Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Tuesday Stuff

Monday must be the Braves night to hit. Nice that Cormier got the lead and didn’t have to worry about baserunners.

There’s a Murphy playing SS for Oakland, I saw him PH in Houston. Now I see a Murphy playing for Texas…I’ll have to look him up. Also need to get an update on the Red Sox David Murphy.

Still plenty of stuff going on at home and work. I was thinking I might not make it to another Braves game this year…both Will and I have only been to two apiece. But Matthew hasn’t been this year, so I’ll have to make sure he gets out to a game…to keep up his ‘streak’. I’ll check the teams coming in to see if there’s a team he hasn’t yet seen. We’ll see.

See in today’s AJC living section a lawyer wrote a baseball book…he’ll be at the Decatur Book Fair.

Was just confirmed as a chaperon on Will’s five day senior high Science trip in October…probably to Florida. The spring trip to Jekyll is for middle schoolers, so we won’t go next spring. But it’s conceivable we’d be going for several years after that with Anna. Will would also be going back to Jekyll as a leader in 2009, 2010, and 2011. The Hurt girls are taking classes at this school this year…I hear the Hurts are selling their house near Mt. Vernon Baptist and are moving out towards Woodstock/Alpharetta, to be closer to the girls’ school/activities.

With these new people handling the day to day affairs of the two big accounts I work on, due to the June reorganization, problems continue to arise. Today one item had four individual problems, and we had another problem that effected eight other items. In late September ‘we’re’ taking a physical inventory of the parts at the multiple locations. No big deal for me, though it’ll be a lot of work. We’ll gain on some and lose on others…it’ll be great to get inventory correct, though many will stress out at the results. The Ogre may want to write off 700,000 excess pounds ($200,000.00)…luckily I’ve got variance dollars that can offset this hit.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Golden Gate Bridge



Better photos of the bridge may follow.

One With Nature

In the 13 years we’ve lived in our house, the creek in the backyard had never been dry…until the last few days. Saturday I went down to clean our any junk/branches, etc, and found dozens of fresh-water clam shells in the creek bed. Also saw a small fish swimming around in a section that still had water.

Interesting about the release of Wickman...guess it was negative posts from last Thursday.

Orlando was ok…they thought we accomplished a lot. Good to talk to my old boss. Also ate with the Florida GM again, who’s flying me down for the GT / Miami game.

Now that school has actually started, Ceil is beginning to feel a little better / less stressed about everything. Will is at his Living Science school from ten this morning til seven tonight, though he has several off periods.

Will’s baseball coach, the whiffleball guy, has me helping out with organizational stuff…tomorrow we go to the meeting to make up the schedule. That’s good, because Will has more other commitments than ever. I did the uniform numbers, so Will got his usual five. As usual, there are several decent dad/coaches helping out…they just don’t spend much time on hitting and pitching. Then Saturday afternoon Will went to tryout for a spring team, and same thing…lots of fielding and throwing, but little hitting/pitching. I’m not a great BP pitcher, but I’ll start taking my bucket so they can get some swings.

Finally finished the SF recap and posted it to the blog…haven’t emailed it to anyone yet. Ceil put all the pictures on her PC and I’ve just got a few…having a problem emailing them from her PC, or loading them from her PC to the blog.

Cablecar Closeup



Standing in the long cablecar line, there was plenty of time to snap photos while waiting for the loaded cablecar to make it's way up the hill.

Not the best vacation phot...just the first (I'll try not to go overboard).

Will's going for the Zac Efron look, if you haven't noticed.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Bob Wickman, the man who ate Dan Kolb

Bob Wickman, the man who ate Dan Kolb...great comment by Jeff Schultz. Wickman isn't getting any slimmer, and he's been struggling lately. Kolb was the Braves closer in 2005...kinda chubby, and he struggled bad. Wickman was doing ok, but has gotten bigger it seems. Perhaps when he ate Kolb, it made him pitch worse.

Interesting comment in last week’s AJC interview with Kyle Davies…he thought the team was uptight, not relaxed. Could definitely be a factor as we approach the September wild-card race. With the momentum from the Teixeira and Dotel trades putting pressure on the Mets and Phils, the Braves should relax and play. Seems like it’s the pitching staff (besides Smoltz and Hudson) that is pressing…can we blame Roger?

Good that McCann is tearing it up, which was noticeable before today’s ALC article. But even though Andruw seems to be getting one big hit a night, he still appears to be struggling in his other at-bats.

My Civic MPG is weird…need to check to see if my new tires are 15 instead of 14. Could be something else. Finally cleaned my car after it got all dirty on the camping trip.

Went to north point mall Saturday for the opening of the American Girl store...the line was a quarter mile long to get in, with half of the line stretched outside. The line wasn't moving, so we didn't stick around. (Ceil took the kids back Monday...no line). We had to go to 'build-a-bear'...that's where everyone else went who skipped American Girl. I'd never seen the line there that long...stretched well out into the mall. Wouldn't have been so bad had I figured out after you stood in the 'stuffing' line, you had to get in an equally long line to pay. I could've had Ceil stand in that line instead of shopping in other places!

