Friday, August 18, 2006


I've moved. Hooray for that. I've left my old residence in Edgewater (which is described here in's copy of Wikipedia's article. Incidentally, concerning this article, I think the claim that Edgewater has the highest population density of any of the neighborhoods in Chicago is just a outright damn lie) to Lincoln Park (which has a zoo. More specific information about where I'll be living is not going to be posted here, because I think you're creepy.)

It's a much more lively area of Chicago, which is to say that the mechanic/sushi restaurant ratio is much lower than it was in my old neighborhood. I've got good feelings about the management, but that may just be due to the fact that I hated my old management, which seemed to be bent on making the time spent in their building unbearable what with the constant flooding and the never fixing things and the insects. Moreover, I've got a terrific view of the city, which I'm sure is costing me about $100 per month, but the move-in time was right so I'm not concerned about that so much. This, of course, means that I'm spending tonight at my old place with a pint of touch-up paint in a vain attempt to reclaim at least some of my deposit before leaving there forever, followed by not having a microwave yet at my new place because Jenna's bringing that up but won't be here until tomorrow.

So a night full of awesome.

Other things:

1) My commute is longer now, but that just means I'll be reading quite a bit more. The current endeavors are Clemente which I'm having trouble getting into not because it's not a well written biography or that the story is something I'm apathetic about, but because it's just more difficult to carry a hard-cover book in my back pocket, Bearing an Hourglass, having just finished On A Pale Horse after it was recommended to me, which I'm enjoying in an odd kind of way, and Blinded by the Right, which is moderately interesting if only for the Amazon reviews written by people in their best go-go team apparel. Whatever.

2) Matt Betush sent me a link to this, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to cry for days.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Pirates at Cubs: An Exercise in Futility

It is through the kindness of one of my coworkers in the O'Halloran lab that I was able to attend the Pirates@Cubs game on August 6th, which effectively reminded me that, for a team that had its first month of better than .500 baseball in July for the 2006 season and has gone 12-10 since the break, I should really not get my hopes up. A thoroughly disappointing game, though again, to be expected.

My seats were in Section 109 which are in foul territory off of left field. While I had been in Wrigley last week for the Cards/Cubs game (which I ended up being pretty spectacularly indifferent to, as far as who won), I hadn't yet been there sporting a jersey of the opposing team. So it felt kind of out of place. I did have the fortune of sitting next to a family of four from Pittsburgh who were also Pirates supporters, and the scattered "P" hats and, oddly, Terrible Towels throughout the stands was comforting. Events of note:

  • Jason Bay's "trapped ball" in the third

    Eventually, this set up the Cubs' first run of the day, which made me a bit angry. On a shallow fly to left, Bay looked like he took a bad start at the ball and had to rush to catch up with it (which may or may not be related to the fly out to end the second that he also seemed to take a bad approach on), but was able to grab it apparently (from my vantage point fifty feet away) just before it hit the ground. The third base ump agreed, and called the runner out. This is when I felt a bit uncomfortable about wearing my jersey, as the crowd was livid. Eventually, after Baker argued the call for a short while and the umps appeared to be frightened of the stands, the call was overturned, and the runner credited with a single. Advancing on a wild pitch, he eventually came across. I'm actually glad that that wasn't the deciding run, as I would have felt a tinge bitter about it. Then again, I should expect bad luck by now.

    Note: it's interesting that in the play-by-play, ESPN still has Cedeno flying out on the play.

  • Bottom of the Fourth:

    The inning started off with a single by Aramis Ramirez (whose name sound really familiar) that probably should have been an out. I've lauded Wilson for it in the comments on Pirates blogs before, but it appeared that he was playing too hard at that moment, rushed his throw, and pulled Xavier Nady way the hell off the bag. With four outs in the inning for the second time in the game, Cedeno's homer put this one entirely out of reach. Then again, if you're going to walk John ".216/.324/.336" Mabry after striking out Jacque Jones and Angel Pagan, a three-run homer is kind of inevitable.

  • Confusion:

    The fifth run for the Cubs scored on a bizarre double play after Jacque Jones hard grounder to shortstop which scored the run from third but got Ramirez in a rundown off of second, followed by getting Jones in a rundown off of first. Which was entertaining for two reasons. That it somehow wasn't the Pirates pulling that "everyone get caught off base" nonsense and that it required Joe Randa to run all over the damn place. Also, it angered Cubs fans. Hilarity.

