35 thoughts on “November 22, 2019: Future Me”

  1. Here are a few more flag designs. I'll spoiler them so they don't take up the whole page. Here are yesterday's for reference (numbers 1 and 2).

    This is flag 1 + water

    Flag 3 SelectShow

    This is flag 2 + water + a more proportionally accurate stylized state outline

    Flag 4 SelectShow

    This is flag 3 + AMRs color suggestions (different sky blue & white star instead of yellow)

    Flag 5 SelectShow

    This is flag 4+ AMRs color suggestions (different sky blue & white star instead of yellow)

    Flag 6 SelectShow

    I really appreciate everyone's feedback. I feel like we're really getting something solid out of this (that will of course some to nothing, but hey it's a bit of fun)

    1. Found the one I made a couple years ago SelectShow
      1. Much like Mag's first, I think the blue is a bit too punchy.
        Is that the blue of Sweden's flag? Ukraine's?

        You mention whether five colors is too many. You could simplify the star to one color, and/or have it match the waves. That would get rid of one or two colors.
        Which ones you jettison is up to you, though I'd probably go with white, and make the star smaller and four-pointed. (Or at least with the ordinal points smaller than the cardinal ones.)

        I really like the swallowtail effect.

      1. I think Flag 5 is my current favorite, so thanks for the color suggestions.

        I like the MN stylized because it also doubles as a cliff over Superior, but I'm not sure it works on the whole.

  2. An idea popped into my head this morning: Does MLB's idea of cutting 42 minor league teams effectively mean that expansion is off the table? Yes, no AAA teams are on the chopping block, but if a new team or teams come into the league they are going to need lower level teams. Im guessing it would cost a heck of a lot more money to start a minor league from scratch than it is to plug and play an existing team.

    1. I don't know, but I keep hearing a lot of chatter about adding 2 more teams. Possibly they contract minor league teams in step 1, then announce expansion and the 2 new clubs have plenty of markets to choose from for their minor league affiliates. Would be a bit heartless to do it this way, but I would not put it past them.

    2. It was suggested at FanGraphs panel that it was released as a negotiating ploy. Start with an extreme version, find what people objected to most, then walk it back some to seem accommodating. Second, it was pointed out that some minor league teams are unprofitable despite not having to pay the players. There's no way an independent league that has to pay the players something could replace what's there.

  3. I'm having a bit of a moral dilemma and would like a bit of feedback. At some point this summer, our neighbor across the back fence complained that our cat was scaring away the birds from their bird feeder. We offered what we thought was a reasonable solution, we would only let the cat out after dark when the birds are all roosting for the night. We always called the cat back in first thing in the morning, albeit sometimes after sunrise. About six weeks ago I got a visit from our local police. The neighbors had filed a complaint about the cat. Now, our cat is one of at least 8 or more in the neighborhood who roam about, but apparently we have the only one that they could positively identify. I was told that a city ordinance prohibits free range cats. I was none too pleased with this development, but I bit my tongue and since then we have kept the cat indoors. She doesn't like it much and often whines and moans about it, but we're all adapting. Ever since that day, though, any time I go out back when either of the neighbors are in their yard, they hightail it back inside to avoid me. I suppose they feel too sheepish about what they did and don't want to face me. I've not reached out with an olive branch because I figure if they are so embarrassed by what they did I will just let them stew in it. Now, earlier this week I was walking the dog and passed by the front of this neighbors house and saw something that's out of few from our back yard because of the fence. All along the side of his garage he's got junk piled up - old construction lumber and plywood, an assortment of containers of some kind, a couple of old ladders, etc. I happen to know that there is actually a city ordinance against this, so I snapped a few pictures in my phone for documentation. Now comes the quandary. Do I just let it all go and be the bigger man, or do I report the violation to the city to give them a little taste of their own medicine? Just wondering how others would handle this. Thanks for letting me vent.

    1. I would probably succumb to my lesser side and report the SOB but I’m guessing you want to go a different route.

      Why don’t you go talk to him. Bring your phone with the photos. Tell him you wanted to turn him in, because city ordinance, etc. but instead you are talking to him, hoping he’d rectify the situation. Then tell him you wish he had shown the same attitude toward you. Tell him about your cat too and how it now suffers.

      Then tell him you’re letting your cat back out at nights and expect no other complaints. Tap your phone, give him a nod and walk away.

        1. True, and I have no plans to let the cat out again since we love her and don't want her picked up by Animal Control. I am thinking of building a small outdoor habitat I can attach to the frame of the patio door that opens onto the deck. 2x2s and chicken wire, baby, with a cheap screen door so there's a pass-through to the deck. Some resting levels at various heights. Maybe I'll hang a bird feeder just outside the chicken wire and out of paw's reach so the cat has something to watch while she's out there.

