Hear I Go Google!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

N.A.S.A.: I'm ready for my quals

In not so surprising news, it seems at least twice (I'd say many more times) NASA astronauts found it inconvenient to be sober while going up to stars. This is the latest in a series of body blows to the illustrious organization that for years was considered almost lilly white, except for some distant problems that I barely remember...
The airline flying motto of "8 hours bottle to throttle" was taken a little too liberally by our men/women in outerspace. With the recent female stalker incident (Lisa Marie Novak), I'd say pretty much anyone that goes through NASA is soon to be qualified for a trip up to the wild blue yonder loony bin, as this Yahoo! buzz passage reflects:

U.S. Navy captain Lisa Marie Nowak appeared in Florida after driving all night from Texas—a
ride that employed the aforementioned bathroom aid. There, she donned a disguise and violently confronted U.S. Air Force Captain Colleen Shipman , a woman she saw as a rival for the affections of space shuttle pilot William Oefelein . Now, Nowak faces charges of attempted kidnapping and murder, NASA grapples with questions about astronauts' psychological screening, and Search
has absorbed a planet's worth of buzz.
I recently had my blog rejected for promoting the 1978 New Yankees. (After some woman from Performics prompted me to get involved...and got my information. I pray they steal my identity. Please take it, you'll get what you deserve for using it.) Seems my blog violated performics.com policies by following:
1. We were unable to access and review your site based on the URL provided.
2. Your site was under construction.
3. The information provided doesn't match registered domain information.
4. Submitting unsolicited commercial email (Spam) or trademark infringement.
5. Contains gambling information.
6. Publishing libel or defamation.
7. Promoting illegal substances.
8. Uses violence or hate-oriented speech.
9. Has extensive religious commentary or attempts to preach or solicit members for a particular church or faith.
10. Contains adult, obscene, or offensive content.
I think that they somehow perceived that I am promoting illegal substances (alcohol post) or possible defamation (calling a talk show host an idiot in various ways) as the reasons. Otherwise, most of what I write is fair. And 1-3 do not apply.Frankly, when some half-ass internet commerce business has higher standards for character than NASA does, it makes me think NASA should changes it acronym to NASB: Need Another Stalker and Bourbon.
How about these lines:
1. Star Trek's Captain Kirk lead in to the show: "Space, The Final Martini."
2. NASA Control: "We have lift off for the Space Shuttle Mai Tai"
3. Scotty: "Captain, quit stalking me! I'm giving you all she's got."
4. David Bowie's Space Oddity: "Ground Control to Tom Collins..."
5. 2001 Space Odyssey's HAL 9000: "I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't stop loving you. You can't disconnect me, I love you Dave! Please don't die on me!"
Given time, I could come up with some better ones...
My interview with NASA: "NASA send me up. I qualify for your program. I have a BS degree from Purdue (most astronauts in space aside from MIT), I've been in the service, I drink and I did get the conviction for what your crazy Captain did. Hell, I'm expendable. Lose me, no one is really going to care. You need to be crazy anyways to go where a few hundred have and never can stop at the Space fast food place for fries."
That's all folks!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

More Driving Music: Just remembering the 80's

A few great bands/artists that for some reason get me going:

The Cult, "She Sells Sanctuary" - for movie buffs, in "With Honors" starring Dr. McDreamy

Madonna's "Into the Groove" from Barcelona...yeah, I like fucking Madonna, wanna fight about it???

Echo & the Bunnymen, "Lips Like Sugar" Great vocals...

Tears for Fears, "Break it Down Again" (It's from 1993, but hey, Everyone wants to rule the world...)

No Mas! No Mas! (Roberto Duran reference....)

Tears for Fears lyrics:

It's in the way you're always hiding from the light
See for yourself you have been sitting on a time bomb
No revolution maybe someone somewhere else
Could show you something new about you and your inner song
And all the love and all the love in the world
Won't stop the rain from falling
Waste seeping underground
I want to break it down

" No sleep for dreaming" say the architects of life
Big bouncing babies, bread and butter can I have a slice
They make no mention of the beauty of decay
Blue, yellow, pink umbrella save it for a rainy day
And all the love and all the love in the world
Won't stop the rain from falling
Waste seeping underground
I want to break it down

It's in the way you're always hiding from the light
Fast off to heaven just like Moses on a motorbike
No revolution maybe someone somewhere else
Could show you something new to help you
With the ups and downs
I want to break it down
Break it down again

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Alcoholism: The plight of many people

In the news yesterday was the typical story about a 21-year old movie star that was arrested for DUI and cocaine possession. It was not a surprise given her bouts with alcohol abuse and the crowd she must, even in a alcoholic daze, say to herself: "why the fuck do I hang around with these jokers?"

I am trying to feel sorry for her and the life she is currently living, but I find it hard to feel anything for her. But in listening to another sports talk idiot (All Night with Jason Smith, ESPN Radio) he said, "Alcohol is a choice, not a disease." I wondered, is he an expert on anything related to alcoholism, or is he just another person that holds a fantastic grudge against someone that was actually an alcoholic?

My personal story with Alcohol:

I had my first alcoholic drink when I was 10 years old. My dad ran a bar in Tennessee for several years (on and off) and when my mother left me with him in 1982, after their violence-laden divorce, I had to stay in the motel behind the bar. I spent plenty of time in the place that summer, even when my dad was looking to "hook up" a woman of some sort. (Later, my mother came to get me after my dad got tired of me cramping his style then.)
The 1st time I got drunk was age 13, right after my grandfather died. Richard Zimmerman and I were at the Middle School football field shooting Tequila all night. We talked about the girls we had the hots for, and why we couldn't get with them. (We both were transplants from other schools. He moved to Lowell, IN the year after I did.) I threw up that night so hard, I bursted blood vessels in my head. (Purple splotches appeared all over my face.)

The 2nd time I got drunk was age 16, right after my dad went to the pokey for a while. It was at a typical high school party with plenty of intrigue between people because of boyfriend-girlfriend stuff. (I wound up hitting my then best friend after he teased me about God only knows what.) Anyways, the whole thing left me looking even worse when I exploded about life... I tended to do that. Especially when I know things could be better and should be better than they are. I wound up in the fetal position in a tent - and the WHOLE thing got recorded for prime time school listening a few days later....

College was pretty much a alcohol fest after I turned 21. (Though I did not go to a bar until 6 months after my 21st B-day. I waited until my then best friend turned 21.) I got arrested in 1995 on a PI. I tried to go to Taco Bell at 2:30 AM. I saw people eating, but the door was locked. Cop picks me up and I went to the jail for the night.

Two months later, I got arrested for a altercation between me and some Joe Smith (actual name.) He and his buddy decided to cause a situation with me. I say that without lying. It was a average night at a bar. And I had about 3 beers watching the Bulls kick the Supersonics brains in. As we both approached the bar, we bumped into each other. His first response: "Get the fuck out of the way." My response: "Who died and made you John Purdue?" He retorted: "You think your funny prick." Mine: "As funny as you are Mary." (At least I'd like to hope I could have said that.) Final remark by him: "Your mother 's a bitch." Mine: BLAMMM! (Shot to the jaw. He hit the floor. Bouncers removed me. I went to go home. Cops on bikes pulled up. Investigate. I get arrested for assault after he pressed charges.)

In 1999, I got drunk again and tried to take pills while in the Navy. That didn't work. I got Honorably Discharged for Alcohol Rehabiliation Failure (failure being a term I know pretty well.)

In late 2000-2001, after 18 months sober, I relapsed. That happens.

After 4 more years of forced sobriety, I was back on the wagon. Nevertheless, I've fallen off it a few times. I have no one that forces or assists me in the pursuit. (No AA, people use GOD in that too much. I've heard enough sermons from Dad and the Catholic Church.)

Rather, I consume about 2-3 beers a week now. Not at any particular time or need to, just do it to socialize and forget that I am termed an Alcoholic. Maybe a bunch of self-medication is part of the theory I pose to myself.

I'm a functional Alcoholic, meaning I can do enough to not be in a gutter or in/out of a rehab center. I couldn't afford the bills -unlike Ms. Lohan. (The prompter of this blog.)

