Corn maze

When I was in elementary school, I used to draw mazes for fun. I would fill up full-sized pieces of art construction paper in a couple of hours time with a maze that had only one solution. a large piece of art construction paper in a few hours time with a maze that only had one solution. They fascinated me, and they still do.

I read somewhere there are 6 different kinds of mazes varying in construction from simple single-path labyrinths to multidimensional mazes that are constructed on exotic surfaces (ie., Mobius strip). But for pure enjoyment value, I have to say your best bet is a maze constructed on an agricultural surface (i.e., corn).

I took Angie to our first corn maze as a birthday surprise back when we were still dating. Something about teaming up, roaming from checkpoint to checkpoint, and punching our cards as we found them really excited us. Here we were, putting our heads together and solving a problem.  We were a real team!

Since then, the corn maze has become an annual pilgrimage for us. Now that we’re husband and wife, the idea of putting our heads together and solving problems isn’t so novel, but the corn maze keeps calling us back, a ton of fun and the last big outdoor event each fall.

Hello, True Believers!

Reality shows.  Ever since “Survivor” became so popular, I’ve been stuck wondering what people see in them.  I can honestly say I’ve watched only two or three “Survivor” episodes since they came out; all of those viewings were under duress. To me, these shows glamorize the very worst in people. The winning contestants make the grade by manipulating others, forming cliques or “alliances,” dividing others by casting doubt and deception, and victimizing those in the “out” group.

If it is true that there is an exception to every rule, I just watched the final episode of such an exception. “Who Wants To Be A Superhero” was in many ways, an “anti”-reality show. Entertaining enough that both my wife and I were hooked, it was filled with good-natured fun, positive messages, and delightful twists that kept us laughing out loud.

Contestants competed to become the next great comic book superhero, immortalized by Stan Lee (creator of Spider-Man, X-Men, and many more comic book heroes) in their own comic book. They dressed and lived AS the superhero they created. How they competed was what really drew me to the show. Lee told the superheroes right off that he knew he couldn’t judge them on how high they could leap, how fast they could fly, or if they could stop a speeding train. He made it clear that he was going to test them on virtuous character traits that a true superhero would possess on the inside.   Continue reading Hello, True Believers!

Winter baseball

There are three things the average man thinks he can do better than anyone else: build a fire, run a hotel, and manage a baseball team. -Rocky Bridges
My love of baseball started, as many things do, in childhood. I remember on many occasions bringing a mattress downstairs to the living room (the only air conditioned room in the house except for my parents’ bedroom), brushing my teeth, getting ready for “bed”, then begging for the television to stay on a little longer so I could watch the ending of the Royals game. It was a treat in those “pre-cable television” days. One time, I recall my dad taking a group of boys (a scouting event, I think) to Royals stadium. As I was sitting down with the other boys, I looked back and saw my dad two rows back. I went over to sit and watch the game with him. After all, he looked so lonely chaperoning the event, and if it hadn’t been for my dad knocking high fly balls for me to track down, I never would have earned that particular merit badge. It was the best game I ever went to.
About a year and a half ago, I discovered something called a “sim league.” I was looking for a new computer game after finding out that my favorite one, High Heat, was out of business. What I ended up discovering was a group of close to thirty people spread across the country who used High Heat as a basis for simulating games and seasons, with themselves acting as owners and general managers. It looked like a steep commitment; rosters due every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; off-season rookie drafts, free agent protection lists and signings. I studied over the rules, emailed back and forth with the fellow in the league who posted the openings (who also happened to be the commissioner), and decided I could at least give it a two seasons.
Of the two or three teams open, one caught my eye. It was the very worst franchise; it had the losingest record in the history of the league. The team actually went 36-126 one season! It had NEVER had a winning season. It had never even had a .500 season in its 15 seasons of existence. In other words, the franchise had my name written all over it. I signed up and renamed the team. I took complete reigns of the Manatees at the start of the 2016 season.
I’ve put together a team page with all of my managerial details that you can reference by clicking here: Brevard County Manatees.
For the weblog, though, I won’t leave you hanging. A year and a half of being constantly humbled by the skill of some very talented general managers, I’ve been able to eek out a record of 876-744 (.541). The culmination of my work came a few days ago when I qualified for my fifth Rockies League West Pennant and managed to go from there all of the way to winning the League Championship Series!
Some would say it’s just a game, just as watching the Royals play is, but for a little while, my winter transformed into a hot summer on the baseball diamond; exploding into blinding postseason color, imprinting vivid memories that will carry me through the wintertime gloom until spring.

There are three things the average man thinks he can do better than anyone else: build a fire, run a hotel, and manage a baseball team. -Rocky Bridges

My love of baseball started, as many things do, in childhood. I remember on many occasions bringing a mattress downstairs to the living room (the only air-conditioned room in the house except for my parents’ bedroom), brushing my teeth, getting ready for “bed”, then begging for the television to stay on a little longer so I could watch the ending of the Royals game. It was a treat in those “pre-cable television” days. One time, I recall my dad taking a group of boys (a scouting event, I think) to Royals stadium. As I was sitting down with the other boys, I looked back and saw my dad two rows back. I went over to sit and watch the game with him. After all, he looked so lonely chaperoning the event, and if it hadn’t been for my dad knocking high fly balls for me to track down, I never would have earned that particular merit badge. It was the best game I ever went to.

