Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Go...um, go Tennis?

Ramblings Post #337
The something about sport. It transcends a lot. People who can't stand each other will come together for sport. People who don't know each other will come together for THE game, whatever it maybe. As long as the common element - the home team- is winning. Winning hide flaws and quells fears. Losing however is the devil's tool shed.  

First, at the new "Ranch" they put Wimbledon up on the big screen around mid-day on Monday, so the whole office could watch. I've worked a lot of places, and I can't really think of any place else that ever did something like this. Normally a big game or event might be shown in the break area and if you were willing to catch the evil eye from your manager for thinking about something than barge lifting or bale toting, you could enjoy for few minutes. But this setup let people at their desks could literally stop and just watch for a while. We discussed rankings, shot selection, serve speeds. I'm not sure if this type of stuff is supposed to happen in a professional environment.

At some point I started rooting for Mueller, because the crowd kept cheering for Nadal.

When I broke for lunch, #4 Rafael Nadal was down two sets and I thought it over. Way underdog #16 Gilles Mueller was on his game and I figured even if Nadal surged late, the Luxembourger could weather it and close it out in short order. Your guy went to lunch, had a lovely custom made garden salad with roast chicken flavored with a able honey mustard dressing, and took a few moments to enjoy the afternoon breeze on the veranda. When I came back Nadal may as well have been running up the steps in Philadelphia while the Eye of the Tiger jamming though the speakers. As comebacks go, this one was shaping up to be epic, man versus man in the harsh and unforgiving English Savannah of the courts. Deuce after deuce, unforced error after unforced error. And seemingly the only people backing Mueller were his family and a the one guy in Leeds who put down a hundred quid. Every shot, every point by Nadal the crowd... well, it is Wimbledon, they respectfully clapped quietly. It's an English thing I guess. Without looking at the screen I knew when Mueller was doing good - I was at work after all - because the crowd would have been quiet for too long.

And they kept playing. Apparently on the English greens of legend there is no tie breaker, they are to just keep playing until someone wins by two. So it went first it was both 6, and then 8. I stopped watching to get some things done and a while later was surprised to realize they were still playing and it was 12 all. Had this been in the US no doubt both men would have been commended for their strength of character in the face of adversity, and if Nadal was able to complete the comeback it would become the stuff of legend. Wheaties commercials, an ESPN 30 for 30, maybe even a blurb on Buzzfeed....stolen from Reddit. At 13-all I was ready for someone to just stand there while the other served and watch it go by. They'd been playing for almost 5 hours, the final set at this point longer than other players complete matches, and quite frankly had more than earned a dramatic "Fuck it" as far as I was concerned.

When Muller finally was able to close out the deuce, an astonishing 15-13, I was almost certain they would both have to sit there court side for ten minutes or so getting their legs back. Or maybe I'm just that out of shape. It was good tennis...something you don't hear everyday.

They turned it back again today but the matches - Djokovic, Venus Williams match and one with a classically named Coco Vandeweghe (she lost poor dear) went pretty much as expected. They paled in comparison to the herculean effort of the previous day. Now, if Konta can beat Venus....well, then...well, it's still tennis. I just started really watching like Monday. 

Barkeep. We'll have tea and cucumber sandwiches in the garden. And by tea I mean the kind in the bourbon bottle. And by cucumber sandwiches, make mine honey-bbq and all drums. And by garden I mean hear at the bar. It's an English thing. Pip pip and all that.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017


Ramblings Post #336
I used to go to the best cookouts. Two hundred or so people, food that would run out in a half hour, a line for single bathroom, people drinking all the chaser for like no reason and girls who just needed someone to keep them occupied until the cute guys arrived. Ah, the memories. There really is something to growing up. 

The word fireworks doesn't quite cover it. The correct term is "munitions."

If there are any vets in my area who are suffering PTSD they have my deepest sympathies.

My neighbors really lit it up for the fourth. For a solid hour and a half they launched what must have been a lovely cross section of the entirety of the US military's impressive arsenal, the festivities sounding at times like a thunderstorm, then a volleys of gunfire (Steven Segal gunfire, not real gunfire), and having your position shelled.  Honest to god explosions. There is a scene in the movie Full Metal Jacket where the soldiers are resting in the bunker but the noise outside sounds funny, then suddenly they've grabbed their gear and are running as fast as they can for the slit trenches, preparing to lay down suppression fire. It was like that. My windows rattled.

When I wandered outside to see who was winning, the street was thick with the haze and smoke that comes from exploding a lot of things at the same time for a long time. And I think a few of the people had their displays set too low, as a few blooms went off while still below the tree line. Music was playing, in the dark children were granting them 'ooohs and aahhhs, and I could hear the yelling that comes from patriotic fervor, or too much alcohol  or a need for everyone to be impressed at their purchases. I went back into my house. I could still hear small explosions in the distance even after midnight as I tried to keep Vietnam movies from invading my dreams.

And I live in a pretty much all black neighborhood.

I've seen a lot of chatter online suggesting that the descendants of slaves (so, just to be simple - black people) shouldn't celebrate the 4th, because while the declaration did set off Brexit 1776, the notions espoused in it really didn't apply to everyone in that country yearning to be free. But then by that weird logic, the only people who should be celebrating it would be landowning white males, which would mean the way we celebrate would be the same - exploding things - but there would just be less demonstrations of patriotism.

