A Quote to Start Things Off

"Passive Aggressive. It works for my mother, it works for Duolingo" Luis Von Ahn , co-founder of Duolingo from his TED talk, How to make learning as addictive as social media.

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Pictures of Memories I

Pictures of Memories I
Snow kidding! These "kids" now range from 17 to 23

Saturday, January 30, 2021

12 from 2020

One of the reason why I continue blogging is to read and respond to the great content other bloggers provide.  I have decided to highlight 12 posts from other blogs from 2020 that really moved me.  

Blogs these day are somewhat of an endangered species.  I feature 9 different blogs in this article.  2 of them only posted one time in 2020.I feature posts from two other blogs that have been dark for at least 4 months now.  So, unless those 4 blogs begin to produce content again none of their fine writing will be here on display if I choose to make this an annual thing.  

As you might imagine, the majority of these posts are about Covid, race, and the election. Each bloggers puts their own unique take on these and other subjects,  Some of these bloggers are fairly well know people like Rhett McLaughlin of Rhett and Link fame and Pastor and Author John Piper.  Others are regular everyday people like my Sister-in-law.  . In any case, I think they all deserve more mention than my mostly unread blog can provide.  However, we all should do what we can, and I can cut and paste links.

The Kinship of Things March 4, 2020

It may be difficult to imagine a hopeful piece about house arrest. Steve West talks about his life in an early covid lockdown and by using his and other's memories talks about doing far more with far less.  

Favorite line: I keep my neighbors at a distance, and yet hold them close.

Cristina Ramos Payne brought her blog out of mothballs :) to bring encouragement to Covid induced new homeschooling parents.  She must have saved the moth balls because unfortunately for the blogosphere she has not posted since. :(

Favorite line: The idea of having the kids home 24-7 can be overwhelming, but it is also an opportunity to deepen your relationship.

My Sister in Law captured Covid anxiety as seen  through the eyes of her children in a palpable and powerful way. 

Favorite line: I finally said to him, "I don't know what it's like to be you!"
Allies  April 29, 2020

One of the many things I like about Steve West's fine blog is that to misquote When Harry met Sally is I want to have he's having over the more than a decade I've been following his blog his descriptions of film, literature and music have informed what I have consumed. I need to read his posts with my library card next to me so I can look for the materials he's mentioning right away.

Allies continues the house arrest theme he started in The Kinship of Things but focusses as our homes  being the hero of the story. A concept he is quick to point out comes from author D.J. Waldie.

It's hard to make 1 line my favorite out of such a profound and poetic piece.  One line that sums up the piece well is ...

My ally stands. “Here’s a place—a fragile, earthen vessel, admittedly, yet one that will hold you, for now,” it says

And yes, I just did order Diane Keaton's book House which D.J. Waldie wrote the text for from my home librray. 

Rhett McLaughlin gives advice to himself and all other white men about how to process  the racial discord  of the Spring of 2020. I found it a helpful reminder.

Favorite passage: Before you begin building your case as to why you’re not contributing to the problem — or why there really isn’t a problem in the first place — just be quiet.  Black Americans are speaking loudly and clearly. If you take a moment to stop defending yourself or finding fault with those fighting for justice, you might be able to listen.

Idolatry and Politics August 5, 2020

In 1982 I started attending Des Plaines Evangelical Free Church. Shortly after that their former youth minister took the job as their pastor.  He influenced much of my early Christian thinking and thanks to his blog continues to do so almost 40 years later.  

In Idolatry and Politics he makes a convincing argument that poliitcal extremism on any side of the political spectrum is just another name for idolatry.  Lindy's posts make up 1/4 of this years review, so expect to see a couple more of his writings later on in the list.  

Favorite Line: If people are totally "pro-Trump" or "anti-Ttump" they have abandoned their use of logic and reason. 

Author's Note: Erstwhile (former) and penultimate (2nd to last) are 2 of my favorite words and I use them as often as I can.

My erstwhile pastor appears on this list for his penultimate time with a profile of Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse.  At the time of this post's mid October publication, Sasse was one of the few  GOP lawmakers who would stand up against President Trump.

