The Lydster, Part 65: Stretching It Out

As I have mentioned, there were a couple weeks this summer when Carol was away at college and I got to play what is quaintly referred to Mr. Mom. (Did I see that film? I have vague recollections of it.)

It was not too bad during the week. I would drop her off at daycare in the morning. On Monday/Wednesday/Friday, my friend who has a daughter slightly older and a son slightly younger than Lydia would pick up the daughter and take her to their house and I would pi her up from there. On Tuesday/Thursday, I’d leave work early and pick up Lydia from daycare myself.

This meant truncated workdays. I don’t know about your work habits, but mine has a certain rhythm which involves getting through the e-mails, and doing some of the tasks therein before working on reference questions. It was not an optimal situation but it was doable.

The weekends were trickier. It was daddy being “on” for 15 or 16 hours. Not only did I need to do her hair in the morning (and preferably at night), and give her all her allergy medicines at night, I needed to entertain – read more than the evening books, play various games inside and out. On a weekday evening, by the time I made supper, cleaned up after supper, did her evening routine (which involved her 30 minutes of television per day), then got ready for bed, there wasn’t all that much time. On weekends, it was a LONG period.

Fortunately, there were birthday parties for Lydia’s classmates each of the two Saturdays. The first party was in a suburb of Albany called Clifton Park. The father of the birthday girl picked us up. It was one of those combo bouncy bounce/video places; it seemed very LOUD. Of course, we had to wait to get a ride home until after the clean up, but this was not at all a bad thing as it ate up the time. If I were using a baseball analogy, it would be like a workmanlike pitcher eating up innings.

The second weekend, the party was in another suburb, Latham. This time, I was determined to find a way to get us there without help. Plan #1, taking the #29 Cohoes bus was out; it doesn’t run on Saturdays. What I discovered, though, is if I got to the uptown SUNY campus (via the #12 bus), there is a #90 bus that goes to all the malls in the area, including Latham Farms, near where we were heading. It meant leaving the house at 10:15 to get to the party at 11:30 (a half hour early) and staying a little longer to catch the right buses back. But since we were at Chuck E. Cheese, this was not a problem.

The biggest hassle, actually, was getting from the Latham Farms bus stop to the Chuck. To say it was not designed for pedestrians would be a gross understatement. There were trees by the side of the road that jutted out in a way that it was impossible to even walk on the lawn; of course, there was NO sidewalk to speak of.

Did I mention that I HATE the name Latham Farms? There are few to no agrarian features.

I hadn’t been to CEC since 1995 in an Atlanta suburb. It’s more tech oriented now, with our electronic hosts Justin and Kelly (really – but not the folks from American Idol) hosting the gig on a half dozen TV screens until the rat, er mouse, came out.

On the ride back to SUNY, there was a woman with her eight-year-old coming from Troy to SUNY. Her daughter was getting antsy, so it was mutually beneficial when she got to read to Lydia. We got home at about 3:15.

If we had gotten a car ride there and back, we would have been gone from 11:30 to 2, 2.5 hours. Since we took two buses each way, we were out a total of FIVE hours. This is a GOOD thing. It was an adventure. Lydia is good riding buses, and this was new to her.

I’ll admit that maybe she watched a little more television than is generally allowed on the two Sundays, but she survived. As important, *I* survived.

Photo by Ray Hendrickson

ABC Wednesday: O is for Overheard

The conceit of this exercise is that everything I’m writing about I actually overheard in the last 30 days, and that every image (save for the video) is from a government website.

The guest minister preaching at the stewardship (read that money, among other things) service this past week noted that doing that kind of campaign in this economic atmosphere is “counterintuitive”. Somehow, I loved that.

I often take the city bus, after dropping off my daughter at day care, in order to get downtown. A couple middle school girls were talking.
GIRL #1: What was English about?
GIRL #2: There were three witches…
at which point GIRL #2 hands over her notebook to GIRL #1. Less than five minutes later, GIRL #1 returns the notebook and says, “At least now I won’t fail the quiz.”
I wish I could have absorbed Macbeth in five minutes like that.

