Saturday, August 28, 2004

West Coast Side Story

I swear on my life that there's a guy in the next room at my hotel singing "Tonight" from West Side Story at the top of his lungs. Actually, he's really good.

You Have Three Seconds To Run...

Looks like San Francisco has copied something I have seen in Beijing: there are countdown clocks on the stop lights downtown. As they turn from go to stop, there is a countdown for pedestrians to hightail it across the street before they get mowed down.

Game Time Approaches

Game time is less than three hours away. TS should arrive around 5-ish and we’ll just hop on board BART and head to the Net. Heck, even if we don’t get there til the third inning it does not matter.

As a tribute to my family’s weekend, I am playing Kenny G on my Real Rhapsody. Seems that Kenny G’s cousin Jody is a friend of my wife’s and seeing her is generally a highlight for my wife at these family events.

Spoke to my wife briefly; I am trying to keep communications with her brief as to no distract her from her quality time with her family. We’ll hear the lowdown tomorrow night.

A History Of SF Karma

Maybe here’s something to consider regarding karma and our lives in San Francisco:

1. The day we moved from Seattle to Arizona was the day after the San Francisco earthquake of 1989. We had hoped to stop in SF to see a Bay Bridge World Series game (Giants vs A’s) but that was aborted as the series was put on hold. As we drove down I-5 and 101 and then through Nevada, we were glued to KGO as we heard first-hand accounts of the earthquake.

The office building of terror is under rennovation

2. The day we moved to SF from Arizona was the day of the tragic shooting in the California 101 Office building (see above). The story, I believe, became the basis for the John Grisham book (and movie), “Runaway Jury.”
3. On 9-11, one of the targets for terrorism was the Golden Gate Bridge. For two weeks, we refused to drive over the bridge. Terrorism on the bridge is later mentioned in two West Wing episodes

In Search Of Redemption

For me, San Francisco is about contrasts. It’s sitting on the 30 Bus, snaking its way through Chinatown and North Beach with the smell of moth balls wafting through the air and the sound of Chinese and Vietnamese passengers yakking on their cell phones. All the while, I sit calmly listening to my I-river tunes: Wallflowers, Coldplay, etc..

Baseball weekend was at some point going to be about redemption. In general, I have found redemption in my current job. My career has been righted, as I was not treated well at my last job and unceremoniously shoved aside in early 2002. This was after I played a key role in the company going public and grabbing a lot of headlines. My past year in my current job was proven to me that I still have the ability that got me where I am today. In that sense, I have found redemption for that part of my life.

But there is a sense of redemption between San Francisco and me. It has been the site of great romance and adventure. In 1984, just about this week, my wife and I had a wonderful 1st anniversary here right before we flew to LA for me to appear on “Jeopardy.” In 1992, again about this same week, we came here for our 9th anniversary. It was a big one as we ate at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, went to an A’s game, discovered Amici’s pizza and bought a baby outfit for our magical baby who we had adopted but had to wait the legal waiting period to bring home.

Ours was the flat on the second floor in the middle of the picture. It’s at 3350 Laguna.

But after we moved here in 1993, things did not go smoothly. We lived in the city (see above picture) and in the course of a few years, my wife and I both lost our fathers. Our health while living in Marin County (just north of SF) was not good. We each lost a year for health reasons, and bad health was one of the reasons we left to move to Arizona. One of many reasons.

Still, SF makes me smile and make me cry at the same time. It is the most beautiful city in the US if not the world. Great food, great arts scene, nice weather, relatively safe (the street people on Market are indeed sad). I love it here but know we’ll never be back to live. Nonetheless, I see redemption.

Sudden Shift In Karma

Karma can shift on a dime.
The baseball weekend looked bleak. After a startlingly bad dream, I woke up to find my PC had died. Died, dead, RIP. Something wrong with the disk. The irony is that I am 60 miles from my “office” in San Jose, but I have no way to get help or even get there on a Saturday.
And then there are four voice mails from TS; his flight from NY was diverted due to bad weather. He will not get here til 4 p.m. As for me, it’s cool if we’re late for the game. The weekend was supposed to be about going to a game with a friend.
I looked at the bright side—I was in SF, the weather was great and the farmer’s market is a few blocks away. I ventured out. Aside from a rude woman at Noah’s Bagels who was calling my name for my order while I was doing my insulin shot, the walk was memorable. The market is better than the combination of the former Ferry Plaza market AND the legendary Marin County Farmer’s Market. Stands and stall everywhere, including two of our favorites:

The best organic stone fruit in the world. Pluots, plums, peaches…

The endive stall. They sell endives cucumbers and tomatoes. They package endive for Trader Joe’s. We eat a ton every week.

On the weekend of my cousin’s wedding, we’re now going to change hotels and stay by the airport. Saturday, we’ll do the market on the way to Napa. My wife will be blown away. Let’s hope tomatoes are still in season.

The day is looking brighter—my PC works (somehow a Windows disk check healed the problem) and I am off to get my glasses fixed. Things are looking up.

Friday, August 27, 2004

My Life As A (Former) Scab

Back in Nov. 1994, I was the founder of The Gate, the online home of the San Francisco Chronicle and Examiner. At the time of launch, the newspapers went on strike; it was an ugly scene but I was considered “management,” so I had to cross the line. It was not a friendly atmosphere, to say the least.

Well, one of the strikers’ tactics was to block the entrance to the newspaper. In order to get in the building, we met at the garage (see above) owned by the owner of the Examiner (you know who that was) and we were escorted to the paper in a boarded-up van. It was as horrific as it sounds.

Part of the memory of being back in SF.

More on Arizona Fall League

Here is a link to the teams and their early rosters.

