Saturday, November 17, 2007

How many meters in a quart?

The two liter bottle of soda has been accepted by consumers, even though it's clear that Americans hate the metric system. They've been around for a while, and I wonder how many of us could tell you how many 8-ounce cans equals 2 liters (or is it litre?), so maybe they've been ripping us off all this time?
As far as marketing is concerned, the metric system is a half-assed commitment. Vehicle engines and soda. Worldwide consumer products companies like Pepsi, Coca Cola and the auto manufacturers embraced it pretty early, and they probably save a lot of money by not having to translate their volume measurements for us lazy Americans.
For me, a two liter bottle is enough soda that I'll drink about 120 milliliters and have the rest go flat. That's economical, but then, I'm the weirdo that likes those little 6-ounce pony beer bottles, so you never know.
You should have seen me at the Staples tonight, trying to decide whether $3.49 for a 20 meter roll of strapping tape was a better deal than a $2.49, 10 yard roll of packaging tape. Jesus - when is the golf tournament on?
The final eight tee it up on Sunday in Florida at the ADT Championship, where the winner gets a million bucks. In the east, the coverage starts at 3pm on NBC. Just in time too, since football sucks this weekend. If it isn't in wide-screen hi-def, somebody is going to get a nasty e-mail.
You've been warned.
Lorena Ochoa and somebody named Paula are in the mix going into Sunday's final round. They all start from scratch tomorrow, making Saturday kind of a practice round for the big money. (It's one of those weird golf things). I'm thinking the girl with the pink golf balls will have her hands full against this bunch, but she's playing well these days. If anybody gets a look at the ratings numbers, I'd like to know how they do against the Cowboys and Redskins at 4 o'clock.
"O'clock" is short for "of the clock" meaning "according to the clock". The fuller form of the expression is found as early as the late 14th century, in Chaucer.
Just in case you were wondering. Sometimes I think we say stuff without knowing what it means, like "Bless you", or the culturally correct "God Bless You". It should come as no surprise to you that I refuse to say either, since I find them to be rooted in silly superstitious beliefs. I find it interesting how quickly others have picked up on this and refuse to say "Bless You" to me when I sneeze, but say it to others.
Of all the stupid things to notice, they picked this out. Bless their pointed little heads.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Follow the money.

NAPLES, Florida (AP) - Baseball revenue climbed to $6.075 billion this year, and commissioner Bud Selig envisions an even rosier financial future. "As I told the clubs today, we're on a great high here," Selig said Thursday.
Oh, sure you're on a real high, you dumb jackass. The same day that Major League Baseball was announcing their great windfall, Barry Bonds was being indicted on perjury and obstruction of justice. That's a real high.
"Pacman" Jones, Bonds, a couple of Penn State football players charged on assault, Marion Jones, Michael Vick, Ricky Williams is in again/out again ... and you wonder why I find the LPGA so appealing. Or maybe you don't?
Today, in West Palm Beach, Florida the girls were playing the first round of the ADT Championship where the winners over the season gather to play for 2 million dollars. If it was up to me, I'd give them ten times that much, but we're enamored with juiced-up frauds who lie to Federal Grand Juries, telling them that they don't know what they're ingesting.
Now, it's up to a gutless commissioner to make a decision as to whether or not the guy who helped bring in over 6 billion dollars will still be part of baseball next season - provided he isn't serving time in a Federal penitentiary.
For those of you who are curious, that's Paula Creamer and Nicole Castrale pictured here. I've already ordered my week's pass for the McDonald's Championship at Bulle Rock in June and I haven't yet bothered with baseball tickets.
For athletes, the means has an end - called the big payday. Alex Rodriguez, after hopelessly misjudging the market, ran back to the Yankees with his prehensile tail between his legs and settled - settled - for $275 million dollars over 10 years. Humility, thy name is Alex.
Granted, not all pro (or college) athletes are skunks, but enough of them are caught that it sheds a negative light on the rest, and as we know from grammar school, one bad apple spoils a bunch.

Paula Creamer watches her tee shot on the 18th tee during the first round of the LPGA ADT Golf Championship at the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2007. Creamer was 4-under-par for the day.

