A Sporting/Gaming View

Last year, I saw no college basketball games, but came within one game of winning this NCAA March Madness basketball pool of my friend Mary’s that I participate in, not for money, but for the “glory”. I picked Illinois to win it all, but they came up just short. One gets more points as the rounds progress.

This year, having seen half of one game, I participated again. After the first round, I was actually in the lead, picking 23 of 32 games, but faltered badly in the second round, selecting only 5 of 16. Ohio State, the team I picked to lose the final game, was eliminated in this round.

After this past weekend, which eliminated Duke and Connecticut, two of my other Final Four picks, I find myself 21 points off the lead. The good news for me is that everyone in front of me has topped out; all of their teams have been eliminated. So the winner will either be current leader Ray, if both UCLA and Florida lose on Saturday, five-year-old Michael if Florida sweeps, or me. I can win if UCLA wins on Saturday and Monday, regardless of how Florida fares against George Mason. Now, if Florida wins and UCLA loses on Saturday, I’ll finish dead last.

Go, UCLA! And, what the heck, at least on Saturday: Go, George Mason! (ASP, are you rooting for your new hometown team?) Who the heck was George Mason, anyway? He’s the fellow pictured above.
Major League Baseball also starts this weekend. I was one of those people who actually watched some of the World Baseball Classic. I figured the Dominicans or Venezuelans would win. (Japan beat Cuba, 10-6.) Something not quite right about the format, though. Korea beats Japan twice, yet they both end up in a semifinal game, where Korea loses. Not quite right.

I love baseball. With a minute to go and 20 points down, a basketball game is over, a football game is over. In baseball, a team can be 20 runs down in the bottom of the ninth, with two outs, and two strikes on the batter, and theoretically, at least, could still win the game. Unlikely to be sure, but still possible. Baseball is about hope. George Carlin knows that.
I was watching JEOPARDY! a week or two ago, and a woman won with $600. When the announcer announced her as returning champion, he obviously stifled a giggle when he noted her score. She came in third place that night, which means she got $1000. So, she fared better monetarily on night two than night one. Of course, the win allowed her to play on the second night.

And speaking of JEOPARDY!, I got an e-mail that read: LOOKING FOR CONTESTANTS AND WE’D LOVE TO HAVE LIBRARIANS AND LIBRARY LOVERS TRY OUT — PLEASE GO TO: WWW.JEOPARDYTRYOUTS.COM. Since someone asked: no, I cannot go on again. People who were on the original show with Art Fleming can go on the current show, with Alex Trebek. In fact, there was a woman who won $60 and a set of encyclopedias 35 years ago, but won $20,000 this go-round.

Recycle Cell Phones- Revitalize Lives

I realize now that I should have mentioned this sooner. Initially, I thought it would be of interest only to people locally, but I’ve come to rethink that.

The Mission Committee of my church held three sessions about domestic violence during the adult education hour in January. It discussed the Equinox Domestic Violence Services program that are being offered. They were, many have indicated, very moving sessions. The question that followed though is, “What can I DO about it?”

One piece of the Mission Committee’s effort in working with Equinox is to participate in a cell phone drive, for which I am the Donation Coordinator.

Most people purchase or otherwise receive new cell phones. What should one do with the old ones? One really cannot simply toss them away, for all sorts of environmental reasons. Equinox can take some of the phones and have them reprogrammed for use as 911 emergency phones for the people it aids. What kinds of cellphones? Doesn’t matter! The ones that cannot be reprogrammed can be sent to a recycler to raise funds for the program.

The Committee is hoping that individuals will not only bring their personal phones, but that they will ask if their places of business might be willing to allow collections of unused cell phones.

If you’re local, please note that cell phones will be collected in a box located in the Assembly Hall of First Presbyterian Church. For more information, e-mail me, or leave a message on my blog reply section. I have a flier I can e-mail you.

Now, if you live far away, you may consider taking on a similar path. Cell phone collections are being used to aid Katrina victims and many other worthy causes. Just don’t pitch tyour old cell phones in the trash, please.

Weird Thought Wednesday

(Title stolen from this person.)

