Thursday, July 30, 2015

New Orleans

I flew back to New Orleans today. It's been a few years, but I like it down here.

I don't love the party time in New Orleans, but it's a neat city, and it's sad to see it so run down. As I drove down to spend a half hour in the French Quarter, I could see so many places boarded up, run down, abandoned, even as some places are being sold and renovated. I suspect the haves are coming in and rebuilding parts of the city even as the have-nots move away.

I spent a few minutes at Café du Monde, where a hot latte and beignets were the snack after the flight.

It's a traditional, touristy thing, and I enjoy it. I walked around briefly, took a few photos and headed up to Baton Rouge. It was hot, and I know Tia wouldn't have liked it.

The drive up was good, easy, and it's about as quick as changing planes to fly to Baton Rouge from Denver. Plus I get to go to New Orleans for a bit. However a storm was brewing and I got an EBS notice on the radio as I pulled into town. I checked into the hotel as it started to rain, and that was disappointing. This is the first time here I haven't been able to run or walk around University Lake.

Oh well, a little work, a gym workout and ready for dinner. A good start to the trip and looking forward to catching up with a few friends down here.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Power of Yet

This is amazing. It's a talk on how we approach teaching and education and the nurturing effect we can have on children. No, it's not a liberal, let's help everyone with self-estee post. In fact, it's a bit of an indictment on the everyone gets a reward view that so many have had.

At the same time, it's also an indictment of the conservative, suck it up and work hard view. Or the "my kids deserve a better school because I'm successful".

It's really fascinating.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Left Field

Back to baseball yesterday. An early game, which I like, and the calf was feeling OK. It hurt, but moved well as volleyball Thursday, so I was thinking I could play.

I started at first, switching with a guy, 2 innings at a time. I don't like that, but that's the reality of me being injured and unable to play other spots as well as the other guy injured and not able to really play elsewhere. I had a couple plays and couldn't get to a few badly thrown balls. All in all, a pedestrian four innings for me. Three double plays, all of which occurred on my 4 innings off.

I didn't bat at first, trying to keep the lineup short and not wanting to run. However we got up after 3, 5-1 and on route to a 13-4 win in 8 innings. I came in during the 4th to bat, against an old teammate and friend. He threw me a nice curve away. Outside to me, but called a strike. We were joking with each other and I drew a line on the plate. He threw a fast one down that got by me. I was thinking away again and couldn't catch up.

The pitcher moves slow, and with a guy on 2nd, he pauses a lot in his windup. I tried not to get set, but also when I saw him look to 2nd, I glanced down. I could see the catch set up away. I was thinking another outside curve. He threw it and I half swung, trying not to hurt the elbow. I caught a nice on and drove a deep fly to left that dropped. I jogged to first, and turned, almost ready to go to 2nd. I might have made it, but didn't press. I stopped and got a runner.

The guy joked that I hadn't hit one to left in years. He's right. It probably has been 7 or 8 years since I've hit one there from the left side of the plate. The half swing helped and I might try that again. My next at bat was a good hard swing at a fast ball on the outside half, but I was anxious. I actually hit it with the end of the bat and grounded out to third.

Still a good, fun day. Hot, though I wish I'd have the chance to play a bit more in the field. Might need to change teams next year.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Farm

Kyle asked for a little help at the UCD school farm today so I got up early and headed over. 

We hauled chicken manure up a hill and spread it. We also did some weeding around the grape plants he's tending. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

The professional shots

Wow. The kids look really good 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Photo Shoot

We had a friend that's a professional photographer out to the ranch yesterday. We wanted senior pictures for Delaney, and since he didn't care where we did things, we decided to add in the whole family for some pix.

