Rain, Rain…Go The Heck Away…For A Little Bit Please

Good afternoon, Friday afternoon to be exact.

Not sure about where you may be (Beijing, Bucharest, Budapest, Bourbon or other places being with the letter B…or another letter) but here in Bissouri, or Missouri (there is no B, silent or otherwise) the weather seems to be in a holding pattern of drizzly rainfall. For the flowers, trees, grasses and other items rooted in the earthy soil this is a good thing. But for activities that take place upon the earthy soil like softball it sets the table for disappointment.

Dating back to last Friday, April 21st the weather has not been a friend to the local softball community. I had a midnight tournament (Friday night) rained out, followed by my team’s fundraiser which was on top of another tournament I could’ve played in for Saturday – all washed away. I did get to play Indian Ball on Sunday morning. However, since the forecasters had predicted mass amounts of rainfall, nearly half of my Indian Ball team had made other plans which left us short-handed and we got pummeled by the other two squads which were nearly at full strength. Then came Monday and Tuesday which are my designated days off from softball so rainfall was no big deal. Tuesday night into Wednesday morning the rains came and my city league at Wilmore Park was cancelled for muddy conditions and likewise the fields at Forest Park (again city league) for Thursday. Tonight there is supposed to be another midnight tourney but I am foregoing that softball (which will probably be postponed again) in favor of trying to be un-sluggish for tomorrow’s games at BMAC (if the skies should clear and the sun can dry up the ball diamonds). Here is me not holding my breath…

So I know there are people who do farming and such out there with stern looks upon their faces at reading my plea above in light of previous years and seasons where drought conditions have persisted. Yes Mother Nature and her nourishing tears help the crops, I get that. I wasn’t saying to never rain again…just maybe hit the pause button and resume on Sunday afternoon? Just a suggestion.  🙂

For those of you who didn’t acknowledge Wednesday, I wish you a Happy Belated Hump Day. Subtext noted.

Have a spiffy weekend regardless of what the clouds dictate.

Peace.

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PEDs in MLB…no spanking allowed

Good morning and a pleasant Tuesday to you.

Over the last three plus years I’ve been in a relationship with a woman who has a child from another relationship. He’s a great kid and like many of us when we were growing up, he is strong-willed and hell bent on doing things the hard way even when we try to show him an easier way. Decades ago, parents were given much more latitude on discipline than they are today and I think we can see in society the effects in everyday life. For example, back in the day if I intentionally did something in front of my parents that I was explicitly told not to do, I would’ve been yelled at, perhaps spanked and maybe even grounded/deprived of privileges. But fast forward to the here and now. The same scenario plays out and maybe the child gets a 3 minute timeout (standing in the corner!) and is then set free to return to causing mayhem. Why is this? Because there really is no heavy-handed discipline to make them think twice. They act up (cause) and they have to stare at the corner for a couple of minutes (effect), no real skin off his or her nose. Back in the day, the reminder not to break the rules was that I could not sit down because my butt was still stinging from a belt whipping so it (the cause and effect) resonated as much more of a deterrent than watching dry paint continue to be dry.

Why do I bring this up with the title of the piece referencing baseball? Glad you asked. Today’s MLB is soft on punishment like today’s society with kids. A guy gets caught cheating (PEDs) and he gets an 80 game unpaid ban. He gets caught twice and deep six his entire season (162 games). Finally, for the third offense, the player is done, toast… finito! For the casual observer that sounds like pretty harsh consequences. But let’s look at a few players that circumnavigated the system to cash in on cheating: Jhonny Peralta and Alex Rodriguez. Yes they got busted and got suspended…but they cashed in afterwards for tens of millions of dollars on the basis of their inflated numbers proving that crime does pay. In the grand scheme of life this is a nothing offense. A handful of superiorly talented guys (or maybe more?) using a controlled substance to enhance their skills just that smidge more, what does it really hurt? For all of the guys on the cusp of being ‘good enough’, the risk is well worth the potential reward. If you can get to The Show and perform well…you get paid. Yes you will get caught down the line but by then your likeness may be on posters and in video games and associated with elite performance. So the GMs and owners (parents of the MLB teams) will weigh the risk of signing a tainted player based on inflated performance even if it leads to buyer’s remorse later. And the player (cheater) cashes in! He will most likely be making more money than he could get in just about any other profession for his skill set. For the most part the jury is out on prolonged enhancement effects. Some product’s benefits fade within a short period of time after discontinued usage but others may permanently alter the chemical makeup down to a cellular level of an athlete. Granted this can lead to health side effects down the road but if the residual benefits carry over for a year or 18 months…that can be enough of a boost to player (after his 80 game vacation) to parlay into a multi-year deal for millions of dollars that the player probably would not find in the blue collar work world.

