Monday, February 15, 2010


If I had gone on that New Zealand trip, I’d be getting home today: fit, tanned (or at least nicely burned), and full of beans.

Instead, I’m a flabby, pasty-faced, crabby, slug.

But as Brooklyn fans used to say every October, “Wait til next year!”

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Buzz

There’s an article in this morning’s New York Times about the uproar caused by the new Google Buzz’s  grabbing of Gmail’s address book information. To many users—even those used to the pervasive sharing of info on services like Facebook and Twitter—this is a step too intrusive. As an old guy, used to earlier standards of privacy, I naturally agree.

I use Gmail, though, and, obviously, Blogger, both Google services. So my privacy is already profoundly compromised.

For example, Blogger has this little “Next Blog” link at the top of the home page. Back when I was starting this blog, I clicked on it a few times, and was taken to what seemed like random blog after random blog. Interestingly uninteresting. I hadn’t clicked on it for ages, but did last night. How odd, I thought, when a whole sequence of baseball blogs popped up. It dawned on me that Google was doing some mining in this blog, and based on that was helping me find others that might be of interest.

I kept pressing the button to see what would happen. Baseball eventually gave way to running. A minor intervention took me to old-guy running; which eventually shifted to triathlons; then a sharp and unexpected turn into philosophy and faith; then onward to what I think you’d have to call parenting (some very odd stuff there, let me tell you); then, incomprehensibly, a science fiction loop (science fiction! me?) that wouldn’t let go.

But, I thought, I write a lot more in this blog about walking and running and babies (one baby, actually) than about baseball. What’s with the introductory 25 fan sites?* Then the penny dropped. Google wasn’t looking at my blog. It was looking at what it takes to be me. Google my name and you get a lot of references to baseball books, journals, reviews, and so forth. That’s not actually the me of 2010 (or 2005, or even 2000), but it is, I suppose, a collection of my most visible footprints. So Alvarez presses “Next Blog,” the little man inside Google shouts, “Baseball!,” and the crew shoveling material out onto the conveyor belt opens the right box and dumps out a pile of National Pastime. Flawed, weird, cool, and creepy.

I know Google promotes this sort of thing as being for my benefit and convenience, not that of marketers, salesmen, random nosy parkers, or "friends"—or even friends. But Buzz has just re-emphasized the extent to which Google has us packaged, and how few and hazy are the limits. This is making even the hip uncomfortable. Good.

* Most of the Google-chosen diamond blogs aren’t at all to my taste. Of course, my taste is a little arcane. For my money, the best baseball blog out there is this one, by a friend who is too busy to post more often. Baseball’s best researcher at work.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Happy talk

The other repetitive musical event of the past weekend was the Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine.” That same not-to-be-named person had comforted B by singing it to her during the previous week, and the short “we all live...” phrase (“ee ah ih”) became a frequently-voiced demand. We eventually simply put the whole thing on iTunes to repeat over and over. And over. (At least until we got the signal and switched to Big Bird mariachi. And so on, back and forth.)

Like all children, sweet B has developed her own pronunciations for things—all, of course, terminally cute to a grandparent. My favorite is for yogurt, which she loves. “Yoda,” she pronounces, and is shortly thereafter swathed in bib and smeared with the stuff. Good it seems to taste.

Another word in which the “D” sound takes the place of a more difficult one is chai, which B’s mother habitually drinks, and which B very much likes to sip. I’m told that the other day, she ran up to H, pointed delightedly up at her mug, and shouted, “Die, mama, die!” I’m quite sure a short shock was followed by hysterical laughter, a sweeping up of the B, much hugging and kissing...and a sip of die.

H is back to work now, long hospital hours and nowhere near enough time with A and sweet B. But she had a good short holiday, I think. It was, as always, a profound joy to have her here, assuming what has been her normal pose at rest since she learned to read.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Between the titanic struggles of a first haircut and a last-minute trimming of the toenails, we spent a wonderful few days with sweet B, her mama and dada, and—of course— Jasper the Wonderdog.

We had a well-bundled walk, some de-bundled baths, a few well-shared breakfasts, a number of 3-2-1-blast-offs in a big plastic box, lots (and lots) of Legos (“Dedos” to B) and reading and music.

B has recently become a massive fan of Sesame Street’s Big Bird, primarily, I think, through reading this book or something like it with H.

We still have an ancient Big Bird bath towel we used to wrap her mother up in, and after each evening’s bath, I’d hold it up so she could see BB full length, good every time for a big, happy grin. Then lift, wrap, dry, and snuggle. Not a bad way to end the day.

Although her vocabulary is exploding, B uses a sign for Big Bird. It’s a version of the ASL sign for “bird”: a pinching motion with forefinger and thumb to simulate a beak. We saw a lot of it over the long weekend, because some not-to-be-named person introduced her to the Sesame Street videos available on line, and played this one for her:

From then on, it was pretty much all kiddie mariachi all the time.

As B quickly learned to shout, “Viva!”

Thursday, February 4, 2010