Monday, May 08, 2006

Barry and the Babe

Just so you know, Bond's success at the plate can be paralleled to making a fortune on Wall Street with insider trading.

Both take skill. Both are illegal. One lands you in jail. The other in the Hall of Fame.

Don't get me wrong. I couldn't hit one single dinger. Not a single fly ball off a real pitcher bringing real heat.

I can't even hit beyond 60 mph from a pitching machine.

I tried at 70 and couldn't even see the ball coming.

The fact that Bonds can hit the 3rd deck from home plate says something about his skill and his physical attributes. I can't even see the ball and someone like Ted Williams can count threads when the ball leaves the pitcher's hand.

Barry Bonds starts his swing three revolutions of the ball after it leaves the pitcher's hand.

All the great home run heroes do that.

But lots of wealthy businessmen (we place our value of business on how much money you make) have gone to jail for insider trading. For getting an unfair, and illegal, edge in the game.

Insider trading wasn't always illegal. Steroids in baseball used to be ignored.

Steroids didn't help Bond's eye-bat coordination. That's pure talent and athleticism. He could have more hits than Pete Rose, but that's not what everyone remembers. That's not what San Francisco is paying Bonds $20 Million a year to do.

Anyone else out there in Blogosphere making 100 times what you made your first year on the job? 100 times!!! I'd be pulling in $1.9M per year if that were the case.

Barry Bonds* was valuable to baseball. And then he got greedy.

He needs to go away, and be asterisked forever.

He'll beat the Babe. And might beat Hank Aaron.

But I hope not.

* - Professional baseball player from 1988 to present, guilty of using performance enhancing drugs to boost his salary and his home-run production. Guilty of lying, cheating and stealing from the pockets of fans everywhere, and from the hearts of children who really want a positive role model. His only punishment will be the derision of meaningless fans such as myself, and spending the remainder of his arthritically painful life in a hundred-million dollar mansion. See also Jerk.

Monday, April 17, 2006


Easter with Martha...almost.

Three times I sang the great Charles Wesley Hymn, "Jesus Christ is Risen Today."

Once with cold-numb fingers on top of the hill behind my house, waiting for the sunrise.

Once at our normal church service.

Once in Kent, at THEIR normal church service.

Love the song, though, even if someone else had to add the "aleluias" so it would go with the tune we all know so well. Can't take that away from Mr. Wesley.

But what a great Easter! Sunrise service, morning service, and standing in as god parents to Althea Helen Voorhees for her baptism.

Warm, sunny and breezy all day.

We drove from Kent to Bedford with the Voorheeses to spend the afternoon at her Mom's house. What a wonderfully open home they have. Easter egg hunt with the kids. Swimming, doll house and a really wonderful Easter buffet.

Didn't want to leave, but it was a bit of a drive to get home.

So we saddled up and pulled out of the driveway, narrowly missing the woman who was jogging with her dog on the side of the road...Martha Stewart.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

If you want to talk fishin'...

Well I guess that'd be okay.

I had a friend once who said he was too busy fishing to go golfing.

And it occurred to me that he had his priorities in the right place.

'course his kids were grown and gone. And I'm not looking forward to the day that happens to me. I want my kids around for a good long time.

There will come a time when I'll go "combat fishing" in Alaska. But I'm going to do it with gloved hands.

In the mean time, it's a bit nippy out there to be fishing. Bass ain't biting. And the little pond behind the house doesn't have walleye.

A few more warm days and we'll see some action from the crappie and bass and bluegill. And if not, I'll stock the pond for next year.

So the girls and I walked up to the pond on Sunday afternoon and got our lines wet for an hour or so. The girls had corn for bait. I used a floating bass lure. No action, but we did see a turtle and a beaver. Frogs eggs and a hungry salamander, too.

The local department of game and inland fisheries stocked the streams with trout the other day. April first was the first day of trout season. Doesn't seem too sporting to me...these guys were pulling trout by the dozens out of the stream. Fun at first, but you know...

The girls had as much fun on the walk to and from the pond. Wild turkeys were out chatting at each other. Gold finch out, too. And our local maple syrup guy was boiling off the last 10 gallons of sap for the season. My trees stopped producing a couple of weeks ago. But I have several pints to last a couple of months.

It wasn't until I was nearly 30 that I realized that you didn't go fishing to catch fish.

I think my girls are figuring that out already. And if they grow up wanting to teach their kids how to fish, then I've done something right.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

From London

London Bridge, Shakespeare's Globe, Tower of London

Today it was hyde park, st paul's cathedral. Miranda walked all 530 steps to the top.

Mary poppins on teh West end was WONDERFUL. Had tears in my eyes for most of the show. I'm just a sap.

gotta go out of time.

(Later Friday)

Okay, I have a bit more time, but not much. I have kids, after all. ..but last night I had an internet limit. 9 pence a minute. I put in 50p and got my money's worth.