Wickman Finished?

Wickman struggled again. Chip and Lemke were defending Wickman on the pregame, saying he had just given up the first earned run at home all year…that the fans should cut him some slack. It was a save situation, and it was a Cox like move to put him back out there the night after he struggled, but I thought he could’ve used some rest. Chip was right that if one or two things go bad for Wickman he doesn’t collapse, but is still tough mentally. I don’t know if he always falls behind hitters, but that’s what he was doing Tuesday night.

The Braves crowd seemed into the game against the Giants…when Cox was thrown out, and Klesko, and when they got on Angel Hernandez when Ortiz tossed over to first after the two balks. Nice that Andruw came through once, and he hit the ball hard a few other times…pulling it each time. Angel Hernandez looks like that actor who gets lots of bad guy roles…like the Harrison Ford / Jack Ryan movie set in Central America involving drug cartels.

I really like Diaz. Weird, but I think they're letting Harris steal too much...he keeps getting thrown out. At least Cox finally came to his senses and dropped Andruw in the order...were he to sign with the Yankees, Red Sox, Angels, Cubs, White Sox, Dodgers, or Astros (big money teams) - Andruw wouldn't be batting 3 or 4 or 5th in the order. Seems like the pressure of being in a contract year is getting to him. Sounds like Chuck James has a tired arm.

The AJC said the Braves' bullpen catcher says Moylan has some of the best stuff of anyone he's ever caught. Reid does have a point about 5 pitchers having to be on (hopefully the starters goes at least 6, so it is more like 4). Just remember, that most other managers do the same thing...it's the exception for any MLB reliever to go more than an inning. Cox has pitched that new Mahay guy >more than one inning more than once. Interesting reading about when Hank was breaking the HR record...when he hit 714 on opening day, Niekro pitched a couple of innings in relief. The 715 game had starter Buzz Capra pitching a few innings in relief.

Since the kids went to SF, where we ate was influenced by them. It turned out to be cheaper places overall, and many choices were based on where we were at the time, and what we could find. Had it just been me and Ceil, we would've hit more corner cafes and such.

Yes, Vick appears to be guilty of a lot of things, including having the wrong friends. He should've hung out with Warrick Dunn more.

According to Uni-Watch, Frenchy had his name misspelled on his jersey the other night - http://jmcweb.sjsu.edu/craig/baseball/francouer.jpg One thing about the Office…not really that big of a deal about the comments…quite often posts come and go without anyone commenting.

It was just time for a brake job on the Civic…it was just a different sound than I was used to, and it sounded like it was coming from a different place. In Orlando this week...the BoSox and A’s are in Tampa, but that’s such a long trip I don’t know that I’d make it again…perhaps there’s a minor league game closer, but those seasons are wrapping up.

Shoes

In college I mostly wore court shoes, because we played a lot of basketball (though not in high school, because not many white kids did…though my sister played on the varsity team). Had several pair of leather high-tops in the late 80s/early 90s…Reeboks and Nikes…still have some. Seems like I switched to running shoes in the early 90s…I can be on my feet longer without getting as tired in the running shoes. High-tops are good for the ankle support…I like to wear my old pair when I’m working in the woods or on a ladder…could’ve used them camping. The other dad was wearing basketball shoes. He said he still plays several times a week…at the Y, I think.

Will has always preferred running shoes for some reason, though you’d think as active as he is that he’d like court shoes better. I got him a nice pair of Nike high-tops back in January…they were on the big side, and he says he’s saving them for this next basketball season. I’ll wear my more bizarre shoes to the movies…I have some yellow Reeboks I bought at Just 4 Feet I’ll wear as houseshoes, because they slip on and are warm…my feet get cold in regular houseshoes because there’s not much of a sole. I digress. I also like plain shoes, but I like grey better than white, usually with navy trim. I’ve been looking for the perfect pair of red or red-trimmed shoes, though I’d never wear them much.

Before I forget, I have this link in my favorites that I happened to check a day or two ago, because I forgot what it was. The guy is crazy about getting baseballs at games, and writes books and a blog about it. But note the recent posts and pictures on how crowded the outfield bleachers got when ARod was coming to bat, sitting on 499… www.snaggingbaseballs.mlblogs.com He is off about it being easy to average 15 wins over 20 seasons…not an easy feat, or more than 23 pitchers would’ve done it.

Ceil came across this storefront called something like “Beans” near the new Target at JF & Upper Roswell, down from the Starbucks, Pool Supply, and Used Bookstore. They make fancy meals you can take home and cook…supposedly owned & run by Amy.

