Thursday, December 20, 2012

2012 World Series, Game 1

On October 24, 2012, I went to see my first World Series game in person: Game 1 between the San Francisco Giants and the Detroit Tigers.  

Curt Schilling (booooo) and Hall of Famer Barry Larkin were outside AT&T Park's gate before the game.

Curt Schilling will be eligible for the Hall of Fame next season.

The orange and black masses.

The Warren C Giles Trophy, for the winner of the National League pennant.

Joe Buck


Buster Posey in white.

I approach my bleacher seat.

Barry Zito, starting pitcher extraordinaire.  

The 2012 Detroit Tigers.

Getting ready for the anthem, and the ballgame.

The pregame ceremonies were quite interesting.

Gaylord Perry, Orlando Cepeda, Willie McCovey, and Willie Mays (all Giants Hall of Famers) were on hand.

Angel Pagan

Hunter Pence

Marco Scutaro

Not one of Pablo's home run balls, but still cool.

Out of town miscreant.  

Absolutely gorgeous evening - one of the best outdoor games, weather-wise, I've ever attended in any sport.

I was right by the main television cameras.  Using my binoculars, I got about 1/5th of the effect.

Justin Verlander was having a very rough start, which was awesome.  Off topic = who names their son Albert Alburquerque?

Cool sky.

Believe me, I could see better than this photo from my seats with my bare eyes, but binoculars definitely helped.

Our usher was showing off his 2010 World Series ring, which EVERY employee received.

Again, gorgeous night.

I wish I had photos of Pablo Sandoval's home runs, but I was screaming too much.  His history-making third homer (tying Reggie Jackson, Babe Ruth, and Albert Pujols) drove in the 6th run.

Barry Zito did his part, only giving up one run in 6 innings (that run coming in the 6th itself).  Tim Lincecum relieved him.


Congratulations from a fellow newlywed.

Yet another sign that Gangnam Style was everywhere.

My neighbor, ready for Halloween.

Jose Valverde sucks.  This was most likely his last outing in a Tigers uniform.

Happy focus accident on my camera, as Valverde gave up 2 runs.


Everyone was having a blast.

Especially Pagan.

Late-game outfielder powwow (Pence, Pagan, and Gregor Blanco).

Giants win!  Final score, 8-3 (with 2 of the Tigers runs coming in the 9th).  Needless to say, the Giants swept the Tigers, but it all started with a historic Game 1.  Good times!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

My Personal Facebook Exodus

Three days ago, I decided I was going to go cold turkey and rid my life of the most obvious, useless addiction that I've permitted my soul to acquire:


The allure of the website is genuinely appealing.  Keep in touch with friends scattered around the globe.  In turn, let them know what you're up to.  Share digital laughs, digitally commiserate, and digitally affirm one's opinion, all with the click of a "like" button.

These are exactly the reasons why I'm leaving.  Well, that and it's a soul-suck of my time and emotions.

Of course, the same could be said of the internet in general.  However, Facebook's effect on 21st century society is even more damaging than being able to access information at the click of a button.  The internet is, at its purest form, essentially a faster version of the library (which is NOT to say it's superior to said library).  Facebook similarly presents itself as a consolidated version of friendship and connection - even faster than picking up the telephone, much faster than driving to another's house, and certainly light years faster than sending a letter by snail mail.  After all, who has time for such antiquated notions in this busy time in history?

Facebook is obviously NOT a substitute for true friendship, even though countless people (myself especially) have used it as such.

My recent denial of Facebook is a reconciliation with the (I can't believe I'm typing this) old way of doing things.

Real friendship requires time, effort, and actual proximity.  Facebook can certainly augment these, but in my experience, it supplants them with ego-driven status updates, ego-driven "like" counts, and ego-driven highlight-reel pictures that supposedly represent one's life in a nutshell.  Furthermore, real friendship, being difficult to maintain, tends to limit one's friendship microcosm.  Facebook seeks to unnaturally expand it, forgetting all the while the adage, "Quality, not quantity."

My exodus from Facebook is not a judgment on those that choose to remain, but is rather a personal necessity.

In the first 24 hours of my account deactivation (which will become a permanent deletion on Thanksgiving, appropriately enough), I felt a mixture of freedom and euphoria.


My real life Facebook friends came to me in person that very next day to comment that:

     1) they wish they could do the same thing ("Why can't you?" I wonder to myself...),
     2) they suspected I'll be back ("Hell no, I won't go!"), or
     3) it's a shame I won't be able to keep up with you as much any more ("Um, you're standing right here in front of me!").

In the subsequent 48 hours, I caught myself reaching to type the letter "F" in Google Chrome, only to realize, "Oh, right..."

To quote Ewan McGregor's drug-addled character in Trainspotting, "I JUST NEED ONE MORE HIT!!!"

