30 March 2012

Sailing To Salt River Fields

From Sun City West we took the GPS recommended route around the northern borders of the Phoenix metropolitan area to Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, an oasis in the desert east of Scottsdale , and a 45 minute journey at 70 mph from the safe environs of Sun City West. Seemed fairly easy to get to. Parking $5. Surprise appears to be the only place so far that doesn't charge for parking. Mostly pleasant people.

Long uphill walk to the baseball field. Not many golf carts or wheel chairs. The rocks on either side of the walkway are fake. They are really annoying loudspeakers trying to sell you something. See below for more on this last point.

Kind of looks like a smaller version of a major league park, doesn't it. I suppose because it is cheaper the rise on each row is not enough to see over the galoot in front of you. There appear to be some nice shaded seats on the 2nd deck. I forgot to ask if they were available to us commoners. Fairly expensive seats in the sun. Maybe that is what some come for.

I guess I should have been warned by the short lines at this place. I knew I had made a mistake when I was hand my burger with some yellow crap on it the second after I ordered it. Could not finish this.

On the other hand this Asian-looking concoction was very tasty and they were making it on the spot.

We managed to find some shade on the visitors side of the stadium, in today's case that was the Cleveland Indians. As you can see we were "taking time for paradise," as Bart Giamatti recommended. This was  marred by a really annoying public address system. Either they think we old folks are all deaf or the system was set up by a young person who had ruined his hearing by attending too many loud rock concerts.

So then, high prices for the seats and the concessions, $$ parking, and a loudmouth announcer, what more could we want. This is what the true aficionado comes for.

Thistles in Paradise

I woke up this morning to find someone had sown this nasty-looking thing in our front yard. It even has its own drip irrigation device!

I was reminded of multiple episodes in my childhood when my father would drop Gerry and me off at Grandpa Mueller's farm on the outskirts of Hustisford WI to harvest the crop of thistles that came up every spring. My guess nowadays is that they couldn't afford baby-sitters in those days. We wore thick gloves to protect our hands. They seemed gigantic but then I guess we were smaller in those days.

25 March 2012

Good Times at Goodyear

It seems fitting that two Ohio teams, the Cincinnati Redlegs and the Cleveland Indians, join together for spring training in an Arizona town named after Akron Ohio's Goodyear Tires.

Although the Indians had long come to Arizona in the spring (1947 to 1992), they had left for Winter Haven, Florida after the '92 season.  They returned in 2009 when the good folks of Goodyear opened their wallets to build a nice park for them and were persuaded by others that things would be better in Arizona. They were joined by the Reds in 2010.

This place looks familiar. It reminds me of Dehler Park in Billings MT, especially the way it was supposed to look before the suites got knocked off in the name of egalitarianism and the hope of getting enough ordinary folks to vote for it. Of course Dehler doesn't have palms and certainly doesn't have the dopey stretched out baseball looking like a rocket ship that you can see above. Must have been one of Salvador Dali's lesser known works.

There is one less than helpful shield against the sun and rain on the 3rd base side. As you can see in the picture at the top the scoreboard is similar, though the bottom row of info at Goodyear in contrast to Billings is not very readable. They do have a space for pitch speed but it was not used for the Reds' game that I saw. When I asked Gary Roller why we didn't have this info at Dehler, he told me that the Reds didn't like their players to see that info, so at least they are consistent, both in how they treat their players and their fans too now that I think about it. Perhaps the Indians use it at Goodyear.

23 March 2012

Houston's Cause of Death was Accidental Drowning?

Really? Do you mean that she fell asleep in a bath tub full of water? C'mon man, we need a little more thought than that.

It seems to me she must have lost consciousness while in the tub, which suggests to me either some primary central nervous system depression, or the same effect secondary to a loss of cardiac function. Although a fair number of drugs were found in her room and in her body, they were not found in concentrations high enough to be a sufficient cause by themselves.

It looks like the circumstances surrounding the death, i.e being found dead under water; and the drug use history, especially cocaine use; together with an absence of any convincing morphologic cause on autopsy, led  to the coroner's conclusion.

But what caused the loss of consciousness in a potentially dangerous environment? Could she have suffered some CNS or cardiac malfunction because her drug levels were low enough to be dangerous? Could her tolerance for the drugs have sunk so low that even small amounts might be dangerous? What is the mechanism of death in cocaine and poly-pharmacy deaths? If the drugs increased the probability of a sudden CNS or cardiac event, even when still present in small amounts, shouldn't they be listed as the probable cause of death, in that they initiated the process that led to death?

Curious people want to know.

