September 30, 2005

Buy me a present

Anyone dying to buy me a present in the near future could do worse than these:

1. The Juice by Will Carroll
2. Saving the Pitcher by Will Carroll
3. Forging Genius by Steven Goldman
4. Winners: How Good Teams Become Great Ones… by Dayn Perry
5. Baseball Prospectus 2006 by Baseball Prospectus
6. The Numbers Game : Baseball's Lifelong Fascination with Statistics by Alan Schwartz

September 29, 2005

Don't you wish there were a knob on the TV to turn up the intelligence? There's one marked 'Brightness,' but it doesn't work.

September 28, 2005

Someone else found it for me


4 Shizzle!, originally uploaded by StoneTable.

Yes, this is the store front I was talking about in the previous post. Defies explanation, don't you think?

September 27, 2005

I'll take a picture next time

So, driving to Lawndale today and yesterday, I passed this storefront with a sign sticking out of it. Usually, this is the type of sign that says something like "Captain Jimmy's Coatrack Outlet." This sign, however, was yellow with green letters. Smaller letters at the top said "I got 99 problems." Below that, in script was, simply, "4shizzle." What? Anyhow, the signs in the building itself above the windows said, "Don't hate chuuuurch," followed by yet another "4shizzle." I have no idea what was in there, except that the sign on the door said it was closed. Someday, I'm going down there again to find out what is in that storefront, if for no other reason than to avoid the well-known "If it weren't for my horse, I wouldn't have spent that year in college" syndrome.

Until I get a picture of this, you'll have to believe that I'm telling the truth about this more than I've told the truth about anything in my whole life.

September 26, 2005

Eastern Europe Journal #3 - 8/5

August 5th, 2005 - Bydgoszcz

We arrived from Poznan at our hostel, which is pretty gross, especially the bathrooms. I'm pretty sure it is also cheap, which is good when traveling Europe on a budget.

We did a bit of sightseeing here in the heart of Bydgoszcz, which I finally learned how to spell. Oh, and it it's pronounced BID-goash, a nice two syllable word. First we were given a tour of the city hall, which is a very nice building. At least the people of the town know where the tax money goes. At the end of the tour, they had fruit and cookies set up in a conference room. We felt important.

Following that, some of us toured a cathedral featuring a 450 year old painting at its center. Near as I could tell Pope John Paul II had been there more than once (he was Polish, don't ya know), but I was getting my information from Dan, who was speaking Russian to the Polish head coach. The only Polish I know is "thank you," which sounds vaguely like jin-KOOL-ya.

Then we took a boat tour, the main feature of which was that it did not require walking or standing. I enjoyed relaxing.

Finally, the match. We wrestled a club called Gwiazda (Translated: Stars), but mostly the younger wrestlers. We won nearly all the matches, as we should against teenagers. My match was the fastest, as the guy I wrestled was plenty tall, but rail thin with no muscle. They were all good sports as they gave up both weight and age.

I'm pretty sure we get the older guys tomorrow morning.

September 22, 2005

Eastern Europe Journal #2 - 8/3 and 8/4

August 3rd, 2005 - Berlin

Another long day in Berlin. If it weren't for all the food I've been eating, all this walking would be a good calorie burn. Today we saw Checkpoint Charlie and the old Gestapo headquarters with 200 meters of the original wall left standing. Unfortunately, it rained all day long. Germany is known for a few things, and one of them is lousy weather.

Another thing is rude customer service. Waiters, fast food workers, and store clerks are awfully rude. There are a few reasons for this. First, they get paid the same no matter what, as there is little tipping in Germany. Second, that's just the way Germans are in public. The Germans I actually know are pretty pleasant, but the ones I don't need to learn a little bit about service. I'm paying to eat her. Serving me is not a favor you're doing, it's an expectation that comes with me paying your inflated German price.

Oh, and then we drove to Poland. The bus driver hit the sights pretty hard as well today, which must have worn him out since we drove for about two hours and then stopped at a restaurant in the middle of nowhere Poland for three hours in the middle of the night so he could take a rest. There was no warning that this would be a three hour stop, and sleeping on the bus is not my idea of a good time. I'm either too tall or too short to get comfortable. I haven't decided which.

