September is dead and I am not

September is dead and I am not

I managed to get through September with minimal amounts of being dead. It was, I think it’s fair to say, one of maybe the three crappiest months of my life. But not, by any objective standards, really that crappy, and hardly bad at all after the 20th. Monday’s noisy drive home convinced me September was going to go out with one last good ass-kicking but it turned out just to be the month having a little harmless joke.

And interspersed with the bad was the good. Right there at the top of the month was the Toronto Ale, which aside from the lost wallet and the overly long drive home was a lot of fun. More good morris at the end of the month with near perfect weather for the Saugerties Garlic Festival. The rocket launch was not the best I’ve ever had but it was pretty good. The lunar eclipse and such were cool.

Still, the month really needed a rousing goodbye party; fortunately I must have been prescient in August because I set the wheels figuratively in motion then. Literally in motion yesterday, westwards, to Rochester. I parked right in front of Bernunzio Uptown Music; unfortunately I hadn’t been able to leave work as early as I’d hoped and I got there mere minutes before closing, so I didn’t go in, just peeked in the windows. Then headed off to the Old Toad.2015-09-30 18.28.33Fish and chips, mushy peas, Fuller’s London Pride draught, served up by a waiter from England. Needed that. Followed up with Middle Ages Kilt Tilter cask, which is brewed in Syracuse so why go to Rochester for it, but hey, it was there.

Then back past Bernunzio to the Eastman Theatre for more of Great Britain.2015-09-30 21.20.56Specifically the Ukulele Orchestra thereof. I don’t get to many concerts these days but when I heard they were touring I knew I had to go, and they easily were worth the price of the ticket and the drive to Rochester. I had way too much fun.

I’m ready for October. Bring it!


The nut behind the wheel

On my drive home yesterday the Matrix started making noises — soft rubbing noises, later becoming loud screeching noises intermingled with what sounded like metallic clanking… and occasional bursts of relative silence. I looked underneath but couldn’t see anything amiss. My best guess was that it was a brake problem. It sounded pretty horrible but I decided to get the car home and deal with it today.

My usual mechanic is on the other side of the city so rather than try to drive there, or get it towed there, I took it to the nearest repair shop, a Midas about a half mile away.

The mechanic there told me it sounded so awful, he didn’t want to give it a road test. They put the car on the lift, pulled off the wheels, and couldn’t find anything wrong. Then they noticed a nut had come loose and was lying on the floor. Not that kind of nut. This kind of nut:2015-09-29 14.24.47
That was the culprit. It’d been jammed up inside one of the wheels; you can see where it was rubbing.

The guy said in 33 years in the business he’d never seen anything like it. They didn’t charge for the repair and I didn’t charge for the entertainment.

Meanwhile September is continuing to heal.2015-09-29 14.26.51

Two brew

Two brew

A friend mentioned Eastwood Brewing to me last week. I’d never been there. But it turns out my lawyer’s office is basically across the street, and I was there on Friday, so I stopped in and ordered a pint of their brown ale. Liked it, got a 64 oz. growler of it (which turned empty on Saturday when the BMM and Bouwerie Boys danced at the Saugerties Garlic Festival). They seemed pretty friendly there although I was less than comfortable with the pro-gun propaganda on the walls.

Yesterday was the official opening of Local 315 Brewing, a farm brewery on Warners Road. Being, as I said, in Saugerties that day I didn’t go, but today I did — got there in 15 minutes on my bike.

They have goats.2015-09-27 14.35.50 And a donkey.

It’s a small operation but bigger than I was expecting. A 10 barrel system, I think they said, and they had 13 beers on tap. A disconcertingly large number of them seemed to be beers for people who don’t like beer — ones with strawberry, blueberry, and strawberry rhubarb ingredients, and, seriously? a peppermint stout. Also a ginger cream ale, which will also annoy the “beer that tastes like beer” purists, but I’m less bothered by it — I’ve brewed a beer with ginger myself in my time.2015-09-27 14.03.32

I ordered a flight of four beers. The Lucky 13 Red was my least favorite of the lot — not bad, but kind of bland. Could use a stronger malt base. The aforementioned Ginger Cream Ale is something I’d probably like a pint of now and then, but maybe not a growler of it.2015-09-27 13.58.46

The Townie Session IPA was very nice, though. The one that surprised me most was the Breakfast Stout — I’m not generally a big stout drinker, but something about this one really appealed to me. Unfortunately they had only a small batch of it, apparently something they’re just trying out, so they weren’t selling growlers of it. So I put a growler of the Townie on my bike rack and headed home. Told them I’d be back when they’re filling growlers with the Breakfast Stout.2015-09-27 14.59.56

(Still awaiting Griffin Hill with bated breath, of course.)

Could be raining

So let’s see what we have here. On 1 September I found out what’s wrong with the Matrix would cost more to fix than the car’s worth. Later that week a bug bite turned into a huge blister that by early last week was showing signs of infection. In between I lost my wallet. Thursday last week I spent more than 13 hours getting to Newport News (by air), and on Sunday, well, divorce time arrived.

September, I am not impressed.

