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Tomorrow. Today, I am at Wrigley Field for NLCS Game 5.
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My buddy and I stayed through the end of last night's Cubs game, mostly at my instigation, as I figured that we wouldn't get home that much sooner, given the number of people who were already leaving, and that there was always the possibility of a miracle. There was also the possibility that it would be the last game I would see this year.

I had planned not to go tonight and (finally) managed to unload the tickets. If the Cubs win tonight, my buddy and I plan to go down for game 5 of the NLCS.

The problem, of course, is that we're leaving for OVFF on Friday. That Thursday night at home keeps looking better and better under the circumstances.

Given the Cubs' chances of winning four games in a row to advance to the World Series, I have to admit that I would not be entirely disappointed if the NLCS ended tonight.



Oct. 18th, 2017 01:26 am
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The Cubs lost to the Dodgers tonight by a score of 6-1 in a game that was not as close as the score would indicate. They couldn't hit, they couldn't pitch, and they couldn't field -- a triple threat!

This puts them behind in the NLCS 3-0. As I recall, only one baseball team has come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a seven game series.

We'll see what happens.
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We actually watched this last week. It just took me until today to remember to post about it. :)

Still science fiction. Still fun.

I was surprised to see that Seth MacFarlane is a Tenzil Kem fan though...
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So I was supposed to go in and get the crown on my implant this morning at 9 AM.

And then the phone rang. It was the dentist's office. It seems that the lab had shipped them a crown. It just wasn't my crown. Could I come in on Tuesday and have the correct crown installed once they had it in hand?

"Sure, I can do that. It's a much better idea than having the wrong crown put in."

So now I have an appointment for 8 AM on Tuesday. I could have gone in at 11 AM, but I have a meeting then.


I hate mornings...
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Gretchen loaned me her laptop, which means that I was able to write up the things I owed for Windycon while watching the Cubs game tonight. Yay!

In other news, Halloween decorating is in full swing.

And I managed to get some time in the studio to audition some new plugins that I ended up buying. I hope to avoid buyer's remorse...
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Hector Rondon: 2 pitches, 1 home run.

It could have been worse. It could have been two pitches, two home runs.
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However, nothing too bad has happened.

I can work with this.

Now, if I could just get caught up on all things...
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It wasn't like I really needed a new pair of headphones. But some Bluetooth noise-cancelling headphones showed up on Amazon as the deal of the day and were priced low enough that I figured I'd give them a try.

I have a monstrously clicky keyboard. I'm listening to music now and can barely hear my tapping on the keys. I guess they work. :)

For those who want to play our game at home, here's what I bought. Except that I paid $30 less than that...


Oct. 11th, 2017 10:47 am
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Gretchen and I ran out and got our flu shots this morning as part of our preparation for OVFF. How about you? :)
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Various ducks have spent the day nibbling at my ankles. None of them nipped too hard, but you get tired of ducks after a while.

And they make it hard to finish anything.

Tomorrow should be better.
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It is Columbus Day and Katie and Julie are off from school today. I am not off from work, although this is not going to stop me from going down to Wrigley Field for today's Cubs / Nationals playoff game. And because of when I'm leaving for the game, breakfast was a good idea.

So I trundled off to Ted's and returned with soda for me and coffee for Gretchen. Everyone else still being either asleep or in the shower, when I got home I found Ruby the Dog still in her kennel. It's a beautiful day, so I opened the back door wide, walked over and released the hound.

She walked out, stretched her legs, went out the back door and sat on the edge of the patio. Then she stood, turned, and pointed off toward the fence on her left, trembling. And like a shot, she was off, chasing the squirrel, who bounced up and over the fence.


Well, now I understand why the fence falls down. That's a lot of kinetic energy that the dog imparts to the fence...

Anyway, I watched her run around the yard on squirrel patrol. I turned and walked away from the door.

And Ruby shot into the house past me, grabbed her ball, dropped it at my feet, and ran back outside.

Ok, girl. I will throw the ball for you.

At least it is easier for you to catch than the squirrel.
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Gretchen and I got less accomplished today than we might have hoped.

On the other hand, the weather was gorgeous. As a result:

  • We threw the ball for Ruby the Dog. A lot.
  • I found some lovely T-bone steaks at Sam's Club that were marked down for quick sale. They met the grill tonight and were delicious.
  • Halloween decorations (some of them) were hung.
  • Planning commenced for Katie's 11th birthday party.
  • I ordered CDs for OVFF.

    You know, it looks like more when you list it out that way...
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    The girls played and won their final game of the softball season (barring a miracle entry to the playoffs which we don't expect, they having finished the season 4-4, although maybe the loss to the team from the "majors" division doesn't count, in which case they'd be 4-3 and could theoretically squeak in) by a score of 16-11. As you can see, it was a pitcher's duel. :)

    Seriously, it was a small strike zone today, so there were a great many walks issued by both teams. Katie had a very tough time pitching today, but she walked four times and scored three times, so that sort of gives you an idea of how small the zone was.

