Monday, August 31, 2009

Three men rolled into one


I don't know if this counts as multi tasking, but technically the TV is on while I start this, not that I am paying all that much attention to it, it is just background noise more than anything else. I am closer to the multi part by saying that I am smoking while I type this, which, on my day off, is about all the multi-ing that I prefer to do.

The fall out from the firings continued last week at work, as while my crew was chopped in half, no effort was made to replace the people that were let go. For the most part I was able to “man up” as it were, and get what needed done done, even if it meant it wasn't quite to the standards that I would have liked. Everything was more of a triage approach, just enough to make sure it was functional and move to the next task. I am hoping that things go a little better this week, but I am not getting my hopes up.

The pinnacle of sucktitude (a need to add to the dictionary word if ever there was one) was Friday. Friday is usually a busy day for me anyway, what with three orders coming in and me also being responsible for the cigarette inventory for Friday's order, as well as placing the Friday grocery order for Monday. It is a day where a crew is a nice thing to have, so not having one really blows. Literally I was the only guy on the schedule, Rob (s) (see the last blog for the s thing) was scheduled to be with me, and Gray usually started Friday at our store and then would go to the other downtown store later on. Of course neither was replaced, so that meant for all three orders I was flying solo, plus I had the stocking duties on top of that. To make things even worse, Ed was checked into the hospital late Thursday, early Friday with chest pains. After being examined by doctors, it was determined that he had a 40% blockage in a couple of his arteries. The thing is, they will not put a stent in said arteries unless they are 70% or more blocked, so they held him for a while and then was sent home to rest and recuperate. Ed called in to see how the shop was doing, but obviously he didn't come in, following doctor's orders. But that meant the cigarette order that Ed normally places had to be done. You can guess who was drafted for that. Tack it onto my list, I didn't have enough to do. Actually I did have more than enough to do, but if I would have left it to someone else, chances are it would have been done half assed, so better I did it than someone else. Plus the grocery order that came in Friday had cigarette orders for three other places (we will sometimes place orders for them and then they come and pick them up), which meant I had to parcel out stuff for four different locations. More headaches, no whammys and STOP!!!!! I was afforded some help for a couple of hours, they brought one person in to help out for two hours before putting him on the register. I can't even tell if he did a good job or not, because I didn't have time to check and see what he did or how he did it. I just had him work on stocking the coolers, since I barely had time to fill two of them before the trucks started arriving. First was the Coke truck, a little unusual as usually Pepsi shows up first but I was glad they didn't, theirs is usually the bigger order and I doubt I would have been able to put it away before the Coke order arrived, which would have created a mess of a backlog in the basement. Instead I was able to get the Coke order put away (60 cases), and stock the Arizona and Pepsi coolers before the Pepsi truck and its 120 cases arrived. I just caught it, didn't bother putting it away right away, because while the Pepsi order was arriving, the grocery order arrived, and that needed checked in and put away before I could consider making an order for Monday. I managed to get that started, sorting out the stuff that was going to the other places, checking our stuff in and starting to put it away as well as adding our cigarettes that came in to our inventory when my help arrived at 11am. I had him from 11-1, so I used that time to finish putting our order away, putting the 120 cases of Pepsi up, doing the cigarette inventory and putting together Monday's cigarette order. I still had our order to do, as well as gathering up the garbage that accrued from cardboard boxes that were removed from the shelves to make room for the new inventory. All in all, it was a completely tiring day, made moreso because business has picked up with the return of the Point Park students to the dorms, meaning now all of the students are back. The Art Institute is pretty much year round, with a couple of weeks off here and there for holidays, but Point Park takes the summer off like most colleges and this was the week the students moved back in.

Not just downtown either. The Pitt students have moved back into my Oakland neighborhood, so much for the summer peace and quiet. For the next couple of weeks, while freshmen seek out parties and nobody really pays attention to classes, it will be quite noisy. It will temper off a little as some students actually take their classes seriously, but for the time being I get to deal with parties at all hours and all days. I could move, but I am quite content in my little abode, I think I have been in this apartment for like 7 years now, and despise the prospect of moving. I remember the last time I moved, and it was only a block and it was a pain in the ass. The fact I had no help and basically carried all of my worldly possessions from one place to the next helped foster that mood, but even with help I just hate moving in general so I avoid it if I can.

I did take a loaner mag out of work Friday, my first since I started there in Jan. I may or may not have explained this little job perk before, but we are afforded the luxury of taking home magazines to read, and we can do one of two things, we can either buy them, by placing them on our charge sheet, in which case they just come out of our paycheck, at cost as opposed to cover price, or we can return them as loaners, in which case they just go in our return pile for us to get credit on them. Since my fantasy football draft was coming up on Saturday, a draft guide seemed to be in order. Not that I didn't have an idea of who I wanted to draft and when, but some of the rookies that were signed during the NFL draft I didn't have a handle on, and sometimes it helps to get an extra opinion or two on players I have questions about.

Sorry, it is just about Scratchix time. While I might not scratch my cards right away, I need to log in early to make sure I send out all of my cards to increase my chances of winning on friends tickets. If I don't do it early enough people tend to max out on their friend allotment and I lose chances. I can send 53 if I hurry up.

Cool, got 53 of 53 friends, and so far one of them was good for 25 free tickets and another was good for a Kindle token, I now have 6 of the 70 needed to claim the Amazon Kindle prize. I'll be honest, I think a Kindle would rock. If I got the Wii or the Iphone, I would probably just prefer the cash. My PS2 is good enough for gaming purposes, and I have a severe dislike of all things cell phony, but the Kindle would be cool for my reading pleasure.

Okay, let's get back to it shall we. Saturday was draft day for the fantasy football league. As many of you were most likely annoyed by my quickie notes, I at least warned you ahead of time to be prepared to be annoyed. For those that weren't, thanks I guess. I will be honest, I had a plan going into the draft, I had about 4 running backs that I was targeting in the first round (Adrian Peterson, Matt Forte, Michael Turner, and Maurice Jones Drew), and if I could get any of them, they would obviously be my first round pick. If that didn't occur, all bets were off, though I did have an idea of what I wanted to do. Anyway I logged into Yahoo prior to the draft and found out that I was to pick 7th (draft order is randomly determined by Yahoo), so there was a chance one of the guys I wanted could fall, though it wasn't likely. I'll be honest, my hopes actually went up when Adrian Peterson, which was almost a unanimous #1 selection amongst fantasy prognosticators actually fell to #2 in our draft, as Michael Turner was selected first overall. As I mentioned in my fantasy primer blog, some leagues offer a point per reception (PPR) and in those formats a few publications put Maurice Jones Drew first (he had 40 or more catches in each of the last three years) but since that rule doesn't apply in our league, my choice for #1 would have been Peterson, when he fell to #2 I had hope, but it was quickly dashed when all 4 of my guys were taken in the top 4. Two more running backs were taken in the next two picks (Ladanian Tomlinson, DeAngelo Williams), meaning all 6 picks ahead of me were running backs, so I was left with a choice, either take the 7th best running back, or adopt a different strategy. I went the different strategy route. Rather than take another running back, and there was still talent on the board (Steve Slaton, Chris Johnson to name two), I opted to take what I thought was the best receiver on the board and went Larry Fitzgerald. 5 more running backs and two quarterbacks (Drew Brees, Tom Brady)were taken before I got to pick again, but the plan was in full effect now, as by forgoing a running back in the first round, my plan was two snag what I believed to be the two best wide receivers instead and I got that chance with the 18th pick, snagging Andre Johnson to be paired with Fitzgerald. The pair combined for 3000 receiving yards and 20 touchdowns last year, so while my plan may or may not work, it was rooted in a certain analysis and not just some willy nilly picking pattern.

As for some brief analysis for my remaining picking pattern, it went something like this,

3rd round (31st overall) – Ryan Grant, RB, Green Bay – I was a little surprised to get him here, a starting running back that, unlike many backs, really isn't tied into a platoon situation.

4th round (42) – Jason Witten, TE, Dallas – Probably a little early to be drafting a tight end, but I viewed him as the best on the board at his position, and with Terrell Owens no longer in Dallas clamoring for the ball, he should have ample opportunity to increase his numbers from last year.

5th round (55) – Matt Schaub, QB, Houston – Quarterbacks are actually a big source of points in our league, which makes drafting one somewhat early an important move. The only difference between them and running backs is that while a QB tends to get more points in our format, you only play one per week (as opposed to 2 RB, 2 WR, and 1 player that can be either RB or WR) and usually the drop off isn't as great between the top tier and second tier of players at that position. Plus, having Andre Johnson means I get double points when they hook up on a scoring play. I used this philosophy the last time I won our league when we played for cash, having Carson Palmer, Chad Johnson and TJ Houshmanzadeh on the same roster, so it has proven successful for me in the past.

