Monday, April 27, 2009

Busy

I realized it's been a week since I posted. It doesn't feel like it has actually been that long, but I can't argue with the facts. I've just been really busy lately. A quick run-down of the things I've been doing, and we'll call it a life update and pretend it's a meaningful post.

First, I've been doing a good amount of writing over on my new Twins blog. Baseball takes up a lot of time, and writing about the games - even short posts - can be time consuming. If you haven't been reading it, please check it out from time to time. There's at least some new content almost every day.

Second, in conjunction with baseball season we've upped our cable package to once again receive ESPN. This means I've admittedly had more TV watching lately... Weak, right? But I missed Stephen Colbert, so having him back is pretty awesome. And Decemberists tonight!

I've also been doing a good deal of writing on the first draft of the novel I'm working on. For those who are still wondering as to the topic I'll say this: the plot is loosely centered around a major archaeological find, but the book is really about what it means to be creative and discover something new in a world where everything has been done before. I'm currently working on chapter 5, and I've got more than 50 pages. Not too shabby, right?

Let's see... I'm two weeks into a stand up comedy class, so I've also been working on that routine quite a bit. Our performance is on May 13th. If anyone is around and wants to comes see it, I'd love to have you there. All I ask is that you don't heckle. You don't have to laugh, just please, please, don't heckle. I've actually probably got more raw material than I need, but a ways to go in honing things down for maximum laughs.

Finally I've been hanging out with the Mrs. a lot lately, holding my hand on her stomach and such. We've gotten to the point where we can feel the baby kick sometimes, which is really exciting. Oh yeah, for those who might not have heard yet, we're pregnant. So you know... there's that keeping me busy.

So far I had known no humiliation
In front of my friends and close relations

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Crazy Crazy Day

This morning I was waiting for a co-worker to pick me up at the metro so that we could carpool to an all-staff meeting that we had. It was pouring rain, and so I was waiting with a couple of other people under the area around the exit that was covered by the building above. Among the people waiting there was an elderly gentleman who appeared to be an immigrant.

All of a sudden this elderly fellow dashed past me, towards a cab that was driving by, to try and flag it down. Only instead he ran straight into a garbage can, fell back, and hit his head on the sidewalk. It looked like he blacked out for a brief moment. He tried to sit up, made it only part way, and then fell back again. He was laying on the ground. I stepped over and helped the man to his feet and over to a set of stairs that were nearby so that he could sit down. His pupils were swollen and he seemed completely out of it. I told him I was going to call 911.

He said, in a quiet, broken English, "No. I just need a minute. I'm going to the hospital anyway." And then he lifted up his shirt to reveal a gigantic gauze bandaged to his stomach. It almost looked like he had a feeding tube underneath the gauze, though I couldn't tell, and the bandage stretched almost the entire way across his skinny body. "I have an appointment," he said.

"Where is your appointment?" I asked. "I think you need medical attention right away."
"Arlington Hospital."
"Is there someone I can call?"
"Can you please get me a cab? I need to go to my appointment."
"I'll try to get you a cab. Wait here."

I ran out in the pouring rain to try to flag down a cab. There aren't a ton that pass by the metro stop we were at, but after a couple minutes in the downpour I was able to flag down a Redtop. "There's a man here who needs to go to Arlington hospital. He's right around the corner."
"No," said the cabbie. "I'm only taking people into the city." And he drove away (splashing me in the process. Not that that mattered, I wasn't getting any wetter.).

I ran back to the man to make sure he was doing ok. He wasn't. He had vomited a little and was now rinsing his mouth out with a bottle of water he had. "Is there anyone else I can call? You don't want me to get an ambulance? 911?"

"No 911," he said. I surmised that he either probably wasn't a legal resident or didn't have insurance to cover an ambulance ride. Both were issues I see regularly in my work, so I wanted to respect his decision. "Can you call my wife?"
"Yes. What is the number?"
He gave me a number but stopped after 8 digits. It was like that scene from The Injury episode of The Office when Dwight starts talking and then just stops mid sentence. I eventually coaxed two more digits out of him, but no one answered on the other end and I don't know if the number was right.

