Vacation jottings

Why didn’t I post for so long? I was on vacation. I could split this up and post it bit by bit, but I was hoping that this would wind up as my high word count for lipograms (so far!). And it has, by a long shot! I wasn’t writing all of this out word-for-word and day-by-day, but it’s a rough summary of what I was thinking.

My actual jottings by hand say “now, today, tonight” a lot. Typing this up, I at first put “that day”, “that night” talking about, say, watching Oakland, but I’m going to copy down “now” if I put it down by hand. This will jump from “now” to “past” and back without a lot of justification, so sorry if that looks ugly or if it is a cop-out, but this is sort of hard!

July 26, in Dallas:

  • I got a book about this sport (anthology by many authors) at a gift shop, so my trip is off to a good start.
  • It’s fun to watch TV and at its bottom, find nothing but scrolling “NL…AL…NL…AL…” This is July and August.
  • Switching to no-nos is a vacation tradition.  Mussina in 2001. Jon of LA (AL) in 2008. And now, Matt Garza. But watching hits to finish no-nos is also part of this tradition. If you must switch to it, you didn’t know all along, and had to find out. And if you found out, got told, who knows how long it’ll last? But Garza’s did. A twist on an old tradition, for 2010.
  • I don’t actually know what to call 2010, so far. Do fans know “I’m watching a transition?” And if so, from watching play? Or knowing what’s going on with contracts and such? Looking back, you can point to cyclical divisions, but do you know about such a division as it’s going on? My fandom isn’t all that long, so I don’t know right now.

July 27

  • Quick trip into Choctaw Nation in Oklahoma, or Aaaaaklahoma if you want silly vocalic fun (and I think you do). Not a lot to do in Oklahoma, though, so back down south for discussion about which six flags had flown in this sky.
  • It’s not so hot as it looks, and it looks truly hot.
  • Tonight is my first visit to Arlington’s ballpark! It’s by a humongous stadium for Dallas Cowboys, and also has its own parking lots, but it’s hard to find out which is for normal fan parking.
  • A warning plays prior to today’s first pitch; MLB prohibits boards from instantly showing…what sorts of plays? I don’t know. Plays that umps had to look at again? Balls or non-balls? Don’t know. But this ballpark has a board for displaying plays on its wall, so it’s an important warning. Although its big board is not too functional, or it was actually “Kouzmano” [sic] playing third for Oakland…
  • It also has a board for showing “last play”, but this won’t display any dash. I’d put down “5-3” for a groundout to third, but it just says “53”. I think my Twins do a similar thing now. Anyway, that’s silly.
  • On a past vacation, I saw Cliff pitch.
    This was a bit of a switch from that.
  • Top plays: Cruz flying into a wall to catch Rajai Davis’ blast (this was, in fact, shown as play #1 on TV). A pop to Kurt Suzuki, flying into a…backstop sort-of-wall thing.
  • Not top plays: Coco Crisp, in inning six, took off from first. Molina was hoping to throw him out, but nobody was waiting to catch that throw, so it shot past its bag. Crisp got to third as Julio Borbon was bobbling said ball. Oops.Also, Josh Hamilton’s third-inning hit, I would not call a hit. But I can’t put down what I would call it, so that’s possibly a good thing. His first-inning hit was hit to Daric Barton, who was playing first, but nobody was around for his throw, so Hamilton got on. Prior to that, his bat had flown into stadium stands!
  • Cliff got K following K, giving up just a hit through 5 innings. Our hosts got a run, but would strand lots too. Kurt Suzuki got a hit to bring in Coco Crisp, who was on third following that non-top play, in inning six, and it was 1-1.
  • This ballpark’s grass and dirt’s boundary is an unusual polygon, I think. Its organ is slow and choppy. A bar or two of “Victory Symphony” now and again.  Odd. Its display cut to A-Rod (going for blast 600). His shot was far, but got caught, provoking clapping from fans in this stadium, distant from that action.
  • A fan up high sort of by us had an air horn, as in (association) football.
  • Cliff put down all of Oakland in a row, following Suzuki’s hit, but finally Kouzmanoff got a hit. Cliff stays in, though, to finish inning 9. I usually don’t put anything in pitching parts of my notation card but innings thrown; but I put down 13 and 118 for “SO” and “NP” for him. It’s that good.
  • Display boards broadcast a “rally warning” for this ballpark–fans should watch for runs and hits. Occupants of opposing dugout should worry. It’s not as cool as past blog warnings, but it’s cool.
  • I didn’t think anything was particularly, abnormally big down South, until I saw bugs.

