I should be so lucky


I’ve written about estate sales before in this space. No only are they a chance to peer into someone else’s life, just after the fact, but it’s also a chance to pick up things. Not new things, because that’s what Target is for (and they didn’t pay me to add that link, either. I did that just for fun). No, estate sales offer the chance to step back in time, and to pick up something that hasn’t been available for quite some time.

So the estate sale that I snapped a picture for as I was out and about today will hopefully have, as the sign says, some interesting stuff. There’s not too much on the shelves of a Target store that interests me anymore. And who knows, maybe I’ll find something to write about here. It’s happened before, after all.

How do you spell it, anyway?

chanukah 3rd

The other day, I wrote a post referencing the start of the eight-day celebration that is observed by those of the Jewish faith. It was suggested to me that my spelling of the holiday–Hanukka–was incorrect. Since the word is a phonetic spelling of a word that doesn’t come from English (and what word does, really?), I decided to do some research to find out how others spell it. And the answers are a bit confusing.

I went to a local Target (not exactly a bastion of Judaica, but at least they had the Chex cereal that I needed) and found a tiny section of one aisle devoted to items that are related to the holiday. Note that I’m avoiding spelling out the word, until I share the findings of my research.

I found three items that could help me in this regard:

Candles for lighting from a company called Rokeach. Their spelling is CHANUKA.

Chocolate coins from Palmer Chocolates. Their spelling is HANUKKAH.

A big oversized dreidel from a company called BBM Chocolate. Their spelling is CHANUKAH.

So that’s three companies, all with different spellings. It reinforces my contention that there is no one correct way to spell the word. It seems that there are four major points of variation:

Two of the three items began the spelling with a “CH” while I used an “H” for mine. So I’m 0-for-1 so far.

All three spellings agreed that there is only one “N” so I’m up to 1-for-2 so far.

Two of the three spellings used a single “K” and I used two. I’m down to 1-for-3.

Two of the three spellings used an “H” at the end of the word, and I did not. So I wind up with a rather sad 1-for-4 average on the word overall.

Using the majority rule on all four areas of variance, I find that the word should be spelled CHANUKAH, which is the way that BBM Chocolate spelled it. Rokeach only missed one of the four points, Palmer Chocolates missed two, and I missed three. So a pretty dismal showing on my part, but at least now I know.

And now that I know the proper spelling, Happy Chanukah to you and yours.

Game ready

I remember the first time I ever saw a microwave oven. It was about 1978, and my dad’s college roommate who lived in Tennessee had one. He showed my dad how to make an egg in it, which maybe took 30 seconds, and my dad was sold on the concept. As soon as we got back home from our visit to Tennessee, we acquired one of our own. Food preparation was a whole lot quicker after that.

My kids, who have never lived in a world without microwave ovens, might be excused for believing that anything more than three-and-a-half minutes is an eternity to wait for food. All of the prep work for food is done somewhere else, and all that’s left to be done is to take the carton from the box, set the timer, and wait a couple of minutes. Anything more than that is beyond comprehension to them.

That sort of mindset seems to have spilled over into sporting goods, as well. The sporting goods store itself is a thing of the past, with places like Wal-Mart and Target being the place to go for sporting goods today. This evening I was in a Target store with my teenager, wandering the aisles looking for a few things, when I came upon a by-product of the microwave mentality. I knew that I had to say a few words about it here. That’s why I do this, after all.

I was walking past a sporting goods aisle (there are two or three in the store) when I noticed their baseball gloves. I picked out a Rawlings model (left-handed, of course) and tried it on my hand. It was indicated as being for 7-9 year olds, which is about how old I was when I got my first glove. And this glove was black, too, just the way mine used to be when I was a kid. But there was a big difference between the glove on my hand in the picture above (I’m on the left, in the catching position) and the glove that was on my hand this evening in Target.

The difference was that the glove on my hand was described as being “game ready,” which is a term for a glove that’s already broken in. My glove, and the glove of my friend Scott in the picture, and the glove of every young kid in the 1970s, didn’t come in “game ready” condition. It came stiff and uncomfortable. There was one way to have a game ready glove, and that’s what we were doing in the picture.

We played catch in the back yard. We also played on baseball teams (but different ones, because I’m a year older than he is), and we played “hotbox” a lot, too. You basically had two players with their goves on, guarding two bases, and a runner trying to reach one base or the other safely. It was hours of fun for baseball-playing youth who didn’t have video games to distract them. Or sometimes, when it was dark outside and playing baseball wasn’t an option, I worked my glove by essentially pounding the ball with my left hand into the glove on my right hand. It was like playing catch with myself, really.

The payoff, after about a year or so of playing baseball all the time, was a glove that was properly broken in. That’s a lot better than “game ready,” in my mind, because an attachment to something was formed along the way. And a kid today, assuming he wants to play baseball in the first place, doesn’t have to break his glove in anymore. He can just skip the trouble and get a “game ready” model, instead. But he’s missing out on something by doing it this way, even if he doesn’t know what that something is.

This sounds like me being a humbug. And, truth be told, I love my microwave just as much as the next person does. But breaking in my baseball glove was a corner that I didn’t cut, and all these years later, I’m happy that it turned out that way.