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A Story Come True

I wrote a story about you. About us, really. It was almost a fairy tale, almost cute. I guess it was a love letter – probably the love letter I have never written to you.

Unfortunately, I made the mistake of removing it from our bedroom, so to speak, thinking it had some value outside the embraces of our romance. I read it aloud to strangers.

She swept past the open gate and whisked through the front door of her home, leaving the door spinning behind her and the latch unlocked. She then vanished up the stairs and into her bedroom. She fell back gracefully onto her bed. Her parents let out a sigh. Not a moment later the house went dark.

The girl had just been kissed. She was still in its hold, frozen as it were in its heat. She fell asleep in its arms. Continue reading “A Story Come True”

First Day Starts Off

first day starts off … a lethargic half-sleep until 10:40 am … a headache and a light but persistant virus

I nonetheless get out of bed thinking that something can be accomplished if I find three Advils and a coffee. I have to make the effort. I am motivated because I know that time is no longer bounded by Monday, back to work.

This is really it, an open-ended restart to life.

I will set up my old computer once I buy a monitor. I walk to Little Silicon village to get an idea of what I can do there in terms of computer shopping. Nothing yet, but there’s all sorts of old and new stuff to get cheap.

After a nice lunch – deux cuisses de poulet et riz – I am back home. I order the monitor over the net and then I’m back to the sabbatical, writing this.

In the last two weeks I have read at least 5 books maybe more I am losing count. Prior to that, I don’t recall reading a full book since ten years ago. The sabbatical has indeed changed my life. I have read things about music, including serialism, electroacoustic, spectral and computer music. I have read some books on electro-magnetism, electricity and soundwaves, on digital computers and analog converters, on many technical and philosophical aspects of artificial intelligence, and now on the history of the internet. I have also read about the Brain and how it works. I have listened to podcasts on many of these same subjects, as well as on new programming languages and paradigms like Python and Ruby. I expect to develop these subjects and others as I go along.

I expect to have in the coming months first hand experience with many new programming languages as well as the inner functionings of computer hardware. Today, I will investigate computer programming languages especially those used in artificial intelligence.

Short term goal is to improve my current web development skills and get short projects to pay my sabbatical. Then maybe long term towards iPhone/iPad development, or more creative web evelopment, like flash or html 5. But it’s the long term goals, related to the above readings, that really interest me, and this is open ended for the time being.

open

ended

open-ended

time

being

time-being

remember those “words”

18 Feb 2012, We’re going to throw the ball today

He was speaking their language but sprinkling it with words from his own. The subject was American. Baseball to be precise. The season begins on the French terre.

The winter is not over and this we can’t control – cold days behind us and more cold days to come. But on a relatively warm winter morning we all stood listening to our new coach, our old friend Charlie.

« We’re going to throw the ball today. First time for many of you since last season. So take it easy. » he warned.

« We’re going to throw the ball correctly. This way » he said as he held the ball out in front of him, extending his hand and wrist parallel to the ground, level with his chest. His gloved hand rested against his blocked torso.

« I’m going to show you what I learned before I was aware that I was learning it. » he said without actually saying it, but it’s what I began to hear in every phrase. « This is what you do because this is what I do. »

We also have an athletic coach who hops around like a rabbit and we all want to imitate him. He’s teaching us how to run. Is hitting a baseball as simple as running, I thought to myself? I thought running was simple until I spent some time with the rabbit. Now he’s got me convinced that I was not moving my arms correctly. And now I’m faster.

« Throwing a ball is like running, » Charlie explains. « You put one foot in front of the other. »

I understand now that when we run we have both feet in the air at the same time. They call it double-floating. It’s how running specialists define the difference between walking and running: our gait on the run consists of a leap of both feet in the air.

Charlie didn’t say any of this, thank god, but I can’t help thinking he did.

But do we also have both feet on the ground at the same time?

« Each of you are going to field grounders and throw the ball back to me and then sprint to the glove over there. It all needs to be fluid. But first, a seven minute mile will do you good, don’t know the kilometers. And then we’ll throw the ball. »

We listened to Charlie. This year’s going to be different. And that’s all that will be said about the last two years. This year will be different.

12 Feb 2012

 I don’t even hit with my head glued to the ball. I hit with reaction, I snag the ball in mid flight before it gets to me, I meet the ball, I don’t follow it.