So what would I do to stiffen up the punishments and really make it hurt and make the players respect their parents, er… organizations? Well I would leave the current suspension model in place: 80 games for first offense, 162 games for second offense and lifetime ban for the third willful offense. But in addition, I would structure the penalties within the time of service constraints. What does that mean? Read the next paragraph if you are not familiar with how time of service works in MLB.

Major league players are eligible for free agency after accruing six full years of service time (172 days is considered a ‘full season’ or year of service in MLB time). In most cases, the six years a player spends in an organization are comprised of three pre-arbitration seasons, in which a player is owed nothing more than the league minimum, and three arbitration years (not counting Super-Two status which we will skip for this discussion). Based on performance, players begin incrementally making more money in those three arbitration years, assuming a team doesn’t buy them out with an early contract extension or decline to tender the player a contract. (171 days or less per season is considered less than one full year of service) .

Using the above structure, anything beyond six years of service time and a player is their own man and thus can be a free agent outside of a contract. Let’s start the focus on the first six years of a player’s existence in MLB as the starting point for the PEDs conversation. If a player is caught using PED’s within the first six service years of their baseball life, in addition to the penalties already laid out, I propose that upon the first offense the player loses a year of service time and one year of arbitration eligibility. Second offense, they lose two years of service time and a year of arbitration eligibility. With that third and fatal third strike they lose all their service time. This does a few things. First it indentures the player to the franchise that controls his rights for another year or two. Second, it controls what the player can earn (league minimum). Third, in addition to not getting the big payday, the player is risking their financial future tied to MLB. Yes players can get paid via endorsements and their contracts but they also get paid a pension based on time of service. See the below graphic for a player with 10 or more years of service time and the pension they are entitled to. But even under that 10 year threshold, players who play a single day in the majors are entitled to lifetime health coverage and players who log at least 43 days in the major leagues can get a lifetime pension amount of $34,000. So if in the player’s infancy in the league, he tries to take these shortcuts and gets caught, it can drastically affect their future. This will make selecting an agent and having good advisors and medical professionals around you, of the utmost importance.

Now on to the veteran players who stay clean and make it to the post six years of service time or during the indentured period signs a long term deal taking them beyond that service time which is largely (financially) controlled by the franchise owning their rights. In the event one of these players is busted for PEDs and gets their applicable suspension, the collateral damage is a little different. Again the loss of the related service time: one year, two years and all service time based on the three strikes model. In addition, for players under contract who get their first strike or second strike penalties and subsequently serve those penalties; for the next playable season, the player’s rights revert to the team who owned their rights during the season containing their suspension…but at the league minimum regardless of contract stipulated amount(s)*. (Incentives can still be earned per contract language but contract base figure is forfeited and the player can only play for that franchise in the next playable season unless the franchise elects to release, waive or trade the player’s rights.) This proviso, in addition to loss of service time, would definitively make some fringe players, journeyman players or players trying to recapture their prime think twice about the risks of PEDs. Where this is especially a gamble for the players is with the third strike penalty looming for them to lose all of their service time and the hefty pension benefits to claim later.

Obviously like any system there could be some negotiation and tweaks for inadvertent offenses (within reason) but it could work. Some guys would still think it was worth the gamble and will try to find the loopholes (retirement?) but it would make the stigmata of cheating that much worse. This doesn’t even get into the negative vibes it would bring to a clubhouse of having a player suspended for cheating alongside other guys putting in the honest work and trying to do their job. I know there may be a lawyer or two out there mentally griping about what I’m proposing. He or she is probably thinking to him or herself that this wouldn’t hold up and the players would never agree to such and such but hey, I’m just spitballing here.

Have a great day and I hope you are enjoying some baseball today or at least crossed paths with someone who may like baseball.

Peace.

Footnotes:

Jan. 10, 2013 — Players and owners announce they have agreed to HGH blood testing throughout the regular season and to have the World Anti-Doping Agency laboratory in Laval, Quebec, keep records of each player, including his baseline ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone. The lab will conduct Carbon Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry (IRMS) tests of any urine specimens that “vary materially.”

March 28, 2014 — Players and owners announce penalties will increase to 80 games for a first testing violation and to 162 for a second, and a season-long suspension will result in a complete loss of that year’s salary, rather than 162-183rds. A player who serves a PED suspension during the season will be ineligible for that year’s postseason. For certain substances that cause positive tests, an arbitrator will have the discretion to reduce discipline if the player proves the use was not intended to enhance performance. In-season random urine tests, in addition to the minimum two for each player will increase from 1,400 to 3,200. There will be 400 random blood collections used to detect human growth hormone in addition to the mandatory one for each player during spring training. At least one IRMS test will be performed on a specimen from each player. Didehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is added to the banned list.

