Bob and Weave

Musings of an impostor. Welcome to the masquerade.

Archive for October, 2010

The good and the bad in VA

Posted by flyingbk on 10/29/2010

Well, here’s my post about the good and the bad so far here in southeastern Virginia. This is more about my life here, not my church and ministry (which, btw, is great!).

THE GOOD: Standard of living is a lot cheaper here. Sales tax is only 5%. A meal at a fast food restaurant here is about 20% cheaper than at the same place in NJ/NY. Couple that with the fact that the church ladies feed me lunch often while I usually cook breakfast and dinner at home, and I really don’t spend a lot of money at all.
THE BAD: Even though it’s still cheaper here, this area of Virginia has a whopping 11.25% restaurant tax. That’s just crazy. And there is a clothing tax, unlike in NJ.

THE GOOD: My apartment is great. My church helps me with the rent, and it’s a lot cheaper for a bigger place than it would be in NJ/NY. My bedroom especially is huge, and I don’t know what to do with all that space (save my wonderful queen-size memory foam mattress, it is heavenly). My apartment also features a walk-in closet, a full washer/dryer and an outdoor patio.
THE BAD: Maintenance is slow to respond, and my apartment has had a few problems (refrigerator leaks a lot, bathtub drains poorly, my washer doesn’t work perfectly). Still, not much to complain about here.

THE GOOD: People are nice here, and almost everyone says hi. The hospitality at stores and restaurants is of much higher quality than in NY/NJ.
THE BAD: There’s actually a lot of crime where I live (Newport News, VA). I subscribe to the local paper here (The Daily Press), and almost everyday, there’s a full-page ad featuring the most wanted in this area. And I’m always reading about crimes. It does appear to me that a few policemen live in my apartment complex, so I guess that’s helpful.

THE GOOD: Cox Cable and Internet > Time Warner.
THE BAD: Verizon FIOS is not available where I live. Yet. Cox is better than Time Warner, but has its issues.

THE GOOD: I love how EVERYTHING is within a 10-minute drive of my apartment. Whether it’s any restaurant, store, market, mall, gym, or my church, I can get to wherever I need to go quickly. Seriously, you name it, I can get to it. Also, for the most part, you can make U-turns just about anywhere.
THE BAD: The reason U-turns are completely legal is because the roads are quite wide. Let’s say I want to get to this place that’s south on the same street. I would have to drive north, make a U-turn, and then proceed further south, and finally make another U-turn to get to that place. Definitely much more of an hassle than NJ, although I guess it can be similar to getting to some places in NYC.

THE GOOD: There are restaurants here that they don’t have in NJ/NY such as Chick-Fil-A, Dairy Queens w/grilled food, more drive-thru Starbucks, Bojangles (although I don’t know if it’s any good), and of course, Waffle House! Also, IHOP’s are the 24 hour places here (like how all the NJ diners are open all the time).
THE BAD: Obviously, there are no good Korean restaurants in the area, and there’s less choice across the ethnic palette. If you do want to eat other cuisines, you may have to drive a while.

THE GOOD: There’s a good mix of choices, not that I’ve yet to partake. Beaches are nearby,and there’s a lot of history in the area (i.e. museums, forts, and yes, war re-enactments). Richmond and Norfolk/Virginia Beach have their share of arenas and theatres.
THE BAD: No professional sports teams! Virginia is the largest state in America not to have a professional sports team! What’s up with that?

So overall, life is good here. I still need to explore a lot more, and I’d like to get to know my neighbors some (I’ve yet to run into whoever lives right across from me). Then again, it’s only been three weeks so far. Stay tuned!

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Oops

Posted by flyingbk on 10/28/2010

Well, it looks like the Yankees are indeed retaining Girardi as their manager. Guess the report on Twitter was a bad one; hey, it happens. Still, I maintain that Girardi pulled a lot of wrong strings in the ALCS. But it may not have mattered since the Rangers were wiping the floor with the Yankees anyway. Oh, and my official World Series pick was Rangers in 6. But Ron Washington is an awful tactician, and he really hurts his team’s chances. Anyone with a little baseball sense knew that starting Vlad in right field was a bad idea.