Good Seinfeld about scalping opera tickets and the crazed clown, and Letterman had a Top Ten about blog titles. The van was in the shop because the emissions failed, and the Civic is making a bad noise, so it’s next. First problem I’ve had with it. Matthew exhibited decent fishing skills, casting the $12.00 rod & reel I got him at Wal-Mart. Perhaps he and Will will start fishing in a nearby pond.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Junkin

I’m a sucker for collecting junk on vacation…pamphlets, maps, etc, and we may have set a record this time. I’m trying to go through all the stuff here at work, and it’s taking away from writing the recap, though I was counting on the info to help…details on what we did, etc. I forgot all we saw at Yosemite, and what all those things were called.

Had a great trip…no big complaints except Monday. Tuesday we were all worn out. I got to work late and tried to catch up. In the afternoon I learned I had to be at Carrier Athens Wednesday at 8 am, so that took up most of the morning. At lunch I took the van back to the shop and the emissions passed, so the repairs are all done. Friday I took the Civic to the shop…it’s making a bad grinding noise, and I can’t keep Ceil from driving it around…guess I should’ve left it at a shop while we were gone (it was just the brakes).

The kids are still on Pacific time…they slept most of Tuesday and stayed up late last night, then slept late Wednesday morning.

I know online banking is cheaper and efficient, but I’ve never gotten around to doing it. I tell myself that writing checks and recording it on my spreadsheet helps me better track expenses, though I know I need to move on. I never write checks in stores, though every now and then Ceil has written a check for parking. I don’t carry much cash, but I’ve never been stuck in a parking lot without money. I don’t know why she writes checks when she has her hair done, unless the place doesn’t take credit cards…which would be weird.

Soggy Camping Weekend

Decided to go camping at the last minute with the boys, Matthew’s baseball coach, and his sons…just came up. Not my cup of tea, but Matthew was excited. Drove up to Amicalola Falls Friday afternoon and pitched our tents, and we could still we the sun as we finished up fishing. But driving back up the mountain it started to sprinkle, and that turned into a full fledged downpour. We drove over to the Lodge and ate dinner there, though we didn’t have the Friday night seafood buffet. We found our tents to be too wet, so after we roasted marshmallows on a fire we left for home at 11:15. Will and Matthew spent the night at their friends’ house, but I went home.

Saturday morning we drove back to the campsite and cooked breakfast, then took down the tents. Matthew and the younger boys enjoyed running through the woods and playing in the creek. Then we drove to the Lodge to see the end of a snake show, then played football in a field. It was hot, and early on I fell on my side trying to make a tackle. My elbow slammed into my side, bruising my ribs pretty good. It hurt bad yesterday, but today it’s starting to feel a little better.

The kids played whiffleball games Saturday and Sunday nights…the Norman boys played as well. There were over 40 kids and parents there last night. I watched and listened to a lot of the Mets game last night…nice for Glavine to have his moment in the sun, though right now we need the Mets to lose every game possible.

Saturday night I started sneezing…the hot/cold thing. The sneezing was painful with the hurt rib, and NP is usually so cold (I always wear socks and long sleeves), so yesterday I didn’t go, though everyone else did. I usually watch TV while folding clothes, but there wasn’t much on except Sunday morning ESPN…SportsCenter and Between the Lines stuff.

Will and Ceil came home with new Volunteer T-shirts, so I guess we’re staying at NP for a while. All the families in our small group seem to have taken vacations all on different consecutive weeks…one week we were gone, the next week another family, then the next 2 weeks another family…for at least 8 straight weeks, it seems.

Summer Whiffleball and Matthew

When Matthew plays in an organized ‘official’ Little League game, he certainly recognizes the “importance” of an at-bat, and he going up to the plate looking for a hit, and will swing if it’s close…sometimes even it’s a low pitch he should take. His athletic ability allows him to make contact most times, though sometimes he hits foul balls…popping them back, some pulled in foul territory behind third, some behind first. He may swing and miss on strike three, or get thrown out at first…though he immediately drops the bat and heads to first after he hits the ball, he’s not exactly Thorman going down the line…Matthew is probably only going 85%, so sometimes he’s out when he could’ve beat it out. But making an out in a real game has never been that troubling to him…he just goes back to the dugout.

These neighborhood whiffleball games are different. There are several boys his age, and Matthew seems to want to excel. He hits the ball hard, but many times older boys make the play and throw him out…just as they do for other boys his age. To Matthew, it’s bad if he makes an out, no matter how hard he hits the ball. I think it’s the peer pressure. Last night he hit some shots, and lined one to left field for a hit almost impressive as one of Will’s hits. He also wants to play key positions like second base and catcher, but only one of the little guys can play there an inning. Interesting difference between whiffleball and baseball.

Matthew is an interesting case study, it will be interesting to see how his behavior changes as he grows and friendships become more important to him. Boys seem to want to have Will as a friend, and Anna has several good friends as well. Friends are starting to become as or more important than family members, and we think most of their friends are good kids from good families, but you never know. We’re not that crazy about them spending that much time with their SC cousins, though. Harder to pick baseball teammates, but most have been ok.