My favorite passage was a quote from Sasse:

 “If young people become permanent Democrats because they’ve just been repulsed by the obsessive nature of our politics, or if women who were willing to still vote with the Republican Party in 2016 decide that they need to turn away from this party permanently in the future, the debate is not going to be, you know, ‘Ben Sasse, why were you so mean to Donald Trump?’ It’s going to be ‘What the heck were any of us thinking that selling a TV-obsessed narcissistic individual to the American people was a good idea?’ It is not a good idea.

Blog: Thirst
The Good Place October 21, 2020

Full disclosure: I discovered this blog earlier this year while researching my previous post about Comedian a song by Steve Taylor and the Perfect Foil. While I did not originally read this post in 2020,   it does meet the 2 the criteria I set for this list: 1) it is a post from 2020 and 2) The blog it comes from is on my blogroll.  

Keith Shields post which waxes philosophical about the NBC comedy The Good Place is one of the few post from this list that is not about covid, politics or race relations.  It is an old school blog post that takes a culturally relevant topic to explore the human condition. 

I liked how Shields did enough explaining about the show so someone not familiar with the show could still relate to the point he was making but did not over explain it in a way that would take meaning away from the point he made.

Favorite Line: It becomes obvious that we must give up on seeking to be good or we will turn ourselves into neurotic do-gooders who question every move. 

Blog: Desiring God 

Policies, Persons and Paths to Ruin: Pondering the Implications of the 2020 Election October 22, 2020

Author and Pastor John Piper  is not the only contributor to the blog on the Desiring God but his posts are generally the ones I most appreciate.  This post I found especially gratifying as I had decided on the same course of action for the election as he did.  Well approximately the same, he chose a write in candidadte, I just moved on to the next race. Piper makes a very good defense of not voting for Trump or Biden without mentioning either by name.

Favorite Line: In fact, I think it is a drastic mistake to think that the deadly influences of a leader come only through his policies and not also through his person.

In the aftermath of the horriffic events of January 6th, 2021 many people wrote that they were not surprised by the events.  Lindy Scott was one of them but I think that's because he said this 2 weeks prior to the election: (Italics mine*) 

Something similar is happening now in the presidential election. Trump has predicted that he will win when the votes are counted OR if the tally shows him losing, it will be because of vote fraud. He has also affirmed  that he would take the election to the Supreme Court if he loses. This is dangerous for our country. If there is a fair election AND Trump actually loses, many of his more devoted followers might protest the counting of mail in votes and declare fraud. Some of these followers might turn to violence.

I am certain this is not something Lindy wanted to be right about. At least we can't say He didn't warn us.  

* I've always wanted to say italics mine.  As long as we are doling out punctuation marks, I'll take the ampersand.

Blog: The Aaugh Blog 

Colorblind Eye Patch Dec 9, 2020

The Aaugh Blog is an independent Peanuts website that I quite enjoy.  I really liked this post that talks about some of my favorite strips from when I was a kid when Sally had lazy eye.  No favorite line just favorite memories.

Blog: Thinking Person's Guide To Autism

Losing Hard Won Freedoms: The Pandemics Toll on People with I/DD  December 10, 2020

I hate to end on a sour note but Covid has been especially hard on people with disabilites. as I'm typing this on My daughter who has high functioning autism is playing monopoly with her Mom and sister.  (More on this epic game here and here.  That reminds me  that she has been unable to attend her monthly game night for young adults with HFA for almost a year.  As Ivanova Smith  states it ican be much more difficult for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities than just missing a game night.  

Favorite Line:  (Smith describing the effects of the isolation that pandemic restrictions has caused her). I feel like I am stuck in a car that keeps going backwards and backwards and I can’t make it stop.


Saturday Afternoon Monopoly

 My girls are passing this Saturday afternoon with a game of Monopoly.  

I figured this might be a good time to catch you, readers, up with my family

Emma FKA Bunny Girl is 21 now.  

She says Monopily is going good. She has two light blues an orange 2 railroads and a Brown. She is functioning as the banker,

Amy is still working as a School Bob Newhart/Psychologist.  She is doing real estate in the game and 1 monopoly 1 blue, 2 railroads,2 greens and a red.  She is currently in negotiations with L.J./Lucy FKA Wolfina/Puppy which have come to a standstill over the red and blue properties.

