April 29, 2007

Who is watching baseball?

I was struck down on the train home on Friday night with a nasty flu like bug. I still feel poorly but nothing like as badly as I did on Saturday and Friday night where I alternated between fever wracked dreams and spasms that turned my whole body into one large muscle cramp. It was not fun.

I did manage to install myself on the coach and watch most of the Yankees-Red Sox game on Saturday. I sat there, zoning in and out, with chills and hot flash spells, with a brain rendered completely defenseless to the blandishments of those seeking to improve my life through the judicious exercise of consumer power, and I observed. And I came to some tentative conclusions about either (1) who watches afternoon big league baseball on a Saturday; (2) who the advertisers think is watching big league ball; (3) what is of the most serious moment to those viewers; or, (4) what the advertisers would like the viewers to feel is of the most serious moment.

First, these are men (I think) who drive trucks. Not your silly imports, but American made trucks. They take these trucks into the wilderness or they use them in furtherance of important agricultural or major construction jobs. Or, perhaps, that is what they'd like to be associated with. No matter. Trucks are important.

They watch NASCAR or are simply being urged to do so. Lots of commercials for NASCAR. I cannot square it with the truck thing, but that may be because I am more of the effete Eastern elite than anything else.

They drink beer, but primarily light beer. This means they are either concerned about their weight or are getting older. I think maybe it could be both.

They also may like golf. More on that later.

They probably own their own houses. Another clue that they are older. Why? Because there are grave concerns about lawn care, if you believe the advertisers, that is. Concern about grass and weeds.

They are also being pitched things like power tools (another clue to home ownership) and auto parts (another gender clue, I feel).

They have penis problems. Either in achieving and maintaining acceptable erections and thus feeling fulfilled in life or problems in passing water through said instrument. Another good clue as to the perceived age of the viewer. There are prostate problems and ED problems and plenty of drugs out there that will allow you intimate post coital moments with happy, satisfied mates and also allow you to get out there for long kayak trips, far from the urinal, with your best adventure seeking baby boomer pals. These people also play golf since there each potential drug consumer is also directed to see the advertisements in Golf Digest. I think that I will not play golf as it is not clear to me whether the penile dysfunctions existed in men prior to playing golf or were brought about by prolonged exposure to gold clubs, ugly clothes, and mass quantities of pesticides used in maintaining those emerald greens. Either way, I value my own penis too much to take the risk that appears to be endemic to playing golf.

So, watching the game is not for me or people like me, I gather. It is a wonder that I enjoyed it all.

Now, we interrupt this blogging break to return to bed. I feel another nap coming on.

Posted by Random Penseur at 09:04 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

April 27, 2007

Admitting you have a problem, etc.

It really is the first step. Of course, what they fail to mention is that your first step of admitting you have a problem may well be the last, final and terminal step, too. After all, you can admit you have a problem, acknowledge the scope of the problem, and decide, screw it, I am going to find a way to co-exist in peace, or some semblance thereof, with your problem.

For me, the problem is that I am a squash glutton. If given the chance, I will gorge myself on the game. I will play until the sweat is dripping off the racquet grip and I have to wipe my hand on the wall. I will play until no wants to play anymore or until I run out of time. This probably does not come across as a problem, does it?

But, you see, I am turning 40 this year, not 30.

The normal amount of time for a squash match is around 30 minutes. Today, I played 90.

My elbow hurts, my knee hurts, my back is tight, my hip is iffy, my shoulder is questionable, and my feet are not speaking to me anymore. I have conclusively established that playing for 90 minutes straight is too much.

And yet, I was seriously thinking about playing with this nice fellow of Indian descent (warning: generalization here -- Indians and Pakistanis are often very good squash players) this evening when he asked me if I knew how he could get a game up tonight. That would have been folly.

Playing for 90 minutes is a problem. Considering playing for more is more of a problem.

I admit (and my joints are forcing me to admit) that I have a problem.

That said, I think I will decline to do anything about it. Because, viewed from a different angle, the problem is that I am less happy off of the squash court than on it. So, perhaps, the impediment to true happiness is work and the time demanded by work. Maybe I should be thinking about ways to spend more time on the court and not less time.

Gee, sounds like I solved my initial problem, didn't I? I admitted I had a problem and then I found a solution to it.

Of course, I suppose the next entry should probably deal with how denial is not a river in Egypt.

