Setting a Record

Years ago, when I was firmly entrenched in my Stephen King phase, I read a fascinating short story in his Skeleton Crew collection about a woman who was obsessed with finding the shortest route to a destination. As her shortcuts begin to defy time, space and reality, she pulls a Benjamin Button and is a young girl at the end of the story.

Like everyone else, I’ve become dependent on GPS, especially for long trips. I have a relatively new car with a GPS built in and there are rumors that it can be voice-activated but I’ve tried twice and apparently I don’t speak clearly enough. (Fun fact: it also doesn’t recognize hell as a destination.)

Every time I use the GPS, I turn it into a game and try to beat the estimated time of arrival. My biggest challenge has been driving from our home to a place we rent once a week each summer in Cape May, New Jersey. We’ve been going to Cape May for seven years and the first time it took us seven hours to travel about 150 miles. Our children were 4 and 2 at the time, so we had to make a lot of stops, and had to contend with a crush of people all starting their rentals at the same time. Cape May is at the southern-most tip of New Jersey, and most of the roads close to it are single-lane roads with low speed limits.

There was nothing we could do about the timing of the rental, the roads or when we went. It’s pretty standard for weekly leases to go Saturday–Saturday in South Jersey, and withour kids in school, we’re stuck with going on vacation during the high season. With my husband’s schedule, we always during one of the busiest weeks of the summer. We love Cape May: it’s quiet and kid-friendly. I tinker with the timing and the route every year, and eventually whittled it down for the past two years to four hours, one rest stop included. The last 30 miles of the trip usually takes an hour.

But this morning, friends, the trip only took THREE HOURS. We left at 7:30 am. It took us 90 minutes to the bridge to New Jersey and another 90 to reach Cape May. There was five minutes’ worth of stop-and-go traffic crossing the bridge into Cape May, and that was it. En route, we took two restroom stops and were behind some slow tractor trailers. I think the biggest difference was the weather: it was cold and windy today, with spotty showers. I just couldn’t get over it. I felt as euphoric as Mrs. Todd from the Stephen King story.

Setting a Record

This Is the Best Website I’ve Seen on the Internets in a While

I spent the entire afternoon ignoring my children to peruse McMansionHell.com.

I don’t know anything about architecture and probably couldn’t point out residential construction flaws unless they were glaringly obvious. However, I wholeheartedly support someone who simultaneously eviscerates conspicuous consumption and laments poor design choices.

(I recommend starting with the repository of Certified Dank homes.)

This Is the Best Website I’ve Seen on the Internets in a While

We Are Going On A Roadtrip In A Few Days And We Are At DEFCON THREE

We all are overdue for a break. School has ended and everyone passed. The kids performed valiantly at their piano recital. Baseball is over and softball should mercifully end this week. (I love softball, I do. I just have no motivation for sports after school ends. Playoffs are this week and the coach recommends no more than 45 minutes outdoors so I won’t overtire my daughter, and for an added bonus, they’re calling for severe thunderstorms during the game.)

We will miss the end of playoffs because we are going on a 10-day roadtrip, and everyone is so excited they’re starting to pack even though we are not leaving for three more days. I don’t know about you and yours, but this is how my husband and children prepare for a trip:

1. The kids just packed all their electronics that they will immediately unearth tomorrow morning and then forget to bring on the trip itself.

2. My husband wants to load the GPS with all the addresses we will need but forgets I need to get to the (away) softball game first. 

3. We had a 30-minute discussion about the bike rack.

4. The kids decided to pack all their underwear and even though I’ll do laundry right before I leave and we won’t need that much time to pack clothes I will still need to undo what they just did.

(Side note: I won’t be able to do laundry for nearly 10 days and that is harshing my mellow. I am trying to deal.)

5. They already picked out movies to watch and they’ll change their minds 57 times before we actually get in the car.

On the bright side: we all are looking forward to cooler weather and not having to deal with air travel.

We Are Going On A Roadtrip In A Few Days And We Are At DEFCON THREE

Basebrawl

Yesterday afternoon, who-dat Giants relief pitcher Hunter Strickland plunked Nationals wunderkind and future Pantene spokesman Bryce Harper. Harper charged the mound, where Strickland was waiting, punches were thrown and the benches for both teams cleared.

I saw highlights and there are various entertaining stills from the brawl on Twitter, but especially in light of Mike Trout going on the DL, I just watched with a surprising amount of dread and discomfort, considering how much animosity I have for both teams.

