The 40th Birthday

I turn 40 at the end of the week, and I'm not sure how I feel about it.  Up until now I haven't really felt much, certainly nothing like a mid-life crisis.  So maybe it's time for some soulful introspection.  Lots of my friends recently hit this milestone (or are about to), and there has been much discussion and many birthday wishes posted on various Facebook pages.  It sounds like a big number.  I'm probably supposed to feel old (or at least older).  But things are pretty much the same as they've been for as long as I can remember.  My knee aches on occasion, but I can still hit a golf ball and still remember my home phone number.

I recall sitting in a locker room getting ready for one of my hockey games when I was 12 or 13.  Prince's song "1999" was playing on the boom box.  Don't ask me why we were listening to Prince - typically it was Ozzy or J. Geils.  It must have been on Casey Kasem's American Top 40.  Or maybe someone's sister left her tape in there the day before.  Anyway, I was thinking that the year 1999 sounded so far off.  I would be almost 30!  I would have a job.  I would probably be married and have kids, although at the age of 12 the thought of actually finding someone to marry was inconceivable (as it would still be at 28).  However, the chance of any of these things coming to fruition seemed infinitely remote as I was certain we would all be annihilated during World War III based on predictions made in that movie about Nostradamus that scared the shit out of me.

So here I find myself some 27 years displaced from that locker room scene, with the year 1999 more than a decade in the rearview mirror.  Time really does fly.  My 20th high school reunion was 2 years ago!  My parents are both retired.  I don't get asked to show my identification when ordering a drink at a bar (not very often anyway).  Surprisingly I did end up getting a job, got married, and had a couple of kids.  And even more astoundingly, the nuclear holocaust didn't happen (yet) - stinkin' Nostradamus.

To celebrate my birthday, the wife and I are heading to California sans kids.  We'll spend a few days in San Francisco and then a few more in Sonoma.  The trip will revolve around eating and drinking (it's pretty ridiculous, but I think we already know where we'll be having each meal), with some sightseeing on the side and plenty of time by the fire pit.  A San Francisco Giants game is also on the docket, as well as zip-lining in the Redwoods (Note to self: check insurance policy before going on trip).  And because I'm not a kid anymore, we'll be going on a wine tour instead of bar-hopping (thankfully I don't expect anyone to buy me Dirty Old Shoe shots like on my 21st birthday).

The question often comes up whether or not you would do things the same way if you could go back and start over.  Would you want to go through childhood again?  Pick a different college or job?  Live in a different city/country?  I was discussing this with friends last weekend, and it sounded strange to say out loud, but deep down (subconsciously/innately?) I've always felt like I'll experience high school again, or be 25 again, or whatever age (and no, I'm not Buddhist).  It's difficult to explain.  Obviously it's not true, and now that I'm getting a bit older I guess it's starting to sink in.  Therefore I'm going to try to better appreciate my day-to-day existence from now on and enjoy the present.  Don't get me wrong, I've had a great life and don't regret where I've been or where I'm going.  In the words of Twin Cities rapper Brother Ali, "I'm the luckiest son of a bitch who ever lived."

With all that said, it's time to go to the Chevy dealer to check out the new 'Vettes...


I've always thought the "fill-to" lines on German beer glasses are cool.  Although I've never really understood their purpose, I do have a few theories:
  • They're used to ensure a precise pour every time.
  • They serve as an alert for uncoordinated/drunk bartenders to signal when to stop filling the glass to avoid pouring beer over the rim.
  • In order to become more profitable, German beer companies have conspired to make people think the glasses hold more beer than they actually do by mislabeling them, e.g. a 0.25 liter glass only contains 0.20 liters of beer.
I have a feeling the conspiracy theory is correct.  During my time in Germany and Belgium I managed to "collect" 15-20 of these glasses, and they somehow ended up in my suitcase.  One of these years when we finally have a finished basement, I plan to have my own bar and will use the glasses to confuse guests regarding the amount they're drinking.  Using this tactic I foresee myself coming out ahead when I visit their homes and they reciprocate my hospitality, i.e. more beer for me.

Op Uw Gezondheid!