6th round (66) – Chad Ochocinco, WR, Cincinnati – The aforementioned Chad Johnson after the name change, he provides a little depth at my receiver position, and unlike last year when Ryan Fitzpatrick was the QB, Palmer is back for Cincy this year and he has Laverneaus Coles opposite him, so I didn't view this as as much of a reach pick as some.

7th round (79) – Darren Sproles, RB, San Diego – He is the handcuff to Ladanian Tomlinson, but when given a chance to play last year, showed some real talent at running back. Add to that, LT is 30 this year, an age where a player at that position starts to break down, add to that Sproles was given the franchise tag by SD in the off season, so I think his touches and numbers will increase.

8th round (90) – Ray Rice, RB, Baltimore – This was a need pick, technically at this point in the draft I had only one starting running back (we have to start two), and Rice looks to be the starter in Baltimore, though he comes with the problem of being in a backfield by committee, and will lose touches to both Willis McGahee and LaRod McClain. Still I needed a starter, and he was the best on the board at this point.

9th round (103) – Torry Holt, WR, Jacksonville – Simply a depth pick, his numbers were off last year in St Louis, though everything was off last year in St Louis, he is the #1 target in Jacksonville for David Garrard, and getting a starter just for depth in the ninth round didn't seem like much of a reach for me.

Wow, this blog is way longer than I thought it would be, but since I have jumped into the blog pool, I guess it is sink or swim time, so might as well bust out my best dog paddle and try not to drown.

10th round (114) – Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Seattle – After last season, this may be a reach pick, but truth be told, I plan on only using him during Schaub's bye week. Plus there is a chance his numbers will improve over last year when his receiving corp was decimated with injuries. Plus the Seahawks added TJ Houshmanzadeh in the off season, arguably the best receiver Hasselbeck has had in his entire time in Seattle, so there is a potential upside to this pick.

11th round (127) – Laurence Maroney, RB, New England – This is the definition of a reach pick. New England has probably 5 guys that could get touches at running back, Maroney has the most upside of the 5, but his potential hasn't lived up to actual game performance, and he has found himself in Coach Belechick's doghouse on more than one occasion.

12th round (138) – Green Bay (defense) – We play team defenses, though I personally like individual defensive player leagues better (IDPs in fantasy vernacular). That being said, Green Bay's defense did score 7 touchdowns last year, and while that probably will not happen again, they do draw some rather uninspiring offensive teams on their schedule, Detroit (twice), San Francisco, Cincinnati, St. Louis, and Cleveland, and I am one that likes the fact that they are switching from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 scheme to get more out of their linebacking corp.

13th round (151) – Percy Harvin, WR, Minnesota – Rookie wide receivers tend to not fare well in the NFL, so this pick was a hunch and little more. He was the first round pick of the Vikings in the NFL draft, but receivers tend to progress a little slower than running backs. If I had to pick a player that will not be on my roster at the end of the year, this would be it. Still, a relatively safe gamble coming in the 13th round.

14th round (162) – Leon Washington, RB, New York Jets – Much like Darren Sproles, Washington is a handcuff to a 30 year old running back, in this case Thomas Jones. Washington has averaged over 5 yards a carry the past two seasons, so there is upside here as well, though again he isn't a starter, so something will have to happen in New York for him to see extensive playing time for me this year.

15th round (175) – Alge Crumpler, TE, Tennessee – Crumpler's best years are definitely behind him, but this is simply a pick to cover Witten's bye week, nothing more.

16th round (186) – Seattle (team defense) – Again a pick to cover a bye week, and should another defense emerge as playing better that is available, I would have no problem showing this unit the door.

17th round (199) – Garrett Hartley, K, New Orleans – This is proof of why you can't rely on fantasy guides. Far too often they are published before any useful information comes out. Hartley is a prime example, my book suggested taking him as a sleeper at kicker, he plays for a high scoring team (New Orleans) and didn't miss a kick last year after being acquired by the Saints. What the book failed to mention and I didn't know (hey, I only have so much cranial space, I can't be following the misadventures of NFL kickers for cripes sake) was that Hartley violated the league's substance abuse policy and will start the season on a 4 game suspension. As much as I loathe kickers to begin with (I only drafted one, and in the last round) zero points is still zero points, and for four weeks that is just unacceptable. I have already cut him and put in a waiver claim for John Carney, the current kicker for the Saints.

There, that should just about cover Saturday in a little more than a nutshell. Sure, I watched some of the Kennedy funeral coverage, and I did sit through the Steelers preseason game on Saturday night, but by and large the draft was the big happening around my household.

Sunday, and I was stuck back at the newsstand, in charge no less. I will be the first to admit that I hate being in charge on Sunday, I would rather be a stock person than in charge of the entire place, where if something goes wrong, it falls on my shoulders. Plus, Sundays tend to be slow, so while I could be doing something I view as productive, such as straightening up the basement stock room, because I am in charge, I am stuck behind a register all day, balancing banks and lottery accounts instead. I think I am going to put in a request to be removed from that shift, even if I have to work an extra day in the basement instead, I would rather be there than touching money. Plus there is just so much that I either don't know or that doesn't work that having me in charge is kind of a waste. For instance, we sell phone cards, but the thing is our phone cards are based on a website, so we actually have to log into the website and print them up on the premises. The problem is my password for the site doesn't work, so I can't sell them. Likewise, we have a Western Union setup to wire money, a setup that I haven't even been trained on, let alone have a password to, so it too is all but useless when I am there. As an added bonus, sometime last week they changed the paperwork that we do, making a lot of what we do redundant, two sets of paperwork for cigarette counts, two sets for the bank, etc. It is just a bigger pain in the ass than it needs to be, and one that I would be happy to be rid of.

That being said, I had hope for this Sunday. Once again Rob (s) was scheduled to work, but since he was fired, he obviously wasn't, and better still, he wasn't replaced. I was going to be working with Whitney, who I will admit is quite attractive, but is way young for me (20) and has a boyfriend. She lives in the dorms across the street, so she used to be a regular at the store before being hired last week. I wasn't sure what to expect, I hoped she would do okay, and for the most part she did. I find it a little troubling that she can't add 50 cents to a total in her head (we add a .50 cent fee on debit purchases under $15 to cover bank costs of the transaction) and every time it came up, she needed a calculator. Other than that though she did okay, was willing to work and did look for things to do when we weren't busy, which I have come to accept as something that isn't trainable, people either have that quality or they don't. They may fake it for a couple of weeks, but before long they go back to cutting corners and avoiding any work but the bare minimum.

That being said, Curtis was our stock person, and his issues are different. He has a problem prioritizing that which needs done, often putting off essential tasks for mundane, useless ones. And he is inconsistent, one day he works really well, the next it takes an hour and a half to stock one cooler (we've timed him). This is half of the crew I was left with after the great purge last week.. Well Sunday while we were slow, Whitney wanted to wipe down some of the counter, a fine project when we are slow, we have plenty of impulse items on it that could certainly be cleaned under from time to time. She is down cleaning under the far register when Curtis offers to give her a hand. Our registers are touch screens, they have a drawer and a monitor that sits on top of them and a printer that sits beside it for printing receipts when we need them. None of the items are connected to the other, save through a series of cables. Well Curtis gets it in his mind that he is going to help Whitney, so from the other side of the counter, he lifts the register and proceeds to dump the monitor and printer right over the counter and onto the floor. Hopefully none of the equipment broke, the register seemed to be working when I tested it, but he did manage to rip the printer cable out, making the printer useless until it is replaced. All I could think was “why can't I just work in the basement”. Really, these are headaches I just don't need.

I should note there has been a change to the homepage. I am tinkering with for my music needs. I am growing disenchanted with Imeem, songs cut to 30 second samples, and most of the video collection has been wiped out. Shame too, because I really liked that service and there for a while, when 360 first closed, Imeem was in the running as the place that was going to host this blog. Eventually I chose Multiply, ease of use and all that jazz, but at the time it had nothing to do with me disliking Imeem, this was just easier. Now I am starting to dislike it and I am gladder by the day that I opted to be here and not there.

