Here’s a Dumb Story #4

Dumb Story #4: Ball Carrier

My freshman year of high school something great happened: I made the freshman baseball team! This was a big moment for me as I loved baseball, our high school is huge and extremely talented, and I was like 5 foot 5 110 pounds, so it wasn’t like I was this force coming into the tryouts where everyone was like ‘look out for that guy.’

I had not played a lot of travel ball with the other people that made the team so going into the freshman practices and season, I always felt low on the totem pole. I felt anxious and nervous about my skills. I felt shy, and I wanted to make a good impression on the other guys and especially the coaches. One thing that I did well was that I worked hard. I knew that the coaches would see my hard work, and that’s how I would be noticed among the 40ish people that had made the team.

I was incorrect.

The practice season started in the winter, so we were practicing inside for awhile. For these practices we needed shorts, a school T-shirt, our glove and other baseball related gear. This was easy to keep track of because you would just leave your baseball gear at school, and have shorts and t shirts ready. Once we moved outside, we were required to wear baseball pants. This was a little more challenging, because I only had a couple of pairs of baseball pants and naturally they would get dirty, so I would have to bring them home after practice then remember to bring them to school the next day.

If you know me at all, you know that I can be a little forgetful. Well, it just so happens one day I forgot to bring my baseball pants to school. I tried to call home to see if someone could drop my pants off at school, but it didn’t work out. So what that meant, on this chilly, drizzling day, I would have to wear the pants to practice that I wore to school.

My cargo pants.

*Are cargo pants even a thing anymore?*

The anticipation leading up to practice made me sweat. It was going to be so embarrassing. We had 2 freshman teams, and it was still early enough that both teams were practicing together. That meant that the entire freshman team and coaching staff would see my beautiful and practical (a very reasonable thing to wear to school) cargo pants. I didn’t think anything could be worse – I was wrong.

As the clock ticked away and practice became closer, I started to convince myself that maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. There was no way I was the first person to forget their pants for practice. It was inevitable. Fourteen/fifteen year old kids needed to remember to bring their baseball pants to school every day? No way. So I was feeling a little better as the bell rang, school finally ended, and I headed out to our practice field.

There I am, surrounded by kids in baseball gear, wearing cargo pants jogging out to meet the coaches for practice. They’ll understand, it’ll be easy to explain, I have nothing to worry about, I think to myself. As I get closer, my cargo pants stand out like a hanging curveball. No one says anything at first as the coaches go through the practice schedule for the day. Finally, one of the coaches asks me if I forgot my pants (which was obvious). I said yes, apologized, and that was that. Not so bad! See, I knew the coaches would understand. Probably happens all the time. They dismiss us to go to our positions to start fielding practice, and I hear this thick Chicago accent (I’m talking real thick, like superfans from SNL thick) call out to me: Hey, Cargo Pants. hold this for me. The head coach of the A team throws me ten baseballs. He makes me stuff them in my pockets, and for the rest of practice I am his ball holder. I had to practice with my pockets full of baseballs, and whenever he ran out of baseballs, he would yell Cargo Pants. I had to throw him one from my pockets and go retrieve another to stuff in there.

I guess I got the coach’s attention.

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Here’s a Dumb Story #3

Dumb Story #3: I Believe I can Fly

In honor of The Last Dance, here is my MJ related story. When I was in high school or home from college, I used to go to Lifetime Fitness with my friends to play basketball. Sometimes we would play one-on-one or just shoot around, but a lot of the time we would play pick up games with other random people who were there. As many people know, Michael Jordan lived in the suburbs of Chicago. That meant that his children, who were around my age, lived and hung out in the same areas that I did. Marcus Jordan, his youngest son, used to go to Lifetime Fitness as well. And it just so happened that he liked to play in these pickup games, too.

Lucky for me, one time when my friends and I were there, we happened to play in the same game as Marcus. We were not fortunate enough to be on the same team as him though. Before a game starts, players on each team match up with their opponents for who they will guard throughout the game. I must have been tying my shoe, or getting a drink, or something, because somehow I got matched up against Marcus Jordan. Yes, the 6 foot 4 inch Marcus Jordan, son of the greatest basketball player of all time, was going to be guarded by me and my wiry 5 foot 9 inch body.

The good news is I didn’t spark much fear in Marcus Jordan, and for the first part of the game he didn’t go very hard. He would shoot a bunch of Steph Curry ranged threes for fun, or pass up shots to involve other players. He played lackadaisical defense against me, but it was Marcus Jordan, I wasn’t itching for the ball. However, one time I received a pass at the top of the key behind the three point line. Marcus was daring me to shoot, playing back, hands barely up, kind of smiling like he was saying I know you won’t shoot it. So I did.

