"Let us go forth a while, and get better air in our lungs. Let us leave our closed rooms...
The game of ball is glorious."

--Walt Whitman

Monday, November 21, 2005

Long Time, No Post Miscellany

The Very Interesting But Poorly Scheduled Project ate the last two weeks of my life. I'm currently working on posts about the new steroid policy and the Twins hot stove rumors, but neither is ready yet. However, I do have a few bits and bobs to entertain you (and assure you I'm still alive and writing):

I just started reading Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's new book, "Yarn Harlot: the Secret Life of a Knitter", but already I can tell that this woman and I would get along famously. Witness the following snippet from page five, regarding buying an awful lot of yarn at once.

"I wrestled my new yarn out of the shop (ignoring the stares of the new knitter over by the mohair who was buying a single ball of something blue and clearly thought I might be dangerous). Forcing the yarn through the door of the bus, trying to avoid whacking people with it, I decided it was worth it."

Been there. Done that. Whacked the people anyway.

So lately, after acquiring a repetetive-stress injury to my right shoulder as the result of working on a computer way too much at work (the above-referenced VIBPSP) and at home (the novel, the blog--okay, not so much lately--and the email) and spending most of the rest of my time knitting holiday gifts (you guys are going to be seeing a LOT of knitting pictures in January, when they won't spoil the surprise), I've taken to working on the computer at home while standing up. It's more ergonomic, and way easier on the shoulder for some reason. I just toss a couple of phone books on the kitchen counter and plop the laptop on top of them. Instant standing desk.

And I really like it, especially because when I'm working on the novel I always have the MP3 player practically surgically attached to my ears, and I often find myself typing and dancing at the same time. Since I dance like most white girls--I have just enough rhythm to give myself delusions of adequacy--I'm sure I look utterly ridiculous, but there's something perfect about doing something you love while also dancing. That's simple happiness right there, folks. (And it's probably going to go a long way toward staving off "secretary's butt". You ladies with office jobs know what I'm talking about.)

But this also reminded me of something I saw on TV months ago. A guy who worked in an office and didn't exercise much and started getting pretty soft around the edges got this brilliant idea to build an entire office workstation onto a treadmill. You stand and walk at a moderate pace while working on your computer and talking on your office phone all day. You can even attach a printer and a fax to this thing. The whole setup will fit into a standard cubicle, and Inventor-Guy lost like 40 pounds just by using it for a year.


That's all for now. I have a scarf to start!

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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Change Begins at Home

Don't forget to vote in your local elections today. Most polling places are open until 8:00, but some close at 7:00.

You can find your polling place, anywhere in the US, here.

Twin Cities area residents can find information on races and ballot initiatives here (use the MyVote area).

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Thursday, November 03, 2005

2005: What Went Right

Okay, so 2005 as a season kind of sucked. And the "kind of" is probably unjustified. The pitching staff was great, but most days the Twins couldn't get a run across the plate if you took out the three bases in between.

Still, there were some positives, buried deep in the agonizing tide of ineptitude.

Carlos Silva
Can we say enough about this guy? Two years ago he's a decent middle reliever in the National League with two pitches to his name. He gets traded to the American League and thrown willy-nilly into the starting rotation, where he uses his satanic slider to induce an avalanche of double plays, while pitching almost three times the number of innings he had the previous year. He works with the pitching coach, slips a third pitch into his arsenal, and in his second year as a starter breaks a record that had stood for over a century--the fewest walks allowed per nine innings. That is no trivial record, my friends. That is utter mastery of the art of control.
(He also threw no wild pitches. Not one.)

Juan Rincón
He just keeps getting better. Did you know his ERA has declined every year he's been in the majors? It's true. He led the Twins staff with a 2.45 this season.

Joe Nathan
Our fearless closer (aka "Twitchy McXanax") came in second in the Twins ERA stakes at 2.70 while racking up 43 saves (wow!) and 94 strikeouts in 70 innings of work. He was also a loyal and frequent contributor to the growing pile of evidence that my maxim "Catchers and closers--they're all crazy" is, in fact, true.

Jesse Crain
I've got your Rookie of the Year, right here. Maybe not for the AL, but definitely for the Twins. 12-5 record. 2.71 ERA. 80 innings pitched. 31 of 42 inherited runners prevented from scoring. If he can get that walk rate down, and maybe try not to hit quite so many batters, he could be nigh-unstoppable.

Justin Morneau
Yes, you read that right. Yes, Justin ended the season with a .239 batting average. BUT.
But, he maintained a good SLG (.430) and OPS (.741), hit 22 homers despite the general lack of hitting, took 44 walks, and managed to get through the whole season despite bone spurs, a nasty concussion, pneumonia, pleurisy, chicken pox, appendicitis, minor surgery, spontaneous human combustion and absolutely no offseason training due to a combination of the preceding.
He also (and this is important) went from being an average first baseman to a pretty darn good one. I'm also noticing a distinct upward trend in his range factor. He's young, and he's only going to improve.

Joe Mauer
The only Twin who lived up to his potential at the plate. Calls a pretty good game, too. One of the best-hitting catchers in the AL, he led the team with 61 walks (!!) and a .372 OBP. He's a fair fielder and getting better at throwing runners out. He needs to watch those passed balls, though.

Luis Rodriguez
On the lamentably infrequent occasions L-Rod got to play, he almost inevitably impressed. He was flawless in the field at second and short (his only errors came at third, a position he rarely played in the minors) and steady at the plate, hitting .269 with doubles for 20% of his hits and a walk every 11 plate appearances. He also hit .375 with runners in scoring position (I leave it to you to decide for yourselves how meaningful that stat is), racking up 20 RBI in less than 200 at-bats. I could easily envision this guy as an everyday player. Don't we have an opening at second?

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