Saturday, December 14, 2013

Loewy Online: The best Christmas gifts ever - Blogs - The Register-Mail

Technology has brought change to almost any and every job of which you can think.

In my mind, no other bit of change has been more important to journalists than Facebook. It's, frankly, awesome.

Journalists can ask questions in the ether and watch responses roll in from the most unexpected people in the most unexpected places.

But I've never enjoyed any responses more than those to the question I posed this week: Tell me about the best Christmas present you ever received.

I loved reading each and every one of them.

For Friday's A2 column, I choose one in particular, from Lucinda Sanders, upon which to focus. But I wanted to share all the responses with readers in this edition of Loewy Online.

I hope you read as many as you can. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

First, here's a little peek into the lives of those who work very hard every day to deliver the news of Galesburg and Knox County:

Editor and Online guru Jay Redfern: A yellow Schwinn Sting-Ray bike, early 1970s. I've been lucky enough to receive a lot of wonderful gifts throughout the years, but this one always sticks in my mind.

Administrative assistant and all-around go-to performer Lorraine Stone: One of my favorite presents for Christmas was the remote car starter that my husband Bill gave me the Christmas after he started working over-the-road ... actually just gave me the key remote in a box with a potato so it was heavy when I picked it up. He always went out and started my car for me in the mornings before I had to leave for work and when he was gone, I had to go out in the cold (which I hate) to do it myself .. so the remote starter was perfect!

Editor of all of The Register-Mail's non-daily publications as well as serving as assignment editor Lisa Coon: It wasn't so much a single present, but the actual Christmas celebration when I was 7 years old. We lived in Peoria and always celebrated Christmas at home, just with my parents and siblings. This one particular year when I was 7, my grandparents - who lived in south-central Iowa and would celebrate Christmas with my aunt's family there - came to Peoria for Christmas.

It was magical.

The gifts under the tree grew exponentially upon their arrival. I remember the entire day just being filled with happiness - mom had her parents at Christmas, which made her very happy; and we had grandma and grandpa celebrating Christmas at our house for the first - and what would be, the only time.

I don't remember the gifts that year, other than a fishing pole for my oldest brother, and I have no idea why I recall that.

In my mind, I can see my grandma and grandpa at the age they seem to be forever frozen in my memories on that Christmas day.

Business and education reporter Allison Goodrich:

Christmas Eve 2012. My brother and his fiancee (girlfriend at the time) had to leave early Christmas morning to spend the day with her family, so we opened presents the night before. My mom presented a big wrapped box to my older brother, Jen and me, and told us to open it together. Inside we found magazines with "Italia" written on the cover, Italian-style hazelnut chocolates, a bottle of Italian champagne, Italian dictionaries, tourist guides, etc.

About six months later I left for Italy with my family for one of the best trips we've ever taken together.

Police beat and Knoxville City Council reporter Nick Ostdick: My first guitar. An Ovation, a cut-away acoustic/electric, with a natural finish, pretty ornate rosette and small pearl in-lays on the neck. A beautiful, beautiful instrument that made me fall more and more in love with music, creativity, the idea of making something, etc. Pivotal.

I read posts from lots of old friends and strangers. I smiled all the way.

Thanks to those who took the time to share their best Christmas memories. And thanks to those of you who read this blog.

Without further typing from me, here we go:

Kyle McLaren: Besides getting engaged I'd have to say it was a Nerf bow and arrow when I was a kid

Christi Syron: My grandma bought me all the Barbies plus the australian christmas cards,pool, 3-story townhouse. My auntie made all my baby & Barbie clothes I needed.

Brian Tucker: Engaged. Side note to Jay, I had a bike just like that early seventies. Only difference white seat. Favorite bike ever.

Michael Mannino: Because I grew up in the era before video cameras were inexpensive, we occasionally made audio recordings of big family events. Thus we "taped" Christmas morning, but I promise not creepy Nixon White House style. In high school, my little sister and her friend found these tapes and started playing them for the purposes of mean girl mockery. Apparently, seven year old Mike Mannino, was understandably excited about the football I received in 1977. Still quoted to this day is when I said, over and over again "A FOOOOOOOTBALLLL!" While I was nonetheless excited about the red, white, and blue plastic football, it was the Thundershift 500 that stands out above all the awesome Christmas gifts with which I was showered.

