Wednesday, April 26, 2006

let's just get all cynical

This week the PGA Tour goes to New Orleans...for the first time since Katrina, and, yes, a little bit is being made of it. The Tour will go there and play, and raise a bunch of money for local charities that sure as hell could use it. There are cynics though, that are looking at the whole thing and thinking too much is being made of it. New Orleans needs a hell of a lot more than this to get well, and in the grand scheme of things, this is much ado about nothing.

Well shit, people. If everyone felt that way, we'd get nowhere. If last year I said "My money won't do much of anything, I'll just not send it to the Red Cross." What if I did that, and millions of other people did that? What if we all do that this year, and next? Then where the hell would we be? Every little bit helps, and adds up into something that does make a difference. No, the PGA Tour isn't going to cure all New Orleans's ills in one weekend. Nobody wields that kind of power. So what should they do? What should anyone in that position do? Just throw up their defeatist arms and say, "Oh well, lets just forget it then?" No, this weekend won't fix everything, but it'll make some steps in the right direction. The Tour could have easily said..."No, New Orleans is still a mess. Let's just go someplace else that weekend and stay out of their way." Could have, but didn't...and yeah, that does make a difference.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

an 'A' for effort, but what were ya' thinkin'?

The youngster had baseball practice last night. Again we had the normal drill. He gets to play second base in practice, so he was there. An hour and a half into the practice, there were three errors on the same play, and the kids committing the errors weren't particularly upset about it. In fact, they were laughing. No, the youngster wasn't one of them, but yeah, he could have been. They were all getting a bit tired, or whatever.

The coach got a bit upset and pulled everyone in to the mound. Somewhere in that short run, the youngster twisted his ankle. The coach then gave everyone a little speech about focus and effort that ended with something to the effect of, "If you're not here to play, head to the dugout, pack up your stuff and go on home, because I don't need you out here."

I was talking to one of the other parents and not really watching the whole thing. I knew he pulled them in to talk to them and assumed it had something to do with effort after the preceeding play, but wasn't watching closely. The next thing I know I'm watching the youngster charging a slow roller to second..and sorta limp/running his way there and making the play, but looking really awkward. Then I watched him limp back to his position. So I yelled to the coach that I thought he was hurt. The one coach, whose son usually plays second told him to walk it off. The other went out and talked to him and I went to the fence. He limped off the field with the coach's help and I took him home.

So I asked him..."Why, bud? Why did you wait for me to say something? When did you hurt it?" He told me he did it when he ran in to the mound, but after that "If your not here to play, pack up your stuff and go home" speech, he didn't want to say anything and tried to play on it. I can understand where he was coming from, and applaud the effort, but no...when you're really hurt, you need to get off that ankle before you do some real damage. We talked about it some and iced it when we got home. He was still limping this morning, but he's hanging in there.

Monday, April 24, 2006

you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar

Of course, dog shit works even better, but it doesn't make for a cool saying.

It never ceases to amaze me how people will want something or need to get something done, and the way they go about getting it is to totally piss off the one person who can either help them get it, or get it for them.

They will either ask for help and while they're getting it and getting something accomplished, aggravate the person who is getting them through whatever it is...or they want something from someone and at the first sign of not getting it...just light into them, making someone who wasn't that keen on giving them what they want in the first place, even less so. Just a small life lesson folks...if you want something from of the best ways to not get it is to call them an asshole or do something equally obnoxious.

the lumberyard golf update

I actually played golf this weekend (yesterday)...third time this year. The guy I'm playing in the tournament with this week, and I, went out and played 18 holes to warm up. I started horrible, but by the end of the round I was playing OK. We have a practice round on Thursday and the actual tournament starts Friday. Hopefully I re-learned enough so the practice round will be enough to get me ready.

I relearned a lot though, and it wasn't just about golf (kinda like those Wachovia commercials...what can a round of golf teach us focus on the task at hand. Hitting a great drive means nothing if you go to hit the next shot and lose your concentration because you're busy patting yourself on the back. Can't rest on your laurels....gotta move on. Don't look for results before you have anything to look at. Stay focused on what you have to do. Let someone else tell you how good it looks...if it actually does. You just make sure you're getting done what you have to do. These aren't new lessons. I've learned them many times before, and like I said...not just with golf. Yesterday was just a good, if sometimes painful, reminder.

