Getting there…

I went into town yesterday after work.  It’s not a far drive, 8km or so…  I had to check mail, got my umpiring cheque from CABUA for July’s umpiring.  Always nice to get money in the mail.  I stopped by the Municipal building to register Blondie, Hera and Twix.  It is $25 per year.  Now, I didn’t realize it’s a calendar year, so they are registered for 4.5 months but I still paid for the entire 2018 year.  Oh well.  I will need to pay again in January.  Anyway, they are registered and in the off-chance they take off one day and are picked up by animal control, I will get them back anyway.  They know who feeds them and takes care of them though, so I doubt that will happen.  Blondie and Hera stick pretty close and listen pretty well, Twix is a bit of a rebel though and is stubborn as well.  Not sure where she gets that from, I am not at all stubborn.  So, that’s taken care of.

I filled a propane tank, it was under $20 to fill, I am sure it used to be way more expensive.  Guess not.  I now have lots of propane, should not run out any time soon.  Speaking of propane, the large tank was filled, well not filled but it has propane in it anyway.  I will have it completely filled in October I think.  For now, it is 1/4 full.  A full tank will be around $1800 and should last 2.5-3 years, I am told.  All depends on how cold it gets in the winter of course.  I keep the house pretty cool (19C) and the house also has a wood burning stove so that will help.

Things are coming into place.  I hope to be done everything this coming weekend.  I have been fairly lazy this week in the evening, watching baseball.  Speaking of baseball, I was watching the Rockies @ Braves last night.  The Rockies were down 3-2 heading into the top of the 9th, they scored 3 runs to go ahead and held the Braves in the bottom half of the inning, an excellent come-back win and against a team I really don’t care for.  Great job Rocs !!!

Anyway, the weekend is almost here.  Try to enjoy, I know I will.

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Settling in…

This is now day 5 of me in my new house.  The dogs have lived here longer than I have, but, for some reason, they did not do any organization of the house while I was gone.

Mostly everything is done now.  The kitchen is 90% done, I just have to remove some boxes, likely into the basement.  I need to assemble my desk but I will need some assistance with that.  I then just need to put all of my clothes away.  I think I may make a run to Goodwill or another charity and done some stuff.  I have clothes that are in great condition that I have not worn in ages.  Someone might as well get use of it.

The property management company needs to do some work in the house as well.  They will be replacing the shower stall and doing electrical work in the house, changing some locks and hanging some doors that were taken off (for unknown reasons) as well as getting new garbage and recycling bins as it looks like the previous tenant may have taken them.  I have no idea why someone might take garbage and recycling bins, it seems rather odd.  The shed in the backyard also needs to be fully cleaned out and a lot of junk removed.  All of this is supposed to start today and should only take a few days.

I have also switched my cell service from Freedom to Rogers.  I have no issues with Freedom, they have been great, but I am outside of their home area now and my roaming plan with them doesn’t really give me enough data.  I do have enough call time and texting but going to a National carrier, until Freedom gets to that point will be better over all.  Rogers shipped my new SIM card and it was supposed to arrive yesterday, it didn’t.  I originally wanted it shipped to my PO Box, of course, UPS can’t deliver to a PO Box so I provided my physical address.  I am guessing that UPS can’t locate my physical address.  It’s not like I live in the wilderness, I am right off a major highway, just outside a small town.  If Google Maps can find me, one might assume that UPS can as well. I sort of expect to get a phone call from them, likely today.  If not, I guess I need to contact Rogers again and see what the options are.  I will be in Lethbridge on Saturday (for dog food) so I guess I can drop by a Rogers store then, if needed.  We will see.

I am enjoying it out here thus far, mind you, we don’t have 3 feet of snow on the ground.  Ask me again come winter.  🙂  The dogs are also enjoying the freedom, they are always off leash and have a large area to explore plus a pond/lake to swim in.  I’d guess that is a pretty good life for a dog.  Hera will love winter, Blondie likely will too.  Ask Twix how she likes it, come winter – you will likely get a different answer.

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The Final Rankings

Umpiring at the Cal Ripken World Series was an experience of a lifetime.  I met 10 of the best umpires I have ever worked with.

It was a varied collection.  There were four international umpires.  Myself, from Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Puerto Rico were represented.  The rest were from the US, two from California, Texas, Indiana, two more from Arkansas and the UIC is from New Jersey.