Am I crazy?

I’m sure some of you reading the title immediately had an emphatic response jump to mind. This is because either you know me personally (which is to know some of my quirkiness) or because you have read some of my ponderings and therefore have already drawn your own conclusions.

Over the past two years I’ve gone on 6 or 7 different job interviews in person plus another 4 or 5 phone interviews. During the course of those Q&A sessions, I’ve used the phrase “if I would get hit by a bus tomorrow” probably more times than most people do in the course of their entire lives. The surrounding context is that I always document my work thoroughly; so that in the event “I get hit by a bus tomorrow” someone can follow my steps of work and know what the next action should be. Supporting internal and external clients, with a logical process and prudent business decisions, based on almost 25 years in and around the collections facets of business operations is my bread and butter. I am creative and confident in my actions with an eye on the desired end result(s). Not everything always goes to plan but I know what I’m doing and what I can expect of the possibilities. This is of course on the professional side of my life.

On the personal side, things are much more muddled. If I got hit by a bus tomorrow, the person cleaning up after me would find my podcast notes, 200 softball t-shirts, a bunch of softball equipment, a phone full of softball conversations, 9500 softball pictures, a set of Powerball lotto tickets up through next week, a skittish but lovable feline, a sleep deprived girlfriend and her very outgoing son. But what of my next steps on my personal path? Aside from a few softball schedules and going to work five days per week…there’s not much of a roadmap. That reminds me, I need to rollover my 401K from my last two jobs.

Does anyone ever get caught up on the perpetual list of things to do? Oil changes, dry cleaning pickup, dinner prep, grocery shopping, paying bills, attending friends’ events, cleaning the litter box, taking out the trash, calling mom, returning a friend’s text, personal grooming, yard maintenance, getting gas for the car, a million random chores and the list is ever expanding like a pop-up virus.

Populate these concerns and duties into your conscious brain and then minimize the sleep your body gets with an annoying bouncy song stuck in your head for days (and nights) … and you start to wonder about how to quantify your sanity.

In the event I do get hit by a bus and my ticket gets punched…I hope it’s the day after softball and I’ve remembered to pay my life insurance premiums.

Happy Monday to each and every person with eyelashes reading this.

Peace.

Life Goals

Alrightey then…let’s imagine ourselves in the guidance counselor’s office and he/she is asking some innocuous and totally inane questions to try and lead us to a big picture question. Where do you see yourself in five years? What do you really enjoy doing? How do you see your career path unfolding? Do you have any spare yarn for my cats to play with? Do you prefer Sodoku or cross-word puzzles? How many presidents of the United States have used the “F” word in public? Who would win in a virtual fight between Alexa and Siri?

Most kidding aside, everyone has a personal agenda. Granted some people choose very minimal baselines (I just want to stay with my parents forever while playing video games and never having a steady job) while others get ridiculously ambitious (I anticipate holding a Hitler-sized rally for my disciples by the time I graduate high school with the intentions of beginning my work to create a colony on the former dwarf planet Pluto). For the rest of us, we generally have aspirations that most people would tend to classify as goals and hopes and dreams.

When I was nine years old in the fourth grade at Grandview Elementary School, which was right behind the Charles A Fassen Middle School building, we had just taken a social studies quiz. The entire class failed this quiz or received a D as their grade…except for me. I aced the quiz 100% literally. This is one of those odd memories that no matter how long I live, it just sticks with me for no apparent reason. So when the rest of the class was forced to re-take the quiz and I didn’t have to, it was a nice feeling on that chilly spring day in 1982. I turned 10 a little over three months later. My birthday always fell in the summer after school was out. As a result, I was usually one of the younger students in my classes.

Was this (quiz) a huge turning point in my life? Did I right there and then decide to pursue a career in accounts receivables? No, not hardly. I just wanted to brag about a single academic point in my life where I was in a room full of my peers and for once I was the smartest kid/person in the room – even if just for a hot minute. Hold on, still savoring it. Don’t rush me.

With this anecdote put aside, I think back to the summer of 1982 (after my June birthday). I was grounded for the majority of it and did not get to play video games or go outside to play ball or even leave my room with the caveats being: bath-time, restroom visits and meals. As I may have intimated in previous pieces, my father was quite strict and more a less a control freak who didn’t like kids or people in general. Any who, during that summer I had more or less nothing to do but read and read some more. I can point to this as the genesis of where my writing ambitions grew from. I would read all sorts of novels my mom had lying around I really enjoyed the dark images and scenes my mind painted from the various author’s words. Sometimes I would read a 300-500 page novel and think: I could do better than this schmuck. Jotting down bits and pieces from the stories, I would outline where I think the story could have been better. Hey, when you’re ten years old on house arrest and stuck in your room, what else are ya going to do?