Chris always coaches his two baseball playing sons, and has coached Will numerous times. They live on a cul-de-sac a mile away as the crow flies, but at least four miles if you drive…Anna and Will have walked there several times. They put up a sign by their mailbox as to when the games will be…usually Sunday and Wednesday nights. The kids call Will/Anna, to make sure they know when the game is. But bunches of kids show up from the neighborhood, as well as a few dads. Mostly boys, but occasionally a girl will play as well. All different skill levels, ten or 12 to a side, with real plastic bases. Pretty organized, but keeping score hasn’t crossed my sick mind (good one!). Halfway through the game they have a Kool-Aid break. Two other dads/sons families from near our neighborhood occasionally play. Usually I’ll drop off our kids if I drive them and go back home, but I’ve stuck around the last two times.

They’ve been going to Johnson Ferry 3 or 4 years (Will likes going to the S.S. class Chris teaches), but they actually keep their kids away from the activities. The Murphys are liberal compared to them (TV, etc). It’s not like they preach at the whiffleball games, but they use it as a way to get the kids outside, exercising, and build relationships. The games are competitive and fun. They keep score in their head, which I cannot do.

When I got home one recent evening three Norman boys were they…they had been swimming together and were playing Wii. They all went to the whiffleball game.

August Braves Notes

Thursday Aug 2nd Braves game: Pretty bad inning, the eighth. Saw Soriano come and thought that this would be a good situation to get his groove back, up four. Then one just out of Tex’s reach, Edgar gets hurt, Harris makes an error and runs into the wall twice, and Lamb hits a grand slam. I fell asleep going to the 11th, and woke up and saw we lost on the ESPN crawl. Getting ready the next morning I realized the score was 12-11, thought it had been 9 – 9 going to the 11th…meaning the Astros scored, then the Braves tied it up.

Saturday night the third I turned it over to the SF/SD game an inning after Bonds hit 755, and between dozing off I saw his other three at bats. Now he has to go homerless for three more games before we see him on Friday night. Ready for the SF trip…just need to do a few last minute things.

Sunday the fourth ESPN was listing great Wrigley moments so I got out my laptop. I thought Hank’s 3000th came there, but it was Crosley Field in Cincy, which also had the brick backstop. Did you know that when Aaron passed Mantle on the HR list that Mantle had been third on the all-time HR list? So I guess he had been second to Ruth before Mays passed him.

One stat that came out was Barry and one other player were the only ones to have more than 30 HR in over 10 straight years…Hank had 30 HR in 15 of 17 seasons, with the two other seasons with 24 and 29. Hank had 20 straight years with more than 20 HR, but Barry only had 15 straight.

680’s Perry L…seems guys like him will take a side on an issue just to incite reactions. I do like Rude and Dimino. Interesting to hear the Reds wanted Reyes and Escobar, which was too high a price. Buddy said he had this hyperextended elbow before, and it shouldn’t be a problem. Nice win last night…I was flipping over to the end of the Mets game. Though they won, the Brewers had the tying run at the plate when the game ended. And the Cubs beat the Phils on a walk-off wild pitch.

Couldn’t believe DOB said the Mets series would be crucial…most times the Chipper/Cox types don’t say one series is more crucial than another.

The Rowland’s Office blog published an informative article by Sac Fly reader Rob. I’m jealous! I hadn’t looked at the Office since lunch Tuesday, but had read where they were taking submissions. I had thought of him, but that comment on stats made me think they might not like his work. I just added a quick comment…thinking that if his post generated comments, they’d want more of his work. On the plane I was reading this year’s SI baseball issue from April, and was reminded SI listed the Office as a go-to site for Braves talk.

Think Wickman has anything left? He’s fine if he doesn’t fall behind the hitter. Only saw the end of Tuesday night’s game.

Interesting Glavine article, on how he reinvented himself as a pitcher after slumping as a Met…pitching inside.

San Francisco Vacation 2007

We took our first big family vacation, to San Francisco. Kinda like Chevy Chase and family going to Wallyworld. I posted each day in starting with the last, so the reading would flow.

Ceil and Anna took hundreds of pictures...eventually some will show up here.

Days later, and everyone's still operating on Pacific time, which is killing me.

Tuesday Night August 7th

Saw the first two Bonds at bats before falling asleep on the couch. When I woke up I noticed ESPN wasn’t showing when Bonds would next bat underneath the score. The Giants had six runs, so I figured he must’ve hit 756. Went to bed and didn't find out all the details until the next morning. Going upstairs I realized I hadn't gotten out the baseball tickets yet. I looked in the dark for a while, and left that drawer open with papers scattered about, to be sure to remember in the morning.

Wednesday August 8th

Couldn't sleep late, though I tried. I did find the tickets, and we had a relaxing morning getting packed and covering last minute details. There was stuff to do up to the minute Becky arrived. Getting into her van I remembered we didn't have a jacket for Matthew, which wouldn't have been fun. Pulled out at 1:20 pm.

