Category Archives: Life

Road Trip Review

My brother has posted a review of our 2010 baseball road trip, which featured the two new New York stadiums, Boston’s Fenway Park, and Toronto. On to 2011!

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We the Pizza, Me the Clueless

So tonight I got dinner at We The Pizza on Capital Hill, a new restaurant by Chef Spike Mendelsohn, the mind behind Good Stuff Eatery and a former Top Chef/Iron Chef contestant. Apparently I was in there with none other than First Lady Michelle Obama.

And I didn’t even know.

When I arrived it was a normal evening. Got my pizza and a seat on the second floor in the back and watched the latest episode of “As Brett Favre Turns” on ESPN. On my way out I had to step around a secret service guy wanding people on their way in. Only when I was out in the street and heard people whispering did I realize who was there. We were in the same 2nd floor dining room and I didn’t even know. I was too busy eating my pizza, drinking my custom cherry soda, and watching ESPN.

That does explain why a guy was hanging out by the men’s bathroom for the whole 45 minutes I was there though. 🙂

Update: The important part… We the Pizza has quality, though perhaps not earth-shattering NY style pizza. The custom sodas are cool. Kinda pricey as you’d expect for the Hill. Two slices (pepperoni and white) and custom Sour Cherry soda for $12.

Muhlenberg Grads are Taking Over the World

Founder of Dogfish Head craft brewery Sam Calagione is going to be the star of a new reality show on Discovery Channel in the fall. Calagione is popular in the craft brewing world for his unique, “off-centered” approach to brewing. He is also a proud 1992 graduate of Muhlenberg College with a degree in… English?

Books of 2010: First Half

I’m posting my books read lists every six months these days. Since January 1, 2010:

Blaylock, Russell. Natural Strategies for Cancer Patients. Talks about how diet can cause cancer and how it can also be used to treat cancer, or at least assist a traditional course of treatment. Big on supplements and a near vegetarian diet. Generally accessible, though a few more charts and lists of recommendations would have been appreciated. You basically have to comb through the chapters to create your own plan of attack.

Crawford, Matthew. Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work. A political philosophy PhD quits a cushy think tank job to start a custom motorcycle repair shop in Richmond, VA. Make the case for working with your hands as a true source of knowledge, versus people becoming “knowledge workers” that actually do very little thinking. It’s part defense of the skilled trades, part indictment of the modern credentializing system we jokingly call “education,” and part Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Does your work actually add value or just shuffle paper around? This book will make you want to quit your job and strike out on your own.

Dunham, Craig and Doug Severn. Twentysomeone: Finding Yourself in a Decade of Transition. Decent book, though I am 32 right now so some of the stuff seemed pretty basic. Loved the “100 Things to Do” and the suggested reading lists in the back though. I actually added a few of their recommended books to my own list.

Lewis, C.S. Mere Christianity. Challenging apologetic for Lewis’s brand of Christianity. Its reputation as a classic is well deserved.

McKay, Brett and Kate. The Art of Manliness. Clever little based on the very popular blog. Good discussions about Ben Franklin’s virtues, a solid recommended reading list, and overall decent reference book.

Miller, Donald. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life. My new favorite Don Miller book, and that says a lot. Miller made a name for himself about 6-7 years ago with his memoir Blue Like Jazz, which gained a large following in the under-35, Christian but bored with evangelicalism, politically liberal crowd. Miller’s subsequent books were less successful (though I happened to regard his Searching for God Knows What as his best work), and having achieved a life goal of being a New York Times best selling author, Miller went into a deep funk. He was snapped out of it when two indie filmmakers contacted him about making Jazz into a movie. What Miller learned about good screenwriting and creating a character for film he channels into life lessons, with great results for his own life and hopefully the readers too. Like most of Miller’s work it’s engaging, funny, and tear-jerking as well. And if you read closely, he’s structured the book like a screenplay, with three acts, inciting incidents, and positive and negative turns. Clever devil. Highly recommended.

Cancer Diary: Mixed Nuts

Just a quick note on the results from my mid-June scans. My liver continues to get better–the tumors are still shrinking. Unfortunately, a previously inactive tumor in my lungs has started to grow and was joined by two friends. The mixed results aren’t entirely unexpected as my CEA has risen in recent weeks, but they’re still disappointing. But there’s no immediate need to panic. Dr. Marshall has doubled my dose of Avastin and increased the Xeloda by a third in the hopes of getting it under control again without having to go back to FOLFOX. We’ll scan again in September.