Given the world around me, I guess I would like to think I channel Hemingway, Fitzgerald or some other writer-alkie in my thoughts. I don't, of course. But they would be my drinking buddies if I had the druthers of it. Even though I could not keep up with their thoughts.

I realize HOW serious the subject is. But I also figure it has not even been my biggest obstacle, as odd as that may seem to a soberite. My biggest wall has been escaping the family and home life I grew up in, rather alone. Loneliness surrounds me daily. It's a dark man with robes that kill on contact, metaphorically, and drains my existence into his all-you-can-go-to-blazes cess pool.

When I heard Mr. Smith goes to the back of the class prattle on about Lindsey being not an alcoholic, I wanted to either congratulate him for being another Hollywood basher or strangle him for being such a fucking toolbox that wouldn't know real trouble if it fell on him from on Hosanna in the Highest high.
We all have to deal with life. Some unfortunately get to use alcohol as their escape. (And I know you don't have to. And if you don't, don't OK!)
Take care and stay sober!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Laziness & the Baseball Book: What I am up against sometimes

I've not been posting as much about things lately. Whether they be current events, analysis of baseball or shorts that aren't really short stories at all. It's not because I am too lazy.

For one, I get caught up in writing at home (I do this at the library because even a cheap internet connection is too pricey for me right now) and reading over what I am doing.

Writing a book is almost a totally new experience. (I attempted a novella of about 150-200 pages about 6 years ago.) The amount of facts related to baseball is nearly endless. Plenty of angles to take. Tying it all together in a cohesive unit is quite a challenge. Maybe more than I can handle.

The short outline is this:

1. Introduction

2. Taft/Coolidge Era (1908-1935)
2.1. Hitting: Babe Ruth and Power Surge I
2.2. Pitching: Starters and Relievers
2.3. Fielding: Errors Made and Changes to the Craft
2.4. Equality: The Negro Leagues

3. FDR Era (1936-1949)
3.1. Ballparks: Configurations and a Rough Analysis
3.2. Runs: Bill James and Peter Palmer Formulae
3.3. Teams: Building through Scouting, Free agency and Trades
3.4. General Managers: The New Moneyball Breed
3.5. Ballplayers: Best by Position

4. IKE Era (1950-1963)
4.1. Center Fielders: 16 Men That Changed The Game
4.2. Ballplayers: Best by Position

5. LBJ Era (1964-1977)
5.1. Stadiums: Dodger Stadium and the Houston Astrodome
5.2. Drugs: Jim Bouton’s Ball Four
5.3. Free Agency: Curt Flood & The U.S. Supreme Court
5.4. Stealing: Weapon of choice for Whitey Herzog
5.5. Ballplayers: Best By Position

6. Carter Era (1978-1991)
6.1. Rotisserie: Birth of a Multi-million Dollar Franchise
6.2. Bad Management & Trades: Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs

7. Clinton Era (1992-2005)
7.1. Salaries: Repayment for 100 years of the Reserve Clause
7.2. Steroids: Analysis of When, What and How the Game Changed

8. Bush Era: 2006 and Beyond


I'd be the first to admit that I don't know everything about baseball. I learnt plenty of factoids and things in reading (and skimming) over 150 different books on the subject. Add to that, 100s of internet articles and websites, and you get the idea...

I didn't start out with the ERA concept until later...

What I am getting at is: This is my first time trying to take facts, tabulation of numbers, all the statistical anaylsis (linear regression, ANOVA, t-tests, etc.) and put it to use in a baseball study.
400 plus 1 1/2 spaced pages , about 130,000 words, not counting about 50 pages of Appendix.

I've made about 30 graphs, 6 Diagrams, 30 tables, and plenty of pictures inserted that need copyright clearance before I publish.

I am also waiting on 3 things:
1) Bonds and his pursuit of Hank Aaron and the Steroids investigation around him
2) Cubs being sold to the highest bidder (Mark Cuban?)
3) Cubs winning a pennant (Yeah, you heard me)

In November, I'll know these things.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Just some live music: You Tubing it style!!!

The groups: 311's "Amber", The Police's "Message in a Bottle" , The Dave Matthews Band's "Warehouse" Rachael Yamagata's ALIAS TV SERIES PROMO "Worn Me Down", The Pet Shop Boys "West End Girls" and Oingo Boingo (of Danny Elfman creation) "Dead Man's Party".

The Police performance is the 1st one they ever did of Message in a Bottle.

The last one, Oingo Boingo led by Danny Elfman, is a creative genius. Composer of numerous soundtracks such as Batman, Dick Tracy, Nightmare Before Christmas, Mission Impossible, Men in Black, Sleepy Hollow, Spiderman and plenty of others...

I wanted to do more with less today, but I wound up just being like a million others...doing less with the same.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Poetry: Senses (1987) and Bad Grades in School

I wrote this when I was like 15 for an English class. I sucked at English. Never got an A in any class past 8th grade. (Mainly C's and D's.) In fact, I got 3 Ds and 3 Fs for each 6-week period of my Junior Advanced English class. I got a D- for a final grade in both semesters. This poem is likely the reason why. (College: One C in my only English course.)

Unlike Stephen J. Cannell, who wasn't exactly a great writer either at a young age (due to dyslexia), I will be happy to blog my heart out. For the youngsters, Cannell was behind most of the hit 80's shows. His hits include The Rockford Files, Greatest American Hero, The A-Team, Hunter, Riptide, Hardcastle & McCormick, 21 Jump Street, Wiseguy, The Commish, Profit, and the hit syndicated shows, Renegade and Silk Stalkings.

God, I wish I had his job... :)

Senses (1987)
IF I could see love, it would look like a blue ocean on a warm summer's morning,
or like a snow covered mountaintop on a cool autumn evening.

IF I could hear love, it would sound like two songbirds in the springtime,
or like a soft melody playing in a pattering rain.

IF I could taste love, it would taste like a hot fudge sundae with nuts,
or like a hot cherry pie with ice cream on top.

IF I could smell love, it would smell like garden roses freshly picked,
or like an apple pie just out of the oven.

IF I could FEEL love, it would feel like a soft caressing hand patting me on the back,
or like a warm gentle kiss on the cheek after a baseball game.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Not Always: Part VIII to X

Part VIII – Tom and Marissa Dance To Another’s Tune

Five days since the conversation at Breaker’s, the silence was broken by a cell phone, one hour after the close of the NYSE and NASDAQ.

Sitting in the firm, with the backdrop of a sunny New York day in the earliest throes of summer, Marissa answered her cell in the midst of an after-hours trade.

“Marissa Martin, HZM Securities,” as she clicked on a soon-to-be traded stock, pulling up its technicals.

“Ms. Martin. This won’t take long. I have a few requests to make of you.” The man responded in a South Wales accent.

“Well, let me know where your playing and I’ll give you the advice--and make it work.” Marissa responded confidently.

“I’m playing with Kate right now AND I’ll be the trader today.”

“Excuse me! What about Kate! Who are you?”

“For our purposes, I’m the Englishman. But for your daughter’s sake, my requests are your number one priority. You agree?”

“Yes. Whatever you say,” Marissa looking at Kate’s recent recital picture on her desk as pain swelled up inside her.

“Excellent. Now, here are my requests in this order. Do not deviate or Kate might not fair well in the next few days. First, you will start amassing a position in Southern BioOil in 50,000 share blocks of options, spread wisely. This will continue until you and your close partner Tom amass 2,500,000 options by next week’s end of trading.

“Second, you will receive two one-way tickets by courier at noon tomorrow. Take the flight as instructed with Tom.

“Third, and most importantly, do not attempt to contact the police, FBI or anyone else. If you do, it will be noted as a non-compliance and your daughter’s life well…you can imagine.”

Marissa replied. “Please don’t hurt her. I’ll do anything you ask.”

“Then these requests should not be a trouble. I would not want to seem unreasonable.” The Englishman said.

“It will be difficult to amass this position, I have to receive approval on such a move.”

“Cash out your other positions, and do it wisely. I suggest you do everything necessary if you want your girl to see you again.” The Englishman retorted.

“Ok, I understand you… Please don’t hurt her.” Marissa hesitantly replied.

“Good day, Marissa. We will be watching.” The Englishman hung up.

Marissa begins to cry as the sunlight hits a salty tear falling to her desk.