    2. I personally wouldn't report him because I find most of those types of city ordinances to be dumb and only useful for selective enforcement against problematic residents. Calling the cops on these minor things truly dumb.

      Keeping the photos, especially for an "agreement" with a neighbor seems like a good way for the relationship to deteriorate further into feuding. As someone with bird feeders and cats* we only keep indoors (for their and the birds' health), I would talk to them about it, perhaps after letting them be embarrassed about it some more. My experience with the feeders is birds tend to show up early-ish in the day rather than later, so that could be their issue. They're missing the morning feedings and blaming you for it.

      * There's also a stray that we feed when it shows up. If we didn't have kids and cats, I would have force adopted it. That's what I did with our first when it seemed he was a stray instead of merely an outside cat.

      1. Agreed. Not to mention these ordinances often get selectively enforced on minorities.

        Take the high road. Either live with having a petty neighbor or continue to try to engage in a dialogue. If you dialogue, be humble. "Hey, I'm sorry if my cat was disturbing. This is what I've done on my end. If you like I also have some tips on how you can attract more birds." You wont win the battle but can perhaps prevent a war.

          1. Ditto. Easy for me, because I am a confirmed indoor cat person. But life is short. Joining the petty pool may feel good initially, but the risk of escalation probably is not worth it.

            Plus, you know, moral superiority rocks. I am not above feeling above my neighbors.

    3. Another bird and cat story for you (partially based on a story from one of our guides on our recent Italian hiking trip in Puglia/Basilicata). Ending #4 is a riff on the Salvador Dali sculptures that were being featured in Matera:

      A Tale of Young Alex G.: Sampson and Delilah

      Over the years, I’ve had the privilege to chronicle some of the adventures of my good friend Alessandro G. On my recent hiking trip in Apuglia, there were some pleasant remembrances and exchanges of memories that I thought would be good to put to pen to share with you, my gentle readers.

      I have done my best to accurately recount the details of his many adventures, and where I have failed or misconstrued a fact, the particular day of the week, the name of the butcher’s cat, the color of the spoiled cheese – surely you will forgive these unintended blemishes as minor sins of your penitent chronicler.

      Back in those days, we referred to Alex with several affectionate monikers – Il Gabbiano (The Seagull), a play on his last name. El Capitano. Inter-Man. But all of these were given and received with a gracefulness that defined him, with his interminable Sicilian charm and his immediate smiling riposte to any jibe.

      Young Alex was still in his formative, salad days, as he roamed from country to country, taking on various jobs as they came available, always making advantage of his down time to explore remote canyons, discover hidden corners of the wilderness, and crash in back rooms of dusty libraries where he voraciously consumed old historical recounts of the Lombards, his particular fascination with the Germanic tribes that formed the Suebi and ruled a kingdom in Italy from 568 to 774AD.

      Many a night we would share a bottle of Scotch whisky and he would outlast the table’s candle with his recounts of the Langobardi and their exploits. It was, as I recall, almost as if he wished he had lived during those years, and was able to witness their southern migration from the frosty plains of northwestern Germany to the crossing of the Julian Alps.

      I never interrupted him during these sessions, which tended to veer toward a subtle and subdued melancholy as he retold of the invasion of the papal territories by the stout Lombard kings. As a young pugilist in the streets of Sicily, it was if Alex wished he could deploy his hardened knuckles against the Frankish enemies of the Lombards when Pavia fell to Charlemagne.

      My story takes place in San Francisco, California, at a time when surfboards were giving way to roller-blades, and Jordan vineyards were preparing their vines for the soon-to-be blockbuster Cabernet Sauvignon bumper vintage of ‘97.

      At the time of this story, I was attending a mathematics conference in Santa Clara on the Combinatorics of Iterated Rational Mappings. I took advantage of my free time for periodic forays into San Francisco where I enjoyed garlic-themed restaurants, karaoke bars, and late-night Tiramisu.

      A tip from a friend said that he had heard that Alex, Il Gabbiano, was in town, but was soon about to leave on a cargo ship to the Bering straights on a scheme to buy embargoed Russian red crabs on the black market, and sell them in the Midwest at Christmas as authentic Alaskan king crabs, at a considerable markup.

      On a hunch that evening, I went to Luca’s Oyster Bar, a seedy hangout in the Mission District, upholstered in Naugahyde, and adorned with a groovy 16” glass mirror disco ball under which no-one had ever been known to dance. Yet the bartender there was not stingy with the pours, and had an astute prescience as to when the bitters have completed the Negroni, which has yet to be learned by our current Millennial barkeep.

