Thursday, April 8, 2010

Just a bunch of stuff I was thinking about today...

I love the way Apple advertises the i-things on TV. They show happy fingers dragging apps all over the screen at lightning speed, typing stuff, reading newspapers, books and magazines, listening to music and sending messages with charts and graphs. It all seems so ... free. When we stop to think (if the TV gives us time) we realize that all of those things cost money. Apple makes it sound like all you need to do is buy the i-thing and you'll suddenly be hooked up to the world via WiFi or your trusty 3G network, but alas, that costs money too. Your $499 i-thing is suddenly a $300-a-month App Bill. Of course, you can do your banking by the i-thing too, which comes in handy for paying your i-thing bill.
Tiger Woods is back to playing golf. Check the newspaper tomorrow (on your i-thing) and you'll see something like WOODS BACK AT MASTERS, 2 STROKES OFF THE LEAD. Try to find out who is leading the tournament and you'll probably have to scroll down to the third or fourth paragraph.
Speaking of marketing, the new Nike ad featuring a sullen Tiger with his dead father preaching a voice-over lesson on life is rank and tasteless, even for TV. Suddenly, Earl Woods became Jor-El, leaving a posthumous life lesson to little Superwood in his fortress of solitude. It's supposed to resurrect Tiger's damaged image, but instead it reeks of desperation. Maybe Earl knows something, since he is himself an admitted adulterer. Like Jor-El, like son.
ASHBURN, Va. (AP)—As Chris Cooley talked Thursday about how easily Donovan McNabb was fitting in during his first week with the Washington Redskins, the six-time Pro Bowl quarterback was proving his tight end’s point.
Clearly, Chris Cooley has never had a real job. Any time a new employee joins a company he fits in with his new co-workers. It's only after a few months on the job that they realize what a clown he is. We'll see how the Redskins feel in November.
Once again, the tail is wagging the dog, and sports betting is getting another round of support in New Jersey casinos...
Delaware already has tried to establish sports betting and is likely to make another push. New Jersey legislators met Monday in Atlantic City to discuss a proposed referendum on it.
"I believe sports betting in Pennsylvania casinos would generate additional revenue and tourism," said Pennsylvania State Rep. Dante Santoni Jr. (D., Berks), chairman of the House Gaming Oversight Committee.
Sure, sports gambling will generate additional revenue. Even a dopey politician can figure that out. What is interesting to me is that, when new taxes are proposed to pay for new services, people protest because they don't want to pay more. But propose a lottery or some gambling mechanism that invariably costs people more money than they make, we don't hear the protests. Curiously, we would rather take a chance on some random series of events than to actually pay for something -- like health care.
We're funny like that.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Not a bad start.

It was a beautiful day in Washington, D.C., (our nation's capital) for the season opener between the Phillies and the lowly Nationals. It was a major chore to get to the parking lot. We left New Jersey at around 8:40 and didn't park the car until nearly noon. They don't get many sell-out's in Washington, and the narrow streets and bad traffic patterns don't help. Combine that with the black helicopters and enhanced police presence because of our day's special guest, and you have the makings of a major pain. But, it's baseball, and after a winter of discontent, baseball is a welcome sight no matter how long we had to wait to see it.
It looked like a home game for the Phillies, with busloads (some estimates were 100 buses) of fans and thousands more like us driving down for the afternoon.
The first thing we saw as we neared the ballpark was a parade of Phillies fans, complete with a 4-piece band playing "Happy Days are Here Again." It looked like about 500 people decked out in red, drinking beer (at 11:30am) and screaming like maniacs. They had been pent-up in buses for about three hours and took their energy to the street.
Generally, when I leave the area and associate with the hoi polloi, I want nothing other than to not be embarrassed by wearing my team's colors. Phillies fans (and Philadelphia sports fans in general) have a bad reputation. Confined in a bus for 3 hours, drinking for breakfast and warm temperatures could have combined to make life difficult, but most of them were just happy to be outdoors without a snow shovel, so the crowd was pretty tame.

Security was tight, as President Obama was throwing out the first ball. We had to empty our pockets and be wanded and walk through metal detectors. We didn't get into the ballpark until nearly 12:30. The line stretched around one side of the ballpark.
The president's throw was high and wide, but at least he didn't bounce it. He'll take a fair amount of heat for wearing a White Sox cap with his complimentary Nationals jacket, but he's the president and he gets to do what he wants. I do have a hard time deciding whether he's from Hawaii or Illinois. It seems to be determined by where he is at the time. Today, he was from Illinois. During the Phillies' White House visit after their 2008 championship he buddied-up to Shane Victorino, who is actually from Hawaii.