    At a ballpark, you might want to scoot down to obtain a good look at action. Or, you might want to scoot up to sit in shadows, not blazing sunlight. On that night, you might want to scoot back into dark chairs, to avoid gigantic bugs.

  • Josh Hamilton got on, prompting fans in front of my chair to stand. So I stand too, to watch without too much blocking of my sight.
  • And standing is a good call. A shot towards distant stands, and I shout, not caring that a big thing was whizzing past my hair. I don’t put down “HR” until going back to my room, but I can’t crash for long. I’m still in Dallas, but Cubs and Astros will start at 1:05 in Houston!

July 28, Houston

  • Houston’s stadium was cool, in both ways. It stood out in a way Arlington’s didn’t. With a big glass wall looking out on Houston, and a big fan blowing lots of cold wind down, it was hard at first to know I was indoors! Watching a bird in with us didn’t aid this conclusion at all.
  • It had many fans blowing air down, but not many filling up chairs. Lots of school groups, though, chanting for “Astwos” (clap, clap, clap clap clap) during Cubs’ first two innings at bat.
  • Display boards would show scrolling stock costs and, in sporting statistics, “x” for “for”. So, “Hitting .340 (18×53) during last 14…” My program also had “x” for “for”.
  • Both squads had a “Castro” starting, though Carlos of Houston wasn’t half of a similar pair. “Astro Castro” sounds cool.
  • Similarly to 7/27, I was rooting for a squad that was winning 1-0 following 1. Also similarly, this would last until inning 6. But Houston would actually tack on a triad of runs, thanks to a two-run blast from Carlos.
  • Following six-and-a-half innings, fans didn’t sing a normal song too loudly. But fans did clap along to a song that was also playing in Arlington (big, bright, stars at night; blooming aromas, and so on).
  • This organ, too, would throw in 5th Symphony introductory bars.
  • Carlos of Houston hit a two-run blast.
  • Houston would tack on a trinity of runs, to go up 8-1.
  • I normally do not put anything down but “IP” for throwing statistics. But that day, I did for Bob Howry. IP: 2/3. NP: 37. (Big hit, groundout, hit, hit, hit, groundout, walk.)
  • No, I am not copying and pasting poorly. It was that bad.
  • Now that I’m looking at and transcribing this, I’m just now finding out that I didn’t put down “IP” for “Abad” (who wasn’t). I’ll do that now. 1 (half) inning…Cubs got guys on, but couldn’t do anything big.
  • Now that I am going back through this post to look at it, I’m just now finding out that I didn’t put down IP for Justin of Chicago. I’ll do that now, too. 1/3.
  • NL and AL play is distinct; lots of substitutions for NL, not so many for AL. Around Dallas, putting all scoring on  just a big front half of part of a program works okay. In Houston, it hardly works. But in both stadiums, I had to do it that way.
  • Also, it’s hard to know “oh, I’m indoors, it’s got a roof” if stadiums shoot off sparkling lights following hosts’ wins. But that’s what I saw in Houston.
  • I saw an intriguing donut shop tonight, with a sign boasting “tacos, muffin &” so on from four am to two pm. Sadly, it was past six pm, so I couldn’t go in and look at it.
  • I was tiring that night, unsurprisingly, but was up for all of a marathon St. Louis win. (Garcia vs. Santana, again!) This took “just” 13 innings…not 20, alas (or not alas, for my biological clock).

    To pitch to Pujols, or not? I think I would. Holliday was a scoring sparkplug that day. With a walk and a hit batsman, control was worrying–you don’t want to throw away your margin for missing marks. And it’s not important how many MVP awards Pujols has won–you can’t bring a trophy with you up to bat.

    I’m glad visitors won and, looking back, ditto for April’s marathon. For all walkoffs’ joy, and Cruz taught you that if you didn’t know, in such a long fight, you want to watch a bottom half. Just to find out if it’ll go on.

