Home Run

June 30, 2011

I’m playing in a softball league with co-workers on Mondays. Bunch of out-of-shape guys too old to be playing a kids’ game. On Tuesdays, I’m so sore that I walk like an ambling wino. I was never good, but it’s frustrating because I’m better than this. I can’t throw – thanks to a shoulder injury acquired trying to catch Richie’s couch coming free-fall down the stairs during his last move – and after trying to, I can’t wash my hair with my right hand until Friday.

You might say “Well, why do you do this to yourself?” I’d say “because it’s fun.” But it hurts. A lot.

Except for one thing: In the second game, I sucked and had to pee the entire time. I led off the last inning and down like 14 runs, I decided to take out my frustration on the first pitch I saw, hoping to either hit it out (HAHAHA, I have no power) or a fly ball out so I can go to the bathroom.

I rip the first pitch, and it’s a deep fly ball to left. Not out, but over their heads. I didn’t see it, because I was sprinting head down as my team yelling “three, three, three.” I’m thinking “I’m going four, four, four, so I can go one, one, one.” I glanced up at the guy coaching third, just to see his reaction at me cutting third to know if there was going to be a play at the plate, but he was still looking to the outfield, I crossed home, slapped some fives and bounded up the stairs to the bathroom to take a giant whiz.

It felt great.

Sorry, that joke was tasteless. The home run felt great. Until my coworkers — four guys who have been paid to score baseball and softball games before – that it was a triple and an error, not a home run. Screw that. I was going all the way. If they made a play, it would have been at the plate. They were just getting to the ball after I had rounded second, so that’s a play at the plate, and since I made no hesitation, that’s gotta be scored an inside the park home run.

It was the first home run for me in an organized game since college. And that was just our spring softball tournament with no backstops. I don’t even remember the homer, I just remember telling my buddy Rich that “that’s my first homer since 1993.”

It felt even better when I went home and saw my childhood friend Tom online and told him “I just hit my first homer since…”

I consider Tom my brother. He was three years younger than me, and we played sports in the neighborhood every day. But we never were on the same team due to age. In 1993, I wasn’t good enough to make the 15-16 year old league, so was in the 13-15 year old league. But my team had players quit/get injured. Tom was one of the best players in the 11-12 year old league, and since both our teams wore orange, he got called up to our team.

I told our coach how good he was, but in his first game with us, he batted last and played outfield. In his second game, he hit second and pitched. Since the injury that led to his call up was to our catcher, I said “I’ll catch Tom.” Tom didn’t allow a hit in his four innings (the limit in our league). I pitched the last three innings, and we won on a one-hitter (I know, I blew it for him).

But that was also the game where Tom hit the ball a long way (no fences) and rounded the bases for a homer. And I followed by hitting a line drive six inches over the first baseman’s glove that rolled a long way and I rounded the bases for back-to-back homers (THAT one was probably a triple and an error, gotta love a mom keeping the book).

So when I sent Tom a message Monday night as he was up with his months-old second son, and said I hit my first real homer since we went back-to-back, he said: “Hahaha. I remember. That was awesome. On the orange team. You know, I played hundreds of baseball games, and that one is the only one I remember.”

As a proud ‘older brother’ for all those hundreds of games he did play, hearing that felt so unbelievably great, I could have gone back to the yard and played two.


Ghosts

June 20, 2011

I was watching one of those shows where people hunt ghosts. And I am extremely torn on ghosts. On one hand, the idea that ghosts haunt this world is really ridiculous:

If spirits of the dead were still floating around the places their bodies used to inhabit, we wouldn’t have grainy photo/video images of A FEW possible sightings maybe pop up from time to time. Out of 100 people, how many do you think have ever seen a ghost? 1? 10? 20?  There’s six billion people on earth now. With a lifespan of 70 years, each. Over the history of human existence (smaller populations, lower life expectancy, there would be roughly 120,000,000,000 dead people. That’s 120 trillion ghosts.

The whole “That house is haunted by a ghost” thing is stupid. If ghosts could possibly exist, that house would be haunted by 20 ghosts, not just one. In fact, every house would be haunted by 20 ghosts. Why would it be rare to see a ghost when they are freaking everywhere?

