Saturday, April 24, 2004

Dodgers 5 Giants 4

Hey Kari:

Went to my first Dodger game of this season and I didn't "see" the Dodgers win but they didn't lose either when I left in the bottom of the 10th inning. Since it was a Friday night game I was at the end of my energy levels. Additionally, on Saturday, I am planning to go to the LA Times-UCLA Festival of Books; thus, it was time to go.

As I drove home, I heard the winning run driven in by Milton Bradley in the bottom of the 12th.

The Dodgers were down 4-1 after three innings. Last year that would probably be the end of it as the offense was so pathetic. However, this year, they are showing some life offensively and a comeback was hoped for and believed to even be probable. Indeed, the Dodgers got a run in the bottom of the 4th and then tied it up in the bottom of the 5th with a two-run homer by Shawn Green.

It was a game of high drama with playoff-like intensity.

How often do you see a 1-2-3 double play? We got that in the top of the eighth when Mota got into trouble and Martin took over only to hit a batter. But he induced a dribbler which he pounced on triggering the inning ending and tie preserving 1-2-3 double play.

How often will we see Gagne pitch two innings and get neither a save nor a win?

He came in keep things under control in the top of the 9th and 10th.

Dreifort took care of things in the top of the 11th and 12th.

Anyway, you can check out the box score and the recap.

Go Dodgers!


Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Apple Blogging? Tech Blogging? Music Blogging? All of the above?

Hi Kari:

As owners of iPods who have blogged about it, I was heartened to hear that iTunes and iPod are a big part of the good Apple earnings recently reported. Excerpt:
Apple shipped 749 thousand Macintosh units and 807 thousand iPods during the quarter, representing a 5 percent increase in CPU units and a 909 percent increase in iPods over the year-ago quarter.

"Apple had a great quarter with 29 percent revenue growth and 200 percent earnings per share growth year-over-year," said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. "We experienced growth in most areas of our business" most dramatically in selling a record 807,000 iPods, up more than 900 percent over the prior year."
However, the analysts over at CNN Money aren't impressed. Excerpt:
Apple may be the undisputed heavyweight champ of online music. But its market share in the computer business, which still accounts for nearly two-thirds of the company's total sales, remains Hobbit-like small.

Apple is clearly an innovative and cool company but in the grand scheme of things, its results are only significant for Mac junkies and/or Apple shareholders. Investors looking for clues about what's happening in the broader tech world would be better off digging through the reports from Intel and IBM.
Am not a savvy investor and have no idea whether any of my mutual funds own Apple. All I know is that I like the iPod and iTunes which leads me to some music blogging.

The radio is sometimes on in the lab providing a soundtrack for my life there. Most of the time the music hovers right around the conscious level amidst the whir of equipment, the tapping of computer keys, the bedlam of my own thoughts and the occasional ringing of a telephone.

Recently, for some odd reason, two songs got stuck in my brain and I had to go to iTunes to fetch them.

I suppose it is the catchy tune but as usual, I had to look up the lyrics.

One of the songs is syrupy with lines that might not even make it onto a Hallmark greeting card but I was captivated anyway. The song? God Only Know by the Beach Boys.
I may not always love you
But long as there are stars above you
You never need to doubt it
I'll make you so sure about it

God only knows what I'd be without you

If you should ever leave me
Though life would still go on believe me
The world could show nothing to me
So what good would living do me
The other song is lyrically at the other end of the spectrum with downcast words but a peppy tune: Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves by Cher. Would you have guessed I would be intrigued by that song? It is probably the polar opposite of the sunny-side up Beach Boys song just mentioned.
I was born in the wagon of a travellin' show
My mama used to dance for the money they'd throw
Papa would do whatever he could
Preach a little gospel, sell a couple bottles of doctor good

Gypsys, tramps, and thieves
We'd hear it from the people of the town
They'd call us gypsys, tramps, and thieves
But every night all the men would come around
And lay their money down

Picked up a boy just south of Mobile
Gave him a ride, filled him with a hot meal
I was sixteen, he was twenty-one
Rode with us to Memphis
And papa woulda shot him if he knew what he'd done

I never had schoolin' but he taught me well
With his smooth southern style
Three months later I'm a gal in trouble
And I haven't seen him for a while, uh-huh
I haven't seen him for a while, uh-huh

She was born in the wagon of a travellin' show
Her mama had to dance for the money they'd throw
Grandpa' would do whatever he could
Preach a little gospel, sell a couple bottles of doctor good
I don't get it. Why did these two songs lodge themselves in my brain like a splinter in my finger? Please explain to me. Okay, maybe I expect too much of you sometimes. 8-)

Anyway, are these two songs on your iPod? What songs are percolating above the noise level of daily life and thus getting multiple plays on your iPod?