Stuart Appleby won in Houston! Appleby has been someone I pull for, probably for a lot of reasons he wouldn't want. I doubt the guy wants pity. I don't know that pity is the right word for it though, either. The guy lost his entire family...wife and an accident several years ago. Of course, it devastated him and golf wasn't exactly the highest priority going for him at the time, but he eventually came back. Ever since then I wanted to see him be successful. I wanted good things to happen for the guy after life pretty much kicked him in the face, and yesterday, one of those good things happened.

Friday, April 21, 2006

hey jealousy, part two

A few days ago I blogged about getting a really cool plaque from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for work I did on software that won an emmy. Yes, for those of you who keep asking me...a real emmy, angel looking thing holding up a globe emmy, like the kind they show actors getting on the Emmy Awards Show emmy. I didn't realize there was another kind, but people honestly ask. Maybe it's more a disbelief that I could be involved in anything that cool, and I can understand that. At the time I thought this was an awesome thing (the plaque, that is). Now I'm not so sure. I mean, it was nice and all, but it seems not everyone who worked on the project got them. Somebody up the food chain decided who was supposed to get them and left some people out. Granted, their roles were pretty minor, but still...we got something and they didn't, and it's causing issues. The issues are getting big enough that I'm thinking, it's really not worth all this.

Before we got these things, everything was fine. We all knew we worked on this thing and it won an emmy and we went about our business. Then this thing came along. I said, "Thank you." I took it home, and honestly haven't done anything with it yet except show it to the wife and youngster. It has since grown into a monster, creating haves and have-nots. The haves don't really care that much, because we got the thing, even if we didn't ask for it. The have-nots are pissed, big time. They're spending more of their day looking for evidence of their contribution to the project in an attempt to recify the situation than they are doing their actual job. They're rummaging through two year old e-mails for chrissakes. I can see their a point. If I was in their shoes, I'd probably have a different slant on it all, but after a day of being disappointed, I'd probably let it go and move on. It's not helping that these are the same people who weren't happy when we won the thing, because we all didn't get to fly to New York to accept the award. They're also the people who look for anything to whine about, and this has given them more ammunition than they've ever dreamed of. Right now I'd like to take my name off the thing, put someone elses on and hand it to them and say, "Please take it, and be happy...and shut up about the whole thing." I'm tired of hearing about it.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

concept stolen from some guy on the radio, but I thought it was funny enough to share

I'd like to give credit where it's due, but I'm not sure who I stole this from. Maybe Andrew Siciliano?? If I could remember the guy's name and the complete quoted line, I'd use that (because it's funnier than my version), but this is close enough.

Hey A-Rod and Yankee Stadium. Williamsport just called. They're tired of seeing your cheap home runs. You've embarassed them so much that they want everyone to know they'll be moving the fences back for the Little League World Series.

this is progress

I wish I had a 'before' picure to go with the 'after'. The closest thing I could find on the web was here (at the bottom of the page), but it's from the opposite side. In either case, the clubhouse for the Tournament Players Club Sawgrass is flattened now, making way for a newer, bigger, better version. There is a temporary a bunch of trailers joined at the hip down the road. They tell us in about a year, the dust will settle. I hope so. The family truckster won't be getting detailed until this ordeal is over.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

was there an NHL season this year? did I miss anything?

...or are they still on strike, or locked out, or lost their skates, or have a note from their mommies saying they shouldn't play, or whatever the hell they are?

I mean, I saw some hockey at the olympics, but ever since then it's been pretty quiet. Is anyone playing?

Hard to tell.....

feelin' all full of myself

Back in September I blogged about winning an emmy for a project I was part of. We developed some software used in golf telecasts to help announcers say things that are relevant to what's going on (stats and stuff) besides, "Wow Gary, that's the loudest pink shirt I've seen in quite some time." It also allows users to follow along at home online with stroke trails for anyone playing the round and other neat shit...all for a price, of course. It got nominated for an emmy, and, frankly, we were a bit surprised. It won the emmy, and we were giddy...and shocked. Everyone looked at each other and laughed with a "holy shit, we actually won" attitude. That, of course, was followed by indignation by some that they weren't in New York accepting the award in place of the big wigs who actual did go, yet had little, if anything, to do with the effort. That was the subject of the original post. It should also be noted that those whining the loudest were among the poeple who had the least to do with the project. They just wanted a free trip to the large apple.

