Friday, March 4, 2011

Leading By Example In Fort Myers

As most spring training games move past the third or fourth inning, the younger and unproven ballplayers enter the game and the fans put their feet up. It's the middle of the magical six-week period when major-leaguers teach the young prospects how to be a professional. Kirby Puckett taught Torii Hunter, and Torii taught Denard Span. Now Denard teaches Ben Revere and Aaron Hicks. They'll talk strategy in the dugouts and behavior in the restaurants, though mostly the older pros will lead by example. Sometimes Denard tells Ben Revere to throw the ball with more authority, but it won't sink in until he watches the starting center fielder fire one from the track to nab a guy at third. Showing is better than telling, and teaching kids is the same way.

I get paid money to hang out with an 8-year-old kid. He supposedly has special needs, but he doesn't have any needs that any other 8-year-old doesn't. Basically, we just do fun stuff and I teach him proper behavior by modeling it. He learns by observing. One day we decided to go sledding at a small hill in south Minneapolis. I love sledding, or as non-Minnesotans call it, sliding, but I haven't properly dressed for the activity since I was 13 years old. At some point in our late adolescence, most of us forget how to dress for the cold winter. We outgrow bib-style snowpants and decide changing from boots to shoes at school in the morning is not cool. Wearing tennis shoes when it's negative ten fahrenheit is cool.

But tennis shoes were never good for sledding. So I was particularly excited to hit the slopes because I again had a pair of proper boots. My buddy had purchased them at a thrift store and then immediately forgot them at my house, so I claimed them as my own. They probably hadn't been worn in a couple decades, though they were everything a boot should be - comfortable, bargain-priced, smelly, and stylish in a 1970's kind of way - like a Chinese restaurant. My girlfriend's cats even liked them.

We parked on Bryant, just across the street from the hill. The kid got out to grab the sleds from the trunk while I sat in the drivers seat and pulled on my boots. But when I stuck my left leg in the boot, I felt something on the underside of my foot. It was small and soft, like a ball of leaves or scrap of fabric. My foot came out and my hand went in to explore. I grabbed it. I pulled it out. I watched as my fist opened and revealed a small, furry, dehydrated, balled-up dead mouse.

It's moments like these - unexpected, shocking, disgusting - that a man's soul is truly revealed. He has no time to calculate the situation and cover his inner thoughts. It's just pure reaction.

I freaked out. I screamed like a girl and jumped out of the seat as the mouse flew from my hand. I got out of the car wearing just socks, but I couldn't feel the cold pavement on my feet. I was shaking and screaming. The people and kids probably thought I'd lit myself on fire. This was no way to behave in public.

The kid understood completely. He didn't say a word as he climbed into the car, found the dead mouse, picked it up by its tail and tossed it into a snowy lawn.

I thought I was going to be the teacher that day, but the kid ended up showing me appropriate behavior. Hopefully, learning about baseball is a two-way street in Fort Myers as well. Maybe next time Scott Baker is afraid to pitch inside, he'll remember watching the fearless Kyle Gibson in March. When Aaron Hicks doesn't complain about the fences, hopefully Justin Morneau will notice and just hit. And maybe next time I'll react more appropriately when I find a dead mouse in my boot.

Monday, January 31, 2011

CraigsList is Pure Entertainment

I've bought and sold a few things on CraigsList, but the amount of transactions is pretty tiny compared to the amount of time I spend browsing the site. Holy cow wow I love browsing the site. It's a slice, nay, a snapshot of humanity, in all it's disgusting hypersexuality and materialism.

The job section can be very interesting, although it's overwhelming because there are so many different types of jobs in so many places. There are 31 different categories of jobs on CraigsList, not including a section just for part-time work. And I love that they included an et-cetera section, just in case a job listing doesn't fit into any of the others. I can imagine someone (in a cowboy hat) asking, "so, what line a work you in?" and I'd reply, "et-cetera."

Basically, every single job listing is written in such a way that makes their position sound absolutely wonderful. Like this one, under the vague heading Project Manager:

A fast growing wholesale business is looking for the right individual to  make a huge impact and to help lead the company in growth. Specific  responsibilities are: strategic sourcing and vendor relations, accurate  fulfilling of custom orders and managing all operations. Other job  duties could include margin analysis and pricing and special projects.

Grow with the company. Sounds so loving and co-operative. Also, these ads never tell you how hard the job will be. Sure, they list job responsibilities, but they always sound so simple and easy. Strategic sourcing? Great, combines two of my favorite activities. Vendor relations? Sure, whenever I see the guy refilling the coke machine, I say hello and ask him for a free coke. Managing all operations? How hard can that be?
Must have a strong project management background with excellent organization skills. Must love details, analysis, decision making and  getting things done. Must have strong software skills and be a quick  learner in all Microsoft products.

If they're looking for someone who LOVES details, analysis, decision making and getting things done, they might as well just build a robot. Seriously, some poor sap who needs this job is going to walk in there babbling on and on about how he's loved details and analysis since he was a little kid. Can you even imagine the kind of environment that values those lame characteristics so ridiculously high? The employees probably cut loose after work by rigidly cleaning their cubicles.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Alright Hamilton update and bonus Lost Post

It's not very warm outside, and to make matters worse, (or better?) the Twins are officially without Nick Punto. No, worse. Once again, we've hit a lull at Alright Hamilton. That's just how it goes. To brighten the mood, I've dug up a very short and unpublished piece about how my room mate is driving me LOCO. Originally penned in October, so some of the references to tropical temperatures may seem especially dated.

What does a squirrel eat? What is my roommate? The answer to both these questions is nuts. She always has her electric space heater running. Today is October. It's warm in October. Yet she still has it blasting away every. minute. she's. home. Yes, that includes OVERNIGHT.

Her space-heater love affair drives me crazy for two reasons. The first is because this behavior makes no fucking sense whatsoever. It's not cold outside. It hasn't dipped below 55 degrees overnight since last March, for pete's sake. The behavior makes even less sense when you consider that she is a fairly environmentally conscious person. She uses her bicycle a lot, she's a crazy-good recycler and she watches wild conspiracy theory environmental documentaries. So you'd think she'd be into energy conservation. Her misuse of her space heater runs counter to her personality, at least as I see it.

I'm convinced it's just some OCD tic or some odd psychological dependence thing. And her nuttiness is rubbing off on me. Now I pace the kitchen asking myself how to solve this problem and how to bring it up to her. Which leads me to the other reason it's driving me nuts: I have no idea how to solve this problem. I'm a reasonable man. I believe that every problem has a solution, even if it involves some tough decision making. This problem has no solution, which is probably on a count of how the problem is ludicrous in the first place. I shouldn't be bothered by this, but I am. I can't talk to her about it, because she has every right to run that thing all the time.

Anyway, here's my solution: a fake flyer, which I'll place in our front door, as if some environmental agency is out spreading their message. I designed it, but only wrote two of the bullet points. See if you can tell which two are mine: