Saturday, July 27, 2013

Demoted from Royals to Nobles...

Between 2000 and 2012, the Royals have had exactly one winning season.  In the big scheme of things, how bad are the Boys in Blue?  TL;DR:  yeah, it's that bad.

128 American major league sports teams that existed between 2000 and current. 
30 MLB, 9 MLS, 29 NBA, 31 NFL, 29 NHL

Here's the top 8 teams in American sports since Y2K.
1. San Antonio Spurs (13 winning seasons)
2. NY Yankees (13 winning seasons)
3. Dallas Mavericks (12 winning seasons, 1 tied season)
4. Detroit Red Wings (12 winning seasons)
5. New England Patriots (12 winning seasons)
6. LA Lakers (12 winning seasons)
7. St. Louis Cardinals (12 winning seasons)  (see why the I-70 matchup means so much?)
8. Boston Red Sox (12 winning seasons)

Bottom 8
121.    Detroit Lions (2 winning seasons) (and a 0-16 season, to boot)
122.    Cleveland Browns (2 winning seasons)
123.    Buffalo Bills (1 winning season, 2 .500 seasons)
124.    Baltimore Orioles (1 winning season)
125.    KC Royals (1 winning season)
126.    Columbus Blue Jackets (1 .500 season)
127.    Florida Panthers (1 .500 season)
128.    Pittsburgh Pirates (13 losing seasons) (wow, there's a team worse than the Royals?)

Top and bottom, By Sport
MLB Top    NYY, STL, BOS (12 or more)
MLB Bottom    BAL, KCR, PIT (1 or 0)
MLS Top   LA, CHI, NY (8 winning seasons)
MLS Bottom    COL (4 winning seasons)
NBA Top   SA, DAL, LAL (12 or more winning seasons)
NBA Bottom    MIL, WAS, TOR, LAC, GSW (3 winning seasons)
NFL  Top  NE, IND, PIT, GB, BAL (10 or more winning seasons)
NFL  Bottom    AZ, DET, CLE, BUF (2 or 1 winning seasons)
NHL Top   DET, SJ, VAN (11+ winning seasons)
NHL Bottom    CLM, FLA (0 winning seasons)

Sporting KC: 50th/128, 4th/9 in MLS.
KC Chiefs: 103rd/128, 23rd/31 in NFL
KC Royals: 125th/128, 29th/30 in MLB.

See why KC roots for their soccer team?

Disclaimers:  Winnipeg Jets, San Jose Earthquakes not listed.
Tiebreakers on the top 8/bottom 8 include how long it's been since a non-winning season, number of tied seasons, and that San Antonio has won 3 titles since Y2K to New York Yankees 2.

The Honorable

"I am indebted to no man, and only to one woman — my dear wife — as I begin this very difficult job" - President Ford

Six years ago, Todd Smith (my neighbor around-the-block) said he was going to run for mayor.  My wife and I cast votes for him, and he won by three votes.  He anticipated a mass exodus from the council, and I told him, "If you run out of better folk to fill the vacancies, you can give me a call."

A year later - in March 2008, he did give me that call, and in April 2008, I took the oath of office, filling a seat on the Severance City Council.  We talked politics, tried to do things differently...and in the end both of us saw the darker side of politics.  Both of us handed in our resignations (for different reasons), and took a back seat.

Todd and I had a few other conversations - I had the privilege of telling him that he'd been written in to the mayor's seat for his third term in 2011.  But, our friendship was strained by the politics...he was tired of it all.  And, having little in common besides politics, we haven't spoken much since.

He did wish me well in the 2013 election, "make sure you draw the right straw".

It's unlikely, but I've made it clear that if I ever become mayor, and if I then have to fill a vacancy on the council, my first call will be to Todd.  A favor I might never be able to repay...but I wish I could.

The style and etiquette manuals state that the mayor of a city is entitled to the title "The Honorable."   And although some people use that term derisively, I respect the men who have taken on the heavy responsibility of leading our town.  

Here's to the Honorable Todd Smith, thrice elected to the mayor's chair in Severance, KS.

Don't post about that one atheist, please!

I had this post written, nice and neat, ready to post.  Then, I posted a comment on Facebook....
So i had to do a little rearranging, and add a postscript to the end of the post.

Everybody knows* that you can only balance an egg on its end on the equinox.  I'm the idiot who actually balanced an egg on its end one of the other 363 days of the year, cementing my position as a pompass know-it-all. 

I see those urban legends on facebook...the quote mashup that combines interviews from different people and an incorrect claim about a famous psychiatrist.  The amber alert for a kid kidnapped three years ago, and safely rescued one day later.  A comparison of two sports champions expressing two different emotions and making a moral conclusion.

