Sports Questions and Samhain

The World Series continues into November. In the Northeast, no less. This really bugs me. With two rounds before the Series, somethings gotta give. Maybe a 154-game season, which Major League baseball used to have until the 1960s, when it went to 162 games. And while they’re at it, couldn’t they starts some games earlier, so I kids could watch past the third inning?

I suppose this is sacrilege, but I wish the Yankees, and some minor league teams, and maybe others, would get rid of “God Bless America” during the 7th-inning stretch. It started after 9/11/2001, but now it’s become a “new tradition”. And at the last Hall of Fame game I attended, “honored America” with a scratchy and warped Kate Smith recording. And some people are now getting bent out of shape if television doesn’t cover the singing of same, even when TV doesn’t cover Take Me Out To The Ballgame, which follows.

In the NFL, I was really happy that Denver beat New England a few weeks ago, but I found it unfair that the Patriots never touched the ball offensively in overtime. There’s got to be a better way than a coin flip. In the college game, each team at least gets a chance to score, not a perfect model, but clearly fairer.

So what’s bugging you about sports? Maybe it’s the relatively new scoring system in figure skating; I happen to like it better than the 6.0 standard. I read that some are advocating for more instant reply in baseball; not sure how that would work. The example is a ball, not a home run ball, that was judged as foul by the umpire but fair in the replay. Where would the batter, and even trickier, the runners, end up? I’m not opposed out of hand, but I can’t see how it would work.


Swiped from Uthaclena: In Druid tradition, Samhain is the time of the dead, when the veil between the worlds thins and spirits walk the land of the living. It is the feast of death and rebirth, and the New Year of the Celtic calendar with the fall of the last leaves, the heart of the Autumn, the beginning of the Darkened Days, and the Quiet Time to listen to the Wisdom of the Crone. At this time we celebrate and commemorate our ancestors and elders who have passed into the Otherworld. But, fear naught, for the Sun will be born anew, and Light and Life will return to the world!

Solemn Blessings to you all; hold fast to the seed of Hope, and dream of Better days!


ROG

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Vote Because, Well – Just Do It

Next Tuesday is Election Day, and I will vote. I always vote. I believe it is rooted in the fact that for many years in the history of this country, people were disenfranchised, largely because of their race and/or gender, and I just cannot help but take advantage of my right to participate in the democratic process.

And because it is an “off-year” election, fewer people will vote in November 2009 than in November 2008, even though the races that take this year arguably have more of a direct impact on people’s lives than the statewide or national races. This means that MY vote will mean more, proportionally.

Still, it’s difficult to muster much enthusiasm. For many races in Albany, NY, both citywide and countywide, the primary in September WAS the race. For those not in Albany, you need to know that this is a one-party town, and that one party is the Democratic party. Now since I am a registered Democrat – hey, I want to be where the action is – you might think I would be happy about that; I’m not, even though it advantages one of the candidates I’m supporting. I believe one-party rule, no matter the good intentions of that party, inevitably leads to complacency and arrogance.

This is why I will reveal my ballot in one race: I am voting for the Republican for county coroner. I don’t even know who the party candidates are, though there were stories in the paper recently, for it doesn’t matter. In fact, I have ALWAYS voted for the Republican candidate for coroner since I moved to Albany 30 years ago. And I believe that the Republican candidate for coroner has always lost. I fully expect that to happen again this year, but I don’t care. It’s my rage against the machine.

Incidentally, the last of the Albany County Board of Elections’ extended hours to accept absentee ballot applications take place Saturday morning, October 31, from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.
ROG

October Ramblin’

One foot in front of the other.

SATURDAY: I took the daughter to the Medieval Faire. She enjoyed the silly magician and the juggler who had an ax, a flaming stick and a rubber chicken in the air at once. She also enjoyed the Punch and Judy show, as much because the puppeteer had me control one of his marionettes for a short time; demented show with the devil showing up and Rensselaer (city across the river from Albany) a linguistic substitute for hell.
I always enjoy the crowning of the boy bishop; it’s all very High Church. Wait, it’s now the “child bishop”, which means the bishop is, for the first tiome in my recollection, a girl! Brava!

