Ryan Welton

Sports + Digital + Music + Life

Category Archives: life

2 of the best tips ever for improving your mental health

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“Chycho” is one of my favorite subscriptions on YouTube. I started listening to him for the ASMR but soon figured out that he’s a smart dude and cool cat.

I’m a huge believer in his first two points.

  1. Eat healthfully. You are what you put into your body. Period.
  2. Declutter. Space is energy. Clutter is bad energy.

There’s more than just that. He’s totally worth the listen. And give him a subscribe if you’re into YouTube!

My First MacBook

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I’m a Mac owner. Finally.

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Two summers ago when I had a chance to buy a new laptop, I used Consumer Reports to figure out which one to buy. I studied and studied and studied, and I eventually went with a Lenovo PC, which got phenomenal reviews.

MacBooks get tremendous reviews as well, but at 1.6 times the cost of a PC, I couldn’t quite make the leap mentally.

And then came a Facebook message from a friend looking to get rid of his 2014 MacBook Pro 110 for $250. That’s a price point I couldn’t pass up.

“What’s the catch?” I asked.

None, he said. He only had the laptop and a makeshift cord for now; he’d get me the original box and power cord soon. That worked for me, and I paid up. He had barely used it, he said.

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And by all accounts, this is practically a brand new machine. While he had wiped it, there was still a couple references to his accounts, iCloud and email and such. After I eliminated those things, I installed the most recent OS, which is called Mojave.

Turns out that even *that* is an app.

Everything is an app on the Mac, just like it is on my iPhone or iPad, and that’s something I love as an avid Apple man. It took a long while to install Mojave, but I went to bed and it was done by morning.

The first feature I noticed was the ability to turn my background dark, if I wanted. And I did. But now I was also able to download all sorts of apps, something I wasn’t able to do before the OS upgrade.

I downloaded Magnet, which is a paid app that allows you to pin opened apps to various parts of your desktop. So, I pinned my notes, my email and News, Apple News, a miso-mash of headlines from various news sources across the country.

My next download was Google Chrome for Mac because Safari distorts things a bit, and I wanted to see webpages the way I was accustomed. I also downloaded Kindle and Adobe Lightroom and Garage Band and iMovie, basics for the Mac newbie.

And I downloaded Ulysses, where I’m writing this blog post right now. I’m not sure why I would want to pay $4.99 per month for an app where I write, but here I am.

Something I’ve noticed about typing on a Mac is that the keyboard fits my hands. Reminds me of a line from Glen Campbell’s “Gentle On My Mind.”

Or something that somebody said
Because they thought we fit together walking

At a more practical level, I can type a billion miles an hour on this sucker and not have to look at the keyboard, which already puts the Mac way, way, way ahead of my Lenovo. I also strongly prefer the 13.3-inch version of the Mac to the 15.4.

If I get to where I love using this Mac, as I expect I might, my next purchase might be a brand new one. But first things first, I’m loving getting to know this Mac — and I would love your feedback and insight as to what apps I should be adding to it.

What do I need to know about my new Mac?

360 View Cloudy Atop CN Tower, But Food Was Delish

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Now that the Toronto Raptors have secured the NBA title, I can take a deep breath and document more of our honeymoon to Canada. To say that the Great White North surpassed my expectations would be an understatement.

However, I think it’s fair to say we were more enamored by Montreal than we were Toronto. I’ll write about Quebec soon. Nevertheless, the 6ix, as they call Toronto, reminded me of a hipper, cooler version of Chicago, another city I like quite a bit. I’m even writing this blog in a Blue Jays t-shirt. Here are a couple highlights from Day 1 of our time in Toronto.

We were blown away by Canada’s friendliness and cleanliness, and we were not deterred by overcast conditions the night we decided to dine atop the CN Tower.

If you’re not familiar with the CN Tower, it’s the giant structure you see in the Toronto skyline.

CN Tower History

It was at one time the tallest free-standing structure in the world, but now it’s the ninth, I think. It was built by Canadian National, a railway, in 1976, but was divested to an arm of the Canadian government. So, I don’t know who exactly owns 360 The Restaurant, a fine-dining establishment atop the tower.

We had just come from a Blue Jays game, so I wasn’t dressed as nicely as I probably should have been, but nobody shooed me away.

360 Restaurant Food & Drink

Here’s a peek at the menus.

I’ll do my best to recall what each of us had, but my memory is mostly a slave to the photos I take with my phone. I do remember having a Gotham, a cocktail concocted of Lot 40 Rye Whisky, Amaro Norino, Dillon’s Absinthe, Bitters and Maple. If I didn’t have that, I had my standard – an Old Fashioned. Kristi had a blackberry lemonade, as she recalls.

Even though the CN Tower is very touristy, the restaurant was legit. Drinks, food, service everything was spot-on. To me, it was a no-brainer stop if you’re already going to tour the tower anyway.

After our bread and salad service, we made our dinner selections.

For Kristi: Herb & Brewis Crusted Fogo Island Cod on a bed of sweet potato rosti, French beans and caper beurre blanc.

For me: Seared Manitoulin Island Lake Trout with celeriac puree, bay scallops and celery saute, citrus oil and red wine butter jus.

And then for dessert, we ordered ice cream and cookies but got a dark chocolate tower on the house because it was our honeymoon. That’s tip No. 1 for honeymoon travelers: tell everybody it’s your honeymoon.

