Thursday, April 8, 2010

Fear of Falling

Does anyone know where I can get a large, a reeeeeally large, rubber band? An industrial-sized rubber band, capable of being the launch-pad of a 9-foot slingshot on the border of my front yard, just in case we get attacked by giant Orcs or some other creature from someone’s weird imagination.

Yesterday I traveled to Hartford, leaving home at 10:30 am. By the time I returned at 6:30 pm, the tree that stood inches from my property line in front of our home was halfway down, a tree service truck parked ominously overnight at the curb. This morning the cutters came back to complete the grim task, leaving a 9-foot trunk standing just where the tree Veed off into a perfect wishbone or slingshot form.

The tree was not rotted. It displayed no telltale signs of imminent collapse. It easily weathered last month’s snow, rain and wind storms. But fear of falling has taken over suburbia. The buzz of chain saws has drowned out the music of the song birds of our yard.

Around the corner, a homeowner this week cut down six stately pines that fronted his property. As of this morning, the trunks stood like totem poles, or Greek columns, projecting an image of starkness, however, not beauty.

I know some trimming is inevitable and required. Heck, as long as the tree cutters are next door I have asked them to cut down a dead tree in our side yard and to take 10-15 feet off two of our tall pines that lean a little too precariously toward our house. But the incessant buzzing unsettles me. Now our neighbor has them cutting down another two seemingly healthy trees in his back yard. I want them to stop cutting. It’s hard to rationalize away someone else’s fear. And perhaps I should be thankful he’s being proactive. The trees he’s cutting down might well hit our house if they were to go down in a storm.

The chain sawing has stopped. Now it’s the wood chipper I hear mutilating the afternoon tranquility...

Who needs the New York Times when you have No Socks Needed Anymore to give you earlier and more succinct views and news? Case in point—today’s NY Times Style section has a BIG article on “Eliot Spitzer’s Long, Winding and Slightly Bewildering Road to Redemption.” Read it, if you will, at But, keep in mind that back on February 26, I wrote the following:

Client Nine: Finally got around to viewing the Feb. 19 first episode of the new season of Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO. I won’t go into the political discussions (which were entertaining and informative) but I will note that one of his guest panelists was Eliot Spitzer. The disgraced former NY governor is hard on the comeback trail, submitting Op-Ed pieces and making appearances on various programs. He is a formidable commentator. Given all that has transpired in men-behaving-badly mode since Spitzer resigned, he’s looking and sounding a lot less tawdry these days. Still it is hard to ignore the number 9 that seemingly rests on his receding hairline.

Sad Sign: Spitzer is not the only New York politician with an image rehabilitation problem. Here in White Plains our newly elected mayor, Adam Bradley, is in damage control mode. His wife has accused him of physical and mental abuse. The public has been “treated” to some pretty damaging email texts allegedly sent by Mrs. Bradley detailing the alleged misbehavior.

Across the street from the Greek column of trees, a constituent has placed a damningly altered Bradley campaign poster on the front lawn. He’s drawn a circle with a diagonal line through it, the international symbol for “NO.”

Dumbest Sports Comment of the Year (So Far): On the drive home yesterday, I almost lost control of the car when I heard Mike Francesa of WFAN talking with the YES Network’s Kim Jones about the desire of NY Yankees super reliever Mariano Rivera to play center field before he retires. (Rivera is often said to be a naturally great athlete who enjoys shagging fly balls in the outfield during practice.) Rivera is in the last year of his contract and hinted to Jones on Tuesday that this could be his last season as a player.

Saying that his body of work entitled him to have his wish fulfilled for an inning or two of a meaningless game, say “an 8-2 game,” Francesa said he’d put Mariano in the outfield. How dumb could anyone be? Unless it’s the seventh game of the World Series and the score was a more ridiculous 15-2 or something like that, and Rivera had absolutely, positively, irrevocably without doubt or Brett Favre precedent on pain of death stated he was retiring at the end of the Series, the idea of putting him anywhere but on a pitching mound is dumb, dumb, dumb. Athletes get hurt when they play anywhere but the position they trained for. Nothing is routine in a game. When the adrenaline starts flowing, Mariano could leap at the fence and break a wrist, or slide to make a catch and break a wrist as Hideki Matsui did a few years ago. Or he could throw his arm out trying to nail a runner at the plate. Any number of “oh, no” scenarios come to mind. You don’t risk anyone’s career, or the team’s future success, to fulfill a player’s “wish,” even if that player “earned” the opportunity.

Small Victory: I’m proud to report a small victory over one Inanimate Object, a screen door. Rather than spend $65 to $150 to repair or replace the door, I opted to try my hand at self-screening. It took several hours of slow, often interrupted, tedious work, and $11 worth of screening, but the job was done by my own hands. And quite nicely, I might add.

With the money I saved I was able to not bat an eyelash the next day when I called the dentist for an emergency appointment to fix the tooth I broke during breakfast. The dentist thanked me for making his day more interesting than routine cleanings and fillings.

Kiss of Death? The boiler had its annual servicing earlier this week and received an exceptionally sound bill of health. Though at least 28 years old, the boiler could last another 10 years, the serviceman said.

I’ve already started my boiler replacement fund. Contributions appreciatively accepted.