Omir the Storyteller

Stories. Music. Politics. Technology. Baseball. Friends. Family. Potrzebie.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Omir was very, very good this year

Family :: Christmas

How good was I? Well, I'm not sure, but I must have been pretty darn good, because I got the three things I really wanted for Christmas this year.

First off, I got to sleep in a bit this morning, but that wasn't what I wanted. When everyone finally got up and started stirring this morning, my son came into the kitchen where I was squeezing oranges (fresh-squeezed orange juice being a tradition on Christmas morning in our house) and told me to close my eyes. I dutifully did so as best I could while continuing to squeeze oranges, and when I opened them, there, on the table in front of me, was a hard-shell banjo case just the right size for my GoldTone CC-100. It's a little bigger in the body than it needs to be because it was no doubt designed for a resonator banjo instead of my open-backed clawhammer model, but it's much, much better than the gig bag I've been using for most of the past five years. I've always been worried that I was going to knock the bridge out of place or put a hole in the head when I carried the banjo around in its gig bag; now it's about as secure as I can make it. In addition it has a storage pouch for strings, picks, a fingernail clipper (a necessity in clawhammer) and the tuner (another necessity).

Second, my other son and his wife came over and spent the morning with us, and brought along their daughter (age 3) and son (age about 3 months). It was very nice having all three kids and five grandkids in the house, even if it was a bit noisy.

I had a very nice lunch menu planned out of tamales, fajitas, pico de gallo, chili con queso, seven-layer dip and the mountains of cookies we had baked over the past couple of days. It was coming together quite nicely, if a bit late, when I got my third thing I wanted for Christmas; just before we began serving, it began to snow. I don't know if it's going to stick or how long it will last, but now, for the first time I can remember, I am having a white Christmas.

This is the view out our front window . . .

. . . and out the front door, looking at the neighbor's house across the street.

If you look closely you can see the snowflakes coming down.

This is the view out back, looking over the backyard fence.

So we had family and friends over for dinner, it's snowing in the background, everyone's playing with their presents and it's just about the nicest Christmas you could ask for.

And so I'm offering this simple phrase
For kids from one to ninety-two;
Although it's been said many times, many ways,
Merry Christmas to you.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

'Tis the season . . .


Some of the things I like least about Christmas:


Feeling like I have to spend money. I'm working on it; at least this year we have managed to avoid going overboard in an orgy of spending. So far.

Related to this: Watching kids go into overload as they open present after present after present, when they just want to play with what they've got.

Gaining weight and having my blood sugar go nuts from all of the baking my wife does.

Having to hear that stupid song about getting run over by a reindeer again.

The so-called "War on Christmas" and those that perpetrate the meme.

The fact that it never snows on Christmas Eve like it's supposed to. (This one is balanced out by the fact that for almost all of our married lives, we've lived in places like Austin and Seattle where it's not likely to snow on Christmas Eve.)

Some of the things I like most about Christmas:

Seeing White Christmas and It's A Wonderful Life and A Christmas Story again. (And again, and again, and again . . . )

All the Christmas specials on TV and radio.

FSM help me, all those yummy things my wife bakes.

Going to see The Christmas Revels and The Canadian Brass, and (on years when we're lucky) The Nutcracker. (Not this year, sad to say.)

The chance to give experiences instead of just one more thing to clutter up the house.

Putting on my digitized collection of Christmas music and hearing all the old favorites, plus stuff that gets added to the collection every year. The old standbys by Bing Crosby and Elvis. Petty Booka singing "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" in Japanese. Pete Seeger singing "Behold That Star" and "Glory To That Newborn King." Spanish and German carols, in Spanish and German. "Santa Claus and His Old Lady." Chet Atkins. The Three Tenors doing "So This Is Christmas" and hearing those operatic voices go nuts on "War is over if you want it." The Beach Boys' tight harmony on "Little St. Nick." MECO's Star Wars Christmas Album. Things I'd forgotten I had. Things I remember fondly from my childhood.

Santa letters. Seeing the kids', and now the grandkids', eyes light up on Christmas morning. (And one year, hearing my granddaughter exclaim, "I didn't know I was this good!!")

Going out early on Christmas morning when Santa is doing his rounds. There is a time after midnight when the traffic dies down and everything is still. It's kind of the aural equivalent of a blackout. I like to go outside then and just listen to the sound of the city in silence and at peace. If it would just start snowing then, everything would be perfect.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Nothing sucks like moving, except more moving


So things are going nice and happy, I get an offer for a full time job, the landlord is talking about extending our lease another year or two, life is good, right?

That's on a Thursday.

The next Thursday my wife calls up the landlord to see if they got the rent check. Oh yes they did, the landlord says, and by the way we've decided we want to live in your house, so we will need you to be out by Labor Day.

Wife goes into a weird combination of funk and panic. I'm momentarily depressed. Meanwhile son has been living with his aunt (wife's sister) for several months since an acrimonious breakup, and while everyone concerned has been pretty cheerful about it, it's starting to feel like time for him and the kids to move on. Daughter starts trolling Craigslist for houses.

Saturday we go look at a house. The house is smaller than what we have now, the bedrooms are tiny (even though there are about four of them), there are too many stairs and they're pretty steep and narrow, and there are a bunch of weird rules laid down by the landlord (no pictures on the walls, for example). He has six more people to show it to that day. We pass on the house, even though it's offered to us.

Sunday I decide to do my own search. Sunday I find a six bedroom house up in Shoreline, about four miles north or where we are now. Aha, I say, but based on the response to Saturday's house I'm worried that there are going to be people lining up around the block to try to see it. I respond to the ad. No, the landlord says, you're first in line, it's available immediately, can you come look at it on Monday?

First, the downchecks to this house. It's not nearly as nice as a Cape Code my wife went to look at that same day (that rented for over $500 more). We would have to do the yardwork. It has carpet instead of hardwood floors. Whoever lived there before didn't do much of a job of cleaning up after themselves. The deck off the living room wobbles a bit. And worst of all, it sits in the bottom of a depression, equidistant from the four bus routes that surround the house. It will be an uphill climb to get to a bus in any direction.

Now for the good bits. When we arrived the neighborhood kids were out riding their bikes in the middle of the fairly wide street. (We didn't see a car other than the landlord's going down that street until about our third visit to the house.) The house is surrounded by tall evergreens of an as yet undetermined species -- possibly lodgepole pines or some other similar type that starts its branch growth well up the trunk. This should make it pretty cool on hot summer days. There's a mini-fruit orchard in the back with apple, cherry and plum trees. The rooms are big enough that the kids will be able to stretch out and have some room to play. There's a living and dining room upstairs, a large common area that could be split into a playroom and office downstairs, three baths instead of the one we now have to share . . .

We signed the lease the next Friday and have half a month left to take our time moving.

The moving is the worst part. When you live in a house for a while like we tend to, you collect a certain amount of detritus that has to be weeded through unless you want to pack a pile of junk with you when you go. We are to the "sorting through detritus" part, which gets complicated because there's stuff in there that it's hard to contemplate parting with. Do I really want to get rid of some of my tschotchkes, even though I haven't seen them in three years? How about those decade-old computer books that, while possibly still relevant, aren't much use to my current career? Life is full of difficult choices.

Once we get into the new house we are going to enjoy it. Getting there, though, is the sucky part. When we're done, though, we'll have our son and his two kids in with us, our daughter and our granddaughter. I'll have my nice new job, my daughter will be closer to work, the kids will be in better schools, and we'll be set until the next time we want (or need) to move again.

Life really is good, innit?


Saturday, March 24, 2007

In Which Omir Gets A New Toy


About five months ago my trusty UED started falling apart. What is a UED? I asked my friend Nathan that same question one time when he said I had a nice UED. I looked a bit puzzled and asked him, "What's a UED?"

He pointed to my Tungsten E handheld computer. "Useless Electronic Device," he replied.

I'd had it for about three or four years. I'm not sure how many, but I have a backup I made in 2005. Before that I had a very nice Handspring Visor that I bought because it had an expansion slot you could plug gadgets into. I bought that in about 2000 or so. It met its end one day at Toys 'r' Us when I dropped it on the floor and it went into a permanent black-screen sulk. The Tungsten was nicer in many ways -- faster, color screen, more memory, built-in SD card slot -- and I got very used to it. In fact I wrote a program for my Linux box that would timeshift some of my favorite radio shows, like Global Griot, Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, Says You and Music With Moskowitz, and let me download them onto an SD card so I could listen to the shows on my weekday commute rather than having to be tied to the radio all weekend, which never happened anyway.

I liked it enough that I bought one for my wife and helped my mother-in-law set up one for herself.

About six months ago, though, it started falling apart. First it wouldn't hold a charge quite as well as it used to. Lithium-ion batteries apparently are good for about 500-800 charges before they start not holding their charge as well. I compensated for this by buying an external, high-capacity battery that also had attachments for my camera and my ham radio handheld, neither of which I can find at the moment. Then the charging connection started getting wongy, requiring me to hold the charger plug at odd angles so the little "charging" icon at the top of the screen would come on. Finally, headphone jack lost one of the channels at the same time the speaker quit working, meaning I couldn't listen to anything, anywhere, or get any kind of audio feedback, including alarms. If I wanted to do anything on the bus I had to hold the Tungsten just so, so the battery would engage, and play games or whatever.

It was a bit frustrating, but I wanted a better model and honestly at the time I couldn't reallly afford to replace the Tungsten E, either with a new E or its successor the E2. The E2 has Bluetooth, which is one of the things I wanted, but I was really looking at either a Lifedrive or a T/X.

Last week I ended up with a little extra cash and the determination to do something useful with it, so I got myself a new Palm T/X and a 4 GB SD card. The T/X has both built-in Bluetooth (which I am still trying to figure out how to use) and built-in Wi-Fi (which I am also still trying to figure out how to use, as far as the T/X is concerned). It's about twice as fast as the Tungsten E, the colors look better (although it could just be my imagination), and the charger and headphone jacks both work as advertised. It took me about a day to set it up the way I want, and there are still some things about it I haven't figured out yet, like how to get an alternate keyboard layout to replace the built-in QWERTY keyboard that pops up at the bottom of the screen, but all in all I'm a happy boy. Yesterday I was listening to a broadcast of Says You from last October, just before the old headphone jack gave it up, as I snoozed on the bus.

This will most likely be the last handheld I buy, or at least the last Palm brand. The world is moving toward the convergence of phones and PIMs. My current phone has a calendar on it, the ability to upload MP3s (although only 10 MB worth, so it's only suitable for ringtones) and of course it functions as an address book and plays games. As people write more Java and Windows Mobile apps with phones in mind the need for a separate UED will become less and less. That's actually a good thing. When I bought that first Handspring the idea was to fill the expansion slot with a diabetic blood tester so I would have one less thing to lose somewhere. Someday my phone will interrupt me listening to my tunes so I can answer a call while I'm solving a sudoku puzzle, and no other devices will be involved.

But not yet.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

File this one under "WTF LOL"


Anybody have any idea why I'm getting a bunch of hits from people who searched Google for a picture of an elephant I posted a couple of years ago?

It's interesting to see how the people who found this blog got here. Other than blatant self-promotion, I don't do any real advertising, because this blog is an on-again-off-again kind of thing, but it shows up on Google searches occasionally. One person searching for Aesop's "The Wolf And The Dog" retold ended up at my version of the story; another googling for "a quiet evening at home" found a post I put up about sharing music with my granddaughter.

