Pops 70

Pops turned 70 today. For his birthday he wanted to go up to NYC with me and Dave. We started the day at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum (more detailed review written at that link).

After that we walked around to where he used to work. We found the building. He case-study-brown-brothers-harrimanhad brought 2 pictures with him from 1970. One was of him standing under the big cube outside his old building, which he recreated today. (The other was his vantage point of the World Trade Center towers being built.)

From there we went looking for his coffee shop…the one that served him a coffee with a roach in it. As Pops tells the story, a guy he was with says he saw it in there but didn’t say anything because he thought Pops wanted it in there. Apparently Pops guzzled 9 Cokes to clean his mouth. To this day Pops still won’t drink to the bottom of his coffee cup…whether it’s a clear glass cup or whether it’s home brewed by himself…still won’t drink it. 1017px-starbucks_corporation_logo_2011-svgToday that old coffee shop is a Starbucks!

Then we walked through Trinity Church and the cemetery. Alexander Hamilton and Robert Fulton are buried there.

At that point it was time for lunch. We had steak and wine at Morton’s. Obviously not a typical lunch, but it was a special day. After lunch we completed our day at One World Trade Center (more detailed review written at that link).

Brussels Sprouts


Dave and I grab lunch at Forno’s a couple times a month. They have great pizza. Sometimes Pops joins us. He normally orders from their salad bar – olives, beets, peppers, etc. Once in a while they have roasted Brussels sprouts.

The first time Pops saw this he jumped back. He had a bad experience with Brussels sprouts when he was a kid. He was eating dinner at his Aunt Chubbie’s and refused to eat the Brussels sprouts she prepared. A definite no-no. Apparently it turned into a traumatic incident. He never ate Brussels sprouts again.

This perplexed me when I was a kid. Pops likes EVERYTHING. For there to be even one food that he refused didn’t make sense. I remember convincing Moms to buy them once. I had to try this. Pops walked through the door after a hard day at work and could immediately smell them. His acute sense for them was amazing! They really were his kryptonite. Needless to say, he didn’t eat them. (For the record, I did try 1…it was meh.)

So today at Forno’s, out of nowhere, Pops asks them to put 1 Brussels sprout on his plate. And he ate it. And it wasn’t horrible.

I guess I have mixed feeling about this. It would be like the Cubs winning the World Series. On one hand, yay for the Cubs and their fans who waited 100+ years for this. On the other, it’s kind of sad that a streak this impressive came to an end.

So what’s next? Will Pops drink to the bottom of his coffee!?! Oh, that…that’s a story for a separate post.

Playboy


Today Playboy announced that it will no longer show fully nude women in its magazine. This doesn’t affect me at all. I never subscribed to the magazine, never “read” it for the articles, and really can’t recall much interaction with it at any point in my life.

…except one related memory did come back to me today. I was maybe 9 or 10 and Pops brought me home 2 pages. Apparently the issue at the time was at the fire house. In it they had an NFL logo puzzle. I was a typical boy sports junkie, so Pops must have figured that I would enjoy it. But he also wanted to be responsible, so he only tore out the 2 pages of the puzzle. To not corrupt me he took the added step of stapling the pages back-to-back. (Good security Pops!)

I’m sure he told me not to tell Moms. I don’t remember if he further instructed me to not look at the in between pages. I believe I did anyway and I think I recall ads for videos they were selling. There were so many of them flooding the page that the picture accompanying each was smaller than a penny. Not enough material to actually be better than the puzzle itself, so I actually focused on the reason I was allowed to possess the Playboy pages in the first place.

The puzzle took each of the teams helmet logos and tweaked them a little. The task was to spot what they changed. For example, I remember the GIANTS logo was spelled “GAINTS”. I got most of them pretty easy, except for one, the New Orleans Saints.

I finally figured it was the Saints because they were the last team I had left. It was tough to figure out because the colors were much different than their standard helmet. And, more perplexing to 10-year old me, they replaced the fleur-de-lis with a marijuana leaf. (Playboy knows no boundaries!) When Pops came to collect the pages from me, I asked him about it and got a short answer…probably accompanied with another “Don’t tell your mother!”.

Parx

Yesterday we went to Dave & Col’s for Labor Day. While there we somehow got on a discussion about bringing the girls to Parx. Pops presumed that the girls would like to watch the horses. He also said that they have lots of activities. I looked it up…he was right: face painting, bouncy house, pony rides, crafts, live music, food trucks. A lot of it sounded too kiddie for our girls, but they wanted to go, so we went.

