Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wedding Planning

My first semester in college I took a 5 credit Calculus course that met every week day from 4pm-5pm. Most of the students in the class had taken Calculus in high school. I had taken *Trigonometry and Probability instead of Calculus my senior year, which was great at the time, but did not prepare me well for Calculus. Also, in addition to that the teacher was a grad student, who was far from a well-seasoned veteran teacher. (Not that all experienced teachers are good and all new teachers are bad.) When I was told I had a D- at the midterm and I realized I might lose my scholarship I decided to work harder for that class than any other class at any level. I pulled the grade up to a B- through hard work, multiple office hours visits a week and probably some needed luck. I thought that getting a B- in that class would be the toughest thing I ever did.

*I won my one and only book award in Trig. Of course it was a class of only 5 people, but still.

While we are only a few months into it wedding planning has turned out to be almost as complicated as Calculus. While it would be an extreme exaggeration to say that the effort required in wedding planning is as equal to the effort required in Calculus, it still is a pretty labor intensive project. I can understand while others from my gender choose to step aside and let others plan their wedding. It has been my experience that women seem to care a lot more about specifics in regards to the wedding than men. For example I have never once noticed or cared about the following:
  • Chair covers.
  • Wedding dress. I might be able to remember if it had straps or not, but besides that they all look like white dresses to me. Seriously. Sorry Laurie, Nancy, Marie and all the other lovely brides I have seen over the past years. You looked great, but you all looked the same.
  • Plates. I remember and loved the food provided at weddings. There was the elk at Nancy's wedding and I also remember the crab dip at my sister's wedding. What I can't seem to recall is what this wonderful food was served on. I am sure there were plates, but I just remember the incredible food.
  • Silverware - same as above
What I do remember is:
  • Music - The band or DJ sets the tone for the wedding.
  • The people - The more people I know or the more people around my age the better the time.
  • Food - See above under plates.
  • The setting. I have been to receptions that took place at a country club, on a boat, at a vineyard and even in Austria. All of those are memorable.
  • Drinks
  • The groom's tux. (Just kidding)
M and I are trying our best to allocate the work somewhat equally, so that we have a great wedding. My main focus is on the music, guest list, food, setting, and drinks. Once I start making decisions on that I will feel a lot more satisfied with our wedding plan. Until then I am going to feel like I am back in Bachelor Hall in Calculus frantically taking notes and trying to figure out what the heck is going on.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Wedding weekend

It has been a pretty busy weekend going to what seems like every reception site and Catholic Church in the greater Columbus area. I won't bore the few readers of this blog with details on the places we saw, but I will provide the commentary that the wedding business doesn't seem to know that we are in a recession. I would like to see numbers on how the wedding business is doing, but from our experience it seems like business as usual.

Anyway, more to come on that later, but for now I will share two videos on YouTube that I find especially funny and appropriate. Below is an video that my best man sent me as a possible intro for the wedding.

JK Wedding Entrance Dance

And also I found a possible option for M and I's first dance:

Max & Sara's first dance

I like to think that I am getting some pretty good ideas from YouTube.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Leaving a Mark

On Monday nights in the summer M and I play in a co-ed softball league. Our team isn’t particularly good, but it is almost always fun getting out there with some friends and playing softball outside on a nice Minnesota summer day. This past Monday M asked me if I wanted to play catch before our 9:20pm game. I said yes and threw her the ball. I then turned around and threw my keys to the ground, so that I could have both hands free. Just as I was turning around I heard M yell “*Kevin!” right before the softball flew right into the right side of my head. I never though M was particularly accurate or that she threw very fast, but on this one throw she was both accurate and from the pain I can only imagine that she threw like Joel Zumaya. All of this pain and embarrassment happened because I never saw the ball coming.

*Feel free to do the Home Alone impression. It is great that people still find that scene so funny after almost 20 years.

Sometimes the games I don’t see stick with me more than the games I see. For example I can’t remember many of the particulars of past Duke losses, (like the Villanova game from this year) but I can remember exactly where I was and how I felt when I found out that Duke lost to LSU in 2006. That doesn’t make much sense to me since I watched the entire Duke-Villanova game and still have yet to see any video (live or highlights) of the LSU-Duke game. I remember Tyrus Thomas and Glen Davis dominating the inside. I remember Greg Paulus and Josh McRoberts playing like two overrated freshmen ballplayers who weren't and probably would never live up to *their considerable hype. I remember JJ Redick getting shut down by LSU’s perimeter defense. These are not fond memories, which is to be expected since no Duke loss is very appealing to me, but that isn’t the surprising part. The surprising part to me is that I remember this game that I didn’t see more clearly than most of the games I do see.