I've been meaning to get to something that I am sure you all haven't been clamoring for, a Joe Random update, and since I have the time, now seems as good as any. For those that don't know, Joe Random is the create a character option in MLB 2K6 The Show that I tinker with on the PS2. I have been playing it for a while now, just not much until recently. Anyway, the create a character option allows you to take a guy you create and try to first get him to the major leagues (you start in AA ball) and from there hopefully to the Baseball Hall of Fame. I created a first baseman for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, my thinking at the time (which was long before their run to World Series last year) was that since Tampa sucked, it would be easier to crack the starting roster. Still for 3 seasons I bounced between AAA and the majors, before getting my first extensive time in the majors in 2009, 111 games worth to be exact. It was 2010 campaign were I left off on my updates, a season where I would spend 121 games at the major league level, after winning Rookie of the Year in 2009, 2010 I would lead the league in slugging, OPS, RBIs, and batting average on my way to winning the AL MVP award. That being said, I was demoted prior to the World Series, so while the Devil Rays would win the title, they did so without Joe Random. It was one of the reasons I quit playing, I was just irked by that decision, as a player, you have no control over the managerial decisions, just how the team performs when you are playing. Even game decisions, like position switches, pitcher changes, etc. are made by the game, your focus is just on your guy. There is an option where you can ask for more playing time, talk to the media, hold closed door team meetings, etc, and I though seriously about complaining to the point where I would be cut, and then re-sign elsewhere as a free agent. I thought about it, but eventually didn't, and so I finally started the 2011 campaign. So far all goes well, after 32 games I am hitting .492 with 10 HRs, 38 RBIs, 31 runs scored and 15 stolen bases. A repeat of my MVP campaign could be afoot, but if I get demoted again come post season I am packing it in and moving my guy to another team. I only can be frustrated for so long by a game.

Since I am on updates, moving back to the basement after my week of overnights certainly didn't help the change meter, only .23 to add to it last week, the new total is $112.81. Thank goodness I did get a few points from Mysurvey, credit for a mail in survey (.50 cents) plus a couple more surveys to do, so I continue to inch closer to the coffee pot I want so much. Over halfway there now.

I still haven't taken the new computer out of the box yet, showing just how lazy I can be. Proof positive that all my scribbling aside, I am still officially a slacker.

On that note I am going to do a proofread, I would say a quick one, but this is 6 pages long already, and call it a night.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Draft primer

One hour to go until the fantasy football draft, then the annoying of my pick by pick coverage begins.  Until then I am running a D&D campaign over at Facebook and writing this here particular entry.  The D&D thing goes okay.  I am on a second generation character now, the game resets after you reach level 11, but you get to take one item you found and pass it on to your next character.  I opted for a Holy Avenger sword (+2 CHA, +6 ATT, +4 vs. undead) of all of the items I acquired. 

Anyway about the draft.  I am defending league champion, having went 10-4 during the regular season last year, then winning three playoff games to become champ, so this year I am the man to beat.  The league has been in existence for probably 15 or so years now, starting originally at my local dive bar as a financial thing, but as everyone moved away it became harder and harder to maintain that status.  With players now living in places from eastern Pennsylvania to Alaska it was just easier to let Yahoo run it and for us to play more for fun (and smack talking) than anything else.

Since I am a veteran of this by now, it is time for me to pass along a little wisdom to future fantasy football players that come by this page.  I could give you a list pof players that you should target, but there are numerous websites and magazines that cover that terrain, rather I think the best piece of advice I can offer anyone wishing to play fanatsy football, whether it be for fun or for money is simply, know your leagues rules.  All leagues are set up a little different, and those differences can mean big things in a fantasy league.  For example, some leagues with offer pass catchers a point per reception (PPR in the fantasy vernacular).  This changes the value of some running backs, making them more or less valuable, and changes the value of some receivers, as guys like Wes Welker and TJ Houshmanzadeh become more valuable in such a format, as opposed to one that just rewards yards and touchdowns.  Likewise, some leagues view passing touchdowns to be easier to obtain than rushing and receiving touchdowns, often rewarding fewer points for such an accomplishment.  That results in guys like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady being worth less on draft day than in leagues where TDs all have equal value.  An example, a couple of years ago Tom Brady threw some crazy number of TD passes, like 50 or so.  In some leagues that would be worth 300 points (50 TDs x 6 points per), whereas in leagues where passing TDs are worth half, that number gets cut to 150, a sigfnificant difference and one anyone drafting in a league should take into consideration.

There, I have passed along a little advice, now if you don't mind I am off to get settled in for what hopes to be another successful fantasy football season for yours truly.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Let the games begin

Seems our esteemed mayor, Luke Ravenstahl, was one of the 11 mayors selected by Yahoo to compete in the inaugural Mayoral Faceoff Fantasy Football League.  The winning mayor receives $15,000 for a sports related charity, and there is a prize for the city with the most fan votes as well.  As for how our mayor fared in his fantasy draft, here you go...


Pittsburgh Proud
1. (10) Chris Johnson
2. (15) Steve Slaton
3. (34) Marques Colston
4. (39) Dwayne Bowe
5. (58) Hines Ward
6. (63) Donovan McNabb
7. (82) Marshawn Lynch
8. (87) Greg Olsen
9. (106) Kevin Walter
10. (111) Donnie Avery
11. (130) Kyle Orton
12. (135) Fred Jackson
13. (154) New York
14. (159) David Akers
15. (178) Carolina

Monday, August 24, 2009

Asshat - Covered Justin Case

Many of you know that I am an avid fantasy sports player, even if I haven't been in a cash league in better than a year (I am in a baseball league on Facebook, and scheduled for a football league later this month on Yahoo).  That being said, there is a certain amount of gambling involved when one enters such a league, often your entry fee (and any transaction fees should your league require them) and figuring out which players to draft and which one's to play on a weekly basis is part of what being a good fantasy general manager is all about.  As is paying attention to the free agent wire, for players that went undrafted and are performing above expectations and noticing which players on your roster you can afford to release due to underperformance or worse, injury.  Nobody like to see a player they darfted get injured, but it is something that as a fantasy player you have to realize that it can and often does happen.  It is an accepted risk when one enters into such a game.  Well, maybe that is, as now there is fantasy fooball insurance ( where you can purchase insurance policies based on your drafted players ability or inability to remain healthy. 

Exactly where is the sport, or gamesmanship in that?  The idea is the brainchild of Intermarket Insurance Agency Inc. which issues policies that cover league entries fees should you lose a guy to injury during the course of a season.  As Ray Ratto points out over at Sportsline, now people who have drafted poorly or are inept have an out, they can root for people to get injured simply to recoup their losses.  If you can't afford a loss in such an endeavor, I would argue you shouldn't have signed up in the first place.  What's next, insurance for people who buy lottery tickets?  I nam sure there will be some who disagree with me, and many more that will sign up for such a product, but for my money, IIA Inc. is my Asshat of the Week.

Crew you, screw me


I guess that is what I get for filling in overnights to cover for someone's vacation. I had mentioned previously that at my news stand gig I have been put in charge of the stock people. We are kind of like the Oompla Loompas, but cooler. Anyway, my crew consisted of 5 people, me, Gray, Rob (s), Rob (t) and Curtis. A quick rundown on the 5, Gray started the day after I was moved from register duty to stock person, so he and I have worked together through the duration of his time there, Rob (s for short) was next in line, then Curtis and most recently Rob (t for tall). The s and t are for your clarification, they are not identical by any means, so I can tell them apart by just looking at them, something that you dear reader aren't able to do.

With me working overnights, the crew was pretty much on their own, but really, how much damage could be caused in a week, right? If only you knew......

The problems all started on Tuesday. Gray has what I would view as a most unenviable task, he has to work at all of the news stands we own, sometimes all in the same day. With me on overnights, the theory was that he was going to be spending most of his time in our store, but he would still be at the other downtown stores as well. The thing is, he was having issues with the mother of his son, she wanted to move to South Carolina and take their son with her, he was fighting to keep his kid here in PA. A court hearing was scheduled on the matter for Tuesday, and Gray had gotten permission from Ed to have the day off, but neither Gray nor Ed notified the other stores about their arrangement, so while our store knew Gray would be off, none of the other places did and they started bitching when he wasn't at work on Tuesday. Troublesome to be sure, but certainly nothing that couldn't have been worked out with a simple phone call or two but then two days later, on Thursday, Gray doesn't show up for work, nor does he bother to call anyone to say that he isn't coming in. Goodbye Gray, Ed fired him.