      The place seemed totally deserted, except for a couple of downbeat teamsters having beers with shots at the bar. I found Alex curled up in the back of the bar in a booth with a small, fragile-looking book, tending English gin and Indian tonic. He looked weary and worn, but deeply engaged in his reading of Origo Gentis Lagobardorum. His brows were knitted in deep concentration.

      I paused briefly, then announced myself. “Hey Capitano.” He looked up, surprised, then a wide smile filled his face, and immediately he pounced up and gave me his standard Sicilian warm embrace.

      We exchanged pleasantries, then ordered a bottle of Jordan Cabernet which he claimed the vintners had really hit their mark. He asked about my wife and our many common friends, showing genuine interest in the welfare of all. His heart circle is a wide one.

      I gave a brief summary of the presentation I had to give the following day at the conference on the Mandelbrot set, using some software I had developed, but I knew that underneath the light talk that he had a story he was ready to share, and so I kept my portion of the dialogue short and light. Besides, fractals are not for everyone.

      After the wine was uncorked, and we let it breathe for a bit, Alex briefly reminisced about our last adventure in the Wisconsin Dells with Tommy Bartlett and the water-skiing team. But then he took a deep breath, and as I knew from earlier experiences, I was about to hear a long ordeal. I filled my glass of wine and sat back. He began to tell me about the story of Sampson and Delilah.

      “I had been in San Francisco for a couple months to finish a transport job for some fake Carrera marble, as a favor to a friend of one of my brothers – the younger one with the nice hair.

      “The materiel was stuck in the warehouses at the Port of Long Beach pending some tax payments, and the buyer was starting to get anxious. And, at the time, I was very low on funds.

      “So when I heard of an opportunity to earn a couple dollars to watch over a house while the couple travelled abroad in Italy, I jumped at it. A chance to reduce the spend for my current beat-up hotel rooms, and to make some spending money at a nice place on Lombard Street, a street name which struck a karmic note with my historical affinities.

      “The couple, Mr. and Mrs. McKinley (I never caught their first names) had been advised by my faux-Carrera marble trading partner, who was also involved in organizing their trip to Naples, that I would be the ideal house-sitter while they traipsed around the haunts in Campania.

      “I somehow passed the personal interview with the McKinley’s, the bulk of which was adamant advice by Mrs. McKinley as to the care of their pet birds Sampson and Delilah. Mr. McKinley never commented on any of this, but rather just nodded as he poked at his Pimm’s cup laced with Irish whiskey.

      “After getting the house-key and some advance payment for pet-food and other incidentals, I handed in my hotel keys to the current chump Greek ‘concierge’ who, busy with his cross-word puzzle, barely looked at me, then I took an enjoyable cable car ride to Hyde Street. I walked down twisty Lombard Street to what was to be my new residence for the next two weeks.

      “The new housing situation was impressive, a commingling of both Traditional - external facings and internal crown mouldings - and Modern - marble L-shaped kitchen counter islands, remarkably similar to the fake marble I recently packed into the hold of a large Neopolitan tramp steamer in the Port of Long Beach.

      “I settled in by unpacking my kit – an ancient Adidas sports bag with several shirts, slacks, a jar of Sicilian olives, a change of shorts and socks, an Inter Milan scarf, and my torn copy of Origo Gentis Lagobardorum – and tried to make myself at home.

      “There was plenty of food in the refrigerator and pantry - I had no need to shop. There was also a plethora of birdseed in a cabinet next to the cage where Sampson and Delilah hung out. These birds were being treated as royalty.

      “The first thing I did was to check on the birds. There was a bin inside the birdcage for the special seed on which Sampson and Delilah engorged themselves. I loaded it up, and also topped off the water reservoir. The birds displayed no visible thanks, but instead reminded me of a German saying: “Das ist mir Wurst” (That is sausage to me).

      “They ignored me like a prisoner ignores the guards at a maximum security prison. There was very little bird chatter in my presence. I remember colored birds in the markets at Syracusa that made dramatic songs and chatter. There was none here.

      “Sampson was an Australian budgerigar, according to Mrs. McKinley, and was nine years old. Delilah, her favorite, was a male cockatiel with a plumed crest, and in my opinion appeared to be flirtatious in his mannerisms. Mr. McKinley said nary a word when the birds were being discussed, so I inferred they were her personal interest only.