*Turned out to be true

If you are looking for examples most of the other examples are of painful losses. There was freshmen year in college when I went to Campus Crusade for Christ on a Thursday night in March because I liked a girl. First off I was disappointed to find out that one does not go to Campus Crusade for Christ to find a girl, but rather to find a wife. Second, after that failed effort I was even more disappointed when I returned from the event to find out that a loaded Duke team lost to a very flawed Indiana team consisting of Jared Jeffries and a bunch of shooters. There is also the example of this past Monday when I went to sleep with the Twins up 13-7 only to wake up to find out they lost 14-13 due in no small part to a bunch of bloop hits and a terrible out call on Michael Cuddyer at home plate to end the game. In fact the most memorable games so far from the Twins 2009 season are the terrible losses to the Yankees. Continuing on the theme I missed most of those games.

Just so that people don’t think I am too down I would like to bring up the one beautiful outlier in this string of unseen losses. This past September I went to go see the epic Padres-Nationals game because I wanted to see the new Nationals ballpark. The ballpark was fun and M enjoyed the pretzel, but that wasn’t the thing I remember most. The thing I remember most was all the calls and texts I started receiving letting me know that Ronnie Brown was leading the Dolphins to a blowout road victory over the New England Patriots. I remember getting what I thought were prank texts informing me that Ronnie Brown was running and even passing for multiple TDs. I try not to use this word to often, but in context of sports this was truly unbelievable. In fact I still don’t know if I believe what happened that day. I do know that I will not forget where I was or the fact that one of the few Dolphins games I miss just happened to be one of the most amazing regular season victories in the franchise’s history.

I don’t know if it is the fact that I missed seeing the losses above that really made them that memorable or if it is bad luck or even good luck. Is it better to sit there and slowly come to the realization that your team is going to lose? Or should it be like getting a shot from a doctor, where you just want the pain to come and go as quickly as possible? For some fans I know superstition plays a part and that they would blame themselves for their team losing. They would justify it by saying something like “If only I wouldn’t have watched Team X then they wouldn’t have lost to Team Y.” I try not to let superstition creep into my mind because really I know better than to think that I am the center of the world and that my actions help or hurt a team 1000 miles away. On my better days I am actually successful in my attempt to believe what I just wrote.

Regardless sometimes something comes up and you miss an exciting game (win or lose) that you wished you would have seen. These games in my mind can be more painful and more vivid than the games you do see. They really seem to leave a mark....kind of like the softball.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Fairness (part two)

I did write my last post before Joe Posnanski wrote the following....right?   

The older I get, the less tolerant I am of excuses. I’m not entirely sure why this is … maybe it’s because the older I get the more I appreciate that concept introduced to me when I was probably 7 years old, the concept that life isn’t fair. When I was young, I thought that this was simply a way for my parents to explain why I had to go to bed before Laverne and Shirley was on.

“That’s not fair.”
“Life isn’t fair.”

As I got older, I realized that it was much more serious than that, that unfair things happen all the time in life, tragic things, awful things, sad things. Sometimes the bad guy runs off with the girl. Sometimes hard work doesn’t pay off. Sometimes cheaters prosper. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. “Life isn’t fair” took on a cruel meaning; it was all I had to explain a lot of the rotten stuff that happened.

But now, I don’t think of the expression that way. Now, I think of it as simply this: It’s our role in life to negotiate through the choppy waters. Because life isn’t fair. You have to bounce back when you get dealt an endless stream of thirteens at the blackjack table. You have to work through a DiMaggio streak of bad days because it’s your life and people don’t want to hear your problems. You have to finish the job because at the end of the day bosses don’t care about unanswered calls or flooded basements or pounding headaches or the overwhelming feeling you might have that something went very wrong somewhere along the way. Life isn’t fair. And the only way to deal with that is to overcome it.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


As I was outside the other day grilling some mean, lean *turkey burgers I was thinking about the genesis of arguments, disputes and fights.  I was thinking about marital disputes (think Jon & Kate + 8), sports arguments (Kobe vs. LeBron) and the 1994 Oscar Best Picture debate (Forrest Gump vs. The Shawshank Redemption).    Most of these disagreements seemed to come about because one side thought the other side was not being fair.

*M made the purchase.

Is it really as simple as it was in kindergarten when you used to get upset and yell "that's not fair."  If it really is that simple why can't we all take our father's (well at least my father's) advice of "life isn't fair."    Wouldn't things be much more pleasant if we took that advice more often.  It isn't fair that women are generally more responsible for child care.  It isn't fair that the Rays have Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett and the Twins have Brendan Harris and Delmon Young.  It isn't fair that George W. Bush got accepted to Yale.   Now some of these things are worth fighting for (gender equality) while other things (past trades that in hindsight are definitely unbalanced) should probably just be digested, accepted and put behind.  

