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Life is good July 31, 2009

Posted by Edwin Ritter in career, Grab Bag.
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I had a brief conversatonwith my Dad recently where  he made a comment that caused me to reflect on my current situation. He asked the usual conversational pleasantries of course – how I was doing, the family etc.. As he listened to my response, he replied with “You know, you have a good life. Nice place to live, good family, good health – you have a log things going for you.” I realize his intent to be positive and not take anything for granted. What he said next is what really got my attention. He said  “Life is hard.  But, it is harder when you are stupid. And, you’re not stupid.” 

I laughed at that. He is, after all,  supporting me  in his own way. Even thoug he did not say it directly, I know what he means. “Keep things in perspective.”  “Things could be a lot worse.” ” There are others who are worse-off than you are.” “You’ll be fine.”

 All true and, a timely reminder to appreciate what we have while we have it. In short, life is good. It’s not easy, but, it is good.

Growing up, my Dad always also stressed looking at things from another viewpoint. Being not stupid, I typically do this and it has helped me gain insight I otherwise would not have had. 

Another quote he would say to me was “Don’t lose your temper, no one else wants it!” As a little kid, this confused me.  In time, I realized what he really was meant nobody wants to have to deal with my temper. Despite what he said, I tried too many times I can remember to lose my temper.   I still have it, of course. I  guess my Dad’s right – nobody’s wants it.

Thanks, Dad for the reminder. Yeah, life is good. I enoy good health, have love in my life and I know many great people. You included and that makes it good.

Have a good weekend.

Celebrity Superlative Excess July 29, 2009

Posted by Edwin Ritter in Trends.
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They say things happen in a series of threes. The most recent series of three is the spat of celebrity deaths.  The recent passing of Ed McMahon, Farah Fawcett and Michael Jackson brought a slew of media coverage. Farah and MJ occurred on the same day. The coverage was heavily skewed toward MJ over Farah’s passing. While no surprise, what is a little disconcerting is how their lives and achievements are remembered.  A quip from Jay Mohr I heard on the radio put the use of excessive superlatives into perspective for me. I agree with his statement that said “How is that the last person that died is now the best person who ever lived?”

We all handle death differently and I certainly mean no disrespect to any of these people.   When a celebrity dies, a part of our lives is gone and we are changed because of it.  All things being relative, the good news is we are still here. The bad news is someone whose talents we enjoyed is gone. More bad news – it also doesn’t mean they are now greater than they where in life. It had to be said and I feel much better.

We tend to use superlatives too easily. And that’s my point – if those words were instead say, a rare commodity, we would be more discerning in their usage. I suggest we use those terms because they are common to us; in fact, they are overused. Their meaning has been diluted as a result.  We are less sensitive to their impact and import. If you know what I mean, and I think you do.

Maybe this is my way of processing the news about the celebrities. Perhaps it is now part of living in the digital age.  Binary logic of ones and zeroes. So, perhaps our observations are more binary focused which  leads to excess. It it simpler to have a viewpoint from one extreme (or the opposite). Dealing with the gray in the middle is where it gets hard. That was life in the analog world where ‘close enough’ mattered. No more.

We think now in extremes in this digital age – something is or it isn’t.  That is a subtle change which we will appreciate more at a future date. Life will be better then, even though a lot of great people will no longer be with us. Some of them might even have been the best.

MLB 2009 All Star Game July 12, 2009

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2009 MLB All Star Game

2009 MLB All Star Game

The summer season is in high gear with the 80th edition of  the MLB All Star game this week. The All Start Game (ASG) will be played in a great baseball town, St. Louis on Tuesday at Busch Stadium.

If you’re a baseball fan, you know that MLB is roughly half-way through the season and at this time, all the teams get a 4 day break. For many major leaguers, this is a great way to rest and recover from injuries before the second half of the season begins. For those voted to be on the All Start team, it is chance to play with the best and perhaps, shine, in the national spotlight. While I grew up playing the sport, I learned one of the most interesting things about baseball while watching the Ken Burns documentary a few years ago. Baseball is unique in that it  is the only game in which the defense has the ball. Amazing when you think about it. Every other game I can think of, the offense has the ball.

By rule, the roster for both the National League and American League teams must include at least one player from each team. This year, a record number of votes were cast by fans with more than 223 million recorded. Hope you got your vote in for your favorite player. This year, there are three Yankees on the AL roster (including the Yankee captain, Derek Jeter).

26 time World Champions

26 time World Champions

The Yankees are my favorite team so I know the players in the American League better than in the National League. What is also interesting is the players not on the roster this year. Some major notables include Man-Ram (aka, Manny Ramirez) and A-Rod (aka, Alex Rodriguez). Like’em or hate’em, you won’t see either play in the ASG this year.

I will watch the actual game itself and  I’m sure some of the Home Run Derby highlights will be unavoidable. During the sixth inning of the Midsummer Classic, fans can cast their votes online at MLB.com for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award.

Baseball is a game with lots of statistics. As with all sports, performance is measured beyond wins and losses. On offense, they keep stats for batting average, stolen bases, hitting with runners in scoring position (RISP), hitting with 2 outs, hitting with bases loaded to name a few. On defense, they track errors, pitch count, earned run average, put outs, assists and turning double plays.

For the ASG, the league with the most wins is the most important.  Here is one of the many sites with a quick summary of ASG history. What is your favorite part of the ASG? Do you want bragging rights for the AL or NL? Is it important to you who gets home field advantage in the World Series?

I like watching great ball players and this game showcases a lot of talent players on the field. You have to watch carefully as there are many substitutions made to get most of the players a chance to play in the field and get an at-bat. It is a honor to get nominated to play and it’s good to see them take the game seriously. The same cannot be said for some of the other major sports All Star game (e.g. – football).

I hope it is a competitive game with good defense and offense on display. Save me a seat and a hot dog, OK?

Play Ball!