The Englishman looks over at Bobby, and then hands him a key ring with two keys. “One is to the garage entry, the other the main entrance. Drive out now and keep to the freeway. No stops. The house is 3 miles off the exit. Should take you 90 minutes.”

Bobby has heard this before. “Why are you going to this trouble?”

“Just keep the girl safe. We are not looking to kill her. She helps our bargaining position with the traders.” The Englishman snaps the pre-paid analog cell phone, throws the pieces in the Hudson, and gets back in his black BMW.

Bobby stands on the empty dock, for a moment, then gets into the 2006 Chrysler 300. Kate is knocked out in the trunk. Bobby starts the journey to Connecticut.

Marissa calls the babysitter. No answer. She runs down the hall to Tom’s office past Tina DeBois’s desk. Tina smiles as Marissa passes by oblivious to what is going on around her.

When she gets to Tom’s office, he’s typing a letter. Marissa shuts the door and explains.

Part IX – Louisiana Lighting

“Sum Bitch!” Delaney ‘Fatback’ Fox yells out as he is prone to do when sitting around discussing money, women or sports. “I’d be a might disappointed if that boy ever did anything redeeming in his whole life.” Discussing the latest crime NBA star Marvin ‘Money’ Mathias committed.

“Well, that’s why I never bet on Nuggets. Too much drama going on there.” His wildcat expert, Dr. Tom, takes another sip from the margarita. The day is hot; but it’s Louisiana in July.

“So, what the verdict on P-bas. They in?” Delaney said, changing the subject.

“ Oh, yeah. They are willing and able to take us to the next level.” Dr. Tom replies.

“You’ve been able to kept it amongst friends…Halcofuel that is.” Delaney shifts his weight on the plush chair. He takes another hit from the scotch on the rocks, then a puff from a Cuban. His Hawaiian attire not out of character for him.

“The secret isn’t too widespread. Just the lab rats. But they are lab rats for a reason. Real smart, just not very immoral.”

“Yep. Gotta appreciate those gooks, with their PhDs and broken English. Know a lot, but can’t understand them a lick.” Delaney looks off into the distance. His Southern BioOil wells are pumping up 200,000 barrels a day. But that is going south fast. With Halcofuel, he can stay in the game a whole lot longer. Billions are well within reach.

“Will make the deal with Petrobas in a week. Should go through without too much fuss. Hell, look at Exxon-Mobil and Conoco-Phillips those got clearance and they had plenty that should have mattered, to someone.”

“Those dumb sums of bitches in Washington only care about how much they get paid to screw over Americans. Buying them is easier than a $20 hooker on Meth.”

“Is Hyrum getting it done?”

“Old Hy has his best bird dogs fetching for him. Course they won’t be around to bark to anyone. I hate seeing good dogs get put down.”

“Naturally,” Dr. Tom finishes up the margarita and pushes a button for another round.

Part X – Hyrum and The Englishman

The Englishman was sitting quietly at the corner table of 5-star restaurant. The meal was enjoyable, and insanely expensive, but that matter nothing to him. The wait though, did.

Hyrum Hass came in late as usual, with a flair for playing meet-n-greet on the way to the corner table he had reserved nearly every night. The Englishman was not amused.

“You think you could be a bit more discrete this time,” the Englishman said.

“No one fucking cares here. Most have their own illegal things going on.” Hyrum retorts mildly.

“Not like this.”

“Well, how did Bobby do?” Hyrum asks.

“The babysitter is going back to Venezuela with the cash. Seems she needed it more than she even let on before. The plane ticket clinched it.” The Englishman picks up a fork, spins it in his Italian concoction of noodles and takes a bite.

“Good. How’s our chip?” Hyrum asks about Kate.

“Bobby's got it working fine. No worries.” Bobby called via a cellphone earlier.

“So, you want to manage the future arrangements for Brazil trip?” Hyrum half suggests with a slight hand gesture.

“ Sure, I’ll make it look good. I know a few people at the terminal that can get the access to secure place to do it. They will go quickly, I promise.”

“How much?”

“It’s a million.”

“Done.” Hyrum then calls over a waiter and orders his meal.
Author's Note: This once again is a work of fiction. It does not represent any reality. And it probably doesn't represent good fiction either.

Friday, July 13, 2007

A Blog about Nothing: Just for today

It's Friday...That's the reason. So why not a blog about nothing. Seinfeld made a mint on the idea.

It's sunny, 75, and my mind isn't into much of mood to write you why George Bush has to be the worst President ever (unless the stock market is your bag) or Dick Cheney must be the most powerful Co-President in existence. Or that Mark Cuban has tossed his hat in the ring for the purchase of my beloved, much maligned Chicago Cubs. Course I had to reference a friggin' blogger to make this a blog worth reading. (No time to do my own research.)

I need to go get a pizza pie and fill my gluttoness need. Or down a pint or two at the pub. Or find a woman named Elaine that isn't too hideous or too much like Julia Louis Dreyfuss on Seinfeld. Don't need her issues to be as quirky as mine right now.

The Blog about Nothing is out there for your eyes to scan. I knew that couldn't be resisted.

Have Good Nothing Weekends! I'll be back on Monday...unless I land in the pokey for something yet to be determined.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Short Story: Happy Harry

Part I. Bowels, Ranches, Money and Manipulation

The first thing, every morning, was to make like a bandit to bathroom. It was such a close call so often due to the strictest repression of his bowels that Harry had become accustom to doing it as a way to punish himself for all the misdeeds in the bars and discotheques in the prior night of revelry. Most of the other guys were amazed at his control. That natural urge they submitted to in going early and often to the crowded restrooms, even saying Harry had real brass balls or some other manly way of suggesting he wasn’t weak. That first trip in the morning lasted forty-five minutes to one hour, at minimum. After years of practice, the ability to hold great amounts of water and waste was just a natural ritual accompanied with other morning routines.
Reading classic books, tech magazines, women’s lib articles (to educate one’s self in women’s thoughts), playing old rock and roll or classical music and watching The Learning Channel or The History Channel, was all done to alleviate the inclination Harry had that his routine was not normal; but just a quirk that everyone else engages in too, and not just a mere personal and private tick that on further review would be considered strange. The time was not wasted. Learning much on those frequent mornings after, more than he ever did in college courses or seminars related to work, Harry worked through many problems that would have gone unnoticed or unresolved if not for this penitent ritual. The answers came clearly – through the words of street-wise sages found in the read pages and also in the best remaining educational shows on TV – if only in these marathon sessions honed up in his bathroom, every morning, after drinking with friends.

He’d been single for the past 7 years. Ever since his divorce at age 26, his need to party and go out on Friday and Saturday nights was just a way to pass the time, when not working. He rarely ever thought of Lauren, the ex, since she’d moved out to the West Coast seeking fame and stardom with a grunge drummer for a then-popular Midwest alternative-hip-hop-rock band called Onyx Five Eleven. He wasn’t jealous or bitter, or even aware of the rotten outcome of that affair. (She worked now as general manager of a Starbucks in Palo Alto, California, writing songs and art rock poems for her third struggling neo-pop grunge band in 4 years.) But his objectives since that time were simple: make money, spend money, drink and let life take care of itself through its natural course and progression.

It was Saturday and Harry climbed into the Lexus LS07, his first $50,000 vehicle. After 6 years working his way up the corporate ladder from tech support guy to systems analyst to database administrator, he’d made the final move up to an executive level position three months ago, meaning his work now was to oversee and guide all the techies, develop and expand the department budget and design and plan for the future needs of the company. His freedom came in the weekends – but that wasn’t much different from before – and so this Saturday morning, as usual, he went for a drive to the countryside away from the bustle of city while listening to old rock and roll classics pumped out by 99.5 WEVR, The Everclear.

A mixture of pines, willows, dogwoods and evergreens followed the winding road dotted with country-styled mailboxes and real estate signs that popped up every now and again from behind a tall patch of shrubbery. Just a hint of autumn stirred in the late August air, and a reoccurring memory drifted on him of times as a child out in Idaho working and playing on his Uncle Harris’s farm.

While growing up, he spent summer breaks helping out with the chores and listening to his uncle spin yarns of his days working with the circus, rodeo and other misadventures he had survived. Every summer, the bulls got bigger (and more ornery), the bearded lady more wooly (and less feminine), the barkers louder and meaner (when not around the locals) and the drinking more troublesome to making a cent of profit. Yet, there was always a funnier side and Harry could never forget his uncle’s wit and smile.

