Thanks for checking into my blog!

As a "recovering" middle school teacher with a unique outlook on life, I stopped active teaching in 2010 and moved into another career path... writing! Here goes! In addition, I am a travel buff, forever baseball addict, movie fan, music fan, foodie extraordinaire, NCIS devotee, gardener, and more.

Just love writing for kids, travel writing and basic journalism. Pretty unusual, since I taught Home Economics! But there's a story here too - a non-fiction one or more...

Saturday, August 27, 2011

From the Journal of a Baseball Fan

Date: August 21, 2011
Time: around 1 pm EDT

Check another item off the personal bucket list. I come from a family filled with pilgrims to all 32 Major League Baseball Parks. Some members of my family have been to ball parks that are long gone, myself included. Last weekend, I got the chance to see the newest “neighborhood” team in their new home in DC. But I was rooting for the visitors this trip. Yes, I became a pilgrim on hostile soil by attending the Nationals game as a Phillies fan.

I remember when the location for Nationals Stadium was announced. Anacostia had a bad reputation for safety in the District. How could putting a major tourist venue in a low rent, high crime area do the neighborhood any good? As we drove to the stadium, I noticed that the best building so far is the Nationals complex. It sits in an area on the Anacostia River with construction companies and other medium industrial enterprises. But the stadium is still new, and a novelty. Hopefully the surrounding real estate will upgrade in the very near future. There’s potential in that neighborhood. And there’s a growing feeling that it is a safe area.

We walked into the center field gate and were met by 4 presidents. Yes, the Presidential mascots and the official mascot, Screech, greet visitors and pose for pictures in a wide open media area. You are able to pose with George Washington, Abe Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson with no problem. Just try getting close to Teddy Roosevelt! Not happening! He is by far the most popular of the mascots. After the fourth inning, the mascots have a foot race from the right field corner down to first base. Teddy tries to win and comes close – oh, so close. The crowds in the stands, supporters of both teams, start the chant as the mascots take the warning track, “Let Teddy win! Let Teddy win!” Today was another disappointment for Teddy fans, however.

Nationals Stadium offers the usual baseball fare to eat and drink, plus some local favorites, such as a Five Guys, Ben’s Chili Bowl and Gifford’s Ice Cream, to name a few. But I was a guest of someone with club level tickets, complete with air conditioned concourse. There was one stand with a version of a Philadelphia cheese steak sandwich and sausage and peppers sandwiches. As a Philadelphia native, I was beginning to feel quite at home.

As we walked around the concourse, and took our seats, I was convinced I was “at home” in Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. We saw more Phillies “Phan” gear than we saw of the Nationals fan gear. Where were all the Nats fans? Why do you see Philadelphia so well represented in DC? When I posed this question to another Phillies fan, I was told that you can’t get tickets to the Phillies games in Philadelphia. It’s this thing called winning. The Phillies win, and win series and playoff games. This area hasn’t seen a winning team in a while – a long while. Then, something about that statement touched a long dormant memory for me as a die-hard Orioles fan. The O’s used to win and fill the stands. The Nats are starting to win and are filling the stands. The Phillies have a recent history of winning and always fill the stands. Oh, the feeling of hope for the embattled Orioles and their fans…

Along with the expectation that the Phillies will win comes a bit of rudeness from the fans that can border on abusive. It’s not just in Philadephia, either. Anyone going to Yankee Stadium for an O’s – Yankees game can tell you stories of rude fans as young as 8 years old. And a San Francisco Giants fan clings to life after being beaten by Dodgers fans after this year’s season opener. This day I witnessed fan rudeness on both sides of the scoreboard. What happened to just enjoying the game?

The dictionary defines a “fan” as “an enthusiastic devotee or follower [fan(atic)].” (Random House Dictionary, 1980)  The same volume defines “sportsmanship” as “a person who plays fair and is a good loser.” Somewhere along the line many fans of professional sports lost the concept of sportsmanship to team identity fanaticism. Our kids are watching us. What are we, as a community of fans, showing our kids? Are the kids beginning to think that this behavior is “normal”? Everyone has the freedom of choice and the right to support the team of their choice without fear of harassment.

In the interest of fairness – and so this will not become an obituary to the death of common courtesy – there are many ballparks in the country who welcome fans of opposing teams and are very hospitable. For the most part, Nationals Park was one of them. The staff ushers and food servers were the most polite people I’ve encountered in a long time. Oriole Park is renowned for it’s hospitality toward all fans. Both parks have enthusiastic staffs and local fans looking for a good game worth the price of the ticket. Now if this attitude of courtesy could spread all over… please!

For the record, I, a devoted Orioles fan, went to the Nationals game wearing my Phillies “Phanatic” shirt. I cheered for the Phillies and laughed when Jayson Werth was booed in Nationals Park by the Phillies fans (because it sounded so ridiculous). I explained the “Choooooooch” call to nearby Nationals fans when Carlos Ruiz came to bat (nicknamed, Chooch) and the Nats fans thought we were booing him too.  The Phillies lost the game and the world didn’t end. It was a great, tight game and went 10 innings. And after the fourth inning, I yelled at the top of my lungs, “Let Teddy win! Let Teddy win!” Ballpark baseball is the absolute best. It’s a must experience for all families, no matter where you live and no matter what team you support.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Observe Life

Try to imagine drums in the background.  