Phillies In Fall League

It appears the Phillies are sending two of their top prospects--Josh Howard and Gavin Floyd--to play in the Arizona Fall League. Looks like the Phoenix Desert Dogs are now my AFL team.

First Day Of College

I am reminded by my college alumni association that the today is the first day of orientation for incoming freshman for the class of 2008. I vividly remember my first day of college orientation. I also remember thinking I’d never make it through four years of college away from home. In the end, I did, but not without going through a life transformation.

Next year is my 30th college reunion. I have no friends from my graduating class and only one friend from college and he graduated the year after I did. I doubt I will be attending the June 3-5 festivities.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Baseball Weekend

So, here’s my plan for the weekend:

Friday: Car service to Sky Harbor. Flight to SFO. Bay Area Rapid Transport (BART) from airport to town. Check in hotel. Head out to dinner at some cool place where one person can walk in and eat in the bar (remember, bars are smoke free in California).

Saturday: Farmers Market in the AM. Meet TS after he arrives around noon. Head to the Marina for a bite and to get my eyeglasses repaired. Back to hotel. Off to game in Oakland (via BART). Watch Hudson mow down the D-Rays.

Sunday: BART to airport. Head home. Pick up family back at airport early evening.

I have mixed feelings here. I really feel badly about not going to Seattle for my wife’s family event, but this is the smart play. With our 21st anniversary a hair more than a week away, I’d like us to be on speaking terms. My attendance in Seattle would threaten such terms.

Personal Rights Vs. Community Rights

I might love living in Arizona, but it’s difficult to say I understand the lifestyle here. A new law went into effect last night pushing last call at bars and clubs to 2 a.m. (I guess the law actually goes into effect today). In an area with a high incidence of DUIs, what we really need are more drunks on the road.

I’m all for personal freedom, but when it impacts others, well…. That’s why I want to run for Congress, to represent the rights of individuals and groups at the same time. It’s a difficult proposition, but I feel the need to serve my community.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Eck (As In Drek)

As the story goes, we had the “good fortune” to be at Sky Harbor Airport around 13 or 14 years ago when the Oakland A’s were arriving for spring training. In the next carousel in baggage claim was A’s relief pitcher (and future HOF, Cy Young winner) Dennis Eckersley. My wife was instantly smitten. He’s a tall, good-looking guy with a dashing look and there’s no question he’s an athlete.

Anyway, my wife is an Eck fan. She wanted to attend his HOF induction, but it didn’t work into our vacation. We saw him pitch in The Coliseum on our 10th Anniversary the year he won the Cy Young. I don’t think she’s seen him up and close since the original encounter, but that was enough; she’s a diehard “Eck” fan.

So, August 15th was Eck Bobblehead Day at The Net (nee Coliseum) and some guy was selling his on eBay. Even though I am going to a game at The Net this weekend, we couldn’t take a chance the fan shop would still have bobbling Eck in stock. Who knows how many other Eck fans remain in captivity?

Sidebar: at a family function this past April, it was revealed my wife is an Eck fan. One of the people at the event asked my wife too was a recovering alcoholic. Was good for a laugh.

One Week, Two Ballparks

The Great American Ballpark from the Kentucky side of the Ohio River

This Saturday night, I'll be at The Net (aka The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. On Monday, I snapped this picture of the home park of the Cincinnati Reds. There was no game, so I did not get to go in the park. I did buy a cool Reds T-shirt at the dugout store in the lobby of my hotel.

A Visit To Hell

In hell, there are airplanes

So you ask, what does hell look like? Maybe it looks like the last row of a commuter flight sitting on the runway in Cincinnati for three hours because there’s bad weather in Chicago. Maybe it looks like a 42-minute flight that takes close to two hours including a side trip over Michigan. Check your map, Michigan is not between Ohio and Illinois.

Or maybe hell is an asthmatic diabetic with bad feet having 20 minutes to get from gate F12 to gate B18 (check your O’Hare map) hauling his luggage.

Bottom line: when you apply for your next job, ask how much business travel is included. Also, consider living somewhere where you can get from point A to point B in one flight. I had that in the Bay Area; I do not have that now.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Note To Those Who Want To Travel For Business

What do I like about business travel? I am asking that as we speak. It's not even 6 am back home and I am up and getting ready for a long day. One meeting and then to the airport to go home. Long wait at the airport and then one short flight and one long flight home.

Yesterday was a typical travel/arrival day for me. Up early at home. Car ride to Sky Harbor Airport. Long wait for plane. Long and bumpy plane ride. Arrive at O'Hare and had to traverse the entire United terminal to get to a commuter flight. Packed like sardines on a comuuter flight for 48 minutes. Hot, annoyed people on the plane all glaring at one another. Long, long wait for baggage.

Upon arrival at the hotel, a quick shower and then had to meet colleagues for dinner at some place on the river called Mike Finks. Dinner dragged on a bit and I was restless, so I proclaimed I was tired of sitting and then we left.

Back to hotel. Checked email, called my family (phone in room is broken), went to sleep. Up at 5:30 am local time and it's time to get rolling....

Now, who said I don't like to have a good time?

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Hip Hop Questions

So, I'm watching MTV's Hip Hop Countdown and I have a few questions:

*Why do all the rappers hold their crotch? Do they have to go to the bathroom?
*Why does MTV cover up the bad langauage? Do they think someone's grandmother is watching?
*Who does Snoop Dogg like to pretend he's in a wheelchair? It's not cool or funny.
*Who comes up with some of these names? What is a Lil Scrappy?


Meeting Of The Minds?

So, this morning, my wife and I are meeting with the parents of one of my daughter’s religious school friends. The two girls hope to have their Bat Mitzvahs together in Israel. That much is true. The rest—date, time, and type of trip—is up for grabs. It could be an interesting meeting.

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