The previously mentioned LJ is a Freshman and has finally started live (hybrid) learning as a public school high school Freshman after being homeschooled for all of her middle school career and most of elementary school.  She has 2 reds, both utilities Boardwalk, and New York.

They are taking a break right now. All in all, it's a nice way to spend a Saturday as more snow heads our way.

Dave Out Loud Monopoly in Progress

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

2021 Hall of fame: If I Could Vote ...

 Each year members of the Base Ball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) are given a hall of fame ballot with the names of the players eligible for consideration of enshrinement in Cooperstown. They are instructed to vote for as many as 10 of the players on the ballot.  This years ballot contains 25 players so the writers can vote for up to 40 % of players on the ballot.  If a player receives 75% of the writers votes they are admitted into the Hall of Fame.  If they receive less than 75% but more than 5% they are retained on the ballot for the next year.  The players have up to 10 years on the ballot to earn the 75% needed for enshrinement.

I am not a member of the BBWAA and I do not have a vote but to paraphrase Rob Lowe as the Grinder "What if I were? and What if I did?"

I ask myself that question about this time each year. Here is what I've come up with for 2021.

If I had 13 votes ...

13 would go to Aramis Ramirez.

As I said in the new to the ballot post, Ramirez is a lock for NL Central Hall of Fame havingplayed at a high level for the Pirates, Cubs and Brewers during his career.  As I say every year, I am a Chicago guy and I feel a need to give votes to Chicago players at least to get the conversation going.

If I had 12 votes ...

12 would go to Paul Konerko.

Pauly Longball (my nickname for him. Sadly it never caught on.) is not on the ballot this year as having received only 1/2 the votes needed last year to stay on the ballot for a 2nd chance.  However he was who I would have voted for last year even If I only had one vote.  I feel that is a good enough reason to put him as a write-in i=on this years ballot as a curtain call of sorts.

If I had 11 votes ...

11 would  go to Gary Sheffield.

In 2018 & 2019 I would have voted for Sheffield if given as many as 12 votes.  I hypothesized after missing the vote last year that I would have placed Sheffield 7th.  This year I have reverted to  my original position that there are too many questions about his candidacy to consider him much lower than the double digits.  

If I had 10 Votes ...

10 would go to Bobby Abreu.

I did not consider voting for Abreu last year.  I don't think he's worthy of Cooperstown.  I think he had a distinguished enough career to be in the conversation for a year or more.

If I had 9 votes ...

9 would go to Torii Hunter

When I hear the name Torii Hunter. I think Hall of Fame. When I look at his stats they tell a bit of a different story.  He falls short of making My Official Unofficial Ballot (OUB) but it would certainly be nice if he could get enough votes to be on the ballot again next year. 

If I had 8 votes ...

8 would go to Andruw Jones.

If Jones retired in 2007 when he left Atlanta or if He had Atlantaesque numbers in his final 5 seasoons of baseball He'd have a better chance of making Cooperstown than he does now. Still his time in Atlanta was good enough for me to consider him as my 9th vote last year and this year he's gone up to 8

If I had 7 votes ...

7 would go to Scott Rolen

Not only would I pick Rolen 7th, 7 is also the number of his gold gloves and all star appearances for this former Rookie of the Year.  I have not picked him in the past but a closer look this year shows me he's right on the cusp of making my OUB.

If I had 6 votes ...

6 would go to Jeff Kent.

Last year I put Kent 6th two place higher than I had him in 2019.  He's like my poster child for outside looking in.  Even thinking about it here, I'm tempted to have Jones and Rolen leap frog him. For this year I'll let things stand as they are.

If I had 5 votes ...

With #5 I'd write in Dick Allen.

There's something about White Sox First basemen that makes e want to break my own Rules.  Allen who passed away late last year should already be a hall of famer. I think he will probably make it the next time the veterans comittee of his era re-convene.  Until then He may be revisiting this list in the years to come.  

 If I could vote for the number of players that I thought were worthy of inclusion to the Hall of fame, I would need four votes and that ballot would need like this ...