We all got along well and we all bugged the shit out of each other.  I was bugged because I am from Canada, naturally.  The initial impression from most of the group is that Canadians are friendly.  Well, I guess I threw that stereotype out the window, not that I am unfriendly, but I guess I wasn’t what they expected of a “typical” Canadian.

I am unsure how it started, but at some point early on, I ranked a few of my fellow umpires, from 1, the umpire I liked the best, to 11, the umpire I liked the least.  California #2 was quite desperate to be ranked #1, I am not quite sure why, but he was.

The Aussie was initially #1 because he was so easy going and so quiet – he never bashed me, because I was a Canadian.  One of the nights that we went to Appleby’s for dinner, Indiana picked up the cheque for everyone there, it was quite nice of him – this got him an immediate jump to the #1 spot.  I don’t think this went over well with California #2, that elusive #1 spot was not his…

California #1 was staying at the same hotel as I was.  If he hadn’t been ranked #1 somewhere along the line, he’d have punched me in the face.  Indiana was also at the same hotel, he acted as my chauffeur for the second half of the week, after I decided that my roomie from Texas was trying to kill me.  The two from Arkansas were characters, exactly as I might picture people from Arkansas to be.  I had never met anyone from Arkansas before and if I don’t again, you two are the best.  Big Arkansas is a State Trooper and served in the military, I have nothing but respect for those that serve in both of those jobs.  If I ever visit Arkansas and you pull me over, remember that in the International Championship game where you expected my Canadian punch to knock you over, I gave you a hug instead.  Little Arkansas and I didn’t get to umpire together.  I think that the UIC was paid off so we didn’t have to do a game together.  He’s a good guy though and from what I witnessed, a good umpire too.

Speaking of the UIC, he’s from New Jersey and was a good guy, deep down somewhere.  He was actually a lot like me, had an ego the size of the room the umpires used and talked regularly to his Schmoopy back home. He gave me a few pointers during the tournament, I guess we umpire a bit differently in Canada.  His stories were good and I think he practiced acting them out at his hotel, very likely in front of a mirror.

Representing the rest of the world, Peurto Rico was uncharacteristically in excellent shape for an umpire – he’d often give us a 21 gun salute with his impressive gun show.  He had an arm wrestling competition with Big Arkansas and had enough respect for law enforcement that he allowed a draw to occur.  He wasn’t allowed to walk around the umpires room without his shirt on, it made Big Arkansas feel “less like a man”.  New Zealand is the youngest of our group, his sarcasm is coming along quite nicely for a 21 year old, I see good things in his future.  The representative from Australia was a quiet, reserved guy.  We know he’s tough though, surviving the animals in Australia that want to kill you on a daily basis is a testament to that.

Comments during the day would see people move up a rank or two, or down a rank or two, all the while, California #2 (I call him California #2 because I met California #1 my first morning at the hotel) tried all of his tested antics to vault to that coveted #1 position.  Actually, if I am to be truthful, he “claimed” that he didn’t care about my rankings and hoped he was #11 – this was, I believe, a reverse psychology technique on his part, and quite crafty, I might add.

California #2 also picked up the tab for everyone at lunch one day, Chick-Fil-A, and this got him to his desired spot.  He was, to say the least, quite excited about this.

A few others bought food for one another, it was quite nice.  I attempted to buy a group of four of us lunch one day but my roomie wouldn’t have it, although he had purchased Chick-Fil-A a few times for everyone – quite nice of him and thanks, Texas.

So, as I’ve indicated, the rankings changed, sometimes numerous times in a day, the guys learned I was easily bought off, a meal or something would cause a great change in the rankings.  I don’t remember exactly why, and it might be that I was trying to drive him nuts, but late into the week, California #2 got the ranking of #1, locked in.  He must have felt that his ship had come in as he was all smiles.

I told everyone that my final rankings would be released this week.  I am late getting this list out, I had replied to an email sent from the UIC yesterday and said I’d have the list out by end of the day yesterday.  Well, sleep was apparently the better idea.  It’s early on Wednesday morning, and finally, here is the list.

For everyone that I worked with in this World Series, you all had your quirks and we all had the stereotypes that we either fell into quite well, or stood out from, being vastly different from what others might have initially perceived.