Next came Saturday night, when Rob (s) called in to say that he was calling off for Sunday. I didn't hear the exact conversation, but apparently he said that he hurt his head or something along those lines. I am almost positive that this is a fabrication on Rob's part, given the conversation that he and I had on Friday, Rob (s) mentioned about his upcoming birthday in a week or so and that since he was going to be camping out of town that weekend, he was going to be partying with friends in town on Saturday, and even suggested to me he didn't expect to be in all that great of shape come Sunday morning, when he was scheduled to work from 7am to 3pm. I find out about this call off when I get to work Saturday night, which I didn't find to be all that surprising, but since I do none of the employee scheduling, it wasn't my problem either, that type of thing falls higher up the food chain than my set of responsibilities. Still I get into work around 10:30pm last night (I usually arrive 30 minutes early when I am running the shop, just to balance the bank and lottery and do a cigarette count before my shift starts) and I no more than get there than Ed comes in. Seeing Ed on a Saturday is not a normal thing, usually the managers tend to not be there on weekends, if only we all could be so lucky, but there he was. After doing a quick walk through of the store to make sure everything was okey dokey, Ed comes up and starts asking about Rob (s) calling off. Alex, who was in charge of the shift before me explains the phone call, to which Ed says that since Rob (s) allegedly hurt his head, he isn't allowed to work again unless he has a doctor's excuse. Now I am of two minds on this, on one hand Rob (s) was probably one of my better workers (I would have put Gray first, but he had already fucked himself earlier in the week with the no call, no show nonsense) so simply calling off isn't that big a deal to me, even if I question the reason why, which I have kept to myself. That being said, Rob (s) is also an Art Institute student, which means we are already working around his schedule, and with him requesting time off next weekend as well, the limited time he is available he probably should be there. And if you are going to call off, by all means use an excuse that won't require a doctor's slip. The flu or something simple like and upset stomach works far better than a “I hurt my head excuse”, where one can ask for some sort of verification, especially when you know you will not be able to offer such proof. It is fundamental Lying 101 kids, offer as little on the factual side as need be, so as to make the subsequent cover up far easier to maintain. Instead most likely I have now lost 2 of my four crew members in the course of 6 days.

That being said, it looks like we might be hiring an attractive female that goes to school downtown and lives in the dorms across the street. Of course I don't need to remind myself that college girls are way to young for me, but eye candy at work if it doesn't turn into gawking with drool running down my chin I suppose could be a good thing. I will wait and see on that one.

I will say that my last night on overnights concluded a pretty productive week change meter wise. After pulling $4.16 on my first shift, I managed to pull another $3.92 on my other three overnight shifts, certainly not as good as day 1, but better than I do while working in the basement. That means the change meter moves again, now at $112.58. December seems so long ago, when I was hoping to break $40. Who would have think it would take off like that this year, after years of plodding along.

Sorry, took a nap there and now it is Monday morning. Probably be in my best interest to wrap this up here, rather than have another run on blog like the last one. 8 pages is about 8 too many in my book. Actually, sleep was definitely called for if I was to get my schedule reset to go back to mornings this week. That Thursday/Friday switch was hard to do, so I am glad to be back on a more consistent time basis. Our schedules at work start on Monday and go through Sunday, with the day your shift started being the day that the shift gets credited to the schedule, so while technically I had 5 overnights last week, only four of them count toward that week on the schedule. And one of my alleged days off really didn't feel like one because it was the day in which my schedule times switched. The schedule actually looked like this, Sunday I worked from 11pm until 7am Monday morning, but since that shift started on Sunday and our last day of the week is Sunday, my first overnight for scheduling purposes gets credited to the previous week. Monday I again started at 11pm and worked till Tuesday at 7am, but by then I had at least adjusted the biological clock to working overnights. Likewise Tuesday I worked from 11pm until 7am on Wednesday and on Wednesday the schedule was the same, 11pm until 7am Thursday. Technically Thursday was my day off, since I didn't have a shift start on Thursday, even though I was there for 7 of my 8 hours on Thursday. Friday was the day I flipped, working from 7am until 3 pm, but really having only 24 hours to readjust to go back to mornings was a little tough. I was forced to stay up as long as possible Thursday just so I didn't wake up Thursday afternoon or evening and then be up all night and try to work Friday morning. Saturday I was back to overnights, 11pm until 7am Sunday morning and after all of that schedule juggling, I am glad to be back on straight mornings, though Dan, who also works overnights is talking about taking a vacation in the near future. I just hope that if he does, we at least have replaced a few of the people we let go this past week. I don't mind the workload on overnights, it isn't easier or harder, just different, but I don't want to come back to days worth of work that didn't get done on my absence, like is going to be the case when I get to work on Tuesday.

The stocking of the coolers went okay, but our shelf stock never got out and as a result it messed up some of the ordering that took place. We ended up ordering too much stuff that in fact we had, it just needed to be put on the floor. It is an oversight that I usually don't do, because I have an understanding of what we have in the basement, and I really hate having too much junk in the basement that we just can't move.

I should note that I have taken to getting back into playing baseball on my PS2, after a long hiatus away from the game. I was missing two vital instruments in game play, a controller and a TV remote, that I needed to replace before I could play again. My controller broke when I put my computer chair on it by accident, I keep my PS2 under my desk and the controller wasn't pushed far enough back, and my TV remote also broke when I knocked it off of my bed while sleeping. With my TV, rather than setting the PS2 or DVD player to a specific channel, there is a game option on the screen that isn't a specific channel, it is just labeled as GAME, but you can only access it with a remote, so I had to go out and buy a universal remote, then learn how to program it so it would work with the TV (no small feat I might add) and then find the button on the new remote that corresponded with the GAME option on the TV. Anyway, I will not bore you with a Joe Random update, that can be saved for another time and give you, the reader, yet another reason to boycott the blog.

Sorry, had to duck away for a couple of seconds, had some Facebook updates that I had to attend to. Once again I am playing D&D while blogging, two steps in to a 13 part adventure and again I am getting my ass kicked. Things aren't looking good for my drow ranger, I only packed one healing potion and it has to last for another 11 events.

I promised a future story in the last blog a story about shorts and now seems as good a time as any to tell it. One of my favorite past times at work is to grab a cigarette and go girl watch out on the street. Usually the pickings aren't that bad, with the Art Institute and Point Park University both about a block away, and plenty of well dressed women that work downtown often strolling by the store, it is not to hard to find plenty of attractive women to ogle. That being said, there are some people that should look in the mirror before they leave the house. Listen, I know I don't have the most manly of physiques, which is why I don't opt for, say, wearing bicycle shorts to work. That being said, I am outside the other day, enjoying the polluting of my lungs, when across the street there was a girl with a large ass. Not that a large ass is, in and of itself, a bad thing, I am more about curves and how proportionate they are to the particular female frame, some chicks can pull off a large ass, this one couldn't. Worse, she was wearing these skin tight shorts that were a black and white checkerboard pattern. The optical illusion created by such a spectacle can't be overstated. The colors accompanied with the bouncing of such large ass cheeks created a pattern that was hypnotic in its horror, and I was left wondering that if I crossed my eyes and stared through the pattern whether or not I might see a sailboat in there, and if I did, would it be an illusion, or would there be an actual sailboat in her ass.

I am listening to the radio while I type this, just some idle sports talk banter in the background. Thankfully the Dan Patrick Show just ended. I can't imagine how this guy gets to host a talk show. Actually I can, he used to be an anchor on ESPN's Sportscenter, but his radio show, which is now on its third different syndicator, it just awful. It is all about Dan and little about actual sports. Far too often the show just devolves into him complaining about guests that opted not to be on the show, or some other part of shameless me talk that speaks volumes about his ego. He wasted a good portion of today's show talking about how ESPN is having a reunion show for some anniversary or another and that so far he hasn't been invited, and even if he were invited he isn't sure he would want to go, and I am thinking, who really gives a fuck, besides you? Please tell me there are more important things, even in the minutiae that is sports, than whether or not you are going to accept an invitation that to this point hasn't even been offered.

Okay, enough silliness from me, time to do a spell check, and hopefully a better proofreading job than I did last time I blogged. Here's hoping this week is better than last for all concerned.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Something from the cinema

While mentioned that I saw District 9 last week, I didn't not mention anything about the trailers, because by and large they didn't look like movies I wanted to see.  Save for this one, which may force me to once again pony up a couple of bucks.



Thursday, August 20, 2009

Pack a lunch, you'll need it


Saturday evening

Greetings all. Not sure how this will go, I am tinkering with Open Office on the laptop, a program that I am a tad bit unfamiliar with, so I may end up screwing this up, but since I am trying to stay awake for a little bit yet, I figured I might do this while I am playing Dungeons and Dragons over on Facebook.

The adventures in the D&D game are timed, so that you have to keep checking back to see how you are doing, or you can set your potions to autoload, and they get used after certain points, like healing potions will fire if you get below 25 hit points and what not, but usually I just follow along with the game, and while it is between encounters (usually 10 minutes or so, I find something else to do. In this case, it is this blog, though I have been doing other things as well, like playing with the PS2 and working on my resume and what not.

I guess I should explain my absence from this page recently, but there isn't a real good reason for it, save that my mood recently has been very much all over the place, and I didn't want to come across as any more crazy than I normally do.

I guess I can start with the following update, I believe my desktop computer is officially on its last legs. I am constantly getting memory errors now, run time errors and just having it lock up way too much for my tastes. Virus scans and adaware scans help the problem on a very temporary basis, but usually within a day or so I am right back where I started. I can't complain, it has served me well for 8+ years, maybe it is time to move on. My luck on Ebay with securing a laptop is such that I am thinking of going the same route with a new desktop as well.

