Thursday, March 30, 2006

WTC: 911 Calls

We recently heard that more human bone fragments had been found atop the Deutsche Bank Building, across the street from the World Trade Center had been. This does not surprise.

Whose bones were they? From someone on the hijacked United Airlines No. 175, or someone from Two World Trade Center? Its awful to think of. They could belong to someone I knew. The logistics horrify.

New York City has recently decided to release recordings made by those trapped in the towers that day. Today's New York Times has a front page
on it. Joseph and Marie Hanley, who lost their son Christopher, were interviewed. He was on the 106th Floor of the North Tower. He calmly informed the operator that " we have smoke and it's pretty bad ". His parents take comfort in the fact that he was calm, exhibiting " grace under pressure " in such a circumstance.

The operator says " Sit tight. Do not leave, ok ? "

I know of at least one co-worker who called his wife to say goodbye that morning. It will not be any surprise to hear that someone else I ( and others I know ) know are on the recordings that are going out now.

Families who want them will get recordings of the conversations. Not all will want them.

Where the families have not given consent, the City will release tapes of just the operator's side of the conversation. That's about right.

Not every family will want their relative's words to go out into the world. Some of those calling would not be expected to be calm at all, as the smoke, and the heat, and the fear enveloped them.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


P2120032, originally uploaded by gmpicket.

Test. Have always loved trains of all types, most certainly including the NY Subway. I ride this train line often. This was not taken by me but was found in Flickr. qmpicket, nice shot.

raccoon lodge

raccoon lodge, originally uploaded by chromogenic.

Test...learning flickr

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Japan Wins World Baseball Classic

Well, actually they won it this past Monday, beating Cuba 10-6. I did predict it...and I don't know why. I tend to make my prognostications with my heart rather than with my head, and I had started to root for Japan mid-tournament, and that, more than any insights probably made me pick them.

I liked them because--they had suffered two bad calls by the American umpires that really hurt them, and were much more gracious than US players would have been under the circumstances.

I liked them because the great Sadaharu Oh was their imperturbable manager.

And I did feel bad for them when the Korean team beat them twice in a row, and then ran riot over the field, waving their flag over the field, planting it on the pitchers mound, something noone had ever done before. It was too much.

The Japanese lucked out when Mexico beat the US, which gave them new life. Allowed into the semifinals by good fortune, they beat Korea, then the mighty Cubans.

The final was a bit of a blowout, which was a surprise.

I watched the final game in a hotel bar in Jupiter, Florida. Most Americans had a very lukewarm interest at best in this competition, but to me it was as important as a Super Bowl. I was bitten by the international bug.

I was very happy to see the Cubans line up to shake hands with the Japanese at the end of the game. That was a classy gesture. NHL players do that at the end of a championship game, and I could never understand why baseball players didn't do some version of this gracious act of congratulations.

This was the first WBC tournament, and I think it can only be ruled an immense success. I heard that the final game drew 50% of the tv audience in Japan. The interest in Asia in general was very strong, as it was in the Caribbean, and in the rest of the world it was as big, or bigger than expected.

This was the first big time international baseball tournament, and it can only be ruled a great success. Good job.


I think that the individual player who impressed the most was the great Japanese outfielder >Ichiro Suzuki. This catlike, graceful athlete could have blown off the tournament like most US players and as his countryman Hideki Matsui did. But Ichiro leaped at the chance to play for the country. He arrived at camp early, trained hard, and played well throughout the tournament. I raise my sake glass to you, Ichiro-san.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

World Baseball Classic: The Empire Strikes Back

Was very pleased to watch Japan beat Korea last night 6-0. The Koreans made for a great story, but their shameful, gloating performance after beating Japan last week made for a karmic necessity of whacking them down a peg.

It is hereby noted that Japan did not prance around the field after their huge victory last night, nor did they plant their flag on the pitchers mound. They acted with dignity.

Now it is Cuba vs Japan for the title this Monday night. Cuba should be the favorite. But I'll root for Japan.

Today's NY Post quotes Bobby Valentine as saying that Japan was " bullied " into participating in the WBC. Now they're nine innings from winning it.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

World Baseball Classic - Will the Empire Strike Back?

Koreans plant flag on the pitchers mound after beating Japan.

The first baseball classic has only two games to go. It has been an enormous success so far.

Pool One started out with the USA, Mexico, Korea and Japan.