The T-Ball League

The boy's first t-ball season ended a couple weeks ago. Along with another dad, I "coached" his team. I've decided that a term other than "coach" should be used for adults who volunteer to manage sports teams comprised of 6-year old boys. I think "herder" or "huddler" or "goader" would be more appropriate. Anyway, our team was the Red Sox, and we had official-looking caps just like the major leaguers. When I played t-ball as a kid, we weren't lucky enough to have pro team names and caps. While we did have teams named Red Sox and White Sox, the league also was home to Blue Sox, Purple Sox, etc. My team was, no joke, the Maroon Sox. Maroon! The ironic thing is that our Red Sox t-shirts this season were, you guessed it, maroon.

We started practicing back in May. Due to the typically-unpredictable Minnesota springtime weather (cold and rainy days mixed in with hot and sweaty ones), we had to cancel a couple of practices. Turns out that was probably a good thing. While the other coach and I attempted to provide instruction and impart our knowledge of the game to the boys, the majority of the time we were lucky to simply hold their interest. For those of you who don't know or have forgotten how a pack of 6-year old boys behaves, their attention spans are about as long as the duration of a sneeze.  In my estimation, over the last 2 1/2 months I've said "Pay attention, Kid X.", "Quit playing in the dirt, Kid X!", "Wake up, Kid X!", and "Hey, Kid X!" about a million times.  Often times the boy was Kid X, and I'd holler at him from across the field as he seemingly could never get the infield surface sufficiently groomed to his liking.

As could be expected, the skill levels of the kids was all over the board. Most could hit the ball off the tee on day one, although I think one boy held on to the wrong end of the bat at first. A couple could throw pretty well. Not surprisingly, catching the ball was the major hurdle that plagued us throughout the season. I'm shocked that we made it through the entire schedule without anybody sustaining a black eye or bloody nose as a result of using their face to catch the ball instead of their glove.  Side note: I'm pretty sure that when I was 6 and played shortstop I could dive to catch a line drive, hop up quickly, and throw a seed to first base to double off the base runner (and the first baseman could catch too).  On second thought, I could just be remembering playing games of Intellivision baseball at a buddy's house when we were in middle school.

Despite any apprehensions we coaches had during the first practice, everything went quite smoothly and the season was over before we knew it.  We played 12 games or so, missing one week in the middle while on vacation.  At least for me, it really was a lot of fun, and I think the boys enjoyed the experience too.  They all improved in pretty much every aspect of the game, although I think it will be a couple seasons before they fully get the catching part down.  There were also many smiles, chuckles, and genuine laugh-out-loud moments.  Here's an assortment of things said to or overheard by me during the season:

When playing catch during practice - "Take it easy on me."

After being told by a player that he's thirsty and suggesting he take a drink from a teammate's water bottle (he forgot his own) - "Eeewwwww - germs!"

An opposing first baseman to our player standing on first base upon seeing who was next at bat - "Hey! Did you know that Hayden is on your team? That's so cool!"

"How much longer is the game?"

"How many more innings?"

"When do we get treats?"

"Who brought the treats?"

"Can I have another treat?"

"Let's dog pile on Coach Eric!"

Finally, when I said that it was the last game of the season - "Yay!!!"

Of course all the kids received trophies on the last night of play, despite not winning any games (nobody ever won as every player batted every inning and no scores were kept).  Not sure how I feel about that.  Yeah, they were really excited to get them, and the boy has been eagerly waiting to get his first trophy to begin his attempt to accumulate more than I did when I was a kid (36, count 'em Beyotches!).  I agree with those who say giving everybody trophies to make them all feel like winners is wrong, and I think it's a major contributor to the ongoing sissification of America.  Who wants to display a trophy that just says "Participant" on it anyway??  I guess it's one thing if you participated in an All-Star game or something, but in my opinion just showing up does not a trophy warrant (an ice cream cone or maybe an 8 1/2 by 11 certificate on the other hand...).  I say you should actually have to win something (or at least pay for it yourself) to get a trophy.  Whatever - the boy can put his trophy on the shelf, but as far as I'm concerned it doesn't count in his campaign to surpass my "accomplishments" as a youth.


I just figured out what I want to do for my next job.  For years I thought I'd write childrens' books or go back to school to become a chef or even an accountant.  Forget those ideas - I want to be a cicerone.  So what is a cicerone?  You're probably familiar with sommeliers, or wine experts.  Well, a cicerone is the beer version of a sommelier.  According to this website, there is actually a certification program one can study to become a Certified Cicerone or even a Master Cicerone.  I'm not sure what all is involved other than drinking (and probably serving) a lot of beer, and I don't know about potential job advantages for a Master Cicerone over a typical, everyday bartender, but it's worth looking into!

Cin Cin!