World Series off day

Ok. So the Rangers haven't exactly shown up for the World Series the way I'd hoped ... But I'm still hopin'.

Here's some amusing reads to pass the off day ...

a While You Were Away: The Giants, The Rangers, And The 2010 World Series

a Bieber to debut music video during World Series ... Terrible. Now, Kelly Clarkson on the other hand ...

a Herzog back at the World Series -- in earnings tax ads ... Political or not, it bugs me that the commercial doesn't recognize him as a hall of fame manager for the Cardinals and the Royals.

a Nation Disappointed By Great World Series Matchup ... My good friend Matt commented on this one by saying, simply, "Dead on."

a Barry Bonds wants to share hitting tips as coach ... Please, God, no. Seeing Barry in the stands the other night was bad enough.

Rangers' Cliff Lee has chance to be known as the best ever as World Series begins ... So Game 1 didn't go his way, but this is still a good read.

Saving the best for last: Joe Posnanski takes you on a thrilling ride through sports history with Thirty-Two Great Calls.


A lost era of Royals fans still cheer

So my friend Kara just posted this good read about the Kansas City Royals on Facebook. And now it has me recalling the good 'ol days, too.

Because of family moves while I was growing up and into my adulthood, I grew up a fan of the Brewers in the '80s, turned into a Royals fan for the '90s, and returned to following the Brewers in the 2000s. I've always been a Cubs fan, though.

I have no recollection of the 1985 World Series. My earliest postseason baseball memories are from 1988, and so began my love for the Dodgers.

As the 100-loss seasons pile up for the Royals, it's always amazed me how passionate the team's fans remain.

Sure, you could say that about Cubs fans, and their century-plus championship drought. But the Cubs have had quite a few winning seasons sprinkled throughout that drought, and Wrigley Field is known more for its frat party atmosphere than the kind of fans who hang on every pitch.

Red Sox fans, too. But they put their 86-year-old curse to rest -- twice. And they, too, had several close calls in between.

Yankees and Cardinals fans are known for their passion. But they're always in the hunt.

Royals fans got nothin.' Not since the early 1990s. And yet the team still draws consistently good crowds for its market size, sometimes larger than more successful teams.
This month makes 25 years since the Royals won their only World Series championship, and the team has young fans anyway, a generation that knows winning baseball only through old stories and grainy video.
My earliest Royals memories are of being awestruck by the beauty of the stadium and its fountains and the wonder of seeing baseball being played on astroturf.

Of watching Brett Saberhagen's no-hitter on TV and then getting our family locked out of our apartment the next morning, just before we were supposed to be leaving for school, because I wanted my mother to buy me a Kansas City Star to feed my fascination with baseball and the newspapers that covered the game's historic moments.

Of watching George Brett's march toward 3,000 hits in September '92. And witnessing his 2,992 and 2,993 hits from the upper deck of Kauffman Stadium.

Of watching George Brett's final games on TV. His kiss of home plate. And his last hit in Nolan Ryan's last uniformed appearance with the Texas Rangers on the last day of the 1993 season.

Of watching that classic ballgame in '94 (No. 6 on my list). Seeing Bob Hamelin barrel into third base and beating the throw on a Gary Gaetti single. And sitting so close to the Seattle Mariners dugout we could feel Lou Pineilla's spit when he returned to the dugout from arguing an umpire's call and proceeded to get into it with a boisterous fan.

Of attending the game on a hot July day in '95 when the Royals inducted Frank White into the team's hall of fame. I went with my dad and my childhood best friend Nate. ... I have memories of the Royals playing Boston on that day, the "Cheers" theme blaring on the stadium PA during the Red Sox batting practice, and calling a Mo Vaughn home run -- but baseballreference.com is telling me I must be thinking of a different day.

Of attending Cal Ripken's world-recording breaking consecutive game. With my dad and three of my best high school buddies on a beautiful June night. I wore my Ripken jersey and we played catch in the parking lot before the gates opened. The "I Was There" certificate we received remains one of my most prized collector's items.

There was joy in watching some of my childhood favorites -- mostly from years of unwrapping their Topps baseball cards -- play the twilights of their careers in Kansas City. Kirk Gibson. Kevin McReynolds. Greg Gagne. Gary Gaetti. Wally Joyner. Jose Lind. Vince Coleman.
They all love the Royals for different reasons. Some of it is geography and family and some of the same memories their fathers may have had, like sitting in the old G.A. and getting sprayed by the groundskeepers on a hot day or trying to get a beer with a fake I.D.
I remember all those things, too. Oh, how I loved sitting in the old G.A. with my high school buddies. $5 tickets. Getting sprayed. And chasing home run balls during batting practice.

