Apr
15
2012

The Baseball Blunder

bya Gabrielle at 3:18 PM

I love spring. I love it because the weather gets warmer, all the flowers start to bloom, I get to throw my coat in the closet, and I am actually motivated to go outside to get my fifteen minutes of vitamin D. But those aren’t the only reasons why I love spring. I love it because all of those reasons I just mentioned mark the start of the most awesome season of all – the baseball season.

To put how awesome it is to me into perspective, maybe I should say it this way: Opening Day is my Christmas.

Well, not all Christmases are created equal. Sometimes you get the win you’ve been dreaming of, maybe, if your lucky, even a few spectacular plays, a homer that blasts out of that park, and a nail-biting, thriller of a finish. And then there is the Christmas that makes you ask, “Is Santa on strike?”

The first four games of the 2012 baseball season were very much the latter. The Atlanta Braves, I guess, thought that their complete craptacular collapse last season wasn’t so complete after all because they posted four more rather disappointing loses before finally notching a win. Now, I wasn’t too let down because I am well aware there are 162 games and that anything can happen between April and October, but as we learned last season, one win can make all the difference and each loss can potentially be the nail in the season’s coffin. Thankfully, the Braves have made some what of a comeback and are now a .500 team and only 2.5 games back.

During their win drought, I aired my displeasure to the retired group of students I teach over in Xujiahui. I wrote up the following on the board at the beginning of my class, so they could read and think about it, and prepare themselves to discuss it.

“The Atlanta Braves are off to a miserable start. They are 1-4. Zi Wei(that’s my Chinese name) is very sad because of this.”

Last semester, I talked to them about baseball and the Atlanta Braves, so I expected them to understand, but I suppose my expectations were a few rungs too high.

As the students came in, they sat down and read the message on the board. They read it again. They spoke to each other in Chinese and all of their faces were distorted in confusion. I couldn’t understand what the problem was.

When the clock struck 9:15, I read the sentence out loud. I asked them if they knew who the Atlanta Braves were. They all shook their heads and said no. I told them they did know because we had talked about it before. I asked if they could remember my favorite sport. They shook their heads again and said no. I wrote baseball up on the board one letter at a time until they knew what I was writing. I think I got to the E before someone recognized it.

“Oh, baseball,” one of the students said.

Several of the students on the front row started laughing. I asked what was so funny.

One of the students spoke for them all. “We thought that you were sad because of something we did. We love you. We don’t want to make you sad.”

This of course made me laugh right along with them.

“No, no, I said. I’m not sad because something you did. I am sad because the Atlanta Braves have only won one of five games.”

“We understand now.”

And then we all laughed together.

This moment sorta made me forget how sad I was that the Braves were stinking up the place.

Here’s to hoping that I won’t need this type of special moment to help me forget any more parts of the season. Go Braves!!

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Apr
11
2012

My Baseball Bucket List(In No Particular Order)

bya Gabrielle at 7:40 PM

Today, I taught my business English students about baseball, which is no easy feat when you only have an hour and a half to cover everything from 1846 in Hoboken, New Jersey to the Atlanta Braves stumbling out of the gates like fools in 2012. I covered as much as I could, but I clearly could see they were a little confused when I asked if they had any questions when I was finished.

To me, baseball makes perfect sense, but I’m a second generation (Atlanta Braves) baseball fan, and the knowledge and know-how comes rather natural to me. Teaching a sport to a nation versed mainly in basketball(thank you, Yao Ming) and soccer(football – thank you FIFA) is kinda like teaching a young child how to tie his shoe. You understand the motions and the outcome and why it happened the way it did, but the description of how it all happens turns the pretty bow into a jumbled disaster of ugly knots . . . if you are even that lucky.

Hopefully, I taught them more than I confused them, but god only knows. Their brains are probably knotted spaghetti strings.

Next week, I am going to teach them “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”, which is always fun. Maybe I will record them and post it for you guys to enjoy! Also, I downloaded the “Who’s on First” skit by Abbott and Costello. I hope that they will understand the humor. I’ve printed out the script to help them understand what is being said because let’s be honest, it can be confusing, especially to ESL learners. And finally, I have nine clips of “Field of Dreams” for them to watch. I love that movie!!

If they can describe in a nutshell what baseball is and tell me sorta how it is played by the end of next Wednesday, I’ll be a happy teacher.

I start off each class with what I call “Gabe’s Random Thoughts of the Day”. These thoughts are truly random and can be spurred by the weather, a song, an expression, a sport, a random news article or even by one of the random thoughts I just wrote on the white board. I usually have no idea what my random thought of the day will be until I start writing it. Some of my thoughts are pretty awesome, and I really should have taken a picture of some of them, but oh well. I think my random thoughts engage the students and make them think and ask questions because usually my random thoughts are about stuff they have never heard of before.

Today’s random thought was titled, “My Baseball Bucket List” and this is how it went.

1. Attend a World Series game, more specifically an Atlanta Braves vs ??? World Series game, preferably with my father.
2. Own the Atlanta Braves(Highly unlikely, but hey, I can dream, right?)
3. Get remarried to Phil on home plate at Turner Field(Again with the dreaming)
4. Sing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” at a MLB game(Not as part of the crowd, but the person leading it)
5. Have a son who grows up to be the best baseball player EVER(first I need to have children)
6. Convince Phil to allow me to name a daughter Atlanta(Probably no amount of begging will make this happen)
7. Watch all 162 games(plus post season games) in person(I’ll need to win or inherit a lot of money first)
8. Own season tickets to the Atlanta Braves(probably the most likely of all to actually happen)
9. Catch a foul ball or home run(the batting practice homer that hit me in the head does not count)

I am sure there are more, but that is all I can think of right now.

Do you have a baseball bucket list?

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Jun
23
2009

Countdown

bya Gabrielle at 10:17 PM

It isn’t written in stone yet or anything, so I can’t go into detail about it,  and I have been specifically told not to get excited, but I can be completely vague by giving some strange countdown until the event in question occurs or doesn’t.  Hehe.

T-minus 13 months!

In other news, life is pretty normal.  Phil and I have been looking for houses, made a couple offers, but still haven’t found the house that truly speaks to us.  If we made more money or won the lottery, which of course we would need to play in order to win, there are plenty of houses out there that would be glad to have full fledged conversations with us.  Perhaps one of these days we will find what we’re looking for.  Did you just hear that song in your head, too?  :)

The furbutts(Sugar Gliders) are doing fine.  Quantum is as sweet as pie and has bonded to us, but his girlfriend, Countess, is a complete whore bag.  She is always trying to bite us and run into places she isn’t supposed to go, ie the stove.  I will give her some credit though.  She has gotten a little better than when we first got her.  I’m hoping that in time that she becomes more like Quantum, but I’m not going to hold my breath or anything.

Work is work.  I’m now in the Benefits Office if I haven’t mentioned it already.  I was moved out of the Employment Office due to budget cuts and lack of work. I’m just glad I still have a job.  It is going to take some time to learn everything, but I guess that is how all new jobs are.

Our garden attempt this year has more or less failed.  We still have some plants in the spare bedroom, but I have a feeling we are never going to get around to planting them outside.  If we do, it will be too late and they will never produce anything worth eating.  Oh, well.  There is always next year.

Speaking of next year, the Braves are sorta sucking it up.  I know it isn’t even the second half of the season yet, and that anything can happen, but if they continue to play the way that they are (of course, they would blank out the NY Yankees as I write this), then I don’t expect an extended October.

Okay, well, I promised I would blog again one day, so here it is.  I’ll start looking for old videos and pictures, as well as trying to write more about my present life.  I used to have time to blog more, so I know the time exists.  I guess I just have to try harder.

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Jul
19
2008

Trip to Atlanta Part 2

bya Gabrielle at 8:21 PM

I wish there were more things to take pictures of at a baseball game. The Braves have tried to make the stadium interactive, but it’s more so for the kids than anything. And don’t you dare say, “That’s what the beer is for, Gabe!” For some reason, my German blood disagrees with it.

The one thing I noticed as we sat in bumper to bumper traffic for what must have been an hour or so after the game, was how run down the area is around the stadium. I was pretty shocked. I can’t count the number of buildings I saw marked by spray paint. Several buildings were boarded up and looked like they hadn’t been occupied in many years. I know Atlanta isn’t the best city in the world, but I guess I just expected it to look more sophisticated than it did. Those few blocks looked down right slummy. This is not to say that the people living in those areas are bad people. I just wish they cared more about the appearance of their neighborhood. I’m sure it’s been like that for many years and that I’ve seen it before, but I only truly noticed it this time around because we were going so slow.

I wonder if other MLB stadiums are in similar areas? If so, I wonder why.

And now for a few pictures.

Chipper Jones 2

You wouldn’t know it from this picture, but I was sitting very close to the left field foul poll when I snapped this.

Fireworks 1

I was very disappointed in the firework show at Turner Field. It may partially be because of my firework experience in China, but I really felt it lacked the “WOW” factor.

Fireworks 2

As the fireworks were going off, some guy next to me told his buddy that now would be a good time to shoot someone.

Fireworks 3

I had a friend who once taped a roach to some sort of firework. He wanted to to see if it would survive the blast. I was very surprised to find the roach alive and well after the pretty show.

Fireworks 4

Looks sorta like the sky is reigning down some serious lighting.

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And here is a video of the less than spectacular firework display put on at Turner Field in Atlanta, Georgia.

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Jul
15
2008

Trip to Atlanta

bya Gabrielle at 10:32 PM

My trip to Atlanta was a good one. Everything went pretty much as planned.  We had good weather despite the threat of showers pretty much all weekend.  It rained once for about 20 minutes right before we went to Stone Mountain, but then the skies cleared up.  An hour later, you never would have known that it had rained. The temperatures were even reasonable for July.  Well, at least for me.  Sometimes I think 100 degrees is cold.  Yeah, I’m crazy, I know.

The only slight downside of our entire trip was the Econo Lodge we stayed at for two nights.  It wasn’t anything fancy, but I didn’t expect it to be, so I wasn’t disappointed that our room felt like a shoe box and looked 30 years old.  Yeah, I know, I’m livin’ large.  Next time though, Phil and I are going to upgrade our hotel and stay at one that is right by the stadium so we don’t have to deal with the rotten traffic after the game.  I think the extra 50 or so bucks a night that we’ll spend will be worth it.

The best thing all weekend besides watching the Braves beat the Astros was finding thinly sliced lamb at the Super H Mart.  It’s an Asian grocery store that Phil and I go to everytime we go to Atlanta.  We never thought we would ever find lamb like that in America after we left China, so you can imagine our surprise.  I think we may have done a dance of joy.  :)  It was fairly priced, too – $5.99 a pound.  We were so excited about our find that we bought about 6 meals worth and put it in a cooler to take home with us.

Okay, and now some pictures.

Pigeon

Odd picture, I know, but I really like it.  I think it would look really good in black and white for some reason. Welcome to Atlanta

Driving 75 mph made it a bit difficult to snap this picture.  The first one I took was even worse, though.  That one had a big, stupid speed limit sign smack dab in the center of the shot.

You are Here

There was nothing else to take a picture of at the rest stop, so I figured I would make use of my macro setting.

Mr. Baseball

I think they call this character Homer or something like that.  I’ve never walked on stilts.  I imagine that I would fall flat on my face if I tried.  I mean, I can barely walk down the hall in my bare feet without banging into the wall or door frame.  I’m such a klutz.

Blue

Hey, check it out, Bloo is an Atlanta Braves fan! Sweet!

American Flag

I must say, this is the biggest American flag I have ever seen.  I wonder how many shirts you could make out of it?

Houston Astros

I thought this was pretty funny.  The Astros were portrayed as British soldiers.  I guess they were doing this because it was 4th of July.

Chipper Jones

And here is Chipper Jones defending his country with his bat.

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Here we have the Chic-fil-a cow doing the chop.  How cute.

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Jul
03
2008

Going to Atlanta

bya Gabrielle at 4:47 PM

Finally, a little vacation. I haven’t been anywhere really since I got back from China.

As long as the weather gods are nice to us, Phil and I should enjoy a lovely weekend.  First we are going to take in a long over due Atlanta Braves game.  I haven’t been to one since Mother’s Day 2005.  At least, I think that was the last time I was able to go.  Since the game is on July 4th, we will get treated to fireworks after the game.  I know it won’t even hold a flame to the fireworks I saw in Hangzhou, but I’m sure they will be pretty nonetheless.  You can click here if you want to see what I am talking about.  Even that video doesn’t do the display justice.  I wish those buildings hadn’t been in the way, though.

I really hope the Braves can pull off a win for me. They haven’t had the best season so far, so I am not going to hold my breath or anything.  There is still a chance that they could go on an impressive winning streak and take back their division.  That would be nice. Perhaps my presence will spark a season turn around or something.  :)

On Saturday, we are going to head over to Stone Mountain.  We are going to get the Adventure Pass for $25 bucks.  It will allow us to do just about everything that the park offers. I’ve been to Stone Mountain several times, but the only thing I can remember doing is taking the tram, climbing the mountain, and watching the laser light show. There is a lot more to do now, inculding this thing called Sky Hike.  It looks like a lot of fun.

On Sunday, we are going to China Town.  There are a lot of China shops in Columbia, but not like there is in Atlanta.  We’ll stock up on all the goodies we haven’t had in a long time, and then come back home.  I’m really excited.  This weekend should be fun.

I was looking through some of the videos of my past visits to Turner Field, and I found this one.  90 feet is a lot longer than it looks like on TV.  And yes, I was the only one over 10 participating.  :)

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