Then a brief trip to a pumpkin carving party. Lydia had lots of kids to play with and didn’t want to leave.

Finally, we got a babysitter and went to a friend’s 40th birthday party, which was pleasant enough.

SUNDAY: Choir rehearsal, then church service, then meeting for the Black History Month planning.

Mother of one of the kids at the pumpkin carving party called to note that her son was feeling lethargic; ah, Lydia, too.

Still we all went to the State Museum, mostly because Lydia wanted to go on the carousel. A church group of about 10 saw Through the Eyes of Others: African Americans and Identity in American Art; 1609; This Great Nation Will Endure: Photographs of the Great Depression; and Berenice Abbott’s Changing New York: A Triumph of Public Art. And yes, we all rode the carousel, even only one of us was under 40, and at least one of us was twice 40.

Then ANOTHER choir rehearsal.

MONDAY, TUESDAY: Home with a sick child. Her temperature was up Monday morning, then down Tuesday morning, when I thought she was rallying. But feverish Tuesday afternoon. When she was well was actually more work, keeping her occupied with Sorry, Uno, pick-up-sticks, Candyland… Difficult blogging conditions.

WEDNESDAY: Work, which comparatively speaking, was a vacation; the wife stayed home with the child. Although I got little done the first hour because my computer, and only MY computer, somehow decided to leave the LAN, and I had to wait for a techie to fix it.

There was this cellphone conversation in an elevator. The person standing near me: “Yeah, he was a good father. He never got drunk in the garage every weekend.” I didn’t know this person, but I felt embarrassed on her behalf.

Also, these guys were coming through our offices, only one of whom works there. So I say to the one I know, “Nobody else is here. Just you and me.” And one of the other guys walking by says in this condescending tone, “That’s ‘you and I‘.” “Shut UP! Wasn’t even talking to you; I don’t even KNOW you. Shut UP!” I thought that, but didn’t say it.
And in any case, almost no one would say, “Just we” in casual conversation; one would say say, “just us”, the objective version, at least colloquially. Even my English teacher-wife couldn’t discern for sure.
***
Old records from 1895-1925 on the original victrolas

Care for Caregivers: Getting the help you need could save your life.

Stop Drowning in Mail: 4-Step System to Manage Mail Overload
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Picture above came in the e-mail yesterday with his note: “Eddie Haskell, The Beaver and Wally! HOLY Mackerel!! Are we REALLY that Old???” Yes, an excess of punctuation there.

ROG

O is for Oscar

I have been fascinated by the Academy Awards, a/k/a the Oscars, for a very long time. As a kid, I’d watch the stars that I’d heard about for years, even though I had not seen much of, or ANY of their work. It was a great thrill.

But the person in those days I was most fascinated with in the 1960s was Edith Head, the costume designer, who won eight awards. I liked her name and I especially loved the glasses. Though The Incredibles director Brad Bird has not confirmed it, it seemed immediately obvious that Edna E. Mode, the supergroup’s costumer, was a parody of Ms. Head. (And that the new CBS-TV show NCIS: Los Angeles’ Henrietta ‘Hetty’ Lange, played by Linda Hunt, is doing Edna Mode.)

Eventually, I got to see more of the movies. There was a time when I became a film affectionado. I would particularly make an effort to see the movies that had been nominated in the major categories: Best Picture, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Director, Original Screenplay and Adapted Screenplay. This meant going to the cinema a lot in December, January and February. Since I’ve never been a cold-weather fan, this suited me quite well. The Presidents Day/Washington’s Birthday weekend of 1998, I saw five films in three days; four of them had been nominated for the 1997 awards: L.A. Confidential (Kim Basinger won for supporting actress; Curtis Hanson, with Brian Helgeland, won for adapted screenplay, lost for director; also lost for picture) and Mrs. Brown (Judi Dench lost for lead actress) on Saturday; Afterglow (Julie Christie lost for lead actress) plus some whimsical French film on Sunday, and The Apostle (Robert Duvall lost for leads actor) on Monday. In fact, the only performance in the major categories I DIDN’T see was Peter Fonda, who lost for best actor in Ulee’s Gold; in fact, I STILL haven’t seen it.