So this morning, Friday, we walked Hyde Park, saw Westminster Abbey, Parliament, Big Ben (the clock, not the bear) and the changing of the guard. And since it's St. Patty's Day, we saw something special, apparently, but I didn't really understand what it was. Apparently the Princess Royal (50p to whomever can tell me who THAT is) was officiating. Lots of Pomp and Circumcision.

While in London, we had 50 degree and sunny the first day (at the Tower and the Globe), rainy the second day, snowy this morning, and sunny this afternoon as we took the train back to Catworth where, tonight, Jay and I will share a pint or two of their local syrup (it's not maple, as far as I can tell) in celebrations of Patrick the Sainted.

We'll run early in the morning, along the British public foot paths, and take the kids out chasing sheep while the elderwomen among us visit Ely Cathedral. It's not Kiwishawi lodge, but a 1,000 year old cathedral after which the cathedral in "Pillars of the Earth" was ;modeled. So they'll enjoy that sans kids, and Jay and I will enjoy the mud with the kids.

Right now they're all praciting seeing the sheep, but crawling around on all 4's bleating.

Just glad they're not bleeding. AT least not yet. They are kids, after all. Anything could happen.

So, we'll be home late Sunday.


The Placid One.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Days Two & Three

Okay, yesterday we visited Mr. William Shakespeare's home in Stratford-upon-Avon. Cool little village. (Chilly even...)

Then off to Warwick Castle, which would be a great place to play international hide-n-seek.

Di will likely send photos later.

Today we took a day trip to Oxford and visited the Eagle and Child (The bird and baby) where CS Lewis and Tolkein quaffed their ales and discussed such things as theology, mythology, and the such.

We first stopped at CS Lewis' home "The Kilns" about 4 miles from Oxford U. The girls were encouraged to climb into the wardrobe! We were toured by a girl from California who was a student, and who lived there. Apparently there's a lottery for students to live there...three requirements: Be a student. Be a Christian. Be interested in CS Lewis. So that was kind of nice.

Visited Christ Church and walked a bit along the river. Took tea in the afternoon, and are now back home, warming up, in the chateau de Coles.

Rock n Roll, y'all.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

First from Cambridgeshire

A little town called Catworth, actually. Arrived after 3,487 of traveling. Jay picked us up at Heathrow around 9:00 local. Kids were great. Nary a whine from either of them.

Spent the day in Cambridge, punting on the Cam, becoming part of a bunch of people's home videos (Tommy Lee and Pam, look out!), viewing the Bridge of Sighs and the Mathematical Bridge, touring Kings College Chapel, having fish n chips and an ale in the pub where Syd Barrett and Pink Floyd got their start. Nice place, even for kids, overlooking the river.

NUTUBA, would you share this address with sib and case they're interested.

The girls are in bed and we're planning tomorrow's trip to Stratford and Warwick Castle.


Friday, March 10, 2006

Vinyl Confessions

Well...20 years ago we would have called it vinyl.

Now we call it CD's...

or ipods.

One of the cool things about our mini-van is that there are a million hiding places. Little cubbies to put drinks and books and pencils and compact discs.

NUTuba gave me a couple of such discs for Christmas this year.

And while packing the car, I found a nifty little place where they wouldn't get stepped on or spilled upon.

Until last night, they were still there!

The Big Horned Boy asked me about the music, sending me into a two-day scramble to find the discs and give them a listen.

So last night I tore through everything, finally remembering that the last time I SAW them, I was packing the car.

Found 'em, took them to the gym, and did the step machine for 30 minutes while listening to Audio Adrenaline. That stuff ROCKS! Good workout music. I didn't get to Third Day, so I'll save if for another workout.

Thanks, Bro. Blitz is good, and blintzes ARE good.

It Comes in Pints?

Yes it does...but only after boiling off about 5 gallons of maple sap (which really isn't very sappy at all.)

Man, woman and child, that stuff's good.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Short Stack, Please

Not because I couldn't EAT a tall stack, at almost any given moment, but because I just don't have enough maple syrup.

My brother, good man that he is, promised me his maple syrup recipe. And I, being the impatient fellow, couldn't wait. So I made my own...without a recipe. Goes something like this:

Tap a sugar maple. Boil it off. Pour over flapjacks.

We're late in the season to sugar trees. It has to be done while the nights still freeze or the trees start to bud, and the sap becomes bitter. We're probably a couple weeks away from losing our good solid freezes at night.

Spring is great, but it's the cold weather that gives us maple sugar and heavy beaver pelts (nope...haven't skinned any yet.)

So today at lunch, I tapped a sugar maple (three taps, actually, on two trees, and, truth be known, I didn't do the tapping). The trees seemed eager to give, drop every second or so. By the time I came home this afternoon, we had perhaps 3 gallons of the stuff in galvanized buckets hanging from trees. Diane called me Pa Ingalls, and I grinned at the thought.

