On listening to baseball on the radio in the summer

With the Milwaukee Brewers becoming the latest MLB team to have their home opener canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, I’m starting to think my dad’s prediction that “No professional sports league will finish their season this year” may come true.

Listening to baseball on the radio is quintessential Americana summer to me. And when I say “listening,” I don’t mean actually following the game. In fact, the less I know about the teams playing and the less invested I am in the outcome, the better. What I mean is baseball was the background noise and soundtrack of my summers. Growing up, whether my dad realized the frequency or not, he would often have baseball games playing on the radio or the tv. So baseball announcers subconsciously became the white noise that signified summer just like the sound of rain on a window, an oscillating fan, or the ocean tide.

The thing I love about baseball announcers is that they all sound so similar to me. Because it can be a relatively slow-paced game and because there is often gaps of time to fill without much action, the announcers rarely get too excited or hurried. Even when there’s a home run or a double play, they usually stay relatively measured – after all, there’s 162 games to get through.

I couldn’t tell you a single player prominent player from when I was younger or even what teams my dad listened to the most, but I still have visions of the sun going down at the gloriously late hour of 8 or 9 pm with the familiar cadence of a baseball announcer narrating the sun’s descent for the day. My mind’s eye still vividly sees car rides home from a rec soccer game or gymnastics practice with the lull of baseball on in the background.

I don’t remember when I realized how soothing the sounds of baseball are to me. Maybe it was the absence of it when I wasn’t living at home during the summers anymore or maybe it was when I actually was home after being away. But somewhere along the way I realized how calming the almost rhythmic-like “chant” of baseball play-by-play is, and how it so silently screams summer to me.

I’ve kept a word document list of “things that make me happy” on my computer since high school detailing little joys in life such as wood floors and staplers (yes, staplers!), and to this day “baseball on the radio in the summer” is on the list.

So let’s hope there’s a few more baseball games left this year. Even though I’m not at home in the States, I still can’t imagine summer without it.

Erica

P.S. Photo of my favorite Phillie Phanatic among the empty seats at Citizens Bank Park this year.

Coronavirus briefings are back!

I’m an admitted nerd about certain things – politics, current affairs, history, among others – so when I heard President Trump was bringing back the daily coronavirus task force briefings, I was “excited.”*

*I want to caveat the rest of this post by saying that I don’t take the situation and the global pandemic lightly.

The task force briefings in March were like a real-life soap opera to me – but better. They were scheduled to begin (though always late) at 10:00 pm London time, and I’d start watching the feed before the conference started so I could see what journalists were there that day and where they were sitting (looking for Jon Karl, Jim Acosta and Kaitlan Collins, as they always make the president particularly mad). I’d listen to the news of the day with an ear to anticipating what questions President Trump would be asked. For example, in mid-April Trump started his morning by tweeting “I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea.” To which the obvious question is, “How do you shoot down boats?” And with every other president in history the question would be, “why are you announcing military policy on Twitter?”, though that’s typical for him.

Like any other soap opera, sometimes what I termed the “episode” would end on a cliff hanger and sometimes they might as well have run “to be continued” as a post script. And there were always predictions about whether Dr. Fauci would make an appearance

Towards the end of their run a friend even introduced me to “Trump Briefing Bingo” with squares featuring the president’s favorite phrases such as “tremendous,” “very strongly,” and “fake news” and situations like “subordinate thanks Trump for leadership” and when the president would blame President Obama for something or talks about the dire situation he “inherited” from previous administrations.

https://bingobaker.com/play/3006491

So I tuned into last night’s briefing with anticipation that my favorite bedtime stories had returned. What I/we got instead was a very different president. He admitted things unheard of before such as that the situation was going to get worse before it got better, and at one point he took a mask out of his pocket and held it up to demonstrate that he has “no problem” wearing a mask. He stuck to his script and was considerably more muted and measured in his tone. Even when he took questions he refrained from his customary rambling rants. I didn’t even get bingo (though I was a square away in one column).

Clearly his falling poll numbers prompted some White House advisors to convince him to change his strategy. How long it’ll last and if it will make a difference, is anyone’s guess.

