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Slate: What Seth Stevenson learned at the Wendelstedt School for Umpires.

Long ago, between college and fatherhood, I was obsessed with minor-league baseball and historic ballparks, seeing games in Bradenton and Durham, Dunedin and Melbourne, Little Rock and St. Catherines, Wilmington and Greensboro. After a year or so of cubicle life, I was entranced by Harry Wendlestedt's ad in the back of The Sporting News and daydreamed about calling balls and strikes in a Pioneer League game under a cool and cloudless Big Sky. I never took the plunge, but Seth Stevenson did, and wrote about it for Slate:

"I first visited the Harry Wendelstedt School for Umpires as a 24-year-old Newsweek reporter back in January 2000. I'd begged my editor to send me because I'd been floored by the opportunity the school promised: Take a five-week course and, if you finish around the top 20 percent of your class, get hired straight into the minor leagues--calling outs and balks and ground-rule doubles in small-town ballparks across the country. Could it really be that simple to launch a career in the national pastime? ...

"I observed the school for a couple of days, touring the facilities in Daytona Beach, Florida, and writing a short squib for Newsweek's front section. It wasn't nearly enough. As I watched those students in their dorky, pressed-and-creased umpire slacks, jogging across infields and yelling stuff, and making weirdly specific arm gestures, I yearned to don the protective equipment and get behind the plate myself. Heck, what if I was a natural?...

"Because authority depends on the perceptions of those who are subject to it, umpires are obsessed with maintaining a commanding presence. Our voices were to be loud, thick, and monotone, our manner laconic, our faces untroubled. We were expected to have our clothes clean, ironed, squared away. We were directed to a local tailor who would hem our pants. A surprising amount of discussion centered on whether to tuck our warm-up windbreakers into our waistbands."

Jo's Guide for Americans Visiting Britain

From 1996, Jo Miller presents a guide almost as accurate as Monty Python's Hungarian-to-English phrasebook.

"Speaking of the British Library, you should know that it has recently moved to a new location at Kew. Kew is a small fishing village in Wales. It can be reached by taking the train to Cardiff; once there, ask any local about the complimentary shuttle bus to Kew. (Don't forget that buses are called "prams" in England, and trains are called "bumbershoots"--it's a little confusing at first. Motorcycles are called "lorries" and the hospital, for reasons unknown, is called the "off-license." It's also very important to know that a "doctor" only means a PhD in England, not a physician. If you want a physician, you must ask for an "MP" (which stands for "master physician").

"For those travelling on a shoestring budget, the London Tube may be the most economical way to get about, especially if you are a woman. Chivalry is alive and well in Britain, and ladies still travel for free on the Tube. Simply take some tokens from the baskets at the base of the escalators or on the platforms; you will find one near any of the state-sponsored Tube musicians. Once on the platform, though, beware! Approaching trains sometimes disurb the large Gappe bats that roost in the tunnels. The Gappes were smuggled into London in the early 19th century by French saboteurs and have proved impossible to exterminate. The announcement "Mind the Gappe!" is a signal that you should grab your hair and look towards the ceiling. Very few people have ever been killed by Gappes, though, and they are considered only a minor drawback to an otherwise excellent means of transportation. (If you have difficulty locating the Tube station, merely follow the signs that say "Subway" and ask one of the full-time attendants where you can catch the bumbershoot.)"

Reader-contributed supplements explain British legal matters and sport and a colloquial North Country term for sheep-shearing. Alas, Jo never fulfilled her promise to tell us about "national treasures like Bodicea's Teat, King John III's hunting lodge, or the Blackpool Ballet Festival."

How to pack light: tips from a master packer - Lonely Planet

Among other useful advice: "Three pairs of socks. Three pairs of underwear. Three shirts. Wear one, wash one, dry one. You can get more miles out of leg wear, so two pairs of pants and one culturally appropriate pair of shorts or a skirt should suffice. Choose light, flowing, quick-dry cotton-poly blends in matching colours that handle wrinkles well." Article includes a list of what the author packs for a multi-month trip to southeast Asia. Particularly interesting items: Using a heavy-duty trash-compactor bag as a liner for your backpack; using a Frisbee as international friend-maker, hard-shell protection for breakables, "cutting board, plate, bowl, bottle opener, fan, dry place to sit."

The Alluring Art Deco Parkway That Winds Through Connecticut | Atlas Obscura

The Merritt Parkway, built in the 1930s, is one of the prettiest limited-access highways in America. My son and I drove it last October while touring colleges. It's no longer a toll road but it's still a convenient way to travel through southwestern Connecticut while avoiding the mess that is I-95. The official map of the highway highlights the distinctive and varied overpasses.

"The planners hired architect George Dunkelberger to design the bridges on the road. They also brought along a slew of engineers and landscape architects to make sure the parkway maintained a homogeneous and aesthetically pleasing appearance. The idea was to make a highway that was unobtrusive, as if nothing had really changed. The road was to look wooded and like a forest. If anything man-made was built, it needed to be classy."

Ruairí "Frostbit" McSorley UNCUT + INTERVIEW - YouTube

A high school student discussing snowy weather in Derry provides an undiluted example of the local accent. This version has the full interview, plus a later report in which Ruairí reacts to the viral spread of the original clip. That's his normal voice, but he does impressions on his YouTube channel.

Why Airlines Want to Make You Suffer: The New Yorker

"But the [airline] fee model comes with systematic costs that are not immediately obvious. Here's the thing: in order for fees to work, there needs be something worth paying to avoid. That necessitates, at some level, a strategy that can be described as "calculated misery." Basic service, without fees, must be sufficiently degraded in order to make people want to pay to escape it. And that's where the suffering begins....

"When customers miscalculate their schedules or their plans change, the airline is ready with its punishment: the notorious two-hundred-dollar rebooking and change fee. Those change fees are particularly lucrative: in 2014, Delta and United are projected to collect nearly a billion dollars each. And the greater social cost comes from those who didn't change their tickets even though they wanted to."

The airline fee model presents some dilemmas to the employee traveling at company expense and the company buying the ticket. Are all "extras" -- even luggage fees -- the responsibility of the employee? Will companies steer travel toward the handful of airlines that don't charge luggage or change fees? How much is wifi and enough leg and elbow room to work productively on the plane worth to a company? How much is it worth to have the employee arrive at the destination rested, happy, and ready to work, rather than harried, hassled, and annoyed?

John Snell - obituary - Telegraph

A pioneer of railway preservation, Snell was involved in the revival of the narrow-gauge Talyllyn Railway in Wales in 1951 and for 27 years was managing director of the Romney Hythe & Dymchurch Railway in Kent, a 15-in. gauge railway that now serves 100,000 passengers a year. He was a mentor to many other efforts to reopen disused track and to put Really Useful Engines under steam again.

Translation table explaining the truth behind British politeness becomes internet hit - Telegraph

The British art of polite understatement -- intended to communicate subtly while preserving the dignity of all concerned -- only works when everyone knows the code. (The Brits aren't alone. Filipino culture is noted for its value of "Smooth Interpersonal Relationship" or pakikisama.)

Translation table explaining the truth behind British politeness becomes internet hit - Telegraph

The British art of polite understatement -- intended to communicate subtly while preserving the dignity of all concerned -- only works when everyone knows the code. (The Brits aren't alone. Filipino culture is noted for its value of "Smooth Interpersonal Relationship" or pakikisama.)