Randy Fox: When I was a kid, I got the Mattel Vaccuform. I loved that thing and made tons of utterly useless small toys with it. As a bonus, I never burnt anything except the occasional finger.

Michelle Sherman: One year, my parents put together "art kits" for my sister and me. They were the big Rubbermaid tubs stuffed with everything we could want to use: glitter, paint, stickers, pom poms, pipe cleaners, etc. We had many, many hours of peace (a rarity) as a result of those art supplies.

Christy Kinney: GORGEOUS diamond stud earrings from my wonderful parents. I never take them out unless I have them cleaned or inspected. I received them about 5 years ago.

Libby Allison Derry: 1990... Nintendo NES for my brother, sister and I to share. It was the coolest.

Marilyn Webb: A Lionel train set when I was seven and at that time they made trains for girls in pink. I loved the trains but I also loved that I got the regular, non-pink ones, smoke tablets and all.

Wes Huett: 1986. My brother and I received the Nintendp Entertainment Center. Within minutes of opening the holy grail of 1980s holiday gifts, our family had to load in the car and drive from St. Charles, Mo., to Peoria, Ill., and my grandmother's house. The NES remained. What an agonizingly long weekend.

Frank Fimbres: Sea horses when I was a kid.

Buddes Bar Budde: A HUSBAND! Mike Budde & I were married on Dec 26, 1998 at the Orpheum Theatre! It will be 15 years this Christmas & I am still feeling blessed! Christmastime is a great season to be married in! Dianne Rogers Budde.

Aaron Frey: I got a pair of red and white Air Jordan XIIs in 1996. They were the coolest pair of shoes I'd ever seen. I remember everybody in school was dying to get a pair so we could be like Mike. I think there was only one other kid in my grade who had them. I'd never even owned a pair of Nikes, and here I was wearing the sickest shoes on the planet! I wore the shit out of those shoes. I wore them every day until the soles wore all the way through.

Beau Spencer Thompson: It wasn't one present for me, rather one Christmas that sticks out. My older cousin lived with us for a year when I was in 4th grade. I received Tecmo Super Bowl for NES, and even though I disliked my cousin, I had someone to always go head-to-head with playing that game. That year I also received my first BOX of football cards instead of just a few packs. I think a Home Alone VHS tape was in my stocking. I probably watched that tape 50 times over the next month.

Danielle Wingo: As an adult, the little crafty ornaments my kids have made at school. As a child, barbies!!

Melissa Bryant: My favorite gift was from my parents. I was a single mom and they brought me a tote filled with toiletries..children supplies and household supplies that would last months. Very simple but very useful. It was such a relief for me as a young mother.

Bonnie Nichole Moore: My best present was last year when i was having a hard time moved in w my grandma so i could get bills paid up and save money to get a place my mom asked me what i wanted i asked her to use the money for gifts for my two kids she got presents for the kids and let me wrap them and put my name on them made my year love my family they are all i need.

Charity Burge: I would have to say the best Christmas present I have ever received was from my oldest daughter. I know its not Christmas yet, but she gave it to me early this year. It is a silver locket with footprints and a diamond on the front and part of the "Footprints" saying on the back. My dad was killed in an accident 7 years ago and at his funeral I had them read the "Footprints" saying and it was also printed on the obituary papers that they give to u at the funeral home. I have a collage that I made with his pictures surrounding the "Footprints" saying also. She bought me this locket so that I could put my dads pictures in it and carry him around with me everywhere I go. Of course, this gift made me cry! It was the best gift ever!

Laura Eaves Dowell: Family all together in one place for Christmas! Best present ever!

Amanda Jo Kirby Fisher: The best Christmas gift I ever received was a jewelry box with a picture of my grandparents in it. My Papa passed away 5 months before that Christmas. Same year I received a peppermint candle from my sister... Peppermint were my Papa's favorite! Sure do miss that man.

Kathy Bennett: Best childhood gift was the Strawberry Shortcake Treehouse when I was 8 in 1982. I will never forget how much I loved strawberry shortcake and her smell I would love to get her doll this year as a great memory!

Amy Dee Coates-Kelso: I think the bear Christmas gift I have ever received I receive every Christmas and that is the joy of watching my 2 kids and my nieces open their gifts on Christmas morning. I get so excited I can hardly sleep the night before.

