Saturday, July 7, 2007

Our little blue marble

BONN, Germany, July 6 (UPI) - The world is smaller than first thought, German researchers at the University of Bonn said on Thursday. They took part in an international project to measure the diameter of the world that showed it is 0.2 inches smaller than the last measurement made five years ago. The scientists round the number up to 7,926.3812 miles for the general public.

Hey - thanks for dumbing down and rounding for us, the dopey GP. F.Y.I. - 0.0002 miles [the rounded number] equals one foot, so they have this thing right on the button. Quick, everybody jump up and down, we'll make the earth a little smaller for the U of Bonn.
And ... with global warming, the polar ice caps have been melting and you know what cold water does to things.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Humor is based entirely on perspective, as I now know.

The Quiznos post from Thursday immediately got funnier once I realized that someone from corporate in Denver read it. What started as a mundane essay based on the back of a sandwich receipt became hysterical to me. Those kinds of things are funnier from 1,750 miles away.

From the gist of their web site, the company appears to have a sense of humor. Let's hope so, since I put the CEO in the position of awarding the weekly $1000 survey prize to his nephew as a birthday gift. Pretty funny, eh? Sure.

Oh, and ... my Phillies are playing the Rockies this weekend at Coors Field. Don't be a Scrooge and screw up our 10,000th loss by making it happen in Colorado. They need two more, and it's a three-game series. Do the math. C'mon, give us a little enjoyment. They come home after the All-Star break and I have a ticket for next Friday's home game against the Cardinals and I want to be a part of history, so let the Phils win 2 of 3 so they can make the magic number here at home. Don't toast the Phils.

So, for the gang at Quiznos, here's a little tune dedicated to them, all about a Smoked Turkey on Rosemary Parmesan Bread:

free music

Thursday, July 5, 2007

A Quiz from Quiznos

I may have already won some money. Quiznos will probably be pulling my name from their sandwich-shaped hat and sending me the thousand-dollar weekly prize for filling out their on-line customer survey today. Either that or they were merely using me for information. I should know by the end of the week. I promise that the money will go to my head and I will change completely based on the sudden influx of riches.
I do enjoy a good survey, but I don’t want to spend too much time with it. This one took less time than it takes to make a sandwich, so I persevered. I had to choose between answers of “Strongly Agree”, “Agree,” “Neither Agree nor Disagree,” “Disagree” and “Strongly Disagree.” I had trouble determining whether I could strongly agree with anything that had to do with buying a sandwich for lunch. “Was your sandwich the right temperature?” they asked. I strongly agree. It was “room.”

They asked if I liked being able to watch my sandwich being made. Did I have a choice? No, I didn’t go running from the shop at the sight of bread being sliced, although I thought I heard a muffled scream. I neither agree nor disagree. That should confuse them.

MARKETING GUY: I don’t know, he said he doesn’t agree or disagree to having a sandwich made in front of him.
QUIZNOS CEO: OK, then we’ll keep making them in front of people, but let me know the minute somebody strongly disagrees.
MARKETING GUY: So, who gets the thousand dollars this week?
QUIZNOS CEO: My nephew's birthday is Saturday.

I’m not a big fan of the opinion surveys that allow you to say “no opinion.” That isn’t an opinion survey. Yes or no is an opinion. Q: Do you approve of the job the president is doing? A: Yes, no or no opinion. Don’t you have to have an opinion on that? I have an opinion on everything, which makes blogging kind of easy for me. Q: Can you write 400 words about a sandwich survey? A: I strongly agree.
I’m tempted to lie on those things, but I’m such an honest jerk that I always tell them my correct age, even though the range is wide. Age 35 to 50? I strongly agree. I should have told them I was a single, 85-year old female who earns over $200,000 a year. That’s a narrow demographic. However, I figure the jig would be up once they called me with the $1000 prize and a man answered. I never get away with stuff like that.
Of course, I never win the prize, either.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

The Guessers

OK, so I'm bored on July 4th. No picnics or family Bar-Be-Que's to attend, so my thoughts turn to the weather and how the masses will deal with it.
Local dumbass on NBC10 says, "There's rain in the forecast for the fireworks, so keep your eyes to the skies."
Really? Ya think? Isn't that where the fireworks are? It's six o'clock. Three hours from the fireworks, and dumbass can't tell his viewers whether or not they should go outside to watch the fireworks on the Parkway. If he can, he's too gutless to make a call because if he does, he will be held responsible for something, and God knows, at a half a million a year, he doesn't want to be held responsible for anything. Go - and pack an umbrella in case we are wrong - or not wrong, since we haven't really expressed an opinion - only a viewpoint. Legally, there is a difference.
So, here it is, 9:45pm, and I can hear both rain and fireworks going off outside my window. Three hours prior, Mr. half-million salary couldn't tell me whether or not I should stay home.

That's the 9:25pm radar view. Do you think you could have told us that at six o'clock? No, you were busy interviewing people on the Parkway and saying "chance" and "take your umbrella in case" - meanwhile, the National Weather Service was issuing a tornado watch.


Picking at 27-year old plot holes

Today, HBO showed all three Back to the Future movies. It's a pretty good series, but you have to suspend disbelief for most of it, which is difficult for me. I watched part of II and III, and it wasn't until the end of the third that I got to thinking. It takes a while, sometimes.

Where were Emmett and Clara's kids (Jules and Vern) in the first and second movies? He introduces them in the steam-powered time-travel train that shows up at the end of BTF III, in 1985. One assumes they would be alive in 1955, so one would suspect that they would be mentioned somewhere along the way. Brown never mentions a wife, either, although his dog Einstein shows up throughout. Of course, we're not supposed to alter time, so I guess I shouldn't bring it up, lest the blog disappear like Marty's family photo. (and, wasn't that a ridiculous notion?)

And Biff Tannen.  Wouldn't the 1985 Biff recognize the 1985 Marty from his encounters with him in 1955?  And, wouldn't George McFly be weirded-out by his child, whom he met in 1955?
I suppose the three films benefit from being shown 5 years apart.

And what about Clayton Gulch? Marty says that the kids in school (in 1985) wished their teachers had dropped into it like Clara did, but Clara never did, so it was never named Clayton Gulch, and he wouldn't have talked about it in 1985 high school, because the Doc saved Clara from careening into the gulch.

My brain hurts.

50 States - No Waiting

Happy Independence Day
It's a legal holiday here in the U.S. We don't have National Holidays like they do in other countries. Most of our stores and restaurants are open. I suspected that the local Commerce Bank would be open for business at least part of the day. A quick web search confirmed:
All of the nearly 160 Commerce Bank branches in the tri-state region will be open for business on Wednesday, July 4 from 7:30 a.m. until 1 p.m.
They aren't called "America's Most Convenient Bank" for nothing, although "nothing" is close to the amount of interest they pay on savings accounts. Guess who pays for those long hours?
As for me, bright and early at 8:00am I'll be out on the bike with a bunch of like-minded folk dressed in strange clothing in honor of Delaware, the first state admitted to the union and home of DuPont and Joseph Shivers, who, in 1959 invented Spandex, without which we would chafe.
Fact for the Day: In the 1970s, cyclists traded in their woolen shorts for "aerodynamic" spandex shorts, and the versatile fiber began to find its way into dancewear, tights and stretch jeans.
We'll be doing 50 miles - one for each state. Alaska and Hawaii are the hardest.
So, to celebrate the holiday, here is some good old American rock music to wile away three minutes and twenty-one seconds. It's Kings of Leon, one of my favorite bands. This is from their latest CD. I suspect that lead singer Caleb Followill wouldn't last two minutes on American Idol, but he has a distinct and charming style:

free music

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Ten thousand bottles of beer on the wall

Nine-thousand, nine-hundred, ninety-six Phils losses in all.
Nine-thousand, nine-hundred, ninety-six losses.
If one more late comeback should happen to stall;
Nine-thousand, nine-hundred, ninety-seven Phils losses in all

Our hometown baseball team, the Philadelphia Phillies, are closing in on a record of futility that is somehow befitting this woeful franchise and its long-suffering fans. As of Tuesday morning, they are four losses away from their 10,000th in the team's history, which goes back to 1883. For you math majors, that averages 81 losses a year. Eighty-one is the benchmark of mediocrity in baseball. It is the exact center of being average. They play 162 games a year and lose half of them. Perfect. Add in a few dozen rotten years and the Phillies have lost more games than any franchise in sports history. While it’s true that baseball plays more games than other sports, why does it have to be the Phillies? Because they have a legacy of losing that is the Yin to the Yankees’ Yang. Bad players that were picked by bad managers who were hired by bad owners.