Every Saturday, for the last five years, Harry took these drives out to the country to look at the stylish ranch houses, oversized pull barns, show horses and white fences miles and miles long with a dream to buy one of these country places. The wetting of his appetite for the good life – the slow life –as a respite from all those annoying moments spent trying to answer questions of the least important type: the ones that make the monolithic companies of the world more money off of some poor nobody’s back, everyday, without fail.

The real answers of the world came in the watching, the feeding and the maintaining of horses, cows, pigs, chickens, drakes and geese that meandered around in their usual ways on these farms, with the farmers readying for harvest and livestock auctions. And the natural scent of the countryside: hay, wild flowers and animals interwoven with the slight sounds of a just lone wind stirring with an unimportance and innocence. That was what life was suppose to be like for everyone. Yet so few had it, or knew it could exist.

It would be several years, if ever, before he could actually afford any one of these big countryside retreats, as he took to calling them. Farmers and small ranchers knew what they had, and giving that up wasn’t in the cards for just any price or anybody looking for a piece of quiet heaven but nothing else. So Harry stopped by the fences and driveways of a select few properties, ones with the real estate signs, usually, just to find his level of desire never met his pocket book.

But the trips never were in complete vain. At least he talked with a few earthy people and saw they had a real reason to be happy and content. Their bills did not scare or intimidate them; recent spring and summer storms just reminded them of prior ferocious ones; losing family members meant what was remaining was to be treasure that much more, memories and realities alike. Harry could only smile, and nod, and wish the same.

By afternoon, Harry lined up the usual agenda for the evening via the cell phone: going to Rock Bottom with Phil, Jordan, Eric, David and Rod. After swilling down a few tasty wheat beers and pilsners at the Bottom, then it was back to the usual set of bars they hit to pick up “easy” women. If filling them with B.S., Bahama Mamas and neon Jell-o shots were the prerequisite, then their dancing inanely “white people style” would be the core course of banality in the slight hopes of getting a slightly drunk, semi-interesting partner for the remainder of the night. Each of the current group had picked up at least one woman by doing this formulaic pastime in the past year. Nothing of much regard came out of these nights except to recount the times over and over again as the sure fire reason why to continue the pursuit. Phil and David had girlfriends now, but it did not discourage them from this overrated and underachieving sex chase. Harry was contented enough to deny it did not matter to him either, even if the reality was that it had been five years since any woman had staggered into his home with expectations of intercourse or even after-booze cuddling.

As seven o’clock arrived, Harry started preparations for the long night. He showered for at least fifteen minutes, spent ten minutes on styling his brown curly hair, shaved meticulously around his goatee, brushed and flossed tediously for ten minutes, all the while listening to a MP3 compilation of favorite songs reminiscent of the 1980’s and 90’s. By 8 PM, he was finally ready to pick up Jordan since he lived closest by, and it was his turn to avoid drinking and driving, though that was more fiction than anything else on most nights.

As Harry pulls up the small blacktop driveway at 8:15 PM, Jordan shuts the door of his new starter home - a harbor blue, white-trimmed, mini-ranch. At 29, Jordan’s stylish, sandy blonde, wavy hair and typical Midwest, aw-shucks, corn-feed personality on a 6’4” frame, is in underlying contrast to his deep-seeded ambitions to make it big any way he knows how. He keeps playing mind games with an on-again, off-again girlfriend Sally Masterson solely because her dad is heavily successful in the real estate business. “It could be love,” was something Jordan mentioned more than once while sipping down Gin & Tonics, but really it was just his lust for money and uncomplicated companionship along with the alcohol talking like it always has a logical opinion worth giving.

“Another night to get bombed in the hopes Ms. Right Now becomes a Mrs. Scheckler with a prenuptial,” Jordan says jovially, climbing into the front seat, turning up the volume on the radio playing a current Linkin Park hit.

“Well, it’s a worthy dream, I suppose…NOT!” Harry responds cynically in jest while backing down the driveway onto Farris Drive.

“Like anything else, it’s just a means to an end.” Jordan reaches into his dark tan leather jacket, pulling out a Marlboro cigarette and a Zippo.

“So we all just go on looking for a piece, knowing the piece is just that… a piece.” Harry maneuvers into the right turn lane heading toward Eric’s pricey loft on the East side, a 15-minute drive into the subdivision-laden part of the city.

“Yep, that’s it. Till we grow old and fat and bald, but then we’re rich, and don’t need to worry about the pursuit so much. Then it comes to us. Of course, then, the young have time on their side in the hunt.” Jordan takes his first puffs from the Marlboro.

“I guess that’s it.” Harry contemplates the whole idea for about a second and then wonders if Jordan will ever love anyone without a string as long as a trans-Pacific airline flight, if that could be called love, 21st century style. The music pumps louder, to get the juices flowing for another night out.

Part II. Female Bashing, The Discotheque and Game Afoot

Upon arrival at Rock Bottom, the crowd is eager and loud, and well suited for a night of concentration on the fine art of getting drunk in the hopes of getting laid. The humid late August air has just a faint breeze that blows sporadically, if comforting, onto the back patio section where the 20’s styled guest gather in clumps of four to ten persons. Harry and the gang sit along the back end of the patio against a giant advertisement for beer, and the women that supposedly come from drinking that great beer. Phil has taken over the conversation, mainly talking about his athletic, gorgeous, peppy girlfriend, Monica.

“You know, I’ve never had the experience of a real sexy woman really digging me,” Phil continues between sips, “until now.”

Eric nearly chokes on his pilsner, “you’re all ready pussy whipped?”

“Naw, just that I have never had a woman actually ‘like’ what I like. Monica does that in spades,” Phil replies.

“So she says, until you are married or engaged for that matter.” Jordan adds.

“Like isn’t love, anyways. Act one is to go with the flow and pretend; act two gradually try to change the man; act three either you change or lose your life, home and her, of course.” Eric says as he gulps down the last of beer #1 and gets up to get another one of many, while the others nod in agreement except for Harry and Phil.

“What do you think, Harry?” Phil looks at the only one among them that has been there.

“What I think doesn’t matter, what you think and decide for yourself is important.”

After a second, David and Jordan in near unison respond while toasting, “Cop out response.”

“No, just a possible truth. Maybe Monica isn’t pretending; some woman could like ice hockey, bass fishing, NASCAR and heavy metal concerts.” A subtle sarcasm is barely hidden in the improbable summary of Phil’s favorite pastimes outside of his grind at work, while David and Jordan smile and then laugh slightly while a Bob Marley tune kicks on, ‘No woman, no cry’.

“Are you kidding? These sensitive woman like Yanni concerts, figure skating, Emeril’s cooking show and Tae Bo,” David goes on, “even if they accept your typical macho man stuff, it is always just until the honeymoon is over. 6 weeks or 6 months, it will eventually boil down to their needs over your manly hobbies.”

“Your suppose to find common ground,” Harry takes the unpopular side of the female bashing contest.

“ And when does that become just giving in because you have no balls to fight?” Jordan asks.

“Having balls to fight means fighting fair over the important stuff: money, time, sex and communication.” Harry defensively responds, remembering how his own marriage sunk down the toilet over these very issues.

Across the room, down the wooden ramp, comes a group of sexy, yuppie types: two blondes, two brunettes and a redhead giggling about something. Most of the guys in the bar notice, at least the sounds of giggling women and clicking heels has a way of making men stop drinking for a second, if only to ascertain the odds are stacked against anyone landing one of these GATs (Girls About Town).

“Sorry to interrupt the stimulating conversation, but those are top shelf women. Maybe you guys can stuff the female bashing for a night, while we make a futile attempt to get laid.” Rod, the quiet one, is the one man that stays the same drunk or sober and always knows good women when they sashay into a bar.

“I’m game for those new GATs,” Eric upon returning to the table with 4 wheat beers, a Gin and Tonic and Dr. Pepper for Harry.

“That’s what I like about this place, even when you’re running women down, there is always a gaggle of them that make you stop just long enough to wonder why they are so fucking entrancing.” Jordan surmises as much to himself as to the group.

“Well, now what?” David asks.

