I found myself further and further from my home

You never forget your first love.

The night is darkest just before the dawn

I’ve held off on making this post for a few days because I’ve kind of been bouncing back and forth, and honestly, I don’t know that I’ve ever settled on anything conclusive. But nonetheless, here are some random thoughts, five days removed from “The Decision,” after the jump.

The little city that could


According to Wikipedia, the city pictured above is the 7th most dangerous city in the world. Sports teams in Cleveland haven’t won a championship in 44 years. The economy in Cleveland is bad and getting worse. Politicians in Cleveland are corrupt, power-hungry and greedy. Lake effect snow is just a weird breeze away.

On that note, I’d like to make a statement to the national media.

DON’T FEEL SORRY FOR US.

It seems like every day I’ll flip on ESPN, CNN or one of the cable news networks and something is said along these lines:

  • “…Cleveland’s economy is just terrible. Poor Clevelanders.”
  • “…not a single championship in 44 years. Can you imagine that?”
  • “It’s amazing that there are still people left in the wasteland that is Cleveland.”
  • “Cleveland is one of the most devestated economies in the U.S….and it’s all George Bush’s fault.”

Anyone else sick of hearing this?

Let’s think about it for a moment. Cleveland’s economy, while a tad slow, still has a ton of room for growth. Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport is one of the main hubs of Continental Airlines, seemingly the only airline that is not being affected by rising fuel costs. The lakefront is primed for development (now if only those stupid politicians could do something about it…). Cleveland’s cost of living is among the best in the nation.

In sports, we haven’t had a championship in 44 years, but on the other hand, none of our teams perenially bad, either. The Indians had an off year but still had some memorable moments and are poised to contend next year. Even though the Cavs struggled with injuries and rebuilt their entire team in the middle of the season, they took the best team in the league down to the final few minutes of Game 7 of the conference semi-finals. The Browns had an improbable 10-6 season last year and just missed the playoffs. If you’re not in the mood for the conventional sports, what about a Lake Erie Monsters game, or a Cleveland Gladiators AFL game?

And if you want culture, Cleveland’s got that too. Little Italy is full of mom-and-pop shops and restaurants that makes Cleveland Heights (maddeningly) like the streets of Rome. The Chicago Tribune has called Cleveland the hot new dining scene. Playhouse Square is probably the best theater district between New York and Chicago.

It’s easy to focus on Cleveland’s shortcomings. But if you focus on the good, you find that Cleveland is a pretty nice city to live in. And the media feeling bad for us works against us in two ways: 1) it scares new people and talent away from the city, and 2) it’s against most true Clevelanders’ nature.

Instead of complaining about the weather when it’s bad, Clevelanders notice when it’s good and enjoy it. Instead of being fair-weather (pun intended) fans of the Browns, Indians and Cavs, Cleveland fans support the teams when they’re bad or good (particularly the Browns). Instead of wistfully dreaming of the Pacific coast or Atlantic coast, Clevelanders drive up to the tenth largest lake in the world and enjoy a day at the beach.

Don’t let the media attack or victimize our city. Living in Cleveland is a lot better than its made out to be, because, like anywhere else in America, with some hard work and a little bit of luck, anyone can excel.

I’m proud to live in Cleveland, and like Fausto Carmona, I’ll defend it.

Traffic

This is an article I’ve wanted to post for a while, but driving home from Giant Eagle last night has pushed me over the edge. It’s a fact of life that there are people who are good at things, and there are people who are bad at things. I think this applies to all skills: there are people who are good at baseball, there are people who are bad at baseball; there are people who can cook, there are people who can’t; there are people who can use a computer effectively, there are people who can’t.

Generally, if you can’t do a certain skill, or you aren’t very good at it, you tend to avoid it (yes, Mom, for cooking, that means you). The one skill this does not apply to is driving.

I’ve heard that there are bad drivers everywhere. Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Boston traffic is usually what is among the worst. After driving in New York this summer, it occurred to me that in New York, Chicago, LA and Boston, there are just too many cars. You could put professional drivers in those streets, and there would still be traffic jams.

