29 February 2008

Best Day Ever

We've been waiting for this day for a long time. Some people have waited 4 years for this day. Me? I've waited 2 years for something that's to happen today. Other things we've waited just a week.

It's Girl Scout Cookie Day!* Having not ordered Girl Scout Cookies since 2 years ago, I'm literally frothing at the mouth in anticipation of those overpriced bundles of goodness that come only once a year. It'll be a miracle if all 5 boxes make it home intact. Actually I plan on stashing a box and a half in my desk at work, but please don't tell my co-workers, the thieving selfish gits.

It's Boston Red Sox vs. Minnesota Twins Day! The first action vs. another Major Baseball League club today, the first new televised Red Sox game since the World Series last year.

It's Package Day! We are expected to receive up to 4 packages of things we've ordered in the past week. A bag for my new laptop, Sierra's big girl bed sheets and duvets, Sierra's birthday present, and Mrs. Redbeard's fixed MP3 player. As long as the missus doesn't have an elicit rendezvous tryst with the delivery guy, we're all set there.

It's Wear Your Winter Hat Indoors Day! Screw global warming, it's -10 F / -23 C here today, a record low that hasn't been seen on this day since 1980, quite abnormal for this late into February. And the girl scout cookie girl's car won't start because of it. Grrrrr.

It's Friday and it's Sunny! Absolutely nothing wrong with that except for the radiational cooling.

It's the last post of the month! Cheers for that one, I'm sure all my beloved readers are tired of me droning on and whining about every little thing. Vote Obama!

I think that's it. Did I forget anything as I'm prone to do in my advancing years?

It's Leap Year Day! I wonder if you're born on this day do you celebrate your birthday only every 4 years? If you're born on February 29, 1980, are you only 7 years old?

Also, we've finished Sierra's birthday movie last night. Grand premiere will be on April 6, 2008. We will roll out the red carpet so dress in your best Armanis and Versaces. Redbeard out.

P.S. Don't forget it's Dance Video Friday. In honour of Madge's nomination to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, here's a Madonna video. I am ashamed.

*[edited 10:30am 2/29/08] - No girl scout cookies today, must wait until Monday. Such is life.

26 February 2008

Insult to Injury

About a month ago, I wrote about THIS. As a reprise, I get my statement in the mail from The Evil Company, the one that rhymes with You Floss Moo Field.

They say none of these charges will be covered. And if I don't respond to the "enclosed questionnaire" within 45 days, this bill will be denied. Hmmm, funny, I looked and there were only 2 pages of statement, no questionnaire. I had to look all over it for a telephone number so I can call for my questionnaire that I never received. Now I've lost the statement and I need to call them. Nothing seems to be going right about this, and it really shouldn't be a hassle.

Forgive me for another soap-box moment, but please indulge me. Please continue in your support of Barack Obama for President, and if you haven't already, please rent the film Sicko.

Hopefully I won't get sick again too soon. As we were cleaning our room last night, we found a good sized patch of mold on the wall. Of course I cleaned it up with bleach, but I hope I didn't inhale too much of it, but who knows how long it's been there. We could have been breathing that in for months, who knows. It's gone now, but I worry about my long-term health effects because of it.

In good news in the past few days, Red Sox manager Terry Francona signed on for 3 more years, extending his contract through 2011. Hear that? That's a sigh of relief. It's well deserved of course, having won 2 championships in the past 4 years.

Lastly, shame on you HRC and Ralph Nader. SHAME.

24 February 2008

Back to Basics

photo by AP/Steven Senne

Now that Red Sox Spring Training is just about in full swing (pun sort of intended), it's time to right the ship and focus again on our beloved Red Sox.

Just reading the headline today about Manny Ramirez (pictured above) hiring Scott Boras as his new agent gives me chills. Say it ain't so Manny. Scott is notoriously best known for guiding the careers of the likes of Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees, Barry Zito of the Oakland Athletics, Gary Sheffield, and Kenny Rogers; most of these have in recent years fired Boras. Boras currently represents 7 Red Sox players including Daisuke Matsuzaka, Jason Varitek and J.D. Drew.

