Friday, September 27, 2013

My Team - Nationals at Arizona, At Season's End

Potential starting pitchers -

Friday: Strasburg vs Corbin
Saturday: Haren vs McCarthy
Sunday: Roark vs Miley

(starting pitchers subject to change)

My favorite soap opera is coming to a close. My favorite reality show is gonna shutter soon. After the last-minute rush and the disappointing struggle against the Marlins, the Nats are formally eliminated from playoff contention. These last three games in Arizona are for professional pride, a chance to get the team ready for 2014, and maybe a chance to get some insight on who might be the Washington manager next year.

The Diamondbacks have a fairly young team, and that bodes well for their future. Goldschmidt is the slugging 1B who's an MVP candidate. The outfielder Parra is a very good defender, who has occasional power. Outfielders like Pollock and Eaton can provide a spark, and are still highly-regarded prospects. The SS Gregorius has a ton of potential & had a decent year this season. He has great range and a plus arm. I like watching him play shortstop. They had a chance to compete this year, just before the Dodgers started playing up to their abilities.

On the mound, Corbin had five strong months, with an ERA under 3. Lately, he's been getting roughed up a bit. I suspect he'll bounce back on Friday night. McCarthy, Arizona's Saturday starter, has had an up & down year (mostly down). That will probably continue as well.  Miley, who starts on Sunday, has been quietly effective. Arizona doesn't have a lot of hard throwers, but they work quickly & throw strikes.

Left-handed hitters like Harper and LaRoche have struggled against left-handers this season. Runs for the Nats may be hard to come by Friday & Sunday.

For my favorite team, I wonder if the starters will go deep into these games? Is there a need for it to happen? Strasburg has shown he can go a full season. Haren has had a strong second half, and may be pitching for an opportunity with a new team for next year. Roark has shown a strong competitive streak, and is in the running to take the 5th starter slot for which Haren was signed. I would be surprised if Washington starters go more than 6 innings. There are guys in the bullpen (Cedeno, Abad, Davis) who could use some work this weekend.

I suspect Arizona will win Friday and Sunday, with Corbin & Miley both going around 7 strong innings with minimal pitch counts. I also suspect Haren will get roughed up on Saturday, but Washington will score enough to make up for that occurrence.

With that last win, Washington could finish with 85 wins. Not bad, but disappointing compared to the March projections. I look forward to 2014, which for the team should be the type of season expected in 2013. "Wait 'til next year!"

Thursday, September 26, 2013

CTD Update - One Day Closer

Flyin' me back to Memphis
Gotta find my Daisy Jane
Well, the summer's gone
And I hope she's feelin' the same

(Thanks to and the band America.)

A handful of y'all may remember me writing this. Me running my mouth about making changes. Preparing for a bright future. Well, today was a tangible piece of that effort. I got one step closer to moving back home, and it feels superb.

Thursday's always been my favorite day of the week. The weather was near-perfect: sunny, a light breeze and 70 degrees or so. I got to the storage facility, and there were only a few people around. I had plenty of room to move about and take care of business, without getting in someone else's way.

There were some things easily identified as candidates for donation. A shovel and other garden tools. Several crutches. A chess set, containing sculpted glass pieces.  A container filled with packing nuggets. A treadmill I never used. Various Christmas decorations. All sent on for someone else to enjoy.

Sure, there was the briefest hint of a memory. Many of those items were in my house before I got divorced. In another circumstance, they may have provided some utility in a happy home. When my ex left, she left those things behind. I have to assume she didn't want them. I don't need them. So why keep them?

Loading up my car was a rush. Just to "clear the decks" by getting rid of that stuff really lifted my spirits. It's as if a bit of burden was removed from my back & shoulders. I needed a bit of tangible evidence that the time for moving is coming soon. Suddenly, the stagnant life I experienced in 2012 seems like a distant memory. The future really looks bright.

Once again, it reminds of the last day of school, or the last day at a job. The fresh air of freedom blew through my life, clearing out the musty and unwanted. I couldn't help but smile. (For those who know me & claim I don't smile much, you shoulda seen it.)