The boys are on the road now, finishing up a series in Houston. They get a well-deserved day off on Thursday and then head to Denver to play the Rockies before the All-Star break. My fervent hope is that they come home on the 13th needing one loss to make it to 10,000. They play the Cardinals at home in Citizens Bank Park – The House That Lose Built – and the movie-script drama of Friday the Thirteenth and the milestone happening here in Philadelphia will be too much for even the See no evil, Hear no evil, Speak no evil front office to ignore.

I don’t think I could get the Phillies to embrace The House That Lose Built as a nickname for the ballpark, but I like it. They are in denial, and have chosen to take the No-Road toward recognizing this ignominious milestone.

They have ignored it, in spite of a Sunday Philadelphia Inquirer front page story. Not the front of the sports page, the front of the paper. Sports Illustrated ran a feature on it this week, and on Tuesday, USA Today did a full-page sports section blast of the futility of a franchise that, in 124 years has been to five World Series’ and lost four of them – the last one in 1993. Those losses don’t count toward the 10,000. I’m sure you will see a story on ESPN, and it will be interesting to see if the Fox guys mention it during the All-Star game on Tuesday. The drama is building, and if they are within two or three losses at the break, their next home stand should be a hoot!

Stay tuned.
"If we have 10,000 losses and 8,800 victories, that means we're only a hundred-and-something wins away from reaching the .500 mark."
- Charlie Manuel, arithmetically-challenged Phillies manager, after a 12-8 loss to the Tigers.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Life and sports blending together into one big stew

MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin - The Milwaukee Bucks believed Chinese power forward Yi Jianlian was a steal with the sixth pick of last week's NBA draft. But the ramifications of the move were laid bare this weekend as Yi's handlers confirmed they were looking to get their client out of a city he wants no part of.
The city, in the northern state of Wisconsin, has a population of just 550,000 - only 1.7% of whom are of Chinese origin.
Whoops. We wouldn't be racist now, would we, Yi? Rumor has it that Yi wants to come to Philadelphia to play for the Sixers. I can see the Yo Yi headlines now. Here's some news: 1.17% of Philadelphia's 5.8 million people are Chinese, and we have some great restaurants in Chinatown, so maybe Yi is better off here, but I suppose the Sixers would have to trade away some black players to get him, so it may be a racial wash.
As the sixth pick in the draft, he'll make about $3 million per, plus a signing bonus, I suppose. That will buy a lot of eggroll, no matter where you are. Shut up, take your American dollars and play basketball. If you want to be where the Chinese are, maybe you [yi] should have stayed in China. They have lots of 'em. How much would you be making if you were stuck in Bumblefuck, China?
Meanwhile, Allen Iverson is putting that Georgetown education to good use. "I think I'm here because I worked hard all my life to get where I'm at and they want to get rich overnight," Iverson said of the men who claim he failed to properly supervise his bodyguard and others who were with him during a Washington nightclub brawl on July 20, 2005.
Mr. Iverson ... one clue, coming up.
Last night, I was watching the Phillies/Astros game and I could hear, in the background, the ballpark loudspeaker playing Gary Glitter's anthem, "Rock and Roll, Part 2". It occurred to me that the guy is a listed sex offender and lover of child pornography, yet they continue to play his music at games where there are kids and families. I suppose old habits die hard, and that song has been a fixture at sports events since the 70s, and you have to be as old as me to make the connection. Nevertheless, in our P.C. world, can't we come up with something new? Isn't there a Michael Jackson song they could play?