Me, Susie and Julia met Pop at Dave’s. Madi was down the shore, so only Trini went. The six of us drove over together. As we walked in we were handed Parx water bottles. Free stuff! Everyone loves free stuff!

We started the day with lunch and then Pops wanted the girls to see the paddock.
IMG_3482

Next he showed them the program and how to bet. It took a couple races for them to get the right balance…if a longshot finishes in the money it pays more, but it is less likely to pay anything at all as well.
parxAfter each race we went to the Winner Circle. The winning jockey would throw t-shirts into the crowd. Then the Parx mascot would throw some more. Pops snagged one. More free stuff!
IMG_20150907_125221054 The girls eventually did want to do some of the kiddie stuff.
IMG_20150907_144715169_HDRIMG_20150907_144721749_HDR
It was a great day. Parx was actually very family friendly. The kids had a great time and want to go back.

Birthday 2015

It was a crazy / interesting day. Nothing particularly good or bad, just different than what I expected because of a whole bunch of little moving things. Put all together it made the day enjoyable. I guess I’m not that different than the girls in that sense.

The roots of the day actually start on Saturday. We were at Moms’ for my birthday dinner. Pops wanted to plan a day to go take me and Dave out to lunch for my birthday. He had a window job scheduled for today, so asked about Tue or Thu. I had a meeting Tue, so we settled on Thu.

This morning was rainy / windy / stormy. When I got to work there were some power issues. Some people were on an affected grid so their computers wouldn’t work. There were also some lights out. I was able to work though.

Mid-morning I got a call from Pops. Because of the weather, he couldn’t do his window job today. He wanted to switch lunch to today. Fine for me. He said he would check with Dave.

Next, the power problem affected the rest of Accounting. I was down for 20-30 minutes, before I figured on trying to set up a mobile hotspot through my phone. It worked. I got Shell on too since she also has a laptop with Wi-Fi and a VPN.

Pops called back. Lunch is on for today. I told Shell that she only has until 11:45, then I’m taking the “network” with me. And because it was my birthday lunch we were going somewhere with wait service and I was probably going to be a little on the long side.

…I was gone for about 1:30. Lunch was at Toscana and it was good as always.

I got back about 1:15. Power was half back, so Shell didn’t need me anyway. Finally got into work a little bit.

In Accounting, the birthday person always treats the group. Normally people bring in breakfast. I’m one of the few summer birthdays, so I normally do ice cream or water ice or something like that. Plus I eat breakfast too early to wait until work anyway.

With the power problems, the air conditioner stopped running. Everybody was hot and miserable. Perfect time for a cool treat. I went to Trader Joe’s for chipwich sandwiches. I found these a couple years ago, and they are fucking unbelievable! I’m not a huge ice cream guy (that’s a story for another time), but the ice cream is good. And the cookie is great. With a chipwich you need a cookie soft enough to eat that won’t fall apart, but not so hard that it squishes all of the ice cream out the sides. Trader Joe’s nailed it.

I came back and the office was dark. We were being shut down by PSE&G for a repair. I handed out the chipwiches. Everybody got happy. And about 10 minutes later CHH called over to say we were closing. 3:00 dismissal! Happy birthday to me indeed!

Tradition

(Bear with me…this whole article really has nothing to do about baseball, but there is a lot of stuff that happens around baseball that relates to what I want to write.)

Earlier this week Rob Neyer of Fox Sports wrote that it was the 12th anniversary of the release of Michael Lewis’s “Moneyball”. “Moneyball” is my favorite book of all time. (Side note: I’m not a big book reader, so there really aren’t a lot to choose from.) Neyer’s retrospective reminded me how much I like the book. Yes, “Moneyball” is about baseball, but baseball is just the delivery system for Lewis. Lewis writes about financial markets and economics. His purpose in “Moneyball” was to talk about recognizing inefficiencies in a market (e.g. on base percentage (for the record, this is a dramatic oversimplification)) and how to take advantage of them.

But I got something else out of “Moneyball” and the related exposure to Bill James, sabermetrics, etc. I realized that things I believed could be challenged and I could change my mind. So in this instance, I changed from thinking that RBI’s and pitcher Wins were important.

Yesterday The Hardball Times had a post about the 169th anniversary of the first baseball game to be played under a formal set of rules…and how that is mostly a myth. It’s a lie that is retold over and over, so people believe it. Worst than that is the myth that Abner Doubleday invented baseball.