Apparently women shouldn't celebrate, as they didn't get the basic benefits of being American, getting to own their own property or vote for 150 years after this grand declaration. And blacks faced  slavery and then legalized discrimination for the first 180 years since we pulled out of the BU, and things aren't so great now, so we have no reason to be happy either. In reality, when I think about it the words to "This land is my land, this land is your land" from my childhood, it really was more an expression of a idealized America, provided most of us stayed in our lane, than a realistic view of the United States. So, what exactly are we marginalized folks celebrating?

Well, for starters, I'm celebrating the country that I was born in, am a citizen of and that I live in. No, I'm not a closet nationalist or whatever term they're using these days (collaborator?), and although this country still has its many faults, problems and shortcomings* if you're not a landowning white male, it is still a fairly decent place to be in a world still rife with problems common sense should have handled years ago. I'm not necessarily celebrating America as it is today, but that idealized version of America I thought we'd have when I was a kid.

That I even have to explain this strikes me as odd now. Even those who are theoretically on the same side are so divided in their thinking.

Barkeep. A beer. Cold. No, it's just beer, it really doesn't matter.

*Faults and shortcomings being almost too many mention, including racism, sexism, injustice, poverty and the need to put cheese on everything. 

Monday, July 3, 2017

New Ranch

Ramblings Post #335
Ah summer 2017, and I'm home again, trying to get my situation right, as they say taking the time to do those things I need to do to get to where I'm going. The issue I have is, unless you're satisfied with where you are you always need to be working on the next thing. Which means I'm going to working for a long time, because satisfaction is a hard thing to pin down. 

After a bit too long a hitch at the old ranch, I've quite unexpectedly been moved onto a much better looking ranch just up north. Well, north Atlanta. North inside the perimeter Atlanta, not North northern Atlanta. It's complicated. And the transition has got me all twisted. But then, who is used to change?

To be honest, my old ranch was a place to do what I needed to do. Basically a stable, a pasture and the work. (Okay, I'm using metaphors off and on here, work with me - this ain't really no ranch but I'm keeping is nice and vague. For like, legal reasons.) But, I'd gotten used to the setup, as one does when one has been a place a touch too long. Traffic patterns for arrival, when the coffee was fresh, what time the bathroom was clear, you know, the basics. Then whoosh, just like that we get, um, the call to head north.

Now, let's be honest here, this new 'ranch' has all the amenities - free snacks, gourmet coffee, ergonomic chairs, A WINDOW, and more than the same four lunch restaurants which had fallen into a weird shifting rotation which could have me eating pasta three days in row. This place has an actual CHEF at the restaurant in the lobby. I stopped eating at the place near the old ranch because I just couldn't deal with 'guess today's price' style of running the joint. I will miss the brownies from that one spot though up the street though. Mind you this new place there is a Chipotle right there! But, the new ranch is however, as I said, further north...and therein lies the rub.

Not quite this, but for the Keurig machine the do have Stabucks cups. 

Atlanta traffic you may have heard, is a bit an odd duck. I'm fairly certain that the Marquis de Sade Traffic Commission was the principal architect of most of the city's thoroughfares. One fender bender can change a 10 minute drive into an hour wasted. The bit of I-285 between I-75 and I-85, which will eventually be known as Spaghetti Junction East and West, is commonly regarded as one of the worst stretches of roadway in the country. And all of that vehicular fever dream is directed towards or halfway funnels into and out of the area where I work now. It's a hot area. Which takes some of the shine off all the aforementioned niceties.

Given my druthers I'd much rather go in a little later and work a little later to avoid the peaks of rush hour traffic. Doing just that was an option at the old ranch, as the hours were flexible, but it isn't the case at the new one. Now that I have to deal with Atlanta traffic at its naturally occurring intersections of chaos, I have to have my track shoes on a lot earlier than I previously did, which is annoying to the say the least. It shifts my prep time and thus my whole evening schedule, which changes essentially my life. But change happens, so this is isn't the end of the world. The ride home however is a different story.

I used to have one of those unbelievable commutes, but I got deeply downgraded, to like steerage.  I live inside the perimeter, so my previous commute was 20 mins both ways. Seriously. People who live in Atlanta might scoff at the insanity of that, but from parking garage to driveway in medium just off peak traffic it was less than a half hour. I might get through five or six songs on a album. That five to ten minutes difference depended on one intersection and just how backed up the cross street was. That was the whole of my issue. Now, my commute home after a hard day of ranching is, well, unknown. I think it's 45 mins to an hour? Maybe more? All I know is that I get home at the same time or later than I used to, although I leave as much as an hour or more earlier.  

And while I get home around the same time, I now have to go to bed much, much earlier to get enough sleep. Which means my evenings just got smushed. My writing is suffering, my studying for the "cooking" school is suffering - metaphor people - and I just realized if I want to cook I need to start as soon as I walk in the door. I'm about to become one of those people who rushes to everything on Saturday because during the rest of the week I have no time.

So suddenly, I'm like normal people? What the hell?

Barkeep, I'm gonna need a tall drink of ...wait, I got to get early in the damn morning. Just an ice tea. Thanks.