In Philly

How can you not love going to a baseball game? Outside. Spring weather. Excitement of the crowd.


How can you not love going to a baseball game? Outside. Spring weather. Excitement of the crowd.

They say Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park resembles an “old time” ballpark, but it’s ginned up the ying-yang with electronic accouterments! There are electronic screens or digital signs nearly everywhere!

barry-and-geoff.jpgThis was the Phils first game back since Harry Kalas’ death and there was a nicely done tribute video voiced by Larry Anderson. Everyone liked him, or so it seems.

We were joined by my friend Barry. We were very close in the late 70s. It was great to see him and talk through much of the game. I am astounded we never discussed politics–not once.

The Phils went to a quick lead 7-1 and then imploded! At least we had cheesesteaks and funnel cakes.

dobbs-out-at-home_1.JPGWe dropped Barry off in Center City then headed into “Old City” to pick-up I-95. It’s a thriving neighborhood. Lots of people were outside on the street or in cafes. i like seeing that. As a nocturnal animal it’s one reason city life has always appealed to me.

We’re back at the hotel now. Tonight it’s Helaine’s neighborhood reunion. Neither of us has any idea who will be there and how it will go. She is worried.

Stay tuned.

Tech Support

I’m good, but not that good. What kind of crazy industry has so many of its products needing so much work, so often?

So far today I have worked on my friend Barry’s PC (in the Philly suburbs using logmein), helped Ann Nyberg with her website for the new Katharine Hepburn Theater in Old Saybrook, and scouted for parts to help preserve data from my friend Erik’s totally dead laptop.

I’m good, but not that good. What kind of crazy industry has so many of its products needing so much work, so often?

Imagine if cars or airplanes, both of which are incredibly complex, were as dependable as a PC!

Luckily, I enjoy doing this stuff. In a good world, I wouldn’t have to. At some point, computers will have to work as if they’ve been perfected!

It’s Good To See Old Friends

I have been friendly with Barry since I met him at my first poker game in the late 70s. During the time both of us were ‘between wives’ we hung out took together… even took vacations together. Though we live far apart I still consider him one of my best friends.

I should add, going on vacation with a dentist is a learning experience. I seem to remember his swishing mouthwash at least a half dozen times a day. And, you’ll be glad to know, no one has cleaner hands!

We weren’t able to see Barry in Atlantic City, but knew he and his wife would be passing through on their way to a wedding in Rhode Island. Originally we were hoping they’d come to the house for bagels and lox, but time didn’t permit. So this morning we drove into New Haven and waited for them at the Greek Olive.

Their trip took a little longer than normal because of traffic on I-95. There are choke points here in Connecticut that slow any trip down – and they hit them all. It is especially true around the Greek Olive which is next door to the new Ikea, itself a destination for thousands.

It’s always good to see old friends. You can catch up on their lives and then trash everyone else you mutually know.

Barry and Sheila were my first friends to become grandparents. It was fun for them, sobering for me. Having contemporaries with two generations below them isn’t something you think about while growing up.

They left, leaving Helaine and Steffie the opportunity to walk across the lawn to Ikea. If you’re not here in Connecticut, you have no idea what a big deal has been made of this store. We had stories on the news. The newspaper splashed it across its “A” section. It’s an especially significant event for New Haven which has had almost no new retail activity in years.

The parking lot was even more crowded than when I went with Ann earlier in the week. Outside, a New Haven firetruck stood in front of an ambulance. Both had their emergency lights on. I figured it was a shopper who had bought something and only then realized he’d have to find a way to get it home and then assemble it!&#185

The crowd inside the store would make you think they’re giving something away. It’s been a long time since I bought furniture, so maybe they are. I’m unqualified here. I do know it’s simple and spartan. Some of the items are so simple they resemble the milk crates we used for furniture in my college dorm.

