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Springtime for Pitcher(s)

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This weekend I traveled to Sarasota to visit a friend and his family. On a pretty beautiful Friday we attended a spring training game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Philadelphia Phillies.

Let’s start with the important part, shall we? Who comes up with the names of these teams? So the story is that the Philadelphia team was originally named the Philadelphias as in the Philadelphia Philadelphias. Really. Not Philadelphians. Philadelphias, as if every member of the team is a large city unto himself. Odd.

The Philadelphias proved too long for Victorian newspapers so it became the Phillies. That makes sense. However, that is also a word–filly. You would think that at some point in the history of the franchise some marketing wiz would have come up with a horse logo or mascot. No, they have chosen their mascot to be of the terrifying abomination variety, Phanatic.

Photograph taken by Googie Man

Photograph taken by Googie Man

That things like this do not give nightmares to children just shows the obvious desensitization caused by video games, cartoons and the modern American’s diet. Doomed.

Anyway, my friend is knowledgeable about the vagaries of the game and so I asked him a million questions about how the systems of the game work in comparison to the only two games I know, cricket and hockey. The strategies of the game are intriguing as the pitcher is so terribly important; he controls the ball and the batter’s time for action is an incredibly small number of balls.

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In test cricket the bowler shares the bowling with at least one other bowler and the batter need not play the balls he is given. In effect the batter can wait out the hot bowler and look for opportunities to change to his advantage. In hockey no matter how incredible a goalie is playing, the people in front of him still must play or a bombarding team will overpower the netminder.

So baseball is a pitcher’s game. And the particular game we were watching showed that to be the case as it was a nightmare for the Phillies’ A.J. Burnett was shelled for six runs on seven hits in just three innings. Other pitchers attempted to stem the bleeding but it was only downhill from there.

Photographing the event was a tremendous amount of fun. I have some more research to do about the shots and locations but I am going to try to catch a few games this summer.

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The Elixer

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I’ve been a bit ill for the past week or so. Last night the unwell morphed into a sinus congestion trial which, of course, means warm beverages.

I don’t know exactly where we came up with this but it is my go-to when the need arises. It is simply a large mug filled with beef bouillon, sprig of rosemary, a couple shots of Worchester sauce and a goodly portion of dry Sherry. A bit of ground pepper also seems to help.

This concoction is an alcoholic stew. A restorative alcoholic stew. So why choke down some over the counter Nyquil or Theraflu when you can do something like this?

What is this two posts in a few days about food? Yep, I’m your Martha Stewart. You’ve obviously done something wrong.

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Plan for Success!

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The woman and I are discussing a trip to London this summer and so I broke out one of our travel books to do some research. This is the 1908 edition of Baekeker’s “London and its Environs”. I picked this up at the Case Western book sale last year. It is just this sort of random thing that makes me love that sale.

I mean, look at the binding!

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I’m fully in the ebook camp these days but I still love to have reference books in solid, dead tree, carbon sequestering form. And this sort of thing is one of the odd benefits of that choice. Of course word search is less than adequate.

And so, without further ado, here are a few things I have learned:

“The cost of a visit to London depends, of course, on the habits and tastes of the traveller. If he lives in a first-class hotel, dines at the table-d’hote, drinks wine, frequents the theatre and other places of amusement, and drives about in cabs or flys instead of using the economical train or omnibus, he must be prepared to spend 30-40s. a day or upwards.”

Good to know. So, that is a pound and a half to two pounds. The exchange then was about a pound to five US dollars so ten dollars in 1908 is about $251.70 today. Which is still a deal. Opera tickets will run you that easily.

Oh, and in case you are wondering what exactly determines a fly:

 The Fly is a vehicle of a superior description and is admitted to the parks more freely than the cabs. Flys must be specially ordered from a livery stable keeper, and the charges are of course higher.

Running transport through the parks? And some things were allowed and others not? I can’t imagine what sort of sight this would be. Did they have people acting as traffic directors? I know that at the same time Central Park in New York was much the same. The paths were designed for running a carriage at high speed as Olmstead was quite the aficionado of such things.

They have a table giving rates from the railway stations so you can find that from Paddington Station to the South Kensington Museum will run you 1s 6d. But there is a new option:

“Within the last few years the ‘intramural’ traffic of London has been practically revolutionized by the development of the system of underground tube-railways, and London is now perhaps the best equipped city in the world in respect of convenient, rapid, and cheap communication between the most important quarters.”

The world, it keeps a changin’. But then it doesn’t.