Swish.

I nailed the shot and smiled. I couldn’t help it. I just hit a three in the face of an MJ. It felt good. For about three seconds…This was Michael Jordan’s son remember? He was pissed. The next possession he takes the inbounds pass. I was feeling myself a little. I pick him up at the three point line, it doesn’t matter. He basically just bullies me to the basket and just throws down a dunk in my face knocking me over, stands over me for a second, then trots back to his side of the court. Let’s just say someone else switched to defense on Marcus for the rest of the game. But for the rest of my life, I will always remember the time I swished a three in MJ’s face and ended up with a shoe print on my back as a reward.

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Here’s a Dumb Story #2

*Don’t judge me too harshly for this one

Dumb Story #2: You’ll Never See This One Coming

When I was between the ages of 10-12, I used to attend a summer camp in Colorado called Sanborn Western Camps. This was a five-week overnight camp where we would do a variety of fun outdoor adventures like horse back riding, mountain climbing, hiking, and other adventurous things.

At camp, we would sleep in these big green tents with around six campers and a counselor in each tent (my sister was a counselor on the girls’ side of camp). Throughout the weeks spent at camp, campers had the opportunity to go on different expeditions of their choice. There were day long activities, where you would go out, do some fun thing, then come back and sleep back in your big tent. There were also two day, three day, even four day expeditions. These involved more intense activities including mountain climbing. I remember some of my big trips including climbing Mt. Sherman, Mt. Antero, and a few others. We would take vans out as far as we could, then hike into the area, pitch our own three person tents, and then climb the mountain the next day.

When not out on an expedition, we were spending time at the home camp doing activities like ultimate frisbee, day hikes, arts and crafts projects etc…Spending almost everyday in a large, yet confined, tent made us very close with our tentmates. And every year I found great friendships. As many of you have probably experienced (or maybe not if you are more civilized than myself), when you become really close with people oftentimes that friendship manifests through giving each other a bunch of shit. We would mess with each other all the time by playing pranks on each other, making fun of each other, you get the point. So this is where our story begins…(please don’t judge me too harshly for what is about to pursue, I was young and dumb and still live with the guilt all these years later)

For one of our two day expeditions, my friends and I all decided to go together on the same trip. I’ll be honest, I can’t even remember what the purpose of the trip was as what is about to happen is implanted in my brain, and I will never be able to override it. The first day we spent our time hiking out to the campsite. It was not a particularly long or grueling hike. We arrived at our destination around mid-morning or early afternoon. It didn’t take long to pitch our tents (I was sharing a tent with two of my best friends at camp during the time). After the tents were up and lunch was eaten, the counselors in charge of the trip offered up an optional afternoon hike. One friend of mine and I decided we were good for the day and wanted to stay at the campsite and play tag or ultimate frisbee, whatever the activity would be. My other friend decided a hike would be fun and took up the counselor’s offer for a hike, so he headed out with a group of kids on a short afternoon hike.

Now, this friend of mine who decided to go on the hike would not be considered the cleanest or most organized kid at camp (coming from me that’s saying a lot). So, despite the fact that we had been at the campsite for maybe an hour or two, the contents of his pack were strewn all over the tent floor. My other friend and I were in the tent about to play cards, but we needed a clean playing surface. So we started to shove our friend’s stuff to his side of the tent. And that’s when we saw it: his bright white, teeny tiny, tightie whitey underwear. I mean we were 12 year old boys, could we not grab them and laugh at him about them? (The answer of course is yes, of course we could have not made fun of him, but that’s not how our friendship worked). I decided to be the bad guy, and when he returned to camp, I was going to make sure he knew that we found his underwear (as I write this, I just can’t stop thinking about how stupid this is).

Fast-forward a few hours and I see the hiking party returning. At long last my incredible moment of making fun of my friend has arrived. I see him in the distance with the counselor walking up our way. I don’t care that he’s with the counselor, I can’t help myself I need to laugh at my friend’s expense. I shout at him, waving his underwear in the air, “I think you forgot your underwear!” I’m laughing, my other friend is laughing, but our hiking friend is still too far away. So I shout a little louder, everyone in the camp can hear me. The entire camp’s attention is on my friend. All eyes drawn to our fallen comrade. As my hiking friend and the counselor approach closer, I notice the counselor’s arm is around him. I notice tears in my friend’s eyes. My jaw drops. The underwear drops. Chills of guilt and embarrassment run through my skin. I feel like I’m on fire. I will never forget the feeling. I think to myself, it was just a joke. This friend had pulled much worse pranks on me. Still, the look of severe pain on his face, the tears in his eyes, how small in that moment he looked will stick with me forever. I go up to apologize. When I start apologizing both my friend and the counselor have no idea what I’m talking about. They look at me quizzically when I mention underwear, and I even see a small smile cross my friend’s face at the word underwear (we were 12, the word underwear was funny then for some reason). Neither of them had heard me yelling about the underwear (although after I told the counselor about it, he gave me a stern talk later that night). It turns out my friend was kicked by a horse.

