Traveling in Style

28 06 2010

So I’m going to D.C. this weekend.  It’s going to be fun, it’s going to be incredibly muggy (I’m sure), and it’s going to be awesome to see a buddy I haven’t for a while.

As with all trips, however, the main question isn’t about what to do once I’m there.  We grew up together, and we’ve never really had a problem finding things to do, whether it was riding our bikes into the bay muck (ill-advised) or having full-blown Nerf wars (still advised) in the gas chamber.  So to speak.

No, the question is about getting there.  What do I do, what do I wear, and how do I become one of those people that you want to sit next to on an airplane?  Personally, I love flying.  Give me a good book and some headphones, and I’ll sit in a coach aisle seat for hours on end without complaining.  Keeping myself happy is not an issue, but traveling should be (on some level, at least) a communal experience.  Swapping entertaining stories with a seat buddy can be a great way to spend a trip, especially if they are one of those people you want to sit next to on an airplane.

Since I can’t really control whom I sit next to, I’ll have to settle for controlling my atmosphere.  I believe in dressing well for shared transit (no one wants to sit next to the hairy old guy in the tank top) and airplanes most of all.  Not only do you feel important (and increase your chances of being given free pilot’s wings by the stewarde– excuse me, flight attendant — but you also get quizzical looks from your fellow passengers as they wonder where that ever so dapper young man could be traveling.  France?   French Guiana?  The Franco-Prussian War museum?

Above all, however, one simply must have something that will make you stand out.  Why is this?  Simple:  You want people to remember you in case you tackle an underpants bomber.  Usually this isn’t a problem, but nowadays, one can’t be careful.  Who’s to say that you won’t emerge from the pile of bomber, flammable underwear and heroism only to find yourself shoved aside as some obnoxious guy in a San Francisco Giants Hawaiian shirt takes the credit for your deeds?  No sir, you have to make sure people will instantly recognize you, standing off to the side, dazed and confused, so they can look into the news camera and proudly say:

“Yeah, I saw him stop the guy.  He was wearing a huge blue cowboy hat and a Ronald Reagan tank top.”

That Wimpy Deer?

22 06 2010

For over a hundred years, Americans have looked forward to summer.  It’s the time of picnics, barbecues, and keeping your neighbors up late because the sun just went down and there’s no way it could possibly be 11 o’clock already.  But even more than these things, summer is the season of America’s pastime: littering on beaches.

Ok, also baseball.  And while it makes about as much sense to the rest of the world as cricket does to us, this great sport is an icon of our nation.  People still speak in hushed whispers about how great Willie Mays was, and it’s not just because their voices are hoarse from screaming at their idiot of a manager who pulled a double switch in the eighth inning just to get a lefty-lefty match up.

This is Serious Business.

We love our teams, and we root them on with rabid enthusiasm (or perhaps gangrenous enthusiasm, depending on who’s in the left field bleachers today) no matter what happens.  Win or lose, a true fan will always support his team even when they can’t hit or pitch to save their lives.  This is one of the main reasons baseball fans are morons.  Any sane human being would eventually get tired of spending money and time and energy supporting a bunch of people that can’t do their job.

But these are not average people.  These are “fanatics”, which is a long version of the well-known word “idiots.”  These people are not fazed by failure and futility.  To put it another way, these are people who pay money to park in a huge lot so they can walk for a while to a place where they’ll pay more money to join a crowded, noisy, beer-sodden group of fellow idiots in the dumbest activity scientists have observed in humans outside of Las Vegas:  The Wave.

If you don’t know what The Wave is, I will describe it for you in layman’s terms.  The Wave is where, in a big game with a close score, some of the fans get bored.  This is because they think of baseball as something they deserve to enjoy no matter how little they understand what is going on.  They paid money to get here.  Good money.  They’re not exactly sure how much money, because by this time they’ve mortgaged their house to buy another beer for their bros (who drank all their beer back in the parking lot as everyone knows you are supposed to do) and the finances are getting a little murky.  Either way, these fans knows that they should be having fun, and the stupid pitchers are certainly not helping.  It’s time someone did something about this stupid score that has stayed in single digits, so it’s time for The Wave.