The USA proved to be the flop of the competition. They beat Japan with the help of a bad call from an umpire, then lost to Korea, and then, with their survival on the line, lost again to Mexico.

Mexico bowed out, but at least will be consoled by the fact that they knocked the USA out.

Japan, like the USA, lost two out of three, but they advanced because they allowed fewer runs to score than the USA. I am happy that they went ahead, because they probably lost the USA game due to a bad call.

Korea continued to astonish, winning three and losing none. They beat archrival Japan for the second time, seemingly eliminating their ancient enemy. Then they paraded around the stadium with the Korean flag, and planted the flag on the pitchers mound. I don't like this type of chauvinism. It deeply offended the Japanese. It was not cool.

Pool Two

Puerto Rico and Venezuela are out.

Earlier today, Cuba played the Dominican Republic to decide who advances out of this pool. I watched most of this game. The Cubans, behind great pitching from sneaky starter Yadel Marti and fireballing reliever Pedro Lazo, shut down the mighty Dominicans.

The Dominicans had lots of power hitters from the US Major Leagues, but good pitching stops good hitting, a cliche that gets proven every season.

Its an embarrassment for the US govt to see the Cubans do so well on US soil. I hold no brief for Castro's personal dictatorship, but the Cubans deserved to compete and they've won fair and square.

So, the championship game will be between Cuba and whoever wins the Korea - Japan game. Who do I want to win that game? Japan. The Koreans were a little too proud after that last win over the Japanese. They thought the Japanese were dead, and they did a little jig on the grave, before they pissed on it like a bunch of drunk high school punks.

Well, the Japanese crawled out of the grave, and tonight, the Empire will strike back as the Japanese win 4-1.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Back from Phoenix

I was invited to go to a conference outside of Scottsdale hosted by a company that I respect, and where I have a lot of friends.

Its busy, so I could only go for a cup of coffee. I flew out midday Sunday and I came back just now...after midnight, 1am on Tuesday. Just enough time to have dinner with my pals last night, lubricated by Fat Tire beer and to have a couple of meetings on Monday.

The event was at the Boulders, an impressive resort. It was chilly last night, unseasonably so. The normally red-brick colored mountains surrounding Phoenix were covered in snow, a rare occurrence. I wish I brought my camera, or I would have posted a photo.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

World Baseball Classic

The first World Baseball Classic is off a great start.

Pool A ( Tokyo ) was the Asian group- China, Taiwan, Japan, and Korea.

Pool A - Eliminated
China is a great country, but it's a baseball baby. Japan whacked them 18-2, the Koreans beat 'em 10-1, and then Taiwan beat them 12-3. The Chinese were here to learn, to observe. There's no shame in their performance, and I will bet that they become internationally competitive before very long.

Taiwan ( known as " Chinese Taipei " because if they called them anything else, China would not have showed up ) lost to Korea 2-0, got whooped by Japan 14-3, and then coasted over the PRC. They're clearly more advanced than China, are still on the rise.

Pool A- Advancing
Korea wants to compete against Japan in all things, baseball included. Its personal. Japan has produced very good baseball players for some time, and now Korea is almost at the same level. They beat Taiwan, they beat China, and then--holy Jesus-- they beat Japan, in the Tokyo Dome itself. Don't think that this was a big story in Korea ? Only as big as New Years Eve ten times over. Korea and Japan will play one another in the next round.

Japan was expected to beat all the other Asian countries. They beat China and Taiwan, but when they lost to Korea, that certainly did not make it a good day in the Tokyo sports bars. If Korea advances further than Japan in this Series, it will be awful for the Japanese.

Pool B ( Phoenix ) group consisted of the US, Canada, Mexico and South Africa

Pool B - Eliminated
South Africa played bravely, but these young guys were completely outclassed by Mexico, Canada and the US.

Canada did not make it to the next round, but they had a game for the ages when they beat the USA 8-6. They're still talking about it and rightfully so.

Pool B - Advancing

Mexico lost 2-0 to the USA, but then whipped South Africa and subsequently beat Canada. That last victory helped the USA to advance after the unexpected loss to Canada.

The USA was in trouble after losing to Canada. They could easily have been eliminated. But after Mexico helped them by beating Canada, they once more had control of their destiny. Intimidating power pitcher Roger Clemens put his game face on against South Africa, the US winning 17-0.