A couple days ago, a couple of middle school males were talking on the bus:
BOY #1: Hey, did you ever go snowboarding?
BOY #2: Yeah, but when you fall, it can really hurt.
BOY #1: How much can it hurt? You’re falling on SNOW! I’m gonna try it this winter.

These middle schoolers are pretty loud; not raucous, but definitely at a higher volume than the general public. This week, when they got off, I said, to no one in particular, “Hey, listen to that.” The college student behind me replied, “The rest is silence.” She was quoting Hamlet, which may have been a paraphrase of Psalm 115:16-18, “The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord’s: but the earth he hath given to the children of men. The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence. But we will bless the Lord from this time forth and for evermore. Praise the Lord.” But I thought she was quoting the Broadway musical “Hair”, that verse in The Flesh Failures/Let The Sunshine In in which Claude reprises “Manchester England” and sings, “I believe in God, And I believe that God believes in Claude, That’s me, that’s me, that’s me”, while the chorus ends their response with “the rest is silence.”

I was in the barbershop getting a trim when one of the barbers was making a comment about one of his previous customers who got a traffic ticket despite a warning from that barber. It was an interesting enough tale, but then a woman, waiting for her boyfriend to get finished with his haircut, exclaimed, “Oh, this is just like the movie ‘Barbershop”!” Immediately, the whole barbershop went dead silent. No one likes being caricatured.

I was downtown when this man, a good 15 years older than I, walked over to me and said, “You look just like my grandfather.” I’m assuming his now deceased, beloved grandfather. Many years ago.

I was riding my now departed bike when a woman, standing on the corner waiting for the light to change, scolded her daughter for being too close to traffic while she was literally walking circles around her mother a good six feet from the curb. “No one cares about anybody,” she said. I thought that was very sad.

I was in the grocery store and heard this great song: OR this. I was even able to remember the original artist, the Main Ingredient. Better than the Aaron Neville cover, which I heard four days later.


July Ramblin’

There is this guy I see on the bus; saw him yesterday. He is what one would call in the vernacular unbalanced. Sometimes he talks to other people, but usually it’s to himself, running down a bizarre checklist. In my professional building, I saw this woman walking towards me yesterday, also engaged in conversation. Initially, I thought she was talking to me, but then I surmised she was talking on one of those tiny communications devices.
Or was she?
There were only two TV shows on my summer schedule. No, The Greatest American Dog (or whatever it’s called) is not one of them. The one running currently is the return of The Closer, so recent that when I saw my DVR trecording last night, I didn’t remember why initially.
The other, I’ll admit, was Million Dollar Password, now on hiatus. I loved the show with Allen Ludden, and still like it, but its real flaw is that no one in his or her right mind would ever go for the million dollars. To do that, one would have to have succeeded at the $250,000 level, which no one has done yet, then risk all but $25,000 of that to get five passwords out of five, with no errors, offering no more than three clues each.
If-Then Contingencies and the Differential Effects of the Availability of an Attractive Alternative on Relationship Maintenance for Men and Women (PDF)
Yes, this is heterocentric, but I SO love the title.
“Temptation may be everywhere, but it’s how the different sexes react to flirtation that determines the effect it will have on their relationships. In a new study, psychologists determined men tend to look at their partners in a more negative light after meeting a single, attractive woman. On the other hand, women are likelier to work to strengthen their current relationships after meeting an available, attractive man.”
I love adjectival forms of place names. a person from Albania is an Albanian. A person from Albany is also an Albanian. Make of that what you will.
Another canard foiled:
Evidence Shows That Tax Cuts Lose Revenue from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
“The claim that tax cuts ‘pay for themselves’ — i.e., cause so much economic growth that revenues rise faster than they would have without the tax cut — has been made repeatedly in recent years and is one of the many tax policy issues that is likely to receive renewed attention in light of the upcoming election. As explained, this claim is false. The evidence shows clearly that tax cuts lose revenue.”
Interesting Scientific Experiment
I’ll probably see The Dark Knight at some point. It’s only playing at least 12 screens in the county. My wife wants to see it, mostly because her high school kids will likely have seen it and she wants to keep up on their influences. Question: Do I need to, or ought I, see Batman Begins before seeing The Dark Knight? Lots of positive reviews, so I’m more interested in the negative ones, such as this one and this one, the latter with 300+ comments, most of them not appreciative of the reviewer’s POV. There’s also this mixed review in Salon; of particular note to me is the first starred comment.
I saw this a couple months ago: Wedding Album [IMPORT] by Yoko Ono and John Lennon.
I own this on vinyl, that is the first two, album-side-long cuts. #1 is Yoko saying “John!” then John replying “Yoko!” sometimes talking, sometimes yelling, for about 25 minutes. #2 is an interview and is at least interesting.
Add-ons #3, #4 and #5 are B-sides of Instant Karma, Merry Xmas, and Cold Turkey, respectively, performed by Yoko. Heck, why not add Remember Love and Sisters O Sisters, other Lennon B-sides done by Ono?
1. John & Yoko
2. Amsterdam
3. Who Has Seen the Wind? [*] – John Lennon & Yoko Ono, John Lennon & the Plastic Ono Band, Yoko Ono
4. Listen, the Snow Is Falling [*]
5. Don’t Worry, Kyoko (Mummy’s Only Looking for Her Hand in the Snow) [*]
In any case, at $76, no way in heck do I buy this.