About a year and a half ago, I discovered something called a “sim league.” I was looking for a new computer game after finding out that my favorite one, High Heat, was out of business. What I ended up discovering was a group of close to thirty people spread across the country who used High Heat as a basis for simulating games and seasons, with themselves acting as owners and general managers. It looked like a steep commitment; rosters due every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; off-season rookie drafts, free agent protection lists and signings. I studied over the rules, emailed back and forth with the fellow in the league who posted the openings (who also happened to be the commissioner), and decided I could at least give it two seasons. Continue reading Winter baseball

Discovery

Albert Einstein. “The process of scientific discovery is, in effect, a continual flight from wonder. “

An interesting quote.  Sure, discovery removes the shroud of the magical unknown and gives us the tools to understand and tame these processes. For me, though, reading about discoveries inspires me to wonder even more.  Wondering is exciting.  It’s what humans were made to do.  The dance of discovery between the mind and nature casts light on things that had been dark.  But with new illumination, comes new shadows.

Here are some recent discoveries that have given me a “wonder-rush.”

Scientists Scan Data From Saturn’s Moon (AP). AP – Saturn’s largest moon contains all the ingredients for life, but senior scientists studying data from a European probe ruled out the possibility Titan’s abundant methane stems from living organisms.

Those who follow this weblog know I’ve been eagerly anticipating this one. I can’t stop looking at the pictures and imagining what it’s like there. Yes, I’m quite clear on the fact that it’s deadly to life as we know it, but I’ve been imagining things like that ever since I read a book in grade school, Mission to Mercury (at least I think that was the title, I can’t find it on Amazon to make sure). With lakebed coastlines, flowing liquid methane rivers, soft “soil”, rains, winds, storms…yes, I know we have much less toxic versions of those things here. Why am I entranced by a sunset over the lake when I’ve seen hundreds of them before?   Continue reading Discovery

Ronald Reagan

rreaganI was a teenager during the Reagan Revolution. I knew then that there was something extraordinary about our 40th president.

His policies were straightforward and completely consistent with his belief that people knew better how to run their lives than career politicians in Washington. His successes, the greatest economic expansion in our history and bringing an end to the Cold War, are nothing less than stellar. As a president, Ronald Reagan belongs alongside our greatest leaders.

As a man, Ronald Reagan was every bit as great. His relationship with Nancy exemplifies what it means to have a life-long love affair with your partner. And anyone who has met him seems to have a story about his graciousness, his simple kindnesses, and his disarming humor. But what always struck me most about Ronald Reagan was his infectious optimism.

It is time for us to realize that we’re too great a nation to limit ourselves to small dreams…. Let us begin an era of national renewal. Let us renew our determination, our courage, and our strength. And let us renew our faith and our hope…. The crisis we are facing today… [requires] our best effort and our willingness to believe in ourselves and to believe in our capacity to perform great deeds; to believe that together with God’s help we can and will resolve the problems which now confront us. And after all, why shouldn’t we beleve that? We are Americans.” – Ronald Reagan, First inagural address.

Thank you Ronald Reagan, for your terrific service to our country and for being a model of great character with your kindness and optimism.

Whatever else history may say about me when I’m gone, I hope it will record that I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears, to your confidence rather than your doubts. My dream is that you will travel the road ahead with liberty’s lamp guiding your steps and opportunity’s arm steadying your way.” – Ronald Reagan

For openers….

How often is a novice chess player honored by having his analysis of an ongoing game published? As often as he likes … if he has a weblog….

The following are the opening moves of a game I’ve just started with an old college buddy who lives a long way away. We’re playing over email, allowing “infinite” time to play each move, and we’re allowed to consult computer chess programs to avoid blunders and generate some ideas. The game is not meant to be a masterpiece of strategy and tactics. The regular email moves are a conduit for us to pass along news and happenings to each other. It is a way for us to keep in touch.

Still, for anyone who might be interested, I submit the following analysis. By the way, should you come up with a great idea, that’s what the “comments” section is for. You should do the same for Bill. Oh yeah, that’s right. Bill doesn’t have a weblog. Too bad….

Bill
Todd Bill
1. e4 Nf6

Alekhine’s Defence. Not an opening I’m very comfortable with. Let’s see how it develops.

2. e5 Nd5
3. d4 d6
4. c4 Nb6
5. Nf3

Continue reading For openers….

A hundred-dozen cookies

My computer is infested.  No, not with viruses or worms.  And I’m not talking about the adware that I have to regularly scrape off my hard drive like barnacles from a ship.  The more I dig around my computer recording settings I want to keep beyond my planned system upgrades, the more I find “junk.”  Like twelve hundred cookies.  Twelve hundred.
I’m not a complete “anti-cookie” rebel, either.  I enjoy not having to sign in to select sites every time I visit.  But there has to be a better way to manage these little files.  I can guarantee that of the twelve hundred, there are less than twenty I consider helpful to me.  I changed my browser settings to prompt me before it accepts any cookies, but at the rate I’m going, I’ll get carpal tunnel syndrome from clicking my mouse all the time to block the cookies I don’t want.  The modern realities of the worldwide web, I guess.

Salvador Dali. “There is only one difference between a madman and me. I am not mad.” [Quotes of the Day]

Hello world!

And welcome to my new webspace.  In the late ’90’s, a personal webpage was a fun background, a few graphics, and your favorite links.  You got to dress up a little corner of the web.  For me, the hobby grew to include resumes, galleries of art, and categorized link pages.  Then, for fun, I took on the challenge of creating something original, a page with wide appeal, something that would cause Geocities to shut you down for a period every month because your visitors have exceeded your free bandwidth allowance.

Fun, prestige, sharing favorite links, and the challenge of generating lots of traffic.  I’ve played with all of those things.  Now, with my friends and family spread across the country, I envision this webspace as a dynamic vehicle to keep in touch with your close friends.  A way to interact.  So don’t be shy about posting comments to entries that speak to you.  Please feel free to drop me a “Shout Out.”  Friends, keep in touch.  Visitors, enjoy the “sites”!

Dr. Seuss. “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” [Quotes of the Day]