As for the view atop the tower, it wasn’t perfect. They give you fair warning on days like ours, but it cleared up somewhat during the evening, and I have to think it’s super gorgeous during the summer. The entire restaurant rotates very slowly throughout your dinner, so you get to see it all regardless of where you sit.

Here were some of our views. Beautiful, even if overcast!

One Of OKC’s Neatest Dudes Was Our Wedding Caterer

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Life is getting back to normal after an eventful April, a month highlighted by a wonderful wedding and honeymoon to Canada — the best experiences of my life.

But there’s lots to talk about regarding the wedding itself. As I noted in my last post, it was my first one, ha! The wedding-planning experience, while my first go at it, wasn’t terribly unfamiliar insomuch as it involves a lot of project management. Our first decision was to select a venue, and we chose an all-in-one wedding provider close to our house, ‘Rose Briar’ in northwest Oklahoma City.

The facility is beautiful with both indoor and outdoor ceremony accommodations, and we liked the idea of an all-in-one wedding provider so that we didn’t have to search and search for vendors. My overall review of ‘Rose Briar’ as a wedding provider is pretty simple: if you have a no-frills wedding, they’re solid albeit pretty inflexible and humorless. I can’t imagine a more elaborate wedding with customization being a good fit for them. For us, ‘Rose Briar’ was a-ok, and they executed adequately. It turned out though that we liked their vendors better than we did ‘Rose Briar’ itself, and in this post, I’m going to tell you about one of those vendors: Ned Shadid Sr.

Ned is apparently an Oklahoma City fixture, and we completely understand why. His business is called Ned’s Catering, and he’s been in food service for a long while, having been an on-the-road caterer for a bevy of rock-and-roll bands and country acts. He told us some amazing stories about how awesome some stars are (Jon Bon Jovi) and how not-awesome others are (their band name rhymes with “The Beagles.”)

Ned has this signed photo from the band Chicago in his Oklahoma City office.

Apparently, as part of the whole wedding preparation effort, you get invited to a free lunch where you sample the food for the event.

“Do not threaten me with a good time,” as my friend Patrick is fond of saying.

My understanding is that Rose Briar’s regular caterer flaked out on them, and so Ned was available for us. I’m glad he was! While the food was fantastic, getting to know Ned as part of the pre-wedding food tasting was the real treat. He was also there for the wedding, and he even helped fix my Windsor knot.

“Before I was a caterer, I was in the clothing business,” he told me.

Ned even packed Kristi and I a to-go box in case were were still hungry after the event.

During our initial meeting with him, he told us about his latest restaurant venture, “Ned’s Starlite Lounge.” It’s also in northwest Oklahoma City along May Avenue, and it’s got this retro 1960s vibe about it.

“Our Old Fashioneds are killer,” the waitress told me upon first visit.

The decor was straight out of ‘Mad Men,’ even with the playoff hockey and basketball on the big screens. Kristi opted for Ned’s chop house steak special, which I think was a Filet Mignon, and I got the chicken fried steak with poblano reduction. I joked with Kristi that I thought our wedding enchiladas also had Ned’s poblano reduction, and maybe that was just his thing – poblano reduction.

Nevertheless, it was delicious on a chicken fry.

And the Old Fashioned was indeed killer, and oh by the way, priced a lot cheaper than most places.

Not that my Rolodex is teeming with caterers, but I couldn’t recommend Ned more highly. The food was fantastic, both for the wedding and at Ned’s Starlite Lounge — and he’s even a neater guy.

Why I Got Married For The First (And Only) Time At 48

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If you haven’t seen me on my blog or on YouTube the past couple of months, there is a very good reason. I got married.

For the first time.

At 48.

I can’t say that those of you who know me really well would be all that surprised that I got married because I don’t know how many folks really know me all that well. The one person who gets me better than anybody? Well, I married her.

We met the old-fashioned way: the Internet.

We dated for three years.

We lived together for one.

She is beautiful, kind, compassionate, sweet, helpful, optimistic. She is an extraordinary mother, the kind of Mom that all the neighborhood kids flock to. All. She is professionally ambitious and successful. She is understanding, both of what shapes our pasts but also of how we both envision the future. She is tremendously resourceful; with her, I feel like we can accomplish anything we’d like.

She is unfailingly positive and inclusive, setting an example not only for her 10-year-old daughter, Olivia, but for me as well.

She has a wonderful extended family, all of whom I got to know early on. And she likes my people, too.

She got to know my mother before she passed, and Mary Welton wholeheartedly approved of her, not something she granted automatically to anybody. She was a rock for me through the process of Mom’s last days, her passing and all the work that went into her estate (and still is ongoing).

We have traveled together. A lot.

We both love beaches and California and the color teal.

We like the same kinds of foods and both have a very open palate. We both love to cook, but she has a talent for it, while I love to clean. Seriously. It’s kind of perfect.

We both love baseball, one of the first things I learned about her. She also enjoys other sports and rooted for the Cleveland Browns with me all of last fall. We adopted them as “our” team.

Our musical tastes are mostly aligned, too. Movies and TV, too.

We have a similar outlook and temperament. I understand her love languages and she gets mine. We get along amazingly well, and I was beyond excited to propose to her one day before her birthday, October 3, 2018, in hopes of marrying her on what would have been my mother’s 80th birthday on April 12, 2019.

