Saturday, May 19, 2007

How many fifth graders do you know who have their own blog?

Jeezaloo, (sorry Paul) but after all that hullabaloo yesterday, you'd think I would have gained a little respect. But no. I got an e-mail today asking me if I'm smarter than a fifth grader. I believe we all know the answer to that question. Somehow, it was tied into a credit card offer. I need to find a kid to explain it to me. And speaking of questions, as promised I will answer the tag from my friend K8tie over at Good in Theory, even though she has defected to Wordpress:

What was the name of the teacher that was most influential in your life from grades K through 6?
Miss Buchanan, in grade 2. She was my teacher twice in grammar school. Once then, and again in the 5th grade when she was Mrs. Eastwood. I liked her better as Miss Buchanan. When my father died she came to our house and was very sympathetic. For a kid, that's a big deal. Teachers were different people when we were in grammar school. We bonded with them and saw them as parent figures, as opposed to the disciplinarian grandpas they were by the time we were in high school.
Did you argue with teachers?
I tried. Usually it was over the fact that I didn't want to drink the warm, sour milk they gave us in Kindergarten. Every day - warm milk and 2 little pretzels. Then a nap.
What subject did you favor in high school?
I always liked English. Can you tell? In the fifth grade we did a reading challenge. Each booklet was identified by a color. They started innocently enough with colors like black, red, blue, yellow ... As they got more difficult, they ran into silver, cyan and magenta. I remember getting to cyan, then some other odd color when the thing came to an end. I didn't finish, but I think some did and I was disappointed with myself because I'm very competitive.
Did you attend a university and if so, did you attain a degree?
If you were reading yesterday, you already know the answer to that question. I started when I was 40 years old, which I would highly discourage. Go when you are young and enjoy your life when you are supposed to be reaping the benefits of higher education.
This sounds like a question some of the executives in my office would ask, since I am sure that the events of the past couple of days have caught them by surprise, and I imagine at least one of them lost a bet with regard to my intelligence.
Do you learn best through books, by watching or hands-on?
I'm a hands-on guy. Generally, if you show me something once, I can repeat it. If I drive someplace, I can always find my way the second time. If I am a passenger, I may have trouble.
Has education been an ongoing process for you?
Blogging has been an education, and I suppose it will continue. I don't think we ever stop learning. Unfortunately, it seems as though we have to make a horrible mistake in order for us to learn the really important things. Watching others make mistakes usually doesn't help us. People smoke and die, yet others continue, having learned nothing from the death of their friends and family.
What seven people are you tagging to do this?
Anyone who wants to do it may. I won't tag you, since I don't know if I have more than seven regular readers to begin with. Leave a comment and tell me you are going to do it.

So, go and do if you want. I gotta go pee.

Friday, May 18, 2007

A Major Award

My first reaction to getting that phone call was that it was some sort of police sting operation. You know the one - they find some deadbeat with outstanding parking tickets and call him on the phone.
"You just won a free TV. Come downtown and pick up your prize."
Then, dumbass runs out with his thumb up his ass, "I just won a TV!", but when he gets there, the police are waiting for him and they slap the cuffs on the unsuspecting boob and throw his Free TV ass in jail until they collect their money.
That's what I was thinking.
But it wasn't one of those calls, although I wasn't entirely sure until I saw my name tag and they crossed my name off the list of invited attendees to something they called the Convocation and Recognition Ceremony. Believe it or not, they actually were glad to see me. I didn't get a TV, but I did get a certificate with my name on it (in ink) proclaiming my:
Outstanding academic achievement in Accounting - May 19, 2007
Jeezaloo. They told me that there were a hundred or so students in the Accounting program over the past year, so having the highest GPA of all the graduates is a pretty big deal, I guess. There were also 8 other honorees in the evening student category in other majors and four students were named to the Who's Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges. I'm not a Who, but I am a What, as in What do I do now?
I don't know, but I suppose this puts the period on my academic career, although some think it should be a comma and I should pursue my MBA, which would serve to pile more initials after my name and additional paperwork which may or may not be of some benefit.
The ceremony only lasted about an hour, but afterward I was exhausted. I stress heavily over hearing my name called for anything, and I had to hear it twice. Once, to receive the award and again to receive a special book that they presented to all the graduates who attended the ceremony.
I spent 8 years at Widener University in their evening program and it was a wonderful experience. I persevered through a strike at my company; losing my driver's license and having to take the bus and train to school so I wouldn't miss a semester; taking my Statistics final exam with a 104 degree fever (and getting a B+); missed several bike rides, baseball games, vacations, social events and ran up incredible amounts of debt from text books and the 12% of the tuition that my company did not cover. All that, and I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat.
However, the bigger part of the effort came in the achievement and the perspective one gains from higher education and the people I met along the way, including the cute Assistant Director of Academic Advising who rang my phone with the news, and a lot of great professors who fully understood the hardships that adult students face and made us happy that we withstood them and worked our way through the anxiety.
As for Widener as an institution, I highly recommend it.
Now, I have a tag from Katie that I have to attend to. Part 2 coming up, but I gotta go pee now.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Strange creatures with oddly-shaped heads are in great demand