The kids enjoyed the multimodal trip to the airport...van, elevator, MARTA train, escalator, walking, checking bags, security, tram, and more walking to faraway gate D2, arriving at 3:20 pm. Matthew seemed to get more excited on each leg of the journey. We first flew to Indy, and I had a great view of the Brickyard just before we landed. We were on the ground only long enough for passengers to deboard and board the plane.

Matthew got a kick out of the AirTran peanuts…he read the ‘how to eat’ instructions and laughed out loud. I read through four SI’s, and passed them on to Will and Ceil as I finished each one. Sitting separately, Will and I both listened to the satellite radio broadcast of the exciting Braves / Mets game. Chipper was robbed of a HR, Soriano gave up the game-winning homer, and then Andruw struck out with the bases loaded to end the game. Luckily we were about to land, because after that I couldn’t read or listen to anything else.

Our SF flight didn’t land until 8:30 PDT...12:30 our time. Our rental car turned out to be off-site, even though I checked to make sure there was an airport location. While waiting on the shuttle the kids laughed at another rental car company…Rent-A-Wreck. Then they were excited when our rental turned out to be a quite ordinary Dodge Avenger.

We crossed the lower bay bridge stretching from San Mateo to Hayward, and passed the hotel I’d originally booked. I had switched because the neighborhood sounded bad. We probably would’ve been ok and had free breakfasts for the whole trip, but it would’ve been much less convenient to everywhere we wanted to go. Good decision to switch.

All we found open was a Taco Bell, and then we completed the 1-1/2 hour drive to the Modesto hotel...halfway to Yosemite. We stayed in a nice Springhill Suites, with the ‘grand opening’ sign still up. Nicely outfitted, with Ansel Adams type photos. Again the kids were pumped, and no one had trouble going to sleep.

Thursday August 9th

Up at seven, though it took a while to roust everyone. We had the hotel Continental breakfast, and we stopped at a grocery for a cooler, ice, and a case of water. The grocery had hundreds of interesting piƱatas that were fun to see.

It was a scenic drive to Yosemite, though Ceil was hurting due to all the travel and such, so she napped. We stopped in a tiny mining/touristy town for a Coke. Once in the park we took a break at a ranger station, where Ceil bought Junior Ranger Books. Ceil seemed more excited than the kids, though the workbooks were right up Matthew’s alley as well.

We stopped several times as we drove deeper into the park, at shaded streams, dramatic overlooks, at the Swinging Bridge, and in the valley. There we were surrounded with what looked like several Stone Mountains all around us. The famous Yosemite Falls was dry, as we had read it would be. It was a beautiful clear August day, but the breeze made us comfortable in our T-shirts.

We continued driving, finally arriving at Yosemite Village at lunchtime. We bought sandwich fixins and chips, then drove back and picnicked on an island in the mountain stream. Wild ducks would come right up to our feet as we sat. We tossed them bread, breaking the Junior Ranger rules of not feeding the park animals. As we ate Will and Matthew wandered barefoot up and down the stream.

Bridal Veil Falls was the next stop. The short hike was worth it, as the water gently misted down the rock face in the breeze. Nearby we stopped at the famous Tunnel View overlook. We drove to the southern end of the park, past the old Wawona Hotel to the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. There we hiked around to view the huge trees.

We then drove back north and east to the breathtaking views at Glacier Point, overlooking the famous Half Dome, El Capitan, two more waterfalls, and the entire valley. We arrived as the sun was low in the sky, providing an even greater view. A deer wandered past, and two quail wandered around a few feet from the walking trail.

It was dark by the time we drove back down the mountain, so we ate at Degnans Pizza in Yosemite Village, just about our only option. Then a late, dark drive through the mountains back to the hotel. Everyone slept, and we got back at 12:30 AM.

Friday August 10th

The morning was a little more restful, until all the cars on the Interstate suddenly braked, causing a near miss accident on the way in. We drove up through Oakland on the eastern side of the SF Bay, then across the Bay Bridge into downtown SF, and down the Embarcadero to Fisherman’s Wharf. In the sea of expensive parking, I found a garage for $11.00. Ceil and Will had chowder and sourdough bread at Boidin’s, and Matthew had his beloved McNuggets. We saw the seals near Pier 39, and the kids enjoyed the Spy Shop and ice cream at Ghirardelli Square.

When we booked the trip, I picked the Friday Giants game because it was the only night game while we were there...they played day games on Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. I knew there was a slim chance Bonds wouldn't break the record until we got there, though he cut it close. Nice touch for Hank to deliver a message, and funny that the AJC ran his explanation of why he did it. Funny Dale Murphy came out with his diatribe to same day Bonds broke the record.

AT&T Park doesn’t have much parking, and being unfamiliar with the area, I stumbled across a $10.00 lot with a few fans hiking out for the stadium, in a hip restaurant area. Will headed straight to the crowed left field stands for BP. Ceil wandered into the customer service office…at aisle 119, just like at old Fulton County Stadium. They gave her SF “Summer of Love” 40th anniversary T-shirts for the kids.

