Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Nancy Grace

Yes, last night was spent doing the same sort of thing the night before was....taking in the devastation. To clarify something I said yesterday, Nancy Grace (she who I ranted about yesterday) is on Headline News. Last night she was more cordial, talking to National Guard leaders, experts on martial law and a reporter in Biloxi. She at least allowed them to answer her questions, maybe because she had no opposing opinion.

She did do one thing I found funny. She asked the Biloxi reporter what people were doing for food, and he told her they were bar-b-queing whatever they had in the way of meat before it spoiled. As soon as he said that, she launched into him.

People are bar-b-queing? How? They have no lights! They have no electricity! They have no gas! How are they bar-b-queing?

Well Nancy, have you ever put food on a grill or do your obnoxious pit bull instincts flow into your eating habits? Most of us don't devour our prey while it's still alive. In the absence of lights, electricity and gas, if you want to actually cook food before you eat it, charcoal is about all you have and It is precisely because you have nothing else that you are relying on the old Weber.

In the words of Bugs Bunny. What an ultra-maroon!

(Can ya guess? I don't like her.)

still don't know what to say

I've been spending my evenings looking at New Orleans and Biloxi, and remembering what they used to look like before Katrina, and I'm at a loss for words. It's just horrible.

We're helping in the only way I know how. All I can do now is urge you to do the same. The Red Cross needs all of us, and those millions of people need our prayers.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Word verification for comments

I didn't even know this was available until I saw it on another blog. Thank you Painter Lady. I apologize, because I'm putting another step in your life if you want to comment on anything I say, but maybe it'll stem the tide of spammers telling me I have a corking good blog. Corking good. What does that mean anyway...that you can throw darts at it?

I don't know what to say, so why am I blogging?

The perennial question. Why do I blog? (just for you Jason)

I spent the majority of last night channel surfing. Well, the majority after I was informed that today is my son's best friend's birthday and he invited the youngster to go to dinner with him and his family and we had to run out and get a present pronto. Most of the surf time was spent on news stations looking at the devastation left behind by Katrina and the waves, and some of the idiot reporters getting blown to hell and back telling everyone else not to go where they are. Well, no shit! I may have been dumb enough to give blood while recovering from a cold, but at least I'm not standing in 100+ mile an hour winds showing you the hole a piece of wood just put in my vehicle window. Dude. Flying things are shattering your truck window. Imagine what will happen if any part of your body is in the path of the next flying thing. The line between bravery and stupidity is thin, but not that thin.

Beyond that, the storm and footage left me speechless. It will be so very long before those people live normal lives again. I don't know that it can even be measured in months. The CNN guy kept asking reporters on the scene if they had a grasp of how big the tragedy is, and he kept getting the same answer. There's no way anyone has that grasp yet. Made me wonder if he kept asking just to make the point.

While surfing, I ran across some woman named Nancy Grace, apparently an ex-D.A from Atlanta, rehashing the disappearance of the girl in Aruba and several other topics. I think it was Court TV or Fox News. I'm not sure. I only watched for a few minutes, but I don't know that I have ever seen a more rude T.V. host. I don't know why anyone would ever agree to be on her show. She asks questions and when the person starts their answer, she interrupts. They never get a chance to finish a sentence, let alone say whatever it is they had to say. She just sorta pissed me off, but she was just a minor sideshow to the rest of what I saw.

The Red Cross is going to need a lot of help...helping people.

Monday, August 29, 2005

bouncin' back

Amazing what three days rest can do. I'm still not 100%, but 90 will do. I think my downfall was not feeling good the weekend before and giving blood on Monday, leaving my depleated body wide open for a relapse. I have a feeling, in retrospect, that wasn't such a bright thing to do. Do'h! Then again, what do I know? I'm not a doctor, but I played one when I was twelve.

Having all that couch time, I got a chance to see HBO Real Sports last week, which had a segment on something I hadn't given a lot of thought to - home schooled children and high school sports. We have someone in this area that was showcased this weekend on ESPN who sort-of fits the category. If you watched the nationally televised game between Nease High School from northeast Florida and Hoover High School in Alabama, you saw quarterback Tim Tebow. He isn't any longer, but he was home schooled for part of his high school years and plays quarterback for a public school. He's also one of the biggest college football prospects in the country. I wouldn't be surprised if the Nease coach took one look at Tim and said, "Sure, you can play for us!" That's a callous view, and maybe not entirely correct, but it illustrates one of the issues.

(A side note: Nease got hammered in the 4th quarter, and wouldn't have won even if there were no questionable calls, but it was noted by many people here that the home field advantage extended to the view of the zebras, and that the head zebra and the head coach of the Hoover team shared the same last name. "When the Nease player is on his knees and the Hoover player puts his helmet in the guy's chest, here they call that unnecessary roughness." I know - waaaah! Like I said, Nease wasn't going to win that game anyway. Tebow is very talented, but he can't even carry that team to a city championship, let alone beat the perennial Alabama state power.)

The question is, should home schooled kids be allowed to play public school sports? For me, the answer is no. If you're going to put your child in public school, you go all the way or you don't go at all. I realize home school families pay taxes and therefore have just as much access to public schools as anyone else, but those teams represent the schools and are an extra cirricular activity of those schools. It is a privelege to play on those teams, not a right, and it's a privelege for those people gifted enough to play and who attain the proper grades at that school, to represent their school in sport. I realize most home schooled kids do attain those academic standards, but that isn't the point. What happens when a child is a great athlete and doesn't meet those standards, and he or she is in the public school? What's to stop mom and pop from pulling the kid and 'home schooling' them so they can play football, or soccer or whatever? The academic abuse possibilities are amazing, as is the possible case with athletes with a lot of stacking. What's the difference between this and a home schooled child showing up at tryouts for a school play, saying, I don't attend this school, but I want in on the extra cirricular stuff? Or better, I hear you have a great math program, and I suck at math, so I want my kid to take your math class, but nothing else.

In my case, I send my child to a private school. Should I be able to have him show up for football tryouts at the public school where he would attend? I don't think so. Yes, our schools have cafeterias, but paying taxes doesn't entitle you to treat their cirriculum like your personal cafeteria. No pickin' and choosin' the pieces you like. You either do the public school thing and all that comes with it, or you don't.

Last but certainly not least, please pray for those people in Louisiana and the rest of the gulf coast. They're going to need every one of our voices and hearts and help to get through Katrina.

Friday, August 26, 2005

incompetence pays

Yes, I stayed home again today. I woke up this morning and felt like I probably could work, but if I did I'd pay for it this weekend and maybe into next week, so lets just kill this cold once and for all. For what it's worth, I rolled over, closed my eyes and slept till after 11:00, which is unheard of for me, so I feel justified.

Our community has it's very own cable company. Yes we do, and when we moved here it was one of the major selling points. "We're laying fiber optics through the whole community. You'll have blazing fast internet and state of the art digital cable every technological dream you will ever have will come true." Nice pitch.

Swing, and a miss.

Well, they went under and were bought out. It seems we're a bit lightning prone in Florida and lightning and fiber don't mix. If lightning struck within a few miles of our little place in the sun, half the community lost its internet and cable, sometimes the phone too...and it would be days before they got it all straightened out. So the new folks came in after the buyout and are still in the process of making it better, by laying real cable and using that instead of fiber. The fiber is still in the ground, rotting away and being useless while the cable is taking over. Still, we are light years behind. We have cable modems and reasonably fast internet, but the cable part is hurting. While the cable company for Jacksonville provides HDTV and 'On Demand' services, we have none of that.

So we get to last night. I'm being the sick kid on the couch, bemoaning the fact that I can't play golf and I can't go to the Jaguars game, listening to the pregame show on the radio. The game didn't sell out (Thursday night, preseason at regular season prices and Katrina wreaking havoc south of us, go figure) so it's blacked out for a gazillion mile radius of Alltel stadium. For grins, I decide to switch to ESPN as the game is starting to see what they are showing Jacksonville in place of the game, and I see...Michael Vick. Then they go to commercial just before kickoff and I figure, any time now, the alternate programming starts....but it doesn't. Next, still listening to the play by play with the TV muted, I watch the kickoff, and the Falcons stall in their first drive. Our incompetent cable company somehow got the game or forgot to black us out or whatever, but I got to see it.

I only watched the first half before crashing, and there were parts I could do without seeing. Up against a team with a real offense, our defense was looking a whole lot more human. Still, the offense left me a bit more optimistic. They actually scored a touchdown, and Matt Jones played with the ones, and looked awesome. He had a one handed catch for 48 yards that should be on Sports Center for days. Reggie Williams needs to practice his route running more than his dance moves, or last year's #1 draft choice might find himself auditioning for Dancing With the Stars, assuming "failed NFL hopeful" makes you close enough to being a star in their eyes. Looking at the others that were on that show, I'd say he has a chance. He blew a fair chance at a touchdown catch by running a bad route on a timing play. Byron Leftwich looked pretty good, and Fred Taylor didn't play long but her played well. Yeah, I have hope.

