Saturday, August 11, 2007

This is what separates us from the animals

Begin reading the following paragraph and see if you can tell me where I zoned out...
BARCELONA (Reuters) - "Galactic Suite," the first hotel planned in space, expects to open for business in 2012 and would allow guests to travel around the world in 80 minutes. Its Barcelona-based architects say the space hotel will be the most expensive in the galaxy, costing $4 million for a three-day stay.
Which is precisely where I lost interest. Once I regained consciousness, I saw that the proprietors said that there are about 40,000 people in the world who could afford the trip, and no way of knowing how many of them wanted to go.
There are 6.6 billion people in the world, and we're busy building something that maybe 40,000 of them would use. Meanwhile, bridges are falling down, gasoline is being burned, children are growing up without a proper education, millions do not have adequate health insurance or earn a livable wage, millions more are hungry and for 3 days I didn't have air conditioning ... but we can find money to build space junk like this for people who have so much money that they have run out of things on which to spend it. Here's an idea: Send me $3,000. You won't even notice it, but I sure will.
There is and has always been a gap - a split between the wealthy and the poor. It seems like now, more than ever, but maybe I'm just more sensitive to it. For some, the harder we try the further behind we get. When I read that news story, I wondered why it was a news story at all. It seems to me that the interested parties could just call each other and keep their luxurious ego trip to themselves. After all, I don't know anyone who could afford to go. I know a lot of people who would like to go, including me, but never in my lifetime will I have that experience.
Things like this fall under the category of Things We Do Because We Can. Sometimes, I think we should do the Things We Do Because We Should. It would make the world a better place for the 6.6 billion of us (give or take 40,000) who are left to wave at the rocket.

free music

Friday, August 10, 2007

Another unsolicited e-mail

Uggh. This guy again. He's got to be at 14:59 by now.
I like the way they have to keep reminding us that he's "the 30 year old", as though his Time Tunnel looks will make us realize that he's probably getting AARP membership applications in the mail.
After that stunning Ford commercial, the sky is the limit for the guy that "captured the hearts and minds of more than 63.4 million", several of whom voted for him multiple times. Trace those calls next time. I'll bet they got the 3.4 million right. The 6 I'm not so sure of. I like the part of the commercial where they focus on his feet. They're both moving. Amazing. And what a voice .... static set to music.
Meanwhile, I've figured out a way to save 100% on tickets. I'm not buying them.
How do I block that e-mail address?

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Unanswered questions and unquestioned answers

How does a random song get stuck in my head for an entire day? Today, it was Steely Dan's "Green Earrings". I had to listen to it when I got home to get rid of it. I don't mind. Of course, Steely Dan is like potato chips - you can't listen to just one.

free music

What is with the sport coats? I'm watching ESPN's Sports Center and there's a reporter in Dallas (where it's 96 degrees) talking about how hot it is and how the players are going to suffer in tonight's pre-season opener. So, doofus, take off the sport coat and necktie. It makes you look like you're too stupid to be comfortable. Would you leave the house in a regular jacket if the temperature was 100 degrees? Not without people questioning your sanity. It bothers me that men are "forced" to wear a jacket regardless of the temperature, because of some perceived issue over formality. It's hot. Be a man and take the jacket off.
Can someone explain to me the purpose of the automobile registration? Sure, when I buy the car I'll register it with the state, but what's the point of renewing it? When I sell it, somebody else can register it. Until then, it's a tax and a pointless waste of money and I hate pointless wastes of money - especially if it's mine.

And, while we're at it, is there any more pointless waste of money than auto insurance? Add up all the money you've spent on it and subtract out the amount you have used. It's a pretty big number, I'll bet. At least with life insurance you get something at the end. Of course, you're dead which takes some of the satisfaction out of it, but still...

