Category Archives: Off Topic

Saturday baseball series 4-17-21

Last week I said I should start a series about baseball. Baseball and series seem to go together naturally. So why not?

This series will cover things like the rules of baseball over time, my experiences playing baseball, my experiences broadcasting baseball, and my experiencing broadcasting overall.

When I went to UCSB, I took the opportunity to broadcast sports. The origin story will be in some future post, but this one, I’ll limit to to broadcasting baseball.

When I the KCSB-FM Sports Staff, I was very interested in broadcasting baseball. I had played baseball as a child, in high school, Senior Little League, an LA municipal league. I grew up watching the Dodgers and listening to Vin Scully. I was born shortly before the Dodgers won the World Series in 1988, and until recently, it was easy to recite how long it had been since the boys in blue had been able to hoist the Commissioner’s Trophy.

Unfortunately for me, there was a lot of competition on KCSB Sports staff for baseball games.

Fortunately for the listeners of KCSB, though, there was a lot of competition on KCSB Sports staff for baseball games, and I had no seniority.

I got to cover games for the Gaucho Sports Spot, which was awesome. I sat near the guys who were calling the games for the radio station. Regularly, they were John Greely and Matt Connolly and I think Marco Alfandary. I could be wrong. But I think it was those three.

That’s not to say that these guys were selfish. They weren’t. KCSB Sports was known for being welcoming and inclusive. But with more time comes more experience that makes you better, so priority makes sense–especially for the big games.

They’d have their headphones on and talk about the game. They’d reference other games and statistics and they’d compare what was going on in front of all of us to something that had happened in a prior year.

Now, I knew that to broadcast sports properly, research was extremely important.

You don’t know what you’ll be faced with, so you have to overprepare. And then use a miniscule amount of what you found because it doesn’t enhance a listener’s experience to talk about something unrelated to the game solely because it’s the result of research.

I knew that the written play-by-play of each game is generally easily available on a college team’s website, but who can remember every single play from reading that and put it into context in real time?

After one game, I asked them how they did it.

“Huh? Research those stories? No, we were there. We saw those things happen. Dude how could we have known to look that up?”

Later I got to do the same.

Woodworking: First-ever cushions project (Part 3)

I left off last week in my seat cushion project having purchased the plywood boards I wanted but without a way to cut them to size. In a complete nonadventure, I purchased the jigsaw blades from amazon.

I had done a lot of research into which blades I needed because jigsaw blades come in many teeth arrangements. I learned that a 10 TPI (teeth per inch) blade is good for plywood, so that’s what I used. I got a multipack, so now I have ample supply. Also I guess there is no immediate need to expand my DeWalt set to include a cordless jigsaw because I have all these U-shank blades. Longtime readers of this blog know how my DeWalt set continues to expand.

Finally equipped with the tools I needed to cut the boards to size, it became a matter of tracing and actually cutting.

Rather than measuring, I used the perfect stencil: the prior seat board! And, lined up, it looked pretty good to me. And I did the same with the other chair so I could knock out

I clamped the board to my table, which is a super important step when cutting so it doesn’t chatter away or get grabbed and stuck in the teeth of the saw and just go out of control.

Then to the cutting. Now, I hadn’t used a jigsaw in I don’t know how long, so I was hopeful that I wouldn’t screw things up. I checked that the blade was firmly in place because, as I mentioned, this is a U-shank blade. A T-shank blade is supposed to snap into place without such concerns. Like how my impact driver bits snap into place for a quick change without having to tighten a chuck. I’ve not used a T-shank jigsaw, but this is my understanding of it.

That went well. Apparently, I have no pictures of the first cuts, but I do for the second board.

Things were looking up. The jigsaw was very easy to use.

I had spent all that time researching how to get pre-cut boards, and all it took to get some in this shape was a few quick cuts.

I was well on my way, sure, but the edges were rough. I had to find a way to chamfer them. But with all my tools, I didn’t have any planes. And I’d long learned my lesson that trying to sand a corner is a tedious process that makes lots of dust and is unreliable for a uniform surface.

I began to research planes. More on that next week.

Baseball is back!

Yesterday (today when I’m writing this) was Opening Day at Dodger Stadium. This reminds of near to when Calah and I were newly dating.