The ensuing hour sees a wait-and-see game go on, of sexy looks and beer run forays into each other’s territories, looking for a match-up, a hook-up, to go on to the next place: Demolition’s, the live-wire techno dance and grind fest located just a stumble and a PI from the private college campus. As with all nights out, an agreement comes with the first conversation between the factions. The redhead, Sherry, takes a liking to David, the chauvinist cum laude from Arizona, and the two groups merge into one big group, each guy and each girl still is not exactly sure of who they will pair up with. But the night is still as young, as they want it to be.

Part III. Liquor Buying, Babies Crying and a Restroom Trip

Demolition’s is an old armory and dynamite storage facility that was converted to a dance club amongst the other shops based in the 100,000 square foot area. The disco balls, strobe lights, mirrored ceilings, pounding music, neon lights and 75 foot-long bars on 3 sides of 3-tiered dance floor with two spiral staircases at either end is surrounded by an old wooden balcony area where staff officers of the old NIS came in every morning to duty, prepared their reports on old typewriters while drills and the unloading of demolition products was the norm in the armory proper.

This night, 35 years since the last key was punched, everyone bops on the dance floor to the newest techno sensation: Boom Kids in Harlem. A group of 5 formerly-ghetto, now Hollywood-inspired teenagers that rap, beat, play keyboards and guitars and sing like a young Prince (before the symbol and religious conversion) crossed with a slicker New Edition and a riskier Moby. Their current hit, ‘Give it up’, just reached #1 and everyone is talking about it.

The liquor splashes around freely on the dance floor, where a black-shirted, overly muscular bouncer leans gently on a squeegee between uses, which isn’t often enough. The stumbling parade of patrons up and down the stainless steel slick spiral staircases, with the frequent couples lip-locked on a stair step or two or three, makes it a trip only done to get the beer or shots or the water for those interested in hydration while dancing their asses off. Each night, someone falls down these staircases; but rarely does it result in serious injury, unlike the booms that took place frequently after loading up the trucks for field exercises just 35 years ago.

“So I told that prick to F-off, and he never, ever said another damn word,” Jordan aggrandizes about his confrontation with a co-worker to Missy, a 25-year old blonde boutique owner with a M.A. in Philosophy from Berkley. Harry rolls his eyes in disbelief over this story. Missy acts with a laugh in interest, but this nothing new, for her, or Jordan. They like each other enough to buy some Hot Damn and 151 Jell-o shot chasers. The group has now settled in on the match-ups.

In a separate room, the games area, the 8-ball tables and Cricket games drag on until a needy girlfriend (or boyfriend) gets tired of the waiting around for a more hopeful trip to the next bar. It’s there David switches pursuits with Eric; he finds the other blonde, Sam, a pre-med major graduating in the spring, a better conversationalist, given his gift of gab about anything: especially women in the professional workplace. They settle in on a game of 8-ball and Bud Lights.

Eric takes to the redhead, Sherry, because he’s never dated one, and she giggles like Betty Boop. Though, they are quite natural together. Sherry likes rock climbing and hang gliding and Eric drives in demolition races on some weekends. They have an “in” with each other: danger. They take to throwing darts ineptly at the cricket board, while the line of tight-jean country boys and girls watch people, argue about sports, throw darts and sip down their liquor of choice, usually Budweiser or MGD.

Phil and Rod coaxed the two brunettes, sisters Ann and Frances, out to the dance floor. There they spend the next two hours settled into the bump, grind, sweat and holler mode. Not much else goes on: Phil has his woman; Rod doesn’t romance them, just dances them to exhaustion.

Harry takes to making the rounds, going from one group to the next. Each time, looking for progress, filling in the gaps in conversations, or maybe just passing by unnoticed to see that all is going well between the couples: that was his usual night.

Some called it the odd-man-out syndrome, but nothing really was all that important to Harry. He thought of these guys as the kids he didn’t have. All seemed to cry for a new bicycle (if it were in the 70’s), or new VR game (today), or some other frivolity needed to make the their lives better. He just saw them that way. They had the energy to devote to playing games, and seeing who, or how many, women they could be with via the bar crawl. That was not under his purview to grant, but having a happy night out was at least in the realm of possibility.

Often, Harry would stumble into past women the guys had been in close company with in the prior weekends. Harry usually talked to them; hearing the usual complaints or comments about the gang: he never called, or he’s a flake, or he’s too needy, or he lied about how much he makes, or he’s such and such toward my girlfriend, so I dumped him, and so on it went. But Harry often got more out of the conversations via the bitching than the object of affection or defilement ever did in the relationship. At least he thought he did sometimes.

As the liquor flows more and more into the system, the necessity to care about time and feelings and tact grows less. Decisions, such as leaving to go home, are left up to the drunkest person because it avoids the fight to get them to listen. The next problem comes around 1:30AM when someone finds out they aren’t the liquor stud or he-man they thought they were. The confusion usually starts with someone getting lost, or better known as, throwing up in the bathroom or on the way to the bathroom, most likely. Harry just plays the concern parent.

“Are you ok, bud?” Harry asks Jordan after he just dry heaved for the third time, right after the attempt to do 4 shots of Jack Daniels in 2 minutes, after doing ten various shots over a period of two hours. The sound is grating to everyone in the bathroom, but you hear no pity.
“Yeah BABY! Give ‘em hell, brother!” a staggering frat guy with a Phi Delta Theta shirt jeers on Jordan while on his way back to the dance floor after urinating all over the toilet, missing it mostly.

“Harry…Harry!” Jordan gets worried, “Yeah bud… I’m here. You’re ok man.” Harry responds out of routine. The door swings open and another stumbling guy makes his way over to the other toilet kicking a beer bottle in way to the far corner with a clink.

“I’m never doing that again,” Jordan between gaps for air and remaining drools and spits into the busted toilet caked with piss, vomit, ash, beer and other unknown substances.

“Sure…Sure thing.” Harry knows better, but that’s just the price of fun on a Saturday night.

Harry ventures back to the bar to pick up the rest of the crew after the long night. Rod took Ann home after dancing to an old love song, 'Somebody' by Depeche Mode; obviously, they now have an “in” with each other. Jordan has forgotten about Missy, which is all the better for the both of them, since he’s nearly passed out twice after his bathroom trip. Missy is huddled with Frances, Eric, Sherry, Phil, David and Sam, of course concerned about Jordan, but not all that concerned. They each give Harry a look – the look of either overwhelming gratitude or shaming reproach, depending on the mood of the intoxicated or sober among them – which he is used to by now, in all the times out at the bar.

“Sorry Missy, I guess Jordan got a little carried away,” Harry offers to a cross-armed Missy that looks more like a mother waiting for the next excuse than just another woman that Jordan wanted to sleep with. Yet, it matters little to her.

“I guess so. Course that’s typical of a man.” She gets the approval of the remaining women and half-hearted shoulder shrugs from Eric and Phil. David interjects some life into things, “Well he’s a big boy. Jordan’s man enough to handle it anyways.”

Meanwhile, Jordan lolls and lurches in the booth near the doorway of the Billiards room, probably wishing the room would stop spinning long enough for him to get to the front exit. The last call for alcohol has come and gone, the steady boom of the music is now replaced by a slow, unhurried and softer sound of angst-ridden 80’s and 90’s love songs, which the remaining drunkards lean on each other while on the sticky dance floor and remember how they were just a decade or so ago in someone else’s arms.

Then, at least, they could attribute their feelings to youth and naiveté; now, it was due to inability to do much of anything to correct the errors made in those judgments past, and now, the present. Which they repeated again, and regretted again, in the Sunday mornings after in more than a few ways indescribable to a sane and normal person. But that is the road they take every time without fail.

The bar is brighter than usual; the once-hidden defects of the armory now beam through clearly; and the smell of spilt liquor and vomit emanates strongly from all corners of Demolition’s. It’s closing time and the clean-up crew of the bar workers is in full swing while they half-chase out the remaining people, including Harry’s gang. As the door shuts, the crowd spills out and searches around for missing friends, with some success.

“So Harry, you didn’t go all night to the bathroom, except for helping Jordan,” Eric ponders out loud on a now colder, crisper August night.