"I'll try for another cab," I said.
As I was standing in the rain to hail another taxi my co-worker pulled up. I explained the situation and she tried to help me flag down a cab. Eventually we got another cab - this time it was Crown Cab Co. - and the driver told us the same thing. He wasn't going to take someone further out into Arlington. My co-worker figured it was probably because with the rain they were making a mint off of taking people into the city and picking up short fares downtown. I figured she was right. She ran off the check on the guy, who apparently had vomited some more. After that she went and found a number for Red Top's dispatch, so we could order a cab. Before she did all this she offered me her umbrella. I told her to keep it, since I wasn't going to get any wetter than I already was.

I stayed out in the rain, trying to hail more cabs. Eventually another Red Top pulled up and the driver didn't even bother telling me no. As soon as he heard "Arlington Hospital" he rolled up the window and sped away. My co-worker found the number and brought it over for me. I called the dispatch. I was on hold for 5 minutes, during which time another cab - Yellow Top - was flagged down and refused the fair. Finally dispatch picked up. It was no easy task to convince them to send a cab for a guy who needed to go to the hospital, especially when I couldn't even give them his name. As I was in the middle of this frantic call, talking to dispatch, another passerby asked me if I could call a cab for her too. I pretty much yelled at her and she left in a huff. I'm sure she's telling people about the rude guy who wouldn't even ask for two cabs. Eventually I convinced the dispatch to send a cab, but told me it would be 20 minutes. I said to send it, and went back to the guy.

He seemed to be doing a bit better, though he still wasn't ready to stand up. My co-worker helped me flag down another cab - Red Top again - and we explained that dispatch was supposed to be sending someone, so couldn't he just pick him up instead. "No way," he said. "It's not my call." And again he drove off.

We were already 30 minutes late for our meeting, and nothing we were doing seemed to have any positive effect. I felt really bad for my co-worker, who kind of got sucked into this whole mess (and she was a great support with it), but I didn't want to leave the guy. Finally something good happened - a metro employee came up for a break. I was able to grab his attention and explain the situation - that I saw him fall, the concussion, that he was already going to the hospital, that I hadn't been able to get a cab, but there should be one in 5 minutes and he needed to get in it, etc.

The metro employee was awesome. He agreed to help the guy, went right over and started talking to him, to see what he could do, how he could help him, everything. At that point it was clear the elderly fellow was in good hands, and we were finally able to take off. I felt a little bad not seeing him into a cab, but I feel pretty confident he was taken care of.

On the way to the meeting my co-worker and I talked about whether we should have just given him a ride. I didn't feel I could volunteer her car, and she was apprehensive because the hospital wasn't on the way at all, she really didn't have much room, and the vomiting thing was an obvious detractor. We both felt bad we didn't just take him there, and looking back, we kind of wished we would have.

Still... we did what we could. It was hard to know what to do in that situation. I spent the rest of the day soaking wet, wishing things had gone better, and still in disbelief that 5 separate cabs turned him down.
-----------------------------
Then we had an all-staff meeting where we talked about all sorts of ways to make our offices more efficient and better for clients and what not. After which, we got to go bowling! A nice end to a long meeting. I bowled a 112 and a 122. Not my best games. I have 5 strikes in each game, but also managed a 0 in frame in the first game, and a bunch of 4's in both. Very inconsistent. But it was fun.
-----------------------------
And while I was on a break at the meeting I was able to use a different co-worker's iPhone to check the results on the Minnesota Bar exam, which were posted this morning. I passed! That makes me undefeated in bar examinations. And I think I'll go out on top, and announce my retirement from taking these tests. Of course it seems that these days everyone comes out of retirement at least once... hopefully I won't have to!

And a big yellow taxi took away my old man

Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday Funny

This isn't so much funny as it is adorable. It features a great song, a very funny man performing a lip sync (not nearly as funny as some lip syncs that were done in the past, but still pretty solid), and puppets.



But I know one thing
That I love you

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

New TV

Last week I watched two new shows: Parks & Rec and The Unusuals. I enjoyed both. The Unusuals has a lot of potential. There's obviously going to be an overarching plot to the entire show, but the first episode had a tight enough arc in its own right. The characters seemed real engaging, with plenty of unique attributes that will provide a healthy dose of comedic relief. And the roles seemed well acted, at least this first time around. There was also enough, well, unusual stuff going on that it didn't feel like a formulaic procedural. I'll keep watching.

Parks & Rec seemed pretty funny. Not as good as The Office, though that's hardly a fair expectation. The first episode seemed a little too plot driven, and hopefully the rest of the plot happens more organically throughout the run of the show. One of the things that's so great about The Office is the host of supporting characters, like Crede and Phyllis and Stanley. That'll be something that Parks & Rec needs to develop.

