Two Mondays ago, I went to water polo practice at Emma Hood Pool, adjacent to Alameda High School. I play with the masters’ team. During the scrimmage someone grabbed my fingers and twisted them the wrong way. Pop! I ended up with a broken hand (see X-ray). It hurt!
I didn’t think it was broken at the time. I figured maybe some ligaments have been stretched or torn. I iced it up that night and then went to Kaiser Oakland on Tuesday when it still felt wrong. After a visit with a GP and a trip to radiology for an X-ray, I got the news through a radiology tech that I had “a little bit of a break.”
Eliza had come along with me so we headed upstairs to orthopedics. She took pictures. That’s where I first saw the X-ray. I’m no expert, but that looks like more than a little bit of a break.
The orthopedist looked over the X-rays, told the tech to put me in a brace for a week and sent me on my way.
Round about the time that the new “The Hobbit” movie came out, I dusted off my old copy of the book and started reading it to my nine-year-old son Porter before he goes to bed each night. Jen reminded me that I probably bought this paperback back when the Lord of the Rings movies started coming out. Now I recall buying it along with the three Lord of the Rings books.
As you can see, my copy of The Hobbit is pretty dogeared. The only thing I may like better than a beat up old book (that I myself beat up) is a fountain pen. I should maybe get some Scotch tape and fix up the cover before it gets too late.
So my first observation about The Hobbit is that it is an absolutely delightful story to read. That delight only grows when I read it out loud. J.R.R. Tolkien was a master storyteller. He refers to orcs and wargs and wood-elves and wizards and dragons as easily as if he were talking about who he ran into in a little pub in Cambridge the other evening. Nothing odd or unusual about invisibility rings or talking giant eagles and spiders–nothing odd at all.
As I read, it takes me back more than twenty years to when I last The Hobbit. It was the late spring of 1990, just before I got married. I was a sophomore at Brigham Young University and had just finished up a grueling semester that included the world’s most difficult chemistry class for those who were not scientifically inclined (like me). As a mental reward, I went down to the sci-fi section of the BYU Bookstore and bought a copy of The Hobbit. I read it in just a couple of days.
What has surprised me somewhat is how little of the story I actually remember. I have only shadowy recollections of Beorn the bear-man, the battle with the giant spiders and the escape from the wood-elves. Even reading the story of Bilbo getting lost in the orc tunnels and meeting up with Gollum this time around was almost like reading it for the first time. Perhaps all that legal training has helped me retain my dwarf-and-hobbit tales more clearly these days.
Porter loves to read with me. I’m not sure how much of it he understands. He often asks questions about who’s talking and what happened to Thorin and does anyone else know about the ring. The important questions.
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Last Saturday, the kids (with Emma in the lead) talked me into taking them to the Alameda City Animal Shelter. I’ve lived in Alameda for fifteen years and never could figure out where this animal shelter was that I kept hearing about. So the kids decided to show me. The shelter is actually down a tiny side street on the estuary end of Grand Street, right next to the Alameda City Maintenance Service Center.
When we pulled into the parking lot, I suppose I was a little surprised to see it full. The shelter is a bustling enterprise with a lot of volunteers. Through the main doors is the office and administrative area. Through a door to the right, down a short hall and through another door is the shelter itself. The dog area is around the outside with the cat room in the middle of the building.
There are a bunch of pit bulls in the dog area, each in its own cage. Cute little things just waiting to rip your throat out or eat your children. It was very telling that probably a third of the available dogs were pit bulls. A big chunk of the rest were chihuahuas.
The dogs all had this excited look look and barked hopefully when our little tribe passed by. When I mentioned this to one of the volunteers, she told me that one of the jobs of the volunteers is to acclimate the animals to humans so they’ll be pleasant and more attractive for adoption. There was a lot of tail wagging.
The cat room was also full of animals who seemed to be dying to get out and play with us. So we did. The kids favorite thing was the laser pointer that projected a red mouse that the cats chased around.
Emma found a cute little dog named Rusty that was neither a pit bull nor a chihuahua. He was actually a German Shepherd mix. Emma begged. I smiled and said, “Go home and ask your mom!” At that point, the kids realized there was no hope. They sighed resignedly, we thanked our hosts and headed home.