Friday, June 27, 2008

A Custian Blow for Niceness

I had a very nice time at the A's Booster luncheon today.

I didn't win a base this time -- yeah, really! a game-used, ALCS base in a game between the Detroit Tigers and the Oakland A's from 2006 -- like last time, but I still had a good time.

Jack Cust came to talk to us, and the MC was Vince Cotroneo. Vince was very, very friendly, and Jack was self-effacingly funny. Imagine working in the minor leagues for 10 years, wondering if you're going to finish out your career in Japan, when Billy Beane finally calls, rescuing you from the Padres, who just waived you. Amazing.

What do you like about the major leagues. "Everything." The fresh uniforms. The cleats. The food. The travel. This guy is enjoying it for all it's worth.

And, an extra bonus for me, a nice guy sat next to me and immediately started talking baseball. A good listener as well as a good talker, and I never even got his name. And then, two women with whom I spent some time at spring training a year-and-a-half ago. Very nice people. And they know a lot about A's baseball, too!

A wonderful day among fellow fans. I can't wait until the A's game against the Giants tomorrow night. I'll be listening to you, Vince Cotroneo. Thanks for the good times.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Things I Learned at the Bake Sale

We -- meaning Dawn, Leslie and I -- actually debriefed for a bit after the main part of the bake sale on Saturday. What we decided is below, and I added some of my own.

1. Start out early on a hot day. I think we picked the right day (Saturday), but we could've started out earlier. As it got warmer, the sales dried up.

2. Have morning baked goods for sale in the morning. The muffins did much better the earlier it was. Cookies and cakes did better later.

3. If you're going to sell cake, don't slice it up. Sell the whole thing for a good price.

4. Don't wrap cookies in saran wrap, as people can't see them. What we found worked better was to have individual cookies unwrapped so people could see them. If they wanted to buy them, we had prepackaged bags of 3 each. Oh -- and don't have those naked cookies in front so people can touch them. Because they will.

5. Best selling cookies: peanut butter and chocolate chip.

6. It was a good thing to have utensils so that you didn't have to touch the items -- plastic gloves, tongs, paper bags.

7. Price everything in dollar increments. Nothing was for 25 cents. Group things together to reach the dollar price.

8. When you group things together, group like things. I originally thought a package of one molasses spice cookie, one sugar cookie and one peanut butter cookie was going to be popular. Most people wanted all of one thing.

9. Feature variety: poppyseed cake, cookies, cake, brownies, cupcakes. Also, adding other things for sale that you can buy cheap and sell high was a good idea (in our case, water and flowers).

10. A smile went a long way. So did, "Good morning."

One additional thing in regards to the voter registration process. Ken sent us an email at the end saying that 20 people had registered to vote. 20??! I only got one! I think in retrospect I should have shadowed Ken, because I suspect he is very good. And I suspect that an approach of coming up to one person, making eye contact, and asking if they're registered to vote (rather than my approach of just yelling it out) invites discussion and, if they say no, an offer. I still don't think the ballpark was a great place for this activity, especially on a day when the first 10,000 in the park get jerseys, but, hey, we still got 20, so *someone was doing the right thing!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

I Wouldn't Vote for That Sonovagun, and Other Bon Mots

I was a bit tired as I got up this morning, but I had a special job to do today, and I was nervous about it. But I had a quiet morning with the Sunday paper and a malforming computer to soothe my nerves, or at least misdirect them.

I got to McAfee Coliseum early so that I could pick up my ticket for the game. I was surprised that there was only one Will Call window open, and so were the other 20 in my line. We were there so long that the woman in front of me applied mascara to her eyes. Of course, I twittered that.

I used the port-a-potty, sat in my car to waste some time, and then headed up the BART ramp to meet Ken and the other volunteers. I figured I'd know them by their clipboards.

Sure enough, I had been waiting 5 minutes when Ken and a couple of others showed up. He explained how to fill out the registration forms, what qualifies for voter registration, things like that. 13 people signed up, but only 4 of us showed up. Another showed up later, and I saw her at Gate C as she was circling around.

Ken slapped an Obama sticker on me, gave me some more to give to people, and Laurie and I started out together. I decided that, in concert with what Ken was saying, we could split up to cover more territory. Looking back, I probably should have stayed with her. It was a lonely job.

My patter was:

"Voter registration forms! Vote in November!"