Wow, maybe I should just stick with working on this blog entry, I am getting my ass handed to me on my current D&D adventure. It is not one of my more successful outings, so to speak. Not that I am doing poorly in the game, I am a level 7 Drow Ranger after all, but this particular adventure is just not one of my finer moments. You play the game until you reach level 11, then the game resets and you start a new character, save you get to take one item with you that you picked up the last time through. For me that will be a tough decision, as I am doing quite well in the garnering of goodies department. So far my character is equipped with the following:

Circlet of Authority (+2 Charisma)

Trollskin Armor (+4 Armor Class, +10 Hit Points)

Flaming Halberd (+4 Attack)

Bracers of Rejuvenation (+5 Hit Points)

Gauntlets of Ogre Power (+1 Strength)

Cloak of Resistance +1 (+1 vs. Magic)

Belt of Giant Strength (+1 Strength, +2 vs. Giants)

Ring of Freedom of Movement (+1 Dexterity)

Ring of Freedom of Movement (+1 Dexterity) (Yes, I have two of them)

Boots of Spider Climbing (+1 Dexterity, +1 vs. Traps)

There, that info should keep the one or two D&D geeks that read this blog semi entertained.

Also in the realm of not so interesting news, I have been adding to the Neverending Thread recently. I am immersed in another book, just hot finished with it yet, so I can't add it to the thread, though I do have two more books lined up to read after I finish my current one. I could have done some reading last night, but I decided on a trip to the movies to see District 9 instead. Not that getting to the theater wasn't a struggle in and of itself. First there was the issue of work. Not that my work schedule was in the way of me seeing the movie, there were plenty of showings available, but while at work I managed to fall off of the basement steps while catching our Coke order. At the time it seemed like nothing, until I got home at least and sat down. The plan was I would come home, take a shower and change and then head out to the cinema, but once I got home and took my shoes off, it became very hard to put pressure on my right leg without a significant amount of pain involved. I hobbled into the shower anyway and washed off a significant amount of sweat (I think I lose pounds of it every day at work since the basement isn't air conditioned) and then went to the bathroom and had one of those moments where you are sitting on the toilet and your stomach just starts to think you could end up on said toilet for the remainder of the evening. I managed to push thoughts of an uninspiring evening on the can to the back of my cranium and hobbled out to get dressed. Once I got to the point where I got my shoes back on, my ankle felt a little better, just given the support the shoes offered for it, so I did get out and make it to the movie.

The film itself was okay, not as good as I had hoped, but it wasn't a waste of money either. Which is good, because I forgot how expensive movies are these days. $10 for the ticket and another $11 for popcorn and soda and I was left thinking that is at least a month of ramen noodles.

Okay, I have Nascar Angels on TV, and once again TV is just pissing me off. For those unfamiliar with the program, viewers submit suggestions for people that need their car repaired and based on who has the best story, they come out and fix up the winners car. They have a group of mechanics that go over it and get the car back into running order. It is sort of a poor man's Pimp My Ride. The thing was the winner this week is a guy who bought a car for $500 and the mechanics said that the list of repairs was so great that they just bought him a new van. Then what the fuck are the mechanics for? Christ, they could have just taken him to a car lot and had him pick one out and save us 30 minutes of programming.

Not that that is the only thing on TV that has irked me recently, it is just one of many things. Especially commercials. If I ever meet the dork that plays Justin Case on those Safe Auto spots, I am inclined to punch him in the face. Likewise, there is a spot running for Cedar Point, an amusement park in Ohio, where you have a bunch of douche bag idiots trying to prove how hard core they are because they ride amusement park rides. At one point in the commercial a girl says, and I quote, “I was born on a roller coaster”, to which I say “How fucking stupid were your parents?” Your dad didn't have the common sense to take your mom to the hospital when she was in labor, but rather opted for a natural birth at an amusement park?

Sunday afternoon

Sorry, I snuck in a little nap, if by nap I mean from 5am till 9am. I managed to stay up fairly late, which is good since I am on overnights this week, but bad in that I still woke up relatively early. I might try to get an afternoon siesta in to rest up for tonight's festivities. Still, since I was up I figured I might as well go to breakfast and then pick up a couple of things at the grocery store. I had one of those brushes with what passes for Pittsburgh greatness while out, I saw Cyril Wecht at the grocery store. Part of me wanted to congratulate him for being found not guilty in the case brought against him by US Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan, a case which looked more like a witch hunt than an actual trial brought about to correct a wrongdoing on Dr. Wecht's part. I have had some dealings with Dr. Wecht in the past, having booked him a number of times for radio shows that I work on, but I wouldn't classify us as friends per se, truth is he probably doesn't even know who I am, and given he was grocery shopping I figured it best not to bother him.

I must say, I am kind of liking using Open Office over Word Pad to write my blog entries. So far everything has worked okay, and I am not fond of just writing directly into Multiply, too many chances of things going wrong and me losing an entry. Given how little I have blogged recently, losing blog entries is probably the last thing I need to be doing. If I were to lose an entry, there is no saying I would even waste the effort to go back and try to recreate it.

Page three according to Open Office and I haven't said anything of merit yet. I would say that is just about par for the course.

Thankfully football season is underway again. Even if it is only training camp time and preseason games, anything beats baseball around here. The Pirates had their annual purging of talent, taking any players of value and trading them away to other franchises in lieu of prospects, minor leaguers that may or may not develop into professional players. The problem is, as soon as any of them develop, the Pirates trade them away again for more prospects and the process just repeats itself. The magic number for the club is now at 12. usually a magic number is the number of wins a team needs to secure a playoff spot, for the Pirates it is the number of losses they need to assure themselves of another losing season, their 17th consecutive one at that, and a record for American sports franchises playing in any sport.

I did get another goodie from work the other day. Ed gave me a $20 cigar, which I haven't started to smoke yet. I want to save it for later this week. Maybe tomorrow to relax after my first overnight shift. One good thing about working overnights is that it should help the change meter a little bit, not that it has been terrible recently, but since I stopped being register guy it has been harder to come up with loose change. I mean, since the last blog entry I still have gathered another $1.80, so the total now is $104.50, far beyond where I thought I would be at this point, but it has slowed considerably since earlier in the year.

Okay, I am back, tried napping a little bit. Might have closed my eyes for a half hour or so. Not sure if it is the heat or just the fact that I am not used to working overnights, but I couldn't manage any decent amount of sleep. Oh well. At least I am up in time for the Scratchix reset on Facebook. Scratchix is an application where you scratch off online lottery tickets trying to win prizes. There are three types of prizes, tickets, merchandise or cash. Tickets are by far the most common and all they to is give you more tickets to scratch off. Merchandise and money are about equally rare, the prizes come in the form of tokens, that is you have to collect a specific number of tokens to claim the prize. The prizes are pretty cool too, like a Wii, Apple Iphone and Amazon Kindle are examples of the prizes you can win. So far I have won two tokens, one for the Wii and one for the Kindle, though it takes usually between 50-90 tokens to actually claim a prize. Last are the money prizes, of varying denominations, anywhere from $1 to $1000. The cash prizes can be cashed out once you get to $25, and submitted to a Paypal or Spare Change account. I have won a total of $3 on there, and rather than save up to cash out at a later date, I just bought more tickets with it. Anyway, the game resets every day at 6pm EST and you get three daily tickets + 1 ticket for every friend you have that sends you a ticket that day (sending tickets to friends is free). If any of the tickets you send out, or you received from someone win, then you both win that prize. Anyway, it is scratching time, so let's see how I do. There is a limit to the number of tickets from friends you can receive, I am not sure what that limit is because I haven't sought out enough friends that play to find out if I will ever hit that limit. I know I have 50 friends that play, and 2 of them were already maxed out, so 48 of my friends got a free ticket from me. Lets see if I can win anything.

My last friend ticket to scratch off was good for 3 free tickets. Woohoo! So far it has not been a good day for me. Okay, one of my daily tickets was good free ticket. This is not going very well. Wait, one of the tickets I sent out won 3 free tickets, I am up to 7 free tickets for the day. And I jjust picked up another 3 tickets from another friend that brings the total to 10. Okay I am out of tickets, no big winners today. I might get some more as the evening progresses, other friends logging in and sending me tickets, or some more of the 48 I sent out winning, and me getting to share in those winning. Not everyone logs in at exactly the reset time, just those of us with no life. And in that regard, I most definitely qualify.