Then there was the painful decline.

David Cone. Johnny Damon. Jemaine Dye. Carlos Beltran. They all got away. Mike Sweeney was wrecked by injuries. The Tony Muser years -- I attended a few of those press conferences as an aspiring sportswriter in college -- sheesh.

The Royals sank at the hands of poor leadership and a lack of ownership.

In recent years, it seems like the names on the roster have changed so much that it's a lost cause to try keeping up. You just wait to see who the manager -- whoever that might be, there's been a lot of them in recent years, too -- puts on the field that day.
“Even though I hate almost every player on the team and I hate watching us lose, I continue to watch.”
And yet I've continued coming back.

Watching in amazement and rooting them on from K-Town during that fluke 2003 season. Working in a Friday night game when Kates and I returned to Kansas City for my 10-year high school reunion. Cheering Ned Yost's hiring in May. And becoming a Royals-hat-wearing local again this summer.

I can only hope there are many more thrills -- like that double header in August -- to come for the Royals.
“I just think you should root for the team that’s closest to where you grow up.”


Packers rejoice

Holy Cheesehead, that was a great Packers game last night!

Once we got Phoebe to bed. And I cleaned the kitchen. And I finished the laundry. And got my belongings ready for work this morning ... I was planted and riding the edge of our coffee table for the second half.

I was pumping my fists with every Brett Favre interception the Packers turned into a score ...

I breathed a gargantuan sigh of relief when the referees rightfully reversed Favre's touchdown pass to Percy Harvin, who was clearly out of bounds when he caught the pass ... 

And I rejoiced with all of Wisconsin when those final seconds ticked away with the Packers on top. You could almost see the weight being lifted off Aaron Rogers' shoulders. From SI's Don Banks ...

Rodgers was going to be judged harshly if he didn't own at least one head-to-head win over the Favre-led Vikings. Not that you're going to get Rodgers to ever admit beating No. 4 was on his bucket list.
And Favre just looked awful limping off the field. As though he was having some serious regrets about returning to play this season.


The World Series

Well, this year's World Series matchup is nothing like the way I predicted it.

Sure, I wanted the Rangers to get in, but I never expected their offense to dominate the Yankees the way it did. The Rangers set the tone for the series during the first inning of the first game and never backed down. I relished every one of Texas's run-scoring hits -- with Vladimir Guerrero's RBI-single in Friday night's Game 6 topping 'em all. When Nelson Cruz followed Guerrero with a home run, I got chills watching the fireworks light up the ballpark, hearing "The Natural" theme in the background and the fans in a frenzy  ... At least I correctly predicted the number of games the series would last.

As for the National League Championship Series? I'm dumbfounded about how the Giants are advancing and the Phillies are not. The Phils were arguably the most well-rounded team in the postseason. They seemed destined to win it all -- Halladay, Hamels, Oswalt, Howard, Utley, Werth, Victorino. All the Giants have is Tim "The Freak," Lincecum, right? ... Boy, did I get that one wrong.

So let's try this again. The World Series. Ranger-Giants ... I'm going with the Rangers in six.

Good reads ...
a After changes, Rangers headed to 1st World Series
a Yankees' bid for title No. 28 ends in Texas
a George W. Bush Is Back in the Rangers’ Front Row
a Game-Saver of ’69 Mets, Ryan Is Back in the Series
a Five Cuts: Girardi's binder blues, a look back at the '02 draft and more
a Accountability Behind the Plate ... I like this idea.
a Lincecum-Halladay stirs memories of pitching duels
a Postseason Duels of Pitching Aces Can Go Awry

* * *

Meanwhile ...

The Cubs hired their new manager last week. And the winner was ... Mike Quade.

There was a part of me that was rooting for Ryne Sandberg to get the job. My favorite Cub, and one of the players I idolized growing up. I held on to hope that the Cubs might hire Sandberg, and he would be the one to finally lead them to the promised land.

But deep down, I knew Quade was the right man for the job. The way he righted the mess the Cubs were in during the last month of the season is commendable, and it's hard to argue with the players who endorsed him when it was over.

