Wednesday, April 27, 2005

A cold but fun Tuesday night at the ballpark

Last night, I was the beneficiary of a couple of free tickets to the Yankees-Angels game courtesy of one of our vendors. Several of my colleagues have been working on a major purchase for the past few months and after much technical, financial, and legal wrangling, agreed to buy a new backup system. In return, the vendor offered to take two of us to the game. The guys who worked on the purchase couldn't go, so my boss and I went instead, along with several of the salespeople who worked with us on the project. They have good seats in the upper deck, four rows from the front, looking over home plate and straight into the Yankees' dugout. They're in excellent foul ball territory. The sales guys also bought us all the beer we could drink and all the hot dogs and peanuts we could eat. The only downside was that the temperature was in the 50s and it was windy up there, so my hands were freezing, especially when I was cradling a beer.

Of course, if you follow the Yankees, or got an e-mail from me last night around 9 PM, you know what happened. Alex Rodriguez hit three home runs off Bartolo Colon, including a grand slam in the 4th inning. Seeing one home run from a player in a game is good, two is even better. When A-Rod got up for the third time, I kept thinking there was no way he could hit a third one. I was surprised that Colon even got the chance to pitch to him, considering the night he'd had and his pitch count (he'd already thrown 90 pitches of what was clearly not his best stuff). Either Colon wouldn't give him anything to hit, or Rodriguez would just manage a single or a double. Besides, the bases were loaded and there were two outs. I don't know much about baseball, but in that situation, I'd be trying to put the ball in play, not looking for the long ball. Instead, on a full count, Rodriguez hit his third home run of the night for a grand slam, and Yankee Stadium went crazy. Even my boss and I, neither of us Yankee fans (he's a Mets fan), were on our feet, high-fiving and applauding A-Rod's performance. 10 RBI in a game is one short of the Yankee and American League record of 11, and only 11 other players have ever hit 10 or more RBI in a game. I was happy just seeing a game for free, so to be there for an offensive performance like that was a real bonus. And it's a great story with which to taunt my Yankee-loving friends who weren't there. Too bad I'm not a Yankee fan too -- I would have appreciated it more.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Possibly the worst song ever written about New York

Gothamist covers a newly written song by the guy who wrote Jeckyll and Hyde and Dracula: The Musical, intended to promote New York to foreign tour operators and spotlight lesser-known NYC locations. But the words are so awful, I can't imagine what the song sounds like but I'm sure it won't do much to convince people to come here. Check the link for all the lyrics, but my favorite lines are part of the third stanza:

Take the ferry to Staten from lower Manhattan. It's a bagel and schmear, it's a whole other gear.
It's a hot dog from Coney, a waiter named Tony. Yellow cabs, limousines. It's the subway to Queens.

I'm already opposed to the use of the word "schmear" to mean "something that goes on your bagel;" the actual definition is "a batch of things that go together." Rhyming "schmear" with "gear" is just sloppy. And "a waiter named Tony?" What the hell is that? I didn't know that only in New York can you find a guy named Tony waiting tables, or that Europeans want to come here to meet Tony while he takes your dinner order.

Actually, I think I do need to hear the music. I won't get the full concept of how terrible this song is until I can hear it as the composer intended.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Me at my desk

Because I know all of my readers want to know what I look like when I'm at work, here's a photo of me at in my "workspace" earlier today:

Monday, April 18, 2005

Gothamist interviews Tic and Tac

Today's Gothamist Interview is with Tic and Tac, a street performance duo in Washington Square Park. I used to see them all the time when I would sit in the park and read on weekends. The first time I saw their show, I thought it was clever, but it quickly got old. After a few years of listening to their shtick while trying to read, I began to actively dislike them. Liz and I were back in Greenwich Village on Saturday and of course they were doing their thing in the park fountain, just like old times. My favorite part of the interview is where they say that Alicia Keys' management is working on a movie deal for them. They've been saying that for years.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

College Fair 2005

On Wednesday evening, my firm held its 2005 College Fair in conjunction with a local high school with which we have an ongoing mentoring relationship. (I wrote about last year's fair -- see the final paragraph in the link.) Our firm's coordinator said she would contact Georgetown to get materials for me to distribute, so I didn't request any from the school myself. I should have called someone there, because I showed up tonight with my GU banner and found that they never sent us anything. At least I had the banner. I sat there for about two hours and answered as many questions as I could, based on what I knew from my years there and from the few minutes I'd spent looking at the GU Admissions office web site earlier in the day. I think most of them were the same questions I got last year. Despite my lack of any materials or a means to look up answers on the fly (my laptop couldn't get on the office wireless network that I manage, for some unknown reason), I think I managed to help out some kids. I was able to give them the phone number for the admissions office and the school web site. I figure that most of the prospectuses (prospecti?), financial aid brochures, and other paraphernalia the school sends to me for this fair ends up in the trash anyway, so as long as they had the number, the really interested students would be able to get an application and set up a campus visit. And I got a free meal and some chocolate chip cookies while I was there, so at least I had that going for me.

Monday, April 11, 2005

a new office at work

About two months ago, one of my co-workers left my firm for another job, leaving behind his vacant office. None of us asked to move into it, since we all know we're moving out of our current space in a few months and no one wanted to move twice. So it sat, empty, forlorn, waiting for an occupant who would never arrive.

Well, this afternoon, my boss asked me if I had a problem with moving into the empty office. We have a new e-mail administrator starting in a few weeks, and it makes more sense to put him in my cubicle directly behind another e-mail administrator than to give him the office or put him somewhere else. So I took the office, a little reluctantly. I spent part of my afternoon cleaning out the remaining crap the last guy left behind and moving my computers and books. It's the second time I've had my own office at this firm, and the second time I followed this particular employee from one office to another.