The idea that only a few hang around because they have “unfinished business” is also bull to me, because EVERYONE who dies would have some kind of unfinished business. Lovers/Kids to watch, enemies to haunt, or just hanging out in women’s locker rooms. Obviously, we have no idea how the afterlife works without experiencing it for ourselves. But sheer logic and mathematics suggest the idea of ghosts haunting things is utter crap.

On the other hand, my aunt, uncle and three cousins who are all totally sane have ample circumstantial evidence that their current home is “haunted” by the ghost of its former owner. Weird stuff happens (doors slamming, things moving, things disappearing, walls painting themselves). When they learned their old owner was a practical joker named Joey, they started addressing Joey by name and asking him to stop dragging chairs across the floor, slamming doors or hiding things.

They’re good Christian people. Relatively intelligent (word play!), and I would have to accept the opinion they have reached from their own experience, based on the standing I hold them in. It’s a subject I have decided not to have a conclusion on, because my own intellect is at odds with itself.

Which makes it even more difficult for me to figure out how I keep turning my faucet off and when I return to the room, it has coming back on to drip/run.


H2O The Insanity

April 22, 2011

The bottled water craze as gone too far.  Every one and their mother has made some types of “bottle water is stupid” comment from time to time. Lewis Black’s is outstanding. Jim Gaffigan’s is also decent. And of course, Penn and Teller completely thrashed the entire concept in their episode of “Bullshit!” on the subject. I don’t need to say anything similar to what they’ve already said.

But a colleague and I were walking back to our hotel from dinner, and we stopped into a gas station to grab some snacks for tomorrow. As my associate went to grab a bottle of water, I was astounded by what decisions lay before him.

Of this entire section of cooler, 85 of 90 different types are non-flavored water.

My associate said “All these choices, I think I’m going to try something different.”

Something different? That’s 85 different brands. This isn’t Coke, Diet Coke, Coke Zero, Cherry Coke Vanilla Coke, etc, etc. All of which have different flavors. It isn’t Coke vs Pepsi or RC Cola, which are all colas but  taste different and have different formulas.

Every single one of these 85 brands of water have the exact same formula: H2O.  Which bottle shape is the most convenient for you?


Mangineering

April 15, 2011

Last summer, I went to NYC with my college buddies to watch USA vs England in the World Cup at the bar they showed on TV during the game (Jack Dempsey’s). Aside from being an awesome game and atmosphere, I was proud of our group for our tremendous achievement in Mangineering. Manginering is a word I made up to describe things like what we accomplished. We waltzed into a bar with zero available seats. And since our group of five was going to swell to 18 people, this was a problem. No one was leaving, as everyone was decked out in USA gear… three hours before match-time.

So we staked out a standing spot about 12 feet from a TV, in an open space between a big table and a small table that was up against the wall. The area featured a two-foot separated jutting out from the wall. We grabbed a couple of random chairs or stools and then set about acquiring more. Over the next hour, we quietly raided chairs and stools from all over, either by asking people, finding unattended chairs in the staff areas, even fixing a broken chair. While that was going on, we proceeded to make friends with the small table (of two people) and coax them into trading their high sitting stools for low chairs since they were in front of us.

The result was a three-row set-up of stools in the back, chairs in the front, and a small table in the corner by that separator that jutted out which accommodated every single person in our party. We even had a waitress come over and say “Damn, I thought you guys would be screwed and standing all game. They just told me you’re a ‘table’ of mine now.”

Mangineering. When men engineer a situation as only a man can do. Other examples would include:

– Turning an empty drum into a grill.

– Rigging TV/computer equipment to turn one cable line and internet into a three-screen setup with picture-in-picture.

– My old roommate Mike gets mangineering credit for his remote work of watching the baseball playoffs, a football game, and the Real World Las Vegas in a manner that allowed us to miss about two plays of football, zero hot tub scenes and everything Tim McCarver said during the baseball game.

– Using a laundry basket as a coffee table.

– Anything McGyver or Jack Bauer ever did.


One Good Neighbor, One Bad Neighbor

February 13, 2011

There’s a young woman who lives in the apartment across from me. I’ve seen her a couple of times, usually at night. I know she has a very young child, because I’ve heard her and a crying child.