Back to bed folks. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, August 25, 2005


as the worst becomes the only one available. I got outa bed this morning, took the kids to school in carpool and I'm off to bed. There's no point in trying to work feeling like this.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Katrina and the Waves

I'm starting to worry. Tropical storm Katrina started the day projected to slide across south Florida and head westward through the Gulf of Mexico toward Louisiana. Little by little the track has shifted so now it's cutting north through Tallahassee. I hope the eastward trend doesn't continue. We could use some rain, but I could do without a hurricane. I don't wish that mess on anyone, but I especially don't wish it on me, because as we all know, it's all about me. Besides, I expect to be Walkin' on Sunshine, dammit.

Pat Robertson - the Sopranos solution

Now I know how liberals feel when Barbara Streisand opens her mouth, or at least I think I do. If they are embarassed and shake their heads and wish nobody ever lumped her views with theirs, then yeah, I know. This is almost enough to make me plaster bumper stickers all over the back of my car and pretend I'm making a difference by suggesting the Air Force use bake sales to buy bombers.

Pat Robertson of the 700 Club on the Christian Broadcasting Network, viewed by hundreds, past (OK, waaaay past, but still) Republican Presidential hopeful, has adopted the Sopranos philosophy. If someone presents a problem, wack 'em. Ralphie, president of a foreign country, doesn't matter. Piss me off? Take a dirt nap. Bada bing.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is a Castro supporter, a socialist and alleged supporter of terrorism. In Mr. Robertson's view, that's enough to condemn him. OK, he later backed off the assassination call to say special forces should "take him out", which could mean any number of things, including kidnapping. What kind of idiocy is this? The guy is no real threat to anyone. He does a little sabre rattling and complaining, but he's more of a threat to his own people than he is to anyone outside his borders, and he's only a threat to them because they have to live under his communist policies, not because he's torturing anyone. Yet Mr. Robertson thinks this justifies state sponsored (in Lucius Malfoy's words) killins. Whatever happened to that Christian ideal that God gives us the gift of life and nobody but God has the right to take it away? What about that whole "Thou shalt not kill." thing? What about something as simple as the golden rule?

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, unless they irritate you in which case you should take 'em out.

Where'd that last part come from?

I've become my own joke

Two years ago the youngster migrated from soccer to baseball. He had never played baseball and decided he wanted to give it a try, and he had no clue. Neither did I. He went to his first tryout and I watched the other dads giving their sons last minute advice. "Keep your head in. Don't step out of the box. Look the ball all the way into your glove." and the kids are looking at them like, "I know dad. I've been hearing this crap for years now." I had to laugh. Being clueless, I had no such advice for the youngster. He went in and did his tryout, which just stated the obvious. He had no baseball skills at all.

So here we are two years later. He has improved considerably after a few years of playing and some lessons and camps and such. Last night was his tryout for fall baseball and I was in his ear. "Keep your head in. Don't step out of the box. Look the ball all the way into your glove." He gave me that look and it hit me. Time to shut up and just let him go out and do his thing. Surprise, surprise! It went well.

choices, and the worst may be the best

I left work Friday feeling a bit under the weather. I couldn't pinpoint it. Lethargy, achey...just a general case of the fuck-its. I was in a meeting and it occurred to me that I was processing absolutely nothing that was being said, nor did I care. I just wanted sleep. It was time to call it a day. So I went home and slept most of Friday away, into late Saturday morning...and probably would have stayed in bed except that I promised to help out at a church picnic, and had no back-up, so people were depending on I dragged my ass out of bed, did what I needed to do, socialized a bit and went home to sleep again. By Monday I thought things were looking up, but yesterday all the other nasty cold/flu symptoms that were missing Friday arrived. The sore throat, the runny nose, all the fun stuff is here.

So tomorrow I have a conflict. I have tickets to the Thursday night's Jaguars preseason game against the Falcons. This is almost a no brainer. It's preseason and it's a week night. That makes Friday hell for a game that means nothing, and I'm not up for that. Then there's the weekly Thursday night work golf outing. That could be fun, and probably the better choice. But now there's the couch. Of the three, by far the least enjoyable prospect, but probably also the smartest.

Not that I've ever been accused of being the smartest.....

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

the mulligan

I work with a few Indians. These are not Indians as in the noble people who lived on this continent before us ugly Eurpoeans came and ruined the place. These are Indians as in, from India.

Being Indians, as in from India, they don't know a lot about American slang or customs when they first arrive, so many of the figures of speech we use have to be explained, and so do many other customs, like cheating. Our place of employment has a golf outing every Thursday night in the summer (when it stays light out late enough) after working hours. We start at 5:30 and play 9 holes. The place also sponsors a charity event benefitting the MS Society. This summer on various Thursday nights as a fund raiser, they have been selling mulligans at $5 a shot to add to the donations for the MS Society. So it came to pass (yes, I was getting to a point) that I had to explain mulligans to one of my Indian compatriots.

Mulligans, in short, are a do-over. If you take a shot and you don't like the results, you put another ball on the ground (or the tee, if you're at the tee box) and hit it, hoping that you'll like the result of that shot better. In regular golf (as in keeping your score for handicap), they are very illegal, but a lot of guys use them when they play with their buddies. I've seen them used on many occasions, but refuse them myself, because I really want to know how I do when I play. If you say you shot 95, and you counted all your strokes, you know you shot 95. If you took a mulligan, or two, or three, (or four....) and come out saying you shot 88, you don't really know anything. They are taken more by people who care what their score looks like in relation to the others they play with. I guess I'm not good enough to care and if I was, I wouldn't be needing the mulligan anyway. Then again, when I play golf, I judge how well I'm doing against my past performance, regardless of the scores of those in my group. If I was worried about what my score looks like with respect to others I play with, I would have quit long ago. Now, if mulligans are being sold for a good cause and it's part of the game and we're all buying, I'll take what I can get to help the cause and keep the playing field level. Believe it or not, it took a while to get the concept across. The poor guy found it hard to believe people would actually put another ball down and hit it like the first shot never happened, but we got there.

In the process, we came across an article on the web, about golf, politicians and cheating. A lot of the article was about politicians not reporting golf trips or outings that are paid for by lobbyists, but it got into mulligans and the political penchant for them. Apparently Mr. Clinton used them so often that many of his golf partners referred to them as 'Billigans' or simply 'Clintons'. Fourth-ranked NCAA golfer Bryce Molder told Maximum Golf magazine about a round with Bill Clinton at Chenal Country Club in Little Rock, Ark. ``Playing with the president was weird,'' he said. ``He shot a 90. At the end of the game, his scorecard said 84.'' (Molder shot 60, a career low for him.) Personally, I'd take the 90 and be happy.

For you equal time fanatics, I can include the Dan Quayle story, which involved allegations that he accepted a golf weekend from a lobbyist and found his room equipped with young ladies for hire, and allegedly never left to play. It was however debunked later in an investigation, yet the poor guy had to endure the sound bite the media captured from his wife that went something like, "I knew that was all a lie. Anyone who knows Dan knows he'd rather play golf than have sex any day." Ouch!

if you can't stand the heat

Flip on the A.C.

I know, I know. I live in Florida. Bitchin' about the heat in August is like Santa complaining about the snow as he's preparing for his midnight ride. Besides, it's no worse here than elsewhere.

This past weekend, the kids (yes, we only have one, but we do have neighbors) were in the house playing video games, and I was trying to sleep my way through illness, and actually might have except for the noise. No, the kids were pretty quiet. They get that video game hypnosis thing going and all's well, but my wife spent half the day telling me how the kids need to be outside playing, and there's no sleeping through that. And yeah, I agree with her. They need to be out running around getting some exercise, but when the heat index is over 100 degrees, I don't want the youngster running in the house and hearing, "Joey's passed out on our lawn, dad. What should we do?" I mean, that's a total nap killer. We do have a neighborhood pool with a very cool water slide, and they spent time there, but I'm afraid if they were there any longer, they might look like raisins permanently.

Usually we get an afternoon shower. Usually you can just about set your watch by it. Raining? Must be 3:00. For whatever reason, the weather pattern isn't sending us that form of relief lately, which also means sprinkler systems are working overtime. Water pressure is nowhere to be found at 6 a.m. when I'm trying to wake up under the shower head while getting ready for work.

It can't last much longer. They say we're supposed to get some relief toward the weekend as we drop a few degrees. The heck with the weekend and a few degrees. October can't get here soon enough.

Monday, August 22, 2005

the politics of kids' baseball

a disclaimer...This is my side of an issue and will be well colored by my opinion. Read it with full knowledge that I'm not in any way objective.

I pulled myself away from my couch potato weekend of illness on Saturday long enough to go to a church picnic for a few hours. There I got to see some folks I haven't seen in a while, one of whom is the mom of a boy in the youngster's class. They are pretty good friends, and have been in cub scouts and on a few baseball teams together. Her son, when it comes to baseball, is head and shoulders above mine. Hers is a perennial all star and has grown to about twice the size of mine, literally. He might not be twice as tall, but he's a lot taller, and weighs at least twice as much. With the new birthday cutoff age, he's also officially a year older and would be in a higher age group. All well and good. They have decided though, that he's too good for the league in which my son plays. He's joined an AAU traveling team with two other boys who used to play in our league.