      “Having done my primary purpose of attending to these feathered denizens, I became restless. I thumbed through the stack of magazines in the baskets in the living room: Cosmopolitan, Business Week, Economist, SacBee. Ero annoiato. I was about to dig out my Origo Gentis Lagobardorum, then I thought better and decided to go for a walk.

      “What started as a long walk ended up as a multi-day visit to Marin County and the beautiful Muir Woods. I found myself entranced with the old growth coastal redwoods, and after the hordes of Japanese tourists with their fly-fishing vests and overpriced cameras had finally evacuated the grove, I wandered in and lay down amidst the gentle giants.

      “Sleep came to me easily, as if I had somehow plugged in to the brown humus-rich loam, assigned to the Centissima series, which is always found on sloping ground. The ground is well drained, moderately deep, and slightly to moderately acidic.

      “After Muir Woods, I somehow got to the Point Reyes beaches, and wandered endlessly along the coastal flats, admiring the many species of storm-petrels, auklets, puffins, cormorants, murres, guillemot, and my name-sake, the Gulls.

      “I thumbed a ride back to San Francisco, but instead of heading to the Lombard Street flat, I ended up going to a spinning-class in Alameda, per a recommendation from my fellow bus-rider, Amy. After that, a long swim in a warm swimming pool was all it took to turn mostly Heaven into Paradise. And Amy.

      “On Thursday, I think it was Thursday, I was back at the McKinley’s flat. I repeated my explorations and missions in and around the city to discover those secret coves of nature and humanity, where the mixing of the two often creates an unexpected find of flotsam or treasure. Did you know a lot of San Francisco is built on the sunken hulls of clipper ships? I slept a lot. I watched some T.V.

      “Soon, the McKinleys were due to be back in two days. I decided to make the best of my occupation, and vacuumed the place till I couldn’t find a speck. Noticing that some of the windows were spotted, I Windex’d the bay windows facing Lombard Street, and took a particular satisfaction in leaving the place better than I found it.

      “Trash, recycling, and old newspapers out. Fresh flowers, and fruit in. I was somewhat pleased with my efforts, and enjoyed an evening out at a Ramen bar, with some cold unfiltered Japanese sake and Udon noodles riffed with shredded Wasabi root.

      Sampson and Delilah - Ending Number 1

      “When the McKinley’s returned, I gave them the keys, and they paid me for my house-keeping services, with a generous tip. I grabbed my kit, and headed back up the hill to locate my buddies on our upcoming Red Crab fiasco, as they had a couch I could crash on.

      “After I settled in with Matteo and Emanuele at their flat in the St. Francis Wood area, I discovered that I couldn’t find a small silver St. Francis necklace that I had been given as a gift from my grandfather, and had carried with me on all of my travels.

      “I called the McKinley’s number, and Mr. McKinley answered the phone. I told him of my missing charm, and he said that he had not run into it, but that he would be on the lookout, and asked for an address with which to mail it should he find it.

      “I gave him my current address, but realized that I would probably only be there for another week.

      “Before we finished the phone call, Mr. McKinley added, ‘By the way, after we arrived, we discovered that both of the birds were dead.’

      “My heart dropped to my feet. I was frozen, unable to respond.

      “He added, ‘It appeared that they had died of starvation.’

      “Again, I was unable to speak. I blurted out, ‘I, ah, fed them and watered them as she had directed me.’

      “But it wasn’t true. After loading up their food bins and water once or twice, I had been distracted by the wonders of the Bay Area, and had totally forgotten the birds. I had killed them by neglect.

      “After a long pause, Mr. McKinley said, ‘Mrs. McKinley is very distraught by the whole thing. She is preparing an elaborate funeral for the birds with her sister. Do you know they have bird cemeteries?’

      “McKinley continued, ‘As for me, I couldn’t be happier. I’ve wanted to poison those hell-fowls for years, and you, my friend, have taken that task off my shoulders. Grazie, Signore.’

      Sampson and Delilah - Ending Number 2

      “Before the McClarnon’s returned, I was finishing cleaning the parlor when I wandered by the elaborate bird cage in the sun-room.

      “At the bottom of the cage were lying the quiet, dead figures of Samson and Delilah. I froze in horror, wondering what catastrophe had happened. A quick examination of the food and water bins brought that answer to light quickly. They had starved. In my many wanderings, I had been away from the house for too long and had underestimated how quickly the birds had eaten through their daily regimen.

      “Oy, what to do? I immediately thought of the scorn that would be shooting from the McClarnon’s to my trading partners and my brother. I would be the laughing stock of the Sicilian diaspora in California. I would never be trusted with even a simple job again if I couldn’t keep two birds alive for two weeks.