So it's great to have more room to spread out, and a door to close when things get noisy. I can turn up my music without worrying about bothering anyone else. But it also means that I get to move my stuff again in a few months when we get the new office space across the hall. I'll enjoy it while I can. Starting tomorrow, as it's really too late for me to be here now.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Joel Achenbach offends some of his readers

In taking a sarcastic tone in his post regarding the pope's funeral, the Washington Post's Joel Achenbach managed to piss off a bunch of people. Take a quick read through his the comments. Personally, I thought his take was funny and not the least bit offensive. He apologized in a follow-up post, saying that the Post's giving him a blog was like "giving a shotgun to a monkey" and that he's probably going to make his readers mad in future posts. I look forward to reading them.

I, too, have Catholic envy this week (as you may have noticed from my earlier post). I've been to Jewish weddings and funerals, and neither has as much ceremony as your typical Catholic Mass. But I always enjoy the rituals of the High Holidays and even the regular Friday night Shabbat service has some great ancient aspects to it -- anything involving the Torah makes me feel connected to the beginnings of Judaism over 5000 years ago. When I was a little kid I used to love the end of the Torah reading, when the rabbi would have someone from the congregation lift the Torah from the pulpit and hold it up so that the congregation could see the writing on the scrolls. And the music at that point in the service always struck me as beautiful and triumphant.

While I'm not down with the idea of Holy Communion (I never really understood the concept of transubstantiation), I like a Mass now and then. I played in a pickup orchestra for Christmas Mass at Georgetown once, and had a great time. Heck, in my first week at Georgetown, I played in a hastily assembled quartet for the Mass of the Holy Spirit to celebrate the beginning of the school year. I'd never even been to a mass before, and there I was playing hymns and marveling at the idea that I was at a school where I could be drafted to play for a huge event like that just because they needed a violist. It says more about Georgetown's lack of excellent musicians than it does about my meager talents.

Speaking of music, the Catholics get all the good religious music. Some of my favorite choral works are masses and requiems by Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart. Even Leonard Bernstein wrote a mass. Lutherans have a great assortment of Bach chorales and cantatas to choose from. Jews have some old melodies that are worth hearing, but my fondest musical memory from my Reform synagogue is hearing the choir on Rosh Hashanah singing a "Hallelujah" chorus from one of Haydn's oratorios (The Creation, I think). That's religious, but it certainly isn't Jewish.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Richard Cohen on John Paul II; me on the papacy

I was going to write something about how Pope John Paul II had done great things to eradicate communism and bring his message to Catholics around the world, but that his church's conservative policies on birth control and the spread of AIDS in third-world countries left much to be desired. In Tuesday's Washington Post, Richard Cohen says everything I would have said, only better.

I'm not Catholic, but I'm fascinated by the rituals surrounding the selection of the next pope. The cardinals gather to select one of their membership to lead the church, using a system that's been in place for centuries with only minor adjustments. What I really find interesting is that once the pope is elected, he has absolute power over the church. I'm used to traditional democratic systems where the leader of the government is still beholden to an elected representative body and the people. The pope can essentially do what he wants. Which includes choosing the cardinals who will elect his successor. It's an intriguing cross of democracy and an absolute monarchy. Actually, it's more of an oligarchy and a theocracy. Or something entirely unique. I'll stop now.

I've also been reading up on past popes. I had no idea about the conspiracy theories behind the sudden death of John Paul I in 1978. And it's always entertaining to refresh my memories from high school history of the corrupt popes in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Good times (if you were pope back then, apparently).

Saturday, April 02, 2005

A productive Saturday

Today was an unusually busy Saturday for me. I spent most of the afternoon assembling Liz's new desk for our home office. It's a three-piece Ikea table with a metal frame and about two dozen screws and bolts holding it together. I got a painful blister on my right palm before I figured out that my weightlifting gloves would be effective protection for the screwdriver I was using. I had to put it together upside down and then flip it over when I was done. Since I was alone at home all day (Liz went out to a movie and dinner with some friends) I initially thought I'd have to wait until she got home to flip the desk. But when I was done, I couldn't stand the thought of that desk sitting upside down all day and possibly all night, not while our living room was filled with all the junk I had to move out of the office while I was working. So I managed to flip it and heave it into place myself, after which I grunted enthusiastically and played a little air guitar along with The Who's Quadrophenia (my musical accompaniment for this physical exertion).

Next, I prepared my old Dell computer for my friend Rob, who is still using the computer I bought in 1998 and sold to him in 2001. Last night I wiped the hard drive, and this afternoon I reinstalled Windows XP, Microsoft Office, anti-virus and firewall software, and updated some drivers. It's nearly ready for shipping -- I just have a few more programs to install tomorrow. Normally I'd procrastinate on something like this, since Rob isn't anxiously waiting for the PC. But we still have leftover boxes in the office from when we moved in, and with the new desk taking up so much room in the office, there isn't enough space for my old computer or the box I'm going to use for shipping.

I still have some other Ikea filing cabinets to assemble, but I can't do that until we clear out the boxes, so it looks like we've got our work cut out for us next week. Some of those boxes have junk in them from Georgetown, packed away for nearly ten years and hauled from one apartment to another. If we haven't needed anything in there in the two years since we moved, I can't imagine we need to keep it any longer. For now, Liz and I each have suitable workspaces in the office, and that's something we've both wanted for many years. This apartment is just about the way we always imagined it would be.

I also made some sausage sandwiches with fried onions and peppers for dinner. I took a break from the Final Four games to watch the latest Star Wars: Clone Wars cartoons I recorded last Saturday. If only the movies had as much action. The end of the cartoon series leads right into the opening of Revenge of the Sith, so now I'm even more excited about that movie. That Anakin Skywalker guy is getting himself into serious trouble.