Pool C ( San Juan, Puerto Rico ) group consisted of the Cuba, Panama, Puerto Rico,and the Nethelands.

Pool C - Eliminated
Small Panama got beat by Puerto Rico and Cuba, which was expected, and by the Netherlands, which was certainly not expected.

When the Netherlands lost to Puerto Rico and then Cuba, their fate was sealed . But they nonetheless played the game of their lives when they beat Panama 10-0. Dutch pitcher Shairon Martis pitched a complete game-no hitter. He's from Dutch Curacao, in the Caribbean, and he's not the only good player down there.

Pool C - Advancing
Cuba has a long and magnificent baseball tradition. America likes baseball, America created baseball, but Cuba and the Dominican Republic love the sport with an intensity that Americans no longer have. They know the game, they breathe it, they live it from childhood.

Cuba is supposed to walk over everybody until they get to the Dominicans and the USA. Well, they beat Panama, and they put away the Netherlands, but then a funny thing happened on the way to the coronation when Puerto Rico beat 'em 12-2. Native Puerto Ricans Bernie Williams ( Yankees ) and Carlos Beltran ( Mets ) hit monster home runs. Fidel was not f***ing happy.

Puerto Rico beat Panama, the Netherlands, and as noted above, beat Cuba. I would not have picked them to do this well, but they have could not have been more impressive vs Cuba so lets see what happens next.

Pool D ( Orlando, Florida) group consisted of Italy, Australia, Venezuela, and the Dominican Republic.

Pool D - Eliminated
Italy beat Australia 10-0, a more impressive victory than I would have expected, then lost to Venezuela 6-0, which was closer than I'd have expected, and then lost 8-3 to the Dominican Republic. The Italians probably did slightly better than expected.

Australia got swept by Italy, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic. This result was a dissapointment as there is a decent baseball tradition there, but this wan't their tournament.

Pool D - Advancing
Venezuela is a country rich in baseball history, filled with wiry shortstops and sneaky pitchers. They lost to the mighty Dominicans, then beat Italy and Australia. They had the luck of a mostly easy draw. They need to step it up in the next round.

Dominican Republic The last is not the least. The poor nation of the Dominican Republic, one-half of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola it shares with even poorer Haiti, produces great baseball players. The tiny town of San Pedro de Macoris has produced an immense number of major league players. They could win it all.

The Dominicans beat Venezuela, Italy and Australia handily. Don't be surprised if they win it all. If they do, they'll celebrate for days, as will the Dominican emigre communities in the USA.

World Baseball Classic

I had started an article on the World Baseball Classic
when my DSL connection completely went to hell. Now that I have a great internet connection, I can begin writing again.

The World Baseball Classic is something that should have been attempted forty years ago. Baseball is not as universally played as soccer, but its much more international in scope than my friends from Europe think. It's roots are in the USA, but pound for pound the best players are from Caribbean and Latin America. Bush and Castro disagree on most everything, but both of them are serious baseball fans.

Baseball's star has been steadily rising in Asia. Japan's baseball roots in Japan go back a century. The sport is popular in Korea and Taiwan. And it's growing in China, whose government has made it a priority to become more competitive in international baseball. They think its a clean sport, which proves that they've never heard of Barry Bonds and his bag of tricks.

Baseball is not a big sport in Europe, but the Dutch and Italians, though they're already been eliminated, absolutely did not embarrass themselves.

The competition began with 16, divided into four brackets. Two teams will advance from each bracket after the first round, half of these teams will be eliminated in round two, then four teams will advance to San Diego, where there will be three single-elimination games to determine the champion.

Tomorrow, some comments on the field and on the competition so far.

Friday, March 10, 2006

I'm so happy so happy

Well, it's just that I finally have a good internet connection. Through the cable company Time Warner Cable. Its 5000 kbits, as compared with the super-erratic and slow Verizon DSL.

I've put the other two eggs in this basket too- phone service and cable tv. Which includes HBO, just in time for the Sopranos season, and Fox Soccer Channel, so I can see what my European friends have been seeing.

Bada bing!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Off the Screen for a while

Will not be blogging much until maybe this Saturday, as my internet service ( from Verizon DSL ) has not been functioning at all recently. I plan to switch to another provider this Friday, so you may hear from me soon.

There are a couple of recent posts on Bay Ridge Blog