Thanksgiving Day without you

Two days ago I celebrated Thanksgiving Day, or as we call it, Turkey Day, with my relatives in the US. It was the first time for me to do so in over 20 years.

The myths about the holiday are well-known, so I won’t waste time relating them here (most Americans are happy to go on pretending the “Pilgrim Fathers” started this when really it’s just an excuse for a four-day weekend of stuffing yourself, watching football, and shopping).

In our case, it was the first holiday since my mother passed away. The next two will be even harder. But the oft-trite is oft-true: it was as if the empty chair at the long table was filled with her presence. This year was different.

A passing of the family torch. Dinner at my sister’s house, dessert with her in-laws. Boardgames with aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews. Family stories with grandpa. Skype with the grandkids overseas. Most of us drove seven or eight hours roundtrip just to spend one day together.

The grieving process continues. So does life. You can’t pick your relatives, but in some case you get real lucky.

Blast from the Spring Past

img008With only one week to go before the regular MLB season begins, I thought I’d go back and take a look at my old baseball pictures.

Only it turned out that I only had one: a tiny black and white picture of me standing at third base that appeared in my high school yearbook. Proud baseball Poppa to the rescue!

My father dug up about eight photos of me as a gangly 16 year old, doing what I did best that year: protecting the left bench from foul balls.

I also got really good at keeping score. When I wasn’t standing in right field while it snowed. Spring in the Adirondacks: we never played any of our scheduled games the first week of April, and even during the second and third week games typically featured flurries, sub-freezing temperatures, and rock-hard dirt surfaces to bounce on…ah, slide on when stealing second. Even now in my hometown, there are three feet of snow on the field, and I’m sure the players are tired of practicing inside the gym (the parking lot is also a favorite for ground-ball drills). Continue reading

I like stats. Go figure.

I like stats. There. I said it. I’m a stats geek.

This past Sunday, I was invited to give a presentation/workshop in Kyoto called “Basic Statistics for Language Teachers.” That’s what I do: educational statistics. Writing about statistics is usually not as interesting as writing fiction. I think that probably goes without saying.

But actually, the history of sports, and of baseball in particular, is exactly that: writing about statistics. Continue reading