Simply ... WTF?
FOREST, Virginia - A smudge of driveway sealant resembling Jesus Christ's face has fetched more than $1,500 for the Forest family that found the holy image on its garage floor. The Serio family put the slab of concrete up for auction on eBay more than a week ago. Wednesday, they got a taker at $1,525.69.
More money than brains, apparently is the answer. Of course, none of us knows what Christ looked like, so any graven image is man-made and the idea that eBay allowed some schmuck to buy it is a testimony to their businesslike greed.
I just don't know sometimes.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Records are made to be talked about.

Grunts, cheers and the cries of frightened children broke the silence as parents sought to shield their youngsters from the chaos. In the middle of it all was 22-year-old New Yorker Matt Murphy, who emerged from beneath the pile holding the ball Bonds hit for career home run No. 756. His face was bloodied and his clothes stretched and torn from his battle in the bleachers.
- Jason Dearen, Associated Press
The record is broken. Let the bickering begin.
The most iconic record in sports has fallen for the second time in 33 years. I have vague recollections about a lot of things, including April 8, 1974. I remember the announcer saying, "He did it! It's seven-fifteen!" Immediately, I looked at the clock and it was 9:07, not 7:15. How could the guy be off by almost 2 hours?
Seriously, the biggest issue over the Bonds record is the stench of steroids or whatever other performance enhancing drug he may be pumping into his body. Does caffeine count as a performance enhancer? If you're tired, it does. Babe Ruth, and to a lesser extent Hank Aaron played in a league with half as many teams as there are today, meaning that half the players playing today would still be in the minor leagues in the 1930s. That's a performance enhancer.
Barry Bonds routinely faces two, three or perhaps four different pitchers in the course of a game. Babe Ruth, and to a lesser extent Hank Aaron, played when pitchers went deep into games, and didn't have the luxury of a fresh-armed relief ace; so Ruth and Aaron faced tired pitchers for half the game. That's a performance enhancer.
It's hard to chastise Bonds for breaking a non-existent rule that, if it did exist was never enforced. Baseball's drug testing program is a farce, and it routinely catches minor leaguers and borderline major leaguers and chooses to make examples of them while the real suspects skate.
The problem started when Major League baseball appointed an owner as its commissioner. Bud Selig has proved to be a milquetoast commissioner, and although he professes to be anti-drug, and even anti-Barry, he didn't have a problem when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were "saving" baseball with their drug enhanced home run record effort, and he has turned his back on the game by allowing it to continue, all in the name of cash. Baseball commissioners used to have a saying when they enforced a rule. They'd say, "It's in the best interests of baseball." I haven't heard that one in a long time.
So, there's a new Home Run King. Since baseball is so fixated on numbers and records, it's easy to see why they would promote it, but one wonders what history will say about a league where cheaters prospered and their half-assed enforcement of a half-assed drug policy gave them exactly what they wanted - balls flying over people's heads.
Ruth and Aaron each held the record for 30 years or so. Chances are, Bonds' mark will be approached and broken long before 2040 - perhaps twice in that time. So, keep expanding, weaken the competition and juice up the whole league. Why bother testing at all? Just let the players do what they want to their bodies and let the baseballs fly.
It's in the best interests of baseball, right?

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

What is big, green and as cold as Hell?

"Our long, national nightmare is over."
- Gerald R. Ford

It's freezing in here! I haven't said that in the 16 years I've lived here. When I got up this morning, it was 74 degrees inside. I've never been able to get this place below 77 - ever. I'll have to adjust the thermostat now. So, that ugliness is behind me, and all I have to do is figure out a way to pay for it.
For my buddy to the north, here's a photo of the giant green monster in my side yard. The big bucks also included a new coil for the inside unit which ran about 12 hundred, and a day's labor for three people. If I had known how much of a difference it would make, I would have had it done years ago. I actually might save enough on my electric bill to pay for the thing in - oh, like - 10 years!
For all you tecnho-geeks out there, it's a 2 and a half ton unit that replaced the woefully undersized unit I had. It will keep the air drier and it will run more efficiently than the old one, which I can see already.
The four-panel window upstairs is the place where all this drivel originates.
Finally, I've got the biggest one on the block.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Anthony's meltdown - Day 2