Over a week ago, I came home late at night from a road trip and she was sitting outside on the stairs with a friend, having a cigarette. She welcomed me home and told me that while I was gone, a plethora of ads (pizza places, mostly) had accumulated on my door. She had taken them down because it made it obvious that I was out of town. I thanked her and told her that was nice of her, because it was quite sweet.

I went inside thinking about what a nice neighbor she was. Then I had the thought that I don’t really know who she is, and can’t recognize her as my neighbor. I had no idea which of those two girls were my neighbor until she spoke. They could actually BOTH be my neighbors.

It also occurred to me that a while back, I had seen a pregnant woman about the same age in the parking lot. And I’ve seen my neighbor with her mom, carrying baby travel basket thing. So now that I think about it, one of those two was probably the pregnant girl, and now is no longer pregnant, and while she’s sweet enough to take leaflets off my door when I’m not home, I’m such a bad neighbor that I didn’t say “congratulations” because I completely lack the ability to identify whether any of the young women I’ve seen around the parking lot/porch area are the same people.

That makes me feel really bad about the next five weeks, when I’m going out of town for the next five weekends.


No, Don’t Even Pretend It’s My Fault.

January 31, 2011

I just got caught looking at a woman’s breasts in the grocery store. Under normal circumstance, she’d be right to give me a dirty look and judge me.

But not this time.

This was entrapment. I wasn’t looking for the normal reasons, I was looking because I saw what was going on and thought “Holy crap, WHO wears that?” at the sight of a butch feminist in a white wife-beater, without a C-cup bra where it should be.

This women clearly wore the outfit just so she could catch people looking and then scowl at them for objectifying women.  I’m not objectifying anyone when I’m minding my own business and you throw those in front of all our faces. You knew damned well you’d be in the refrigerated section of the grocery store when you left the house in just that.


This Should Be a Diversity Commercial

December 18, 2010

I’m in a cramped Toys R Us Express in a mall (I didn’t know a Toys R Us Express existed). And I have my target product displayed on my blackberry screen, wandering around trying to find it.

Two thug looking dudes are coming down the aisle, and one says to me “Hey man, you seen any Spiderman around?”
I said “No, but I haven’t been looking. You seen this?” And show them my screen.”
They say “Nah, sorry. But we ain’t been lookin, either.”
I replied “Well, Let’s shout ’em out if we see ’em.”
The response was one nod, and one “Word.”

So I go to another aisle, and there’s some Spiderman stuff. We didn’t exchange names, so I just say in the loud voice “Yo, Spiderman!”
They come over and say “Thanks, brotha. I think your Fisher Price shit’s up front by the window.”
An Asian woman says “Fisher Price? Like My First Whatever for really young kids? Yeah, that’s up here.” And starts walking me towards it.

A diverse group of people helping each other out on Christmas… it’s like a bad TV Christmas special. If only there was a Michael Jackson Experience video game set up and we all could have done “Black Or White” together.

 


A Win For Laziness

November 14, 2010

While my boss is out of town, he’s having myself and my coworker feed his dogs (I know. I don’t know why he couldn’t find someone who actually has/like pets to do it). Splitting time on puppy patrol, my coworker and I are trading his keys back and forth by leaving them on each other’s desks.

That’s been a little frustrating to have to drive six extra blocks to the office, which adds 24 blocks round trip. And as I’ve outlined before, the parking lot is like 100 yards from the door to our building. Along the 100 yards, is a little plaza with trees, some benches and a bronze Tiger (our school’s mascot).

So, on my way back to drop off the keys the other night, I thought “screw it,” and just drove across the plaza right up to the front door.

Which scared the bejeezus out of four kids who were huddled around the Tiger, probably about to vandalize it because they ran like hell.


On The Road Again

November 5, 2010

This road trip was unique because I hadn’t slept in an actual bed since August 19th (if you’re scoring at home, that’s five weeks in a hammock, six weeks on a crappy futon, and two weeks on an awesome couch).

As I was looking out the bus window in Los Angeles, I was thinking “this is everything  exactly like my mental image of LA: jammed free ways, palm trees, 90 degree weather, smog, atmosphere, vibe… God I miss New York.”