Jon Prain: As a child in the 1970's, my sister and I received a joint gift--the early video game set which included "Pong". Our family members spent many hours playing those silly games. As an adult, my favorite gift was when my wife gave me one share of stock in the Green Bay Packers organization.

Donna J. Richardson: When I was a child, Christmas was not a fun day . I had been living here and there and all the kids got a present but I receive none. then one day my father came ( he could not get custody of me) and handed me a big box. Inside there was a Horsman doll . I was so thrilled . When you are a child , when Santa forgets you it is a hard thing ! I kept the doll for most of my young years . Wish I had it still but at least I have that one sweet memory.

Chad Fengel: An acoustic guitar when I was 14 or15. 24 years later, and the guitar hasn't left my side. I still have that guitar too.

Shari Mahnesmith: when i was 42, i had a high risk pregnancy and gave birth in december to a healthy baby girl. that was a wonderful present

Shawna Benne: 1977 "Santa" brought me the Village People album. Unforgettable joy as my grandfather let me play it over and over with out hesitation.

Jenny Cross Stegall: When I was 10 yrs old, I got a record player. Any money I earned after that went straight to Lindstrom's for 45's!

Chasity Hoffman: I got to spend the last christmas with my dad in 2003. I miss him. Love you joe hoffman. I will always cheerish that christmas.

Lindsay Hillery: I had all the barbies and accessories as a little girl. I have 2 boys now so i dont get to spoil them with barbies too. Last Christmas I got a barbie from my husband! It was so sweet and thoughtful! It is my favorite gift from him over 17 years!

Lisa McIntyre: Mine is from this year! It was a couple weeks early but it was the best surprise and present ever. I got a gorgeous diamond ring...My boyfriend proposed! He asked my dad for permission to marry me on Thanksgiving and then the planning for when he would propose started! He got my family and his family altogether, we went out for dinner and to a festival of lights! It was amazing and I was so surprised. I loved that he included our family's in that very important moment in our lives! I couldn't ask for a better man to call my husband some day soon! Everything was perfect! He may have trouble topping this year's Christmas in the years to come!!!!

Dana Adams Maxwell: My mom always made sure I had wonderful Christmases, and she worked very hard for me to get what I always wanted, but I wanted a new bike and didn't think I would get it but I did, it was the best Christmas ever.

Lola M Anderson: Even though it was a very sad Christmas the year i got my favorite gift. Mine would have to be my cabbage patch doll. The sad part of that year is that i had a grandmother who passed away the day of Christmas Eve.

Jeanne Harland: My Great Aunt Em, who I never met, sent me an Easy Bake Oven.

Jana Hastings: When I was in kindergarten my big sister Kathy gifted me my first album-Shaun Cassidys solo album. Christmas 1977? It was my first "crush" and so it fiery passion and deep appreciation for music. My taste has changed over the years...but I'm certain if I heard "Da do ron ron" I'd sing along for sure!

Angela Hollowell: The best gift that i have gotten throughout my life is being able to spend time with family and friends and making memories

Pamela Holman Taylor: a surey with fringe on top!!! Held 4 kids (hahaha) and peddled from the back seat!

Barbara Saline: Close and play record player it played puff the magic dragon i was 5

Theresa Owens: Chatty Kathy doll she was my favorite..I think that is why I talk so much to this day!!

Racheal Thurman Mckillip: My Crissy grow hair doll when I was 4. I still have her 39 years later.

Travis Martin Gustafson: The best present I ever got as a kid was my very first Nintendo!:)

Shelly Payne: my best christmas present will be this year im 33 and pregnant with my first baby...a baby girl...though I wont get to see her till April shes still my over all best and blessing

Polly Emery: Best gift I received as a child was a homemade Barbie Dream House that my brother-in-law made. It is one of a kind & because it's made out of wood my daughters have enjoyed it & hopefully their daughters will too!

Nancy Simmons: My favorite gift was a doll called Mrs. Beasley!! You pulled a string and she talked!

Patricia Dawson Keil: I don't remember too many things about my Childhood but I did get a Toni Doll one year when I was little and I still have it.

Phillip Baughman: I got a drum set for Christmas one year and the wrapping paper was little drummer boy had no clue.

Jessica Tolle: Life...I was born on Christmas eve

Sharon Ball Paulsgrove: Back in 2001 I received a late Christmas present. I got it on December 28th. My granddaughter was born. It was the best Christmas present ever.