Odd world, this blogtopia. (Yes, skippy did coin that phrase.)

Monday, March 19, 2007

Summer Wine


One of the things I love about the Internet is that I get to run into new things all the time. That's one of the reasons I want to save Internet radio -- I'm always running into music I otherwise would never have heard of. Thanks to the CBC's Vinyl Cafe, I've been introduced to acts like Rufus Wainwright and Mike Ford (formerly of Moxy Früvous, who I learned about over the Internet when stations could still carry Doctor Demento and get away with it). I also found Lemon Demon, Da Vinci's Notebook and Worm Quartet thanks to Doctor Demento. Radio Paradise, KPIG, and KSER have introduced me to artists -- heck, entire genres -- I would otherwise never have come across.

And on Saturday after I put up the post just below, I came across a clip on Crooks and Liars by an Irish band called The Corrs. I'd never heard of them before, but I figured I'd give them a listen because of two words that described the clip:

"Summer Wine."

Flash back forty years ago this month. I'm just turning 12, I'm listening to the radio in my room in the basement in eastern Washington, and of course I know who Nancy Sinatra is. I know she's Frank Sinatra's daughter, I know she's had a couple of hits (like These Boots Are Made For Walking), and I know she's interesting in ways I'm just starting to figure out. What I don't know -- yet -- is that most of her songs are written by a guy named Lee Hazelwood, and when he wrote a duet that would spark a genre called cowboy psychedelia, they couldn't find anyone better to perform it with Nancy than Lee. The strings kicked in and Nancy's honey voice crooned:

Strawberries, cherries and an angel's kiss in spring,
My summer wine is really made from all these things .
. .
and then Lee came in with his baritone borderline growl:

My boots had silver spurs that jingle-jangled to
A tune that I had only sung to just a few

A song that hinted at so much more than it said, especially to a pubescent kid with a vivid imagination.

So when Nicole over at Crooks and Liars put up a YouTube video from VH1 of the Corrs doing Summer Wine with Bono of U2, I had to click on it. It took me right back to 1967. Bono's voice reminded me a lot of Lee Hazelwood's, and he and Andrea Corr sound great together, her on high harmony and him on lead.

This morning I went to listen to the song again, and it had been taken down from YouTube. I guess Viacom must have figured out it was there. So what could I do? I ordered a copy of the "Corrs Live From Dublin" CD. I can tell it's one of those songs I'm going to be listening to every once in a while.

When YouTube had to take the video offline,
They left me craving for more summer wine.
Ooooh, ooooh, summer wine . . .

If Internet radio goes away stories like that will disappear. So will sales of music that would otherwise never have happened. I know this. I'll bet you know this. Most of the music-buying public knows this. Why the entertainment-industrial complex can't figure this out, I don't know.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Return Of Wolfman Jack, Thanks To Copyright Arbitration


Once upon a time radio was exciting and interesting and full of characters . . .

There was this guy named Bob Smith. He was a Brooklyn kid who fell under the spell of Alan Freed, the Moondog, whose 50,000 watts of sheer radio power from Cleveland blanketed the East Coast and corrupted generations yet unknown. Bob decided he wanted to be a DJ too. There was just this one little problem.

Bob liked to play rhythm and blues, and he was a white guy.

He wasn't satisfied with the citified fusion of rockabilly and rhythm & blues that went by the name of rock & roll. His was the real, raw stuff. Big Mama Thornton and Howlin' Wolf type stuff. The stuff that could peel the paint off the wall. Stuff your mama told you would ruin you, and she was right.

Of course on the radio Bob could sound black enough, but experiments like an integrated dance club in Virginia in the early sixties didn't go over well. In addition, Bob craved a national audience, and it was hard to find one playing rhythm and blues when the A&R men said you couldn't sell it to white kids unless you dressed it up like Elvis Presley or (I kid you not) Pat Boone.