My personal history aside, what events or themes in your life sparked an interest or put you on course to chase some of your dreams? Did you give your Barbie a Mohawk and decide to become a cosmetologist? Maybe you were forced to walk dogs for extra cash on the weekends and you pursued that into opening a kennel or taxi service for dogs? Perhaps you spent hours memorizing the stats on the backs of baseball cards and decided the accounting arts were for you? Or maybe you saw the movie The Natural and saw how Robert Redford’s character Roy Hobb’s made his own baseball bat. Right there you were curious to see if you had creative hands that could create furniture or sculptures or something else artistic?

Each and every one of our brains (or brians for those who may be partially dyslexic) is wired radically different. Five people can stand right next to each other and witness a car accident and each one will have a slightly different take on the event. One will first notice the sound the impact made. Another will be struck by the driver’s body movements upon the moment of crash. Another will notice the gleam of the tires from the slick payment as the driver tried to stop.  The fourth will recall how the moment before impact that the accident almost seemed to happen in slow motion. And the fifth person will be recalling how a friend or relative had a similar car once upon a time. Slight variations can make all the difference.

Two people can do the same activities (i.e. a job) all day long. The one person may be enjoying the tasks and interactions and the other person may be absolutely miserable and hating their existence. Same job, same environment but two totally different reactions. Same principal with a movie or a sporting event or a concert or just sitting on a bench looking out over the water of a pond on a still evening right at dusk with a storm brewing on the horizon.

In today’s world we are bombarded with technology and everyone trying to sell us on what we want and need. But when it comes down to it, in our heart of hearts sometimes we don’t even know what we want. Sometimes we are scared to try to find out because we don’t want to waste time on something that may not pan out. But even in failure we discover things. If you are still undecided about your future, that is OK. As Natasha Beddingfield sang more than once “The Rest is Still Unwritten” or at least I think she was the one singing that (besides me singing along – badly). The point I’m trying to convey in a roundabout way is this, never be afraid or embarrassed to try. You never know what will spark your interest and lead you to something that may be the best thing of your life.

Happy Hump Day.

Peace.

Drinking a warm soda or beer

ME: Oh crap, I’m late for the conference call!
(Dials into the conferencing center. Automated voice: You are the first person to join this meeting.)

ME: That’s strange. Double checks the dial-in number and the time. Yep 2:30pm (XXX) XXX-XXXX with access code Alpha-Farmer-Spaghetti, but still no one on the call.
(Checks Outlook calendar…followed by virtual face palm.)

ME: Hey dumba$$, today is not Tuesday. Way to look at the wrong day. Good job.
This was me just a few short minutes ago. That discombobulated feeling of thinking the day was a certain day but in reality nope, wrongo. Kind of like the sensation of going for a drink of a desirable beverage only to realize it is old or room temperature and not the least bit satisfying. Bleck.

Hope your MONDAY is everything you ever hoped it would be.

Peace.

Conflict Resolution or Avoidance?

Greetings and Happy mid-April!

Some of you may be experiencing some April showers…if not, perhaps you are just using quite a bit of body spray. (Yuk Yuk Yuk)

OK all jokes aside (for now), let’s discuss conflict. How do you deal with it? Some people attack a conflict head-on which can sometimes cause an even greater conflict. And some people just don’t want to deal with conflict at all. For the most part, I try to stay in the first grouping. With a diplomatic approach, I go for the resolution so the conflict and collateral damage that accompanies it does not occur. This does not always go according to plan but that is my first impulse.

As I noted, my first instinct is to approach a situation diplomatically and rely on the historical relationship to dictate how a problem is diffused. But since the universe is not a simple math problem like 217 divided by 7 (31), unforeseen variables can make the task at hand more of a challenge than it may appear on the surface. An appointment cannot be met, a payment will be late, something was forgotten that now makes an after-commitment unable to be kept and so on and so forth. Hopefully, these situations mentioned above are not regular occurrences as that makes resolving them with the other party a bit more testy. Habitually cancelling on someone or regularly not ‘living up’ to what was expected will make anyone skeptical or cynical when dealing with you. No matter how long you have known them or what great favor you have performed for them in the past, leaving someone in the lurch, so to speak, will make getting their forgiveness or understanding near impossible. This then leads to some people utilizing the second method: avoidance.