So, Americans will continue to feed the machine and athletes will continue to measure the risk/reward scenario and figure that the millions they can earn are a fair reward for the chance that somebody will either rat them out or they will be caught on their own. Steroids scmeroids, that's a lot of money. If the drugs kill you (as they should), you're only giving up the lousy years at the end, when you're too old to care anymore.

For $27 million a year wouldn't you do the same? I guess that's what the Feds want to know.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

This Blog is for entertainment purposes only

One of the big news stories around here is a sports gambling bust in a large Atlantic City Casino. For those of you unaware, Atlantic City does not officially have sports gambling, although it appears, if you are sharp enough, that if you want to - you can. There was a complicated chip laundering scheme taking place, which frankly bores me. What I am more concerned with is this:
The suspected ringleader of the operation, Andrew Micali, 32, of Ventnor, is an associate of Philadelphia mob boss Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino, according to a New Jersey law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity. Vincent Procopio, 41, of Brigantine, was charged with promoting gambling. Anthony Nicodemo, 36, and Michael Lancellotti, both of Philadelphia, were charged with conspiracy to promote gambling.

Notice anything? Sure you do. The names of the accused all end in vowels, and if this was a made-for-TV drama, several Italian/American SpokesGuidos would have something to say about the stereotypes that were portrayed. But, you can't make this stuff up. Sometimes there is a reason why people become stereotypes. My only gripe is that there's only one nickname in the bunch. "Skinny Joey". What, no "Weasel"? Somebody is always named Weasel.
The other thing is the charge. Promoting gambling. Correct me if I'm wrong (and you will), but every daily newspaper in the country runs "the line" for every professional and college sporting event. Why do they do that? For entertainment they'll say, because they don't want it to appear as though a newspaper is promoting gambling, because that's illegal.
Comcast Sports' Daily News Live has professional handicappers on the show every Friday telling us who they would pick if they were gambling - for entertainment. Sports talk radio stations have handicappers on, giving us picks. Why would local TV, newspapers and radio give out gambling odds and - promote gambling - if there is no legal place in which to wager on sports? Because people do it, that's why.
They do it in your local bar or wherever men gather with cell phones, pencils and newspapers. It's the kind of thing that isn't discussed in polite conversation, but if you ask somebody if they know a guy, it's likely they can hook you up. Hell, even I know who to send people to and I've never placed a bet on a game in my life.
There's a thin line between Running Numbers and the State Lottery. There's an even thinner line between the local poker game and a Poker Room at a casino. Sports gambling is illegal around here, but telling people who they should bet on if it was legal is permitted. The gambling racket is full of lines, and since it's sanctioned by state governments, there is also a lot of hypocrisy and behavior that in some ways could be looked on as promotion.
Suppose a local newspaper ran a table in the business section that contained a list of illegal narcotics and the price that one would pay for say, an ounce of marijuana or a kilo of cocaine - even though they didn't tell you where to buy it, just what you would pay for it if you did? Would that be "for entertainment", or would it be looked upon as promoting drug use? As a potential consumer, I'd like to know if I'm being ripped off, and who better to trust than the local paper?
Or, maybe I'd like to know how much I should pay for sex. How about a table showing various sex acts and the accepted price? I'd like to know if that BJ was a bargain or if I was (you'll pardon the expression) being screwed.
Sports gambling, prostitution and certain narcotics are illegal, yet sports gambling is sanctioned by some media outlets and the information is given with an implied wink, letting you know that it's there if you choose to use it. If you want to, you can.
Just don't get arrested, because we don't know anything about it, and besides, we told you it was for "entertainment purposes only".

Objects in mirror are angrier than they appear.

If I was ever going to get out of my car and beat somebody senseless, today would have been the day. That I didn’t probably means that it will never happen.

Today was one of those foggy mornings where, if you didn’t have your headlights on, you were practically on top of someone before they saw you coming. Needless to say, there were plenty of drivers without their headlights on – some of them in expensive cars that should be equipped with some sort of automatic device, and others in SUV’s which (we are told) are safer than the regular sized cars that the rest of us drive. Can they really be safer if we can’t see them?
One particular dolt came careening down from the on-ramp and settled in about ten feet from my front bumper. Upon closer inspection, I could see that she was looking down and up repeatedly.
As I moved around, I could see that she was fiddling with her cell phone, presumably calling some friend to tell them how incredibly foggy it was and how the headlights of the guy behind her were bothering her.
I wondered how she could hear with all the horn blowing.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Seven worth savoring.