August 4th, 2005 - Poznan

It's a city of 590,000, and we must have seen most of it in our search for lunch. We walked to a place that was described as "10 minutes away." Half an hour later, we arrived to find it closed. Thirty minutes after that, we had hopped a street car and ended up at a Polish restaurant where the pierogis were good but not worth an hour trip. Especially considering the fact that the "leader" had no thoughts of keeping the group together.

Previously, we had seen the mechanical goats at noon in the town square. Leaving there, we thought we might get some lunch soon. Three hours and some sore feet later, we sat down to the aforementioned pierogis.

The sights in Poznan were good, however. We saw a Polish cathedral, underneath which were the ruins of the oldest cathedral in Poland, built in the tenth century. The main square of Poznan is still very much intact, as the city escaped major damage during World War II. Additionally, we saw a castle being power washed. The difference, as seen in the accompanying photo, was striking. According to the Polish coach traveling with us, Hitler lived in that castle for a while during WWII. According to my research, that's not exactly accurate. The castle built in 1913, and prepared for Hitler in case he ever came to Poznan, but he never visited the city.

Tomorrow, we finally wrestle.

September 20, 2005

Strider Wrestling

If you want to keep up with Strider Wrestling, the organization I am working for, you can see the blog I started at striderwrestling.blogspot.com. There is also a link to it in the sidebar. Eventually, we'll have a whole website, but this is a start for anyone who wants to know how it's going.

September 14, 2005

Inspired Writing

I was going back and looking at my AL and NL preview to see how I did on picking division winners. At this point, if things hold, I picked 3 out of 6. I can get to 4 of 6 if the Yankees catch the Red Sox, but I'm hoping to stay at 3. Anyhow, when I went back looking for it, I stumbled upon a post on my now defunct sports blog Foul Territory. The post, found here, is entitled "Winning Baseball," and in it I make six or so points about what it takes to build a winning baseball team. A lot of the information is pretty obvious if you read Baseball Prospectus or can define the term "sabermetrics," but I think what I did was pretty well written, and it has held up to the test of time. A lot of times, I'll go back and read what I wrote in my blog and wonder if I thought it was good at the time. This, this is different. This is good, and I'd appreciate it if you read it and care even the slightest bit about baseball.

I may own a Saab...

...but I'm not the guy described here. Read the post at the very bottom of the screen and cackle with glee.

Eastern Europe Journal #1 - 8/1 and 8/2

I am finally beginning to post my journal from our trip on the web. Today, you get August 1st and 2nd, two days because riding on an airplane doesn't give much to talk about. Hopefully, I will keep this up and get you through my trip right quick.

August 1st, 2005 - Somewhere over Ohio
Sitting at the gate before our flight out of Cleveland, a kid was talking loudly and obnoxiously. I leaned over to Janet and whispered, "If there's any justice in this world, that kid will be far away from us on the plane." I should have just kept my mouth shut, since my utterance no doubt resulted in him having the seat directly behind us, a fact his mouth made sure we didn't forget for most of the 50 minute ride to Cincinatti.

August 2nd, 2005 - Berlin
I haven't slept a whole lot the past 24 hours. Something about getting used to a new time zone. Of course, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't ready to fall over and pass out here at 6pm. Janet and I have really chewed up the scenery here in Berlin. I took some great pictures. Some people like natural scenery, but an interesting building is way better in my book.

Touring Berlin is way easier when Janet is around. She reads the signs and orders food for me so I don't have to sound like an idiot when I want a Coke (which costs around $2 for 1/3 liter and comes without ice). Janet has also served as group translator, especially when we checked into the hotel. I shudder to think what would have transpired had she not been with us, though she and I both have the sneaking suspicion that the German hotel people knew way more English than they let on.

September 12, 2005

September 11, 2005

I should stop looking this stuff up

So I was comparing college tuition costs today. I already knew that Grove City was the best value in Christian Education, but I wanted to know by how much. See below the complete approximate annual costs for four private schools:

Grove City: $15,784
Wheaton: $27,660
Messiah: $28,910
Loyola Chicago: $33,634

You can see the difference, and Grove City still offers more in the way of scholarships and aid than Wheaton. The best deal in Christian Education? Without a doubt.

