Saturday, April 11, 2009

In case of emergency, take your top off.

PHILADELPHIA – A Philadelphia cable network's early morning broadcast of Good Friday Mass at the Vatican abruptly changed to something wildly different — a 30-second "Girls Gone Wild" ad. Comcast spokesman Jeff Alexander says the 2 a.m. Friday programming glitch was due to a required test of the Emergency Alert System. He says such tests are usually done in the overnight hours. The test automatically tunes viewers to a preselected channel that would provide information in the event of an emergency. But during tests, the channel airs regular programming, which in this case included a paid advertisement for the racy videos. Alexander says the problem affected the network's entire local area, but only one person called to complain.
Of course only one person called to complain. That's because (a) only five people are watching and (b) almost nobody cares.
We're supposed to be offended by a religious program that is interrupted by an ad for a half-naked video, but in reality, we like that stuff. We know because, if we go to their web site and click on "I do not agree," we still get the girly photos (above). You'd think people would call to complain about that. Religious viewers especially, since they hardly see such things - except in the privacy of their homes.
Otherwise, they wouldn't be so popular.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

I just don't know sometimes.

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y.Terrell Owens can't understand why everyone made such a big deal out of him missing the start of the Bills voluntary workout program last month.

"What I find so unfair is that I'm not the only guy out of 32 teams that didn't show up," Owens said Thursday. "That's what's so frustrating about the whole thing."

Umm ... no, T.O. What is even more difficult to understand is why a team would call a workout program "voluntary" and get assed-up over a player not attending. What does voluntary mean to the NFL?

CHEYENNE, WYOMING In one month, a Cheyenne teenager sent 10,000 text messages and received about the same — all while her family's plan did not include texting. That means the family's provider — Verizon — charged them for each incoming and outgoing text message. The girl's parents, Gregg and Jaylene Christoffersen, thought texting had been disabled, so one can imagine their surprise when they got the monthly phone bill and it asked for $4,756.25.

Hmm ... imagine their surprise when they were obviously busy doing something other than supervising their ... child ... when she racked up an enormous bill. So, the dad did what any reasonable dad would do - he took a hammer to the cell phone. One down, twelve billion to go.

We're turning into a society of heads-down walkers and people who would rather play with a gadget than actually talk to people who might be a hundred feet away. You've seen them, Zombie-like, walking around with their heads buried in some QWERTY keyboard, punching something in at ten cents a throw. Kids don't understand the value of money, so when dad got a bill from Verizon for five large, he went medieval on the phone and might have wanted to do the same to the kid but feared the reprisal of our legal system.

Meanwhile, since the kid's grades went from A's and B's to F's in two months of playing with the "phone." (Are they really phones?) Imagine that, will ya. Mostly, parents will complain about their kids' behavior patterns, until it impacts their finances - then they turn to the hammer. Grades, schmades - we're talking about money here.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Another of life's mild inconveniences.

Try as I might, I couldn't muster up the strength to scrabble anything here last night. An evening of shivering at Citizen's Bank Ballpark takes a lot of energy out of me. More than you'd think. Add to that being there twice in three nights and maybe you can see the sense of exhaustion setting in.
At some point during the Phils' second loss of the season, it dawned on me that I had spent $30 in two nights for nothing more than parking my car. I don't know about you, but to me thirty dollars is a nice sum of money to carry around. While I appreciate value when investing in a stock or spending money on a nice Asian massage, I can't embrace the concept of spending 30 dollars to do nothing more than find a place to keep my automobile while I spent three hours watching a baseball game.
Since the early 1970s when I started going to baseball games at Veterans Stadium, the place to park was the Holiday Inn. It's easy to get in and out, and for almost 3 decades it was my "secret" place to park. While the rest of the world was parking at the stadium lots, I was hanging at the Holiday Inn. Even though it was a longer walk, the ride out was faster, so I got home before the rabble of rowdies.
At some point a few years ago, the word got out and they started [egad] advertising. No longer did I have a nice, private place to park. Now, I had to get there early to make sure I had a space. A few times last year, the lot sold out before I could get there - which is saying something for an early-arriving geek like me. I lost my spot to popularity.
Charging for parking is one of the greater scams perpetrated on the American public. It's why I take public transportation into Philadelphia when I visit. I'll have to explore the option for my next game, but it isn't as easy to get to and from the ballpark as it is a center city pub. It requires a ride in on the PATCO Hi-Speed Line (the speed being relative) and a return trip on a crowded Broad Street Subway train crammed with drunk baseball fans just as eager to get home as they were to order that fifth beer before the 7th inning last call.
I weigh the inconvenience of waiting for the train(s) and their accompanying personal interaction against the fifteen dollars that the parking lot is scamming out of me and I find that it's a wash. The real victory would be in finding a nice on-street parking space (for free) and walking a few blocks to the ballpark. That option is as likely as finding a "one size fits all" hat that fits perfectly or a hooker who loves me for me.
The fifteen dollar parking fee has caused me to explore my options, and they aren't many, which is why I championed the cause of building the ballpark downtown - convenient to public transportation - for me.
I'll have to come up with a creative solution before my next game on April 20, or sacrifice another 15 dollars to the God of Parking. When I questioned the parking attendants, I was greeted with the generic "I just work here" response, which is neither satisfying nor accurate. If we are indeed in a challenging economic climate, raising the parking fee 5 dollars is an unquestioned screw-job.
The bigger problem is that I don't know to whom to complain. Maybe the people at the Holiday Inn Philadelphia Stadium at 900 Packer Avenue will read this in one of their Google searches? The ad says:
So if you are looking to attend a sports game, concert or any other event at one of the Philadelphia sports venues - Citizens Bank Ballpark, Lincoln Financial Field, the Comcast Spectator or the Wachovia Center- then the Holiday Inn Philadelphia Stadium is the place to spend the night!
It might be the place to spend the night, but it isn't a great place to spend three hours waiting for a baseball game to finish so you can drive home.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

April madness.

