The flights out here were okay... I brought DVDs with me, thinking I'd be able to watch them since I was flying American. I forgot that, since I was flying through St. Louis, I was actually flying TWA. And TWA never bothered to put power jacks in its coach section. Given the state of the airline industry, I don't think that's something American can afford to do now that they've absorbed TWA.
I couldn't fit everything into one bag, so I tossed the electronics into the smaller roll-on in between a jacket and a small tarp. Predictably, that's the bag TSA searched. Back in the day, I used to carry all my electronics onboard in my backpack, to protect them from damage due to baggage mishandling. My backpack always got hand-searched that way.
Airliner hijackings don't scare me. It's exceedingly rare in this country, and between the changes in cockpit doors and procedures onboard planes and passengers' attitudes since September 11th, I don't think that's going to happen again. There's fuck-all I can do about it anyways. This, on the other hand, does concern me. It's one of the reasons I think we ought to have better concealed-carry laws, and if it ever does happen, I'll start carrying, permit or not.
I finished the new Clancy yesterday. It's a lot shorter than his previous work had become, and I think that's very, very good. As much I do like his previous fiction works, they have gotten very complicated. It's nice to read a simpler story. A lot of folks will not like that he's shifted the focus to Jack Ryan's eponymous elder (and now grown) son. "Jack Ryan: The Next Generation", as it were. They're entitled to their opinion, and Clancy's entitled to do what he wants with his. Clancy just said on Charlie Rose that he essentially plans to make this a new series. I look forward to it, this one was fun.
And while I like Clancy's stories, IRL... well, I'll stick to the books. Watching him on Charlie Rose, he comes across as just a little full of himself. Not to mention far too trusting of government, and unrealistically naive. Yeah, sure. The US is going to "win" and bring a global end to war as an element of foreign policy. In this next century.
Well, maybe that's accurate, if Shrub just bombs the rest of the countries he doesn't like back to the stone age.
Four days in, I'm liking the Southeast (Boynton Beach, FL), New England (Saugus, MA), and West (Chandler, AZ) teams. New England beat Southeast in one hell of a game tonight, with Southeast almost coming back in the bottom of the sixth. Michael Broad (SE) blew a line drive solo shot out so hard it landed in the media parking lot beyond Volunteer Stadium. It may have been further than Aaron Arvey's (2002 Louisville, KY) game-winner against Ft. Worth last year. But Southeast grounded into a double play to end the game before they could tie it up.
I haven't seen a lot of the international pool games. The Caribbean team might be the strongest of the lot over there. The Japanese are pretty good, but I don't think they're better than last year's Japanese squad. The Saudi and Canadian teams both appear kinda weak. The Mexicans only beat the Russians 2-1. That whole half of the bracket's kinda weak, so I can't judge the 2-0 Venezuelans well.
But ah, the Russians. Khovrino LL of Moscow makes its third consecutive appearance this year, and they finally won a game. (2-0 in a late-inning rally over Guam.) Fundamentally, they look a lot better than last year. (Worlds better than what they were reported to be like two years ago.) They return six players from last year's team. They throw better, they field the ball better, and they swing the bat better. They're starting to look like real ballplayers, rather than someone trying really hard and failing miserably. There's still a ways to go for them, though... their outfielders don't know to back up infielders on infield plays and rundowns, they're not aggressive enough at bat, and nobody makes smart throws within and into the infield. Outfielders will look to go all the way home to stop a potential scoring runner, instead of hitting their cutoff man. They'll throw to the wrong base, too. And they still do silly baserunning things like not tag up on caught fly balls. Had they beat Mexico, they would have advanced to the international semifinal. Give 'em a couple of years, and they (or whoever else wins the Europe region) will.
We had a beautiful thunderstorm Saturday night that washed out two games. I really came to appreciate the scheduling because of this. It seemed odd that they front-loaded the pool play games on Saturday, running easier schedules Sunday and Monday. It paid off when the two rained-out games were slid right into the Sunday schedule without unfairly affecting any team. (Like forcing them to play twice in a day.) Between that and the scheduled day off/rain make-up day on Friday, it should require a continued major storm to wipe out a series.
ESPN is doing a lot of TV coverage. It used to be, most of the US games were on, and that's it. A couple of years ago, it became all of the US games. Last year, they picked up three of the international pool games too. This year, they're showing seven of the twelve international pool games, as well as both the semifinals. There's some good games played there, and it's nice that people get to see them without having to schlep to Williamsport for it.
Speaking of schlepping, it's damned nice to be only 30 minutes from the field this year. My room is tiny, but it's clean. It also uses real brass keys to open the doors, not plastic magstripe cards. How quaint!