Coincidentally I went to the Phillies game last night with Pops and Dave. (Squirrel!) Pops went on about how smart of a guy Doubleday was in laying out baseball. I didn’t correct him. He can be bothered by change or challenges to his beliefs. I understand that this is typical behavior to think that things were better in the past or that they should be the way they always have been.

I understand it, but it’s definitely not me. As I get older I’m somehow getting more progressive in my thinking. And I’m willing to challenge accepted norms more often. Craig Calcaterra does a great job in expressing this in a post about baseball cards (yes, more baseball).

Last night at the game, they asked for people to remove their hats before the national anthem as a sign of respect. I blurted out “why does removing your hat show respect?” These rules that continue for no reason other than tradition make no sense to me. Does removing my hat make me happy? Does it make me money? Does it negatively impact anyone else? Does it really accomplish anything at all? Then how can it be respectful or disrespectful? It’s not. It’s just a meaningless tradition at this point. (As I was researching the origins of this I found this quote I liked: “I always thought showing true respect for the flag and song itself was in having the right to choose whether to keep my hat on or off.”)

(OK, I think I’m done with all of the baseball-related stuff.)

These are the kinds of traditions that I find myself rejecting more and more often. Gay marriage? I don’t care…because it doesn’t negatively impact me. I have stopped saying “bless you” after people sneeze because I know it’s unnecessary. I don’t get bent out of shape thinking it’s the end of civilization when states legalize marijuana. When I got married it was important to me that Pam take my last name. Now, I would want that she keep hers. I have stopped standing during the Pledge of Allegiance after reading about the Bellamy Salute. The Pledge is creepy and feels like propaganda – and again, it’s unnecessary. Earlier this week I read that moral acceptance of polygamy has more than doubled from 7% in 2003 to 16% now. I paused, but then thought as long as it’s not a sheik acquiring wives or a religion preying on children…yeah, go for it. I’m OK if everyone is consenting adults entering into a polyamorous relationship. It doesn’t negatively impact me. All of these things are unnecessary traditions.

Religion seems like they have more of these unnecessary traditions than anything else. As I like to say…thank God I’m an atheist! I grew up an atheist (or for a time before I was willing to commit called myself an agnostic). I have never been religious and therefore never had a religion to challenge. But I wonder if I was indoctrinated to faith how accepting I would have been of all of the rules and how soon I would have rejected them.

So ditch your unnecessary traditions. The 2016 presidential campaigns have kicked off. At some point a candidate will be called a flip-flopper, and it will be considered a bad thing because politicians are never supposed to progress. I don’t see it that way. I don’t care that they changed. The change itself isn’t bad. You can change your mind on things. Maybe there is new research, or more science, or a better understanding after reading a persuasive argument. In that case it’s OK to abandon past beliefs. Looking at things with an open perspective is good for progress…just like I learned from Michael Lewis’s “Moneyball”.

Super Bowl XLIX

Some random thoughts, then a longer story.

Scoring at the end of halfs. (Is it “halfs” or “halves” when you refer to it like this?) Same as NFC Championship game. When games are close, teams seem as if they are able to march down field at will every time using hurry up offense. Watching this happen in every game is the thing that frustrates me the most in football. (Actually about the game. I have documented my hatred of the NFL for all of the off field issues – Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, Roger Goodell, deflate-gate, concussions, Aaron Hernandez, Washington franchise racist name, Richie Incognito, replacement refs, Saints bounty scandal, etc., etc., etc.) Any coach who doesn’t utilize this strategy (basically all of them) for the entire game should be fired. I am confident that I would be a dominating football coach based on this alone.

That said, great job by Pete Carroll going for the TD with 6 seconds left in the first half instead of settling for the FG. I believe most coaches call plays so that they don’t get second guessed or fired. Few actually play to win. It’s amazing…football culture is supposed to be manly men but the coaches really are a bunch of pussies. It was great to see Carroll play to win. I didn’t really have a rooting interest until I saw that and then decided to pull for Seattle.

Jermaine Kearse’s catch. Unbelievably acrobatic. Unbelievable concentration. And the part that everyone is overlooking, in the midst of all of that, to have the wherewithal to recognize he wasn’t tackled, get up and try to get more yards. This should be compared to Willie Mays catch in the 1954 World Series. He makes the catch and spins to try to get the tagging runner.