Jackie Underwood: When my father was living with us after an illness! He would always wake up my two little girls between 2-3 am to open presents then he would go back to bed and leave me up with the girls as they wanted to play! I miss those days! Greatest gift of all is your parents!

Perky McJingles: lets see mine would have to be back in 2010, ive never met anyone on my dads side of the family, & my dad has been with the angles since 96' & my grandma chapman from oregon sent me some of his ashes. So i finally got to meet my dad two days before christmas. Even tho hes gone, he will always be with me. It was a shocker at first but its the best thing ive ever recieved & he goes with me everywhere. He always loved sturgis so he also came there with me this year!!!

Millie Anderson: When I was 8 I loved to ride unicycles, so that Christmas I got one.. Best Christmas present ever !!!

Luan Swigert: At about age 12, I received a Kodak Instamatic camera, (my very first camera) from my UncleFred and Aunt Irene!

Tami Eager: The best present, by far, that I have ever received was my dog, Harry. In 1998, on Christmas Eve day, my sister surprised me with a morning trip to the Humane Society. She had already picked him out, and at the moment I wasn't so sure about getting a dog, but over the years that I had him, he became a piece of my heart. Thank you, Becky, for the best gift ever

Pamela Beard: I had bought my mom a Winnie the Pooh figure to put by her Christmas tree because she loved Winnie the Pooh. My mom passed away and my siblings made sure I got the figure back. So every year I would put it under my tree until mice ruined it. I was so heartbroken. My daughter searched online for a long time and finally found one similar to the one I gave my mom. I woke up Christmas morning to open presents with my family and there under the tree was Winnie the Pooh. I started crying because I had no idea my daughter had did this for me. In my heart that was the best present I could ever receive because I always think of my mom and the happiness it brought to her.

Karen 'Douglas' Kraft: My best present was a bundle of switches tied with a red ribbon. LOL ... Seriously though, I asked for a guitar & my dad said all I was getting was a bundle of switches. so he went out during the wee morning hours & cut some switches then bundled them with a red ribbon. When I saw them in the tree the next morning, I excitedly hollered, "Yay!! I got my switches!!" What makes it so special; what my dad went through just to tease me but he showed me so much love too.

Hilary Curtis: My husband buys me a Christmas bear every year, the kind with the year on it's foot. They're just special to me

Phaedra Dilworth-Washington: When i was six my mom got me a doll on skates. Best ever and to this day i don't know why , i didn't ask for it but i loved it . Thanks mom you are the best.

Kim Myers: As a child I received a whole box of twinkies that I didn't have to share with my brother or sister. I put them in the refrigerator and tormented my siblings every time I ate one. Best Christmas ever!

Kim Osborn Damewood: My son...even though 10 days early! But regardless, the best present EVER!

Stephen Buck: My Christmas Story leg lamp hand built by my son Rob. He used a manikin leg from a Bergner's close out of fixtures, and other parts from the Salvation Army store and back yard sales. Took him three years to gather and build. It came in a water heater box wrapped in all white paper and with a Western Union telegram informing me of winning a major award. It goes up the front window every Christmas season.

Jeremy Karlin: My former co-workers, Jennifer Steck and Angie Taylor bought me a book about pie, called "Pie", two deep-dish pie pans and a nice tapered french rolling pin. As a result, I made alot of pie over the rest of the holiday season and I got over my anxiety about making pie crust from scratch. Grandma's slug-o-bourbon apple pie is one the first pies I ever made, and it is still a go-to recipe for me today.

Jody Tracy Mahoney: A bicycle

MaryEllen Carson: Oddly, I was in the 7th grade & was taking a classical music class at George Churchill. There were two pieces that were my favorites & Christmas morning, I got both. Still have the albums with my mom's inscription & year on each. I treasure them.

I want to thank each and every one of the readers who responded to this question. Register-Mail photographer Steve Davis told me he started reading the responses and felt his eyes tear up. No matter your religion or beliefs, this time of year is special. I'd like to think these posts are a window is to just how special.

Next week I'm asking about the best Christmas gifts you've ever given. Frankly, I can't wait to read your responses.

Tom Loewy is a reporter/columnist for The Register-Mail. Contact him at or 343-7181, ext. 256. Follow him on Twitter @TomLoewy

Sunday, December 8, 2013

It's true - Mariners sign Cano for $240 million

BY Adam Lewis 09:11AM 12/06/2013

robinson cano wiki Cano is a Mariner.