Here’s some potpourri for you:

I’m getting settled nicely in Virginia. Today is my 20th day here, and the thought still hits me, “What am I doing here??” But it’s all good, I know that God has great plans for me and my church (which I’m loving more and more each day). I should write a blog post about life here is different than life in New York/New Jersey. Hmm, that’s a good idea for tomorrow!

In the world of politics, certainly I’m glad that the Republicans are poised to take back the House, and should come close in the Senate (but most likely, will come up short). I do look forward to watching the returns on Fox News on Nov. 2, and witness voters unequivocally repudiating the Obama administration. But as angry as I am about Obama, I find myself not getting so worked up over it. He’s been a terrible president, sure, but it’s not a surprise to me. He comes off as snobby, angry, paranoid, and continues to diminish the office of the President by doing things such as appearing as The Daily Show (don’t get me started on Jon Stewart, however; I could write a lot about that hypocrite). Forget campaign promises; you are your voting record. So the fact that Obama is a strident big-government liberal is not news.

Ah, sports… I’m excited about my Oklahoma City Thunder, but my expectations are that they will take a small step back this season. Last year’s rise was so meteoric and unexpected that they’d be hard-pressed to take another giant step. But hey you never know, that’s why we watch games and that’s why sports remains the best reality show on the planet. What will be interesting for me is to see if General Manager Sam Presti will make a big move during midseason. The Thunder have an embarrassment of trade resources (picks, expiring contracts, young talent- call them the anti-Knicks!), but Presti has thus far played things close to the vest as he continues to build slowly. But it’s clear that the Thunder are still a player away from a championship (I like James Harden a lot, but how sweet would it have been if the Thunder had Blake Griffin??). Will Presti finally pull the trigger?

I’m also excited about my Georgetown Hoyas (ranked #20 in the AP Poll that just debuted), and the homer in me says they are underrated going into the season (and Pitt is way overrated). I also love how I should be able to catch more of their games since I get the Washington DC TV channels. Sweet! But my Hoyas are a blog post for another day.

Oh, and my Chicago Bears stink. They were lucky to jump out to a 3-0 start, but now that’s way in the past. I’ve officially washed my hands of Jay Cutler. My initial instinct when that trade went down was to pan it (they simply gave up too much, and now are too deficient in other areas, and not to mention that Cutler is a turnover machine!); I should have stuck with my original instinct. The dude is a head case. It’s too bad, because their defense has actually been quite good, and the NFC North is weaker due to injuries and the utter trash that is Brett Favre. So the Bears will play with their fans’ emotions by making things interesting, but a good team this is not.

OK, that’s it for now. Back to Bible study and sermon prep!

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Does Joe even care?

Posted by flyingbk on 10/19/2010

Three days ago, this guy on Twitter, incarceratedbob, tweeted the following:
**BREAKING NEWS** 3 Sources have confirmed that Joe Girardi will not re-up as Yankees manager after the year is over.

I began following him because I heard that he’s very good with breaking news. He was the first to report the Randy Moss and Deion Branch deals, so I’ve been paying attention.

And ever since he tweeted that Girardi tidbit, I’ve wondered how much Joe even cares about winning this year. It’s like he’s already checked out mentally. It started with his bizarre roster for the American League Division Series, in which he decided to carry about 15 long relievers.

But watching these last two games against the Rangers have made me wonder more. In Game 3, with the Yankees down 2-0 in the 9th inning, Joe decided against bringing in Mariano Rivera to hold the deficit to two. A few minutes later, it’s 8-0, and the game is over. Now, most managers wouldn’t use their closer down 2 runs in the 9th, but it would’ve made lots of sense here. You give your team a chance to make a momentum-swinging comeback against Cliff Lee, who had thrown 122 pitches (granted, it didn’t look like Lee was slowing down). It just seemed like Girardi couldn’t be bothered to make the slightly unconventional yet correct move.