You hear of old timers talk about intentionally hit batters as the result of a violation of the unspoken rules of baseball. Former Phillie and current Dodger Chase Utley gets hit all the time, mostly because his take-out slides, in which he basically slide-tackled infielders, are incredibly vicious. Other violations include taking too long to admire a home run. Harper’s transgression, according to the article referenced above, is simply hitting home runs off Strickland three years ago.

(Aside: Interesting how women are considered the more petty sex but a grown man getting paid exceptionally well to play a child’s game can hold a grudge for three years and start a fight because the other guy hit the ball well is acceptable behavior.)

The brawl was interesting in other ways. The Nationals are running away with the National League East, mainly because all of the Mets are in sick bay. (The Phillies have forgotten how to pitch and hit.) The Giants are floundering in their division. Why did Harper—the best Nats player and arguably a league icon—even engage? Giants catcher Posey, who clearly did not call for a fastball inside, stands up, sighs, and almost audibly says “NOPE,” when his pitcher starts swinging. He doesn’t enter the fracas at all. Neither does most of the Giants’ infield. National Jayson Werth, elder statesman and future Loreal spokesman, literally looks like Jesus as he scrambles to separate everyone. Are the subsequent fines and suspensions even worth it? And these are guys who depend on their health to play every day; depending on how their contracts are structured, they get bonuses for how many games they start. Their chances for injury increase exponentially when they enter that scrum. 

If I’m a Nats fan attending a game this week, I’m going to be pissed I’m not going to be able see franchise star Harper as he sits out a suspension because he couldn’t just stare down Strickland for a few seconds, slowly take the base and afterward tell reporters he doesn’t even know who the reliever is.

Basebrawl

This Is the Best Story I’ve Read This Week

This story affected me on two levels:

I used to eat lunch once former colleagues. More often than not, it’s always the same day and always at the same place. Once, I suggested meeting at another location and the response was mild alarm: why would I try to change something that was working so well for everyone? My answer-—I was tired of the regular spot and wanted to try a new spot—was inconsequential. (I don’t eat with them that much anymore, maybe once every other month, but the same routine applies.)

I live on a street sort of like the one described in the story. My neighbors, who are extremely kind and gracious people, look out for one another. They know who is visiting my house because they recognize relatives’ and friends’ cars. One neighbor apologized that her daughter’s boyfriend’s car was always parked in front of my house. We have two cars and they’re most always in the garage or the driveway. It’s OK.

A moment of silence for the guy who has to change his entire routine because some neighbors think it’s not OK to park on their street for 15 minutes and eat a hoagie.

This Is the Best Story I’ve Read This Week

Escape TV: The Second Seasons of The Magicians and Shadowhunters

Both Young Adult series The Magicians and Shadowhunters have strayed so far from their source material that I gave up comparing the TV shows to the books and just enjoyed the ride.

Shadowhunters had a bit more substance this season with meeting new characters (especially fierce and formidable females) and making series regulars more enriched and complex. It’s finally revealed why Clary is so special and important. We meet the Iron Sisters, who develop and test all weapons for the Shadowhunters. There is a full-fledged gay relationship that is addressed front and center, not treated like a subplot or ignored entirely after a smooch last season. A character develops an addiction. The second half of the season starts in a couple months, with a secret son and I hope, a trip to Idris to explore that world.


(Image source: Syfy.com)

Speaking of new worlds, The Magicians delivered in spades. We spent a lot of time in Fillory (a place that was thought to exist solely in novels but in fact is real) this season. My expectations for this show are a lot higher, and this season was uneven (people in Fillory singing show tunes from Les Miserables on the way to battle another kingdom made my eyes roll so hard) but everyone was committed, I give them that. 

Only one character, Margo, remains stubbornly one-dimensional despite being Fillory’s sole ruler for a good chunk of time. The actress’ delivery of lines is slow and deliberate and caustic. 

My favorite places are The Library, where Penny works to pay off a debt; and Brakebills South, a facility in Antarctica where the school’s most brilliant magician has been outcast.

The season ends with the total eradication of magic in both worlds. The show has been renewed for a third season; I hope time travel–the lazy way out– is not involved in restoring magic to both Earth and Fillory.

Escape TV: The Second Seasons of The Magicians and Shadowhunters