The End

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Here’s a Dumb Story #1

*During trying times stories have always served as a small little escape. Nothing serves as a better pick me up than dumb stories. With that in mind, I’m going to start a new thing where I tell some dumb stories about myself (there are quite a few). What better way to get through a pandemic than self-deprecation! Even better, feel free to share your own dumb stories. So without further ado, here’s a dumb story…*

Dumb Story #1: Unique Itch Scratcher 

One night, in high school, I was sitting at the desk in my room pretending to do homework but really just procrastinating. While I was busy working to figure out the best ways to get out of doing work, my leg started to itch. Now, this would not qualify as a dumb story if I did what any normal person would do in a situation where their leg itched: scratch it with my hand. To my right, sitting unused and begging for attention, was my stapler. So, naturally I grabbed the stapler, placed it against my tibia where the itch was, and slightly pressed down. This may be where you think the dumb part of our story happened, but unfortunately for you, it is not. The staple lightly pressed against my skin, protruding ever so slightly from the stapler, and served as a perfect itch scratcher. I then removed the stapler from my leg, the staple receded back into the mouth of the stapler and relief hit me from my perfectly scratched itch. However! My mind now focused on the fact that I could push the stapler ever so slightly causing a staple to protrude from the mouth of the stapler but not fully click and release. Could I replicate this action on another part of my body! Time to test it out. I took the stapler in my right hand, opened 180 degrees so that nothing could block its mouth, and pressed it against my left index finger. I proceeded to follow the same steps I did when scratching the itch on my leg. I pressed down on the stapler ever so slightly, trying to push the staple just out of the mouth but not hard enough to click and…

*click*

I pressed too hard. The stapler pressed all the way down. I sat there in shock, unable to move the stapler and see for a fact that a staple was now lodged into my finger. A moment of panic washed over me as I worried that the staple folded over inside my finger (forgetting the metal indents on the bottom of a stapler are what cause it to fold over when stapling paper). As I covered the staple with the stapler, not seeing it inside my finger, I thought that maybe nothing had come out. There was a part of me telling myself I was not stupid enough to have just stapled my finger. But when I pulled the stapler away, there it was. A nice shiny metal stapler lodged inside my finger. I closed my eyes and yanked on the staple. Fortunately, the inside of my finger does not contain any metal indents designed to fold staples (that’s a good thing to know). It came right out leaving behind two tiny red puncture holes on the distal phalanx and middle phalanx of my left index finger. I have not tried to staple a body part since…

Stapler

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Review: Sea of Rust

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Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill

Image result for 3.5 stars

Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill tells the story of a post-apocalyptic world unlike many that have been written before. This is not a story of human survival or human redemption. This is the story of a world where humans are extinct. Years ago a war broke out between humans and Artificial Intelligence. AI won. Now, the superintelligences that led the robots to victory are collecting the survivors and creating one giant intelligence. Free bots roam the wastelands, hiding from the One World Intelligences, scavenging parts, doing what they can to survive and keep what is left of themselves intact. 


Sea of Rust was an interesting read and a unique take on a post-apocalyptic story. Many stories surrounding AI taking over the world usually leave some human aspect in it, and the story follows the survivors as they try to rebuild. Not this. I loved the concept and the way C. Robert Cargill told the story of what led to the current state of the world through flashbacks throughout the novel. However, I think there is a reason that most post-apocalyptic stories like Sea of Rust keep some human element involved. The emotional connection to robots as opposed to humans is not the same. Although, Cargill attempted to humanize the characters as much as possible, it missed the mark for me. I did not feel any connection to the characters and found myself not feeling invested in their fate. No matter what type of story I read, if I am not emotionally invested, it is hard for me to enjoy it fully. I appreciate the uniqueness of Sea of Rust, and I enjoyed the story. But lacking in emotional connection, the feeling of holding my breath begging for the characters to survive and keep fighting, made the story just an OK read for me.