Thursday, April 15, 2004

Spring Break - Part III, Bern and Thun

Hi Kari:

Okay, back to the road trip in Switzerland...

Saturday 20 March 2004

Thursday was spent on airplanes. We got to Geneva and hit the ground running on Friday morning. Thus, we slept in Saturday. We eventually did wake up for a late morning brunch. However, before that, I had to dash out onto the street to feed the parking meter! So I grabbed my digital camera to catch a bit of Bern in the morning.

Here is the clock tower, the Zytgloggeturm, at the innermost gate of the old city that dates back to the 12-13th centuries.

Looking down the other way you can see the cobblestone street and old city facades of the Kramgasse.

After brunch, we made it out to the Saturday street market where there were these olives!

For our afternoon drive, we went to south to Thun where there is an amazing lake!

On clear days, one can see the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau mountain peaks. But for today, we had to take Michele's word for it that they are there behind the clouds.

Map from which I found in

Travel tips:

* Switzerland overview from Frommers
* Bern information from Frommers

More to come...


go to part IV

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Good Friday @ the Movies: The Passion of the Christ

Dear Kari:

I normally would look for a Good Friday service to attend. But on this occasion, I decided to see the controversial Gibson film, The Passion of the Christ, this past Friday evening.

I'd be curious to hear what you thought of the film if you have seen it.

Most of my friends have seen it and when I asked them if they would be willing to join me, they said, you should go see it but it is intense and I'm not sure I want to see it a second time.

In the end, I managed to find one friend who had not seen the film and had not made other plans for the evening.

As a Protestant Christian, I believe that God demonstrated love by sending Jesus to Earth for our salvation and Jesus suffering and death on the Cross pays for humanity's sin and the Resurrection affirms the victory over sin and death. Thus, I go into the film with this theological understanding.

This truth is told in the Scriptures and has been re-told in paintings, stained glass, altar pieces, music, drama and film. Gibson's work will probably join the list of art works regarded as powerful and creative expositions of the Gospel story.

I'll try to share my impressions of the film without giving too much away though I imagine you and most of our readers have seen the film.

Indeed, the film is as brutal, grisly and traumatic as people say it is. The flogging of Jesus and the Crucifixion sequences are horrifying. Critics of the film have said that Gibson overdid it. Indeed, I do not recommend the film for young children and adults who are extremely impressionable. However, having said that, I am recommending anyone who wants to explore the Christian faith to see the film because it is more than just two hours of Jesus suffering as there are flashbacks to the teaching of Jesus and other moments on the road to the Cross that tell a powerful tale of good and evil and love and redemption.

I am concerned that people are shying away from the film because of the violence. The fact of the matter is that the Romans were ruthless. I suspect people who buy into the spirit of this age that tends to minimize, relativize or even outright deny the reality of evil will be terribly discomforted by the suffering shown on the screen because it is all to vivid an argument against a casual attitude toward evil: evil is done to Jesus and He bares it because of our evil.

In Christian theology, the point is not the violence itself but rather the suffering Jesus willingly endured to effect our redemption. The suffering was not pointless.

Dennis Prager has made the comment that Jews will see the film as Jews killing Jesus and that Christians will see Jesus as dying for individual sin.

Indeed, as I watched the movie, I didn't think for a minute about fixing blame on any of the characters in the film. Instead, I thought of myself and how my sin is being born by Jesus. I saw people to my left and right sobbing as the film unfolded probably moved as I was that Jesus would willingly take onto Himself our punishment.

Gibson must be credited with placing the physical suffering into a parallel cosmic and spiritual battle between good and evil. He has done this with the device of having Satan periodically appear in the form of a woman with a masculine voice. The actress is slightly spooky but not repulsive.

There is also the battle of good and evil within each human heart. Throughout the film, there is this sense of a cosmic tug of war taking place. There are Jewish characters who blindly go along or even advocate killing Jesus but others who recognize things are not the way they are supposed to be. Likewise, there are many Roman characters who behave sadistically while a few recognize more is going on than just the death of one man.

