2011 Cotuit Kettleers Calendar

I threw together a quick Google Calendar schedule of the Cotuit Kettleer’s games for this upcoming season.

You can pick it up here and integrate into your own calendar.

Notable games:

  • Two double-headers. The first on June 12 at home vs. Y-D at 2 and 5 pm; the second away vs. Orleans on June 19
  • It’s always nice to think about the away games I want to commit to. Given that Orleans and Chatham are two of my favorite “away” ball parks. I’ll plan on the June 19 doubleheader in Orleans and Friday, July 8 at Chatham. Wareham, Bourne, YD, Brewster will all depend on standings and my motivation.
  • The all-star game will be played for the third consecutive year at Fenway on July 29
  • It always makes me a little sad to see the start-times move up a half hour in August to accommodate the earlier and earlier sunsets that make evening play impossible at the light-less Elizabeth Lowell park (lights in Cotuit would be a travesty so I’m afraid to even mention the issue)


Ad supported devices or ad supported connectivity?

Amazon’s brilliant decision to knock some cost off of the top of its Kindle by selling an ad-enabled “special offer” version for $25 less than a regular “ad-free” model is a good indication of where things are headed in the consumer electronic space — but not necessarily the best business model. That, I believe, lies in the original Kindle’s provision of free wireless connectivity through the Whispernet service, a necessity to enable the seamless delivery of books from Amazon’s catalogue: easing the sale of the proverbial razor blades onto Amazon’s “razor.”

There are now two hardware subsidy models available to consumers.  The first is the classic mobile/wireless carrier subsidy.  Sign up for two years with AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, etc. and get about half of the price knocked off your new iPhone, Droid, netbook, or Android tablet.   Device makers depend on this carrier subsidy to get the high cost of their device’s bill of materials absorbed and hidden from the consumer. Take a $500 device and use carrier subsidies to drop the price the consumer sees to $200. Not bad and smart business given the average consumer has no clue how to calculate the true cost of the device over the course of the two-year enslavement to the carrier for basically the right to connect to their network. According to Notesbooks.com, an iPhone 4 costs $1,674 over the course of a two year AT&T contract.

Amazon’s brilliance lies not only in its decision to enable a wireless connection to the Kindle with no carrier relationship (Whispernet consists of a lot of cheap Sprint 3G EVDO capacity) — who wants to sign their life away for a two-year handcuffing to a device you know you’ll want to upgrade in at least 18 months? — but now in its insight that the platform is an awesome way to deliver advertising. Given that Amazon is Google’s top customer of paid search, it makes eminent sense for the ecommerce giant to leverage its own delivery platform for its own ads.

It’s surprising Google isn’t all over advertising subsidized wireless connectivity. Afterall, this is the company that pledged to cover San Francisco with free WiFi a few years back, the company that gave travelers free airport WiFi a couple Christmases ago.  If Google, or any hardware company were to bulk purchase network capacity and enable their devices as “start-and-connect” capable, with no carrier contract, the impact on consumers would be huge. So what if I get a little advertising intrusion in my browsing experience. Sparing me the ordeal of signing that $40 monthly minimum with the carrier would be worth every irritation.

This will mean the utter defeat of the carrier’s efforts to keep themselves from becoming dumb pipes. But when you think about it, what value are they delivering beyond their connections? White-label the connections, subsidize the link through ads, and be done with them. And the resulting explosion in connect-anywhere-anytime devices will be more than significant in terms of consumer effects. If I were Google I’d be pushing Chrome netbooks with ad supported connections in a very big way. I pushed for this in a previous life while working on business development for a smartbook, citing the Whispernet model as the way to go, but I guess I was ahead of my time. Amazon gave me some satisfaction that I was right with their “special offer” model.







The Real Deal: water rowing resumes

My rowing club, the Union Boat Club in Boston, has a rule for cold-weather rowing called the “Four-Oar Rule.” It’s simple, makes sense, and is safe. When the water is under 50 degrees fahrenheit no one can go out on the Charles alone in a single scull, or together in a two-oared pair. The only safe combination is two people in two singles, or four people in a four, or two people in a double (two oars each). It’s all about the capsize effect and hypothermia. While thankfully rare, capsizes do happen (I average one or two a year, usually because I hit something because I’m not looking over my shoulder every twenty strokes or so) and are real inconveniences to recover from.  First is the shock effect of rolling into the water after working away and building up a good sweat in the sunshine; the next thing you know you’re blowing bubbles under water trying to get your feet out of the sneakers screwed into the foot stretchers.

Having that happen in cold water is not something I ever want to experience, so I tend to be wimpy and stay off of Cotuit Bay until some point in the spring when conditions feel just right — warm temperatures, calm water — to make my annual shakedown cruise.

That day came late this year, only this past Saturday, April 9. And this morning the email came in from the Union Boat Club that the Four-Oar Rule has been lifted.

I had an exceptional row — considering it was the first of 2011 and my hands lack the required calluses – – and right from the first full stroke a few yards off of the Lowell’s beach I could tell the past two months of CrossFit and the million of erg meters before that are going to pay off in a big way in terms of control and power.