Last night’s game was much more whack. The Yankees are threatening in the bottom of the 4th, Rangers scrub hurler Tommy Hunter is on the ropes, and yet Joe doesn’t pinch-hit for Cervelli with Posada. Cervell is a terrible hitter and overall a completely worthless player; it’s laughable that some Yankee fans once thought that he should be the starting catcher. (Full disclosure: He is my least favorite Yankee. I’ve never seen such an astronomical Demonstrative Moments : Actual Talent ratio. It’s off the charts). Posada needs to hit there; even if you buy the nonsensical premise that Cervelli helps A.J. Burnett pitch better (how did that work out?), Burnett was only going to pitch 1-2 more innings, tops. Girardi said thanks, but not thanks.

Then right before the turning point of the game, the Bengie Molina 3-run bomb, Girardi intentionally walks David Murphy. It’s conventional (and good) wisdom that you don’t put on the go-ahead run, but I felt like Joe was like, what the heck, let’s just do it. (By the way, John Smoltz thought this was a good move. Schmoltzie, you are 1/3 of the worst postseason broadcasting trio ever. And it pains me to write that because I love Ernie Johnson, a Christian who overcame cancer, and is a great studio host who has no business being a baseball play-by-play man. And I love Ron Darling too, but all three have been cover-your-ears awful with their platitudes and complete lack of incisive analysis).

But then the kicker. The Yankees are threatening in the bottom of the 8th, thanks to more Ron Washington managerial bloopers and a home plate umpire who decided to tighten his strike zone. The bases are loaded with 2 out, and Lance Berkman strides to the plate against Darren Oliver, a southpaw. Berkman has absolutely no business hitting in that spot. He hasn’t touched lefties for years (.171 this season), and you have a guy on your bench, Austin Kearns, who can actually hit lefties. In fact, isn’t this particular spot the whole point of carrying Kearns on your roster (since Thames was already in the game due to Teixeira’s injury)? You have to use Kearns there, and hope that he comes up big. But Joe’s asleep at the wheel, and Berkman grounds out, albeit sharply.

Obviously, I don’t really think that Girardi doesn’t care; I would be accusing him of utter unprofessionalism and malfeasance. But it’s my pet conspiracy theory, and it’s fun. Not as much fun as seeing the Yankees go down in flames (and seeing tons of fans leave the game early- pathetic, you homers!), but still quite entertaning.

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New Books

Posted by flyingbk on 10/19/2010

I’ve been in Virginia now for 10 days, and it’s been a busy time getting settled. I find myself going to places like Target and Bed Bath and Beyond, planning to buy a few things. But before I know it, I’m buying much more than expected; I suppose that’s the fun and unpredictability of having and furnishing my own apartment. Yesterday, I checked off a very important item on my New Resident To-Do List: I procured a library card! Yes, for me, that is more important than changing my state driver’s license (which I plan to do next week).

In my excitement, I took out a few books from York County Library including The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd and Play Their Hearts Out: A Coach, His Star Recruit, and the Youth Basketball Machine by George Dohrmann. I began reading the latter, which has been called the “Friday Night Lights” (the book, not the TV show- I’ve read the book, and I’ve never seen the TV show) of basketball. So far, it’s very engaging and eye-opening. More importantly, I realize that when I spend time reading a good book, my heart and mind just feel more settled. I felt this peace come over me yesterday, and it was much needed as I’ve felt quite unsettled since I got here (which is natural, of course). Then, I watched Cliff Lee and his surgical pitching effort carve up the Yankees offense, and there was more rejoicing!

I also ordered a new Bible today. A few months ago, the unthinkable happened: I lost my Living Insights Study Bible (edited by Chuck Swindoll), which I had since college. That Bible was an integral part of my life, and I tucked programs from across the country inside the cover as a reminder of where I’ve been on my faith journey (examples: a prayer schedule from my time with a prayer group in Colorado Springs; a church program from St. Louis, the first stop on a church tour before the 2004 elections; a pro-life prayer conference brochure from my time in Washington DC). But I also saw it as an opportunity to purchase a new Bible, and begin reading a new translation. I chose the English Standard Version (ESV) because it seemed to be the one that everyone was reading and talking about.