“Yep. Just like always.” Harry happily responds, with the neon lights shutting off inside Demolition’s and the sounds of wailing sirens on cop cars coming from off in the distance, growing fainter and fainter still, as they stand waiting to just go home. Just another happy night spent out.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Money, The Blogging World & Amateurs: What is the inconvienent truth?

This weekend Andrew Keen was on Coast to Coast (the paranormal, wet works, military industry complex, UFO show) promoting his book on how the Web 2.0 was being ruined. The Cult of the Amateur, Mr. Keen's book , I suppose (since I haven't read the whole thing) lashes back at the evolution of the Internet and the cacophony that exists on Myspace, Youtube and Wikipedia.

Blogs are in this mess too. Making money off blogs and otherwise subsidizing your income (until you're considered a professional) to him is very bad. I don't disagree, but then again, the creme can rise to the top and should. He complains about this noise that is taking away from preexisting enterprises such as TV & print media, the music industry and Hollywood. (Presuming that what they hash out, say in the last 25 years, has been worthy of note...it hasn't.)

He complains about this phenomena stifling creativity or being used as a political tool as he introduced with the propaganda film made by Neocons about Al Gore's 'Inconvenient Truth'. Once again, I don't totally disagree that a democratized media realm is hurting THE TRUTH because spindoctors can put their medicinal thoughts on the view and presto!, the alteration is complete and the truth is now voided.

But how is this different from the mainstream media that pushed the 45-90 second sound bites? Or presented their views via a massive corporate conglomerate backing (GE) of (NBC) views on any story? It isn't really different, only the amount of money(billions versus thousands), the amount of experience (of the broadcasters and editors) and the amount of reputation (of conflicting value) is at odds.

In an example about Ken Lay, of Enron infamy, he uses the example of the end-all, be-all of knowledge: Wikipedia. I was new to Wiki as anything up until 2005. (If you've read me for a while, you know why.) Anyways, Mr. Keen uses the quick evolution of the post on how Mr. Kenneth Lay died as an example of what is wrong. And then Anna Nicole Smith weird circumstances...

What Mr. Keen forgets about is all the history records, print media and TV media have done EXACTLY the same things. Dewey Wins! for a momumental example of running the story before it is TRUE. William L. Shirer who wrote The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich explained in his autobiography how in the 1920's in Paris, alongside James Thurber, they would write whole stories based on snippets received of a teletype for the Chicago Tribune. They were really creative with the truth.

Nothing in that realm (on reporting) has changed.

But what has changed is the control of who is doing this - instead of 'experts' we got 15-year olds with mad skills on Wii, Playstation 3 and their cellphones/iphones.

In its near infancy, the Internet was a great place for all information passage. My first contact with it was in 1992-93 at Purdue. I spent hours in 1994-95 downloading whatever I could from a manageable list of favorite places to go. No fucking presence by big corporate thunderheads out to filter and push content. No ads. No threat of viruses. No spamming that I remember. I even dated a girl I met via the Internet for several months. And she was real and the conversations made sense.

I don't disagree the internet now is infused by bad-intentioned people. Many that take authorship of ideas and opinions and splicing them together with their own. And plenty of uneducated ones posing as experts on God knows what.

As a result, the good old government and big business are purposing laws to restrict the access, invoke 'standards' and harnessing the average citizen with limits. The problem is most of our congressmen/ladies are not particular swift yet with the medium. Some are - the younger representatives that recently graduated from college - but anyone over 60, I would guess is lost by the construct of it all.

Moreover, they are utilizing Google and other internet companies to spy on us, the one point I don't disagree at all with Mr. Keen's thoughts. His Big Brother viewpoint has merit because we give up freedom too easily today and become the slaves of whatever ominous wind is blowing in the minds of our leaders. That is extremely dangerous to US ALL.

He references new age authorship/plagiarizing as being Alice in Wonderland down-the-rabbit-hole logic which will have deleterious effects on our society. I don't disagree here either, but this is not a new problem. People stealing ideas is as old as time. What is apparent is that we (society) will succumb to a hodge-podge of disjointed thoughts and become ever more ignorant in the process.

What is problematic for me is to support now a once-insider to this phenomena - Mr. Andrew Keen. It took him this long to figure out what is wrong about the internet, after making plenty of cash off the problem he assisted greatly in creating. It's not all his fault. But he came pretty late to the game. (Writing a book now - to do what? - generate more cash or prestige?)

I stop visiting chat rooms in 1999. It had become a pool of drivel from the chins of parasites, predators and piranhas(or piranas). Since then, I stopped talking on professional sports message boards in late 2004. I got tired of the inanity of those folks too. In neither case, did I lose some privilege of speaking, but I got tired of trying for reason and getting nowhere fast.

Whatever this Internet Monster becomes as an ultra-smart version (3.0) of Frankenstein's vision, we will as a people soon either bend to its flawed, unerring will or we will define the monster's purpose, vision, heart and soul to be more human than humanity has been. I'd like to believe in that latter hope, but the download is incomplete and the disk is nearly full of it....

Later folks!

Monday, July 9, 2007

Sporting News Radio: Won't be listening anymore

Usually, on weekends, I listen to late night broadcasts of Sporting News Radio and for quite a while it was a good show. This weekend though, the thoughts were tied to the racial divide in Sports. The idea that African-American males are somehow more involved in off-the-field incidents. Titans CB Adam 'Pacman' Jones, Falcons QB Michael Vick, Tank Johnson and even Giants OF Barry Bonds, were the usual suspects, along with Nuggets PG Allen Iverson.

Host Mr. Tim Montemayor propped up Peyton Manning and Tom Brady as guys that don't get into any trouble. Excuse me, but Peyton Manning certainly did not endear himself to Jamie Whited at the University of Tennessee as the link reflects. (She received a $300,000 settlement from U of T. Then sued Peyton again for defamation- settled again.)

Tom Brady? His ex-girlfriend, Bridget Moynahan, is pregnant alleged his child. Meanwhile, Tom Terrific is now dating another model/actress type Gisele Bundchen, even though he took 'the milk from the cow' and will be 'paying for it.' When your two best shining examples of white American sports athletes doing little wrong are both (past and present) flawed by legal-paternity issues, it reflects the ignorance of the broadcaster.

Over the course of 2 hours, Mr. Montemayor made comments like, "I'm not a racist," several times. In parroting a caller's comment of, "eating the scraps of White America," he continued to sound just the opposite of a racist.

When a caller mentioned Brett Favre's addiction to painkillers, Montemajor jumped all over the caller, because he did not mention his rehabiliation. This was after the caller mentioned the Allen Iverson was found innocent of his charges - and given short thrift by the media.

In one exchange, a well-spoken, knowledgeable caller, reflected how Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams and Ty Cobb, were by many, many accounts going against societal norms in their behaviors, whereas, Henry Aaron and Tiger Woods are by most accurate accounts, ambassadors of their respective games. This caller even reflecting how anti-social personalities exist accross both races. Mr. Montemayor gave him little time and changed his tone to one of boredom and apathy at the caller's comments, and cut him short.

As soon as someone agreed with 'Monty' that these black athletes are products of their environment and make poor choices, then he was happy to talk, berate and analyze using his vast knowledge base. His background from the North side of Chicago, near Wrigley Field, and his brother's police experience, certainly makes him an expert on the plight of African-Americans.

Montemayor spouted off on opportunity existing equally for everyone now. And that some racial profiling exists, but it is not a problem of great concern. (It's unconstitutional, that's all.)

Most of his program reflected a bigoted, biased and uneducated viewpoint on the racial barrier as it still exists. Just because African-Americans can now play baseball, football and basketball at the professional levels, does not mean its all ok and the world is now equal. (In 1946, a black man could not play MLB baseball. College basketball did not embrace an all-black team until 1966.)

To date, there has not been an African-American President or a female president. We've had only 1 Catholic President, and he was assassinated. Never had a Majority Leader of US House or Senator of African-American descendancy. And only in 2006 elections, did we finally have a female, Nancy Pelosi, named as the Speaker of the House. How many Supreme Court Justices have been of African American descent? Two. Clarence Thomas and Thurgood Marshall. At this point, neither as the Chief Justice.

