Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Baseball's over

I'm less saddened by the end of this year's season than I often am, mainly because I found the World Series anti-climactic. You see, I am a fan of a team that struggles for two major reasons, and this year's playoffs threw those two things in my face over and over again. The first, and by far the greatest reason, is that Orioles owner Peter Angelos meddles in baseball operations without having a working understanding of how to build a good team. The second is economics. The Orioles play in the same division as Boston and New York, teams that spend a lot more cash on players and, confoundingly, have better farm systems than Baltimore does, too.
I've often argued that baseball needs a salary cap. The NFL has one, and it is a ridiculously profitable enterprise in which the players do not go hungry or have to take second jobs. A salary cap helps ensure some semblance of parity between teams, though smart coaching and management (see: New England Patriots) can still sustain prolonged success. Note that I think the Orioles would still be a bad team if there was a salary cap, but the playing field would at least seem level. I dislike both the Yankees and the Red Sox, but their money is not the only reason that they are better than the O's. Anyway, is there any incentive for baseball to adopt such a practice? No. Not really. Damnit.

Friday, October 26, 2007

slight addendum

So late at night last night, after a long and stressful day, I ordered the ingredient kit for my first batch of beer. The ingredient kit consists of malt extract (the main source of sugar for the brew), specialty grains, hops, yeast, and some priming sugar to carbonate the stuff. You don't care, so I'll stop talking about the details. Anyway, I clicked on the wrong box, and instead of an English Mild, I will be brewing an English Bitter for my first batch. Not a huge difference there, really just a ever-so-slightly higher abv, and a little more hoppiness to it. It's still a session ale, and a style I like a lot. I realized my mistake this morning, and was not bothered enough by it to call in and change my order.

Today is a day of research, and not in the cool, expand-your-understanding sort of way. I have to do preliminary research to determine the viability of an idea I'm thinking about for a big paper. If you have any ideas about whether or not Homi Bhabha's postcolonial third space can be teleological (Bhabha says no, but the theologian in me says yes), let me know. I'm thinking that process theology may hold some helpful ideas for this one. If only my advisor studied with John Cobb, a luminary of process theology, and if only she had just written a textbook about process theology... oh, wait, she totally did both of those things (luckily I have the book already, don't need to wait for it to be printed). Yeah... So the bar's a little high on this one.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Pay rent, change oil, write in the blog...

-Empty promises to post more often-

Nope, I'm a fairweather blogger, and that's a truth I'm comfortable with. The juggling act is a bit more complicated here, so I apologize, and assure you that things probably won't get any better real soon. Here's some things that I think are somewhat interesting (and probably not sports-related):

K and I joined another couple, both of whom are several years ahead of me in my program for dinner at a local brewpub on Thursday night. There's nothing in that sentence that you care about, but here's where it gets funny. The aforementioned brewpub has valet parking. When we were seated, the hostess asked me to doff my cap (a fitted UNC cap- the tuxedo of baseball caps to be sure). This in a brewpub. The beers were about on par costwise for such establishments (and were excellent- Octoberfest beers are a highlight of the season for me), but the food ran about twice what I'm used to for brewery fare, and while good, was not THAT good. So, here in the outer Jersey suburbs of NYC, they can make anything snobby, even beer and pub food. The company, by the way, was excellent.

Speaking of beer, I am a couple of FedEx deliveries away from brewing my own. This has been a long time coming, and I am very excited about it. K is quite sick of hearing me talk about it, but looks forward to drinking the beer I make. I would like to distinguish my upcoming homebrew venture from the guys you knew in college who brewed their own. I learned how to brew from my uncle, a microbiologist who worked in R&D for Miller for about 15 years, and have been geeking out on the scientific side of brewing and brewing with him and with friends for several years now. I anticipate making beer just as good or better than what you can get at the store for about half the cost (currently 20-35 bucks for 2 cases of beer, depending on the particular style). That means Left Hand quality at Natty Light prices. My first brew will be an English Mild, chosen to lead off because it A) is simple enough and cheap to make while still being a style I like a lot, B) is a "session" beer- meaning it's fairly low in alcohol so I can drink a couple without paying a heavy price, and C) will be ready to drink pretty quickly. After that, I'll get a porter going. Porters are K's favorite beers, and need about 6 weeks or so to reach optimum drinkability, meaning we'll have a bunch of good dark beer ready for ACC Basketball season. Beyond the porter, I don't know yet, but I have a ton of ideas. Future blogging will likely involve homebrewing content.