Now here comes the rub. The league they left, which my son plays in, is very active. They have a complex of fields and it's difficult for the teams to get much practice time between games, because the schedule of actual games is pretty full. This AAU team has no home field, and they want to use ours. They are having to travel about half an hour to get to a field to use to practice. They asked the organization that runs our fields if they could use them, offering to represent the organization as their all stars. The organization turned them down, but then offered them practice time at something like $500 an hour. This woman is going off about how she pays taxes too, and those fields are county fields and the AAU team should be able to use them. Well, no.

You chose to pull your kid out of the organization that plays on those fields. Nobody forced you to do that. You knew what their practice situation was and made the choice anyway. Live with it. You 'offered' to represent that organization as their all stars. Oh joy. What does that say to the kids who play in that league? Well, you can play as well as you like but there's no way you can be all stars, because we sold our soul to some team with kids from all over town and they're our all stars. True, they may be very good, but they aren't our kids. Oh wait, three of them are. I freely admit that I have my own bias. My son has been practicing all summer, after blowing his spring season with a broken wrist, and is getting a second chance at a 12 year old season. He's getting better and going out for advanced ball and feeling good about his chances, and yeah, there's some hope he could make all stars, if such a thing exists. After working at it like he has and having it (hopefully) pay off with a decent season, I'd hate to have him (or any other deserving kid in the league) hear, "sorry...we already have an all star team, made up mostly of kids from somewhere else."

As for her rant, I just nodded and smiled. I'd get more loudly opinionated about it if the league would have sold out to them.

the weekend in review

I left work early Friday, not feeling well (headache, flu kinda symptoms), and spent most of the weekend playing couch potato. For those of you who are thinking this was a good deal of some sort, I have but two words and a number. Home Alone 3. Daytime TV is bad stuff, but I guess it's good to sleep to. I think I'm doing better, but this nagging headache is still around.

It did give me an opportunity to listen to several opinions on people and things, and weigh in with my own.

Tigger Woods left the PGA Championship on his private jet Sunday night to go back home to Orlando while the tournament was suspended to be finished on Monday. He was 2 shots off the lead and the leaders had two holes to play. There is a segment of the sports talk world trying to make a big deal of it, because the tournament wasn't over and there was a slim chance he could be in a playoff. Now, I've made my opinion of Mr. Woods clear in the past. I admire his talent, but I'm no fan. I think there are far more fan friendly golfers out there and if, come Sunday, it's a battle between Tiger and someone like Fred Funk, I'm pulling for Fred Funk all the way. Leaving Sunday night though was a calculated risk that I think few would have taken. OK, maybe nobody else except Tiger Woods. It's a bit like drinking a few too many adult beverages and driving home and making it without harming yourself or anyone else. It was a stupid, arrogant (big surprise there) thing to do, but he got away with it. Therefore, no big deal, or at least nothing anyone will remember after this week. Now, if the circumstances would have come about that he was in the playoff and absent, it would have been one of the biggest gaffes in sports. Coulda, woulda, shoulda.

Randy Moss says he may smoke pot. I don't know if he does or doesn't, but to say in an interview that he may is just stupid. People want to say, "We ask our athletes to be honest, and here a guy's doing that and you want to crucify him!" No. I don't want to crucify him, but I will criticize him. Being honest is a good thing, but that doesn't let you off the personal responsibility hook of what you're honest about. Taken to an extreme, if serial killer Ted Bundy got up and told a jury exactly how many people he killed, they don't go back to the jury room and say, "Well, he was honest. Let's let him go." Being honest about being stupid doesn't make you any less stupid. It makes you honestly stupid, which is better than a stupid liar.

The Jaguars played the Tampa Bay Bucs Saturday night. The defense again looked good. Special teams looked pretty good (one fumbled punt return by a rookie) and the rookies over all look promising. The offense still isn't lighting it up and again the talk radio folks are going crazy calling for the head of one Byron Leftwich. I, maybe through teal colored glasses, saw improvement. Granted, you couldn't get much worse from the first preseason game, but the first string offense actually moved the ball this time. They failed, however, to move it over the goal line, settling for field goals. I'm still cautiously optimistic. On the good side, we're the Florida pre-season champ. On the bad side, that isn't saying much. The boys have a lot of work to do.

Friday, August 19, 2005

it's all about the shizzle

For those of you who might not have seen it, I give you Snoop Dogg and Lee Iacocca, lapping the track hitting the little white ball. I so want the golf cart!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

if the ride is more fly, then you must buy

Have you seen it?

The commercial with Snoop Dogg in a pastel argyle sweater (I know, the first thing you were thinking is "What's Snoop doing in John's closet?" but fear not sports fans, my blue, yellow and white pastel argyle sweater vest is an extra large where Snoop gets by with a large, and the SD on mine stands for Scooby Doo) playing golf with Lee Iacocca, driving around in a golf cart from Pimp My Ride, pitching Chrysler vehicles.

I rolled. I could watch that thing over and over. I think it's hilarious. It's almost enough to make me go out and buy a new 300.

the conference call

The latest thing ruffling my royal feathers (because it's still good to be the King) is the conference call.

About a year ago we all got these deluxe phones in the office. I went from a basic phone to this thing with several lines and speaker phone and my all time fave, putting people on hold. I'm sure if I took the time to learn, I could make it wash, dry, fold, bend, staple and mutilate. It also performs the bane of my life, the conference call. This has to be the biggest time waster ever...well, next to surfin' the net.

For the longest time we didn't use any of the neat new features, or I didn't anyway. If I transferred someone to another line, that was as fancy as it was getting for me. Other than that, I was happy just knowing which side of the plastic thing to talk into and which to put next to my ear.

To be honest, I still haven't figured out how to do the conference call thing, but there are lots of people who have, and they think it's the coolest thing. If we're stuck, or we just want another opinion on something, it's, "Hey, lets call John. I'm sure he'll know" or in corporate-speak, "Let's get John's feedback." So they call, and you've been sucked into conference call hell. You get in the middle of a conversation that is relevant for 2 minutes and then drifts off into nothing interesting. So while you're bored, you start surfing the net. OK, maybe you don't, but I do. All of a sudden you hear "right John?" It's the conference call version of getting caught daydreaming in a meeting, only they can't see you, so it's easier to fake your way out. It's still stressful though because somebody's actually looking for enlightenment from you. Either that or they're waiting for you to take a position they can hang you from later. Getting through it isn't all that hard, but in the end, you find yourself looking for a polite way to extricate yourself from the huge time pit you've found yourself sucked into. You've been helpful for 2 minutes and it's an hour later and the phone is still glued to your ear, mostly because another ear glued to his ear is your boss, and you can't have him thinking whatever he is babbling about is of no importance to you. King or not, sometimes you gotta be humble and keep your mouth shut.

First there was e-mail (where your boss is always copied on things people send you so they can later send another chastising you for not answering the first one because they think they are your only priority), and now there's this. Some days it wouldn't surprise me to look in the mirror and see Dilbert staring back.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

traffic circles

I spent my early driving years around Philadelphia and South Jersey. South Jersey mainly because my college roommate lived there and we would occasionally terrorize his ancestral home on weekends. It was there I was introduced to the concept of traffic circles. For those of you who have traveled to the U.K., roundabouts. Essentially it's a circle of traffic that takes the place of a traffic light at an intersection. Everyone turns right (or left in countries that choose to drive on the wrong side of the road) and joins the flow around the circle until you get to the road you want to leave on, where you do so.

I still fondly remember the first time I approached one, foot sliding over to the brake and mouthing "What the fu.." as I heard hysteria from my roommate in the passenger seat.

What are you doing??? Do NOT slow down! Don't you DARE stop! Put your foot on the gas and move!!!

...and so we sped up, merged and life was good.

So I learned to deal with the traffic circles of South Jersey, which seemed to work pretty much like the acceleration lane on the interstate. Keep moving and merge. If you stop, you might as well hang it up.

Fast forward to this year, where I work in the somewhat swanky suburb of J'ville known as Ponte Vedra Beach, home to Jaguars and retirees. More often than not, you can see the top of the steering wheel in the car ahead outlining a small head resembling a Q-Tip. Someone decided it would be great fun to install a traffic circle in swanky Ponte Vedra Beach along my commute route. They had to think it'd be fun. They had to do it with a sense of humor, because if that's not it, there was no sense involved at all...or they own a body shop and are hurtin' for business. (Come to think of it, the other place I've seen one of these is Hilton Head, where the local demographic is eerily similar. The body shop theory is gaining credibility.)