Anyone free for a game?

Posted by Random Penseur at 09:49 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

April 26, 2007

TIme Suck of the Day: Etymology

As the internet has grown, as sources and pages and material has continued to proliferate, the quality level of the output as dropped (and I don't spare myself with this evaluation, either) and websites that can qualify as being time sucks of the day have become fewer and fewer. In fact, I cannot recall the last time I found a really compelling choice. But now, I give you the word derivation index created by the nice people at Random House and I encourage you to go forth and waste some wonderful time there:

The Maven's Word of the Day Index

My favorites so far: Shiftless and Slob.

Posted by Random Penseur at 07:57 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 18, 2007

More search fun

I am tickled by the thought that if you search the internet from Norway, using a Norwegian search engine, for "Sarah Jackman Lyrics" (link is to the Norwegian search), I come up as the number two result.

All hail Allan Sherman! Even in Norway!

Must have been an American. Seriously, can you imagine a Norwegian searching for this?

Posted by Random Penseur at 02:18 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The best laid plans, etc.

The Boy Child, aged 4, discovered today that not all plans, no matter how splendidly conceived, reach glorious fruition. The children were brought into the City today, under the Viking Bride's watchful eye, to visit the Norwegian consulate today in order to renew their Norwegian passports. They have to visit in person for these kinds of things, which is actually quite annoying. The group stopped by my office afterwards and the kids told me about their train ride in.

The Girl Child said that they shared the window seat. Their plan, she explained, was to switch seats at every stop so that they each got turns at the window. I was holding their hands and walking them back to Grand Central when she told me this and so I turned to the Boy Child on my other side and asked him whether this was his plan, too.

"No", he told me, "that wasn't my plan". "My plan was that whoever got there first got the window".

Not a bad plan but it did not survive contact with his sister.

Posted by Random Penseur at 02:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 17, 2007

Thanks for all the good wishes on the squashed face

The after effects of taking the racket off of the left cheekbone have been minimal. I love ice. Just a small knot that was a bit sensitive to the touch. No visible bruising. Just a bit tender to the touch, still. Honestly, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of applying ice to an injury.

The vodka at lunch didn't hurt any either, I'll tell you.

Thank you for your kind remarks and good wishes!

Posted by Random Penseur at 10:30 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 13, 2007

They should not call it squash

*Squash* is not the sound that a racket makes when the edge of it, on a backswing, smacks into your cheekbone just below the eye socket. It makes more a sound between a crack and a dull thud. I know this from personal experience. I gained this personal experience, followed by application of ice to said cheekbone for 40 minutes, this morning while playing someone with a big tennis backswing. I tried a rail shot (scooting the ball down the wall) when I should have gone cross court because when you play a tennis player, the best thing to do is to hit the ball so he has to move away from you in order to make his swing. This was sage advice given to me by an old and wily squash player. I had followed it to great effect and safety up to the point that it seemed a rail shot was called for and then *WHACK* I get slammed in the face with the edge of his backswing.

I am going out for lunch and I am going to apply, internally, a great big extra spicy Bloody Mary. Or maybe even two. I am certain that after ice, vodka, applied internally, is the best thing for me.

Posted by Random Penseur at 10:40 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

April 06, 2007

Happy Birthday, Le Fils Cadet

It was one year ago yesterday that I was in a hospital room. The Viking Bride was confined to bed with all sorts of pregnancy related complications and had been for well over a week at that point. But on April 5 (04/05/06) she managed to give birth successfully to the little boy I am calling for the purposes of this blog, Le Fils Cadet (the second son, as it were). Yesterday, the little guy turned one. It has been quite a year.

I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Posted by Random Penseur at 10:44 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

April 05, 2007

Passover slight of hand

A part of any Seder is the search for the afikomen, a broken piece of matzah wrapped in a cloth. There is an interesting piece about the afikomen here, although I do not know how accurate it is. Anyway, during the Seder, I got up to hide the afikomen and, during dessert, the Girl Child and the Boy Child got up in search of it so they could redeem it for a reward. They returned with nothing; they couldn't find it. They asked for a hint. I said, did you try the dining room? The Girl Child looked at me, thought for a moment, turned to her brother and said: "Boy Child, you go check the sun room!"

Guess who found the afikomen?

