How Little League Could Improve the “User Experience”: 12 Tips

Someday when my son is lying on his shrink’s couch recounting the many ways I’ve screwed up his parenting, I will point to this blog as proof positive that I actually attended some of his Little League games. How else would I have snapped this photo? Attending these games is typically Dave’s duty, but since he’s out of town, I’m stepping up to the plate (see what I did there?). I pray this Little League season ends before his San Antonio trip next weekend!

75, partly sunny, and a mild breeze– the only perfect weather Little League game of this season.

All of you User Experience (UX) experts out there, please apply your mad skills to improving Little League for the parents. The Sister Wives crack up at my total lack of interest in children’s sporting and performance events (but if Jack were playing indoor tennis or volleyball, this would be different) but as of today, my sports ennui is bordering on sheer hatred.

This morning’s Chicagoland shit show–a Little League game in 48-degree weather with pouring rain–was the final nail in my sports attendee coffin. There is no good reason, in my mind, to make parents and their children suffer like that. For those of us with hypothyroidism, that is, the majority of us living in the “goiter belt,” recovering from being over-chilled takes forever.

As I sat there fuming–for the 10 minutes I lasted on the cold, aluminum bleacher bench before retreating to the car and watching the game through binoculars–ach, who am I kidding? I don’t own binoculars. Anyhow, as I sat there fuming and attempting to text my displeasure to the Sister Wives and my friend Lisa with my 1 bar of AT&T signal, I began compiling a list of ways we could all improve the UX, from my perspective. Your results may vary. Soccer and lacrosse parents, feel free to borrow.

  1. Games should only occur on days when it is partially sunny and 75 with a slight breeze, and never on Mother’s Day or other holidays. And they should be scheduled for after 10 a.m., within 5 minutes of home.
  2. The concession stand should have indoor seating–aesthetically pleasing–and be sponsored by Starbucks, Peet’s Coffee, or some hot beverage company of that ilk.
  3. The bleachers should have a clear, protective roof that doesn’t attract heat (this would also protect against the liability of being hit in the head by a foul ball, while I’m busily reading my phone and not watching the game)
  4. Cushioned seating with a back rest would be even better than aluminum bleachers.
  5. Even better? A cabana I could share with friends, like the ones in Las Vegas surrounding the pool, that would perhaps have a fire pit in the middle for making s’mores as we “watch” the game.
  6. There should be an app developed to vibrate and nudge me when my child is actually doing something interesting on the field.
  7. A wait staff taking orders from the parents would be a nice improvement – sort of like the local iPic movie theater in South Barrington I so adore with the gourmet sliders.
  8. Cocktails. Bloody Marys for the morning games, Leinenkugel Grapefruit Shandies for the evening games.
  9. A covered pathway back to my vehicle would be great–my clothing from this a.m.’s total drenching is still in the dryer.
  10. A televised game I could watch from the comfort of my warm bed and never leave the house would also be a nice option.
  11. Joining a league with Matthew McConaughey or Peter Dinklage’s children, so I could steal more surreptitious glances than Jack steals home plate…that could make me not mind it all so much.
  12. To add insult to this morning’s injury, Jack’s dirt-caked uniform from his slide into 3rd base–right as the game was being called due to rain–stained the powder-gray cloth upholstery in the car. So…this got me thinking an on-site car detailing service might not be a bad idea. Also, a baseball uniform cleaning service, delivered to my front door, would be much appreciated (the domestic goddess that I am not placed a panicked call to Sister Wife Maura for advice on getting the dirt stains out of Jack’s uniform).

P.S. After the game, we drove through that same McDonald’s I mentioned in yesterday’s blog. The Arby’s subterfuge agent was no longer working the drive’ thru’ window.

If you have any ideas to add to this groundbreaking list, feel free to add your comments!

 

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I Really Need to Cuddle with Tom Skilling Right Now

Tom Skilling is THE rock star of weathermen. When I learned my friend Ian had interned with him, I pummeled the poor guy with a million questions. Which aftershave does he wear? What makes him laugh? Where does he live? Like Game of Throne‘s Peter Dinklage, WGN’s forecaster Skilling has been the enigmatic source of fascination for me and a few of my friends. But today, I just need to cuddle with Tom Skilling. Preferably beneath a bed. Also, that bed needs to be in a deep basement. I need Tom’s reassurances that everything is going to be just fine. Here’s why:

Dude...we are SO screwed right now.

Dude…we are SO screwed right now. (Image courtesy of U.S. National Weather Service Chicago.)

After Hurricanes Ivan (which wiped out our Florida home) and Dennis, weather anxiety has become a thing with me. Dave Dorman and I lost too much. I’ve never recovered from the panic it caused me. It even prompted our move back to Illinois. This, despite me being a sturdy Midwesterner. I’m accustomed to death-defying weather like the Blizzard of ’79, where snowmobiles were racing down Michigan Avenue. I lived here during the 1990 Plainfield tornado, so devastating it made the cover of PEOPLE magazine.

Prior to my hurricane experiences, the weather unglued me only once. I was unaware my next-door condo neighbors had just installed surround sound. They were watching the movie Twister” at what I’m guessing was 11–the loudest volume. My entire condo was vibrating. As Helen Hunt was diving into the storm cellar on their TV next door, I was bending myself into a frickin’ pretzel, trying to squeeze behind my spiral staircase to certain safety. I couldn’t reconcile why, from my cramped vantage point, I was peering out at blue skies through my transom windows. Post torna-faux, we all had a good laugh about it. (If only they’d watched Jurassic Park, like most folks with new surround sound at that time. I probably wouldn’t have freaked over an impending T-Rex attack.)

So..before Hurricane Ivan, I never gave weather forecasts a second thought. I scoffed at the old farts for whom the Weather Channel was their MTV (yes, I’m old enough to use MTV metaphors). All that changed when Jim Cantore suddenly appeared on our TV screen, reporting from two miles down the road. Like a bad horror movie, at that exact moment, our power was cut. We were sitting in inky, black darkness. We couldn’t even see our hands in front of our faces. The winds howled from the depths of hell. It was the longest, most terrifying wait for dawn I’ve ever known.

Now I sit. And I wait. The eerie stillness outside like the mosquito who has ominously stopped buzzing. It’s about to hit the fan, folks.

I get it. Chicago needs Tom Skilling in studio right now, reporting the weather. But I also need Tom, my weather teddy bear, here. Reassuring me. Beneath the bed. Preferably in my basement.

 

 

 

 

The Happy Things I Focus On During Sad Times

I’ve done a fairly good job of keeping my game face on during the impending sad days ahead (and let’s face it, watching one’s beloved father decline daily in hospice is incredibly sad as well). So here’s my Top 10 List of Happy Things I’m focusing on today to keep a smile on my face.

1. Groundskeeper Willie. Those of you who know me know WHY.

My animated love, Groundskeeper Willie.

My animated love, Groundskeeper Willie.

2. The birthday cake my “Sister Wives” had made for me last year. 

Peter Dinklage....

Peter Dinklage….

3. THE STAND by Stephen King. My favorite book of all time by my all-time favorite author.

THE STAND by Stephen King...the greatest book ever written, IMHO.

THE STAND by Stephen King…the greatest book ever written, IMHO.

4. The news that Harper Lee is releasing a 2nd novel. 

The book I cannot wait to read...

The book I cannot wait to read…

5. WGN Morning News – I can always count on them to make me laugh hard at least once every morning:

WGN Morning News Crew - The Funniest in the Biz.

WGN Morning News Crew – The Funniest in the Biz.

6. Bob’s Burgers Valentines, posted today: http://www.buzzfeed.com/annas31/21-hilarious-valentines-only-bobs-burgers-fans-942y?bffb&utm_term=4ldqpgy#.hhePP6LM3

Bob's Burgers Valentines - a Big Bowl of WIN.

Bob’s Burgers Valentines – a Big Bowl of WIN.

7. Rediscovering this photo from my Jamaica trip with my hilarious BFF, who is always making me double over in giggles.

Marovich, Sporty C Spice & Me in Jamaica.

Marovich, Sporty C Spice & Me in Jamaica.

8. This book tattoo, which makes me tempted to get one for the first time in my life (and has several tattooed friends volunteering to go with the world’s biggest chicken shit–me): 

Amazing book tattoo that has me tempted...

Amazing book tattoo that has me tempted…

9. Kim Stover, a terrific teacher, who helps me burn off my stress:

Kim Stover, Founder of Dance It off

Kim Stover, Founder of Dance It off

10. This Jack Kirby meme, which reminds me to never, ever, ever give up:

Jack Kirby Meme

Jack Kirby Meme

 

 

Groundskeeper Willie: My Not-So-Secret Crush

 

 

Dave Dorman's Gifts to Me: Groundskeeper Willie Action Figures & My Cthulhu Easter Figure

The View from My Desktop: Best Hubs Ever Dave Dorman’s Gifts to Me Include Groundskeeper Willie Action Figures & My Cthulhu Easter Toy

Call me crazy–you won’t be the first or last to do so–but my friends were astounded when I revealed my Peter Dinklage crush (and no, I haven’t even begun binge-watching Game of Thrones yet) so the very idea of my crush on The Simpsons’ Groundskeeper Willie character–an animated cartoon man whose very skin tone denotes impending kidney failure–was one of my more surprising revelations. Yet, I urge you to take a moment to consider that Groundskeeper Willie offers women all of these benefits & more:

#1. Red hair (and the right shade of red hair)

#2. Six pack abs / immense physical strength

#3. A Scottish brogue

#4. The ability to do maintenance work and handle power tools with aplomb

#5. Unharnessed abs flashing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z9_jIa2WADc

I remember when I first fell for Groundskeeper Willie. It was The Simpsons’ Season 5 episode called “Radio Bart where Sting and Groundskeeper Willie had to save Timmy O’Toole from the well. Sting, my favorite singer, performed “We’re Sending Our Love Down the Well” to raise awareness. It was episodic perfection. The only thing missing was Peter Dinklage.

I am not alone in my fervor for Groundskeeper Willie. Websites all over the world are dedicated to him. Check out this soundboard, and the first clip of Groundskeeper Willie teaching French: “Bonjourrrr, you cheese-eating surrender monkeys!” http://www.soundboard.com/sb/groundskeeper_simpsons_clips

In a perfect world, an animated version of Dave Dorman would battle Groundskeeper Willie for my hand in marriage, and we’d all live happily ever after in Springfield.