Saturday, June 7, 2008

Three thoughts and one rant.

"so thought I'd drop by and see what your thoughts are on hillary's decision to drop out and support barack?"
- Kimmyk
My thoughts. Politics are funny business. Two people can go at each other for 6 months, then when one wins, the other must reconcile and decide to support the other, even though in (her) heart she knows the support wishes are bullshit and she would rather have stepped on (his) throat than to try to heal the party by pretending to unify it. But the Democrats are in such sorry shape now that (she) must do what is best for the party and lend (him) (her) support, whether or not (she) believes what (she) is saying.
I read a news story yesterday that said the Obama campaign is willing to help Hillary with financial support for her campaign expenses, so like a lot of things, it comes down to money.
I'm fascinated by horse racing. There are so-called experts who think that they can predict with certainty what a horse is going to do and tell us that they know. I don't think the horse knows it's in a race and for someone to tell us that they know what a horse is going to do is presumptuous at best. That's why I was so happy to see 38-1 Da'Tara win the Belmont Stakes and 1-4 favorite Big Brown finish last. Last. With the UPS logo all over the place, the jockey pulled him up and let him finish last. UPS is the best package delivery business in the world, but a horse doesn't know that, and neither do people.
I wish I could have gone back to Bulle Rock today for the third round of the LPGA Championship, but it was 102 degrees on the course and my fragile system can't take it. Instead, I rode a bicycle 55 miles and was comfortably indoors before noon. The tournament was on hi-def TV at 4, so I had time for a nap. Annika will be in the final group tomorrow, and it would be a treat to be able to watch her win another major championship, but the weather isn't going to be any better on Sunday, so I suppose I'll take it in on the TV again. When the commentators are talking about how hot it is, I know I don't have a snowball's chance of making it.
Here's the supermarket rant from Friday:
As you know, I find the filmy plastic bags a bane on society and have chosen to carry my own canvas bags to the store, with the added bonus of a nickel discount for every bag I use.
My tiny order needed two bags, and I supplied them. The cashier tried her best to put my cat litter in a plastic bag and I immediately said, "I have my own bags," and launched into a minor rant about how much oil it takes to make a bag and how they're part of the problem.
There was also a bagger, which I usually appreciate. This time, however he was also a bane on society. He tried mightily to use the yellow plastic, and after hearing my little rant, said something strange like, "Yes, they're a problem until you get product in them, then they're OK," which made little sense to me, and after walking 7,000 yards just made me blink my eyes a few times.
When the stuffed tilapia came through the counter (immediately following the plastic-wrapped and boxed soap) the bagger went into a minor convulsion and put the fish into a plastic bag, even though it was itself wrapped in plastic, saying "I put the fish in a bag, I hope you don't mind," (knowing I would) and disappeared before I could remind him of the additional plastic wrap which would also wind up in the local landfill.
So, not only did I have to waddle home with a useless plastic bag, I also didn't get the ten cent discount I was entitled to for using my own bags.
NOTE TO ZALLIE'S SHOP RITE: Educate your cashiers. I didn't get the discount today either on my second trip in as many days. Also, it wouldn't be a bad idea to ban the stupid, wasteful bags like they have in some so-called Third World countries and Whole Food Markets which should be a competitor of yours.
I'm sick and tired ("and tired" always follows "sick") of the plastic bags and I'm also sick and tired of the lazy-ass shoppers who leave their idling vehicles in the fire lane while their equally lazy-ass partners run in "for a few minutes" to buy something that will invariably be placed in a plastic bag.
What a stupid world.

Friday, June 6, 2008

It's a little about golf, but it's more like another rant.

