Willie Nelson Announces 2018 Outlaw Music Festival Tour With Nathaniel Rateliff, Elvis Costello, & More

first_imgToday, outlaw country legend Willie Nelson has announced the first leg of his 2018 Outlaw Music Festival Tour, featuring nine stops with an incredible rotating lineup featuring Nelson, Sturgill Simpson, Elvis Costello & The Imposters, Alison Krauss, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, The Head & The Heart, Old Crow Medicine Show, Ryan Bingham, Edie Brickell & New Bohemians, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, The Wild Feathers, JD McPherson, Delta Rae, and Particle Kid.The tour’s first leg will make stops at amphitheaters in Raleigh, NC, Charlotte, NC, Cincinnati, OH, Noblesville, IN, Detroit, MI, Little Rock, AR, Dallas, TX, and The Woodlands, TX between late May and early July. More artists and dates will be announced in the coming weeks.“We had so much fun on the Outlaw Music Festival Tour last year that we decided to do it again! See y’all out on the road this summer,” says Willie Nelson in a press release.“Family. That’s what this touring group of artists, fans, and friends are when we come together for our annual Outlaw Music Festival Tour. I am thrilled to continue this journey with Willie, this extraordinary group of performers, and Live Nation,” says Keith Wortman, CEO of promoters Blackbird Presents.“This started out with a one-show storyboard two years ago. Now, you can hear, feel, smell and immerse locally in that joyous exuberance,” says Geoff Gordon, Live Nation Philadelphia Regional President. “Outlaw is really just a celebration of everything Willie, which the Picnic has been for decades.”Willie Nelson was forced to cancel several tour dates earlier this year, so the news of the coming large-scale tour is encouraging in regard to his health.Tickets for the Outlaw Music Festival Tour go on sale this Friday, March 16th at 12 p.m. local time. For tickets and more information, head to the event website. For a full list of artists slated to perform at each of the first nine stops on the festival tour, see below:last_img read more

Homing in on bones

first_img“Oh, cool!” Cambridge third-grader Cosmo Cao said as he peered through a microscope’s eyepieces. “I see lots of holes!”Cao wore a fascinated smile as he examined a piece of bone, even though he didn’t really need a scope to see one. Bones were strewn all around him.Cao and his Cambridge elementary school classmates spent part of last Thursday morning working with bones and surrounded by skeletons of fish, birds, and mammals in the Zooarchaeology Laboratory in Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology.The lab, on the Peabody’s third floor, specializes in identifying bones from archaeological dig sites, which can tell researchers not just what animals were present, but also provide clues about the broader environment and how humans might have used an area.Though the lab is normally busy with Harvard students and researchers, it opens its doors each winter break to Cambridge schoolchildren, this year hosting 125 children from three schools, according to Polly Hubbard, the Peabody education program manager. It also opens to the public each Columbus Day.“The museum has a wonderful opportunity to open the lab to [give] a special behind-the-scenes look at Harvard’s resources, both its material resources and its human resources,” Hubbard said.On Thursday, third graders from Cambridge’s Haggerty School filled the lab. Small groups of students moved among five stations set up around the large table that dominated the room, each stop highlighting an important aspect of zooarchaeology.On the table were two large plastic sheets outlining skeletons of a dog and a sheep, with a pile of bones nearby. Under the guidance of volunteers, students learned about carnivores and herbivores’ bone structures, including about a ram’s horns and a dog’s teeth.At the other stations, students learned about adaptations made by birds, including talons and beaks for hunting. The students learned about the tools that scientists use, such as microscopes, to analyze findings and ferret out information. They also learned how replicas are made for display in museums, examining molds used to recreate a skeleton of the famed early human ancestor Lucy, the 3.2 million-year-old Australopithecus afarensis uncovered in 1974.On the walls and in the cabinets were skeletons of fish, birds, and mammals. Stacks of wooden drawers holding specimens lined part of the room, bearing labels like “extra bird skeletons,” “large mammal, species unknown,” and “Equid” bones — horses, donkeys and the like — that were gathered in Iran. There were skulls, vertebra, leg bones, shoulder blades, and more. One set of shelves held large horned skulls, mainly of the domesticated water buffalo and the humped Indian cattle called zebu.Deyne Meadow, a former science teacher and science education volunteer for Cambridge schools, led the class. She said afterward that it’s important that Harvard provides local children with a look behind the ivy walls.“We just do this once a year, in January when Harvard is not in session,” said Meadow, who is the wife of the lab’s director, Richard Meadow. “We want to reach the public schools and let kids have the opportunity to come behind the walls.”Ashley Warlick, one of the third grade class’ co-teachers, has brought students to the zooarchaeology lab for the past several years. The lab, she said, allows students to engage hands-on with a subject matter they are learning in class: how animals adapt to habitats.“Bones in general are just so cool for them,” Warlick said. “We study habitat as part of the third grade curriculum. This is a wonderful opportunity for kids to see different animals and see how their bone structure affects their choice of habitat.”Warlick said the Peabody and the nearby Harvard Museum of Natural History (HMNH) are both great resources for local schools.  With a limited budget for field trips, Warlick said she can keep costs down by taking public transportation. Admission for Cambridge schoolchildren is free.She brings her class for structured events like the session at the zooarchaeology lab, and then stays to visit the rest of the museum. She also has taken her classes to activities at the HMNH.“This entire place is an outstanding resource,” Warlick said. “It’s amazing to have not only this [zooarchaeology] classroom, but the entire museum. So much of what is here aligns with what is in our curriculum.”last_img read more

Education is pivotal, Faust tells Miami students

first_imgMIAMI — Shaunte Butler’s mother never missed an opportunity to remind her daughter of the pivotal importance of a strong education.“She always told us, me and my brother, that college was the key to success and a better life,” said Butler, who took that sage advice and ran with it. The Miami native graduated with a degree in neurobiology from Harvard College in 2014 and is now a first-year student at Yale Medical School.Butler returned to her old high school Thursday along with Harvard President Drew Faust, one of the nation’s strongest advocates for getting a college education. Faust and Butler urged a rapt student audience at Miami Northwestern Senior High School to keep the goal of higher education firmly in their sights.“Higher education encompasses more kinds of experiences, and more kinds of different experiences, than there are people in this room,” Faust told the crowd in the school’s library media center, “and there is a place for every one of you,” whether at community college or the Ivy League or some other institution.“Higher education encompasses more kinds of experiences, and more kinds of different experiences, than there are people in this room,” said Harvard President Drew Faust at Miami Northwestern High School. Joe Sherman/Harvard StaffMore than 100 students, teachers, and administrators from Miami Northwestern and nearby Booker T. Washington High School, along with city and regional officials, gathered to hear from Faust, Butler, and members of the Harvard Black Alumni Society of South Florida.In her remarks, Faust encouraged her listeners to believe in themselves, to commit to the goal of a higher education, and to share their plans with others. “Write it down, say it out loud, tell your teachers and coaches, tell your friends and your family — tell anyone and everyone who will be supportive of your aspirations,” Faust urged.Finding an encouraging mentor, someone who can help students identify their strengths and refine their ideas, is a critical part of preparing for college, added Faust, as is understanding the financial aid process, preparing for the SAT or the ACT exams, and staying “organized every step of the way.”It’s not an easy process, said Faust, and there probably will be moments of doubt and even the desire to give up. “But you can and you must choose otherwise as well. You must choose to keep going. The only person who is completely in charge of your life — of your successes and your failures — is you.”Faust’s school visit was planned with help from Harvard Law School graduate Marilyn Holifield, J.D. ’72. A member of the Harvard Black Alumni Society of South Florida and the Harvard Club of Miami, Holifield has mentored high school students and helped at college information sessions at public schools in Miami-Dade County.Holifield said the event was a chance “for Harvard to see the context of talent in an inner-city school, and to allow students to be inspired by the fact that Harvard cares enough to come down and spend time here, not only with the students, but with the teachers.”In her remarks, Faust relayed key points that she has made to high school students around the country for years: College education leads to higher incomes, lower unemployment rates, better access to health care, and, above all, the broadest range of life experiences.She said that college “will give you the freedom to understand yourself differently, to see your life in the context of other times and other places.”College, Faust said, also opens up a world of new ideas and fresh perspectives. “You will learn to engage people with a wide range of viewpoints, to agree and disagree with them as you learn to question and reconsider your own point of view,” she said. Attending college also will “encourage dreams that you have never dreamed.”In concluding, Faust said that not only do students need college, but colleges need them, along with the range of experience they can bring to campus.“You have extraordinary gifts, and two extraordinary institutions that are nurturing them. And I encourage you to share those gifts by continuing your education — and building on what has been given to you here, to reach out more broadly to wider worlds and new places, educating others as you educate yourselves and build your futures.”President Drew Faust visited Miami Northwestern High School where she listened to Principal Wallace Aristide, who has made increasing the school’s graduation rate and preparing students for college his top priorities. Joe Sherman/Harvard StaffThe visit also served to highlight the accomplishments of Miami Northwestern’s principal, Wallace Aristide. As assistant principal beginning in 2006 and principal since 2011, Aristide has worked hard to create a culture shift at a school that before he arrived was prone to internal problems and poor state ratings.During his tenure, Aristide has made increasing the school’s graduation rate and college prep his top priorities. In the past several years, the graduation rate has risen from 54 to more than 85 percent. In 2013, after years of receiving near-failing or failing assessments from the state, the school was awarded an “A” rating. In 2016, graduating students received $9.5 million in financial aid and 600 college acceptance letters.Butler said the encouragement of the school’s teachers and mentors provided the support she needed to apply to Harvard. “I didn’t think it would be worth it for me to apply,” she recalled, “but a lot of my teachers encouraged me to kind of go beyond my self-doubts.” After medical school, she hopes to work to reduce health disparities between income groups.The day began in the school’s college resource center, where a large, pastel-colored map of the nation hangs on the wall and is plastered with yellow notes denoting the names of Miami Northwestern graduates and the colleges they attend. Faust’s visit was an important boost, said Aristide, adding even more to his students’ “commitment, dedication and inspiration. They are going to be on fire for this.”Faust’s visit included a tour of the school’s art gallery, where she spoke with student artists and viewed their work, and a roundtable discussion with teachers on topics that ranged from financial aid to college preparedness and retention programs.Faust’s remarks left a strong impression on student Gaelle Manuel. Dressed in dark green scrubs that identified her as part of the school’s medical magnet program, Manuel said Faust had deepened her desire to attend college, where she plans to study medicine or English.The sophomore summed up the day’s theme simply: “Aspire to greatness.”last_img read more

Taylor Louderman, Alex Wyse & More Set for Ride the Cyclone

first_img Ride the Cyclone The cast is now set for the New York premiere of Ride the Cyclone. Among those on board for the MCC production are Peter Pan Live!’s Taylor Louderman, Spring Awakening’s Alex Wyse and Gus Halper. Performances will begin at off-Broadway’s Lucille Lortel Theatre on November 9. Tickets are now on sale.In addition to Peter Pan Live!, Louderman has appeared on Broadway in Bring It On and off-Broadway in Gigantic. Wyse’s additional credits include Lysistrata Jones, Bare and Wicked. Halper will appear opposite Nick Jonas in the upcoming film Goat.The cast will also include four performers from the original Chicago Shakespeare Theatre production: Lillian Castillo, Karl Hamilton, Emily Rohm and Kholby Wardell.Rachel Rockwell directs and choreographs the Jacob Richmond and Brooke Maxwell musical, which follows a group of high school students who take a fatal ride on the Cyclone roller coaster.Ride the Cyclone will feature set design by Scott Davis, costumes by Theresa Ham, lighting design by Greg Hofmann, sound design by Garth Helm and projection design by Mike Tutaj. The production is schedule to open officially on December 1 and run through December 18. Related Shows Taylor Louderman & Alex Wyse(Photos: Bruce Glikas & Emilio Madrid-Kuser)center_img View Comments Show Closed This production ended its run on Dec. 28, 2016last_img read more

Two new start-ups, UVM license agreement featured at Center for Emerging Technologies

first_imgTwo new start-ups, as well as a UVM technology license agreement, were announced Tuesday at the Center for Emerging Technologies’ 4th annual Invention to Venture (I2V) Conference at UVM s Davis Center.Governor Douglas was joined by Lieutenant Governor Brian Dubie to announce the new Technology License between UVM and Swanton’s Leader Evaporator to manufacture and distribute a unique Maple Spout Adapter.  The Maple Spout Adapter was developed by Timothy Perkins, Director of UVM s Proctor Maple Research Center. The recently signed license with Leader already produced 15,000 taps for this past season’s sap run. Dubie said the taps were used at his family s sugarbush.  My family was excited to use this Vermont maple spout adapter during this banner sugaring season, said Lt. Governor Dubie.  Our production was up in part because of this innovative new product.  We must continue to do what we can to support the kind of innovation that is being discussed at today s conference.  That is why we need economic development legislation that includes a R&D tax credit. I am proud to announce this unique Vermont partnership, said Governor Douglas.  This is a great example of what can be achieved though ingenuity and innovation.  These adapters are not only more efficient but they are less harmful to our cherished maple trees.   Production from these taps is revolutionizing the industry due to sap output that is up to 4 times greater than traditional taps. Douglas was then joined by VCET President David Bradbury to announce the two start-up companies at VCET. The start-ups are beneficiaries of a Simulated Software investment and incubation initiative launched last fall by the Agency of Commerce and Community Development and VCET.  This initiative provides each recipient with VCET technology incubator membership in addition to a $50,000 investment per start-up. The first company is comprised of four faculty and instructors and three students from Champlain College s Gaming and Emergent Media Programs.  With over 40 years of combined experience in the game industry, Hoozinga is an independent game studio focused on the rapidly growing, $1.5 billion serious games sector.  Amanda Fox is the founder and CEO of Hoozinga.The second company Appstone – was founded by Middlebury College junior Bevan Barton and Associate Professor of Computer Science Tim Huang. Barton is a Science major with a focus on artificial intelligence engines and gaming. Appstone provides instructional solutions and user-friendly templates for iPhone application development and publishing.  Apple has already sold over 17 million iPhones and iPod touch devices worldwide. Our support for these companies through VCET represents a true commitment to innovation and high-tech job creation, Douglas said.  Especially in this tough economic climate, we must continue to work together to find ways to invest and support new and existing businesses. We are excited to have these innovative new companies at VCET, said David Bradbury.  We look forward to offering them the continued support they need to grow their companies and create good-paying high-tech jobs right here in Vermont.  There is one more $50,000 simulated software membership remaining and we hope that an entrepreneur from UVM s ranks will steps forward soon and take advantage of this great opportunity. These companies prove that even in the midst of a protracted economic downturn, Vermonters still look to build and expand cutting-edge companies,   added Governor Douglas.  And government must do all it can to support them.last_img read more