 Some good ones of Kendall on the tramp. We had some fun while Delaney was getting his pictures.
 Delaney loves the unbuttoned shirt look, so we did a few like this.
The photographer had him posing around the yard.
 And Kendall got a few as well
 We used screens to shade everyone
 Somehow, I got this amazing picture of Delaney. I love this one and can't wait to see how the photographer captured him.
 What's a shoot without selfies?
 Kyle came by as well.
 It was an exciting day
 Though I lost my hat to numerous people.
The boys
 More poses
 Kendall looked amazing. She's quite a young lady.
 One nice thing about having a friend do this is we got lots of wardrobe changes.
 Delaney tried it with and without glasses.
 All in all, this was more fun than we expected.
 A little rain drove us inside, but we got out and found a rainbow.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

2015 Book #53 - Judgment Day

I've grown to enjoy the Mike Daley/Rosie Fernandez series, though the writing has fallen into a bit of a pattern. However the stories are great and they twist and turn nicely. While we know what will happen at the end, it's still a wild ride.

In Judgment Day, Mike is offered role as co-counsel for a man about to be executed in 8 days. He's a lawyer that was convicted of killing his client and two others a decade ago. He defended drug dealers and mobsters, and no one was too upset. He maintains his innocence, saying he escaped the room where someone gunned the others down, slipped off a fire escape and was paralyzed.

Mike isn't sure of the case, but when they're offered $50k, and a bonus to hire his brother as a PI, he takes the case to Rosie. They agree to try it, despite the fact that Mike's dad was one of the first officers there.

Roosevelt was also investigating, and he grudgingly meets with Mike. He's a bit distant, and Mike knows it, frustrated by the SFPD closing ranks as he tries to investigate. They need to prove innocence or the execution continues, and throughout the 8 days, they're looking for information, they continue to file petitions, which are all rejected.

Until the end. Unlike the other murder trials, the specter of execution hangs over this one and adds to the pace of the book. Really enjoyed it.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Old Baseball

One of the guys on our team has been fighting a groin pull for a month. He's been out of the lineup, and was supposed to start back playing first last week. He didn't, but he was ready to hit and take a couple innings yesterday. He managed to hit 4 or 5 times and jog down to first a bit, but a drive to right field in the 7th or 8th was an out at first because he didn't get there quick enough. I thought he was safe, but there was only one ump that called him out. However he was sore after, and may be out next week.

1 down.

Another guy was on crutches when I arrived. Apparently he's fractured his hip, the upper femur, from years of work and baseball. He's likely done playing.

2 down.

One of our pitchers has been fighting knee and ankle issues for a few years, but he's limping more and more as he tries to do anything above a walk. He looked rough hobbling quickly down to first in the last inning. I suspect he'll still be playing, but he's not a runner, and he struggled at first yesterday.

Not down, but not great.

Then there's me. I was feeling good. I'd run in Sioux Falls on Friday, did the elliptical Saturday and some jogging felt good. The left knee was better, and I wrapped it to be safe. Braces on both knees yesterday to start.

I sat the first inning and then played first for a few. The other guy had a rough first, struggling to bend over for a bad throw and just tired, so I did 4 or 5 innings in the field. Made a few good catches, but got a guy on a quick pickoff tag and also caught a popup in the sun. Felt good about that.

At the plate, I popped up in the second. I was sure the throw was going to come in, a curve outside and as it dropped, I swung, not too hard, thinking I'd try to push it to left. It was deceiving and dropped more than expected, which had me dropping the bat and popping it up.

The second time I was ready, moving up in the box and read to wait. A high ball and then a hard swing through a pitch, grounding it hard past the second baseman. Two steps and I pulled something in the left calf. I hobbled down, but fortunately there was someone going second to home, so the throw in was to catch him, giving me time to get down to first base.

That was it. I walked around, stretched, IcyHot, but it was tight. Even as it loosened up, I couldn't really tighten and press off that leg. Fortunately we had 12 there, so I didn't have to try and stand at first for throws. I could have stretched and landed on the left leg, but not pushed off.

I'm glad I walked around a bit. I was at 5500 or so steps when it happened, and hit 10,0000 before the game ended, walking around the sidelines, walking to coach first, just keeping it loose. It's better today, but still limping a bit. I'm not going to be doing much for a few days, but hoping I can get back to some running by the weekend and play.

Friday, July 17, 2015

2015 Book #52 - Bum Rap

Bum Rap is my Kindle First book of the month. It will be released in August, and I decided to read it on vacation.

It's another legal thriller, told from the point of view of a few people. We have Solomon and Lord, two attorneys in Florida that also are in a relationship. Steve Solomon is arrested for murder, having been found in the office of a local Russian thug, who was dead. He had the gun in his hand and he was the one that called 911 as the various other thugs were trying to break in.