Within the first 10 minutes some guy yelled, "Not for that asshole!" About 10 minutes later, as I moved down the line, another older man stated firmly, "What a jerk!" Obviously they were reacting to my Obama sticker.

One woman stopped briefly to talk and said in a hollow voice, "I don't think it'll be any good. The Republicans will pull something out." I replied that we have to get all the young people registered. We can turn it around. "I hope so," she said sadly, still without much hope.

I gave out the Obama stickers to kids and some adults, only after they heard the word "Free!"

A's and Marlins fans were rushing into the Coliseum, hoping to be one of the first 10,000 to get a Vida Blue jersey. So it was hard to stop them, talk with them, anything.

However, an hour into the exercise, a young man (maybe 30?) ran up to me and said, "I need to register. I moved." So he filled out the form in record time. I had my first one!

It was the only one I got. I added to my patter:

"Voter registration! Change your address? Change your name? 18 years old? Register here! Vote in November!" I thought it was pretty good. But after an hour-and-a-half, I was losing my voice.

I gave out several forms, though, for people on the fly or who wanted to give them to friends. And one other guy came up to me and asked, "How do I volunteer for this?" so I took his name and email address to give to Ken.

I remember that my mother used to register voters at a little card table in front of the local Safeway. She used to promise to throw the forms with "Democrat" on them in the trash can after the people had left.

I thought of my mother as I prepared to give my one voter registration form to Ken. I glanced at it, and at the bottom of the form was: Republican. Shit.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Hungry for Change: The Bake Sale

I got up early this morning. After all, Dawn was due at 8:30 am. She showed up early, and Ruth and I had already consolidated the cookies and muffins. It was so hot last night that I placed them in the 'fridge so that the chocolate chips wouldn't melt. They could wait for that for Saturday -- it was forecast to be another hot one.

We picked a spot outside of Safeway, in the shade, of course, and hoped that Safeway management wouldn't mind if we camped there temporarily, for about four hours or so. Safeway at Washington Square in San Leandro, I thought, was a perfect spot because of the walk-by traffic, the fact that cold drinks were inside, and there was a restroom (albeit not marked) inside. As we found out throughout our day, their employees were very friendly, a fact that really added to our day.

We spent about half an hour setting up the two tables, wiping them clean, then loading them up with the goodies. We pasted the colorful red-white-and-blue signs around the tables. It was about 9:15 when we were set-up, and people began to cluster immediately. In fact, we sold about $5 worth of goods within 5 minutes. I was beginning to be encouraged!

Ruth took off after that, and Leslie and her friends (Monica and Chanda) helped her set up. Her Mom, Bonnie, even came by later and chatted with some of the people passing by. I really liked the fact that they had starkly different things than we had, including: macadamia nut tart, toffee blonde brownies, lemon basil shortbread (sorry I didn't get a chance to try that!), and slices of cake. Leslie reported that she had also dropped by the Farmer's Market that morning and bought bouquets of flowers. She put out about 10 of those for sale. She also had bottles of water for sale.

Our tables had the items Dawn and I (and her friend Beth) had baked -- cookies (molasses, peanut butter, sugar, oatmeal, chocolate chip), plus some non-fat muffins donated by Rosemary. Our volunteers showed up one by one to bring their donated baked goods -- lots and lots! Susan, Kathleen, Casey and Sam, Brenda, Julia, Danyele, Barbara, Joanie, and Neusa. Plus Laurel and Reisa came by to help out.

Here's the bottom line: We completely sold out of baked goods!! (Thanks to Leslie and her friends for taking what was left over at 3 pm and taking it to a new site, where they stayed until it was gone.) I will be recounting the money when I receive the additional from Leslie, but the unofficial total right now is $610. Wow ! Oh, plus 4 cents. I have no idea where that came from.

The people we met were interesting, to be sure, including:

Several Republican men, usually older. One said, over his shoulder as he passed by, "How did they let you radicals sit there?" Another wanted to talk about how he was once a Democrat in Boston some 50 years ago, but times have changed. One told us that if Obama won, we'd be speaking, "Arab." (I don't really know if he was a Republican, but I can come to no other conclusion.)

One woman, African-American, came up cautiously and spat at us, "You'll be sorry!" and muttered something about not being able to trust Obama. That one I can't explain at all.