Great, I just turned on the Tv and started flipping through channels and saw a promo for “more to Love” which is really nothing more than the “Fat Bachelor”, a fat guy trying to pick up a fat chick. Which means that a couple dozen fat women, who probably already have issues about their weight get to find out that even a fat guy won't date them. Great, just great.

Well, that is something new, Scratchix just informed me that I was in the top amount of people to send tickets out today and awarded me an additional 25 tickets. That makes 35 tickets I have won. Just haven't won anything with them. Check that, another 10 free tickets, that is 45 today. Woohoo, 10 more tickets. This is actually par for the course with this game, lots of tickets, little else.

I actually did win some money on Friday. It had nothing to do with lottery tickets, poker machines at the bar, or even the new casino that opened downtown this past week. Rather, I went to my mailbox Friday on the way to the bus to go see the movie and there were two envelopes in my mailbox. They were from someone called Beverly Settlement. I saw them and first thing I thought was that it was probably a bill collector of some sort, but since I needed something to read at the bus stop I figured I would take them with me. As some of you know, I had a brief WalMart career about a year ago, I was there for a few months, but the travel to get there while I was working a full time job was too much so I ended up leaving there. Nothing against them, it was an okay place to work, just couldn't get my schedule to work around theirs. Anyway, apparently they were part of some sort of class action suit and the two envelopes were checks that were my share of the settlement, a whopping $100.06. I am not complaining, free money is free money.

Another update from Facebook, another of the tickets I sent out won 1 ticket. That is 56 freebies that I have won today. And another one, that is 57. The hits just keep on coming.

Monday Night

Well, made it through the first overnight shift, though I will be honest, around 5am I definitely hit a wall. The worst part was that I was almost falling asleep when I was counting out my drawer for the night. It wasn't all that busy, which I guess is a good thing, as it made counting out the bank and the lottery sales all the easier. As I was getting to leave I saw that one of the stock people due in in the morning was late, and someone at one of the other stores had called off, so I quickly scooted out the door before they asked me to stick around even longer. I had planned on going to breakfast after work, but by the time I was done I was so tired that I just hopped a bus and went home. I was home probably less than 30 minutes before I was out like a light. I am hoping I will be a little more awake this evening, I managed to sleep until 4 this afternoon, so I guess I got about 8 hours in, which is better than I usually do.

I was right, the change meter would pick up with me on register. That is because many people we deal with are either drunk or in a hurry to get drunk, so they end up just leaving their change behind. One night in and I picked up $4.16. That makes the total now $108.66. I have three more cracks at adding to the total this week, though I am trying not to get my hopes to far up.

I mentioned earlier some TV shows and commercials that irk me. I wish I could say that those were the only ones, but sadly they are not. Octomom is getting a special on Fox, Fat Camp is coming back to TV this fall and even the normally useless cable channels are getting in the act with suck offerings as “Man V. Food”, where the host goes around the country visiting restaurants that have huge food offerings and seeing if he can finish them. That is right folks, we have fallen so far down the evolutionary ladder that we will now sit in front of our idiot boxes to watch someone else eat. Not that the fall looks to be any more promising, most of the show promos are just completely uninteresting to say the least. Thankfully between Hulu and Surf The Channel I can just pick what I want to watch and leave the rest off of my radar screen entirely.

Even some of the shows I like have been utterly disappointing. “Hell's Kitchen” in particular. One would think a reality show where the winner gets to be a head chef at a restaurant would involve people that can actually cook, but I guess that wouldn't make it nearly as entertaining as making a show with a cast of utter buffoons. Two weeks ago the skill set of those involves was so bad that they were relegated to making pasta for a group of firefighters. One would hope that this group could pull off something as uncomplicated as spaghetti and meatballs, but no, they were busy fucking up such complicated fare as garlic bread. Then this past week one of the two teams was so awful that through the course of an entire dinner service they couldn't sent out a single entree, leaving the other team to not only serve their entire dining room, but the other team's dining room as well.

I am looking for a new breakfast diner to frequent. With the closing of the Steel City Grill downtown and Ton's on the South Side getting remodeled and looking less and less like a cool greasy spoon, I need a new place to go to. I know some locals would suggest Ritter's Diner, but the few times I have been there I was highly unimpressed. I have a couple places I want to check out, maybe Wednesday morning after I get off of work, since I am not due in Thursday night and I have to come back into work to pick up my paycheck anyway, so sneaking out to find a breakfast diner might be a good use of my time.

Notice how good I have been about not talking politics in this entry? I don't know, there is just so much bitterness out there, and I have plenty of my own without importing that of others. Trying to weed out those with legitimate arguments and concerns over those that want to yell simply for the sake of yelling is just too time consuming process for me. We saw it when Bush was President, and now we see it from the other side with Obama in office. And I am not the one to police the concerned people from the idiots. I had my share for 8 years trying and not succeeding in keeping my own party in order. Far to often people will add to their side of the aisle simply for numbers sake, not for one moment considering just who it is they are actually adding. It was like when the war protestors would add any group they could find when organizing a a march, not realizing some of those groups were doing more harm than good. Prime example from a few years back at one of these parades, one of the largest organized war protest parades the city would have, at then end of the parade there was a stage set up and some speakers were doing that which occurs at such an event, when some slam poets took the stage. All of a sudden it was a “fuck this”, “bitch that” and a list of curse words that would only lengthen this blog entry. The problem is that because the event was widely publicized anfd on a weekend, many people went as families to partake in the march and at the conclusion, it was their kids that were subjected to this nonsense, leaving them to wonder just what lot of people they just roped on with. Now we see that from the other side, with fools like the “Birthers” stealing credibility from those that have legitimate concerns. As long as groups fail to police their own, it is their credibility that suffers. Look at Cindy Sheehan and ask yourself if her argument was more powerful as a grieving mother camped outside the President's Texas home, or as one of a number of people that took that message and turned her vigil into more of a state fair type atmosphere. Simply adding people for the sake of numbers doesn't make a message more powerful, far too often it dilutes it. A person asking a legitimate question regarding proposed health care reform right now is getting drown out by those that would rather scream at their representatives and exhibit behavior that if tried it as a kid with our parents, we would have gotten our asses beat.

The sad thing is, as I make this argument I realize that for the most part it falls on deaf ears. Which is why other than the last little bit of a diatribe, I am not wasting my time on such an argument. Nobody wants to be introspective, so no sense in me trying to convince them otherwise.

Tuesday night

Okay, back again and adding even more to this page or pages as the case may be. Managed to do a little better last night, made it through the entire shift without getting all sleepy eyed. As a bonus, I put the NFL Network on at work last night, so I got to see the rebroadcast of the Dolphins – Jaguars game. I have become a fan of that channel at work. Usually we have some annoying news channel on, whether it be Fox or CNN (rarely does MSNBC get selected) but I just find all of those channels annoying, whereas I can watch football pretty much any time, and we me in charge I get to make that call.

Of course tonight I am not sure I want to watch. I hope they have a game on, but I have a feeling that it is going to be non stop Brett Favre crap. One would thing after his recent failings that nobody would be stupid enough to sign him to their roster, but if the Minnesota Vikings want to throw their season away, all I can say is better them than the Steelers. I know it isn't an opinion shared by many, but face facts, Favre has only one Super Bowl victory to his credit in two appearances, and since his last appearance, a loss to Denver, his playoff record is 3-6 in 9 playoff games and has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns in those games. And certainly the more recent history of last season with the Jets, where the team was in control of it playoff fortunes until Brett Favre threw the season away down the stretch, with 9 interceptions in the team's final 5 games, going from AFC East front runner to watching the playoffs at home. The Jets were smart to rid themselves of him and his “I'm retired, I'm not retired” antics that have taken place for the last few seasons now. Now the Vikings, with one of the better defenses in the NFL and Adrian Peterson in the backfield, arguably the league's best running back, will throw away a season entertaining this washed up has been at quarterback and everyone on the roster will have to wait another season to possibly contend for the NFC's spot in the Super Bowl, because Favre will certainly throw this one away.

I'll admit, I didn't plan a football rant, but sometimes things happen through the course of making a blog, especially when one takes the amount of time that I am in putting one together. I would have been just as content talking about the checkered shorts at work or something, but this things has really just taken a life of its own, and I am just along for the ride at this point. I am starting to think maybe I should blog on a more regular basis, to keep things like this from happening again, but I know how lazy I have been recently, so chances are that won't happen. At least I am taking the opportunity here to also work on my D&D character.

I should note that Lynn's first show for the Pittsburgh City paper was today. I listened to a little bit of it, she was on with Chris Potter, the editor of the City Paper and one of my favorite guests to book back in the day, regardless of who the host was. He has a political leaning, left for those wanting to know, but he doesn't come off as abrasive as some with ideologies do, and actually can be quite funny as a guest, something sorely lacking from the political claptrap that passes for talk these days. Anyway, I listened for about 15 minutes of the hour long show, I had to download and install WinAmp to get the audio up and running, making it the first program for me to install on my laptop.

I am still thinking of getting a new desktop, but will probably wait until later in the week before hopping onto Ebay to make that purchase. I want to see how cheap I can get away with it, since I am all about being cheap, but at the same time realizing that I would rather have my laptop solely for portable usage and not my main computer.

Dinner has arrived. I tried a new place tonight, Andy's Gourmet, just to see how good or bad it would be. They have mostly Chinese food, and not that my standby, Chopsticks, is bad or anything, but I wanted to just try a new place for a change. As a added bonus, the delivery person was female and kind of cute, which makes parting with money a tad bit easier on the eyes if not the wallet.

I think Hell's Kitchen is on tonight. I am wondering how bad these alleged chefs can screw up this time. It is sad that my TV viewing has come to this, enjoying the failure of others, but what else to you expect when you offer little outside of “reality” programming.

Thursday afternoon

I am going to try to make this the last entry in this particular missive, it has gone on far long enough. Last night was the third overnight in a row that I had to work and normally that would be followed by me coming home and going straight to bed, but the thing is I have to work Friday morning, technically this is a day off, even though it is an abbreviated one. But because of the turnaround in schedule, I am trying to stay up a little later today so I don't wake up and be up all night later on.

Yesterday was actually a busy day, at least by overnight standards. I did over $1000 on my register alone, plus the normal cleaning and organizing details that fall to the night turn crew. The lottery was especially busy yesterday, what with the Powerball prize in the ballpark of $230 million. We ended up selling over $2300 in lottery tickets through the course of the day. Yes, I threw $5 bat it, won $3 and with that type of financial planning I would like to think my career in politics is assured.

Ed was there last night when I got in around 10:30. Usually he is gone long before then, but apparently it was busy enough that he wanted to make sure everything ran okay. The first thing he said to me when I arrived was how much he missed having me on dayshift. I can't imagine, simply because I haven't seen what all has and hasn't been done in my absence. It may make for a long Friday morning. Still, it is nice to be appreciated for what all I do.

I sent Lynn an email to let her know that I caught some of her first show. Things seem to be running okay, but I can tell she is somewhat flummoxed at times, as she is responsible for lots of things that previously weren't a concern for her. Things like levels and taking unscreened calls, stuff that I would normally take care of, but things that she is now running by herself.

Anyway, I mentioned earlier that I was going to go look for a new greasy spoon to have breakfast at. I tried that this morning, heading over to the city's Strip District to try out DeLuca's Restaurant. Many people, including some friends of mine have said that they have the best breakfast in Pittsburgh. And since I was looking for reasons to stay awake today, I figured a jaunt over there would be a good way to kill some time and get some coffee in me as well. It was a little bit of a hike, probably around 20 blocks or so, but if it was going to be a good breakfast I figured it would be worth it. Sadly, that wasn't the case.

Upon arriving I first noticed a sign that said please wait to be seated. No problem. In short order a waitress saw me and asked if I was by myself, which is almost always the case, and the just pointed to a booth and said I could sit there. Hell I could have done that and saved them the trouble. On the plus side they were quick in getting my coffee and menu to me. I wasn't sure what to order, the breakfast menu took up probably 2 and a half pages of a 4 page menu. Not sure what to get, I opted simply for the breakfast special, two eggs, hash browns, meat, toast and coffee. I opted for over easy on the eggs, spicy sausage, and white toast. What I got was less than good. The eggs were okay, but the hash browns seemed like they had been on the grill for a few hours, the sausage patties, if that is what they were, were dried out and had the texture of hockey pucks, and the toast wasn't white bread, but wheat. And the toast didn't even come out with the meal, the easiest item to make took the most amount of time to get to my table. Plus they didn't butter the toast, but rather had those refrigerated butter pats that when you try to butter your own bread you end up ripping it to shreds. Highly uncool. They were highly attentive on my coffee which was good, but the food was less than spectacular. It won't be my hang out for breakfast, though I may go back and try something else from the menu at a later date, just no time soon.

I mentioned earlier in the blog that I have been playing Scratchix on Facebook, Just got a message today that one of the people I sent a ticket to won a token for an Amazon Kindle, and since I was the offending party, that means I win one as well. I now have 3 of the 70 tokens needed to claim the prize. It can't be worse than the last prize I won, when the other day I was putting in more Coke Reward points and thought I would check out what prizes were available. One of the prizes was a $5 coupon for I use that service when I order in, they have a list of many of the restaurants that deliver to me, so it is easier to go to that one page and look for what I want than to sort through dozens of phone numbers and websites trying to place a delivery order. After claiming the prize I went onto the page to order dinner and every restaurant that I tried redeeming the $5 with didn't accept it. It was just maddening to win a prize and realize that I have absolutely no use for it.

I think I complained about the show Hell's Kitchen earlier in the blog, though given how long this is I can't really be sure, but I did manage to sit through another episode on Tuesday and despite the show being 5 weeks in and presumably the 5 weakest cooks having been eliminated, they still couldn't manage to make it through a single dinner service where the customers actually got fed. I swear they don't pick people to compete based on their ability to cook, but their ability to look like complete and utter buffoons on TV. The winner of the show shouldn't be given the job of executive chef at a restaurant, they should be given a cookbook so they can learn how to do whatever the fuck it is they think they are actually good at, because right now it just looks like the only skill they bring to the table is utter incompetence.

Well I am going to wrap this up, not because I can't ramble on, but because it looks like it might storm outside and I want to get this posted before anything crazy, like the power going out, actually happens. I will have to save the shorts story for another time. That's okay, it gives me a reason to blog again someday.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Contest Winner - "What if....? The G20 Summit"

One of my last real entries to this page was a brief one, a contest for someone out there to come up with a blog idea for my next post. It would look to the Multiply observer that no one had anything for me. Shame to, I thought the prize, a free month of gaming at Pogo, might be something worth winning. Thank goodness for RSS feeds however, because shortly after I posted here, the same entry came up on my Facebook page and I did get a suggestion, actually a few from the same person, Aaron, who I met through the radio show. Needless to say, Aaron therfore won the prize, but his suggestions were tough one's to blog about. That is when the comic book side of my brain kicked into gear. Marvel Comics used to do a series called "What if...?" and would take a significant event that played out within the Marvel Universe and tackled the notion of what might have happened if things were slightly different.

So what does that have to do with this entry you may ask. Well, one of the things that Aaron suggested was a blog about the upcoming G20 summit I have been reluctant to get into a lot of political blogging recently, and have very little interest in the G20, but with the yearly dismantling of the Pittsburgh Pirates franchise that happens right around the trading deadline, I thought I might be able to incorporate the two and ask the following Marvelous question.....

"What If the G20 Summit Was Run By Pittsburgh Pirates Management?"

Well first off, the top 12 nations would be lopped off, traded away to NATO or some other multinational organization for future prospects. 11 of open slots would then be filled with third world countries that show potential to someday maybe be able to crack the top 20, and the last member would be the winner of the reality show "America's Next Top Ally".

Next, the David L Lawrence Convention Center will have to be torn down, and a newer convention center will have to be built in order to host the summit. While the newer convention center will smaller than it's predecessor, it will be replete with more luxury boxes, so that Pittsburgh may someday be more competitive with other cities that host summits.

The Port Authority will pitch in by building a tunnel to the new convention center under the guise that eventually it will be a connector between the East and West Busways and therefore has to be built. The new tunnel will go down in the annals of Pittsburgh transportation, much like the Wasbash Tunnel, the Parkway North HOV lane and the Bridge to Nowhere.

In order to generate more revenue, Pirates management will of course sell the naming rights to the convention. Something along the lines of The UPMC G20 Summit sounds just about right.

To maintain interest in the summit, management will offer a variety of gimmicks to the visiting nations, such as an All You Can Eat section in the newly constructed convention center, world leader bobblehead dolls, and Pittsburgh's favorite, a fireworks night.

Entertainment for the convention will consist of concerts by The Clarks and Donny Iris and movies in which Pittsburgh was the film locale, such as Striking Distance and The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh.

Protestors at the summit will be brandished as nayasayers and as to not having the vision of seeing what it is management is trying to accomplish.

While he is merely a catcher for the Pirates and therefore will have no role in the summit whatsoever, nonetheless Ryan Doumit will still find a way to injure himself and end up on the disabled list.

The summit is to last three days, so expect at least the first two days to be losses, but never fear, management will be there to tell you that 5 years from now it will be worth it, unless of course Pittsburgh is again chosen to host the G20, in which case the above steps will be repeated.