But as I’ve been reading it (I started a one-year Bible reading plan on September 16), I have been disappointed continually. The ESV just seems unclear to me at various times, which surprised me because I thought this relatively new version was known for its clarity and readability. I also realized that switching versions was a mistake; all the verses I’ve memorized have been in the NIV, and it was foolish of me to think that I could re-memorize verses in a new version. Therefore, I ordered the Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible (NIV) today, and I will be anxiously waiting its arrival.

Hmm, I guess that’s it for today. I know, not very exciting. Tomorrow, I promise to finally review The Snakehead.

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Surf’s Up 10-13-10

Posted by flyingbk on 10/13/2010

Well I’ve been very busy with my move here to Newport News, Virginia. But I don’t want to get into the habit of not blogging, so here’s a short and sweet version of some handy links:

EDUCATION
Michelle Rhee is out as D.C. schools chancellor. That’s a shame because she was doing some great work and providing a system of accountability, which is way long overdue in our country. Jonah Goldberg tells us how education is liberalism’s greatest failure.

SPORTS
I have not yet read this article yet, but I hear that it is quite explosive.

Gotta love these back pages after the Jets took care of Minnesota. Brett Favre is the NFL player I abhor the most, so I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this past week’s news cycle regarding him.

This is a little overboard, but a good reminder to us all how good ESPN’s 30-for-30 documentary entitled The Two Escobars was. I recorded last night’s Once Brothers, which is about the friendship between Vlade Divac and Drazen Petrovic (my middle school NBA idol), and look forward to watching it soon.

Craig Calcaterra breaks down why Sandy Alderson makes very good sense for this next Mets’ GM job.

MISCELLANEOUS
My friend and colleague Rich posted some deep thoughts about the rescue of the miners. Please support his blog!

I really don’t get what CNN was thinking by hiring and slotting Eliot Spitzer into its 8pm slot. CNN’s ratings are tanking, which is not a surprise considering that their programming director appears to be taking lessons from NBC.

This is an old post, but Pastor C.J. Mahaney reminds us why it’s worth reading a lot.

Abortion clinic director gone wild.

Let’s love our pastors well!

If you love words like I do, this is a good read.

The video of the day is one of my favorite songs: “Forever” by Red, AKA the best band in the universe. Their third album is coming out in February, I can’t wait!

COMING TOMORROW: At last, a review of The Snakehead.

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today in blogging

Posted by flyingbk on 10/06/2010

I hope to write an entry today about The Snakehead, the most poignant book I’ve read this summer. But I’ll also be watching lots of baseball, starting at 1:30pm with a devastatingly delicious pitching matchup of Cliff Lee vs. David Price.

For now, here’s a couple of quick hits in the sports world that are standing out to me.

  • Somehow, I think this goodie should be marked down even more than it already is.
  • You know what? Most baseball sportswriters are gadawful, especially the ones who believe in such nebulous and unprovable traits such as grit and heart. John Harper’s column in the NY Daily News is a classic example, here’s an excerpt:

    Talent aside, however, winning in the big leagues starts with attitude, with the type of mental and physical toughness that has defined the Phillies and separated them from the Mets.

    You cannot put “talent aside.” That’s just nonsense. The Mets didn’t beat out the Phillies this year because they had less talent i.e. in the form of lineup sinkholes such as Jeff Francoeur, Rod Barajas, and Luis Castillo. Enough already. One of my favorite bloggers, Ted Berg, rightfully takes Harper to task. Harper also harps (pun intended) on Carlos Beltran, one of New York’s favorite punching bags. Beltran will go down as one of the most underappreciated players in Mets history, if not New York sports history. I’ll have to blog about him sometime this offseason.

  • Finally, some good news in Georgetown recruiting!! It’s been a tough cycle as two of the Hoyas’ top targets committed to rival schools (Rakeem Christmas to Syracuse and Tyrone Johnson to Villanova). But now, we have two good recruits for 2011 and hopefully John Thompson III & Co. can snag a couple more. Also, I love that Georgetown is playing the toughest out-of-conference schedule this coming year. Can’t wait until college basketball begins!