It was another typical mid-day and the harvest was bountiful for those seeking sustenance.  Many came seeking nourishment and comfort. Females brought their young, teaching them by example how to hunt and gather, whether they want to learn this skill or not. Some males accompanied their females, sometimes providing assistance. Some males accomplished this task in solitude.

You can witness many different methods for the acquisition process. There is the commando, who moves around with stealth and speed, zeroing in on their exact needs.  Movement is swift, exacting. Others in their path are merely speed bumps on the road toward accomplishing their goal. There are the dazed refugees from Zombieland, who move slowly as if overwhelmed by the abundance. Movement for them is relaxed, lazy. There is no hurry to complete the task.  They must stop and handle each item, as if to obtain an aura from it.  There are those focused on pleasing, who are in constant contact with other members of their party. They stop and start often, shifting locations in frantic search. There are many just focused on the procurement job of the moment, with little thought to future needs. Movement for these resembles a lightning strike, swift and accurate. 

You cannot tell by looking at them what drives this process. Was it the sight of the abundance? Was it the blend of smells? Was it truly the need for satiety? Was it the thrill of the hunt? Was it the satisfaction of mission accomplished?

Ah, yes, it was another typical mid-day at the food section of your local WalMart.

One may safely assume that I hate shopping. One former student reminded me that I “wasn’t a real woman, because” I don’t enjoy the shopping part of my life. I really don’t care. When I do have to go shopping, and if I am not on a personal procurement mission, I try to do some people-watching.  The job can then be palatable, humorous, and, yes, almost enjoyable. Notice I said almost.

Beware the commando shopper! Me!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Life with WiFi

     Where’s Rod Serling when you need him?

     You want to talk about adventures to the Twilight Zone?

     Vacationing at a mountain resort in Virginia last week, I ran into an unexpected problem. In the past, I’ve been able to take the ol’ laptop (aka, Bessie) and keep track of things at home via the local WiFi. The resort itself is a hot spot and I’ve had no problems signing on in past years. This year the WiFi gremlins got me. The first day there I signed on with no problem. Bessie is a bit slow and showing her age. But that’s cool, I’m patient. She isn’t too happy with WiFi either since it leaves her files available. She feels like she’s walking around naked in cyberspace. She doesn’t like being treated like a Blackberry or and IPad. She has more class
      The next day we were both thrown into the world of IP addresses and firewalls. Somewhere, somehow, we were blocked from accessing the internet. We got “time out” messages after we tried logging on. Once or twice ok, but for the next 24 hours?

     I remember looking at the log in instructions, rereading them, going through them step by step, over and over. Finally, I called the help desk. There I met Robomenu – you know those “Please select 1 if…” recordings. My current issue was not in Robomenu’s preprogrammed brain, so I hit the star key to talk to a humanoid, the first of many. Together the human and I went through steps to log Bessie onto the net. It wasn’t working. Somewhere in the ether, Bessie had a blockage. Both human and I worked to clear the blockage. This is where it got really weird – human could see what I was doing. Human was somewhere else and because of the local WiFi net connection, he could read the computer. He was a ghost in Bessie’s brain. He didn’t totally ghost. I mean I could still operate the controls and move the mouse. True total ghosting is beyond freaky, when someone else takes control of your unit and works it for you. But one good thing came of it… the blockage was not Bessie’s. She was beating her head against the wall of the resort site homepage. “Yes, we will report the problem and get it solved from here,” said human. “Give us at least 1 hour.” “No problem,” said I.

     Twelve hours later I was back with Robomenu trying to locate the human, since the problem still existed. Another different human came to our “rescue”… actually I think we interrupted his Dungeons and Dragons session. Again we were ghosted, and the same requests were made. Evidently, the IP address is supposed to reset every 24 hours and it didn’t. The problem was reported yet again. The resort experienced a power failure during the past 24 hours and they weren’t completely connected yet. They will take care of it, we were both assured.

     That was Monday and today is Friday. In between, we talked to Jermaine and Dave, got a work order number, and many more promises to have the blockage cleared. So far it still hasn’t worked. Bessie must be totally attached to this IP address, because she can’t get rid of it or won’t give it up. The only solution is to take her out of the hot spot and allow her to cool off and reset. But in the meantime……this human is experiencing withdrawal! I figured I was going 21st century and becoming addicted to the Instant Info of the Net. But this week, I’m like a junkie looking for another cyber connection. No, I haven’t gotten the shakes or anything like that. But I’ve lost the ability to communicate with people via the Net. I also have messages that need to go out for business purposes.
     What is the totally Twilight Zone thing for me is how frustrating this whole situation is! I can’t believe I’ve allowed myself to become dependent on nuts, bolts, and microchips. Where is my brain? Where is my own initiative? I used to be able to resort to Alternate Plan B when I would run into a roadblock. That’s what problem solvers do…. Come up with another solution strategy. This was the only wrinkle in an otherwise great vacation. I HAD to disconnect for a while! I have to keep reminding myself that this cybertechnology is a tool, and when it works, it’s great. The problem is our society is removing Alternate Plan B from the equation.

Mr. Serling! Help!!

Well today is actually Saturday and I'm posting this from the comfort of home.

Obviously..... :)