Saturday, September 09, 2017

Watched Men's Semifinals last night at the US Open

Our friends Barbara and Gareth arrived yesterday on their way to a concert in Pittsburgh.

Now I was watching Rafa Nadal at the US Open (ps - love his night outfit).


So I wasn't here when they showed up. They got the key and took Trevor for a quick walk.

The funny thing is that they said they walked Trevor, who was asleep when the arrived. Then they came back and sat down to watch TV and it was like Trevor suddenly realized he didn't know them. He started barking and hid under the table until they gave him a treat and played with him.

I think Trevor was working them.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Hurricanes

This picture of St. Martin (or Sint Maarten) freaks me out. Not just because of the destruction - although that is bad enough, but because Ed and I were there after a category 2 and were amazed at the destruction then - now it looks quaint by comparison.

Driving through St. martin after a Cat 2 hit.
The picture above was from when we were there. There are 2 airports (the big one of the Dutch side and a small one on the French side), because we couldn't get into the Dutch one we caught the last 2 seats to the French airport and drove to the Dutch side to fly home.

Driving across the island, there was only 1 road that was still open, the road above. And we had to stop and wait every now and then as the trash and power lines were moved so we could get through. We took pictures of a few boats over turned and houses damaged and we felt awful. People stood outside there homes with damage to roofs and walls - particularly along the ocean.

You just knew it was going to take weeks to get back to normal.

  
On St. Barts when we were there after a Cat 2
That hurricane freaked us out. Sitting in the dark, no eletricty, no air with storm bashing at doors and windows we were never particularly afraid for our lives, but we were afraid.

I literally cannot imagine how scary it must be to sit in a Hurricane Cat 5. Look at the picture below of Barbuda.  It's like a bomb.
And these are places that are, at least somewhat, used to hurricanes!

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

The Squirrel and the Chipmunk: A Fable


Once Upon a Time…
.. in Central Park, on a sunny day, groups of children played, lovers strolled, flowers bloomed and – for that day – all seemed right in the world. And, on this day, a bag of peanuts fell out of a stroller as a mother hurried a child home. (Just by the by, the child never missed the nuts, as she was being rushed home to see Pippa Pig, her favorite show, and she was very busy exploring how to place cheerios up her nostrils. So, it was a perfect day even for that little girl.)
With the bag of peanuts on the ground there was a race to get to them. Tentative squirrels crawled down the trees in increments, searching for safety before proceeding again a few feet at a time. Chipmunks crawled in confusing formations towards bag, helter skelter, but proceeding always closer. Pigeons, the worst of all Central Park creatures sent out a call that brought others fleetly on the wing.
But first to the bag were a squirrel and chipmunk, both thought reckless by their families. The squirrel and the chipmunk were conditioned by years of history and tried to ignore each other, but finally one spoke. You could ask them later who spoke first and what they said, but neither really remembered. Instead they remembered looking at each other and freezing on the spot.
The other animals froze in place thinking that, perhaps from their vantage points, the squirrel and the chipmunk saw something they did not. The pigeons flew, ungainly as pigeons are apt to be, just far enough away to be safe, but not so far as to lose sight of the tasty morsels. 
But the squirrel and the chipmunk did not freeze out of fear. Or, at least, not fear of a predator, but fear of scaring the other.
The squirrel looked at the chipmunk, saw its refined coloring, whip fast reflexes and soulful eyes. The chipmunk saw the squirrel’s busy tail, which swished in excitement despite the squirrel’s best efforts to control it, and the bright energetic face. And, without saying a word, they both turned together and ran into the underbrush.
And there, the squirrel and the chipmunk played and laughed and fell in love.
Now, Central Park is a pretty easy place to find food; humans are messy spoiled creatures who leave extra bits around all the time. Plenty of food for a squirrel and a chipmunk, in love, to forage without having to commit to tree or burrow. And they had a wonderful full life. They visited the zoo after it was closed and watched the animals from far away – grizzly bears from Montana, penguins from South Africa, cheetahs from the Himalayas. They even made a quick trip or two to the hot baths on monkey island.
Sometimes they slept in the trees, towering far above the park, looking out at the sparkling lights of the city just beyond. And sometimes they slept in a burrow, listening to the quiet of the park and the smells and sounds that come out if you just wait long enough.
They were happy. Until.
One day, one fateful day – as it turned out, the squirrel and the chipmunk were running through the park when they came upon a Volkswagen display of the new Tourag. Squirrels in the trees called down to the pair and said, “Imagine how many nuts you could store in that for the winter.”
Chipmunks called out from the hiding places and holes called out to the pair, “Think how safe we would be in that, safe and watching the world!”
And the squirrel and the chipmunk stopped for a moment and thought how happy they could be together in the Tourag, full of nuts and safe from the monsters outside. And they lingered holding little paws. But they lingered too long. And in a swipe before they even noticed, a dog (unleashed!) came barreling out and grabbed the squirrel. The poor chipmunk let out a yell, which brought it to the attention of a hawk, circling far above which swooped down and grabbed the chipmunk.
And the squirrel mother said to the young squirrels, “That is why we stay here, safe in the trees.”
And the chipmunk mother said to the young chipmunks, “That is why we stay here, safe in hiding.”
And the pigeon said (hard to believe - but this pigeon was quite an ethicist), “This is all the fault of the engineers at Volkswagen who cheated on the emissions test, so that in order to sell new cars they have to take a non-traditional sales route. Without that shiny nut holder here, these two would still be happy.”
But I say that the moral of the story is that for a moment, for a day, or a month, or a lifetime, two souls fell in love and enjoyed a world neither had ever known before. Enjoy every day you have together. Be careful, but not too cautious. The world is wider and more beautiful that you can imagine alone. You need someone to imagine it with.

