And then . . .

Not much posting of late, as the summer busies and traveling season have set in. Marcia, Katelin and I (along with Katelin’s friend) went to Lake George for four days, staying at the fabulous Sagamore, our favorite resort destination in these parts. Marcia and I played our first full 18 holes of golf on a non-executive course up there over the weekend, playing the Sagamore’s Donald Ross designed, par 70 course, built in rolling meadows in the 1920s. Let’s just say I wasn’t within spitting distance (or javelin throwing, or intercontinental ballistic missile range) of par over the full 18, but it was a lovely day, a beautiful location, and another step toward the rehabilitation of my shoulder, so that’s all good.

Marcia and I also celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary on Sunday with a lovely dinner, Chilean sea bass for her, a delicious roasted haddock for me, a roasted corn chowder and a spicy Vietnamese pho for warm-ups. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long since we were married, since it’s still so fresh and fun. (April 8, 2007 marked the 20th anniversary of our first meeting, so that was a significant day in the collective family history too).

We came home for a couple of sweltering days (it was nice the whole time we were up north, thankfully), then got our fair dose of the storms that whacked the region on Wednesday afternoon. We’ve been without power for most of the past 24 hours. That made for some sticky sleeping last night, as the humidity was still quite high, even after the storms cut the temperatures down some. Fortunately, I spent a good chunk of the day in the air conditioned car, driving Katelin up to her Counselor in Training (CIT) job at camp on the eastern shores of Lake George. After dropping her off, driving back South, and puttering around in the Wolf Road area for a couple of hours, I came home to find the electricity had been restored, and the air conditioner mercifully running. I like my air conditioning. Probably because I was born next to a swampy, sticky, soupy marsh.

The drive up to Lake George and back today was made doubly nice by the fact that I finally got my CD player fixed this morning. While I’ve been enjoying some of the memory lane moments associated with my old tape boxes, I was ready to play the stuff I’ve downloaded or purchased lately, so it was good to be able to load up with instant musical gratification after a spell without. Rewinding and fast-forwarding cassettes to find the song you want seems really onerous now, somehow. Even lifting the arm of the needle on a turntable was easier than that. Once I finally get to listen to some of the recent music I’ve amassed, I’ll post some reviews and recommendations here.

Next week, Marcia and I are heading to Las Vegas for a few days. I looked at the weather out there, and the day we arrive, it’s supposed to be 109 degrees. I don’t think I will leave the air conditioned buildings the whole time we are there. I don’t think it matters in Las Vegas, though. I certainly won’t feel guilty about not taking in the desert air. I got enough of that when we lived in Idaho. We’ll be staying at the Bellagio, which Katelin and I got to check out when we went and saw Oceans 13 in Ithaca a couple weekend ago, during our college trip. Looks nice! When we come back, that’s essentially the end of summer travels for us, though Katelin will be home again in August, so we hope to do some family visits then.

Finally, on a sports note, the beloved Kansas City Royals have a four game winning streak as I type, which guarantees them their first winning month since 2003. Go team! Way to stay a half-game out of last place in the American League!

Incongruous Poetry, Part Six: Ratsnake

Ratsnake 

Sweet Lord Almighty, tell me what was that thing?
I ain’t never seen nothin’ like that ’round here!
Like a big salamander with greasy black hair,
long skinny body with little round ears,
and its feet was clawed, and it had sharp teeth
and a long naked tail, Lord, just like a rat!
Sweet Jesus, when it first jumped up on the bed
I woke up to pet it, thinkin’ it was my cat.
Oh, Lordy, I ’bout fainted when I saw what it was
and I spooked it, too, with my screaming, I guess,
like a rocket it scooted on out of the room,
while I laid there shakin’, Lord, I was a mess.
So I got me a stick an’ a flashlight an’ sack,
and spent hours a-huntin’, dear God, all in vain,
since I never did find it, Oh Jesus, it scares me,
to think that it might come back in here again.