And that’s exactly what we did.

Introducing Ryan and Kristi Welton. (Mr. and Mr., according to the forks we were holding. Works for us, ha!)

More blogs, pics and stories from the wedding and honeymoon coming up! It was important to me to focus the past 60-90 days on the big event, making sure that I focused my attention on the wedding, our trip to Canada and all the home-centric things we both have going on, including for me the eventual sale of two other homes — mine in Norman and Mom’s in Henryetta.

Cheers for now.

Look back at 2018 & channeling my inner Don Draper

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Don Draper from 'Mad Men'

The period between Christmas and New Year’s is one of my favorite each year. It’s a time filled with anticipation for the year ahead, a time to look back at the year gone by and a time to state the obvious.

I don’t know why I like that lede so much. Strikes me as first-cup-of-coffee funny on a gray winter’s Saturday morning.

The start to this weekend finds me at my local Subaru dealership, getting an oil change, rotation and a fuel service. I think they call it an induction service, but to what I’m being inducted I don’t know. It’s 27 degrees outside, gray and still and gorgeous. I can do any kind of weather with no wind.

Boy, am I in the wrong state (Oklahoma) for that!

But on to the business at hand.

I love looking ahead to the new year and looking back at the year previous. I am never one to say, “Good riddance!” to the year. There are always highs to balance the lows.

A look back at 2018
And this year had plenty of high moments. I got engaged to a wonderful woman with whom I have enjoyed many an adventure and plan to enjoy decades more. Being a 48-year-old bachelor, I never anticipated what it would feel like to be engaged or married or even tightly coupled. However, I also didn’t spend my bachelor years overly concerned about how I would feel about it. To the contrary: I spent most of those years considering how to do it right in a world where at least half of all marriages ultimately fail and even more relationships fade into the ghosted ether.

With all that said, I feel extraordinarily confident about the start of my marriage in 2019.

We’re getting married on April 12, which would have been my mom’s 80th birthday. She passed away on June 5, and that was certainly the low mark for 2018. However, I gave myself a gift in anticipation of that moment several years ago with the daily phone conversations we’d have on my commute home from work. The regular communication with family is good for the parent, to keep them engaged and connected, but it’s also a giant deposit into the barrel of goodwill and good karma that you’ll be able to lean on when the loved one passes.

For anybody who has aging parents to whom they’re close, I can’t encourage you enough to develop that kind of routine.

Also, I may have some snippets of our conversations thanks to the fact that sometimes Mom didn’t turn off her answering machine when I called and it picked up before she did.

Work ain’t hard if it’s passion
My professional life has gone exceedingly well, especially so because I get to be in news and work with a wonderful newsroom. Over the years, some folks have labeled me a workaholic, but that’s never been true. I enjoy working and, more so, being in motion. Sitting still is not in my DNA. Any time or situation when it’s felt like I’m overworking myself is the product of poor management on my part, failing to delete the actions that need dismissing and overvaluing money for time.

Time is the arbitrage for everything.

It’s why voice is the technology of the 2020s. It’s why Uber exists. It’s why you should hire a housekeeper and a lawn care person (GreenPal is fantastic). It’s why you should get up early (good sleep is awesome but long sleep is insanely overrated), and it’s definitely why you should get off the couch and explore your city, state and world.

Time is the single currency you can’t amass. You can always make more money.

And travel is more important than acquiring any ‘thing.’ Just thought I’d add that.

But I digress.

As I get older, my professional focus is more about helping other people achieve more. I’m taking on more the role of a teacher or mentor to anybody willing to be taught or mentored (willing is ‘key’), and what I realized early on is that words have super little impact where no actions live. The best way how to tell anybody how to do anything is to show them, by setting the example.

So, whether I’m always successful or not, I’m focused on the examples I set every day.

Various side projects
My digital life has been a lesson in drifting, an enjoyment for sure but no real accomplishment other than an exercise in patience. Take my YouTube channel for example. I gained 86 subscribers in 2018, but that’s in a world where it’s not uncommon to gain thousands.

Why is that?

It all depends on how you look at my channel. Is it a songwriter’s channel? A performer’s channel? If so, it’s super clear that the quality of the content at a creative and technical level isn’t moving the needle. However, that’s not totally true. Two of my biggest organic videos of the year were contemporary jazz tracks I recorded and posted a decade ago.

RyanWeltonMusic YouTube watch time 2018

Step To It” picked up another 6,456 minutes of watch time in 2018.

Nocturnal” earned 1,237 minutes of watch time.

But those weren’t performed. They were produced. There’s probably a lesson there.

Views are important, but the currency on YouTube and, eventually on any video platform, is watch time. How long can you keep a person watching your video content? It’s important because it indicates quality. Most folks are willing to click on a video. Very few are willing to sit there for 7 minutes and 32 seconds.

In the list above, you’ll see a couple of original songs with a high amount of watch time. Those weren’t organically achieved. I ran two types of ads in 2018: Google ads against YouTube videos and Facebook ads against Facebook posts on my teeny-tiny Ryan Welton Digital Facebook page that point to my YouTube channel.

The Google ads did an amazing job of boosting my superficial stats, but they failed to produce engagement and subscribers.