Monday, September 04, 2017

UCLA Bruins: 2nd Biggest Come Back of Any school

Of course, there was plenty of whinging in this house up to the last 17:00 minutes of the game....

And why on a Sunday night? They didn't even start playing well until after 10:30 PM East Coast Time.


US Open : Fun Day, but My Favorites Lost

I went out to the US Open yesterday to watch Denis Shapovalov and Maria Sharapova.  AS the news put it, it was a bad day for blond-haired, Russian blooded folk (both are the children of Russians, neither live in Russia).

Shapo was not on perfect form. He was, unfortunately, on intermittent form. When he was good, he was great, but when he was off he stunk the place up.  Ultimately, that wasn't enough to win. He lost in 3 straight sets, all in tie breaks.

I did have amazing seats, because there weren't any free, so I was allowed to sit courtside. It was cool.  Look how close.


He came towards me at towel time.

Signing autographs after the match.
Maria Sharapova isn't really a huge favorite of mine, but this is the first time I have seen her close up.  She was impressive, even in a lost.  Her grunts are more annoying close up.

Friday, September 01, 2017

Mascot of the Month: My Favorite House Porn Site

I admit it, I love House Porn.  I love the HGTV channel. I enjoy the Property Brothers. But my very very favorite House Porn is the blog at RightMove.co.uk.

They change it up a lot and I love it.  For example - here are some fairly recent postings from their blog. They usually include: Dream Properties of the Month | Monthly Friday Fixer Uppers | Most Viewed Properties of Month | Overseas

From the site (link): De Vere House was immortalised as part of Godric’s Hollow in the film Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part One, the village where both Harry Potter and his headmaster Dumbledore were born. The real-life medieval building is situated in Lavenham, Suffolk and is nowon the market for £950,000, coming complete with 6 bedrooms and a separate self-catering wing – as well as that stunning exterior.

 From the site (link):
If you favour beautiful views above all else then The Black Mill could well be your dream home. This quirky former mill has panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.
Built over six floors, the six-bedroom house comes with five bathrooms, annex accommodation and six acres of land. Plus its very own workshop if you’re ever feeling creative!

My favorite!
First up is a bonafide piece of history as Caverswall Castle – an 18-bedroom Anglo-Saxon castle – is on the market for those a little more adventurous with their property tastes. The incredible building has 13 bathrooms, 9 reception rooms and its own moat along with 20 acres of countryside. Put simply, it’s a stunning property.

A "Friday Fixer-Upper" of a French Chateau
A fine 16 Bedroom Chateau, 5 Bedroom Manoir and 6 further Cottages, located in the Thiviers area in 180 acres of grounds - This is a truly stunning opportunity to acquire a country estate, totalling approximately 180 acres of land. Although in need of renovation, this estate offers a fine opportunity and is value for money as an ensemble or to maybe divide. Viewing Essential. - Leggett has 15000 more properties on its website with full virtual tours for viewing - our HO team speaks English and eight other languages (link)

And all of that is only their blog. I still look at the overseas properties for my dream home in Montenegro: (link)

Siobhan

So, good on the Irish for taking their language back, but it is hell on the rest of us.

I saw a show last night where the lead was named (as she spoke it) Chevon. Seems simple to me.

But is was spelled (or spelt, both are correct), Siobhan. Hell, even the Chinese are phonetically nicer to us.

Good Grief.

Christine Lahti in F**king A

I recently saw Christine Lahti in F**king A as the Signature Theater.

Given the embargo, I can't review it now, but I can say that Christine Lahti gives an amazing performance in a tough tough role.

It was odd to see her on stage. I will always see her in Swing Shift, even though that was a million years ago now. In F**king A she plays her age (67) in a time when life is hard as hell. In it, she looks like she has lived a horrible life.

She looks tired, ragged and bitter. But she also manages to give off an indestructible personna of tempered steel underneath. It is almost impossible to looked broken AND indestructible at the same time, but she does it.