Everyone is ranked #1 in my books.  How could I really have a ranking for any one of you?  I had a great week.  I dished out the abuse as well as I took the abuse.  I hope that we are able to stay in touch, Facebook is great for that.  In all honestly, this was one of the best tournaments that I have ever worked, either as a coach or as an umpire.  You guys are the cream of the crop and I congratulate and thank each of you.  I have decided to hang up my umpiring equipment.  I just umpired in the World Series, how can it get any better than that?  I don’t think it can.  I plan on enjoying my new mountain life in the Rockies of southwest Alberta.  Lots of outdoor stuff to do, lots of new adventures on the horizon.

To each of you, best of luck in your future endeavours.  Good luck with your umpiring careers and most importantly, have some fun.  I know I did.  Thank you.

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Home, sweet home

The rest of the flight home was routine.  We landed in Calgary ahead of schedule, shortly after 9pm on Sunday night.  It was a fairly quick process through customs, he looked at my card and let me right through.  I was asked where I was and what I was doing.  When I said I was umpiring in the Cal Ripken World Series, he asked me how it was and that was it.

I waited about 10 minutes or so for my luggage so not too bad.  I called DM who was waiting in the cell phone lot and he came around to pick me up.  The dogs were excited to see me and I got lots of kisses.  They settled down pretty well though for the drive to DM’s house.  We got there around 10:45pm or so and I headed towards home.  I needed gas so a fill-up was in order.  I did have to stop twice on the trip home as I was absolutely exhausted and needed some rest.  It didn’t come easy though so after 2 stops of 15 minutes or so, I made it home around 3:30am on Monday morning.  The dogs were as tired as I was, I think.

Yesterday, I needed to get a PO Box for myself, that’s done.  I thought I had to go into Pincher Creek to change my driver’s license, I was mistaken, there is an office in Blairmore, I am unsure how I missed that one when I was searching.  At any rate, the license is changed and I should get my new one in a couple of weeks.  I will need to remember to actually check the PO Box at least twice monthly or so.  My PO Box is in Coleman which is closer to home.

I stopped by the grocery store, it’s an IGA in Blairmore and easy to get to.  There isn’t a lot in Blairmore or Coleman but there are a bunch of restaurants that I will have to try out.  Pincher Creek isn’t a lot larger but there is a Wal-Mart there, it’s 50km away, however, so I think Wal-Mart trips will be monthly or so.  Pincher Creek is also where I could umpire and it’s a little further away than I want to drive for umpiring.  I will need to go into Fernie BC for the dogs food, it is 60km West, I think we will go today or tomorrow after work.  Fernie also has a Canadian Tire if I need to go there.  The nearest Costco is in Lethbridge, if I decide I need stuff there.  I think I will be able to do without, I haven’t been in ages.  I will miss Safeway, I had gotten to like that store for sure, same with the Real Canadian Superstore, I was in there often.  I think the plusses will outweigh the minuses though.

Back to work today for me.  Compared to the last 3 weeks of “vacation”, it will be relaxing, I am sure.

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My vacation is over…

I’ve gotten internet for the flight from Denver to Calgary. For an hour, it’s $5.99, helps to pass the time for sure.

The day started really early. I went to bed around 1230 and wanted to get up at 230 to see the guys off who had the early flight. I thought that I had set my alarm, but at 231, I woke up, on my own. I called California No. 1 to ensure he was awake, per his request. He was.

His ride showed up and we all said “see ya”, again. I’m sure they were wondering why I was up…

I went back to bed and slept pretty well until 6am. My roomies alarm went off and he left, heading home to Texas.

I got picked up around 1030 or so for the trip back to Springfield. We stopped at Cracker Barrell for lunch. Huge portions and not a bad price, I was impressed. We got to the airport early, checked in and breezed through security, there was no one in front of us.

We had a 2 hour wait for boarding. The flight to Denver was uneventful, the kind of flight you want. We had a shorter layover in Denver, just over an hour. We explored the terminal, I was looking for Colorado Rockies gear (hat, shirt, something) and nothing was to be found. Oh well, I spent enough money.

We are now cruising at 36000 feet, so I am told and are just over an hour from Calgary.

When we land, I’ll call DM and he’ll leave the Cell Phone lot and pick me up at arrivals. I had originally asked him to leave the dogs at home but with close wildfires (not too close, but close enough), if there was a evacuation order, there’d be no one to evacuate the dogs. I don’t even want to imagine anything further along that topic line.