Caspar Weinberger, Secretary of Defense under Ronald Reagan, died yesterday, I heard late last night. Of course, he was one of the folks involved in Iran Contra. But Bush 41 pardoned him just before Bill Clinton took office.

I woke up with the strangest thought: Weinberger was in charge of our invasion of Grenada in 1983; they don’t make wars like that anymore, do they? Oh, that they did.

Beatle Beat

On the cover of May/June 2006 AARP Magazine is one Paul McCartney. “Paul is 64. And, yes. We still need him. Rolling Stone writer Anthony DeCurtis explores the joys, fears, feuds, and enormously enduring talents of Sir Paul McCartney
Plus: “Pick your favorite McCartney song” poll, McCartney Years interactive timeline, Paul-themed quiz and crossword.” Paul turns 64 in June. (Does the biggest Macca fan I know want the magazine, or does he have his own copy?) Paul looks closer to 64 on the cover of the magazine than on the front page of the link.

Of course, John is dead, but some folks wanting to communicate with him anyway are having a broadcast seance on April 24 for only $9.95 per household. What a bargain!

Lefty has some Beatles-related questions for me, and you.
And in other music news: Paul Simon. Brian Eno. “Surprise”. May 9. Simon on SNL that week.

Why High School Musical (?!) is the Number 1 album in the land.

Tosy’s Top 10 Musicals

English Prof is looking for a few good war songs.


When Greg put me on his sidebar (if he had one), he said that I had “good stuff on race in America (he’s one of those black people, you know)”. The first part I thought was very kind, and the second I found so funny that I almost did a spit take. I should add that I know Greg from his blogging, so I knew where he was coming from.

I haven’t mentioned race all month, I don’t believe, though I’ve been thinking about it for a few reasons, some of which will require their own posts.

One item is this story in England about “black” and “white” twin baby girls. Their parents are both of mixed race. I just read about in JET. The magazine noted: “Often, people don’t believe Kian [the darker child] is my baby, which can be quite upsetting at times,” said the mother.

Another is the television show on FX called “Black.White.”, not coincidentally adjacent to the babies’ story in JET. I was REALLY nervous about this program. Blackface? Whiteface? But the makeup is effective, some better than others. The theme, by the show’s co-producer Ice Cube, is good.

Someone asked if the show was provocative, interesting, hokey. The answer is yes.

I’m as frustrated with the white guy, Bruno, as the black guy, Brian, is with his Pollyanic world view.

I thought Renee, the black woman, was naive or in denial, if she thought that what the long-haired guy in the bar wasn’t speaking some truth. He noted some of the black kids thought that excelling in school was not a desirable thing. (“Acting white” was the term I heard years ago.)

Certainly, the most touching character so far has been Rose, the white girl who, in makeup, joined a rap poetry session. Her palpable frustration about living a lie with these very honest poets was not only touching, but great television.

So far I’ve seen two episodes of the limited series that ends April 12, and have recorded a third.

So, I’m talking about these two stories and I get into this minor verbal tussle with someone who suggested that class is the real determining factor in how people’s lives will fare.

I don’t necessarily disagree in some respects, but the point I was making was that people make decisions about people based on race, long before they’ve sized up someone’s socio-economic status.

When black people are together trying to describe a non-present white male, they’ll say, “Oh, it’s the white dude with brown hair.”

At least in my presence, when a group of white people are discussing an absent black man that not everybody knows, they’ll often say, “He’s the black gentleman with…” and name some feature about his clothing or hair or family situation. Often, they’ll look at me to ascertain whether it was OK to identify another person by race, or have they stepped into Politically Incorrect land. Well, no, it’s fine, I nod.

People see race/color. People who claim that they don’t see race make me nervous. It’s like saying you don’t see hair color or gender. It’s out there. It’s OK to recognize it.

Black people, when describing an absent black person, often describes skin color, “the light-skinned guy.”

Solving racism will not come by pretending we all look the same.
Gay Prof has been thinking about race. So has Thom (Mar 23).
Indeed, much of the country has been focused on the immigration bill in Congress; the House bill, at least the one that existed yesterday morning, seems both xenophobic and impractical. Even W doesn’t appear to support that position. The Senate appears disinclined to criminalize priests who feed illegal immigrants, I just read.