I had became consciously aware of how much time I had freed up simply by not being able to log in to Facebook.  I had also became embarrassingly aware of how I needed to reprogram myself in order to spend that free time wisely, without gravitating towards other online mediums (helloooooo Blogspot!).

In the last 72 hours, I've been more focused on my work as a teacher (as I damn well should be).  I've resumed reading my 1,000 page novel that I keep putting off (I've been sitting around page 800 for weeks, when I could have finished it by now if not for checking Facebook for hours on end).  I've watched sports games without having to have my laptop burn my testicles just so I could post updates to every single bloody event in the game.  I've spent more quality time with my actual circle of friends, most importantly my wife.

This era's critical flaw is that we are distracted as a global culture.  We carry phones in our pockets that we use to do everything BUT speak.  We have 900 channels on our TVs.  We have damnable sites like Twitter and Facebook with their unstoppable surge of "data," like an egotistical stock ticker.

In closing, I quote Henry David Thoreau, who said it best:

"Our life is frittered away by detail.  Simplify, simplify, simplify!  I say, let your affairs be as two or three, not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb-nail."

Monday, October 22, 2012

Istanbul, 2007 (Day 3)

Three days doesn't do many cities justice, let alone Istanbul.  But alas, three days was all I could spend considering that I had 50 days to get from Greece to Egypt by land.  Here's my final day in Byzantium.

My final day in Istanbul was a Sunday, so what better place for this Orthodox Christian to attend church than the Church of St. George, seat of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople?  Here's the iconostasis inside.

The iconostasis of the Church of St. George.

Patriarch Bartholomew I

Patriarch Bartholomew I

Relic boxes of St. John Chrysostom (on the right) and possibly St. Gregory the Theologian (at left).

The 19th century neo-classical facade of the Church of St. George.

Suleymaniye Mosque

Suleymaniye Mosque

Suleymaniye Mosque

Suleymaniye Mosque

Time for a boat ride up the Bosphorus, to the edge of the Black Sea.  This is the Nusretiye Mosque, in Beyoglu (still in Europe).

Suleymaniye Mosque in the distance.

Galata Tower, Beyoglu

More modern Istanbul (European side).

Dolmabahce Palace

Palaces ring the shores of the Bosphorus.  Less common are bridges = this is the Bosphorus Bridge, the first to link Europe and Asia.  It was finished in 1973.

Bosphorus Bridge

The European side, still.

Rumelihisari, a fortress built by Sultan Mehmed II in 1451-52 just before he conquered nearby Constantinople.  This is still the European side, as we headed north by boat.


I believe that this is the European side of Istanbul, but it may be the Asian side.

The same as above (note the contrast between polished and downtrodden buildings).

Again, not sure if this is the Asian or European side, although this might still be the European side.

This guy is excited to be going to Asia for the first time in his young life.

Europe (left) and Asia (right) narrow in the distance, at the cusp of the Black Sea.

The hilltop ruins seen here were my destination.  Needless to say, they're on the Asian side.

This was where I first set foot in Asia.  It might sound silly that I focus on "European" and "Asian" Istanbul, but I assure you that this mentality is etched in the minds of the Turks as well.  They even have to dial a different telephone prefix to call between the sides, even if they're visible from one another across the water.

Looking back downhill as I walk to the ruins.

The ruins

Gorgeous day, by the way.  Istanbul was quite temperate compared to scorching hot Greece. 

Looking over to the European side.

To date, this is the only time I've seen the Black Sea, even if it's achingly out of reach beyond the land.  Europe is on the left, and Asia is on the right (and in the foreground).

The hilltop ruins.

Any day you set foot on a new continent is a good day.  It's even better when you can see two continents at once.

Back in Istanbul proper, I went underground to the Basilica Cistern, built in 532 AD to supply the Great Palace / Hippodrome with water.  It's a marvelous and unusual tourist attraction.

It's also surprisingly photogenic (although you should bring a better camera than the one I was using).

I knew I would be leaving for Ephesus that night, but there was one more "must do" before leaving Istanbul = a Turkish bath.  The one and only place for this tourist to try was the world-famous Cagaloglu Baths.  It's pricey, but worth it.  This is their lobby, seen from the balcony of changing rooms.

There's something wonderfully goofy about this self-portrait.  Obviously I can't show you the photos inside the baths themselves, but if you can imagine an aggressive half-nude chiropractic procedure inside of a piping hot spa, you'll approximate the idea in your head.

Looking back into Cagaloglu Baths, as I exited.

Time to chill out before my long overnight bus journey, on the rooftop of my hostel.

Turkish amigos that work at the hostel.

This guy booked my trip through Turkey for me.  He did a good job, too.

Another cool guy from the hostel.  

Now that I'm married, I'll have to introduce my wife to Istanbul (and stay a good deal longer, hopefully).  

Coming up next = Ephesus, Turkey.  Stay tuned.