Monday, June 20, 2005

Softball Monday

Monday's are my afternoon to umpire fast-pitch softball. Today was the perfect night. The skies were clear, with only a few wispy clouds. Temperatures were in the low 70s. Warm enough that a T-shirt was sufficient, but not so hot that the mere idea of putting my mask was abhorent.

The game was never close, but I was in the zone. From the start of the game the strike zone was absolutely clear, and the on-base calls were without question. One of the pitchers was hitting his spots with amazing accuracy. And there were quite a few strike outs. I'm still having a little trouble calling rise balls, but I'm confident that will get better.

Sunday, June 19, 2005


Wellesley's reunion was last weekend. It was Amy's 20th and my Mom's 50th, and it was hot, really, really hot. My parents were staying with us so we cranked up the ancient airconditioners (window units built into the wall) in our living room and bedroom. To our amazement they actually worked and managed to get the house to a tolerable temperature.

It was fun to see all our friends from Amy's class, and I enjoyed seeing friends of my Mother's - most of whom I haven't seen in decades. I didn't have as many in-depth conversations as at past reunions, but it was a fun weekend.

There was a casualty, however. After the alumnae parade on Sunday, which Amy was at the Alumnae Association meeting, I decided to take a break on Green Beach , next to the library. The water looked very inviting and having forgotten that my car keys, including the electronic alarm key, were in my back pocket. The water felt great, but the electronic key did not survive it's dip.

Terri's Desk

It's finally done!

The 11 year desk project is complete. Begun while I was un/underemployed in 1994 the desk has been worked on in fits and starts since. With our impending renovation (another project that's taking much longer than expected) I am trying to finish the projects cluttering my workshop.

So to the workshop I went to focus on finishing the desk. It's made of ash and ash plywood. The legs are formed from "bat blanks" which are intended to be turned on a lathe into baseball bats. Because ash is an open grained wood all of the parts were filled with grain filler. I'm still cleaning up the dust from sanding off the filler. The dust is the consistency of flour and coated everything in the shop.

The finish on the top is varnish, the remainder of the desk is finished with polyurethane. The slanted section of the lid opens to reveal a spacious storage compartment, complete with a nest of small slots.

The weeks of rain made getting the finish on the desk a challenge. The first coat of varnish took 5 days to dry, the second was dry in 4. We kept the fan going fairly high on the drive to New Jersey to keep the fumes down. The base had to be assembled upon arrival, since it wouldn't fit into the car otherwise. D helped with the clamping.

The delivery was a complete surprise - Terri and family were only expecting us to visit, they didn't know we were bringing things with us. Before Terri was ready to see what surprise we had in the car D attempted to figure out what it was. Given the clues that it was big, stinky and Tama (his name for Terri) would really like it he guessed a few absurd things - elephant - and a few that show he really knows his Tama - book, yogurt.

Also, a surprise was the toy box I made for D. It's maple, and features a mahagony star on the inside of the lid. D had a lot of fun climbing into it.

Children's Garden

The Child Study Center recently dedicated its new Children's Garden. Faced with a need to renovate the playgrounds to meet new safety requirements, they took the opportunity to think about what children need from outdoor spaces, and to create spaces that will feed the needs of children for interaction with nature and each other.

The space is absolutely beautiful, even without the plantings that are soon to be added.

Included is a new space for the youngest children (2s), who have always shared space with the middle group (3s). The slide is built into a small hill, and when the rhododendrons grow up around it the children will climb through what for them is a forest to the observation deck at the top of the slide.

The gardens also feature space for children to plant and grow, not just sand to dig in.

San Diego

In early May I took a trip to San Diego for a conference. The conference itself was good. I learned a few things, practiced my networking skills, and reconnected with folks I've met in previous years.

I'm not a great fan of California, but I really enjoy San Diego. I had visited the zoo 5 years ago when I was there for the same conference, so this year I decided to investigate the rest of Balboa Park. There are a number of museums there - I particularly enjoyed the Mingei International Museum. The picture here is of a sculpture outside the Mingei. The museum is a folk art museum showing "arts of the people". There was only one exhibit on display the day I was there. The exhibit was of the art of the Indonesian archipelago. I was particularly impressed by the wood and metal stamps that are used for creating patterns on batik fabric. They have an amazing level of intricacy.

I also visited the Museum of Photographic Arts. I was mesmerized by an exhibit of the photographs of Edward Burtynsky entitled Manufactured Landscapes. Burtynsky has taken pictures of strip mines, ship salvage yards, quarries and the like. There is a beauty to the photographs that is unexpected from pictures of industrial sites.


The construction has not been without problems. The landlord is being picketed for hiring non-union workers for part of the project (and another also being done in the building). The picketers are, for the most part, respectful. And I've been amused by the inflated rat which is visible outside the building each morning - it's usually gone by 2pm.