  • The End:

    As if the rest of this junk didn't lead to a sufficiently anti-climactic ninth, I actually got somewhat excited when Dempster gave up two hits in the ninth with two outs for Jack. Instead of a strikeout, which at least would have been something I've seen a lot of this year, or some flavor of pop-out, the game ended on batter's interference when Jack ran into the ball after the weakest grounder in the history of the world. A short conference delayed the eventual exodus from Wrigley, but the outcome was, as was expected by pretty much everyone, a Cubs win.

    It amuses me that their homepage refers to Rich Hill setting up a "streak" of two wins.

Not too many bright spots for the Pirates overall. Snell seemed a bit off from what he's been earlier, we gave them too many opportunities, and after the game ended in the bizarre fashion mentioned above, I turned to a stranger from Mt. Lebanon as we both asked when the Steelers get around to playing again. And lastly, honestly, I understand that Wrigley's supposed to be historic, and I had decent seats and it's a nice place, but I can't say that I don't prefer PNC by quite a lot. Getting in and out was a hassle, if the seats we had weren't as good as they were, I could see visibility being a problem, and I just tend to like PNC a whole lot. We'll see if I have a different opinion after I go to next Tuesday's Royals/White Sox game at US Cellular, though, as it may be that I simply haven't been to very many ballparks.

The Cream City

Which is evidently Milwaukee. How about that. Having lived in Chicago for one year, I finally got up and went somewhere else (that isn't Pittsburgh). I've been kind of limited on that front by two complications. The first is that I don't have a car. Living in Chicago, I don't actually need one, as the CTA runs everywhere that I've needed to go in the first year of living here, however slowly it does it. The second, of course, is that there aren't many places I'd want to go in the Midwest. Perhaps that will change and Des Moines will become impossible to resist. The trip to Milwaukee allowed me to try out Megabus, which takes the same amount of time as an Amtrak train but at one quarter of the price. The catch, it seems, is that while Amtrak trains depart Chicago at Union station at defined points and are affiliated with a truckload of information personnel who will gladly point you to the proper platform, Megabus shows up on Jackson Street with no sign to indicate that it's going to do so. Fortunately, if you just walk around Union Station long enough, you catch on to the fact that the forty-ish people standing outside against the wall are seasoned Megabus veterans (or were bright enough to click on the link that explains precisely where the bus actually shows up) are waiting for exactly the same big blue vehicle that goes to Milwaukee (or Cincinnati, Minneapolis and St. Louis, among others.)

Following the erratic boarding procedure (more commonly known as shoving one's way the hell on to the bus) and the two hour trip (much of which was spent trying to stay awake long enough to finish this damned Fountainhead thing), I arrived at the beautiful Milwaukee Amtrak station, complete with some seats, a vending machine and lots and lots of construction. I eventually found Internet Person #1 (Heidi, a forum member and moderator at Rum and Monkey,) who was heading out to try to meet Internet Person #2 and had offered a ride.

Problematically, Internet Person #2 had not actually gotten around to contacting either of us with the address at which he was staying in Eagle, WI (which is evidently a town containing a village by the same name, according to Wikipedia), leaving us to look for a "trailer" (which turned out to be an actual trailer, not a trailer home, which was in the driveway of a very nice residence) or happening upon a bearded Australian man either on a motorcycle or holding a kitten. As those were the only things we knew him to do.

Oh yes. IP2 (Gregor) is Australian, in the States initially for covering the World Series of Poker for ZOO Weekly Australia, which appears to be analogous to, say, FHM or Maxim, so beware that that link is probably NSFW. He's also the Gregor of this link that's been on the side of my blog for ages. This all complicated things, as you can't just dial an Australian number on a Verizon cell phone. You need to buy a phone card. So Gregor, if you read this, you owe us each $5.

Following the trip out, a genuinely weird experience of hanging out with people I know from a forum who were both actually very cool people, eating a delicious dip provided by Gregor's sister (who lives in Eagle, which explains why one would go to Wisconsin after spending one's time in Vegas for a few days), being attacked by bees, learning how to perform a tracheotomy on Gregor should he be stung by the bees and heading home in the early evening as the last mode of transportation that goes from Milwaukee to Chicago does so at 7:30pm. However, finding out that the trip is this simple, I now have no excuse not to make it to a Brewers game.