American Actress Lucy Liu Launches UNICEF Campaign in Peru

first_imgBy Dialogo August 31, 2009 LIMA, 27 August 2009 (AFP) – American actress Lucy Liu, a star of the film Charlie’s Angels, launched a social-mobilization and fundraising campaign for Peruvian children in Lima on Thursday, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) announced. “It’s very important for me to do something useful here. I only want to be sure that the media who are here will pay attention to what’s happening with children,” the actress said to the press after sharing her experiences as a UNICEF good-will ambassador. The actress, known for her roles in the films Charlie’s Angels and Kill Bill, was designated to open the humanitarian campaign named ‘En Buena Onda’ (‘Feeling Good’). The New York actress, who took advantage of her brief trip to Peru to visit Machu Picchu on Wednesday, affirmed that she was amazed by the citadel and above all by the warmth of the Peruvian people. Actors, singers, entertainment-industry figures, and members of civil society are behind the campaign, the goal of which is “to collect funds in support of poor children who also have the right to a better future,” UNICEF indicated.last_img read more

SOUTHCOM Brings New Horizons to Panama

first_imgBy Roberto López Dubois/Diálogo June 20, 2018 Panamanian communities in need benefitted from humanitarian assistance provided through a U.S. Southern Command- (SOUTHCOM) sponsored development assistance campaign. The New Horizons 2018 exercise, conducted in coordination with the U.S. Embassy in Panama and the Panamanian government, began April 11th and concludes June 20th. More than 350 SOUTHCOM personnel, including doctors, engineers, and service members, mobilized to lend a hand in the central provinces of Coclé and Veraguas, as well as Darién, on the border with Colombia. Personnel from the Panamanian Border Service (SENAFRONT, in Spanish), Panamanian government officials, humanitarian organizations, and local medical professionals joined the U.S. troops in a combined interagency effort. “[The exercise] is very important because it brings integration in addition to other benefits,” said Commissioner Oriel Óscar Ortega, deputy director of SENAFRONT. “The U.S. forces came here to provide assistance, and we also work alongside them to provide the aid.” New Horizons 2018 had two main focuses: building infrastructure and providing medical and dental care. The purpose of the exercise is to provide help to local communities, train U.S. service members and their counterparts in partner nations, and strengthen their ties of friendship. “We are very excited to be here,” said U.S. Air Force Captain Rosimar Varela-Gradaille, legal advisor to SOUTHCOM’s air component, Air Forces Southern (AFSOUTH), during the exercise’s opening ceremony in Metití, Darién. “We are going to build schools, set up a center for women’s health, and perform surgeries. In short, thousands will benefit from our presence.” Medical assistance The U.S. medical teams, in cooperation with the Panamanian Ministry of Health, conducted two medical readiness training exercises (MEDRETE) and one surgical readiness training exercise (SURGRETE). The MEDRETE offered consultations and diagnoses in general medicine, dentistry, gynecology, physiotherapy, and pediatrics, as well as veterinary services. The medical team cared for more than 7,000 patients and 1,180 animals. The SURGRETE was conducted over two weeks in May and focused on otolaryngological and ophthalmological operations. Doctors performed 275 eye surgeries, 40 ear surgeries, while an additional 30 people received hearing aids. SOUTHCOM doctors and technicians split their time between medical centers in the three provinces, where they became integral members of local healthcare teams to learn about the country’s regulations and standards. This teamwork also allowed doctors to share their knowledge and skills with their Panamanian colleagues. “Each day, we sent one doctor to each clinic or hospital. We would show up and work with the doctor in charge. Often times, we even got to pair up with a resident in training, which proved a huge benefit to both sides,” said U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Brian Reese, commander of the AFSOUTH medical operations squadron of New Horizons. “At every step we saw patients together, side-by-side. We discussed cases and learned from each other.” At the beginning of June, the U.S. military medical personnel kicked off a healthcare workshop with support from the University of Panama’s School of Medicine and the Gorgas Commemorative Institute of Health Studies. The training event on emerging infectious diseases was held in Darién and Panama City, and included a visit to the Panama Canal to learn about and share information on the impact the diseases have on public health. Improving infrastructure Infrastructure projects concentrated in the Darién region, where SOUTHCOM service members built a community center, a center for women’s health, and classrooms at three schools. During the deployment, military engineers—from welding specialists to metalworkers and electricians—rotated between the different construction projects to finish them on time. According to María López de Jaramillo, regional director of the Ministry of Education for the province of Darién, the assistance was a blessing that will improve the quality of education for students. “[New Horizons] improves the quality of our infrastructure and our students’ education,” López said. “For them, it’s life-changing.” The community center built in the Pinogana district of Darién will give the remote region a wireless connection. Pinogana mayor Jannelle González explained that the center will offer business workshops and other activities for locals. “We plan to properly maintain, use, and equip this structure as is necessary,” González said. “These are well-executed projects. I’m honored as mayor of this town, and as a resident of Darién, that this exercise has come to our province.” Decades of assistance The annual New Horizons exercise began with projects in Panama in 1984. Since then, SOUTHCOM has provided assistance to countries in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. The 2018 exercise marked the seventh time the operation takes place in Panama. “Each year for the past three decades, we have served throughout Latin America,” said U.S. Air Force Colonel Darren Ewing, commander of the 346th Air Expeditionary Group at AFSOUTH and chief of New Horizons 2018. “Countries ask us to come and we help.” According to Commissioner Ortega, New Horizon projects were up and ready on time. “We are always grateful to every country who wants to help us, and we too have come to the aid of other countries,” he said. “In this day and age, integration between countries is crucial for their development.”last_img read more

Alure Home Improvements Seeks to Inspire ‘Raving Fans’ [Sponsored]

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York When it comes to levels of appreciation, some people are enthusiasts—they express themselves politely but they don’t let themselves go. Some folks are fans—they don’t hide who they favor, they let everybody know what side they’re on. And then there the raving fans!You know who they are: They’re the fanatics shouting in the stands in sub-freezing weather, icicles in their beards and the letters of their team painted proudly on their bellies. And they’re like the ones who Sal Ferro, president and CEO of Alure Home Improvements, wants for his customers and employees.He’s one to know. A huge New York Giants fan himself, Sal admits, “I put blue on my eyes for the Super Bowl! My daughter is putting blue on her face! I wore a Giants jersey! I’m jumping up and down for the Giants!”Sal wants to create the same intense culture of loyalty at Alure, both inside and out.“I want raving fans for Alure Home Improvements!” he tells sports marketer Tyler Pyburn in this accompanying video. “I want people who want to wear our shirts, who want to talk about us, who go to our Facebook fan page, who come to our showroom, who come to our events, and who refer us. Those are the people I want to follow us on Twitter.”Sal’s hope is that when raving Alure fans hear the company name, they’ll go: “Oh, I love them! They did a great job for us! They’re good people! They stand behind their work!”The analogy is simple.“Who would you rather have as a customer?” asks Sal rhetorically. “A happy, pleased customer or a raving fan?”At Alure Home Improvements, the answer is clear: Happy is nice, but raving is fantastic. That kind of wild excitement comes from not just meeting expectations but exceeding them, time after time.Click here to learn more about Alure Home ImprovementsIt starts with building a foundation of employees who truly appreciate what Alure does, are great at doing their jobs and are clearly invested in helping the company surpass all its goals. As Sal puts it, he has assembled a team of people who love working at Alure so much they’re willing “to go through a wall for you!”And fostering that spirit is the driving force behind Alure Home Improvements’ philosophy of customer service.It’s nice to have customers say they like you. It’s not easy to have them rave about you.“But you can do it if you focus on it!” says Sal Ferro. “It’s part of our culture—and that’s what we’re doing here!”last_img read more

To Speed Up Baseball, LI Ducks Try Novel Approach: 3 Balls Is A Walk

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York [dropcap]T[/dropcap]he fans had barely settled into their seats for the Long Island Ducks spring training opener on Saturday when Bridgeport Bluefish diminutive centerfielder Nick Van Stratten lined a leadoff double down the third base line, an ominous start for the home team. Next up was third baseman Sean Burroughs, who came to the plate with the opportunity to knock in the first run of the game, but all he could manage was a harmless two-strike foul ball that landed on the first base side of foul territory. With that, Burroughs’ at-bat was over—the home plate umpire had called him out on strikes.Burroughs was forced to grudgingly retreat to the dugout, but only after receiving much-needed clarification from umpire Tony Senia.“Sean’s reaction was basically one of non-knowledge,” Senia said in a statement afterward. “He really didn’t have an idea of what was going on when I called him out on the two-strike foul. I just said to him that it was a foul with two strikes, and therefore, an out. He said, ‘You’re kidding me?’”Nope, this wasn’t a belated April Fools joke.“I was the goat,” Burroughs would later say, following the Ducks’ 1-0 victory at a sun-splashed Bethpage Ballpark in Central Islip, where season ticket holders were treated to a barbeque with their favorite players. The nine-inning game lasted two hours and 15 minutes.Indeed, under Saturday’s radical one-game novelty rule changes, Burroughs was the first player to suffer from the ego-crushing two-strike foul-out regulation. During the exhibition game, the Atlantic League also experimented with a three-ball walk rule. Therefore, no at-bat could last longer than five pitches. After the game, Burroughs said the rules were “completely ridiculous.”“They’re trying to speed up the play of game, but really it just makes the game boring,” Burroughs added.The unorthodox rules, which aren’t under consideration for the 2015 season, are part of the Atlantic League’s continued effort to streamline games. In June 2014, the league established a “pace of play” committee, charged with investigating ways to reduce the length of games and improve the overall fan experience.On Saturday, 10 players succumbed to the two-strike foul rule and nine worked three-ball walks. Despite the near-split, several players in post-game interviews were all in agreement that the rules favored pitchers. The Ducks officially scored such outs as strikeouts. Some players didn’t know what to call it.The Atlantic League and Major League Baseball, along with its minor league affiliates, are responding to a perception that baseball games are too damn long and they’ve become dominated by too many idle moments on the field: a batter fixing his gloves and scratching himself in between each pitch, the pitcher cursing himself while taking a self-imposed punishing lap around the mound, umpires taking liberties with the strike zone.What the Atlantic League’s pace of play committee came up with wasn’t Earth-shattering. Among the initiatives adopted on a trial basis late last season was a three-“time out” rule, prohibiting more than three mound visits from a coach or position player. Ducks manager Kevin Baez, a former Met, said he had no problem with the rule, noting that he tries to limit trips to the mound, anyway.Umpires were also told to enforce an existing rule directing batters to remain in the batter’s box in-between pitches and to call “balls” and “strikes” as instructed by the rule book. Also, relief pitchers would be allowed two fewer warm-up pitches (down to six from eight), and an intentional walk would be awarded to a batter simply by signaling to the umpire instead of having to throw four consecutive balls out of the strike zone, as is now customary. The rule concerning relievers was the only one that didn’t carry over to the 2015 Atlantic League season.MLB instituted its own rules to begin this season, and the early returns appear heartening. According to the New York Daily News, the average time of the first 124 nine-inning games of the season ran under three hours at 2:54.33—a nearly eight-minute difference from last year. The big leagues appeared to follow in the Atlantic League’s footsteps this year by implementing the same batter’s box rule. MLB, at least for the time being, has successfully reduced the length of games without placing pitch-timing clocks in stadiums, something minor league teams are experimenting with.Plenty of baseball purists are unable to come to grips with the game’s changes, but even former players with decades in baseball are embracing these new initiatives. Consider Ducks bench coach and club co-owner Bud Harrelson, an advocate for pace of play experiments.“The families are coming, they don’t want it to be three and a half hours, they don’t want it to be three hours,” Harrelson said in an interview a day before the team’s spring opener.“The game is getting slow,” added Harrelson, who spent 13 years with the Mets and was part of the team’s 1969 World Series-winning team.Harrelson began noticing the game becoming sluggish years ago, especially when players become more effective at stealing bases. Batters, he said, have also become too comfortable interrupting pitchers by stepping out of the box, a strategy that wouldn’t fly back when he played. Often, batters and pitchers engage in a sort of cat-and-mouse game, which can delay the at-bats.“In the old days if you would’ve done that, they would throw at you. The Gibsons of the world and guys like that would’ve been like ‘Woosh’ stay in there!” he said, mimicking a ball sailing close to a batter as he referred to the great Cardinals ace Bob Gibson, whom he had to bat against back in the day.Harrelson admitted to actually dozing off during a recent Mets game, despite the team’s impressive start.“All of a sudden it’s not a fun game to watch,” he said.Even for Harrelson?“At times,” the 70-year-old former infielder admitted.Trying to pick up the pace won Baez’s approval.