Sunday, September 26, 2010

I guess I am a traditionalist

I realize that by writing this now I am very much late to the dance, but much like the last time the Pirates were good, remembering how things used to be can be cause for questioning the current status quo. 

With that in mind, let's once again take a trip in the wayback machine, circa 1992 and Major League Baseball.  Back then there were two divisions in each league, with both the American and National Leagues  having two divisions; one in the East and one in the West, though the terms were very loosely applied, as geography wasn't always considered when the teams were assigned.  For instance Cincinnati played in the National League West, while St Louis was in the National League East, even though even Miss Teen South Carolina (not everybody out there has a  map) would be able to tell you that St Louis is farther west than Cincinnati. 

That being said, all of the teams would play 162 games and the four division winners would qualify for post season play, with the winners of the NL East and NL West squaring off for the right to represent the National League in the World Series and the same would happen in the American League.  What was novel about this at the time was that off all of the major league sports, only baseball required that you actually had to win your division to make the post season, the NFL, NBA and NHL all had some version of wild card teams, teams that didn't necessarily win their respective divisions, but played well enough that they were given a playoff seeding of some sort.  For me, that was part of the charm, that of all of the sports only baseball required you to do more than simply play well enough, you had to be the best.  

In 1993, MLB added two teams to the National League, the Colorado Rockies and the Florida Marlins and for arguments sake we will located them geographically, and put the Rockies in the NL West and the Marlins in the NL East.  No harm in expanding the product, but what was to come in 1994 I would argue watered down the sport.  In 1994 baseball opted to go from two divisions to three divisions in each league and allow each division winner and one wild card team into post season play, killing off one of the unique aspects of baseball.  The argument was that by adding a wild card team and creating three divisions it would increase interest in the sport, with more teams having a shot at post season play and increasing revenue by providing more playoff games for TV.  While possibly making more money with an additional round of playoffs, did it really make baseball any more interesting?  Let's look at the numbers for a moment.  And if we take into consideration the subsequent expansion in 1998 (Tampa Bay in the American League and Arizona in the National League) and not moving Milwaukee from the American to the National League, which also occurred in 1998 (to even out the number of teams in each league at 15) lets take a look at how close the races might have been had realignment and the wild card not been added.

For arguments sake the division's probably would have looked like this

NL East - Philadelphia, NY Mets, Pittsburgh, St Louis, Florida, Chicago, Washington DC
NL West - Atlanta, Cincinnati, Arizona, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Houston, Colorado
AL East - NY Yankees, Boston, Tampa Bay, Baltimore, Toronto, Cleveland, Detroit
AL West - Seattle, Texas, Anaheim, Chicago, Kansas City, Minnesota, Oakland, Milwaukee

So let's take a look at this year where with 8 games left to play, here is how close the races would be

2010 Standings (as of Saturday 9/25)
NL East - Philadelphia would have clinched the division, having a 13.5 game lead on St Louis
NL West - San Diego and San Francisco tied (87-67), Atlanta .5 game back, Cincinnati 1.5 games back and Colorado 4 games back

AL East - Tampa Bay would have a 1.5 game lead on the NY Yankees, 7 games on Boston
AL West - Minnesota would have a 6 game lead on Texas

So with one week left in the season we would have 10 teams still vying for three playoff spots, which I would argue certainly would generate interest, at least as much as the current format where for all intents and purposes 4 of the 8 spots are already clinched and we are determining  which is the best second place team in both leagues.  But one year is a very small sample size, so let's see if the argument bears out over previous seasons.


NL East - Philadelphia wins by 2 games over St Louis
NL West - Los Angeles wins by 3 games over Colorado
AL East - NY Yankees win by  8 games over Boston
AL West - Anaheim win by 10 games over Texas

Certainly the National League races would have been competitive, instead all 4 teams mentioned above made the playoffs, which sort of kills the excitement of a pennant race.  While the American League races weren't nearly as close, Boston still got a playoff spot, as did Minnesota despite having the 5th best record in the American League.  By giving a playoff spot to Minnesota (87-76, they had to play a tie breaker game with Detroit for the 163rd  game) the current system all but rewarded mediocrity.


NL East - Chicago Cubs by 5.5 games over Philadelphia
NL West - Houston by 2.5 games over Los Angeles
AL East - Tampa Bay by 2 games over Boston
AL West - Anaheim by 10 games over Milwaukee

Okay, one race is definitely a blowout, the AL West, but again because of the changes in baseball the Chicago White Sox made the post season, even though their record would have them placed 5th overall within the American League.  Again mediocrity is rewarded and if the goal of the post season is to determine who the very best is in any given year I would say inviting mediocre teams simply for a few extra dollars isn't the way to go about it.

NL East - Philadelphia by 1 game over the NY Mets
NL West - Colorado by 1 game over Arizona and San Diego and 6 games over Atlanta
AL East - Cleveland by 1 game over Boston, 2 games over NY Yankees (technically Cleveland played one more game than Boston because they played in the "Civil Rights Game" to help celebrate the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in baseball, a game in which they lost.  I have taken the loss off of the books in this instance, as in 1992 no such game existed, though if we count it nothing changes save for the margins, Cleveland by .5 over Boston, 1.5 games over the Yankees)
AL West - Anaheim by 6.5 games over Seattle

So what we end up with is that all 4 races pretty much came down to the last week of the season we had 11 teams vying for 4 spots, which I would argue would make for some pretty damn interesting baseball.  Instead what we ended up with was just the opposite, other than the wild card contests where Boston and NY had all but qualified for the post season and we wre simply jockeying for position, one to be the division winner and one to be the wild card, and a playoff game between Colorado and San Diego to determine the NL wild card winner, none of the races were closer than those listed above, and once again a team, the Chicago Cubs, who had the 6th best record in the National League is nonetheless rewarded with one of the 4 playoff spots in the NL.


NL East - NY Mets by 12 games over Philadelphia
NL West - San Diego and Los Angeles tied, Houston 6 games back
AL East - NY Yankees by 2 games over Detroit
AL West - Minnesota by 3 games over Oakland

True that the NL East race was not that close, but as it played out it was the same under the current format, the only difference being that St Louis also got a playoff spot, even though they would have been 13.5 games back under the old format.  We also would have had a one game playoff between San Diego and Los Angeles with the winner moving on and the loser going home, instead both teams made it (Philadelphia finished 3 games back in the wild card chase) thus killing interest in a pennant race, not creating it.  In the American League you would have had two races decided by 3 games or less, again I would argue that it would have been compelling baseball up until the end of the season. 

Now I could continue with this general theme but I think you get where I am going, that the idea that more interest was created by expanding the baseball playoffs was at best a misnomer, at worst an outright lie, one in which the benefit wasn't necessarily to the fans of baseball but to the wallets of the teams owners.  So when people ask me when I really stopped caring about baseball, it wasn't the steroid scandal, or the work stoppage, it was in 1994 when the product was diluted and the uniqueness of the sport, the idea that one had to be the best and not just good enough, was taken away. 