First, take people who think living on the edge is pushing the 40 mile an hour speed limit to 41, and then inject this marvel in their lives. These are minds in search of a clue. I'm trying to get to work and some little old lady in her 1985 Mercedes is stopped in the circle, being nice and letting people in from one of the side roads where cars are backed up. That wouldn't be so bad, but the people coming from the side road are hesitant to jump in, because they know she has the right of way and are waiting for her to move, so we're all stopped, staring at each other. This is not a one time occurrence. This, or scenes very similar to it, happen on an hourly basis. We've been dealing with this thing for months now and it's not getting any better.

I want my own personal overpass, dammit!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

T.O. still in timeout

and this is just perfect...for you T.O. (cuz we all know he, along with Martha Stewart, regularly visits my little corner of the web, even when he's in the Bahamas).

For You Terrell Owens

life insurance

First a disclaimer. If you sell life insurance, you may want to skip this.

Mr. Life Insurance came by last night, to let us know where we stand in that regard. I don't like that drill and do it very infrequently. I never come out of it satisfied that I have a real idea of what I wanted to know in the first place.

First we go through everything we have in the way of savings, investments and insurance. He plugs them into his computer model and adds the inevitable gloom and doom factor and viola, we need about a million dollars in life insurance. Then he proceeds to try to sell me $100,000 of the stuff. Well, from his calculation, that still leaves me $900,000 short. I'm only getting 10% of the way there, so why bother? Truth is, from where I sit, we aren't bad off at all. His little computer model looks very skewed to me. Playing with numbers for a while, I figured out, no matter what I have or what I earn, this thing is going to come out with me needing more insurance, and lots of it. If I made more, well that means your standard of living got higher, and you need more insurance. If we invested more, well, the stock market could crash tomorrow, so you need more insurance. If I fart, more greenhouse gasses, global warming, you need more insurance. All roads lead to more insurance.

In fact, I have yet to meet the guy who has Mr. Life Insurance come to his house and say, "Ya know what? I looked at all your stuff and you're set. There's nothing you need insurance-wise."

Don't get me wrong, the stuff has it's place, but damn. His model has my wife spending well over twice what we both make when she's 80, I'm dead (hence the insurance, or lack thereof), the mortgage is paid off and the youngster's C.E.O. of Lumberyard Inc. How much Ensure can you possibly gulp down? Maybe I need to factor in Deuce Bigelow.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Toad at the Arlington Theatre

Just a quick note from the Lumberyard Album Review Dept. A few weeks ago I blogged about Toad the Wet Sprocket and the fact that they had a new old live album out. Well, it took it's sweet time getting to me once I ordered it, but it showed up Friday. It stayed in the car CD player all weekend and I don't see it leaving anytime soon. That thing is a gem.

it's good to be the king

My thanks to Ellen for the amazingly accurate caricature of me wearing my righteous garb. You think I had an ego before? Look out now!

the consummate scrambler

Golf is a strange and frustrating game, but I've figured it out for me, for the time being.

I suck on my own, but I'm the consummate scramble player. I don't know why this is, but I'm coming to terms with it.

For those who don't know, a scramble (more formally called Captain's Choice) is the format usually played at charity events and some team competitions. Everyone hits their ball, you pick the best shot. Everyone goes there and hits. You pick the best shot, and everyone hits from there, and you continue that way through the course. It's fun, it makes life less frustrating for people who aren't scratch golfers, and it makes the round go relatively fast.

I've played a few scramble events lately (like 3 in the last 3 weeks, including that 9 holes after work just before watching Kenny Rogers get what he had coming last week), and the story has been consistent. I've been kicking ass. My three partners put their drive in the water (or trees), no problem. I rock...270 and down the middle. Par 3, 150 yards over water with the pin in front about 10 yards from danger, watching the three of them drown balls, no sweat...on the front of the green in range for a birdie putt (which all 4 of us missed, but at least we made par). I didn't have that kind of pressure all day, but when I did, I came through with flying colors. I was Mr. Clutch. I'm doing stuff that never works for me. Second shot on a Par 5, 240 yards out, soaring 3 wood, maybe not on the green, but a chip and putt from the fringe to the hole.

So why is it then when I go out and play my own ball, I can't do the same thing? The pressure isn't much different, but for whatever reason, when I'm playing for my own score, I'm hitting out of the rough half the day and I can't stick it 10 feet from the pin on the Par 3 over the water. I'm lucky to be dry and near the green. If I hit 3 wood from the fairway on a Par 5, I top the ball, watching it roll 50 yards in front of me. In a scramble I'm leaving with the same ball I start with. When on my own, I can waive goodbye to half a dozen or more. I think part of it...maybe all of it, is the head game aspect. (OK, part of it might be the lack of talent, but we don't have to go there.) I have been trying to break 90 this's my golf mission in life, and I don't get to play much, so every time I do, I'm thinking..this is my day, and I go out and mess it up. Maybe I just need to relax. Maybe that ought to be my attitude about my football team, and a lot of other things too.

it's the preseason

The first Jaguars preseason game was Saturday night, against the Miami Dolphins. So they got a test against a team with no offense and a decent defense. My cautious optimism just got a whole lot more cautious.

The first team offense looked awful. We are supposed to be seeing a new vertical passing game, more excitement and more points. Byron Leftwich is supposed to be maturing into the superstar everyone said he'd be. Well, the first series of downs went Toefield up the middle for 3, Toefield up the middle for 3, Leftwich sacked, punt...and it went downhill from there.

It was the first preseason game, and Miami threw a lot of blitzes at them, and Miami has a damn good defense, so I have lots of rationalization excuses. I, unlike most of the town, am not ready to throw Leftwich out with the bath water. Things had better get better soon, though. We still have plenty of preseason left, but this offense has to start showing something that looks like improvement. It wasn't all a Leftwich fiasco. The offensive line didn't look good. Jimmy Smith bounced footballs off his numbers in the flat. Everybody needs to get better, and soon.

Oh, everyone's praising the defense and how good they looked. It was Miami for God's sake. They don't know what they're doing yet for a quarterback, and they have Ricky 'Ganja-mon' Williams running the ball. If the defense didn't stuff Miami, I'd be worried. As it is, they did what they were supposed to do. No more, no less.

Yeah, the Jaguars won the game, but it was on the strength of the second and third string and one punt runback. Nothing the first string offense did looked remotely good. Gotta hand it to the rookies though. Matt Jones and Chad Owens will make the offense better...eventually. Granted they weren't working against Miami's first string defense, but they made plays.

So we look to the next preseason game, and expect that they learn from their mistakes. That shouldn't be too hard. They now have a film room full of them.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Staying one step behind

For my son's twelfth birthday this year we bought him his own computer. He was spending way too much time on mine, and some of that was actually school related, but a lot wasn't. He discovered e-mail, and AIM, and a girl in his class that he likes has AIM, and that kids in his class (she among them) use it to converse in the evenings, and once that happened, life as we knew it changed.

Then this summer when the cousins came to visit, girl cousin who is three years older than him showed him a whole new universe of interactive fun. The problem is my in-laws are computer illiterate and let her do pretty much what she pleases, either ignorant or apathethic about the possible consequences. We on the other hand, border on paranoid about the predators out there and keep the youngster's leash rather short. Still, he now communicates with his cousin using AIM and e-mail, and she keeps him informed about new things to do, like building his own web page, with his picture, name, address, hobbies and so forth on it. How absolutely cool. Not!

So I come home from work to, "Dad, will you take a picture of me with the digital camera?"
"and what's that?"

He proceeds to tell me the story and show it to me. Already the wheels in my head are turning and the Lost in Space robot is flailing its arms announcing "Danger, Will Robinson!". Then I see my e-mail address on his page.

"So why is my e-mail address on your page?"
"Because you have to be 16 to do this and somehow they knew I wasn't with my e-mail address, so I used yours."

So busted.

Next came a discussion where I thanked him for giving these people my e-mail address, so they could sell it to the spammers of the world. We had yet another discussion on spyware and predators who search the web for exactly what he wanted to put out there, and Hell NO you can't put your picture on that page! In fact, I want that page destroyed, never to be seen again. No I don't care that your cousin has a page and she's not 16. Nor do I care that your classmate has a page with his picture on it. Just because he's stupid doesn't mean you get to be too.

I guess I'm lucky he asks and talks to me, even if it's after the fact. One step behind is better than losing sight altogether.

T.O. in T.O.

OK, so Andy Reid put Terrell Owens in timeout (in the Bahamas. Where was that option when I was a kid?), and the Eagles are hurtin'. Please tell me you aren't surprised.

The NFC entry in last year's Super Bowl is having a "What to do with T.O." crisis and everybody's talking about it, and everyone has an opinion. So do I, and that shouldn't surprise you either.

The vindictive opinion is that the Eagles can win without T.O. They proved that during the playoffs last year. Send the boy packing.