Bob drifted for a while, through Virginia and Louisiana before he finally ended up in Del Rio, Texas. Del Rio was a sleepy little border town known in earlier decades as the base of Dr. John Brinkley. Brinkley was a quack who convinced men that a variety of nostrums, from colored water to slivers of goat gonads implanted you-can-guess-where, would improve their sexual performance. Having been run out of Kansas for his quackery, he established a base of operations in Del Rio and bribed the Mexican government into letting him build a 500,000 watt radio station just across the border from Del Rio, in Villa Acuña. XERA was so powerful that it was heard all the way up into Canada. (In later years it was rumored that the KGB used XERA's broadcasts, heard all the way over the pole, to help train its spies in English.)

The radio station, now renamed XERF, was still operating when Bob got there, but only as a shadow of its former self, selling time to pay-before-you-pray preachers and in and out of trouble with the Mexican government. It had two things he was looking for, though: a powerful half-megawatt signal, and a management that didn't much care what he played as long as there was money to be made. He in turn brought something new to the station: a format that mixed rhythm & blues and rock 'n' roll with the gravelly-voiced antics of his new radio persona. Listeners from Texas to Saskatchewan and all over the US tuned in to this potent mix, bringing wealth to the station and fame to Bob Smith's alter ego.

And thus it was that Wolfman Jack, never having found a real home in the US, became the king of late night radio. From Mexico.

Now why am I telling you this?

Through a Byzantine series of legislations, negotiations and arbitrations, a panel called the Copyright Royalty Board (chartered by Congress to handle this sort of thing) has announced royalty rates for Internet broadcasters playing music licensed by SoundExchange, an arm of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The rate is $.0008 per performance for all performances in 2006, increasing to $.0019 per performance in 2010. Now that doesn't sound like much, and in raw terms it isn't -- it's about a penny for 12 performances.

But what constitutes a performance? That is the devil that lives in the details. One performance is the streaming of one song, to one listener. Kurt Hanson of the Radio and Internet Newsletter breaks down the numbers:

Because a typical Internet radio station plays about 16 songs an hour, that's a royalty obligation in 2006 of about 1.28 cents per listener-hour.

In 2006
, a well-run Internet radio station might have been able to sell two radio spots an hour at a $3 net CPM (cost-per-thousand), which would add up to .6 cents per listener-hour.

Even adding in ancillary revenues from occasional video gateway ads, banner ads on the website, and so forth, total revenues per listener-hour would only be in the 1.0 to 1.2 cents per listener-hour range.

That math suggests that the royalty rate decision — for the performance alone, not even including composers' royalties! — is in the ballpark of 100% or more of total revenues.

There is no corresponding fee for terrestrial, over-the-air broadcasters.

Non-commercial broadcasters will pay a $500 fee up to a full-time listening audience of about 220; after that they will pay commercial rates.

The reason for this seems obvious to the casual observer. Some combination of large Internet broadcasters, traditional terrestrial broadcasters, the RIAA, and who knows what else is trying to kill off small Internet broadcasters. To what end, I don't know, other than to preserve their business models and eliminate competition. Even large non-commercial broadcasters like Seattle's KUOW or New York's WFMU will be hard pressed to come up with fees for any performances covered by SoundExchange if they play such music on a regular basis.

All of which brings me back to Wolfman Jack. He ended up leaving the US and finding fame and fortune in Mexico because there wasn't a place for him in the US. He's not the first. British broadcasters, frustrated by their government's limitations on radio, turned to venues like Radio Caroline, broadcasting from a ship anchored in the North Sea, and Radio Luxembourg, which had studios in London and programmed for a British audience. (Minor aside: When the Sex Pistols were banished from the BBC because of songs like "God Save The Queen" and "Anarchy In The UK", they turned to Radio Luxembourg. I distinctly remember seeing them at the top of a sales chart at an HMV store I visited in London over Christmas 1977, even though their records were banned from airplay in Britain.)