Over at Ohioan Kimmyk's joint, she posted a list of 7 things she's thankful for and tagged me to do the same. We're leaving out all the obvious ones - home, family, cat and opposable thumbs - and turning to the things that we choose to bring into our lives and make those mundane days go by a little easier. Life's laxative, so to speak.

Enough of that. Here's the list:

(1) Talk radio. It's kind of quiet around here most days - OK, every day - so at times a little background noise is necessary. I've been hooked on talk radio since the late 70s and have wandered around from current events to all-sports. There aren't nearly as many of them as there are hip-hop music stations, so I've learned to appreciate the medium. I think I'd go nuts if I had to listen to music when I turned on the radio. Besides, most commercial music radio is crap.
(2) Wawa. Some of my readers don't know what I'm talking about, so I'll explain. Wawa is a local chain of convenience stores that acts as a supermarket for single people. Picture a store with a free MAC machine, all the regular convenience store fare plus - the best coffee in the area, freshly made sandwiches, a full delicatessen, the cheapest gasoline in the area and their own brand of mixed nuts that is da bomb! My local readers just started nodding their heads when they saw that Wawa was number 2.
(3) The bicycle. When I dislocated my elbow in 1989, my softball career was just about over and I needed something besides the gym to occupy my athletic time and have some sort of competitive angle as well. I already had a bike that I was semi-serious about and the injury made me more serious. Alone, it's an effective fitness tool and gives me some time to block a lot of junk out of my mind. In a group, it's all of those things and a minor social event, too. Without it, I think I'd weigh about 250 and be headed for Heartattack Village. I've made some good friends, too, which is immeasurable.
On a side note: As for Sunday, I really didn't mind beating myself up so much on the trails. I was more angry with myself for falling a few times, but I don't have the skill to do anything else but fall. I really don't mind a little muscle soreness or stiffness. As long as nothing broke, I'm better for it.
(4) The newspaper. When I was a kid, the newspaper was always waiting for me when I got home from school. It was an evening paper world, then. After dinner was a time to relax and read the paper. Now, evenings are filled with kids' soccer games, the Internet and TV. The newspaper comes in the morning now, and if I don't have it on my doorstep before I leave for work, I have to stop and buy one. Damned influential childhood.
(5) Cereal. Snack time, anytime. One of the world's perfect foods. It comes in so many flavors I never get tired of eating it. You can get it with fruit in it, sugar on it or so plain that you'd think it was actual road gravel. If I'm ever washed up on an island and I get a FedEx package with a soccer ball inside, I'm hoping a case of Oat Cluster Cheerios Crunch and some soy milk come up, too. Me and Voit can share a bowl. His name was Voit, right?
(6) NyQuil. If I'm feeling a little sniffly and I think there's a head cold in my future, I'll spend my last five dollars for this junk. I take it about 2 hours before I want to be unconscious and I'm out until the next morning. I think it's Gatorade and lighter fluid in a blue and red flavor.
(7) My readers. Seriously, what's the point of doing this if nobody is reading it? You might not know it, but you're riding along on my Internet-based psychotherapy clinic. I don't think I'd bother if I went to the Statcounter and saw a bunch of zeroes or a lot of stupid Google searches.

Monday, November 12, 2007

A veteran of mundane behavior.

After spending Sunday crashing into the ground, Monday needed to be quiet and uneventful. Around here, that isn't difficult to achieve.
I had some Ebola stuff to drop off at the big 24/7 Post Office, fill up my tank with an oddly underpriced 9 gallons of $2.79 gasoline, pick up a Subway sub and hang with the cat. Once again, our brave servicemen [and women] did a great thing. I thought I saw school buses and at least one grammar school open today. That's not a good message to send to our kids. They can take 2 days for an in-service teacher's day, but the school is open to honor veterans?
Then, of course all the stores are open, so I had no issues going anywhere or doing anything, which made me wonder who, exactly wasn't working today? I think you're fortunate if you had the day off today, since it seems that government makes holidays for itself and a select few, while people with the shit jobs have to work. [What a racket] It got to me so much that I actually put a dollar in the little tip box at Subway. I'm against tipping Sandwich Artists, but if they're working today, maybe they deserve something; but I didn't tip the gas station attendant, so I feel like a heel. The way things are going, gas station attendants aren't the most popular people on the planet, especially when they collect the money.
I'm guessing that gasoline will cost $4 a gallon before Christmas. I saw a couple of places for $2.95 and $2.97 [not including the extra nine-tenths of a cent], even though the local Wawa was twenty cents cheaper. How can the prices be that different in stations that are less than 7 miles apart? The expensive ones were near the state highways, so fill up quick, before you get to the highway.
It seems like, some days things are particularly out of whack.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

