4 Thoughts on Tonight’s All Star Game

1. Too many Cubs.
Four Cubs will start tonight for the National League. Originally five were in the lineup, but Dexter Fowler is injured. Five of eight starters were Cubs. Seriously, five of eight.

Here’s the thing about Cubs fans: because of superstation WGN they are everywhere, and in disproportionate numbers, especially for a team that posted 59 losing seasons out of 107 since they last won a World Series.

Yes the Cubs had the strongest start in the MLB, but they have lost 14 of their last 20 games. More importantly only one of those starters, Anthony Rizzo, clearly deserves the position. The others were outperformed by players receiving fewer votes. Some, and I’m looking at you, Addison Russell and Dexter Fowler, put up weaker stats than several of their colleagues.

Which brings me to…

2. Change the selection process. Please.
The fan voting process is ridiculous. I understand the value of involving fans, but why not let the fans choose the last few players after the starters and reserves have been chosen by the experts – coaches, players, and sports writers? And while they are making changes, how about each fan getting one vote? The current system, with fans choosing the starters and each fan getting 35 votes, results in many voters simply selecting players from their favorite team. It’s a nearly meaningless popularity contest.

Give the fans a smaller role. The resulting teams will be better, fairer, and more meaningful for the players. Keep the rule that each team sends at least one player, though. Team inclusion is at least as important as fan participation.

3. The whole home-team-advantage-for-the-World-Series thing.
While I understand the motivation for this move (former Commissioner Bud Selig wanted to make the game matter), and I remember the ugly mess that was the 2002 All Star game (which ended in a tie after both teams ran out of pitchers), it makes no sense for players who may have no relationship with the ultimate league champions to determine home team advantage in the World Series.

For that matter, the old method of alternating between leagues every year wasn’t fair either. The team with the best record deserves home field advantage, the way it’s done in basketball and hockey. If cities can be prepared to host playoffs for those sports, why is baseball any different?

4. Ugliest uniforms ever.
What was with those All Star uniforms in last night’s Home Run Derby? Brown and yellow with a font from the ‘60s? Yikes.

Enjoy tonight’s game. And may the future games include the best players and have no impact on the World Series. Oh, and Go A.L.!

Hopeful news for Meet the Press fans.

Good news from Politico:


EXCLUSIVE: “MEET THE PRESS” plans to announce new moderator soon: CHUCK TODD is the favorite

By MIKE ALLEN | 08/11/14 9:08 AM EDT
SIREN: Chuck Todd, a political obsessive and rabid sports fan, is the likely successor to David Gregory as moderator of “Meet the Press,” with the change expected to be announced in coming weeks, according to top political sources. The move is an effort by NBC News President Deborah Turness to restore passion and insider cred to a network treasure that has been adrift since the death in 2008 of the irreplaceable Tim Russert. Although Todd is not a classic television performer guaranteed to wow focus groups, his NBC bosses have been impressed by his love of the game, which brings with it authenticity, sources, and a loyal following among newsmakers and political junkies.

Gregory’s next move is unknown, but he’s unlikely to remain at the network – a stunning turn for a quick-rising star with a broadcasting polish and on-air versatility that once made him a natural candidate to be a future “Today” show host. It’s unclear whether Gregory or Todd knows about the big move, likely to be in place before year’s end.

The sources caution that nothing is definite or decided. “Meet” once dominated Sunday mornings, but ABC’s “This Week” – with 31-year-old Jonathan Greenberger as executive producer — has scored ratings wins with an increasingly eclectic lineup that emphasizes zippy packages over long interviews. CBS’s “Face the Nation,” with down-homey Bob Schieffer anchoring, has also scored ratings wins as “Meet” struggled.

Chuck, 42, now wears three hats for NBC: chief White House correspondent; host of “The Daily Rundown,” at 9 a.m. weekdays on MSNBC; and political director. The Miami native, an alumnus of George Washington University, was editor in chief of The Hotline when it was the mustest read for political insiders, and is as passionate about Miami Hurricanes college football as he is about campaign dynamics.

@ChuckTodd Twitter bio: “Political junkie; @NBCNews reporter & analyst; @msnbc @dailyrundown host; Covering politics since ’92; And, yes, I tweet about sports too.”

Some helpful info for Illinois voters

Capitol Fax (and the Dem Governors Assoc) with some info on Rauner and his condescension toward voters. I actually watched several minutes of his speech starting where they suggest (the 44:45 min mark), and found many more of his statements prettey outrageous, including points he makes about both Romney and himself.

* The Democratic Governors Association is trying to gin up the animosity toward Rauner…

As Chairman of GTCR, Bruce Rauner was a central figure in the formation of ConvergEx. As news breaks that ConvergEx’s CEO will be added to the list of Rauner’s indicted business associates – Rauner is again trying to distance himself from the CEO and the company he formed.