That was last year. That was before Brian Westbrook let his ego get in a wad and refused to come to camp. It was before they let Fred Mitchell go and Todd Pinkston ended his upcoming season in injury. Westbrook is back in camp, but the other two, while not superstars, carried a lot of the load last year when Owens was hurt. They aren't there now, and really, Owens has the Eagles right where he wants them. If they dump him, that leaves things really thin at wide receiver and no, I don't think they can win that way. Of course, when you look around the NFC and ask, if not them, then who, there aren't a whole lot of answers. The Falcons are there, but they more than any other team (except maybe the Colts) go the way of their quarterback. When you count that much on one guy, bad things tend to happen. So are the Bucs, the Panthers, the Seahawks maybe. I don't see a whole lot coming out of the NFC North yet, so maybe the Eagles do still stand a chance. Maybe that playing field has leveled itself in mediocrity enough that everyone involved has a real shot. Even the Arizona Cardinals. Still looking at the bigger picture, whatever team comes out of the NFC going to the Super Bowl is like the Jamacian bobsled team at the Olympics. They'll get pounded by whoever the AFC sends. (It's a little like the National League and the American League in baseball.) In fact, the list of AFC teams that wouldn't beat the NFC champion will probably be shorter that the list of those that would. That much hasn't changed from last year. I know me saying that is going to piss off the legions of fans from NFC teams that come here daily to sip from the cup of my knowledge, but the truth is what it is. Carnac has spoken. If I'm wrong in February, skewer me, but I don't think that'll happen.

Still Owens is bad news. The Eagles will probably try to deal him to another team and they'll find out just how bad when they see how little anyone is willing to part with to get him. It's a bit like the Randy Moss situation in Minnesota, but they're a day late and a dollar short. The league only has one Raiders, and they have now filled their high priced problem child position. No other team in the league that has that package in their playbook. If and when they do manage to get rid of him, the team will probably suffer short term. In the long term, it's probably the best move they've got.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

know when to fold 'em, part II

Watched some of the Red Sox/Rangers game last night in the bar following 9 holes of golf, following work, and watched the guy who has become my (along with a lot of America's) least favorite pitcher get rocked.

I think Kenny Rogers had a lot of nerve appealing his suspension and that arbitrator who granted the appeal is an idiot. I don't have a lot of respect for the commisioner of baseball (because it really is a case of the inmate running the asylum), but when the guy's right, I have to give him his due and here he was. Kenny Rogers deserved the punishment he was handed, and ought to be shown that his actions come with consequences. When I do something stupid (and I know many of you will find it hard to believe, but yes, I occasionally do), I don't have any 'get out of stupid free' cards up my sleeve. Neither do you. Neither should he. Neither should anybody, for that matter. It's part of how we figure out how to stop doing the same stupid things over and over again. The fact that he struggled in his first outing after getting away with serving only part of his suspension couldn't make me happier. Well no, that's overstating it just a tad. There are lots of things that could and do make me happier, but it did make me happy. What goes around comes around.

prices so low we can't mention them here

I was watching the morning news today while getting ready for work, and this car dealer commercial comes on. In the commercial, I hear "with prices so low we can't mention them here."

Internet sellers do that too. They'll make you click a special place (that usually puts the item in your 'shopping cart') to see their incredibly low price. Then you have to go back and delete it from the cart once you've satisfied your curiosity.

No, this isn't the first time I've wondered about this, but it is the first time I'm blogging about it. The question is, why?

Why can you not mention your low prices here? Is there some federal law against selling stuff cheap? Is the auto maker going to come back and penalize you for selling more of their product because it's cheap? Somehow I doubt that. I have a feeling the auto maker is partially responsible for the promotion you're running in the first place. So why is it you can't mention your low low price without me going out of my way to see it?

Is it because you really can, but you don't want to, because you want me in your showroom? Or maybe is it because you don't want me shopping that price to other dealers so they can beat it? Or, is there really a legit reason why you can't tell me in a TV ad what you can tell me in person?

I'm open to suggestion here. Anyone in the peanut gallery?

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

do your homework Chris

I read an article today about tight ends in the NFL . Chris Carter listed ones to watch, overrated, underrated and what not. I looked, hoping to see Kyle Brady listed in some way shape or form. The guy's an awesome blocker who can catch. No, he's not particularly quick, but once he catches the ball, it usually takes more than one guy to bring him down, so he's good for a few yards after the catch. Besides that, he's a Jaguar (and I'm a homer) and he went to a high school that played my high school in most sports, so he's from 'home' (and again, I'm a homer).

OK, I wasn't really put off by no mention of Kyle. I was just hoping, and I'm used to having most of the guys I pull for on Sundays in the fall ignored by the national media because they play for the other small market team. Imagine my surprise then when the rookie to watch is Matt Jones. When he was drafted, that (ie. tight end) was the speculation on how the Jaguars would use him, but so far in camp, the speculation is wrong. I've watched the updates on the local sports shows and been to the team's scrimmage last Friday. Matt's lining up pretty damn wide for a tight end. He's making rookie mistakes and is a bit tentative out there, but he's only been in camp a week. The guy is six foot twenty and runs a 4.3 40. You can bet your ass he'll be playing wide receiver, despite the musings of one Chris Carter.

If you're going to mention a guy in your column, at least do your homework and know what the team is doing with him. In this case you'll get away with it because nobody outside of J'ville gives a rats ass about Matt Jones.....yet.

golf news

You heard it here first (well, maybe not, but you did hear it here).

If you have any intention of building a vacation around going to the focal point of golf in America (that being the World Golf Hall of Fame and Sawgrass in beautiful Northeast Florida) and forking out huge bucks for your opportunity to drown a few balls in futile attempts to hit the the fabled 17th green on the Stadium Course, do it soon, or wait a very long time.

The clubhouse at Sawgrass will be leveled and the Stadium Course will be closed after the 2006 Players Championship in March. The course is being refurbished and the clubhouse is being rebuilt from scratch, all in time for the 2007 Players Championship. I'll leave the conclusion of when that tournament will be played (March or May of 2007) up to you to consider.

the Indian Mascot counter-point

I read this column this morning and I understand the author's point. When he makes the comparisons, I see where it may be offensive to someone. I disagree with the conclusion that the mascots have to go. I don't see where this affects his life in any way, and I feel like he has to go out of his way to be offended by the whole issue. I think if this argument holds weight, next in line will be PETA telling the NCAA that schools protraying wildcats as fierce uncaring predators need to be stopped. Some wildcats are nurturing mothers, after all. Stop the insanity!

tobacco choices

Peter Jennings died this week of lung cancer. Christopher Reeves' wife announced she's dying of lung cancer. Larry King did the opportunistic thing and had a show last night on lung cancer. His guests were people who had loved ones who died of lung cancer and one guy who was the 'Winston Man' in commercials and is now on an anti-tobacco company crusade.

I watched Larry King interview these people last night and turn his show into a crusade against tobacco companies. I don't like tobacco companies. I think they are deceitful bottom feeders, which also happens to be my opinion of lawyers, but that's another story. I don't, however think they are to blame for anyone's addiction who is younger than I am. Larry asked each of those people who lost loved ones to smoking and lung cancer if they were mad at the tobacco companies, and every one of them said yes. I sat there and said, "You people are putting the blame in the wrong place."

I used to smoke. I started when I was 16 in a stupid attempt to be cool, and I quit when I was 39 in a New Years resolution (one of the few I actually kept). I had lots of help in the form of society, which made smoking harder and harder to do conveniently. One December day I was standing outside my workplace (because it was smoke free) trying to light a cigarette in the rain and the absurdity of it all hit me. It was too hard. It was killing me. I needed to stop. I don't know what year it was when people actually knew smoking kills you. I know it was before my time, because when I made that stupid decision, I knew. I knew and I did it anyway. That wasn't Winston's fault. That wasn't Phillip Morris's fault. That was my fault. I may still suffer for that decision and if I do, I have nobody to blame but me. I have nobody to be mad at but me. I made the stupid decision when I was 16 and even then I said to myself, "It's my life and if I suffer because of this, it's nobody else's business. I can do what I want." I was right, but with that choice comes the responsibility of the consequences. Nobody shoved that cigarette in my mouth but me. I used to joke that I smoked the ones where the warning had something to do with women who were pregnant, because those wouldn't affect me, but I knew what I was doing.

People blame the tobacco companies for making it addictive and marketing it and basically, for giving you that opportunity to use their product. They make the choice available to you. You still have to choose to use it though, and when you do, you have only you to blame.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

and the shuttle's back!

I don't know if it was that I sorta knew someone on this one, or the disaster the last time a landing was attempted, or a combination, or what, but this shuttle landing has been constantly on my mind for the last few days. I'm so happy those folks are safe and sound.

Heap big pissing contest

Let me preface this by saying I went to Villanova University and the University of North Florida. Our mascots were the Wildcats and the Ospreys. I am pleased to announce that neither seem to be offended by our adopting them as such. I say this because I want it known I have no real predisposition toward any team with an Indian name. I'm not a Florida State fan. The Atlanta Braves and Washington Redskins have no special place in my heart. It did however, disappoint me when another Big East school, St. John's, caved in a sea of political correctness several years ago, changing their mascot from the Redmen to the Red Storm.