Avoidance is for those who have either used up their ‘get out of jail free cards’ with previous experiences or for those who just don’t like telling someone something they know the other person will not like to hear (or make them think negatively of them). Let’s face it, there are going to be times when you simply cannot make everyone happy. Sometimes this will be a conscious choice and sometimes it will be through honest mistake. But part of being an adult is owning up to the situation and addressing it as soon as possible so as not to compound the ill feelings.

For example, if a person commits to a softball team to play a tournament at a designated place and time but for some reason (too hung over, just didn’t feel like it, didn’t have the money to play, etc.) doesn’t call or show up and this has happened previously; then the person is going to get painted into a corner and pegged as unreliable. If this person does have a legitimate reason to miss or cannot live up to what he/she has promised, then it’s going to be a lot worse.

I know this all is a little hazy and fuzzy logic but with inter-personal relationships, all you have is your word. So if you constantly break your word or don’t come through on promises, all you are doing is damaging your reputation. But if something does put you in the hot seat to be breaking bad news, do it quick – like pulling off that nasty, gooey Band-Aid. They may not like it but they will at least respect you for doing the right thing.

This has been my PSA on choosing conflict resolution over conflict avoidance.

Have a smooth and firm 31 great day.

Peace.

The Nature of me and stuff I strongly dislike

Greetings and Happy Good Friday! Hopefully you are enjoying a day off from work or school or some other regular responsibility thrust upon you by the societal convention of Monday through Friday ‘work-week’ or ‘normal business hours’.

Anywho, today’s topic is mostly a low simmer rant about an experience from last weekend. Whilst out dining at a Mexican food genre restaurant after a softball tournament, I was listening to someone talk about his repayment of a bad meal experience at another restaurant. Now the details of the offense are a little vague as I had consumed a quantity of alcohol that may have impaired me a bit. But the gist of the story told, was about a negative dining experience that this person did not feel was rectified by the establishment. So in retribution for whatever grievance he had: cold food, late food, poor quality food, insufficient portion of food or just poor/bad service in general; this person openly claimed his ridiculous actions upon visiting the restroom for this restaurant that produced this unsatisfactory dining experience.

What did he do? Well let me tell you (said with disgusted inflection). Because of his experience with the server/manager for this nameless restaurant, he visited their men’s room and proceeded to eliminate his bodily wastes but not in a urinal or inside the bowl of the toilet but instead adjacent to it and some on the toilet seat proper.  This admission appalled and offended me on several levels.

For anyone who has read my social media or listened to my personal podcast, you know how big of a pet peeve public restrooms and the state of nastiness left behind irritates me. Countless times I have commented on toilet seats that are covered with pubes, urine, fecal matter, vomit material and even blood. To a lesser extent the urinal has facets of these items as well and it never ceases to disgust me and cause me to project ill-will towards the perpetrators out into the universe. I think to myself, do these losers leave their toilets at home in a similar state? If so I hope the government steps in (are you listening Mr. Trump?) and makes sure these knuckle-draggers never reproduce. Even though it is a public restroom, how about a little common courtesy for the next person who may be in a state of urgency upon entering the restroom? Many public facilities have limited options for toilets, usually one or two. So for one person to show his disdain for the restaurant by jacking up the toilet for the next customer or some un-involved staff member of the restaurant to clean up is reprehensible. Way to be a short-sighted, self-absorbed jackass on the platinum level. You didn’t get enough nachos or your chicken was as tough as a baseball glove and the restaurant didn’t ‘make-it-right’ in your opinion? Get over it. Leave no tip. Tell all your friends about the experience. Complain to the Better Business Bureau. Never go back. Act like a civilized member of society instead of a dog who ate a two pound Hersey bar while his owner was out.

Admitting to this low IQ level of comeuppance is almost as bad as the act itself. Trying for caveman vindication on such a petty thing shows a total lack of class and I definitively think less of this person for it. I am not the standard of class and sophistication but I also know better than to go into a public restroom and defecate and urinate all over the place to prove a worthless point. I hope your family is mighty proud.

Sincerely,

Someone who has just about given up on our society.

EMP

The Faraday Cage is named after a scientist from the 1800’s. His name was Michael Faraday. For those of you wondering what a Faraday Cage is…it is a box or cage made of conductive material or mesh. The box or cage blocks external static and non-static electric fields by channeling electricity along and around, but not through, the mesh, providing constant voltage on all sides of the enclosure. So now you are maybe curious why such an invention exists? Well I personally wondered why it would have needed to exist in the 1800’s as electricity was mostly a raw concept back then, granted the Greeks as far back as 600 BC discovered static electricity but had no real means of repeating or harnessing it with any real consistency. Benjamin ‘Ben’ Franklin is given a lot of credit for discovering electricity (from lightning) with his kite nonsense in 1752. But generating and refining the uses of electricity was just in its infancy for the next 100 plus years. So why create an insulated, wire-encased cage to protect even rudimentary electronic equipment back then?