I’ll start following the CrossFit Endurance program which blends the six weekly workouts of the day with three rowing workouts that take place at least three hours after the Xfit WOD.  I’ll shoot for one 2,000 meter time trial per month and start training for next year’s CRASH-B’s in earnest.

I find myself thinking of the current world champion, Michele Marullo, during the worst parts of the Crossfit workouts, and just when I am about to toss the towel and bag that one extra burpee, I think: “What would Marullo do?” Competitive impulses are a bitch.

The Body is Evil and Must Be Punished

As I finished the indoor rowing season with February’s CRASH-B sprints, I considered the dead-spot in my fitness/self-abuse calendar between erg season and  when on- the-water rowing can resume without too much risk of killing myself with a hypothermic capsize on Cotuit Bay. More erging was not an option – I’ve got 1.3 million meters logged in since June and don’t feel the need to pile on any more.

It was obvious to me after the CrashB’s, that if I am going to move to the front tier of master’s rowers next year I need to focus on sheer strength. My cardio-vascular/VO2 max capacity is fine, my legs and lower body are fine, it’s all the rest that needs to go to the next level. Whaling away, an hour a day, on a machine as specific and restrictive as the erg is the very definition of putting oneself into a rut. I needed some cross-training, some exposure to some different routines, and the traditional gym wasn’t going to cut it.

Me swinging the kettlebell

So the solution was to join Cape Cod Crossfit.

I’ve blogged about Crossfit in the past — I took it up on my own in the spring of 2008 and stuck with it until the following winter when a torn rotator cuff knocked me out of action. The program – or cult, or whatever you want to call it — was started in the late 1990s by former gymnast Greg Glassman in a couple bays of an industrial park in Santa Cruz. The philosophy is pretty basic and can be stated in 100 words:

“Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat. Practice and train major lifts: Deadlift, clean, squat, presses, clean & jerk, and snatch. Similarly, master the basics of gymnastics: pull-ups, dips, rope climb, push-ups, sit-ups, presses to handstand, pirouetts, flips, splits, and holds. Bike, run, swim, row, etc, hard and fast. Five or six days per week mix these elements in as many combinations and patterns as creativity will allow. Routine is the enemy. Keep workouts short and intense. Regularly learn and play new sports.”

I took to Crossfit because it can be done solo — without paying dues or showing up, or worrying about how you look when you do it in a crowd. It prizes fundamental, primitive exercise. No fancy Nautilus machines or stair-steppers or spinning classes. You pick heavy stuff up and put it down. If you can use your own weight to good effect – think a classic pull-up or push-up — then that’s the way to go.  Crossfit also loves the Concept2 ergometer (which is how I became aware of the program in the first place), and more and more Crossfit-trained athletes are starting to dominate the world indoor rowing rankings.

Crossfit happens six days a week in a former Blockbuster store in an upscale strip mall in the next-door town of Mashpee. A big welded pull up rack runs down the center. A couple dozen plywood jumping boxes, four ergometers, an array of cast iron kettlebells, and about 20 Olympic free-weight bars. Add in some gymnastic rings, a couple floor-to-ceiling ropes, and a lot of jump ropes and you pretty much have the classic Crossfit gym or “box.”

I prefer the 6:30 am session which starts with a “warm-up” that would be most people’s workout.  Burpees (the most evil calisthenic devised), kettlebell swings, wall-ball throws, and 500 meters of rowing gets me far more than just “warmed-up.”

The workouts vary wildly from day to day.  Running one day, shoulders the next. Some take a half hour to perform, some five minutes. They are nearly always done as a group and against the clock, so there is an element of competition involved.

Today we did the workout of the day (or WOD) known as “Diane” (standard Crossfit workouts have female names for some reason). This consisted of doing 21-15-9 repetitions of deadlifts and handstand push-ups for time. I loaded the bar with 225 pounds and did the handstands from a kneeling position on a tall jumping box (modifications are permitted and strongly advised). The owner/coach Mark Lee walked everyone through 20 minutes of instruction on how to perform a proper deadlift and pushup, then he set the clock and counted down “Three-Two-One” and I was off.

Lifting 225 pounds off the floor to a standing, hanging position 45 times is not a trivial pursuit. Alternating those lifts with a blood-rush-to-the-head handstand is just plain mean.

I finished just under 7 minutes, stretched out on the floor and was home by 7:30.

Two months in and I am definitely feeling a serious difference. Soon I’ll start mixing in rowing workouts and begin testing myself against the 2,000 meter distance.

Marc Monplaisir, a fellow masters rower, is blogging about his experience with Crossfit and rowing.


Baseball scoring the Eephus Way

My friend Craig Merrigan alerted me to a funding opportunity on Kickstarter for a new baseball scoring system called the Eephus League of Baseball Minutiae. I paid my money, specified my t-shirt size, and a few days ago the three scorebooks I ordered arrived in a padded envelope.