I'd like to know where Cynthia Rodriguez shops. Yankee superstar Alex Rodriguez's long-suffering wife, Cynthia Rodriguez , may have finally flipped her pretty lid Sunday when she went to a game in The Bronx wearing a tight-fitting, white tank top bearing a foul message on the back: "F*** you."
I think this goes back to my point the other day that stupidity is a by-product of money. Some people were offended that Cynthia had their 2-year old daughter with her - in the Family Section, probably listening to that Gary Glitter song. F*** you, too mommy.

LONDON, June 28 (Reuters) - India's Sania Mirza hopes her decision to renew her doubles partnership with Israel's Shahar Peer at Wimbledon does not stir up another religious storm. The last time Mirza, a Muslim, joined forces with Peer at the 2005 Japan Open, their association was short-lived. Under pressure from militants furious over a Muslim and a Jew playing together, Mirza called for some time out.
That's what I love about organized religion - their willingness to see the world as one big place and that we should love each other and work together regardless of our race, creed or national origin. I feel all gooey inside.
We love you - as long as you are exactly like us, and we have such a wonderful perspective on life that we can distinguish between things that are important and things that are not.
Car bomb = good. Tennis = bad.
So, we end today's sports life lesson with a little haiku:

We will blow you up
if you play tennis with her.
She's different, you know

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Car free Sunday 3

Another weekend without the car. Strange? Yes, kinda.
Saturday was easy. Our early morning 38-miler followed by a short trip to the local Subway for lunch. Sunday was a trip to the gym (redundant, I know) followed by a Radio Shack run for an HDMI cable for my new upconvert DVD player. Fifty bucks for a 5-foot hunk of wire. The DVD's look good, though. I was going to wander into the city to see this movie I had read good things about, but I decided I wanted to be back by 3 for the final round of the U.S. Open, where Lorena Ochoa bungled her way through the final two holes to give Christie Kerr her first major in her 251st career tournament. Way to go, Christie. She's one of those players that always seems to be close, and has won 9 times (10 now), but seems to fall short. Sometimes it's because she appears to get overly emotional and other times it's because someone else is just better. Today, she held it together until the final one-foot par putt on 18, after which she broke down a little and showed the emotion that was bubbling inside.
Besides, I later found that the movie was available on DVD, so I could watch it on my upconvert DVD player for about the same price as the bus and movie ticket. So, I had that going for me.
Funny how I used to think that any time I saw someone on the road riding a bike instead of driving a car, that they were probably on the revoked list with no other choice. Now, I find myself thinking of ways to use the bike instead of the car. There are plenty of things around here that can be done without driving, and even though two-wheeled transportation is a little more risky than the car, I find that I am not intimidated about either the distance or the vehicles that whiz by, sometimes a bit too close.
Maybe it's because I am brave enough to do it or because I am not smart enough to respect the inability of people to see past their inherent rush to go - someplace - that I get some strange enjoyment out of using the bicycle. It's one of those oddly enjoyable things in life that do not represent a major life victory or a huge financial benefit. It's more like a sense of self-fulfillment. A harken back to the days when we were kids and the only way we could get somewhere was to walk or use our bikes. It's hard to explain, but I find myself longing for a way to abandon the car altogether. I also like the way people stop and stare at the bike as it is fastened securely to a rack or sign to keep me from walking home. Sometimes I wonder why I lock it up, but then I realize, hey - how long does it take to steal a bike? Get on it and ride away.
Sadly, the distance and time constraints make it impossible to get to and from work that way. As Jim Halpert said, "I started biking to work. Josh does it, and he lives a lot farther away than I do. And also, it saves gas money, keeps me in shape, helps the environment and now I know it makes me really sweaty for work."
And who wants to be sweaty for work? I do not, however, mind being sweaty when I arrive at Radio Shack (they don't seem to notice), the gym (everybody is sweaty), the sandwich shop (I blend right in), the bike shop (hey, it's a bike shop) or the local mall, where the sleeveless T-shirt and manly road/rubber/stale air smell seems to make a nice potpourri for the shoppers who look at me and wonder ...
... "he must be on the revoked list."