They brought the emmy around and we all got to see it, and hold it. The thing was, there were about 5 of us who worked on it day in and day out, and about another 25 who had a hand in it somehow, and only one emmy, so it wasn't like any of us was taking it home and sticking it on the mantle. Well, today the boss's secretary delivered a very nice plaque from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for the lumberyard contribution to the effort. It's one impressive hunk of wood and plexiglass and stuff, and it's got my name on it and everything. I'm feeling pretty damn special about now.

the Omen

It's happened. The devil's spawn now lives because one beautiful young actress was seduced by the dark and seedy side. Tom and Katie have a child (and on the same day Brooke Shields delivers...that's almost too scary). I know the initial snarkiness has faded, but this still has enough conceptual 'eeewwwwwwww' going for it to keep the folks at busy for a while longer.

There was a time I felt sorry for young Katie Holmes, but now I figure she's been around Tom long enough to know what she's doing. She may be young, but she wasn't born yesterday. I mean, if she was looking for some good looking old fart to father her child, she could have looked me up, but no. She settled for...that.

In the words of Super Chicken, "You knew the job was dangerous when you took it."

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Bush picks Portman

So dubya is nominating Rob Portman to become white house budget director. Personally, if you're going with a Portman for any government position, I'd be picking Natalie. First of all, she's infinitely easier on the eyes. Next, as one time queen of and then senator from the entire planet of Naboo, you'd think she's pretty qualified.

a whole lotta Duke-ie

I am not a Duke fan. I didn't go to school there. I don't have any particular ties to the school or the ACC. In fact, when it comes to basketball, I pretty much always pull against them because I think they get an unfair advantage in the officiating department. Not only that, I think their fan base gets upset if that unfair advantage doesn't show up. God forbid Duke University get treated like just another school by the referees....but that's not what I came to talk about.

The almost all white Duke lacrosse team has been vilified in the press for having a party with a black stripper. At that party, the black stripper alleges a rape occurred, and so far, two members of the team have been arrested. The furor has been incredible. The school cancelled the lacrosse season. There have been calls that the whole team be arrested and, if they aren't all convicted, threats of race riots have been bandied about.

I don't know that a rape occurred and right now there are only a few people who do. The young woman making the accusation knows and the young men who did or didn't commit the crime know. Nobody else knows. Jessie Jackson, pushing his publicity seeking, emotion milking, ignorant and irrelevant face into the fray, doesn't know. The stripper's brother, who thinks the whole team and most of the student body should be locked away for life after being tourtured to death five times, doesn't know. Nobody else knows. Yet all are assumed guilty. Not only are they assumed guilty, there will be outrage if they aren't all punished. They are to be punished, not because they were proven guilty, but because they were proven white.

If any, or all are proven guilty of rape, they ought to be punished to the full extent of the law. If I had my way, they'd be punished even more than the law allows. Rape is one of the most abhorrent acts an individual can commit in my opinion, and anyone proven guilty should suffer for the rest of their natural life. This case isn't about rape anymore though. It should be, but it isn't. It's about race and class envy. It's about a bunch of lily white boys from a priveleged school in a working class, tobacco farming community, who have been accused of a brutal crime by a not-so-priveleged black girl. The rape has taken a back seat, and that, to me, is the worst thing that has happened. These people, Jessie Jackson and anyone else stirring up the local populace, have already condemned the whole team, and not necessarily of rape. They've condemned them of being priveleged and white and if we can get a real crime in there along with that, all the better, but dammit, they need to be punished. They aren't interested in justice. They want people sacrificed.

I want justice. If any of those young men commited a crime, I want them punished. I want the law to punish them. I don't want the school to punish them. That isn't the job of a school. A school's function is supposed to be education. It makes a poor dispenser of justice. I don't want the mob to punish them. The mob has already convicted them, their families, their friends and anyone they've ever come in contact with, except of course, strippers. If they're proven guilty of rape, I want the law to punish them. I want the law to cut their damn balls off.

Monday, April 17, 2006

let the apologies begin

...and please allow me to join in the fun and apologize up front for this whole post (especially the crack at the end), which will be politically incorrect.

As much as I'm not a Tiger Woods fan, I gotta side with the guy on this one....sorta. Tiger's agent apologized to the world for remarks made in an interview at the Masters. Note, though, that in typical Tiger fashion, Tiger didn't apologize, himself. His agent did. That isn't the issue though. That's just my little dig. I'm also fully aware that when Tiger reads this (and I'm sure he will, because he reads me daily) he will shake his head and say, "Please John, don't help me." I know, I know, Tiger, but I'm just spazzin' over the whole incident.

