Wednesday, July 26, 2023

A Rant about Baseball

 This is "The Gods Are Bored," and I assure you, I love baseball. It's my favorite sport, because I am in constant awe that anyone could hit such a small ball, moving so fast, in such a way that it will fall somewhere in a field. It's amazing. And it's the only sphere (ha ha) of life where being 1/3 good at your job makes you a superstar.

As a child, I went to sleep listening to the Baltimore Orioles on the radio. My parents were Orioles fans, and they would put the game on at night. I can clearly remember wondering how all the players' names were spelled. Sure, Jim Palmer and Brooks and Frank Robinson, easy. But Andy Echebarran? Carl Yazstremski? Mike Cuellar? Woof.

The Orioles were great throughout the 1960s and early 1970s. Then they got hot again in 1979, just in time for me to be living six blocks from the stadium through the summer. To sweeten the pot, the Orioles had a student ticket price of $1.75 for upper deck. Yes, the decimal point is in the right place.

I went to every home game that summer.

The way it worked was, I would walk down to the stadium, go to a ticket booth, show my student ID, get a paper ticket, and go to the turnstile. At the turnstile, one of many ushers would tear the ticket in half and give back the stub. Done! Find a seat. Sometimes I sat by myself, sometimes I had friends with me, and sometimes I sat in a section full of rowdies who, like me, went every night.

When I got home from a game, I would take a piece of scotch tape and tape the ticket stub to the wall in my apartment. I didn't start doing this until nearly mid-season, but I'm pretty sure I had more than 50 stubs on that wall.

Good times, good times.

But enough of the great bygone days. Let's look at a modern trip to the ballpark, shall we?

The Orioles were in Philadelphia for a three-game visit. Self, Fair, and Mr. J got seats for the 7/25/23 game, which cutely happened to be "Christmas in July." I am fully aware of how Philadelphia fans treat visiting teams and their fans, but I was determined to wear my bright orange Orioles Hawaiian shirt that The Heir had trash-picked from West Philly. More about that in a moment.

Mr. J purchased the tickets, lower deck on the third base side. They cost $60 apiece, with another $20 for guaranteed parking near the third base entrance. The cost alone is jaw-dropping. But to make matters worse, I had to download an app to access a QR code that was my ticket. Ponder this. Go ahead, I'll give you a moment.

This is Philadelphia, so of course I got trash-talked before even getting within spitting distance of the ballpark. But the Orioles are hot at the moment, and Baltimore is only 100 miles from Philly, so I had plenty of fellow fans in orange to commiserate with. (Mr. J wore neutral colors and Fair, a fan of all things Philadelphia, was decked in home team colors.)

When we got to the entry kiosk, I didn't know how to hold my phone so the stadium could scan the code. Fair had to do it for me. And oh yes, before that step we had to go through a security checkpoint that took an X-ray of the contents of our purses.

Finally in the stadium, $200 out of pocket, and one "go back to Baltimore" so far.

Reader, have you been in one of these modern ballparks? They are as loud as the halls of Hell. It isn't fans cheering, it's the jumbo-trons. DANG you cannot hear the person sitting next to you! (Which, given that I was surrounded by Phillies fans, might have been a good thing.)

Mr. J and I had been determined to eat an early dinner before we went to the ballpark. But one thing led to another, and we didn't. The worst place in the world to be hungry is a modern baseball park. The food is dreadful, and you have to take a second mortgage to purchase it. No exaggeration: a bottle of water is five bucks. I don't know what Mr. J spent on the inedible sandwiches he bought for us, but he tells me they don't take cash at the food stands. Lord love ten thousand fruit flies! I'll bet he paid more for the food and beverages we consumed during that game than we did for the half bushel of large, fat crabs from TL Morris Seafood last week.

The stadium was packed. The fans were loud. The Phillies either trailed or tied until the bottom of the ninth, when they got two outs and then scored and won the game. This exhibit about sums it up.


About all I can say is, my shirt is the tits.

I wish I could say I'm done with live baseball for all time, but I already have a ticket to another game in late August. This ticket only cost $40, but then I bought a plus-one for Mr. J, so oh boy. It's possible for us to use mass transit to get to the ballpark, which will maybe save us a whopping $10. But I am going to be like Persephone in Hades and not let a morsel of food or drink pass my lips while there.

Just think of it. I saw a whole damn season of home games in 1979 for less than one game in 2023. And I had something to tape on the wall when I got home.

About the only thing that's stayed the same is my devotion to the Baltimore Orioles. What a great team. Go Birds!

Monday, July 24, 2023

Annie's Helpful Guide to Hiking Steep Mountains When You're Past Your Prime

 Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Hard to admit, yes it is, but I am past my prime. And for those of you striplings who say, "Age is a mindset, not a number," well. You must still be young. Age isn't a number, but it's a reality.

I may be past my prime, but I'm nowhere near dotage. This means that the urge to dance, hike, and otherwise carry on is still an itch that can be scratched.

Hiking is one of those pastimes that come with an unfortunate drawback. The drawback is, if the hike is worth taking, it's going to be steep, rocky, or both. Take my word on this. I live close to the New Jersey Pine Barrens, and the hikes there are soft, level, and devoid of rocks. They are also boring as a Methodist tithing sermon. Pine trees, pine trees, and more pine trees. With an oak or ten thousand thrown in for variety.

I'm just back from beautiful Anneland, and the hiking there is middling interesting.


As you can see from the helpful exhibit, the mountains in the region of Anneland are not terribly tall. But any mountain is steep when you start climbing it.

I have been frustrated with my inability to climb mountains for the past three years. But this year I figured out a hack. It will drive the striplings nuts, but for me it works!

Here are the steps:

1. When the hiking gets steep and/or rocky, proceed thirty paces, looking only at the few paces right in front of you, then rest. 

2. Do not look ahead at the trail in front of you while resting, except to confirm the next blaze. Look back at what you have accomplished.

3. If, after 30 paces you feel like you can go farther, go ahead. Stop when you run out of breath or see a cute mushroom or find a stand of wild raspberries.

4. In the summertime, go hiking early. It's too hot in the middle and end of the day.

Now you, too, can be a successful (if slow as hell) hiker!

One final piece of free advice: It's never a good idea to hike alone. However, if you do, be sure to let two different people know what trails you'll be on and when you plan to be back. When you get back, call both people to check in. This is what I did on my last visit to Anneland, and by this means I was able to conquer the nearest steep trail.

All the blessings of the bored Gods to you! Let me know about your hiking. It's a great way to spend a morning.

Monday, July 17, 2023

A Chirpin' and A Cheepin' Y'all

 Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" I'm just off the surreal adventure of driving back to New Jersey from Anneland. The first 40 miles are country roads with epic vistas and no cars in either direction. The last 40 miles are frenetic, bumper-to-bumper freeways leading into the center of Philadelphia. Whoosh! Like entering another dimension.

When I visit Anneland (I will have photos in a future installment), I frequent the local eateries. One of the things I like to do, sitting alone over a steamy plate of sausage gravy and biscuits, is evesdrop on the conversations around me. I don't do this out of nosiness, but rather because the peoples' country accents are such music to my ears. I lost my rural accent long ago, but I love hearing it coming from other folks.

But here's something I bet you didn't know. Wild birds have regional accents too! Can you believe it? It's true. After hearing it with my own ears, I asked Dr. Google. Yep, so true.

The spoiled and pampered blue jays in my New Jersey wildlife refuge -- the ones that get fresh peanuts in the shell every morning -- make a soft peep peep. The blue jays out on Anneland, scrawny and peanut-deprived, have a hoarser pip pip and a throatier caw. The cardinals in NJ say TWEET pow pow pow. The same call near Anneland is GECK o.

One bird that has the good sense to boycott suburban New Jersey is the eastern towhee. For my money, this is a great bird. It really brings back my happiest youthful days to hear the towhees calling one another as evening falls. They say Drink your TEA. 

I guess if they lived in New Jersey they would say Wanna BEER?

I had lots of fun adventures. More soon!

Tuesday, July 11, 2023


 I'm doing a little self critique here at "The Gods Are Bored" today, and one of the pesky bad habits I'm looking at is my use of social media.

I would probably be better off if I couldn't remember a time before the Internet, but I can. So even when I start every morning checking up on The Fair's posts on Instagram, and "The Turkey Vulture Society" on Facebook, I know I'm being lured into something unproductive at best and downright soul-sucking at worst.

I have a Twitter account, but I can't even remember the username. Therefore I can't shut it down, even though I want to. During the brief time I spent on Twitter, I felt it was a smelly, slimy place where people went to belittle other people who don't think like they do. I'll take the word of the scientists and scholars who say it has helped them communicate with one another. Not being a scientist or a scholar, I only found Twitter scary.

Now there's a new platform, "Threads," which sounds like pretty much Twitter except run by that weasel Zuckerberg instead of the weasel Musk. And already the authors I follow on Facebook have opened accounts and are all ready to muster new forces in yet another social media cavern.

This is an easy PASS for me. The last thing I want is another time-wasting mess of a social media website prying into my life choices. Keep your Threads! No one will miss me if I'm not there.

I'm going to visit Anneland for a few days, and one of the best things about it is that there's no Internet signal there. Not great if I get bit by a snake, but really swell if I just want to sit in the woods and be quiet. Which I do.

If you open up a Threads account, more power to you. Let me know what the scenery is like. If it's anything like Twitter, it's a bust.

Blogger remains the best, the very best. Thank you for reading!

Thursday, July 06, 2023

Interview with a Bored Goddess: Venus

 Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where the streets are full of tree limbs and the temperature is halfway between scorching and blistering! I'm Anne Johnson, and yesterday I heard the three words that strike a chill into my soul: "Help Me Plan." So I called upon dear Goddess Venus to help me deal with the anxiety.

Please give a warm, wonderful "Gods Are Bored" welcome to Venus, the Goddess of Love!

Anne: Here, Your Greatness, try this pie that Mr. J just made. It's peach/blueberry!

Venus: Oh, this is delightful! Now, my good and (somewhat) vigilant follower, what is your concern?

Anne: First the back story. When Mr. J and I got married, I spent two days planning the wedding. Basically I booked a church and preacher, and a lunch at a restaurant. Then I invited 14 people. Started the ball rolling on Tuesday, said "I do" on Thursday.

Venus: Anne. Honestly. Why would you wed in such haste? Were you ?????

Anne: No! I JUST HATE TO PLAN EVENTS. In fact, the only thing I can think of that I'm less suited for than teaching is event planning.

Venus: Oh, I see where this is going. You lit the nicest candle for me on full moon ...

Anne: My daughter is getting married, and she loves a big do! First she wants an engagement party on this Labor Day weekend. Then she wants a wedding on the Chesapeake Bay same time next year.

Venus: You can hire people to take care of these things, you know.

Anne: No I can't! I'm not made of money. I'm not even made of bargaining chips. And this engagement party. She wants me to host it at my house.

Venus (perusing said house): Hmmm. Yep, starting to see your point. This is the moment when I bring up your deficiencies.

Anne (hiding her head): The deceased baby mouse on the altar.

Venus: Yes. The one that had been there so long it was dried out. The one that your daughter noticed, not you! And you have the nerve to petition Me to help you with magic, and now listen to your whining about being poor! I'm a Roman deity. I want my worshippers to be wealthy -- or at least observant enough to keep vermin off the altar!

Anne: Your Greatness, You can look around and see that this house, while not a showplace, is not filthy and crawling with mice! I have no idea how that little corpse got onto the altar. I'm absolutely sure Gamma Cat was involved -- he likes to chase mice up the stairs. But I can't imagine how that thing got onto my altar. Gamma couldn't have put it there himself. But I promise You, I am SO SO SO sorry! I am fully aware that you Greco-Roman deities are easily insulted. How about another slice of pie?

Venus: This pie is all that is saving you from being turned into a toadstool.

Anne: Which I richly deserve. But I did clean everything up and promise to do better!

Venus: That you did. And you'd better be serious, because another such gesture of disrespect will not be healed by pie, even this extremely excellent pie.

Anne: I'm confident that this won't happen again. I've worked myself into a lather wondering if it was an omen.

Venus: Not an omen. Just a sorry coincidence. Which I would forgive instantly if you hadn't ignored your altar for quite some time.

Anne: My altar will never be neglected again! As you know, I spend more time at the shrine in the back yard.

Venus: No excuses! Let's get back to your petition. Do you want me to teach you to be an event planner?

Anne: Can you turn me into a toadstool instead? Large parties give me hives. I don't know why. 

Venus: All right, I will do the whole thing for you with a flick of My shapely wrist! All you have to do is stand up at the wedding and proclaim Me the Creator of the Nuptials and the Best Goddess in the World. Before the couple says "I do."

Anne: A red toadstool with white spots?

Venus: I don't get credit, I don't do the work. Ask anyone.

Anne: I really didn't mean to ask You to do this -- although I bet You could do one bang-up job of it. I just want some celestial advice.

Venus: Here's some real world advice: Pay for professionals. Stop whining about the cost. That's what credit cards are for. I mean, it's not like I see you taking a pilgrimage to Rome or anything.

Anne: Because I don't have any money!

Venus: Here's an idea. Throw a bake sale. Get Mr. J to make six dozen of these pies, and sell them for $50 each.

Anne: It took him three hours to make this single pie.

Venus: Well, you asked for my advice, and there it is. I've given you several admirable options.

Anne: If I become a toadstool, can I really talk to trees? Because I read an article somewhere that said fungi form networks with deciduous plants, and ...

Venus: I am not going to turn you into a toadstool just so you can avoid planning and executing your daughter's wedding! She's a capable girl. Have faith in her. Write a check and show up in a decent dress. Let's go look at your wardrobe.

Anne: OH NO, LET'S NOT! Ah, the stress, the stress!

Venus: Chill, Anne. Write a check, wring your hands, and roast five wild boars on an altar to me.

Anne: And if I do that, You'll help me?

Venus: No, I won't help you. But you'll live. Does your daughter's betrothed have a mother?

Anne: Yes, but she lives in Georgia.

Venus: No matter! Get her to do everything. Dab your eyes, develop "the vapors," and write a check. I'll take the rest of this pie with me.

Anne: But ...

Venus: Mouse on the altar!

Anne: I'll get you a Tupperware container.

Wednesday, July 05, 2023

Tough Night in the Wildlife Refuge

 Welcome to The World of Anne, better known as "The Gods Are Bored!" It's been a tough 22 hours in the wildlife management area, let me tell you.

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking I'm going to write about my beautiful little piece of property in the Appalachian Mountains. But actually I am referring to my 1/8 acre in sunny (today) Haterfield, New Jersey. There's far more avian and mammalian wildlife in my little suburban back yard than there is on the four acres of woods I own in Bedford County, PA.

We're not talking about insects and mushrooms. Just animals and birds.

But it was a super tough night for the mice, voles, rabbits, raccoons, opossums, squirrels, chipmunks, groundhogs, and feral cats. Also put upon were the blue jays, cardinals, tufted titmice, chickadees, nuthatches, wrens, sparrows, finches, robins, woodpeckers, catbirds, and mourning doves. The refuge took a beating.

Yesterday, just as I was pulling my Fourth of July hotdogs off the grill, it began to rain. The sky was roiling. I took myself inside, and Mr. J and I ate dinner as the rain got heavier and heavier.

Then all Hell broke loose. We had hurricane conditions for approximately 15 minutes. The wind blew the outdoor furniture over, and projectiles began hitting the house. It was a white-out of rain. Mr. J and I just looked at each other as if to say, "Should we hoof it to the basement?" Then the power flickered, and the storm ratcheted into even a higher pitch.

Gradually conditions improved. Mr. J stepped outside and righted the furniture, declaring that the damage "wasn't bad at all." But he was only looking at the 1/8 acre Johnson Memorial Wildlife Management Area. He didn't stroll down the street.

I was the one who strolled down the street, about an hour later. And the whole landscape was upside down. There was a downed wire sparking in the next block, and at least a dozen trees uprooted and blown over. Neighbors were already pulling huge limbs out of their back yards. And I couldn't see, but it felt like a whole tree had fallen across the street, on one of the Millionaire McMansions. My own yard is littered with branches from the park that is a block away.

I'm just back from a longer stroll, which I took because all the streets are closed and I needed to get downtown for a lunch engagement. There are trees down everywhere. A local constable that I spoke to said that, in addition to the wind damage, many cars were swept into flash flooding, as high as four feet in some places.

This was a pretty localized weather event, so all the tree companies in the county -- and every electric company truck as well -- descended on Haterfield. The din around here first thing in the morning was deafening. They're still sawing and shredding in the block behind mine. It was completely impassible.

My question is, where do all the critters go? There aren't as many birds or mammals in the Wildlife Management Area today. Well, the squirrels are here in force, but otherwise it's critter quiet.

Why have I never thought of this before? What happens to a one-ounce finch in a wind storm that knocks over 200-year-old trees?

Oh! I hear them! The finches (some of them) are back on the bird feeder! I wish I could put my question straight to them. I think I'll ask around for a bored deity that can converse with wildlife, because I really am curious.

Where I live -- and especially in these climate-challenged times -- a true hurricane is not out of the question. Judging by what I have seen today, wowsa. Hope it never happens.

So far as I know, distant rural Anneland is fine. Four acres, one chipmunk who looked desperate to relocate.

If you know what happens to birds during hurricanes, please tell me. I could ask Chat GPT, but it isn't trustworthy, and you are.