Currently Reading: Words of Radiance (Book Two in the Stormlight Archive) by Brandon Sanderson and Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee

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2019 MLB Season Predictions

In honor of the new season, here are my 2019 predictions. This is going to be a really fantastic season of baseball. Bold Predictions coming this weekend…

AL East

Yankees

Red Sox (WC 1)

Rays

Blue Jays

Orioles

AL Central

Indians

Twins

White Sox

Royals

Tigers

AL West

Astros

Athletics (WC 2)

Angels

Mariners

Rangers

NL East

Nationals

Mets (WC 1)

Phillies (WC 2)

Braves

Marlins

NL Central 

Cubs

Cardinals

Reds

Brewers

Pirates

NL West

Dodgers

Rockies

Padres

Diamondbacks

Giants

*Note: The NL is an absolute crapshoot this year. With the exception of the Marlins, there is a path for every team to make the playoffs. It is going to be a wild ride!

AL Cy Young – Chris Sale

NL Cy Young – Max Scherzer

AL MVP – Matt Chapman

NL MVP – Anthony Rendon

AL Rookie of the Year – Eloy Jimenez

NL Rookie of the Year – Victor Robles 

AL Wild Card Game – Red Sox over Athletics

NL Wild Card Game – Mets over Phillies

ALDS – Astros over Red Sox; Yankees over Indians

NLDS – Mets over Dodgers; Nationals over Cubs

ALCS – Astros over Yankees

NLCS – Nationals over Mets

World Series – Nationals over Astros

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Review: Thunderhead

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Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman

Image result for 4 out of 5 stars

*Spoilers if you have not read Scythe*

Thunderhead is the second book in the Arc of a Scythe series from Neal Shusterman. It continues the story of Rowan and Citra as they continue to fight the growing greed and corruption in the ranks of the Scythedom. This story introduces new characters as well as bringing back some of the old favorites. Despite her unwillingness to accept it, Citra is growing a following and establishing herself as a leader within the ranks of young Scythes. Her unconventional gleaning routines have caused a stir across the Scythedom, and she has become a target for those disapproving of her ways. Scythe Curie continues to mentor Citra, but through this mentorship has become a target as well. Meanwhile, Rowan is trying to bring down the corrupt Scythedom one corrupt Scythe at a time. But his vigilante ways have angered many, and an old friend plans to put a stop to Rowan and make him pay off his debts. 

Throughout it all, the Thunderhead watches. Unable to interfere in the matters of the Scythedom, the Thunderhead must find a loophole to try and stop what only it can see coming. But a computer, even one as great as the Thunderhead, is limited in its capabilities. A train is flying uncontrollably down the tracks, and there may not be anyone, human or machine, who can stop it. 


 

The first half of Thunderhead nearly put me to sleep. As the story is being built, and new characters and character arcs are being introduced, my interest waned. The narration before each chapter by the Thunderhead itself was unimaginative, oddly worded to sound more mechanized, and left me uninterested. However, what the first half was building toward was well worth it, and as I made my way into the second half of the book, I could not put it down. The pace increased, the narrative shifted, the writing became more interesting, and the story sucked me in. Scythe was a challenging book to follow. A unique and interesting take on a dystopian novel in a world of dystopian novels, Scythe stood out. Now, Thunderhead picked up the mantle, and despite the slow start, carried a strong second act leaving me anxious for book 3. The ending of this book will both enthrall you and anger you and leave you not just wanting more, but needing more.

Currently Reading: The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

 

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Review: Zer0es

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Zer0es by Chuck Wendig

 

Image result for 3.5 stars

Zer0es, by Chuck Wendig, is a redemption tale for five hackers. Black hat hackers blackmailed into turning good come together to help the government – or so they thought. Soon they find themselves in a life or death situation to stop the computer program Typhon from infiltrating all aspects of modern civilization and essentially taking over the world. Zer0es is a fast-paced thrill ride that will leave you questioning whether our growing dependence on AI is truly worth the risk. 


 

Zer0es is the first Chuck Wendig book I’ve read (besides books on writing), and I am surprised I have not read more by him. I enjoyed this book, but I especially enjoyed the beginning – which focused more on the actual hacking – as opposed to the end. The second half of the book turned into an odd terminator-like action novel with the hacking details a thing of the past. The beginning of the novel gave me nightmares more so than any horror book ever could. The ease at which it seemed these people could hack into someone’s account or steal their identity or ruin their life seemed extremely realistic and, admittedly, I went and changed some of my passwords.