One of the buckets had a leak, so I dumped about a half gallon into a pitcher and found another container. While I made dinner, I set the half gallon of maple water to boiling.

And by the time Ella was in bed, the half gallon had been reduced to, oh, 2 ounces.

Just enough to *almost* fill one of those little taste-of-Vermont sample bottles. I'd probably have filled the thing had I not continuously sampled the process.

It's thick and golden and sweet as you'd think it would be.

So grill me up some buckwheat cakes and pass the butter.

Time to eat!

Friday, March 03, 2006

Snow, Toys, Rock n Roll

So we got what could be, but could also very easily NOT be, the last snowfall of the season. Who'm I kiddin'...upstate NY in early March. Winter's just starting.

Anyway, Miranda got out on her x-country skis. Diane woke up a heard of deer when she was out this morning. And Ella crunched gleefully around the yard with her snow shoes. I was working, but hope to get out there this afternoon.

Great light, fluffy snow...about 5" of the stuff. Probably take a few final rounds down the hill behind our house before giving it up in a moment of hope for Spring.

We could be skiing at Easter, who knows?

And if that's the case, our barn if full of firewood (finally) for the long winter. Students cut some downed trees this week and filled everyone's garages and barns with wood. I'm optimistic I won't burn it all in the next month. Or next year, for that matter. It'll be well seasoned. Some ash, some oak, some cherry and a bunch of maple.

Good wood for those summer camp fires with the girls.

Over the past few days, I recorded a kids-oriented version of "Toys in the Attic." Same crunchy guitars...and I'd say the lyrics are nicer, but I don't have a clue what the original lyrics are. It's a parent's angst over a child's toys strewn about the house. It'll be part of the next Barry Pickin' album, due out in the next dozen years or so.

And as a finale to our school's Intersession, the last week before Spring Break, a dozen kids created three rock bands and performed for the school. I wish I had that kind of talent. These kids were GOOD! One of the bands was louder than Placid Quake, which just means that their amps went all the way to eleven...or twelve.

Stay safe, full of joy and wonder.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Mud, Sweat and Gears

Had a nice visit this weekend with friends from Virginia. Drove up, arriving in the wee hours of Friday morning.

Later Friday morning, I took a couple hours off work to take the bikes out for a workout. It was 50 degrees, and the previously frozen tundra had turned to sponge...with the thaw and the drizzle we had Friday morning.

So we slipped and slid around the base of Ski Hill, spinning mud at each other all the while.

Then the rain came, and the wind, and the branches falling from the skies. We followed the trails, criss-crossing the hillside, until we came to campus. The clouds were gone, and a bright blue sky greeted us. Colder, but sunny.

Spent Saturday in NYC, saw dinosaurs and horses (the real kind and the carousel kind), danced on a piano at FAO Schwartz, sang bad harmonies (a la Spinal Tap) at the John Lennon memorial "Strawberry Fields", cruised the subways, peeked at Times Square, and filled our bellies with Bennie's Burritos.

Sunday Jeff and I took a hike, loosely following our biking trail. We flushed out a dozen deer, rabbits and a red tail hawk. Saw signs of bobcat and coyotes.

And then the girls, with their cake and tea, turned on the TV. Jeff and I sequestered ourselves in the mystery room for some adult beverages, music and fraternal...uh...bonding.

And that was perhaps the best couple hours of the weekend.

You know, talking about music and family and morality and work and biking and the merits of bavarian hops. About our kids, driving, dancing (just to dance), hawks, owls, tree forts and antlers.

And it doesn't matter so much that, this morning, they're enroute Virginia, and we're here. The time spent was good. And we'll do it again, on their turf, in April.

Thanks, Jeff, Lili and Laurel for a great weekend. You're dear friends, on the trail, in the city, at the dinner table, behind the mic...everywhere.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Gandalf, Bilbo and Miranda

Sitting here on a Wednesday evening, a bit exhausted from half a week's work, listening to the mother of my daughters read "The Hobbit" to my 6-year old.

It's relaxing, and inspirational enough to push me to write my very first blog entry...

So let me share Miranda's elvish (not elvis) tome:

Mr. Baggins is a burglar
a sneaky afraid burglar
Mr. Baggins is a burglar
Gandalf is in the lead to show
Mr. Baggins what to do.

Mr. Baggins is a hobbit
He doesn't like adventure
He wants to stay home
and eat a lot

Mr. Baggins is a sneaky peaky burglar
but Gandalf wants him to be a burglar
Mr. Baggins is a sneaky hobbit burglar
Bilbo is afraid!

Miranda suggests we set the song to flute or lute.
So, now I have to get out my my mandolin and fiddle and come up with an elvish tune (well, since my baby left me...) fitting of the poem above.

No small feat. But Hobbits have small feet.