In my life, I cry sometimes because of pain; more often for the pain of others but also for my own sorrows. But I also often cry because I'm moved by the goodness of others.

I cried seeing the pain Jesus suffered. I cried seeing Jesus' goodness in bearing it for me and all of fallen humanity. But I also cried in those small moments when good triumphed in the human heart. The film has several such occasions when ordinary people stand against the current for what is good.

Another aspect of the film is the role of Mary, the mother of Jesus. As Protestants, we do not place Mary on a high pedestal as the Catholics do. However, there is no getting around the reality that Scripture says that she along with several other women were there when all the disciples fled. Gibson's film is speculative since Scripture is silent on what Mary did while she was there. However, so much of what we see on the movie screen is Mary doing things you would believe a mother would do. It is not a stretch of the imagination that as she watches, she is praying for Jesus which is something the disciples could not do at the beginning of the film in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Those who are skeptical would say, what is so important about that?

If indeed there is a parallel cosmic battle between good and evil beyond the physical world, then prayer may well be the most important thing that could be done.

And what about simply being there? How often when we were hurting, we thanked a friend for just "being there." It is often wordless, involves listening and a simple touch.

Mary does all of this.

Finally, because of Gibson's Catholicism, the analysis I have found most illuminting was this article in the Catholic publication, First Things. I'll close with an excerpt from that article:
Thankfully, as the scenes become harder and harder to watch, the viewer is offered an example, a guide as to how we are supposed to react to the increasingly disturbing images. This comes in the form of Jesus’ mother, brilliantly played by the Romanian actress Maia Morgenstern. Though Mary is the person most affected by these shattering events, she also understands better than anyone the necessity of what her son must do, and she consents to his mission and her own role in it. She in turn shows the audience what they must do. During the scourging, we see Mary with her head lowered, barely able to support herself as she hears the incessant beating of her son. As we think to ourselves, "no mother should have to witness such a thing," she gathers her strength, lifts her head, and continues to look. If she can, we can. Then, in the harrowing pieta scene at the end of the film, Mary looks directly out at the viewer as she holds the body of Christ, reminding us with her glance that we, too, have been witnessing these events, and that it is now we who are called to bear witness to what we have seen. Like Caravaggio’s Deposition, Gibson’s film places the bulk of responsibility on the viewer.

This emphasis on the role of Mary far outstrips what Pasolini or Zeffirelli was able to imagine. Where Zeffirelli’s Mary, played by the hauntingly lovely Olivia Hussey, elicits compassion, Gibson’s Mary provides comfort. Like the Eve who accompanies Adam in every scene in the Sistine Chapel vault, Mary, it seems, is always present in Gibson’s Passion. Her face is the most reliable clue to the meaning of the unfolding events.
Have a blessed Easter weekend,

UPDATE: Below is an image of Caravaggio’s Deposition from

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Go, Boys in Blue!

Hi-De-Ho Rene,

Can’t wait to chow down on some chocolate. Ah, the spoils of bracket victory!

In the spirit of sports prognosticating, how are the Dodgers, your boys in blue, going to fare this season? My boys in blue, the Royals, are picked anywhere from first to fourth in the division.

But here at Two Tin Cans, we're coast-to-coast, at least where baseball is concerned. So, here are my picks, with small doses of commentary:

AL EAST: Los Yanquis

Boston is the popular pick, and with Curt Schilling joining Pedro Martinez as Ace No. 2, I can see why. But Pedro tailed off last year, long before the crucial inning in the ALCS, and the powerful Bosox offense may have lost a little from last year. Meanwhile, New York added A-Rod. And while the Yanks lost Clemens and Petitte, they gained Vazquez and Brown. Not bad, if Brown stays healthy. And you have to figure they’ll end up buying somebody decent to play second.


A homer pick? Perhaps. Most analysts say Kansas City has improved, but some point out that the Royals overachieved big-time last year, so improving the talent may not result in an improved record. Here’s hoping their out-of-this-world clutch hitting carries over from last year, and that their pitching staff can keep it close enough for the newly power-infused lineup to catch up. Otherwise, look for the Twins to repeat.

Incidentally, I’m going to a game Sunday, which will be my season opener. If it’s anywhere near as exciting as the real opener, I’ll be getting my money’s worth. Carlos Beltran is the real deal. Too bad he’ll likely be in some other team’s jersey next spring.