Barry Bonds                   Jeff Kent                        Gary Sheffield

Roger Clemens               Manny Ramirez             Andruw Jones

Curt Schilling                 Bobby Abreu                 Scott Rolen

 Sammy Sosa.                  A.J. Burnett                   Omar Vizquel

Billy Wagner                    Michael Cuddyer            Dan Heren                                                            

Todd Helton                        Mark Buehrle                  LaTroy Hawkins

Andy Pettitte                       Tim Hudson                  Torii Hunter                                                                      

Aramis Ramirez                  Shane Victorino            Barry Zito

 Nick Swisher


(My votes are in bold)

If I could only vote for 4 players for the Hall of Fame my 4th vote would go to ...

Curt Schilling

I have not been advocating Schilling as a candidate for Cooperstown until very recently.  In 2020 I would have put Schilling 8th on my list and not in my OUB. He never got a mention from me in his first 7 years on the ballot.  This year as I did my research many of my earlier qualms about his candidacy seemed to disappear into the vapor.  He definitely has the resume for it and will probably make it this year.

If I could only vote for 3 players for the Hall of Fame my 3rd vote would go to ...

Todd Helton

In 2019 I placed Helton in 7th and he went up to 5th last year.  He moves up another 2 this year and just like I eventually didn't hold it against Edgar Martinez that he played most of his career as a designated hitter, I don't begrudge Helton for playing his entire career for the Rockies.  

If I could only vote for 2 players for the Hall of Fame my 2nd vote would go to ...

Omar Vizquel

Vizquel was my third choice in 2019 and 2020 and moved into 2nd when Jeter got elected and Konerko got rejected.  Vizquel is one of those players who advanced metrics can't tell the full story of.  He played the game at an extremely  high level for many years. Some say his defense is over rated, I disagree.  He is a Hall of fame caliber defender and worth of Cooperstown.

If I could only vote for one player to go to Cooperstown in 2021. That player would be Mark Buehrle.

The 5 time all star with 4 gold gloves was a reliable workhorse and a quick worker.  He no hit the Texas Rangers and after walking Sammy Sosa (who's in his 9th year of eligibility) he proceed to get him out with his signature pick off move.  He is a pitcher from another era, that's for sure bit those players of his caliber from that era are already in the hall of fame.  I'd like to at least see him hang around for another bite of the apple.  Otherwise you know who I'll be voting for 12th next year.

Monday, January 25, 2021

2021 Hall of Fame: Returning Players

 Each year members of the Base Ball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) are given a hall of fame ballot with the names of the players eligible for consideration of enshrinement in Cooperstown. They are instructed to vote for as many as 10 of the players on the ballot.  This years ballot contains 25 players so the writers can vote for up to 40 % of players on the ballot.  If a player receives 75% of the writers votes they are admitted into the Hall of Fame.  If they receive less than 75% but more than 5% they are retained on the ballot for the next year.  The players have up to 10 years on the ballot to earn the 75% needed for enshrinement.

There are 14 players returning to the ballot this year.

I have them listed in order of years on ballot from highest to lowest and in case of a tie they are also listed by % of votes received in 2020.

Player                    YOB     2020 % received

Curt Schilling                      70%

Roger Clemens       9              61%

Barry Bonds           9              60.7%

Sammy Sosa           9              13.9%

Jeff Kent                 8              27.5%

Gary Sheffield        7               30.5%

Billy Wagner          6               31.7%

Manny Ramirez      5               28.2 %

Omar Vizquel         4                52.6%

Scott Rolen             4                35.3%

Andruw Jones         4                19.4%

Todd Helton             3               29.2%

Andy Pettitte             3               11.3%

Bobby Abreu            2                5.5%


Sunday, January 24, 2021

2021 Hall of Fame: 1st ( and 2nd) year on the ballot

 The Hall of fame announcement is coming on the 26th.  It's about time I start my annual preview and prognostication: There are 10 players new to this ballot and there is a possibility that all of them will be one and done. So as this may be my only time to mtimeention them by name I thought I would  do so now.  

Also last year I did not run these features although I did remedy that a little here.  Only 2 of the 18 people on the ballot for the first time last year received more than the 5% of the vote needed to remain on the ballot for the next year.  Derek Jeter received 99.7 % of the vote and earned induction to Cooperstown.  Bobby Abreu who received 5.5 % of the vote is the only 1st timer from 2020 on the 2021 ballot.  Paul Konerko, Jason Giambi, Alfonso Soriano, Eric Chavez, Cliff Lee, Raul Ibanez, JJ Putz, Brad Penny and Adam Dunn all received votes but none totaled more than 1/2 needed for inclusion on this years ballot.  Carlos Pena, Heath Bell, Rafael  Furcal, Brian Roberts, Jose Valverde, Chone Figgins, and Josh Beckett  all failed to receive any votes on their first and only ballot.