I don’t have much to say about Idina Menzel’s national anthem (it seemed too slowly paced), or Katy Perry’s halftime show (they billed it with Lenny Kravitz…but he was only on stage for 10 seconds and not even for his songs???), but I will highlight a commercial I really liked:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26hl9YWLyn4
Good all around, but love that anxious, sombrero-wearing polar bear gasping when it was Mexico’s turn to draft.

OK, now for the most important part of the game – the gambling. Though I love to gamble, I am usually anti- box pool. Look at these odds! Plus it is seriously just random luck. I like to participate in things where I feel like I have some effect on whether I whether I win or not. However Pops has been running a box pool for a couple years now and he always asks if I want to get in. For anyone other than Pops I would say no. It’s only $20/box. Plus he pays for every scoring change so more numbers are in play.

I got a copy of the pool about a week ago. On the side where all the rules are listed Pops writes “GLAH”. Julia saw that and asked, “What’s GLAH?”
Me: “Good luck”
“What’s the ‘A’ ‘H’?”
[ignoring her]
“What’s the ‘A’ ‘H’?”
[Tries to change the subject]
“What’s the ‘A’ ‘H’?”
[Tries to distract her with something on TV.]
“What’s the ‘A’ ‘H’?”
Pam snaps: “Just tell her already!”
“ASS HOLES! Good luck, Ass Holes!!!”
Pam shoots me a look. There is dead silence for half a second. Julia busts out laughing.

This year I drew New England 8, Seattle 4. Pretty shitty #’s. I chalked it up as a loss and forgot about them. I am not a person who obsesses “maybe NE will get 4 safeties and Seattle will get 2 safeties”. I hate those people who strategize the whole game hoping for their numbers to come out. So like I said, I forgot about exactly what I had until it was Seattle 24, NE 21 and Pops says if NE scores a TD I’ll win. NE scored and I got $50 for the score change. And with only 2:02 left, there was a good chance that I would get the end of game remaining pot of $850. BTW, I am no longer rooting for Seattle. Winning money clearly trumps the fact that Pete Carroll went for the First Half TD.

So basically there are 2 possible outcomes left. NE wins 28-24 and I get the money. Or Seattle scores a game winning TD to win 31-28. So who has 1, 8…Tommy! With 2 minutes left the money is basically mine to lose, so I figure that I’ll hedge my bet. I offer Tommy $200 for his box. He declines. Seattle starts moving down field. I offer $300. He declines again. Then the Kearse catch. Pops jumps in before I can say anything and offers $500! And Tommy declines again!!! Oh well. At this point it looks like I’m getting the $50 and that’s it. And then the inexplicable call on 2nd & goal from the 1 that resulted in the Malcolm Butler interception to essentially end the game! I hold on and win! Went home with $800 (I threw $100 to Pops for running the pool.) And poor Tommy went home with nothing. Poor guy should’ve taken the offer.

Sixers 2015-01-10

I went to the Sixers game tonight. I had bought Pops tickets for xmas. It was me, him and Susie.

Pops has been frustrated with the “tanking” and I genuinely think he really wants to pull back from rooting for the team. Despite that, he is willing to suck it up to go to the game with us. The family moment is more of a positive for him than all of the losing is a negative. I especially think he likes that Susie is into it. She is the only grandchild who likes the Sixers. When we dropped him off after the game he thanked us. I could tell how much the night meant to him.

Susie did something that surprised me with this game. A couple weeks ago she got invited to her friend Megan’s birthday party for the same night. I told her that I could find someone else for her ticket. She said that she’d rather go to the game than to the party! OK. My impression of 11 year old girls and their thoughts about their reputations is that a girl party is way more important than wasting a night with their dad and grandfather. But Susie had a different take. Going to the game with us was special. She sees Megan every day on the bus, in homeroom, around school.

Something else surprised me with this game…the Sixers won! They are terrible (6-29 coming into tonight) so the expectation is always a loss. But they kept it close and snuck out a win. And it was a fun game. Winning makes it fun. A close win is even better. And then throw in Tony Wroten’s alley oop off the glass to KJ McDaniels:

Wroten to Jakarr Sampson:

and Wroten, Sampson and Jerami Grant hitting back-to-back-to-back 3’s. That’s an exciting game!

One more thing. This was Susie’s fourth game and amazingly the Sixers are 4-0. Yes, these terrible Sixers will not lose when she is there. So I am starting this list to keep track.