Weird but True

And all happening this past week:

Monday or Tuesday night, my wife was having trouble with my home computer, so I checked it out. When she typed in a URL, it would come in backwards. So would show up as moc.loa.www – and, BTW, it didn’t work. I rebooted – the universal solution to all computer problems – and ended up with no Internet connection at all, so I had to call Time Warner, who do the voodoo they do and fixed it remotely.
My work fax is tied to my work e-mail, but I don’t receive very many faxes. Generally, those I do get are junk faxes. But Wednesday morning, I got this letter from the NYS DMV explaining why a woman’s driver’s license was suspended for medical reasons. Below that, I see the woman’s rebuttal as to why the suspension was not medically necessary. Clearly, this fax has been sent to the wrong number – mine – so I looked up her number and left a message explaining what happened. She called me back late that afternoon and thanked me for letting her know that her letter had been waylaid.
Ash Wednesday was a cold and rainy-turning-to-icy night. Carol, Lydia and I went to church, then I took Lydia home on the bus, since Carol had a church meeting. We left the light on the front porch. About 8:45 p.m., the doorbell rang. I assumed it was Carol who left her meeting early and didn’t want to fumble with her keys. Instead, it was this woman I did not know, who appeared drunk and/or stoned, who wanted me to call her a cab. Apparently the cell phone in her hand wasn’t working. So I closed the door, got our portable phone, opened the door and started calling taxi companies for her, first from the numbers as she recalled them, then from the Yellow Pages. I let them each ring over 10 times and got no answer – this was six or seven different companies, a couple I called twice. Finally, I got one who said a cab would be there in 45 minutes. The woman on the porch asked, “It’s coming, right?” And I said yes, but I didn’t give her a time frame. I felt sorry for her, since it was cold and wet out, but I was disinclined to let her in since 1) she appeared wrecked, 2) I had my daughter in the house and 3) the woman was smoking a cigarette, with a very long ash that had somehow stayed intact. About 20 minutes later, I looked on the porch, but the woman wasn’t there. Twenty minutes after that, my wife got home; the woman was still gone. Thirty minutes after THAT, or over an hour after I had called the taxi company, I heard beeping in front of our house, which I assumed was the cab; whether the woman ever got on it, I’ll never know.
Wednesday night into Thursday, I sneezed in my sleep and bit the left side of my tongue. Boy, that hurt!
I was on the bus Tuesday night, Primary Night in New York and elsewhere, heading to the polls. This woman I know only from riding the bus was telling this story – not just to me, but anyone within earshot – about a dream she had had the night before: There was a terrorist attack on Washington in early November 2008. President Bush declared martial law and postponed the elections. It was later discovered that the Bush administration had planned and executed the bombing itself.
The woman telling the story then explains how she woke up screaming and her upstairs neighbor ran downstairs to see if she was all right. He was about to call 911.
I won’t even get into talking about my WORK computer, which died – as in as though someone pulled the plug – a week ago Friday thrice, Monday thrice, and Tuesday once, went to another computer, which did the same thing once on Wednesday.