We need hardly caution newcomers against the artifices of pick-pockets and the wiles of imposters, two fraternities which are very numerous in London. It is even prudent to avoid speaking to strangers in the street…Poor neighbourhoods should be avoided after nightfall.

Indeed, indeed. But however do they live?!?

“In the life of a young English lady of higher ranks her presentation at Court is an epoch of no little importance, for after attending her first drawing-room she is emancipated from the dulness of domesticity and the thraldom of the schoolroom;–she is, in fact, ‘out’, and now enters on the round of balls, concerts and other gaieties, which often play so large a part in her life.”

I really wonder if such things still exist. Years ago the woman and I were having lunch in the British Museum and sitting next to us were two who worked there. The guy spoke with such an accent, really something straight out of a PBS costume drama taking place in Victorian England. To this day when I read any Wodehouse, his is the voice I hear for Bertie.

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Fascinating Oatmeals

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Oh my goodness, are you ready for something that is new and untested on the whole of the interwebs? Random food ideas! Even better, random food ideas from people who have little to no idea what they are doing.

Yes, I have just described the totality of internet experts but bear with me.

I tend to have oatmeal on the weekends when carb loads allow. I’ve recently been using Bob’s Red Mill Steel Cut Oats. Rolled oats are fine if you are in a hurry but they seriously cut down on the taste while increasing the probability of your eating things that resemble old-timey adhesives.

The key that I’ve found with this is to use whole milk instead of water. For the four cups of liquid needed to cook one cup of oats I use three cups of milk and one cup of water. Bring that to a rolling boil, pour the oats in, let that go for a couple minutes until the you see the oats start to soften their edges and then cut the heat to a simmer. And wait. And stir. And wait. Takes about a half an hour.

What happens if you don’t stir? Well, eventually you end up with a burnt bit of oats which… you know isn’t a bad thing. It tastes pretty alright but it is hard to control. Which gave me an idea. What if I made oatmeal kinda-pancakes and browned it up all pretty like? Yes, I speak like that in the kitchen. It is required if you are going to be an modern-day food expert.

So this morning I took some leftover oatmeal* and put in an egg. After smacking it around profusely I put some milk in to make it like a fairly loose batter. This then went on a medium hot skillet in the normal fashion.

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After flipping them over I put each pancake in a bowl and drizzled with some local maple syrup and sliced almonds. And then another was thrown on top and so on. The results were pretty good. The extra browning really left a good nutty taste.

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So where is my damn FoodTV show, eh?

*Oh, that’s another thing. A cup of oats
is a lot to ingest in a sitting. This normally lasts me a couple days. Just put a bit more milk in and break up the oatmeal until it is a bit runny. Then heat it up on the stove again and it is as good as new.

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The Walk, Revisited

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Today was yet another day when the forecast called for light snow. They were correct. Then they said it would be tapering by noon. On that they were wrong. It really was a light snow but through its persistence it did accomplish raising the ground level another couple inches. I had almost convinced myself to just do the day’s cardio on the elliptical when sanity finally struck and I went for a walk around the yard.

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Now, I don’t know why I don’t do this walk whenever I have the chance. It really was perfect walking weather with the temperatures in the low 20s and no wind. And unlike the last time I took this walk (well, with photos) I had assistants for the first section.

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We did a loop around the far field and down into the woods. About half-way down it became apparent that Walt was going to have to have a shorter walk than I had planned. The snow was up over his belly and as his rear legs aren’t really liftable, each step became a leap. That get’s a bit tiring and so we made a bunch of stops on our way back up to the house.

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Part 1

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Part 2, thirty seconds later

The pups, of course, were everywhere at once. Having dogs that are mobile is a new experience. Walt and Jasper both had pretty bad hip and knee problems keeping their frantic motion to a minimum. This is not our experience with these new two. They don’t stop moving.

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I took the pups back up and had to circle back to the beginning to get their leashes that are necessary to get them to cross the invisible fence. I was just going to go get them and head back inside but I did really want to look at the creek.

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Standing on the beginning of the East Branch of the Chagrin River

The past couple weeks have been routinely cold making the ice pretty thick and solid. I was able to cross over and back a number of times with nary a crack or death. One of the neatest parts of this time is that the water is using the ice as a sort of speaker cone, amplifying it’s running noise throughout the valley. The rushing sound is quite loud and a bit more urgent than one normally hears.

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Part of the deer superhighway

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Indy Wrasslin’

wrasslin20140207-2109Before I start my blathering about the event I went to last night, let me introduce you to my new phrase: Jollyville Fuck-it.

Usage: Lewis, how in the Jollyville fuck-it did you end up with oatmeal on top of the ceiling fan?