I know people lived in multi-story dwellings prior to the invention of air conditioning. I've seen pictures and heard tales from people my mother's age about the sweltering summers before Willis H. Carrier developed modern air conditioning units.
I remember seeing movie theaters with the words AIR CONDITIONING spelled out in little blue icicles, enticing the uncomfortable masses to wander in for a mediocre movie in return for 2 hours of cool, dry air.
I didn't live in an air conditioned home until I moved here in 1991. For 34 years, I toiled away in warm ignorance. We had this intricate system of fans located strategically around the house. Some drew air from one room while others blew air into another. NASA scientists couldn't have devised a more perfect system. Maybe it worked or maybe we were happy because it was the best we could do.
Now, I'm in this second floor hot box with windows in odd locations that couldn't accept a window air conditioner even if the condo board would allow it. The A/C has gone out before, and always when the temperatures are at record levels. On tonight's news, the weather guessers are telling us that Tuesday's temperature and humidity will be at "dangerous" levels.
It's lucky for me (I guess) that my new compressor unit is being installed at 9am. Maybe it will be done before the air gets to deadly levels. At 10:25, It's 82 degrees outside and 90 degrees in here. The only fans I have are on the ceiling. I can't imagine what it will be like with tomorrow's 97 degree air moving in. I hope they work fast. Even the cat is moping around. He lays on the cool slate near the fireplace and near the opened deck door. He's no fool.
The good news is that the new compressor will run more efficiently than the 25-year old model it is replacing, so my electric bill should be smaller. The bad news is that the job is costing me $3,200, so that's a lot of electric bills. A small price to pay for a summer of relative comfort.
Ironically, I won't be able to enjoy much of the work being done on Tuesday, since I will be at the Dave Matthews Show at the outdoor Tweeter Center in Camden (also outdoors). That place is a roof-covered hot box on the best days, so I can only imagine what it will be like on Tuesday. Out of the frying pan and into the fire, as it were.
With any amount of skilled labor and a bit of perserverence, by this time tomorrow my Southern exposed corner of second story Hell should be cool and comfortable. At least the cat will be here to appreciate it.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

A little distracted

You know those kind of days that you wish you had slept through? I had two of them in a row. On Saturday, the power went out for a couple of hours, which wasn't so bad, since it happened in the morning and I could actually sleep through it.
Sunday, however ... started with a flat tire on the bike, which is never a good start. They're easy to change, but just a mild pain in the ass. When I got home, I was hoping for the cool comfort of the great indoors, but I noticed that the place was a tad bit warmer than usual - like 10 degrees. The blower was running, but warm air was coming out.
For those of you outside the area, we're going through a bit of hot weather these days. Today wasn't as bad as it's been, and it isn't as bad as it's going to get. Add to that the fact that I'm in a second floor condo, and you see the dire need of air conditioning. It was 88 degrees in the place at 4 o'clock this afternoon. The ceiling fans started running, and since it was "only" 83 degrees outside, I opened the windows. It's going to get to 85 tomorrow, and close to 100 on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Naturally, I called a repair service, but seeing as how it was late in the day on Sunday, I figured I should put up with it rather than incur the double-time-and-a-half or whatever screw-job they would give me for making a guy give up his Sunday dinner so I could stop sweating.
They're coming on Monday, and I've got my fingers and eyes crossed that it's something simple. Since the blower is running, and the fan is turning on the outside unit, I'm figuring that there's a leak in the line someplace. Meanwhile, it's 10:20 and it's still 85 degrees in here. I can't imagine what it will be like if they can't fix this thing and we get to Tuesday and it's 97 outside. It's killing me now, and I'm not nearly as furry as the cat. He doesn't seem to mind.
So, as you can figure, I'm a little distracted right now, so there won't be the usual witty banter or urbane rants that you have become accustomed to over the past 15 months. It's too frigging hot, and my keen sense of the worst case scenario is telling me this repair is going to cost me big.
Perhaps tomorrow cooler heads will prevail.