Billy Beane

Looks like Michael Lewis (Liar's Poker) has excerpted his book Moneyball, the Art of Winning an Unfair Game on Billy Beane and the Oakland A's in this week's NYTimes Magazine. Can't wait for the book, and the article just whets the appetite more. Beane is the personal hero of sabermetric statheads everywhere because he's living proof that the theories they have obsessively constructed actually work in practice. In a perfect world, he'd be the Cubs general manager.
As well-run as the Oakland A's are as an organization, someone should also do an article on the Mariners as the model economic organization. Got taxpayers to foot the bill for their stadium so they barely pay anything to use it to line their wallets, built their own team store so they could keep all the margins for themselves, signed Ichiro not just as a fine ballplayer but as a tourist attraction, and have wisely parted ways with huge stars like Randy Johnson and Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodriguez when they knew they couldn't absorb the economic hit. As outrageously profitable as the Mariners were last year, they should have signed someone for the stretch run last year. Their window may have closed.
Tony Blair

Out of this whole impassioned debate, I've come out quite intrigued with Tony Blair, who I knew nothing about before.
Scatter plot

Have been spending time with friends who are moving away from Seattle. Lunch with Peter on Friday, just before he caught a flight to London to search for housing. The next time I see him and Klara will be in London. Aaron, who's moving to Germany. The next time I see him and Roswitha will likely be at their wedding outside Nuremberg. Attended two going away parties for Greg and Kristin. The next time I see them will also be in London. Spent an afternoon with Bean, who I'll see again, though by year end I suspect she'll be settling into a new city I know well.
This still feels like an inflection point of a year to me. Close friends and family quitting jobs, changing jobs, starting jobs, moving out of town, getting married, having kids, buying houses, selling might think the rate of change is always this great and I've been too busy to notice, but you'd be wrong. This is more than usual.
Incidentally, everyone who sees me remarks on how healthy I look. Makes me suspect that while I was working at Amazon my appearance was sickly.
Cheap long distance

Bigzoo is the type of company I always suspected existed, but had never bothered to research. Karen suggested I check it out, though, and the rates are amazing! I can call Europe, Asia, and Australia for less than I currently pay to dial long-distance in the U.S.
I purchased some credit, and I'll give it a try tonight.
Prep for Patagonia

Went to REI as today was the last day to spend my 2002 dividend and get 10% off of one item in the store. Patagonia's going to be cold, and I needed some clothing and trekking gear.
Have to hand it to REI--all of the staff there know their stuff. Most are serious mountaineers themselves, and they had me set up with a multi-day pack in no time, and with my dividend and 10% discount it was a steal. The bonus was coming across an Arc'Teryx Gore-Tex shell on sale for $100 off. I'd seen it in the store before and love given up hope of ever seeing it discounted.
Also grabbed some short story collections from Twice Told Tales on Saturday, and now I just need some film and I'll be set for South America. Lots of solo time in the remote wilderness awaits. Emotionally I'm not necessarily ready to head off. Everything here at home feels comfortable right now and there's plenty to do. Still, it's always better to be out ahead of these curves. The day after I return from South America is the first day I'm due back at the office!!!
We'll ignore that for now.
Pics from New Zealand and Australia

Yes, I'm behind on these. Scanning is laborious, and I've been trying to jot down my memories to go with the photos, and it's all taking much longer than expected. So much to recall. But I promise, it will be up before I leave for South America.
Warm weather, not so hot on the bike

Yesterday and today were the two warmest days of the year thus far in Seattle. 60's, slightly overcast. Woke up exhausted this morning--not sure why. Couldn't keep my eyes open all afternoon, and didn't want to follow through on a promised bike ride with Laura. Neither did she, I suspected. A movie would have been the easy way out.
But thankfully I censored my inner wuss and pushed for a loop around Magnolia. The warm spring air woke me up (it's good to sweat), as did the ride. I'm still as slow as a cow on the bike. Usually I've gotten a few hundred miles in on the bike by this time of year, and I think I just broke 150 today. It will take more than these occasional 30 mile spins to get in shape for the Alps of France in July. Oh, it's humbling in the saddle.