If you’re wondering how I’m feeling, the answer is fine. Honestly, the medicine is more bothersome than the cancer is. My habitual lateness for work has reached comical levels and I carry Imodium with me wherever I go, but I’m not prevented physically from doing anything I want to do. To this point, the mental is far more challenging than the physical, and I could write volumes on that.

Present at the Creation

Last night I took in my first ballgame of the year at Nats park, which just so happened to be the legendary debut party for 2009’s #1 draft pick Stephen Strasburg. There were rumors last month already that Strasburg would make his major league debut against the Bucs. I’d planned to make one of the series anyway, so everything worked out great.

I was at last night’s game up in Section 307, surprisingly next to a group of Bucs fans. Usually there’s a good Buccos contingent at Nats games, but with the Strasburg debut the city came out. Most buzz I’ve ever seen for baseball game.

The first inning was a 1-2-3 inning: lineout to short for Andrew McCutchen, ground out by Neil Walker, and strikeout for Lastings Milledge. Milledge got the biggest boos of the night. I can’t blame Nats fans for that. The former Nat and our current starting LFer is hitting in the .240s with zero home runs. The Pirates are only the third team Milledge has fooled with his “potential.”

Strasburg fell behind a couple guys in the first two innings (several 2-0 counts) but didn’t allow a walk. Ryan Zimmerman gave him a 1-0 lead with a solo shot in the bottom of the first. Strasburg’s fastball was a consistent 97-99MPH and hit 100 twice by my count, both in the second. The first was followed by a 83MPH curve for a K (not fair) and the second Andy Laroche slapped to right for the Bucs’ first hit of the game.

Delwyn Young’s home run in the 4th, which gave the Pirates a brief 2-1 lead, shocked everybody. The ball was thrown back (PLEASE don’t do that unless you’re at Wrigley). The Bucs didn’t threaten before and didn’t threaten after. In fact, Strasburg seemed to be getting better as the game went on.

Strasburg’s final line: 7 innings pitched, 4 hits, 2 runs, 0 walks, and a Nationals’ record 14 Ks.

Second biggest cheers of the night: video of Bryce Harper being drafted. Nationals fans know their future looks bright.

Lost in the shuffle, Pirates pitcher Jeff Karstens was pitching an effective game until back-to-back HRs by Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham in the 6th gave the Nationals a 4-2 lead. Karstens’ pitch count was actually much lower than Strasburg’s for much of the night and he was just as effective. Journeyman control pitchers who throw in the high 80s aren’t nearly as sexy as strikeout phenoms who can hit triple digits, but then can certainly keep their pitch counts down.

Tonight, the Bucs take their turn at introducing the future. Their starting pitcher is Brad Lincoln, former #1 pick from 2006 who has made it all the way back from Tommy John surgery. Most project him to be a solid #2 or #3 starter in the majors, which the Bucs have a lot of (see also Duke, Zach and Maholm, Paul), but an upgrade over some of the other guys the Bucs have trotted out this year. Starting at LF is Jose Tabata, who came over in a trade with the Yankees a couple years ago. Once heralded as the Yankee’s best prospect (comparisons to Manny Ramirez) his power hasn’t developed like the Bucs wanted, but otherwise he’s ready to contribute on offense and defense (it’s not hard to be an upgrade over Lastings Milledge). He’ll end up as a nice complement to Andrew McCutchen and the real power prospect, 3B Pedro Alvarez, due to make Pittsburgh later this summer.

Cancer Diary: Angiogenesis

I’ve had a habit of linking to TED talks here on this blog. For example, Mythbusters’ Adam Savage and new British Prime Minister David Cameron. Here’s an interesting one by Dr. William Li on a new approach to fighting cancer: anti-angiogenesis treatments. The talk is about 20 minutes.

Angiogenesis is how cells create blood vessels to feed themselves. Most people have tumor cells in their body, but only when those cells mutate and gain the ability to feed themselves do they start to cause problems. New drugs, like the Avastin that I’m on, attack a cancer cell’s angiogenesis abilities. Anti-angiogenesis drugs prevent cancer from being able to build blood vessels, essentially starving the tumor cell. Dr. Li here reveals that certain elements in our diets, like the resveratrol in red wine, have anti-angiogenesis properties that may help prevent cancer growth. Another reason to clean up your diet.