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Football, football, football

3:55:01 AM

Yes it is early, and it is my day off so what gives with me being up blogging?  Well, suffice it to say I drank a little too much earlier and ended up in that sort of pass out/slumber like state very early (before 8pm) only to wake up and find that I couldn't sleep.  I had the opportunity to do some things yesterday, but then I didn't follow through so instead I drank.  And drank. And drank.  I think I was in the ball park of 8 or 9 beers before calling it a night, but lots of things happened before that, which I should probably get too. 

Saturday is my unofficial day off, I say unofficial because I am scheduled off, but it almost never works out that way, I usually end up going into work, if only to place the Monday order.  Technically I could place it Friday after putting the Friday order away, but it almost leaves me guessing what we will sell for the weekend, at least by doing it Saturday I can see one day of sales, if not the entire weekend, and adjust my ordering accordingly.  Plus I had some errands to run, and I could do them downtown as easily as any place else on Saturday, so it wasn't going to be a lost cause of a day.  And as a night cap, the boss on Thursday gave me his Pirate tickets (4 tickets and a parking pass) for the Saturday night game.  Now normally I wouldn't consider going to a baseball game at this point, the Pirates are just that bad, but going into Friday night the Pirates had amassed 98 losses on the year, so a loss Friday night could mean my tickets would be good for loss #100 on the year, and that type of milestone could get me to go to the ballpark.  However, while not short on cash, I wasn't exactly flush with it either and one of my errands I wanted to run was to pay my phone and electric bills, so we are saying goodbye to some coin right there.  Thus I decided maybe I better take my paycheck from work with me, while I got paid on Wednesday I hadn't actually cashed it yet, so before leaving the apartment I grabbed my check also and shoved it in my pocket. 

I had actually woke up early on Saturday so I thought about going to breakfast at Pamela's again, but I had been there too many times recently so I talked myself out of it and instead just decided to go ahead and head into work.  The place I pay my bills was along the way sort of, it is about a stop or two past where I would get off the bus for work, but I am relatively young and my legs haven't failed me yet, so I figured I would take care of the bills first, but the place wasn't open when I got there, so much for that plan.  I know they are open on Saturday's but didn't know what time they opened, apparently I was just too early.  So I instead decide I will go to work, do my thing and come back to pay my bills.  As I am cutting across the new and improved Market Square, a project designed to improve Market Square but ended up punishing many of the merchants there by all but killing and traffic that would go through.  Quite of few ended up going belly up while the project took place, others while not making money were at least able to tough it out during the project.  Now Market Square looks nicer but doesn't have as many businesses as it once had.  Maybe they will eventually come back, but for now it remains a work in progress on that point.

Anyway as I cut across the square I pass Cherry's Diner, a little hole in the wall place that I didn't even think of before when considering breakfast stops, but here it was, and it was open so I figured what the hell, I would give it a try and it wasn't too bad.  Not great but not bad.  Then again I am not all that picky when it comes to diner food, especially breakfast, the two general rules of thumb are 1) Don't let me run out of coffee and 2) Don't make me sick.  Not exactly the most demanding of qualifications, but in the morning I am just looking for something to get me started, usually the coffee is more important than the food, though the food being edible is a requirement.  All good though, and relatively cheap (two eggs, sausage, home fries, coffee under $8) so sufficiently nourished I went on into work where the ordering went relatively smoothly and I got some other stuff done as well, pulled a little more stock out of the basement and got it on the floor (stuff sitting in the basement that we could be selling is a pet peeve of mine) and started working on my next tag request form.  The guys from Sledd, our grocery provider, were in this past week and they retagged the entire store.  For the most part this was good, they brought new tags for items and pulled some tags from items that were discontinued, but they also pulled some tags from items that I need, plus there are a few items that we have been trying to get but we don't have the item numbers for, so the process to fix that is to fill out a tag request form with the item numbers of all of the tags that are needed and then fax it in and then you wait and hope that you get the requested tags in a relatively short amount of time.  It is more or less a hit and miss proposition, and speed in not one of Sledd's strong suits (as evidenced by the fact the request to have the store retagged was made in April and they just came last week).  But I did my part and with nothing left to do I figured I would go ahead and leave, get my bills paid and what not and maybe take in a baseball game.  But before I left the store I picked up a copy of the PG and lo and behold the Pirates won Friday night, 4-3, on a Ronny Cedeno RBI single in the 9th inning, so now I can't see loss #100, at best it would be loss #99.  That was just another reason to not go, add to the fact that the people I had asked to go couldn't because of other issues and my motivation for a baseball game became less and less.  I originally asked my aunt Amy, but her son Chris literally broke his face the night before doing parkour.  I guess he was trying a flip off of a wall and didn't quite make it and his knee literally came up and smashed into his face.  With her husband in Harrisburg, doing Reserve duty and a son with a broken face and her daughter Sarah having stuff to do with her school band she had to say no.  Then I asked my friend Rich, well I tried to ask him, I caught up to his daughter online and she asked him for me, since he was already in bed and he couldn't go because he had to work at 6am Sunday, so a 7:05pm game Saturday wasn't going to work.  After post game fireworks we would probably be getting in around midnight, so now he is out of the equation.  I tried reaching my uncle Will, but I didn't have his number on hand and so I figured I would call my mom and get it from her, but she wasn't home, so a third option was down.  At this point I am all about saying fuck it to the game, I'll just go and pay my bills and call it a day.  The bill paying was what it was, good that they are paid, bad that it actually costs money and worse still because when I reached into my pocket my paycheck was gone.  Now I had the cash for the bills, but still not having my paycheck was going to cause some problems.  But then I started thinking, maybe I really didn't pick it up before I left my apartment, I mean I did pick it up, but maybe I set it back down, or maybe I left it on my desk, since I was online before I left the house, so no need to panic.  But in case I did drop it I decided I better backtrack my path downtown just to see if it was laying on the sidewalk somewhere.  No dice on that plan, but still no panic from me, I still had some spending cash and worst case scenario I go into work Monday, tell the boss to stop payment on my check and hopefully just get repaid at a later date. 

So I decide to come back home, stopping along the way to pick up a weekly bus pass for the coming work week, and get into my apartment and no check.  Not good, but not bad, I call Ed and let him know what is up, that he may have to cancel it if I can't find it.  At this point I am thinking I will just spend the rest of the night in my apartment when the phone rings.  I think maybe it is my mom with Will's number, we still had time for the game.  He would have about an hour drive down here, but it wasn't even 3pm yet so there was still ample time.  But it wasn't my mom, it was the desk attendant from Point Park Apartments.  Point Park University is one of the two schools in which Smithfield News is located between, The Art Institute of Pittsburgh being the other and while we do a decent amount of business with their students and employees, there would be no need for them to call me, let alone call me at home.  But it turns out someone had found my paycheck on the street in front of their building and turned it in and they went to the trouble of looking my name up in the phone book and tracking me down, which was way cool on their part.  But now, in order to get my paycheck I had to go back downtown and I am thinking that maybe I will end up going to the game after all, since I have to be down there anyway, or worst case scenario maybe I will find someone at work and give them the tickets to use instead. 

Blabber much?  I do.  Or in Yoda speak that would be "Blabber much I do."