The truth is the that GTCR’s investment model includes picking company managers and management strategies. But Bruce Rauner is banking on the fact that you won’t understand how he made this money through private equity.

Rauner actually said, “Your average voter will never understand what private equity is and I’m not going to try to explain it too much. They’re not going to know.”


and there’s this as well:

rauner vs marriage equality





rauner against marriage equality

rauner against marriage equality

Don’t cry for me, guys.

I am a city person. While I enjoy a walk along the beach or through a botanic garden, I prefer exploring towns and cities. My husband and oldest son love the outdoors, camping, and living among nature. My idea of camping is a cheap hotel.

So every summer when my husband’s family vacations in the north woods, I stay home while my husband and sons join them in their musty, not-large-enough cabin for a week of outdoor adventures, slimy lake water, and bugs.

The week alone in my house has become treasured vacation time. Women get this; men do not. Over 15 or so years, I’ve heard a similar reaction from every single woman I’ve told about my “home alone” vacation:

“I’m so jealous.”
“I would kill to have my house to myself for a week.”
“Oh my God, you are so lucky.”
“How did you swing that?”

Men, on the other hand, all respond with some version of:

“Wow, aren’t you lonely?”

When I share the mens’ reaction with women they laugh. Hard. And often add, “NO I am not!”

I’m not sure why women enjoy time to themselves more than men do. I suspect one reason is that women who are moms get little time off when they are with their children. Many a mom has complained of spending family vacation time doing laundry, cleaning up, and sourcing meals. Not being responsible for anyone else’s needs becomes a rare treat, whether we are at home or on a beach. I love visiting beautiful places and spending time with friends and family, but staying home with just my own books, to-do lists, projects, and food to deal with is its own kind of bliss.

So don’t worry about me, guys. And fellow moms, don’t hate me because I have a week of peace. Especially since I’ll spend most of it finishing projects, working, and getting organized, until everyone comes home and our house and my life return to their normal state of chaos. At least my husband will do the musty, dirty, buggy laundry.

August 1 memory

The first of August always reminds me of this quirky Harry Nilsson song, Rainmaker.  A Pied Piper-esque tale of a selfish town that refused to compensate a man for his invaluable services, it resonates even more to my adult self. The music and lyrics are fun too.

Nilsson – Rainmaker
From the 1969 album ‘Harry’, this song was a joint effort between Nilsson and William Martin. It was originally recorded in mid-1968 and was issued in a radically different mono mix with slide guitar and one less verse (and it was slightly sped up).

November 22

I am among the youngest who remember JFK’s assassination.  My kindergarten class was gathered in our daily circle singing songs and listening to stories when we were interrupted by the principal’s voice over the public address system.  The president had been shot and killed, he told us, and Vice President Lyndon Johnson was being sworn in as President.  I remember picturing Johnson as a younger, handsome man (my 5 year old mind assumed a VP must be younger than a President, and weren’t all Presidents good-looking?) and being shocked when I saw the real new President, a weathered Texan who looked older than his 55 years.

Because I was so young, the actual memories mix with the endless video replays until I’m not sure what I witnessed live, but I remember watching so many iconic TV moments with my mother on our lone living room TV.  Jack Ruby shooting Lee Harvey Oswald, the funeral processions, John John’s salute.  All so long ago, yet seared in our collective consciousness whether we saw them live or many years later.

Now my sons share a similar universal memory of September 11, 2001. One was also in kindergarten. It makes me wonder if each generation is doomed to share at least one horrific moment. And it makes me hope, against all logic, that their generation has seen its last one.

The Nice/Smart Matrix

As anyone who provides a service knows, clients can be a pain. While working for my Worst Client Ever, I tried to figure out what made these folks exponentially more challenging than the others. Their fatal flaw, I concluded – and I’m talking about their whole team, not just one jerk – was that they added no value.  They were neither nice nor smart. That day a new theory of human worthiness was born for my colleagues and me, and I’ve found it applies far beyond the workplace.

Our first choice, of course, is to surround ourselves with those who are both thoughtful and intelligent. Smart folks tend to contribute more valuable insight, advice, and results than do the less smart among us. They expose us to new ideas, they challenge our thinking, and they make us better at whatever we’re trying to do. We’d also take the nice guy over the not-nice one. No one enjoys dealing with a colleague, client, or neighbor who’s mean, inconsiderate, or rude, and nearly everyone appreciates caring and consideration.

nice-smart graphic

But we don’t all fit in the Nice/Smart box and, as always, there are tradeoffs. I’m happy to work with those who are smart but a bit socially clueless (Not-Nice/Smart). Their insightful analysis or creative solutions help move a project, or a client’s business, forward. Many super-achievers, like Steve Jobs and Thomas Edison, might be found in this quadrant. Of course if their not-niceness is extreme, their personality issues may negatively impact the usefulness of their work and their recommendations. In those situations a Nice/Not-Smart team member might play a schmoozing role to compensate for colleagues who lack skills in managing relationships. Both these types add value, and we benefit from and appreciate their contributions.