The guys at the Goodwill donation center in my neighborhood couldn't have been nicer. And, I got a Tootsie Pop for my trouble ("who loves ya, baby?).

The clean-out was so much fun, I plan to go back tomorrow. Friday's run may prove to be more of a garbage removal than a salvage op, but that's alright. As I clean out the garbage from the storage facility, I clean out some of the garbage from my head and spirit.

Monday, September 23, 2013

My Team - Nationals at St Louis

Proposed starting pitchers -

Monday: Roark vs Wainwright
Tuesday: Gonzalez vs Wacha
Wednesday: Zimmermann vs S. Miller

(starting pitchers subject to change)

Well, we've just about come to the end of the road. The Braves clinched the NL East on Sunday. The Nationals are 5 games behind the Reds for the second wild card spot with 6 games left. Cincinnati's magic number is 2. The Nats have the slimmest of chances, but realistically the team is playing for pride & next year.

I grew up in "Cardinal Country", and spent many a year listening to guys like Jack Buck, Jay Randolph and Mike Shannon. I've always admired the way the Redbirds went about their business. This year, they are again heading to the playoffs. Maybe they don't have any obvious first-ballot Hall-of-Famers, but this is a good team, from top to bottom. I enjoy watching them play, because they always seem to be steady. Generally, they make all the standard plays in the field. Most of their hitters put the ball in play productively.

For the St. Louis pitchers, Wainwright is an ace-caliber starter (still). I look for him to go 7 innings or so, maybe giving up only 4 hits, 1 walk and no more than 2 earned runs. Wacha and Miller, the young guns, are confident guys who throw hard. If they execute their pitches, they might also shut Washington down or even out.

Positionally, St. Louis has a bunch of guys like Adams (1B), Carpenter (2B), Freese (3B) and Holliday, Jay and Beltran (OFs), all good to very good. You don't hear as much about them, but they deserve more attention. Molina at C is among the best in the game at his position. The batting order has no obvious holes, and defensively they are consistent.

I wonder if Washington will come out and play to win each inning the rest of the week, or will the team start sending out prospects? The Nats have clinched a winning record. They've clinched second place in their division. If they sweep St. Louis & later Arizona, they could reach 90 wins (which would be surprising, given Washington's slow start). Is that a goal this team wants to reach?

Also, I wonder how the manager Johnson approaches this last week. Does he let guys like Knorr and Jewett get some run informally managing the team? If that happens, does it appear that Johnson is giving a certain coach an unwritten endorsement for managing the team in '14?

I guess Wainwright outduels Roark on Monday, Gonzalez gets worked over by the Cardinals' lineup on Tuesday, and Zimmermann outduels Miller on Wednesday. Yeah, it looks like St. Louis very well may take two of three this week. I'm still rooting for my team, though.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

In Dreams - "I'm Gonna Sing With Chrissy Hynde?"

I'm in Memphis, in this big convention center-type building. There's some kinda conference set up, and rows of chairs are all over the place. I'm walking around in that fake-big-shot way I sometimes do (pretending to know what's going on, speaking to every person who'll make eye contact, etc.). I find myself in the lobby. Nothing going on here, I think to myself. I still feel a familiar nervousness, since the program will start at any moment.

I go back into the main ballroom, and there are suddenly folk everywhere. Dozens of small conversations are going on, and there is a general buzz of noise all around me. I feel a sense of responsibility to the group, that whatever we gathered to do must get done in an expeditious fashion. I shift into "control freak" mode, bossing people around with a soft but firm voice. The people I direct look at me with quizzical expressions, but they go about the business as I direct. As I direct the order of events, someone walks up to me with a note. I receive the note, unfold it, then start to read.

The note was from Chrissy Hynde, leader of the Pretenders. I had no idea the Pretenders were even in Memphis, but I read the note as it was completely sincere/not a prank.