I left Helaine and Steffie to walk around and returned to the car. Since I had my camera, I wanted to take a photo of the former Armstrong Tire (then Pirelli Tire) Headquarters. Built 35 years ago and designed by Marcel Breuer, the upper floors of the building float above the rest. It’s abandoned now, used mostly to hang billboards. There are rumors it will be reworked into a hotel or other commercial space.

As I walked, I caught glimpse of a few of the cameras that have gone up since Ikea was finished. Most of the surrounding intersections have four fixed cameras to see what’s going on. I think, since they’re on the same pole as the traffic lights, that they go back to the city.

Helaine and Steffie met me at the car. Steffie had bought an ice cream cone, the second food related purchase made by my family at this furniture store. In fact, with my earlier trip, we’re 0-2 in furniture.

&#185 – I am only kidding around because a fireman told me someone who had fallen and wasn’t serious.

Yikes – Poker’s Good

We slept in pretty late. It was late enough that I missed my friend Barry, who decided to go back to Philadelphia early because of the bad weather.

My breakfast, at the Metropolitan, was strawberry pancakes. Not bad, but not special. Breakfast was fine.

Afterward Steffie and Helaine set out to see the new outlet stores. I headed to our room where the Phillies / Cubs game was in progress on TV. I wouldn’t have stayed but Eric Milton was on his way to a no hitter.

Unfortunately, in the 9th the no hitter went bye bye. In fact, Milton was pulled with the score tied 2-2. I left to play poker and watch the end. By the time I got downstairs the Phils had won 3-2.

Poker had been pretty good to me. I had won all three times I sat down to play, so I decided to go up in stakes. I put my name on a list and in a few minutes was playing $10/$20 Texas Hold’em.

To me, this is scary territory. These pots can hold significant cash and require a significant investment. Right away I promised myself to play tight. Unlike the lower stakes tables I normally play at, there is no rake here. Instead each player is charged $5 every time the dealer changes (every half hour).

It didn’t take long before I won my first hand. The afternoon went very well – not perfect. By the time I cashed out, I had made another $915.

This has been a significant poker event for me. Discounting the tournaments I played (because the payoffs are so concentrated in placing high), Las Vegas wasn’t too bad for poker either.

I think I am now a good poker player. Not great. Not excellent. Just good enough to hold my own in mid stakes ring games. That’s a heck of an accomplishment and I’m happy about it.

I’m going now to play a little more.

Unusual Evening

I am behind on my schoolwork. Well, actually I’m ahead, but with plans for the weekend and little time to catch up, I’m behind.

Have I come close to explaining what I mean?

I took a 4th quarterly homework test in my Applied Climatology class this evening. It wasn’t too bad, and I squeezed it in between our 8:40 PM newsbrief and the 10:00 PM news.

I still have the corresponding test on my Radar Meteorology course. It will be significantly more difficult and end up eating into the weekend… when we have plans.

As soon as I get home from work, wash my makeup off (that’s still strange to say), and change into jeans, we’ll be heading out to the Jersey Shore. When Steffie was a baby, this was the type of trip we made all the time.

You would think traffic would be light at this time of night, but the Connecticut

Turnpike, New England Thruway, and Cross Bronx Expressway are in a constant state of disrepair. There are some areas that seem to have been work zones since I was a little boy.

So we’ll be taking the Merritt Parkway (lower speed limit, chance of running into a deer) and listening for traffic on the George Washington Bridge that would force us onto I-287 (I can’t spell Tappan Zee Bridge).

Since our hotel room won’t be ready until tomorrow afternoon, we’ll be spending a few hours with some friends – though how friendly can you be when you get there at 4:00 AM!

It’s been a long time since we were in Atlantic City. This will be Steffie’s first trip. We’re hoping to walk the boards in front of the casinos with her. It’s a very sleazy, honky tonk type atmosphere, but thoroughly enjoyable. Most of the boardwalk strollers have the physical beauty of a person in front of you in line at the DMV… or the clerk behind the counter.

We’re also hoping to see my friends Barry and Neal and their respective spouses. It’s been a really long time since I saw them.