The pressure on Sandberg would have been enormous and the Cubs probably saved him some agony by passing on him for the job.

Now, about the that opening with the Milwaukee Brewers ...

Good reads ...
a At least Cubs treated Sandberg better than they once did Banks
a New Cubs manager Quade armed and ready
a So Cubs-like to pass on Ryne Sandberg ... Yes, but ...


Lady Antebellum makes amends with gas station concert

I caught this one about Lady Antebellum on my TweetDeck this morning.

My first thought was Dang. It would have been sweet to be a part of that.

My second thought was Only in Wisconsin.

Sounds like they put on a great show at the Riverside last night, too. ... Reading reviews like that have me kicking myself for passing on my opportunity to see them at Summerfest a couple years ago.


A field trip

I took my first field trip with Phoebe yesterday.

I accompanied Phoebe, her daycare friends and cadre on a trip to a nearby pumpkin patch. I’d been looking forward to it for weeks, and wouldn’t have missed it for anything.

Phoebe had major fun. Sliding down the slide made from hay bales. Crawling through tunnels. Feeding the goats. Petting the pigs and ducks. …

Most of all, she loved playing in the corn wagon. Imagine a giant sandbox -- but the box was instead filled with corn, and the box was actually a horse wagon. … Other kids filtered in and out of the wagon, but Phoebe couldn’t take herself away. At home, one of her favorite past times is filling measuring cups with dried beans, pouring the cups into larger containers and repeating the process. So the corn wagon for Phoebe, was a mecca.

We also rode a tractor train to a field where the kids picked their pumpkins …

We had a picnic with the sack lunches we brought …

And we were back in The ‘Ville by 1 p.m. At which time I was scheduled to report back to work.

I probably would have had a lot more fun on the field trip if I wasn't dealing with a killer headache. I gutted out the field trip, but by the time we returned to town I could barely stand, let alone see straight.

I called in sick and spent the rest of the day in bed.

I've never experienced such a painful headache in my life. I thought I was going to die.

But I would not have missed that field trip for anything.


34, 35, 36, 37 …

Kates and I returned to house hunting this week. There are signs that the housing gods might finally be working for us … Then again, maybe not.

We saw two homes on Sunday …

The first, House No. 34 on the list of homes we’ve toured, was a pleasant surprise. Within moments of walking through the front door, Kates and I were charmed by its spacious foyer, the open floor plan and its original hardwood floors. Each of the first floor rooms were connected to the foyer, which nearly made for another room in the home's center -- a long living room to the left and a formal dining room and kitchen to the right. The dining room featured built-in corner cabinets, while the kitchen was large with plenty of storage space in its vintage cabinetry. The end of the foyer connected to two first floor bedrooms and a small office room with built-in cabinets and a large window looking over the backyard.

An enclosed wrap-around staircase took us to the unfinished second floor. It was nothing more than two rooms of drywall and rough flooring; word had it the previous owners built the home in the 1960s and never finished the second floor. We could finish it off and turn it into an ideal master suite, we thought.

Admittedly, the home needed a lot of TLC. But visions of some new paint, a few new light fixtures and changing out some hardware had Kates and I believing it could be a gem of a house. We loved the home’s layout and said later that, of the 33 houses we’d seen previously, it was the first one that truly gave us the good feelings we felt the first time we stepped inside our house in K-Town. The home was listed well within our price range and we began contemplating an offer.

Yet, we couldn’t deny the house had its drawbacks. The backyard, although fenced, was slightly smaller than our backyard in K-Town. The garages -- yes, there were two: an attached one-car and a detached two-car -- were in disrepair. And the most questionable of all, the home sat across the street from a fraternity house.

We moved on to the next house, and our minds began whirling with visions again. Interestingly, I realized after walking through a couple rooms that I toured the home -- somewhere among House Nos. 25 through 28, I can't remember -- last spring and didn’t think highly of it. Back then, however, someone was still living in the home, perhaps making it hard for me to look past his furniture. Seeing it again, empty, gave me a different perspective; both Kates and I liked it.

It had a finished basement with hardwood flooring, a fireplace and built-in shelves. Upstairs there was a good-sized living room, dining area and kitchen with three bedrooms connected to a hallway. A large deck, with a screened porch, connected to the back of the home and looked over a large yard that would have given Phoebe plenty of room to run. The home also was part of a quiet, picturesque neighborhood with winding residential streets.

Once again, Kates and I were talking offer scenarios, but drawbacks loomed again. The house was located on the edge of town and backed up, with no fence, to a country road with cars whizzing by. The home also had a split-level layout, which we want no part of, reminding us too much of the duplex we’re living in now.

After a break on Monday, we were back at it Tuesday night. We found plenty more to like.

House No. 35, sits on another quiet residential street, within blocks of the campus. It’s a two-story home that was built in the 1970s with characteristics strikingly similar to the two homes we did place offers on last spring. Again, Kates and I were charmed soon after stepping inside. The open floor plan featured a large kitchen with loads of storage and counter space, and a living room with a fireplace and built-in shelves. The second-floor included three bedrooms that were large enough to hold all of our bedroom furniture -- another key component in our search because the bedrooms in our K-Town house didn’t do that.

From there, the house only got better. It featured a large, finished basement that even had Kates smiling at the possibilities of becoming the new home for my baseball museum. The dining room connected to a large two-level deck. There was a large fenced-in yard ripe for some excellent landscaping and Phoebe's exploration. A two-car attached garage. New carpet and updates throughout the home. A large playroom for Phoebe off the kitchen. … It had everything we’ve been looking for, and it was making Kates and I giddy.

Our good run continued at House No. 36, a 110-year-old farmhouse that had been restored from top to bottom. The woodwork still smelled of fresh varnish. The hardwood floors gleamed. It had new windows, too. Upstairs, the bedrooms -- which were huge -- had new carpeting. And the bathroom was spacious and luxurious, with a whirlpool tub as its centerpiece. In a word, the house was gorgeous. And perfectly within our price range.

But there were drawbacks. The kitchen was small. There were only two bedrooms. The basement wasn’t good for more than some storage. And there was no garage, though the lot was plenty big enough for us to build one. In the end, we decided -- as much as we loved the house -- it wasn’t practical for our needs and raising our family. If Kates and I were seven years younger and starting out, we would have jumped at it.

We saw one more property, House No. 37, Tuesday night. I pass it every day on my way home from work and the outside has little appeal. But the photos we’ve seen of the inside intrigued us, and its backyard is one of the biggest parks in The ‘Ville … But I’ll spare you the details and say, simply, that House No. 37 didn’t come close to the level of the previous four. I was ready to leave after walking through one room and paid more attention to my Blackberry for the rest of the tour.

Thus, four of the last five houses we’d seen were better than almost all of the previous 33. Kates and I were hopeful Tuesday night that we might finally be getting somewhere … We couldn’t deny our love for House No. 35 and completed paperwork that night to submit an offer.

Wednesday morning our hopes were dashed, though. The sellers issued a counter-offer and we didn’t answer it. We’d grown nervous about our loan’s requirements and the accompanying closing costs. We decided to go the responsible route rather than wipe out our bank account and then some to make the down payment.

Furthermore, we learned the sellers weren’t willing to budge from their counter-offer, which we believed was unfairly high. As far as we can tell, the sellers, who haven’t lived in the home for more than a couple years, are simply trying to break even on their purchase -- not giving into the fact the market is a mess and housing prices have plummeted.

We know how that feels. We’ve been there. We’re working to pay off the debts we incurred trying to make the last move. We’ve been bitten by the housing crisis, and we’re in no mood to rush into anything.

It sucks. But we've been through so much -- 37 freaking houses in eight months, and three failed offers -- that we've fallen numb to our sour luck. We’re holding tight to the mantra that the right house will present itself when it’s meant to be.

Stuff of the week

Was there anyone who wasn't watching the gripping rescue of 33 miners in Chile on Tuesday night!?

The scene was something I won't soon forget -- watching the Rangers finish off the Rays in the division series and then seeing my e-mail and TweetDeck overflow with breaking news alerts. I promptly turned to CNN and watched intently, butt planted on our coffee table in front of television. I flipped back and forth from the CNN coverage to the baseball game, and timed it perfectly enough that I saw the last out of the ball game and parts of the Rangers celebration and the first miner appear above ground, to the utter joy of his young son.

As the CBS clip mentions below, I couldn't help but notice how the similarities to watching Baby Jessica's rescue struck me also. The miners' story is something remarkable and is, arguably -- like "Sully" in 2009 -- the high point of a mostly dark and gloomy 2010.