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Division Series picks

Posted by flyingbk on 10/04/2010

Picking postseason series in baseball can be a very pointless exercise. Anything can happen in a short series; IMO, the only major pro team sport that crowns the best team at season’s end is the NBA. In the NFL, one fluky game can send a very good team home (or a mediocre team to the promised land). Both baseball and the NHL are meant to be played over long seasons in order to wash out the element of luck. What you’ve seen in the baseball playoffs since the advent of the wild card (which adds an extra round, and consequently, more luck) is that rarely does the best team win the whole shebang. That’s not because of bad managing, or players choking, or whatever nonsense narrative that sportswriters and fans want you to believe. It’s simply because you need to be good AND lucky to hoist the World Series trophy.

Allow me to provide a couple recent, local examples:

2004 ALCS, Game 5. We all remember this series in which the Red Sox made an epic comeback from being down 3 games to 0. But rewind to the top of the 9th inning of this game, with the Yankees and Boston tied at 4. Ruben Sierra is at first, and Keith Foulke is pitching to Tony Clark with 2 out. Clark laces a double into right field; Sierra is sure to score the go-ahead run, but the ball one-hops into the stands for a ground-rule double. The next batter, Miguel Cairo, meekly fouls out, inning over, and the Red Sox go on to win in 14 innings. If that ball stays in play, the Yankees have a one-run lead with Rivera already in the game and the Red Sox may get bounced in 5 games instead of winning their first championship in 86 years. Of course, who knows how things play out once the variables change. But you can’t deny that luck clearly plays a factor here.

2006 NLCS, Game 7: The Mets are down to their final 2 outs, trailing St. Louis 3-1. They have two good baserunners, Jose Valentin and Endy Chavez, on 2nd and 1st, respectively. Jose Reyes times a Adam Wainwright pitch well and drills it to the outfield. Unfortunately, the line drive is hit directly at centerfielder Jim Edmonds, who makes the catch. A few feet to the left or to the right, and that ball is in the gap for a game-tying 2-run double (or triple). But bad luck results in a lineout and the Mets go down to defeat, and ignorant Mets fans continue to believe to this day that somehow Reyes, David Wright, and Carlos Beltran are the ones responsible for the Mets’ struggles since that series.

Those are just two examples, and you can find many more in every single postseason. That’s just how baseball is, and its innate unpredictability is part of what makes baseball great. You truly never know what will happen. That’s why picking baseball short series is a fool’s errand. Therefore, here are my picks for the Division Series 😉

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Yankees vs. Twins: As much as it pains me to write it, the Yankees were clearly the best team in baseball in 2009. However, in this year’s AL, there is more parity. I’d put the Yankees, Rays, and Twins at about the same level, with the Rangers lagging. The problem for the Twins is that they are not specifically built to win short series. Short series are about luck, but they’re also about frontline talent. The Twins have a very solid team, up and down the roster, but their lack of stars could be a major impediment here. I expect to see a couple shootouts with both teams scoring multiple runs in the middle to late innings. But the Twins should have major trouble keeping that Yankee offense from scoring late, due to their weak pen and below-average defense. Yankees in 4.

Rays vs. Rangers: I said that the Rangers are a notch below, but then again, they have Cliff Lee. It also appears that Josh Hamilton is back, giving Texas another star. The Rays are the pick, however, because of their strong pen, an ace in David Price who matches up with Lee, a terrific defense, and a lineup that never quits. They’re the most complete team in the AL. Rays in 5.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Reds vs. Phillies: I really, really want to pick the Reds here. They have a great offense, and I would give my left kidney to avoid another Phillies-Yankees World Series (please God no!!!). But the Phillies possess a hellacious 1-2-3 starting pitching punch, a top-notch lineup (Carlos Ruiz is highly underrated; his high on-base percentage is a big reason the Phillies still performed well when their stars were injured–take notes, future Mets GM!), and Brad Lidge is back on track. Also, you just know that Dusty Baker will make a terrible managerial move or four. Phillies in 4.

Braves vs. Giants: I hate the Braves. I want to see Bobby Cox go out meekly. Fortunately, I think I’m going to get my wish. The Braves are a shell of the strong team they were for most of the year; their lineup has been eroded by injuries, and their starting pitchers are wearing down too. The Giants’ rotation strength is a little overstated, but their lineup is better than people think and their bullpen is terrific. Giants in 3.

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