The note read that she wants me to duet with her on two songs. One is titled "Determination", the other "I Don't Know The Answers". I hadn't heard either before, and was at once flattered and bewildered. She hadn't ever heard me sing a single note. How or why would she think I would be a worthy singing partner? I let the flattery overwhelm my bewilderment, and rushed to a restroom to warm up my singing voice. The conference would be alright without my direct involvement.

I rummage through my memory. I was a Pretenders' fan in the '80s, but I hadn't memorized every song they've ever done. I started to let my imagination run wild. Supposed she wanted me to go on the road with the band? Supposed this was the start of my new career of backing vocalist? What would I wear onstage? Normally, it seems backing vocalists wear darker colors and simple outfits - I had black clothes at home, I thought. Will I be able to go home to pack, or will I have to leave right away?

I never did meet Hynde directly.

My Team - Nationals versus Miami

Proposed starting pitchers -

Thursday: Gonzalez vs Alvarez
Friday: Zimmernann vs Turner
Saturday: Strasburg vs Koehler
Sunday: Haren vs. Dyson

(starting pitchers subject to change)

After Monday's massacre at the Washington Navy Yard, I wasn't all that excited about writing about sports. I offer my deepest condolences to the surviving family members and colleagues. Once again, it didn't have to happen. When will we learn to respect ALL life?

(rant over)

The Nats' doubleheader sweep of Atlanta gave hope. Thursday night's loss damaged the Nats' hope for a wild card spot. Washington is 5.5 GB the Reds. Washington closes the home schedule this weekend with four against Miami. After that, Washington gets three at St. Louis and three at Arizona. Ten games left. Obviously, Washington has to win 'em all, and hope for a Cincinnati collapse.

The Reds finish their last road trip of the season with three this weekend at Pittsburgh. After that, Cincinnati goes home for three against the Mets and three against the Pirates. On paper, it looks like all is lost. Stranger things have happened in other years, but the Reds are a good team. I wouldn't wait for a collapse. The Reds just finished a three-game-sweep at Houston.

For the Marlins, Alvarez has been competitive most of the year, but his last start against Washington was 1.2 IP, 3 H, 1 ER. Turner has had a decent year as well, but his last start against the Nats was 4 IP, 9 H, 5 ER. Koehler's last start against Washington was 5 IP, 7H, 4 BB, 6 ER. Dyson got lit up in his first start last week, but in mop-up duty against Washington 7 Sept, he went 3 IP, 2 H,1 ER. Washington should be able to score often against Miami's staff.

For Miami's offense, the usual applies. Don't give Stanton get good pitches to drive. The rest of the lineup can be "pitched to". Work quickly, Nats' pitchers, and throw strikes.

For Washington, Span's 29-game hitting streak and Werth's second-half surge have buoyed the offense. Zimmerman has ramped up his production at 3B and at the plate. Ramos is dangerous offensively, and not showing signs of wearing down catching nearly every game. The lineup has to keep scoring.

One thing on defense - either Rendon is tiring after a long season, or losing a bit of focus. Sometimes, he will let the game get away from him. Maybe he takes his eye off the ball, or gets a little sloppy. He's having a pretty good rookie year, but he has to bear down this last ten games.

I expect Washington to sweep this 4-game set. The Reds' magic number is 5. So, by the numbers, the Nats potentially could still be in contention come Monday. That is, as long as Washington doesn't lose any more the rest of the regular season. Not too large a demand, is it?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

My Team - Nationals versus Philadelphia

Proposed starting pitchers -

Friday: Strasburg vs Kendrick
Saturday: Gonzalez vs Hamels
Sunday: Zimmermann vs Cloyd

(Starting pitchers subject to change)

Washington had a pretty good time at Citi Field, bashing homers in each game of the four-game series. Thirteen in all, a pretty decent total. Twenty-five runs scored against Mets' pitching in the sweep. Next, the Nationals start a long home stand by facing Philadelphia for three, followed by Atlanta (three games) and Miami (four games). Yeah, the Nats haven't been mathematically eliminated from the second wild card spot, but there's not enough games left.

