Friday, September 17, 2004

Barry Bonds' 700th Home Run: Hear It Here!

this is an audio post - click to play

Reykjavik Or Bust!

Our travel package from the Iceland tourism board arrived today. We are hoping to go next year, but am not sure when. I’d prefer going in the summer when Iceland has 22 hours of sunlight and whale watching (a family favorite) is at its best. It also would be easier if we could tack a trip to Iceland onto some sort of work trip to Europe. Since it seems like I am not traveling much to Europe for work these days that might be a tough one. No matter, we’re going to Iceland at some point in the near future. Why? Looks like an awesome place for blogging.

Rosh Hashanah Winding Down

Day two of services is over. It went much more quickly than yesterday’s marathon but we’re not sure why. The rabbi’s son led the early part of the service and he certainly was expedient but didn’t gloss over the important portions.

Day two’s sermon was delivered by the assistant rabbi, an older man whose wife is a dear friend of my wife’s. In fact, his wife is training my wife for an adult Bat Mitzvah, which will be in about two years. My wife did not have a Bat Mitzvah growing up, as she was raised reform, which doesn’t believe in women being Bat Mitzvah-ed. I am not sure what sort of celebration my wife will have, but it’s a safe bet it will include giraffes in some fashion.

Anyway, the sermon was a sweet homily about finding time in your life each day to celebrate your religion. I believe his words are applicable to any religion, not just ours.

We’re home for the day, and I have a bit of work to do for a trip early next week to Seattle. A quick one-nighter, and I am staying in one of my favorite hotels which houses an amazing restaurant called Fullers.

New Year, Day Two--So Far

The family stall begins. My daughter is pretending to sleep, no doubt to avoid the tedious exercise of religious services. I understand completely.

I will be wearing one of my ties from Andrew's Ties (see below) purchased at the original Milan store. My former colleague, Petra Gartzen, and I went there several times on business trips in the late '90s. I have several hundred ties, but that's a story for another day.

Alas, I hear movement!

REGENT STREET - Where time is always well spent

Thursday, September 16, 2004

New Year, Day One

Well, we are nearly done with day one of the Jewish New Year. We spent about three and one half-hours in synagogue this morning, praying and observing the usual holiday commotion. Phoenix, being a rapidly growing city, has a large Jewish population. Most are not affiliated with a specific synagogue, so the ranks of nearly every established synagogue in the city swell for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Ours is perhaps the largest Conservative synagogue in the area.

We arrived a bit later than I generally like, but we had the usual FDC (Family Drag Coefficient) issues with bottled waters, last-minute clothing changes and general out-the-door hysteria. My only issue is that it’s a bit hot to be pacing around in your suit and tie when the family is dawdling.

The place was packed when we arrived, so we wound up in lousy seats—the last row, which doubled as the thoroughfare for people to move about. After a while, we counted the number of times certain individuals passed by us. During specific portions of the service, the ushers keep the doors closed to minimize the hubbub in the aisles.

For the uninitiated here’s what goes on inside the synagogue during the high holidays: 20-30 percent of the people spend the entire time chatting with (and kissing on the cheek) long lost family, friends and relatives. Another 30 percent pray diligently. Another 30 percent wander in and out of the service doing heaven knows what (bladder problems, emergency cell phone calls, etc...). Another 10 percent sit there and either read a book they’ve brought along or (and I know this to be a fact) do something holy like clean out their purse. The rest pray somewhat and glance around to see who’s wearing what and wonder why so-and-so isn’t at services.

Let’s not forget the 20-minute sermon from the rabbi. Today’s was serviceable enough, but our former rabbi, Lavey Derby, in Larkspur, Calif., has us spoiled. He was the ultimate religious leader: kind, passionate, caring, and a dynamic speaker. During my wife’s illness in 2000, he was there to counsel us. I can still recall his holiday sermons and they bring chills, tears and laughs at the same time.

And then we leave and head home for the traditional holiday nap. We started the nap 19 years ago in Seattle to avoid attending some family holiday function and have napped every year since.

Tomorrow, another day of prayer.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

The Hour Approaches

I am about an hour from shutting down my computer for at least the night. The holiday of Rosh Hashanah beckons. That’s the Jewish New Year. A colleague told me to have a nice vacation; yes, sitting (and standing) in synagogue for several hours is a yummy vacation.

We’ll start with a great dinner and then relax. We’ll spend the afternoon tomorrow and Friday relaxing and reflecting. Jewish holidays are built around these themes: eating, relaxing, praying and being with family. We can do all but the last theme. For yet another year, our family is small: wife, daughter and me. My family is not observant and my wife’s family is… well… let’s end it there; I am getting in the holiday mood.

For the coming year, I hope for health for my family and me. My wife and I have been poor and not poor, so our value of financial success is different than most. We treasure health and the love of each other and our child more than money. Honestly, and I can say this with certainty, we’d be just as happy in a small home with far fewer material objects. We’ve been there (read previous posts), so I know this to be true.