That is a mystery Scooby Doo. The cage was not designed to protect humans but instead, delicate circuits and electronics that really didn’t exist yet. Protect them from what specifically? An EMP of course. Some of you may have played the classic computer game called Doom. Within that game, there were Chewbacca (wookie) looking monsters named Imps. Maybe that is what your mind pictured when I said EMP but no…I am talking about EMP(s) not IMP(s). An EMP is an Electromagnetic Pulse, generally on a large scale. A nuclear EMP performed is known as a NEMP. A NEMP performed at high altitude is known as a HEMP. A nuclear EMP is the abrupt pulse of electromagnetic radiation resulting from a nuclear explosion. The resulting rapidly changing electric fields and magnetic fields may couple with electrical/electronic systems to produce damaging current and voltage surges.

So why all this fuss about EMP’s from me today? No reason. My mind was wandering in traffic as I got cut off by some jerk in a burgundy GMC SUV. He was in the lane to my left and although there was no one within 15-20 car lengths behind me, he sped up and cut in front of me without using a blinker and then 20 seconds later almost came to a complete stop to make a right hand turn. Needless to say, he earned a middle digit salute. But back on the topic of EMPs, I was listening to the radio and watching so many drivers using their cell phones while driving their SUVs or mini-vans with the TV screens in the headrests for the children to be entertained and a thought occurred to me. What if there was a large scale EMP detonated in the upper atmosphere and all the technology that makes today’s society tick just went away? Basically everyday life would turn into Lord of the Flies but with less structure. “I’ve got the conch!” Who says I got nothing out of my Grandview High School English classes?

This may not be a newsflash to some of you but I have weird ideas at times. If you tend to contemplate or worry about doomsday scenarios and want to be able to play the advanced levels of Candy Crush, you might want to hit up Amazon.com to get your Faraday Cage or Shield. If you think I’m joking…go price them. They are very real and somewhat affordable depending on what size and functionality you would like for your budget.

If you think the concept is just something from the movies, you are more or less correct. However, its has real origins from the United States government. They did some rudimentary testing in the 1960’s near Hawaii with mostly inconclusive results. That was then, this is now. I would imagine that science on the subject has greatly leapt forward and in some secret lab or labs the product exists that could be unleashed if dire circumstances warranted it. Detonating an EMP bomb could turn our world into something from one of the Transformer or Terminator movies. Now that I’m thinking of it, don’t you think the EMP concept could’ve killed off Skynet, V.I.K.I from I-Robot, the bad Transformers and many resolved many other stories with similar complex can openers gone awry plots?

Potentially, the US government and the Umbrella Corporation could collaborate. Then we would have a society without electrical enhancement being overrun by zombies and mutants. Sounds like I just wrote a movie for the next summer blockbuster. For those who care and like morbid end of society flicks, there is a fourth Purge movie being made for release on the Fourth of July 2018. That has nothing to do with this post, I was just excited to find that out.

Hope your day is shaping up nicely and you get to play some softball. I don’t care if everyone doesn’t like softball, I’m still putting that out into the universe. Now go play!

Peace.

Tears For Fears

Good day! Hopefully you get over the hump in a pleasant way today. Can I get a camel in here?

OK that’s better.

For those of you looking for a deal (not Adele) on a spinal decompression table, check out this link below:

Decompression Table (Spinal)

Posting this item as my co-workers were singing its praises for effectiveness if you have back pain or spinal issues, in lieu of actually going to a medical professional. Just saying.

For those of you reading along at home or on the go, you may be asking: What do these things have to do with Tears For Fears; the band that formed in the early 1980’s and will be here (in St Louis) next month? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. This morning I was spinning through some of their albums in anticipation of the concert that will happen in approximately three and a half weeks. With their songs in my right ear via ear bud, I poached the two other topics as a bystander to the conversations flying around me. Until this morning I had no clue there was such a thing as a decompression table. The concept sounded like something deep sea divers would need if they came up to the surface too quickly to avoid getting the ‘bends’ or air bubbles in the blood stream from the pressure changes experienced from deep water to the shallow surface waters. Although in the 1990’s I do recall seeing some sort of device on TV that had a metal frame where someone could hang upside down using special (gravity?) boots with ‘hooks’ on them. But I’m not sure if that had the same application as the spinal decompression table and right now I’m too lazy to Google it.