I'm having a real issue with the NCAA's decision to coerce schools with Indian named mascots to change them. Sorry, I won't use the term 'Native American', because if I grant that a certain group of Americans are 'native', I'm not sure where that leaves the rest of us who were born here. Are we not native? This issue is bigger news here perhaps than some places because the Seminoles of Florida State are nearby. I'll dispense with one argument for the name right away. Florida State says they can claim the name Seminole because the Seminole tribe of Florida endorses the name and the school's use of it. The opposing argument is that Seminole tribes elsewhere don't. I say who gives a damn. I don't know how many other Seminole tribes were polled, and I don't think either side of that argument carries much weight anyway.

I guess the crux of my issue is...since when is it offensive to be a school mascot? I'm of Italian descent. If the University of Northwest Southern Alaska wants to call themselves the Greasy Wops and wear pizza boxes for hats at basketball games, more power to 'em. I really don't care. I'm not that easily offended. If the University of Notre Dame wants to call themselves the Fighting Irish and use a little brawling leprechaun to represent the school, why shouldn't they be able...wait a minute. Never mind. What is so offensive about having a school that wants to associate themselves with a symbol in which they take pride? I'm hearing that it's offensive, derogatory and abusive. I have yet to hear in what way, and I am open to that argument if anyone wants to put it forward. Please, someone tell me what's wrong with a school using your tribe as it's symbol of pride?

I have heard the argument that these schools are making money off these Indian names and symbols. Bullshit! Is the University of Akron making money off the Zips of the world? University of Richmond exploiting spiders? Those universities wouldn't make any more money from school sports paraphernalia than if the team was called the Flying Bozos. They just don't want to be the Flying Bozos, because where's the pride in that? But if they were the Flying Bozos, people would still buy their t-shirts and jerseys and visors and ball caps and whatever. Their mascot isn't what's making money for the school. The school is making money for the school, although I understand Hurricane Irene changed course and is headed toward the University of Miami, because she's wanting her cut.

I've heard, "It was time. The NCAA had to get off their butts and do something!" I agree, but they did the wrong something. It's time they told the handful of whiney ass activists, "The answer is no, and it will always be no. Political correctness won't go to this ridiculous level. We won't pressure teams to change their names so go and do something productive with your lives instead of camping on our front door."

The specific punishment for having an Indian mascot is that your school won't be able to host an NCAA post season event, which means pretty much, baseball and basketball playoff tournament games would not come your way. Football doesn't come under their umbrella. If you were fortunate enough to play in those games, your Indian mascot name couldn't be seen or mentioned. You'd have to wear uniforms that did not display it.

I've heard Florida State might sue the NCAA. Although I agree with their fundamental position, I don't see them as having a leg to stand on in a lawsuit. They voluntarily belong to the NCAA, and therefore agree to abide by the rules the organization sets forth. If the NCAA pushes this rule, and it looks like they are, FSU has three choices. Find a new mascot, wear uniforms that don't show their mascot name when playing in NCAA sponsored post season events and give up the right to host any such events, or thumb their nose at the NCAA and say, "we're giving up our membership in this organization".

Curiously, one of the schools being targeted is the Fighting Illini of Illinois. These folks are in a pickle. Lets say their team goes to the baseball playoffs. Well, the Illini can't be on their shirts, but neither can the University of Illinois. Both names are of Indian derivation. I hope there's enough room on that shirt for 'a school from the state that happens to include Chicago'.

Now, I know what's coming. John you hypocritical ass. (You might not say it but admit it. Some of you were thinking it. Some still are.) The stars and bars are outa here but Indian names are OK. There's a huge difference. The confederate battle flag is a symbol being used even today to intimidate and offend. A local middle school had to ban it on clothing for just that reason. Middle school, mind you. Twelve year olds were using it as a symbol of intimidation. Last time I looked, no Indian symbols were used that way. Indians deserve to be seen in a place of honor, and that's how I view being a school mascot, and maybe why I'm missing the boat. The stars and bars might have deserved that at one time, but until that symbol can be wrestled back from those who use it as a symbol of hate, it doesn't.

As I said, I'm open to an opposing point of view. I just haven't heard one yet that's very convincing. If you have one, bring it. I'm all for a little enlightenment.

Monday, August 08, 2005

the lumberyard debut album theory

I was listening to the new Dave Matthews Band CD this morning on the way to work, which I purchased recently. My opinion so far boils down to this. It's good. I like it. It's still no Under the Table and Dreaming or Crash. I like what I'm hearing, but there's no #41/Say Goodbye here, or Jimi Thing. Those early albums (and the songs I mentioned specifically) continue to be my favorites. It's the same story when Springteen puts out new music. For me, the first three albums were Bruce's best. Maybe that has more to do with where I was at the time and the nostalgia factor, but nothing he's done since Greetings, The Wild, The Innocent and the E-Street Shuffle or Born to Run does for me what those three still do. Rosalita is still, for my money, the best Bruce song ever. Elton John. Give me Madman Across the Water any day. Boston had nothing but sound alikes after their debut album which is why some of you born in the eighties are saying, "Who?".

So we get to the lumberyard theory of music. Of the above examples, Boston is probably the one that fits the theory best, and most bands who do have melted away from the collective memory. This theory doesn't explain or fit all bands. In fact, Dave Matthews and Bruce are examples of people/bands who managed to break the theory to some extent, in that they have been successful over time. I still contend they fit the theory because the early stuff is still the best. The lumberyard debut album theory struggles to answer the question, "Why do so many bands second albums disappoint," or "why do I always like the early stuff better." Really it's just a piece of common sense.

Think of the life of a band. A few people get together and start playing music. First they play songs from bands they like. Then they get good enough at that to play in bars. They play covers for a living and on the side they start writing their own stuff. Then they start throwing their own stuff into sets in front of people and some get rave reviews. Others get panned. Over the next few years though, they put together a good 10 or 20 songs that the regulars where they play have helped them filter out as their best efforts. So far, we're probably 5 or 6 years into the process. Then they get brave and put two or three of the best ones on a demo tape and start shopping it around, and someone takes a flier on them. They head for the studio and in about six months they have a debut album in stores. It's made up of the best stuff they have to date, because they want to put their best foor forward. They have their first hit single and smile hearing themselves on the radio, followed by a second single and they're on the cover of People magazine and mom's asking who the half naked girl is in their video on MTV and they're touring, backing up U2, and they have some roadie filtering out the green M&Ms, and life is good. Till the record company comes back and says, "The people love you! We need to get to work on the next album like, yesterday. We have studio time booked next week. Get your new songs ready." New songs? Shit! It took us 10 years to put together the songs on our last album. You want new ones next week? And so the new ones get written. True, there are bands out there who can handle it and do, but an awful lot of them can't and so more often than not, we hear about the disappointing second effort from...whoever, and we never hear from them again.

Granted, like I said, good bands get through that and have something to offer after the first album, and some actually get better. Still in an awful lot of cases, in my opinion, the early stuff is the best.

My statement on steroids

I have never used performance enhancing supplements of any kind, and I offer this blog as proof.


This was a weekend of milestines for the youngster. One I have been looking forward to ever since I heard the words "it's a boy", just as much as I looked upon gazinta talk day with trepedation.

Last year we tried grass cutting with very little success. He, like most boys, really wanted to do it (or thought he did). He begged and begged, and finally I thought he was about old enough, and really felt lucky that I had a son who was enthusiastic about yard work, because I most certainly am not. We started at one corner of the yard and I pointed to a tree that separates our yard from our neighbor's and said, "Just look at the tree and walk right toward it." Well, we were all over the place, and one crooked line later, he decided the lawn mower wasn't all it's cracked up to be and I took over to fix the damage. His enthusiasm came to an abrupt halt. Well, Saturday we decided it's time to try again, and instead of starting cold, I made it easier. I did the first few laps, and got the grass up against the house, and around the trees, leaving him huge rectangles. He missed a few spots, so had to retrace some steps, but overall did well, even if he wasn't all that happy about it. He does understand that he's being a big help, and that's easing the pain.

The second huge thing was Saturday night when we went out to eat, he ordered from the big folks menu for the first time, and ate the whole dinner. He's saying he's done it before, but I reminded him that a Big Mac at Ronald's House of Fine Meats doesn't count. This was a place with the option of a kids menu with crayons, and we finally got to forgo that whole thing and choose from the expanded real people menu.

On an unrelated topic, Friday night we went to the Jaguars scrimage at the stadium. Matt Jones is one large person!

Friday, August 05, 2005

welcome lurkers

I think this falls under what Jason would call 'Blogging about Blogging' in his pet peeves, and for that I apologize. Note however, it didn't stop me from continuing on.

I got the site-meter thing a while ago to see how many people actually look at this place, but never really poked around in it. I still haven't, except to see that people do actually come here on occasion. That was the surprising thing. People actually do drop by. They aren't flocking in droves or anything, but some folks are here on occasion, but not many seem to comment on what they read. At first I thought that must mean they probably read what I say, but don't agree with it, and don't want to say anything if they can't say anything nice. Then I went to the Jaguars message board and realized this is the internet. In a world where assholes can remain anonymous, they do and they thrive, and they enjoy saying things when they don't have to be nice. Not to imply that you people are assholes. I'm just saying people on the internet usually don't refrain from comment just to be nice. If I truly inspire that kind of restraint, I need to figure out how I'm doing it and sell it, because there are a lot of message board webmasters who would pay dearly. That blew that theory. That leaves me with this.