The main characters have some very nice potential. I like Amy Pohler and Rashida Jones. I don't quite get the Rashida Jones character yet, but hopefully that'll come. Tom and April look like they'll be pretty funny, and Ron Swanson is already hilarious. Let's give this one some time to develop and hopefully we'll have another great addition to NBC's Thursday comedy lineup. Which, by the way, is what everyone should be watching on Thursday nights if they have their TV's on. There's simply no reason to be watching anything else on at that time. I'm looking at you women between 18 and 39 who are still gushing over Patrick Dempsey...

I was also considering watching Southland, because that looked like a really good police drama. I just wasn't willing to start three new shows, and so it lost out to those other two. Did anyone watch it? I saw good reviews... what did you think? I also was considering that show Kings. It looks like a pretty ambitious show (and it's based on stories from the Bible apparently), but the time slot and everything just didn't click for me. I also just had a feeling that it wouldn't get very far before cancellation... maybe I'll check it out on DVD someday. Oh, and I also stopped watching Heroes after the fall season ended, and frankly I'm still glad about it.

Yup... I just put up a post about my TV viewing habits. Shameful really. Sorry.

Got a curse I cannot lift
Shines when the sunset shifts

Into Thin Air

When people lose weight, where do the pounds they shed physically go?

I ain't missing you
No matter what I might say

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Which One Is The Alien Monster?

I had no idea how hard it would be to find a usable picture of Lindsey Lohan. If you're ever compelled to do an image search for her, do yourself a favor and use the strictest filter you possibly can.

We can't go on together
With suspicious minds

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

DCTF

As a reminder to everyone, and a shameless self-promotion, I have a new Twins blog. It's DCTwinsFan. Technically I'm posting as DCTwins Fan, and it's anonymous, but I'll let my readers here know that it's me. The link is in the sidebar. I'll be posting there with some frequency, so if you're interested in the Twins, or in reading more of my writing or anything else that compels you to click the link, check out the page or bookmark it.

Also, I'm rather proud of today's entry.

You've got a lot of money
But you can't afford the freeway

Sunday, April 05, 2009

2009 Baseball Preview

Yeah, my picks last year didn't go too terribly well. I followed the "experts" far too much, and paid the price of getting things wrong. Of course, the year before that I deviated a bunch and still got a lot of things wrong. But I've done ok some years. I guess the point is, sometimes my picks are right, and sometimes they're wrong, and we get a whole awesome summer of games to figure it all out. So, here we go with the picks:

National League

NL East: You know, when the Mets died last year I just laughed. It was really kind of a nice, sweet feeling of inevitability as they perfected their collapse. It was almost like watching the Cubs. I can't imagine we'd be so lucky as to see it happen three years in a row, and I think they have the pieces to be solid, so I'm picking them to win the NL East. After that, I kind of like the Braves, but they just don't have the offense, and it's hard to pick against the World Series winners, especially because they can really hit. The Nationals, on the other hand, are abysmal. They're my local team, so I'll still root for 'em, but man are they bad. The good news is that now that Bowden is gone they can star getting better. So I'm predicting the East to finish: Mets, Phillies, Braves, Marlins, Nats.

NL Central: I'll quote myself from last year: "Never a fun division to pick because there are so many middling teams, and it's baseball's biggest division." I think that's true enough again this year, but I think the Cubs aren't quite as middling as the rest, so they'll win the division by a couple. I've always kind of liked the Brewers, and watching their resurgence has been fun. I also think St. Louis could probably surprise people. A lot has been written about the new and improved Reds, but I just think they're too young, and not a complete enough team. Picking young has been the way to go lately in baseball it seems (the Rays for example), but I just don't think the Reds have enough polish. They're still better than the Astros and Pirates though. NL Central in order: Cubs, Brewers, Cards, Reds, Astros, Pirates.

NL West: Well we can count San Diego out, right? I'd say they, the Nationals, and the Pirates will all probably compete for worst team, right? And the Giants are still rebuilding, though I hear they have a lot of pieces in their minor leagues that we'll see soon enough. I don't think the Rockies are back to where they were two years ago, but they're a fun team. That leaves the Diamondbacks and the Dodgers. With Manny the Dodgers have plenty of offense to go around, while the Diamondbacks play a great team game. Is this getting to be a heated rivalry? I don't know, because the NL West is probably my least-followed division, but there should be a good battle between these two again. I'm going to give the edge to the Dodgers, since Torre knows how to keep a team plugging away. Your NL West finishes Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Rockies, Giants, Padres.