Back on topic, the first album I listened to this morning from Tears for Fears was from 2004: Everybody Loves A Happy Ending. Dirty connotation aside, a solid listen. From there I moved on to Elemental which technically is by Tears For Fears but in reality was just Roland Orzabal as this was during the time that he and Curt Smith were at odds personally and professionally. The song most people will recognize from this album/CD is Break It Down Again – mostly for the verse that has ‘Moses on a motorbike’. I hope Moses was wearing his helmet to set a good safety example for today’s youth. Still working backwards I have The Seeds Of Love ‘on deck’ to put it in baseball terms.  For those of you who do not know who Tears For Fears is or worse yet, do not like their music, I will let this piece fade out like a musical track…

As a responsible PSA, please eat the recommended portions of healthy foods and do a moderate amount of activity to knock out the exercise everyone (in theory) should do every day.

Rock out.

Peace.

P.S. Allegedly Tears For Fears will be putting out a new studio album this year. Fingers crossed. Yeah I know I’m a dork. But DO NOT CARE.

Pachyrhizus Erosus

For those of you wondering what type of dinosaur I referenced in the title to this post…the answer is: D) None of the above. It is not even an animal. Of course I am coming to you humbly to discuss “The” Mexican Turnip or jicama (pronounced: Zi Cama – or so it says online).

I am sensing some of you may be confused so let me explain. Today (Monday actually) at work a co-worker was eating some whitish strips that I thought may have been cheese sticks. No sir, no ma’am. She was eating jicama (see above for pronunciation). Another co-worker asked what she was eating and she said something that sounded like High Kama. My mind overlaid the word eczema (which is a skin condition) and my facial expression must have reflected a certain amount of disgust. My co-worker offered me a piece of this mystery food. Skeptical but always open for a new experience I tentatively bit into the whitish rectangle. Initially I was expecting something spongy and soft (SAWFT if you are a wrestling fan) but it was more like biting into a water chestnut, that is to say borderline crispy. And now for the taste…the taste…the taste…um, there really was no taste to speak of. Yes I ended the previous sentence with a preposition and frankly I do not give a dehydrated mouse’s liver if it offends anyone – assuming mice have livers. I know rats have livers and would assume the anatomy would be similar for mice just different size scale. Anyway, back to the un-blindfolded taste test of jicama…

The taste was pretty much nonexistent with maybe a hint of sweetness and the texture, chewing experience is very similar for me to the water chestnut. It wasn’t terrible nor was it really enjoyable. As a small child I once started munching on the Styrofoam packing pieces that accompanied some item my parents purchased (explains some things about me doesn’t it?). Eating the jicama brought that experience to mind. If pressed to say one way or the other if I liked or disliked jicama, I would have to marginally say I liked it. Given a choice of jicama or fresh coconut, I will enthusiastically opt for the coconut.

I have done no real research on the seasonality or availability of jicama so if you are further intrigued, I will let you do your own due diligence. I’m guessing there are stages of ‘ripeness’ like with other fruits and vegetables but on this topic I am clueless. For all I know I was eating a vegetable that was not even ripe yet. Maybe that is why it was so ‘crispy’, then again maybe I was eating it at its optimal consumability? If there are any connoisseurs of this food, please email or text me and let me know.

Happy Hump Day!

Peace.

Excitement Level

Good morning and a glorious Friday to each of you that has graciously or unexpectedly surfed into the Blog-A-Sphere’s gravitational pull.

My WordPress Blog is one outlet for my creative energy. To differing extents I also use Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Podbean to divert the overflow from my hyperactive mental process. I know that seems excessive to most of you (and I know Kristi would whole-heartedly agree) but for the most part doing each of those social media platforms is a relatively harmless activity. Day in and day out I have concentrated bursts when ideas  rise to the top of my brain and scream to be set free upon the virtual world. To put this into a metaphor or simile form, the ideas form, divide and fill my head much like a shaken can of soda. As soon as the tab is pulled or someone stabs the side of the can with a drywall nail, the pressure is released and the contents spray everywhere.

For myself I do not have a ton on hobbies. No model cars or historic pirate ships being patiently assembled and painted. Years ago, I used to sketch and paint but with the increased essential tremor in my hands, the process is much more difficult and I wasn’t that talented of an artist to begin with. Of course I do play softball and converse with dozens of people weekly about softball topics (tourneys, fundraisers, leagues, money, subs, etc.). But aside from that activity and making a living Monday through Friday, I mostly am a home body who enjoys horror films and RPG (Role Playing Games) on the PS3. So with minimal vices, discounting my binge watching of Netflix or Hulu, I do indulge my social media compulsion.