It's like scratching a chalkboard.  And with the experience I've had on listservs, online forums, and various blogs...there's no solving it.  There's almost no changing people's perspective.
Ask me about the drinking argument.  The cover two argument.  Any argument I have with my wife.  Just about any facebook post.  If I disagree with you, I come off as an argumentative jerk.

And yet I can't shut up.  I think half of my facebook comments are a cut-and-paste a snopes on a modern parable / urban legend / outdated Amber Alert. 

I'm a firm believer in the Proverb that one person presents his case and seems right...until the other guy brings up the other side...I know it's in the good book somewhere.

And, the other day, a modern-day parable that I couldn't verify.  (A pastor whose name doesn't google, a unnamed megachurch, and an anvil of an aesop that's predictable from a mile away).

I commented
"[citation needed] - my google search can't even find this guy, and one person says that the picture is a different homeless person."
And I got told that I was missing the point (spoiler alert: Matthew 24.).
You wanna tell a story like that, call it a modern parable.  Call it what it is, an urban legend, a modern parable...but when you post it like a fact...

Saturday, July 20, 2013

What's left

The groups I've been in...when I leave, it's usually a complete break.  After I toss the cap and take off the gown, my college days become just a piece of paper, a lost yearbook, and one or two good friends.  When the online forum finally stops rolling up the hit-counter, I was already on the outside, already an awkward presence.  The cities I drive to - one of them was where I did everything, but I feel nothing for that town.  The other city, most of the folks I knew over the last fifteen years there, all we had in common was a timeclock.  I'm a stranger in my own town.

And as long as it's taken to learn, and as hard as I've resisted the cliche...
blood is thicker than water.

Family's pretty much all I've got left...pretty much all I've ever had.

Cost of Connection


Four years ago, I posted on one of the xanga ish sites (dollarish)

The Cost To Stay Connected To The World... Priceless

  • Landline with long distance: $55
  • High speed internet for the home computer:  $30
  • Cable or satellite TV: $95
  • Cell phone: $100
  • Cell phone for wife: $50
  • Cell phone for relative: $50
  • Unlimited text/internet for the three phones: $50
  • The add-on so you have enough minutes for the three phones: $30
  • Being connected...priceless.

Somewhere, somebody's laughing all the way to the bank.
How much are you spending on phones / internet / television per month?


Fast forward four years.

Landline + internet + TV bundled: 207 (+25)
Cell Phones: 310
Cell Phone: $85
Cell Phone for wife: $15
Cell Phone for kid: $15
Cell Phone for kid: $15
Unlimited text: $30
Phone Insurance: $30
XL Data Plans to prevent the XXL Data Charges: $120
AND The month somebody went nuts on a top-ten app: $55

I'm not sure what part of that bill steams me the most...

  • The fact that the company 15% discount only counted on one line, totaling $9
  • How little my kids actually use their phones
  • The month somebody went nuts on the app (the one with the commercials)
  • Or the fact that I've got my damn phone, and nobody calls me on it, only my wife texts me, etc.
    HELL, I did the obligatory "New Phone, New Number" post on Facebook, and no one asked me for my digits! (Proves that the five-to-ten people I actually texted were the only ones who cared)

Sorry, it's not bloggable.

There are still some unbloggable problems in my life.
I trust my friends.  My neighbors.  The folks at the church I attend.
But...putting anything about my deepest pain on this blog... (although I know I know almost nobody ever reads it.)
Besides, thinking about it, there's really only three or four people who need an update.  

Saturday, July 13, 2013

80s and 90s

I'm getting old.  And I feel it.
I used to think that I was on top of the tech wave, or at least could see the top of it...
no I didn't.  I spent over a decade without setting foot in a Best Buy.  None of my televisions are flat-screen.  I used to program in a language with such a small niche...
I would've had to turn in my geek-card years ago.
THEN...I got a job as an at-home CSR for a major electronics retailer.  And my geek cred went into the negative.
I remember the releases...Halo, Assassin's Creed, and Call of Duty.  I mentioned to several interested customers that the last FPS I'd played with any regularity was Goldeneye for the N64.  Black Friday.  uhhh.  My wife picks up magazines from garage sales to try to get me up to date on the latest tech.  A nice gesture, but I know when I'm beat. 
Or when they talk about TVs that can't hook up to the internet (oh, they're supposed to do that?)  Or the magic word these days..."Sound bar."  I think I know what it is, but I couldn't recognize it at a party. 
And how in the hell am I supposed to be able to afford to stay on the edge of the tech wave?  How am I supposed to be able to afford a triple-digit collection of games for the latest console? 
Some days, I wish I was born Amish.