Tiger, in an interview, called himself a 'spaz' around the greens (because as he said, his putting was atrocious), and therefore offended someone, or offended someone who thought some portion of the world's population could be, or should be offended. Oh please! Am I the only one that thinks this is carrying politically correct speech just a bit far? Do people have nothing better to do with themselves? Have we gone so far as to look for reasons to get offended? Whoever out there is offended, or thinks someone else might be, or should be offended, please get a life. Shake it off....literally!

happy day after Easter

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter.

We have been trying to move into a new church for over two years now. It was supposed to be finished two and a half years ago, but the company building it spread itself too thin and went bankrupt. Then there were the follow-on legal battles followed by a huge mold issue which is finally getting cleaned up after more legal battles. The result has been the tiny building serving as the church all this time, while more and more people seem to be moving here, is now filled way past capacity, even on a normal Sunday. Throw into that the Christmas/Easter Catholics and it was a carnival...literally. We got there an hour early and were lucky to get a seat. People were packed inside the building, and out every doorway. If you walked outside there during the service, you would have seen almost a picnic atmosphere once you got past the first 10 rows of people out there. Kids were playing tag, and infants were being walked, probably a lot like five loaves and two fishes day. We got through it though. The latest is the mold is cleaned up. There's still some duct work to be done and hopefully we get to use the building...before Christmas rolls around. At this point, I'm not taking anything for granted.

Easter candy - am I the only one who just doesn't get peeps? The wife bought some for the youngster's basket, even though he's well past buying into the Easter Bunny, as she has every year because..."Well, you just have to have peeps." Why? They're disgusting to start with, and who ever equated baby chicks (made of sugar and marshmallow no less) with Easter? Not only that, the chick is just the most popular shape. There are others that have even less (if that's possible) to do with the holiday. Whoever invented those things hooked into something I haven't figured out, and more power to him. I know there are plenty of peeps lovers out there, and I hope you get your fill. You can have mine.

The family truckster went for its checkup and the prognosis was....expensive. New valve cover gaskets because the old ones were leaking oil. I won't pretend to know how bad a thing that is, but leaking oil can't be good. I just know the guy said they needed to be replaced and I figure if that's what it takes to keep the car going a lot longer, I'm in. It's still not nearly as bad as car payments, so I bit the bullet, paid the folks and live to drive another day.

I also spent much driving range time. The member/guest tournament is coming next week/weekend. I have a week and a half to prepare (it starts next Thursday), and I'm trying to give the guy who asked me to be his partner reason to be happy he did so. The range was encouraging. I'm going into this thing really just wanting to have fun and play a lot of golf, but yeah, it'd be very cool to win too.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

the car pool bus passes a milestone

I won't be here tomorrow. We get Good Friday off in the office, but instead of spending the day in church in prayer, I will be taking the family truckster in for its 150,000 mile checkup. Yes, I may be praying there too, but I had to step back and reflect on ol' reliable. I've never kept a vehicle this long before. I think the previous record was somewhere around 130,000 miles, and that was a car limping along to its death. The family truckster is still going strong. Even the AC is cranking like new and sure, there's one or two rattles, but nothing even remotely constant or annoying. This thing may see 200,000 miles, or more, before I'm ready to look for a replacement. I'm pretty proud of it, and me, for keeping it maintained so it will keep on going, and going, and going......

hey jealousy

I don't get it. I really don't. Since I don't, I'm appealing to the greater readership of the lumberyard to help my lack of understanding. You people are obviously intelligent, even if you come here more for the pictures than the articles. In fact, that might be a point or two in your intellectual favor.

The Florida lottery is up to something like $50 million. I don't know if anyone won last night, but if they didn't, it's even higher now. I was talking about it with a co-worker who plays, hoping for the day when he can "take this job and shove it." He asked me what I'd do if he won. I didn't quite know what he meant. I mean, I didn't win anything. I wouldn't do anything different than before. I told him I'd congratulate him, wish him well, and maybe hope he keeps in touch, since he wouldn't be working with me anymore.

He said, "No, you wouldn't. You'd be pissed off."


"Because I won and you didn't."

"So? I suppose I'd have a better chance to win if I actually played, but what does it matter?"

His contention was, if someone else in our little work environment won, and he didn't, he'd be so jealous he wouldn't be able to stand it. It'd be enough to make him go postal. I thanked him for the insight, making a mental note to investigate the local sources of kevlar, so I can buy and wear it in the event one of our co-workers ever hit it big. But I truly don't understand that jealousy. Why would it piss him off if someone he knew hit the lottery, but he didn't? If he hit the lottery, good for him, but it doesn't affect my life all that much. I need a new co-worker, but besides that, my situation is no worse than the day before. I'm still going to work and still collecting a paycheck. I'm still going to little league games, playing bad golf, and questioning the Jaguars front office off-season moves. Life goes on. I have no reason to be upset. If anything, I have every reason to be happy...for him. It certainly wouldn't trigger a killin' spree in the office. So somebody, please help me understand this. Why would watching one of your aquaintences get lucky push one to (or over) the brink of violence?