The first pitch I saw – let me see, I’m trying to remember. I am watching the Diamondbacks losing by a run in the seventh inning against the Giants. Joe Saunders, the Diamondbacks starting pitcher has just gotten hit hard by two screaming line drive singles pulled into right field and the Giants now have runners on first and second with no outs. Once again I marvel at the beauty and yet useless beauty of the hard hit liner in which runners move quickly but advance only one base at a time, the same results of a walk, a bunt, and an error. Saunders and the Diamondbacks quickly get out of this inning with a double play and a third out on a pretty dance in which the third baseman, Ryan Roberts, two-steps to his left to snag a grounder but can’t reach it, and the shortstop, John McDonald, comes up behind him to swoop the ball and throw a kind of blooper over the third baseman’s head to get the runner out on first. No runs scored.

The first pitch I saw I followed into the catcher’s mitt with my eyes, to honor the principal of seeing and not swinging at the first pitch. It was on the inside part of the plate, I saw it rather well and immediately regretted not swinging at it. For one, I had actually failed to follow the pitch, I lost it before it even reached the plate. And I don’t even hit with my head glued to the ball: I hit with reaction, I snag the ball in mid-flight before it gets to me, I meet the ball, I don’t follow it. If I’m going to do this not-swing strategy on first pitches, I ought to know how to do it. I’ve got to not swing the same way that I swing, with a sudden movement of my hips and legs into the rotation, and to imagine how I would have swung to make contact on the sweet part of the bat. What’s worse is that it was a perfect pitch for my new found capacity to hit inside pitches with great force. I knew that I had lost an opportunity and that I had gained nothing useful from the experience. I was still not ready to swing. Next pitch was a ball, a little high and inside. I somehow got to two and one. I was still uncomfortable. What a fucking mental game. Here we are, a softball game, the last of the indoor season. Our team’s got beginners and experienced guys and gals; power and contact; we bunt all the time; there are women and men; youth abounds but there some of my age; there are parents, families, and friends, spectators everywhere; we’re in a gym, I’m batting sixth, designated hitter, we’ve got fifty minutes per game, twenty of us showed up today; my energy’s not yet in the game, its in the artficiality of the setting. There’s a two-year old boy who’s swinging an empty one-liter water bottle better than many players here in the gym. I’m deeply sad that my own son is not here. I am momentarily confused how to hit. I think the third pitch was an outside ball and the second was an inside and high almost strike. Or the third might have been slightly high and outside, a pitch that was both unhittable and possibly a brilliant strike on the outside corner. So with two and one, I’m thinking, here comes a strike and I’m not ready for it. He’s a good pitcher, fairly fast. He seems to have the edge with two and one because two and one gives the batter the impression he’s ahead and he’s hungry to swing at anything that looks good and the pitcher knows this so he throws a kind of pitch hungry batters can’t hit, down. Be patient. But I’m not. It’s the fear of two strikes. The fear of watching a good pitch go down the middle. But if I watch another pitch, I might remember how to swing a bat. The mental game is lost, clearly, and all I can do is hope for a lucky swing. But that’s not about to happen as I dribble a slow grounder to the pitcher. Out. Last out of the inning. My batting average is somewhere near .800, I’ve been on base almost all of the time, and yet I believe all of my outs are the third out of the inning. That statistic is really useless … I think.

Second at bat I get on base with a line drive bunt to the thirdbasewoman which I luckily run out. It was the first pitch. I bunted it with such good contact, it makes me wonder what would have happened had I had swung. But we ultimately score 10 runs and win the game, so I’m not going to waste any time on commenting about bunt strategy. Besides, its getting late, the diamondbacks have just scored two runs on an excellent line drive to the opposite field, a two rbi triple by the righty first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. Now it’s the top of the ninth, the drama continues, Diamondbacks’ closer JJ Putz has just given up a blooper single. There are no outs. Three outs to go. No. Two outs, he struck out pinchhitter Giant Pablo Sandoval, who’s got a chiseled face. The second out was a rather good hit directly to the center fielder Chris Young. One more out to go.

My third at bat came in the second game. That too was a bunt on a zero zero count. The pitcher is throwing slow pitches right over the middle. On my second at bat, I am given the sign to hit and I swing on the first pitch, a pulled grounder that bounded over the third baseman’s head. Kind of cool that kind of hit, but it feels like I missed the contact – I got on top of the ball, too ahead of it, I am not waiting, it was not as solid as I’d like. Third at bat I regain my stance and again I am given the sign to swing and I rip an inside pitch past the thirdbaseman’s head, the ball makes a straight line to the back wall of the gym, it was pulled really well, perfect contact. Silence followed, I’m getting used to people taking notice of my swing. The Diamondbacks win the game and they clinch last year’s division title. We win our second game of the day, first game was ten to three and this one was ten to one. I like this team.