So, I’ll have, what I’d expect, three VERY excited dogs. I’ll be excited to see them as well. We’ll drop DM off and then I’ll decide the next steps. I’ll either nap for a bit in the car or just head home. It’ll be a 4 hour drive back.

I’m loy forward to getting back to my regular routine. I’m actually looking forward to getting back to work too – it’ll be more relaxing than the last 3 weeks.

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10 days in Branson

I’ve spent the last 10 days in Branson Missouri umpiring at the 12u Cal Ripken World Series and it’s been quite the experience.

I flew out on Wednesday, August 1, the first leg of the trip was Calgary to Houston and then on to Springfield. From there, it was an hour long bus ride with Team Canada to Branson and Baseball Parks of America. The team got settled into their dorms and I was taken to my hotel, my home for the next 10 days, the Belmont Inn and Suites.

As an umpire, I had nothing on tap for Wednesday or Thursday. The other umpires weren’t there yet either, so I was on my own. I watched Team Canada play Team Australia in an exhibition game on Thursday morning, Canada won and looked good for the tournament. I had dinner with Team Canada at Golden Corral, a popular buffet restaurant, I don’t think anyone went home hungry.

On Friday, we had the opening ceremonies and it was held at Dolly’s Stampede. It was a good show and an excellent meal. I met the other umpires, there were 11 of us in total.

This year, the World Series had 4 International umpires, myself, representing Canada, one from Puerto Rico, Australia and New Zealand. The rest we’re from the US, two from California, my roomie, from Texas, Indiana, two from Arkansas and the UIC (Umpire in Chief) from New Jersey. I immediately knew I’d fit in with this bunch, they were almost as sarcastic and dry humoured as I am.

Finally, Saturday arrived, the start of the tournament. In the round robin portion, I was scheduled for 9 games in 4 days and was on the plate 4 times in total. We ran a 3-man system for the opening round. The baseball was generally good quality and was fun to umpire. I was on the plate twice for Team Canada, which I considered odd, but the UIC didn’t seem to have an issue with it. Speaking of Team Canada, they struggled offensively and dropped their 3 round robin games to Japan, Korea and the Dominican Republic. Talk about a tough division. I’d say their highlight of the tournament was against the DR, myself on the plate. The game was tied going into tg 6th inning but they ended up losing by 2 runs. The boys seemed to have a great time, nonetheless.

The playoff round had us using a 4-man system, something I wasn’t overly familiar with. It was great, always having an umpire covering a base for a potential play. I think I drove the UIC a bit insane sometimes forgetting my rotations, but, I also think it may have been a short trip for him. 😉

I umpired in the International Championship game yesterday, Korea vs Japan on the right field line. As expected, Japan easily defeated Korea to advance to todays World Championship.

In the other game, the US Championship, I was watching from the media center and witnessed one of the best games I’ve ever seen in youth baseball.

It was Virginia vs Mid-Atlantic, both teams scoring in the first with Mid-Atlantic taking an early 4-3 lead that they’d hold until the 6th.

Virginia scored 2 runs in the top of the 6thto go ahead by one. In the Mid-Atlantic teams bottom of the 6th, with 1 out, their batter hit what was almost a home run, he started trotting out of the box, thinking it was gone. Rounding first, he headed hard for second base and the center fielder threw a strike to the second basemen (it might have been the SS, I’m unsure), all I know for sure is that California Two (and Number One, to me, more on that, later) called him out. It was one of the best throws I’ve ever seen in baseball and came at the absolute right time. The Virgina fans exploded with applause while the Mid-Atlantic fans couldn’t believe what they saw. With 2 outs, the next batter grounded out, causing the Virginia boys to pile on (I think), their first baseman.

This setup today’s championship game, Virginia vs Japan. As good as the Virginia team is, and believe me, they are a great team, I don’t think they stand a chance against a nearly perfect Japanese team. I’m predicting a 6-0 Japan win, for back to back World Championships (I think it’s back to back, but hey, I wasn’t here last year). I could be wrong and for Virginia’s sake, I hope I am.

At any rate, it’s been an honour and privilege to umpire in this World Series. I have memories that I’ll keep for a lifetime. Thanks, Branson Missouri.

