A Smile from Miss Smiley

The first smile we were able to get on the camera. It is moments like this that make it worth all the work!


Eliza's First Bath (and an attempt at video)

This is our first try at uploading video, and what a worthy occasion, Eliza's first bath!


More Eliza Pics!

Ben Harper and Relentless7

Friday night may have been the greatest concert of my life. It's no secret that I am a huge Ben Harper fan. First "discovering" him in spring 2000 thanks to a fraternity brother (forever thankful Pat Fay!), I saw him at the University of Illinois play a small intimate show. The small concert hall (Foellinger Auditorium) held about 1,500 people, and it was a realy nice quaint venue that matched Ben's softer songs and dulcet voice. It didn't play as well to his rock side, but at that time, his albums were more diverse.

Since then, I've seen him in four other venues, ranging from larger theaters (Ball St., the Murat) to outside at White River. As his popularity has grown, so have the venues he's played. Until Friday.

First, I was incredibly disappointed that Ben wasn't coming to Indy on this tour. The only options nearby were Detroit and Chicago. Fortunately, work meetings and a visit to see Lynne's family made the Detroit show look likely, but getting tickets was an entirely new challenge. Tickets sold out quickly, and the secondary market was charging some steep prices. I was pretty surprised by this until I learned it was because Ben's favorite Detroit venue (and one of his favorite in the world), St. Andrews Hall, is a small little dive that could hardly support 800 standing room only fans. For me, that was a clincher. The chance to see Ben rock out at such a small show was exciting.

The show didn't disappoint at all. The opening act, The Henry Clay People, were actually a really great live act, playing some fun rootsy rock, and developing a great rapport with the audience. We were about five people deep from the stage, and by the end of the opening set, we knew that it was going to be a night of sweat, ringing ears, and a unique concert experience

Relentless7, Ben's new band after a successful decade with the Innocent Criminals, is one thing - lyric-fueled rock. While I still love Ben's eclectic mix of style and tempo seen on previous albums, there was just something refreshing and tons of fun with his new focus. His lyrics are still as powerful as ever, and the rock riffs are excellent. It also provided for a show with more energy than I've ever seen out of Ben and his band (and the crowd). By the second set the foursome was already dripping in sweat (as was the audience as the venue was HOT).

Highlights from the night include Ben performing Better Way (a song he did with the ICs), some amazing solos during the new R7 songs, Ben cluimbing the speaker tower to say hi to the people standing in the narrow balcony, a great cover of Under Pressure, Ben's candor with the audience, and Ben coming out into the crowd to sing with his people.

Our ears were ringing after the show, and despite being hot, exhausted, and up way past our normal bedtime with Eliza (who was getting some good grandparent time in), I didn't want it to end. I'm very excited about the future of Ben Harper and Relentless7, and I'd drive to Detroit again for sure to see such a rocking and intimate show.


Our New Reality

This last week was a big week for us. Kirk went back to work on Monday and Eliza and I tried to figure out how to get simple things done like eating and showering. On Thursday Eliza smiled for the first time with her eyes opened (she has smiled in her sleep almost from day one). Kirk was not in the room for the first smile but did get to see one last night. She is now about 22 inches long and her weight is up to 7lb 13oz, a full pound heavier then her birth weight! The past few weeks have flown by even though the nights can feel long!


An open letter to the NBA league office

For those not following the NBA playoffs or Chicago Bulls, go read about the games at ESPN.com or Yahoo! Sports, and this will make much more sense. I submitted this to the league office this evening, and I encourage every person who likes competitive fairness to do the same.

I have never been more disappointed in the NBA, its league offices, and its ability to objectively regulate its players, business, and on-court actions. The double standard applied in the case of Rajon Rondo is deplorable, and has greatly turned me off from your product, brand, and business. I am clearly not alone in this view, as the vast majority of your "fans" (paying customers) outside of Boston now think less of your integrity, objectivity, and ability to provide fairness in your league.

After seeing the malicious actions of Mr. Rondo in Game 6, throwing Kirk Hinrich into the scorer's table with violent intent, then swinging his elbow at Hinrich in a clear intent to batter him, I am so very, very disappointed in everyone involved in your league office who chose not to institute a Flagrant Foul 2 penalty in subsequent review and suspend Rondo for Game 7 (if not longer). His actions, undertaken by other players, both in previous years (Robert Horry) or this year (Dwight Howard), in the playoffs (where the term "intensity" seems to allow for players to get away with endangering your employees (other players)) or regular season, has always been ground for suspension. This argument does not even factor in Rondo's previous dirty play and player endangerment earlier in the series, including hip checking Hinrich with clear intent to injure (causing Hinrich to miss portions of the game and receive stitches), and grabbing Brad Miller's face on a clear break to the basket without coming within three feet of the basketball.
While no one wants to see a playoff series determined by which players aren't playing (I'm sure the league still has nightmares about Phoenix-San Antonio), to not punish a player for a clear transgression does the following:

-makes the player in question feel that their actions are "above the law" and encouraging them to continue their dangerous behavior-makes other players escalate the violence in their on-court actions, as they feel the bar has been lifted

-encourages teams to seek retribution in the form or hard fouls and head-hunting, which no one wants to see (and fortunately the Bulls have shown enough character so far to not take this route)

-shows your "fans" (paying customers) that the league doesn't have competitive fairness as its main interest, which can alienate customers to stop purchasing your product (this customer now included)

-shows youth, both in basketball and other sports, that these types of actions go virtually unpunished, and can actually be rewarded if they lead to your team's victory (as it did in Game 5)
-shows a weak league office that makes the league less in comparison to its peers (the NFL, MLB, etc.)

-leads some to believe that the league is purposefully controlling which teams succeed. While rational individuals do not truly believe that the league is fixing games, and the Donaghy scandal still tastes sour in many people's mouths, it just adds credence to conspiracy theorists, but also places more and more small doubts in the minds of casual fans, who see repeated displays of bias as a sign that the league is not a level playing field

The NBA office needs to carefully reconsider how transparent and just their actions are in regards to these issues, and in the process will benefit your current players, future players, fans/customers, and potential customers. I am so very disappointed in the league's actions, and while I look forward to an exciting Game 7, I know that no matter what the outcome, the NBA has left a very negative impression in my mind and the minds of many others. I expected better from your entire organization.

Adam Kirk Smiley