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

the queen of my double wide trailer

Oh this is rich. One NASCAR driver's girlfriend lit into another NASCAR driver's girlfriend over a crash the two drivers had in some race. Catfight in the pits! This is just the kind of publicity NASCAR needs to pull it back to its redneck roots (or into an old 80's Dynasty episode). Word has it this used to be a regular occurance in the good ol' days, but with television showing up in the pits and the "sport" trying to clean up its image, I can't imagine anyone at NASCAR corporate headquarters being all too pleased about this. Really, though, what more can you expect? "I tried to smack her with the bumper off the Tide, Winn Dixie, M and M's, Dupont, Penzoil #23 Ford, but she blocked it with the jack handle from the Viagra, Hurst, Quaker State, Interstate, Cheerios, Crown Royal #12 Chevy, and it just got loose." You can take the girl out of the trailer park, but....

...and yes, I realize I'm making one whopping generalization (or two), but as long as rednecks can honk the horn driving past driving ranges because someone told them once golfers don't like noise, I can have fun with rednecks, trailer trash and NASCAR.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

the draft? already?

It seems like football season just ended and....we're talking draft already. I was listening to the sports talk guys this morning and they're already prognosticating. The draft is 18 days away? After two, I'll be resorting to the CD player again, because I don't know that I can listen to 18 days of guessing...and that's all it is. Everyone gets out there and guesses and 9 times out of 10, they're wrong. Nobody saw Matt Jones coming last year. So far the conventional wisdom (Mel Kiper) is saying the Jaguars are looking tight end. WHY?? We have good tight ends that we don't use now. With our not-very-mobile quarterback and inconsistent offensive line, the tight end has been generally used as a blocker. We have guys who can run downfield and catch the ball. They just haven't been given a lot of opportunity. This year, supposedly we're getting better in the offensive line, and, if I was going to look someplace in the draft, that might be where I concentrate before I start looking tight end. Let the tight ends we have show that they can be something other than another tackle. Another option is to let Matt Jones play tight end, but I'd rather see him stay outside (and the Jaguars front office guys check here daily for the lumberyard opinion, so I feel I have some weight here.) Another factor is Leftwich, who has to get better this year, or next year we'll be looking for a new quarterback. Well, at least the masses will be clamoring for one. This is his best shot and he'd better use it. In any case, I think the tight ends we have now are capable, if they get a chance to play the position. That's about all I have to say on the draft, for now.

Monday, April 10, 2006

the weekend in review

Yes, I did watch Sunday afternoon at the Masters. What can I say? I like watching golf, and that course is amazing, regardless of my feelings about those who run the event. The afternoon with all the big names still in contention, even though nobody made a serious run at Mickelson (to the point where he was comfortable making double bogey on the last hole and still winning) was fun to watch. He and Couples seemed to be having a great time playing Augusta on a Sunday afternoon. It didn't look tense at all.

It did make me contemplate though, (as I did the Napoleon Dynamite 'yesssssss' under my breath as Tiger missed another putt,) why I was pulling for Phil and not Tiger. My big beef with Mr. Woods is the way he's marketed vs. the way he treats people, kids in particular, at golf tournaments. Like I said before, the only player to absolutely ignore all of them, not just mine, begging for autographs, was Tiger Woods. It came to me though, as I sat there watching, that the youngster doesn't have Phil's autograph either. Of the players mentioned as the "big 5, " they are the two we never got on a pin flag. The difference is that we have yet to meet up with Phil Mickelson. Me being the optimist and constant giver of the benefit of the doubt, would like to think if we stumble upon him one day during Players Championship practice rounds (which is really the only shot we have), the youngster wouldn't get dissed the way he and hundreds of other kids were with Tiger. Still, I can't say I know that. It's also true that if one of the others, Goosen, or Vijay, were in contention, I'd probably be pulling for them. It's just funny (to me anyway) how my view of golfers, and who I like to root for, has been swayed by something that really has little to do with the game, and everything to do with how they treat my son.