So I venture back into town, walk over to the school and the desk attendant brings out my check.  I tried leaving a tip ($40) or a finder's fee or whatever you want to call it, but no one would take it.  So now I am back to having cash again, or more cash at least but I still am not enamored with the prospect of the baseball game, so I figure that maybe I will go into Smithfield News, and if Alex was there, give the tickets to him so he and his roommates can go, but he was working second shift (3pm-11pm) so that ruled him out as well.  So I have tickets and I can't get rid of them even.  I decide that before I lose my paycheck again I am better of just going back to Oakland, cashing it and deciding what I want to do from there.  Back in Oakland I cash the check, decide that I will go have a beer at Uncle Jimmy's and then go from there, so I grab a Miller Lite and decide to drop $5 in the poker machine.  One beer, $5, in and out and then decide what my evening fate will be.  Except I couldn't lose on the poker machine.    It gets over $20, I am thinking maybe another beer will do while I play off the credits.  A triple 7 lineup on a cherry bonus and I am over $30.  I play some of the credits back down, double my bet and and an all fruit pops up.  Over $40.  Maybe I should get out while I am ahead, but it was only a $5 investment, absolute worst case scenario is I am down $5 when all is said and done.  Drink up Johnny, beer #3.  I realize that the entire time I have been in the bar no one is playing the jukebox.  Fix that.  We got music, we got beer and then Jeff and Jen come in.  Once again I try pawning off the baseball tickets, but they have plans so no dice there.  Okay fine, I will go as soon as I get rid of these stupid credits on the poker machine.  Back to doubling my bets and I get a screen of all oranges.  That's a $40 hit right there and now I am sitting around $65 dollars or so, but still it is only a $5 investment.  More beer please.  Drop the bet back down, no need to be stupid, even if I am not too worried about losing this money, might be nice to not blow it all at once, but instead I keep hitting.  A cherry bonus good for another $20, then one for $40 and all of a sudden I am sitting around $100.  Surely my luck will run out at some point, but my beer already has.  Barkeep, bring me another.  Another drop in credits and I am starting to think maybe it is time to get out take my $60-$70 and be happy for the transaction when it starts hitting again.  Shit I am never going to get out of here, meanwhile the empties are piling up on the machine.  Speaking of empties, I could use another.  And nobody is playing music, back to the jukebox.  Now is when the fuzzy math starts, the math you do in your head when you are starting to get tipsy.  I got $15 tied up in the jukebox, probably another $25 tied up in beer, $5 in the machine.  I cash and cover my expenditures here and maybe make a shekel or two.  But I still have music on the jukebox, I can't leave the bar while my music is playing.  More beer please.  The reasonable side of me, which is losing a battle with the inebriated side of me is saying walk, take the money and go.  Drunk guy is saying, the next song on the jukebox is cool, I should know, I played it, stick around.  In this scenario let's be honest, drunk guy is wrong 99% of the time.  Too many bad things can happen including 1) getting drunk enough to be sick, 2) doing something stupid that makes you look like an ass in your local watering hole, 3) losing your money on the poker machine then in a drunken logical sort of way, throwing more money into it in hopes of winning back what you should have already walked with, etc, etc.   The only realistic good outcome is that you make more money, which is kind of like pissing into a fan and hoping you don't get wet.  Well piss away my friends, somehow drunk guy was right.  I ended up cashing out at $140 on $5.  Of course I now drank and gambled my way out of the baseball game, because it starts in 5 minutes.  And I am not in the shape to be boarding a bus back downtown let alone navigating my way to the stadium.  Instead I just go to the Cuban place, get me some eats and call it a day. 

9:37:49 AM

Sorry but I took a break.  Okay really I took a nap, I don't know if that officially constitutes a break or not, but it was still way early, so I snoozed for about an hour or so, then checked out for a breakfast of chorizo, eggs and coffee.  The coffee to wake up my brain, the chorizo to wake up my ass.  The chorizo worked faster, I managed a pretty loud and long fart on the walk home.  Thankfully I had snuck down a back alley and it was still early, so no one actually heard my ass explode.  It is a bad joke I play at work now when I am in the basement, where we have no ventilation and only a fan to try to keep it cooled down, a process that doesn't work all that well, and even less when they turn on the office air conditioner, which does a mediocre job of cooling off the office, but those of us on the other side of the air conditioner just get the hot air end of the deal.  It is worse when my ass decides to act up, I usually just go up to whoever it is I am working with and say, "Piece of advice, don't fart in front of the fan"   which usually means I did just that.  Bad enough to fart, worse to then have the fan blow it around the place.  No wonder we have high turnover at work.

The funny thing is, when I first set down to do this blog I planned on talking about nothing but football, football and more football.  Needless to say that plan has been somewhat compromised by my incessant need to chatter.  So, in order to get back to what it is I was planning on doing I guess I should go ahead and start another paragraph.

As anyone who has visited this page on a frequent basis knows I do play fantasy football, as well as a handful of other fantasy sports and as last week was the first week of the NFL season, I might as well go over what it was I actually did.  First would be the Madden app on Facebook, not that it is a fantasy football game, it is more along the lines of a Mafia Wars type app,  with the added bonus that you don't have to increase the size of your mafia in order to win, though the number of friends you have using the app is a plus as it helps you in receiving gifts and in scrimmages, which are free contests where you can get a modest amount of experience and cash (30 each) but also the opportunity to win game tickets, which are needed for play in either the season or Super Bowl modes.  One of the features of the game is a thing called Predictor, where you guess the winner of all of the NFL games each week, and assign each game a point value from 1-16, 16 for the pick you are most confident with down to 1 for the one you are least confident about.  Each pick you get correct you get the subsequent points for and after collecting enough points, you earn bonuses in the game.  The first bonuses are at 500 points, and after one week, where I went 11-5 in my choices, I tallied 99 points. 

The first of my fantasy games, since I am in two leagues this year, would be my matchup in Sports Illustrated Fantasy football.  Honestly I don't care about this league all that much, by signing up for it I got some free swagbucks, so I did it mostly for that reason.  And based on the fact that I am the only guy who has made any moves in that league, I have to assume that is the reason everyone else did it as well.  So it isn't much of a surprise that I managed a 89-39 win there.  As the season wears on maybe I will see other people pay attention to that league, but I am not holding my breath at this point.  Whereas I am much more interested in my bar league , where I am two time defending champion, I lost what can best be called a heartbreaker by fantasy football standards 69-68.  Worse I was the victim of one of the worst rules in the NFL, which most certainly cost me a win. 

This is really a case of the NFL telling you to believe the rules and not your eyes.  The rule requires that when making a catch in the endzone the receiver must complete a second act with possession of the ball.  The problem is there is no real definition of what a second act actually is.  It is clear that he has the ball with both feet clearly in the endzone, so that much isn't at issue, but the ruling is all about the second act.  Is the second act when his knee hits the ground?  Apparently not.  Is it when his ass hits the ground? Again apparently not.  How about when his off hand, the hand without the ball hits the ground?  No again.  None of those actions apparently constitute a second act, rather it is when the ball hits the ground and then rolls away that we are finally graced with the second act.  Anything that happened before that apparently doesn't count, even though I would argue he had clearly established possession of the football, the NFL asks you the viewer to not believe your eyes.  And since I have Johnson on my fantasy team, that call costs me 7 points, points that would have turned my week one loss into a win.

