Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Posted in On Tthe Road on April 21st, 2011 by MadDog
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I need to begin by stating that I hate baseball. Perhaps that’s too strong. I am intensely indifferent to baseball. I feel much the same about most team sports, having been the runt of the class throughout my school days. Playing any team sport was always an acute embarrassment to me, because I was too small to be useful in most games. Baseball, football and basketball were the most troublesome, because nobody wanted me on their team. Tsk, tsk, how sad. Pity me.

Anyway, when Pastor Ron Arnold of Kaimuki Christian Church, brothers and sisters who have stuck with me for three decades through thick and thin, invited me to go to a baseball game with him on Monday evening, I was more than a little surprised. It seemed so ludicrous. My first thought was, “Yeah, sure. I want to go and sit for several hours watching the game that is at the top of my list of Don’t Want To Do Things.” Then, reason overcame me for a lucid moment and I realised that Ron was reaching out with the hand of friendship. How was he to know?

I attempted a diversionary ploy by mentioning that if I went to a baseball game I would probably want to drink a beer, that being what I imagined that men do at such events. I had previously only been to one baseball game in my life. I immediately fell into a deep, dreamless slumber and had to be vigorously shaken to waken me when it was all over. Ron was ready for such attempts to give him the cold shoulder and said that he would have a beer with me, which surprised me once again. I had to relent. Who can turn down such an invitation?

So, at a little after six we were off to the baseball stadium to watch the Rainbow Warriors of the University of Hawaii battle it out with the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs. True to his word, Ron treated me to one of the largest beers I have ever attempted to consume:

That image is one which I never expected to see while housed in this body. That’s me enjoying a baseball game. It was immensely helpful to be accompanied by a friend who knew all of the arcane mysteries of the game and explained them patiently as needed. At least I could now watch a game without being completely baffled by what is going on in front of my eyes. By the time the fifth or sixth inning came along I was a bit peckish. We went down to the concession stands and each of us procured a ridiculously huge hot dog. I couldn’t begin to eat all of it. It was platoon-sized. Ah, America . . .

Possibly the most interesting event of the evening occurred immediately following the National Anthem (yes, Virginia, the American one) when another National Anthem was sung with great vigor. The song, heretofore unknown to me, is Hawaiʻi ponoʻī, which means “Hawaiʻi’s own”. Surely Hawaii is unique in this respect, as it is in many others.

So, as the clock winds down on my time in Honolulu, I have, on my Ticket of Life,  punched the little box which is labeled Baseball and enjoyed a splendid distraction with an old friend and champion of my work. Though a baseball game was not on my bucket list, I have added it and checked it off retrospectively.

I’ll likely have only one more post before I’m herded onto a huge aluminium livestock mover and slung across the remainder of the Pacific Ocean on my way, circuitously, to Indianapolis, where I will be miserably greeted by snow, I very much fear. So, I’ll now bore you silly with an accumulation of left-overs which fit nowhere else. In the tremendously pretentious pond outside the Waikiki Hilton, I was very surprised to find a kind of fish which is familiar to me, namely African Chiclids the genus of which I believe is Pseudotropheus:

At one time, Eunie and I had seven tanks full of various African Chiclid species. They are very colourful fish and have interesting breeding habits. You can see the egg-spots on the anal fin of this female which, some speculate, serve as a sort of target for the male when he is called upon to do his thing. Some of them are mouth-brooders. The fry spend a great deal of time in the mouth of the female until they are large enough to fend for themselves. Though this is not an image of which I’m proud, it turned out much better than I had reason to expect. I was shooting down at an angle through about fifteen centimetres of rather murky water.

This shot is likewise undeserving of any prizes. I include it only because I was amused, seeing it on my computer screen, that the foamy water, frozen by a shutter speed of 1/1000 of a second, appears very much like ice:

I’ve uploaded a higher resolution file than normal so that you can click on it and see the frosty detail. I did not expect this. It was a happy surprise.