Now to the part I should stop looking up, for fear of sending me over the edge. Messiah College has really upped the amounts of their academic aid. I just determined that if I had received all the same scholarships from Messiah, but at their current levels, my total out of pocket cost for an entire year (minus books and other incidentals but including room and board) would be approximately $3,400. That's state school territory right there, folks. Hey, I'm not complaining (too much) about this. It's great for the kids who are there, now, but the burden of college debt would be non-existent if I were five years younger. I (mostly) knew about the debt going in, so it's not like it's some great injustice or surprise, but still, seeing numbers like that hurts a tiny little bit.

Was being at Messiah worth it? Ask me when the debt is paid off.

September 10, 2005

So, um, how's it going

A lot of people have been asking me how the season is shaping up with the Wheaton Wrestling Team, so I think I'll put it here. By all means, keep asking, but here's where we are as of today.

I'm pumped up for the upcoming season. We have a smallish team, but until I figure out how to conjure wrestlers out of thin air, I'll work with it. We'll fill most of the weight classes, and it's not like we're trying to win any tournaments or go undefeated. I'm focusing on individual success this year and next, with the hope that increased recruiting efforts combined with good coaching will raise the scoring on an individual and team basis.

I would say that in the last six months, Wheaton has gone from being one of the most under-resourced Division III wrestling teams to one of the best. Now, if the team budget has increased, it's only been incremental, but the increase in human capital has been enormous. There's really no way to describe the impact of gaining both a full-time assistant and a volunteer strength coach at the same time. The strength and conditioning coach provides a program that can make an incredible difference in the fitness of the wrestlers, while I, as the full-time assistant, can take care of administrative tasks, be there during strength training and conditioning, and put my considerable technique skills to work in the practice room. Combining that with having a good, if overworked, coach already in place, and it will not be long before Wheaton Wrestling again commands respect in Division III. I think it will help in recruiting as well, when I can call a high school wrestler and tell him that we have a strength coach as well as myself being there to supervise and encourage the work. At most every other DIII school, the athletes may get a strength program, but there is no provision to supervise the workouts because few schools have a full time assistant for this purpose. I'll also have the ability to hold individual workouts to further improve the wrestlers' technique. Needless to say, the level of individualized instruction at Wheaton now rivals that of any school, regardless of division.

Like I said, I'm excited at where we are and where we're going.

September 9, 2005

Can anyone answer this

I want to know more about Joel Osteen. I'm instantly skeptical of any Christian who writes a book called "Your Best Life Now," but I want to see what others think of this guy. I've read that his theology is a "mile wide and a millimeter deep" and that his book is pretty much the "health and wealth" version of the gospel. Have I hit it on the head or is there more to it? Is this just another "Purpose Driven Life," a book that is wildly popular but ultimately lacking in real spiritual truth?

September 5, 2005

Suggested Listening

As before, listen to these songs, it will do you good.

1. Hollow - Better Than Ezra
2. My Angel - Darcie Miner Band
3. Bulletproof - Goo Goo Dolls
4. Shiver - Coldplay
5. Rockin' the Suburbs - Ben Folds
6. In a Little While - U2
7. Just Tonight - Jimmy Eat World
8. Bought for a Song - Fountains of Wayne
9. Monkey and the Engineer - The Grateful Dead
10. I Wanna Be Sedated - The Ramones
11. Lost Cause - Oleander
12. Keep the Dream Alive - Oasis

September 3, 2005

Back in the game

OK, pictures have been transferred to Yahoo!, so there is plenty of viewing space. Since there was a 300 picture limit for each album, the pictures are separated between albums called "Eastern Europe 2005" and "Eastern Europe 2005 2." Both can be found here.

All right kids

New plan, I'm switching to Yahoo! Photos. They have finally made uploading more friendly, and they offer unlimited storage, and I haven't found any insidious limits like those goobers over at Flickr....yet. The link will be forthcoming.

So, I learned something

Flickr free accounts only display your most recent 200 pictures, which means some of my Europe pictures, as well as everything else I've uploaded before that is not viewable, though it still exists on their servers. That cheeses me off, but it's the breaks. If you want to see other pictures, just let me know, and I'll see what I can do.

The rest are online

If you go to my Flickr, you can see the rest of our pictures from the Europe trip. This one here is just a teaser. Sorry, but they're not in any kind of order, due to the vagaries of the Flickr Uploadr.