“I think it’s good,” the Ducks manager said last Friday following morning workouts. “As long as it’s not taking away from the game, and I don’t think it is right now.”Ducks players appeared unaffected by recent rule changes. They weren’t as enthusiastic about Saturday’s directives, however, brushing them off as a “fun” one-game experiment and nothing more.Most players were diplomatic when asked about it, perhaps because the person who suggested playing under such unorthodox rules, author Paul Auster, a lifelong Mets fan from Brooklyn, was in attendance.“I think my idea would cut down pitch counts and therefore keep starters in games longer, and there’d be fewer of those dead intervals where there’s just nothing happening,” Auster told a scrum of reporters inside the stadium press box prior to the first pitch. “Five pitches would be the limit for any at-bat. I think it would become a more fascinating, exciting game that would appeal to young people more who are not interested in baseball anymore at all. I don’t see any harm in trying it out. I know it’s radical, it’s Baseball 2.0, I understand that.”Paul Auster (left) speaking with Ducks center fielder/hitting coach Lew Ford. Auster, an author, created the three-ball walk and the two-strike-foul-out rule the Atlantic League adopted for Saturday’s exhibition game between the Ducks and Bluefish. (Rashed Mian/Long Island Press)Auster is the sort of baseball fan who would seemingly decry such changes. After all, he’s watched baseball for six decades. He cut junior high school to see the Mets’ third-ever game at the Polo Grounds, and he has followed the game passionately ever since. He detests the idea of a pitch clock, but is intrigued by the two-strike foul-out rule, which he initially pitched in a letter to The New York Times, which was subsequently published. A sports writer for the Daily News interviewed Auster about it, and the idea eventually made its way to the Atlantic League, which has been at the forefront of pace of play changes.Auster, whose idea provoked mixed reactions from his friends, could barely contain his excitement. He asked Ducks officials about it during its media day press conference before the 1 p.m. game and discussed the concept with players on the field.He sat several rows behind the home dugout along first base, a one-day press pass wrapped around his neck and aviator glasses guarding his eyes. Nearly every time a two-strike or two-ball situation cropped up, he took careful notes.After Burroughs fouled out—err, struck out, sorry—in the first inning, Auster and the Daily News reporter who accompanied him to the game wondered out loud what to term the eccentric out. They decided on “Klunkout”—written “KL” on the reporter’s scorecard.Auster appeared delighted by the results, but he had plenty of detractors.“This is never gonna fly!” a fan shouted within earshot of Auster, who didn’t respond. But when nearby fans mistakenly thought the umpire blew a “Klunkout,” a perceived out that would’ve helped the home team, they chided the umpire. A spattering of fans joined in, but considering it was spring training the moment of discontent did not last very long.History reared its head again in the first inning when Bluefish outfielder Welington Dotel worked the count to 2-2—leading to the first ever “Do-Or-Die” pitch, a term Auster and former Yankees public relations director Marty Appel came up with while watching the game together.“This is the first time there’s been a game in which the pitch coming will have to have a result, and that’s never been the case before,” Auster said. “There’s something exciting about those do-or-die moments.”The top of the first inning lasted seven minutes, breezy but not uncommon.The first history-making three-ball walk came at the expense of Bluefish starter Cody Scarpetta, who walked Ducks outfielder Trayvon Robinson on three consecutive pitches out of the zone.Burroughs was the second batter to hit in the top of the third, this time benefiting from the rules. He earned a walk after a four-pitch at-bat. This time, he remembered the rules and jogged 90 feet to first base.Although the players didn’t take too much stock in rules, they did strategize around them. Ducks catcher Jose Morales estimated that the pitching staff threw 80-percent fastballs in order to attack batters and get ahead in the count.Ducks centerfielder and hitting instructor Lew Ford swung at the first pitch in all three at bats, earning two singles.Ford, the league’s most valuable player last year despite the Ducks missing the postseason, admitted afterward he wanted to avoid two-strike counts.“It worked out,” he said.The Ducks broke a 0-0 tie in the bottom of the fourth when second baseman Blake Davis singled home John Griffin, who had made it to second on a double. It was the only run the Ducks would need, shutting out a Bluefish offense that managed four hits.Of course, there’s no telling what would’ve happened if batters had the opportunity to foul off a few two-strike pitches. There was one occasion in the second inning when Bluefish first baseman Andres Rodriguez ripped a long, one-out single to left field. He advanced on a passed ball, and then went to third on an error by shortstop Dan Lyons. With runners on first and third and one man out, catcher Luis Rodriguez fouled off an 0-2 offering to shallow right field. Rodriguez shrugged and made the short trek to the dugout before the ball had landed. The next batter grounded into a force-out at second, ending the inning.Although the game was indeed short by baseball standards, it’s not unheard of for a 1-0 major league game to end within two and a half hours. Also, Saturday’s exhibition featured anemic hitting and no mid-inning pitching changes. Unless games are played out under these rules dozens of times, it’s nearly impossible to determine whether the unique rules were a factor in shortening the length.Asked after the game what he thought of the changed rules, Ducks catcher Jose Morales smiled and said, “It was a quick game.”Still, he never wants to see those rules implemented when games count. He has a championship on his mind.“It’s hard enough to hit the regular way,” Morales said. “It can get frustrating because as a hitter you want to battle, put the ball in play.”Auster reminded Morales that there were some “regular” strikeouts, too.“Yeah,” Morales laughed, “we got a couple of those.”last_img read more