All of us love people who are Nice/Not-Smart. While they may not be the ones we choose to debate world issues or discuss literature and philosophy, they’re often our favorite lunch dates, golf buddies, soccer mom friends, or board member colleagues, not to mention cherished family members. Similarly Not-Nice/Smart folks help make our town and school boards more effective or keep us current on issues or provide helpful advice in their areas of expertise.

Then there are those in the Not-Nice/Not-Smart quadrant. What about them, you ask? They make us miserable. They cause stress, bad decisions, unfortunate results, needless pain and suffering. We dread dealing with them, and they likely need more help than we can give them as friends or colleagues. Unless the relationship is one in which recommending counseling is constructive and appropriate, they are best avoided.  My Not-Nice/Not-Smart clients wasted time and money and wound up with a weaker plan because they lacked both people skills and judgment.

So that’s my handy tool for understanding who is worth your time, and why.  When someone drives you crazy you can use the matrix to understand what value he or she brings to the party. If you’re fortunate, you’ll realize that most of your contacts fall into the Nice/Smart quadrant, and those who don’t provide beneficial insight (smart) or needed diplomacy (nice). If you’re not so lucky you can at least identify the Not-Nice/Not–Smart folks more quickly. And run.

The Five Stages of Facebook. And Grief.

Yes, we’ve all seen too many parodies of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s stages of grief.  This isn’t another one.  Not really.

The Facebook story I planned to write dealt with ways in which people use it toward different ends and the conflict, confusion, and frustration that friends experience when their ends differ. (See the many cartoons mocking political posters and posters of food.)

But man makes plans and God laughs, as they say, and my topic has changed.  From what I’ve seen there are also five, maybe six, stages of our relationship with Facebook.

  1. Denial.  I shied away from Facebook for years.  Shy doesn’t really describe my aversion. “Who has time for that?”  “It’s a fad.  It’ll pass.” “It’s not for serious people.” This stage may include curiosity, “You’re on Facebook.  Can you look up an old high school friend for me?”
  2. Anger. “Facebook reminds me of an ongoing family holiday letter. As if we didn’t get enough of those every December.” An attempt to join quietly just to check it out led to anger and discomfort when I immediately received friend requests from several folks who’d given up their address book to Facebook to make automatic connections.  This creeped me out – too Big Brother – and I immediately canceled my Facebook presence while it was insignificant enough to erase easily.
  3. Bargaining. “I need to use Facebook to monitor what’s going on in social media regarding (fill in your own interest here).”  I began solely to follow a political campaign I worked on – the candidates, the media, supporters, volunteers, and voters.  I thought I could limit my participation to practical political research and work.  Right.
  4. Understanding.  Here’s where the stages for grief and Facebook diverge. Kubler-Ross’s 4th state is Depression.  If Facebook causes depression, opt out.  It’s not important or valuable enough.  Most of us understand its practicality as an easy way to keep in touch, keep up with an interest, or share photos and experiences.
  5. Acceptance.  Facebook may be a huge time suck, but I find enough worthwhile posts that I’d rather continue than quit.  My friends share articles, quotes, and videos I might otherwise miss. Reading their posts adds another set of sources to my news-junkie habit, and it’s nice to see what old friends are up to.
But what do these 5 stages of Facebook have to do with grief?

This week one of my son’s closest friends died.  He was 19.

His parents, who did their best to pretend Adam (not his real name) didn’t exist while he lived, continued their effort.  Adam’s friends and their parents sat in stunned silence as we learned of his parents’ plans.  No funeral.  No obituary.  No release of information as to where our friend is buried or how we can come together as a community to grieve.  As a friend who counsels teens told me, “It is tantamount to denying his existence.”

Of course Adam’s friends decided to organize a service to honor and remember his life.  Facebook allowed easy access, and they began to reach out to his hundreds of contacts.

Then, 4 days after his death, Adam’s parents took down his Facebook page.

As anyone knows who has lost someone recently, especially one who died young, Facebook has become the communal grieving place.  Friends and family leave messages on the walls of the dead for years. They connect with others who share their loss and their grief, and they write letters to the ones who’ve passed away as well.

What kind of parents stand in the way of loving friends who simply want to mourn together?  Knowing their history with Adam and others makes their behavior less surprising, but no less shocking and no less sad.

The young adults and their parents who loved this boy remain devastated, sickened, and so angry.  We will work together to create a memorial for our friend and for ourselves. We will make it happen. There will be laughter, many tears, and profound sadness.

Adam’s Facebook page could have been a helpful tool, and without it we will be missing many mourners.

Eventually our anger will subside, and I believe we will find some peace.  But I’ve entered a new stage with Facebook, one I never expected: deep appreciation.