      “A quick scan of the surrounding neighborhoods for pet bird stores found two in the nearby vicinity. I carefully wrapped both birds in paper towels, put them in a shoebox, and then went to accomplish an equivalent of the mistaken identity devices used by the Greek playwrights Menander and Plautus.

      “I showed the first storekeeper the two birds, and said that I desperately needed live replacements. He was unable to match the budgerigar, but had a suitable match for Delilah. I bought the new bird and carried it out, carefully close to my bosom.

      “At the next store, Cali Pet Store Village, they had plenty of budgerigars, and we found a close enough Sampson. I was frantic to get the birds safely back to their new home, and walked instead of using the cable cars. That was a long walk.

      “With the new birds ensconced in their luxurious Lombard Street cage, I fed them assiduously, and waited on pins and needles for the arrival of the McClarnons.

      “When the McClarnons returned, I gave them the house keys, and they paid me the agreed amount for the house-sitting, plus a generous tip.

      “As they walked through the sunroom, New Sampson said ‘Bonjour, Monsieur.’ New Delilah ejaculated brightly, ‘Bloody Irish! Fock’ing Irish!’

      Sampson and Delilah - Ending Number 3

      “Before the McKinley’s returned, I was finishing cleaning the parlor when I wandered by the elaborate bird cages in the sunroom.

      “At the bottom of the cage were lying the quiet, dead figures of Samson and Delilah. I froze in horror, wondering what catastrophe had happened. A quick examination of the food and water bins brought that answer to light quickly. They had simply starved to death. In my many wanderings, I had been away from the house for too long and had underestimated how quickly the birds had eaten through their daily regimen.

      “’Dio in Paradisio- what to do?’ I immediately thought of the scorn shooting from the McKinley’s to my trading partners and my brother. I would be the laughing stock of the Sicilian diaspora in California. I would never be trusted with even a simple job again if I couldn’t keep two birds alive for two weeks.

      “On my earlier walks, I noticed a fat tabby cat in the alley next to the Lombard Street address. It didn’t seem to move much, and was motivated to do little but to spend its time in the sun.

      “I rarely travel without a can of sardines or anchovies on my person – also a jar of Sicilian olives.

      “On the day before the McKinleys were to return, after prying open the closet door by the edge of the sunroom, I opened the sardines and placed them one by one, spaced several feet apart, from the sunroom closet to the back entry way by the alley. The trap was set!

      “Il Gatto couldn’t refuse my salted, oily offering, and in minutes, he had scarfed up the sardine trail leading into the house and into the sun-room closet.

      “In my guile I had used some string to loop inside the closet door handle so that I could pull the door shut, and at the very minute the cat was devouring the last of the sardines, the spring was sprung! He was my prisoner!

      “I ignored his loud meowing as I opened the bird cage, pulled several feathers from the dead bodies of Sampson and Delilah, and placed them on the floor by the cage. Unceremoniously I threw the rest of the two birds into the recycling bin, covered by coffee grounds, egg shells, and an empty Nutella jar.

      “When the McKinley’s returned, I gave them the keys, and they paid me for my house-keeping services, with a generous tip.

      “But before I left, I waited until Mrs. McKinley was waltzing into the sunroom, and then pulled my secret string until it snapped. The door to the sunroom closet opened, the tabby cat pounced out into the room, and in front of all to see, the cat stood under the opened birdcage, with Sampson and Delilah’s feathers strewn all about.

      “I had been careful to top off the food and water bins so that there would be no suspicion of fowl play on my part. Il Gatto had been caught in the act -Colto in Flagrante!.

      Sampson and Delilah - Ending Number 4

      “When the McIntyre’s returned, they knocked on the door several times to no response. Having hidden a key under the mat, they entered the Lombard Street flat and walked in with some nervousness.

      “The place seemed eerily void of light or sound, almost as if in a Dali Dream Sequence. The clock on the wall of the kitchen was melting and the ‘6’ was where the ‘12’ should have been.

      “They walked into the living room where there was a man with a pair of enormous scissors, a blackjack game underway with blank playing cards and a man with no face, and a pair of eyes that cried tears into a bowl that seemed to be the world.

      “Mrs. McIntyre was naturally unnerved by all of this, but she continued into the sunroom, spellbound.

      “There, completely imprisoned in the birdcage was I, Alex, gripping the bars, and swearing with wild, Sicilian curses – ‘Che due palle! Figlio di Troia!’

      “In the nearby kitchen, Sampson and Delilah were marinating Il Gatto in Worcestershire sauce, and preparing to spit-roast the tabby cat on the barbecue.

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