I declined to allow my dad to give her more money than her brother received. I sort of felt like she wasn't playing fair. Although I was secretly pretty amused by her sleight of hand.

Posted by Random Penseur at 11:01 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 02, 2007


Today begins the celebration of Passover. There are a lot of different themes and images and stories bound up in the celebration of this holiday. One is a theme of remembrance as you commemorate the time spent as slaves in the land of Egypt. Remembrance, for a Jew, for anyone really, is critical. If you do not remember the key events in your shared/collective past, than your current shared identity morphs in ways that cannot be controlled, as it should be, by a reference to the anchor of history. History is critical.

This is why, on the eve of Passover, this story out of England is so troubling:

Teachers are dropping controversial subjects such as the Holocaust and the Crusades from history lessons because they do not want to offend children from certain races or religions, a report claims.

A lack of factual knowledge among some teachers, particularly in primary schools, is also leading to “shallow” lessons on emotive and difficult subjects, according to the study by the Historical Association.

The report, produced with funding from the Department for Education, said that where teachers and staff avoided emotive and controversial history, their motives were generally well intentioned.

“Staff may wish to avoid causing offence or appearing insensitive to individuals or groups in their classes. In particular settings, teachers of history are unwilling to challenge highly contentious or charged versions of history in which pupils are steeped at home, in their community or in a place of worship,” it concluded.[an error occurred while processing this directive]

However, it was concerned that this could lead to divisions within school, and that it might also put pupils off history.

Link to story.

I gather it is offensive to Muslim children to learn about the Holocaust. It is easier, I suppose, to close your eyes to a truth than it is to be forced to confront it.

This Passover, I choose to remember. I choose to remember that Jews were once slaves in the land of Egypt. I choose, moreover, to remember that on the first night of Passover in 2002, a Palestinian homicide bomber walked into a Seder and killed 30 people, many of them survivors of the same Holocaust that has now become too sensitive a subject to teach to the children of that bomber's co-religionists.

I remember.

Tonight, I will tell the story of Passover again to my children so that they too will remember and they too will be part of an unbroken chain of recollection stretching back 5000 years.

I will also spare a thought, a grateful and hopeful thought, that those men and women who stand ready to protect us and all the other Passover Seders taking place tonight are bored out of their minds.

Peace, my friends.

Posted by Random Penseur at 09:38 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

How children have changed me

I was having this chat with my dad the other day. He and I agreed that having children changes a person. Not a very controversial position, frankly, but it was nice to kick around a not too difficult topic for a change.

This morning, walking to work after my morning squash match (lost, but it was close and who cares since it was so much fun anyway) and weight lifting, I cut across another guy's path to cross the street. I tend to walk very quickly and I easily passed in front of him without him even having to break step. Just the same, he spit out: "F*!k you". Maybe that's just normal behavior in his neighborhood, beats me. So, the post-three children guy that I have become responded, without thinking about it, not that way I would have 6 years ago "("Oh yeah? Suck my ****, you asshole!), but:

HEY!! That wasn't very nice!!!

Any street cred that I ever might have plausibly laid any potential claim to is now officially dead, kaput, gone, history, finished.

I am now officially rated G, even when angry.

That G rating does not apply when I am behind the wheel, however. Just saying.

Posted by Random Penseur at 09:21 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

The Halo effect

Getting retained on a $100 million piece of business creates, without question, an observable halo effect -- it makes you, the guy who got retained, look beautiful to other potential clients. No question about it.

I told one father at a birthday party I took the Boy Child to on Sunday that I got retained on Friday on a $100 million dollar deal gone bad and the next thing I knew, I was being quizzed about my experience defending sexual harassment cases in the financial products industry (the answer was not only yes but I was able to talk intelligently about a Court of Appeals -- NY's highest Court -- decision that came down on Friday right on topic). We're having lunch soon.

I told another guy about this retention in the gym this morning and I was asked about my experience doing employment law. I have a lot. I am about to get retained to handle a problem for him at his shop and he wants to pass my information along to a buddy of his.

There appears to be a lot of reflected light an attorney can bask in as shed by $100 million. A lot of light indeed. I just didn't realize it. Now, honestly, that I am alert to it, I will be trying to work it into conversation wherever I can do it without looking like I'm pushing. Well worth giving up my Saturday, now that I think about it.

Posted by Random Penseur at 08:30 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack