Thursday, March 25, 2010

Ernie Ghesetti having fun in sun in Deer Valley. Economy hitting Phoenix? Spring Training update and Eating on the road!

Robin and I ordered tickets ahead of time for the first time we have went to Spring Training in Phoenix. Robin had reserved a room for us at the Ramada Plaza at the price of $63 a night, but when we checked in, they had no record of our reservation and we could not find the confirmation number. It was late Sunday and we just wanted to get checked in. After a frantic search we found the number and it was verified by their people. Why our names did not show up as reserved was disturbing, but we got in. The motel cost us $118 a night last year, and it has went down hill fast. Used to have full breakfast, now in Continental. The bar is closed and the pool is not heated. The motel was nearly empty. The good side was that Robin and I had the pool area to ourselves!

Our first day, we saw the A's at the Mariners facility in Peoria. Nice park and the A's played well and won. Ichiro for the Mariners looked good. A crowd of around 7,000 left many holes in the crowd. The second day we were at Camelback Ranch and Robin was proud of her ticket score. Unfortunately, her husband asked for directions to the seat and misunderstood the host explanation. We ended up in the middle of the scouts seating and we were the only ones without a score sheet, radar stuff and notes. We were in the middle of the scouting section behind home plate! It was neat hearing their banter with one another, but after looking into what section we were supposed to be in, we were actually only 4 rows from the front, so we moved. Matt Cain was phenomenal and the Giants did not give up an earned run and Pablo Sandavol and Bengie Molina had 2 doubles each. There were only about 4,000 so we were witnessing a huge drop in attendance from the last year we were here and sat in record crowds. We watched the Red and Giants at Goodyear Wednesday and there was barely 4,000 people at this brand new facility. The Reds beat the Giants late, but not until Jonathan Sanchez went nearly 7 innings.

Today, Thursday, Robin and I walked for hours and many miles through the Phoenix Zoo. Around 80 degrees and many families and school tours. The Phoenix Zoo is privately owned non-profit that charges $16 per person and they have many huge corporate sponsors. They have a walk through monkey house (Think bird aviary) that you are actually encountering monkeys that have actually stolen cell phones from people. We were in the middle of the monkeys having a scuffle and it was crazy with monkeys flying around us! We later that night went to the A's against Giants at Scottsdale. This time it was packed house! Great crowd, and who did I run into? Deer Valley winter resident Ernie Ghesetti and retired Pulp Mill employee. He said this winter has been cold there compared to years past. (He is still golfing away in the Sonora Valley.)

Places ate at on the road and ratings out of 5:

1. Bob's Big Boy at Cabazon- 3.5 Had a great burger and onion rings. Salad was just blah.

2. Del Taco at Indian Wells- 2.5 But there was plenty of it!

3. Popeye's in Blythe- 1.5 Robin will not let me go here again. She had Cole slaw that was warm. I had popcorn shrimp.

4. Mimi's Cafe in Phoenix- 2.5 What is with the spice type muffins for breakfast? Just all right. Barely.

5. Lone Star in Glendale- 3.0 I love some of the meat BBQ stuff, but the salad was brutal and the bread loaf sucked.

6. IHOP in Peoria- 4.0 They have a smothered potatoes breakfast menu that is not to be noted by my doctor. Very eatable.

7. Stacker's near the Metro Center- 4.5 Local bar that is across the street from hotel. Everything is good. As near a 5 as a place can get.

8. Sweet Tomato- 4.0 Very good salad, soup and dessert bar. All fresh. And a Dryers Dark Chocolate yogurt bar?

Reality sinks in tomorrow. We head back over the desert valley toward home. Hopefully we are home by Sunday night.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Tennis BNP Paribas Open Championships. Ljubicic wins Men's Title, Jankovic Women's. Richard Marks tale of tennis woe.

Robin and I went to the Indian Wells Tennis Garden today to watch the Open Championships. There is two weeks of competition, with amateurs also going at it from all over the US playing doubles. We took in some great amateur matches that were quite spirited. 22 Courts and thousands of fans. We were able to watch Andy Roddick warm up before the match. It made me say to Robin, "What a narcissistic sport this is!" It is all about the person as an individual in the singles realm. I have always been pretty good at tennis without really working on it. I don't know why.

When I was at Eureka High I had a teacher in Civics that always wore a tennis tie clip and I gave him a hard time about it. Somehow a challenge ensued and he invited the student body to witness. The match was to be at the Eureka Indoor/Outdoor tennis club. Which he owned. I was a cocky 17 year old that thought I would just over power him and was confident I would give him all he could handle. I was soooooo wrong. Ellis Williamson just destroyed me to the point of embarrassment and I kept my mouth shut for the rest of the year. (Ellis at the time was one of the top ranked 50 year old players in the world. My bad!)

