Joseph Shaw

Telling Stories about God, Baseball, and Everything In Between

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Bhavna from Hoboken

An email correspondence with a recruiter…

Him: Are you interested in a 6 month, contract, B.I. position in Hoboken, NJ, paying $15/hr? Sincerely, Bhavna.

Me: Does it comes with free beer?

Bhanvna: No. Sincerely, Bhavna.

Me: No thank you, then. Also, how do you pronounce, “Bhavna,” anyway?

Bhavna: It’s pronounced, “Bhavna.” Sincerely, Bhavna

Me: Well played, sir. We’ll played.

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That Giant Sucking Sound

Sometimes its fun to watch things implode. I usually reserve that feeling for large buildings and, perhaps, contestants on “The Voice.” It’s not so much fun when the players on your favorite team implode. Here’s my attempt to figure out why.

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Eliott Loves To Run

Eliott likes to run.

Scratch that. Eliott LOVES to run. On rainy days, when he’s cooped up inside, he runs from one side of the living room to the other, just to get his legs moving. It’s only a few steps, but a few steps is all he needs. He backs up, scrunching himself against the wall like a cat preparing to pounce, then blasts off, full force to the opposite side of the room, where he relies on a wall, a piece of furniture, or maybe even his brothers to stop his momentum.

He does this over and over again. For hours. No matter what, he has to keep moving.

I used to be like that. When I was a kid, I’d go down to my grandma’s house and toss a tennis ball against her house. I’d catch it with my ball glove and toss it back again and again. I played entire baseball games there, setting up a complicated system of rules where, depending on where on the vinyl siding the ball hit, it would be a ball or a strike or a hit. If it was a hit, I’d have to catch it and throw it back to get the runner out. A game would take about two hours. Sometimes I’d play several games, there at my Grandma’s house, over the course of a day.

I played real baseball games, too, with actual people. I rode bikes, and swam, and ran and climbed trees in the woods. I was fairly active when I was a kid.

And yet somehow I grew up fat. I lost the weight some in my 20s, back when all I had to do was work full time and go to school part time. But now, with a wife, four kids, a demanding job and a bum knee, its hard to keep in any kind of shape that isn’t circular.

But today, I read some research of childhood obesity. It seems that the number one contributor to childhood health and avoiding obesity is the influence of the father. If I’m fat, they’ll be fat. If I’m fit, they’ll be fit, too.

I went on a walk for lunch yesterday. It was nothing special. Just a mile around the block by my office. I’ll try for two miles today since yesterday was kinda easy. I’ll try to do some ab/core exercises tonight and maybe one of the many exercise dvds we have tomorrow morning. I’ll start talking with the kids about it, too. Maybe they’ll want to exercise more. And maybe I’ll find some fun stories to share here, this first Fat Tuesday post.

I’m excited and I hope it goes well. Because Eliott loves to run, and I’d like to see him keep doing that.

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The Loveable Everyman

I have a soft spot in my heart for the Loveable Everyman. I don’t know why. He’s the guy who gets by on grit and nothing else. The guy who out works everyone until he wins.

Maybe it’s the idea that even an Average Joe can find success in the land of opportunity that excites me. No matter how great or how small, everyone has a chance if they’re willing to work for it.

I like that.

I published my second article with Redleg Nation today. It was about the passing of the everyman torch from previous fan favorite, Corky Miller, to the next generation.

Read More.

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Something Might Happen

I just started writing, on an extremely part-time basis, for the good folks at Redleg Nation. My first article went up this morning. It’s about Opening Day, and you can read it here.

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How To Chase a Dream When Your Kids Keep Barfing On You

If you’re like me, and words like “practicality” and “logistics” and “planning” make you dizzy, you probably spend a great deal of time staring out the window, dreaming about all the fun things you hope to do with your life…later on.

The problem is, if you don’t pull out the dictionary from time to time and see what all these fancy quotation-marked words mean, you’ll never get past the dreaming stage and start moving toward reality.

This is doubly true if you have kids.

Today, I shared some thoughts on Ryan Avery’s blog about the logistics of chasing a dream while dealing with the reality of living Actual, Real, Life, and all the responsibilities that come with it.

Check it out here.

