June 03, 2006
What a wonderful ballgame last night. Thanks to the late start on the West Coast, I was able to watch almost every pitch. Santana was on. With the exception of one hanging fastball to Frank Thomas, which was launched out of the park, he was perfect, retiring the last 19 batters he faced without allowing a runner. Santana now leads the major leagues in strikeouts--and he really hasn't warmed up yet. No matter how the Twins fare, and it doesn't look like they'll be competing for a title, watching Santana and Liriano will be a twice-per-week treat.
These grotesquely inflated bluebirds--which look like they pigged out on the rice from a wedding recessional--are also big sellers. If you want to sell fake animals, it's best to fatten 'em up good.
One of the great pleasures of a Minnesota summer is seeing the massive thunderclouds pass to the east at sunset.
Somewhere, sometime I read about a study about neotony, which could be described as cuteness. It is the collection of characteristics in infant humans and animals which triggers the nurturing impulse. Features such as oversized eyes and fat cheeks seem to make us want to care for the person or animal with oversized eyes and fat cheeks.
Neotony has an obvious purpose in continuing the species, but marketers have caught on to the phenomenon as well. They have found that if you create something with fat cheeks and oversized eyes, it will sell.
And now I am on the gravy train.
These ugly toads have been a best seller in our gift shop for two years. The UPS man comes with a new shipment every two weeks. In case you can't make out the price of the large toad, it is $130. That's a lot of money for a useless piece of glass and plastic, but to some people it is irresistible.
When a group of women walks in the gift shop, they invariably see the toads and say, "oh for cute!" You can just see the nurture gland kick in. Irrational purchase decisions and large profits are sure to follow.
Last week, I got a call asking if we still had those toads. It was from a woman who was over 100 miles away and wanted to make sure we had them before she drove over. When she arrived, she had two other women along--and they purchased twelve.
Of course, I shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth, but I can't help but observe human nature as I sell things, and the neotony phenomenon is one of the most interesting.
June 01, 2006
Looks kind of fun, if you ask me.
Here's another swan picture from the other day.
Speaking of taking off, young Francisco Liriano is exceeding all expectations. Wow. Last night, he carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning. In that inning, a batter pounded a ball off home plate, high in the air. Batista did his best at third to get the throw to first, and the replay showed that the batter was out, but the umpire called him safe. It was a cheap hit, and the only one California got off Liriano.
This kid is really something special. His slider is so nasty that batters swing at it only to have it dive into their ankles. He throws his fastball at 98 mph, and then has a change-up like Santana's.
So now, amidst the wreckage that is the Twins season, we have two great pitchers to watch, Santana and Liriano. Plus, the rotund, lovable Boof Bonser--already a fan favorite after two starts. You have to take what comes as a baseball fan--and we don't have it too bad, even if the team is losing.
Watching Joe Mauer is a treat. He is now leading the major leagues in hitting. Another bright spot. Mauer is the real thing.
The Twins will win a few games, but I think right now they are hobbled by Gardenhire's timid managing style. He is careful, careful, careful--he just doesn't seem to know when to make the bold move. When he does, it seems more out of panic than anything.
IF THE TWINS can't win it, I am pulling for Detroit. Three years ago they lost 119 games; now they have the best record in baseball. Their manager, Jim Leyland, is an old-school type and boy did he whip them into shape in a hurry. No psychobabble for Leyland. He is like a crusty, growling Marine platoon leader, chain-smoking cigarettes and telling his players that he won't know what they're made of until they go through a good solid losing streak.
When we went to the new Tiger Stadium on the baseball tour a couple of years ago, Detroit was horrible. It was sad, because Detroit is kind of a sad place. Poverty is evident all around. Perhaps a good ball team can perk up morale a little bit.
May 30, 2006
Took a back way to town this morning in hopes of catching some bird life. I wasn't disappointed. One of the lakes along the Winger road was filled with white birds. There were at least a dozen swans, and then some pelicans showed up. They made a low pass in perfect formation over the swans before rising up to a higher altitude to circle.
The swans were going through some sort of rituals, bobbing their head up and down, flapping their wings, and occasionally getting into a little scuffle.
May 29, 2006
Yesterday was almost unbearable. It was in the mid-nineties outside, and the temperature in the greenhouse, according to Leo, reached 105 degrees.
Fortunately, Jennifer, owner of La La Homemade Ice Cream in Fertile, brought out her ice cream stand. I was fortunate enough to get a picture of the goods before a single scoop was taken. I have a thing for creamy vats of dairy products. I get inordinate pleasure out of opening up a fresh 1) vat of ice cream 2) vat of butter 3) Cool Whip container.
The flavors: Charlotte's Web, which is roasted coconut with chocolate, The World's Finest Vanilla, Raspberry Honey, Strawberry, Maple Nut and Chocolate--all extraordinary.
Later in the day when things calmed down, it was time to sit on the deck and shoot the breeze.
Here my father shoots the breeze with Bob, who grew up near here and pitched for the Bergeson Nursery fast-pitch softball team in the early sixties. The team didn't win many games, but it wasn't the fault of Bob, who possessed a blazing fastball.
Next to Dad and Bob is Bob's daughter, Candace (a weblog reader) and her daughter Cassie. It is good to catch up with old neighbors.