    We had a great time and all of the girls learned a lot, which is the goal.

    Next weekend, we'll have a "family" softball game just for the heck of it.

    And then it will be time to put the bats and balls away for a few months. :)

    It's been fun!
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    Still liking it. SFX nicely done.

    And I looked at a particular situation early in the episode and said, "This will end badly." I was right. Of course, practical jokes are like that, more so when trying to explain them to an intellect that does not understand humans all that well...

    (It's quite possible to say "This will end badly" about many things that happen on The Orville. But I suppose that's the essence of a lot of humor. :) )
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    In anticipation of bad weather, Katie's softball practice this afternoon was canceled. Once we realized that the bad weather wasn't going to materialize, it was too late to reinstate the practice, so I took advantage of the empty diamond to give Katie some pitching drill from the real mound. We'll see how this worked on Saturday. :)

    In other news, I am generally happy with the baseball postseason results thus far, as the only team that I am rooting for that has lost so far is the Twins. We'll see if the Indians can hold on and keep up my record. :)
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    Given everything, it looks like I lost about $450 on my Cubs season tickets in the regular season this year. On the other hand, I did get to see most of the games that I wanted to see. (Things like health and work were known to interfere.)

    And I get to see post-season games! :)
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    Tomorrow is picture day at school.

    Somehow it is not a surprise that Katie is reporting that she has nothing to wear.

    Shopping expedition coming up in 3, 2, 1...
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    We have been flailing around and chasing an elusive bug in our software for a couple of months now. We've tried a number of things to fix it, declared victory, and then discovered that the bug isn't fixed at all, because we've not been sure at all how to cause things to fail. It's one of those cases where you try this and you try that and sometimes the system just falls ill, while other times it will just keep running.

    Of course, one of the things that you do when chasing down these things is add more and more data to your logs in the hope of getting a critical piece of data that will explain everything. And over the weekend, the fellow who has been digging into this most recently said, "Hey, look at this."

    So I did. And I replied, "I don't know where you're getting that data from, but the error message can't possibly be generated by the code that you are executing."

    And after letting it roll around the back of my brain for a few hours, I realized that I had figured out the problem. There was a bug in the code that left old error messages attached to threads in the thread pool under certain circumstances; when one of those threads holding an old error message was dispatched, things started going wrong.

    So, you see, once I had the critical bit of data, I was able to make the correct inference to fix the problem.

    Of course, it turned out that there was a bit more to the problem than that, but it all related to similar behavior that was easily fixed once the data allowed me to come to the right conclusion.

    It's all sort of fascinating. With incomplete data, you flail around and arrive at all sorts of incorrect conclusions, wasting time in the most amazing ways. When you finally have sufficient data -- that is to say, enough data to allow you to figure out what has happened -- you can get to the correct conclusion.

    There is a lesson there somewhere.

    When I have enough data, maybe I'll figure out exactly what the lesson is...
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    Words that I never expected to have come out of my mouth during a softball game: "Ok, Katie. Go up there and strike out!"

    As you might expect, there's a story involved.

    We actually have a pretty decent bunch of players on Katie's softball team. They've played in some nasty bad luck. There's really only been one game that they lost badly; the rest of their games have been close and could have been won with a bit of luck. The fact that they were 2-4 going into today's game, well, they could just as easily have been 4-2. Luck has not been with them.

    So today, we were playing a night game (6:15 start) over at the big field in Niles with the lights. This is a pretty cool thing. It was also a pretty cool night, which was a welcome change after the miserably hot weather we had last weekend. The girls were in good spirits and the coaches were all relaxed and ready for the girls to have a good time, win or lose. Coach Tina had decided to give some of the girls who hadn't pitched in a while a chance to go at it and we figured we'd just save our best pitcher until the third inning and see how things were going.

    Oh, yes. And we were playing one of the best teams in the league. I'm not sure if they're undefeated, but they are sure as heck going to the playoffs. (We aren't. You need to be one of the top four teams out of eleven and the best we could possibly manage would be a .500 record.)

    We were the visiting team, so we had first at-bats. And the girls went out and hit. Four hits, one walk, and three strikeouts in the first inning let the girls jump out to a 4-0 lead. Unfortunately, we gave it back in the bottom of the first, giving up five runs and hitting the runs-per-inning limit to trail 5-4.

    Three hits, three walks, and three Ks in the second put us back on top 7-5, but the girls gave up three runs in the bottom of the second (with only one walk from our next pitcher!) and we were again trailing 8-7.

    The first three batters reached on walks in the third, but a great play by the opponent's first baseman who stabbed a liner and tagged first produced a double play that took all of the steam out of the inning and left us still trailing 8-7, as we eventually left the bases loaded without scoring.