It is good to see the offense come alive. The regulars are more aggressive early in counts, and that mindset has the whole lineup taking the attack to opposing pitchers. Furthermore, the pitchers (especially the bullpen) seem to be working faster and throwing more strikes. From mid-August until now, this is the Nationals' team many (including me) expected to see all season.

Philly is coming off splitting a two-game set with San Diego. Before that, they got swept by Atlanta and took two of three at home from Washington.  Last time against Washington, Kendrick gave up 4 earned runs in 4.1 innings. Hamels only gave up 2 hits and 1 earned run his last start against the Nats. Cloyd, in his last start against Washington, gave up 6 earned runs in 5 innings. Given that, I'll guess Washington will win Friday and Sunday, while losing on Saturday night.

Now, will Washington keep mashing the long ball this weekend? Maybe. Will Zimmerman at third keep making clutch plays in the field? Will Ramos stay healthy, keep calling good games for the pitchers, keep hitting for power?

For the Phils, will Ruf keep hitting balls out of the part? Will Galvis be a pest at the plate and versatile in the field? Will Asche keep growing at third base?

Washington has the faintest glimmer of home. All they can do is keep winning, and hope Cincinnati loses a few down the stretch. Probable? Possible? Who can say? Keep watching...

Another Life Lost

I first heard about this before sunrise Thursday. Fountain Creek is notorious for fast-moving water whenever heavy rains set in. We've been getting steady showers for a couple of days now. The threat of flash flooding wasn't a surprise.

And, I've known that several of our homeless customers camp out along the banks of the creek. For the most part, they know to break camp & seek higher ground as the waters rise. This time, though, somebody didn't.

I knew this guy, the guy whose remains were found early Thursday morning. Like the other customers who've passed away, I find myself saddened. I find myself wondering if this death could have been prevented. He was about my age, and I can't help but wonder what else he would have experienced had he lived past Thursday.

"D" (not his real name, nor real first initial) was a pleasant guy. Yeah, the vast majority of our customers are as pleasant. D was a big guy, soft-spoken and not prone to wild gesticulation. He was one I never saw get angry, never saw him beefing with another customer. In his defense, he was the type of guy who didn't talk a lot about his past. (Most of our customers didn't. And we respected that.) Maybe he didn't want anyone getting too close. Maybe there were parts of his past he didn't want to relive.

I remember one day in particular, when we had a spare military-style backpack among our items donated for distribution. D needed it, we got it to him, and he beamed like a small child on Christmas morning. It was one of those moments where you're glad you're working on the street. You actually see one of your customers being immediately blessed. He had a need for it, and put it to use straightaway.

We had several other small moments like that. D was a guy content to live the life he wanted on the streets. He was offered formal shelter, but preferred the freedom. He didn't seem to lack anything he really needed. I never heard him complain or blame others on his circumstance. He accepted his life, and possessed a grace few others have. And, now he's gone.

He'll be missed, like Tom a year ago. D didn't meet a violent end like Tom, but he was part of the gathering as well. He was a kind face in an all-too-cold city. We will go on. We have to. It's just a little less pleasant.

Rest in peace, D.

Monday, September 9, 2013

My Team - Nationals at New York Mets

Proposed starting pitchers -

Monday: Gonzalez vs Torres
Tuesday: Zimmermann vs Gee
Wednesday: Haren vs Wheeler
Thursday: Roark vs Niese

Looks like the Nationals are finishing strong. Four games above .500 entering play on Monday. Going into Gotham, it's a real possibility that Washington could get swept. Torres is competitive on the mound. Gee and Wheeler have had success against the Nationals. Niese was highly-regarded as a rotation mainstay last year - who's to say he won't come out hitting his spots on Thursday?

The Mets are coming off losing two of three in Cleveland over the weekend. Labor Day weekend, however, New York took two of three in Nationals Park.

Washington needs production from Span and LaRoche in the lineup. Ryan Zimmerman is finding his power stroke, Werth is still raking, Ramos & Desmond are continuing to hit. The offense is starting to improve, but there are still guys opponents can pitch to. Cory Brown and Anthony Rendon can also be a help, making up for the loss of Harper.