* * *
Of course I watched Jane Lynch's appearance on "Saturday Night Live" over the weekend, and I thought it was pretty decent. But in an effort to save time and space, I'll just direct you to EW's review -- because it's everything I would have said. My only regret is I can't find a clip of the "Glee" spoof -- EW couldn't either -- which was ha-larious.

* * *
I've been listening to The Weepies nearly non-stop the last couple weeks. I had another fleeting moment of depression the other night when I caught a review of their tour opener. Dang, it would be good to see them.

* * *
Um. These lightning photos are amazing.

* * *
This is nuts: Firefighters let a house burn because its owner didn't pay a $75 fee.

* * *
I'm always up for a good read about Facebook. Here is another good one from The Boston Gobe. So true.


Baseball's postseason

So I’m late on my postseason baseball predictions, but after the events of last week I’m hoping you’ll forgive me.

Saturday night I watched the Yankees sweep the Twins. … Disappointing is the only word I can come with. Had you asked me a few weeks ago about the Twin chances I would have expected a little more fight. One win at least. But their power struggles continued. I blame the Sports Illustrated cover jinx -- even if it was one of the most beautiful covers ever. Too bad, I was sort of hoping to see Jim Thome back in a World Series.

Sunday night I watched the Phillies complete their sweep of the Reds. No contest. No surprise. For my prediction I would have guessed the Phillies in three games. In fact -- there’s no working around it -- the Phillies are my pick to win it all. They have been since August when they were sitting in second place in the NL East.

Monday night I watched the Giant finish off the Braves three games to one in a thriller down to the last out. … It’s too bad for the Braves. I was rooting for them and thinking they’d will themselves to the National League Championship Series, at least, for Bobby Cox’s last hurrah. For my prediction, I would’ve guessed the Braves in four or five. Wrong.
Last night, though, was the ultimate. Rangers-Rays in a game five. I admire the scrappy Rays, and I would have loved to see them finish what they couldn’t in 2008. … But again I’m sticking with what I wrote in August. I like the Rangers for the team they’ve assembled, for what they’ve accomplished this season and for what they're trying to build.

Do I think the Rangers can hold off the Yankees in the ALCS? Probably not. But I’ll be cheering for them anyway. I predict Yankees in six games.

In the NLCS, I still think the Phillies have the upper hand, although the Giants’ play against the Braves has me second-guessing. Then again -- Halladay, Oswalt, Hamels. It doesn’t get better than that. I say Phillies in five games.

Which means we’ll get a rematch of the Phillies and the Yankees in the World Series. This year I think the Phils and their pitching gets the better of New York. I say Philadelphia in six games.

While I'm catching up on baseball predictions, I figured I'd clean off my desktop, too. Here's some good baseball reads I've caught during the last few weeks ...

Philadelphia Phillies
a Hamels shuts out memories of '09 postseason blues
a In midst of first playoff run, Mike Sweeney still thinks of KC
a With the sweep, the Phillies now wait; that's good and bad

Tampa Bay Rays
a Dome-Field Disadvantage Disappears With New Ground Rules

Minnesota Twins
a In Fact and Song, Fiendish Yankees

New York Yankees
a It's Jeter's time ... to step up in playoffs, earn another big payday
a Mariano Rivera, King of the Closers
a Are the Yankees Truly the Most-Despised Ballclub?
a Hug Won’t Unite Torre and Cashman

Boston Red Sox
a It wasn’t just the injuries that hurt
a No time to lose
a Near Fenway, no magic numbers

San Diego Padres
a A Voice Embraces the Echoes of His Past ... Good story about Dick Enberg. "I’m thinking: ‘How lucky am I? I’m going to see a ballgame.’ " I think that every time, too.

Chicago Cubs
a Breaking up with the Cubs
a Joyless Seasons for White Sox and Cubs
a Girardi too good for Cubs to let go
a Could unsung Quade win Cubs managerial sweepstakes?
a Sandberg's dues paid in full
a Hall of Famer’s Slow Road to a Major League Bench
a Plenty of blame as Cubs close out 'Year One' ... Two words: The Noodle. Ugh.