29 Jan 2012, Deep into the Count

Reporter: “Why don’t you tell us what’s going through your mind about these last two games?”

Player: “I went deep into the count after swinging and missing two times on the same pitch. I’m thinking, How do you swing and miss? This is what I’m thinking about, not about the rest of the count. At zero and two, I watch the next three pitches miss the zone. I don’t worry about two strikes, I know I can hit any ball. I let bad pitches go by these days. It’s the close pitches that get me. I’ll usually swing at all close pitches when I’ve got one or two strikes. Can’t let them go. Even if they are balls. That’s the problem, I’m losing walks on close pitches. And then comes along a low inside pitch, unhittable, I can’t swing at it, I don’t even try, I move out of its way. It’s all about programming your instincts: I’m programmed to avoid low inside pitches, and that’s why in my previous at bat I let one go for a called third strike. Now, it was probably a ball. But it was close enough for me to swing with two strikes. But there’s nothing in me that gets me to swing at a low inside pitch. It’s probably the same with most outside pitches. They just don’t interest me, and so I’m not likely to swing at them with two strikes. But I was talking about going deep into the count. I start with two good swings on the same kind of pitch: a low fast or changeup that seems to drop. I’m above the pitch, almost skimmed off its top. I’m not overswinging, but it’s definitely a power swing not a contact swing. But why would I let up on a pitch down the middle? I only now shake my head: How could I miss such an easy pitch? But no worries. I smile. I shake my head. I’m thinking, there’s something wrong here, I’m lost. This can’t be happening, not to Line-Drive Charley. I’ll scratch my head later. I need to make contact. I’ve got two strikes, no balls. Then comes three balls in a row. I feel no urgency to swing. The last, the eighth pitch, comes at me – I’m still destabilized by the two missed swings, or maybe I was destabilized before the two missed swings, that could explain the misses, hitting is a mood thing, maybe I don’t really like this idea of being a designated hitter, I’ve got to get out on the field, I don’t watch ball I play it – but the destabilized feeling’s got me swinging ahead of the ball, and though I make contact, I get on top of it and hit a routine grounder to the shortstop. So there goes the star shortstop, the one who has made 4 double plays in as many games, and who has snagged line drives, and has made numerous outs with no errors, but who has told the coach he should try others at the position because I’ll be moving on to the other team soon and he should be testing out other guys; here’s the star shortstop who is watching his team play in the field, and he holds a bat because a designated hitter should at least act the part of the team’s professional hitter. But there’s something lacking, it’s not right to sit while the team is fielding. And here I thought that fielding was a distraction to hitting when in fact it’s all about the energy of the whole game. Hitting is all instinct, there’s not time to think; and so fielding, hitting – being constantly engaged – this is what I need to do in order to perform at my best. It’s probably why I am currently unable to lay down a good bunt, there’s no energy to the bunt, except the sprint. In fact, maybe if I were to focus on the sprint it might encourage me to improve my bunting, the joy of beating it out – instead of looking at it as one less chance to swing he bat, and instead of doing what I did in my previous at bat where I bunted two fouls, one to the first base line, a slice, and the next over the catcher’s head, also a slice. And then came that dreaded called strike three. Oddly, both at bats made the third out of the inning. I note to myself that therefore the statistic of who makes the most third outs is obviously irrelevant given that I was coming into this game batting over .800 for the 4 games we already played… The next game I went back to playing shortstop and again I turned a double play, made several good stops, played with no errors, and I also hit a double down the third base line and dropped a bunt single that stopped between catcher, pitcher and first baseman. Just to note the rest down: the double was after one failed bunt, on a zero and one count; and the successful bunt came after another fouled bunt – this coach loves his bunt, and he has unshakeable faith h-in his bunters. I’m still bunting bad pitches…”

Reporter: “To summarize:

Zero and three, two fouled bunts and a called third strike on a low inside fast or changeup, a questionable strike.

Full count, grounder to short, started with two swings, missing a low dropping fast or changeup, and then three reasonably bad pitches, and then a hit to shortstop on a good pitch.

Zero and one, a double along third base line, pulled an outside pitch – still getting out in front, still destabilized.

Zero and one, bunt single after a fould bunt on a bad pitch.

Both pitchers were throwing hard, but no curves, softball.»

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