Our seats were in the Club Box level. We spent the extra money because we were fearful of April weather. As it turned out, it was nearly 80 degrees and sunny. Even so, the inside part was air conditioned, so I think it was worth the price.
During the 7th inning we were treated with the now customary singing of "God Bless America" by 2010 Miss America Caressa Cameron, who happens to be from Virginia. If you had dangled me by my feet over the scoreboard and threatened to drop me if I didn't tell you who the reigning Miss America is, I would surely plunge to my death.
I suppose the "GBA" tradition is ingrained in the game now. They've been singing it since the 9/11/2001 terrorist attacks and it doesn't appear to be stopping any time soon. Besides, who is going to be the one to stop it? You're a Communist (or worse) if you suggest that teams stop singing the song now, so I suppose we're stuck with it. Don't call me a Communist (or worse), I just find it odd that we have continued to do it. I also find it odd that we continue to crown Miss America's, but I digress.

Tens of Nationals fans were seen streaming for the exits in the fifth inning as the Phillies jumped out to an 11-1 lead. Most of them just seemed happy to be out of the house.
Part of the day's conversation revolved around the Eagles trading Donovan McNabb to the Washington Redskins. One disgruntled Eagles fan had placed a McNabb #5 jersey in a urinal. Quite a statement.
Nationals Park is a nice enough place. There is a lot of concrete and it's closed-in on all sides. You have to be on the first base side to get a glimpse of the Capital Building off in the distance. The neighborhood looks like Yucca Flat after the blast, but it also looks like they're working on some things. One minor problem is that there isn't anything to do other than go to the ballpark and go home. There is a METRO stop close by, and the next time I go I'm not driving. Getting there and back by car is a chore. Getting around in D.C. is hard enough as it is without adding-in 40,000 baseball fans.
There are townhouses about a thousand feet from the ballpark selling for $600,000. They're close enough so that you can walk to all the Nationals games. Townhouses a mile away are selling for significantly more.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Four day weekend!

You know you're in America when a major religious holiday is pushed as being something other than about religion. Christmas is the gift-buying thing and Easter is the rabbit and egg deal (Do rabbits lay eggs?). Hell, even shopping malls and stores were closed today, which is probably a major cut into their profit margin, but never fear - Memorial Day is coming soon.
Mom and I went to late lunch at Cracker Barrel for Easter. It's hard to stick to a diet plan when the menu is full of "chicken-fried [stuff]" and "half-pound meat." I had trout.
Jesus is on Twitter. I'm surprised he only has 63,000 followers.
I'll be in Wasington, D.C. (our nation's capital) tomorrow watching the Phillies season opener against the lowly Nationals. President Barak Obama will be throwing out the first ball, and I suspect that there will be a select few yahoo's who will boo him, regardless of his throwing prowess. He played a neat game of HORSE with Clark Kellogg on CBS the other night, but I didn't see any of that highlighted on the news shows the way his partial game of bowling was highlighted during the campaign. Maybe that's because he's pretty good at basketball? We like to showcase failure - especially when it's someone we like to see fail. Calm down, folks. It's just politics. Your health care fears are mostly a product of fear-mongering media and partly your own fears of change.
Meanwhile, we bought tickets for the game through StubHub, the official partner of Major League Baseball. Supposedly, I bought our $150 club box seats from someone who couldn't use them, and that's a nice idea. However, today I got an e-mail from the Nationals thanking me for buying tickets for opening day. How would the Nationals know I bought tickets for opening day if I didn't buy them from the Nationals (I wondered quietly to myself)? They know because I probably bought them from the Nationals and not from a fan who couldn't use the tickets. Methinks that Major League Baseball teams see the partnership with StubHub as an opportunity to make a few extra bucks from ticket sales rather than a real method for fans to disperse their unwanted tickets. The $85 club box seats that we paid $150 for would see the $65 go into the coffers of the Nationals rather than some fan. That's a tiny bit disconcerting, especially when they promote StubHub as a fan's resource rather than a team's resource. Such is life in the 21st Century, I'm guessing.