The Mets are playing d'Arnaud (C) Den Dekker (OF) and Andrew Brown (OF). Prep for 2014 is ongoing at Citi Field as well. When I'm not watching Monday Night Football or other football highlights, I'll be watching this series.

Monday, if Gonzalez keeps his cool he should be able to go deep in his start, maybe 7 innings with 4 or so hits and one earned run yielded. Washington should win on Monday, but probably not Tuesday. Zimmermann will throw strikes and keep Washington close. For the Mets, Gee will do the same and a bit more. Wednesday, Wheeler will show his best stuff on Wednesday for a win. Niese's poise and experience will help the Mets give Roark his first MLB loss on Thursday.

Should The U.S. Military Get Invloved In Syria?


(The following is my opinion, and mine alone.)

The Syrian government has allegedly subjected dissident citizens (and innocent children) to chemical agents as a means to quell the uprising. Nasty stuff, to be sure. Hundreds have died, according to some sources. The Syrian president has stated his nation will respond forcefully to any nation that inserts itself into Syrian internal politics by supporting the dissidents.

For me, I can't help but wonder. As a veteran, I can remember when my initial reaction would have been "we've trained for this type of operation. Let's go put that training to use." As a "regular citizen", I wonder what we'd gain. Stability in the Middle East? Maybe, but we thought that before.

Last week, I heard the Secretary of State allude to the possibility that if the U.S. didn't take a stand, two things were likely: a) other nations would be emboldened to also use chemical weapons in future conflict, and b) other nations would be emboldened to ratchet up plans to hurt or destroy U.S. resources or interests here or abroad. Those scenarios may well may be possible.

As usual, we need the best intel we can get before these type of decisions are made. Intelligence-gathering being a dirty business, most Americans would rather be kept in the dark when it comes to the nature of that enterprise. O.K., I guess. Even if it's distasteful, I really hope our decision-makers have "ground truth" before committing troops and resources to that part of the world.

I also understand the feeling a lot of Americans have regarding "war-weariness". Conflict in Afghanistan has gone on for a long while, and we didn't get the satisfying ending we wanted. So many troops, mostly the young who had lives in front of them, came home in transfer cases. So many maimed, physically and emotionally. What do we do?

It appears the Senate and House are reluctant to commit troops towards this conflict. The media tells us the POTUS wants to use military force to "level" the conflict, where neither side is using chem warfare. We've been told U.S. involvement would be limited/highly restricted. There'd be no U.S. "boots" on the ground in Syria. That statement is hard to predict, hard to guarantee. Depending on how our involvement evolved, it's not a big step to later send "advisors" in to evaluate the effectiveness of our weapons, tactics, doctrine, etc.

"Oh-by-the-way", with the effects of sequestration and other Defense Department budget cuts/restrictions, can we even afford another drawn-out armed action?

It may seem like a small step in a country far away, but it's a bigger deal than the average American may realize.

What do YOU think?

My Team - Chargers vs Houston

The first week of the NFL season is almost complete. My favorite team is on the second half of the Monday night doubleheader, hosting the Houston Texans. The last couple of years, Houston has been highly regarded, and in some quarters considered a Super Bowl contender. Injuries and ineffectiveness have helped hinder the team's progress. They're still good, though. It will be a stern test for San Diego.

For the Chargers, the thing I want to see all year is improvement in fundamentals. Blocking, tackling, catching, etc. There were several games last year (Denver, New Orleans, Baltimore) where the Chargers played well enough to win at some point, but had a crucial breakdown that directly enabled the opponent to regain momentum and eventually win ("4th and 29" - I'm still shaking my head. Who converts a 4th and 29?).

Monday night, the offensive line must give Rivers time to run the updated offense. Rivers must get the ball out on time. He needs to complete upwards of 75% of his pass attempts, with around 8 yards per completion. The running game needs to garner around 125 yards or so each game (Ryan Mathews, hello).

Defensively, someone must provide consistent pressure on the opposing quarterback. Dwight Freeney, Corey Liuget, Sean Lissemore or someone must be a guy the team can count on to make quarterbacks uncomfortable. With three new DBs on the field to accompany Eric Weddle, pass rushing is a quick way to help the DBs acclimate to the team and scheme.

