festering with anger from this and other situations to hear a counter-argument. The problem is them, not me. 

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