The Worst Month in My Life…

…was almost certainly February of 1975. I had a major breakup a couple months earlier. I dropped out of college at New Paltz. In January 1975, my sister Leslie and I had transported my grandmother to live with her daughter – our mother – in Charlotte, NC. I ended up staying at Gram’s house in Binghamton.

I had spent a lot of time in that house when I was growing up, at lunchtime every day from kindergarten through 9th grade. So, you would think I would have learned the proper operation of a coal stove. Well, apparently not, because I kept suffocating the fire.

As a result, there was no heat, which eventually meant the pipes froze and burst. I washed up at a friend’s house some nights. I would sometimes go out to the library or other public places. It was at a visit to the library where I was listening to the Beatles’ Abbey Road. “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” ends the first side. I kept playing it louder and louder, so that when the song abruptly ends, I briefly thought I had died.

I had a blanket that my ex had made for me on the bed, in a sometimes vain attempt to stay warm. One night, the blanket fell off the bed and onto the space heater, briefly catching on fire. Fortunately, the acrid smell woke me up. The very interesting thing about this particular event is that my mother dreamed about me and fire that very night. Perhaps it was her subconscious that actually woke me up.

My grandmother’s TV had only one station, the CBS affiliate Channel 12, WNBF. I watched a lot of soap operas. But what made me realize I was truly, probably clinically depressed at that time was that I watched at least three, and maybe all four episodes of Hee Haw that aired that month.

As the weather got warmer, I got a job, got in a play, got into a disastrous rebound romance. But I always remember that really terrible month.

Buck Owens, who died Saturday, was a fine musician, writer of lots of songs such as “Act Naturally.” That show which he co-hosted with Roy Clark, though, I thought was awful, and it is my pleasure and relief to note that I haven’t watched it since. In fact, the very thought of wanting to see it again would mean I’d gone coconuts.
Director Richard Fleischer also died Saturday. He directed several Popeye shorts; Popeye was my first hero. Also, he had the middle name Owen; my middle name is…well, you might have guessed that one. He directed Soylent Green; my last name is… anyway, I always wondered what soylent green was…

The Lydster, Part 24: The Birth Story

(This story is still fresh in my mind two years after the fact, but I’d better write it down now, because even good memories fade.)

March 26, 2004, a Friday, was scheduled to be Carol’s last day of class. Uncharacteristically, she felt a bit crummy about 4 a.m., but she drove off to her first school, in Albany County. After that session, she drove to adjoining Schenectady County, but had to pull over once on the road because of some pain. It was then that she thought she was MAYBE in the first stages of labor. But she figured it would be a couple days, and went on her way to teach at her second school.

I was at work when she called me around 3 pm to tell me not to meet her at the doctor’s office, but to come home, because she felt so lousy. She sounded so weak, and she knew her voice sounded so muddy, that she actually (and fortunately) identified herself by name. So, I came home. But the doctor’s office insisted she come in. I called doula Maureen to pick us up, and I instinctively furiously started packing some items for our hospital visit, which was on the agenda for the upcoming weekend.

We went to the new doctor, who examined Carol, and ascertained that she was 8.5 cm dilated. He was surprised. I was surprised. Carol was very surprised. Maureen, who had assisted in over 100 births, was shocked. I call my parents-in-law from his office to ask them to meet us at the hospital; they live 75 miles away.

So, it was “do not stop at home to get the bag I threw together, but go directly to the hospital.” We check in around 5:15 p.m.

One of the things that is apparently hospital procedure is that a doctor of the hospital be assigned to the case if the mother’s physician isn’t there. Since our doctor was not yet present, at least three of these eager young physicians breezed in during our first hour there, introducing themselves, and explaining everything. This was NOT what we wanted in our birth experience. I asked Maureen to call our (new) doctor to make an appearance. Once he arrived, the revolving door of doctors finally stopped.

