Want proof of the preponderance of idiocy in the blogosphere?

In the next 12-24 hours, New Orleans could be buried in Hurricane Katrina’s flood waters, and those waters may not recede for weeks. So read what fellow bloggers are saying about it.

If you’re thinking half of it is “just like the liberal media to focus on the people who are about to lose their homes and not the rise in oil prices this is causing” and the other half is “OMG — did u see theirs this hurrricane? If I lived theyre, I’d move,” you’re pretty close.

Things I looked up on Wikipedia today

Starting a new occasional series …

Piranha

Why: It was mentioned in today’s Pickles comic strip, and I wanted to see if the whole “eat a cow in a few seconds” thing was a myth.

What I learned: They generally don’t attack humans, but that doesn’t make me feel better about the occasional appearance in the Potomac. Also, there’s a species that apparently doesn’t eat meat but has colonies of worms in its stomach. But nothing about the cow.

Stone Mountain

Why: I was there over the weekend.

What I learned: The original idea to carve Confederate soldiers roughly coincided with the formation of the “new” Ku Klux Klan at the mountain. That only adds to the irony that a park with a Confederate history theme draws a lot of African-American visitors.

Ku Klux Klan

Why: See above.

What I learned: Mostly that the revived group of the 20th century wasn’t as virulently anti-Republican as the post-Civil War effort. Also that the Klan had political influence in Oregon, Indiana, Oklahoma and Anaheim, Calif. Mickey wouldn’t be happy.

What are my responsibilities?

Sometimes, you simply can’t do the right thing.

I got my haircut today at one of those places I go because I refuse to spend more than $20 on a haircut. I walked in, waited for one of the stylists to finish her complex operation on the sign-in computer/cash register, then typed my name on the computer in full view of everyone else.

As I did that, the stylist took one woman back and said to another woman, “I just have one more person, then you.” The woman, who had a high school son with her, said: “One more after her?” Stylist: “No, just her.”

A few moments later, before I had time to get into that issue of Parenting telling me what all moms are supposed to feel (all dads, of course, are supposed to be uninvolved — have you seen our golf magazine?), another stylist walked up to do another complex operation on the computer, perhaps a simulation of a new style of foam insulation during a shuttle launch. Then she attempted to read my name, eventually deciding to spell it out.

The woman down the row enthusiastically said her son’s name as if to ask if he was next. His name did indeed have one similar vowel, along the lines of “Bill” and “Justin.” But several more spellings out loud established that the stylist did indeed say my name.

So I followed the stylist to the back. Her neighboring stylist said something about the woman being next. My stylist said she just read the name that was in the computer. I volunteered that they had a conversation with the first stylist in question that made me believe they were waiting for her.

At the time, that made sense. Now, well …

Sure enough, the next stylist to get free walked up and read the next name in the computer, which was not “Justin” (not the kid’s real name) or whatever Mom’s name was. Someone else stood up and headed back.

And then the woman protested. “We were here before him, too!”

Oh, crap. Crapity crapity crap.

So I sat there thinking if the hair falling from my head represented some sort of metaphor for my guilt. It didn’t, but I still felt guilty.

I wondered if I should ask the woman on my way out if she had meant to wait for the first stylist. Perhaps I could offer some sympathetic hogwash about it’s not quite clear that you’re supposed to sign in on the computer. (That would beg the question of what she thought I was doing on the computer and why the stylists kept reading other names, but I didn’t have to discuss that part of it, did I?)

Soon, one of the couple in question was indeed paired up with a stylist. I thought it was the woman. But when my glasses returned to my face, I saw it was the kid, who was kicking around waiting for his stylist to finish up something unseen. The mom was still there.

But my chance to take the high road and not skulk out of there disappeared. As I stood up to leave, the woman walked up to the stylist to start complaining about the whole line fiasco.

And with that, I figured my swift departure was probably for the best. I paid, gave my usual generous tip and walked to the bagel shop for a sandwich.

In a perfect world, I would someday be in a situation in which the kid and I were in some sort of registration line without his mom, and I would help him register for something he wanted, secure in the knowledge that his mom would have somehow botched the opportunity. That would make everything even. But since this world isn’t perfect, I guess I can live with what little guilt I feel.

Actually, I think I feel more guilt over the Coke I drank with the sandwich.

Where did I go wrong?

(If you don’t care about fantasy baseball, you’ll want to do a big scroll here.)

I made the mistake of playing three fantasy baseball leagues in a summer in which I was overwhelmed by work and kept up a busy family, soccer and housework schedule. There’s just no way to keep up when you’re doing all that.

Still, I’m finding myself today trying to figure out where it all went wrong. I started with the best of intentions and made the right moves in ditching a couple of players early (I had Cristian “maybe I’ll break .200” Guzman in two leagues and got rid of him in April in both cases). I also snagged Jon Garland early in his big win streak and got Travis Hafner on two teams.