I went all the way to Alabama and all I got was this lousy trophy.

Paula Creamer won her second tournament of the 2007 season - The Mitchell Company LPGA Tournament of Champions. Don't ask me what The Mitchell Company does. I hope it isn't in the oil drilling business or responsible for making fur from baby seals.
Not only did she win, but she was 20 under par and won the thing by 8 strokes over somebody named Birdie Kim (really). She would have tied the course record, but she bogeyed the 18th hole on Sunday, her first bogey since the front 9 on Thursday.
As for the scorecard, I don't think you have to be a golfer to appreciate all these little circles. There are 23 of them. [How's that for a scorecard, Sparky?]
The tournament took place in Mobile, Alabama, so it might be a good idea to check on Paula later to make sure she made it home.
Thankfully, she gave me something to watch instead of our pitiful Eagles who won also, but at this point, does it matter?
As for me, I spent Sunday morning doing something I've never done before. Riding a mountain bike on some local trails with a group from the local bike shop. I suppose it shows that I can be talked into anything, and once I say "yes", I am committed. I thought about calling in sick or faking an epileptic seizure, since the 'game time' temperature was near freezing, but I'm a man of my word, so off I went.
I anticipated tumbling at least once, and my only hope was that it wouldn't be into a tree or a protruding root.
For those of you unaware, I'm a long-time road rider who regards sticks, twigs, stones and gravel as obstacles and views roadways with lines down the middle and large sweeping curves as a challenge. It took a good deal of trust to count on a bicycle to carry me over such things, but three shock absorbers and large tires were enough to do the job.
The shop loaned me a $3,000 bike, which either speaks to their lunacy or their desire to get me interested in trail riding. Fortunately for both of us, I didn't mangle it. I did mangle myself a little, though. At one point, after climbing over some purposely placed logs, I headed downhill. I got a little spooked and grabbed for the brakes - which turned out to be a mistake. I tumbled over the handlebars and landed squarely on my head and neck, and I swear [Your Honor] I heard a cracking noise. Having lost the bike, I rolled over and started to feel for my limbs and evaluate whether I needed to continue to lie there or get up and dust myself off. Fortunately, the ground was soft with the autumn leaves and since I was headed downhill, I rolled a bit. I think I tumbled over the handlebars and the bike tumbled over me. I'd like to see a video replay.
I did injure my upper trapezius, which is (I suppose) that cracking noise I heard. It's a good thing the TV is directly in front of me, so I didn't have to turn my head to watch Paula today. Any crash you can walk away from is a good one - so they say - and I'm still walking. I had a few other minor spills, but I managed to make it through the nearly two hours without drastically embarrassing myself, so I have that going for me. I think I did pretty well, considering I've never been on a mountain bike before and had never seen that course before. I learned a few things:
  • Speed is your friend. The slower you go the better chance you have of falling.
  • Don't slow down.
  • Learn to turn. On the road, there are only sweeping turns which you can lean into. On the trail, the turns are sharper and more drastic.
  • Don't wear anything you aren't afraid to ruin. I have several articles soaking in pre-wash.
  • Don't ride too close to the person in front of you. They'll slow down or stop and you will have to, too.
  • Trust the bike. It's expensive for a reason.
  • Don't use the front brake. Chances are, you'll tumble over and injure your upper trapezius.
  • Did I mention not to slow down?
I think I did OK. But, you'd have to ask the people I was riding with, since the whole thing was mostly a blur. I heard a lot of screaming and howling from some of the others in the group, but I only managed three obscenities, which I understand is on the low side.
And nobody had a camera, so I won't show up on that Tom Bergeron TV show.