My friend Joe Scala came to visit from New York, and as we had gone to a Yankee game when I visited him (story on that another time), he and I went to Chavez Ravine during his trip out here. Calah joined us.

We got tickets near the foul pole in right field.

I don’t remember who won, but it was a lot of fun. We took Uber there and back, and the Uber story is worth telling, too. I think this is the first part of a baseball series.

Aren’t you excited?

Woodworking: First-ever cushions project (Part 2)

A cushion is made of three basic parts: the cover we all see, the padded part we know is there, and the board that is the structural foundation.

I had figured that cushions are somewhat standardized, so I should probably just be able to buy new cushions instead of making my own. I spent hours trying to find sites that sold seat cushions. I found one that sells to churches, but the reviews were mixed at best, and the cushions weren’t the proper size.

I tried to find just the boards that had been precut to the proper size.

But there was no luck.

Finally I watched enough YouTube videos to be convince that I needed to cut my own boards.

Luckily for me, Calah has a jigsaw. Unfortunately, she didn’t have blades for the jigsaw.

But that was OK because I didn’t have any wood to cut.

The boards that had been used for the old cushions were 3/8″-thick crap plywood. Just three plies, and there were gaps all over the place. Knots in the wood added further inconsistencies and gaps.

Cushions don’t have to be pretty all the way through, but since the old boards had lost integrity, I wanted to start off with something better. It’s possible that the crap boards had only recently started to sag, but there was no guarantee of that being the case. Though, of course, I had wandered around to see if there was any abandoned plywood that had been used to board up windows in the area before deciding the best move was to buy new plywood.

After some research, I decided to go with 1/2″, 7-ply plywood from lowe’s. I ordered it online for curbside pickup along with jigsaw blades.

This jigsaw is designed for U-shank blades, but quicker-change, T-shank blades are the new standard. No matter, there were many packs of U-shank shown as in stock at the local Lowe’s, so I was fine ordering those.

But when I went to pick up my order, they informed me that they didn’t have the U-shank blades after all.

I left Lowe’s with the wood I needed but nothing to cut with.

More on this next week.

Woodworking: First-ever cushions project (Part 1)

This cushions series is related to the chairs series. Last week I shared that the frames turned out pretty nicely, but my college roommate’s reaction to a picture of them was that they “looked like a torture device from [2006 James Bond film] Casino Royale.” No link or picture. You can look that up.

My initial idea was to wrap the original cushions in a fabric. There are many YouTube videos that explain how easy it is to reupholster cushions simply by rewrapping them.

Given the work it seemed like it would be to entirely redo the cushions, that sounded ideal.

The cushions couldn’t be used as they were. The one in better condition looked like it had been stabbed a bunch of times with a paring knife.

The one that was in worse condition looked like it had been sliced open by Doug from Scrubs.

Wrapping the stabby one seemed like it could work! And I have fabrics galore for that to be a valid approach.

But first I decided to see if there was any significance to the markings on the cushions.


Tyson 23 x 20?

21 x 25?

What I didn’t want to do was destroy something that would be Antiques Roadshow-worthy.

Mind you, the chairs had been painted orange, and I had refinished them, including tearing through some veneer, but maybe there was something to these chairs after all.

I went to reddit with these questions. If anyone would know, it would be various reddit communities. The woodworking ones certainly are eager to o-pine.

There were various interpretations. None of them was correct. Also none of them indicated that the chairs and cushions had any value. I was free to do what I wanted.

I had fabric, Calah’s staple gun, cushions to reupholster.

But then I realized that the boards for the seats were sagging.

If I couldn’t trust the integrity of the seats themselves — and now clearly I couldn’t — simple reupholstery would not suffice.

I had to start anew.

More next week!

Passover Seder: Wise and Wicked Sons

Hello from the first day of Passover! There will be no Spelling Bee post tonight because I won’t be at my computer again until tomorrow night. I’ve started writing this post in advance. It’s actually the evening of March 1 right now.

Each Passover means something different to me, and each part is a reminder of how the core of the holiday is to remember to challenge what you’re told.

That’s not to say that all that you’re told is wrong.

It’s important to try to figure out if it makes sense.

The rules of Passover (e.g. no leavened bread) are unusual. That there’s tons of cleaning involved in order to avoid even the chance of consuming leavening is extreme. And crazy.

