Thursday, June 28, 2007

Hailing Frequencies Open, Captain

Jamie came in the other night, sporting a rather spy-like earpiece.

He explained it to me, talking something about "bluetooth." I have no idea why the thing works, so don't ask. Bluetooth, schmootooth. But it's.....Cool.

I don't just copy something because it's ....Cool. Well, yes, I do. Sometimes. But I seem to need someone to help me make it work. Because I don't care how it works. Just that it works.

So, I bought one today in Costco! Jamie helped me sync it, and now I look like Uhura, waiting for that all-important message to come through that involves saving the universe.

Mine is not so unnoticeable. It might have to do with the fact that my earpiece has a little "tail." Plus, I don't have all that hair (especially after the haircut today).

This also means I can take messages in my car without fumbling for a phone. And breaking the new California law.

Now, I'm just waiting for the next phone call...

Don't Leave That Key Outside

Yes, leaving the key outside has made some family members a bit skittish (including me), so I took the bold step of asking Glenview Lock and Key to put in a numbered lock on the front door.

The neat thing about this -- well, there are several neat things -- is that it doesn't require any combination of numbers or key to get OUTSIDE the house, just to get inside. And in case we forget the combination, I have a key override.

So I will tell only family members what the code is. And I can assign a temporary code for when some workman has to come in on a continual basis. Very nice.

And get rid of the key that was outside for emergencies.

Heartbreak Hotel

If your baby leaves ya, 'n ya got a tale to tell, just take a walk down lonely street...

I'm talkin' 'bout wasps here.

It's a long tale this time. I put up the traps (again, with Jamie's help) in early May because it was bright and shiny out there, and very warm. It was too early, I believe.

I didn't wait until I could see the buggers flying around. I didn't wait until there was any activity. And then it rained for a couple of days after the shiny yellow traps were already swaying in the wind. Too friggin' early.

Luckily, however, the first one took. Not terribly effectively, but there are about 10 wasp bodies in there. I think once a wasp flies in, enters the trap and can't get out, it's decaying body attracts the next one. The trap on the back deck, however, has no wasp bodies in it whatsoever. Drat.

The Glenview lock and key woman came out two days ago and looked at my lock. While we were chatting, a wasp boldly came up and started flying around. I closed the door, I thought, in time. It wasn't.

Two days later -- an hour ago -- I found him inside, sitting on the inside window. I got my wasp repellent, and sent a violent spurt 4 feet, right into him. He fell, mortally wounded. (I had to spend another 20 minutes washing the windows after that, but it was worth it.)

I may have to put up other traps. I have already noticed two small wasp nests under the eave, only about three feet from the trap. (Believe me, the photo shows one much larger than it is in actuality.) I hate to do that, because I really like looking at the wasp bodies in the front trap. Heartbreak Hotel. I like the sound of that.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Notes on New York

It occurs to me that I never wrote anything about New York.

It's a fascinating place, or rather, a series of places. I didn't think I'd like it, had avoided going back to it, because of that. That, and the intimidation factor. But once you break it up into little neighborhoods, and get used to where places are and the terms they use (lower east side, etc.), it actually makes sense. In a grid sort of way.

Things are noisier here, faster. That is really irritating. The blaring of the horns -- all night long! -- kept me awake my first night in New York at the Holiday Inn Soho. It was actually worse the first night at the New York Barclay. This time I knew what it was because the horns were in my face. Or at least they felt that way. The street the Barclay is on is a very busy one, yet only two lanes, a way, I guess, to get over to Lexington ("Lex" as Val called it). And taxis are clogging up the street every which way.

And some don't want to go in your direction. We found a taxi at the waterfront when we got off the sightseeing boat. And they want to hear where you're going before they commit. (I had no idea that was the system.) He shook his head and waited for the next one, which came only seconds later. Val told me, "We're going across town. He doesn't want to drive across town at 3 o'clock in the afternoon." The nerve.

But we didn't have to wait long for another opportunity (and I must admit, Venice flashed in my mind as we waited over an hour for a land taxi at the marine terminal). A limo driver gave us a decent price, we climbed in, and he talked and talked until we got to the small shoe store which was our destination.

And that was another story. It was a posh store, and they hurriedly rushed us out. It was many minutes later when I understood what happened, after a discussion of the events. Whoa. I guess California t-shirts don't carry much weight 'round these parts.