2nd year players 

Bobby Abreu RF played 9 seasons for the Philadelphia Phillies and also played for the Los Angeles Angels, New York Yankees, Houston Astros, New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers.

1st year players

Mark Buehrle P played 12 seasons with the Chicago White Sox. Also played 3 years for the Toronto Blue Jays at the end of his career.  In between he pitched 1 year for manager Ozzie Guillen and the Miami Marlins.

A.J. Burnett P Florida Marlins 7 seasons, Pittsburgh Pirates 3 seasons, New York Yankees 3 seasons, Toronto Blue Jays 3 seasons, Philadelphia Phillies 1 season

Michael Cuddyer OF IF Cuddyer played every position except shortstop even pitching an inning for the twins in 2011. He played 11  years for Minnesota, 3 for the Colorado Rockies and 1 season for the New York Mets.

Dan Haren P Haren pitched 3 seasons each for the Arizona Cardinals, Oakland A's and Los Angeles Angels as well as 2 years for the St. Louis Cardinals and 1 season apiece for the Los Angeles Angels, Washington Nationals, Chicago Cubs and Miami Dolphins.

LaTroy Hawkins P Minnesota Twins (9 seasons) Colorado Rockies (3 seasons) Chicago Cubs, Houston Astros, Milwaukee Brewers (2 seasons) New York Mets, San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Angels  New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles , Toronto Blue Jays (1 season)

Tim Hudson P Hudson pitched 9 seasons for the Atlanta Braves , 6 for the Oakland  A's and 2 for the San Francisco Giants.

Torii Hunter OF Twins (9) and Angels (5) and Tigers (2) Oh My.

Aramis Ramirez 3B Ramirez played 7 season for the Pittsburgh Pirates before 9 years with the Chicago Cubs finally ending his career with 4 seasons in the Milwaukee Brewers.  This would certainly make him a NL Central hall of famer even if things don't go his way in his quest for Cooperstown.

Nick Swisher 1B OF DH Swisher had over 100 starts at 5 positions (each outfield, first base and as a designated hitter). He played for as many teams as positions. 4 seasons for the New York Yankees and Oakland Athletics; 3 for the team in Cleveland, 1 for the Atlanta team and 1 for the Chicago White Sox.

Shane Victorino OF Philadelphia Phillies (8) Boston Red Sox (3) Los Angeles (Dodgers & Angels) 1 season each and 1 season San Diego Padre.

Barry Zito P played his entire career in the bay area. 8 seasons with the Oakland A's and 7 seasons with the San Francisco Giants.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Vin Scully calls Hank Aaron's historic 715th home run

Henry Aaron passed away today at the age of 86. I am certain I will speak more of Aron's impact on my life in my blog Crazy Uncle Dave's Sports Blog.  At this moment I am transported to the evening of April 8, 1974 where I watched Aaron break Babe Ruth's home run record on televison.



Ski Lodge Lunch


Lunch was kind of a hodgepodge today.  We had some leftover chicken taco meat in the fridge and a can of cream corn and some beans.  So I whipped up something chili like and had it with apple cider. I felt like I was at a ski lodge! Yummmm!

Sunday, January 17, 2021

How to get through 2021: Day by Day

I volunteer with our church youth group, It is for 6th graders through 12th graders.  Until recently it was two separate youth groups one for 6th 7th and 8th graders and one for 9th through 12th graders  meeting on separate nights of the week.  During the Summer we would allow the incoming 6th graders to join the middle school group and the outgoing 8th graders to attend both groups.  As the Summer would draw to an end I would give the outgoing 8th graders a short (2-3 minute) commencement  on their last night of the younger group.

In 2016 my son Charlie was one of the kids moving up to the high school group.  I challenged the students to have a "2020" vision of what they hoped to achieve in High School especially how they could be used by God in their new schools.  