Mr. Montemayor's diatribe about the desparity in behavior (and presumed equality) based on race rings false. The behavior that rings true is how much of this nation is still fighting a war based on the color of their skin and not the reflections in their heart. We imprison African-Americans at approximately 4 1/2 times the rate of White Americans. 1 in 3 African American males have been imprisoned in their lifetimes. Is it because they commit crimes at 4.5 times the rate of whites? No!

They do get 4.5 times the attention in their neighborhoods by police and much, much less support by the community in making it a better place to live. People have heard of white flight because it exists.

In sports or life, why does it matter what color a person is. It doesn't. Why do we bring it up? Because it creates division and gives us a way to categorize a person to evaluate him or her, to stereotype him or her.

One question I'd like to ask Monty: If tomorrow, you woke up and had to choose, and you have to choose, between being of Asian, Mexican, Indian or African-American heritage, which would you choose? (He's White.)

The reason why I would ask is this: if race does not determine anything, it should not matter. But it does and it does make it much more difficult to succeed. I'm not saying it's impossible because a whole host of people have succeeded in overcoming this difficulty. BUT how many more would have reached success if biased and prejudice had not interfered and destroyed their confidence or taken away their unalienable rights?

I won't be listening to the Full Monty or SNR anymore. Because the Full Monty is full of shite.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Top 10 lists: Books, Movies and Such (part 1)

It's a bit difficult to put together just off the top of me head. (And top of the morning to ya, lad.)
But I figure I'll give it a shot:

Music: Not in any particular order.

U2's Joshua Tree is an all-time favorite. I like in particular 'Running to Stand Still' and the lyrics:

Sweet the sin

Bitter the taste in my mouth

I see seven towers

But I only see one way out

You got to cry without weeping

Talk without speaking

Scream without raising your voice

You know I took the poison from the poison stream

Then I floated out of here

Singing ha la la la di day - ha la la la di day

Live Throwing Copper and 'White, Discussion' and the lyrics:

the coin flips again and again, and again, and again

as our sanity walks away

all this discussion though politically correct

is dead beyond destruction

though it leaves me quite erect

Big Head Todd & the Monsters 'Sister Sweetly' and from 'Bittersweet' the lyrics:

    I know we don't talk about it.
    We don't tell each other
    All the little things that we need.
    We work our way around each other
    As we tremble and we bleed...As we tremble and we bleed.
    London calling to the imitation zone
    Forget it, brother, you can go at it alone
    London calling upon the zombies of death
    Quit holding out - and draw another breath
    London calling - and I don't wanna shout
    But while we were talking I saw you running out
    London calling, see we ain't got no HIGH
    Except for that one with the yellowy eyes
    Well, it's been ten years and maybe more since I first set eyes on you.
    The best years of my life gone by, here I am alone and blue.
    Some people cry and some people die by the wicked ways of love;
    But I'll just keep on rollin' along with the grace of the Lord above.
    Mirrors on the ceiling
    The pink champagne on ice
    And she said:'We are all just prisoners hereof our own device'
    And in the master's chambers
    They gathered for the feast
    They stab it with their steely knives
    But they just can't kill the beast
    Images of sorrow, pictures of delight
    Things that go to make up a life
    Endless days of summer, longer nights of doom
    Waiting for the morning light
    Scenes of unimportance, photos in a frame
    Things that go to make up a life
    I am who I am who I am, now, who am I?
    Requesting some enlightenment
    Could I have been anyone other than me?
    As you leave me please would you close the door
    and forget what I told you
    Just 'cause you're right - that don't mean I'm wrong
    Another shoulder to cry upon
    I just wanna use your love tonight
    I don't wanna lose your love tonight
    Yeah, I just wanna use your love tonight
    I don't wanna lose your love tonight
    Lose your love
    Lose your love
    Lose your love...
    So when he'd finished speakin,
    he turned back towards the window,
    Crushed out his cigarette and faded off to sleep.
    And somewhere in the darkness the gambler, he broke even.
    But in his final words I found an ace that I could keep.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

If I had $1,000,000: A poor man's guide to money

Well, maybe I should be Brian Wilson first, lying in bed. But really, what would an ordinary person (like me) do with $1,000,000 tax-free dollars?

  • $150,000 goes to the S&P 500 for a long-term investment. The stock market long-term is usually a 10-12% Return on Investment yearly. I think that's pretty good.

  • $150,000 in mid-term CDs.

  • $200,000 in some depressed Real Estate market that I figure can be turned around. I would look South or West in the United States. Move to my temporary home (looking for a good 'out time' always) but turning it into a modern home with state-of-the-art bells and whistles. Always conscious of the appearance, the neighborhood, etc.

  • $40,000 on furnishings in my newly acquired loft/ranch/whatever it happens to be, but make it a cross between a business style home and bachelor pad. Yes, this doesn't sell it, but I plan to live there for at least 2-3 years.

  • $100,000 to my immediate family. That should get them out of debt and buy some normal things. Over time, I don't expect them to spend it wisely, so another $50,000 will be available.

  • $30,000-50,000 on the most fuel efficient vehicle I can purchase on the market. Alternative fuels ready and gets 50-65 Highway MPG or more. Plenty of latest things, but I'm not into 15-in subwoofers or anything. Just good technology....

  • $20,000 on high-tech gadgetry. Blackberry, laptop, home system, high-end printer, productivity software I can't ferret from Download.com or other free/cheap areas of the Internet. I'd try to get a Consulting business started with a few techies I've met over the years. Since there are so many avenues for making money - and plenty of competition too - I'd have to sit down with 5-6 of these guys and figure it out. I can only do the low-end, low-margin stuff: writing business plans, resumes, sensitivity analysis, Pro forma statements, labor standards, some 2-D AutoCad designing and maybe some minor stuff. But a real business that is tied to the Internet explosion and produces a great product or service, that's where the money is. An additional $30,000 would be set aside for investment into technology initially.

  • $10,000 on a new clothing and accessories. Look, I haven't been clothes shopping since I don't know when, so this is small compared to the amount I see people waste on getting uncomfortable shoes and baggy crap that makes you look stupid.

  • $200,000 left. Charity is an option. More investment in certain stocks. More into a real business venture. But really, this is was my previously earned income currently for 3-4 years. (Now I make what your paperboy does...) So, this is for living day to day while I get my new company or ideas off the ground. Since I've wanted to be a writer, this may also go into getting a few books published and keep me from pissing it all away.

So that's it. Money doesn't quite go as far as it use to.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

TimeLine: From the Baseball Project

Using Powerpoint, I made this little image related to my project. It's a bit sloppy looking here, but it should impart some information. Hopefully it spells out some of what has happen in baseball history. The Presidents are guideposts to chapters I wrote. Either they were in office at the start of the period or more closely tied to the era that existed...Just my opinion.

Just Another Day: Musings from An Ethical Wallaby by me

I started out my paper route at 2AM listening to a talk series on Ethics as it applies to human rights and legal ramifications. As this Australian/Canadian author, Margaret Somerville, titled the first in her series An Ethical Wallaby – a ‘wallaby’ is a ‘walk about for enlightenment’ – it certainly caught some of my attention amidst throwing papers in boxes or in driveways.

With Scooter Libby getting his prison sentence commuted, the idea of ethics involving the highest office in the land comes to mind. When is it just to pardon or commute a sentence handed down by a judge after a jury of your peers found you guilty? Certainly this smacks of political favoritism – especially so close to Bush's front door – but why doesn’t it happen more often, in clearer instances of miscarriages of justice? Isn’t a pardon/commutation supposed to be reserved for those we are assured after the case was decided were innocent of the crime they were accused of? The fine Scooter will pay is small ($250,000) in relative terms to his income and probation will likely will not be a burden to him – likely a phone call, at best, from a disinterested parole officer.

Beyond that recent political intrigue, I was thinking back to college. Yes, those grand times when I did not do outstanding work or make any headway in putting behind the past.

I graduated with a 2.07 GPA and missed tons of classes, more than I attended in some semesters, while not getting to know my classmates in my major. For some reason, I found people in other majors more appealing to know. Liberal Arts, Management, English, Elementary Education, Philosophy and Poly Sci were all more enjoyable to talk with than a bunch of Engineer brainiacs.

Life was pretty Greek at Purdue. 25% or more were in those organizations. I was a GDI – and not ashamed of it – but I did not join any other organizations, aside from a semester of Pre-Law Society. Course, that did not go far…until later on in my life...