It’s places like Little Italy, in Cleveland, OH, that drivers are just bad. Here are some examples of people who should really just take a break from driving:

  • The way-too-courteous guy. I have no problem with courteous driving, in fact I encourage it. But don’t be too courteous. Don’t be one of those guys who stops in the middle of the road on a two-lane street to let the guy coming from the other direction turn left. There are two things wrong with this: 1) it slows down everyone else who is behind you, causing them to curse and question humanity’s existence, and 2) the other guy doesn’t expect you to. The second point is the most important here, because when the other guy doesn’t expect you to let him turn, he won’t turn for a while, until there’s that awkward hand waving exchange and he finally gets it. The other guy expects you to follow the rules of traffic, which is that the only vehicle with more right-of-way than a vehicle going straight down a street with no traffic lights or stop signs is an ambulance or fire truck.
  • The merging ninja. Look, I don’t really care if you’re going to merge in front of me. (I do have a problem with it if there’s no real reason for it, or if you should have done it a while ago, but generally, it’s how traffic moves and I’m okay with it.) If you’re going to merge in front of me, use your turn signal. There are few things that get under my skin faster than someone merging in front of me without a signal, because there’s absolutely no excuse for it. It doesn’t conserve gas to not use your signal for 2 seconds, it increases the risk that I’m going to hit you, and it’s against the law that the rest of us follow. I often wonder why people do it: do they think I won’t see them? Are they thinking, “well, I’m about to cut this guy off, but maybe if I don’t use my signal he’ll think ‘Hmm, there’s another car in front of me, how’d that get there? Oh well.’”
  • The guy who plays too much Risk. When you’re sitting at a traffic light, this is the guy who pulls into the intersection from the adjacent street and gets stuck there, either because he’s too afraid to make his left or he feels that the road is territory to be claimed and he wants the prime real estate right in the middle of the intersection. It’s for reasons like this that the state of Ohio will not allow me to carry grenades in my car, because if I was allowed to do that, I’d just roll a grenade under any car that got stuck in the intersection and prevented me from moving on a green light.
  • The mobile businessman. GET OFF YOUR CELL PHONE. You should have to take an extra license test if you want to be legally allowed to drive while talking on the phone (or eating, or smacking your kids, operating your iPod, etc.) while driving. I take pride in my ability to drive safely while on my phone (via Bluetooth, if possible) and operate my iPod (normally just simple “skip track” operations), but I think this should be a privilege, not a throw-in with the rest of your license.
  • The indecisive guy. This is the guy who likes both lanes on a four-lane street so much that he drives in both lanes at once. What’s worse, he’s normally driving 5 MPH under the speed limit and it’s impossible to get around him because he’s blocking both lanes. Normally, he’s trying to avoid parked cars in the right lane. Here’s a thought: get in other lane, like the rest of us.

By the way, I realize that we’re on the same road together (in some cases, for hours). But I don’t need to hear about your political beliefs via bumper sticker. Incidentally, the worst offenders of the people described above tend to have “Kerry/Edwards ’04″ or “Endless this war” or “Legalize marijuana” stickers. If you want to discuss your beliefs with me, pull over to the side of the road, get yourself a fair trade organic soy milk latte, and we’ll talk about it once I get off the road and less angry about the traffic I just went through.

Don’t wait up.

I used to rule the world…

It’s actually turned into a beautiful Sunday evening in Cleveland – no better time to sit next to an open window, watching a baseball game (not the Indians, who stunk up another one today) and blogging.

  • I guess the Indians are a great place to start, actually. Last year, when I turned on the Indians game to watch, I would stay on SportsTime Ohio for the entirety of the game (and more, if it was a good game and I wanted to see highlights). This year, I don’t mind watching the Indians pitch, but if they’re at the plate I have a tendency to change the channel, particularly if Ryan Garko, Jhonny Peralta, or David Dellucci are batting. Last year you always had this feeling that victory was always just around the corner, and the Indians would find it or come very close to finding it. Even if they were down in the ninth, it seemed like they would always figure out a way to get guys on base and make it interesting and occasionally they’d pull it out. This year, we have had one walk-off win (if I recall correctly) and I don’t think we’ve won at all after trailing after 8 innings (except maybe very early in the year).

    My point is that when the Indians are playing, the fans aren’t having fun anymore. And I can’t imagine the players are having much fun. For those of you who get on me constantly about writing in this thing, remind me sometime in the coming weeks to write a midseason review of the Indians, once I have some time to gather my thoughts.

  • Anyone notice that traffic in Cleveland is especially bad? It seems like you can’t go anywhere without hitting construction (and it’s particularly bad right around where I live, on Euclid Avenue and Mayfield Road). I’m okay with construction, but I wish government projects were run like small business projects. If Lazorpoint were to run a project like these construction projects are being run, the client would have fired us or never done business with us again. I’ve told the guys I work with that if you live on the Ohio-Indiana border or Ohio-Pennsylvania border, you should hear a traffic report that sounds a little like this: “…and if you’re going to Ohio today…just don’t. Go around. Take the route through Kentucky and Virginia, because that whole state is just a mess. Back to you…”.