You people aren't here for the articles, are you? 'Babe a Day' is doing exactly what she was intended to do. I can't say I noticed, but Wednesday's babe must've been hot.

The Dukes of Hazzard Movie is out!

which begs the question, can Jessica Simpson's ass in cutoffs carry a whole movie? ...because once you get past that, there isn't a whole lot left. OK, I'm guilty of of not knowing about what I'm criticizing to an extent, because I haven't seen the movie. I expect to pass on the DVD version when it comes out, too. I have read the reviews though, which claim it's like the TV show, but more PG-13 than G rated. I think that pretty much qualifies my opinion, and so....I think the answer is..ummmmmm, no.

The other side of the coin though. If by some miracle, the movie is #1 at the box office this weekend, you have to give credit where credit is due, and say Jessica's ass is worth millions. In that case, she needs to be talking to Lloyds of London.

oh to be twelve again

If you dig deep into the archives of this blog (OK, not that deep. It's only a few months old. It doesn't have a that deep, yet.) you'll find where my son broke his wrist and pretty much lost the second half of his twelve year old little league season. For those of you who don't know, and I didn't before he started playing, in little league, twelve is the year. It's the year where you finish little league. If you're going to Williamsport for the Little League World Series, this is the year you're doing it. Now, I have no delusions of grandeur for my son. He's not quite all star material, let alone Little League World Series stock, but you can grasp the importance of that year in baseball for these kids. He cried when he was told his season was pretty much done, and when the cast came off and his team was in the playoffs, he cried again when the doctore told him he couldn't play ball for another two or three weeks.

Well, God and the A.A.U. smiled on my son. For many years, the cutoff date for 'how old you are' in kids sports was August 31st. That meant, whatever age your child is (or will be) on August 31st of that year is the age he is considered for sports. Since my son turned twelve in May (even though the season was pretty much over), he was considered twelve for baseball purposes. Someone noted that meant he, among many others, played his entire twelve year old season but were only eleven years old, and just in time for us, changed the magic cutoff date to April 30th. No, it had nothing to do with him personally, but he does benefit. That means this year, he would have been eleven on the cutoff date, and next year he'll be twelve, which gives him a whole 'nuther chance to be twelve again. All I can say is, he's going nowhere near the skate parks. Someone up there smiled on him and I hope he gets to take advantage of it.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Palmeiro gets 10 day suspension

Raphael Palmeiro gets a 10 day suspension for using steriods. Kenny Rodgers gets 20 for being an asshole. People are questioning the punishment/crime relationship of these two and rightly so. The ones who are wrong are the ones saying it shows Rodgers' punishment was too severe. Palmeiro's was too light, and so is anyone else's who gets caught cheating Baseball in this way.

Palmeiro should get slammed a lot harder. His season should be done and he should be banned from the Hall of Fame. You want to let people know you're serious about steriods? Hit them in their pocket book for the current year, and let them know that their enhanced performance won't get them squat as a legacy. Since we can't distinguish what you did with or without streoids, but we know you used them, we are left to assume all your numbers are a product of something you alone are incapable of. When you cheat, you lose the benefit of the doubt and the system should not err in your favor. Therefore, you're outa there. Record the K.

From my stand, you might conclude that I hate baseball, and that's not true. I love baseball, and I'm tired of having the game I love scarred by people dragging it down. I want my game back!

Of course, I want that, and I want a world where my children will be judged not by the color of their skin, but the content of their character, and as soon as I get those two, I'll buy the world a Coke and get to work on that whole whirrled peas thing.

Martha, Martha, Martha! Why is it always Martha?!?

Martha Stewart tripped over her own ego, yet again. The kitchen kween thought she was at the end of her home confinement, only to find her efforts to skirt her sentence were discovered, and will make her a SAHB (stay at home bitch) for just a bit longer.

This woman is supposedly trying to keep a low profile while flaunting the idea that she is above the hoi polloi and their laws. How does she think that'll play out? In a country where people who think they are above the rest are usually villified (unless of course their zip code is 90210 or they play professional sports), especially when they're emerging from a prison sentence and have a growing reputation for snobbery, a low profile is setting the bar pretty high. Remember Leona Helmsley?

This is only my opinion, and God knows, not that many people take that all too seriously, but hey Martha (because I know she reads my little corner of the world), you might just want to settle in with Nick at Nite for a few weeks till this all runs its course, before you really piss off all those little people who pay your bills.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Why you can't believe your e-mail

Call this yet another public service announcement.

I get e-mails all the time from people forwarding jokes or pearls of wisdom, some better than others, and some urban legends warning me of someone trying to bestow upon me (or the general population) some kind of horrible death. Today I got this one:

Stay with this -- the answer is at the end. It will blow you away.
One evening a grandson was talking to his grandmother about current events. The grandson asked his grandmother what she thought about the shootings at schools, the computer age, and just things in general.
The Grandma replied, "Well, let me think a minute, I was born before:
polio shots
frozen foods
contact lenses
Frisbees and
the pill
There was no:
credit cards
laser beams or
ball-point pens
Man had not invented:
air conditioners
clothes dryers
and man hadn't yet walked on the moon
Your Grandfather and I got married first, then lived together. Every family had a father and a mother. Until I was 25, I called every man older than me, "Sir". And after I turned 25, I still called policemen and every man with a
title, "Sir."
We were before gay rights, computer dating, dual careers, daycare centers, and group therapy. Our lives were governed by the Ten Commandments, good judgment, and common sense. We were taught to know the difference between right and wrong and to stand up and take responsibility for our actions.
Serving your country was a privilege; living in this country was a bigger privilege. We thought fast food was what people ate during Lent. Having a meaningful relationship meant getting along with your cousins.
Draft dodgers were people who closed their front doors when the evening breeze started. Time-sharing meant time the family spent together in the evenings and weekends-not purchasing condominiums.
We never heard of FM radios, tape decks, CDs, electric typewriters, yogurt, or guys wearing earrings. We listened to the Big Bands, Jack Benny, and the President's speeches on our radios. And I don't ever remember any kid blowing his brains out listening to Tommy Dorsey.
If you saw anything with 'Made in Japan ' on it, it was junk. The term 'making out' referred to how you did on your school exam. Pizza Hut, McDonald's, and instant coffee were unheard of. We had 5 &10-cent stores where you could actually buy things for 5 and 10 cents. Ice-cream cones, phone calls, rides on a streetcar, and a Pepsi were all
a nickel. And if you didn't want to splurge, you could spend your nickel on enough stamps to mail 1 letter and 2 postcards.
You could buy a new Chevy Coupe for $600, . . . but who could afford one? Too bad, because gas was 11 cents a gallon. In my day:
"grass" was mowed,
"coke" was a cold drink,
"pot" was something your mother cooked in and
"rock music" was your grandmother's lullaby.
"Aids" were helpers in the Principal's office,
"chip" meant a piece of wood,
"hardware" was found in a hardware store and
"software" wasn't even a word.
And we were the last generation to actually believe that a lady needed a husband to have a baby. No wonder people call us "old and confused" and say there is a generation gap.
How old do is Grandma? I bet you have this old lady in are in for a shock!
Grandma would be only 58 years old!

Most people get this stuff and go, " WOW! Isn't that amazing." Either that or they delete it without looking. I looked and said, "You have got to be kidding!" I'm sorry, but I'm raising the bullshit flag. A quick check of my profile will tell you that I'm 48 years old. That means Grandma is 10 years my elder. I graduated from college in 1979. That means Grandma was college graduate age in 1969, and makes her a serious child of the 60's. She was more apt to burn her bra, (or her draft card if she was a he) than serve her country. Grandma's first meaningful relationship came when she did, in the back of a VW microbus. Grandma was screaming in the front row when the Beatles crossed the Atlantic. She was naked and stoned at Woodstock. She no more knew Tommy Dorsey than I do. Her Chevy Camero cost a few more than 600 dollars and half her guy friends were in Canada avoiding Viet Nam. "Grass" was mowed, my ass. "Made in Japan" was the name of her Deep Purple album. Making out? She was making love, not war. Just cuz the e-mail says it's so doesn't mean it is.

Jen, Brad and Angie

I'm not really keeping up on the whole Jennifer Aniston, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie thing. It just happened to be on one of those evening celebrity shows (I think it was Extra) that came on after the news yesterday evening while we were waiting for the rain to stop so my son and I could go play catch.