Carol tried a couple different positions to see what would be comfortable. At some point, a nurse came to tell me that Carol’s family, which included her parents, her brother Dan, her sister-in-law Tracy, and one of her young nieces were there. I went out to the waiting room and gave them the keys to our house, so they could pick up the clothing and also the boom box and some music my sister Leslie had sent us. The great thing about having the doula is that I knew Carol would not feel abandoned when I talked with her folks.

At one point, Carol used a tub to relax for about an hour. The folks came back with the goods and I went out to get the items.

After this, the serious labor process began. Because Carol had taken the Bradley classes, she was very fit to give birth. The problem was that the doctor didn’t really think she was making much of an effort. While Carol thought she was being very loud, and I knew she was working hard, it didn’t sound like one of those very vocal births one sees in the movies. But finally, I saw this Little Soul’s head coming out – full head of hair! At 10:27 p.m., the child was was born! 7 pounds and 11 ounces, 20 inches, full complement of fingers and toes.

The doctor, the nurse, Maureen, Carol and I just marveled.

I cut the umbilical chord, she gets cleaned up. Finally, around 11:30, I go find Carol’s family, give them the good news, and they come in in pairs, first Carol’s parents, then Dan & Tracy.

Around 1:30 a.m., we get moved to another room, where we attempt to sleep, though this new girl – we never knew her gender until she came out – wasn’t that co-operative. The nurses were checking on us seemingly every 2 minutes, but it was probably more like 90. I was in this lounge chair next to the bed.

The next morning was all a bit of a blur. I know medical people came in and out. I remember that, in midday, my parents-in-law came over, and I went home with my father-in-law to make about 20 phone calls, and then back to the hospital. We received a number of phone calls and a couple of visits.

Sunday midday, we went home, as a family: Carol, Roger, and Lydia Powell Green. That was the easy part.

Thus ends, or begins, the saga of, as my good friend Mark quaintly put it, our “grow your own roommate” project.

Special Pre-Birthday Lydster Edition

Carol and I started attending Bradley classes on January 8, 2004, where we learned about diet, exercise, and breathing. We had homework every week, reading, massage, breathing, tracking Carol’s food consumption for sufficient protein. She was most definitely tired of eating eggs (for protein) by the end of her pregnancy.

I don’t want to get into talking at length about Bradley, except to say:
1. It’s not Lamaze, and
2. It was very useful in informing us about the birth process, and it felt as though we were taking control of much of the process.

One of the exercises we were to do was to come up with a birth plan, which certainly would not have occurred to me independent of the class. Ours is here.

At some point in February, there was a baby shower, arranged by Carol’s sister-in-law Tracy and others. Later, on a snowy St. Patrick’s Day, my office got together and bought me a wonderful baby carriage; Carol was in on the secret, and drove downtown to share in the festivities.

We were also busy emptying the room that would become the nursery. It had become a storage area for all sorts of things we didn’t know what to do with.

2/3/04- Little Soul “has been very active lately. Normally, [Carol] notices on her drive to work and drive home, but now she notices early in the morning, last night while we watched TV, much of the time.”

In the Bradley class, we learn about doulas. A doula is advocate for the parents before, during and after the birth.

Carol goes to her ob/gyn with a discussion of the birth plan, though without the actual sheet. She feels that the doctor is just placating her, something we talk about with our doula, Maureen.

Carol and I go back to the practice, and talk to a different doctor about items on the birth plan. He said, several times, “We could do that, if you remind me.” Finally, he declared: “What you probably want is a midwife.”

A midwife? Can we DO that? Moreover, can we change practices with Carol 8 months pregnant?

We can and we do. Carol and I go to see a midwife, who is in a practice affiliated with a doctor in mid-March, which goes well. We make another appointment to see the doctor. That’s scheduled for March 26…

Now, for the Adventures of Buckethead!

and here’s her alter ego:

(For the record, she put the pail on her own head, without assistance or encouragement.)

“Not much of a farmer. But I DO so love his cookies!”