The Women's Championship pitted 19 year old Caroline Wozniacki against Jelena Jankovic. Jelena was dominate for this match and was very gracious in victory and Caroline has now moved to 2nd in the world even though she lost. Fun to watch.

We were hoping that Andy Roddick could outplay Ivan Ljubicic to give a US player a victory, but Ivan won hearts with his hard play (And 20 aces) it was a great match to watch. There is not a bad seat at Indian Wells, and what a great organized event!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Cabazon Outlet adventures. How many are just ripped off?

Robin and I are on the way to our yearly Spring training destination of Phoenix and stopped at the Cabazon Outlets near Palm Springs. (First we ate at Bob's Big Boy.) There was a huge crowd there. No sign of a recession at this place. I picked up some softball equipment I can not purchase locally at one of the outlets and waited in a long line for help. The cashier totaled my purchase and said "4 hundred and ..." I said "Whoa, no, no!" She looked at me disgustedly and retotaled slowly the purchases and said $189. I said, "That is a lot better than over $400!" She looked at me puzzled and said, "That is not what I said!" I didn't want to argue, but I then wondered how many people shopping at these outlets are over charged. This outlet is a melting pot of cultures. Many Asians, Latinos, Europeans and of course, Americans from all corners of the US. They actually do announcements in various languages to help direct shoppers.

We are staying in Indian Wells tonight and will drive the desert tomorrow. (I was able to barter a price of $99 at a motel going for $209 a night. Great Suite with kitchenette and Couch. Sweet! It will be harder in Phoenix, but Robin has some ideas. She bought tickets for games.)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Softball News. Blue Lake League.

The City of Blue Lake is hosting a Sunday only league starting May 2nd and running into June. They will not play Memorial Weekend. Each Sunday each team will play a doubleheader. League costs are $420 per team. First come first served registration starts on Monday the 24th at 9am at Blue Lake City Hall.

I am hoping that Mad River Softball Association will either host either a Saturday or Sunday League starting April 24. Any potential takers?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Robin Marks vs. Richard Marks.

No, we are not going through a divorce. We are running against/or with each other for one of the four available Humboldt County Democratic Central Committee (HCDCC) seats in the 4th Supervisor District. I am currently seated as are Bob and Pam Service and Charlene Cutler-Ploss. Robin has been an Associate Member and my Proxy in the past and really would like to be a voting member and was coaxed by another member (not me) to run. So here we go, 4 people running for 5 positions. One of the Marks couple might not make it. If that happens, I won't mind being an Associate and being Robin's Proxy. There might also be an election in the 3rd District for HCDCC if all the people who pulled out paperwork do run.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Clash of the cultures and races.

I had one of those moments the other day that I just did not know how to resolve and the issue of true real life circumstance came forward. I had taken my sister Mary grocery shopping and was heading to Eureka Natural Foods when my cell phone rang while turning on Central between Safeway and CVS toward Henderson. I pulled over heading north to answer the call. While I was talking to the person calling me, a white small station wagon edged through the stop sign and clipped a black small car turning onto Central with a small child in the back. The white car drove past the car and I thought they would just keep going, but they stopped at the Donut King and the little black car pulled over near the same. While I was on the cell phone, I saw they were arguing with each other. So I ended the call and went across the street to talk to both. The black car that was hit had a young Latino woman who had her daughter in the back seat and had taken the brunt of the damage. Her rear back panel was pushed in and the white car had little damage as she hit the black car with her bumper. When I walked up to the Latino women, she was distraught and asked me, ¿Usted habla español? (Do you speak Spanish?) I told her "Poco" (A little) and she explained in Spanish ¡Daba vuelta a la izquierda en la calle y ella me golpeó mientras que intentaba dar vuelta! (She was hit while trying to turn onto Central.) I explained her argument with the lady in the white station wagon that hit her and the lady told me that the Latino lady had hit her! I told her that there is no way that she could have hit her with her rear quarter panel, but she said I did not know what I saw and challenged how I or my sister could have witnessed this. We explained I was pulled over and sitting there in perfect position to see. She became uncoopertive and standoffish toward us and was yelling at the young Latino whether she wanted to have each insuranse take care of the this. I told the Latino lady, ¡Usted necesita compartir la información con ella!(You need to share information with her!) The Latino lady was in tears over the damage on her vehicle and the other lady had little damage to her vehicle, and she could see this lady was overbearing on what happened, so she got into her car and drove off. And then so did the other person that hit her. What a sad sight. Just a small snapshot of our cultural differences.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

What's with the people writing checks?

How many times have you waited in line at a cash register, only to have the person in front of you rip out a check book? Number one. Why are you still using checks? Why not use a debit card or cash so you don't hold up the rest of us? And if you are going to use a check, please fill out the pertinent information while waiting in line with the rest of us! And then don't balance your check book while we are suffering through your ancient time transaction. Thank you. Now have a nice day.