So, all in all, rushing my schoolwork and driving through the night should be worth it. I’m not sure I believe that, but putting it in type might convince me.

At The Eagles Game in Spirit Only

I am not writing this from Lincoln Financial Field. I did not take Amtrak to Philadelphia. I assume my friend Barry is sitting home and not at the game either.

It’s a real shame, because I wanted to go to the game. But, it was not to be. Even though the snow stopped overnight, there was no reasonable expectation that my train would be able to hold to its schedule. It would originate in Springfield, MA and then move south through Hartford before getting to New Haven’s Union Station.

The Eagles game is the glamor game in the NFL today. The Eagles and Cowboys are both contenders. A win by the Eagles assures them a playoff spot with 3 more to play. An Eagle loss would give them both the same record, but put Dallas ahead by virtue of 2 head-to-head wins.

Here in Connecticut, the game wasn’t shown on TV. Instead, we got the Giants and Redskins. Even parents of players on those teams wanted the Eagles game!

Helaine and I sat and listened to the game on the PC. Three weeks ago, I subscribed to the NFL audio package, and it’s pretty good. Our feed is from WYSP with Merrill Reese (who I worked with 23 years ago) and Mike Quick.

All the commercials are removed, leaving dead air. Believe it or not, you miss the commercials. The silence spoils the flow of the game. Actually, the commercial pauses hurts the game at the stadium too.

Happily, the Eagles won big… big enough that I’ve already heard two sportscasters on two separate networks call it a rout.

Barry has invited me. again, two weeks from today. It’s tough to resist.

New York City Trip Report – Day 2

Click here, or on any photo to see my album of photos from this trip.

I grew up in New York City. OK, it was in Flushing, Queens, in what is referred to as a “two fare zone.” Still, it’s part of NYC.

I never attended Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Sure, I watched it on TV when I was growing up, but that was totally different. Well, I assume it’s totally different. How would I really know? There was always the possibility that watching Macy’s parade in person is like watching professional football in person. Professional football is much, much better watched on TV (Did I mention my friend Barry invited me to see the Eagles – Dallas game at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia on December 7… and I’m going).

Helaine says she woke up around 4:00 AM. I was sleeping. I’ll take her word for it. Steffie and I woke up closer to 5:00. We were out of the hotel before 6:00 AM, on our way to the Upper West Side.

At this time of day I felt better taking a cab. We walked to 6th Avenue and found a taxi within a minute or two. The trip uptown was uneventful.

Because of the parade, many streets were closed to traffic. So, we got off the cab at 72nd and Columbus and began to walk toward the park. At the corner, we saw an open deli and walked in for coffee, juice and some carbs.

As we walked up 72nd Street, you couldn’t help but notice the police presence. They were everywhere. I’m not sure if this has changed over time, but it seems to me that cops are younger, and less athletic than they once were. Granted, at age 53, it’s starting to become more and more difficult to find people older than me.

Central Park West was deserted. Across the street, we saw bleachers that we had spied the night before. Steffie thought they might be ours for the asking, but alas, they had been promised to folks with better connections and more pull than we had.

I had contacted Al Roker, asking him if he could help and he said he only got two! He hosts the telecast, for heaven’s sake! I am way down the totem pole from where Al sits. I didn’t have a chance.

We found a spot, at the curb line, under a construction scaffold, in front of an apartment building. We were right on the line of march. There would be nothing between us and the parade.

The 6:00 AM Central Park Temperature was 43

Invite to the Iggles

Back in the late 70’s, my friend Marlene’s father had Eagles season tickets… of which I bought two. After I left Philadelphia, I stopped going to games, but never stopped rooting for the team.

Tonight, I spoke to my friend Barry, who has season tickets, and was invited to join him for the Eagles vs. Dallas. This year, this might be the most important game of the season.

Helaine says I will freeze – in the snow. She’s probably right. Still, how can I say no?