Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Winner Is

Two friends leave Saratoga racetrack on a Friday after 9 races of a 10 race card. It is the fourth consecutive racing day of their attendance at the meet, and overall they're both ahead a few bucks. 

Still ahead, despite Friday's selections producing nothing so far.  There is still the 10th race, but a dinner reservation is pulling them out of the place and toward the parking lot.  Handicapping has been done, so a last ditch effort at producing a winner for the day is made by calling into an OTB account a $2 exacta box on two horses.  The personally designed and used handicapping numbers have let them down today, but one of them feels it's no time to abandon them now.  They don't want to be at the airport when their ship comes in.

A simple $2 box bet is made on the two horses earning the top handicapping numbers.  The other fellow, after realizing that while he's driving he can still get a bet in through the passenger's account, also makes a $2 exacta bet on two horses, but only uses one of the same horses the passenger does.  There's something else he likes, and he goes with it.

With telephone betting, you get an ending balance, and rapid update of funds if you hit something.  It works quite well.  So, there's an ending balance that is reflective of the two $4 bets being made.

Time is allowed to elapse. The race will be over and the winner posted before the restaurant is reached.  A simple call to check on the balance when it it is reasonable to assume that all activity is official is all it will take to tell if someone won anything, or neither won a thing.  If the balance increases, it won't be known who won, but one of the players in the car will have.  More detailed results will be obtained later.

Before the restaurant parking lot is achieved, the account announced to the owner that $117.50 has been added.  This is great news. 

Further details are not sought until the next morning when the newspaper was looked at the the motel office as they were preparing to return back downstate.  So who won?

It doesn't matter. They'll both be back.



Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The King

Yesterday, someone I know Twittered, "Bye Elvis. Again."  It took a bit to remember, but August 1977 was when he passed away, and of course August 16th was the actual day. At least to some.

Thirty-four years have now gone by. A whole generation has entered middle age who may not have even ever heard of Elvis, much less heard Elvis. That's the way it goes. I never went to a silent movie, and never saw Douglas Fairbanks Sr. in one.  My mother and father did, however.

Elvis turned many a pair of knees to jelly. A long time ago, Nostalgia met Marketing. So why not an Elvis app for a smartphone? Those same knees, now maybe arthritic, or even replaced, can relive the good old days with a downloadable app that when pressed, fills the screen of the smartphone for eight seconds with the above image. A few seconds into the display, Elvis winks, and purrs "G'night" to the smartphone holder.

He may have gone into that good night, but he can be brought back.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Move

It is not believed there were many witnesses.  At least not many that qualified as being legally alive when the rented U Haul van (with Apportioned Arizona plates) advertising itself on both sides as being available for rental for $19.95 a day, rolled through Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Valhalla, New York carrying some of my departed mother-in-law's furniture.  The van was being driven by my son-in-law, whose wife is my oldest daughter, and who committed herself to taking her grandmother's brocaded Queen Anne, mahogany carved couch into her guardianship to be placed in her cellar.  Also, a more contemporary wingback chair, and two period-piece end tables, without the period lamps.  For now, she still has the room to do things like this.

The route through the cemetery was swift and respectful.  No proceedings were noticed, so no one who might have looked up could have thought that a very cheap type of hearse was coming in to do its thing, and that some people were not spending what they were spending on a funeral.  This was strictly a means to an end to get to the destination without encountering parkways that prohibit commercial vehicles.  It also was a way my son-in-law suspected might get him out of the slight jam he was in by taking the wrong exit from something else. It worked.

So, passing through one resting place, the furniture came to be deposited in another resting place.  My daughter's cellar.

The beat goes on.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Room

The woman I married came with her mother's furniture.

While this doesn't mean that in addition to her parents their furniture was at the wedding as well, it does mean that it was always "there" somewhere, and would eventually be with us when the time came.  And it did.

Several pieces first made their way into our two car garage.  They were covered, and while not as protected as in a museum, the pieces did have a roof over them, even if the legs did get wet when it really rained hard. Bricks were eventually added.

But the real emergence and blending with our lives came when we moved to a house that in effect had four bedrooms, but only a need to put humans in two of them. A house with two uneeded bedrooms wasn't purposely sought after, but it did seem like a good place to make new roots and enjoy the extra space.

Of course, extra space to Americans merely means there's an opportunity to fill it up.  And this happened when one of the four bedrooms, on the first floor, became what I would call the 'Helen Museum.'  The room became a near re-creation of the living room of my wife's mother; the apartment in the Bronx that my wife last lived in before marriage.

Saying the furniture is "old" is not descriptive enough.  Some wag, other than myself, said the room was "stuck in the 70s."  They meant the 1970s, when really the room was the perfect complement to a roll of Indian head pennies. It was from Edith Wharton and the 'Age of Innocence.'  Only the solid wood console (color) television and electricity might lead you to believe you entered the latter part of the 20th century.