Anna and Matthew slid down the big Coke bottle slide, and we walked over to RF stands before the game to look out over McCovey Cove and the Bay. Adam LaRoche hit a BP pitch into the water. During BP Ceil struck up a conversation with a Wilford Bremley look-alike and his wife. Their hats were covered with buttons given out every time Bonds homered this year, with the number HR it was. The 756 pin was special.

The SF leadoff hitter singled, doubled, & tripled his first 3 times up. Bonds homered onto the RF catwalk, and Ceil was excited, knowing she’d get a 758 pin. LaRoche homered toward us in LCF. As the sun set the breeze picked up and it got cold. We left in the 8th inning, drove the short 15 miles to the Courtyard Richmond just north of Berkeley.

Later I discovered there was a public memorial service Friday for 49er coach Bill Walsh, where both Joe Montana and Steve Young spoke.

Saturday August 11th

Each day we slept a little later. We found a McDonalds for breakfast and made a quick stop at Target. A big motorcycle ride had traffic clogged for a bit. Our first stop was the Giants Dugout Store in the downtown Embarcadero Center (which looked exactly like Atlanta’s downtown Peachtree Center). In addition to the 758 pins, Ceil stocked up on All-Star pins and stickers and a Giants poster and pennant. Will bought an orange & black Giants baseball for his room.

Drove down and around the crooked Lombard Street…at the bottom of the block the area was filled with tourists snapping pictures. We drove back downtown…Ceil shopped in a fabric store at Union Square on Guerry Street. Then we headed straight down that street west, past Japantown all the way to the Pacific. We parked and walked around viewing the seal rocks and Cliff House restaurant and two Oceanside parks…one overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. Heading back, we drove back east through nice and average neighborhoods and ate lunch at Mel’s Drive-In, much to Anna and Matthew’s delight. The kid’s meal was served in a cardboard Chevy.

Throughout our time in the city, at every intersection I was careful to look down each street both ways at the wonderful views. The city is set up so that when you’re on a hill, you see the bay when you look both north and east. Looking west you can see the Pacific, and even looking south you’re treated to great views of the city.

After lunch Ceil found a Paper Store to browse. We drove around more, then headed through the Presidio across the Golden Gate Bridge. We then immediately stopped just northeast of the bridge to get out and take pictures, looking back at the city. We then drove north on 101, then east across a northern bay bridge, which dumped us out not far from our hotel. The kids took a short swim, then we made a quick trip to IKEA, where the kids had hot dogs and Ceil bought a pillow.

Though the A’s were out of town, I didn’t realize the Raiders played a Saturday home game against the Cardinals. I did know the 49ers were playing Monday night against the Broncos, at Candlestick.

Sunday August 12th

Breakfast was IKEA sweet rolls, and we also stopped at a Trader Joes we’d discovered next to IKEA in Emeryville, a newer Atlantic Station-type development between Oakland and Berkeley.

In SF I found a parking place on the street, a block away from the downtown cable car turnaround, at Market and Powell streets near Union Square. The wait was about an hour, so Ceil checked out the Gap, and we chatted with the older couple from Dallas in line with us. We discovered all the cable car drivers each had unique personalities…they didn’t take kindly to line-cutters or double parked delivery vans blocking the tracks.

We rode uphill and got off at Chinatown, where we checked out groceries, gift shops, and restaurants (with dead chicken fryers for sale, with heads still attached). Many people were coming and going from small Chinatown churches.

We got back on a cable car and rode past the crooked block of Lombard Street, down to the other end of the line near Fisherman’s Wharf. Matthew was now deep into collecting “smashed pennies”, and we toured the old ships that were part of the National Maritime Park. Matthew and Anna did a few Junior Ranger activities, and Ceil had the same chowder/sourdough bread lunch.

Then we hopped an antique cable car on the F line, taking us south past all the other piers and back downtown. We got off downtown near Union Station and walked uphill several blocks, past the long line waiting to board the cable cars. There we hopped on a cablecar without waiting. We rode it up the hill to California Avenue, where we hopped off the north / south line. Then we caught the next cablecar headed west down California to the end of that line (where we didn’t see the nearby Whole Foods Market next to the trendy thrift store aptly named “Out of the Closet”). We stayed on the cablecar as it journeyed all the way back to the eastern endpoint. There we caught another antique cable car on the F line back to Fisherman’s Wharf, where we went inside the National Park’s Maritime Museum to collect the Junior Ranger badges.

The crowded F line quickly carried us back to our car, and we drove west through Haight-Ashbury (no hippies) to the massive Golden Gate Park and sun-drenched Pacific Ocean…a route further south than we’d previously ventured . For several days Anna had wanted to see the “Full House houses” and I finally looked it up…they were on Steiner Street. On the way out to Haight-Ashbury we crossed Steiner, and I was able to quickly locate the quaint row houses, across the street from a grassy park.

Worn out, we rode back across the Bay Bridge and cruised University Avenue, the main drag in Berkeley. We all enjoyed dinner across the street from our hotel at Chevy’s, a Mexican Restaurant similar to Rio Bravo. Fives days on our vacation, and things had gone smoothly and fun the entire time.