Our blessed hope, harps optional

Once upon a time, my maternal grandmother, an ordained A.G. minister, pointed out something to me. She pointed out that our faith teaches us that there's more to the afterlife than just heaven. Pointing out, among other things, Revelation 21:1, "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea." To a teen who grew up in church, hearing the usual preaching about our hope of heaven after we die, that blew my mind.

Fast forward to a few years ago, when the pastor at my church started following an older line of faith, emphasizing that we live a life on this earth, that God gave us physical bodies, that Jesus walked among us in a body. Our pastor basically picked up an old fight against gnosticism - a heresy fought by such folks as the Apostles Paul and John. And I ended up posting this on Facebook a few years ago.
Easter is misunderstood. We 'celebrate' the physical resurrection of Jesus, while we merely expect to be heaven-dwelling ghosts after death. Because Jesus beat death, we can look fwd to not only eternity with God, but life after 'life after death'. But that doesn't excite us. Why?
 A few weeks ago, I was asked, "On a scale of 1 to 10, how confident that you'll go to heaven when you die?"  I put down the only honest answer I could.  "10*".  My wife laughed when I wrote that down...ask her about "2 3 4" sometime.

I am fully persuaded that my Creator will resurrect me at the right time on His calendar.  I just understand that at the end, there is a new heaven, new earth, and a new body.  Harp optional.

Blame it on Rio

USA '94.  France '98.  Korea/Japan '02.  Germany '06.  South Africa '10.
Eight teams made it to all five of these FIFA World Cups.

Brazil '14.
But will they all make it to Brazil?

BrazilSince 1930Host - Qualified
GermanySince 1954Leading Group
ItalySince 1962Leading Group
ArgentinaSince 1974Leading Continent
SpainSince 1978Leading Group
South KoreaSince 1986Qualified
United StatesSince 1990Leading Continent
MexicoSince 19943rd Place, CONCACAF

Germany, Italy, and Spain lead in their European groups. If they hold their lead, they go to Brazil. If they finish 2nd, they advance to a two-legged playoff in which one European team advances, and one doesn't. (Four of them will join the nine group winners)

Argentina has clinched a top-five finish in South America. If they can clinch a top-four, they'll be the second South American team to clinch a berth in the World Cup (host always qualifies)

USA and Mexico are in the "Hex", the six teams in North & Central America (CONCACAF) who are fighting for 3.5 berths in World Cup '14. The USA leads, 2 points ahead of 2nd, and - more importantly, 6 points ahead of 4th. With four games to go, the USMNT should easily advance to Brazil.
Mexico...with three home draws and a total of 8 points, they're just one ahead of 4th place Honduras.  3rd place gets in automatically, 4th place has to go to a two-legged playoff, first at home, then finishing in New Zealand.

Next matches on August 14 in Europe

Saturday, July 6, 2013

All politics is local

I spent two years licking my wounds after an election ass-kicking.  In a city election in Severance, you can vote for up to five folks.  In 2011, 1st place got 28 votes, 5th place got 20 votes...and I got 10.

I stewed.  I watched city council meetings, watched the mayor's chair vacated 3 times, watched my name not get called as a possible replacement for council vacancies.  I figured I could do as good a job as mayor as any of the other gentlemen to sit at the head of the table.

And, as the calendar turned over to 2013, I had one major choice to make:  run for council for a 3rd time; or make a bold move and run for mayor.  Two events tipped the scales - a personal crisis, and a call from a neighbor who announced her intention to challenge the incumbent, asking if I'd be running for council.  OK, 3rd time for council.

Then, as the filing deadline approached and nobody filed for school board (3 seats in south district), I figured...ah, what the hell, someone's got to make sure the kids are being  taught right.  So I doubled down, and ended up spending $10 at the county courthouse to file for a seat on the city council; and a seat on the school board.

Even did an IAmA about it.

From multiple sources, I learned one thing.  The town, and the south half of the school district...think I'm nuts.  That certain people thought campaigning would make me look even more annoying.

I finished a distant 4th place for school board.  134, 132, 114, 17. 

And the 9 votes I received in the city council tied for 4th with two incumbent write-ins on the city council.  The tiebreaker was handled by the county commission, and my name was the one of the three not drawn.


I've learned many lessons from being a father...probably too many to mention...
But a few of those lessons I've learned...I've only learned because I was willing to accept Molly, the daughter of the woman I loved, and call her my own.

