Friday, November 16, 2018

Ice

Very icy drive home last night.

On Tuesday I was in the driveway of the condo my brother and I inherited. I was on the phone wearing a pair of cargo shorts, and no shirt.  Had flip flops on as I walked back and forth while shmoozing.  Thought if the conversation went on much longer I'd have to go back inside for the air conditioning.

Now, as I write this in Boston the wind is howling and there is a sheet of snow/ice on the ground. When I arrived at the gym last night for my evening dance with the elliptical machine, a thin shower of snow had begun to fall.  When I left two hours later, it was--even for a fellow who lived in Buffalo for eight years and Albany for five--icy and treacherous.

The problem with first snows of the year is people aren't used to them.  In March if we had one of these, motorists would have gotten the hang of it.  In November, it is two hands gripping the steering wheel and cars sliding back and forth.  I took my normal route home which involves negotiating a steep swerving road.  That probably wasn't the smartest decision as on two occasions I had to do the snow mambo once to avoid a skidding car going down while I went up, and another time when I was on the way down.  The mass pike was not plowed and there were two kinds of motorists. Type A, going as fast as always, Type B moving cautiously like snails.  On South Street, the road that leads to our house, there were blue lights all over the place marking accidents and skidded cars. Very glad to pull into the driveway.

Inside a home on a snowy night when all are home safely, is the comforting antithesis of driving home on ice.  I wondered last night about the wisdom of having left Florida on Tuesday night.  I remembered how my dad was sold on Florida the minute he stepped off a plane in February the first time.  He said something about having shoveled his last snow flake. (Meanwhile, as I recall it, my brother and I did most of the shoveling, but a story for another day).

So, here I am. Cozy at home. No classes today.  The weather is warming up, so the snow will likely melt before I have to go anywhere.  Maybe I will start a fire. My university has a men's basketball game in Charleston at 11 am which will be broadcast on ESPN 2.  I have some chapters to edit and a book to read.  The plumber came yesterday to replace the water heater.  Hot showers are available. All seems well. No doubt some aggravation will surface during the course of the day, but having arrived safely after ice skating home I feel content.

Not everything is a metaphor I know, but doesn't this seem to be one (at least when you are inside and can muse about it).  Our days are trips on sometimes dicy highways.  If you aren't careful, make bad decisions, have bad luck, you wind up derailed. 

Monday, November 12, 2018

Salt Lake

Last week the annual National Communication Association meetings were held in Salt Lake City.  This was the second time I'd been to Salt Lake. The first was in 1974 during the obligatory hitch hiking across the country journey that was not uncharacteristic of the 70s.  At that time I blew into Salt Lake at night, and after a spell got picked up by a fellow on a motorcycle who took me to his mother's house where I slept in their family room. A different time but really not uncharacteristic of that era.

Well, forty four years later I arrive in Salt Lake by airplane.  A taxi driver from Pakistan who moved to Utah because, while in Pakistan, he had become a Mormon--took me from the airport to the Radisson.

My cabdriver had pointed out that the place where the Utah Jazz play was right around the corner from my hotel.  I went on line and saw that the Jazz had a home game the next night and, to my happy surprise, the game was against the Boston Celtics.  So I went the next day and bought a ticket for the game.  Academic conference in the day. National Basketball Association at night.

Lots of people wearing Jazz jerseys in the stadium as could be expected. In my section though there were plenty of folks in Celtic garb. I had no Celtic gear but had brought a Patriots wool hat in case the weather in Salt Lake was frigid. It wasn't but to show my allegiance to New England I wore the cap to the game.

The Celtics stunk up the joint but it was fun to attend the game anyway. I sat high up but at mid court and had a very good view of the game. Former Jazz and now Celtic player Gordon Hayward was booed every time he touched the ball. The fans delighted when he missed shots or turned the ball over. A player for the Jazz who had been a Celtic, Jae Crowder, had a terrific game. I recalled during the game that when the Celtics had spoken with excitement about getting Hayward, Crowder felt dissed as the two play the same position. Well, Crowder played as if he wanted to show the Celtics something, and did.  The fans were delighted.

The arena was very modern. Huge screen showing the action in case you wanted to follow on screen as opposed to watching the action live.  Expensive ticket and I had not bought it from a scalper. Way at the top and still an expensive ticket. Who can afford to attend many basketball games?

Some non sports related observations about Salt Lake City.

