Saturday, July 21, 2007

43Things Get-Together in San Francisco

Last Saturday my sweetie and I went over to the Mission District in San Francisco in order to meet a couple of people from 43Things.

I've been on 43Things for a couple of years, and I find it very helpful for clarifying goals. Sweetie takes it one step further, however. It's a community to her. These people are real.

Curiosity certainly took hold of me that morning as we headed on over to Ti Couz restaurant. Bookish, one of the steady posters on 43Things, picked out the restaurant. Since they don't take reservations, they suggested we show up at 10 am on a Saturday morning. Of course, due to my propensity to be early and be prepared for everything, we showed up closer to 9 than 10, so we stopped at a little cafe on the way to enjoy some coffee and tea. When we got to Ti Couz, they were barely opening up. 10 minutes later, Bookish showed up. She was a bit surprising to me: certainly introspective but terribly talkative, she is Indian-American, and, I discovered in our conversation later, she goes to India quite often.

We thought that only maybe two people would show. Much to our great surprise, we were a party of 7 (although half that amount arrived maybe 30 minutes into the hour).

I found it much easier to relate to these folks by their avatar names. I mean, who can meet 5 new people and remember two names for them? And some of them did, indeed, resemble their avatars. Bookish. Girl with a Curl. And the most famous one, Daniel Spils.

I thought Daniel looked familiar. He immediately admitted to a disease which eliminates all hair on his body, and that he's had this for about a decade. Very easy-going, loquacious, I had no idea, really, who he was. But his bald head, shiny in the lights, was familiar -- I had seen his face before on 43Things.

Seven people seated at two tables scrunched together doesn't make for one easy conversation. It makes for two or three. I listened primarily to Swaz and Bookish, as they were on my side of one of the tables. But because of the noise on the other side, and due to its interest, I found my concentration drifting over.

At the end of the morning's meeting, Daniel finally broke the conversational lines and started talking about the beginning of this social network called 43Things. I finally, suddenly, realized that he started the whole thing.

He and two friends got together in Seattle and put it together. 43 is a more obtainable number than, say, 100, and more meaningful than 10. They call themselves the Robot Co-Op, a great name when some people think any management is a conspiracy. It must be fairly successful. There are over a million users, Daniel told us, but only tens of thousands use it with any regularity. Rather than hook up with Amazon or some other large distributor, they have stuck with adsense ads for their revenue. That may change, however, in the future.

Friday, July 20, 2007

4.2 Earthquake Hits Montclair

I felt this one more than the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989. A 4.2 earthquake, and my bed was practically in the epicenter. Needless to say, it woke me up. The bed tossed and turned, rattled from right to left and back. I tried to go back to sleep -- after all, it was 4:30 am -- but didn't manage that for awhile. I got up briefly, checked my phone to see if the kids had called (and the kitchen to see if anything had fallen), and went back to bed again.

And I went around the house this morning. No damage. I'm so glad I have the anchoring of the house to the foundation scheduled for later this summer. I was wondering, as my bed shook, if I had put it off too long.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The End of Baseball as We Know It

Last night I wore my Jason Kendall t-shirt in memoriam, in protest of his trade to the Chicago Cubs. I am officially calling this the day we know Oakland A's baseball will not reach the playoffs in 2007.

I am not sure how many games back from the Angels we are -- 12? -- today, but that doesn't really matter. The team has lost 9 games in a row. Billy has traded two of the best producing veterans we had, Milton Bradley and Jason Kendall, and replaced them with Travis Buck and Kurt Suzuki. Yes, rookies. With a Capital R.

I have a lot of tickets left. Geez, there are 67 games left. I will continue to go. I left in the sixth last night -- a good game, but I began to smell defeat. And, God knows, I hate to watch implosions. There have been so many. Good games, something happens, then everything -- offense, defense, pitching -- goes. It usually starts with the pitching. It always begins with lack of offense.

I just have one question at the End of the 2007 Season, which is today: What do I do with my Jason Kendall t-shirt?

Trash Talk

It had been 3 weeks since I've had recycle pickup. I had five trash bags and one large bin full of the stuff. And that's not counting the stuff inside my house that I hadn't bagged yet.

They announced on T.V. and in the newspaper on Monday this week that recycle would be picked up according to schedule. It wasn't. However, at 9 this morning, one day later, the truck finally came by. He took all the bags -- thankfully! -- that were placed in front of the recycle bin, and also emptied the bin itself. He left the trash.

We're still not sure when regular pick-ups will commence. Mayor Dellums is "cautiously optimistic." However, in the 5 hours of talking yesterday, nothing moved.

In the meantime, trash and recycles still pile up in the areas of Oakland the replacement workers fear to tread.

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Visit to Pixar Studios

I just wanted to post a little something about the Pixar Studios visit on June 13, 2007. It was a charity event for Hebrew Day School on Redwood Road in Oakland.

Actually, I put the stuff about the visit in my blog on the movie review, a review that had to wait over 2 weeks to post because I signed a confidentiality statement. I waited, and waited....and finally got to talk about it!

I hope to go back someday, perhaps for another charity event. It was magical.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Everybody Loves Baseball!