Billings Theatre Expanding

We are starting to look forward to our spring trek back to Montana. Especially when we read in the latest Enjoy that Kelly Martin is going to open a new theatrical venue, the Prince Theatre, in the old movie house on Broadwater. Not surprisingly he plans on specializing in musicals and comedies, both of which he does very well. Both BST and Venture always seem a little small when they do a musical. I can't remember what the stage looks like at the old Cine 7. Let's hope it will work. Wow, three theaters in a town the size of Billings. Next thing we know, someone will get the idea of putting on some Shakespearean plays.

Checking Out the Baseball at Camelback Ranch

Camelback Ranch in Glendale AZ is the spring training home of the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Chicago White Sox. The latter has been doing spring training in many places over the years, including a couple years at French Lick Indiana during the war years, WWII that is. Most recently the boys from the South Side of Chicago have been down in Tucson  for around 10 years and before that they were in Sarasota Florida for almost 40 years. They have been at Camelback for 4 years now.

This feels like a big park, seating around 13,000. I like the architecture, a kind of modern desert adobe look with a large concourse all the way around and relief from the sun in some places but not much of the lower deck. The upper deck is for the elite amongst us, in contrast to what is available for us ordinary folks at Surprise and Peoria. In addition they charge $30 to $40 per ticket for these seats in the sun, a lot more than Surprise and Peoria. Perhaps the folks from Chicago are willing to pay but there wasn't a full house.

I saw the Sox play the Royals on Thursday afternoon; play is not exactly the right word, pounded is what I was searching for: 16-4 was the final score I think. The parking is free and I saw a few wheelchairs being moved around as well. A good variety of concession stands, some mobile, all with major league prices of course.

This is probably the best place to watch the game, in the shade, with an expensive beer in your hand. All the parks I've been to so far feature expensive food and drink.

The view from the left field corner. There are some comfortable seats with shade just to the left of this location overlooking the visitors bullpen. There are scattered areas for grass sitting too, if that appeals to you. The outfielders were paying attention to some of the more scantily-clad fans of the female persuasion.

22 March 2012

Advice From My Brother Gerald: What To Do When You Retire

As we get older we sometimes begin to doubt our ability to "make a difference" in the world. It is at these times that our hopes are boosted by the remarkable achievements of other "seniors" who have found the courage to take on challenges that would make many of us wither. Harold Jenkins is such a person:

"I've often been asked, 'What do you do now that you're retired?' Well, I'm fortunate to have a chemical engineering background and one of the things I enjoy most is converting beer, wine, and whiskey into urine. It's rewarding, uplifting, satisfying, and fulfilling. I do it every day and I really enjoy it."

Gleanings From Arizona Republic While Waiting For Sweet Sixteen Round of March Madness To Start

And because I need to fill in the hour I usually spend doing the Sudoku puzzle—yes, you guessed right, section E is missing once again: no Christmas tip for you, Mr Paper Deliverer—I spent the last hour perusing the parts of the paper I did receive. I came across some interesting articles.

Erin Kelly, from the Republic Washington DC Bureau, tells us about a bill being sponsored by the junior senator from Massachusetts, a Mr Brown, who surprisingly is a Republican in spite of the fact that MA is a small old northeastern state dominated by one party and a large urban center. I sometimes wonder why the one party states are always Democratic.

It seems that the Irish were short-changed on immigration in 1965 in favor of our Asian and Latino friends. Sen. Brown's bill is trying to rectify that in order to allow more Irish immigrants, especially those with work visas. Ms Kelly also points out that it can't hurt Brown's re-election campaign in Massachusetts where a lot of old Irish immigrants have settled in at the trough. There is some other learned blather in the article so it might be worth it to read the whole thing. I'm not sure whether the Irish have gone back to their poor days or not, when their principal exports were priests, nuns and alcoholics.

In the same issue of the Arizona Republic, the Valley and State section, we read that Arizona State University plans to partner with the University of Mary for the purpose of allowing their many students starved for theology and Catholic studies to study in these areas. I haven't been here very long but it seems that ASU is often in the papers or on the TV because of their sports programs, and they seem to be led by a very aggressive president intent on expanding the business. I know we have seen bigger schools metastasizing to smaller towns within the same state, but I am pretty sure I have seen it mentioned that ASU plans on expanding into nearby California, apparently judging that CA is becoming too weak to perform up to its former high standards. I think they call this increasing market share. There is a lot more stuff in the article, mainly trying to reassure the common reader that the Roman Catholic Church is not about to take over the state of Arizona.

And finally, there was an article by Diana Martinez about an elderly Seattle couple who had been attending Mariner spring-training games for around 20 years and said, perhaps ironically and somewhat Yogi-esque, "You can't say that it hasn't helped," when asked if the Arizona version of Mariner baseball might have contributed to their longevity. The couple have been married for 15 years and both are 101 years young.