BLOGGER'S NOTE: Compare the weather forecast box below to the one I put on Wednesday's post and see how, in merely two days, the forecast can change significantly - then tell me if you think these guys know what in Hell they're doing. That wasn't the rant.
Rather than bore you with details of another fine day on the Bulle Rock golf course, I'll give you a few details, then launch into yet another of my rantings.
Today was the last day before a wretched heat wave ruins another weekend, so it was probably my final day at the LPGA McDonald's Championship. Today, rather than follow one player through the entire course, I decided to follow several players, hopscotching through the groups and seeing a few holes with each.
I started with the five-star group of Ochoa, Pressel and Webb. They started in the morning, so I was able to walk the front 9 with them before I had to leave to join Annika Sorenstam's group, who teed-off at 12:37. Of course, Annika is retiring this year, so I felt I owed it to myself to watch her for the last time. She missed quite a few easy birdie putts before I left to join Christie Kerr, who made quite a few easy birdie putts, so I know it wasn't me. I spent most of the day with Suzann Pettersen, who is the number three ranked woman golfer, but a bit hard to like. She isn't nearly as personable as Paula Creamer (who is?) and I keep waiting for her to take over the game, but she doesn't seem strong enough to beat Ochoa right now.
Later, I sat under one of the few shade trees at the par-3 7th hole and watched a few more groups come through and ended the day with Annika as she finished up. Altogether, I was at the course from 8:30am to nearly 5:00pm. A long day to be sure and another 7,000 yards of walking at least. However, I got home in time to watch most of it on the Golf Channel at night.
The photo below is today's autograph booty. Top row - Liselotte Neumann, Sophie Gustafson and Jimin Kang (Psalms 23:1) a nice kid, who I told to "go out and kick their butts this weekend". Bottom row - Christina Kim and Suzann Pettersen, playing partners today and polar opposites.
Here's the rant I promised.
I keep hearing junk about how we're being oppressed by high gasoline prices and people are fed up. Meanwhile, as I stopped at a fast food franchise for a drive-home chicken sandwich, I noticed at least six cars in the oddly named "Drive-Thru Window" idly idling, burning costly gasoline. I parked my car and went inside (more walking) to find nobody in line at the counter. The place was empty - on the inside - just like the heads of the dopes waiting in their running vehicles. Apparently, we aren't angry enough or spending enough money on gasoline to force us to move our asses. When will that happen?
The drive to and from was equally exasperating. I set the cruise control at 70 and found that I passed nearly nobody in the 65-mile trip to and from Havre de Grace, Maryland - all of it on Interstate 95. People are still driving like madmen, weaving and braking through traffic with no regard for the amount of money they are throwing away by behaving like children. I say, they get what they deserve and the next person who complains to me about the high cost of gasoline, I will immediately reply, "Well, if you'd stop driving like a jackass, you'd save a little of that money", and I don't even have to see them because I have a high probability of being right.
I have another one about the ensuing trip to the grocery store, but I'll save that for Saturday. One rant at a time.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

You call this a vacation?

My week off from work is winding down. Today was spent in Maryland at the Bulle Rock golf course watching the LPGA McDonald's Championship (presented by Coca Cola). After two straight late-nights at Dave Matthews shows (and yes, I did think of you), I couldn't wait to get up at 6am and drive 65 miles to walk 6,630 yards (3.76 miles) with my favorite athletes - particularly Paula Creamer, whom I walked the course with today. Paula missed at least 4 easy birdie putts on the first 7 holes and I think her first inclination was to heave her putter into the lake, but she still had 11 holes to play. She finished one-under par.
Paula's group was finished around 2:00pm, and I had the chance to go back out and walk the back 9 with Lorena Ochoa, Morgan Pressel and Karrie Webb, but I needed to get back to do my Thursday night 28-mile bike ride with the shop group - and my feet hurt. I know.
The good news is that I'm going back on Friday, and since Paula's group teed off early (9:16am), she'll get a late tee-time on Friday, so I can sleep-in a bit. Today, her group went out just behind Annika Sorenstam's group, and for a minute, I considered walking with Annika, since she is retiring after this season, and it's the last time I'll be able to watch her play; but I couldn't dis my girl. I'll walk with Annika on Friday, because I'm a sentimental guy, and I think it might be cool to see her play before she hangs it up. I can only be so loyal.
Friday will also be my final day on the course this year. The forecast for the weekend is Hellish, and even with liberal doses of sunscreen, a bucket hat and sunglasses, there's only so much sun-time my fragile, aging skin can endure. High temperatures in the mid 90s with increasing humidity will allow me the luxury of watching the final two rounds on the TV.
Annika finished the first round at 2-under and only 4 strokes off the lead, and the leader is somebody named Emily Bastel, so you know that ain't going to last. There's still a chance that a little history can be made.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Another day they owe me.

I often say, "A bad day at home is better than a good day at work." That expression is being put to the test today.
I took this week off to go to two Dave Matthews shows (the second one is tonight) and the LPGA McDonald's Championship in Maryland.
One of the things I enjoyed last year was the practice round on Wednesday. The players are milling around and it's easy to strike up a conversation, take a photo or ask for an autograph. Today however, it's gloomy and rainy, with big storms expected this afternoon here and in Maryland, so I'm at home doing this and waiting for the concert. I probably should be happy(er), since I don't have to drive to Maryland and get back in time for the show. It's come to that - being grateful for not having to drive somewhere - because of the high cost of driving somewhere.
I'll hope for better weather tomorrow (as though I can do anything about it), since Paula Creamer tees off at 9:15am. The rain isn't expected until the afternoon, and she might be done by then.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Vacation Day One: McDonald's Championship at Bulle Rock

