October 07, 2004
The stars are out tonight!
Wow, I just got in from looking at the stars. I walked out to the highway. There is no moon. The Milky Way is shining. Plaeides is visible in the eastern sky, and just explodes into view when you hit it with the binocs. And, I can find Andromeda with no problem--a big flat green smudge.
A classic fall evening. Cool, but bearable. No mosquitoes. A distant roar of farm machinery. The slight breeze rustles the brittle leaves.
I spoke tonight to a sorority of teachers in Crookston. Very nice bunch. Much more lively than college students.
I met a weblog reader today from California. Actually, Kent was raised around here but ended up moving to CA to be a chiropractor in Hollywoo. I remember that he visited cousins around here in the summer twenty-five years ago, but we hadn't met until today.
Kent made the point that people around here are more aware of the change in seasons. He came over to the nursery with our mutual friend Dale. Dale is a hunter. He watches nature pretty carefully and records a good deal of it on his camcorder with his inimitable commentary.
When Dale was talking to Kent last week, Dale mentioned off-handedly that he figured the colors would peak Thursday of this week, which is today. Sure enough, it looks like he was right. It was a cloudy day, but the fall colors were beautiful.
Well, Kent's observation got Dale to talking about how he figured the aspen leaves were more vivid this past spring than ever before. You have to hear Dale tell it--I can't reprint it here or I might shrivel some ears--but I right away remembered noting the same thing. The aspen leaves were brigher. As Dale put it, "They just f#@*&(## jumped out at you!"
We walked out to the house site. Willard and Aaron, the concrete men, were packing up to leave. Sort of sad!
Later in the day, Dean the carpenter came out. When I arrived, he was walking around on the slab. "Man, Willard does nice work!" he said right away. Dean would know.
Dean and his brother Jeff, the brothers Kronschnabel, will start building the house Monday. Marvin the forklift man will come tomorrow to move the pallets of lumber in place, and we'll be ready to go.
October 06, 2004
Twins lose in 12, 7-6. Galling defeat. It will be a test of their character to see if they can come back from this. I think they will. They fought hard tonight and came back twice, but it wasn't enough. Gardenhire gambled by leaving Joe Nathan in too long. I think it was a mistake to bring him in with the game tied in the first place, but it just about worked.
So, back to Minnesota. I won't be reading the New York papers online tomorrow morning like I did this morning. It is only fun when the Twins win!
Radke gave up three home runs. I guess that's expected against the Yanks. But still, he wasn't himself. I should say, he was himself. For most of this season, he hasn't been himself--he's been better. Tonight, he was his old mediocre self.
As Tom Kelly would say, anybody can pitch good when he has his stuff. Unlike Santana, if Radke's slightly off, the good-hitting teams are going to light him up but good.
Well, it was a good game, anyway. I took a break to go for a run. Yanks scored two in that time. Guess I shouldn't have done that. I took a shower after the 10th inning. That worked out pretty good--Hunter homered right after I got dressed. But I must have sat in the wrong chair during the bottom of the 12th inning because it just went completely haywire.
So now the Twins have to win two out of the next three. That will be a task. They have two weaker pitchers coming up in the rotation, Silva (who's not bad) and Lohse (who's awful this year).
ON TO MORE PLEASANT matters: The last slab of concrete was poured at the house today. Willard and Aaron, the concrete men, are going to clean up their stuff, do a little touch-up in the morning and be off.
What a pleasure to watch real craftsmen at work. These guys are into their concrete. They filled me in on a lot of the details of what they were doing--it was all new to me, of course, but it is always fun to hear people talk about what they do.
From the footings, to the walls, to the slab on top--each had different complications and issues and required a different sort of expertise. What impressed me is how conscientious and craftsmanlike they were--most of their work gets buried, after all, and if they were to fudge here and there, I sure wouldn't notice and it probably wouldn't become a problem for a decade or two, if ever, at which time I wouldn't likely call them to complain.
So, Willard and I were discussing how he finished the garage floor--with just enough roughness to give your shoes some grip, but not so much that it's difficult to sweep--and he was telling me that the sun came out at the wrong time so this part of the floor was better than the other part and I was telling him that it all looked pretty darn good to me--well, just as we were admiring the nearly
perfect finish, a branch fell off an oak tree and plopped in the middle of the garage floor, leaving a nice little dent. Too late to repair it. That's how it goes.
October 05, 2004
Santana struggles, defense shines, Twins win
The Twins beat the Yanks tonight 2-0 in a memorable win. Santana was off. He gave up double the hits he usually yields, yet he didn't give up a run. The Twins' defense sparkled, turning five double plays.
Torii Hunter won the game with his play in center field. He threw out a runner at home and pulled back a home run from over the fence. You can go 0-4 at bat and still win a game with your defense.
Now, on ESPN, they are having the usual stupid post-game news conference. However, Johan Santana, with his heavy Latino accent, is pouring on the charm, saying "daswadisallabou," dozens of times. Daswadisallabou. I got some good plays behind me and daswadisallabou. I got through some tough innings and daswadisallabou.
Somebody must have clued Johan in that he was using the term "devinidLEEE" too often, so he switched to daswadisallabou.
Are you feeling good on the mound these days, Johan?
Are you going to throw a change-up on the next pitch, Johan?
Four years ago, he couldn't speak a word of English. You gotta love the guy. He brims with enthusiasm. He's the closest thing we have to Kirby Puckett.
