Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Never Be Average Pt 1

I have one phobia. Fear of being average. Or is it fear of being ordinary? Or maybe it is just a fear of being normal? I don't know. But here's a look at how one gnarly old guy strives for exceptionalism. Join me and it's a movement. Never be an average guy.

Fifth Single

Five Singles at 405, on 30 seconds rest. Except this one which I decided to video.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


Since I've been reduced to writing twice a year, I find myself wanting to reintroduce the thing every time I deliver an entry. This time is no different as I find myself in San Diego, the city of beaches, in which I believe I finally left childhood behind and began to vaguely understand manhood.  That process only took until my mid-20's, yet here I am 25 years later, again rethinking things as I watch my 16 and half year old son look at his first colleges with new eyes. Eyes far less influenced by my thinking and input.

As a kid, I rode the first urethane wheels into a board-sport revolution that sowed the seeds of my golden dream. As I carved swooping turns on the extensive, paved hills, on the closed roads surrounding Hartford Reservoir No. 6 on Talcott Mountain, wind blowing back my long stringy locks, I formed a lasting vision of myself at home on the Elysian fields of southern California's beaches. At nine I knew I wanted to surf, to live in shorts, Vans, and t-shirts.  The vision was so strong, it pulled me west, away from my first true-love (or so I thought at the time) relationship, and into the fray of Mission, Pacific, and Ocean Beaches. A place where I would taste the glory of living in the ocean, of loving again, and recovering myself into manhood.

And so now, my son is also, seemingly, magnetically drawn to blue skies, sand, regular swells, and boardwalks flowing with rivers of fit, beautiful people. We've seen the University of California at Santa Barbara where he really stood out in a recent baseball prospect camp. We've rolled through the muscular, modern architecture of UC San Diego while, having a deep whiff of the view from the bluffs above Blacks Beach and Scripps Pier. And he just completed yet another prospect camp at the University of San Diego, my graduate school alma mater, and home to a perennially strong baseball team and startlingly selective undergraduate college.

I am so gratified by his aesthetic. Of course my very few readers will ponder, "how flippin' hard is it to decide to attend college in a beach town?" Well, if it were that common a decision, then these schools would receive far more applicants for each entering class than they already do. But they don't. And places like the University of Wyoming are fully matriculated (no offense meant, but that would never have worked for me).  So the boy has developed an aesthetic I can really appreciate, and has done me one better by engaging that aesthetic in surveying his undergraduate choices where I could only have made that move after college.

And thus the theme of the post. Is there a better way to test, proof, and succeed in life than to try things out, keep the things that work, and discard those that do not? I cannot believe there is and perhaps that bears out my interest in science and inquiry, rather than faith. And on a far less profound level, it leads me to wonder how much longer I can live the way we do now before I reiterate...all the way back to the sands of sunny Southern California.

Happy New Year and may there someday be peace on Earth.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Friday, April 18, 2014

False Authority and Critical Filtering

My son Jacob, is a high school baseball player. A pretty fair player at that.  He appears to be headed in a nice direction in the sport that might include his being able to help me pay for his college education while continuing to play a game he so obviously loves. Never mind that if I had just invested all the money I've spent on his travel, training, and equipment, I'd probably have enough to send him to school for nothing out of pocket. That's not relevant.  He loves the game, being part of these teams, working on his body and skills, and wants to express his athleticism at the highest level he can.

By itself, his love of the game has made his participation in the sport the center of our family life since he was four or five years old. That love sucked me into acting as a team dad, coach, taxi driver, equipment manager, and life planner. These things have been fine by me; I wish I had had similar support as a kid with some talent in the sport of hockey. Not that I was brought up wrong. I had all the love and support any kid could ever want.  And I grew up in a different era.  But succeeding in sport now, for kids with real emergent talent, requires a level of dedication to skill-work and physical strength and conditioning that were not really apparent when I was young.  So I happily support it all for my boy, for as far as this game will take him.

Which is why my boy throws with Kyle Boddy at Driveline Baseball, in Puyallup, Washington.  Jacob has been throwing things since he could crawl.  His first word was "ball." His godmother bought him a baseball glove for his second birthday (thank you, Dawn, I'll never forget that) and he's been playing catch ever since. By the time he was seven, he threw well enough to pitch to 10 year-olds in our local little league. He had structured pitching lessons given by local pros and college coaches. And he continued to throw in increasingly more difficult competition.

But at 13, he suffered a common adolescent skeletal injury called  a little-league elbow.  At the time, Kyle was building a process of training amateur and youth pitchers, still very much in its first or second iteration.  I had followed Kyle's work through that first iteration and felt certain I wanted him interested in my son's arm as the kid grew into a more serious player.

The fact that Kyle Boddy is intent on iteration as a method of building his service matters very much to me.  I work in an analytical field. I am reliant on data collection and evidentiary stewardship. Doing work like this makes one acutely aware of how little our society values data and its use, logic, argument, facts.  We live in a "receptor site" world full of people who seek information that makes them feel better about how they view the world, cultivating an unwillingness to view information that might challenge their views.  Guys like Kyle will not soothe those seeking conventional wisdom while in a state of utter cognitive dissonance.

And his latest article best exemplifies both his approach and capacity to challenge false authority through critical filtering.  The article stands as a takedown of misuse of data, slavery to anecdote, and absence of criticical thinking in work from writers viewed as authoritative baseball analysts.  Kyle makes a couple of outstanding points about false authority (and really by extension the overall weakness of mainstream treatment of any mildly technical subject).

To me, the worst thing about designating experts for the purpose of promulgating a massive conventional wisdom is that it's disabling for those who might want to think for themselves but lack access to divergent sources of analysis.  As a sports parent, I don't need information from "experts" based on their access to sources they consider knowledgeable just because they have ascended to power in an industry that values group-thinking and an anecdotal conventional wisdom.  People who so willingly correlate without considering causation, leading to conjecture and generational truth-making.

I want analysis and critical reassessment.  Don't just bring in the data to add the appearance of science, analyze it correctly and then critically.  Inspect and filter new information.  And being fucking willing to change in response to new information.