And we had one woman come up to the table to have a lengthy conversation (well, mostly she just talked), about how she supported Hillary Clinton but now she's going to vote for McCain. And she thought there had been a conspiracy to remove her from the primary race.

There were also a couple of people who seemed friendly to the cause but who said "he has enough money." I think that perception is something our candidate will face in the future.

None of the above donated...oh, of the Republicans relented and bought some goods! I think he liked Leslie and how she listened to him.

Most of the people we met, however, were charged by seeing our signs regarding Barack Obama, and wanted to wish us well. Many, many people gave us an extra dollar, and extra five dollars, an extra 25 dollars, just as a donation. There were at least two women who told me they were diabetics and couldn't eat sugar but, here, take a couple of dollars as a donation.

And, of course, there were those -- many of them -- who like cookies and wanted to buy fresh, homemade muffins or cake.

We got to know some of the friendly Safeway clerks on their way to collect the stray carts, or those just looking for a spot to sit and enjoy their break. I think they even sent some people our way. One of them said hello to me as I went into Safeway in search of air conditioning.

We had a wonderful time. I am so thankful to those who helped out. Everyone put in their hard effort to bake on what was probably the hottest day of the year in the Bay Area. And then to come down and deliver the goods and/or their time. I really appreciate all the help.

It was an amazing day. Just meeting all those incredible people -- helpers and visitors and customers -- I would say it's a special day. But we raised over $600 for the fight to put Barack Obama in the White House. That just raised the bar on amazing days. Wow.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Cookies for Obama

My hands are filthy, all from handling money. I'm cleaning out an old tea jar that I use to collect coins. I'm separating out silver from copper so that I can provide change. I'm getting ready for Cookies for Obama.

I'd like to say that I am jumping in wholeheartedly to the We-Must-Elect-a-Democrat-this-Time! issue by going door-to-door, working on phone banks, etc., but that's just not me. Instead, I'm organizing a bake sale for, who will use the money to help Barack Obama in his quest for the White House. has made it pretty simple. They sent out a request, and 8 people have signed on to help us. We have never heard of these people before, but their enthusiasm seems boundless. I think we're going to need it.

I've been emailing furiously over the past 2 days, answering questions, figuring how much everybody is going to bring, who's coming, etc. I limited the group to 8 people (plus Dawn and me) in order to make it manageable. I didn't picture, however, that some people would come to help at the table but not bring anything, some would bring something but not help, all kinds of permutations. I actually think it's all going to work out just fine.

I have to take with me on Saturday morning:
Forms to sign if someone gives more than $50
Clipboard with tablet
and, last but not least, cookies.

Dawn and I will have a bake-in this Friday. And then Saturday morning, June 21st, we'll descend upon Washington Square in San Leandro, pick a desirable spot (in the shade), and set up.

And, hopefully, we'll have people bringing us cookies, brownies, cupcakes and coffee cakes so that we can sell them for Obama.

It should be exciting!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Venturing into Giants Territory

The man held both his hands up as I approached my seat, saying, "Stop! You can't come here!" I knew he was kidding.

He was wearing a black Giants hat and a black sweatshirt, and so were his buddies, except... "Hey..." I said to him. "That guy over there has a green sweatshirt on." I knew he had spotted my green jacket, my green hat with the "A" emblazoned on both.

"Yeah," the guy replied, "he's with us, but we don't like him." He laughed. And so did I. And I sat down.

The Giants fans are pretty friendly. I didn't want to test that theory by clapping too enthusiastically when the A's spurted ahead on Jack Cust's double RBI.

Before the game started, I watched a little of the game between the Giants' wives and the A's wives. The Giants won, but it was pretty much a laugher on both ends. They could hit but couldn't field. Raquel Aurilia, however, looked pretty able at first and with the bat.

It's such a beautiful stadium, and sold out. I saw a lot of green, but mostly orange and black. Maybe 70-30. There was a guy and his girlfriend on my right side, and two behind me. But that was it for my section.

In the 4th inning, the guy in back of me offered me a 2008 Oakland A's magnetic schedule. Nice!

And the game? I watched every pitch from my 2nd deck Club level advantage point: A great pitching duel between Rich Harden and Matt Cain. King Harden had 9 strikeouts, Cain had 11. The difference between the two pitchers was that Harden only allowed 1 hit in his 6 innings. The A's won out, mostly by playing "small ball" and taking advantage of Giants' miscues, 4 - 0.