AL WEST: Angels

Oakland’s pitching staff is stacked with proven winners, and with the middle-of-the-road lineup the A’s are throwing out there, they’ll need to be rock-solid. The Angels, with the addition of Vlad the Impaler, are automatically better offensively. They added Colon and Escobar to a decent pitching staff. With the Mariners treading water and the Rangers, well, the Rangers, it’ll be between the A’s and Angels. I think the Angels will outperform offensive expectations and pull away.


They’ll get the wildcard, if for no other reason than they need another opportunity to lose in the playoffs.

NL EAST: Phillies

It pains me to jump on the bandwagon, but I like snarly Larry Bowa. Adding Billy Wagner to the pen and locking in the offense…oh, who am I kidding? I don’t care about the NL East as long as the Braves don’t win it again. Go Phillies! Or Marlins! Or Expos! Or Mets, for pete’s sake!


The Cardinals will have the same problem the Royals have – good offense, shaky pitching – but in a better division. The Cubs and ‘Stros will fight it out most of the season, with St. Louis lurking in the wings. In the end, the new-look Astros and their combo young guns-old hats starting staff will win out over the Cubs’ injury-prone combo young guns-old hats staff. But I wish the Cards well.

NL WEST: Umm, Padres

Sorry, dude. Your Dodgers are going to have to prove they can score a few runs. As for the Giants, I picked up “San Francisco OF” deep in the second round in my ESPN fantasy league draft (Bonds is not in the MLPA, so they can’t use his name). What? Did my fellow competitors really think Barry’d let the BALCO scare turn him back into a 190-pound weakling? Of course, the main reason I’m picking the Padres is that they’ve reintroduced the Swinging Friar logo on alternate home jerseys. Go, Monks!


See notes under AL Wildcard. Witnessing the Steve Bartman moment live may be one of the highlights of my baseball-on-TV-watching life.

So, what do you think?


Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Play ball!

Hello Ms. K:

Monday was opening day for the Dodgers and they got beat up by the Padres. But last night, woo-hoo, the Dodgers had a come from behind victory! They were down 4-0 but scratched their way back and won it in the bottom of the ninth. Young and often maligned Adrian Beltre came through with a two-run homer to tie it up it the 7th and then got a base hit in the bottom of the ninth and was plated by a pinch hit by oldster Robin Ventura.

Fans were pretty down on the new management as they didn't seem to be doing much until the dramatic last minute deal to bring in Milton Bradley, who grew up in Southern California.

Starting pitching is a concern as Nomo is older and so far has been shaky in spring training and got lit up on opening day. Ishii was rocky in spring training as well. Perez had an okay spring and Weaver remains a question mark as to whether he will live up to the potential they believe he has. Manager Tracy has opted to send his #5 starter, Edwin Jackson, down to Triple A as the fifth man won't get many starts prior to the All Star Break. As it is, Tracy will use mostly a four-man rotation with the occasional spot start by one of his long relievers.

Hitting was last year's big problem and so far the offense looks better though they stranded a whole bunch of people on opening day. Bradley's bat is much needed and all hope he will stay injury free and won't be a clubhouse and off-field problem. Hopefully, Green's bat will return to form. Lo Duca and Encarnacion are in the 5 and 6 spot.

Wanted to get your opinion on something I either heard or read from one of the local sports reporters. As you know they sometimes like to be provocative and so the comment: closers are over-rated!

The argument: they enter the game in the ninth inning, no outs but no one on base either and a one to three run lead. These guys make millions. Come on, any pitcher worth anything should be able to get three outs without getting bombed. OVER-RATED!

The argument continues: the real tough dudes are the SET-UP MEN! Here's the deal: tiring starter surrenders a few hits maybe even a few runs, the opposition is gaining confidence and has momentum, there are base runners on, the home crowd is going bananas, NOW, GO in THERE and PUT THE FIRE OUT!

Paycheck: maybe a few hundred thousand.

What do you think, Ms. Baseball?

How are the Royals doing?


Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Kari John-Jacob-Jingleheimer-Schmidt

Hi-De-Ho Rene,

As the Big Day approaches, I’m finding that everybody is interested in what name I’ll go by after the wedding. (Well, OK, not everybody.) Will I keep my maiden name? Take my husband-to-be’s?