These are elegant little black books — think Moleskine — with an orange belly band, and a back flap pocket with some little Win/Lose/Night/Day stickers, a handy scoring cheat sheet, and a big set of illustrated instructions. The target market for this scoring system is the novice scorer who wants to learn the venerable shorthand system of keeping track of a baseball game through the cryptic chicken scratches, symbols and abbreviations familiar to true baseball junkies.

I gave the system a whirl and scored a televised game — Red Sox at Cleveland — with a pencil in hand and my iPad set up to display the pitches through MLB 2011 — the one app I would take with me on a desert island.

The Eephus system is very basic but kind of cute. There’s even a space to write down what you had to eat at the game. But there isn’t a whole lot in the detail department, especially for stats geeks like me who obsess about pitch counts and need to be able to note AB-R-H-PO-A-E-2B-3B-HR-SB-Sac-HP-BB-SO and RBIs for each player. The fact the Eephus score card lacked an Error column or even an RBI column will consign the remaining two books to gift status. But the system is a great introduction to scoring, and the form factor is very nice as it will fit into a back pocket very easily.

I remain a fan of C.S. Peterson’s Scoremaster books – big 8×11″ spiral bound notebooks with a lot of room to sprawl and mark up, but need to give the publisher behind the Eephus League a huge thumbs up for making an important part of baseball fan-dom accessible to the tyro in need of a little style to go with their $8 beer. And they write a pretty darn good baseball blog too.

A scorecard, an iPad, the Red Sox, and all is right with the world

Mandatory Life Preservers

Update: Bill died in committee.

The Massachusetts Legislature is considering a bill to make the wearing of lifejackets mandatory at all times for anyone operating, or aboard a boat under 20′ in length. This isn’t the first time the general assembly has taken on the issue – the last a few years back with a Cape legislator, in reaction to the drowning deaths of some kayakers — and it probably won’t be the last.

I’m opposed for practical reasons. First, lifejackets can be cumbersome and interfere with good seamanship, especially for people engaged in more strenuous aquatic activities such as racing small sailboats or rowing a racing scull. I realize Coast Guardsmen wear them as part of their standard operating uniform, but asking the public to obey is going to lead to a phenomenon of false security. Second, the law already makes it mandatory that a PFD be aboard all motorboats, and many yacht clubs enforce the same rule for sailboats in their fleets. Third, wearing a life jacket will not necessarily prevent an on the water tragedy and could lead to a false sense of security when many small boats should remain on their moorings on the beach and not venture out in adverse conditions at all.

The issue is not whether or not life jackets save lives. The issue is whether or not bad sailors know when when to take risks or not. I learned an important lesson covering the waterfront in San Francisco in the early 1980s for Soundings, the national boating newspaper: most drowning victims fished out by the Coast Guard were found with their flies down — e.g. fisherman taking a leak. Would a life jacket have prevented them from falling overboard? No. Would it have kept them above water while their boat sailed away from them?

Some make the analogy between seatbelts or motorcycle helmets. Point taken — motorcycle helmets have long been a contentious issue among bikers — but as the survivor of a nasty car-meets-bicycle accident who survived thanks to a helmet, I may praise their efficacy but would not necessarily support a law requiring their use. There is a libertarian philosophy which says every man for himself and life is full of risks. I don’t need the government telling me how to protect myself unless the lack of that protection causes a public inconvenience or cost.

I wrote my state representative, David Viera, and expressed my opposition to the House Bill 646. He replied and said he opposed it as well.

Interesting summer job: Coalition for Buzzards Bay

A friend asked me to pass along this job in Woods Hole. Seems like a great summer job for someone into environmental sciences.

Organization:   The Coalition for Buzzards Bay, Inc. (CBB)
Salary Range:   This seasonal, 35-hour/week position works Tuesday-Saturday and is compensated at $12.00/hr.
Location:       Woods Hole, MA
Description:    The Summer Outreach Manager will be responsible for staffing and managing The Coalition’s Outreach Office in the village of Woods Hole. This is an exciting opportunity to engage the public around our mission in the epicenter of marine research and education. Tasks include, but are not limited to the following:

• Maintenance of exhibits including saltwater touch tank, groundwater model, kids corner, and computer kiosk.
• Manage small gift shop including providing customer service, sales, and accurate cashiering.
• Interact with visitors and the general public and guide them through the exhibits.
• Articulate the Coalition’s mission and a basic knowledge of the Coalition’s work in response to
inquiries from visitors and members. Training and periodic updates will be provided.
• Open and close the Woods Hole office, perform light cleaning, restocking and answering phone
calls, as well as directing visitors as necessary.
• Manage and support volunteers assisting in outreach at the Center.
• Create, market, and deliver programming options for visitors to the center.
• Support all of CBB’s programs and activities through specific projects as needed.
Requirements:   • High school diploma or equivalent required and at least two years of college preferred.
• Ability to interact successfully with a variety of customer and Coalition members.
• Experience with education or outreach and a willingness to learn.
• Computer skills: Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Powerpoint), and internet/email required.
• Must be personable, self-motivated, and work independently and as a team.
• Familiarity with Buzzards Bay and Woods Hole a plus.
• Commitment to CBB mission a requirement.

If you’re interested, let me know.