  • The city is far more racially diverse than I thought it would be.
  • The Salt Palace where our conference was held was as good a venue as any that the National Communication Association has selected for their meetings. Large, accommodating, friendly staff.
  • A restaurant where there was a reception of sorts was quite good.
  • When I first started going to these conferences I was a young guy. Now I am one of the old guys. But I think I am a young guy even though I am an old guy until I see myself in the mirror.
  • The exhibition hall was less populated with vendors than the halls have been in the past.  Used to have forty or fifty book salespersons peddling their products. Now probably twenty at most.
  • For a city of Mormons the hotel bar was hopping on Friday night. 
  • The mountains in the distance are impressive.
  • My uber driver on the way back to the airport told me that a new airport was being built and it would be the ninth biggest airport in the United States when the job was completed.
  • The woman who sold me my ticket could have been a ticket salesperson anywhere in the US.  



Sunday, October 28, 2018

10-27 evolution

On Saturday October 27, 1962 I had my bar mitzvah.  Strange weekend. On the day before it snowed. Pretty heavily and quite atypically for October in suburban New York City.   Next day, the Saturday, it was warm and all vestiges of the storm were gone.  My clan came out.  Peripheral family members who I really did not even know, congratulated me.  Afterwards we went back to the house and had a feast.  Friends and family came to visit in waves. A bunch on Saturday afternoon. Another army on Saturday night.  A story for another day is that it was not a particularly enjoyable day for me, but it was busy. Lots of people at the synagogue. Seventeen years after the end of a genocide fueled by the rhetoric of a selfish megalomaniac.

On Saturday October 27, 2018, at a synagogue in Pittsburgh a shooter, came into the temple and started shooting. Eleven are dead.

Oh, how we have evolved.




Saturday, October 27, 2018

Late Night

I cannot recall the last time I stayed up until 4 in the morning. Usually at 4 in the morning I am stumbling to the bathroom for my second nocturnal visit.

Last night I was up until 3:30 watching the Red Sox, and then could not get to sleep until after 4.

This morning when I went to the bank, a woman who has to be pushing 80, and her husband were on line saying repeatedly "I'm not watching tonight's game.  Can't take it."  There were several nodding heads on that line agreeing with the general sentiment.

I often fall asleep during late night sporting events.  I rarely stay up after 1, and usually I am snoozing before the midnight hour. I was wide awake, doing my superstitious dance steps until 330. When Ian Kinsler made the fourth of his poor plays of the night, I shouted profanely and loudly.  It was good then that I live in a single family home that is detached from my neighbor to the south, and that I have no neighbors on the north or west.  Too far for those across the street to hear me, though it is not impossible.

Some points.


  • Kinsler was apologetic, but he should not see the field again in the World Series. His four poor plays do not even include several terrible at-bats. 
  • Nathan Eovaldi deserved better.  As did every single pitcher for the Red Sox who came out of the bullpen.  And except for Chris Sale and Drew Pomeranz, every single pitcher on the team pitched last night.
  • It is a tribute to the nature of sports that an event can be so riveting. Few in Red Sox nation stayed up until 4 in the morning because of money they had on a bet.  
  • The sadness and vitriol that poured out on the internet at 4 am, and continues on talk-radio today (and at lines at the bank) are because sport is engaging like few other phenomena in our lives.
  • The weather today is akin to the weather the day after Bill Buckner, in 1986, let the ball roll through his legs.  Just saying. Thirty two years after Buckner, Kinsler's half assed, half stupid, play at second (not to mention his three running gaffes earlier in the game) may go down in Red Sox lore the same way as Buckner's play.
  • My new cat is afraid of me. We have only been together about a month.  After he heard me bellow last night he has been steering clear.
  • It will be interesting to see who is available to pitch tonight.  In the newspaper Eovaldi is listed but that is out now that he had to throw nearly 100 pitches last night.  Maybe I should loosen up.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Random Crap

The stretch from the Prudential Exit off the Mass Pike to Mass Avenue may be less than a mile, but it can take as long to get to the spot where I need to make my left, as it has taken me to drive from
Waltham to the Prudential exit. For this reason I have ample time to watch the pedestrians as I creep along Huntington Avenue.

Yesterday I spotted a woman who, from the back, looked like a colleague of mine. As I crawled closer I saw it was not she, but I did notice her back pack.  The letters on the backpack caught my attention.  They read, "Random Crap."

Random Crap seems like a suitable name for a backpack. Therein lies random crap. A great metaphor there don't you think? Someone walking along the street carrying the weight of random crap on their back.

How much of our random crap is of our manufacturing? And how much has found its way into the backpack because of poor choices we've made. How much was just stuffed in there by inconsiderate others.

This brings me to the Kavanaugh case. There is a connection. Having watched his opening statement it seemed clear to me that this guy should never have become a judge let alone be considered for the supreme court.  Then his testimony followed which solidified my position. The calendar. Really.  The comments about how he played sports in high school. Highly relevant both.