Multiple outlets, including ESPN Deportes and , Friday morning reported that the Mariners signed the most important free agent of the off-season, the power-hitting second baseman formerly of the Yankees, to a 10-year, $240 million contract after a night of heated negotiations.

Cano and his representative, rapper Jay-Z, flew to Seattle late Thursday for a meeting with Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik and CEO Howard Lincoln. Per the CBS report, Seattle first offered Cano a 9-year deal worth $225 million before eventually upping the offer after Cano asked for 10 years and $260 million. Other reports have Cano agreeing to $240 million.

Pending a physical exam scheduled for Monday in Seattle, Cano's contract will be the third largest in MLB history.

The signing is historic for a Mariners franchise that in 2013 lost 91 games, manager Eric Wedge and hasn't made a playoff appearance since 2001.

The addition of Cano provides the lineup immediate pop and re-energizes one of the league's most disgruntled fanbases.

Cano, 31, a five-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner, boasts career a .309 batting average, .355 on-base percentage and .860 OPS.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Bad blood, cold weather highlight MLS Cup clash between K.C. and Real Salt Lake

Kei Kamara, a Sporting Kansas City striker, trotted upfield, his eyes locked on the high-flying ball headed in his direction. As it seemed to be sailing way over his head, Kamara peeked to his left. In an instant, he was lying twisted on the field, gasping for air.

This July matchup between two of Major League Soccer's top teams was less than five seconds in when Chris Wingert, a Real Salt Lake defender, plowed his shoulder into Kamara's neck, whipping the tall striker's head to the left like a rag doll as he crumpled to the field.

Vancouver Whitecaps' Camilo Sanvezzo, of Brazil, celebrates his second goal against the Chicago Fire during the second half of an MLS soccer game in Vancouver, B.C., on Sunday July 14, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS


Watch Camilo Sanvezzo's goal of the year

It was on.

Some Kansas City players saw it as a hostile act by their opponents.

"The guy just wanted to send a message to us that they wanted to break us," Aurelien Collin, a Sporting defender, said Thursday. "But nobody breaks us."

But Wingert said he was merely going for a long ball and accidentally collided with Kamara, who no longer plays for Kansas City.

"I wanted to try to get up and get into his shoulder and then find the ball before he could climb on me," Wingert said. "Unfortunately, I ended up getting a lot more of Kei than I wanted to."

Regardless of the intent, the play fuelled a perception - a flawed perception, some players on both teams say - that there is animosity between these two teams.

The country will get a closer look at the nature of the relationship on Saturday (4 p.m. Eastern, TSN) when they play for the MLS Cup title at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan. Each team will be vying for its second league crown: Kansas City won it in 2000, when the team was known as the Wizards, and Salt Lake won the title in 2009.

The teams will be battling frigid weather com code, with game-time temperatures expected to be in the low 20s.

But players on both sides said they were more concerned with their opponents than with Mother Nature.

In recent days, attention has been focused on a preseason match the teams played in Arizona in 2011 that ended with a bench-clearing dust-up because of a hard tackle. Players this week said their memories of it were vague.

Jimmy Nielsen, the Kansas City goalkeeper, said that he and Salt Lake's keeper, Nick Rimando, chatted in the centre circle while a mob of players pushed one another.

"It happens all the time," Nielsen said of the altercation. "They were just pushing."

Nonetheless, the episode, coupled with the opening tackle in this season's game, which Kansas City won on a goal in stoppage time, feed into a narrative that something deeper could be brewing. The matchup got a bit more fuel in recent days when many Salt Lake fans' ticket orders were invalidated because they used a code reserved for Kansas City season-ticket holders that was leaked on the Internet.

He added, "I think whenever we line up across each other, the other team wants to establish a physical presence as quick as possible."

But Kansas City snickered at its reputation for all physical play with little finesse, and coach Peter Vermes said nobody should be surprised when things become physical.

"It's not youth soccer," he said. "It's a man's game, and men are going to play."

Although Kansas City is known as the more physical team and Salt Lake as the team that can better control possession, Wingert said it did not mean that Sporting was "going to be fouling more and we're going to be completing more passes."

"Every game takes on a life of its own," Wingert added. "We're going to do our best to impose our will on the game, and they'll be doing the same."