All of that being said, today is week two and a chance to hopefully fix the mistakes of week one.  One of the mistakes I had was actually with my computer, I was watching some NFL games online, and the site I was using became more and more problematic.  Feeds kept cutting in and out, so I am going to try a new site that I experimented with earlier this week, if all goes well I will have a new place to watch games online.  Don't get me wrong, I could just watch the games on TV, but online I can jump between games and have access to the entire schedule, rather than a handful of games.  I am thinking if all goes well I may glog the upcoming Steeler game in a couple of hours, when Pittsburgh plays Tennessee. Both teams are 1-0, Pittsburgh winning 15-9 in overtime against Atlanta, Tennessee had a far easier time dispatching Oakland, 38-13.  Tennessee features one of the best running backs in the NFL in Chris Johnson (who I have in my Sports Illustrated league) where Pittsburgh will be led for the second straight week by quarterback Dennis Dixon while Ben Roethlisberger continues to serve his 4 game suspension for whipping his cock out in public and having sex in a public restroom in Georgia.  Note I didn't say rape, I am only going with what was established in the public record and not was alleged.  I will leave that to far greater minds than my own.

We still have time before kickoff however, so I am going to use this time to check up on any freebie swagbucks offers that may be around.  I have been slowing down on those recently, I don't think I earned a single gift card last week.  I did pick up some partner site swagbucks, sites similar to swagbucks but where the bucks earned can only be used on either those sites or on swagstakes entries.  I usually use them for the latter, there is nothing I want on say the Green Bay Packers site, but if I can buy an entry to win something else why not go ahead and do it.  Oh well, found another 3 bucks, not great but every little bit helps.  That is three more towards another gift card. 

10:31:33 PM

And look, you've been spared.  I was all set to glog the Steeler game Sunday afternoon, I had breakfast in my belly and plenty of cigarettes and what not ready to go.  I even located the link online to watch the game so I figured while the pregame show was on I would just go sit in my recliner and watch that until game time.  Then my eyes closed.  Not for an incredibly long time mind you, I woke up maybe ten minutes into the broadcast.  Sadly that might have been the most important part of the game, the Steelers scored their only touchdown on the opening kickoff and the game from an offensive standpoint spiraled downhill from there.  Not that Tennessee was any better, committing 7 turnovers through the course of the game.  In the end it was pretty much a mess, with Pittsburgh winning 19-11, and I feel better having not had the actual responsibility of glogging such an awful game.  As a side note, I went 9-7 on my NFL picks and saw my fantasy teams go 1-1, losing in the Sports Illustrated league but winning in the bar league, so both teams are 1-1 at this point.  Not great but not bad. 

But instead of glogging I went ahead and did some other things, including adding more Coke points to my account.  Again I managed to max out for another week, but then I splurged and spent 800 points on the first season of "The League" on DVD.  Not sure if I will like it or not, the basis for the show seems funny enough and right up my alley, but then again since I haven't seen it yet, the acting could suck and the jokes could be non funny.  Thankfully it was at least free.   

And Monday night was the season premiere of "Chuck".  Sadly I didn't watch the show in my Nerd Herd T shirt, but I don't know if I am getting tired of the show or if it is has just jumped the shark, but it doesn't have the same feel for me as it did originally.  I would attribute that to a few things, for starters many of the supporting characters that were in the first two season weren't in the season premiere.  I have to wonder just where Big Mike and the guys from Jeffster actually were.  Not to be seen in the first episode apparently.  Plus I always have a problem with a show where part of it is set up on the supposed sexual tension between two of the characters, because once you pair them off then that part of the story is just lost and it becomes almost impossible to get it back..  You see it all the time, fucking is bad TV.  Look what happened with "Moonlighting" once  Bruce Willis and Cybil Sheppard started fucking, the show went downhill.  Likewise the same thing happened twice with "Cheers" and only happened the second time because they rid themselves of one of the first fuck mates. Even when you look at Ellen DeGeneres' comedy many moons ago, I had no problem with her character, much like her real life persona being a lesbian, I did have a problem when the sole focus of the show seemed to be who her character was fucking.  Fucking is just bad TV, unless it is porn and that isn't allowed on regular TV, that is why we have the internet.  Well that and this blog, but really, what else is there? 

Okay, I better stop before my ego gets away from me.  Besides, I have a feeling I have a lot of spell checking to do.  Nite everyone.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Pages of nothing

9:47:33 PM

So how's your day?  Really I have been putting off blogging, not because I don't want to blog, quite the opposite actually, but that if I do blog I might succumb to diarrhea of the mouth (or keyboard) and just not stop.  Thus when urge has struck me I have found comfort in just diving head first back into the book I have been reading.  Before you all get all like "You aren't done with that yet?" as much as I am enjoying it (and I am) it is a tome of a book, checking in at over 600 pages, so it isn't like I can just sit down and bang the thing out in one night.   Plus it isn't like work has been helping all that much on the free time front.  I have come to refer to my scheduled 3pm punch out time as a "suggestion" because I am lucky if that is the time I actually leave anymore.  It could be 3pm, it could just as easily be 5pm, it just depends on the work I have left to do on any given day, and trying to keep two stores running is a juggling act that I wouldn't wish on anyone.  Too frequently it becomes the "Bitch at Matt Fest" (this year's performing artist will be Kansas) when as soon as something goes wrong or isn't up to par, rest assured I will be one of the first in the line of fire for it.

Prime example, one of the things I had been working on is getting beverage reps to start showing up at our other location.  I do this for two major reasons; 1) it gets the ordering off of our hands, it is much easier to simply walk a rep through but have them do the order than to place it yourself and 2) the reps get a chance to look in the coolers and see how they want them laid out.  I have ideas in my head to be sure, but at the end of the day it is their space (they are paying for it) so they should get some if not all of the input on how they are stocked and with what product.  The problem arises when the reps are dragging their feet about getting a rep to visit the store on a regular basis.  It isn't a problem for us, we do far too big of numbers for them to just toss us aside, but for a smaller store like Universal where you may only sell 20 cases or so the motivation isn't the same.  Nonetheless I had been working with the reps from our four major beverage distributors (Pepsi, Coke, 7 Up, Arizona) trying to get them to start putting the other store on a regular schedule for ordering and delivering.  What I was getting back was a lot of talk and not much else.  Then Ed shows up the other day at that store and starts complaining about all of the open spaces in the coolers.  Hey I am not stocking the coolers, so I don't now if they have product or not, and I have been coaxing the reps trying to get them to show up with little to no results but that didn't matter, it was just a reason for me to catch flack for the store not having enough product.  The only plus was that while I have been playing good cop with the reps, it gave Ed the opportunity to play bad cop as well.  One by one he drug them all into his office and told them point blank that if they don't start sending reps to all of our locations then they will not do business in any of them.  So if Pepsi wants to piss us off by not stopping by to take a 20 or so case order, fine, they can forget the 125+ cases a week we order from them in our main store.  We pay Pepsi between $2000 and $3000 a week just for the main store, they want to flush $100,000 - $150,000+ a year down the drain because they can't be bothered to place orders for all of our stores, that's their call.  But then Ed can do that, he has that kind of pull, I don't.  So I am left to the prodding, coaxing sort of thing, saying that ideally I want us all to make money.  If Pepsi makes money from us and we make money off of their product then everybody wins.  