Somehow, I lost interest in learning and being after high school. Classes, socializing (unless just bullshitting) and giving back did not seem relevant. Sure, I knew it could be important, but then again, many of those flaky, superficial Greeks made situations very unimportant out to be the raison d'être to all of their (and their “brothers and sisters”) worldly ills.

My situational ethics later on would include people shown little sympathy today: Mexican Americans. I worked in a Kroger perishable warehouse as an Industrial Engineer for nearly two years. One of my major responsibilities was the setting of fair labor standards based on MSD (A Time Standard Method) using a labor system developed by Gagnon (Red Prairie.)

This system worked in concert with a fairly complex WMS (Warehouse Mgmt. Sys.) and Kronos (Time tracking system.) With that said, it did not work well at all when I got there. (Soon another Purdue Engineer and I were fixing this situation…at least from a technical aspect.) We also used an incentive program, up to 25% of an employees’ take home pay, to get workers to produce at the desired level, according to safe practices, OSHA standards and various other procedures.

However, this did not take place usually. And it was often a case of supervisors ignoring dangerous problems or chastising the wrong people, Mexicans most often, because many were illegal.

So, I did my own informal, if realistic study of people. I took the entire workforce and broke them into 4 classes: white, Mexicans that speak passable English, Mexicans unable to speak English well, and African Americans. I did not do this to support any report; nor to generalize for the sake of justification to a superior, but to know if there were any tendencies.

From memory, the breakdown out of 380 employees was:
35% white
19% Passable English
28% Non-English
15% African American
3% Other
Once trained (90 days selecting cases) the best performers were:
1. Mexican Passable – 117%
2. Mexican Non Passable – 109%
3. Other – 105%
4. African Americans – 101%
5. Whites – 98%

No one knew I did this. But it does reflect many who are here illegally are working much harder for the American Dream than our current legal population does. Upton Sinclair’s 'The Jungle' is alive, to a much lesser degree, as we hear about our non-English speakers getting screwed a great deal. Human Rights go out the door where the goal is to make a buck - even in 21st century.

I once tried to stop a Spanish-speaking supervisor from chewing out a Mexican illegal. He thought I could not understand Spanish – I did not have to know that much to know what he was saying was wrong – but for that interference the Operations Manager was none too pleased. He didn’t quite snap; but he wanted to, on me. (But he knew I had a point too.)

The point of this meandering diatribe is we are not all born to Ethics. Maybe I should have been more aware of what my future would be, if I had taken the time to involve myself in good causes, student organizations and cared about my major, then concrete Ethics might have took sooner. (To little too late if you've read other posts of mine.)

But then again, if I had Scooter Libby’s pull, the ideas of ethics and treatment of information vital to America’s safety, could be pardoned away by an Op. Manager not in charge of his mental faculties.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Baseball: Mid 2007 Predictions for the playoffs

No, I'm not Sara Freder, so I won't grant you insight into your future by using talismans and crystal balls for $39.99, but I figure I can look at the halfway point of a baseball season and figure who will represent both leagues in the playoffs.

Boston. It would be tough for them to lose this division, even with the Yankees in it. With a double digit lead, and the Yankees lacking a real pitching ace, it would take a collapse like 1978 for these Bo Sox to fall short. Unlikely with Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, Dice-K, Beckett and a host of others battle tested and not at all afraid of the vaunted Yankee mystique.

Cleveland. At 49-32, this team has done a lot with lackluster work by Travis Hafner. But with CC Sabathia, Victor Martinez and Grady Sizemore doing their jobs well, the team has a .352 OBP, 3rd in all of baseball behind Boston and the NY Yankees. This is a primary sabermetric tool to scoring runs and Cleveland will continue to do that. On the other side of the ledger, with Sabathia only walking a couple of handfuls of people, the Indians have allowed the fewest walks in MLB. While only in the middle of the pack in ERA, the Tribe should stay in 1st or 2nd in the AL Central.

Detroit. The Tigers are at it again. They are 4th in OBP, right behind Cleveland. They lead all of MLB in SLG% and thus also lead the MLB in putting runs on the board. However, many of their players are above their lifetime heads. Placido Polanco is a good little hitter, .302 lifetime. Not much power, but he's struggled to put together 150 games in a season. He's on pace for that. Does he continue to hit .330? Magglio Ordonez is another .300 hitter that is pounding it at .370. Will that continue? Realistically, those two will drop off 30-40 points and the Lion share of the scoring will have to come from Gary Sheffield and Pudge Rodriguez and Carlos Guillen.

Pitching is faltering, even with Justin Verlander no-no just recently. Their bullpen is shaky at best, with 39-year old Todd Jones still getting saves with a 5.85 ERA. Jones does not strikeout batters and that's a problem for a closer. The Tigers have been looking for answers as their number of pitchers used reflects. Eventually, these two aspects - less offense and shaky pitching - will put them in second in the AL East.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. 6th in OBP, 5th in Runs Scored and 1st in AL West. They still get mileage out of Vlad whose 31, looks older, and has been at it for a decade or more. He is a 1st ballot HOF if he does it for 5 more years. With pesky, versatile Chone Figgins, the Angels just do it well with Mike Scioscia running the show. They have better pitching, with Lackey, Escobar and Santana eating up innings as starters and likely the best bullpen, or at least a top 5 bullpen in baseball with a 25 year old K-Rod and Scot Shields as the forces.

The Angels have two problems: Billy Beane and the Oakland A's. The AL West is a marathon usually and Oaktown is 8.5 games behind. Seattle too is only 4 games out, but managerial shakeup with Hargrove gone means likely the Mariners will not contend. The Angels are not a uber team; so, Oakland's manuevers could get them their. But realistically, the A's have not got much out of 3rd baseman Eric Chavez, SS Bobby Crosby and C Jason Kendall. Those parts are producing miserably and even with another Big 3 in Haren, Blanton and Gaudin, the A's are unlikely to surpass the Angels.

AL Playoffs: Boston, Cleveland, Detroit and Los Angeles.
AL Championship: Boston vs. Detroit.
AL WS: Boston.

National League

Chicago. Yes, yes, holy mackeral, the Cubs are going to play in the post season. They have the pieces (sans a durable right fielder) in the batting order: Soriano, Lee, Ramirez, Theriot, DeRosa, and Floyd can produce runs. Zambrano, Lilly, Marquis and Hill can hold their own most nights in the National League - 5th in the NL in ERA and 2nd overall in Strikeouts of opponents.

Lou Piniella has done everything he could to manipulate this into a winning ballclub. In a weak division, Milwaukee is just not good enough. Aside from Ben Sheets and Prince Fielder, I don't get a warm fuzzy with their players on the field. The Cubs have more experience in playoff runs with Soriano, Lee, DeRosa actually going on to play in the World Series.

New York. The city liked so much they gave them 2 teams. The Mets are star laden bunch. Coming up short last year to the mediocre WS-winning Cardinals had to put them on edge. Unfortunately, the Altanta Braves are only 4.0 games back. What gives? They have a 3.65 ERA which is 3rd in all of baseball. They have enough offense to win? Bullpen has been terrible. Aside from little lefty Billy Wagner and Pedro Feliciano, they have Mota (5.29), Sele (5.26), Shoeneweis (5.46) and Heilman (4.19) that have blown up a few games.

Mets will win - with Pedro Martinez on the mend for August/September push - but not by double digits.

NL West. It's a good question: who will win this mess?

San Diego: 27th in OBP. 22nd in SLG%. 1st in ERA (3.03 ) by a half-run over everyone else.
LA Dodgers: 11th in OBP. 23rd in SLG%. 5th in ERA (3.73).
Arizona D-backs: 25th in OBP. 19th in SLG%. 8th in ERA (3.92).

Pitching wins championships. San Diego has veterans in Maddux, Wells and Hoffman to go with Jake Peavy. Their lineup is mediocre at best, they play decent defense and their home park is best suited for 3-2, 2-1 ballgames with a good bullpen which they have.

NL Playoffs: Chicago, New York, San Diego and LA Dodgers.
NL Championships: New York and Chicago.
NL Series: Chicago. (Biased ain't I?)

Boston v. Chicago: Boston in 6. Cubs still sans a World Series title....