15 March 2012

Happy Pi Day

From a useful blog, Planck's Constant, stuff about Pi Day and other things. The above is a Pi Pie, of course. Check him out.

13 March 2012

Desert Botanical Garden of Phoenix

Some Chihuly glass greets you at the entrance.

Cacti of all sorts.

Baseball Along Bell Ave

Here we are at Surprise Stadium just west of the junction of Grand and Bell, spring training home of the Texas Rangers and the Kansas City Royals. The KC Royals are just warming up. I would have taken more shots to show but my camera battery went dead.


So I had to pump it up on the way to Peoria Sports Complex. First game at the latter for us was on Monday, 5th of March, only about 1/2 full so traffic was fairly light. Not so the following Monday, 12 March. Must have taken 45 minutes on Bell alone. They charge $5 to park at Peoria. At Surprise it is free. And they have wheel chairs and people to push them if you need the extra attention at Surprise. Very nice. The shade on the upper deck is nice at both places. Outfield grass was a popular place for this game.

A big crowd at Peoria to watch the Mariners beat the Texas Rangers on an Olivo 3 run homer and a 2 run double by Montero the next inning. I have a hunch that Phoenix's Cactus League is going to become very popular for spring training fans as they have a choice of 15 teams within an hour of each other. You can go to different parks or just stay at one of the parks that your home team and their partners play in, a game every day. Who can beat that? Prices for seats are going up too. The concessions are already at major league levels. The volunteers at both parks are super attentive and pleasant.

Aida Dies in Rhadames' Arms Again

Arizona Opera's magnificent production of Aida featured a camel and several greyhounds in the Triumphal March. Some season ticket holders sitting next to us disappeared in the first interval only to show up on stage with a bunch of their friends in the crowd scenes. This was, of course, a full-voiced production, but it was a visual treat as well.

The camel and his or her understudy greeted the opera-goers at Symphony Hall downtown Phoenix.

04 March 2012

Professor Chides Student For Incivility

Prof Boudreaux of George Mason University reminds all of us in a letter to the Washington Post (which I suspect will go unpublished because it simply reeks of truth) what the main topic that the law student from Georgetown University was talking about, and defends Rush Limbaugh in the same letter. Those truth seekers seem to take different routes but wind up at the same place. Hmm.

02 March 2012

"It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes . . . ."

A bridge-playing friend of mine recommended this book, Trust Not. I had thought that the mine of memoirs of the Vietnam era had almost been played out. It has been some forty+ years now. Not so says Captain William G Haneke of the class of 1966 United States Military Academy and improbable survivor of massive and multiple wounds sustained while serving as an American military advisor to the late government of South Vietnam.

His story is divided in two: the first part is negotiating the political and military minefields of a rural part of South Vietnam that the Viet Cong and their masters from the North had thought were fairly safely in the hands of the VC. This odyssey then takes a lurch from the field to the hospital where there is still a great deal of danger to be dealt with.

The story has the ring of truth, especially about the failings of medical professionals, and joins a couple of other Vietnam-era books on my bookshelf: General Moore's We Were Soldiers Once . . . And Young; and the more medically inclined 12, 20 and 5: A Doctor's Year in Vietnam by John Parrish.

Downtown Billings in the SummerTime

Downtown Billings in the SummerTime
At The BrewPub on Broadway

Downtown Phoenix

Downtown Phoenix
Downtown Phoenix in the Winter Time

Good Cheese Here

Good Cheese Here
Vermont Cheddar & Minnesota Blue


Dehler Park, Billings MT, July 2008 This is what Bart Giamatti recommends for good mental health.

Me and Joan

Me and Joan
Early elderly and middle middle age: We May Know Something You Don't

Mrs America

Mrs America
Fortunately these girls had a good-looking mother

Rimrocks @ Billings MT

Rimrocks @ Billings MT
“In beholding old stones we may feel our anxieties about our achievements–and lack of them–slacken . . . Vast landscapes [and seascapes] can have an anxiety–reducing effect similar to ruins, for they are the representatives of infinite space, as ruins are the representatives of infinite time, against which our weak, short-lived bodies seem no less inconsequential than those of moths or spiders.”—Alain de Botton in Status Anxiety

Easter Sunday at St Patrick's Co-Cathedral

Easter Sunday at St Patrick's Co-Cathedral
12 April 2009

Pleasant Hillside at Hustisford, AKA The Grassy Knoll for you conspiracy buffs

Pleasant Hillside at Hustisford, AKA The Grassy Knoll for you conspiracy buffs
A Lot of Muellers Are Buried Here
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