I'd like to add one more thing about FanFest: Although it wasn't my thing, how cool was it that everybody in the city is into baseball!!! 'Way cool! Even restaurants are on the American pasttime bandwagon.

In fact, while we were in Moscone West, I was counting Giants and A's jerseys on the fans. And there were many more than that. People were wearing their colors. That's the way it should be.

The 800-pound gorilla locally, however, was forgotten for a few short days. It was best expressed by Alex Rios, the young guy hitting the early homeruns in the Home Run Derby yesterday at AT&T Park. He said something like, the championship is up to whomever wants it. It's beginning to look like neither the Giants nor the A's want it.

When we entered this season -- when we enter any season past 1995 for the Oakland Athletics -- we check 'em off: we have pitching, we have defense....oops, we don't have hitting. But we won't have to score that many runs because of Reasons 1 and 2.

However, at half-time in 2007, our pitching has shown whoopsiness, particularly two of our starting pitchers, all of our middle relief, and most of our closer(s). And most of that, I think, is due to injury, albeit injury that has claimed the same players over and over. And our defense is suffering as well. I mean, Marco Scutaro with 4 errors in ONE game? Who would've believed? Okay, we know that Marco is not his best at third, but that was ridiculous.

Still....I have faith in our pitching. Pitching has come from surprising sources, like Chad Gaudin and oldster Alan Embree. The health of Kiko Calero and Huston Street could really help out. You'll notice I haven't even mentioned Esteban Loiaza, Rich Harden, and I don't dare mention Justin Duchsherer. It's beginning to look like the first two starters won't be starting any time soon, or on a regular basis.

Hitting will never come around. Thank you, Shannon Stewart, for keeping us in the ballgame. But, as a team, the A's will never hit more than .250 this year. Guaranteed.

Still, I'm looking forward to Thursday, as are all the A's Faithful. It's what we do.

Monday, July 9, 2007

The All-Star Game Fanfest, 2007

I'm sitting here eating chips and salsa for dinner, and watching the Home Run Derby on High Def ESPN. I have never watched it before, but -- hey! -- it's high definition! Plus, it's in AT&T Park, and I've been there. Tomorrow is the All Star Game, and I'll probably just watch the first two innings when Dan Haren will pitch.

Today I met George and his daughter, Pamela, at Moscone West. It was supposed to be 11, but when I texted George, I got the amorphous reply, "Be there soon." While I was waiting at the roped-off entrance, I noticed a truck giving away Taco Bell tacos. I looked at my watch. 11:02 and he wasn't there yet. I got in line.

I was just finishing the very tasty soft taco when they strolled up....only to announce that they only had one ticket. George had to get another.

So Pamela and I went in....and I immediately went to the merchandise. George joined us in the meantime, excited in the fact that he saved $12 by buying in person with a discount ticket, and we shopped. I was the only one who bought some pins, and we moved on.

George wanted one thing at the FanFest. Well, maybe two. He said he wanted to spend time with me. And he wanted an autograph by Oakland Athletics great, Rollie Fingers.

We found Rollie's autograph line, or at least I think we did. We could almost see them on stage in the distance, but the autograph line (remember, everything is free once you get in) probably went on for an hour-and-a-half, maybe more. And it wasn't moving. So we moved on.

Pamela told me that Barry Zito had announced he was going to be here, but dropped out at the last minute. George and I both looked at each other, and commented on last night's performance. I wouldn't show up either.

Most of what we saw were virtual reality batting, photos taken with jerseys on, real batting cages, things like that, all with long lines.

The one really interesting thing was that we found Cal Ripken, Jr -- can you imagine?! -- teaching kids how to bat! It was on the 3rd floor, and I'm guessing a lot of people never made it up there. He was miked, on the big screen, and giving instruction on how to keep your shoulder down when you swing. I could see all the adults nod, yeah! while the kids kind of went, "Give me the bat!"

I think we were all kind of looking for freebies, handouts, goodies, but the only thing we got was a fake Mastercard and a snickers bar. But once we left we were given a drumstick and two snickers bars. "The freebies are better out here!" commented Pamela. So we went to Chevy's, where lunch was better out there.

Both Pamela and I agreed that the A's FanFest in recent years was better than this ultra-expensive FanFest. I'm sure a lot of people enjoyed it, especially if you could get near some of the ballplayers. But, truth in fact, most of the ballplayers who are all-star quality were getting ready for the home run derby or the all-star game itself. I enjoyed the walk-through, but that's really all it was. Mostly I enjoyed the company of George and Pamela.

I will watch a bit of the All-Star game, wondering how the Oakland A's can get players of that caliber. And why the A's only send one player a year to this classic. And then I'll look forward to Thursday night's game. Because THAT's baseball.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Grill of My Dreams

It's gorgeous. It's green. (And it matches my yellow house in Athletics colors.) It's shiny.

It's the new Weber gas grill, direct from Ace Hardware in Oakland. The two really nice young guys carried it up the stairs to the deck, and set it up for me.

They showed me how to insert the propane cartridge, how to light the first grill, and then to join with the next two. They actually think I'm gonna remember all that.

I found the manual. I may have to study it.