But our vacation was six days long!

Monday the 13th

Slept the latest ever…8 AM. We packed all our stuff…one suitcase was almost completely full of notebooks and papers we’d collected. As we finished packing a bag Will took it down to the car. When we finally checked out and headed to the car I asked Will for the keys, but he couldn’t find them…he had locked them in the car! The nice manager at the Courtyard had AAA, and had a locksmith quickly come out. It took some time, but he got the car unlocked. The car alarm sounded until we were able to pull down the back seats, pull out the luggage, and find the keys to stop the alarm!

Then we drove north across the big I-80 bridge past the many rollercoasters at Marineworld, up to Napa. We lunched at Jack-in-the-Box, then drove back south shopped at stores near the University of California campus in Berkeley.

I pulled into a spot behind a car just driving off, and was greeted by a friendly city employee sweeping up trash. We shopped for 15 minutes, and as we got back to the car I noticed I’d parked on a yellow curb. Then I noticed a small meter maid cart next to our car, putting the finished touches on a parking ticket!

They say bad things happen in threes, so I thought we were in the clear after surviving the highway traffic jam that lasted from the Bay Bridge all the way to South San Francisco.
We had time to shop a few stores on the SSF main drag, then decided to take a restroom break at Costco, next to the rental car drop-off (and a field of several huge gasoline storage tanks).

With few good options for dinner, we decided to buy a whole cooked pizza in the Costco snack bar, in a separate part of the building. They said we’d have to wait while they cooked a new pie, though they’d just pulled a hot pepperoni pizza from the oven. Just after Ceil returned to Costco to look around, a Costco manager said the snack bar had to be evacuated, due to a possible gas leak. I convinced the help to let me have the pepperoni, and the kids wolfed it down in front of the store, watching as several fire trucks loudly race up. Luckily there were no explosions.

With traffic bad and fatigue setting in, we turned in the car and rode the shuttle and tram to the airport. Checked our bags next to a man checking his “service cat”…later we discovered the man and cat were on our flight. Could the day get worse?

It could. Also on the “redeye” flight, seated right behind us, was the proverbial screaming baby. Screamed a good part of the flight back. I think I got a little sleep. Taking off, we flew over the A’s ballpark, a sight we’d missed.

Tuesday August 14th

We landed at 5:15 am, but the MARTA train didn’t head north til 6:05. Trusty Lee arrived at the Perimeter Mall station just ahead of our crowed train, and had us home before 7:30. Everyone hit the sack, and I took my time getting to work…rolling in around 9 am.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Recent Events

Matthew and I saw 'Meet the Robinsons' at The Picture Show...more for boys, but typical Disney. A good message for Matthew, to not despair over failure. But then he played in the big neighborhood whiffleball game and smashed the ball every time...right at people for outs...so he wasn't happy.

Watched ‘Catch Me if You Can”…a VHS I had bought a year ago but never watched. Hanks is actually in a supporting role. If you have a VHS player, you can have my copy. The book would be interesting, because it would be closer to the truth. Part of the story plays out in Atlanta – it would be interesting to know what hospital. Martin Sheen is also in the movie, and is funny. Good mix between funny and technical, reminded me a little of Leo in The Aviator.

Ceil’s dad’s hip-replacement surgery went well, but Ceil may go back after he gets out of the hospital. Ceil is good about things like that.

We went to the 11 am service, because I had to get Anna to a birthday party, so Matthew and I slept in while Ceil and Will went early to teach 4-year olds during the 9 am service.

Had new garage doors installed. We'll get new gutters, which we are shopping. Ceil has to find French Doors as well...know any cheap places? We need to do all that before we get the house painted. Now I'll have to work to clear out half the garage so I can park in there as well.

Need to finish the playhouse...so I can get those building materials out of the garage. I'm looking for old windows to put on there, but that can wait...there's a little siding to finish. I'll try and get it done by labor day.

We have someone taking us to the airport, though I have been saving Park/Ride coupons. Saturday I worked on the trip a bunch, and a little on Sunday and today. Need to do more tonight, and stay in trip mode from here on out. Reconsidering taking the laptop, since it's so valuable in planning / mapquesting, etc.

Got the hotel booked, but tonight I'll probably switch the reservation, and we'll spend the first two nights east of town, perhaps Modesto - closer to Yosemite. The agenda is coming together as well. Friday I'll have my eye on my watch, making sure we get back in time for the game.

Didn't see much of the game last night, though it sounded good. Ceil had a class on digital cameras, then I went to see Spiderman 3 at the late show. Part action, comedy, romance, etc.

NPCC or JFBC or ECPC?

As much as Ceil, Matthew, and I hate it, we're considering leaving NP and going to Johnson Ferry (or smaller East Cobb Presbyterian, on 120 across from The Avenue)...for the kids. Like most decisions we're taking our time, so we'll see. I've been going to church as my life, and no one preaches better than Andy...