1.  Love is a choice.
When the doctors ask me about Molly's parents' medical history...I have to say - "Honey, what medical conditions did (ex-boyfriend / Molly's biological father) have?"  I know that she isn't my 'flesh and blood' - not only that her mother and I weren't together back then; but I've seen the DNA tests that were run for child support. But I love her.  I was blessed to be a part of Molly's life from when she was just a few days old.  And she will always be my girl.

2.  There's no perfect, and it's overrated anyhow.
I used to wonder..."Would I rather let other people think that my wife and I had a daughter together, almost a year before we got married; or would I rather let other people know that my wife had a relationship with some other guy and got pregnant."
The first couple years we were married, all of our friends knew the whole story...and really didn't care.  As the years went on, almost nobody asked. 
In fact, at my last job, I had co-workers who didn't know that Molly was my stepdaughter.
When people ask how my wife and I got together, I skip a lot of the stuff in the middle.  (We met in January 1999.  We started dating in September 2000, when Molly was 5 months old.)  She doesn't skip it.  To her, it's a good story, has a happy ending, and is worth telling.
I wanted things to look normal...not only to Molly (who, through no fault of her own, has a stepfather)...but to the rest of my world...

3.  Don't mess with Papa Bear.
The Mrs. and I have four children.  Molly has a younger brother, sister, and another brother.  When we were expecting Olivia, a friend of ours asked us, "So, what are you having?"  "A girl."  "That's nice.  Now Steven will have one of each." 
My wife, noticing my anger rising, quickly explained..."Steven would tell you that he already does, with Molly and Noah"  (If I'd managed to get my mouth open, it would've been a very angry comment, saying the same thing.)
A few months later, at a family gathering, one of my relatives tried to tell Molly that I wasn't her "real dad".  "Is too!" "Is not!" "Is too!"  Thankfully my brother got that relative - who was only 8 at the time - to zip his lip.  Ruined the whole day for me.  (When we explained to Molly that 'Mommy was with someone else before she was with Daddy, and someone else is your biological father', Molly said 'I knew that for years, Mom.')
I am Molly's dad.  I swat the spiders.  In a few years, I'll be trying to intimidate her boyfriend.  Someday, I'll walk her down the aisle.

4.  Don't mess with Mama Bear.
A friend of ours used to tell us that we were taking something away from Molly by not actively trying to cultivate a relationship between Molly and her biological father.  Being diplomatic, he had once asked why I hadn't already adopted her; and right now he's in another state.  As far as I know, he has as much contact with her as he wants...none.
The Mrs. has been insistent that I'm all the dad that Molly needs.  And, with her family history (a long story), it is a high compliment when she says that.

5.  Some stepfathers can be total jerks.
I read my paper...and time after time, I see it...stepfathers or mothers' boyfriends abusing the kids.  From the Precious Doe case in '01 (I still tear up when I read that) friends I's awful.  I hate it.  It makes me want to shun that label even more...
"I'm convinced that if one can't be a dad to a woman's young child(ren), he shouldn't marry her.  And if a single mother has found a man who would make a good husband but not a good father...she should keep looking."
"Let's just say I pray to God that there is a very very hot and painful corner of hell reserved for stepfathers / boyfriends of mothers who mistreat their one gives medals to stepdads who just treat their stepchildren like their own, who handle ex-issues with fairness and calmness, whether the child calls him 'Dad' or 'Neil'. "
Bring on Mike Brady and Saint Joseph of Nazareth.

6.  A few things you don't least around me.
"Beat them like a red-headed stepchild." 
"Real dad."

7.  I can live with her last name - she has her maternal grandmother's maiden name.  But I've still got her under "Molly Pratt" on my cell phone.

Reposted/amended from a post on Momaroo

the Horror of the shade

There are several poorly kept secrets in my house.  1.  Molly didn't get her brown eyes from me.  2.  Certain people prefer small weddings.  3.  The Noodle incident.  4.  The existence of my serious battle with depression.
To discuss my depression is to take a chance I rarely took on Xanga - not without my friend "protected posts."  I suppose it's comparable to a decision to come out of the closet.  This time...I'll say whatever I need to say and take my chances.  Besides, no one listens to me anyway.
And, yeah.  I'm admitting that my battles with depression aren't limited to mere attitude.  It's more serious than that.  The casualty list of depression is the Grim Reaper's teletype...having stolen better and/or more famous than me.  And that scares me.
Andrew Koenig.  Don Harman.  Junior Seau.  Matthew Warren.  Jonathan Hamilton.
I'm in pain.  And most days, I'll be damned if I let anyone see how bad I hurt.
   Why should the world be over-wise //  In counting all our tears and sighs?
    Nay, let them only see us, while // We wear the mask.