September 2002 News & Thoughts

Sunday night, September 29, 2002

The final pitch of the regular Baseball season has been thrown. Most of the players, including the Astros (waaaaahhhhhh!) will be hitting the golf course tomorrow, or going fishing or hunting or down south to play winter ball.

Of course, there are still the playoffs and the World Series, so this isn’t the worst night of the year. Well, it is in a way — this is only the second time since 1996 that the Astros haven’t made it to the post-season (double-waaaaahhhhhh!). The NL teams that made it this year are the San Francisco Giants, Arizona Diamondbacks, St. Louis Cardinals and Atlanta Br@>e$. And the AL teams are the Californa Angels, New York Yankees (so what else is new?), Minnesota Twins and Oakland A’s.

I’m rooting for a Cardinals/Twins World Series.

The 2003 schedule came out today. The Astros will be going to Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium for interleague play. Cool.

My fantasy Baseball teams play their last games tonight. One of them has already clinched a playoff spot. My Pinetar team is in fourth tied but needs to win by a wide margin tonight to make it to the playoffs. Here’s the story. My third team was a disaster. Three teams was too many this year.

Sunday, September 29, 2002

I’ve lived in Texas longer than ten years, so I guess it was inevitable that I’d eventually go to listen to some live Country and Western music. The venue was the Continental Club (with John, Terry and Mike) and the performers were Kinky Friedman, Billy Joe Shaver, Little Jewford, Washington Ratso, and Jesse “Guitar” Taylor. With the exception of keyboardist/comedian, Little Jewford, all wore cowboy boots and cowboy hats. And the music was . . . well . . . very C&W. Not my cup of tea, but as I’ve said before, there’s no such thing as a bad live performance. Kinky was quite funny between songs. He plays on the fact that he’s a Jewish cowboy — unusual in these parts — and that one member of his band is Lebanese. “The best hope we have for world peace,” he informed us. Billy Joe and he alternated songs, which gave them a chance to rest (these were not young cowboys) and sometimes sang together. Oh, and Kinky also writes mystery novels.

They must have stuffed about 400 people into that place, and apparently there was a long line of people snaking around the block wanting to get in. So I felt quite privileged being positioned about six feet from the performers.

It was also neat to see the first railroad tracks on Main Street outside.

Saturday (later), September 28, 2002

John‘s website is stirring again.

Saturday, September 28, 2002

Oh dear. What’s Maggie going to say about this?

Friday, September 27, 2002

We went to the tiny Masquerade Theatre last night and saw a musical called Floyd Collins. It was a true story about a man trapped in a cave in 1925. His ordeal lasted for seventeen days and he was on the stage for nearly three hours (the actor who played the part, that is), singing off and on while the press, rescuers, and family (all of which turned into a media circus) sang above him on steps and platforms. There were some good songs with echoes in them, as you can imagine. Sometimes we see the strangest musicals. Jim to one when he came to stay. Ruthless, I think.

It was late in the week and I was tired, so didn’t enjoy it as much as some of the previous shows (Sweeney Todd and Kiss of the Spider Woman come to mind), but I’m convinced that there’s no such thing as a bad live show.

Oh, and Mr. Collins didn’t make it. No Baby Jessica story here. It was all quite tragic.

Incidentally, has anyone in England heard of the term, “spelunker”? I’d like to put it in my English/American Dictionary but am thinking that maybe it’s just a word I’ve never come across.

Wednesday, September 25, 2002

Fame: There’s a picture of some soggy Astros fans on the front of today’s Houston Chronicle. If you have a copy and a magnifying glass, you might be able to spot me in the background. I’m wearing a white Astros jersey. Very distinctive 🙂

More fame: Our neighbour wants to feature me and Wendy on his TV show on Channel 11. I can’t actually find a link to anything about him, but he has a segment on Saturday mornings when he answers questions on car repairs, etc. If all goes according to plan, we’ll be filming on Friday, October 4th.

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

There’s no such thing as a meaningless Baseball game. Okay, the Astros have been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, but they still have games to play. I headed to the park early tonight. As I arrived the skies opened, and for some reason the roof stayed open. While the early arrivals scurried from their seats I took the opportunity to scurry past the ushers to the $30 seats with my $5 ticket. It poured, and still the roof didn’t close. I sat under the overhang, just keeping dry, and watched the grounds crew roll the tarp over the infield. It was at least ten minutes before the roof started to close. Do they have to plan that far ahead? Whatever. Anyway, I enjoyed an hour of solitude just drinking in the ballpark and all the pre-game activities. There’s so much to watch before, during, and after a Baseball game. I love it all. A group of female singers called “Tapestry” sang the National Anthem, in tune, with no fuss, and an 82-year-old nun threw out the first pitch to Jeff Bagwell. He signed the ball, talked to her, and hugged her. I’m jealous.

The Hummingbirds arrived as the game started, and we watched the lacklustre Astros lose to the Brewers. Once again they failed to hit, and once again, Roy Oswalt failed to bag his 20th win.

But it was still good to be at the ballpark. Tomorrow is the last home game, and the regular season ends on Sunday.

The Hummingbirds got a ride in Wendy after the game. They liked her. Everyone likes Wendy.

Sunday (later), September 22, 2002

Not sure if I mentioned this, but John is taking the Music class with me. It is his last requirement before graduation.

He just asked me to proofread his concert review. The professor had told us to use as many Italian terms in the report as possible. I swear I’m sober, but this sentence from John’s paper has the tears rolling down my cheeks:

“The first variation was very fast to my ears, certainly at least what one would call allegro, perhaps even vivace, but not so frenetic as one would expect to be called presto.”

John’s going to get an A on his report. I know it. He’s done it in colour with pictures. What a show-off.

Sunday, September 22, 2002

We did a re-run of the Gruene trip this weekend, once again to hear Scott Melott at the Tavern in the Gruene. This time John and I got there earlier to allow time to check out New Braunfels as well. We then met up with Callie, Kevin and Camille at Gruene Hall for a beer. We hadn’t seen Camille since the Oklahoma trip in May. In eight and a half months she will be a doctor. Wow! And here am I fretting over a Finance class.

gruene general store.jpg (408671 bytes)From Gruene Hall we headed down the street to look at the small shops and market stalls, but somehow we got sidetracked into a wine tasting. Kevin and John (the schemers) insisted on our tasting three different wines before making a decision on which wine to buy (the fourth taste costs a dollar) and we then sat down and drank a bottle. It was a good Texan merlot (is that an oxymoron?) and made us very merry. So merry that everyone else in the place disappeared. Or maybe it was getting late. We then headed over to a restaurant on the Guadalupe River and dined on sweet potato fries and ribs and sausage and drank more beer. I wish I could remember the name of the place. I do remember that there was actually a treegruene scott2.jpg (456626 bytes) growing up through the floor next to our table. Unfortunately by the time we arrived at the Tavern in the Gruene I was feeling very sleepy. Scott and his new band (Dead End Angels) and Libbi Bosworth started playing at 9:30. By the third song I was finding it difficult to sit upright, so I went outside to get some fresh air. And fell asleep in my car. I did wake up in time for the second half of the show, though.

The weather this weekend was perfect. Blue sky and 85 degrees. Wendy continues to be everything I had hoped for. She’s now done over 1,100 miles. She’s great to drive and averaged 32.6 miles per gallon during the trip with the air conditioning on. The only problem I have with her is that I have great difficulty keeping her under 90 mph.

I still have to finish writing this darn concert review. It’s due tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. Bleah.

Friday morning very early, September 20, 2002

piano duncan rice.jpg (208282 bytes) MarywithBand_Rudz.jpg (300195 bytes)
The above pictures are an example of how to jam as much as you can into your life. John and I went to a doctoral lecture-piano recital at Rice University last night. Michael Esch played Brahms’ Handel Variations (all 24 of ’em). I took notes (no pun intended) furiously. Then we came home for about 15 minutes (had to take care of my fantasy Baseball teams) and then we headed to Rudz Pub to listen to Mary Cutrufello. It was the first time we’d heard her play with a band.

Tonight I must stay home and write a review of the piano recital. And no, it will not be published on this website!

Wednesday (later), September 18, 2002

Kevin gave Wendy a mention on his website. She’s going to be famous now, because he has lots and lots and lots of readers. In fact, someone just e-mailed me three new words for the English American dictionary, and I don’t know who he is.

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

This morning I had a Finance test. And I blew it. I could blame it on Baseball trips and Minis, but the real reason is that I haven’t been studying. In fact, I hadn’t realized there was a test until Monday morning when one of my fellow students asked me if I was “ready for Wednesday.” Last night I opened my Investment book and tried to cram nine chapters into my head and work the problems. Unfortunately there wasn’t enough time. I didn’t even understand Chapter 9 on the SML and the CML and the Separation Theorem and bleahhh. The formulas are so long they wouldn’t even fit in my Mini. It was too late last night to e-mail the professor and ask her some questions, so I went to class and hoped for the best. It was a disaster. And nearly all the questions were on Chapter 9. I got bogged down with the problems and all I really wanted to do was hand in my test and slink out of the room.

My options now are to drop the class and take it in the summer, or to try and make up lost ground and hope I can salvage a “C”. I guess I’ll wait for the results and then decide what to do. The professor may throw me out anyway, which will save making a decision.

The music class is going fine, but somehow between now and Monday I have to go to a concert and write a three-page review. This wouldn’t be a problem, except that we’re going to Rudz tomorrow night with Kevin and Callie to hear Mary Cutrufello and then New Braunfels at the weekend for more Scott Mellott.

I’d take a day off work to catch up with everything, but that would play havoc with my Mini payments.

I don’t want to talk about the Astros right now. Lucky Habershons, you’re off the hook for at least 24 hours.

Sunday, September 15, 2002

Air fare: $5
Taxi: $27.50 plus tip
Motel: $42.17
Speeding ticket: $100
Bonding with Wendy: Priceless

Friday, September 13, 2002

Hot and steamy night at Minute Maid Park. The roof opened in the seventh and the game went into extra innings. I went with my tenant, Patty, who is a rabid Cardinals’ fan, and we met up with the Hummingbirds in the nosebleed seats. The Astros lost, but the season is not yet over and I still hold out hope.

Tomorrow is the big day. I’m flying to Memphis in the morning to pick up my Mini. John and I had planned to rent a car and drive up there but decided this morning that it was too much hassle (ten hours each way). So, I’ll make the trip back to Houston on my own. I’ll drive as far as I can and then find a motel and finish the journey on Sunday morning.

I watched the beginning of the Ground Zero ceremony on the Fox News Channel before leaving the house this morning. As they started reading the names of the victims I had to leave for school. And as I drove down I-45 towards the University of Houston I picked it up on the radio. I relived the horror of the planes crashing into the WTC. It seemed like yesterday. Our music professor thrust test papers in front of us and I think I checked off the right boxes, although my distracted brain was struggling to remember whether the Baroque era came before the Classical era or vice versa, and whether there were three or two notes in a chord. He then lectured us on the sonata form. I know all that stuff, being the proud owner of a Music A-Level and having passed Grade 8 piano (many years ago), and my mind wandered back to Ground Zero and the Pentagon and the field in Pennsylvania. Then one of his doctoral students (Agnes, from Belgium, if I remember correctly) walkedin the door, violin in hand. She and the professor played Fauré’s Sonata No. 1 in A for Violin and Piano . I think the intention was to demonstrate the different parts of the sonata, but it had a much different effect on me. As the beautiful, incredible sound filled the room I saw the towers falling and the people running.

When they’d finished, the Professor asked us questions about what we’d heard. I looked straight ahead trying to compose myself (without the aid of a handkerchief or a Kleenex) and couldn’t say a word. I didn’t talk with any of the other students as I left to rush across campus to my Finance class, but wonder if they were in the same state of mind. If not, I’d be surprised.

We need to get rid of Saddam Hussein.

Life is supposed to go on as usual today, so I
shall head to my morning classes and then to work. I’d really like
to stay home and watch the memorial services, but maybe
it’s better to keep moving and not brood. Have a safe day,
everyone. And if you’re not in hell already, bin laden, may you
rot there soon.

Monday, September 9th, 2002
Normally I wouldn’t mention
American football. It holds no interest for me and it interferes
with the Baseball season. So this is the first and last time:
Houston has a new football team called the Texans. They played their
first game last night against the Dallas Cowboys and WON!
Apparently this is only the second time that a new franchise has done
this. I wish them luck with the rest of the season.

That’s all I have to say about football.

Sunday, September 8th, 2002
I’m finding it difficult to write
about yesterday. It was exciting to fly to a strange city just for
24 hours to meet a fantasy Baseball manager and go to a game. And
it’s so tough to return to reality and responsibilities (nothing against
you, John). I had a great time and am ready
for number seventeen. Here are some pictures
of the trip.

Friday, September 6th, 2002
Mr. Blair announced this week that
he is prepared for Britain to pay a “blood price” to secure
its “special relationship” with the U.S.
Thank you,
Tony. Your picture has been removed from the Habershon
of the Month
page. Here’s another
for everyone’s weekend reading.

And while you’re all reading it, I’ll be flying to Chicago. The
Cubs are out of town, so after a quick look at Wrigley Field and Grant
Park I’ll be driving to Milwaukee with a seam mate to see the Cincinnati
Reds take on the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller
. I’ll tell you all about it when I get back (on Sunday

Of course, my trip depends upon the weather. Right now Tropical
Storm Fay is advancing on Houston. Galveston is getting hit badly
(8:30 p.m. here) and the forecast is for flash floods and tornadoes.
I just hope the airport isn’t closed. The ominous thing about this
is that Fay is also the name of the last Baseball Commissioner (he was

Monday, September 2nd, 2002
I’m sorry to hear that fewer and
fewer British voters are against backing the U.S. in any military action
against Saddam Hussein. The numbers are dwindling here, too. This
in today’s Daily Telegraph re-emphasizes my feelings that we have
to keep going and destroy the man. I hope you will take the time to
read it.

Sunday, September 1st, 2002

I talked to Dad
today. He sounded very frail and doesn’t seem to be looking forward
to another winter. It’s still 95 degrees here in Houston and
difficult to imagine the English weather right now. I need to make
plans for another trip over there to see him, probably in the New
Year. Brrrrrr…

Now that August’s over I thought you might like to see how
international has become. Even the U.S. Military
seems to have taken an interest in us. I think most of the hits on
the site are through search engines. The funniest search string this
month was are crumpets fattening and the most common was Mini
Cooper Dealers

# Hits Files KBytes Country
1 12011 60.59% 6324 55.00% 185115 70.29% US Commercial
2 4289 21.64% 2269 19.73% 43076 16.36% Network
3 1447 7.30% 1277 11.11% 17794 6.76% Unresolved/Unknown
4 991 5.00% 693 6.03% 9010 3.42% United Kingdom
5 340 1.72% 241 2.10% 3309 1.26% Belgium
6 162 0.82% 160 1.39% 1306 0.50% US Educational
7 116 0.59% 110 0.96% 929 0.35% US Military
8 64 0.32% 64 0.56% 204 0.08% Australia
9 63 0.32% 63 0.55% 454 0.17% Poland
10 46 0.23% 29 0.25% 224 0.09% Canada
11 33 0.17% 33 0.29% 309 0.12% Finland
12 29 0.15% 25 0.22% 228 0.09% Japan
13 26 0.13% 26 0.23% 109 0.04% Portugal
14 25 0.13% 25 0.22% 231 0.09% Non-Profit Organization
15 24 0.12% 24 0.21% 92 0.03% Spain
16 23 0.12% 14 0.12% 116 0.04% Belize
17 21 0.11% 21 0.18% 113 0.04% Germany
18 19 0.10% 19 0.17% 75 0.03% Netherlands
19 18 0.09% 18 0.16% 85 0.03% Switzerland
20 17 0.09% 17 0.15% 43 0.02% Sweden
21 15 0.08% 7 0.06% 38 0.01% US Government
22 10 0.05% 8 0.07% 77 0.03% Italy
23 9 0.05% 8 0.07% 84 0.03% France
24 9 0.05% 9 0.08% 178 0.07% Romania
25 4 0.02% 4 0.03% 27 0.01% Saudi Arabia
26 3 0.02% 3 0.03% 49 0.02% Brazil
27 3 0.02% 3 0.03% 15 0.01% Mexico
28 3 0.02% 3 0.03% 15 0.01% Singapore
29 2 0.01% 2 0.02% 42 0.02% New Zealand (Aotearoa)

Tomorrow is a holiday in the U.S. (Labor