Will and Anna aren't that crazy about their NP classes. To me they're light years better than most normal churches. Anna may not have had the best group leader, though usually it's someone young, usually a teenager. Will has had a great group leader for several year, who will email and call, and even came to see Will play. Will likes the group leader, but doesn't have much in common with the others in his small group. Will says he doesn't like the music, which is probably a harder core version of what we have in the service.

It seems kids care much more about being in the same group/class with friends than they care about the quality of the program. Will has his good friends at EC...boys from baseball and school, including all the Norman boys. The Normans visited several churches and liked that one best. Becky was even in a small group with three couples we knew...including a couple from baseball that had also just started going there...Coach Henry. Anna and Will (and Matthew) all have friends at JF as well.

The move may be moot, as I may have heard Ceil agreeing to help in a younger class at NP.

Interesting parking / traffic dynamic at NP...the church attracts type A mover/shaker personalities (many with W stickers on the back)...which often translates to aggressive BWM-type drivers, as I call them. Going to church my pet peeve is where often a line of cars back up on Old Milton and NP Parkway...several drivers will drive past many cars to get to the front of the line (on the left on Old Milton, and on the right on NP Parkway) then signal or wedge their way in. Sometimes on NP Parkway I'll skip ahead on the right, and only merge left IF there's an opening, as there often is. If no opening I'll go on to the second drive.

Costas v Bonds: Like David v Goliath

Bonds was wrong about one thing...Costas knows more about baseball than most people...that has always been his love and specialty. Earlier in Costas' career the network he signed with was determined by what network had the baseball package. He keeps a Mickey Mantle baseball card in his wallet, and named his son Kirby after the Twins outfielder...and he had lots of analysis in Ken Burns' PBS Baseball series. I think Costas was on the mic when Marquis Grissom caught the last out in the 95 World Series.

I've always liked Costas, particularly for his love of baseball, as well as references like that Morrison one...he slips them in without being overbearing and obvious like Chris Berman. That late night show of his was just too late for me.

Since the Giants play two series on the road (LA & SD)...six straight before three more home night games...perhaps Barry will sit in two of those six road games. That would mean he'd only play nine games before my game. Sounds like they have the Pac Bell Park all rigged to go off whenever he hits 755 and 756. It would be too much to ask for Bonds to not break the record until we see him? Wednesday is a night game and Thursday is a day game, so he should play the Friday game we have tickets to. Maybe the pressure will keep him from hitting his second HR until then. That would be one HR per series.

Interesting chatter out there on Glavine. The HOF now decides what cap the Honoree wears…it’s not like if the fans boo that he’d go in as a Met. Boggs tried that in Tampa and it didn’t fly. Interesting point by Rowland, that the fans love Julio…who did the same thing Glavine did.

Braves Trades

Tex’s wife is from Atlanta, I hear, and budget-wise he’d fill the Andruw void. Just making the move would signal the team that management wants to win now, which helps team chemistry. JS thinks Salty is more valuable as a catcher-to-be-traded than as a catcher-turned-first-baseman…hence the Julio pickup and Tex talk. Hear the Dallas writer on 680, saying Tex was great in the second half, but a slow starter? Somebody with the Braves really likes switch-hitters.

Will be interesting to see Andruw get dropped in the order when Tex comes on board. Guess Cox wouldn’t drop him below Frenchy and/or McCann at the same time…Andruw’s feelings would be hurt enough just to go to the 5 spot. Like you had said…in Boston Andruw would bat way down in the order…same thing for either NY team, the Angels or White Sox. The big spenders in Houston don’t need a centerfielder…they love that kid the way Braves fans love Francoeur.

I actually found out about the trade while reading Rowland's Office 30 minutes after his 11:29 post. Didn't have to give up Reyes...seems like everyone's happy. JS is good about getting the better end of the deal more times than not, so if the trades don't go through, it very well could be because the other team was asking for too much.

DOB had it right about the lineup...to bad Cox won't drop Andruw behind McCann and/or JF. But maybe he's heating up more as well. These moves will hopefully lift spirits in the clubhouse, and darken moods at Shea and in Philly. That starts the Phils got wasn’t anything special, was he? Of course, Dotel has blown 3 of 14 saves…but he’ll be in a setup role this year.

Hear Kincaid not like the trade Monday? He thought the Braves needed pitching instead…but there were few pitchers being offered worthy of giving up Salty or Elvis for. Interesting to have Bill Shanks on there… Dave O’Brien has been on 680 at 8:30. Too late for me.

Great SB by Escobar Friday night...then later in the same inning a not bad try by Harris. Hope Lang's dad saw it...he's one of those who thinks Cox isn't aggressive enough. I did go to bed while the game was still tied...after Bond's last AB on ESPN. You don't think Escobar is older than his stated age, do you? Kinda like Furcal.

Last Wednesday's was the type game Cox would say James only made two bad pitches, though I didn’t pay that close attention.