Don't get me wrong, I can do Ed's kind of math, far to often in my personal life I do just that, but while I have some authority at work, I don't have the kind of pull that would result in us just dumping a contract out of spite.  I have done similar things in the past, like the place I used to go to get buffalo wings.  It wasn't much, an okay place, but it was close to my apartment and they had some other stuff on the menu that I did like, so I would go in from time to time and maybe get an order of wings and fries, or maybe a sandwich (my favorite was the cajun chicken) but pretty much every time I was there I would end up spending like $10.  Sure $10 isn't a big deal, at least in this day and age, but I would go as often as two or three times a week, so now I am up to $20 a week (sometimes more but for the sake of argument we will stick with $20).  Well all of a sudden they start closing early, you go to get something to eat and the door is locked or they say the grill is off and after a couple of these moments I just said "fuck you" to the place.  My $20 can be spent elsewhere, because while my order may have looked small, over the course of a year I am dropping over $1000 in your establishment, which means you now have to find a way make up better than a month's worth of income to pay one of your employees because it no longer comes out of my pocket.  We all have bills to pay and you just made yours a little bit harder.   Needless to say, the place is no longer in business, as a matter of fact the place that is there now is the Cuban restaurant I mentioned a few blogs ago, with in people time could be months, I really don't know.  Blog time has become almost the inverse of dog year's on this page.

I share because I care, so I share this with you, I am having a naked Incredible Hulk moment.  I was at work today, bending down looking for items I needed to order for the grocery order that comes in on Thursday and I heard a rip.  That is never a good thing, first thought of course was that  had ripped my shorts and my ass was now hanging out, but that wasn't the case.  Instead it turns out I had ripped my boxers, apparently my manhood, or fat, was more than they could contain.  Now that I am at home just sitting in front of the computer I am like the undressed David Banner after changing back from the Incredible Hulk, what little clothing I am wearing looks like I had exploded out of it in a violent rage.

I maxed out my Coke Reward points again this week.  Amazingly I still have plenty of caps left from when we closed our one store and got rid of the out of date product, but for whatever reason I have been finding caps everywhere in my travails to and fro, enough so that over the course of the last few weeks I have probably maxed out a week on just the ones I found.  Now I did do a blog giveaway the last time I got to 2000 points, I am debating doing that again, though I am nowhere close at this point, only 659 so far, but I did get myself a free year of Pogo as well, so over the course of the last few weeks I have probably spent 1600+ points and still have some left.  Of course I am all about free stuff, so there is the greedy side of me that gets involved here as well.  I may run into a prize or two that I just must have, in which case all bets are off.  But I have been doing quite well in other departments of free stuff, over at Swagbucks I am now up to $160 bucks in Amazon gift cards, though obviously I have spent some of that money I still have roughly $60 in my Amazon account that I haven't decided what to do with yet.  Plus I have another gift card pending and I am probably halfway to yet another.  My numbers are small compared to some of my Facebook friends though.  I don't know how they roll up the money they do, but they are doing far better with the app than I am.  My big free scoop though was over at  As I mentioned before, I signed up with most of the cigarette vendors simply because I wanted coupons, which I can then take to work and have knocked off of my charge sheet, whether I actually buy the tobacco product in question or not.  Well I get emails from some of them, including Marlboro and a few months ago they started a Marlboro Rewards program, where every day they highlight a location in Marlboro country, which is usually some place in the western United States, like the Grand Canyon for instance.  When you go to the page, there ae three links, one is a star rating of the location (1 to 5 stars) that you can vote on, one is usually a picture gallery of some sort, either snap shots or one of those interactive photos where you move the mouse around and get differing perspectives of the shot and the third was always a link to some related item, say the place was a all night diner, the third link might take you to a list of similar 24 hour places.  They were all easy clicks, just get in, get out jobbies in my vernacular, with the stipulation being that for every link you clicked on you would add a point to your reward meter.  The meter had three levels of prizes, all of which were decent for being free and all.  My hope was that I could at least stay in level 2 and cash out for the $20 in Marlboro coupons, which of course I would take to work and it would just be $20 off of my charge sheet, but early this week I actually hit level 3 so instead of the $20 I will have to settle for a free mini camcorder instead.  I know, I suffer so much.

5:16:37 PM

Just passing through, though I really should finish this up if I hope to get it posted in any sort of timely fashion.  For now it is a a good way to occupy time between Scratchix resets over at Facebook.  I have 5 minute intervals between sending out tickets, and this would be one of those intervals.  I still haven't won anything with the app yet.  Technically I guess that isn't true, I have won some cash but in order to collect you have to get your total to $25 or more and then it is added to your paypal account.  I probably could have cashed out once by now, but usually I just turn around and dump the money back into more tickets rather than save it for a rainy day.  Even now I have $4.50 in my account but I doubt I will hold out for the other $20.50.  Instead I am mostly just playing to see if I can win one of the prizes and so far the closest I have come would be the $25 Amazon gift card, where I have 19 of the 25 tokens needed.  The prize I really want is the Kindle, but that is still light years away since I only have 13 of the 70 needed.  

And while I am looking to waste some time here, I have added another $4.92 to ye olde change meter.  the grand total as of this typing is now $176.80.  I doubt I will hit the $200 by Christmas, but still this has already been the second best year in the brief history of the change meter, I can't complain too much about that.  

I learned two things about Ed today at work.  1) He is like the Terminator, I am not sure anything can realistically stop him and 2) he would make a piss poor Italian.  Let's deal with the first and then venture on to the second.  Monday was Labor day, or as I like to call it, Anti Labor Day because nobody fucking works.  I could deal with a Labor Day that was sort of like Christmas, where you go to work and maybe your boss gives you a present for laboring, and people come to your place of work and greet you with a Happy Labor Day sort of thing, but this celebrating by not working just strikes me as off.  The see "how hard we work, we are sitting on our ass" aspect of it just strikes me as more of an excuse not to work than an actual holiday.  Then again, when you work at a place that is open 24/7/365, holidays are taken in a different context.  We have roughly 5 throughout the year that are recognized and if you work any of them you get an extra paid day off.  Anyway, Ed was at work Monday and it turns out he was the only one of the managers that actually showed up, which peeved him quite a bit as Labor Day is not one of the 5 recognized holidays for us.  Not only is it not one of the 5, but there was a chance, however slight, that we may be busy (thankfully we weren't) because the Labor Day Parade runs right in front of the store.  Of course even though the parade is one of the largest in the country for this pseudo-holiday the general public treats the parade as a non event, nobody really goes through the trouble of actually watching it, which I guess brings up a philosophical question, if a parade is organized and no one is there to watch it, did it really happen?  All of this is way off topic, so I will get back on point quickly I hope.  Ed is thus pretty agitated that nobody showed up but him and the few of us worker peons that are scheduled, and maybe his aggravation contributed to what was to come, or maybe it was something else entirely, but either Monday night or Tuesday morning (I am unsure which and rather than guess for stories sake I will just try to stick to the facts ma'am) he started having chest pains.  So he goes to the hospital and apparently it was pretty serious because they put a stent in his heart, or somewhere close to the general vicinity thereof.  The amazing part is today, a mere three days later he is back in the office like nothing happened.  I would like to think I am a pretty hard worker, not without numerous flaws I might add, but actual effort I would say is not one of them.  That being said, had that procedure been done to me, I might be inclined to take a week off, even if it isn't Anti Labor Day anymore.  