I think where people can get in trouble is when they stew over things that are not fair and that they can't control.   That is why even though it makes complete sense I don't think coworkers will ever feel comfortable sharing their salaries with each other.   While that information would be valuable to know come review time I don't think people could accept making less money than someone else for the same job.   If the coworkers knew this information a lot of them wouldn't be able to let it go and that would severely hinder their performance and happiness.  

I don't know if there is a solution to the problem of fairness and I am not trying to come up with one.   My point I guess is that people would probably be a lot happier if they fought for fairness on things they are passionate about and let the other stuff just be.   

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Quick sports post

Here are my thoughts on my favorite professional teams:

Utah Jazz
I love the fact that the Jazz are matching Millsap's contract.   He is young, energetic and is a proven Nba player.  This past year he filled in for Boozer when he was injured and played at a close to an All Star level.   His production is worth $8M a year especially when someone like Ben Gordon can make $11M a year.  The Wages of Win team did an analysis on Boozer/Millsap back in December 2008.   Their conclusion was that Boozer has been and probably will be a better player.  

While that is true (and I believe it is true) my beliefs on the Boozer/Millsap option is that: 
  • Millsap is younger and has already improved every season he has been in the Nba.   I can't imagine him not improving as he gets more minutes.
  • Millsap would be signed for 4 years at a reasonable rate, while Boozer is only signed through this upcoming year.   It is important to have a power forward and as Cavs fans know you can't count on Boozer.   Millsap is consistent while Boozer is a variable.
  • Millsap's PER (player efficiency rating) according to John Hollinger was 18.71 last year.  Boozer's PER last year was 17.28.  Of course he was coming back from injury last year, so maybe it is best to look at his career average of 20.45.  Still for the price being paid I like Millsap's production.  

  • For whatever reason (luck, poor conditioning or something else) Boozer has been more injury prone. 
I think that replacing Boozer with Millsap and trading Boozer away for the best deal possible is the best move and thankfully the one the Jazz will do.   I think a lineup of Deron Williams, Brewer, Kirilenko, Millsap and Okur with backups being Maynor, Korver, Miles, Tyrus Thomas (or someone they get for Boozer) and Kosta Koufus can win some games.  I don't know if it will compete for the title with the arms race that has been going on in the Nba, but give it a year and the Knicks top pick next year then maybe in 2010-2011.  

Minnesota Twins
Do you want to know what an average baseball team looks like?   It is a rhetorical question since the answer is obviously the Minnesota Twins.  They have 45 wins and 44 losses, which last time I checked is pretty much the definition of average.  The average AL team has scored 424 runs while the Twins have scored 432 runs.  The average AL team has total bases of 1285, while the Twins come in at 1289, which means they are one home run away from being completely average.  

What about pitching you might ask?  Well the Twins have an ERA of 4.34 compared to an average AL team of 4.39.  In fact their earned runs are one run away from being completely average.   

The funny thing about their team is that individually they are far from average.  You have Mauer and Morneau who will be competing for the MVP again this year.   Then you have players like Delmon Young, Matt Tolbert and Nick Punto.   What is frustrating is that the Twins are so close to being a great team.  All they have to do is never play Delmon Young again, find a middle infielder and either replace Gomez or hope that his last game was a better predictor of his 2nd half than the previous 88 games.  

As far as pitching goes I think that the best, cheapest and easiest way to try to improve is to help get some middle relief.   Another lefthander to go with Jose Mijares wouldn't hurt.   I still like the starters of Blackburn, Baker, Liriano, Perkins and Slowey.   

Miami Dolphins
No news is good news.  I am still very happy from last year's season.    Let the countdown to the next year begin.  While I think 6-10 is probably more likely than 10-6, I am still optimistic about the long term path of the Dolphins.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

An Open Letter to Rachel Nichols

After hearing the news from the St. Paul Pioneer Press that Brett Favre put a deposit down on a condo on 50th and France in Edina, I thought it was time to contact you with this open letter. You see, recently M and I moved into one side of a duplex on 49th and France, which is only one block away from the supposed next home of Brett Favre. It is a wonderful place with 2 bedrooms, a kitchen a living room and a basement. There is a dishwasher, central air, cable, Internet and all your basic accommodations. The reason I am telling you this is because you are welcome to stay with M and I when ESPN sends you to report on the latest news concerning Brett Favre.

Just think of the advantages you will have on other reporters who have to stay in hotels farther away from Favre’s home on 50th and France. You on the other hand will be able to walk past Caribou Coffee and pick up a drink before you descend on Favre’s residence, which again is only one block away. Also, you will have your own bedroom thanks to the guest bedroom at our place, so you don’t have to worry about your privacy.