The sofa and two arm chairs were decently upholstered, the coach being restored after my wife rescued it from the curb after her mother accidentally set fire to it in their Bronx apartment.  After learning that her mother was all right, she found the couch on the curb where the firemen had dragged it from the fourth floor.  It got another life. 

The faux fireplace and mantle was another touch, with the electric lit logs that radiated enough heat to get metal spinners turning, giving the appearance of flames flickering.  They reminded me of the story a neighbor told us of someone she went out with who created a VCR tape of the Yule Log that would be on Channel 11 on Christmas Eve.  He would play the tape on TV when trying to establish a romantic mood.  Turns out she broke up with him for some reason.  Perhaps he didn't tape enough of the Yule Log.

Years and years have passed and the room remained an ode to the departed.  I offered to have a fire escape painted outside the window to further the commemorative look, but was dismissed as being silly.

But the beginning of the end has arrived, and literally by chance.  My wife won the 32" flat panel television at the Christmas office party raffle.  First prize.  She's lucky like that.  Thoughts started to be voiced that use could be made of it in the 'TV room' as 'The Room' became known.

The flat panel TV however remained in its box, somewhat blocking the view of the current TV.  Offers to unbox it and set it up were met with voiced plans that the room was going to be redone, and that they were not going to stand a flat panel TV on top of another TV.  "That would look stupid."

Inertia needed to be broken.  So, with my new found time, the TV was unboxed and hooked up and operational while the curator was out working one day. It was placed squarely on top of the old TV.  The fear of course was that by the time it came out of its box at the museum director's command, HiDef TV would be replaced by 3-D TV.  Someone had to act.

A financial standing was checked before this action was performed because it was fully understood that once the empty box hit the side of the house, there was going to be action at the top of the mountain and things were going to move.  And they did.

Gold was sold and furniture was shopped for.  The couch was going to be allowed to go.  This of course came as a surprise, but a dream and a voice was recited as poof that it was now okay to shed it.

What the calendar makers failed to note was the designation of  'Family Heirloom Day.' I've now marked it on the calendar, and will look at next year's calendar on the same date and see what happens. Upon hearing that the couch was going my oldest daughter, now with a house and some extra room, offered, no insisted, on getting the couch to her place. It was going to be used.

Brocaded, Edith Wharton, Queen Anne, mahogany carved furniture in a center hall colonial might make sense, but in a cellar?

Perhaps yes. After all, there is space.  For now.



Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Thoroughbred


STK Aug 14
1xmc/nw2/Opt.Clm. 75,000 Aug 10
1xmc/Str Alw 50,000 Aug 10
Mdn Aug 11, 14, 15, 21(T), 21 Aug 14(T), 19(T)
Mdn (NY) Aug 12, 14, 17(T), 21 Aug 21(T)
Mdn 75,000 Aug 10(T)
Mdn 60,000-50,000 Aug 12
Mdn 50,000(NY) Aug 19
Mdn 35,000 Aug 10

Thoroughbred races are subject to 'conditions' of the race.  The above is a section taken from an upcoming Saratoga Condition Book that trainers use to consider what races their horses might be eligible to run in.  Conditions are basically the eligibility rules governing who can enter a particular race.  This is to establish a bit of parity in that a really great horse is not pitted against an inferior horse.  Horses are graded by 'class.'  Decent, competitive racing is hoped for.

Unraced, and horses who have never won a race, generally start out in 'maiden' races.  Despite maiden denoting a unmarried female, maidens in horse racing are just horses, either colts or fillies, who have never won a race.  There are some sub-levels to maidens, but we don't need to go into that.

The next level is usually a 'non-winner of one, other than maiden...'  This is generally where horses need to be entered after they've won a maiden race.  In this type of race, everyone has 'broken their maiden' and is therefore a winner at some level.  Thus, everyone is racing against horses with similar achievements.

The 'levels' go up, generally to 'non-winners of three, other than...' and the waters here are getting deeper.  Horses with more races and more success. Tougher competition. 

Generally, few horses ever win more than 4 races.  The 'level' conditions generally stop at three.  After that, horses need to go into stakes races, graded stakes races, or conditional allowance races.  This is where the purse money, and the competition is stiffest.  Of course, a really good horse might go straight from their maiden win to something else.  It's up to the trainer.  You can skip around, but once passing through a condition, you can't go back down. 

All kinds of people Twitter.  I came across one that said it might be a good idea to refer to divorcees as 'non-winners of one, other than,' etc.

Since this generally stops at three, and marriages might not, how would you classify Elizabeth Taylor if she were a race horse?

Silly question.  We've all known she was a stakes horse.