The Facebook ads, especially when executed against cover songs, did an amazing job of turning targeted viewers into subscribers. Mind you, for me, we’re talking dozens of new subscribers instead of hundreds or thousands, but any one of us learns or achieves in nuggets. The snowball falling downhill gets bigger the farther it goes.

On the other hand, my No. 1 video for 2018 didn’t require a dime for it to catch fire. It was called “How To Play ‘Rosanna’ By Toto For Piano,” and it amassed 8,044 minutes of watch time for the year. I don’t even know that I did such a great job with it, but it helped some people get the gist of the chord progressions in the song and, a bit, of how to play the imposing synth solo in the middle of the track.

It had value.

And for the 95 percent of us who aren’t young, beautiful or incredibly talented, value is where it’s at.

Teach somebody how to do something. Pass along your experiences to other people. Document your adventures. Share wisdom.

Do it over and over and over.

That’s the plan for 2019 in my digital life. When it came to this blog, I was largely all over the place, writing about the Sooners and Browns and baseball and YouTube, and that’s all well and good. I think I can still do that as the mood hits, as inspiration strikes.

But as I look at other platforms, I’ll be doing so more closely with an eye for value I can offer to somebody else. I’ll also be looking at eliminating content that provides low return and focus on content that provides much greater return. Whether it be in work or play, passion or necessary mundanity, we all have way too much wasted motion.

In that regard, 2019 is a year to move the needle in a big way.

Walk, don’t run?
don’t know, however, that it’s going to be the year I run my fourth consecutive half marathon in Oklahoma City come the last weekend in April. My training in 2018 was poor, and while I blamed it a lot on the weather, I should also pin it on the extra 10 pounds (now 20) I was carrying.

Mid-year grief sure didn’t help, and neither did a pre-Thanksgiving car wreck. Kristi and I walked away from that, sure enough, but it’s been a giant pain in the butt on numerous fronts ever since. As I sit here finishing this blog post on a Sunday morning, I can confirm that my right knee confirms the accident.

The swelling on the inside of it might not seem the result of Grade 3 whiplash, but when you start connecting the physical dots from spine-to-foot, it’s not unbelievable how that could be. And there’s not a chance I could run to the mailbox right this moment much less a quick three miles.

Not that there’s ever been anything quick about my running.

We’ll see. You all know how much I love running; now it’s just a matter of how much I love training. Need to be better at the latter to be able to enjoy the former. 

Trash talk
Any time I spend ‘not training’ I’m liable to spend on my newest passion: eBay and all-things-flip. Earlier this year, Kristi and I started a little store called R&K’s Happy HodgePodge, and it was born of young Olivia’s enjoyment of garage sales meshed with my inner drive to turn everything into a quest.

I had watched some Gary Vee videos on that ‘flip life,’ and then got interested in how people do it. How they source their products. How they price them. And how they manage a small business based on the simplest of retail tenets: Buy low and resell higher.

That’s all that retail is.

Plus, if I get good at it, it could provide a nice little retirement nest-egg or some money for more travel. I’m telling you: for me, long-term, there is nothing I’d rather spend my money on than travel.

Either way, it’s a fun little side venture.

It seems I’m mostly rambling now, but I’ll leave you with this thought from the wise sage of the advertising world, Don Draper. One of the things I admired most about his character in the series “Mad Men” is his ability to stoically maintain his focus on tomorrow.

“I have a life, and it only goes in one direction: forward.”

Cheers to an amazing+challenging+satisfying 2019 ahead.

A Thanksgiving (car crash) to remember…

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We were heading to dinner, ready to try a new place, new for us. A place called Kwan’s Kitchen was calling, and we were ready for a chance to unwind before the holiday weekend.

As we headed down Memorial Road, past Rockwell Avenue, in Oklahoma City. I was daydreaming into the distance. Like usual. And, no, I wasn’t driving.

Kristi was, and I suddenly heard her scream.

“Bam!”

We had been hit and hit hard in the intersection of Memorial and Rockwell. Kristi somehow managed to wrest control of the vehicle and keep us from flipping. I was 90 percent sure we were headed down the embankment and maybe onto the Kilpatrick Turnpike below.

As the person in the passenger seat, I’d describe it is being on a really bumpy boat ride on the lake. The vehicle was just thrusting about, and the morning after, I was quite sore — more sore than after I finished my half marathons. By a lot. Some of that was compounded by achy hips from a golf outing earlier in the week.

Getting old sucks, folks, haha!

I got out of the vehicle instantly and urged Kristi to get out. See, I watched too many Emergency!-like shows in the 1970s, and I knew that the car always exploded in the aftermath of a wreck.

It didn’t.

Right as I was walking toward the other driver, to whom I was going to ask, “What the ****?,” a gentleman walked up to me and gave me his name and number. He and his wife had seen the whole thing. The other dude ran a red light, a light that had been red for quite a while.

We’re not sure how fast the guy was going, but I immediately got concerned for him and walked up to him, not in anger, but just to make sure he was OK. He was extraordinarily apologetic, which made me immediately conciliatory, and I stood with him as his teenage daughters got out of their Honda Odyssey. For the record, we think he was going 30-40 mph through the intersection.