First off, Brad Pitt...what a problem this guy must have. Let's see, Jennifer or Angelina...hmmmmm. Life must be rough. Second, Brad Pitt, how can you fuck it up like that? I'll grant you, I don't know from squat. I haven't had so much as a 2 second conversation with any of these people, so I don't know what they're real lives are like. Nor do I know what it's like to be around them, but on face value...and I mean that pretty literally, because that's about all I have to go on, Jen wins. At least in my book. That's a matter of taste perhaps. Ok, yeah it is. From the media portrayal though, which may be more a reflection of the PR people involved than the person behind them, Jen seems like the nicer person...more honest, more down to earth. Then there's the fact that she's a fox. As far as I'm concerned, she win's in the beauty and talent competitions. Then there's her stab at Brad which I thought was hilarious. "Billy Idol called. He wants his look back."

In the words of comedian Tom Parks when discussing his lust for Dr. Ruth, "She knows how to do things...things that I want done." Maybe that's the case with Angelina, and the edge she has. Pure speculation on my part though, as if you might have thought otherwise.

So there you go, an opinion based on nothing but conjecture and fluff. Not exactly a stretch for me. Just so you don't go away completely empty handed, did you know that the voice for the ugly stepsister in Shrek 2 is Larry King? If not, at least you got that from reading me.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

golf and sunglasses

I played in a charity golf tournament this weekend, benefitting the YMCA. It was the usual for this kind of tournament. There were door prizes and prizes for best score, closest to the pin on par 3 holes, longest drive on one hole, and a few other things.

Usually on the longest drive hole, I rear back and try to slam it as far as possible...with disasterous results. It more often than not means a nasty duck hook or a soaring shot into the trees somewhere. This was not the case Saturday. I hit a beautiful drive on that hole and watched it majestically soar down the middle of the fairway. I stood on the tee box and just watched, all proud of myself. I listened to the compliments of my teammates and enjoyed the moment, until I got out there and saw where it landed....a good 40 yards short of the guy who won. Oh well, at least I know I gave it as good an attempt as I can. In my defense, the guy who won hit it well over 300 yards. There's always one.

I lost my sunglasses that day. When we got there it was hot and sunny, so I wore them. Then it showered a bit and was overcast toward the end of the round, so I took 'em off and put them with my cell phone, so I wouldn't forget them. I know I had them when I was looking at the big ol' scoreboard (where my team was nowhere near the top, but we were respectable) but somehow left without them. Maybe it was the free beer coupled with the heat and humidity...who knows. However it happened, I left with my cell phone but without my sunglasses.

It rained that evening, so I didn't miss them, until the drive to church the next morning...YOW! It was nasty bright out!

I called the folks I rode to the tournament with...the shades weren't in their car. I called the folks at the pro shop at the golf course, twice, and no, nobody had seen them. I know it's my own fault. I'm the one who put them down and left without them, but I'm sure someone's seen them, or more to the point, is seeing right through them today, and that's a shame.

It was an expensive lesson, but one I don't plan on repeating.

Oh and another note on honesty and such. We finished the tournament 4 under. Like I said, not something that will win in a scramble, but not bottom of the barrel material either. We had the opportunity to watch the group in front of us all day. We got that opportunity because they played so slow and were all over the course so much, we were constantly waiting for them to hit their next shot (or two). We heard an audible cheer on one, count 'em, one hole. Somehow that team posted a final score of 9 under and I don't see how. I wasn't specifically counting, but they hit an awful lot of shots. It didn't matter that much. While they beat us, they still didn't finish in a place where any merchandise headed their way. I guess, the cheer was for that eagle they posted, and the birdies were just routine things. Am I whining? Yeah, maybe. Should I stop now? Yeah, maybe that too.

Preseason mags

As the new NFL season approaches, the magazine shelves at local supermarkets and drug stores are full of preseason prognostications, eagerly gobbled up by football junkies like myself who have been jonesing since the superbowl. Granted, you have to hit me upside the head on occasion to make me see the obvious, but I've finally come to the conclusion these magazines are a waste of time, and I know. I've wasted plenty.

All this time and I finally noticed the pattern. A major piece of these magazines is the prediction of where teams will finish the season, and some one paragraph justification for the same. Every year it's the same thing. The writers take the standings at the end of the prior season and reprint them. The only semi-original thought that goes into it is the one paragraph they write to justify why this season will look just like last season. Nobody does any real analysis. Nobody goes out on any kind of limb, and are therefore 'surprised' when some team breaks the mold. Any deviation from last season becomes the 'surprise' team of the new season. Well...duh!

Just consider this my public service announcement for the day. Don't waste your time or money like I did. Look at how last season finished and that's how this one is supposed to.

The holdout that wasn't supposed to be is over!

Yes, more Jaguars stuff.

Matt Jones said what every rookie says on draft day. "There will be no holdout. I'm anxious to get in camp. I'm happy to be a XXXXXXXXXX!" (XXXXXXXXXX = team that just drafted him).

So we started training camp, and Matt Jones is nowhere to be found, his agent still hammering out his contract with the team. In his defense, all rookies say what he said, and most unknowingly lie. They speak before they know the endeavor their agent is about to embark on. This guy, more than most though, couldn't afford to be missing camp. He was a college quarterback and is trying to make it in the NFL as a wide receiver. He's going to need help! Well, the bleeding has been stopped and sometime early this morning, the deal got done and he should be reporting to work today, hopefully making the team's gamble on him in the first round look more like genius than an act of total stupidity.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Raphie, say it ain't so

Rafael Palmeiro gets hit for using steriods. Someone tell me it ain't so. The guy sat there in front of congress and swore up and down he never touched the stuff. He acted indignant that anyone would even suggest that he would. I so wanted to believe him. I so did believe him. Here was the shining example of something right in Major League Baseball. Here was someone with integrity.

OK, just stamp SUCKER across my head now. I'm not so much pissed as I am just disappointed. Believe it or not though, I'm still holding out hope that there's more to the story. I still want him to somehow be innocent, and I'm not even a big Orioles fan. Does that make me an even bigger sucker? Maybe so.

stars and bars and such

I had the opportunity to buy gas yesterday, and in the next bay pouring quarts of oil into an old, primer colored pick'em up truck were three people. Two were guys, one wearing a stars and bars t-shirt, and the girl with them had a big stars and bars belt buckle. The back window of the pick'em up truck was decorated in the same motif.

It made me think of something that occasionally grates on me, emobdied in that symbol. This whole "heritage, not hate" thing is just a crock. Daughters of the Confederacy aside, that symbol embodies oppression for many and incompetence for the vast majority of the others.

If you think about it, you never see the stars and bars emblazoned across the back window of a Lexus. You don't see it flying from flag poles in front yards in gated communities. It's rusted out pick'em up trucks and trailer parks that sport that symbol, and there's a reason for that. It's the grasp for something of glory in an otherwise substandard life, and an excuse for the same.

I also know what I'm doing is stereotyping, and isn't the case for everyone who holds a place in their hearts for the popular symbol of the confederacy, but but the same token, Dixie Outfitters would go broke if not for the trailer parks of the south. I have spoken with people who claim that special place, and that it isn't a symbol of hatred. I suppose it's just coincidence then, that more often than not, those are also the people who won't think twice about telling me a racial joke under their breath (because in their heart of hearts, they may not think it's wrong, but they know it isn't acceptable), sprinkled with degrading terms for their fellow man. That usually only happens once and rarely gets as far as the punch line. "Heritage not Hate" gave them some legitimacy to rally behind, but they still wink when they see a Klan rally parading their hijacked standard down main street. Then they go into a rage when they discuss Muslims and the militants who have hijacked that religion and used it to legitimize their intolerance, but they don't see the parallels. I know this isn't everybody, but from my (admittedly unofficial and unscientific) sampling, it is far and away the majority. Other people have some pride in their heritage too and I'm one of them, but I don't have a big ol' belt buckle with an Italian flag on it, and if I did. No, let's not even go there. I won't ever have a big ol' belt buckle, with or without the Italian flag on it.

And so we get to the lumberyard theory on the stars and bars. There are people who aren't satisfied with their lot in life. They look out from their porch on cinderblocks, past the vehicle on cinderblocks and see the BMWs and Corvettes, and new Malibus, for that matter. They drive past houses with real foundations and wonder, "Why isn't that me?" They want someone to blame and don't want it to be them. They may have dropped out of high school, but that's not why they aren't better off. They may not get to work every day, especially on Mondays after watching NASCAR with a case of beer, but that's not it either. It's someone else's fault. It's a government that helps everyone else to a better life but them. They feed each other this crap and swallow it hook, line and sinker because it lets them off the hook, line and sinker. No longer is it their fault. They have someone else to blame. They also have a convenient symbol with reminds them of a romanticized antibellum past and points the finger of blame for their less than perfect present.

It's just one of the many reasons I also don't like affirmative action. I want that excuse done away with for all concerned, so when minorities make something of themselves, nobody has any doubt why. I want minority employees and business owners in this country to know they got where they are because of their own merits and not because some stupid quota system says the company is short of whatever it is they happen to be or we haven't awarded enough contracts to someone who looks a certain way, or whatever, and I want Bubba's excuse for his lot in life pulled out from under him. I want people to be able to take pride in themselves for their accomplishments, or take the blame for their lack thereof, whatever the case may be.