First, a fan (or “idiot”) might stand up and start shouting in the ears of the naive fools who bought tickets in the outfield seats but expected to enjoy watching the game.  They’ll shout, “HEY EVERYBODY, LET’S DO THE WAVE!”  This might cause some murmurs, but it usually doesn’t work initially.  Then, this same fan will stumble out of his row, knocking over sodas onto those same naive saps who were trying to keep score.  The fan will then start running back and forth in front of some more naive saps who just expected to be able to watch the game without seeing a shirtless (he ripped off his tank top on the way down the stairs) fan screaming and running back and forth in front of your view.  “HEY EVERYBODY, WHEN I RUN, WE DO THE WAVE!  READY OK GO!”  The idiot (or “moron”) will then run, waving his hands, and most of the people will then stand up as he passes, either to participate in this vaguely interesting communal activity, or in order to keep watching the game, which has been obscured by a bunch of people standing up for absolutely no reason (it was a nice diving stop by the shortstop, according to the replay).  The rest of the stadium will then join in and keep The Wave going all around the ballpark, either because they are enthralled by the sudden commotion (much like wild geese) or because they are also trying to stick their heads over the stupid people in front of them (much like wild geese at a giraffe convention). In this way, The Wave has become one of the staples of enjoying a baseball game, right alongside peanuts, the 7th Inning Stretch, and parking lot knife fights.  (Watch out for the 7th inning stretch, though.  Teen pop stars can cause some major harm.)

But really, baseball is something to be enjoyed, no matter how you choose to do it.  Whether you’re cheering on a star pitcher who’s striking out ten batters a night, painting your face the color of your favorite team, or doing the wave alongside your best buddies (and in front of your new worst enemies), this game is something wonderful.  Something special.

And I’d like to keep watching it if you don’t mind.  Sit down, or we’ve got a Cutco date in the parking lot.

El Cupo De Mundo

16 06 2010

Watching the best soccer players on the earth striking a cross directly into the crossbar by the flying goalkeeper is one of the better things about life on this planet.

Carry on.


10 06 2010

I enjoyed walking home tonight.  It was colder than it had been lately, and I wished I had found an excuse to walk farther from home than I did.

I started to look at my cell phone, checking something or other, and I stopped.  I think it was the intense pleasure the weather and darkening sky held for me, but it felt so terribly stupid to stare at a little screen when I could be relishing such a nice evening of whatever it is the senses have to offer.

I wondered if it was God’s pleasure to create nights like this.  Of course it is.  But I realized that what I really wanted to thank God for was more than just the cool (not cold) air on my skin, or the sweet smell of the pavement and the brisk air.  It wasn’t just the rushing of my blood as I walked faster, or the lingering taste of fruit I’d eaten a little while ago.  It was in one sense the sum of these things, but I suspect I was really experiencing just the faintest shadow of real pleasure, or perhaps just willing myself to imagine it.  I’m sure it would be an insult to think that our dull mortal senses could really detect the Eternal in the temporal things that share this world with us.  But I’m also sure that it would be a great mistake to ignore what they’re hinting at.  Can our souls sense things, per se?  I’m not sure.  Maybe their “senses” grow more acute over time, if we practice with them.  Maybe they’re directly connected to and influenced (as I think they are, in some sense) by our senses and actions. While something eternal, like our souls, can’t really be changed or broken by the passing, it can surely be better framed or obscured by what we choose to do with our mortal existence.

If we use our senses to encompass and push towards what they can’t directly experience, I think it becomes a lot easier to imagine what could be in the actual center of the image itself.

This isn’t meant to be some apologetic for divine realities, as such, but an expression of what I think I’m experiencing.  Perhaps it’s just the delight at experiencing some real bliss this week after all the stress, and I want to make the excitement into something greater than it is…but I’d prefer to think I’ve stumbled onto (and past, unfortunately, as the “sensation” itself is already diminished — though not in an emotional trough and peak sort of way) what we’d be far better served to trip over more often.

Putting the “And” in “Android”

7 06 2010

The phone decided to stay home from work this morning.

Thereby showing its intentions to steal my identity for good.  After all, that’s what I wanted to do this morning too.

Phone, if you steal my car, no updates for a week.  And I mean it.


6 06 2010

So far, my Motorola Droid has done the following of its own volition:

  • Twice texted my supervisor with complete gibberish.
  • Called my brother and left him a voice mail message without my permission.
  • Decided not to active its alarm on the one Sunday I could not afford to miss church.  (Thankfully, said brother was looking out for me.)

I’m worried that it is becoming sentient and malicious.  Please, if I text you asking you to cut my car’s brake lines, IGNORE ME.

Planning a Party for Yourself

3 06 2010

Is way more stressful than planning someone else’s

Seriously.  I’m kinda Freakin’ Out here.  What if it’s not fun?  What if people feel I don’t pay attention to them?  What if people are offended by all my jokes about leprous lobsters?  What if people are offended by lobsters, period?  What if the lobsters I invite are offended by the people whom I didn’t invite?

You see, there’s really so very much that could go wrong.

* * *

Watched Takashi Saito come within one out of what would have been a very poignant save against the Blue Crew, tonight.  Instead, he pulled him hammy (I think) somethin’ fierce, and had to give way to some Braves reliever after getting an 0-2 count on Russell Martin.  Man, I felt bad for him.  We miss you, Sammy.