What struck me is how hard the hit was. It was really hard. Two airbags went off, both on Kristi’s side of the car, and she whacked her head. The hit was so hard, it popped the gear shift out of place in the middle of the front of the vehicle. The hit was so hard that it BENT MY SUBARU FORESTER CAR KEY.

I shit you not. The key must have been against something in my left pocket, but the impact bent it. We got it fixed pretty easily with WD-40 and duct tape, which is how you do it in the South.

How much harder then is an impact at 55, 60, 70 miles per hour or beyond?

If you weren’t a believer in seat belts before, you became one.

If you weren’t a believer in staying hands-free with any device before, you were now.

Oklahoma City Police came out to help, and while they were helpful, I would also note that they’re short. No time for any extra commentary or questions. All business, and that’s understandable and standard. I add that as a word to the wise if you’re ever in an accident: minimize the number of words you speak and maximize their impact.

“Ma’am, do you want an ambulance?” the officer asked Kristi.

“Yes,” I replied, “She does, at least to get checked out.”

“I’m not asking you,” the officer said.

Clap the heck back, why don’t you?! Ha!

My response emanated from the brief conversation I had with the witness, who (it turns out) is a former police officer. He said, “Have the ambulance come over and check you out, even if you don’t think you need it.”

And here’s why.

When you’re in an accident, your body automatically goes into fight-or-flight, meaning the adrenaline is at the max, and while you’d be likely to feel a broken bone, you’re less likely to feel what they call “soft-tissue injuries.” In this case, Kristi had sustained a nasty bump to the head. The paramedics checked her out and held her for a couple minutes for high blood pressure that quickly went down.

We’re both pretty sore today. I’d say that I’m much more sore than I expected to be. Achy like the flu.

The other reason you need to get checked out by the ambulance at a wreck is for insurance documentation. In fact, at every step, if you have symptoms of anything after a wreck, you need to get checked out. What makes the whole process feel very shady is that average folks like us often err on the side of not bothering people.

“I’ll be fine. Don’t bother the doctor or paramedic!”

“It’s just a bump!”

In the hard, cold, real world, that just translates to, “not really hurt,” even if that’s not true.

It’s enough to make a person pretty jaded — or get that law degree and chase a few ambulances!

However, we’re lucky. We lived. No broken bones. A big pain in the ass, figuratively and literally, but aside from some paperwork and administrative headaches the next few weeks, all good.

And the other guy and his family lived. And he has insurance, too. Thank the good Lord. I can’t tell you how little sympathy I have for anybody who’s driving without insurance. Driving is a privilege, not a right.

Later over dinner, watching the Thunder game, I told Kristi, “Hey, it was another first for us. Our first car wreck together.”

“How romantic,” she responded.

We both agreed though: we’ll never forget this Thanksgiving! It could have been oh, so much worse.

Photos from trip to Denver, Coors Field, visit to National Ballpark Museum

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This is a blog I wrote months ago about a trip I took last year. Mom died during the summer, so this one got shelved, but not just because of that. This post got shelved because I thought it was important to properly caption every one of the photos I was going to post from my trip to the National Ballpark Museum

This post was going to wait until I was able to deal with all five dozen or so photos I’m sharing in this post.

The two things I love most about sports are the uniforms (what we root for) and the stadiums and parks where sports are played. Much churches, sports venues are the architectural centerpieces of America.

Hope you enjoy this one, and if you can, check out the National Ballpark Museum on Facebook (if you can’t visit Bruce in person!). I can’t imagine a museum I would enjoy more except for perhaps the one in Cooperstown.

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The baseball pennant race is red hot, and no divisions are hotter right now than the NL Central and West. Colorado is leading the West by 1.5 games over the Los Angeles Dodgers, parent club to our Oklahoma City Dodgers. The Dodgers are one of the teams I root for hard, and that goes back to the days of Garvey, Lopes, Russell and Cey.

But the Rockies are a team I root for, too. Just not right now. There is a pecking order to my bandwagon.

For the record, I am a Texas Rangers fan to the core. Always will be.

But I love sports, and I especially love baseball.

And I was fortunate enough to visit Denver last year and see the Rockies at Coors Field. I was impressed by the city, the stadium, LoDo (lower downtown) and a little museum Kristi and I discovered along the way. She actually discovered the National Ballpark Museum before our trip because she’s good like that, and she knows of my love for baseball architecture.

Denver was adorned this fine weekend by deep blue skies and clean air, cool nights and warm days. I went for a run along some trails near Welton Street, not named for me best that I know, and my only complaint was the periodic smell of marijuana smoke in the air.

Alas, even with dispensaries everywhere, I loved, loved, loved Denver.

Beautiful. Cosmopolitan. Green. Good food, good beer, good people.

Our trip to Coors Field was pretty close to my favorite all-around city+ballpark trip ever.

After pre-gaming at a local sports bar, we visited this ballpark museum, about two or three blocks from the stadium. The National Ballpark Museum is a shrine to ballparks dating to the 1800s, the major leagues and the Negro League. It’s a baseball nerd’s paradise.

And we were lucky enough to get a personal tour from curator Bruce “B” Hellerstein. By personal, I mean it was Kristi and me with Bruce for an hour. The visit might have cost us $10 apiece, maybe $15? Worth every penny and plenty more. (Side note: They are a 501 (c)(3) organization and can accept donations.)