On special teams, Nick Novak needs to make the makeable FG attempts. Eddie Royal must stay healthy in returning kicks and punts (a tall order for a relatively small WR). Scifres is one of the best punters in the league; hopefully, he stays healthy as well.

For Monday, a 24-20 loss to the Texans wouldn't be the end of the world. I just wanna see a tough, smart Chargers' squad that is competitive for all sixty minutes.

Friday, September 6, 2013

My Team - Nationals at Miami

Proposed starting pitchers -

Friday: Haren vs Fernandez
Saturday: Roark vs Eovaldi
Sunday: Strasburg vs Turner

OK, the Nationals took two of three at Philadelphia (a team that has acknowledged their rebuilding has begun). Now, the road show stops in Miami. The Marlins trot out hard throwers the first two games, and have a formerly highly-regarded young arm starting on Sunday.

Haren is making a case for getting a contract for next season, whether it's with Washington or someone else. Roark has gotten four wins (as the "kill the win" crowd cringes), but he has been tough-minded and effective. He throws strikes and works fairly quickly. Strasburg has thrown well and is closing in on a full season of pitching with no major breakdowns. The three starters should have the chance to all have solid outings this weekend.

For Washington pitchers, avoid pitching to Stanton. Period.

For the Nats' offense, Moore has done well at the plate since his recall. Hopefully, he keeps up that confidence going into '14. Brown has been called up, and is also playing for next season. Rebuilding the bench is a key for Washington's potential next season. The next manager is gonna need guys he can count on. Why not see what's available within the organization, before determining what possible needs are in free agency shopping, proposed trades, etc.

For the Marlins, Polanco is back. Not much pop left, but he's a professional who can still set a good example for the younger teammates.

The Marlins took two of three at the Cubs earlier this week, and may be feeling good about themselves. Also, the Nats swept Miami in D.C. the last week of August. Professional pride means Miami will compete, and may win on Friday. I suspect the Nats will sweep the series, but anything can happen in September baseball.

Monday, September 2, 2013

My Team - Nationals at Philadelphia

Proposed starting pitchers -

Monday: Strasburg vs Hamels
Tuesday: Gonzalez vs Martin
Wednesday: Zimmermann vs Halladay

Sunday night, the Nationals averted getting swept at home by a depleted New York Mets' team. Wow. Starting Labor Day night, the Nats have a three-game set in Philadelphia. The Phils lost the last two of a three-game set in Chicago over the weekend. With interim manager Ryne Sandberg, the team is auditioning new guys while trying to be competitive enough to keep the veterans interested. The Phils just traded Michael Young, so Philly is even deeper in "build for '14" mode.

Hamels has had success against Washington lately, so he's not afraid of facing them. His won-loss record isn't great, he's pitching well this year. Martin is a young guy who's having growing pains at the MLB level. Halladay has a strong rep, but is just now coming back from injury (shoulder, required surgery). Who knows how effective he'll be.

With position players, the Phils signed Roger Bernadina. He's a good defender, and is auditioning for the CF job for next year. Will he hit enough to be a viable candidate? Will he try too hard in this series, to prove a point to his former team?

The rest of the lineup still has Utley, Rollins, Ruiz and Brown. Guys like Asche (3B) and Ruf (1B/OF) are getting extended looks. Ruf is a strong, strong man - pitch him carefully.

Defensively, Utley's range is slightly diminished. Same with Rollins. Maybe Washington can take advantage of Philadelphia's infield defense.

For Washington, will Werth ever cool off? Will Desmond get more selective at the plate? Will Moore keep up his torrid streak since his recall from AAA Syracuse?

On Monday, I suspect Hamels outduels Strasburg, like two gunfighters in yet another old Western movie. Gonzalez should pitch well on Tuesday, and get the win, For the rubber game on Wednesday, will we see the Halladay of old, or just an old Halladay? That answer is the key to who wins the third game of this series.