That being said, while I work today I received a phone call from our old Coke rep, Beth.  Now Beth also works part time for us, usually Sunday mornings, so it isn't like I don't know her or anything, but my primary dealings with her occurred when I would be working with her on our Coke orders.  Anyway I get  a call and she asks me if we have an extra case of Vitamin Water (Multi V flavor) that a client can buy off of us because they forgot to order it for a function they were having, apparently it was a wedding reception or something.  Given I had just gotten an order in this morning and one of the things I ordered was that very item I said I see no problem with it.  Beth said she would call Ed just to make sure it was cool with him, I figured it would be given Beth is one of our employees after all, so I went downstairs, grabbed the case and went to the office to tell Ed to expect a phone call.  Rather than wait, Ed goes ahead and calls Beth, they have a brief conversation and much like I expected, he approved it, said what he would sell the case for ($26, whereas if we would have sold it ourselves it would have went for $42.96 (1.79 x 24)), so he did cut them a pretty decent deal on the product.  Mind you I know there are some people who will say, but I can buy that for $1 a bottle at my local store and then I would have to get into the tiered pricing system that exists for different sized vendors and that we aren't getting products for the same rate as say a Wal Mart, who has vast more leverage than we do in such matters.  But that story too would take us down a path better left for another time, so let's get back to the issue at hand.  Ed finishes the phone call and says "Guess who the Vitamin Water is for?"  Of course I had no clue and admitted as such, when he told me it was for former First Lady Laura Bush, who apparently is in town for that shindig before heading off for the 9/11 Memorial tomorrow with First Lady Michelle Obama in Shanksville, PA.  This is when I told Ed that he would make a terrible Italian, because he could have drug the former First Lady into his office, leaned back in his chair and said "So you come to me seeking a favor?'  Yes I was having a Don Corleone moment in my mind, which is where it will have to say, because Ed passed on his opportunity.  Maybe next time.

Well we just crossed the 6pm barrier, which means Scratchix resets and the friends list is refreshed for more ticket sending.  The way the ticket sending is supposed to work is there is one reset time, I don't know what it is in your little corner of the globe, but for me it is at 6pm.  At that time everyone's friends list resets and you can send everyone on there one ticket, which if it wins, you also win the prize they did, so having a big friend's list helps your odds however slightly in winning a prize.  The thing is your can only send 50 tickets at a time, then you have to wait 5 minutes before sending the next 50 and so on until your friends list is complete.  I have 502, so it can be a time consuming process, one of the reasons I am doing this in the intervals.  I guess it is to cut down on the traffic that used to plague the server when you could send all of your tickets at once, because while I have 502 friends, there are people that have well over 1000 and if enough people hit the server right at reset time it would often crash the server of the app, so they opted for the timed ticket release as a way of easing traffic, if people have to invest more that 5 seconds in sending tickets they are less likely to just rush out and do it to get it done.  The thing is, while you are only supposed to be able to send one ticket a day to each friend, often times after about 6 hours or so you can send "bonus tickets", that is, some of the friends on the list can't be sent another ticket or two or three depending on how many times you visit back and try sending them.  Since I had something to do, this blog mainly, I went to the app ahead of the actual reset time and was able to send out another 62 tickets before the reset occurred.  

I think I have developed a pattern to my internet, almost to the point where I become very predictable in what I am going to check out on a daily basis.  That being said the list is quite long and time consuming, so it is entirely possible for me to spend literally hours in front of my computer and little else.  here is what a rundown on how a typical computer day may go in the Matt household.

12am (after all that is when the day starts) - This is the time when the new Facebook app Madden Superstars resets.  Not that you can't play it throughout the day and do things with it after 12am, but this is when the friend's list resets, which measn your team can scrimmage everone else on your list.  the scrimmages aren't worth much in game value, usually you just gte 30 XP and 30 coins, but occasionally after a win you will also get a game ticket, which you can use to play real games in either season mode or in the Super Bowl challenge mode.  The other plus to scrimmages is that they don't take away from your training points, which make up one third of your team's overall rating and I like to keep that as close to 100 as possible when playing real games versus scrimmages,  just to improve my chance of winning.  Right now I have about 75 friends that play the app, so 75 scrimmages can take upwarsd of a hour or so which brings us to 1am and

1am  Super Scratch Offs reset and Swagbucks reset - Super Scratch Offs is one of those apps I almost wish I had never started, just because it is so time consuming and there is little to nothing to be gained by it, other than saying that you advanced in levels.  At least in a Madden game you can trash talk afterward, no such luck with this app, just scratch a ticket and move to the next.  That being said, there are only 10 levels to the game and I am about a third of the way through level 8 and I don't want to give up this close to the end.  Also at 1am is the Swagbucks reset, where you can pick up a quick 4 swagbucks by doing the following; refreshing the toolbar, voting in the daily poll, checking out the trusted surveys and skipping through the no obligation offers.  All told that process takes maybe 5 minutes tops and they are guaranteed bucks, which I like.  Especially now when I am within 100 bucks of the next gift card.  I might be able to pull that off this weekend with the right amount of hits on searches and codes.  If not then than certainly by Monday night I will have it.  Woohoo, more free money.

Usually by this time I will stop for the night, provided nothing else shiny has caught my attention.  After all, I have to be at work in 6 hours.

5:49:00 PM

Sorry, I got got up in a few things and the next thing I know it is 10pm and I am all sitting down in my recliner, trying to watch TV and book, I am out like a light.  Presumably that would be a good thing, after all I had to go into work again today and place an order for Monday, but what should have been a simple task, taking maybe an hour to an hour and a half turned in a trip with the Skipper and Gilligan and a three + hour tour, spending a large portion of my time fixing the mistakes of others.  Just an absolute mess, and one that sufficiently pissed me off.   But enough with work, I can only talk about it so often before I get sick of hearing myself speak.  

Instead I will deal with the whole 9/11 nonsense, since it is 9/11 after all and all day it has just been a bombardment of "Never Forget" and other such nonsense, as though those people alive would have forgotten such a moment anyway.  But between the never forget nonsense, the idiot preacher in Florida who does, then doesn't want to burn Qurans, the yelping about the Islamic Center/mosque two blocks from Ground Zero, the fundamental question of what has taken place since then seems to get lost in the shuffle.  The Pentagon was quickly rebuilt, as to be expected, but it took 9 years to break ground in Shanksville on a memorial and in NYC only a pittance has been done in the better part of a decade, and that which has been done, no one seems to question and I can't help but wonder why.  For all of the pouring of outrage of what is taking place a couple of blocks away, nary a peep is being said about the fact that on the actual site they are leasing retail space, so apparently it is perfectly okay to buy a Starbucks on a gravesite, but don't you dare go praying anywhere near one, because that isn't allowed, especially if you aren't of the preferred religion.  Under this guise it should then be perfectly acceptable to open a McDonalds on the Arizona memorial in Pearl Harbor, or maybe slap a Pizza Hut in the middle of the battlefield at Gettysburg because we have determined that it is okay to continue commerce on a site where a few thousand died.  