What we were told by the museum host is that Bruce is rarely there, but that when he is, you need to take advantage of his presence and pay attention. Bruce Hellerstein is a walking encyclopedia of baseball history and especially an expert in ballparks. My expertise in ballpark history is pretty novice among experts but expert among novices, if you will.

Bruce is a stud among baseball studs.

My interest in ballpark architecture goes back to childhood, visiting Royals Stadium in 1982 and watching the fountains. Before that, I regularly rooted for the Dodgers in the World Series, and I especially loved the games in Los Angeles as opposed to New York, going back to their battles versus the Yankess in 1977 and 1978. What I’m saying there is that, even as a 7-year-old, I picked my World Series team based on venue. (And uniforms. I’ll save that for another post.)

Fast-forward a few years to when we got Camden Yards and Jacobs Field, and my interest in stadiums increased greatly because I grew up mostly with the cookie-cutter, turf-riddled, multi-purpose stadiums such as Veterans Stadium, Three Rivers Stadium, Fulton County Stadium, Oakland-Alameda Coliseum, Riverfront Stadium, etc.

I was aesthetically deprived until I wasn’t, and then my interest in baseball architecture was greatly heightened. The truth is that this new, early-90s era of stadium architecture was a throwback to early 1900s greatness, not some new innovation.

What’s old became new again.

That’s why it’s especially appropriate that the National Ballpark Museum is in Denver — because Coors Field was architected in the style of older stadiums, especially Ebbets Field and I believe Shibe Park (Connie Mack Stadium).

It has a prominent, rounded front and the entire stadium sits right close to the street.

Coors Field wasn’t ushering in a new era of stadiums. It was a hearty hat-tip to the best stadiums of years gone by.

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That’s all I really have to say about the museum. After rooting on the Dodgers to a 4-0 win over Colorado that night, Kristi went back to the sports bar we first visited that afternoon and split a plate of nachos and a beer and watched some UFC on the big screen with hundreds of other Denver folk. The one thing I remember about the fight we saw was that the loser of the match proposed to her girlfriend on live TV.

UFC fight Jessica Andrade versus Joanna Jedrzejczyk

This is the UFC fight we watched at the bar in LoDo.

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Neither Kristi nor I know much about UFC, so it was the post-match happening that was most memorable.

The things we remember! Anyway, I’m glad I take lots of photos when I visit places. The National Baseball Museum is quite memorable, but there was so much baseball goodness in one spot, these photos will keep the venue and our visit with Bruce in our memories for the rest of our lives.

Or until the next time we visit. And we will!

Now for your perusal, the photos I took from the National Ballpark Museum. Enjoy!

1960 World Series Champion Pittsburgh Pirates

A piece of baseball history from the 1960 World Series champion Pittsburgh Pirates

Fenway Park ticket taker

A piece of history from Fenway Park, home of the Boston RedSox.

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Connie Mack Stadium - Philadelphia

This was Connie Mack Stadium in Philadelphia.

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14 Classic Baseball Parks

Bricks from the 14 classic ballparks built from 1909 to 1923.

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Crosley Field in Cincinnati, memorabilia

Lots of memorabilia from Crosley Field in Cincinnati at the National Ballpark Museum in Denver.

Crosley Field, Cincinnati

Crosley Field, The Illustrated History of a Classic Ballpark

Pennants for the Pirates, Phillies, Braves and Dodgers

Pennants for the Pirates, Phillies, Braves and Dodgers

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Cincinnati Redlegs

Memorabilia from the Cincinnati Redlegs at the National Ballpark Museum in Denver.

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Final Game at Crosley Field: June 24, 1970

Autographed photo from Crosley Field in Cincinnati, the final pitch at the Reds’ stadium before Riverfront Stadium debuted.

Artifacts from Wrigley Field. White Sox, Giants and Cubs

Various artifacts from Wrigley Field, among other ballparks.

Tiger Stadium brochure

Memorabilia about Tiger Stadium in Detroit

Oakland A's Reggie Jackson in Sports Illustrated

Look at those unis! Oakland Athletics on the cover of Sports Illustrated, featuring slugger Reggie Jackson.

Tiger Stadium All Star Game 1971

Memorabilia from Tiger Stadium All Star Game 1971

Michigan and Trumbull

One of the most famous corners in all of baseball, Michigan and Trumbull — home of the Detroit Tigers.

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Stan Musial memorabilia in St, Louis

St. Louis Cardinals memorabilia at the National Ballpark Museum in Denver. This is Stan Musial.

RedSox Magazine

RedSox Magazine – A Monster Of A View – at the National Ballpark Museum in Denver

Boston - 2013 World Series

A photo from Fenway Park where the Boston RedSox defeated St. Louis to win the 2013 World Series

Legends of the Black Diamond

Heroes of the Negro League were memorialized at the National Ballpark Museum in Denver.

Jimmy Fund Night - Fenway Park

Jimmy Fund Night – Fenway Park – an artifact from Fenway Park in Boston, shown at the National Ballpark Museum in Denver.

Yankee Stadium - the House That Ruth Built

Yankee Stadium memorabilia (“The House That Ruth Built”) featured at the National Ballpark Museum in Denver.

We Are The Ship - Kadir Nelson

Book at the National Ballpark Museum called “We Are The Ship,” by Kadir Nelson

Comiskey Park in Chicago - Old & New

Photo of Comiskey Park in Chicago during the final game at “old” Comiskey.

