Sunday, September 28, 2014

More Books

Doris Kearns Goodwin- Wait Till Next Year. This book was highly recommended to me, and I understand why. Goodwin was raised by a baseball fan dad who taught her to score when she was young. Her memoir is as much of a memoir about growing up with the Brooklyn Dodgers as it is about being a kid. It's sweet and a little bit salty (just a little bit) and I should like it. But I don't. I remember trying to read something else by Kearns Goodwin and finding it unreadable, and, although I slogged through this one, the subject matter wasn't enough. It's a great story, and I love my dad and how he taught me (indoctrinated me?) baseball young just like she does, but some sappy writing just can't be overcome.

Melissa Mohr- Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing. I was really looking forward to reading this book. I requested it at the library months ago. And the first half did not disappoint. Mohr romps through the history of our most taboo words, which have, of course, changed over time. The "holy" in the title refers to the fact that swearing used to actually mean taking God's name in vain in various ways. "By God's bones" is one of Mohr's favorite examples- talking about God's various body parts was actually dangerous- you could injure God's bones by cursing in this way. Words that we consider exceptionally offensive (nasty words for our body parts, for example), were, at various points in history, quite inane words, used in dialogue and literature like no big thing. The thing is, Mohr's book goes on for way too long. I gave up when she gets to about the 1920s. Each section includes about 50 examples, and really could do with 25. I liked the book, but could have done with 200 pages, not 275. Sad, because 275 isn't even a long book.

Edward Achorn- The Summer of Beer and Whiskey. The best book of the bunch, Achorn tells the story of the 1883 season and, he says, the popularization and salvation of baseball as the American pastime. The National League (the only professional league at the time) was a stodgy place in the 1880s: no drinking, expensive (50 cents) tickets and no baseball on Sundays. Along came a German immigrant by the name of Chris Von der Ahe who wanted to make some money. He probably liked baseball, too. He owned a beer garden in St. Louis and realized that baseball could be highly profitable if gate fares were lowered, the game was played on a day when working class people could make it and beer was sold. So he founded a league- the American Association, which eventually merged with the National League- and, as in the Field of Dreams, they built it and they came. Achorn's lively book is a pretty awesome book for those interested in baseball (duh!) and also Americana. Baseball as capitalism and history and beer, well, not bad. Readable and short- maybe I should have saved this for the offseason (tomorrow!) to liven up the dull, sad days of winter.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Notes on a Head Injury

Note 1: I'm fine.
Note 2: Don't try this at home.
Note 3: When you're about to use a ladder, especially when you're alone, make sure the ladder is securely fastened in an upright and locked position. This should be obvious, but sometimes it is not. Make sure the ground is level and that all four feet of the ladder are on this level ground. Make sure the safety bars between the legs of the ladder are locked.
Note 4: Wear shoes when going on a ladder. Especially wear shoes if you have recently had an incident on a ladder in exactly the same place on the exact same tree where you were not wearing shoes and were specifically warned about this. You should know better if this incident involved clipping an electrical wire with shears while you were standing barefoot on said ladder, barefoot, especially if you were lucky enough to have clipped the neutral wire, thus not getting shocked and falling to a certain death. Don't worry, it only cost you $3500 to get your house rewired.
Note 5: If you are going to climb a ladder AND use a sharp cutting implement (see Note 4), you should wear gloves or have someone else do it, especially if you have recently used the ladder in exactly the same place on the exact same tree. Sometimes sharp shears and being on ladders can lead to injuries to the fingers and resulting blood loss. Although gloves will not prevent this, they will provide a buffer between you and any potential shearing.
Note 6: If you fail to do any of this, it is wise to stay off the ladder altogether. If, however, you must use a ladder, you might consider putting padding under the ladder, should the tree in question be planted on a hard piece of cement.
Note 7: Sometimes you are stupid, and fail to do all of these things, and the ladder falls out from under you, leading to your head crashing onto the cement from a height of maybe 8+ feet. That really hurts bad.
Note 8: You are lucky to be alive and writing this!
Note 9: Although many friends claim to be clumsier than me, I think I win. However, I did *not do this to win! Sheesh!
Note 10: The body is amazing. As in note 5, when your finger healed miraculously quickly from a deep shear-wound, a lump the size of a tennis ball or baseball or other sportsball springs up immediately from the skull. What is this lump made of? Where did it come from? Not surprisingly, it hurts like hell. Also, glasses made of plastic are awesome. They can fly through the air and land 5+ feet away and not break. Nicely done, inventors!
Note 11: Ice and tylenol are the way to go. Don't take Advil. The advice nurse will tell you that, but I'm telling you now.
Note 12: It's important to have a friend sit with you. Thank you to M, who is awesome, for sitting with me, even though we were supposed to go to the baseball game. Thank you to C, who is also awesome, for waking me up all night and feeling my eyes when I thought they were doing weird things.
Note 13: You are not allowed to drink alcohol, even though this is the one thing you will really want to do. Falling off a ladder (or more accurately, the ladder falling out from under you) is fucking scary, and having a beer will sound really good. The advice doctor will tell you no, because it will make determining what a symptom of a head injury and what alcohol is very difficult. DAMMIT.
Note 14: For days, you can use this head injury as an excuse. The NIH tells you to tell your coworkers and friends and family that you will be irritable, noise sensitive, slow, unable to do important things, etc. It is absolutely true. Tell them, because it is true. And then use the excuse. Because even though you might be all those things all of the time, no one will buy it any other time.
Note 15: Your neck will start to hurt the second day. I'm guessing this is related to whiplash, but maybe it's because your head is carrying an extra 1/3 of the weight. You can't take advil or another anti-inflammatory, and that just sucks. Moving the ice to your neck kind of helps.
Note 16: Strangely, you will learn how to sleep on ice and other hard frozen items. Do not over-use frozen vegetables, especially peas. When they melt, the bag will leak and you will stink like melted frozen peas. Take it from me.

Note 17: I am fine. I hurt like hell, but I have amazing people who have been amazing. Seriously, don't try this at home. I may remove the cursed rose tree that has caused 3 major problems in a little over a month. And no, I won't go on a ladder when I'm home alone again.