NL Wild Card: East or West? It's between Arizona and Philly. I like the Diamondbacks more, but I don't feel right picking against a reigning Champion team that didn't lose any pieces. Well, I don't feel right doing it now. Just wait until we get to the AL. Phillies take the Wild Card.

MVP: Last year's prediction: David Wright leads the Mets to a East title over the Phillies and takes home the MVP trophy as a result. This year's prediction: David Wright leads the Mets to a East title over the Phillies and takes home the MVP trophy as a result.

Cy Young: Mr. Johan Santana sits batters down and takes home his third (should be fourth) Cy.

Rookie: This is always hard, so I just go with a prospect whose name I've heard before: Cameron Maybin? Maybe? Maybin. Maybe.

American League

AL East: Hmm. The Rays won the East last year, made it to the World Series, didn't lose any pieces, and have David Price available for a full year if they want. And yet... I'm going to pick the Yankees. They're old, I know, and that's not good. Age will certainly handcuff their offense a little more than it has in the past (though Texiera should help with all of that). But they added some pitching, which they just haven't had the last couple years, and that's going to make them a more well-rounded team. And they'll have the magic of the new stadium, so that'll help propel them too. Boston is going to be right there with them, but I hate the Red Sox, so they won't get any more love than that nod. The East finishes up: Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, Jays, O's.

AL Central: Last year I picked against the Twins, (for the first time since I've been doing this I think), and they were as close as you can get without making it. A 1-0 loss in a one-game-playoff? Wow. I said they were building to something, and they surpassed my expectations. This year they return to the top of the heap. I'm a bit worried about Mauer, just because the injury is kind of strange and no one can predict when he'll be back, or whether the injury will return. And I'm excited to watch Liriano, Span, Casilla, Gomez and Young all build on what they did last year. I'm sure some of them will take a step back at times, but I think overall they'll all add more to their games (setting them up for their World Series title in 2010... but I'm a year ahead of myself). And they've got really great pitching. Liriano might be an ace, but every other guy on the staff is no worse than a number 3 pitcher, and they're all working with two of the smartest catchers in baseball, so that helps them step up their game. The White Sox took a step back in the offseason, but that was happening no matter what. They were smart enough to do so in a way that puts them in a good place in the future. The Indians... they're gonna be good. Grady Sizemore is an amazing player. This is a team that always manages to play a bit below where they should, and so I think that'll keep 'em from winning it all, but it'll be a battle. The AL Central goes: Twins, Indians, White Sox, Tigers, Royals.

AL West: The Angels absolutely ran away with it last year. This year it'll be much closer, but what they lost in Texiera and Rodriguez isn't enough to keep them out of first. Oakland is on their way to building another contend-every-year-but-not-good-enough group, just like in the first part of the decade. Seattle takes a step forward with better pitching performances and Ken Griffey Junior's smile. The West goes down: Angels, Athletics, Mariners, Rangers.

AL Wild Card: "Once again, screw you Boston. Indians take the wild card." I think this is, what, the third time I'm writing the same thing I did last year? And this time, it's especially appropriate, because hating the Red Sox is a timeless joy.

MVP: Grady Sizemore, but a healthy Joe Mauer would give him a run for his money.

Cy Young: I'm gonna go with Liriano, because I root for the Twins, and I don't know who else I would pick. Plus the way he finished the year last year was spectacular, so if he can carry that through, this isn't entirely crazy.

Rookie: Well, he's starting in the minors, but Matt Weiters is apparently going to be a very good addition to the O's.

Playoffs
NLS: Cubs over Mets, Dodgers over Phillies.
NLCS: Cubs over Dodgers.
ALS: Indians over Angels, Yankees over Twins
ALCS: Yankees over Indians
World Series: Yankees over Cubs. Note, I almost went the other way with this... but that's just crazy.

Put me in coach
I'm ready to play

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Er...

I haven't watched ER in about a decade, but tonight I caught the final episode. It was really good. Though I suppose that makes sense, since ER was probably one of the better dramas on TV the past 15 years.

