All posts by CarterHayes

13 November 2017: November Darkness

Thanks to a link posted by someone I follow on Micro.blog, I came across The Dark Feels Different in November, which introduced me to the concept of ma:

Ma loosely translates to negative space, to emptiness, vacancy, blankness. It is a pause, in time, space, music, conversation. “Ma makes nothingness palpable and tangible,” writes Ando. It’s a space ripe with an atmosphere of uncertainty, suspension, and possibility. The Japanese character consists of the graphic for door and for moon, suggesting “a door through the crevice of which the moonshine peeps in,” as the Swedish linguist Bernhard Karlgren defines it in his Analytic Dictionary of Chinese and Sino-Japanese. Ma is the crack that lets the light in.
...
The candlelight makes one better know the dark, the shadows, the spaces unseen. And the dark—the hollows and corners behind the curtains, above the rafters, the places where dimness pools—helps one better know the light.

Likewise, ma makes one aware of the presence of absence. It’s the gap where the moonlight sifts through; it’s the space between two slate stones that guide your steps along a path; it’s the hollow where ghosts gather; it’s the pause in conversation, the ripe silence of the unspoken.

It’s worth your time.

23 October 2017: Love that Lutefisk

On Saturday we took my mother-in-law, who is 100% Greek, to a lutefisk supper at a very old, tiny Norwegian Lutheran church within the exclusive economic zone of the People’s Republic. As she recently bought a place in preparation to move up here from Flatlandia, it was our way of welcoming her to the state. Arriving early, we walked around the churchyard. I noted a few headstones with dates of birth dating back to the eighteenth century, which one doesn’t often see in this part of the country. There was a marble cenotaph honoring seventeen congregants who served in the Civil War: six of the men were named Ole. There were also two Arnes & a Knut.

How @SouhanStrib could silence his critics

The so-called Greener's Law advises, "Never argue with a man who buys ink by the barrel." As any old farmhand can tell you, when you pick a fight with chickens, eventually you get egg on your face. (I made this up.)

Star Tribune scribe Jim Souhan recently authored a screed against baseball bloggers, calling them "plagiarists, amateurs, [sic] cowards and professional liars" who don't "have to have the courage and work ethic to show their faces in the clubhouse every 10 years or so." A prudent reminder here to readers that Souhan continues to insinuate that bilateral leg weakness, the diagnosed condition which afflicted Twins star Joe Mauer in 2011, does not exist. Souhan's professional biography does not indicate he holds advanced medical or athletic training degrees.

In his anti-blogger invective, Souhan details the groups of people he believes are and are not trustworthy sources of information about baseball. He includes himself in the former category, along with beat writers and "tethered bloggers," while team broadcasters, "untethered bloggers," and Sid Hartman your grandpa the late Jim Ed Poole are in the latter group. (One wonders where ESPN-era Hunter S. Thompson falls in this taxonomy.) Souhan draws a stark contrast between his fellow Anna Politkovskayas of sports truth and the "local trolls and national know-nothings," who he accuses of being professional chickens:

[T}hey have the opportunity to get credentials and talk to people face to face and defend what they write, especially the many untrue things they write, and they never show up. They are afraid to. They are actual trolls, unwilling to do the work or look people in the eye and justify or defend what they’ve written.

There is a reason they take this approach. Their stuff wouldn’t stand up to the scrutiny of players and team officials. They’re afraid. And they would have to face the traditional journalists they’re trying to push aside so they have a place at the table.

...

These untethered-from-reality bloggers are trolls, liars, plagiarists and frauds. But mostly, they’re cowards.

Souhan's churlish defense of the unwavering bravery of the beat writer and the noble courage of the newspaper columnist has been echoing in my mind for the last few days. How could anyone doubt the stones of the guy who has to hear from Minnesotans who don't like how he does his job? What better way, I thought, for Souhan to show just how much juice he really has in this town, and just how unfettered by jeopardy to professional relationships his reporting is, than to write a series of columns on subjects that put his courage on display and show bloggers how the pros do it? Remember, this is the guy who claims he is one of "two columnists in town ... who can call up Tom Kelly or Hrbek or Torii Hunter whenever we like[.]"

So, I drafted ten suggestions for Souhan's column requiring the all access pass & intestinal fortitude of a real sports journalist:

  • Souhan should ask his buddy Torii Hunter to go on the record about whether he still thinks Twins like Miguel Sanó, Rod Carew, & Tony Oliva are race "imposters." Has Torii ever apologized to Carew, Oliva, or Sanó for his bigotry?
  • During the Nineties Souhan was a Twins beat reporter for the Star Tribune. Which Twins were steroid users when he was a beat reporter? What do clean teammates think of the PED users in the clubhouse during that time? Why didn't Souhan write about steroids in the organization then?
  • What does Jim Pohlad think about his father Carl's failed attempt to take a payout from Major League Baseball to contract one of the American League's original franchises? What did the family hear from its former stars like Harmon Killebrew, Tony Oliva, Rod Carew, & Kent Hrbek? What did Tom Kelly say to the Pohlads?
  • What do Pohlad & St. Peter think the Twins owe the fans financing their taxpayer-funded ballpark after the worst stretch of on-field & front office incompetence during the club's half-century tenure in Minnesota? How high is Pohlad willing to raise the payroll to win the World Series and make good on the promises made to fans about championship-caliber baseball at their new ballpark?
  • How do Jim Pohlad & Dave St. Peter justify the Twins' ongoing corporate partnership with Kwik Trip, a company run by enthusiastic Trump supporters, in light of Trump's policies on immigration and his detestable rhetorical footsie with white supremacists? Does that connection reflect the values of the Minnesota Twins and its leadership group?
  • In light of recent movements to remove statues in public spaces that memorialize figures who professed significant racial prejudice, do the Twins plan to remove the statue of former owner Calvin Griffith, who told an audience that includesd a reporter for Souhan's own paper he moved his club because Minnesota "only had 15,000 blacks here"? Get a response from Pohlad or St. Peter on the record.
  • Interview Bert Blyleven and ask how he feels about the "untethered bloggers" who were the staunchest & most persistent advocates for his election to the Hall of Fame. What does Bert think old-school sportswriters missed in his career, and what can they learn from bloggers like those who supported his candidacy? What has Bert learned in his broadcasting career that has given him new insight on pitching or playing the game?
  • What is the full, real story behind the firing of former head trainer Dick Martin? What does Martin think motivated his dismissal? And why have the Twins, who once had such a good reputation for injury prevention that Martin had an athletic training award named after him, been so plagued by injury problems since Martin left?
  • Next time Souhan passes Derek Falvey & Thad Levine in the hallway, he should ask them which websites they would  recommend to Twins fans who want to learn more about evaluating players, then provide links to & descriptions of their recommendations.
  • Ask Glen Perkins for his on the record comment on Souhan's claims about his conditioning and when he plans to announce his retirement; report his response, word for word.

If Souhan has the cast iron drawers of a seasoned journalist, surely he won't balk at this small list. Since he has Access, why doesn't he show us he's not afraid to use it?

Where the Rubber Meets the Road

I was pretty certain I just needed new tires for our Subaru when I dropped it off Monday night for an oil change on Tuesday, but I asked them to check the wheel bearings just in case the rumble I was hearing meant I was in for more than a $50 bill. With 118,000 miles, it wouldn't be unreasonable to need to replace the original bearings. Fortunately, I just need tires.

This will be the third set of rubber for this car, which we purchased new back in 2008. The OEM tires, which I'm fairly certain were Bridgestones or Yokohamas, lasted four years and 76,000 miles. They were okay – much better than the Pirellis on the Camry that preceded the Subaru, especially in winter (even setting aside going from FWD to AWD). This second set, Continental DWS (Dry, Wet, & Snow), have lasted 42,250 miles. I got them on recommendation from an expert I trust, but I haven't been impressed with their performance since the second winter. Hydroplaning in some conditions (standing water in the tracks of lanes) started becoming an issue about a year ago, even with good tread left on the tire. I won't be buying Contis again for this car.

The Subaru's been paid for the entire time we've owned it, fortunately, but medical/health-related debt that we're just crawling out from under has kept us from building up a nest egg for a down payment on a replacement. With the addition of the Poissonnier and limited prospects for advancement (or even substantial raise) on the horizon, it's pretty clear that we'll be keeping this car for as long as we can. That's fine; I like not owning a car payment.

We use the car primarily as our "nice" car, for longer trips where it's nice to have an AUX jack and dual-zone climate control, and for bad weather/winter driving. Our daily driver is the '02 Buick LeSabre we inherited from Mrs. Hayes' grandfather when he ceased driving a few years ago. It's not even cracked 70,000 miles yet, though it's been racking them up steadily as our daily whip (to & from daycare and the bus stop) and grocery-getter. We won't be replacing it, either, though it needs a new set of rear shocks ($$) soon.

So, I've been researching tires. I'll be buying all-seasons because it's too early for snow tires and I can't afford a second set this year. I might decide to get a set of snowshoes for it next year, but who knows if I'll have the scratch when the time comes. Costco has a limited selection and very little price incentive, but they do come with Costco's warranty against damage/failure under normal operation. If I buy them from an online retailer, I have significantly more choice, but no substantial difference in price, and I'll have to find someone to install them. My independent mechanic doesn't do tires & alignments, but recommended another shop that's pretty reputable. Still, I'd feel like a jerk for bringing in the tires and only paying them for the mounting & balancing.

I should probably mention the tires I've been considering at this point. I'm sticking with the same size rubber as the previous two: 225/55-R17. The low-end decent buy is a set of Kumho Solus TA71s, which would run about $370, plus labor. The reviews seem reasonable, but the treadwear ratings mean I'm likely to need to replace these sooner. Mid-range options (all online) are the BFGoodrich T/A Sport ($505), Yokohama Geolandar G91FV ($565), & Nokian WR G3 ($580). The top choice is a set of Michelin Defender LTX M/S ($680 at Costco), but even with universally good reviews (and the best snow performance) those might be cost-prohibitive.  My upper limit is about $750, including mounting & balancing. I'm wondering if I'll need the TPMS sensors replaced... If I can't get the Defenders, I'm leaning toward the Nokians; I trust the Finns when it comes to making a quality, truly all-weather tire.

Naturally, all this will cost about what my trip to Sacramento will run for flight & lodging. We have another wedding next month to boot.

Has anyone had experience with getting their whip re-shod at Costco? Or, for that matter, buying tires online and taking them in somewhere for mounting & balancing? I'm wondering if my inner Minnesotan is trying to talk me out of this because I don't want to offend the independent shop by taking some profit from selling the tires out of their pocket.