Spring has Sprung

Spring has sprung in the Boston area. In between quite a few gray, rainy days we have had some spectacular crisp, clear, postcard worthy sunny days. The new grass seems to glow from the inside. I’ve been working on clearing our back yard. It’s been ignored for too many years, and was overrun with thorny bushes, volunteer trees, and a thoroughly obnoxious vine which grows out of the woods behind our house.

I wrote this a month ago (while in San Diego)but hadn't had a chance to post it till now. I don't have a good picture to go with it. The back yard looked pretty good for a while, but the weeds have started to take over again. I'm going to have to get back out and attack it again soon.

Working in a Construction Zone

Almost all of the administration has moved over/up into newly renovated space on the 7th floor. IT is now occupying a corner of the 6th floor while one end is renovated for us. We’ve been living with the noise of first demolition, and now construction for more than a month. It's getting better - the crew is down to final details now.

It's been kind of fun watching the construction but it has meant lots of noise, dust, power outages, heat from air conditioning outages, and all the other annoyances of construction. My least favorite have been the far too frequent bathroom closures.

The new space is bright, and the data center is really nice. Most of us will be in cubicles. At the moment the cubicles are way to solid - they're missing the glass panels everyone thought they were supposed to have. I guess it'll all work out in the end.


Tuckerman’s Inferno

We spent part of the weekend of Patriot’s Day (April 16-18) in New Hampshire with our ski friends. We were there to act as ‘sherpas’ for the KSC’s team in the Friends of Tuckerman’s Inferno Pentathalon. The team event consists of an 8 mile run, a 5 mile kayak, an 8 mile bike, and a hike up Mt. Wahington to the base of Tuckerman’s Ravine where the final ski leg begins. Our team includes a sherpa crew responsible for getting racers and their gear to the assigned start positions, taking custody of extra clothing, and anything else that enables the racers to concentrate on the race. We arrived Friday night and received our marching orders. Our during race responsibilities amounted to cheering and photography. Our assignment was the after race pasta feast.

Everyone was to be up and out of the house by 6:15am to arrive at the start to cheer on Rambo, our runner. Departure from the KFFRC was delayed due to a clock in the bunkhouse which was still on daylight savings time. Once the runners headed off, we took off for a midway point. There we cheered on Rambo with signs and screams. Once Rambo passed our location we hopped back into the cars and headed to the run-kayak tag zone.

Upon arrival at the runner-kayak tag zone we discovered Kristen (no ski name yet) suited up and ready to paddle. After a short race Rambo was spotted coming up the path. Kristen got into place, the tag was made, and off she went – with Rambo right beside her. Our vantage point didn’t give us a view of the river, so we headed back to the cars.

Next stop was the covered bridge, partway down the kayak course. After a short wait, during which a major topic of conversation was what color kayak Kristen was in, and what color clothing she was wearing, Kristen appeared around the bend looking pretty smooth despite the fact that this was only her second run down a river. After cheering encouragement to Kristen, we headed for the kayak-bike tag zone.

The end of the kayak run was at a shallow point in the river. Each kayaker had to paddle in, climb out of their kayak, pull the kayak up onto the bank and then run across a field to the edge of the road. I was given biker notification duty – when we spied Kristen I headed to the road to let Fritz, our biker, know she was on her way. Then I picked a spot where I could get a picture of the tag. The tag zone was at the edge of the road, where the field was divided from the road by a row of 2 foot tall boulders. Most of the tags consisted of the kayaker leaning over the boulders to tag the biker. Kristen came up to the boulders at a full run, and instead of stopping leaped onto the top of a boulder, and launched herself off of it tagging Fritz while in mid-air.

After a quick stop for soda and water we headed toward the parking lot at the Wildcat ski area, taking time to cheer on the intrepid biker as we passed. We staked out a spot at the far end of the Wildcat parking lot for the post race BBQ. For the rest of the race our only communication with the racers and sherpas was by way of two way radios.

Artist, our hiker, hiked primarily in silence since his sherpa, Ober, had headed up the mountain earlier so that he’d have warm clothes to put on when he was done hiking. he wasn’t carrying his own radio, and most of the hike is out of radio range anyway. Once Ober got to the base of Tuckerman’s Ravine both Ober and Goat provided us with updates. Goat, our skier, finished his hike/ski leg in just over 30 minutes. (The ski leg requires that the skier hike from the bottom of Tuckerman’s Ravine to the top before skiing down.)

The temperature climbed as the day progressed by the time we were settled in the Wildcat parking lot we were down to t-shirts. Pete fired up the grill, and cooked burgers and sausages – the first round went to the runner, kayaker, biker, their sherpas and the cheering crew. A couple of hours later the second round went to the hiker skier and their sherpas.

Results from the race took a couple weeks to come in, but since it’s taken me even more to write this, here they are: Overall 18th, Team 13th, run 26th, kayak 28th, bike 14th, hike 18th, ski 14th.