Books are made by their characters, and each character depicted in this novel had their own interesting background and separate hacking story. This made the novel very enjoyable as the characters spent more and more time with each other, letting their personalities out. Most of the characters continued to grow on me as I learned more about them (Aleena, for one, is a badass), except Reagan, who I found to just be annoying and found myself wanting to fast forward any time she would speak. I listened to this book on Audible and the narration was phenomenal. Ray Chase’s narration added a fun element to the story that enhanced the listening experience. I would definitely recommend listening to this one.

The sequel, Invasive, was released in 2016, and I am adding it to my to-be read list for future reading. Zer0es foreshadowed some of the action that is to come, and I am excited to see what happens.

Currently Reading: Thunderhead  by Neal Shusterman

 

 

 

 

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2019 Audiobook Challenge

2019 Audiobook Challenge

I have seen this challenge going around and checked out Caffeinated Reviewer for the details. I always listen to an audiobook before bed, on the way to work, on walks etc., so this 2019 challenge seems right up my alley! Plus, with the discovery of the 1.5x reading rate option on Audible, I plan to put down some books this year.

Here are the details:

Challenge Details

  • Runs January 1, 2019 – December 31, 2019. You can join at any time.
  • The goal is to find a new love for audios or to outdo yourself by listening to more audios in 2019 than you did in 2018.
  • Books must be in audio format (CD, MP3, etc.)
  • ANY genres count.
  • Re-reads and crossovers from other reading challenges are allowed.
  • You do not have to be a book blogger to participate; you can track your progress on Goodreads, Facebook, LibraryThing, etc.
  • If you’re a blogger grab the button and do a quick post about the challenge to help spread the word. If you’re not a blogger you can help by posting on Facebook or Tweeting about the challenge.
  • Updates plus a giveaway will be posted twice during the year. The first update will be June 30, 2019, and the last update will take place on December 15, 2019.

Achievement Levels

  • Newbie (I’ll give it a try) 1-5
  • Weekend Warrior (I’m getting the hang of this) 5-10
  • Stenographer (can listen while multitasking) 10-15
  • Socially Awkward (Don’t talk to me) 15-20
  • Binge Listener (Why read when someone can do it for you) 20-30
  • My Precious (I had my earbuds surgically implanted) 30+
  • Marathoner (Look Ma No Hands) 50+

Setting a goal for at least somewhere between Socially Awkward and Binge Listener. You can sign-up for the challenge by clicking here. I’d love to hear some other people’s goals and have a little competition. Competition always helps to drive me.

Happy Listening!

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Review: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

Image result for 2.5 stars

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green tells the story of April May after she makes an incredible discovery and turns into a celebrity overnight. Late in the evening one night, April comes across a strange robot statue-like thing in the middle of New York City. Eliciting the help of her friend Andy, April films herself with the statue (which she has named Carl), and they upload the video to YouTube. Quickly, April reaches new levels of fame as she discovers more and more about the strange Carls which turn out to be not of this Earth. The story follows April as she copes with the ups and downs of celebrity, social media, and relationships all while trying to discover the meaning behind the Carls. An Absolutely Remarkable Thing is a New York Times Bestseller written by Hank Green, the brother of John Green. Green has a long history of YouTube success, and An Absolutely Remarkable Thing is his debut novel. A follow up novel is believed to be planned, but there is not a lot of information out publicly yet.


My first book of 2019 turned out to be a dud. An Absolutely Remarkable Thing has received a lot of praise since its release on September 25th of last year, but I found the book to be somewhat boring. It might have been because the name Carl for the randomly appearing space robots was somewhat off-putting, and I’m not sure why everyone would refer to invading alien robots by that name, including the president of the United States, or it may have been the fact that I did not find April May all that interesting. I am not in the habit of detailing every single thing I did not like about a book. Many people enjoyed this book, but it was not for me. I am a big science fiction fan, but the sci-fi was often subtle and backgrounded for a large portion of the book. There is nothing wrong with that, the main theme seemed to focus on April and her friends coping with her ever growing celebrity and the challenges fame brings, but that is not as interesting to me. A sequel is planned as the ending left on a giant cliffhanger, and there are a lot of questions left to be answered. The end of the book did not feel satisfying to me even despite the purposeful nature of ending on a cliffhanger. I guess in the end I did not really understand the purpose of the novel, the Carls, or the dream. I may have missed it, and will have to do a reread before the next one comes out as I am sure much of that will be answered in the coming book.

Currently Reading: Zer0es by Chuck Wendig

Next up for me Fire & Blood by George RR Martin. I cannot wait to get back to Westeros and learn a little more about the Targaryens.

 

 

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