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Hanging up the umpiring equipment…

Today at the 12u Cal Ripken World Series we had two games, the International Championship and the US Championship.

I was umpiring in the International Championship game that featured Korea vs Japan. It remained scoreless until the 3rd when Japan opened the scoring. They held the Koreans to no runs and won the game easily. I have watched a lot of baseball over the years and this Japanese team has some of the best defence I’ve ever seen.

In the US Championship, Virginia faced Mid-Atlantic in one of the most exciting games I’ve witnessed. Mid-Atlantic held a 4-3 lead after the first until the top of the 6th when Virginia went ahead 5-4. In the bottom, the leadoff hitter struck out. The second hitter nearly tied the game with a shot to center field, but the ball stayed in the park and the center fielder threw a perfect ball to second base to retire the runner attempting to stretch it to a double. It was, likely, one of the best throws of the tournament. The 3rd out was obtained from an easy ground out sending the Virginia team to the World Championship tomorrow.

They’ll have their hands full against a Japanese team that likely hasn’t committed an error in the tournament. I’m sure it will be an exciting game.

Today wraps up my umpiring at this, my first, World Series. I didn’t expect to be assigned to the Championship as other umpires have been here before. Watching from the media center will be a much better view anyway.

I worked with some of the best umpires I’ve ever had the honour to work with. We’ve gotten to know each other pretty well over the last week. We’ve bugged the hell out of each other and I hope, we’ve made some friends that we’ll have for some time.

As of now, I’ve retired from umpiring. I’m definitely taking 2019 off and, if I’m not bored and don’t miss it too much, that’ll be it. To work with such a great group at such an excellent tournament, I can’t imagine a better way to go.

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I’ll take a large cup of coffee, half full, no lid…

As readers know, I’m in Branson Missouri umpiring the 12u Cal Ripken World Series which is wrapping up in the next two days.

The guys that I’m umpiring with are a great group of umpires, likely the best I’ve worked with.

Anyway, something odd came up today. Two of the other umpires, I’ll call them Indiana and California One, join me in the lunchroom at the hotel every morning at 630. Indiana goes to Dunkin’ Donuts to get a couple of coffees.

California One orders a coffee in a large cup, but, the odd thing is that he only wants it half full because he doesn’t want a lid. I find this a bit weird, apparently z the drive thru person does as well.

The really odd thing is that he’s charged for a large coffee, instead of say a medium. I’d logically figure that you’re paying for the content, the coffee and not for the cup.

Anyway, he claims he does this because he doesn’t like lids and if the cup is full, it would slosh around.

What do you think? Is this odd behavior?

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It’s not supposed to rain during baseball…

Today was the first day of the playoffs for the Cal Ripken World Series. Four games were scheduled and my game at 1230 went ahead without any issues and was a damn good ball game. After that, the skies opened up dumping massive amounts of rain on us and an amazing light and thunder show. We lost the middle two games but got the 8pm game in.

We’ll make up the missed games tomorrow morning and get in the regularly scheduled games to get back on schedule.

I have 2 games tomorrow, 3pm and 530pm, on the bases for both.

The International Championship is Friday, I believe and I think I’m scheduled for it. I’d like to watch one of Team Canada’s games if I can, they are in the Iron Bracket and I am hopeful that they’ll do well.

The World Championship is Saturday. As this is my first World Series, I don’t expect to be scheduled for it, so it’ll be nice to just watch.

I’m looking forward to flying back to Calgary on Sunday afternoon and getting back into a normal routine.

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Happy birthday to me…

Today is my birthday. I typically keep birthdays pretty low key. Really, it’s just another day of the year but different than the other 364 since we don’t add one to our age. So, today I’m 47.

I guess I’ve just started my late 40’s. I’m ok with that though, we all get older. It’s a privilege that many, unfortunately, don’t get to experience.

As readers know, I’m in Branson Missouri umpiring this week. Having a great time, it’s a good way to spend ones birthday.

The playoff round starts today, I don’t know what my assignments are for the playoffs as yet. I’m hopeful that it won’t be overly hot and humid today anyway.

I fly out Sunday afternoon. I’m looking forward to seeing my dogs and sleeping in my own bed. I’m also, actually, looking forward to getting back to work, it’ll be relaxing when compared to the last couple of weeks.

Here’s to the late 40’s !!!

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