    At this point, we brought on our team's best pitcher. She has usually been pitching the 1st and 4th innings for our team, but we had decided to try her in the 3rd (and possibly 4th) inning today, because she's had some problems heating it back up after two innings not pitching. She struck out three, pitching around a hit-by-pitch and a walk, so we were still down 8-7.

    And then things got weird.

    See, the thing about softball for young girls is that there are all sorts of rules modifications that are intended to prevent games from getting out of hand. One of these is the five-run limit per inning. When the end of the game is nigh, the managers and the umpires are supposed to agree before the first pitch of the inning is thrown that this is the final inning and that the five-run limit on runs per inning has now been lifted, so that your team can score unlimited runs. In theory, then, we are now back to the regular rules, so no matter how far behind you are, you can still have a chance to win.

    We'd gotten burned on this earlier in the season, when we found ourselves trailing by six in what was obviously the last inning, but we hadn't agreed that it was the last inning before the inning started, so there was no way we could win. What a mess!

    Having gotten burned by this, I had talked to Coach Tina and we'd constructed armor against getting burned again. I was now in charge of watching the clock. Since games have a hard two-hour time limit in this league, if we finish an inning and we're more than one hour and fifteen minutes into the game, we check the pace of play and try to determine whether or not we're likely to finish more than one inning before the end of the game; if not, we go out and start talking about "the last inning". It's worked so far. :)

    So after the third inning, I check the clock. We're at 1:25 elapsed time. The rules also say that you can't start a new inning after 1:45 elapsed time, so we're clearly in the hot zone for the final inning. Tina heads out to talk to the umpire and the other coach, we agree that it's unlimited runs time, and we are now off to the races to see if we can pull this game out of the fire.

    Katie is batting second in the order and leading off the top of the fourth. She's had two hits so far in the game. This time, she turns on the pitch and hits a hot liner to the shortstop. It pops out of her glove, up into the air behind her, she turns -- and catches the ball. One out. The best ball that Katie's hit all night and probably the best ball that anyone has hit all night. Ah, well. Sometimes BABIP is your friend, and sometimes not. (BABIP = Batting Average on Balls In Play, if you're not familiar with this stat.)

    But our next batter singled and stole second. And then the girl after her, Kim, hit a hot grounder that got past everyone and into right field.

    Did you know that we have had one inch of rain since the beginning of August? The grass is short and dry. That ball rolled forever, like a billiard ball on felt. And Kim came charging around the bases as fast as she could run and beat the throw back into the infield for a home run.

    Good guys lead, 9-8.

    This was followed by a double, a walk, a single, a walk, a single, a single, and a walk forcing in yet another run. We now lead 13-8.

    And the elapsed time clock for the game was now at 1:43. The game will end at 2:00, no matter what. If the inning is not complete, the score will revert to the last complete inning.

    That would be when we were trailing 8-7.

    We were back around to the top of the order. Kaitlyn and then Katie, and there was only one out.

    "Kaitlyn, Katie, you need to go up there and swing at everything and strike out, or we are going to lose," I said. It was like the entire College of Coaches -- the manager and the four coaches -- standing there explaining to them that we were up against the time limit and it was time to make an out for the sake of the team.

    Did I mention that sometimes softball for little girls bears very little resemblance to real baseball -- or softball? :)

    Two strikeouts were recorded in quick order and we ran our girls out onto the field to start the bottom of the inning as quickly as possible, with less than fifteen minutes left to play. We just needed to get three outs before giving up five (or six) runs -- and before time ran out!

    Kaitlyn is our best pitcher and we sent her back out to pitch the fourth inning. Unfortunately, one of her pitches hit their leadoff batter in the foot, sending her down to first. And this was bad, because if you hit two batters in one inning, the pitcher has to be replaced. (If she hits three in the game, she is done for the game, but we were in the last inning, so it was all the same at that point.)

    Their runner stole second. And the next batter hit a short pop fly to little sure-handed Emma, who grabbed the ball for the first out. Sadly, she didn't manage to get it to second before the runner got back, but it was the first of the three outs that we needed.

    And then Kaitlyn hit the next batter in the foot. Oops. She was now done for the night.

    We had an extra player, having called up a sub, so we had held out Morgan for the fourth inning and had sent her to warm up. Well, now she needed to be warm.

    And she walked the next three batters. It was now 13-10, bases loaded.

    And Morgan struck out the next batter. Two outs.

    And the next batter grounded the ball to second. Back to little sure-handed Emma, the smallest girl on our team. She flipped the ball underhanded to Mia, Mia caught it, and the throw beat the runner.

    Three outs. Final score: 13-10.

    And we went nuts. :)

    It took a minute or so to get the girls lined up to shake hands with the other team. But we managed it.

    It was a heckuva game...

    I'm not sure that all of it was softball. But as I told Katie after the game as I thanked her for taking one for the team by striking out intentionally, sometimes you have to be good, sometimes you have to be lucky, and sometimes you have to be smart.

    We had managed all three at the same time.

    One game left in the season, next Saturday.

    We'll see how it goes. :)


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