Kansas City Royals
a What comes next for Royals?

a In Bing Crosby’s Wine Cellar, Vintage Baseball
a Power Pitchers Emerge, Shifting Focus of the Game
a Baseball cards: a childhood hapily wasted
a What Do You Think of Ted Williams Now?
a Pujols, Musial & the Splendid Splinter Scale
a Blown calls in baseball playoffs put umpires under a microscope and renew calls for replay
a The Wildest Fastball Ever
a The Pirates' great uniform revolution
a Burning question: Where are the nation's best wiffle ball fields?
a For Baseball Archivists, a Tag Ends Every Play
aTeams Win, but Fans Stay Home
aJose Bautista and the Big 5-0


Smell Like A Monster

After a gloomy Monday, it was nice to have this spoof put a smile on my face tonight ...


Festival fun

So we decided on a whim Friday night that we wanted to purchase our Halloween pumpkins this weekend.

Kates launched an internet search for some pumpkin places and came up with Pumpkin Fest in St. Joseph. The website promoted it as a family-friendly event, and it sounded like it might be fun ...

So yesterday afternoon we loaded up the car and set out for St. Joseph in hopes of finding the perfect pumkin for Phoebe ... But there were no pumpkins for sale at Pumpkin Fest. Go figure.

There was, however, a good ol' fashioned downtown festival full of craft tables for the kids, food vendors, carnival rides and tents with wares of all kinds. Phoebe got her face painted and she rode the carousel ...

Two things made her day, though. Bouncing and a purple monkey.

We wore her out. And she slept  all the way home.

Why we hate ‘gubernatorial’

Interesting. I've never liked the word, either ...



Saturday morning and we're all sitting cozily with the VH1 Countdown playing on the TV in the background -- small bedroom TV that is; remember our living room TV caught fire. I'm scanning the morning newspapers and writing. Kates is reading. And Phoebe is running around in nothing but a diaper, carrying her juice bottle in one hand and her diaper bag, diapers and a three-inch teddy bear in the other. Her objective: to change the teddy bear's diaper with a diaper that's large enough to cover the entire teddy bear three times.

Typical Saturday morning.

That and Phoebe was walking up the stairs, calling for us at 6 a.m. So much for catching up on sleep after my long week. I fell asleep on the couch at about 10 last night, thus missing Rick Ankiel's splash home run to beat the Giants. Go Braves!

My friend Darren sent this video to me this week, featuring a cameraman's experiences filming the Red Sox. I've watched this guy's shots of home run balls leaving Fenway countless times, but his ability to catch the extraordinary hawk and moon shots is just as inspiring. Check it out.

Back to music videos.

My favorites of recent weeks go to Bruno Mars' mesmerizing "Just the Way You Are." For weeks, I've listened to girls gushing about the poetry of this song. I get that. But I also think the cassette tape art is way cool. (Here's a good read about Bruno, and an acoustic version at Chicago's WTMX.)

And if you haven't seen it yet (5,842,347 people have), it's worth watching OK Go's new video for "White Knuckles." These dudes are genius.


Life goes on

This week has been so rough, it's getting hilarious.

On top of my flash drive exploding. And a pressure-packed week of work. And not getting to bed before 12:30 a.m. each of the last four nights. And Phoebe waking up in the middle of three of the last five nights, further disrupting our sleep. And our TV nearly catching fire in the middle of Roy Halladay's no-hitter ...

I locked Phoebe and myself out of the house yesterday morning. Kates had to leave earlier than usual for a meeting, leaving me to fight the morning battle of getting Phoebe ready for daycare alone. We came out as winners and were rushing down the stairs, albeit a few minutes behind schedule, when Kates texted me to ask how things were going ...

"Leaving right now," I wrote back. Then Phoebe and I proceeded to walk through the door. I shut it behind us, took one more step on the front porch, looked at my car and realized I didn't have my keys.

I texted Kates again: "Just locked ourselves out of the house." A few moments later Kates replied, "I'm on my way."

Phoebe and I proceeded to take a seat on the front stoop. She lit up at the sight of "birdies" flying overhead and the peacefulness of our neighborhood in the morning. In truth, those few minutes of waiting for Kates to rescue us -- and explaining to Phoebe how a bird's nest is like our house and that birds fly through the air to complete their daily tasks and find food just like Mommy and Daddy go to work -- were minutes to cherish.

Soon Kates pulled into the driveway. She handed me her keys so I could unlock the door and grab my keys, and Phoebe rushed to Kates's arms in excitement ...

We all moved on to our daily tasks, just like the birds.

One of my tasks on Thursday was really an enormous pleasure: Being present to help celebrate the centennial of our historic Administration Building. A building I've adored and taken so much pride in since those first days I laid eyes on it. Echoing the words of our president, I will never ever take for granted the privilege I have to work in that building each day.

On Thursday night, we were house hunting again. House No. 33 lies in another one of the neighborhoods we so desire, a couple blocks from the campus. It's a white house, with a large front porch and a barn-shaped roof. It doesn't have a garage, but the lot is huge, allowing plenty of space to build a garage and plenty of room for Phoebe to run. ... But any hopes we had of making it our own were dashed soon after we stepped inside. While the layout is wonderful -- with its open foyer and grand staircase -- the center of the house is sinking and the structure has been terribly neglected.

That story has played out over and over in our home search. Sooo much potential, but we'd have to win the lottery and take sabbaticals to restore some of these homes.



Game of life

I'm sitting in bed and watching postseason baseball. A respite. Sort of.

Tonight I was watching Roy Halladay's gem for the Phillies when our TV started acting weird. The picture turned distorted, sort of like those bubble cams on the jumbo trons at sporting events. I tried changing  channels to see if others were projecting the same distorted picture; they were. ... A few moments later, there were sparking sounds. And then something burning. I rushed to the TV. The smell was worse. The sparking  noises were increasing. I promptly unplugged the TV.

Of course. It's been that kind of a week. It's cursed.

Work stuff had me up until 1:30 a.m. last night ... Phoebe vomited after supper, again ... And she's been waking  up in the middle of the night each of the last three nights. She's got crawling out of her bed and feeling her way up the stairs in the dark to our bedroom down to a science. Then, after we give into serving her some milk (there's tantrums and a couple more hours of lost sleep if we don't) she falls asleep on her blanket at the foot of our bed. Which is kind of adorable.

I got my haircut today. Everyone noticed within five seconds of seeing my face after the trim -- which meant it must have been shaggy. (I almost didn't get it cut because the longer threads provided a good stress reliever when I needed to pull on something.) I also received multiple quips suggesting I was enlisting in the Army. Even Phoebe, ever-observant, noticed as I picked her up from the daycare and strapped her into the car seat, saying "Daddy, you got your hair cut!"

Worst of all, I lost a boat load of documents and resources Monday morning when the flash drive I use for my work went corrupt. One minute I was saving a photo to the drive and everything was fine ... A few minutes later I tried saving a document to the drive and it wouldn't save. Everything was gone. In a flash, you might say. And I thought I was going to have a heart attack. Because, no, I didn't have a backup.

Oh, by the way, Monday also was anniversary day for Kates and I. Seven years. ...

We celebrated by leaving Phoebe with our friend Gina for the night and going out on the town. We met our realtor to take a second look at House No. 31 -- the beautiful historic mansion that's out of our price range. We've been told the owners are desperate to sell and might be willing to give us a deal. ... We're pondering and researching scenarios.

For dinner, Kates and I hit the finest restaurant in town. We filled up on pita break and humus, Caesar salads; Kates went with a gyro; I went for the sirloin with mashed potatoes. And there was alcohol, of course.

Did you ever imagine we'd be celebrating our anniversary this year in The 'Ville? I asked Kates.

Both of us laughed. These days, laughing is especially good.


The football life

Phoebe got her indoctrination into football in The 'Ville this weekend ...

In The 'Ville football is a major part of life. The high school team, those lovable Spoofhounds, is a perennial state championship contender and the 'Hounds won it all last year. The college team, meanwhile, is a perennial national contender, having been to the national championship game the last five years; they won it all last year, too. Some people call The 'Ville "Titletown."

On Friday night, while Kates and I attended the a banquet at the university, we left Phoebe with some friends, who took her to the Spoofhounds game. We were told afterward that she had a grand time and delighted in standing on the bleachers while shouting, "Go Scoofy!" ... The mascot's nickname is Spoofy.

We headed to the college football game Saturday and indulged in the gameday atmosphere there. The live band at the pavilion. Tailgaters packed into the parking lots. A lunch buffet featuring pulled pork sandwiches and loads of sides. The lively pregame show with the marching band and cheerleaders ...

For the game, we settled for standing-room tickets because I was foolishly late purchasing tickets for the game against one of our biggest rivals. We watched the game from a spot on the hill behind one of the end zones. Trees blocked the sidelines and part of the nearest end zone, but we stuffed our faces with popcorn and enjoyed the experience nonetheless. After all, our team won 42-0.

The first of many football weekends to come, I'm sure.