If the CRB's insane proposal goes through, expect three things to happen:
  • Current Internet broadcasters who rely on SoundExchange-licensed material, such as Radio Paradise and KPIG, will go under. They won't be able to make the nut.

  • Unless, that is, they can go offshore. I fully expect some entrepreneur in another part of the world to start offering dedicated servers and other services themed toward US Internet broadcasters.

  • And some who can make the transition will abandon SoundExchange entirely, moving to other sources of content that SoundExchange doesn't cover..
All three of these possibilities have the effect of depriving SoundExchange and, by extension, the RIAA of revenue. Personally, I can't cry too many tears over this prospect. The artists who made the music may suffer some as well, and that's certainly unfortunate, but my understanding of the matter is that artists' shares of the money the RIAA sees are minimal at any rate unless you're talking about the really big acts.

Hopefully this will also have the effect of promoting artists who are good, but not good enough for the entertainment-industrial complex to take a chance on them.

Now let me state for the record that I would rather see reasonable royalty rates that don't require a huge upheaval in Internet radio and will allow everyone to make a little money instead of everyone making none To that end I am going to follow the recommendations on Radio Paradise's home page -- sign their petition, contact my Congresscritters, educate the public (that's you and me), lather, rinse, repeat. Otherwise we run the risk of once again having innovation stifled by regulation, followed by expatriation as entrepreneurs go overseas to follow their vision and maybe make a little money doing it.

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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Now I've Seen (almost) Everyting


Okay, probably not. But this was just too weird. I was going through my mailbox just now, and came across a piece of . . . I kid you not . . . Islamic spam. And it looks eerily like the mailarounds you get about the miracles of Jesus. In fact, the spam was entitled "Jesus and Miracles," even though I don't think Jesus was mentioned at all in the spam.

The Qur'an gave the news that the dead body of Pharaoh would one day be discovered

  • In ancient Egypt, Pharaoh used to torture the Children of Israel. God sent Moses to him with the mission of inviting him to believe in One God and allow the Israelites to leave Egypt with Moses. Pharaoh refused and the struggle between them continued for a long time. However, one night Moses succeeded in marching towards the frontier with his people but Pharaoh, becoming aware of his attempt, set out to follow him. When Moses reached the Red Sea, he touched it with his staff, and a furrow opened across the sea. Pharaoh attempted to follow him, but was engulfed with his legions. While narrating this event, The Qur'an makes a very interesting prediction:

    Today We shall preserve your body that you may be a sign to those after you: although most men give no heed to Our signs. (Yunus, 10.92)

    The dead body of Pharaoh was later found floating on the Western shores of the Sinai peninsula. The native residents can still show you to this land, which is now known as Jabal Firawn (Hill of Pharaoh). A few miles from this hill is a hot spring called Hammam Firawn (the Bath of Pharaoh).

Don't these people realize that spam comes from pork?

Seriously, it has to be random spam rather than something targeted at me for something I wrote. It was sent to an account that receives about 80% of all my spam. And while religious studies interest me, and my own personal philosophies borrow from all over the place ("truth is where you find it," that's what I say), I have about as much interest in converting to Islam as I have in becoming a large reptile veterinarian. Which is to say, none at all.

I just hope I never have to see Scientology spam.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

28 Dumb Answers To 28 Dumb Questions


My son is a Myspace junkie. When he's working all alone at the pizza joint at night he occasionally amuses himself by taking these Myspace surveys his girl friend sends him and filling them out. Occasionally I amuse myself by doing the same. Here's an example.