July 29

  • It’s NASA’s 52nd birthday, so I was at its Houston facility. It’s a bit disappointing that a program that puts humans on our moon with 2 MB of computation ability has a Star Wars display out front.

    It was a good tour, though, with a cool US flag to boot: it’s on top of Mission Control if a US astronaut is out on duty, so many, many months in a row.

    Also, I saw a Saturn V craft.


    It is so big. Long, tall, in all ways. Oh man. Humongous.

    Along it hangs fabric with discussion and photographs of Apollo flights. First was Apollo 1; its astronauts burnt during a simulation.

    What I find most inspiring about this story is not Gus Grissom’s conviction that cosmic flight is worth any risk, but that this was in January 1967. That’s just thirty months from Apollo 1 to 11.

    And it shows all Apollo missions with humans, too, 7 through 17. A quotation from an Apollo 17 astronaut–and a big blank patch.

    What will fill that in? Privatization of such programs sounds natural. Capitalism isn’t a totally good plan for all things, I think, but with our human goals to always push forward, rivalry can spur us on. And rivalry for nothing but glory from doing a task first is natural among groups that look for profit. It’s not as toxic as rancor among “nations”.

    Many big plans–“don’t worry, that wasn’t a finish, on to Mars, hooray!” did sound hollow in Houston, but I still think that humankind will again outgrow this world and push for distant horizons.

  • A lot of driving around and making wrong turns tonight. I did wind up with food, but got back to that night’s inn only half an hour until its pool’s closing hour. Officially. Unofficially, it was actually about an hour.

    Without aid, my vision is not good. Floating on my back, I would look up and try to find stars, but couldn’t pick out many. Was that Lyra’s alpha star, possibly? How about Aquila’s and Cygnus’?

    That was history; not so much light pollution, good point, but blurry and hazy in its way. But humans found stuff out. In a cosmic way–think of how long it is for light to go among stars–Apollo 11 was still almost now. Up in this vast cosmos, information has a long way to go. Ditto for humanity.

  • Strasburg is out for 15 days. Poor guy.

July 30

  • Okay, linguistic trivia. What’s “Cajun” from? Turns out, “Acadian”–of or about a location in what’s now Nova Scotia (upon looking this up, that’s only sort of it…it’s a long story). Many individuals in its diaspora wound up, confusingly, in “Acadiana”, now Louisiana. I was at a national historical park, finding all this out, but missing its film’s introduction was a bad start. I would think, “Wait, this was in Louisiana? Or Canada?” On a past vacation, I was up by Acadia (part of north USA), so this was confusing.
  • Now I’m riding down a thruway that honors a protagonist of a Romantic ballad about Acadia.
  • Okay, now I am riding on top of a swamp.
  • Louisiana has many tall crypts and buildings on bricks. Digging too far down is not a good plan.
  • Colorado won against Chicago, partially thanks to a gargantuan inning. 11 hits in a row, in an inning (with two outs, so hits had to go in a row). It’s a high mark for all of history…I don’t think I could stab at that statistic until I found out about this ugly display.

July 31

  • I’m in Nawlins now (I saw “Nawlins” on a sign, it’s okay). Brunch was a yummy (non-toroidal) donut thing–too much sugar for my liking, but I could dump most of it off.
  • I saw a World War Two history building following that. Military history is not my thing at all, but it had air conditioning, so that was good.
  • Lilly and Ryan off to LA (California, NL). Turns out Ryan’s family sounds Cajun, ditto that of a distinct Cubs utility man.
  • My aural ability is rapidly diminishing. Wax buildup and swimming in many pools is a bad combination.
  • Colorado walking off against Cubs. Or, arguably, cycling off. Boo.
  • Oh, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia is going to Boston. Had fun trying to say “Saltalamacchia”–it was on a shirt back in Arlington.
  • Wood to Bronx, also. And a post-Astros B…saw a sign with Biggio and company in Houston (by “tacos muffin” donut shop). Is this a day of transition? Or do I know now to look for lots of skill from Astros starting with B, and will I claim to find it, from looking so hard? Argh, it’s July 31 and I can’t focus on it all. But tomorrow it’ll calm down, right?