While we were waiting through the Phillies’ rain delay on Wednesday night, several little sociological events transpired to occupy my [sick] mind. One involved the evolution of technology. A guy next to me had one of those bigger-than-necessary cell phones and he was watching the weather radar on the screen. OK, it’s raining. We could both see that. I could see it for free by looking up. He pays $80 a month to see it on a little screen while he is waiting in a rain delay at the ballpark. Somebody is being hosed.

The second was the little gathering of young men behind me, conducting their own ersatz sports talk show. The “host” was the loudest guy, who pontificated on all manner of topics, barely allowing his minion co-hosts to work in an edgewise word. He had an opinion of everything from the color of socks to the meaning of life, and covered each topic until he talked so much that he gradually disappeared into his own mouth hole. At some point both the rain and the talking stopped. What occurred to me was the idea that the combination of fantasy sports and the proliferation of talk TV and radio have given birth to a whole new species of men who have evolved into expert sports commentators and are now experts at repeating everything they hear on radio and TV talk programs. I wonder if he has a blog?

Lots of people showed up at the ballpark this week. Four games against the Brewers will bring in about 160,000 fans. Monday night’s special offer was one dollar hot dogs. The idea there is that people who otherwise would not go to a game would go so that they could load-up on cheap hot dogs. Marketing is a strange discipline. Somebody figured (accurately) that people are willing to spend $27.50 for a ticket to a baseball game if they can buy a hot dog for a dollar that normally costs $3.50. Otherwise, they would stay at home. How many hot dogs and buns can you buy at the supermarket for $25 and how many can you eat for a buck at the game without feeling like a pig – or looking like one? They had better be coming for the game, because economically they look goofy.

Then, there is the bobblehead doll … err … Bobble Figurine. We’re adults here. They give these things to adults because adults are permitted to sell them later on Ebay. Thursday morning’s count showed approximately 50 of them for sale, ranging in price from $9 to $25 to start the bidding. The game ticket was $27.50.
I gotta go pee.

Qué está en la cabeza, rociado fuera en su monitor de computadora.

Sodio Totales. That’s going to be my stage name if I ever become famous or enter the witness protection program. It’s probably good enough to get me on Telemundo, where there are plenty of hot Latino babes who won’t care that I am named after a datos nutricionales.
In total disregard for my recent history of picking bad Phillies games to attend, Wednesday night's pitching clinic by Cole Hamels was a gem to behold. He struck out the first 4 batters he faced, and we knew it was going to be a special night - but not that special.
He carried a perfect game into the seventh inning, when he walked Ricky Weeks to break up his Perfecto, and the next batter, J.J. Hardy, hit a home run and the no-hitter bid went by the wayside. What survived was a great performance by Hamels, the brightest young pitching star this team has had in a long time, and a 6-2 Phillies win.
Muy bueno, Cole.
We stood through a rain delay of over an hour after driving there in some sort of Monsoon for the sole purpose of procuring the evening's giveaway item - the Ryan Howard Bobblehead. I was surprised at the number of people who did the same thing, and I'll be sure to check Ebay on Thursday to see how many of them land there. Mine will land on my desk at work, replacing (temporarily) the LaDainian Tomlinson action figure.
The Class dismissed? Today is cutdown day for CBS, and my favorite network program is gone. On the bright side, I just found an extra half hour of evening free time for blogging. You lucky people. I am learning to live with disappointment.
David Keith, who played ex-Eagle Yonk Allen was hedging his bets in March when he said, "I've kind of learned not to have faith in the corporate system in the United States. I could spend the rest of my career doing this show. That's how much I love it."
It looks like he has more free time, too.
A couple of days ago, I wrote about the Japanese baby drop box. Well, it didn't take long for that ill-conceived idea to go straight to the shithouse...
TOKYO - Japan's first anonymous drop box for unwanted babies triggered a wave of anger and soul searching Wednesday after it was discovered that a preschooler (believed to be three years old) — and not an infant — was left by his father on the service's first day. "We must rethink the meaning of the baby drop-off," the conservative Sankei newspaper said in an editorial. It called the boy's abandonment "unforgivable," saying that "unlike a baby, a toddler may suffer from trauma."
Yes, let's re-think that. What exactly do baby and drop-off mean when used together? Could it be a place where babies are dropped off? How about an adult drop box where these deadbeat losers can be placed in a container for a while? There's a thought.
Las personas están no condenado bueno.
Sodio Totales saying, "Así que largo para ahora."
I gotta go pee.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The mental dribblings of a bored thinker