Technology and innovation

first_imgAs a rather young credit union operations manager I vividly recall a down economy that was driving our industry towards operational efficiency through the integration and effective use of various technologies. I remember the credit union rallying around the member, internal and external, to see ourselves through the lean times and thinking that the movement is learning very important lessons about the need for technological improvement and the pace of change surrounding it. As we collectively rebounded in the previous decade did the hard lessons learned resonate with the industry? Statistics tell me they did not. According to the NCUA, since June 2008 we have added 34.4 million members for a total of 133 million members, a whopping 39% increase. At the same time credit unions added 81,353 full time employees (FTE) for a total of 300 thousand, wait for it…an increase of 37%. We now serve 406 members per FTE as opposed to 400. Our scale should allow for significantly more efficient operations if we act on the presumption that the majority of the 2,600 real person credit unions that no longer exist since 2008 were less technologically sophisticated. Given the lean times we are all currently experiencing—what is the path to a more efficient organization and resilient credit union in the face of multiple “once-in-a-generation” challenges? We can start with a look toward Managed IT and “as a Service” or aaS solutions.What is the current state of your Data Center? Do you have the availability you need to serve a geographically dispersed member group? First, ensure your Disaster Recovery procedures are updated and accurate. Do you have a technology partner hosting your Data Center that is appropriately geo-dispersed or are you inhouse? How engaged is your partner in reviewing and setting procedures?Redundancy can be expensive as it relates to network solutions. Sit down for a conversation with your technology partner and review your architecture for proper connectivity, redundancies and to look for expense reduction opportunities. After all, what is the point of a robust Data Center solution if your internet and connectivity are unreliable?With a properly connected set of network solutions how comprehensive is your voice solution? Is it complete, properly managed and do you have an actionable schedule of required and desired upgrades? As the various aspects of your IT area are reviewed, make a priority list, step back and determine if a plan is actionable or if you have obstacles such as staffing that need to be addressed. Speaking of “as a Service” (aaS); risk is always growing, and it is certainly outpacing the 39%-member growth since 2008. Like many aspects of the growing as a Service solution set, risk can also be addressed through technology partners. One of the keys here is the adequate assessment of risk associated with operating your credit union, as you are reviewing enterprise risk, GLBA risk or your cyber security environment—understanding potential threats is paramount in consistent and secure credit union operations. Is your technology partner properly engaging as you review your business continuity and disaster recovery planning? What does your managed security service look like from your firewalls to patch and maximize your vulnerability management process? Are your controls designed with security and functionality at top of mind or is it an ad-hoc solution? Is your combination of managed and hosted security set by institutional design or through the skill and persistence of a select few determined employees? What do you do as a management team when those talented individuals take on new challenges? If nothing else, ideally this article prompts you to review your internal processes.  There is so much that cannot be adequately covered in our new work environment from a single-entry; but it can serve to drive important conversations that should not be sidelined during a downturn in net revenue. Does your credit union:Have a proper audit process in place?A plan to address your data center needs this year and in 2025?A proper update and upgrade plan?For partner solutions, SLAs in place?An internal team to review and act on SLAs?This is just a start and a key point to keep in mind is that IT is not a silo. IT can feel like that sometimes because of the intimidation factor around the technology; it has been my credit union management experience that questions may be avoided because a genius in lending does not want to be perceived as ignorant or unprepared. Be mindful of that when speaking with non-technologists. Everything your internal committee decides to do directly impacts Accounting, Branch Operations, Card Services and your Contact Center. The decisions you make should include engagement with the areas impacted, not to avoid necessary changes but to properly vet the plan to ensure adequate resources are assigned to achieve the proper improvement in the member experience. So much can be said for great and not just acceptable member service but one for one growth in the member/FTE ratio indicates we have not embraced the technology available to create a more efficient and effective work force. Like in 2008, we can change that starting in 2020 so that our movement is better prepared for the challenges that await us in 2032.  “As a former Director of Emergency Operations, I can say that redundancy and connectivity is important for disaster preparedness. Each of the considerations above take vision, leadership, and actionable steps to ensure mission continuity—which is what our credit union members expect!” – Tony Hernandez, President&CEO, Defense Credit Union Council This is placeholder text 9SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,James Gukeisen Mr. James Gukeisen is the Director of Business, Credit Union Division for FIS, a strategic partner of the Armed Forces Financial Network.  He is a 19-year credit union movement veteran, … Detailscenter_img This post is currently collecting data…last_img read more