You realize that life goes fast
It's hard to make the good things last

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

That Sounds Reasonable

In a number of recent posts the issue of "when does life begin" has come up. Nothing new for this blog, to be sure. Zhubin (the man who got me started blogging) has repeatedly made the claim that that question can only be answered "subjectively." His point is that because the answer is not objective it should be left to every individual to decide on their own (thus paving the way for abortion (even late term), embryonic stem cell research, etc.).

As a result of his argument I've spent a good deal of time thinking about subjectivity and objectivity, and the way those can play into this debate. I've spent some time talking about this in comments sections before, but I think it's something that warrants it's own post.

My working premise here is basically that subjectivity is completely irrelevant to the question of when life begins. Let's take a step back though, because I think Zhubin is right, that the answer itself is subjective.

What do we mean when we say "subjective"? Only that it cannot be known without reference to a person's internal state of mind. Objective means the opposite - that the answer can be known by looking at the world. Subjective questions are things like, "Do you feel hot or cold? What is your favorite color? Why are you marrying him? What things do you value?" Objective questions are things like "Is this an apple tree? How many apples are on the tree? If I drop the apple why does it fall to the ground?" It's not a difficult distinction.

Notice though that just because a question is subjective does not mean that the answer is relative (by relative I mean that every answer is as good as every answer). Objective questions cannot be relative (I'm pretty sure... if anyone can come up with one, I'll withdraw this claim). On the other hand, subjective questions can be relative. For example, "what is your favorite color" is a completely relative claim. It's a question of opinion.

But just because some subjective questions are relative doesn't mean they all are. In fact, I would say that most subjective questions (or at least the interesting ones) aren't relative. For example, "why are you marrying him?" is a subjective question to which there are better and worse answers. A very good answer would be "because I love him." A very bad answer would be "because then I get to go on a honeymoon."

We can all see quite clearly what makes the good answer good and the bad answer bad (if you need me to explain it, I suppose I can...). Not only that, but we'd all agree that the good answer is the better one, and the bad answer is the worse one. Maybe someone could say something about what's missing for the good answer, or what the bad answer has going for it, but ultimately we're all going to agree that the good answer is the better one, and the bad answer is the worse of the two.

The fact that we would all agree on this speaks volumes about the fact that subjectivity does not equal relativity. First, this shows an expectation that we all carry. Unlike with an opinion, we expect that a person will give a reasoned response to the question "why are you marrying him?" This is the kind of question we would think about before giving the answer, and we naturally assume that others would think about it too. Secondly this shows a universality to the answer. There might ultimately be lots of good reasons that answer the question, and different people might weigh the good options slightly differently. But when you get right down to it, there's a heck of a lot more agreement about what constitutes a good answer then there is disagreement. It'd be a rare person who says a honeymoon is an appropriate reason to get married.

Beyond the the fact that we all agree roughly on the answer is a more important point: the fact that there is a good answer and a bad answer reveals that the subjective is susceptible to reason, and is not merely the product of opinion. We can evaluate, appraise, debate, construct, hone and share our subjective conclusions. Using reason as a tool we can come to a better subjective answer to a question. We all do this, all the time. Or at least I hope we do... We aren't simply born with a set of subjective views, nor do we simply happen upon them in our lives. Our subjective views are learned. Through our experiences, through our classes, through our families and heroes and examples. Our subjective views can change and transform over time, as we learn new things and allow reason to continue to work on our ideals (I suppose it can also work the other way too, that we can continue to let prejudices and lack of reason affect our subjective views).

The ultimate point here is that, because our subjective views can be influenced by reason they are not relative. Reason directs us to the better answers, and away from the worst. There is no necessary connection between subjectivity and relativity. To say so is to deny that reason plays a role in developing our subjective views. We might not all reason to the same result, but we're probably all going to get pretty close, and narrow the disagreements down to just a few points. The resulting disagreements aren't a reason to disengage, but rather a call for us to actively work towards consensus. Working together - listening carefully, advocating constructively, and reasoning precisely - will move us all in the direction of the best results.

And... to bring this all back around to the abortion issue: Zhubin has said we should leave it to the individual mother to answer the question "when is life worth protecting" because the answer to that question is subjective. My response is: so what? There are still better and worse answers to that question, and it is our duty to put our reason to work coming to the best resolution of that question that we possibly can. The subjectivity of the question just gives us all the more reason to engage our reason.

No more a rake and no more a bachelor
I was wedded and it whetted my thirst