Beyond that, the weekend was errands and company. Some of the wife's old friends from Georgia came down Saturday, and we went out to eat Saturday night, where I ate entirely too much food. Every now and then I do something like that, whether it's too much food, or a few too many beers, or stabbing myself in the eye with a fork, where I wake up the next morning, thinking, I don't need to do that again for a very long time. Sunday was one of those mornings. Oh, just kidding about the fork.

Friday, April 07, 2006

President George

Sometimes, my president makes it hard to be conservative. He does that because, as a conservative president, the public perceives him as my champion, and little by little, maybe more and more, he's becoming less of that. The latest spat over leaking classified information is making me rethink my support of the guy, not that it was ever overwhelming. I haven't gone off the deep end or anything, and it certainly doesn't change my views on issues, such as they are. For me to vote for someone else, I'd have to think someone else was a better choice. As much as my opinion of George is sinking, it still hasn't reached the depths of Teresa Heinz's kept man and his three purple hearts, or the inventor of the internet. The dubya has never been someone I liked. I just disliked him less than the competition, and in my view, that always has been setting the bar pretty low.

Now with all that qualification up front, it appears George Bush is now taking away the one quality I always gave him the benefit of the doubt with. I always thought the guy was honest. I know, some of you are laughing out loud at that, and you're entitled to your opinion. I also know I get real tired of hearing about how he lied to everyone about Iraq and weapons of mass destruction. The definition of a lie includes the assumption that you are saying something that isn't true and you know it. A lie is when Bill Clinton gets into my living room and says "I never had sex with that woman, Miss Lewinski", knowing full well his DNA is on her dress, and lining her esophagus. Being misinformed is when you say something that isn't true, based on information you believed, but wasn't true. Being misinformed and lying are not the same. I still contend that there isn't a Democrat out there that wasn't surprised when no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq. I think they were just as surprised as anyone else. It was just something they could use to their advantage, so they did. I think George and everyone else believed we'd find loads of them, and I think Saddam Hussien's actions leading up to the war supported that belief. So what I'm saying is, I give him a pass in the honesty department when it comes to Iraq.

I don't give him a pass with this current debacle. If it all holds true, and he got up and said he wanted the leak exposed, knowing full well he was to blame, he'll lose me. One of the things I need in a president is integrity. I don't need a genius. If the guy can surround himself with good people and be a good manager, he doesn't have to be mensa material. Ronald Regan proved that for me. I do need to know he's honest with me and I can believe what he tells me is the truth, based on the information he has. I need to know I'm getting his best effort to be straight with me. I need to know that and so do the heads of state in other countries. How can you broker deals and make promises in good faith, and expect people to believe you will hold up your end, and expect them to do the same, if you don't have that? Then, in my book, he becomes the same slime that makes up Bill Clinton, and yeah, that is setting the bar pretty low, as long as we're all working from the same definition of "is".

hope springs eternal

Being a minor league baseball fan is.....different.

We started the J'ville Suns season last night and I had heard of all of three players, as I listened to the game running around doing errands in the car. Most of last year's team, who won the Southern League Championship, have moved on. Several of my heroes from last season, Chad Billingsley, Joel Guzman, Nick Alverez and Delwyn Young have moved to Triple A Las Vegas, where Chad Billingsley rocked on the mound on opening day, and James Loney moved up to the Dodgers. It's a mixed emotion thing. Those guys were here for a few years. You like seeing them do good, but doing good also means moving on, which for me means...into the void.

Time to get to know some new guys at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.

Ya know, after writing all that, I guess it isn't all that different. I mean, my point is starting the season and thinking, "Who are these guys?" and starting to get to know a new team. In this world of free agency, I guess it's not all that different from following a major league team.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Thanks Ellen!

Gotta give a big shout out to Ellen, who mentioned me in her blog and even stuck a link in there. Welcome all you folks who stopped by from there, and I hope you enjoy your stay. I've had more hits today than in a very long time (like maybe the last seven days combined), thanks to that little link. Of course, there might be a reason for that, but let's not go there.

my dislike for the Masters

If you've read here in this place for any length of time, you'll know I love golf. I love watching it, but I love playing it even more, even if I'm not very good at it. I enjoy getting out with friends and cheering each other on when any of us does something good, and I really do like playing well, on the rare occasion that it happens. I like beating my past performances in what is a pretty hard game. I don't particularly think of it as a sport. I don't smoke (haven't for almost 10 years now), but I play with guys who do...and my opinion is, any activity where you can play and smoke at the same time is tough to label "sport". That's another debate, though.