In the pre-Internet days, on the day of the announcement of the nominees, the great challenge was trying to find a radio station with good reception that was broadcasting the information live at 8:37 a.m. Eastern Time, 5:37 a.m. Pacific Time, write down all the information and kibbitz about the choices and the omissions. Now, of course, I can just go online, but a bit of the magic is lost.

This century, I watch far fewer movies. Seeing films on DVD, in my opinion, is a lesser experience which I do only as a last resort, such as when a film is no longer in theaters and I REALLY MUST see it before Oscar night. And these days, I don’t even stay up for the awards but rather record them to watch over the next evening or three. Yet I still watch, because some part of the young boy who was dazzled by the magic of Hollywood still exists.
ROG

ABC MEME

But first, happy SEVENTH blogiversary to both Tegan at Bloggity-Blog-Blog-Blog and Johnny Bacardi. That’s like forever on the Internet.

Sunday Stealing, yet again.

A- Advocate for: mass transit; buses and light rail.

B- Best Feature: my brain. I think. (OR, my brain, I think.)

C- Could do without: the screaming that passes for political discourse.

D- Dreams and desires: for the child to thrive at whatever is her heart’s content.

E- Essential items: certain reference books, or in lieu of that, certain bookmarked reference web pages.

F- Favorite past time: blogging.

G- Good at: confusing my opponents, and occasionally myself, with racquetball shots.

H- Have never tried: jumping out of an airplane.

I- If I had a million dollars: I’d contribute more to some arts organizations and food pantries.

J- Junkie for: music of many types.

K- Kindred spirit: Uthaclena.

L- Little known fact: when I was in college on the Student Government Association Financial Council, the books were audited and the accounts were off by thousands of dollars. The books for my area, education, which included the newspaper and the radio station, were off by 79 cents.

M- Memorable moment: getting a standing ovation for playing a kazoo solo at a Red Cross training camp.

N- Never again will I: take penicillin (allergic reaction).

O- Occasional indulgence: a day off from work, just for myself.

P- Profession: librarian, dammit!

Q- Quote: “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it…. People think pleasing God is all God care about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back.” ~Alice Walker, The Color Purple, 1982

R- Reason to smile: The daughter’s dancing.

S- Sorry about: slow to asking for forgiveness from one person, which would have had a huge effect on my relationship with a third party.

T- Things you are worrying about right now: Well, worried would overstating it, but I’d like to be around when the kid graduates college.

U- Uninterested in: 99.973% of celebrity gossip.

V- Very scared of: a loss of freedom in the country.

W- Worst habits: an unlibrarianlike level of disorder.

X- X marks my ideal vacation spot: Hawaii. Because I wanted to go, was invited to go, but couldn’t.

Y- Yummiest dessert: carrot cake.

Z- Zodiac sign: Pisces.

ROG

The Lydster, Part 67: Kindergarten


I didn’t know how Lydia would take to kindergarten. She’d been going to day care for four years, after all. And the first week’s report was not encouraging: “all we do is color!” Ah, but there was a method to her teacher’s madness. It was “color two of three trees”, understanding the concept of numbers.

So it is astonishing how much she’s learned in the past couple months. When she asked how many days between her birthday and mine, and I said 19, she replied, “Then it’s 20 days between your birthday and Grandma’s,” whose birthday is the day after Lydia’s. Yes, that would be correct.

