Monthly Archives: May 2011

Yankees at the A’s, Memorial Day: Match-sorry-Game Report

Take me out to the ball game,

Cassie got some tickets from work for the Yankees game at the Oakland Athletics’ (“The A’s”) stadium. They were good seats, behind the home plate, and they came with a VIP parking pass and $40 spending money. She pocketed the cash and gave me the tickets.

Take me out with the crowd;

I suggested I go with my new official brother-in-law Don and his two oldest boys, George and Bennett. It was pretty busy – Memorial Day, so Monday off. Beautiful weather – I caught the sun, unexpectedly. Memorial Day is like Remembrance Sunday, so the deification of the military continues.

At halftime, they had a singer murder God Bless America, complete with that weird croaky noise that these singers always start phrases with – there must be a name for it. Maya Rudolph did a great version of halftime singing on SNL. After that the whole stadium sang Take Me Out To The Ball Game, with the lyrics up on the big board – very affecting.

Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack,

There were snacks a-plenty. Don got the boys ice cream and cotton candy (which I helped them eat). I got a hotdog and some Cracker Jack – this is caramel coated popcorn and peanuts. There were about 3 peanuts right down at the bottom of the bag, and the corn tasted burnt (in much the same way that Hershey’s “chocolate” tastes like it was made with sour milk. An American Tradition™!) We drank super-sweet and super-sour lemonade, and the boys had snowcones, aka slushies. We also had peanuts, roasted in the shell with salt on the outside. I looked around for somewhere to put the shells, then saw that the floor was an inch thick with crushed shells… join ’em.

I don’t care if I never get back.

Don drove us there, but I got the BART back to San Francisco. Very straightforward and easy journey, even if it took half an hour to cross the pedestrian bridge to the Coliseum station because of the crowds. It’s good to see so many people using mass transit.

Let me root, root, root for the home team,

(Replace “home team” with “YANKEES!” according to the lady sitting in our row with the multiple margaritas.)

I wasn’t really rooting for anyone, but since I’ve married into a Yankees family, and Don and the boys were all wearing NY gear, I was cheering along for A-Rod, Jeter and the rest. The fans were all mixed together, but it was all very friendly, with good-natured ribbing all round. The A’s fan behind me said if I continued to cheer for the Yankees, he’d see to it that they’d “deport my ass”. I don’t own any livestock, so I don’t know what he meant. Sorry for that last sentence. I said that I had to pretend to like the Yankees so my new family doesn’t have me deported themselves. Rock and a hard place.

I’m not into sports, so I can’t really compare the atmosphere of a football match in the UK to a baseball game. But based on what I’ve seen on TV, there’s no constant chanting. Very civilized (despite all the littering).

Also because I’m no sports fan, I don’t really care enough to follow a team, much less buy a hat with the team name on it. I bought a San Diego cap to wear while playing softball down there. It’s the only cap I own, and one day I was walking on the beach by the Cliff House in San Francisco, wearing the cap against the sun, and some guy called out that I was in the wrong place. Twat. They do seem to be very tribal and territorial – I want none of that, so no slogans for me.

If they don’t win, it’s a shame.

The home team didn’t win. New York got 2 points in the first inning, and then finished with 5 to Oakland’s 0. Booyah, how you like me now etc.

For it’s one, two, three strikes, you’re out,

I actually started to understand the game I was watching – not enough to be able to play myself, you understand. Knowing when to run and where everyone is seems to be the trick. But whether I could play it or not, it was a great time, and I know that given a choice between American Football, NASCAR, basketball, or baseball (or frickin’ golf god I hate golf), I will always prefer to spend my time –

At the old ball game.

Yankees at the A’s

muteboy posted a photo:

Yankees at the A's

Naming The Date Was Too Much – But Only Just

Image from It’s not the date, it’s the rapture itself that’s stupid : Pharyngula.


Congratulations Julia and James

As I write this I have yet to meet my slow arriving daughter who seems quite happy in the warm, dark, muffled mummy bag.

via I’m going to be a Daddy! – James’ birth story | I Carried a Watermelon.

Since that blog post was written, it’s all happened. My old theatre friends James and Julia have had a baby girl – welcome to the world, Gwyneth Alessandra! Nice Italian American/Welsh name. Congratulations to you guys – I hope to see you in Wimbledon at some point soon.

At our wedding, Cassie and her Daddy (she loves her Daddy) danced to Isn’t She Lovely by Stevie Wonder, because when she was born, that song had just come out, and her Dad used to dance around with her.

To what will James dance around with his daughter? A show tune? Perhaps some Lady Gaga? This stuff is important, they’ll need to make a note for when she get married in 2036 or thereabouts. In orbit.

Left Behind – And Lovin’ It!

And to the next person who quotes Matthew 24:36 at me: you’re part of the problem, too.

via Wrong, root and branch; wrong at every cell and molecule; wrong to the core : Pharyngula.

PZ Myers lays it all out. He’s angry, and with good reason. Here in the Bay Area, the Rapture prophecy thing was treated with justified derision, despite this particular false prophet being based in Alameda. I was invited to various parties – I went to a very nice one in Piedmont, with great food and drink and fun people in a beautiful 1909 house. We talked and laughed about the silliness and much else besides, and went home happy.

But as PZ says, the polls say that most people believe that this prophecy will come true in the next 50 years or so, even if it’s not when some thief and charlatan says it will. Evidence for it happening? Not a trace – not true provable evidence.

I was talking to some folks at the party about Pascal’s Wager – it’s a very common philosophical argument, and I probably won’t do it justice (or even get it right) but basically it’s this.