And when someone casually mentioned places I knew existed but were always well outside my universe, I almost said things like “oh, what were you doing in Anaheim?” before I realized “wait, I live in California. That’s totally normal.”

Other than that, it’s been your typical road trip.

You know you travel for business a lot when you have to have a slot in your cell phone address book to store your current hotel room number.

I list it first in my phone (“A Hotel Room”), so when I accidentally pocket dial, I’m not annoying a friend with an A name. (Your welcome “Amy ___” and “Alario, ____” !).

The other signs I travel a lot:
— I can pick up a hotel remote and instantly operate it without having to look at the buttons (including rarely used keys, like “Sleep”).

— My frequent flyer and hotel rewards numbers are on one slip of paper in my wallet in front of my pictures.

— I have a travel copy of every toiletry, which is always packed.

— When I go to iron a dress shirt at home, I open my closet, don’t see an iron hanging on the wall and say “oh, right.”

— I have purchased only two bottles of hand lotion in the last nine years.

— The first thing I look at when entering a room is “do the thick curtains go all the way across the window, or do I just have some flimsy thing that blocks no light?”

— I bring my own coffee with me, since hotel coffee is garbage.

— I have a power strip in my laptop bag so I can charge my laptop and phone next to the hotel bed or at airport gates.

— I have used 37 different pillows in the last 11 years, yet purchased only two. Once a year on a bus trip, I trade them in like they are Craftsman tools.


KevFu vs the Elusive Comfy Couch

October 13, 2010

Upon my move to California, I decided to buy new stuff instead of shipping my old stuff left, since it would be the same price and, hey, new stuff.

After picking out a cool coffee table on Overstock.com, the checkout procedure revealed that my credit card was inactive. Apparently, due to a security breach, my account was closed, and I was sent a new card.  Despite the fact that I had been paying monthly on the balance of the closed account via online banking, I wasn’t notified online. But via mail. To my old place. In New Orleans.

With the coffee table on hold (sold out before I got my new card), and no card yet, I re-prioritized my shopping list.

Which brings us to the couch. I began the arduous task of finding a comfy couch, long enough to sleep on, sitting on hundreds of dismal couches all over the Central Valley. Most suck. A good couch you sit in not on.

It wasn’t until a day trip to Old Sacramento with the Hil Bomb (not that she’s explosive, her old IM name contained those elements), that I found my couch when she took me into a Macy’s.

And BAM! Comfy couch. On sale. But still kinda pricy, so I went to see if it was available online from someone else for less (hahahah!. No.). And of course, the sale expired, so now my couch was like $1250.

Bam! Fluffy Comfyness! (Two pillows included).

Then, in celebration of Christopher Columbus kicking off the mistreatment of Native Americans, another sale! I immediately called the Macy’s in Stockton to ask if I could pay with a check. Sure. Out of state check? Yeah. Out of state check with an address that doesn’t match my out of state driver’s license? Hell no.

 

No biggie. Hit up the bank, drive over, pay in person with cash, order my couch. Quick 10 minute trip, right? Wrong. You can’t buy items at the store which Macy’s doesn’t stock in that particular store. The Macy’s in Stockton does not have furniture. So I would have had to buy the couch, in Macy’s, from Macys.com. Which means credit card.  And I still haven’t gotten the new card.

Long story short, on Monday, I went to the bank, took out a very large sum of money to walk around with in cash (I asked the teller: “When you finishing counting it and hand it to me, could you congratulate me on my impressive wager?”)

I drove an hour to Old Sacramento to pay for a couch, set up a delivery date, had an awesome tri-tip sandwich (you can tell the place is the owner’s lifelong dream when the guy who makes it for you grins like a fool while watching you sit and eat it) and drove back to Stockton.

And since I got such a great deal on my comfy couch ($350 off), I decided to stop to look for some of the other items I still need: coffee table, bookcase, dresser, microwave, bathmat, etc… and naturally left the strip mall without any of those things, buying only a PS3 game instead.

I can’t wait for the couch to arrive, because after the cost of parking, gas and dinner, it feels like I just spent close to $1,000 for NHL11. And why PS3 changed the controls on NHL is beyond me. I’d only been using the same freaking buttons for 18 years now.