Holiday Monday!
I had no idea when I took the last 3.5 days off last week that I’d have another built-in vacation day today. I’m certainly not accustomed to getting this day off at Microboards, so it was a pleasant surprise. As I like to do on such days, I like being productive and getting up early and getting things accomplished. Laundry is going, the dishwasher is going, Baxter has had ample playtime, I’ve hammered out a couple contract job assignments, I’ve prepared a hearty eggs/toast/bacon breakfast and even made coffee for myself, and participated in an ESPN mock fantasy baseball draft, all before 10am.

The rest of the day should be equally busy. I plan taking Baxter to the dog park, meeting Lauren for lunch at Whole Foods, shopping for basketball shoes at the mall, and then playing basketball tonight with the gang.

Pickup Fitting in Texas
I never thought of myself as much of a pickup man, but the time had come, I thought, where it would be more practical to own a pickup than a car as our secondary vehicle after the Impala. With Lauren taking the bus to work and me driving the Impala every day, we have barely touched the Grand Prix lately. And with a few recent situations where I really needed a pickup for hauling stuff, it became pretty clear to me that it was a good time for a change. The timing became even more perfect when the parents were in town for the week, as Dad is a trustworthy judge of used vehicles and was able to haggle the price down about 10%. Sure, it’s old and has its potential issues, but for the minimal amount we intend to use it, I think it will do just fine getting the job done. Baxter wasn’t so sure though; while riding home with me he would only sit peacefully either on my lap or on the floor near the gas/brakes, so I begrudgingly settled for him riding on my lap down the Interstate.

It comes with heavy warning though as I once wrecked a 1994 Chevy Silverado extended cab pickup… but that was 15 years ago driving on icy roads as an eighth-grader. Here’s to better luck this time around!

Baxter tests out the "new" pickup, a Craigslist purchase.

Quick Pre-Prediction
I am very excited for the baseball season to start back up. So much so, that I have already purchased the entire 2012 MLB.TV package and Minor League package. In my opinion, it’s a steal for $140–that’s less than one month of what we were paying for Comcast cable in Minnesota. The best part is, the Twins are out-of-market in Texas and won’t be blacked out unless they’re playing a Texas team, so we can watch every game on the PS3.

There will be a future post about my full MLB season preview, likely with readers voting on their playoff predictions*, but for now, I will share my brief outlook on the 2012 Twins. I think that if Mauer, Morneau, and Span all return at 100% and Scott Baker has a breakout year as ace of the rotation, and Liriano returns to 2010 form… then maybe, just maybe this could be a .500 team. On paper they just don’t look very good. I just don’t see how they’ll score any runs at Target Field with a lineup full of zero-power guys like Span, Carroll, Casilla, Revere, etc. I’d expect the Twins and White Sox to battle for fourth place this year. Regardless, I’m still excited and hopeful that I’ll be wrong!

* – I don’t recall ever announcing last year’s prediction results, but I’ll say this: out of ten entrants, no one guessed either of the World Series teams–not even Hot Lunch, the big Rangers fan, who chose the Red Sox over Phillies. No one guessed either of the MVPs or either of the Cy Youngs. No one guessed either of the HR leaders. Basically everyone’s picks were horrible, mine included!

Oscars a Week Away
I doubt we’re going to see all the Best Picture nominees this year like in previous years, but I have seen five of the nine so far (Moneyball, The Artist, The Descendants, Tree of Life, and Midnight in Paris). I really didn’t like Tree of Life, which was filmed here in Austin, but the others were all excellent. Last night we saw Midnight in Paris, the Woody Allen film, and I was surprisingly entertained and even laughed out loud once! As much as I enjoyed Moneyball, I think The Artist was still my favorite, and from what I hear is the favorite to win Best Picture.