I should mention here that I really, really enjoyed the Circle Line bay tour. Yes, a 3-hour tour, all the way around Manhattan. What a touristy thing to do, huh? But it gave me a perspective on where everything is (and believe me, the map(s) don't help). And it was all so beautiful. When we came upon the Statue of Liberty, I held my breath. I scurried over to the other side of the boat, but then we turned around and I could see it in all its never-overrated glory. What a sight to see. And to think it was a gift from the French.

There were some disappointments. We didn't make it to the Yankees game while we did make it to a Broadway play (Spamalot). I didn't take any photos of the city the second time around; my camera was always in the wrong place at the wrong time. But I liked the pace we took....we tried to slow the Big Apple down so that we could bite off small portions. And now I know I'd like to go back.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Temple Sinai Meets the A's

It was very exciting! Temple Sinai members were joining together in a fund-raising thing for our synagogue (March Madness) at the Oakland A's Coliseum. Steve Douglas, of the parking lots, had graciously agreed to organize the whole thing.

As Dawn and I met him at Gate D, he handed us our tickets. Then David, a p.r. guy with the Athletics for over 20 years, led us up and down stairs, in and out of the mostly public areas of the Coliseum, to show us around.

The tour was a bit disappointing, I must admit. I hadn't been to the press box, but that was it. I realized early on there was no way we were going to get a tour of the locker rooms, training room, and dugouts, unless we were willing to hold Jason Kendall's jockstrap while walking through. (Don't ask me that question...) However, there was a very bright point at the end of the tour: he led us onto the playing field, and we were to watch the A's at BP!!!

"Okay, what's bp?" asked the always-questioning Dawn. I explained that it wasn't a medical term, but baseball parlance for batting practice. The home team always bats first, and looking at my watch, saw that it was about 4:45 pm. I had already spotted future hall-of-famer Mark Piazza batting from the 3rd deck but he wasn't present when we got down to the field.

We were told to stand behind a rope, which separated us from the batting cage. And a security guy kept getting in my photos. But I was still able to take photos of the guys standing there. Bobby Crosby. Mark Ellis, who was to hit a three-run homerun later that night. Long-haired rookie Travis Buck, batting almost .300. Another rookie, this time the back-up catcher, Kurt Suzuki. And off to the side, Nick Swisher, newly shorn.

We were there about half an hour, and parents had to continually corral their kids. They wanted to bat, too.

An intern came up to us and started chatting. His name is Adam, and this is his last series before he gives up the ultra low-paying job. "I've made as many contacts as I can," he told us, and hoped to get a job with a baseball organization soon. He had just graduated and had that really eager look in his eye.

A few Cincinnati Reds started trotting onto the field. Scott Hatteberg came over to several of the players, gave them hugs, and chatted. Scott used to be our regular first baseman until his batting average slipped one year. Scott is now doing very well, batting around .300 with the Reds. He certainly looks strange in red.

Right before the Reds took over BP, they herded us away from the field. As we left, the ball boys offered baseballs to the younger kids, and they were thrilled. We walked up the stairs, and all the way down the first-base line to the BBQ plaza. There, we had our own cook, who had hamburgers and sausages all ready for us. I also have to mention the raisin and chocolate chip cookies there; they were awesome.

The game was hard to see in the first few innings because the sun was setting directly in front of us. And shadows were overtaking the field before the lights could take full effect. But we got to see some of our outfielders close up -- Swisher, Kotsay -- and that was special.

Blanton was pitching, and an hour later we were already in the 5th. The wind was taking our energy for the game and stuffing it back down our necks. Ouch! We took off early, knowing the A's had the game well in hand, 6 to 1.

I told Steve that I really enjoyed the experience and would be back next year.

The Piece of Paper that Really Means Something

He got the thick envelope and started opening it. "I was beginning to think I had never graduated," he said, as he pried the envelope apart to reveal a very shiny, thick piece of paper.

I remember thinking exactly the same thing in 1970, some 37 years ago, when I received my diploma from San Diego State College (later San Diego State University). I wondered, after all that time, if it had just been an illusion.

But, no, there it was. For him. His proud mother stood there, beaming, a tear in her eye. And, for once, insisting that photos be taken.

And she laughingly pointed out that his was signed by Arnold Schwarzennegger, while mine had been signed by Ronald Reagan. Two acting Republicans.