But that’s the point.

We’re supposed to ask why we’re doing weird stuff.

It’s easy to fall into a rut. it’s easy for every day to look the same. If you’re numb to everything going on around you, it’s easy to become complacent. This holiday is a real shakeup.

But for those who still just follow along, the Seder has many points where it reminds just to ask.

Why is this night different from all other nights? is the most famous of them.

There’s a section with the Four Sons. There’s a wise son, a wicked son, a simple son, and a son who doesn’t even know to ask.

The wise son and wicked son ask very similar questions:

Wise son essentially asks: “What are these things that the almighty has commanded you to do?”

Wicked son essentially asks: “Of what purpose is this work to you?”

Every year I’ve wondered what the difference is because the explanation to each is different.

The wise son is told some cool stuff about the holiday while the wicked son is told to scram.

Neither the wicked son nor the wise son necessarily comes with prior knowledge or belief. Neither son necessarily leaves agreeing with what’s said to him.

I realized only this year that a difference is the willingness to discuss openly. The wise son is willing to have a conversation. The wise son is challenging in order to hear something. The wicked son is challenging to, you know, be a dick.

But you can’t learn anything simply by being a dick.

Arboreal upset in windy Los Angeles

Whoosh! LA has been crazy with sustained winds in the teens and gusts in the 30s and above. This has led

From the craigslist post

Someone posted on craigslist free stuff that there’s a tree for free with curbside pickup.

I find it extra funny that the tree itself picked up part of the curbside.

I saved a copy of the post to so it would last for forever.

Have a great Wednesday, everyone!

Woodworking: First-ever chairs project (Part 10 frame finale)

I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. The chairs were physically coming together nicely. I cannot overstate the level of relief because it looked so unlikely partway through.

My favorite finish is teak oil. I’ve written before about how I like that it protects the wood from within rather than a layer that rests on top like polyurethane. I also like how it pulls out the grain of the wood rather hiding it under a stain.

Yeah, it’s very clear where I sanded right through the veneer, but based on where I stared, I kinda like it. You know, in the way that I’ll be more careful next time.

Despite the darkness of the wood, I intentionally used the Minwax stainable filler so it would stand out. For future projects, I’m considering venturing into making my own wood filler, but that wasn’t something I wanted to do for these. The wood exposed that had been hidden by the veneer played a part in this decision.

The arm that had the tear-outs couldn’t stay that way.

I repaired the damaged arm with contrasting wood filler and sanded it smooth to be flush with the arm.

The light color serves as an accent there, too, and an intentional exposure of the flaws.

Ultimately, the chairs came out pretty nicely. I learned that this type of chair is called a ladder-back chair. I’m uncertain if this is more deco than it is modern or the reverse. I feel like it’s a good fit with a modern furniture style.

Additionally exciting was that this is what I’d expected upon breaking through the orange paint.

The rich, deep color of the wood and the accompanying glowing reflection in sunlight is just what I hope for whenever I use teak oil, and I was not disappointed here at all.

But there was something very obviously missing from these.

My venture into cushions starts next week.

How I picked my bracket

My March Madness bracket fails too early too frequently. After hearing about Nick Dopuch’s CoinFlipBets as a way to determine which teams would win football games, I decided to try my hand at creating a bracket with random selections.

Flipping a coin 63 times isn’t difficult. However, it is error-prone, as it may depend on if you start the coin as heads-up or tails-up and other issues.

So I used the =rand() function in Excel.

The drawback of =rand() is that every time Excel does anything afterward, the cells that contain =rand() produce a new random number.

I decided to run all 63 at once and then copy and paste values.

Because these operations made me lose the first number, I jotted that one down.

I then made an A or B formula where if the random number is great than 0.5 on the 0-to-1 range, show a B; otherwise show an A.

A’s represented the team written physically above its opponent in the bracket. The B’s represented the team written physically below its opponent in the bracket.

The random A or B would determine how I would mark my bracket.

For the championship game between 15 Iona and 8 Loyola Chicago, I divined Loyola Chicago’s score of 72 over Iona’s 68.

As of Friday afternoon, this hasn’t worked perfectly. But there’s a ton of basketball left to play!