This appeared to me in a dream, just as described in the poem. I don’t have an accurate photo to accompany this one accordingly. Use your imagination.

Space Nerd

If the links to the right haven’t tipped you off, in addition to being a music geek, I am also a space nerd. As a child, all I wanted to be when I grew up was an astronaut. Or a rock star. Or a rock star astronaut. That’s why I went to the Naval Academy. Unfortunately, I then wrecked my shoulder and discovered my eyes weren’t good enough to fly jets, much less spacecraft. (This was back in the days before LASIX was offered gratis to anyone who wanted it at the service academies . . . if you were near-sighted then, you weren’t gonna be flying. Period).

One of my favorite websites is Heavens Above, which allows you to figure out which of the lights crossing the sky above you aren’t airplanes, stars or planets. We spend a lot of time out in our backyard at night, stewing in the hot tub, and I love spotting man-made satellites, then coming inside to figure out what we saw. Iridium flares are especially fun. But the grandest of man-made spectacles in the night sky is clearly the International Space Station (ISS), which becomes all the more spectacular when a Space Shuttle is docked, as has been the case for most of the past two weeks.

Two nights ago, we had one of the best combo Shuttle-ISS viewings I’ve ever seen, peaking at nearly 90 degrees directly above Latham, with a magnitude in the -1.5 range. Bright! Fast! Clearly a large, complex, square-looking object when viewed through binoculars! (What you actually see is sunlight reflecting back off the solar panels). Then tonight, it got even better: Space Shuttle Atlantis and ISS have undocked, and between 9:19 and 9:24 tonight, we all went out back and watched the ISS trail the descending Shuttle across the still cobalt-blue early night sky. Awe-inspiring, I tell you!

And it gets even better for me, because on the Atlantis, astronaut Sunita Pandya Williams rides on her way back to Earth after breaking all sorts of endurance and spacewalk records, not to mention running a simulated Boston Marathon in zero g’s. She is a member of the Naval Academy’s class of ’87, one year behind me. I went there to become an astronaut and didn’t, but I’m damned proud of any of my colleagues who did, her included. Brava!

I look forward to watching her safe landing tomorrow afternoon. That will be the most awesome part of the package of all.

University (Non-Incongruous Poetry, For A Change)

University

Through the eastern gate we look:
It’s like the picture in the book!
On the lawn, in Sunday dress,
two students play a game of chess.

Virile sportsmen ply the lake,
row back and forth for rowing’s sake.
In the bandshell, right at three,
a brisk, yet lovely symphony.

Budding chemists by the score
rip elements from mother ore.
Though never wishing to seem rude,
the busy students wolf their food.

Teachers teach and learners learn,
we smell the midnight oil they burn.
By the western gate, en masse,
we cheer the graduating class.

(New alumni, ear-backs wet,
are crushed beneath their student debt.
Without jobs, nor homes nor cars,
they talk philosophy in bars).

Katelin and I had a nice Father’s Day weekend visiting campuses. Her current top three are Davidson College, Hamilton College and Hobart and William Smith Colleges. All grand institutions of higher learning. All very expensive. Here’s hoping the Tuition Fairy pays us a visit and leaves something nice in our socks when we aren’t looking.

NZ v SUI: It’s On!

If you haven’t been feverishly clicking my link to the America’s Cup over there in the right sidebar, then you might have missed the fact that the Kiwis knocked out the Italian Luna Rossa Challenge to win the Louis Vuitton Cup. This sets up a repeat contest for the America’s Cup between New Zealand and Switzerland. Switzerland won it last time, New Zealand had it before them. I love these two syndicates, and love seeing two small nations use chutzpah, verve, skill, high technology and mind game to rise to the top of their sport’s hierarchy, while the USA, China and other big nations get to watch from home. I’m happy no matter who wins now, though I’m probably rooting a smidge more for New Zealand, since everybody has to love a challenger.