I learn something about myself during baseball season. Between November and March I eat - maybe - two hot dogs. The rest of the year, I eat about two thousand. That's what baseball does.
April baseball around here is a crap-shoot, since we play it outdoors, unlike those pussies in Canada and (egad) Texas where they have to put a dome over the ballpark and turn it into a stadium. Here, we have either the balls to play in the cold or the intelligence to stay home and watch it on TV. The next game on my Phillies season schedule is Tuesday night.
As of now, it looks like the watching on TV part is the shit. Because valor is not the only thing that discretion is the better part of:
Tuesday: A mix of clouds and sun in the morning giving way to a few showers during the afternoon. High 49F. Winds W at 15 to 25 mph. Chance of rain 30%.
Tuesday night: A shower or two around the area in the evening, then partly cloudy overnight. Low 33F. Winds W at 10 to 20 mph. Chance of rain 30%.
Temperatures in the 40s and 20mph winds might make interesting weather for a lot of things, but baseball isn't one of them. At least for me it isn't. I'm a fan of baseball, but not a big fan of sitting in a chair shivering while watching something I can see on TV in my living room.


CHICAGO – A striking new study says almost 1 in 5 American 4-year-olds is obese, and the rate is alarmingly higher among American Indian children, with nearly a third of them obese. Researchers were surprised to see differences by race at so early an age. Overall, more than half a million 4-year-olds are obese, the study suggests. Obesity is more common in Hispanic and black youngsters too, but the disparity is most startling in American Indians, whose rate is almost double that of whites.
The lead author said that rate is worrisome among children so young, even in a population at higher risk for obesity because of other health problems and economic disadvantages.
"The cumulative evidence is alarming because within just a few decades, America will become a 'minority majority' nation," he said. Without interventions, the next generation "will be at very high risk" for heart disease, high blood pressure, cancers, joint diseases and other problems connected with obesity, said Flores, who was not involved in the new research.
I'm not going to try to guess what "minority majority" means. You probably have to be a researcher to know.
It's alarming until you consider that the gang of drug-pushers at places like Pfizer and Glaxxo have begun rubbing their hands with glee over the premise that pre-schoolers will now need drugs to control either their eating, cholesterol or some other weight-related malady that they will either make up or find through the pages of research. Another pill for junior.

"Ask your doctor if Puberliv is right for your child."

Possible side-effects include: Stammering, loss of urinary control, attention-deficit disorder, dry mouth, excessive yawning, reluctance to obey orders, stomping their feet and screaming, immaturity, excessive weight loss, inability to control television viewing and randomly kicking their feet.

All of which can be fixed with another pill.
Just like mom and dad.

Monday, April 6, 2009


I sometimes forget
what we've been through together,
and I hope you don't.

Another opening, another show.

Opening night at Citizens Bank Ballpark started with a beautiful day. I took a stroll around the grounds before the game.

I don't know what kind of flowers they are.

That's the second biggest U.S. flag I've ever seen. They didn't leave it there once the game started.

The players marched in along some sort of procession from center field. There appears to be a few players in the stands, too, but those are just fans in costume.

They invited some paratroopers from the Army to drop in with the first ball. One of them dropped into the parking lot. Really.
They announced a "sellout crowd." Odd, since the attendance figures for sellouts are never the same twice. I guess I'm the only one who pays attention to stuff like that, but wouldn't you figure that a sellout would mean that there was the maximum number of fans in the ballpark? Reasonable men may differ.
This was the view from my seat.

That's the bell that lights up when a Phillies player hits a home run. Last night, it kind of just sat there. The Phils managed only 4 hits in a 4-1 loss to the Braves, and two of those hits came in the ninth inning - a classic case of too little too late. I'm hearing a lot of teeth-gnashing over the game, which is odd. OK, it's the first game and they played like crap, but it's baseball. There are 161 more to play.

I think we just like to complain.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A brief update so you'll know I'm not dead.

I'll be in attendance at the Phillies' home opener tonight. Yes, tonight. They do stuff like that for television. Since the Phils are the league champions and all, they pay tribute to them by scheduling their first game at home, at night for national television. Actually, it's ESPN2 (the deuce) so it's not truly national television, just ask those people who still haven't made the digital conversion.
Rather than schedule it in the afternoon when the sun is shining and the temperature is in the mid 60s, they figure, "Why not inconvenience people and make them uncomfortable at the same time?" A night game in Philadelphia in April isn't a fan's idea of a fun evening out. Then, since the game and its ensuing traffic won't be cleared until around midnight, I've scheduled a day off for Monday - which, naturally is going to be rainy and windy.
I'm sure, if television ran professional golf, they'd put lights up at Augusta and play The Masters at 9:00pm. I think NASCAR does OK running their races on Sunday afternoon and as far as I know, the television works all the time, so the game could be at 3 o'clock.
I still haven't decided whether I'll do the geeky thing and take my bag of camera stuff or just wander around, although experience tells me I'll probably do the geeky thing, so look for some photos tomorrow.