Notable: she has learned how to tie her shoes. On September 24, she couldn’t. On September 25, she was waiting for her mother, saw this book “Learn to Tie Your Shoes!” from CB Publishing complete with instructions and, more importantly, actual shoelaces; by the end of the day, she could do it. This is pleasing to me for a couple reasons:
1) this means she could tie them long before I could tie mine
2) when I get old and decrepit (or older and decrepiter), she’ll be able to tie mime

She has to do homework for 20 minutes every day, usually with me. Part of it involves taking a picture book such as “K is for Kissing a Cool Kangaroo” and identifying all the words on the page that begin with each letter of the alphabet; I keep finding new ones myself.

Lydia has mellowed out about the process of learning. Early on at school, she was told to use the phonetic sounds to try to figure out the spelling of a word. When she got one wrong, she literally broke into tears in class. Now she knows that English is difficult, what with those Cs that sound like Ks, Cs that sound like Ss, Gs that sound like Js, and Ys that sound like Is, not to mention silent letters in words such as gnu and knife.

She has always liked to dance, but has actively resisted actually take classes. But she has now taken two sessions in a ballet class and really seems to enjoy it. For our part, we never pushed her in this direction; it had to be something SHE really wanted to do.

Lydia gets more interesting practically every day.

ROG

The Beckster

My niece Rebecca turns 31 tomorrow. Since my sister Leslie was kind enough to share some photos of Becky’s 1st year, when they lived in Jackson Heights, Queens, NYC, NY, this seems like an appropriate time to post them here:

Leslie and Becky

Becky with her paternal grandmother, I believe

I always liked that quilt

With her Daddy Eric

The woman to the right was Leslie and Eric’s neighbor Maria

The ultimate before picture

Held by grandma

Maria (left), Becky, Maria’s mom(?)

Having babysat Becky, I can attest that she would put herself in the drawer

Mother and child

Maria, Leslie, Eric with bundle o joy

May have been 1st birthday party. My great aunt Charlotte is in the rear center; I’m at rear left.

Child with her daddy


Here’s Rebecca (third from the right) with her group Siren’s Crush. You can check out “exciting new 100% Live Video Footage” here. The band’s MySpace page is here.

ROG

Anticipating Halloween QUESTIONS

In my twenties, I used to dress up for Halloween. While I might pull out my Frankenstein mask now and then – I REALLY can’t breathe in that thing – I’ve lost my All Hallows Eve mojo.

But this year, the child is going to need an escort for her trick-or-treating; her costume is a ballet dress that lights up – I might just surprise myself by dressing

All I want to know:

Are you dressing up for Halloween? As what?
Are you going to a party, or parties?
Are you going trick or treating? Do you have a child to provide you cover?
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Top 10 Spooky Buildings
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My friend Fred Hembeck’s comic icon, Soupy Sales, died this week. One of the many things Fred taught me about Soupy is that he was a Motown artist. Really. And some of the songs, as Fred noted, weren’t half bad.
A suitable tribute for Soupy.
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Scott from Scooter Chronicles answers my questions.
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I’ve seen this a couple places on the Internet already: the octogenarian war vet’s impassioned plea for gay rights.

ROG

Segues

My sister Marcia informed sister Leslie and me last week that our mom’s been at the doctor’s office, addressing some of her health issues, such as weight loss and pains, which could be for lack of eating and NOT DRINKING WATER. Perhaps she’ll start taking those Boost-type drinks.

Yesterday, my mom was at the doctor’s office for several hours, getting an IV for her dehydration. Marcia was driving mom home when she tried to avoid something on the road, left from some road construction, and hit something else. This briefly propelled the car into the air. The landing initiated the deployment of the airbags, which forced my mother’s glasses into her face, cutting her, which made her scream, which unnerved Marcia.