Also, another advantage is that you will be saving ESPN (and thus Walt Disney) money by not having to pay for a hotel during your stay up here. I see on Google Finance how Disney’s stock has declined 23% over the past year, which means that, like most companies, you might want to look at cost-cutting measures. Just another reason why the idea of staying with us is perfect.

I will give you the advice that Minneapolis is an upgrade over where you have been hanging out the past year. While Hattiesburg is too small and New York City is too big, Minneapolis is just right. M and I will be able to give you advice on the best burger in the city (the Nook), the best fried okra (the gas station on 48th and Nicollet) and the best BBQ (Ted Cook’s). We are pretty good hosts and would love to have you stay with us. Please keep that in mind when you are booking your flight to the Twin Cities.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The significance of Steve McNair

Outsiders tend to view Mississippi by its faults. They look at the statistics showing that Mississippi is the fattest state, the poorest state and the state with the most teenage pregnancies and make their own negative judgments. As a Mississippian (born and raised) living in Minnesota, these statistics are brought up to me often as a way of trying to prove that Minnesota is a superior state than Mississippi. Usually these statistics and the articles surrounding them are brought up to me as a joke, even though being obese, pregnant and poor doesn't sound really funny. Regardless of the joke's effectiveness it is clear that outsiders look down on Mississippi.

However, one thing Mississippians can be proud of is the success of their football players. One generation's Archie Manning turns into another generation's Walter Payton, which then quickly turns into another generation's Jerry Rice or Brett Favre. All of those players were born and attended college in Mississippi before heading off to tremendous success in the NFL. People from Mississippi relate and identify with these players to the point that they become icons in their home state.

My generation's football icon was Steve "Air" McNair. He was born a couple of weeks and ten years before me in a town an hour south of Jackson. He went to Alcorn St. during a time that I started really cementing myself as a lifelong sports fan. I vividly remember the front page of Clarion Ledger touting the skills of Air McNair. Also, I remember my Dad coming up to me and letting me know that he was able to get tickets to the Alcorn St-Jackson St. game during Steve McNair's last year. I had and still have never been more excited for a game.

The Alcorn St.-Jackson St. game dubbed the Capital City Classic is an annual football game held at Jackson's Memorial Stadium between the two historically black colleges. According to the website it is "*doubtedtly the most prolific and recognizable for the African American community in the state of Mississippi." It is a huge game and one that was even bigger in 1994 because of Steve McNair.

*I don't know what the word doubtedly means, but if I had to guess it would mean something like "questionable" or "disputed." I don't expect that is what the website was trying to convey, so I am going to assume the Capital City Classic meant undoubtedly since that makes sense in the context of the sentence.

Steve McNair was in the process of setting many offensive records as a the quarterback for Alcorn St, and my Dad thought it would be a good idea to go see the game. Of course a lot of people thought the same thing, and the rumor was that Memorial Stadium sold 10,000 more tickets than they had seats. This led to people who got seats to stay in them for fear of losing them. Our seats were in the end zone and provide a great vantage point to Air McNair's long bombs. If my 11 year old memory serves me correctly there were about 20 passes for every run and because of that and the many scores the game lasted about 5 hours. During halftime there was the traditional battle of the bands between Alcorn St.'s band and Jackson St.'s "Sonic Boom of the South." During this entire time I was in awe of the experience and of course of McNair. It seemed like he could throw the ball out of Memorial Stadium if he really wanted to, but was content to just put up video game numbers beating Jackson St. For more on the game please, please read this article from Rocky Higginbotham of the Meridian Star.

After his career was over he went on to be drafted by the Houston Oilers with the 3rd pick in the 1995 draft. He went on to have considerable success in the NFL with such accomplishments as leading the Titans to the Super Bowl and also winning a co-MVP along with Peyton Manning in 2003. For all his success McNair was known as a ridiculously tough player in what is a ridiculously tough sport. It was not uncommon for him to not practice all week and then lead his team to a win on Sunday. His NFL numbers weren't as unbelievable as his college stats, but he always seemed to be in charge of a winning team.

I cheered him on in the pros and even bought a Titans #9 jerseys, but my most fond memory will be that fall day I spent with my father watching Alcorn-St.-Jackson St. I remember being more in the minority during that day than I would later feel in foreign countries half a world away. I remember the wonderful passes and almost more importantly the buzz created by Steve McNair. I remember the pure joy created by Steve McNair and the pride that all Mississippians felt for their national hero who had just recently graced the cover of Sports Illustrated with the title "Hand Him The Heisman."

I was proud to be a Mississippian, and my sentiment was shared by the 70 thousand people in the stands and the others watching on the TV. More than the Super Bowl, the records, the MVP, the legendary battles of injuries I am going to remember most about Steve McNair is the feeling of pride.