Sunday, October 2, 2016

2016 MLB Postseason Predictions

My predictions are based loosely on the competing teams' head-to-head records and factoring home field advantage. Obviously I do not have a future as a sports journalist. And I am biased toward one of the teams. But just for fun:

American League Wild Card: Baltimore Orioles at Toronto Blue Jays
Prediction: Toronto Blue Jays

National League Wild Card: San Francisco Giants at New York Mets
Prediction: New York Mets

American League Division Series: Toronto Blue Jays at Texas Rangers, Boston Red Sox at Cleveland Indians
Predictions: Texas Rangers in 5, Boston Red Sox in 5

National League Division Series: New York Mets at Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers at Washington Nationals
Predictions: Chicago Cubs in 5, Los Angeles Dodgers in 5

American League Championship Series: Boston Red Sox at Texas Rangers
Prediction: Texas Rangers in 7

National League Championship Series: Los Angeles Dodgers at Chicago Cubs
Prediction: Chicago Cubs in 6

World Series: Chicago Cubs at Texas Rangers
Prediction: Chicago Cubs in 7

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

First Seven Jobs

Because who doesn't love being part of a trending topic? Here we go...

My first job was paper carrier for the Wednesday Journal of Oak Park and River Forest. My route covered the four blocks of East Avenue between Roosevelt Road and the Eisenhower Expressway. I walked my route every Wednesday for many years and received lots of nice tips every Christmas.

My second employer was the Park District of Oak Park, and I had three different positions over five summers. My first summer, 2006, I was a bike attendant for the pools, an entry-level position that was new that summer. The next year I was a pool maintenance technician, and the following three summers I was a facility operations coordinator, the shift supervisor for all the maintenance staff.

In between those summers, when I was a student at Wheaton College, I had two different jobs. I was a stage manager for the Conservatory of Music (to which I credit my eventual arrival in the arts management profession) for seven of my eight semesters of undergrad and an office assistant to Dr. Tim Yontz, the director of bands and music education and my major adviser, for four semester.

My first "career" job (and I am not counting freelance trombone performance gigs and a handful of private lessons) was Assistant Band Director at Hadley Junior High School in Glen Ellyn, a year with all the challenges of being a first-year teacher but one I overall enjoyed and am grateful for.

And those were my first seven jobs. If you've read my biography, and have now done the math, you will know that I am already at double-digits for number of jobs held. In addition to the three I have now (with two employers), I also worked for a few months in 2014 for Quinlan & Fabish Music Company. If the hashtag had been #firstelevenjobs, I would have just made it.

So there you have it, a narrative form of my resume!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Encouragement for the Arts Manager

Being an arts manager, I am no stranger to the challenges my field faces from everything from after effects of the recession to the advent of mobile communications and entertainment technology. Hardly a week goes by without being in a staff meeting where someone references these challenges.

Perhaps I am a hopeless optimist, but I am hopeful for the future of the live performing arts, even if if looks vastly different in this century than it did in the last -- because I see that even while different than in the past, the live performing arts can still have incredible value and purpose in strengthening communities and celebrating common humanity across cultures.

I write about it today because I read two encouraging articles on the matter. A performing arts center in Southern California and a symphony orchestra in New England are not just avoiding the effects of these challenging times, but are finding ways to flourish, and doing so, it seems, with joy.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

A Reflection for Holy Saturday

Today is the last day of Lent. From Ash Wednesday, through the first five Sundays, and through all the special services of Holy Week, it is now Holy Saturday.

A little later this morning, I will go to the church. For the church staff, today is the day of preparation for our Easter Sunday celebration. Extra staff from all departments will be on duty. We have decorations to hang, flowers to arrange, food service tables and sound and music equipment to set, and of course our custodial team will be busy with all their usual Saturday tasks of cleaning the pews and bathrooms and so on.

I always feel like I am cheating a little bit, though, getting to see the church decorated before it is actually Easter Sunday. There is no getting around the historical fact that there was a day between the crucifixion and resurrection. Some traditions refer to this day as Silent Saturday.

Growing up, this day had a somewhat unsettled feeling for me. I always struggled to know what to do with this day. When I was living with my parents, if my family was hosting the extended family for Easter brunch, I would have my share of household cleaning to do. But, even knowing the next day was one of celebration, the day never seemed to have any real sense of purpose or direction to me. Even today, I feel a sense of disorientation, of melancholy.

It makes me reflect on what the disciples of Jesus were feeling on that first Silent Saturday. For them, it was the Jewish Sabbath, so already a day of comparatively less on their schedules. After the tragedy of the previous day, I imagine most of them spent the day in silence, whether by themselves or with some of the others. Perhaps a subdued meal, though I imagine none had much of an appetite. Lots of staring into space, or aimlessly wandering through Jerusalem or the surrounding countryside.

And of course, they did not realize what was coming the next day. Their grief was total and consuming. I would not be surprised if they were also angry, angry at God, angry at the perceived crushing of their hopes and dreams that Jesus was the promised Messiah.

And after a long day of mostly nothing, I am sure they all went to bed thinking the next day would be more of the same. More deep sadness. More feeling aimless and disoriented, as if life had lost its purpose and meaning.

But at dawn, their lives, and the world, would change completely and thoroughly.

O God, Creator of heaven and earth: Grant that, as the crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so we may await with him the coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life; who lies and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
(The Collect for Holy Saturday)