I had a great time until the wind came in, ushering the fog, and took my ears and nose hostage. It was time to say goodbye.

I appreciate the friendliness of the fans. And it was really nice that the security people said goodbye as we exited, regardless of our colors. Of course, it dawned on me, I wasn't wearing Dodger Blue. Who knows at that point what the hell would have happened.

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Annual Wasp Hunt

It took a small ladder, two of us women trying, and finally, a son over 6 feet to do the trick: hang the two wasp traps.

I had gone to Piedmont Grocery earlier in the week, and they very kindly gave me a hunk of hamburger, gratis. I put half the chunk in each trap, along with its own scent.

We hung them at 5:30 pm yesterday, and by 9 am, they contained:

5 wasps in the front trap;
4 wasps in the back trap.

I have watered the lawn in both places since then, and, I swear, the numbers have grown a bit.

I love what the directions say: "You should remove the wasp bodies every two weeks and replace the bait. Make sure the wasps are dead." No kidding.

This is my 3rd year of wasp traps. (And the first year I've read the directions.)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

I'm for Edwardsamaton

I went for my haircut today. I had no idea that the owner of the shop, who wielded scissors above my gray hair today, was Vietnamese. Not until she told me that she had to stop sending money to her family in VietNam because she's having such a hard time herself in these uncertain economic times.

Which led her to talk about the war and the huge expense of it all -- Iraq, Afghanistan. Which led her to ask me if I paid attention to the primaries. "Yes, of course," I replied, but couldn't answer her question about who was ahead. Did Obama win enough? Will Clinton concede? "I like her a lot, but she must." She felt strongly that Hillary had to give up so that we could all concentrate on defeating the Republicans, an act that might somehow equate to saving her store, and somewhere in there the troops would be brought home.

I went from there to the UPS Store to pick up the mail and to pick up dry cleaning. I went into Mrs. Hong's shop and found her in a discussion with a customer. Obviously it was about Obama vs. Hillary. "These are very exciting times," she told me, almost with a glare. "But I am so sad. I like her very much." She wanted Hillary to concede. Two more customers came in, and they were still discussing the inevitability when I left. (Just an aside here: both these women own their own businesses. Neither was born in the U.S. I have no idea if they're both U.S. citizens, but they certainly have the passion I wish most citizens had. I admire them both.)

It is an historic time. We are seeing history made. I thought last week was awesome, with the California State Supreme Court giving me the right to marry. (Thank you, Justices.) And on a day where that very decision is being contested by petition, it seems that Senator Obama is likely to sew up the primary as the candidate of the Democratic Party.

The primaries have been the subject of more than just discussion at our house. Bordering on rancor.

I have been for Hillary ever since I figured out some 15 years ago that she was a woman with an opinion, someone who wanted to change health care and offer it to all citizens. And then I found out that most Americans wanted to dictate to her what her role was, even what hair style to wear, and I got angry. Today I am still angry, and am a Hillary Clinton supporter.

My partner, however, was a staunch John Edwards supporter, and has admired him over the last 10 years or so. She even has an "Edwards" sticker on her Hybrid bumper, cool in color but peeling in reality. She saw him at a rally in Los Angeles, and, although wary of crowds, dove in and befriended many. She fell in love.

So when Edwards gave his gracious speech in which he recognized the math and the supposed will of the people, she felt her heart break. She started looking around for a candidate to back.

But she had difficulty breaking away from Edwards. So, for awhile, she became an EdwaHillary fan. I was very pleased with that. And then, suddenly, for a brief moment in time, a Hillary fan....

but then it was gone. Poof! She began to believe that Obama had the momentum, that Hillary just had too many things going against her (like all those men). And she became an EdwaHillama fan... moving to an Edama, and then, became an Obamards fan. (Because, let's face it: when you fall in love, it's hard to break free.)

It's been difficult here at home. My Clinton buttons have been put away. Even the one in Hebrew.

And tomorrow when Obama declares victory, and when his latest salvos at McCain will actually mean something in the rearview mirror....THAT's when both of us will buy our OBAMA sign for the front lawn, shake hands and share a kiss, and declare that THIS is our cause. Bring Obama to the Oval Office, and throw the Republicans out of their whitewashed house.

Finally, we can agree on a three-syllable name. And then wonder who he'll pick as a vice-presidential candidate. Could it be...?