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Recruiters: Not What They’re Cracked Up To Be


If you’re out there looking for a job, you may be tempted to throw your efforts into working with recruiters. This can work out well for you if you keep two very important rules in mind as you proceed;
  1. Recruiters work for potential employers. They do not work for you. If they can get you into a new job as quickly as possible, they will, even if it means getting you somewhere that is a horrible fit.
  2. Recruiters are often ignorant of the requirements they hope to meet in their search for potential new employees.
Observe…
Hello Joseph,
I came across a position I thought would interest you. Please take a moment to review this opportunity and let me know if you would like to learn more.
Position: Tableau Developer
Location: Newark, DE
Required Skills: 
1) 5+ years of Tableau 8 development experience.
2) Ability to rapidly develop Tableau dashboards
3) Ability to quickly understand reporting requirements and translate them into actionable visualizations.
4) Experience working with complex data sets.
5) Assist with requirements, testing, and production of Data Quality Reporting
6) Good communication skills to assist and lead training across the team
My Response…

Sounds Interesting!

Quick question: If Tableu 8 was released in March of 2013, how is it possible to have 5+ years of experience with it? Unless…Are you e-mailing me from the future!

Oh boy!

What’s it like in the future? Has the planet melted? Are there constant riots (we’re currently dealing with the Baltimore riots. Do you remember those? Did they end quickly? I sure hope so)? Have the CIncinnati Bengals finally put together team that can win a playoff game?

I have so many questions. If you have a phone number where I can call you in the future, I’d love to talk about stuff further.

As things stand, I only have two years of experience with Tableau 8. If I get this job and you pull me through an Einstein-Rosen bridge to the future, will I be given credit for the extra year of development I technically never experienced? What if I locate a DeLorean like from Back to the Future? Would that help?

I look forward to hearing again … FROM THE FUTURE!

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Snow

I loved winter when I was a kid. I hate it now because I’m old and one of the signs you’re getting old is when cold weather turns you into a troll, but I loved winter when I was a kid. It meant hot chocolate, late night movies on the weekends (eating buckets of popcorn, warming our feet under the radiator next to the tv in the living room), snow days off school, and sledding down the many hills in our neighborhood. I grew up in Greenhills, a suburb of Cincinnati, and you KNOW we did a lot of sledding because we had the word “hills” right there in the name.

The best place to go sledding in Greenhills was behind the high school. There was a monstrous hill just behind the library that went down for what seemed like a few stories, flattened out across the soccer field, and dropped off into the woods on the other side. All the kids showed up there at the first hint of snow, waiting for just enough coverage to make it down without pulling up clumps of sod and rolling.

By mid-January the hill had a nice, protective armor of ice and snow, shined to a perfect smoothness by the relentless barrage of the neighborhood kids and their many trips down. The goal was to attack the hill with enough speed to send you flying across the soccer field and off the edge of the field, into the woods. We had no idea what would happen if we actually accomplished this, but everyone there knew it would be “totally cool” if we did.

One year, we got a huge snowstorm, one of those blizzards that dumps several feet worth of snow in just a few hours. Everyone in the neighborhood gathered at the high school the following morning to take advantage of this gift. Rather that slide down the hill like normal, we brought shovels and, instead, spent three days building a snow track with high edges leading straight down the hill and across the field. It was like a rudimentary luge ramp, only perfectly straight and made entirely out of snow. With this, we said, we couldn’t accidentally dart sideways. With this, we said, we can make it all the way to the woods.

Once we had it built, Matt Kemper from Cromwell road got the bright idea to smooth it out with our sleds and douse the whole course with water just before nightfall.

The next morning, Adam Hester, a tall third grader from Damon Road, stood atop the hill, waiting for the right moment. He set his bright orange sled at the top of the ramp, stood back about ten yards, and took a running start. He leapt through the air and hit the sled, which took off like a bullet, leaving a cloud of slow and ice in his wake. It was like watching the Roadrunner speeding away from Wile E. Coyote. The only difference was this was real life, and a few short seconds into Adam’s trip, we all knew this would end badly.

He flew across the soccer field, hurtling toward the edge of the field leading to the drop-offs into the woods and he never slowed down. “It was the water that did the trick,” Matt Kemper said later, with a mixture of pride and horror. “I thought of that.”

