Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Chewing the authenticity

I may be one of the few people in this country who is not excited about McDonald's serving breakfast all day. It seems to be The Wire of fast food. It's also been years since I've been inside one, and that was to reassess the Shamrock Shake.

And it sucked. The food I've avoided since reading Fast Food Nation so it has been at least ten years since I've had a quarter pounder. Sure I go to Wendy's, a company with their own challenges with their practices and White Castle a couple of times a year whether I need to or not. And they do plenty for autism awareness even if it is with autism speaks.

Of course that would change if my son gave a shit about happy meals, but that has not happened.

The teenager has recently lost his joy in swimming, which makes me sad. I'm also not sure how the horseback riding is really going since he's cut the last two sessions short. Maybe he does not like the saddle, they're going to leave it off this week.

Friday, October 2, 2015

A week of cranky

It was great to have a guest last weekend. We hung out, ate, drank, caught up. My guest had never seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail, so that was checked off a bucket list. Then there was a knock on our bedroom door at 5AM the day of departure. Our guest's car had been broken into and a bunch of stuff was stolen. Sure, it's stuff and it can be replaced, but some of the clothes, the annotated textbooks and nostalgic items cannot be replaced. They got into my car, which I always keep unlocked, and took an iPod charger (stuff) and my registration (what the Hell?)

I did tell my guest to bring anything important into the house, which was kinda sorta done. I really think that car was a target even if it was empty. I've been looking in pawn shops and craigslist to try and find the stolen stuff, but have had no luck.

I rarely write about work, but there are changes. Not much I can do but get through them as best as possible. There is also the matter of the second one of my coworkers being taken out of the building in a stretcher on Thursday. This one will have a more positive outcome though.

There was time to get a nice haircut but when I got to the car it would not start. AAA was called, gave me a jump I thought the problem was solved. Went to get takeout, the car died again. A Good Samaritan gave me a jump. Got home, tried to restart it would not. Was grouchy all night and got little sleep thinking of what had to be done today to get the car fixed. Did not want to take the day off but had to. Called AAA again who advised me to get a new battery. Why the Hell not? I thought as he told me the battery was the wrong size for the car and also needed a bracket because it was sliding around, which causes damage.

Battery replaced, car starting what I hope is normal. Went to auto parts store to get the bracket. Staff there had a bastard of a time finding the proper bolt but did. Nice people at Advance Auto on Harrisburg Pike. Figured I'd get a new air filter while I was there. Errands got ran. Air filter in car and furnace got replaced.

Trying hard to come down from the crankiness caused by hemorrhaging cash. Maybe it's seasonal malaise, I keep forgetting I crash when autumn is around. For all that though, things could be worse.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

One is the magic number

It was a cancellation of my son's Mother's plans that led us to Cincinnati last night to see the Mets play. I found a couple of great priced tickets on StubHub a couple of weeks ago and was hoping the Mets would clinch the NL East last night.

That was not to be though, but they still had the division to play for so the team would be competitive.

Yesterday afternoon, my friend Marc messaged me that he was coming up from Nashville to see the game. I told him where our seats were and we had a place to meet up before the game. Marc has been a long time internet friend who I had never met. He's always been nothing but kind to me over the years and I was not surprised when he told us he got us all tickets to the game. Here's the section, you can see Marc and my wife at about six o'clock of the picture. He's wearing an orange shirt.

The Great American Ballpark is a very cool place to see a game. Compact, easy enough to get to. Fire shoots out smokestacks when a Reds pitcher gets a strike out. And they have about five mascots running around.

Speaking of strike outs. Noah Syndegaard pitched a gem for the Mets. He struck out 11 in 7 1/3 innings. Before he pitched, he did not like how the mound was set up. Thor gets what Thor wants.

We had a great time. The Mets took a 12-0 lead thanks to a pair of home runs by Lucas Duda. The team was cruising until the eighth when the arms of doom came in and mucked things up. But the Mets hung in there and won 12-5.

It was great to get out to a game and see how this team is doing. There were a lot of Mets fans in our section, and things were good natured between us and the hometown fans. It's a fine place to see a game and I'll happily do it again.

Last nights MVP, with 11 strikeouts, two hits and a sacrifice bunt - take a bow Noah Syndergaard.

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Always good to see The Captain too.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Not the Dark Knight, but Gotham

With the Mets coming closer and closer to clinching a playoff berth for the first time in years, it will be good to finally relax and get the distraction of imminent collapse out of the way and focus on the other stupid distraction that is taking away from genuine accomplishments on the field this season. I can only mean Matt Harvey’s arm and the agent and/or physician indicated inning count.

On Sunday, Harvey was on the mound against the yankees and pitched five excellent innings. After that he was pulled from the lineup because someone above Mets management believes that Harvey pitching too many innings will hurt his arm. After Harvey left the game, with a 1-0 lead, the Mets fell apart and lost 11-2. This was not necessarily Harvey’s fault, but you could tell it messed with the flow of the team.

It’s understandable that no one wants Harvey to get hurt again. It’s also understandable that his agent, Scott Boras, is looking out for his client and a good payday of his own. But what about the rest of the team. How does it look when one of their own is not allowed to compete at his fullest?

Athletes, are supposed to leave everything out there on the field of play, especially during a playoff run and post season. You do not pitch when you want to, you go to the mound and stay there when it’s your turn in the rotation.

Could you imagine a NFL quarterback pulling himself out of a game after three quarters or a NHL goaltender taking himself off the ice after two periods - they’d be laughed out of the league.

But because the arm of a pitcher is babied like an orchid or sensitive banker we are subjected to this behavior. Harvey’s role as a postseason starter is still murky. Do you really want to see another on field collapse in a seven game series after Harvey gets pulled after four or five innings? This would not be indicative of a big time player, but a selfish mind who only wants what he wants now. And if this is how he is now, what happens in 2018 when some team that may not be the Mets signs him to a massive payday? Heaven forbid he gets hurt ever again.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Nice promo

Not sure how long this will be up, but this is the local television station's promo for Stockhands Horses for Healing. My son is in there, and his Mother gets some good quotes in. Check it out.

They do really fine work up there.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Now and for the future, a hopeful look at autism

It may not be the best book about autism ever written, however NeuroTribes: the Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman, may be the most important book about autism in this time.

Silberman does some extensive research in the history of the condition, from the work of Kanner, Aspberger and before and discovers that autistic people have always been around, in roughly the same numbers. The conditions of asylums, sanitariums and other horrible places where the 'feebleminded' were kept are revealed in great detail. We're given the details of the beginnings of Applied Behavioral Analysis and how some of Lovaas' research and work was accomplished and it was not pretty.

One of the flaws of the book and also one of its more informative points, are the stories of autistic people throughout the years. Some are entertaining, as is the story of the man who inspired the film Rain Man. What's left out are too many stories of the voiceless, the lower functioning non-verbals. We do not, or cannot hear from them.

A strong point is how Silberman explains that there is no autism epidemic happening now. He cites facts in diagnostic changes in the DSM over the years and the ignored research of Lorna Wing which confirm that when you expand the diagnostic criteria for the condition, the numbers of those effect will greatly increase. So no, as Silberman states over and over, vaccines do not, have not, and will not result in autism.

Overall NeuroTribes is a very well thought out and engaging read for those interested in the history of how a condition is diagnosed and the sometimes horrible ways those afflicted are treated. Silberman concludes that instead of a majority of research monies being sent to find a cure for something that is not curable, that funding be strongly directed toward building a quality of life for those who are afflicted, and I could not agree with him more.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

What I've been doing all summer

There is something happening in my life that has been a part of my life for years, but in the last six months it has really flared up. I’ve hinted about it in the past but it’s finally time for me to talk about it more openly here.

How about those Mets?

This season has been a rollercoaster of Daniel Murphy chaos, Matt Harvey inning count drama, Yoenis Cespedes heroics, Wilmer Flores emotions and so so much more.

I had hope going into the season. Harvey was back after arm surgery, the pitching staff looked very sound. The rest of the lineup was Wright, Granderson and some prayers.

In April the team went on an eleven game winning streak. The pitching was doing some strong work while the bats were pulling out just enough to win.

The Wright got hurt, then d’Arnaud their steady young catcher got hurt.

Then the bats stopped working altogether. May and June were grim months as the team struggled to keep pace with the division leader. July was not much better. A player hitting .176 was hitting cleanup as injuries mounted and team depth diminished. What in the names of Mayberry, Monell and Muno was happening? There was discussion to let a couple of the better batting pitchers pinch hit. The fan base was screaming at GM Sandy Alderson to make a move to improve the team. Michael Conforto was brought up from the minors, and while he’s a fine young outfielder who is only going to get better, he was no savior. Then they brought up phenom Steven Matz, who pitched and hit very well for two games until he tore a muscle in his back. This, also, was so Mets.

In mid-July Alderson was forced to deal. He made a couple of trades of some promising minor league pitchers and brought in Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson. Both players immediately upgraded the slop that was on the bench and they immediately made impacts on the team on the field, and in Uribe’s case, in the locker room.

Later in the month, with reliever Jeurys Familia in a post All Star Game slump, Alderson traded with Oakland for reliever Tyler Clippard - a move that strengthened the bullpen and sent their closer a small message - which was received.

Then, on July, 29th, one of the most amazing, crazy and incompetent thing in franchise history happened. While losing to the San Diego Padres, internet rumors of a trade between the Mets and Brewers that would send outfielder Carlos Gomez to the Mets for shortstop Wilmer Flores and injured pitcher Zack Wheeler reached the team bench. Manager Terry Collins had not heard these rumors, and kept Flores in the game. Flores went out for his at bat and received very warm goodbye applause from the crowd at Citi Field and went he went to play his position, teams fell as he took the field.

The trade though, did not occur. The Mets thought Gomez was an injury risk and pulled out.

The Night of The Tears had happened.

Then, at the trading deadline two nights later, the Mets traded for Yoenis Cespedes. This was the power hitter the team was lacking all season. Cespedes was acquired just as the team was starting a series with the division leading Washington Nationals.

Game one was tight. A 1-1 tie that went into extra innings. In the bottom of the twelfth the first real magic from The Night of The Tears happened as Wilmer Flores hit a walk off home run that gave the Mets the 2-1 win. The Mets went on to a three game sweep of the Nats and were tied for first place in the NL East.. They were nowhere near out of it now. This was a pennant race.

In August the bats were unleashed in a fury. Lucas Duda hit about 40 home runs in a week. The team reeled off two straight 14-9 wins in Colorado, put up an insane sixteen run barrage in Philadelphia and slowly began extended their division lead.

The Captain, David Wright returned to the lineup after being out since April for treatment for spinal stenosis and provided his leadership and overall skills. Catcher Travis d’Arnaud was finally healthy - the team has a solid winning record when he’s in the lineup.

By the end of the month the Mets still led the division but things got a bit wonky in Miami as they lost two of three to the Marlins and held a four game lead with a three game series to the Nats to come.

During this series in Washington, the Mets were behind in each of those games, including an six run deficit in game two, a soul crushing defeat of Stephen Strasburg - who was pitching the game of the season until Johnson’s game tying home run, and swept the morale out of the Nats and now lead by seven games with 23 left to play.

Credit must also be given to Manager Terry Collins, who actually has a team to manage now. He’s platooning the right guys, knows how to treat his players. As long as he can handle the middle relief, which no manager can seem to do anymore, he’ll keep the ship sailing.

That’s where things stand today in this crazy season of on field crying, late game heroics and all of the amazing plays and players I have not mentioned. The Clubhouse Raccoon and Rally Parakeet have become as beloved as Wilmer Flores’ emotions as September solidifies and you realize your 45th year of Mets fandom is going to have an incredible ending. When they won it all in 1986 they ran away with the division and saved all the crazy for the playoffs. It feels so different this year. The less said about 2006 and 2007 the better. This season, every game, every week, brings drama, social media snark, excitement and victories.

No matter what happens; be it the end of this month, the beginning, middle or (preferably) the end of October - win or lose, there are going to be tears when this season finally ends.