September 25, 2009


Our dog Zeus passed away today from heart failure.

We knew this was coming at some point after the problems he had last December, but it was still a surprise. He bounced back so well that I was starting to hope that he'd hang on for a lot longer...but this is the way things go for sick old dogs. He had recovered enough to take trips to the dog park again, and even went earlier this week. It's his favorite place! He had a sudden change on Wednesday though, and attempts to stabilize him by increasing his medication did not work. He headed on up to the sprit in the sky this morning at the vet's office, and I hope he's running through the fields with his Cocker friends, chasing all the squirrels he could ever want.

We love you, buddy. See you on the other side.

UPDATE: Here's his memorial page on SCR

September 20, 2009

One year ago today

Let's conveniently avoid the clusterfuck that the 2009 cubs have become, and content ourselves with memories of this

The postseason may not have worked out, but hot damn was that a fun regular season. The clincher was the only game I went to that year, and that was thanks to my in-laws, who wanted to visit Wrigley and bought the tickets months in advance. I'll always remember what a great year it was. There's always next year, except for Santo. Stay healthy Ron!

September 16, 2009

Medical news, canine edition

Such is life with older dogs. Last May I mentioned how our 13-year old Cocker, Zeus, has been doing much better on his heart medication. He's still doing great, though he's gone mostly deaf in the past few months. Not really a big deal since he was a pretty oblivious guy anyway. A few weeks ago I took Kira, our 10-year old dog (seen below demonstrating her ability to drink from water bottes) in for what we thought was another routine eye infection (it's a problem with Cockers).

However, the vet noticed that her lens had shifted in her eyeball, which was a sign that something else was up. We took her into the university vet school, where they have eye specialists, and she was diagnosed with glaucoma. From the deterioration of her retina they guessed that she had been blind in that eye for months - we had no idea! She's been getting around so well that we couldn't even tell.

They describe the pain from Glaucoma as like having a dull headache all the time in humans, though they don't know exactly how it affects dogs. Kira has been a very itchy lady for almost a year now, scratching and chewing on herself all the time without any apparent skin problems (or response to anti-itch creams/shampoos/meds, etc), so it could be that it's due to stress. She has some of the precursors for it in her other eye and will probably be completely blind in a year or so, even with treatment to slow it down. I took her back today and while her good eye was doing just fine, there was little change in her blind eye - the pressure is three times bigger than it should be - so we're going to have it surgically removed for her comfort, possibly as soon as tomorrow. We're sad for her, but glad that she's going to feel a lot better without the constant pain, and glad that she has time to adjust to losing her vision.

September 14, 2009

Book Review: Barbarians at the Gate

Continuing a streak of Helyar reviews, I read Barbarians at the Gate last May. I'd heard good things about it, and I certainly enjoyed Helyar's book on baseball, if you read my last review. I know very little about corporate America, so it was in interesting look at high-stakes finance and the LBO-mania of the 1980s. From an informative point of view, I actually enjoyed it more than Michael Lewis's (of Moneyball fame) Liar's Poker.

The book centers around Ross Johnson and the feeding frenzy that ensued when he tried to ram a 'little' deal for himself and his company that was essentially the largest deal in Wall Street history under the radar. Johnson and his cabal would get a huge sum of money as a part of the buyout, and the whole saga was used as a symbol of corporate greed in the 1980s. I'm not sure what was more hilarious, that the guy's name was Ross Freaking Johnson or the fact that he looked like every caricature of a 80s busniessman that Kids in the Hall ever did: .

Because it was the biggest buyout in Wall Street history at the time, if drew out all the major companies and flared up all their petty rivalries as they tried to either defend their place at the top or make a name for themselves. I found the book surprisingly easy to read and all the characters fascinating. It's apparently been reprinted 20 times and has been hailed as the greatest business 'history' book ever, and I can certainly see why. I never though a Leveraged Buyout could be so interesting!

September 11, 2009

Book Review: Lords of the Realm

I've been so lazy about reviewing these books that I've gone and reread the book already. It's especially egregious in this case, as this is one of my favorite books that I've ever read - certainly the best baseball book. It's written by John Helyar, who was one of the co-authors of Barbarians at the Gate (which I also read this summer).

The book is basically a history of the owners of baseball (the so-called Lords), and by extension the business of baseball. The blurb on the back describes several of the colorful characters in the history of the game, but the real meat of the book lies in its history of owner-player relations, especially the rise of the players' union from the early 60s up until the 94 strike. A lot of it focuses on the players battles with the reserve clause (Flood, Hunter, Messersmith, McNally), but one thing it points out was that salary arbitration arguable became the best victory the players had against the owners.

I must say, after reading this book I have HUGE respect for Marvin Miller, and all the player leaders of that era. Suddenly I'm a much bigger fan of Joe Torre, Phil Garner, and (gasp) Tim McCarver. Miller was their leader, but he did a great job in those days in making sure that everyone was involved. He educated the player-leaders about labor relations and they took the lead in negotiating several CBAs, with Miller only as a consultant. I don't remember who mentioned it, but when Kuhn was recently elected into the HOF while Miller was snubbed, it was just a 40 years-delayed 'fuck you' from the Lords to their old enemy. It's a travesty that a bumbling idiot like Kuhn is there and Miller is not.

The other, related story, is of course about the owners themselves and their inability to agree on what to have for lunch, let alone what is in the best interests of their businesses. It shows how much money baseball was losing (or projected to lose) that they were able to keep collusion going for 2 years in the late 80s. If any commissioner has had a real impact on the game it's probably Ueberroth, since he was the one who dragged baseball into modern business (especially with regards to TV), though collusion poisoned labor relations for years afterwords. The book ends with the rise of Bud Selig's clique and a precursor of the large vs small market battles that have dominated recent baseball history. Fun bonus: we get to see a pre-political George W. Bush running around as owner of the Rangers.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys baseball