There is one thing I dislike about golf, and that is golf snobs. I dislike people who think they're better than someone else because they play golf and someone else doesn't, or because they play golf well, and someone else doesn't. I dislike people who get out there and play, and complain about, or make fun of the ability of others in their foursome, or especially the group ahead of them. I really hate it when I see this happen on a public municipal course. If your game is that good, take it someplace else. Most of the guys on a muni course aren't single digit handicappers. They are like me. We play once a month if we're lucky, and just enjoy the opportunity. We hold no delusions of Masters "grandeur." I don't like snide comments about the kind of ball you play, or about your no-name clubs. It's all about trying to make yourself look better at the expense of someone else, using golf as the vehicle....and that sucks.

To me, the Masters embodies all that is bad in golf snobbery. It's a whole weekend of "We're Augusta National, and you're not." It's Hootie and the blowhards lording it over the world...for no reason except, they can...and yes, they can. It's CBS and Jim Nance bending over forward every way possible to make Hootie Johnson happy. Public perception has given the Augusta National club membership that ability, and I'm hoping for a day when public perception will take it away. I don't know that my day will come, but a fella can hope, can't he? This year there are complaints from the players about what's been done to the course. Hootie and the blowhards are saying, "tough." Now, I can take either side of that argument. Tour players are very good at whining when a course is set up in a way that doesn't suit them. You play golf for a living. Stop whining. The other side of it is, if it's that bad, don't play. Boycott the Masters and stay home with the family that week. Shove it all in Hootie's face and say, "Thanks for the invite, but no thanks." Watch it on TV or go to the beach. Hootie doesn't like women in his club? That's one place I have to side with Hootie. It's his little club. He can let anyone in he pleases. Personally, I'm not begging to get there. It's all a bit too stuffed shirt (or stuffed green jacket) for me. If any of them read this though, you can bet there will be a lumberyard detector installed at the front gates, and alarms will go off if I even come close. Are they that petty? Absolutely. Ask Gary McCord, who used to be a TV announcer at the Masters, until one joke about how they bikini waxed the greens. Hootie didn't think it was funny. You'll notice you don't hear his voice doing commentary there anymore, and you never will...yes, because they can. I'm also relatively sure you'll never see this commercial at the Masters, even though it'd be great. It's just not....Hootie enough.

Will I watch? Maybe, but I can't say I'll make a special effort to. I won't watch the stuff that comes after the tournament ends, when the winner gets his jacket and Hootie starts speech-i-fying...because that part truly is a tradition unlike any other...and it just about makes me puke.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Phil, and the two headed monster

Much seems to be being made, as we cruise into Masters week, of Phil Mickelson and his two drivers. Apparently he has two in his bag, one helps him draw the ball better and the other helps him fade it, or something like that, based on weights inside the club. He uses each when they are to his advantage.

Well, so what? The rules say he can carry a maximum of 14 clubs. If he wanted to carry 14 drivers, he might be an idiot, but he'd be a legal idiot. He carries more than one iron because the same swing produces different (longer or shorter) results. Same with wedges. Why is this any different? Some are questioning it on an ethical plane, but I don't see where ethics have anything to do with it. He carries two of his fourteen legal clubs for different situations. What's the big deal?

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

dog poop by any other name, smells as sweet

So rumor has it Katie Couric is jumping ship to be the news anchor at CBS. (In my best Dana Carvey, church lady voice,) Isn't that nice. We saw one liberal lackey resign in disgrace after reporting partisan allegations as fact, only to be replaced by another, but of course none of that really matters. News is an objective thing, just facts uncolored by the opinions of the people who report it. After all, they report the news. They don't do comentary. Just ask Katie, or her buddy, Michael Moore, or the folks at Fox.

and the Florida Gators are the National Champions

It was a little strange this morning, listening to sports talk on the way in. People who are passionate rivals in the college sports department all calling in to congratulate the Gators for winning the college basketball national championship. Seminole fans, Hurricane fans, Volunteer fans all calling in to say "Go Gators!"

No, I didn't call, but I felt what they feel. No, it's not my team, but I watched those kids play an incredible tournament. I watched Joakim Noah, who sucked so bad last year he rode the pine the entire game when Florida lost in the tournament, become transformed over this year, culminating in being named the MVP of the Final Four. I watched unselfish, great basketball, under a coach that exudes class. As much as I thought Steve Spurrier was an mouthy, classless, asshole when he was Florida's football coach (and still think he is at South Carolina) who made it incredibly hard for me to enjoy his teams' victories, Billy Donovan is the opposite. You never hear him tearing down his opponents. You never hear disrespect come out of his mouth about any coach, player, referee, or the game itself. His love of basketball comes shining through, and he's just a class act. You can't, or I can't, anyway, be anything but happy for him and his team.

