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Wednesday, July 2, 2003

I might have mentioned this before, but I used to go to baseball games at a place called Candlestick Park. It was built in the worst possible location for a ballpark, one of the windiest points in San Francisco, right on the Bay where the air is coldest all year. I loved that stadium, and I miss it. Oh, it's still there, but they don't play baseball there any more.

One year a friend and I had season tickets just behind what they used to call the "penalty box." That was a little shed in the right field corner where the relief pitchers sat (out of the cold) and waited for their turn. We had field level seats in the most remote part of the stands, but at least we could hoot at the other team's right fielder (and often at our own).

The ballpark was windy, and people who went there (what few there were in those days) had a hard time hanging onto hot dog wrappers, programs, caps, cotton candy, blankets, woolen underwear, space heaters, and small children. There weren't as many restrictions on what you could bring into a stadium in those days.

The wind swirled in a particular pattern. All the airborne debris ended up in our corner. I'm convinced that's what the penalty box was really protecting the pitchers from. By the end of the game, we were covered in trash and faced with a big pile of papers and clothing, bound together by catsup, stale Coke and tobacco juice. Yeah, it was just as disgusting as I'm trying to make it sound, but we were happy to be there.

The reason I bring this up is that it reminds me of my life. Specifically, it evokes the way I let all the less interesting duties of my job swirl around all month and gather at the deadline, waiting for me to wade through them. By the last day they're unavoidable, and getting at them is the only way to escape.

Since I'm tentatively leaving for a week in the middle of this busy month, I should be trying to get as much as possible done before I take off. I cleared my vacation time with the Boss yesterday, so even if I end up going nowhere I might just disappear from his view for a few days.

Just now it's a matter of prioritizing what I need to do before I leave. That means a to-do list. Obviously (if you know me at all), there's no use whatsoever in adding any items to the list if they don't have to be finished until after I get back. If the deadline is the end of the month, you already know when something's going to become a priority. And it's not right now, in the first week.

Whenever possible, I try to build some flexibility into my to-do lists. And let's face it, unless the deadline is tomorrow (or yesterday), there's always room to wiggle.

After taking an extra hour this morning to meet a friend for coffee (and why not, since the Boss is on the road?), I redoubled my efforts this afternoon and got through some of the mindless busywork that's so much easier when I'm not being interrupted every ten minutes (as I am when the Boss isn't on the road).

That puts a big dent in the to-do list, but it also means I have to find time to do the other things, the ones that take thought and concentration. There's only so much good wiggle room does, when you do all your wiggling first and squeeze the hard stuff to the end. (Wow. There's an example of a metaphor gone horribly wrong.)

And then there's my real life, the part that isn't related to my job. I tend to do less scheduling in that department (although more lately than in the past). It hasn't always been necessary to schedule free time, though, because I'm already home as soon as I get off work. That leaves plenty of room for wiggling (or whatever).

2 July 03

I have a few dandelions in the side yard.

The decision to build Candlestick Park on that ridiculous site was a political one, of course. Everything in San Francisco is political. The politicians who pushed it through promised the public that it was the warmest spot in the City. When it turned out to be the coldest, those politicians were out of office and no one was held accountable. That didn't bother me, because (a) I don't vote in San Francisco, and (2) I went to games there for forty years. You just had to remember to wear your parka, all summer long.

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The DVD comes from Netflix in a sleeve that reads "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" Film buffs know there's no question mark in that title. After all these years, it's still a fun movie and a terrific feat. I've always liked Bob Hoskins' performance in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and when you think about what he had to do, acting with invisible characters, it becomes even more amazing.

Recent recommendations can always be found on the links page.

One year ago: Cyclone
"I don't expect anyone to feel sorry for me, because it was really my fault for sticking my hand where I couldn't see what I was doing, but it does hurt and I can't hide it."

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