OK, bright sides. The Matrix is driveable. I don’t know if it’ll pass inspection but that’s not until April. Blister and infection are gone. No funny charges on the lost credit cards. Flight home from NN was fine. Divorce… okay, no real bright sides there, other than we’re trying to keep it civil and we’re getting it over with now and not waiting until Kenny’s in college or something, which is probably for the best.

I still have my job (knock wood), my health (knock knock), a working furnace (checked today), a great son, a fine morris team (Saugerties Garlic Festival and Binghamton Harvest Home Tour coming up pretty soon), a rocket club (met on Monday, launching this Saturday), a ukulele group (resumed meeting tonight after summer performances), friends, extended family, a pretty decent blog, a copy of Christopher Moore’s latest book which I really have to start reading yesterday… I have it a lot better than a lot of people do, which makes me more sad for them but less sad for me. Also the weather’s been pretty nice.

Of course, September’s only half over.



Some blog posts are easy. This one isn’t.

After 20 years, Heather and I are ending our marriage. Without going into details, I’ll just say there is no particular ill will here, no fighting and few tears, but we have changed, our relationship has changed, and it is time to move  on. For the moment we’re still in the same house, but Heather is looking to move out when it becomes feasible. Kenny will split his time between us as long as we live nearby one another. If Heather goes away to attend medical school, decisions will have to be made.

I hope those who are friends of both of us continue to be friends of both of us. Heather’s a good person and she’ll need her friends. As will I.


The International Adventures of the Binghamton Morris Men

The International Adventures of the Binghamton Morris Men

Friday evening by various means, the Binghamton Morris Men arrived at the Tranzac Club, 292 Brunswick Ave, Toronto, Ontario for the start of the 2015 Toronto Morris Ale.

The BMM side was kind of strange. We’d gotten an invitation to the ale but there wasn’t much favorable response when Ken asked about it, so it seemed we wouldn’t go and Ken made other plans. Then during the ATM Alex Naar pushed for going and got something like a side to commit, but drawn heavily on the away members; in the end we had seven BMM men there. And no women! Neither Roberta nor Maggie could go. But we had me, Peter Klosky, Tom Keays, Will Quale, and Devin Pierce all of whom could play music (though normally do not, for BMM); we also had Alex and Jim Moskin. Just before the ale Alex talked Jud MacIntyre into coming. He’s on Foggy Bottom, not BMM, but he borrowed a vest and danced as an eighth BMM for the weekend.

Other teams attending were Green Fiddle, Toronto Morris Men, Cold Barn, Orange Peel, Toronto Women’s Sword, Thames Valley International, Bassett Street Hounds, Rock Creek, and Dame’s Rocket.

Not a lot happens Friday evening at the Toronto Ale but we did get some pickup morris going, primarily BMM and Rock Creek people. We thought the TFMM would be doing that too, but no, they were in the front room singing… as was I once the dancing dissipated. I sang “Yangtze River Chantey” for the first time; they knew the chorus and it went well. Jud and I met up with our billeting host, Lynn Westerhout, and went off to sleep at her very nice house whose walls are covered with books, LPs, photos, and various string instruments — including a couple ukuleles, but she principally plays banjo.

Saturday morning Jud and I walked to the subway station, bought a day pass for two, and rode to Bloor and Spadina and walked from there to the Tranzac. We had some breakfast, and I went to change into my kit. At some point I discovered I couldn’t find my wallet. I thought I’d just mislaid it a few minutes earlier, but on further thought realized I had no conscious recollection of seeing it since buying ice cream the night before. I’m pretty sure I had it later, though, and my best guess is I left it at the subway station counter.

Anyway, I searched the club, Lynn’s house and car, and my bags; I asked at the subway station; it didn’t turn up. Before the tour I called Heather to ask her to call the credit card companies (she did, and all the cards were canceled before any new charges turned up) ,and Sunday morning I reported the wallet missing to the police. I did still have my passport, and my cell phone. Could have been worse.

Before departing the club, the BMM rehearsed a few dances not familiar to all present.

Touring Saturday was with TFMM and TVI and we started at the corner of Yonge and Gould. Did two dances each (I played one) in the sunny hot dancing spot, then tour leader Stefan decided to take us to an unscheduled pub stop at The Imperial Pub Aquarium Bar and Library Lounge. Yay Stefan. Then we danced again, two more, on Gould near Ryerson University; then official pub stop at Hair of the Dog; then massed dancing at Allen Gardens. Yep, five whole dances on that tour. Except we also did some dancing in the pub (where also we sang anthemic songs, and I pulled “Clementine” (to the tune of “God of Grace and God of Glory”) out of deep repertoire). Our show dance was Johnson the Butcher.

Dinner was back at the Tranzac, and it was good. Contradance followed. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to contradance, play in the pickup band, or do something else; some pickup morris on the street had been mentioned, but I don’t think it ever happened. Finally I gathered up instruments and joined the band. In back, away from the microphones, because I’m far from used to correlating chord names with shapes on the baritone ukulele I’d brought mainly for that purpose. When I decided I couldn’t cope with chords I switched to pennywhistle and when the melody was beyond me, hand drum. It was fun, and one of the few chances I’ll ever have to play in a contradance band with someone doubling on bassoon and theremin.