Adam hit the drop-off at full speed, rose into the air a few feet like the General Lee in the Dukes of Hazzard, then dropped into the woods and out of sight. We heard a few crashes, then a brief silence, and then a loud wail that signified Adam had landed somewhere below, likely in an uncomfortable position.

It took us a good hour to get Adam back up the hill. Several kids had gone to get his parents by then and an ambulance had arrived to take him to the hospital. Adam’s parents gave us stern looks and admonishments to “be more careful” and lectures that we should “act like men, not boys” and promises that they would “call all your parents just as soon as we get home.”

Then they got in their car, leaving the rest of us in silence to ponder what we had done. In the coming weeks, we would learn that Adam had broken an arm, his leg, his collarbone, and two bones in his left foot. He had suffered a concussion and a laceration across his back so deep they wondered about the kind of scar it would leave. He was on crutches for several months and was unable to play baseball the following spring. Later, we would learn an important lesson about the need to plan carefully and always pay attention to the dangers that lay waiting for us just over the next ridge.

But all of that was later. That day, standing in the snow by ourselves, we did the only thing you can expect of young boys with a pile of snow, an abundance of time, and several new sleds.

We said, “That was cool. I’m next!”

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New Year’s Eve

Back when I was a younger man (with hair … and the mistaken belief that I knew everything … and did I mention the hair?), New Year’s Eve was my favorite holiday. Christmas was mostly fun, and it certainly ranked. The Fourth of July was also fun but too hot for my taste. Halloween and St. Patrick’s Day were basically the same thing as New Year’s Eve: an excuse to dress like an idiot and drink enough to justify the bad decisions I already planned to make.

You might think they’d blend together, but New Year’s Eve was different. It had the big countdown and the dropping ball in Times Square. Plus, if there was enough mistletoe leftover from Christmas, there was always the chance I might get to kiss someone at midnight, provided they were like me and had consumed enough alcohol to justify bad decision making (this was well before I was married. And the person I was always trying to kiss is now my wife, proving once and for all that persistence trumps good looks and personal accomplishments nine out of ten times).

We don’t go out on New Year’s Eve anymore. It’s hard to do when you have kids (and the “it’s hard to do when you have kids” line works well when your friends ask why you’re staying in and you don’t feel like saying you’ve grown fond of a 10:00 bed time and anything more than a glass or two of wine gives you a nasty headache the following morning). This year, we had a couple friends over to play board games. We stayed up to watch the ball drop and comment about the strangeness of “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” now that Dick Clark has passed away.

As the clock on the screen counted down to zero, I got to thinking about time and how much things changed in 2012. Time moves almost imperceptibly, so slow we don’t often notice. The face you see in the mirror might look the same to you every morning, but go back to photos from five, ten, or twenty years and that face might look different.

“I used to think parachute pants were cool?” you might say, laughing at yourself.

Or maybe … “I was still in high school back then. I was so close with everyone in that picture, but now I can’t even remember their names.”

Or maybe even … “That was before the divorce. Back when mom was still alive, and we lived in that house on the cul-de-sac with the big tree in the backyard, and my kids still smiled a lot and laughed at all my jokes.”

Time moves so slow we don’t often notice. But it still moves. And when it finally piles up on you – in pictures, in videos, in moments next to the television wondering what happened to Dick Clark – it can make you laugh, it can warm your heart, it can shock you, and it can even make you cry. Time is an old, bald cheater in the Game of Life, as Ben Johnson once said, and he does his best work when we’re not looking.

But not at New Year’s. Time can’t touch us then.

There’s an abundance of hope at New Year’s. That’s what I like about it. It’s infectious.  All the mistakes you made last year are wiped clean. You get a do-over, a new slate full of hope for what’s to come; a kind of semi-Jubilee. I think we could use more of that in our lives. Stuff piles up from time to time and it’s nice to set it down occasionally, and walk away. If we could occasionally wipe the slate clean for ourselves and each other, we might be a bit better off. I’m an optimistic person, more or less, so I like that.

Here’s hoping 2012 treated you well. And, if it didn’t, here’s hoping 2013 is better. Here’s hoping you got your Jubilee or at least a chance to change your perspective and find something great for yourself, your friends, your family and everyone in your life.

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This One Belongs to the Reds

Description:
Is Baseball about winning? Or is it about something else? Author Joseph Shaw tells a story of generations linked through America’s pastime.

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