1. Do you give the peace sign a lot?
some, man

2. How many Abercrombie polos do you own?
you're kidding, right?

3. When was the last time you kissed someone?

4. Can you do a cartwheel?
ha ha ha ha ha ha snicker snort wheeze guffaw

5. Are you depressed?
man, that question SUCKS

6. Have you been to the mall this week?
I haven't been to the mall this YEAR

7. Do you regret something you did yesterday?
mostly the things I regret are the things I didn't do

8. Are you allergic to anything?
fools, especially willfully ignorant fools

10. Has school started yet?
school is always in session

11. Do you own a guitar?
banjo, please!

14. Who do you hate?
nobody, although there are a few people I severely dislike
(probably nobody you know personally)

15. Crayons or markers?
crayons taste better

16. What age do you wish you were?
the age I am now, but healthier

17. Do you shower facing the shower head or with your back to it?
back, mostly

18. Do you have anything in your pockets right now?
I'm not wearing any pants! .......

19. What is the closest object to your right?
the trackball

21. How many windows are up on your computer?
five or so

22. Do you share your computer with anyone?
sure, wny not

23. What kind of cell phone do you have?
cheapo Samsung

24. What color are the walls in your room?
white, I think (don't pay much attention to them)

25. Are you wearing socks?
I'm not even wearing pants!

26) How many hours did you sleep last night?
7 or so

27. Did you ever get the chicken pox?
don't remember

28. Have you been outside your house today?
Not without my pants!

Update later in the day: I just noticed that several questions are missing. I swear I cut and pasted this just as he sent it to me, so maybe he just didn't like those questions.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

In Which Omir Says Good Things About Yankee Stadium (Somebody Shoot Me Now)


I hear rumors they're going to build a new Yankee Stadium. I hope they keep the old one.

Here's why.

OK, before we start, most of you who know me know that my favorite teams are the Mariners, whoever's playing the Yankees, and whoever's playing the Athletics. (If the Athletics are playing the Yankees, well, that's sort of like the hillbilly watching his mother-in-law wrestling a bear.) But even though I am, to say the least, not a big Yankee fan, I recognize their place as the pre-eminent sports franchise in America. I can't think of another one with the name recognition, fan base, and the success as a franchise that the Yankees have had. The Cubs haven't head the success. The Dodgers never won a thing until Jackie Robinson came along. The Cowboys were just getting started when Roger Maris was hitting his 61st home run. The only teams I can think of that would even come close to the Yankees would be the Packers, who toiled for years in a sport that played a distant second fiddle to baseball, and the Montreal Canadiens, who are the equivalent of the Yankees in a country with a tenth the population.

Babe Ruth. Lou Gehrig. Joe DiMaggio. Mickey Mantle. Those are names almost every American knows, whether they follow baseball or not. And they all made their names with the Yankees.

Which brings us to Yankee Stadium. Sure it's getting old, it's probably not the economic powerhouse that teams expect these days where money rules with a tighter grip than anything Tony Lazzeri ever put on a bat, but it was home to all of the Yankee's successes from the time it was built to the present. It ranks with Wrigley Field, Fenway Park and the Hall of Fame as a monument to the sport.

Why tear it down? Would you tear down the Parthenon just because it outlived the purpose for which it was built?

I have a modest suggestion: Deed Yankee Stadium to the Interior Department and assess Major League Baseball a fee for its upkeep. Make it an official National Monument. Use it to showcase the history of sport in the United States, and baseball and the Yankees in particular. Yeah, that sets a precedent -- but I would say that, again, the Yankees are unprecedented in American sports history. Yeah, it's something Major League Baseball should do, maybe as an adjunct to the Hall of Fame -- but I'm not sure they would be interested. Help to defray the upkeep and costs by staging exhibitions there. Baseball recreationists would probably love a chance to play in the house that Ruth built, and such exhibitions might give us Americans an idea of what life was like in the days before sport became Big Business.

It would just be a shame to tear it down when so much history is attached. I would like to think that fifty years from now, the ten-year-olds of today could take their grandkids to the park, sit in the seat they sat in with Grandpa, and tell tales of how they watched Derek Jeter beat out a tag at second or how Jason Giambi put one over the fence right there. I'm probably dreaming, but hey, isn't that one of the things a blog is for?