This will be explained below. And now to our regularly scheduled bloviating.

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There was a time when every small town had a theatre or two. In them the local people would see basic entertainment. Singers, humorous plays and the like, much like you would see in theatres today but with less, well, pomp. Ever since the advent of radio and television, the stage has been killed as a medium of entertainment for the mass of people. Sure plays are still put on, operas sung, but these are high dollar nights out and therefore not the staple of the average week’s fun.

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With the death of mass media like the aforementioned radio and television, it seems like local entertainment is becoming more possible. Publicity is easier done through Facebook, Twitter and podcasts, bringing together a mass of like-minded individuals that would in earlier times not have access to each other. And so now we have a thriving wrestling scene. And this is good.

Combining strong doses of vaudeville and Mexican telenovela storylines, slapstick athleticism and outlandish violence, wrestling is a fun night out. Laughing, cheering, jeering and general joyousness is the order of the day. Yes, plentiful $2 beer helps.

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A friend posted a couple photos to Instagram from a night she and her husband attended a show. I beseeched them to take me next time and so the next time it came around, we went. It was great.

wrasslin20140207-2103I didn’t really plan to take any pictures but I always have a camera in my pocket. Its wide angle lens gives a more atmospheric shot of the scene. I’m thinking I might do this again but with a different setup. This was fun. And how couldn’t it be when one tag team was named the Jollyville Fuck-its? Really.

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The Sacred Squeaky Tiki

squeaky-teaky-20140203-1818Above you see Walter and his Squeaky Tiki. This is an odd thing. Throughout his life, Walt has always picked one toy that he protects jealously. The Tiki is the current one. Right to its name, the Squeaky Tiki squeaks loudly when, for example, it is stepped upon by an unsuspecting person just trying to make it down a hallway strewn with puppies and puppy toys. And whenever that happens, Walt will leap to his feet, run to the Tiki, gently pick it up and take it to a quiet corner where he will sit very still with it in his mouth for quite some time.

No, I don’t understand it.

Before the Tiki there was the Squeaky Monkey. That was a horrifying toy that I bought because I simply couldn’t believe that it had been produced. It was a monkey with an electronic squealing sound that would blare forth if you squeezed it in just the right manner. And it would go on for a seeming eternity with a squeal like a monkey having some horrifying act perpetrated upon its being. Walt would perform in much the same way as he does with the Tiki with one added twist. You see, the monkey would squeal for so long that Walt would dance around it at first like it was animate and yelling and he didn’t know what to do. When it finally stopped he would pick it up and go to the quiet place.

We still have the Squeaky Monkey. He is just in hiding while the puppies are still in their destructive phase. Which, at the rate they are going, may never end.

So, is this a good thing? Does he think this is an animal in distress and we are just putting him through hell? Is this his nurturing side (and having seen him work with the pups, Walter was built for dealing with puppies)? I have no idea. All I know is we won’t get rid of his Squeaky Tiki but I try like hell to not step on it. We live in a world of compromise and misunderstanding.

 

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Detroit Auto Show 2014

detroit-20140122-1420The woman and I braved the much-complained of temperatures and drove to Detroit to see the North American International Auto Show at Cobo Hall. We hadn’t been up there in many years and as I am going to be looking for a new car this year, it was time.

What did surprise me was how much smaller the show seemed. The main space was full and, if anything, more opulent than I recall. It was just that there were fewer displays. I guess this is to be expected in the days of consolidation but it does diminish the show. It is always interesting to see the little, odd marques interspersed with the gargantuan. Now it is battle of the titans all throughout.

Downstairs was always a great place because that is where you saw the odd ideas. Two man shops would have a booth to show off their weird conveyances. This year there were only two manufacturers and one of them, Lingenfelter, did not appear to have anyone around.

Anyway, here is some of what I saw.

I am a sucker for little, little cars. Now the whole leaning thing is a bit worrisome but I could go for it.

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Mini had a very neat finish that I really wish more cars had:

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I will never get used to a Mercedes with a wing like this. A bit boy racer.

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BMW, now with colors for the whole Easter season:
detroit-20140122-1313 The new 911 Targa finally made the water-cooled 911 not look like Jabba.
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And do note the 917 in the background…detroit-20140122-1332 The Lincoln booth. I guess this is the sort of design that you pick when the average age of your clientele means they voted for Ike. (That said, I like it. I tolerate Ike.)detroit-20140122-1350

And Ford trotted out the Mustang I prototype… because.detroit-20140122-1403

And you have to love the look of the aged rubber.detroit-20140122-1402 Kia actually had a very interesting vehicle, probably the most interesting one of the show cars.
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