Silk boxer shorts

The oppressive heat has broken in the Northeast, and it was a beautiful weekend. I just got back from Oneonta. I took the bus home to Albany, and was sad to hear that the line is going to be discontinued after September 6 for lack of ridership. (Less transit=more individual cars=more gas consumption.)

Anyway, I went to two minor league baseball games in Oneonta on Friday, and one on Saturday in Cooperstown. In the first Friday game, Oneonta won 12-1, scoring 5 in the first, 2 in the 2nd, and they were never headed. But then Tri-City came back in the nightcap, 8-4. On Saturday, in historic Doubleday Field, Oneonta won 11-1. Both teams had 11 hits, but Tri-City had all singles and hit into 4 double plays.

All the games were free, thanks to sponsorships. The Cooperstown game was paid for by Coke and Key Bank, not particularly surprising. But the Friday games were sponsored by Rural Three for Tobacco Free Communities, a “coalition of individuals and agencies, representing Delaware, Otsego and Schoharie Counties, dedicated to reducing the use of tobacco in our communities.” There were young people getting folks to sign petitions chastizing the movie industry for promoting cigarettes in film. I thought it was unusual for a not-for-profit to sponsor a game, but they did get a lot (2200 patrons) of visibility.

Going to see a minor league ballgame, one gets a sense of what music has passed over into the popular sports culture. At least in this town, It’s A Beautiful Day (U2) and Hey Ya (Outkast) have joined Glory Days (Springsteen), We Will Rock You (Queen) and Blitzkrieg Bop (Ramones) in that musical pantheon.

In Oneonta, if a player has to go to the bathroom during the game, he has to go into the fan section in order to access the locker room. But in Cooperstown, it appears that he actually has to actually leave the stadium and use the same facilities as the patrons near the entranceway. I’m in favor of old-fashioned – Cooperstown doesn’t have lights, e.g. – but there are limits to my desire for nostalgia.

The bus from Oneonta to Cooperstown costs $1.30 for a 20-mile ride. It is far more economical than driving into Cooperstown and parking in the lots of churches, offices, even on people’s front lawns for $5 to $15, usually at the higher end of that range.

When they are playing at home, the Oneonta players get prizes for special accomplishments, such as making a great defensive play (bagel sandwich dinner) or winning a game. An extra base hit (double, triple, home run) gets a couple submarine sandwiches. A triple or home run also gets a couple pizzas. A triple gets a chicken dinner; this was a smart marketing ploy on the part of Brooks Barbecue, because triples are fairly rare, though one was hit in each of Friday’s games. In addition to the food, the home run hitter gets a $25 check from the team and a pair of silk boxer shorts from a local retailer. The mention of this never failed to engender many giggles, and lots of “oooh”s.

There is a player named Michael Hollimon who has five pair of silk boxer shorts. That means he has hit five home runs at home this season, including a grand slam late in the first Friday game. That might not seem a lot, but given the fact that the season began around Father’s Day, that they played some on the road, that Damaschke Field is not a park friendly to home run hitters, so that the SEASON record for an Oneonta player is 13 (he had 9 as of Saturday), it’s pretty impressive. I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes it to the big leagues by the end of the next year. Or not- it’s really difficult to judge whether single A talent will translate to major league success.

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