2012-2013 Season (34-48)
February 1, 2013
Sixers 89, Sacramento 80

March 16, 2013
Sixers 98, Indiana 91

2013-2014 Season (19-63)
November 22, 2013
Sixers 115, Milwaukee 107 OT

2014-2015 Season (7-29 currently)
January 10, 2015
Sixers 93, Indiana 92

Fridge

This weekend stuff in the fridge started feeling less and less cold to me. Everyone kept telling me I was crazy…until Monday morning. Then – finally – people started saying “I think the fridge is broke”. I need to trust my hyper-sensitivity more because it’s normally right. And especially in a case like this. It’s much easier to deal with a failing appliance on the weekend then it is a weekday morning when we’re all rushing around for work and school. Anyway, we only needed to empty the fridge. The freezer was still working.

Monday night I called Pops to see if he knew anything about fixing a fridge. I didn’t think it was dead dead because the freezer was functioning. He said he’d come over Tuesday and check it out. Moms also jumped on the phone. She recommended I google it. I found this video on YouTube describing my problem and how to fix. Basically it was a problem in the freezer causing the fridge to not work.

Pops got nowhere on Tuesday during the day, so that night I figured I’d give it a shot. The thing was already broken, so it couldn’t get any worse. I started the repair by turning on the TV. One of the PBS channels was showing 2013 MusiCares Person Of The Year Tribute To Bruce Springsteen. OK, so I got a good soundtrack to work to.

Next I recruited Julia. I pulled out the bottom freezer drawer. Julia’s job was to transfer all of the freezer food to the outside freezer (where the fridge food was already moved on Monday). While she did that, I dismantled the freezer. After dismantling we got to the problem – all of the mechanics in the back of the freezer were frozen solid. Julia and I chiseled, and picked, and scraped. Every few minutes I would scoop up the ice and snow and transfer it to the sink. It finally got to a point where I felt like it was clear.

Before re-assembling the whole thing I decided to just put the freezer drawer in place. I wanted to see if the fridge came back before I spent all that time. So one last task for Julia – get a piece of paper and create a sign. “DO NOT OPEN! DRAWER IS LOOSE!” She taped it to the handle. It covered about 75% it. You couldn’t miss it.

By now, the Springsteen tribute was winding down. I had never seen a MusiCares concert before, but apparently the honored person gets to perform at their own tribute! Bruce came out and played “Thunder Road”, “Born to Run”, and “Glory Days”. 3 of my 4 favorites! (And the fourth – “Darlington County” – is way too deep of a cut to be played at something like a tribute concert so I wouldn’t have any expectations for that one anyway.)

The next morning…the fridge is working! Julia was really proud of herself. Moms picks up the girls on Wednesdays. Julia was bragging to her about being a plumber. Moms texted me later that she’s not big enough to have a plumber’s cracker.

That evening Susie was looking for something to eat. She decides to check the freezer…completely ignoring Julia’s sign. The whole drawer comes out. I reset it. Later Susie is looking again…and pulled the drawer out again. She can really be oblivious. So much for an un-missable sign.

Thursday Pops was here and called me to ask if I wanted him to re-assemble the freezer. I was going to do it this weekend, but since he volunteered I let him. I was talking to Moms that afternoon too. I predicted that there would be leftover pieces. When I got home the freezer was back together…with 3 extra screws. Oh well, it works fine without them.

Projects with Pops

Moms emailed me this week. She needed help with bookkeeping for Dave’s new company he is starting. I knew I wouldn’t be able to talk her through it on the phone.

About the same time, Susie decided she wanted to make some kind of rack that she saw on Pinterest. She asked me to get her a piece of wood…a scrap size that Pops probably has in his garage. So I figured it was a great way to kill two birds with one stone.

Sunday morning worked for my parents. Since Pam works on Sundays and we were going to be gone for a while, Julia had to come with us. So, since she had to come, she decided she was going to find some projects to do too – a bank made out of cut aluminum cans, and a “J” made out of broken crayons.

Julia planned her day around food. She purposely asked to be woken up late enough so that she wouldn’t have time to eat breakfast at home. I told her she can’t bother Grammy to make her anything because I would be busy with her. She said all she would need is a bowl. Apparently even cereal taste better out of the house.

We got there and it was even better than she could’ve anticipated. Pops immediately said, “Let’s go!” and took the girls to Dunkin Donuts. He had a Gift Card from work burning a hole in his pocket. They got donuts and coffee!

Moms and I stayed back and worked. They came home and did their projects. I think Pops got a kick out of helping them and just the fact that they wanted to do projects that required his help…not just arts and crafts.

We all wrapped up just around noon. This, of course, led Julia to exclaim, “Let’s stay for lunch!”