It is no secret that Boras is well-known and criticized for his tough negotiating skills, and I suppose that it was this that attracted Manny to Boras, who may be coming into the twilight of his career at age 35. This combined with the fact that he is in a contract year would be very appealing on both sides of agent and player. As his contract is expiring this year, many options will open up to Manny provided that Boras represents him skillfully. Manny may play out the whole year or be extended on his current contract. As a Red Sox and a Manny fan, that is the most desirable outcome, no matter how much money they throw at him. But potentially there is the chance that another team may want to pick him up as a rental player sometime during the season and pick up his contract for just this short amount of time, and at the end of the season be a free agent.

The only thing that concerns me is that the hated New York Yankees would negotiate and pick Manny up. Manny's hometown is New York, however with the Steinbrenner's strict policies Manny would not be well suited for pinstripes. Coupled with the tendency that Manny has to take a month off to injury and age during the season, there are mixed emotions about this.

Roster Changes

As the final 25 man roster is polished down for the start of the new season, there have only been a few new arrivals and departures.
New to the team are:
  • Sean Casey, 1B
  • David Aardsma, RP

Gone from the team are:

  • Eric Gagné, RP
  • Eric Hinske, OF/1B

The only open positions to newbs would be in the pitching area, there may be a spot or two for a reliever, but other than that, the roster is very solid, as should be for our defending 2007 World Champions.

As reported in past weeks, Curt Schilling will start the year on the disabled list with a bad shoulder, possibly needing surgery. The picture is foggy for Curt's playing time this year. Personally, I think he's at his best during the post-season, so he can take as much time during the regular season to heal the shoulder, pitch a few games toward the end of the season, and bring the bloody-sock hero out for October.

I see the starting rotation like this:

Josh Beckett, RHP
Daisuke Matsuzaka, RHP
Jon Lester, LHP
Tim Wakefield, RHP
Clay Buchholz, LHP

Starting lineup is:

  1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
  2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
  3. David Ortiz, DH
  4. Manny Ramirez, LF
  5. J.D. Drew, RF
  6. Mike Lowell, 3B
  7. Kevin Youkilis, 1B/3B
  8. Jason Varitek, C
  9. Julio Lugo, SS

That makes 14. The bench includes:

  • Sean Casey, 1B
  • Coco Crisp, OF
  • Alex Cora, 2B/SS
  • Doug Mirabelli, C

We're now up to 18. That leaves 7 in the bullpen:

  • Jonathan Papelbon, closer
  • Hideki Okajima, set-up man
  • Mike Timlin, set-up/middle relief
  • David Aardsma, middle/long relief
  • Julian Tavarez, middle/long relief
  • Manny DelCarmen, middle/long relief
  • Kyle Snyder, middle/long relief

That leaves no-one. No non-roster invitees or suprises, just a solid team up and down the lineup. Sure, they use the extras to fill the AAA and AA squads in the lower ranks, but that' s a good thing knowing that the farm system is well-equipped with excellent players top to bottom, waiting in the wings for the (god forbid it) occasional injury.

There you have it. Split squad games start on Thursday the 28th vs. Boston College 1 pm, Remy Standard Time. The first MLB matchup is Friday the 29th vs. Minnesota. Good times.

22 February 2008

Funday Friday Dance Video

Yup, boys and girls, you know what time it is. Time to get your infrastructure on. It's your favorite weekly feature, the Friday dance video. This time we go way back, at least a couple of years. And now, the joy that is the Avalanche's "Frontier Psychiatry".

21 February 2008

Guilty Pleasure- Simon Cowell Is A Genius

Admittedly, I am a sap for the American Idol program. Call me what you will, I don't care. It is a guilty pleasure of mine. Go on, it's ok for you to admit it too. For those of you across the pond, it's a knockoff of Pop Idol which I guess is called X Factor over there now, where Simon also sits at the judging table.

However, my motives aren't exactly innocent. They are quite sinister.

Clearly, Simon is the star of the show. With every word he utters, he can make or break the young wanna-bes, er I mean hopefuls. And the more demeaning the criticism, the harder I laugh.

Sometimes he's the only one in the room that's blasting the contestant, but clearly he's not the one that's off the reservation.

Of course there's also Paula "Big Softie" Abdul. Keep an eye on her and her semi-sober or semi-drugged state, it is amusing. Also in the past two episodes, has she fired her hair and makeup artist? She looks like her age is catching up with her. Either that or she's letting her eyebrows grow out, they're looking absolutely bushy. She's been struggling of late to say anything that makes sense. She makes less sense than a stutterer lately. T-t-t-t-today Junior! Please Paula, get some help. Actually I take that back, don't get help so we can laugh at you more mercilessly as the days go on.

And then there's Randy "Yo Dawg Middle of the Road" Jackson. Not as soft as Paula and not as hardcore as Simon. You do your thing Randy as I wait for the real star of the program.

Back to Simon. I don't know if he's slipping lately, his criticisms seem to be very repetitive. His usual repertoire is as follows:

  • too cabaret
  • too karaoke
  • like a lounge singer in some ghastly airport somewhere
  • you have the personality of a pencil
  • dreadful
  • karaoke
  • personality of a pen salesman
  • cabaret
  • lounge singer
  • karaoke

You get the idea. Simon, go ask Nigel and Piers for some better more original put-downs. I'm sure Ann Robinson from The Weakest Link is still around as well. But still, job well done. I can't wait till you make the first contestant cry this season. You'll find me on the floor then.

Ok, I'm all done with my Perez Hilton impression, however close to the truth it is.

20 February 2008

And Now for Something Completely Different.

And now a well needed change of pace from horrid Chinese delivery folks. Not that all of them are horrid, that would be generalistic and racist, but just this one in particular.

I can't believe how accurate these things are, this is me to a T.

You Are a Banana

You are mellow, easy going, and a total softie on the inside.

People find it really easy to get along with you. You suit most tastes.

And while you're very sweet, you're not boring or ordinary.

You have an attraction to the exotic, and you could show up anywhere... doing almost anything!

You are spirited, energetic, and a total kick to be around.

You're also quite funny. Your sense of humor is on the goofy side, and it fits you well.

Chinese Delivery Capers

This next story nearly put me off Chinese food delivery, but damn if it wasn't so tasty, I think I could resist.

We have loads of Chinese take out in our town, I think we've got the highest per capita considering it's a small village of 8000 people with a surrounding town equal in population. At the time, I think there were at least 5 to choose from that service our small town (and foreigners wonder why Americans are so overweight).

This particular one, let's call them M's, still has some other satellite locations in the area (I wouldn't want to commit libel), but I read not too long ago that they had to shut down their business. They were harboring immigrants (maybe illegal) and housing them in appalling and squalor conditions in a cramped apartment in the rear of the restaurant (if you can call it that).

So M's is the only one of these 5 purveyors of fried noodles that delivers in my town. Me, being the lazy bastard that I am, decided to order from M's, with full knowledge that the majority of their food is sitting in warmers for god knows how long, not freshly made upon order.

So I call in my order.

M's: Hello M's, can you hold please?
Me: Sure.
::wait a few seconds::

::hears toilet flushing::

M's: Thanks for holding, can I take your order?

I should have ended the call right there.

First offense? Taking the phone into the bathroom.

Second offense? Allowing me to hear the toilet flush.

Third offense? Apparently not washing hands, as I didn't hear a sink running.

But like the lazy bastard that I am, I continued with the order. Dammit I was hungry, I won't let a few germs from an unwashed Chinese man slow me down. Of course the food was crap (not literally) when I got it, but I think it was then that I vowed never to order from M's, no matter how hungry I was.

19 February 2008

For Damon

This week, Damon would have been 32. I can't exactly remember his birthday, I think it was the 26th, but it was most definitely in the Pisces last week of February.

Damon was my best friend in my vulnerable and tumultuous Middle School and High School years. We met in the 6th grade when we were 11. I'm not sure what class it was as we had several classes together as we were about the same above average level of intelligence, our last names both started with 'D', and that we both chose to take French as our foreign language.

He was the Laurel to my Hardy, the Moe to my Curly. We were an odd pairing as we were two extremes; he was shorter and extremely skinny (almost skeletal, but I'll come back to that later) and I was as I am today, a bit on the overweight side. We hung out mostly just inside of school as he lived halfway across the small city I called home, but we did socialize outside of school just a handful of times. We didn't have everything in common; he didn't understand my art and music classes just as I didn't understand his business, accounting, and marketing classes, but somehow we made an unlikely pair.

Together we made fun of everything we couldn't stand: irritating teachers, different cliques, whatever we could have a laugh at. And it was that irreverent sort of piss-taking that helped me through troublesome points of my tweens and teens such as my parents' divorce and those peers who abused me. I hope that he felt that I was there for him in the same way when his mother passed away from the cancer later in high school.

Many semesters we were in the same gym class, and of course we were always the ones lagging behind the pack whilst running. Me of course for my obvious overweight issues, but his issues were not as apparent. As we ran, or more likely walked, he would have coughing fits that sounded very congestive. He then opened up to me and told me he had Cystic Fibrosis and that he was born with a collapsed lung, and that doctors only expected him to live until he was 19. To add to that, he also had pancreatic issues, which was why he could never put on weight.

While in college some 11 years ago, I got the call from my mother saying that she'd seen the news that Damon had passed away. I was stuck 5 hours from home without a car of my own, so I couldn't have made the wake in time. After we graduated high school, I saw him only on one occasion while walking through the local mall. I wished some things could have been different so that we could have had more time together. He impacted my life in a way no one else has ever.

If anyone takes anything away from this post, I hope that it's this: There is currently no cure for Cystic Fibrosis. If you can, please give to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. I don't know the numbers but I'm sure there are plenty of kids and young adults who need your help, people that could be your relatives or friends.

17 February 2008

The Bacon Chronicles, Pt. I

Just a leisurely weekend at home. Never mind the untidy kitchen. I suppose one day you'll see my place on "How Clean is Your Home" and the ladies will tell me how filthy and bacteria-ridden our place is, but like I said never mind that. Our home is very "lived-in". At least we have nice sunset views.

15 February 2008

Dance Video Friday

A tasty little tidbit to kickoff your weekend. Mrs. Redbeard thinks Christopher Walken dancing in this video reminds her of her goofball dad. Enjoy!

14 February 2008

Caught in the A-C-T on St. Valentine's Day

12 years removed, a couple of girlfriends, one wife, and child later, I still feel a little embarrassed about it, but I feel compelled to share this moment with the world and any aliens who may be reading on this transmission. PG-13 to R rating.

So it was Valentine's Day, and I was spending it as any good boyfriend would, with my girlfriend of 2 months, who we will call CK. We are at her off-campus housing room where she was boarding. CK assures me her roommate, who we'll call TB, will be out all afternoon. So we get cosy, and we get topless.

After about 20 minutes of making out, TB comes through the door. First thought is "Oh Sh*t". Second thought is Cover Up. Third thought is "How long are you staying???"

TB hangs out in the room for what seemed to be an exhorbitant amount of time. 10 minutes pass. She is now eating tinned fruit. What the hell? Can't you see we're trying to enjoy our first Valentine's Day? This didn't seem to bother TB, and obviously she can't take a hint.

Eventually she left, but the feeling was gone. Our Valentine's Day had been ruined.

Happy V-Day!

13 February 2008

More Tales of Sledding

It was a gorgeous 30 F / -1 C (about as good as we get in a Vermont February) and the snow hadn't yet melted in the parking lot and the sidewalks where I live, perfect for testing out Sierra's babyboggan.