Nonetheless the nonsense about the building in New York continues, with many muttering the words that they shouldn't do it out of respect for the victims of 9/11.  Really?  Is that the new found logic?  Under that premise then I would argue all Catholic schools should be closed out of respect for the children that the priests decided to play grab ass with.  

Okay enough of my ranting, I was in the midst of something prior to my nodding off last night, I should probably continue before the idea loses any and all coherence it once had in my brain.  

5am (if I am awake) - Depending on what time I wake up, if it is early enough I will make a run to my homepage (set to iGoogle) where I have a few different apps set up, so I can check my email, read the Washington Post headlines, check other news headlines and breaking news all in one spot.  I guess it is just a bad habit left over from my radio days that all of that info is set up on one page, but it is much easier than going to a number of different websites.  After a quick check I head back over to Facebook, do all of the requisite likings that need done, maybe sneak in a game of Madden or Bejeweled Blitz, then it is out the door to work.

4pm (if I am lucky)  Provided that I am not held over at work, I am usually in by this time, so I will sit down, do the iGoogle thing again, then hit the PG (Pittsburgh Post Gazette) website, just because it will have more updated info than the paper which comes out in the AM, go to Facebook and do more likings, more Madden, play off my Bingo Explosion credits and sneak in some more Bejeweled Blitz, then head over to ESPN, check the baseball team and the Streak for the Cash contest, head over to yahoo sports to check on my football team and read the Shutdown Corner and Puck Daddy blogs,  and see what is new on the That's Church blog.  If I have time I may send out some bonus Scratchix tickets, then over to Multiply to see if anything new has been posted or commented on.  Thankfully I have my update screen set to the last 100 updates, so I usually don't miss much, I may not comment on everything, but at least I usually get a chance to check most things out.  

6pm Scratchix resets, which usually take me about an hour and a half, just because I end up web surfing while I am doing it, usually to, and Comic Book Resources, where I read any updates that I find interesting.  I will usually take the time to also venture over to the Washington Post website and read any articles that I find of interest.  I might make a run to also just to see if Christopher Hitchens wrote anything new.  

10pm  More Madden, then a trip over to ESPN to reset the baseball team (if I remember to, which isn't all that often recently) and of course iGoogle again to check emails and what not

That is pretty much a web day for me, I might make some sidetrack excursions, such as doing a survey and, or doing some personal research on some things that I saw online that I want verification for, just because I am a stickler at getting things right whenever possible.  When the facts are readily available I have no sympathy for those that choose to live in a world of rumors and innuendo. I tend to view such people as well, stupid.  

4:17:34 PM

Okay, this is my fourth day on entries here and if I don't get this done today I am just going to erase it and throw it on the scrap heap of history as far as potential blog entries go, and that scrap heap is larger than you might think.  

I will admit that I had reason not to do any entries yesterday, there was a lot on my plate considering it was a day off and all.  First I had mentioned last week on my Facebook status that I had come back from breakfast at Pamela's.  That is all well and good, but then my aunt Amy saw it and said that she wanted to go to Pamela's this Sunday.  So we made it a plan to head out to breakfast together, first by determining which Pamela's to go to, as there are 6 in and around Pittsburgh and we settled on the Strip District and then determined a time, to which I said probably the earlier the better, having seen what happens at Pamela's in Oakland, where if you aren't there early you often get stuck waiting in line for a table.  Because this weekend was the opening weekend of the NFL season and the Steelers were playing at home, I knew the Strip would be busier than usual, with people looking to kill time until the stadium lots opened and the weekly ritual of tailgating began.  But for me to make the Strip District by 8am when Pamela's opens, I had to hop a 7am bus.  Not that a 7am bus in that much of an issue, I catch earlier ones during the week, but it meant I had to go to bed a tad bit earlier Saturday night than I normally would.  

So I make it over to the Strip by about 7:30 am and it was not really raining so much as it was misting, so I found a place across the street that had an overhang and waited.  Thankfully I had my book with me (which I have since finished and can be found in the Neverending Thread section), so I did some more reading up on the finishing of the construction of the Panama Canal, and around 8am I saw Amy, as well as her daughter Sarah and one of Amy's friends from work, whose name eludes me right now, but then I am terrible with names and numbers unless I use them on an almost daily basis.  My limited cranial capacity means some things get shoved right out the door almost as fast as they enter.  Anyway we all went in and everyone opted for the chocolate chip and banana pancakes, though I was tempted through the course of the week to get the chorizo and eggs, I guess I just caved in to peer pressure or chocolate or something, but the breakfast was good (or brekkie for those of you that don't speak American, lol) and I had made mention that I wanted to meander around the Strip a little bit, because despite being relatively close to my apartment, I don't go there nearly enough.  The Strip District is the area in town where most of the trucks dump their freight, so it is basically a warehouse area, and there are plenty of shops where you can buy stuff cheaper than if you go to the store.  You can find everything from seafood to apparel if you are willing to put in the effort.  And since it was a Steeler Sunday, I knew that many of the shops would open earlier to cater to the pregame crowd.  

So we have our breakfast and everyone decides to do a little shopping, we go down Penn Avenue, checking out the shops on either side of the street.  Plenty of places were open selling Steeler merchandise.  At one store we went in, it was all Steeler stuff in this rather cramped space, and to make matters worse they had a boom box set up playing the same Steeler fight song over and over and over.  After about 5 minutes in the store I was starting to understand how someone could go postal at work.  If I had heard "Here we go....." one more time, I might have killed someone myself.  And we all know the deal with killing people, it's like potato chips, you can't kill just one.  Down a couple of blocks we found a produce stand so Sarah grabbed some fresh strawberries and blueberries, then into another shop where Amy bought a t shirt for her husband,  After trudging down a few more blocks, we ran out of stores on that side of the street so opted to come back up the other side.  We stopped in a couple of novelty places, one did knit sweaters and scarves, another was a novelty shop when we came upon Pennsylvania Macaroni ( for those that want to take a gander) and a bolt of genius struck me, it is a pasta place, they will have spices for the pasta, if they have spices then they may have the Holy Grail of spices I have been looking for, white pepper, so I forced us to go in.  I ended up finding my white pepper and also snagged a loaf of fresh Italian bread from Breadworks, Amy's friend also made use of the trip to grab some Breadworks goodies (which I highly recommend by the way) thus making it a very productive trip for me at least.  We came back past Pamela's and sure enough there was a line going out the door (at 9am no less) making me all the smarter for suggesting the early eating time.  