Mickey Mantle New York Yankees

Photo of Mickey Mantle batting for the New York Yankees.

Mickey Mantle quote + photo

Mickey Mantle quote at Yankee Stadium

Tony Kubek & Joe Garagiola

Tony Kubek and Joe Garagiola, the guys who introduced me to baseball in the 1970s.

Bruce Hellerstein talks about Dodgers

National Ballpark Museum curator Bruce Hellerstein talks about this Dodgers memorabilia when we visited in Denver in May 2016.

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Bruce Hellerstein

The curator of the National Ballpark Museum in Denver, Bruce Hellerstein.

Los Angeles Dodgers gear at National Ballpark Museum

This was a big Los Angeles (and Brooklyn) Dodgers section at the National Ballpark Museum in Denver.

Jackie Robinson, Brooklyn Dodgers

The most important figure in the history of baseball is Jackie Robinson. If you haven’t seen the movie, “42,” watch it!

Tony Kubek, Yankees shortstop

A signed photo of Yankees shortstop Tony Kubek, and a newspaper clipping of Tony winning a rookie award.

Yankee Stadium sign, Department of Transportation

This is a sign pointing people toward Yankee Stadium. The sign is from the Department of Transportation and is found at the National Ballpark Museum.

Willie Mays, New York Giants (the catch)

A couple of mini-statues of Willie Mays, depicting “the catch” from Game 1 of the 1954 World Series against the Cleveland Indians from the Polo Grounds in New York.

Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field

The National Ballpark Museum had a little shrine to Wrigley Field, home to the Chicago Cubs.

California Angels, the inaugural year

A look at some really old-school California Angels paraphernalia from the National Ballpark Museum. The Angels debuted as an MLB team in 1961.

Texas Rangers, Arlington Stadium

A banner and a program from old Arlington Stadium in Texas, there is also a signed seat, I believe, from Nolan Ryan.

Seattle Pilots

Look at these collectibles from the Seattle Pilots’ one and only season before becoming the Milwaukee Brewers.

Babe Ruth's called shot

A photo/painting and a statue of Babe Ruth’s called shot at Wrigley Field in Game 3 of the 1932 World Series.

Los Angeles Angels, the early days

The California Angels are now the Los Angeles Angels. However, from 1961-65 they were also the L.A. Angels. This is lots of paraphernalia from the really early days of the franchise.

Kansas City Athletics

Before the A’s were in Oakland, they were in Kansas City. Check out this 1960s memorabilia at the National Ballpark Museum.

Kansas City Royals

A pennant from the early days of the Kansas City Royals and Royals Stadium, found at the National Ballpark Museum.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Memorabilia from the early days of both the Los Angeles Dodgers and Angels, found at the National Ballpark Museum in Denver.

Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Millers

Memorabilia and paraphernalia from the early days of the Minnesota Twins and the minor league Millers of Minneapolis.

Cubs!

If I remember right, this Cubs logo was painted onto the floor at the National Ballpark Museum in Denver.

Denver Bears uniforms (striped)

Love the striped look of the old Denver Bears, which played from 1885-1954 in its first incarnation and then until 1985 before turning into the Zephyrs.

Denver Bears (1970s-80s look?)

Interesting scripting on these Denver Bears uniforms. I’m betting these are late 70s versions.

Denver Bears memorabilia

More signs and clippings from the rich history of Denver’s Minor League Bears – located at the National Ballpark Museum in Denver.

Baseball Tonite at Bears Stadium

Vintage sign from the Denver Bears, which played in two incarnations in Denver — 1885 to 1954 and then until 1985 before they were renamed the Zephyrs.

Babe Ruth clock

This was a neat artifact from baseball past at the National Ballpark Museum – a Babe Ruth clock. It might be a clock radio?

Reggie Jackson, Mr. October

Reggie Jackson went from great to legend in the 1977 World Series vs, the Dodgers. This presentation at the Ballpark Museum in Denver pays homage to Mr. October.

Morning workout: How do you get yourself up early to go run?

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So, how in the world to you morning people do it? Any by do it, I don’t only mean “get up.”

I mean get up and exercise! How. Do. You. Do. It?

I work in the digital news business, and between work and home, I’m go go go go go go go. It’s constant. I’m doing great if I get seven hours of sleep per night, and many nights it’s between six and six and a half hours.

Going about my day is never a problem after six or six and a half hours, but getting up to do cardio is a never-gonna-happen for me most of the time.

But I’m trying. I’m setting my alarm for 6:30 each day this week in hopes of getting up and getting a 30-minute run in. Last night, I got to bed at 11:30 and didn’t fall asleep until 12:33.

I immediately adjusted my alarm to 7:15 a.m.

Over the years, I’ve cultivated several good sleep habits. I got rid of all blue light in my home in Norman, and since I’ve moved in with Kristi, I don’t think we have much or any blue light in our room there. You might not notice it consciously, but blue light causes you to produce less melatonin. I tossed my alarm and anything that gave off blue light. I turn my phone over so that the screen doesn’t show. And while I have always had a TV in my room, I mostly watch it when I’m awake.