Michael Nutter won the Philadelphia mayoral democrat primary last night. It strikes me as odd that a city with a population of 5.8 million, and 449,182 registered democrats, that a guy can be so excited that 104,299 of them want him to be mayor. He has 23% of democrats and slightly less than 2% of the population of the city behind him. The newspaper called it “a resounding margin” and “a message of change.” That’s politics, I guess. He will be the next mayor, since the city hasn’t voted Republican since Bernard Samuel in 1952. Now that would be real change. To paraphrase Harry Hartounian, “I wish I could get that excited about Nutter.”

Speaking of voting (and I was, just now), voting has been going on for baseball’s annual All-Star game which will be played in San Francisco this year. For the sports impaired among us, the rule is that the league’s team that wins the All Star game has home field advantage in the World Series. In other words, if the National League wins, then the Phillies would be at home for 4 of the 7 World Series games. So, riddle me this:
What is my incentive for voting for any good American League players? Wouldn’t I want a crappy American League team so that the NL would win and the Phils would have home field advantage during the Series? Did I just say that the Phillies were going to be in the World Series?

Speaking of baseball (and I was, just now) we need look no further than the games to see how life goes here at MSM HQ. On Saturday, the Phillies staged one of the great innings of the season, scoring 6 runs in the 7th inning after an hour rain delay. I went on Sunday, when they stunk up the joint for Mother’s Day. The last 2 games have been classics, with last night’s game ending on a walk-off home run by Carlos Ruiz, of all people. I’m going tonight. Rain is expected, of course. Stinker to follow.

Speaking of stinkers (and I was, just now) I did not watch Dancing with the Stars this season, and now I find that I have no reason to start. Dancing partner [slash] hottie Cheryl Burke has been eliminated. They hooked her up with somebody named Ian Zierling, who I didn’t even know was a star, but that’s TV for ya. He was on 90210, which I didn’t watch either.

Meanwhile, they are announcing the network's TV seasons for 2007, and CBS is doing theirs tomorrow. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that The Class is on the schedule. More on that tomorrow.

I gotta go pee.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

More stuff in my head, spilled out ... blah blah blah blah

I’m going to miss The King of Queens. Monday was the last show. Sitcoms are dying, and KoQ was still running hot, and they were smart enough to leave before they ran out of steam. Kevin James is very funny, and the supporting cast was great. The show always made me laugh, and Leah Remini is still a hottie. Thank God for DVDs.

I am really sick of the banners and junk that run across the TV screen during shows. C.S.I. Next – I know, but I’m watching something else now. You’re watching King of Queens on CBS. I know, I’m watching it. Then, during Seinfeld on TBS, the screen suddenly split in two squares. One was Seinfeld, and the other was an NBA playoff game going on over at TNT. Really. I completely lost control of my TV. Hey – dumbass, if I wanted to watch the game, I wouldn’t be watching Seinfeld. Leave me alone. They don’t do that stuff during commercials, which to me indicates a lack of respect for their viewers. Imagine you’re reading the newspaper and somebody waves another piece of paper in your face while you are trying to read. Annoying, right?

Thursday night, over at my Alma mater Widener University, they are giving me an award for having the highest G.P.A. of any Accounting student in my graduating class. It was 3.75, which I didn’t think was all that high, given that there are always those 4.0 students who obsess over grades. I agreed to show up to accept it, but the whole award gig makes me uncomfortable. I am not very good at self-promotion, and in the business world, it keeps me in the background. I’m not even that sure I should be writing about it, but what’s the point of getting the thing if I'm not going to tell anybody about it? I’m looking forward to coming to work on Friday and rubbing the award in my boss’ face and ask him why I’m still in the engineering department.

It’s May, and football is still on the front page of the sports section. Does anybody remember when sports actually had seasons? Baseball runs from March to October, but they’re still playing basketball and hockey. The football team is having something they call a Mini-Camp, which is a glorified practice – and they still manage to dominate the newspaper and radio shows. Can we give it a rest? More is not always better, and I think I would enjoy football season a lot more if I could stop hearing about it for a week or two.