One of the oldest buildings (by American standards, probably 150 years old) in my town, The Foundry. Converted to offices.

Another view of The Foundry.

Some homes in my neighborhood, most likely built in the 1960s and 70s to fulfill housing demands for the newly built IBM plant. They now go for ~$300 000. You can barely see my condo complex hiding behind the trees in the middle.

Your moment of zen. In snow-covered trees.

08 February 2008

Sledding Is Now an Approved Vermont P.E. Curricular Activity

Basketball, running, softball, and square dancing. This is the stuff of gym class, also known as PE or Phys Ed.

On my way into work this morning, I passed a Middle School for kids ages 10-13 that sits next to a sizeable hill as I do on a daily basis. This morning however I noticed there were a good number of kids at the top of it all with sleds. It was not a snow day as I verified with my coworkers, although we did receive about another inch of snow last night on top of the foot of snow we got Wednesday night. The time was about 8:15, so not knowing what time school began, I thought maybe these kids were getting in a last minute slide before school begins at 8:45 or 9. But no, this school isn't in a residential neighborhood, it is a good 1/4 mile from the nearest house, and all the kids are bussed in from neighboring towns.

Then I thought, they must have begun class at 8 and this is part of their PE class. Yes, that's it. How cool would that be? Go to school, grab a sled, hike to the top of the hill and go whizzing down it. I'm now insanely jealous.

However my elementary school had its quirks. In winters, when possible, part of the schoolyard was flooded creating a skating pond. The gym teacher had a collection of kids' ice skates, although I cheated in a way and had double blade skates my parents got me. Of course I was made fun of for this (shocking) and begged my parents for a pair of real skates with just the single blade. I eventually got some, learned to play ice hockey, and in my adolescent years made my way back to that schoolyard to play stick and puck / pick-up games.

Any quirky PE activities in your schools? Do tell.

Have a cracking weekend!

07 February 2008

Stomach Bug Bites the Redbeard Household

Apologies for being inactive yesterday. Apparently either a stomach bug or food poisoning affected me and the missus yesterday and I'm still physically and mentally drained from it. I'm feeling better today, so it must be one of those 24 hour things, although I'm afraid to put anything in my stomach as it is feeling on edge still for the most part.

Since yesterday I've had the following to eat:

1 English muffin, with butter and strawberry jam
3 peach fruit cups
2 bites of a cinnamon brown sugar pop tart

Other than that I've just been drinking water.

Fortunately, I was able to avoid most of the daytime TV rubbish. I had a number of recorded programs on my DVR, including "Keys to the Castle" hosted by John Barrowman. However, the missus made me sit through the god-awful Steve Wilkos show.

The best thing to come out of this: I feel like I've lost 10 pounds. And I got started on my taxes, I'm almost done except I need paperwork for just one thing. Yippee.

05 February 2008

Vote Your Conscience

If you're lucky enough to be a citizen of one of the 24 states that are holding primaries (my state NOT being one of them, not like my state matters a whole lot with our whopping 3 Congress representatives), please go out and vote your conscience. Vote for a better tomorrow. Vote to help your fellow American.

In other news, Sierra has taken up jogging.

04 February 2008

Monday Morning Quarterback

The big story about last night's game wasn't the Giants' upset or the Patriots' choke. And it certainly wasn't about how I fell asleep with less than 3 minutes to go and woke up with the TV still on and the Giants had won.

The real story here is the ridiculous change of wardrobe for Patriots coach Bill Belicheck. I mean, hello, let's stick with something that works, the gray hoodie! What's this, a tacky red hoodie with the sleeves cut off? Are you serious? With the red hoodie, you look like the Kool-Aid Man.

Bill, please stay with the gray hoodie, for all of our eyes' sake, and for your team's winning sake.
In other news, 10 days until Red Sox pitchers and catchers report for spring training.

01 February 2008

Super Bowl Weekend

Kick off your weekend with a video. Even your grandmother and my toddler know the Patriots are going to make carnage of the Giants.

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