I have taught on the college level since 1973. Ninety per cent of my students do their assignments--not all as well as the assignments could be done--but 9 out of 10 do the work.  About ten percent come in with excuses.  I have heard many. Only a traffic cop listens to more nonsense.  But nobody has ever tried to explain away irresponsible behavior by trotting out a calendar on which they placed nonsense to indicate that they could not possibly have done something.  "Hmm I see Mr. X that you plagiarized this paper." "No Dr. Z, just look at my calendar.  I practiced the trombone on Wednesday, did wind sprints so I could be the point guard on the basketball team on Tuesday, practiced singing the star spangled banner on Wednesday--see--when would I have had time to plagiarize?"

This guy is walking around with a bag full of random crap and has no clue that he is hauling these bricks around. And so, are the senators--ostensibly vetting a person to see if he will be a dispassionate arbiter when, in fact, they--both dems and republicans- are only trying to assess whether a jurist will vote their way.

The key to managing the random crap in your backpack is acknowledging what is in there and, periodically, getting rid of what can be eliminated.  But if you become a whore, no matter how much money you earn, or titles you accrue, you are going to have a heavy load of random crap that weighs you down.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

irony

Today I saw something that was ironic. A woman in a full burqa--the only thing exposed was her eyes--was walking with her family.  She was conversing with a man who I took to be her husband and a few children.

In Boston, it is rare that you see someone in a full burqa. When I was in England last month, I noticed people so attired more frequently, but in Boston it is a rarity.

But what was ironic was not the woman with her normal looking brood.  What was ironic is the woman with only her eyes exposed was carrying a bag.  The bag read Victoria's Secret.  She had shopped, apparently, at Victoria's Secret.

So, explain to me the extent of cognitive dissonance reduction that could make these decisions--to wear a full burqa, and to shop at Victoria's secret, seem rational.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Rarity

A rarity for me.  I cannot find sleep.  I know that this is something that plagues many, but I have been remarkably blessed. I go to bed, I fall asleep. If I wake up, I go back to sleep.  Lucky guy. Not today.  Some turbulence I guess is keeping the zs away.

So, some random thoughts. This and that.

Terrell Owens deserves to be in the hall of fame as much as a kangaroo deserves to be in the White House. He never won anything.  He has gaudy statistics but was a terrible teammate.  Hall of fame athletes ought to have helped their teams win.

The Red Sox have been fun to watch this summer. Their ability to come back has been the stuff of fiction, not reality.

It is frightening that 40 % of the country thinks that Donald Trump is doing a good job. A woman I know said that she has trouble saying his name without throwing up.  I am not there. Just stunned that people can look past his obnoxious character. He reminds me of the guy who tries to rush a fraternity bragging that he has 50 million dollars and a wench in every dorm wing,  but whenever you need a dime for a keg, he claims to have left his wallet in his room, and the only women on his arms are those that he appears to have bought.  His regular claims that the press is evil, is enough to make me wonder how anyone who does not have oatmeal between the ears, can believe Trump should be the leader of a democratic country where respect for journalists is a foundational plank.

I am regularly in awe of the incompetence at various high levels of organizations.  It strikes me as singular that a knucklehead can be the head of a lucrative company indicating that the value of whatever product or service trumps the irrational decision making of decision makers.

If pornography is the abomination that the right claim it to be and many even on the left publicly decry, then how come there is a stunning abundance of it. If the majority believe it is horrible, how can so many pornographers be cashing in. 

Outside of the library I visit, there is--daily--someone who wants patrons to sign a petition to outlaw marijuana shops in the community.  Sure. If they are so concerned with drugs, how come the petition doesn't include outlawing CVS, Walgreens, and the liquor store.

I don't give a damn that Donald Trump slept with Stormy Daniels or a former Playboy bunny. The guy is a cancer on so many fronts, dwelling on his infidelity is like focusing in on an axe murderers unwillingness to use the turn signal at intersections.

Where are the Republicans?  The true Republicans. The ones that believe in less government, conservative fiscal policies, free trade. Are so many people tickled because the stock market is going up, that they are ignoring the stench.

I do not know how some books have gotten published.  There are some real stinkers out there.

Anne Tyler is an amazing author. I read a review of her recent book, Clock Dance. Very good book and very good review of it.  One comment the reviewer made was that there were critics who deride Tyler because her books are so easy to read.  Really?  What Tyler excels at is taking complex situations and explaining them effortlessly.  Her books often have what seem to be quirky characters in them. But maybe the characters are just like you and me, she just does a good job of bringing out all of our eccentricities.

Yesterday and Monday were hotter than hell.  Those who poo poo Global Warning should leave an address for their great grandchildren when they kick so that their descendants can direct their shvitzing wrath.

Every month it seems as if another friend has departed.

I don't think the Patriots will be so extra this year. Belichick does not seem to have the same fire. Brady is Brady because Belichick is Belichick. Had Brady been on another team with another coach, his main asset--his head--would be a limited asset.

Will try to meet the sandman now.