At work, our maintenance guy has to do some sort of daily upkeep on the rest rooms. When he goes into the women’s room, he knocks on the door a thousand times, screaming “Maintenance!” three or four times to make sure no one is inside. The last guy was fired for supposedly not knocking and screaming enough, and the woman who was inside happened to be our Vice President of Human Resources. [Talk about being a victim of circumstance]. It occurs to me that women are much more freaked out by having a man in their rest room then guys are about having a woman in theirs. It’s odd, since you pee in a little room with a door on it and we pee against a wall.

I gotta go pee now.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Somebody worth rooting for...

This story didn't get a lot of play nationally, mostly because it involves women's golf, but I thought it was something good, which seems to be in short supply lately. I heard about it while watching the Michelob Ultra tournament on ESPN2 last weekend:

Mi Hyun Kim, an eight-time winner on the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Tour and champion of last week's SemGroup Championship in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, announced after her win that she will donate $100,000 of her winner's paycheck of $210,000 to the United Way Greensburg Disaster Fund to aid the victims of the tornado that destroyed the Kansas town last weekend.

"I was just happy that I won the tournament," said Kim. "Sunday and during the week, the tornadoes came out of the middle of nowhere. I felt like I needed to do something for them. Winning a tournament on its own was a good thing, but I just decided to donate some money."

"Honestly, I made a lot of money in the United States on the LPGA Tour," said Kim. "Most of time, I get the money here and donate it to South Korea. But, I want to help people here, too. The win was a surprise for me and I think God gave it to me like a special present or He is using me like, 'Okay, I give you this, but after that you give to help the people.' "

Holy crap - somebody actually gets it. Good for her.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Crystal Ball

ST. PAUL, Minnesota - Minnesota would ban smoking in bars, restaurants and other establishments under a bill approved by the Legislature. The bill passed the state House by an 81-48 vote early Saturday, hours after the state Senate approved it 43-21. It now heads to Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who has said he will sign it. Minnesota would become the 20th state to prohibit smoking in bars and restaurants.


This ain't rocket science, folks. Almost half the states have passed one form or another of a smoking ban. Smokers are the social pariah now. At work, they huddle outdoors in all sorts of weather, in bars and restaurants they are relegated to the front sidewalk. Pull up to a local pub and you would think that the joint was standing-room only, but it is just the smokers hanging out, and I'm still getting used to it here in New Jersey. "Watch my stuff" is the request I get most often, as the smokers go outdoors for the post-beer butt puff.
They still sell the cigarettes, even though they know they kill us. Soon, all 50 states will have a smoking ban, and the only places they will be able to smoke is in their own home. I hear talk about banning smoking in cars, in front of children and even outdoors sometimes. Part of me feels badly for them, because they cannot or will not quit. Quitting is hard to do, since we also know that cigarettes are addictive.

New York City has banned trans fats from food, even though five years ago we didn't know what a trans fat was. States are enacting tougher drunk driving laws so that it is almost impossible to leave your house, drive to a bar and drive back without being in violation. I wonder why the cops just don't sit outside and pull over everyone leaving the place, since the odds are that they are legally intoxicated. Maybe that's an idea for them?
So, where is all of this going? We will not be permitted to eat fatty foods, smoke or drink outside our homes. The old saying, "Once the camel gets his nose under the tent, it isn't long before the whole camel is in there with you" is coming to fruition. The camel is neck-deep, gang.

All of it is under the guise of what is best for us, or so they say. They are telling us that we cannot be responsible for our own actions. Free will and money are no longer good reasons for us to make our own life-threatening decisions. I like a hamburger once in a while, and because I don't eat them every day, I don't give a rat's ass if there is trans fats in it or not. I don't smoke, but as long as people are respectful of my air space, I don't care much if you do. If you can't drink and operate a vehicle at a blood/alcohol level of .08, then maybe you shouldn't be out to begin with, but I wonder why we still have bars if the driving laws are going to be more prohibitive. Each beer is .02, and it takes 90 minutes to run that out of your system. Anybody drinking a beer in an hour and a half? No, more like 5.

There are, however, so-called do-gooders who believe that they know what is best for us - or bad for us as the case may be. Lately, they have been focusing on cigarettes, seat belts, fatty foods and alcohol; which even the not-so-do-gooders figure is the right thing to do. But, how long before laws are being passed regulating other forms of behavior? The camel's nose is under the tent, and if somebody in your state legislature thinks they are "helping", your funny little habits will die a painful death.
Meanwhile, little bits of your personal freedoms are eroded - so gradually and painlessly that you hardly notice, until ...
... something that you really like to do is illegal.