Everything else just went horribly astray, like Brian Carroll’s shot to seal the game for D.C. United last night.

Here’s the breakdown.

Team 1: 12-team, head-to-head, no keepers: R, HR, RBI, SB, E, AVG, OPS / W, SV, HBP, K, ERA, WHIP

April 3 Aug. 24
C Johnny Estrada C A.J. Pierzynski
2B Tadahito Iguchi (bench) 1B Mike Sweeney
OF Alex Sanchez 2B Brian Roberts
3B Melvin Mora 3B Melvin Mora
SS Cristian Guzman SS Bill Hall
1B/OF Aubrey Huff 1B/OF Aubrey Huff
OF Carl Crawford OF Juan Encarnacion
OF Manny Ramirez OF Jeff Francoeur
UT Sean Casey UT Sean Casey
2B Luis Castillo 2B Luis Castillo (bench)
OF Coco Crisp (bench) OF Matt Lawton (bench)
RP Chin-hui Tsao (bench) OF Willy Taveras (bench)
SP Jeremy Bonderman SP Jon Garland
SP Woody Williams SP Bruce Chen
SP John Thomson SP John Thomson
SP Barry Zito SP Barry Zito
P Danny Graves P Brad Penny
P Jaret Wright (bench; rotating) P Jaret Wright (bench; rotating)
P John Smoltz P John Smoltz
RP Latroy Hawkins RP Chris Reitsma

I made a lot of minor moves along the way, but the big ones were trades. I didn’t trade very well — a couple of these moves were followed by insulting offers from the league’s resident fleecer, so clearly I had become the patsy at the table.

  • April: Drop Tsao, Williams and Guzman, pick up Garland, Chen and Jose Valentin (later dropped).
  • May 7: Trade Crawford for Hinske and Encarnacion.
  • May 22: Trade Crisp and Eric Hinske for Sweeney.
  • Aug. 22-23: Trade Ramirez and Bonderman for Penny, Roberts and Francoeur; drop Julio.

Team 2: No keepers, 10-team head-to-head league: R, H, 2B, HR, RBI, SB, A, AVG, OPS / W, SV, K, ERA, WHIP

This one is the most perplexing, though you can see the disappointments in my Opening Day lineup — Thome, Rolen, Patterson and Perez have all been hurt and/or had horrifying runs. This is the league in which someone dropped Melvin Mora after the first week, so that gives you some idea of the panic level of the competition. Still, I dropped Chacin too soon.

I’ve listed ALL my moves just to show how frustrating it’s been.

April 3 Aug. 24
C Johnny Estrada C Bengie Molina
1B Jim Thome 1B Travis Hafner
2B Chone Figgins 2B Ron Belliard
3B Scott Rolen 3B Eric Chavez
SS Miguel Tejada SS Miguel Tejada
IF Chipper Jones IF Chipper Jones
OF Johnny Damon OF Johnny Damon
OF Corey Patterson OF Brian Giles
OF J.D. Drew OF Jeff Francoeur
UT Ken Griffey Jr. UT Shea Hillenbrand
OF Alex Sanchez (bench) C Brian McCann (bench)
no one on DL C/1B Mike Piazza (DL)
SP Chris Carpenter SP Chris Carpenter
SP Oliver Perez SP Kevin Millwood
SP Jake Westbrook SP Casey Fossum
P Greg Maddux P Greg Maddux
P Tim Hudson P Tim Hudson
RP Eddie Guardado RP Eddie Guardado
RP Latroy Hawkins RP Scot Shields
RP Jorge Julio (bench) RP Brandon Lyon (bench)
  • April 11: Drop Hawkins, add Lyon.
  • April 28: Drop Westbrook, add Gustavo Chacin.
  • May 6: Add Juan Encarnacion.
  • May 14: Drop Encarnacion, add Corey Koskie and Trot Nixon.
  • May 18: Drop Figgins, add Bret Boone.
  • May 20: Drop Koskie, add Chavez.
  • May 28: Drop Drew.
  • June 7: Add Rafael Palmeiro.
  • June 16-17: Drop Sanchez, Julio, Chacin, Boone and Nixon; add Giles, Mark Redman, Chris Young, Danny Haren and Richie Weeks.
  • June 24: Drop Hillenbrand, add Hafner.
  • June 28: Drop Perez, add Joe Blanton.
  • July 9: Drop Patterson, add Reggie Sanders.
  • July 24: Drop Thome, add Milton Bradley.
  • July 28: Drop Blanton and Haren, add Shields and Hillenbrand.
  • July 29: Drop Weeks, add Belliard.
  • Aug. 6: Drop Estrada, Young, Bradley and Redman; add Fossum, Millwood, Piazza and Francoeur.
  • Aug. 22-24: Drop Palmeiro, Sanders, Rolen; add McCann (temp replacement for Piazza) and Molina (perm replacement).