For everyone celebrating Rosh Hashanah, I wish you peace. For those not celebrating, I wish you peace as well.

Behind The Oprah Car Promotion

Not to lessen the impact of Oprah’s stunt where she gave away cars to her audience, consider this: a spot on Oprah’s show cost $700,000 for 30 seconds. The cars cost $7 million new (which they were not). So, the motor company essentially paid what they would for five minutes worth of ads. Since they were end of year models, they were not worth full value. Realistically, the cars would have been sold in some zero-down or cash-back deal scam and returned maybe 75 percent of value. Instead, Oprah fawned over every aspect of the Pontiacs in question (wow, look, they have XM radio!), providing the sort of buzz money cannot buy.

Call it a coincidence, but the other night, my wife and I were watching “Roger and Me” for the first time. It was on some HBO channel. Anyone who buys or wants a GM product after seeing that movie, needs his/her head examined. Or be forced to move to Flint, Michigan.

Sensitivity Training Needed

Stanford band apologizes to BYU for halftime show

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Going For #700

In 35 minutes, thanks to my MLB Extra Innings package, I’ll get to see Barry Bonds attempt to hit #700 in Milwaukee. Many have pointed out the irony that Milwaukee is Henry Aaron’s old turf, and Bonds is chasing Aaron’s all-time record.

Chocolate Roulette

And then there was the time I told my wife I was going to make a cayenne pepper cocktail to clean my congested sinuses. She's still laughing 18 years later at the thought of me hopping around the house with my mouth and nose on fire.

Roulette Chocolate

Trickle, Trickle

With religious holidays approaching and lots of work-type work to get done, my posts have gone from flood to trickle.

Not A Nominee For The Good Sportsmanship Award

Yahoo! Sports - MLB - Texas Rangers-Oakland game turns ugly when player hurls chair at fans

Monday, September 13, 2004

Funny Stuff

We watched this for the first time last night on BBC America. Great laughs! Be prepared to think, however.

BBC - Comedy Guide - The Kumars At No 42

Sunday, September 12, 2004


One out in the ninth off of Mike Koplove. It hits the Jumbotron in dead center about 500 feet. Luis Terraro, the D-backs centerfielder, retrieved the ball and tossed it into the infield for Bonds.

The Blast

Bonds crosses home plate and points to the sky. His dad is watching from above.

More Walks On Sunday

So far today, Bonds has two walks against Brandon Webb. Webb actually threw a few pitches in the strike zone in Bonds’ first at bat. In the second at-bat, he threw four consecutive balls. Keep in mind, Webb leads the National League in walks.

I really must want to follow the home run chase if I am willing to put up with Thom Brenamen and Joe Garagiola?

Someone Moved My Heart

Yahoo! News - Top Stories Photos - AP

No Thanks, I Just Ate

As we were leaving the game, the door attendants were passing out this certificate for Denny’s (known in our family as Lenny’s after the old TV commercial in which a woman called the place Lenny’s). One has to wonder what we would have received if they won the game? A certificate for Sizzler?

Not In My House?

Well, luckily Diamondbacks manager Al Pedrique will be out of a job at the end of a season. I am sure the front office cringed over his comments that the reason the team isn’t pitching to Bonds is because they don’t want him making history “in our house.” Dude, whose house is it? It’s my house and the house of the 38,000 other fans that pay taxes in this area and pay for tickets to see the game. You are guests in OUR HOUSE. Next season, Mr. Pedrique, you’ll be lucky to be the towel man on some High A team in the Pioneer League. The fans wanted to see Bonds at least try and hit a homerun (or two).

I arrived at the game totally jazzed. I figured the D-backs would show some class and pitch to Bonds in the right situation. At first, I was afraid he might not be in the starting lineup, but that fear was put aside when they announced the starting lineup. (see below)

About 20 percent of those at the game were Giants fans. I got high-fived by a fan that saw my T-shirt commemorating the Giants’ farm system. By the end of the game, everyone was a Bonds fan and we all were outraged when Arizona/Pedrique walked him for the third time. The third time (see below) was when the D-backs were down 5-1 and had three hits in the game. A team one loss away from 100 losses is not likely to come back, no matter what their lame manager says. BTW, this walk allowed Bonds to set the all-time walks record. Whoopeee!

The game actually stunk. As fans around us pointed out, only one D-back player was on the major league roster when the season started—that being Danny Bautista. Actually, I think Robbie Hammock (one of the shortly celebrated Baby Backs of 2003) was on the Opening Day roster as well. The D-backs batters make Giants starter Noah Lowry look like the second coming of Jim Kaat (the prototype crafty lefthander).

The big thrill of the night was when one of the Giants struck out to be the 1000th opposing batter (see below) to strikeout in BOB this season. Another Whoopee!

Well, I am not returning to Pedrique’s house until he vacates. Major League Baseball used to be about the fans, not about players’ egos—especially egos on a team headed for 100 losses. What this team needs is a manager—a real manager.

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