Little did any of us know about what the year 2020 held for us. In fact my son's senior year was progressing quite normally until March 13th turned out to be his last day of high school that actually met at the high school.  Since that day, 2020 was a rather tumultuous year (Understatement Alert).  

The events of the past 2 weeks make 2021 look like it's going to be more of the same.  How do we get through another year like that?

The answer both figurarively, literally and musically is Day By Day

As this  great song suggests we can not only get through 2021 but thrive in the midst of it by doing these 3 things from Day by Day, day by day.

Seeing God more clearly

Loving God more dearly

Following God more nearly.

So like I told the YG in 2016 vision is important.  The vision that God is showing me for 2021 requires more time Seeing God through time spent in his word, Following God through obedience to his word  and Loving God by loving his creation.  I hope to expound on this more in further posts. Right now I'm just taking it day by day.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

White Sox Top 5 Moments from 2020

 Thanks White Sox.com for this video showing 5 great moments from the 2020 season. 


# 5 Luca Giolito wins game #1 of playoffs against Oakland A's

#4 Yoan Moncada, Yasmani Grandal, Jose Abreu and Eloy Jimenez hit back to back to back to back homeruns against the Cardinals.

#3 Jose Abreu Hits 3 homers in a row against Cubs.

#2 Lucas Giolito no hits the Pirates for 19th White Sox No Hitter.

#1 White Sox clinch first playoff berth since 2008.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

If Sitcom Songs Were About Quarantine

Comedian By Steve Taylor

 I lived in Russia between the end of 1992 and the end of 1994.  During those 2 years abroad, I missed many things.  By missed I don't mean longed for, although I certainly did miss Mountain Dew and Lou Malnatis's pizza by that definition and was glad when my brother brought those along when he visited me.  I also don't mean by miss that I wasn't there for it, yet heard about.  While I want there for the Bronco chase , Nolan Ryan's pummeling of Robin Ventura, Michael Jordan's retirement announcement , or  the birth of my first niece,  I was acutely aware of all 4.

No, what I mean by missed is there were some events that I did not hear about until I was back in the states, sometimes for several years.  Some of these were deaths of famous people, others were books, movies, or music that came out during that time.  It wasn't uncommon to hear someone talk about a movie I had never heard of, only for me to ask if it came out in 1993 or 1994 and quite often it had.  Finally, I had to come to grips that due to my decision to leave the U.S. and plant a church in Russia in the early 1990's that there would be indeed certain things that I left behind and missed entirely.  I never regretted that decision and certainly experienced many more things that I would have never experienced in the states had I stayed put.

Over the past few years I have realized that I have experienced another gap without leaving the U.S. for more than a fortnight every 10 years or so.  I experienced it today when I was playing with my Spotify account in between classes.  There was a recommended song by Steve Taylor and some band he was in and I had never heard of the song or the band.  Now not to be confusing Steve Taylor uses to front for a band called Some Band.  So, I am not referring to them.  The name of the band is The Perfect foil,  and according to Wikipedia it is an alt. rock supergroup featuring artists from 2 more of my favorite groups (Peter Furler from Newsboys & Jimmy Abegg from (A Ragamuffin Band).  What was odd is this super group was formed in 2010, and I was only just hearing about it 11 years later.  Not really odd when you think that in 2010 I was homeschooling my 3 children all under the age of 11.  Listening to old music on c.d.s is something I did when I had the occasional spare time. Keeping up with music was  not something I invested much time in.  Again, I would not trade that time in my life for anything but it does explain how a song like Comedian stayed off my radar for so long.

A nice thing about discovering something you missed from long ago is that when you do eventually discover it, you also  discover many other things alongside it.  In finding out more information in this missing chapter of Steve Taylors musical journey I discovered a blog that writes an awful lot about Christian Music and other topics that interest me.  It is a blog by Keith Shields called Thirst  and he does an entire post about this song.  I encourage you to do what he suggests in his post which is listen to this song (I have put the Spotify link below at the same time you read the lyrics to the song and then read how the song affected him.  (The link to his post is here.) 

I enjoyed his interpretation of a song from 11  years ago that I only just discovered this morning.  Still in all I'm glad I didn't miss it.  

A to Z 2023 Road Trip

#AtoZChallenge 2023 RoadTrip