6:14 AM

It’s 6:14 AM. This is typically the only time I get to spend on here, although sometimes I might get a few minutes at night. I’m pretty heavily firewalled at work, and way too busy to spend any time writing. Maybe if there was a way to do voice-to-text in the car, I’d have more time. But I imagine most of that translation would be scattered, and mostly “um, um, uh…”.

Had a weird dream last night, the typical “it’s halfway through the semester and I haven’t gone to any classes and suddenly need to learn everything before midterms.” A lot of people have this dream, but this happened pretty regularly for me, so it’s a little more grounded in reality. This time around, I remember one of the classes was an intro to astronomy class, and I didn’t have any of the books. I had one study hall to learn the name and position of every major star and constellation. The alarm went off before the test.

I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts and audio books lately. My grand scheme earlier this year was to start a music web site and spend two hours a day listening to demos and reviewing them. I had a lot of trouble getting momentum, though. It’s all but dead since the car wreck and house buying madness in about April or so. I also found I was getting almost zero music to review, and was spending too much of my own money on iTunes, trying to track down albums.

It’s somewhat hypnotic to be awake at this hour and hear the I-880 traffic in the distance, punctuated by the rumble of an occasional train. Our view is of the port, and there’s a train line that’s usually populated with Union Pacific freight cars, and the occasional Amtrak coach. You can only see a small subset of the port, though. I’ve driven over there, and there’s an insane amount of cargo containers, almost all of them from China, probably filled with junk going to Wal-Mart. The area just up from our place used to be the 16th street station, the terminus of the UP railroad. There’s a giant grand station sitting there abandoned, unsafe since the 1989 earthquake, and surrounded by chain-link and barbed wire. There’s a long-range plan to convert it into some kind of restored mixed-use retail space, but it’s going to take years of paperwork and zoning to get it anywhere near initiation. And given the economy, nobody’s rushing to get that started. But I’m hoping in five or ten years, they get something in there.

I have to get a cat into a carrier and off to the vet soon. Into the carrier is always the fun part.


Rockies @ A’s

I got a late start this year, but finally got to my first baseball game of the season. Last night, we made the trek down the East Bay to the Coliseum to see the Rockies play the A’s. So here’s my usual bulleted list recap of the game:

  • This is the first game I’ve been to in Oakland since we moved to the bay area, and my second time visiting the coliseum. (I went last year for an A’s-Phillies game.)
  • I got tickets in the 116 section, which is the first section just to the right of home plate. There was a small section of suite boxes between us and the field, and we were slightly up, but otherwise we were extremely close.
  • We drove, which was no sweat – just a couple of miles down the 880 from our new place. Parking was $15 and no difficulty. The parking lot is set up for football games with three times the attendance, so there was no problem getting a spot.
  • Against better judgment, I wore a Rockies jersey, and was waiting for the sea of tailgaters to beat the shit out of me like it was a post-Iranian election riot. But amazingly enough, nobody gave me shit at all for it.
  • The promotional night was Beer Fest – one of the clubs was open with like 30 different microbreweries, and for $10 you got a free mug and three “tastes” of beer. (Given that a regular beer costs $8, I would guess a “taste” would be like a shot-glass.) All of this started at 4:00, and the game started at 6:00. We didn’t go to the beer fest, given that neither of us drink. See also the thing about getting beaten to a pulp by a drunken Oakland fan.
  • We got there a bit after 4:00 and headed right for our section, to watch batting practice. When we got there, Oakland was batting, but most of the Rockies were sitting in front of the dugout, and doing stretches with those big rubber band resistance things. Our section was pretty damn close to where they were exercising, although not as close as it would be at AT&T park in San Francisco.
  • The tunnel ran right under our section, so if you were standing at the front of it (our seats were 17 rows back), you could watch players go in and out of the clubhouse. Unfortunately, that meant that all of the pro autograph seekers were hogging this space, and they piss me off. It’s impossible to talk to a player before a game, because you’re going to get shut down with a pushy guy holding a binder of crap that’s all going straight to eBay. But I did at least get to see pretty much every player up close, and I got some good pictures.
  • During BP, Troy Tulowitzki came up and talked to a bunch of the people at the rail. He’s a lot taller than he looks on the field, and his voice is a lot deeper than I’d expected. Also, he has one of those stupid lines-shaved-in Brian Bosworth haircuts right now, which is hilarious.
  • The Rockies played their own music during BP, including their unofficial theme song, “Streetcar Symphony” by Rob Thomas. That one song instantly brings me back to every game I saw at Coors Field in 2007, which I absolutely love.
  • The Rockies are on a pretty decent run right now, enough that even SportsCenter (ala “The Red Sox/Yankees and occasionaly maybe another team News Hour”) is even giving them a split-second of coverage. (Although Sabermetrics genius John Kruk said something to the effect of “Well, winning 17 out of 20 games doesn’t really say anything.”) The A’s are currently last in their division, and with the trade deadline looming, they’ll probably start parting out their entire team in short order. I’m glad we got to see them play before the deadline, because in August and beyond, it’s going to be nothing but Jason Giambi and a bunch of fourth-string freshman prospects.
  • There aren’t many people going to A’s games. We watched Friday’s game on TV, and large sections of the stadium were empty. When we sat down before the game, there was virtually nobody in our section. Then a guy came up and had the seat right next to me, and it turned out he was from Colorado and a Rockies fan, so it was good to see him there. He was in the Air Force, and worked tracking space junk on radar. We ended up talking quite a bit during the game, and he was pretty up on his stats, so it was good to have an unofficial scorer for the game.
  • I had my iPhone and the new MLB At Bat app, which lets you listen to the away team’s radio broadcast, but I spent the whole game talking to the guy next to me, so I didn’t listen. I did use it to check a few scoring details during the game though, which was handy.
  • The game got broken open early, with a Rockies home run in each of the first four innings. I had worries that De La Rosa’s pitching would be all over and give them A’s a chance to catch up, but by the 6th inning, it was 11-2. Also, every Rockies player ended up getting a hit by the end of the night.
  • Because the game started off fast, I did not go explore for any food. Sarah went back and got me a bratwurst, which was pretty decent. (Of course, it’s not as good when you don’t get to see them run in a footrace first.)
  • This was the second game where Matt Holliday, the former Rockies MVP, was playing against them for Oakland. He’s not doing a stellar job with the A’s, and probably won’t remain there long. The play that got the biggest number of boos was when he tried to get home from third with two outs on, and got thrown out at the plate by Carlos Gonzalez (who was one of the A’s traded to Colorado for Holliday.)
  • After De La Rosa left the game in the 6th, it looked like they would lightly graze the bullpen and not use a closer. But three bullpen pitchers ended up blowing it, and by the 9th, the score was 11-8.
  • After the 7th inning stretch, the strangest thing happened – this plague of little bugs descended on the stadium, all over the stands. They were these little gnat-like fly things, and they were EVERYWHERE. I looked up, and everyone in the lower deck was madly swatting away at these bugs. I had just bought a diet coke a minute before, and of course it had no lid, so it quickly became a $5.50 soup of bugs.
  • Said plague came while they were playing a Michael Jackson song. The guy in front of us was joking that the TV announcer was probably looking at everyone swatting away bugs and said “look, everyone is dancing to Thriller as a tribute to the late Michael Jackson!”
  • Huston Street came in once it became a save situation and quickly shut down the 9th. But it never should have been that close of a situation.
  • The announced attendance was 18,624, but about half of that left before the 7th inning stretch, and many more left during the 8th inning plague of locusts. We had no problem at all getting out of the parking lot and going home. The only big issue was that I felt like little bugs were crawling all over me when I got home, and had to take some Benadryl to get to sleep. In fact, I still feel like bugs are crawling on me.

And that’s the game. We just booked a trip to Denver for a long weekend in August, and we have tickets for two of the Rockies-Cubs games, which should be a lot of fun. I will eventually get around to posting some of the photos, although I am currently in a quandry about where to put photos these days, because is bouncing against its quota, and my accounts on dreamhost, despite having no quota, are not that speedy.