August 1

  • Also a vacation tradition: tracking cars’ origins. On my way to church this morning, I saw a car from Hawaii! How this works, I don’t know (think about it…). Still looking for all 50.
  • I’m in Mississippi now. Gulf Coast was hot and shallow–no sign of oil but that put on to block sun rays. Charming fish carcass on sand, but mostly a comfortably warm coast. No crowds. Actually, no crowds in almost all tourist spots (bar WWII stop on Saturday) so far.
  • Now I’m back in Louisiana’s capital. I had to stop at Wal-Mart for socks and drops to combat that wax buildup. If this isn’t my vacation’s most humiliating point, I don’t want to find out what is
  • As I’m transcribing this, I should say, it was. Nothing truly ridiculous was upcoming. Okay, back to jottings.
  • …Okay, so swimming was possibly actually a boon, by making wax not as tight! Drops working, stuff is loud now! Hooray!

August 2

  • Louisiana’s capitol building is tall. It boasts lots of stairs up to its doors, most listing USA subdivisions. I took proxy photographs of what our car list is missing (Alaska, both Dakotas, and Idaho). By August’s finish, I’ll visit all 48 subdivisions…I’m up to 47 as of Mississippi, and an upcoming vacation will go sort of by #48. It’s still out of our way, but it’s worth it.
  • Anyway, Louisiana’s capitol. Its lobby contains a bust of P. B. S. Pinchback, by his biography–a classy Wiki-printout. It has cool rooms and murals, though, plus an outdoors part of floor 27 from which to look out at Louisiana.
  • Still many swamps. Out our car window, it looks woodsy until I think of how high up I am. How can such woods grow in a swamp?
  • Our car says it’s 108° out, but radio adjusts that to “just” 103.
  • Sci-Port in north Louisiana was fun. It had a radar gun (I can throw about 25-28 mph, it says) and (association) football shot-stopping simulator (I was in today’s top two, as of my turn). It also had many cool displays, and a humorous man talking about what stars you could watch tonight.

August 3

  • CNN says that much of this country is unusually hot. It’s usually not all that brutal, this trip (urban South Carolina in August 2009 was that brutal), or I’m just numb to how hot it actually is.
  • I saw a bunch of blooming plants today. Such plants also attract many big bugs, alas.
  • Riding down world’s first Adopt-A-Highway now. It looks good.
  • Woo, I saw a car from a tiny non-island island! That’s a good thing, too, as I forgot to photograph it on Louisiana’s capital stairs.
  • A car from North Dakota (which I forgot on my original list, jumping from North Carolina on bottom to Ohio up top is hard) was in this parking lot, across from our car.
  • I’m back in Dallas now, and saw JFK assassination stuff. A sixth floor tour strictly warns “NO PHOTOGRAPHS”. Had a photo opportunity on grassy knoll; Dallas and Chicago both sport big downtown plazas that sound similar.
  • Now I’m flying back. I had wordplay fun in Dallas airport, although (J-I-V-blank)*2 for 26 points, and ((P*2)-A-N-S-Y)*3 for 39, still couldn’t bring victory.
  • What to do about Cubs futility? 18-1 loss last night. I still think that Chicago isn’t actually that bad, it’s still just flukish, but who knows? As I said to start, possibly fans don’t know about ongoing transitions…
  • Final standings:
    • US subdivisions on my total list: 47 (and counting)
    • US subdivisions on cars: 47

      Washington DC could fit on both lists. Also on car list: Ontario, USA official, US Navy, plus four (San Luis Potosí and similar).

    • A-Rod blasts at start of trip: 599
    • A-Rod blasts at finish of trip: 599

Houston 10, DC 10 (to be continued)

I’ve told you this before, but I’ll post it for time three or so; I’m no good when it comes to titling posts. So, when I’m covering specific sets of nine innings (or more, or less, of course), I’ll often just use their scores for my titles. This time, though, it’s not the true score. The competition will end in July, with more runs.

Just to the left of the box scores in the sports section this morning, two short sentences told me how it would pick up in three months. Fine. But the box score itself didn’t jibe. Yes, both scores were correct. But following the second 10, the words “to be continued” were not seen–just “tie, 11”.

I didn’t like this very much.