But alas we parted ways, but not before some things of import were discussed.  First we decided that the breakfast thing should be done on a monthly basis, just pick a greasy spoon on a Sunday morning and go, so next up is the October breakfast and the frontrunner for our business is Jo Jos, also located in the Strip District.  There are rumors of plates full of food that come from the kitchen at breakfast time, rumors that must be investigated to be proven true or false and who better than me for that task.  Also on a more serious note, I wanted to know what the holiday plans were.  See, when my grandmother passed way, we usually held the family Christmas Eve get together at her house, but obviously that can no longer be the case.  Plus as time has worn on, people have started to back out of it anyway.  Not that I blame them, of the siblings (my aunts and uncles) Bud has 6 kids and now a handful of grandkids all his own, Mouse has 4 kids and three grandkids, my mom is another matter, Amy has 3 kids and Will has 3.  Of the 5 siblings, three had pretty much quit going, Mouse and Bud because their respective families have grown so large that they tend to focus on their own kids and grandkids, my mom also backed out, though I think it was over some far more petty reasoning than Bud or Mouse, so it had really come down to just Will and Amy and their families would show up, and I was pretty much the only grandkid in attendance.  But to a certain extent, Amy and Will are almost like siblings moreso than an aunt and uncle, as they were the youngest, so Amy is only 5 years older than me, and Will just three and one of the hardships while growing up that I had was when my parents first divorced we really didn't have a place to stay, so we lived in my grandparents basement.  It isn't as bad as it sounds, since my grandfather built the house himself, they originally lived in the basement themselves while the rest of the house was being built, so it had al of the amenities that a house should have, but it was also still a basement.  But it did mean that as a kid I spent time playing with Amy and Will just because they were the kids that lived closest, namely upstairs.  Even after we moved out (though not necessarily to better digs, just out, I still spent a large amount of my time there.  Often I would catch the bus for school at their place because my mom would often have to leave for work early in the morning.  Later on I would do a bit better of a job fending for myself, where some of my bachelor cooking skills would develop, but as a kid those skills were not yet quite developed so off to grandma's house I would be shipped.  In any event, just because we grew up together, with my grandmother passing away I wasn't sure if there were going to be any Christmas Eve plans this year, juts as Bud and Mouse had done before, I was aware that Amy and Will have families of their own now, so if they wanted to just pass on the whole thing I would have understood.  But Amy assured me that it will continue, most likely at her house (which is good, I have her name in the gift exchange after all) this year, and probably thereafter but we will see what happens after this year.  I like having family all under one roof, but given the defections in the recent years I didn't want to be the guy trying to impose that it continue.

With all of that out of the way, I hopped my bus to get back to Oakland and settle in for the first week of the NFL, and my fantasy football season.  I could watch football pretty much all day, and for the most part that is exactly what I did.  The advantage of knowing where to look on the internet is that you can watch pretty much all of the games, I know of two websites I personally use, so it is easy to just jump between games if one gets too boring.  Not that the Steelers game was boring, a 15-9 win in OT but Istill managed to sneak in some peeks at other games, so I watched the Lions get jobbed on what should have been a game winning TD catch, and I saw some of the other action in the late games.  Even now as I type this I have a game up on the computer, since on the opening weekend there is a double header on on Monday night.  Plus let's not kid anyone, I have fantasy guys going, which is reason enough for me to watch a game.

Between that and me finishing my book, I pretty much had no time to do an entry yesterday, even though I was hoping to finish this then.  Instead I think I will finish it now, before I get all distracted and fail to get this posted.  Have fun kids, but I am calling it a night.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Stolen Content - For Jennifer we visit the wayback machine

And so it is we set the clock dials for an article that appeared back in April of 2001.  I ran across this while doing some research for a post on Jennifer's page that I was about to make (and some of you think I just do this stuff off the cuff, p-shaw).  Anyway I saw this and later referenced it, so it only seemed fitting that I post it.  Enjoy!

Why I am not a libertarian

Published April 15, 2001

Charley Reese

Not only is no man an island, but no man is self-made.I'm going to tell you why I am almost, but not quite, a libertarian.

First, capitalism, unless moderated by Christian virtue or government, is just as brutal and cruel as communism.

I know that's hard for baby boomers to believe. After all, they grew up in the incredibly prosperous post-World War II United States. Most have never experienced really hard times. Most have not bothered to read much history or literature. Many were content to believe the fairy tales woven by Ayn Rand and her cohorts.

Try digging coal for a few pennies a ton in an unsafe mine where you are forced to buy your own tools. Try imagining a disabling injury and, instead of receiving workers' compensation or disability insurance, your broken body is just tossed off the company property.

That's capitalism.

Try a six- or seven-day work week with 12-hour days, a pittance for wages, in a hellish and unhealthy environment and absolutely no benefits.

That's capitalism.

You can still see pure capitalism in places such as Calcutta or Mogadishu. Capitalism is great if you're the capitalist, just as communism is great if you're the commissar or the party bigwig.

I wonder how many Americans would be willing to cut and sew a pair of finished blue jeans for 75 cents in a sweltering, bug-infested building. How many pair do you think you would have to cut and sew in order to feed your family?

Those $30 to $50 pair of jeans we wear were made by what amounts to slave labor in Central America or Asia.

I've never been a union member and don't intend to be one, but I can at least appreciate the struggle that union men undertook to improve the lives of working men and women. I guarantee you that without the "threat" of unionization, most working men and women would see a quite different face on their employers.

And that may not be too far off. Under phony free-trade deals, unions are being broken and pressured by the movement of and the threat to move factories overseas. Anybody who expects real compassion from a corporation would mistake Hannibal Lecter for a vegetarian. Unfortunately, the union leadership is so infected with socialists that they would rather pursue their ideological goals than look out for their members.

So, although I strongly believe in the maximum possible freedom, I also believe in community and in responsibility to that community. Not only is no man an island, but no man is self-made. Some people are just good at forgetting all the people who helped them get where they are.

If you aspire to total freedom and want to be entirely self-made, then go to a deserted island and live entirely off your own labor. If you survive, you can claim to be a self-sufficient person.

But don't live in a community with all its protections and benefits, don't go to public schools, ride on public roads, enjoy the benefits of publicly provided clean water and sanitary sewers and proclaim yourself an individual who owes nobody anything. That's just bravo sierra, and you know it.

Freedom is not a virtue per se. It can mean the freedom of the strong to bully and enslave the weak. It can mean the freedom to exploit the poor, to despoil the land and the water, to turn your back on the oppressed, the sick, the dying.

That's why, instead of a libertarian, I fall in with those old-fashioned conservatives who believe in ordered liberty, strict observances of the Constitution and a mind-our-own-business foreign policy. Don't confuse me with the neo-conservatives who like big government and imperialism as long as they run it. Most of those guys are just ex-Troskyites, anyway. And don't confuse me with chamber-of -commerce conservatives who say that anything good for big business is good for the country. That's horse manure.

At the same time, I'm definitely not a socialist. An ex-socialist, John Dos Passos, has remarked that the world was becoming a museum of socialist failures. And so it is.

The idea of a mean, something-short-of-pure, unregulated capitalism and pure, over-regulated socialism is what we should strive for.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Stop sucking my cock!!!!

Yeah, I know the headline is a shocker, but the video is worse.  It's like the microwave of sexual performance aids, stick your dick in and 4 minutes later it's done.  I think I can quote the great philosopher Scooby Doo when I say "Raught row raggy!"

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