Five double plays. Wow. That's baseball. A score of 2-0 means its a great baseball game. The Yankees must be muttering. They pounded the ball good tonight and came away with nothing to show for it.
Oh, and the Twins first run came after they got a single, then sacrificed the runner over, then got another single to score the run. That's called small ball. Playing for one run at a time. Executing the fundamentals. Daswadisallabou.
Good pitching beats good hitting. The Yankees are the best hitting team in the American League, but the Twins pitching shut them down but good.
Now, we'll see if Radke has his good stuff tomorrow night. Somehow I have more confidence in Radke than I did in Santana tonight. We'll see if that is justified.
Vice-presidential debates? Who cares.
WHAT A BEAUTIFUL day in the northland. Too early to qualify as an Indian summer, but we'll take it none-the-less.
Right now, I have to get back to watching the Twins replays on ESPN.
October 04, 2004
Came back to the nursery from classes today to find the slab for the house poured. The living room is going to be so huge that you will be able to see the curvature of the earth. And I am glad! I love big rooms with big windows and high ceilings. This is getting more fun all the time.
SOME SPORTSWRITERS are predicting that the Twins will beat the Yanks. It all depends upon the pitching, as I wrote yesterday. So I won't repeat myself today. You know what I am thinking: Will Santana pitch like he has for the past five months?
Torii Hunter is the present holder of the Twin-who-talks-too-much traveling trophy. The position opened when Meintkeiwitcz was traded. Today, Hunter appears in the paper telling about how upset he was in Game 4 of last year's playoffs. His teammates gave up, he said. They were talking about how relieved they were to be going home, etc., even before the last out. This year, Hunter says, anybody who says such a thing will have to fight him.
Well, Torii's right, although he probably shouldn't tell the media such stuff. The Twins played out the last games like they were thinking of fishing. But, that is the effect playing the Yankees can have on you. They wear you down, beat you up, kick you around until you start thinking it might be nicer to be at home with your family.
Perhaps by the fifth game this year the Yankees will be thinking about home and hearth.
CLASSES were a bit wearing today. Sort of sobering to see how content some of the students are to flunk their test. Oh, and a couple of them copied. I caught them because I gave two versions of the test. One student copied his neighbor so throughly that he would have gotten a better grade if I had used the wrong answer key.
I debated confronting him, but he got a 30%--which is, I am sorry, too low a score from which to recover before the end of the semester. So, he gets his just desserts.
In the multiple choice questions, I put some absurd distractors--(distractors are the wrong answers) like Elmer Fudd, or Starbuck's coffee, or other stupid answers. Well, this student copied his neighbor's test and ended up alleging that the Declaration of Independence was written by Dwight Eisenhower.
He waited to speak with me after class. Was he wondering how he might improve? No, he was notifying me that because of hunting, he would have to turn in his paper late, would that be okay? I said with a smile that I really didn't care when he got his paper in. He thought that was pretty cool.
October 03, 2004
Because they lost this afternoon to Cleveland, the Twins will go to Yankee Stadium to play the Bronx Bombers Tuesday evening.
I don't know what to expect. It will all depend upon Santana. If he's on, the Twins stand a chance. If he's off--no chance. The Yankee offense is just too good. They are a team of all-stars. Their pitching is suspect, but if their offense breaks through the Twins pitching early, there won't be much of a chance for our Twinkies.
That said, the Twins are in pretty good shape on paper. They have their best two starting pitchers starting four out of the five games. They have better pitching than the Yanks, on paper.
However, there have been some leaks in the ship in the past week. Santana couldn't control his fastball and Radke was struggling. So was Romero. Those are my worries.
It is all pitching. The Twins will always scratch out a few runs. If you pitch well, those few runs are enough to win. If you don't pitch well, and worse yet, if your pitching falls apart, as it can so easily in a playoff, it could get very messy in a hurry.
I just remember two years ago when the Twins won the first round of the playoffs against Oakland on the strength of their bullpen, which was unhittable all season. Then in the sixth game against Anaheim, it all fell apart and the Angels scored...10 runs in one inning. Against the best arms the Twins had. Nobody could get an out.
Bottom line: The Twins can't compete against the Yanks in a slugfest. The pitching must hold.
IT WAS A COOL weekend here in northern Minnesota. Cool, but beautiful. I ran both Saturday night and tonight. I am only running two miles at a shot, but then I finish off with five wind sprints--the length of my grove, which must be about 100 yards. That is, I run as hard as I can for that length and then walk slowly back and do it again.
Running fast for even that short length seems to be improving my stride on the two-mile run.
My thoughts were with the people who ran the Twins Cities Marathon this weekend. Gov. Pawlenty ran was amongst them. That's 26 miles. Ridiculous, although I dream of doing it someday. One of those mid-life crisis things.
The best part of running, though, is the scenery and the serenity. I have been running at sunset. You hear the corn field rustling, the beetles buzzing, the birds chirping, the crows cawing, the combines grinding.
From running, I get the good tired feeling you don't get from reading, studying and preparing for classes. There is a relaxed feeling that is unbeatable. Exercise calms the mind.
DINNER AT THE CATHOLIC church in town this afternoon. They have a fall turkey dinner which is always good, and always well-attended. Long-time nursery employee Aaron called me this morning to say that he would leave a ticket for me at the door. That's a nice gift!