Bottom line is that my mom went to the hospital to get checked out for a few hours, but did end up returning home. The vehicle, on the other hand, was towed and is probably totaled. Marcia notes it could have been worse.

and speaking of lack of water

Our office, indeed a bunch of offices, got e-mail notices recently that state contracts could no longer pay for water. Now, we’re not a state agency. Nevertheless, our water dispenser was carted off yesterday. When I saw someone wheeling one machine, I knew ours would be next, and alerted everyone to get as much water as possible.

Odd thing is that we still have three bottles of water, but no real way to consume them. I used to have messages pop up on my computer to get a glass of water four times a day; I have to shut those down, and find a new way to stay hydrated.

and speaking of my office

We have been in our present building for 4.4 years. Never have I seen so many ladybugs on the walls and windows outside our office as I did yesterday after none noticed a couple days earlier. THOUSANDS of them, yet very few around the rest of the building. What is going on?

and speaking of checking thing out

I ordered checks by phone for the first time in over a year and a half. $32 for 150 checks? Don’t know what they were before, but it wasn’t NEAR that much! It’ll prompt me to do more online transactions, though most of my bills are autopay already.

and speaking of the unexpected

I was riding my bike downtown a couple days ago when I saw a woman riding a Segway down Western avenue in Albany. I had actually never seen one up close before, only on television. We happened to catch the same red light, and I engaged the young woman who rides it in conversation.

Seems that she won the machine in June in a drawing, a total fluke. Now she rides it to work twice a week, rides her bicycle twice a week, and drives the car once a week.

I checked the Segway site, based in New Zealand, and found five dealers in the state of New York, on Long Island, Queens, western New York, Poughkeepsie (mid-Hudson) and Coeymans (around Albany).

A bus driver said that one will see the Segway more often because they were once not legal to ride on the streets but now are, traveling in the same stream of traffic as the bicycles. I didn’t independently verify that, but it seems right.
ROG

Doing Away With Dewey

There was an article in the local paper last week that the Albany Public Library was going to do away with the Dewey Decimal System in favor of a system that’s more like a bookstore, as I understand it. I have mixed emotions.

On one hand, I see why the library would want to utilize a system like that which the book-using public is used to. While I grew up using the Dewey Decimal System in the Binghamton Public Library, where I worked as a teen, it’s not as though I’m wedded to it. Indeed, the books in the special library where I work uses the Library of Congress classification, an alphanumeric system even more arcane for the casual user than Melvil Dewey’s categorization. Also, when I was going to library school, I quickly tired of the jokes about my devotion to the DDC.

On the other hand, the conversation suggests that DDC is complicated and that the bookstore model is “better”. Maybe it’s me, but I always find what I’m looking for in a DDC or LC library, while I’m more likely to have to ask for need help from a book store clerk. That’s because the categories in some bookstores are not as helpful as they might be.

The example that immediately comes to mind is Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II, by Douglas A. Blackmon. Last month, the Writers Institute and the Friends of the Albany Public Library sponsored Doug Blackmon to speak at APL.

For those of you not from the Albany area, the Writers Institute was co-founded 25 years ago by William Kennedy. Bill Kennedy is THE most noted writer to come out of Albany, and his fiction about Albany has been award-winning. I happen to particularly enjoy his nonfiction book, O Albany!

There was a dinner before the Blackmon presentation, and for reasons unknown to me, I had the pleasure to sit next to Doug Blackmon. We had a very interesting talk. One point that he made, relative to this current discussion, is how well or poorly his book sells in a given store depended, to a very large degree, on where his book was placed in said bookstore. If it was placed in the American history section – and the story certainly is an American story not often heard – then it sold all right. But if it were placed in the ghetto of the black history section (“ghetto” is my term) – as though the story were only important to, or applicable to black people – then it tended to do less well.

Now, a library book is not sold by the institution. But how often a book circulates certainly effects whether or not other books on that topic and/or books by that author.

I have no inside information just how this “bookstore” model is going to look until the Pine Hills branch – MY branch – reopens next month beyond what I’ve read here. But I’ll be very interested to find out.
ROG