Back for the attack

I’m back. I’ve decided to try and get back on the horse again, as far as running this journal. I don’t know if I will have the time, but I need to write, and Facebook just isn’t cutting it as far as getting my thoughts down. I am still busy with work (which I will, as previously, attempt to not talk about here, and keep a tight line between it and not-work life) but I have some time every morning that maybe I should use to update this, instead of obsessively searching for what idiotic blather John “I’m a competitive eater and don’t know it” Kruk has said about baseball the day before.

So now I feel like I need to post about eight months of catch-up. A lot’s been going on, so I will just hit the highlights as I eat a frozen burrito lunch, and maybe I will go into detail in the days/weeks/years to come.

The biggest thing is that we bought a house, and I’ve moved to West Oakland. I now live here. We bought a 1 bed/1.5 bath signature loft, which is a thousand square feet, but feels much bigger, because it’s an open-plan loft, very white, very high ceiling, and a lot of open space. We also have a full wall of windows facing west, and a skylight, which makes things look extremely bright. It’s a loft conversion of an old warehouse, and we purchased it as new construction, so we got to pick the floors, and nobody has lived here before. We’re sort of hedging our bets by moving in to a pre-gentrified neighborhood that’s basically a whole lot of nothing right now. But Emeryville is very gentrified and is just north of us, and it’s slowly creeping south. We currently have to drive to Emeryville or downtown Oakland for basic services, but I imagine by the time we finish paying PMI payments, there will be a Trader Joe’s within a mile of here.

Here are some pre-purchase photos without the floors or other finishing touches installed. And here are some exterior photos of our place, and the neighboring construction site and other stuff. No interior shots yet until we get the place figured out and fully unpacked, which might be around 2012. (We moved in May 2, BTW.) [Photo link gone, sorry…]

I all but totalled the Yaris in April. I was driving in stop-and-go traffic and looked in my rear-view for a split second, and then went from about 40 to 0 into the back of an SUV. I was fine, no airbag deployment, but I did not hurt anything. The car had about $10K of damage, and I was certain the insurance would total it, but they paid to fix it. It spent a month in the body shop, and all of this happened right before we moved – I got it back I think a day or two before we moved in. I got it back with a defective windshield, which looked all wavy and made me think I had some optamological issue, but the shop quickly replaced it. I’m getting the occasional check engine light (something with the evaporative emissions, probably a loose wire) but it’s otherwise fine. It’s actually averaging 2-3 MPG better than before, but that might be my new I-880 commute versus the 101.

One of our cats (squeak, the little one) got a compound fracture of her leg. I woke up one morning and there was blood everywhere and she was huddled under the couch with a bone sticking out of her leg. She had emergency surgery that cost way too much, and has been in a cast since this happened (the week after the car.) We’ve had to keep her in a little tenty-playpen thing to keep her from running around, which is not the easiest thing to do with a two-year-old cat. Her cast comes off tomorrow, and she has been doing much better. She can even deal with the stairs on three legs now, which is imporessive.

My weight loss has stabilized at about 170 now, and has remained +/-5 pounds of that since October. I don’t religiously follow WW anymore or count points, but I pretty much know what I can and cannot do as far as food intake is concerned. I have fears that I will fall off the deep end, but then I get back on track and cut the crap food, and all is fine. Honestly, just keeping on diet soda and avoiding fast food keeps it all pretty much in check.

I’ve struggled with writing. I don’t have the time to do it anymore, and I totally ignore the whole publishing world/blog thing, and do not network whatsoever. I’ve been knocking around two book projects. One is a book a lot like Summer Rain, but about high school. That’s hard to do because I don’t want to make it about my life, but I think the only people who would be interested in reading it would be all up in my shit about the factual accuracy or whatever, and I don’t want to spend the next ten years researching when certain Helloween albums were released in the US or whatever. The other is a book like Rumored, but slightly more plot-oriented. That’s hard just because I really have to be in the zone to write that stuff, and I never am.

I’ll have to post at a later date with a roundup of various media consumption, including books, movies, and podcasts…