In a pinch, counting on a stranger

This Just In...

May 31, 1999|By DAN RODRICKS

AN ENCOUNTER on Charles Street in the city they call Baltimore, as related by a friend: "Older guy, dressed like a down-and-outer, comes up to me the other day near Louie's Bookstore. I braced for the pitch, figuring he was panhandler.

"Instead, he asks if I can help him with an algebra problem for his son. He then shows me a problem -- math, not algebra. It was a problem involving fractions: 4-3/5 plus 5 1/2. He said he knew you could do it two ways, by cross-multiplying the fractions to get a common denominator, or by using decimal numbers (4.6 plus 5.5), but that he couldn't make the answers agree.

"We went over it. Turned out that he'd calculated the decimal numbers incorrectly. He had .06 instead of .6, and .05 instead of .5. I pointed this out, and he said a cheerful, `Oh yeah,' then `Thanks,' and then he was on his way, staring down at his calculations as he went."

Maine attraction

About 200 friends and associates of Stevens Bunker and Sharon Bondroff turned out at a farewell party last week for the couple, who are leaving a gaping human hole in the Patapsco Drainage Basin as they close their

Chi-na Sea Marine Trading Co. and depart the old palatinate with a van full of marine antiquity and their two macaws.

Destination: The blue horizons of Gray, Maine.

Bill Oliver, Bunker's former partner when China Sea opened on Thames Street -- it moved to the Ann Street Wharf a few years ago -- played host to the gathering at his Wharf Rat (Fells Point branch). The Bunk, of course, has been a city activist, president of the Fells Point Community Organization, Civil War re-enactor, early backer of Kweisi Mfume's nonmayoral bid and raconteur extraordinaire. He and Bondroff have purchased a home on a busy highway 16 miles north of Portland, where they plan to build a barn to house the ah, treasures.

Bunker's accent will fit right in.

Oh, and to Saigon, the macaw that always said, "Hello, hello, hello," I say: Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye. See ya in Vacationland!

Bird watching

Baltimore's new bird hot spot: Exit ramp of the Jones Falls Expressway, eastbound to Northern Parkway. We've seen fisher birds there -- a great blue heron, kingfishers -- surveying the possibilities in the big river/drainage ditch below the ramp. There's fish in the Jones Falls! Film at 11! Watch for a family of scarlet tanagers: Monkton area, North Central Railroad trail, Blue Mount Road area, about a quarter-mile south of the confluence of Little Falls and the Big Gunpowder, near a clearing for power lines. Compared to these birds, cardinals are pink.

The fall of Troy

Two more at-bats on the Troy Neville story (see TJI, May 24 and 26) This note came from Ryan Shammell, another 11-year-old baseball player in Fallston. He was hit in the leg by one of Troy's pitches this season. "I have been hit five times this season," Ryan writes. "What is the [Fallston Recreation Council] going to do, bench all [those pitchers]? It is part of the game!" From Richard Buschman, Waldorf: "Troy Neville reminded me of the `big boy' my son faced more than 20 years ago. He and I still talk about that pitcher. We agree that the `big boy' only made the other players better. A player learns concentration, how to cope with different situations and what happens when you hit the ball!" Just in case you think I overstate fear of litigation as an influence in the decision to prohibit Troy Neville from pitching in Fallston Baseball's 11-12 age group, bear this in mind: Two lawyers offered their services to the Neville family immediately after the story appeared here a week ago. (For the record, the Nevilles told me they weren't interested.) The sharks are everywhere.

Anchored in Alaska

Greg Glessner, former Baltimore bartender and intermittent contributor to TJI, writes from Alaska: "I took a job installing computer systems in restaurants. My first assignment took me to Denali National Park, 200 miles north of Anchorage. A friend went on a rafting trip through the park, and a tourist stopped him and asked if he knew where they could get a `map of the undiscovered lakes of the region.' One more week, and it's back to the shores of the Chesapeake, where I belong."

Put a shine on your Yugo

Cereal Mom recommends the $5 car wash at the acclaimed Maryland Center for Veterans Education and Training, 301 N. High St. That's behind the main post office, near the aromatic Jeppi Nut Co. Veterans wash cars on the parking lot there from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. each Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The center, which provides all kinds of services for veterans with all kinds of problems -- including homelessness and drug addiction -- gets the proceeds. "We clean the cars inside and out," says Carl Carter, who runs the wash.

Cereal Mom says get there by 11 to avoid crowds.

Sticking it to accordions

Bumper sticker spotted on Goucher Boulevard: "Play An Accordion, Go To Jail. It's The Law." Coming up on TJI's Some Kinda Fun Calendar -- Charles Village Festival, June 5 and 6 (Elvis impersonators, kazoo bands); Fifth Annual Boccie Tournament, St. Anthony Festival, Little Italy, June 13 (and the second annual wheelchair boccie tournament July 19); River Tuna and Catfish Invitational/Fresh Fish for the Hungry, June 13 through June 19 (contact Rich Gick, 410-747-4246, to register, and then get your carp bait ready).

Pub Date: 5/31/99

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