Wow.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Smell of Concrete in the Morning

I was walking to the store (for bleach) this morning and happened to walk up 112th. And today, for whatever reason, eveyrone was out cleaning their sidewalks with a hose.

That smell!

That reminded me of my youth in Los Angeles. You can't do that anymore.

You haven't been able to use a hose to clean the sidewalks since about the drought of 1978. That is why we have so many gardeners with electric blowers, you can't use a hose anymore. Trading one stereotype for another.

But when I was young, the smell was - vacation.

Two stories From Yesterday's Open

First, I watched some great tennis. Two of my three favorites played yesterday (becasue Llyeton doesn't play anymore). Rafa was off, but Shapovalov played on TV last night and upset Tsongas.
And in person I got to see Borna Coric upset Sverev.



This is early in Set 2 - It ended up super full (most of Grandstand is open seating).  Great shot with Arthur Ashe and the roof in the background.

It was on Grandstand and the place was rocking. I watched a lot of it.  First, from up high then I moved lower and lower as it went on.  It was great fun and Borna played his ass off to win.  He was never broken after the first set, even though he was down 0-40 at least three times. He always came back to save his serve. Zverev was only broken once, in set 3. But Borna Coric played the tie breakers much better. So fun.

PS the low seats in the picture below are empty because they are reserved and this was hour 10 o fhte day. They had to make up for rain yesterday. Ultimately the ushers let the crowd into the lowest open seats. It was great.

Borna, as I got lower
Now the second story is kind of funny / disgusting, depending on who you are. Look at the picture below, then I will tell you the story.
 The little boy is part of a family watching two American women (Coco Vandeweghe won). I front is an older woman with the blond / strawberry hair. The little boy is standing because he had to pee and the parents didn't want to walk out during the match (and the umpire was yelling at anyone walking). So the little boy is peeing in a container. The woman in front is very excited about the match and jumping up and sitting down as the little boy is distractedly peeing.  Everyone was waiting for the disaster.

It never struck. Mom put away the pee jar and the woman in front was none the wiser and didn't get a drop on her.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Opening Day at the US Open

Yesterday I went out to the US Open to watch a little tennis, see my husband and hang with some friends (who are here from Houston!).

Right now, this guy above, Denis Shapovlov is one of my favorites.  He is a young Canadian (kind of - his parents were Russian Jews that moved to Israel where he was born, he grew up and is Canadian). He did great in Montreal, but is so young he doesn't have the ranking  yet, so he had to play into the tournament via the qualifying tourny.  So he played 3 times last week, then a rock solid set yesterday.  This guy is amazing to watch. He can return almost any serve!

 Then Shania Twain gave a mini-concert opening. I must admit to not being a massive Shania fan, but our friends from Houston were so Edie got them in to see her.  She was very good and they were thriled.
And the end of the night, I caught Borna Coric, my little Croatian tennis guy.  He flew out of the gates a few years ago, but has stumbled. Last night he won in straight sets, but it wasn't easy (7-6, 7-5, 6-4).

Two Things Harvey Reminds Us Of

I am going to write about some fun things in a few minutes. However, I urge everyone to keep Harvey in mind and do what you can (for example: I can donate money, but not blood).

If you have no idea where to donate, I always support Team Rubicon, a team of first responders made up of veteram volunteers (started by a Bruin and Badger) doing amazing work in disaster zones.  https://teamrubiconusa.org/
https://teamrubiconusa.org/


There are towo things that Hurricane Harvey has reminded us all.


One, when faced with adversity, people are can be exceedingly good. There are people from all over America driving to Harvey / Houston with boats to help the rescuers in flood waters. Team Rubicon, World Vision, local support groups are all heading to help in Houston. Neighbors are opening their houses and silly ass Air BnB is helping with that. Donations spike and neighbors help neighbors.

When people ask if I believe in God I tend to answer, "No. Not in the traditional way most people do. But, I do believe that people, working together for a common good are somehow MORE than the sum of their individual parts. And, very often, people work together through churches, and create more good with their spirits combined than they do alone. And if that extra spirit is be attributed to God - I can't argue with them."

Two, climate change makes these disasters worse. As I started saying about 3 or 4 years ago, it doesn't matter if you believe in climate change or not. We have to prepare for the climate to be our enemy.

The extra sea-level rise, the extra heat in the Caribbean this year, the extra heat in the air this year. All that is additional energy and makes natural storms into national disasters. (Or normal fires into infernos, or tornadoes start touching down year round).



I am way past debating this and (I have) moved right on to figuring out how to prepare going forward. Because, as a Economic Geography major in school, I can tell you extra energy in the climate is going to translate into trillions in costs, millions in lives (around the world) and war. We are preparing for the final part, let's get America ready for the first two by building in expectations. Because, as I have also said, it is way too late to prevent this.