Today was the first day of the McDonald's LPGA Championship at Bulle Rock Country Club in Havre de Grace, Maryland. Well, kind of the first day. Today was one of the Pro-Am days, where the sponsor's corporate pals get to play a round of golf with one of the LPGAs professionals. I guess you have to be a corporate high-roller or one of McDonald's big suppliers to get invited, and from what I heard, hackers came from all over the country to drive balls into the sand and miss 4-foot putts with some of the best golfers in the world.
I didn't go to the Pro-Am last year, so I thought I'd run down there this year and see what goes on. The answer: Not too much. Since most of the girls played on Sunday in South Carolina, the field was pretty slim, and mostly made up of whomever didn't make last week's cut or didn't play at all. The big attraction was Natalie Gulbis, who would be the big attraction no matter who showed up.
I could have spared myself getting up at 6am, since Natalie didn't tee-off until 12:30. Without the crush of fans, it was pretty easy to snap a few photos and collect a few autographs of some of my favorite players.
Among the throng were the usual group who seemed more interested in collecting names than in actually ... well, knowing who they are. Many times I got nudged and asked, "Who's that?" while the autograph seeker fumbled for his pen. "Ooooh ... she must be somebody!" whenever anyone showed up in those spiky shoes and a visor. Granted, it isn't everyone who can tell Leta Lindley from Sandra Gal, but geez, if you're going to bother them for a signature, you should at least know whom you're bothering. They're so nice to us, that it's the least we can do to know who we're talking with. Call me a weirdo, but I don't ask someone for an autograph if I don't know who I'm asking.
Leta should have been recognizable to anyone who follows the game. She won two weeks ago at Corning. Sandra Gal is a promising rookie who most people don't know, but give her time and you probably will. Natalie is about as nice as can be. She took time to sign our autograph requests and even pose for a photo or two for people who presumably knew whom they were posing with. It's the first time I've seen her (she didn't play last year) and seeing how she handles herself and how nice she is to people, I have to admit that I'm a bigger fan than I was before.
The photo below is this year's collection of souvenir golf balls, joining last year's Paula Creamer and Annika Sorenstam. That's Natalie (top), Sandra Gal (left) Morgan Pressel and Leta. The balls have the Bulle Rock logo on the other side, so they're nice little mementos of another day on the golf course that even a two-hour traffic jam on Route 95 couldn't screw up.

Normally, it's a little more than an hour drive to and from - 65 miles exactly - on Interstate 95 to exit 85. At 2 o'clock, after walking 6 holes with Natalie, I sent a text message to one of my riding buddies and told him I'd be home in time to do our 6pm ride with the shop. I even figured I'd have a little time for a nap. Construction on I-95 stopped traffic outside Newark and it took 90 minutes to travel 3 miles. I wish I'd had my bike. What should have taken a little more than an hour took almost 3, and I waddled in the front door at 5:30. Nothing like a little stress to finish the day. And yes, I made the ride.

Tuesday: The Dave Matthews Band at the Susquehanna Center in Camden, NJ.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

A little known advancement in civilization.

BEIJING (Reuters) - On Sunday, China became the latest country to declare war on plastic bags in a drive to save energy and protect the environment. Under new regulations, flimsy bags under 0.025 millimeters thick are banned and shopkeepers must charge for carrier bags. China, which consumes 37 million barrels of crude oil each year to manufacture more than one trillion plastic bags, is following in the footsteps of countries such as Ireland, Rwanda and Bangladesh. Italy is due to introduce a ban by 2010.
So, I guess that puts the U.S. behind some so-called Third World countries in the category of sensibility. I've grown to hate those plastic bags almost as much as I've grown to hate the giant vehicles that cart them around. Now it's time for our so-called lawmakers to do something that may actually help us - God forbid - and help us keep pace with the rest of the world. Oh wait - they're working on that Stimulus Package that will save our economy 600 dollars at a time ... oh ... I didn't get mine yet ... never mind.
One reaction to the Mixed Martial Arts garbage that CBS subjected the nation to on Saturday night was that their broadcast may have "turn[ed] off a large segment to the country to what is a classic and compelling sport." What is classic and compelling about a couple of people inside a chain link fence beating each other senseless? Calling it "arts" is a mockery to begin with, and it remains to be seen whether we will be subjected to more of it. Suffice it to say that it is a sad commentary on society that such nonsense is broadcast on a major network in prime time when children are able to watch. Meanwhile, we can't show two people making love and it is a major event when two people of the same sex kiss on television, yet we can (and do) show two people beating each other senseless without protest. Can someone explain the logic behind that? What a stupid world.
My week will be much less violent and significantly more civilized. This is the week that the LPGA plays the McDonald's Championship in Havre de Grace, Maryland and I will be there for a significant portion of it. On Monday I will take in the Pro-Am competition and Wednesday I will be there for the practice round, as I was last year - as faithful readers will recall. Weather permitting, I'll be around for a round or three through Sunday.
In the meantime, there are two Dave Matthews Band shows at our little amphitheater in Camden on Tuesday and Wednesday, so I'll be moving rather quickly for a couple of days at least. The good news is I'll have plenty of blog material for the week, and a good number of golfer-chick photos to share.
The bad news is that I'll have precious little sleep in between, but at least I won't be watching anyone beating anybody senseless. So, I have that going for me.