This little bird is the Zebra Dove, Geopelia striata:

You can see them anywhere on Oahu and, presumably, on the other islands. They hang around anywhere that might have food on the ground, so you’d better be prepared to have them waddling around your feet while you eat outdoors. The have an annoying habit of staying just ahead of your feet while you’re walking. It sometimes makes me feel as if I might step on one, but it hasn’t happened yet. They are pretty, in a girl-next-door sort of way. The purple feet make me giggle.

I’ll wrap this up with a motley collection of Hibiscus shots. You can’t swing a dead cat here without damaging a Hibiscus bush. They are everywhere. I suppose that’s appropriate, since the Hibiscus is Hawaii’s State Flower, specifically the Pua Aloalo (Hibiscus brackenridgei), a bright yellow species. Here is some sort of pink variety:

As it is in Papua New Guinea, there seems no end to the colours to choose from. I see new shades nearly every day. Until 1988 pretty much all varieties of Hibiscus were glommed together and the group as a whole was considered to be the State Flower. At that time, the Pua Aloalo was selected as the sole member of the Hibiscus tribe to represent the state. Bet you didn’t know that. Neither did I until five minutes ago. The result of which is that some older material shows the Hawaii state flower in the wrong colour. It is properly yellow. No substitutes allowed!

Is this hot pink? I’m decades behind on colour names. A trip to the paint store makes me laugh out loud. Who chooses those names? No matter the name, my camera had a very hard time with it:

Digital sensors of the kind I can afford still don’t have enough dynamic range to capture such super-saturated colours realistically.

This is a yellow variety which I think is the Pua Aloalo, but I’m not sure:

Anybody want to jump in on this one? The blooms on this bush seemed to be very close to the ground compared to most of the others.

This one has a cup-shaped blossom:

It’s fun to shoot Hibiscus, because there are a huge variety of colours and they pose so nicely. Eventually you end up with a colossal collection of images which you have spent a ridiculous amount of time building and are worth absolutely nothing to anybody. It’s sort of like collecting Hummel Figureines, except you don’t have to pay for them. What could be better?

The church paid for me to go see a shrink today. What a thoughtful thing to do. I know it was Pastor Ron’s doing. Thanks, mate. I was happy to find that the very nice young man with lots of sheepskins hanging on his wall prescribed only books for me – no meds. It was very interesting to me that he said that at the level of depression which I’m experiencing, there is no medication which has been proven more effective than a placebo. Well, I took St. John’s Wort for years knowing all along that its effectiveness was disputed. It gave me some feeling of control.

My reluctance to go on medication for my depression is based on two ideas. First, there is considerable doubt whether a medication would have any beneficial effect at all – it’s a toss-up, unless you’re pretty bad off to start with. Even if it does make me “feel better”, that is just going to lull me into a state of mind where I ignore the root causes of my depression and do no deal with them. That’s even worse. I don’t want to feel better because I’m ingesting a powerful psychoactive drug which is constantly meddling with my natural brain chemistry. As bizarre as my head lab is, I’ve grown accustomed to it and I recognise that the quirkiness it generates is a big part of what makes me me. I like being a bit off-centre. It’s the major portion of what little charm I have. The other problem is that even if it works, if it makes me all mellow and chilled out, I can’t keep taking it forever or I’ll sizzle my noggin permanently and become utterly dependent on it. So, what happens when I go cold turkey? Hey, all those pesky things I didn’t notice while whacked out on Prozac come slithering out of the bushes and begin gnawing on my ankles. They’ve been lying in wait for me while I was in the zone.

No meds, please. I need to take life in my bare hands and subdue it. It’s gloves off from now on.

MPBM reader and Facebook friend Kristy congratulated me for soldiering on in a message yesterday and reminded me of something Winston Churchill once said, “If you’re walking through Hell, keep walking!”

Excellent advice, I’d say.

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