Thursday, August 31, 2006

Here's to happier times

Instead of dwelling on the bad news out of RS Nation (Wells, Ortiz, Lester...), instead let me tell you about one of my favorite places in the world. Block Island, Rhode Island. It's a small island 12 miles off the coast of Rhode Island, only around 9+ square miles in size. Even though I grew up RI, I never actually visited BI until a few years ago, when my sister & I decided to rent a house out there for a week. That snowballed, and soon just about everyone in the family was going out there!

This past year, one of my sisters built a house out there - it's absolutely gorgeous and a great place to stay. So naturally, my summer plans included a week out "on the Block." A wonderful, relaxing time, hanging with my sisters and assorted other family members, staying all day at the beach, and drinking Mudslides at night!

Pictured below are the two light houses: the Southeast Light and Mohegan Bluffs, and the North Light. Both still work, and they're great sites to visit. The Southeast Light actually had to be moved several years ago because of the erosion of the bluffs.

There are also lots of quaint, old, weather-beaten homes, like this farm. And you can see a small portion of the miles and miles of stone walls that delineate the properties.

And who would have guessed that it was also home to an emu and a coupla camels!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Okay, I'll ask

Confession time. I think I'm developing a crush on Dr. Z....

Get Well Soon

Get well soon, Big Papi. Although we miss your bat, I know I miss your big smile more - miss seeing you cut up with WMP and Manny in the dugout. Hopefully, you'll be given a clean bill of health - and come back and win that MVP award that you deserved last year, too!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


(Photo by Henry How, Getty Images)
This image just about says it all. The Sox have now lost six in a row, and my mental health is in a precarious state...But, but, but - they are still 4 games out in the Wild Card race, down to Minnesota and Chicago, both of who we play in September. I'm not ready to stick a fork in this one yet!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

A new day!

I prefer to believe that the lasat two days were part of some kind of weird dream. I refuse to believe that the Sox lost both ends of a doubleheader, and the next day's follow-up. I refuse to believe that the season is over. Hey, there's alot of baseball left to play.

Yes, the Yankees have an easier schedule down the stretch. Yes, there's a chance we could end Monday afternoon 6 1/2 games behind in the AL East. Do I believe this WILL happen? NO!! Not with Mr. Curt on the hill tonight. There's no way we can get beaten down AGAIN tonight....And yet, the last ESPN Sunday night game featuring Curt was the game for which I was in the Monster Seats. And he gave up three homers in ONE inning!

No, I refuse to be negative. WE WILL WIN!! We have to!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Mark Twain in Hartford

This summer, I received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities - through their "Landmarks of American History and Culture" Workshops for teachers. It's a fantastic program, which affords full-time teachers the chance to visit various key places in American history, and study its importance in depth for a week. The seminar in which I participated was called "Mark Twain in the Golden Age: the Hartford Years," and was held at the Mark Twain House and Museum.

Wow! What a week! There were 50 teachers involved in the seminar, from all over the US and even 6 teachers from Japan. The focus of our study was really Huck Finn and how best to teach this sometimes controversial work. The scholars that spoke were really terrific. Their basic point was that since the day it was written, this work has been taught in American literature classes. Other "classics" have come and gone (House of Seven Gables? Moby Dick?) Yet, Huck is still there. Why? It obviously resonated with readers, even today. We also got to know Sam Clemens - what a fascinating man. He wanted to be a mogul - but always seemed to choose the wrong investment.

Many ask: why would Clemens live in Hartford of all places?? Well, at the time, Hartford was the center of the publishing industry, and boasted an active literary presence. Harriet Beecher Stowe literally lived next door to Sam! (Now, there's a very interesting person!)

What was also cool was the opportunity to visit his house in depth, and to touch some of his stuff. For example, in their library, they have his personal library. So you can pick up (with gloves) his personal copies of works by Austen, whom he hated - and read his snarky comments on the margins!

I also loved the opportunity to be a student again. It was great to be on the other side of the podium for once, to be the one challenging the teacher and asking the difficult questions. And the chance to meet and converse with teachers from all over the county.

So thank you for allowing me the chance to participate. Because, YOU the taxpayer covered my participation!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Oriole Park at Camden Yards

On July 19th, I had my first visit to Oriole Park. It was a 12:35 pm game - and it was Day Camp Day! Which meant lots of little ones in matching t-shirts - although the attendance was only 29,000 (capacity: 48,876). As Baltimore was enduring a horrendous hot spell (the previous night's game featured a game time temperature of like 105! and the game time temp on the 19th was 93 degrees), I can understand not wanting to sit in the afternoon sun. By sheer luck (when I bought the tickets, having never seen the park, I wasn't totally sure what I was buying), my seat was in Section 31 - under cover of a roof and literally right next to the door to the Press Box. Although it was great to be in the shade - there was actually a little breeze - th edown side was that the roof blocked the scoreboard and you felt a little isolated up in this little corner.

I lucked into some great parking - which I recommend highly. It was in Lot D on the far side of the M&T Bank Stadium (right next door to Oriole Park). A little bit of a walk - but had very quick easy access to Route 95.

The Park was designed by the same team that has worked on Fenway Park, and you see some similar touches. Whereas we have Yawkey Way, the O's have Eutaw Street. It's filled with shops and eateries, like Yawkey Way. And where we have RemDawg's and El Tiante's, they have Boog's BBQ - although there were no Boog sightings the day I was there. Despite living in the South, not a big BBQ fan. However, I highly recommend the All Beef Hot Dogs - I think that dog was one of the best I've ever had a ballpark. I also sampled some of the local beer - had a Backfin Pale Ale, which was quite nice. And for those who complain about prices at Fenway, the dog was $4.50, beer was $6 and waters were $3.75 each.

Here are the Bull Pens. Very cool, two-tier set up - you see the O's Pen in front, and the visitors are on the upper tier.

Of course, the main attraction for me was a chance to see Kevin Millar in action again. To my dismay, right after I settled in my seat, with beer and hot dog in hand, Millar popped out of the dugout and signed autographs for the last ten minutes before game time.8-( However, I quickly discovered that Oriole Park is filled with Sox fans even when they're not playing there. There was a family from NH behind me, and four Sox fans from Knoxville next to me! Being a Sox fan really has become a great way to make new friends!

Another attraction at the Park that day - the players out on the field during batting practice. Here's pitcher Danny Haren - yum!

Other items from my notes: there were recorded two errors by the 1st baseman on the same play! ** The team store was pretty good - very helpful staff - and there's no tax on clothing in MD. (this is surpising to me because in Tennessee EVERYTHING is taxed!) ** There are lots of ads around the park, but they're not nearly into playing "charge" every other thing ** I love that Chris Gomez' at-bat music is the theme from the "Addams Family"!

Finally, this was the first time I'd used my new camera - and I was pretty pleased with the results. A good warm up for my trip to Fenway...but you'll have to wait for details on that!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Back at last

Okay, when I said "sporadic" updates, I guess I should have said NO updates! I got busy - details will eventually follow - and when I did manage to get online, it was just to check email. Oh well.

As I say, details will follow. But in a nutshell, I had a great vacation! I went to Camden Yards for the first time, I spent a week at a seminar at the Mark Twain House in Hartford (cool!), a week on Block Island (awesome!), and week in Boston. During the latter period, I had two dreams come true: I sat in the Monster seats for one game and I saw David Ortiz hit a three-run, walk off homer! I also took tons of pictures with my new camera (which I love, although I'm still learning how to use it!). (oh, and Josh Beckett stood next to me in a restaurant!)

But for now let me just say, I love this guy!
(AP Photo by Winslow Towson - I want his job and his camera)