Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Washing Hands in Cold Water

It takes a while for the shower and faucet in our upstairs bathroom to run warm. I lost my taste for cold showers in wartime Britain, so we just run the shower until the water is tepid. (Is there a difference between "tepid" and "lukewarm" in the context of running water?) Water, it is said, is the new gold, and we do what we can to conserve it. For some time now I have simply washed my hands in cold water. I readily admit that when I am washing downstairs, I use the hot water faucet. Especially if Barbara or a guest has just washed their hands, I like it when warmer water begins to arrive, but I don't waste a drop of water. But we pay for our water, and though I remain smug about being a good citizen, I do wonder if at least part of my motivation is the knowledge that I am saving money, as well as water...

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Flying through the years

When I was taking business trips to conventions and leisure trips to various parts of the world, I piled up significant amount of reward miles. This enabled me to fly first class or business class most of the time, sitting in relative comfort, and often enjoying wine with my airline meals. How times have changed! Most of my flying these days is between Oakland and Denver, and my airline of choice is Southwest. Because I use a wheelchair, I usually have a choice of seats because of "preboarding". This is reasonably priced transportation, especially if reservations are made well in advance. However, by no stretch of the imagination could I say that I fly in comfort. I still have some unexpired miles in a couple of airline programs. I would still prefer to use these for upgrades rather than for free trips. Barbara and I were able to fly in business class when we went to the UK in 2011, and I still remember my luxurious flights on Singapore airlines when I flew to Johannesburg a few years ago. I was interested to see that my own list of favorite airlines coincided with a list in a popular magazine. After Singapore Airlines came Cathay Pacific and Malaysian.

Monday, August 12, 2013

A nostalgic note on cricket lingo

Anyone who understands cricket will understand what these terms mean in the context of England's traditional summer sport. In no particular order, here are some of cricket's words: No Ball, Wide, Slip, Silly Point, lbw, over, maiden, declare, boundary, six, follow-on, yorker, innings, all out, Not Out, Ashes, Windies, Cover, gully, How's That?, new ball, Fine Leg, stumps, stumped, Third Man, Test Match, Carried His Bat, middle-and-leg, Mid Off, Extra Cover, Bye, Leg bye, opener, partnership, wicket, hat trick, cut, off spinner, bail, crease, dropped, run out, goose egg, half volley, single, broken bat, rain stopped play, bad light, substitute, googly, full toss. That's over fifty terms with specific meanings to cricketers. Baseball fans consider a game which takes at least a day, often three days, and sometimes even five days, to be boring. (In earlier days, the Final test was "played to a finish"!) Baseball fans should talk: in baseball a "perfect game" has no hits, let alone runs. Spellbinding, maybe, but to those who don't care, perhaps a bit boring... Cricket is a game to be savored. On a leisurely sunny day, watching 24 men (including the two umpires) in white, with the score creeping up steadily--delightful! Some things have changed. It used to be that professionals didn't have their "Christian" (e.g. first) names on the scorecard, and if initials were there, it was to distinguish between two men with the same last name. Of course, we knew their first names (Jack Hobbs, Len Hutton, Hedley Verity, Tony Lock). "Gentlemen v, Players" featured amateurs v, professionals. The Captain was always an "amateur"--of independent means or subsidized--and they had their initials shown, beginning (in memory) with W.G. Grace. We knew their names too--Colin Cowdrey, for example. As I write, the Fourth Test is under way. It looks as if we are in for an exciting finish. Australia has a slight advantage at this point, but the result could go either way.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Test Match

As a very small boy, I always wondered when the England cricket team would play a real match, not just a trial one! Soon I learned that Test Matches were very serious affairs, akin to a Superbowl in mesmerizing most of the male population--and many females. also. I played some cricket at Port Regis, my prep school (British-style, aged 8 to 13). I wasn't very skilful, just a dogged low-scoring batsman and indifferent fielder. When I entered the Royal Naval College in 1940, I was delighted to learn that I had the option to skip cricket and go sailing or rowing instead. I even made my House crew in sailing Gig races my first (and subsequent) summer at Dartmouth. In later years, my attitude to cricket mellowed, and I would follow the fate of Surrey, my county team and that of the England side. Fifty years ago, I witnessed the occasional cricket game, largely played by expatriates, in a local park. In 2004, when I was in South Africa, I enjoyed the international 1-day matches shown on television. I must have clicked on a cricket item on Google News one day, because that shamelessly spying system now knows of my renewed interest in cricket. This summer, the Australian team has been in England, playing county sides and five Test Matches for the mythical "Ashes" (More about that name, perhaps, another day.) England won the first by a squeaker, the second easily, and was behind in the third until "rain stopped play"on the fourth and fifth days, forcing the match to be called a "draw". The best the Ozzie team can do is tie the series with two wins, so England will retain the "Ashes". More about cricket in a future blog.