Then there was more singing, then the subway and walking back to Lynn’s.

Sunday after the police report we went to the Tranzac, had breakfast, ran through a few more dances, and went to dance on Bloor Street, closed off for many blocks just for us. Well, maybe not just for us. We pubbed at the Pauper, danced some more, pubbed some more. Got more than 4 dances in this time. Mainly in the shade. Us were BMM, TFMM, and Rock Creek. Which is possibly an even more fun tour than BMM, TFMM, TVI. At the second pub I was surprised to learn one of the Rock Creek women has a PhD in nuclear physics. Man. There could be a nuclear physicist right next to you and you wouldn’t know.

Show dances were, as has been the case for more than a decade and maybe more than two, at the pizza oven in Dufferin Grove Park; we did John Peel. No jokes about pizza peels or Orange Peel were made.

The two massed stands were unfortunately the only places we got to see the dancing of Toronto Women’s Sword — they did killer rapper on Saturday and a beautiful Papa Stour Sunday — and Dame’s Rocket, a women’s Northwest team from Brasstown, NC I’d not seen before, who also turned in great performances both days. Rock Creek did some of the best Cotswold I’ve seen recently. Great to tour with them.

BMM (minus Jud who went following singers) returned to the Pauper after the massed stand, and then went kitty corner across the intersection and danced across from outdoor diners who mostly ignored us, but we did five (six?) dances in four traditions, just the seven of us. Then back for dinner, gin and tonics, singing.

Monday morning Lynn dropped Jud off at the airport and me at John Mayberry’s house (where Peter stayed), and Peter and I headed back. Between a Labor Day parade, border delay, general holiday traffic, and needing to stop repeatedly to deal with a piece of Peter’s car that kept wanting to fall off, the trip home took close to seven hours, but I made it and presume Peter did too.

There’s a few pictures here.

Long time no see

Discussion on Saturday confirmed that, while members of the Binghamton Morris Men danced in Syracuse on the 2000 and 2014 tours of the American Travelling Morrice, the last time the BMM appeared as a team in Syracuse was in 1991 at the 10th anniversary ale of Thornden Morris. Twenty-four years away!

That was before Clark’s Ale House opened the first time. We really should do this more often.

My hazy recollection is that on the Saturday of that 1991 tour, after a stand somewhere downtown, the Binghamton Men wanted to run through Lichfield Vandals — I think they were going to dance it at the next stand but wanted to give it a dry run first. Some of the team had gone off somewhere, though. Probably a pub. So I got drafted to fill a space in the set… despite not knowing any Lichfield. I think maybe Tom Keays was pulled in too. Anyway, that was the first time I danced with the BMM. Second time was about 11 years later.

And unless I’m very confused, it was the next day of that same weekend that the Pokingbrook men were depleted in numbers, so Bill Newman approached me and asked, “Do you know Ducklington?”

“No,” I told him.

“Okay,” he said, “you can dance third corners.”


A leisurely few days of aaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrgggggghhaaaaaaeeeiiiiiiieeee

Last summer somehow most of the things I wanted or needed to do didn’t conflict much. This year is being more difficult.

So the SoLID collaboration meeting ended up being Thursday and Friday, not Friday and Saturday, so that was good, but I still had to get back before the rest of the weekend’s activities. That plus cheaper tickets meant flying into and out of Norfolk, VA and driving from there to Newport News — during rush hour, both ways. I lived. I did speak at the meeting, briefly, about my simulation work on the PVDIS baffles.

Making my flight back required me to leave Jefferson Lab before things wrapped up Friday, but I didn’t miss much of significance to me. Waze told me to get off I-64 for several miles and back on just before the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel, which kept me out of the worst of the Interstate parking lot. The flights home, like those to Virginia, were amazingly non horrible and I got back around midnight.

The plan from there was: First Syracuse Rocket Club launch of 2015 Saturday morning, morris tour Saturday afternoon, 20 mile bike ride Sunday morning, and Heather’s commencement ceremony Sunday afternoon.

The forecast for Saturday didn’t look too great, too much mention of rain, but in fact, at least where I was, we got no more than a light five minute shower in the early afternoon. I got to the field around 9:00, helped set up, and got two, count ’em, two rockets in the air before it was time to boogie on out and head for downtown. At that I missed the first dance stand, but I met up with the Binghamton Men, Thornden, and the B. F. Harridans for beer and lunch at J. Ryan’s, followed by dancing at Hanover Square, beer and dancing at Mully’s, dancing at the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, dancing at Perserverence Square, beer and dinner at Clark’s Ale House, and dessert at the Hosmers’ house.

It was pretty great.

Excellent weather today, and I went off to the first Cycle in the City bike ride of 2015. North to Onondaga Lake, south to Webster’s Pond, and east and west in between to various other bodies of water. 20 miles total. Then home, change, lunch, and off to the Civic Center for SUNY Upstate Medical University’s commencement exercises where Heather got her hood denoting an MPH degree. Kenny and I had dinner at Panda West before heading home.