I do think the geographic vastness of the US and the nature of our federalist system with different powers allocated to states and the federal government makes a nation-wide approach like in many European countries more challenging, but that’s a topic for a different day.

All in all it was a semi-disappointing season premiere, but that was only episode 1. We’ll find out more tonight.

Erica

Things British people say

There are famous examples of the differences between American and British English in both terminology (elevator/lift, french fries/chips, line/queue, sweater/jumper, soccer/football) and spelling (color/colour, defense/defence, analyze/analyse, traveling/travelling). But since I’ve been here, I’ve noticed a few more differences that have confused me or driven me a bit crazy (grammar is one of my “things”). So, for all my Americans, here are some things British people say.

Past Simple (American) v. Present Perfect (British)**

Ever since I’ve been here I’ve noticed British people use the present perfect tense (has/have + past participle: I have just done my homework) v. how Americans use the past simple (I just did my homework) when talking about past actions that have been completed. Another example: “He has already eaten lunch” (British) v. “He already ate lunch” (American). I tried to figure out why for a few months. Of course Americans use the present perfect tense at times, but we tend to use past simple when we consider the action finished.

Another example a friend recently said to me: I’ve just got back from the shops.

…Whereas I’d have said “I just got back from the store.” (Also, they don’t use “gotten” like we do when we’d say “have gotten”, which is another difference.) I also want to add “before” to the end of the present perfect statements when I hear them as in, “I’ve read the book [before],” and I’m not quite sure why? I have to do more thinking about it (which, of course, I will because I’m me 😉).

British EnglishAmerican English
He isn’t hungry. He has already had lunch.
– Have you done your homework yet?
– Yes, I’ve just finished it.
He isn’t hungry. He already had lunch.
– Did you do your homework yet?
– Yes, I just finished it.

**NB: The names of these tenses don’t matter (I always had to try to convince my Italian students that knowing the correct name of a tense isn’t important at all compared with knowing how to use it. After all, how many native English speakers remember what the tenses are called – I love grammar, and I still forget!).

Adding “do”

British people tend to add “do” at the end of sentences/phrases where as we would either continue with a direct object or eliminate it all together. For example, in a recent conversation with a British friend:
[8:35 PM, 7/6/2020] Erica: i think we will find some colonists tomorrow night, don’t you?
[8:35 PM, 7/6/2020] Friend: Yes I think we will do

It sounds “weird” to American ears because we’d just say “Yes, I think we will,” right?

Another recent example:

Me: Did you go to the store yet?
Friend: No, but I should’ve done.

…To which I always want to say, “You should’ve done WHAT?” because we would either say “I should’ve – full stop” or “I should’ve done that.” The same goes for saying “I will do” when we would just say “I will” or “I will do [that/it/etc.]”

“Director/MD”

I could be wrong on this one, but looking at people’s profiles, a lot of British people say they are “Directors” in a way that means they are (I guess) managers in a business. When I first moved here, I thought “What is this LA? Why are there so many directors?” because I automatically assumed they were talking about a video/movie director.

This also goes for the number of people who have MD on their profiles. At first I thought, “Wow there are a lot of doctors in the UK!” but apparently it also means “Managing Director.”

This one could just be me because I’ve never been in the traditional corporate world. Thoughts?

Erica

Since we last spoke…

I have a few updates since my last blog on my previous site about 15 months (!!) ago.

I’m now living in London (since August 2019), and I’m a dissertation away (due August 20) from completing a master’s degree in international relations from King’s College London.

I would definitely like to stay here after I complete my degree, so I hopefully have a few different options in terms of getting a longer term visa. It’s not a great job market (nevermind, it’s an awful job market), so I seem to have a penchant for graduating at precisely the “right times” (see 2009 during the recession). I have an offer to do a year course to get my law degree “converted” to practice in the UK, so I have that option as well. I’m really not sure what I think about jobs, but I know I want to stay in London.

I haven’t done as much traveling as I would’ve liked in the past year due partly to school but mostly to the realities of the pandemic we’re currently living through. I did go to Portugal in late February right before the world shut down.

Welcome, and more later!

Erica