I keep my bedroom cold: 66 degrees, summer or winter. And believe it or not, 66 is on the high side of where you should be for sleep. It’s recommended that your sleeping room be between 60 and 67. For me, anything below 64 is too cold, but 66 appears to be perfect. A by-product of this is that your pillow is more likely to be cool to the touch!

I’ve also taken Diphenhydramine for a couple years, fully admitting that I’m not sure this is a good thing. Before that, I took melatonin every night. Did that for several years until I read and understood that melatonin isn’t a drug; it’s a hormone, and it’s super dangerous for me to be messing with the hormonal system.

And I should back up because I haven’t always had sleep issues.

I’m not sure I’d say I have sleep issues currently.

However, as we get older, we sleep through the night less and less. We middle-aged men have to get up to pee 1-2 times every night, and when I became a runner a couple of years ago, I found that I was getting up 2-3 times a night, sometimes four! I had always attributed it to exercising during the evening, delivering trauma to my hips and pelvis by running along concrete and then sleeping with either actual or hidden pain. I had read some things that made me believe the trauma to that area could even trigger the sensation that I needed to urinate in the middle of the night.

With that, we’ve come full circle because I want to become an early-morning runner and yet I have a hard time with that when I stress out even the least little bit about it. At this point, that’s my last sleep hurdle. Most of my other sleep habits are pretty good.

Well, maybe except for constantly working on something or other. Unwinding wouldn’t be the worst idea.

Ha! Thank you for reading! If you’ve got some workout-in-the-morning tips for me, I’d love to hear them.

Hope you’ll come find me on YouTube at youtube.com/ryanweltonmusic or venture on over to Twitter @ryanwelton

California Thinkin’: my takeaways from a trip to the Golden State

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A vacation to end the summer symbolizes the start of autumn, on the calendar if not the thermometer. It won’t start to feel autumnal in Oklahoma until November. To escape the last bit of heat in the Sooner State, we went to San Diego and Los Angeles for some sun, sand, surf, baseball, football and general adventures.

Last year, Kristi and I went to Albuquerque for our Labor Day trip.

This year, we went all the way West.

Some quick observations about southern California:

1 — They don’t have the big, sprawling convenience stores we have in Oklahoma and Texas. There’s no Buccee’s not to mention a big OnCue, QuikTrip or Love’s — not in the heart of Los Angeles or San Diego at least. The cost per square foot is too high, Kristi tells me.

Kristi was born in Los Angeles. She knows these parts.

2 — The difficulty of traffic in Los Angeles is probably overstated, based on my small sample size. There was a lot of it, but Dallas drivers go a lot faster. I remember when I first moved to DFW in 1996 and folks raced up Preston and Hillcrest — side streets — at 60 mph.

That was culture shock.

Los Angeles provided more of what I’d call a constant state of heavy traffic. Constant.

Kristi has since corrected me on this.

“Oh, honey, this was a holiday weekend. We didn’t see nothin'” in terms of real L.A. traffic.

As I said, she knows these parts.

3 — Folks are friendly in California, drivers and otherwise. Not sure that they’ll ever be as friendly as they are in our part of the world but I’ll posit this:

— the service at Petco Park in San Diego was best I’ve ever had at an MLB game

— the staff at Hotel Z in San Diego (the Pineapple) was as friendly if not friendlier than any staff we’ve had at any hotel

— I had my usual “random people talk to me in public” experience, which usually only happens down South but to which I’ve often attributed to my winning personality and approachability.

I have this “please come start a conversation” look on my face.

4 — Cell service is poor in California. I don’t know if “poor” is the best word for it, or rather if it should be “not as strong as you’d expect considering it’s California.” I just imagined Cali to be a haven of technical wonder and connectivity. I was left with ‘No Service’ and 4G in a lot of places.

5 — Much of Los Angeles is stuck in another era architecturally, and this isn’t a bad thing if you’re into all-things mid-mod. If the late 50s and early 60s are your stylistic jam, L.A. is your place.

What’s old becomes new again.

As I settle back into routine, I reflect on every new place I’ve visited this year. We spent a weekend at Beavers Bend in southeastern Oklahoma, a few days in north-central Virginia for a wedding, a trek across the South from Atlanta to Myrtle Beach to Asheville to Nashville and then our trip to Los Angeles and San Diego.

The place I could see myself retiring to? Asheville for sure, but with enough money for a decent beach house, Myrtle Beach or Santa Monica — either one — seem pretty appealing.

The entire state of Tennessee is gorgeous. North Carolina, too, I’d imagine. We only traveled through part of it. As for Tennessee, we covered it all along Interstate 40.

I’m refreshed and rejuvenated, as you should be after time away from home. Ready to get to work – the day job, my side interests and personal projects, all of it. I’ll post a few more stories from the road over the next few weeks, too.

And I’ll ponder future vacations.

Kristi and I are talking about London. I’d have to attend a couple football matches, Tottenham Hotspur and maybe some club in a lower flight. QPR? Sheffield Wednesday? Nottingham Forest?

We’re considering a football trip to West Point to watch Army play. They play the Sooners next year, but I think I’d rather be free to root for the Black Knights.

I’d still love to go to Montana and Idaho, catch a Montana Grizzlies football game.

I’d also love to trek through Canada — from Vancouver to Halifax — and maybe catch some hockey or a CFL game.

Dreams for 2019 and beyond.

For now, it’s time to reconvene the hustle.


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