You guys rocked last night Florida, and I'm happy for you.

Monday, April 03, 2006

bring me your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free

I have no problem with immigration. After all, it's how all of us got here. Yes, if you go back far enough, even you people who call yourself "native" theoretically came over the land bridge from Asia. I have no problem with people who want to move here from Mexico. Frankly, I don't blame them a bit. If I lived in Mexico, I might want to move here too.

I do have a problem with people coming here with their hand out. I know that isn't the case with most immigrants, whether they be from Mexico, Cuba or Aquasanta, Italy (the birthplace of my dad). I have a problem with people who come here to take rather than to give, and the facts are the facts. Most of them aren't asking for a hand out, but some are, and they are causing problems not just for their bretheren that aren't, but for the rest of us as well. Ask the state of California why it's going bankrupt, and it will lay the lion's share of the blame at the feet of illegal immigration.

When my dad came here, he and many like him wanted only the opportunity to make a life for themselves. Well, his dad wanted that. My dad was barely starting school, but he started it in English. These people were willing to work hard for the opportunity in front of them. They were willing to do whatever it took, and live with the consequences of their choices. They learned English, or they stayed in enclaves of their own nationality where they could speak their native tongue, but accepted the limitations that decision put on them. My grandmother never got the hang of English, but she didn't demand that anyone else take on the burden of her ignorance (except of course my dad, who was her crutch). Those immigrants didn't demand that the schools teach them or any other public institution address them in Italian, or French, or Irish, or Slovenian. One thing I noticed about the protesters against tougher immigration laws is that all their signs are in Spanish. Who is their audience? I don't understand anything on those signs, and I don't understand people demanding citizenship, yet demanding it under a Mexican flag. When high school students are jeered for wrapping themselves in an American flag passing the protests, it doesn't make you think "American" is something these people want to be. It sure gives the impression that they don't want to be part of us. They want something from us. It makes it look like they don't want to be Americans. They want to use Americans, and they're pissed off if we stand up and say "NO!" Maybe that's not the case, but it's the message I get from what I see.

I have no issue with immigration requirements becoming more lenient. I want the people who come here from Mexico to become legal immigrants. I want them on the tax rolls. I want them to be proud Americans who don't have to, but could sing the Star Spangled Banner in English if they so choose. I want them buying houses and contributing to the economy. I want them contributing to causes that help their bretheren, and all Americans who need it, with a hand up to get on their feet. I think that's what most of them want as well. At least I'm trying to think that. What I'm seeing on T.V., however, isn't lending itself to that viewpoint. I want them to be part of the great American melting pot and not a drain on it. I want them to stop demanding aid and start supplying it, along with the rest of us. Maybe that's what they want. Maybe I can believe the experts who tell me that's what most of them want. I hope so, because the evidence I see on the nighty news is screaming the opposing, entitled, accusatory, demanding message, and it's pretty hard to ignore.


springin' forward into the ice age

First let me say this is my least favorite weekend of the year, and I guess it gets to be even worse as I get older. I hate springing forward. I hate Monday morning when my body hasn't quite gotten used to the time change and thinks it's getting up at 4:45, instead of 5:45. 5:45 really is bad enough. It'll take a few days to get used to and then everything will be fine, but I hate this morning.

On the far better side, the new, new refrigerator appears to function correctly! We have ice, and it gets delivered through the door. All's right in my refrigeration world.

Baseball went well Saturday night. We played to a 5-5 tie, but the youngster did well, with the exception of one glaring error. Hey, the kid ain't perfect, besides that, he hit well and played good defense, and mostly had fun, and that's what matters.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

it may hurt to say it, but it's true....

OK, you gotta hand it to the Gators. Maybe not. Maybe you don't,but I do. The team may or may not be one of the best two in the country, but they beat my Wildcats and rang out midnight for the cinderella Patriots of George Mason, and are playing UCLA for the national championship in a sport that ranks second in interest to the vast majority of the Gator faithful. No, I don't like that they beat my Wildcats, but I'm not that bitter about it. You have to give them credit. They're damn good...and I think tomorrow will be their day. It says a lot for the team and especially their coach, Billy Donovan, who took guys who didn't even start last year and turned them into a likely national champion. Besides, when given a choice between pulling for the University of Florida and UCLA in just about anything, I'll side with the local guys.

Go Gators!