Needless to say, regardless of what does or doesn't happen at the G20 here in Pittsburgh, rest assured that it can't be as bad as if Pirates management ran it.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Stolen Content - Citizen, heal thyself

What if Washington Were a Ghost Town?

What FDR and Nixon might say to their partisan heirs.

He might look at the lay of the land and tell Mr. Obama something like this:

“My friend, you’re in a bit of a fix. Falling polls, decreasing support for health care. Beyond that, you’re stuck in a bit of a lose-lose. If you don’t get a bill along the lines you’ve announced, you’ll look ineffective and weak—a loser. If, on the other hand, you win, if you get what you asked for, it will all be a mess and all be on you. The system will be overwhelmed, the government won’t be able to execute properly, the costs will be huge. The new regime will thoroughly discombobulate things just in time for everyone’s complaints to reach a crescendo by Election Day 2010.

“But I have an idea, and hear me out. You already have Medicare, a single-payer national health-care system for those 65 and older. Little Harry Truman was the first American to get a Medicare card in 1965, did you know that? LBJ hauled him in for a ceremony. Anyway, Americans like Medicare. So here’s the plan. From here on in, every day, start talking about it: ‘Medicare this, Medicare that, Medicare.’ Get your people in Congress to focus on making the system ‘healthier.’ It’s rife with waste, fraud and abuse, everyone knows that. And there’s the demographic time bomb. Come together in a great show of bipartisan feeling with our Republican friends and announce some serious cost-saving measures that are both legitimate and farsighted. Be Dr. Save the System. On thorny issues like end-of-life care, put together a bipartisan commission, show you’re open to Republican suggestions.

“Then, at the end, get your Democratic majorities to make one little change in the program—it’s now open to all. You don’t have to be 65. The uninsured can enroll. Do it in the dead of night if you have to, you’ve got the votes.

“And then, and only because you’ve all made so many institutional and structural changes, you’ll have to give Medicare a new name. I’d suggest ‘The National Health Service.’

“VoilĂ . You now have the single-payer system you wanted.

“Everybody wins. You get expansion, Republicans get cost control, the system is made more secure, and the public for once isn’t ­terrified.

“Republicans of course will say they won—they defeated a brand new boondoggle nationalized health system. Fine. But people will start referring to the National Health Service every day, and they’ll believe they have one, and they’ll believe you gave it to them. And you can run in ’12 saying you did. That’s what I’d do!”

Before departing in a cloud of cigarette smoke and martini fumes, FDR just might add, “A second option, though lacking that special spark of deviousness, is the Wyden-Bennett bill. It’s cost-neutral, it’s not single-payer, but everyone gets coverage. And that was the point, wasn’t it? You can brag about health care for all and fiscal prudence. Not bad!”


If Richard Nixon—one of the great vote counters, a man who loved policy more than politics but was very good at the latter until he wasn’t anymore, a man who acted so very tough because his heart had been broken, not only by Watergate but by other things (he was right about Alger Hiss and still they wouldn’t honor him; he gave liberals everything in terms of domestic programs and still they wouldn’t love him)—if he met in Washington with the national Republicans of 2009, he might, just might, say something like this:

“Men, and a few ladies, and it’s wonderful to have you here, you’re in a good position and a bad one. Good: The American people are peeling off from nationalized medicine or socialized medicine or whatever you call it. Bad: I’m not sure the peeling off has anything to do with you. There’s something going on that I never foresaw, and it’s the fact that you don’t seem anymore to be the face of the party or of the movements within it. People with TV and radio shows do. Media people! There’s a plus to this but a minus, too. They’re sucking all the oxygen out of the room. You think they’re supporting you, but they’re really supplanting you! You’ve got to figure out how to come to the fore more and break through. But that’s small beer. Big thing is the current debate.

“You still haven’t given the American people coherent alternatives and arguments, or not so the people have noticed. You’ve got to have a strategy, and you’ve got to be serious. Put all internal jockeying aside and remember your philosophy, the thing that made you be a Republican and not a Dem.

“They’re calling you all Dr. No, but that’s not really taking off, so don’t worry about it. But they are tagging you as guys who think this is all just about politics. Remember, the majority of the American people don’t care at all about your political prospects. Why should they? Unlike everyone in Washington and the media, they’re not political obsessives. They actually have lives. They care about what happens to them when they’re sick. So stop the ‘Obama’s Waterloo’ stuff—what a mistake that was, to make yourselves look cynical and purely partisan!—and refocus. Come back to first principles and prudent warnings, but always within a context of clear patriotism. At the end of the day, America needs a successful president. It’s dangerous to have a wounded duck six months into a presidency in a dangerous world. So help him by gently instructing him. He’ll hate that, because in his mind he’s the teacher and you’re the student. Point out that there’s a lot the president doesn’t understand, come forward every day with your ideas, talk them up, get them out there.

“For instance: As you know, doctors keep fees up and order expensive tests because they’re afraid of malpractice suits. They pay terrible insurance premiums. We have to reform that. Stop calling it “tort reform”; normal people think a tort is something you eat for dessert. Call it the Limiting Lawyers’ Windfalls bill. No one likes lawyers anymore, Perry Mason’s dead. And make it real when you talk. Here you can pinpoint an Obama weakness that you’re not even exploiting. He won’t go near legal reform because his biggest backers and contributors are the trial lawyer’s lobby. He talks about the common good—give me a break. As Jack Kennedy used to say, and so eloquently, here you can really stick it to him and break it off.

And speaking of JFK, try to seize back a bit of the issue of health in general. Remember physical fitness and vigor and 50 mile hikes on the C&O Canal? Completely captured the public imagination. JFK himself didn’t do it, he wasn’t insane, and he had the bad back. He sent Bobby and that fat Pierre Salinger. Anyway, go with that: personal responsibility, strength, health. Steal it from the Dems. But don’t imitate their censorious tone: ‘Ya can’t smoke, put down that doughnut.’ Let me tell you, doughnut eaters are the largest growing demographic in America. Don’t get crossways with them!”

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Stolen Content - See, there is a God

Wis. jury: Father guilty in prayer death case


WAUSAU, Wis. – A central Wisconsin man accused of killing his 11-year-old daughter by praying instead of seeking medical care was found guilty Saturday of second-degree reckless homicide.

Dale Neumann, 47, was convicted in the March 23, 2008, death of his daughter, Madeline, from undiagnosed diabetes. Prosecutors contended he should have rushed the girl to a hospital because she couldn't walk, talk, eat or drink. Instead, Madeline died on the floor of the family's rural Weston home as people surrounded her and prayed. Someone called 911 when she stopped breathing.

Sitting straight in his chair, Neumann stared at the jury as the verdict in a nearly empty courtroom was read. He declined comment as he left the courthouse.

Defense attorney Jay Kronenwetter said the verdict would be appealed. He declined further comment.

Prosecutors also declined comment, citing a gag order.

Leilani Neumann, 41, was convicted on the same charge in the spring. Marathon County Circuit Judge Vincent Howard set Oct. 6 for sentencing for both parents, who face up to 25 years in prison.

Their case is believed to be the first in Wisconsin involving faith healing in which someone died and another person was charged with a homicide.

Last month, an Oregon jury convicted a man of misdemeanor criminal mistreatment for relying on prayer instead of seeking medical care for his 15-month-old daughter who died of pneumonia and a blood infection in March 2008. Both of the girl's parents were acquitted of a more serious manslaughter charge.

Neumann's jury — six men and six women — deliberated about 15 hours over two days before convicting him. At one point, jurors asked the judge whether Neumann's belief in faith healing made him "not liable" for not taking his daughter to the hospital even if he knew she wasn't feeling well.

Neumann, who once studied to be a Pentecostal minister, testified Thursday that he believed God would heal his daughter and he never expected her to die. God promises in the Bible to heal, he said.

"If I go to the doctor, I am putting the doctor before God," Neumann testified. "I am not believing what he said he would do."

The father testified that he thought Madeline had the flu or a fever, and several relatives and family friends said they also did not realize how sick she was.

Assistant District Attorney LaMont Jacobson told jurors in closing arguments Friday that Neumann was "overwhelmed by pride" in his interpretation of the Bible and selfishly let Madeline die as a test of faith.

Neumann knew he should have taken his daughter to a doctor and minimized her illness when speaking with investigators, Jacobson said, calling Neumann no different than a drunken driver who remarks he only had a couple of beers.

Doctors testified that Madeline would have had a good chance of survival if she had received medical care, including insulin and fluids, before she stopped breathing.

Kronenwetter told the jury that Neumann sincerely believed praying would heal his daughter and he did nothing criminally wrong.

"Dale Neumann was doing what he thought would work for his daughter," Kronenwetter said. "He was administering faith healing. He thought it was working."

(This version CORRECTS Corrects year from 2003 to 2008 in 2nd graf)

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