Team 3: 16-team keeper league, traditional Roto: R, 2B, HR, RBI, SB, A, AVG, OPS / IP, W, SV, K, ERA, WHIP

April 3 Aug. 24
C Jason Kendall C Brian McCann
1B Sean Casey 1B Richie Sexson
2B Alfonso Soriano 2B Ray Durham
3B Scott Rolen 3B Bill Mueller
SS Cristian Guzman SS Omar Vizquel
IF Aramis Ramirez IF Jay Gibbons
OF Corey Patterson OF Adam Dunn
OF Alex Sanchez OF Matt Stairs
OF Eric Byrnes OF Matt Lawton
OF Brian Jordan 1B Travis Hafner
OF Shannon Stewart OF Shannon Stewart
(empty bench spot) 3B Bill Mueller
SP Pedro Martinez SP C.C. Sabathia
SP Jon Lieber SP Jon Lieber
SP Brad Penny (DL) SP Brad Penny
RP Dan Kolb RP Miguel Batista
P Rodrigo Lopez P Rodrigo Lopez
P Bronson Arroyo P Bronson Arroyo
P Tim Wakefield P Tim Wakefield
P Jorge Julio 1B Phil Nevin (bench)

Various fill-ins: 1B Calvin Pickering (last time I listen to the sabermetrics geeks), OF Jason Lane, IF Jorge Cantu, IF/OF John Mabry

  • April 12: Drop Guzman, pick up Vizquel
  • April 13: Trade Ramirez for Thome
  • May 18: Trade Casey and Martinez for Sexson and Batista
  • June 24: Trade Soriano and Thome for Dunn and Hafner

Next year, I’m sticking to soccer. Not that I’m doing any better there.

Weird things that pop into my head

For some reason, I found myself thinking this morning about the show Gabe and Guich. One reason this is so odd — it apparently aired under the name Lewis and Clark. Another reason — I never actually watched the show. I just have a vague memory of the name. Honestly, what else could be named Gabe and Guich except for a sitcom starring Gabe Kaplan and Guich Koock. Apparently, the show was about a New Yorker who moves to Luckenbach, Texas, which is real life was owned by … wait for it … Guich Koock.

This afternoon at work, I dashed down the stairs and found myself winded. I thought of a scene from Carter Country, a late-70s “let’s make fun of the South because we have a president from that area” sitcom, in which the middle-aged, potbellied sheriff and his young, spry deputy take a fitness test together. The deputy, told to step up and down a couple of stairs until winded, dashes up and down repeatedly but never gets tired. The sheriff takes one tired walk up, one down, one up and then stops to say, “I’m breathing hard.”

Carter Country also featured a young, amiable idiot deputy played by … Guich Koock.

Proof that all you need to stick in someone’s head is a strange name of uncertain pronunciation.

Sentimellencamp

I doubt there’s anything more sentimental than music. A quick snippet of a song can evoke far more memories than an old film clip or some sort of preserved artifact.

The funny thing I’ve discovered — songs that you didn’t even like when you first encountered them can trigger a strong reaction, even if that reaction is just making you realize how old you’ve become.

The song in question today is John Cougar Mellencamp’s Cherry Bomb, to which I was always rather indifferent. Mention Mellencamp to me, and my first memory is usually my high school locker room, where a guy in my P.E. class (who later went to Mellencamp’s beloved Indiana, only to transfer) imitated the “I’m a real good dancer” line from Crumblin’ Down. By the time Cherry Bomb came out, Mellencamp was no longer in heavy MTV rotation — besides, I was headed to college and wouldn’t be watching much MTV again until Beavis and Butthead gave me a reason to act like a middle-schooler.

It’s not that I didn’t respect Mellencamp — even in my young and foolish days, I knew Rain on the Scarecrow was one of the strongest protest songs recorded. (This’ll hit sacred cow status in some quarters, but I think The Clash never quite managed anything like this, despite their reputation.) But Cherry Bomb, like a lot of Mellencamp’s work, just wasn’t my style, and it never occurred to me that the song had any deeper meaning.

Over the years, I heard that Mellencamp fans looooove this song. Fine, I thought. Now I hear some of the sentimentality in it, so I can see why some people appreciate it.

Today, thanks to the artist facts and other info on the cable music channels, I caught the year Cherry Bomb was recorded — 1987.

“No WAY,” I thought. “Isn’t that song from far later in Mellencamp’s career?”

Nope. I’m just that old.

In fact, I’ve now made the journey in age described in the song — “Seventeen has turned thirty-five.” (Full lyrics at Mellencamp’s excellent site.) So this song is now about me, even though I was several degrees more nerdy than Mellencamp at age 17.

And so I appreciate the song a little bit more now. But not as much as I appreciate the fact that Mellencamp has gone on to produce solid material — building on his roots but also growing — through his 40s and now into his 50s. I don’t mind looking back once in a while, but I need something to look forward to.