Lord can't defend him. She's too close, so she hires Jake Lassiter, a former football player who's down on his luck and about to leave the legal profession. He is tired of the constant battles with scumbags. He isn't sure about this one, but he begins to think he might have an innocent client.


The book is a little silly, a bit of a funny read that tries to solve the murder and find a way to get Steve off. Not great writing, but it was entertaining.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

2015 Book #51 - The Confession

Book 5, The Confession starts with a bang. As with the other ones, we have Mike and Rosie back at work. This time they have their new son, a toddler, and they've sworn off murder cases.

However they can't let this one go. A local priest, Father Ramon Aquirre, a friend of the family and local, has been accused or murder. A female lawyer apparently committed suicide, but the evidence points to Ramon as his fingerprints are all over.

The story races along, as the previous one did. Ramon wants to be cleared soon to preserve his job and work. However at every turn it seems the deck is stacked. His fingerprints, he's seen returning to the scene, the victim was pregnant, he was a sperm donor (against church doctrine), and more.

However we know Mike will pull something out and he does. It's amazing how he does it and I didn't see this coming, but it's a good read.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Jewel Cave

Our second day in South Dakota was looking a little rainy, and people were tired, so we decided to hit Jewel Cave. We'd looked at it Tuesday, but they said we needed to be there early. So we got everyone up, drove to get tickets, and then went back to the grocery store for breakfast and coffee. We also changed shoes for Delaney and I.

I have to admit I wasn't thrilled with the idea of going underground. I get a little claustraphobic, but I went along. We chose the strenuous "lantern tour, and arrived a few minutes early.

 Everyone waited for our group, which was about 16 or so people with a guide.

 We started in an old ranger house. Apparently this was where the tours were first run decades ago. We saw this is the 3rd longest cave in the world, at 177 miles explored.

 We got an oil lantern for Delaney.

 Kyle got the LED one, and we were ready to light the way for our group.

Kendall gave me a pose, and we were off.

We walked around the hill and down a path about 50 feet below the ranger house. So far, so good.

 The cave is kept locked, and we had to wait for it to open and then get locked behind us.

We walked through a few open areas, transitioning in smaller areas. We moved through the cave, which was low at points. People were in a line and some stopped to take pictures, which was tough. Getting stopped in the area below wasn't good for me.

 Delaney loved it, and handled the stairs, low ceilings, and more just fine.

 I think everyone thought it was neat. It's not as colorful as Luray, but it was interesting.

There was a natural amphitheater near the bottom of our tour, about 150ft underground. I was nervous, but took a picture.

I also got a better show of one of the staircases.

Afterwards we got out and Delaney went into a cave outside of the main one that was open. He disappeared in a small space and Kendall waited.

She kept calling to him so we knew he was alright. He eventually came out.

 Full of smiles and mud.

 They guide talked about an advanced tour that is available some days, and for 16 and up. He sent us back to the main visitor center as there was an area that mimics what you have to crawl through.

 Delaney went right through it.

Tia got stuck

 As did Kendall

I didn't try, since I wouldn't want to go in there.

All in all, a very cool morning for us.

Monday, July 13, 2015

2015 Book #50 - The Good Guy with a Gun

The series of the first women President of the United States and her PI husband continues in the Good Guy with a Gun. We've moved past the election and the attempt to assassinate the President. However those plots tie in, so if you haven't read other books in the series, I'd go get them first. This series is more like a TV season then separate books.

We first have Jim hired by a women who's afraid her husband might be killed for being a whistle blower. However before McGill can meet him, he is killed.  His assassin, however, has run into a man that just massacred a number of high school football players and their coaches. The Assassin kills the terrorist and then uses the man's gun to perform his action.

The twists and ties as the President and McGill deal with the shooting, the assasssination, and the previous issues from other books, wind you into a story that becomes hard to follow at times, but slowly comes together at the end. However the end isn't the end, with an ending that leads to the next book.

The gun debate in the book is interesting. There are compelling arguments for how to deal with guns in the US and I wish that it was more of a debate in real life.