    And when you hit those construction free oases, it’s still very likely you’ll run into a driver that has absolutely no idea what they’re doing. I think if you were to give a driving test to every driver on the road, only 10% would pass.

    How do you solve this problem? Remedial drivers tests are an option, but I see both sides of that argument: on one hand, drivers who are adults in most cases absolutely need to drive in order to get to work, be productive and provide for their families; on the other hand, drivers who can’t drive are safety hazards to drivers who can.

    The only solution that really has any possibility of working is everyone taking responsibility for their actions.

    Hold your laughter please.

  • Anyone find it funny that one of Hillary Clinton’s campaign promises was ending our national debt, but now after her campaign is over, she finds herself $22 million in debt?

I’m kind of out of shape on this blogging thing – my endurance is low even though I didn’t write that much. Oh well…

There’s a place up ahead and I’m going…

I’m 3/4 done with my college career, and without a doubt the last year was the hardest. The good news is that this time next year, I’ll be planning for life after college and hopefully becoming more of the person I’d like to be.

  • After work tonight, a friend and I decided to try to get one of those famous 23 cent pizzas. Actually, the original plan was to get more than one – as many as possible, actually. Unfortunately, we weren’t counting on every single Clevelander having the same idea. The talk radio people like Mike Trivisonno (who is normally fun to listen to, for the record, but has his moments where he’s just an absolute moron) were very annoyed that so many people were taking advantage, and as the previous article states, there were some issues. But tomorrow is another day, and by this time tomorrow, we’ll all remember that Papa Johns doesn’t really make great pizza.
  • The Indians took a series in New York (mostly thanks to Cliff Lee and David Dellucci, two oft-maligned southpaws on this blog), but another southpaw, Travis Hafner, is really struggling.

    All you can hope for with Travis Hafner is that he’s seen video of his swing from this year (and presumably last year – last year he wasn’t ever bad enough to merit drastic reconstruction on his swing, but it might have been enough for him to develop some bad habits) and compared it to video in 2006. To me, after watching the video, it’s pretty obvious. Of course, it’s far easier said than done – but the season is still young, and Hafner has plenty of time to turn it around.

    Ben Francisco is up, and is getting regular playing time, which is nice to see. He’s had some good solid hits already, and his defense in the corner outfield spots doesn’t leave me holding my breath as much as Dellucci.

  • And now a message from every mathematician in the world: “To Hillary Clinton: It’s Over”. She doesn’t seem to think so, and I guess when you have as much money as the Clintons do (although that amount is dwindling, because she keeps loaning herself money) you can alter math.

    One thing I’ve noticed about John McCain recently – his supporters are far easier to get along with than either of the Democratic candidates. Perhaps the Democrats are a little edgy because they see McCain gaining ground quickly while Obama and Clinton battle it out, but seriously, there is no need for the fawning on the message boards: “OMG PRESIDENT OBAMA I LOVE YOU” or the hatred: “OMG PRESIDENT CLINTON II BARACK OBAMA SUCKS”.

I’m typing this from my work laptop and I’m really not a fan of the keyboard or touchpad (I have a docking station and a mouse at work, but not with me at the moment), so I’m going to adjourn. Once again, I apologize for the lack of updates lately – hopefully I’ll be on a more regular schedule soon.

There’s still time to change the road you’re on

It’s a sunny April morning in Cleveland, Ohio. Normally, in April, its either snowing and 30 degrees or sunny and 65 degrees, but today, we’ve struck a compromise, and its sunny and 35 degrees outside. It’s okay for me, I get to watch baseball tonight without having to play it.

  • In a rare feat of good news, Wal-Mart is doing the right thing. Although it’s probably not for the right reasons (I can see it now, on the front page of CNN.com: “Wal-Mart is evil”) it’s still nice to see that this story is resolved without any further conflict. One notices, however, that the whole situation could have been avoided if this guy (or his lawyer, not that it’s his job or anything) read the fine print.
  • Front page of ESPN.com/MLB:

    Inside, details about the past 5 seasons for David Ortiz and how he started. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy any article about how the Sox are overrated. But honestly, the fact that an 0-11 start merits a full front-page as well as a two-page writeup for David Ortiz is solid proof that ESPN is biased. No, maybe its not the analysts, maybe its not the anchors. But the people who decide the content are.
  • I’m not sure how Apple’s stock continues to rise, thanks to reports like this one that the 1/3 of iPhone users have a second phone. I see three reasons for this:
    1. AT&T is an absolutely terrible network. I like to think of cell phone providers like grocery stores here in Cleveland: Sprint is like Whole Foods, because it’s far too expensive but quality in the end; Verizon is like Giant Eagle, because it’s quality and good value in the same package; and AT&T is like Dave’s, because you never really know what you’re going to get.
    2. Corporate users have to be able to check their mail via Exchange, which Apple somehow forgot about when they released the iPhone.
    3. I’m going for a workout, and I want a phone with me. Do I really want to take my $500 phone with me when I’m running (particularly if it won’t be replaced by my office)? No, I want to take a little flipphone that’s more durable and not as big a deal if it cracks or gets dirty.
  • How I Met Your Mother was on Monday night, and it was pretty funny. However, these days it seems like the chemistry between the group is gone for some reason. Maybe that’s realistic, but part of what made the show so fun was the chemistry between everyone early on.
  • Fausto Carmona is on the mound tonight for the Indians, and here’s hoping our pitching is about fifteen times better than it was on Monday. Just think: games like the one on Monday are what our friends in Detroit get to watch all year long…
  • Quote of the Day:
    Slap me thrice and hand me to me mama! It’s Jack!

    Gibbs, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

Hope everyone’s having a good week. I probably won’t post anything tomorrow because I’m working, but I’ll talk to you on Friday! Until then, go Tribe and boo Red Sox!

Early bedtime on a Tuesday night

I’m tired and ready to go to bed but before I do, a few recent happenings.

  • A lot of media speculation lately about a Hillary-Barack or Obama-Clinton ticket and how well it would do. I’m not sure how well it would do (although my guess is that the Democrats will run away with this election anyway, so it doesn’t particularly matter), but I do find it incredibly funny how much disagreement there is; take the opinion of Bill Clinton vs. that of Rush Limbaugh.
  • The city of Cleveland is an absolute mess right now thanks to the visit from Father Winter this weekend. On Saturday…well, you saw the picture of the road (which has won acclaim from some for its artistic nature!). On Sunday, the highways were okay but the roads around Case were terrible. And now, it’s Tuesday and the roads around Case aren’t much better. That’s to say nothing of downtown. Getting there today wasn’t…terrible. But getting back was a nightmare. Not only is all of East 9th under construction, but now there’s snow on the sides of the road, so there are less lanes and thus cars (and pedestrians) are being stupider than ever. A general traffic tip: if the light is green, check to make sure you can get through the intersection entirely! If you do this, there aren’t as many times when you want to shoot yourself and wonder how a device as advanced and state-of-the-art as a traffic light could have allowed such a situation to occur.
  • I might post a bit tomorrow about Microsoft’s recent efforts in research and development, as some of the stuff they’re doing is pretty awesome. People really don’t give Microsoft a lot of credit (ahem), but they come up with some pretty crazy stuff. I think you can compare Microsoft to the Cleveland Indians. In the 90s, Microsoft was a big company who was buying and overpowering and getting wins. But in the early 2000s, the company (and the Indians) decided a rebuild was needed, and here we are in 2007 with the Indians returning as the Central Division champions. I think Microsoft’s rebuilding will take a bit longer – because software development often takes longer than rebuilding a baseball team. But if you ask me, Windows 7 will put Microsoft back on the innovation forefront – along with other technologies.
  • Today is March 12th, which means the Indians open their season about three weeks from now against the White Sox at Progressive Field. I hope to post some longer thoughts about what I’ve seen so far, but for now I’ll say a couple quick things:
    1. Travis Hafner was worrying me a little bit but he seems like he’s coming along, hitting a couple doubles the other day. He had a terrible spring last year and that said a lot about his year, so hopefully a better spring means more Travis Hafner like we know and love him.
    2. Same for Grady Sizemore – he hit his first two home runs today.
    3. Pitching-wise, sounds like Sabathia is lights-out, Carmona is still nasty and Westbrook knows what he’s doing. The other guys – well, they’re coming along. Laffey would be my pick for the 5th spot in the rotation, but his performance a couple days ago kind of hurt his stock.
  • I watched most of the 6 PM edition of SportsCenter tonight and noticed something entirely disconcerting: in the midst of the football offseason, there were 4 segments out of 6 with one or more football bits. In the baseball offseason, you’re lucky to get one. Dear Todd McShay: I don’t care that much about the draft! I’ll watch on April 28, until then, get a life! Seriously, Todd McShay must have been born on Leap Day or something, because you have got to be completely used to waiting for happiness in order to spend that much time covering a one-day event.

And on a final note, I found a new coffee shop in the first floor of our building today, A.J. Rocco’s. I really liked it – cheap but excellent coffee and a nice selection of breakfast stuff, and quite a nice atmosphere. I look forward to going back tomorrow. I’ll try to write more tomorrow, until then, stay warm!