Still taking your questions…
About.com has articles about How to Start a Blog. As a reformed ex-non-blogger, I offer it those of you who are thinking about taking the plunge:
Free Blog Software/Hosting
To Blog or Not to Blog? – How Blogging Can Impact Your Job Search
Where Can I Host Images For My Blog?
I really like that IBM commercial where everyone is lipsynching to the Kinks’ I’m Not Like Everybody Else – fun use of irony. But I don’t know what they are trying to sell.
I was doing the Next Blog thing, something I don’t do nearly as much as I’d like because of time. In any case, I came across this post which describes www.librarything.com/:
Catalog your books
Easy. Catalog your books online or keep a reading list.
Social. Show everyone your library, or keep it private. Find people with the same books as you. Get recommendations from readers like you.
Powerful. Search Amazon, the Library of Congress and 30 other world libraries.
Tagged. Tag your books as on Del.icio.us and Flickr (eg., wwii, magical realism, sexuality, christian living, cats).
Safe. Export your data. Import from almost anywhere too.
Free. Enter 200 books for free, as many as you like for $10 (year) or $25 (life).

Anybody out there using this? Sounds intriguing. Apparently it started last August. If it’s as good as it sounds, it’d be this librarian’s dream.
Another Next Blogger describes Short Term Syndrome that behavior some people do when they’re leaving their jobs, behavior that would otherwise get someone fired. If you’re displaying these habits and AREN’T leaving your job, you may be leaving your job involuntarily.

And speaking of getting fired, a piece on How to Get Fired.
How the birthday paradox works. (You’re in a room with 30 people and two of them have the same birthday.)
I was working on a reference question about goat milk (yes, goat milk) last week and I came to this site, which is nice enough for what it is. But the company name is Fias Co Farm, so the URL reads fiascofarm, which doesn’t exactly breed confidence. (Choice of verb was intentional.)
This next piece is pretty dry on the face, though important, because they leave off the best part:
State Tax Commissioner Andrew S. Eristoff today urged New Yorkers to be cautious of an e-mail scam that promises a tax refund from the Internal Revenue Service but is really designed to strip people of personal information such as social security or credit card numbers.
E-mail confidence schemes of this nature are called “phishing” scams because they “bait” unsuspecting victims into providing confidential information.
To view the entire document, please visit: here

The BEST part ios that the reason the Commissioner was writing about it was that the would-be crooks tried to bait HIM. No word as to whether he fell for it.
Buy The Exonerated on DVD and Help Support New Yorkers Against the Death Penalty-
A portion of the proceeds of the sale of this DVD will directly benefit the organization. For more information and to purchase go www.nyadp.org.
John Stuart Mill on Military Intervention, via the English Prof.
Truthout has a multimedia page. See W answer Helen Thomas’ question, “Why Did We Go to War?” and much more.
Of local interest:

From Panels to Panel: A Graphic Novel Workshop
May 19, 2006 12:45-5 Albany Public Library, Main Library
Free to students with proof of enrollment!
Professionals only $15!
For more information, including a list of participants, and to download the registration form, go here.

Perhaps something like this is playing in your area-
Come to the main branch of the Albany Public Library at 161 Washington Avenue in Albany at 6:30 PM to see screenings of the ACLU’s “Freedom Files”. Each night will feature a different civil liberties topic and a discussion will follow.

Monday, April 3rd “Racial Profiling” with moderator Al Lawrence: Racial profiling may have fallen off the radar screen for most Americans, but for those affected it remains a series problem.
Monday May 1st “Dissent” with moderator Katherine Levitan: “Dissent” tells the stories of everyday Americans who were practicing their right to free speech and protest only to be thwarted, harassed or arrested.
Monday May 22nd “The PATRIOT Act” with moderator Sarah Birn: “Beyond the Patriot Act” features ordinary Americans whose relatives were victims of months of detention, secret deportation, and repeated interrogation. The show also tells the uplifting story of a growing grassroots campaign in opposition to the Patriot Act.
Monday June 5th “The Supreme Court” with moderator Steven Gottlieb: “The Supreme Court” tells the story of a teenage girl from Oklahoma who fought her high school’s mandatory drug testing policy and brought her case all the way to the Supreme Court. Viewers will get an insider’s view of the high court and the justices who serve on it, as told by attorneys who have argued cases before them.