K and I returned Sunday from a wedding in Minneapolis. I had been there once before, for a conference when I worked in mental health, but this trip was much better. I roomed with my wife, not with a client, got to see a lot more of the city (which I like a lot), and instead of plenary sessions, got to be a groomsman in a truly joyous wedding. If not for the soul-crushing winters, we could imagine living in the Twin Cities.

We have a big conference coming up here at Drew, the Transdisciplinary Theological Coloquium. Gayatri Spivak, a heavyweight in the world of postcolonial theory, will be keynoting, and a whole bunch of cool people will be presenting and responding. I will be shuttling them to the airport and to hotels in the Drew van. Sweet. My advisor is the driving force behind the TTC, and all of us who work with her are expected to pitch in a lot to make it happen.

Right before Thanksgiving, I'll be in San Diego (if it's still there) for the American Academy of Religion meeting. It's my first big conference in religion, and I'm quite excited/anxious about it. It'll be a great chance to meet a lot of the people I've been reading over the last few years, and to make connections for future work, etc.. Also, San Diego in November is generally better than New Jersey in November.

That's about it for right now. More at some point. Take care.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Here we go....

School is underway, and in many ways, it is what I thought it was; more work, a better academic climate, and way more interesting ideas being thrown around than I really have time to research/absorb. It's good.
Today, K and I are hosting a cookout in our back yard, with several folks from Drew coming by. It's about 75 degrees, sunny and breezy. The beer will be cold, the food will be good, and we'll get to hang out with some new friends. 2 months after we left CA, I feel like we have finally really arrived in NJ.
Stay tuned for posts about my involvement in efforts to green Drew's campus, my work to avoid shuffling off my mortal bicycle in the suburbs, and exciting travels to places like Minnesota and San Diego.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Why I Still Watch Sports

I have intended for a while now to write a post defending my ongoing love of sports, and I am fairly sure that the following is neither novel nor convincing. It's been a rough, rough summer for those of us who love watching people play games. A brief recap:

Baseball, my most beloved sport and perhaps the perfect game, has been beset for years by the steroid controversy, but Barry Bonds' run at the home run record has made steroids implicitly the lead baseball story nearly every single day. The biggest story of the summer was not that the sport's greatest record was broken, but that the guy who did it probably cheated. On top of that, my Orioles are free-falling toward their 10th straight losing season, for the same old reasons.

Tim Donaghy, an NBA ref, admitted to betting on games and conspiring to influence the point spread in games he reffed. Already a distant 4th on my sports radar, the NBA has only fallen.

Michael Vick, a fellow product of Newport News, VA, funded and participated in a dogfighting operation, doing things I don't need to recount here. Football will be dealing with the Vick fallout all year.

This leaves out the misfortunes of cycling and hockey, sports I don't watch anyway.

So. Why do I watch sports? I even admit my own complicity in the sports economy, which makes games into business, and which ultimately blows them far, far out of proportion. Here's why I stick around.
I still think that there are points of tremendous beauty in sports. A 6-4-3 double play, a pick and roll, a perfectly thrown touchdown pass to the corner of the endzone... these things never get old for me. There's something about a perfect jumpshot, a strikeout on a changeup, or the coordinated movement of an offensive line to clear a lane for running that amazes me every time, and which can't be touched by "off the field" stories. Those stories, for what it's worth, are often covered by writers such as Roger Angell, David Halberstam, and Joe Posnanski, whose writing creates a much more nuanced narrative than the ESPN Top 10 plays allow for. Maybe it's simplistic of me to think so, but I see artistry in sports being played at their highest level. This really is the main reason why I still watch.

A second, less defensible reason also should be mentioned. Someday the Baltimore Orioles will win the World Series, and I can't stand bandwagon fans. If I'm going to continue feeling superior to them, it is incumbent on me to put up with the O's current futility.

I'd write more, but Roger Federer's 4th round match at the US Open starts in a few minutes. Watching him play tennis is like watching an unscripted ballet. Gotta go.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


This is another sports post. Some people write about crafts, some about their new children, some about their wildly exciting travels. I just moved to a new state and structured activity doesn't start for a while, so the Orioles 12-0 win over the Yanquis of former New Amsterdam is the highlight of my day.
Let's be clear that being a fan of the Orioles is not a lighthearted undertaking. They haven't been good in 10 years, and their owner is not willing to spend on the players it takes to compete against my least favorite professional sport franchises (the Yanquis and the Red Sox, who have formed themselves into a slightly cuter incarnation of the Yanquis). Since firing Sam Perlozzo, an inept manager if ever I saw one, the O's have been above .500, recently taking series from both of the aforementioned Atlantic seaboard baseball vampires. This makes me happy, and a 12-0 win against the New York American league ballclub, viewed in HD at home, made my week.
Pity me if you must, but I'm happy.