The Nats are chasing the wild card, but losing two of three to the Mets isn't the way to go about it.

How Does a Baby Boomer Know He's Getting Old?

It snuck up on me. I fought it for a few years. Now, I can't deny it, "it" being squarely in middle age. These following things showed up on my "personal radar" within the last month (apologies to Jeff Foxworthy and anyone else who does observational humor):

When you gain more calories drinking a sports beverage than the calories you burned in the workout that "required" your consuming the sports beverage.

When you remember a high school football player being a 5-star recruit, and next thing you know he's in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

When you hear a song that someone calls "retro" and you remember years ago when it was called "a groundbreaking new sound".

When you see bridesmaids at a wedding, you notice the level of matching & coordination in their outfits, instead of seeing them as approachable for dating.

When you leave a wedding reception with the other seniors, right as the dance floor opens, noting "I can't dance to that stuff".

When the 25-year-old suit in your closet has become fashionable again.

When you can't fasten the 25-year-old suit around your now 50-something-year-old body.

When you're so cheap, you wonder if you'll live long enough to lose enough weight to eventually wear the suit, knowing by then the suit will be out of style again.

When you go to an auto parts store and regret not bringing your bifocals, since you can't read the fine print on the products otherwise.

When you see an "incontinence" aisle in a grocery store, and it reminds you to take a bathroom break ASAP.

When you hear the original "Thin Line Between Love and Hate" on the radio, and someone asks "is that the H-Town version?"

When your favorite band is featured on a 70's music channel.

When pizza becomes a rare treat instead of a basic food group.

When just sitting in a chair exhausts you.

When a mid-day nap is a viable option.

When you shave your facial hair and instantly go from "Uncle Remus/Fred Sanford" to a "baby face".

When you follow AARP's Twitter account.

When you realize some Buster Keaton movies are close to 100 years old. And, you still laugh at 100-year-old hi-jinks.

Random Observations Around a Wedding

Remember when "catfish" meant good eating, and not lying to people under the guise of "pranks"? The groom's family hosted the rehearsal dinner, and fried a virtual ton of catfish. Dang, that was good eating. And, I hadn't had hush puppies in ages.

My car's AC was out of coolant on Friday. Didn't want to be in a mess dress sweating. Bought the "A/C Pro (tm)" stuff. Worked pretty good.

My son went to his first bachelor party the night before the wedding. I don't know what happened. I don't want to know.

Roughly 100 people were at the rehearsal dinner the night before. Interesting how everyone just naturally fell into their roles:

- House matriarch - you will pay your respects upon entering the home
- Man in charge of fried foods - an exalted position, a role that must be earned thru time
- Men who gather around man in charge of fried foods - we watch food, frying
- Kitchen non-commissioned officer - everything/everyone in its place, or else
- Wedding gift display lady - check out the bounty!
- Golfers - the great uniting pastime
- Young folk easing into the role of prime generation - their adult tastes guide the day's entertainment
- "Touch-and-Go people" - they stopped in just long enough to reconnoiter the scene

There was a lot less stress than I expected, leading up to the wedding. People were actually pretty mellow. To see everyone handle their tasks with virtually no drama was a relief.

Lots of folk recorded us on their tablets, phones, etc. I shudder to think I am present in more homes/on more devices than I care to count.

Young adults really, really love old-school R&B. During the reception, we got lots of Earth, Wind and Fire, Stevie Wonder, Stylistics, etc. Those grooves are eternal.

Knowing that I helped feed scores of people for the evening blew my mind. I had to resist the urge to see individuals as "unit cost per plate".

Toasts vary. Some can be long, others quite short. Nonetheless, a good toast really touches the heart.

Now that this big event is done, the next one appears to be the young couple having a baby. Had two different people approach me asking if I was ready to be called "grandpa". No. I am not ready. But, it doesn't matter if I am or not. If/when it does happen, though, that kid is getting lots of San Diego Chargers gear. Book it.

In the end, my daughter was beaming with joy. She got the ceremony she wanted. Attendees had a great time. The resultant good memories will last a lifetime.