  • If you become a Christian, and you die, and Heaven and Hell exist, you go to Heaven. You win.
  • If you become a Christian, and you die, and Heaven and Hell don’t exist, you just die, and you haven’t lost anything.
  • If you don’t become a Christian, and you die, and Heaven and Hell don’t exist, you just die, and you haven’t lost anything.
  • If you don’t become a Christian, and you die, and Heaven and Hell exist, you go to Hell. You lose.
  • To sum up, the wager you are making (with your “eternal soul”) can only be won by becoming a Christian. So become a Christian, just to hedge your bets. Do you feel lucky, punk?

The extremely simple rebuttal to Pascal’s Wager is this: who says Christianity is the only way to Heaven (assuming Heaven exists)? What about all the other religions, belief systems and so on? It’s not a simple yes and no question. There must be a near-infinite number of belief systems, so how come this one is true?

It comes down to “the Bible says so”, which is like saying Dodge cars are the best because the Dodge commercial says so. What’s to be trusted, solid evidence, or the sales literature? Your holy book can say anything it likes – but your holy book doesn’t apply to everyone.

There was solid evidence that the Cayenne Pepper Mexican Cookies at the party were delicious. And hotter than hell.

IE6 Doesn’t Need Leechblock

My company still has Internet Explorer 6 as the standard browser on all their machines. IE6 is of course appalling. Microsoft itself is telling people that enough is enough, and that IE9 is out now, and please upgrade. There are a couple of campaigns to kill IE6 once and for all, because it is old tech that is holding the web back:

I installed Mozilla Firefox at work for my day-to-day browsing, although all my work links, like the expenses system, timesheets and so on are in IE6, just for consistency. The company intranet is run on MS SharePoint, which actually seems to run better on IE than on Firefox – probably because of some proprietary jiggery-pokery that cripples it on a proper browser. SharePoint is truly dreadful, as I tell people whenever I can.

I do get distracted by web stuff at work sometimes, which has led me to installing Leechblock, an excellent plugin for Firefox which allows you to add websites to a blacklist, and then stops you from visiting them. You can bypass the block, but only by entering a (configurable) 64-character string into a dialogue box, which is just enough to dissuade me. You can also easily add a site you are visiting to the blacklist, and set various times when the list is in operation. For example, I let myself visit YouTube at lunchtime.

I think it’s a testament to how bad IE6 is that I don’t need Leechblock when viewing sites when using that browser, because it makes all the fun stuff nigh-on unusable anyway.

Daily Westie


I love Cassie’s and my dog Gordon, and I have the photos on my phone to prove it. But I miss my ex-dog Shuggie so much it hurts sometimes. He’s happy living with London with his “mummy” so I know he’s loved.

To help soothe the pain, I subscribe to the RSS feed of all photos on Flickr tagged with the word “westie”. I enjoy flicking through all the cute pictures of the westies around the world. Often there are photos which have a Volkswagen Westphalia camper van, or other things that get called westies.

Once in particular keeps coming up. Flickr user phatfreemiguel posts a photo every day of his dog, in the set Daily Mac, saying, “Good morning!” to the world. Thanks for the photos!

Alcatraz Family Portrait

muteboy posted a photo:

Alcatraz Family Portrait

My family on our way to the Alcatraz tour – this was the photo they took in line.

Free Horror Movie ‘The Tunnel’

Horror movie The Tunnel has been released for free on Bittorrent. Good exercise in new release mechanisms, and if you like it you can give some money. Teaser trailer looks interesting:

It looks a bit Quarantine, a bit Blair Witch Project and a bit The Descent. It also reminds me of the scary old internet classic, Ted’s Caving Page. Give it a read – creepy ending!

A Year Never Worn / Worn-out Movies

Yesterday was a great milestone. A year ago, I was going through my wardrobe, trying to decide if I could get rid of anything. I was running out of space, and there were quite a few items I could either not fit into anymore, or were not really suitable to wear anymore (I’ll leave why not to you imagination).

I’d read an article on Unclutterer or somewhere, describing a trick for deciding about clothes on hangers: you go through and any article of clothing you’re not sure about, you turn the hook around on the rail. A year later, if you haven’t worn that item of clothing, you toss it out or drop it in the charity bag.

Yesterday was the big date – a year after I’d flipped the hooks on a load of stuff, including:

  • Some shirts I don’t like any more, including a cowboy one that was just unflattering.
  • A couple of pairs of trousers which don’t fit due to FABRIC SHRINKAGE ONLY THAT CAN BE THE EXPLANATION.
  • A pair of boot-cut black jeans which I have never worn and I don’t know why I gave Next money for them, or brought them to the US.
  • A couple of short-sleeved dress shirts, which I got rid of just because ew.

I also got rid of some tshirts. For a while, Cassie was getting these free DVD’s from work, which were old sci-fi and horror classic movies packaged with a tshirt of the poster art. I ended up with about 20 of them, which is clearly too many, and made my wardrobe look like Roast Beef’s.

Here are the ones I kept:

The ones I got rid of include…

Not going to miss those. They are real movies, despite the apparent randomly generated nature of their titles. It reminds me of a scene from the wonderful Ed Wood, where Johnny Depp is trying sell his talents to a producer.

“I don’t believe in thinking small, so I’ve got a whole slate of pictures for you. You ready? Okay. The Vampire’s Tomb. The Ghoul Goes West. And…Doctor Acula.”

“Doctor Acula? I don’t get it.”


“Oh, I get it. I don’t like it.”