The simple answer is that, like most women, I plan to take his name. As this article in Slate recently reported, the incidence of college-educated women in their 30s (like me) keeping their maiden names actually decreased between 1990 and 2000. It’s not a political statement; it’s just practical, particularly when kids are a possibility. In my experience, hyphenation also is becoming less common, as people have begun to anticipate the complications that will ensue when little John Doe-Schmo and Jane Smith-McGillicuddy grow up and decide to get married.

But the less simple answer is that I won’t throw myself into the change all at once. In social and legal settings, I plan to go by my new name immediately. But it will take a little longer to make the transition professionally. A large part of my job is based on relationships with a wide and heterogeneous network of people who know me by my current last name. Pulling the old switcheroo on them all at once would not be a good idea.

So for at least a year, I plan to use my maiden name as a middle name professionally, in hopes that the juxtaposition of the two surnames will help remind people of the new status quo. Sound like a plan?

Ask me in a few months how the name-changing thing went -- I've just printed out a set of how-to guidelines that is a bit intimidating. Apparently notifying Social Security takes care of you with the IRS, but just about every other agency, financial organization, or utility you deal with needs to be notified separately. Argh!


Sunday, April 04, 2004

Spring Break, Part II - Lausanne

Dear Kari:

Friday 19 March 2004

After a few hours in Geneva, we took to the road to Lausanne. In addition to utilizing maps and reading traffic signage we had a Garmin StreetPilot GPS to help us get around. Traffic in Geneva was quite snarled as the streets are narrow and the roads seem to wind in all different directions. But eventually, we got out of the downtown area and were on our way to Lausanne.

We parked the car at the Lausanne train station parking lot and walked over to see the St. Francis Church.

After that, we walked back to the train station to meet up with my friend, Michele, who lives in Bern. She took the train to Lausanne to meet up with us.

We went to have dinner at Le Pinocchio at Avenue de la Harpe 16.

Then we went to the Cathedral of Lausanne which is home to a brand new organ and we enjoyed a concert. Most things in Switzerland run on-time. We arrived at the Cathedral concerned the concert had started as we arrived 15 minutes after the stated start time for the concert. There were about 50-70 people enjoying the concert. Fortunately, on this occasion, they were very un-Swiss and we got tickets and seated with more than a few minutes to spare. Below is a photo after the end of the concert as people cleared out.

After the concert, Michele was kind enough to take over the wheel of our rental car and allowed us jet lagged travelers to just chat with her while she got us to her flat in Berne.

Travel tips:
* If I traveled solo, I probably would have got around with trains and other forms of public transport. But since there were three of us, using a car was more economical and much more flexible. Switzerland discourages car ownership with high gas prices ~ $4/gallon and parking meters.
* Speaking of parking meters, once on the ground, be sure to get some local currency and coins as everywhere you park a rental car you will need to feed parking meters

More to come...

Be well,

go to part III

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Spring Break Part I - Geneva

Dear Kari:

Well, here goes. I plan to recount my "spring break" trip on our humble blog space in short little bites.

Thursday 18 March 2004

Got on a 737 leaving Los Angeles early in the morning and arrived at Newark to catch a 767 to Geneva. I saw the film "Something has gotta give" to help pass the time. It is nice to see a movie about older adults. Is it a sign of my own aging that I liked the movie?

Friday 19 March 2004

Geneva time zone is +9 hours from Los Angeles. With a modest amount of sleep on the plane, we got our rental car and drove into downtown Geneva to look around. We parked the car in the underground lot near the Pont du Mont Blanc.

When you see spy movies and the setting is a European city I get a picture in my head. Well, as I wandered the streets of Geneva I felt like I was on a movie set!

Know of your fondess for dogs so I just had to share the picture of the "guard" dog taking it easy in front of this store.

My two travel companions, Leonard and Harold, enjoying the view at Lake Geneva. The famed Jet d'Eau is in the background. The stream is 140 meters tall!

The great view from the North Tower of the Cathedral St. Pierre where John Calvin preached from 1536-1564. 3 Swiss Francs to climb the steps.

Travel tips:
* Right now you get 1.2 Swiss Francs for each US Dollar. Switzerland recently joined the UN but remains outside the EU and doesn't use the Euro. ATM access to cash is easy in the big city.
* When using a phonecard to call international. Punch 00 + country code + area code + number. Anyway, I had a 10 Swiss Franc phone card and called the operator to ask for this bit of information cost me more Francs on my card than calling the USA!

More photos and travelogue to come.


Go to part II