One of my social media outlets that has ramped up in the last six months is podcasting. For the last two years I had my own personal podcast (on Podbean) that virtually no one listened to and for good reason. Unless you are a Cleveland Indians fan or just like the sound of my voice as I relay the weather conditions or rant about the traffic, there was not much to get excited about or hooked on to come back for. This is not to say I didn’t have some interesting pieces from time to time but for the most part, it was nothing to text home about aside from my interview with NPC Bodybuilder Amy Battles. But as much as my personal podcast was meh perhaps, it did put a foot forward for another open ‘window’ unexpectedly.

A softball friend, Jeremy Halbrook, had a personal itch to scratch. He regularly listened to local sports talk radio and a few podcasts. This ignited in him a desire to put together a ‘show’ of his own. Since we are Facebook friends, he noticed one of my podcast links and approached me about doing a low-key sports-flavored podcast. Since I have opinions and am not afraid to talk or be criticized, I was flattered and excited for the project. After several weeks of talking about potential names of the show, the concept and batting about ideas for segments, we launched our first show under the banner of Sports Stalkers on Podbean. Podcasting, like anything else entertainment related, is about marketing your product. You need to have something catchy and memorable about your name plus have a dynamic product so you can attract people to listen and be intrigued enough to return again for future episodes. As of today, we have done fifteen collaborative sessions and I have chipped in two Special Edition interview segments. From the beginning of December 2016 until today our shows collectively have been downloaded over 700 times. Using mostly Facebook and Twitter for promotion we reach a decent audience of our ‘friends’.

My expectations are not that the ‘show’ will make us famous but doing the podcast is a lot of fun for me. Also I get a kick out of being out at tournament or league or Indian ball and someone mentions the show. Not all of the feedback is glowing praise and that is OK too. Different strokes for different folks. A couple of months ago I designed a few t-shirts through Cafepress.com to promote our show; Cafepress is a very expensive online option to make t-shirts for the record. The shirts depicted the show logo (created by Dustin Hampton) on the back and a cropped picture taken before one of our shows of us about ready to record on the front. I’ve worn my blue Sports Stalkers t-shirt to a couple tournaments, to indoor softball league and around town in general. Dustin’s shirt was a charcoal gray and Jeremy’s was Oklahoma Sooner red. Branching out from there, I awarded Alicia (friend and listener) a promo shirt and hers was a pale yellow. In all honesty I do not know if she really wanted to wear our faces or was just like “hey free shirt!”. Either way you can look for us in person or on apparel around town and  at known places where softball is the main activity.

The point of this piece is kind of along the lines of that old Sheryl Crow song “If It Makes You Happy (It Can’t Be That Bad)”. And if I am being blunt, using social media to harness and channel my creativity does make me happy. Thus far it all has been a victimless crime. I’m sure there have been close calls with people listening or reading my stuff while driving. They inevitably will do a face palm about something I said or wrote causing a momentary distraction or closed eyes head shaking that could be hazardous to the general public.

The weekend calendar looks like this for the next couple of days: I am slated to play some softball this Saturday at Wolff’s Softball Haven, after young Ayden’s first soccer practice in Festus, and then probably my spring debut for the South Side Indian Ball Club (SSIBC) at Santa Maria’s off of Bayless from highway 55 on Sunday. Weather should be nice and spring-like so I am excited. If you are going to be at or near either of those venues in the late morning for each respective day, come drop by and say hello!

Have a splendid lead up to the weekend proper. #FunFriday #HashTagsAreForHashTaggers

Peace.

Four by Four

April the 4th. Welcome and hello. Just catching up on some Netflix episodes of Dexter in the background while working. From the show it would appear that Dexter’s character was a lefty golfer. Just something I noticed. File that away as useless trivia.

Something else I noticed…my Indians were able to over come an early deficit on their opening day in Texas to garner an 8-5 win over the Rangers in Major League Baseball action. This was the day after the St Louis Cardinals dominated the Chicago Cubs for seven plus innings before some curious managerial moves, an ill-advised defensive play and one really bad pitch out of the hand of Cardinals closer made for some late inning tension sprinkled upon the Cardinals faithful. But alas the Cardinals too celebrated their season’s first game against the hated Chicago Cubs with a win. Not only have some April showers arrived but with them, baseball – real baseball, not spring training baseball – is in bloom. All the stats count now and going forward. The standings are a worthwhile entity once again. On the path and in the first few steps of a six month marathon, baseball has returned. Seems like just a few weeks ago for me that my Indians were tied in the ninth inning of game seven of the World Series. My hope for an Indians championship in my lifetime was still a real possibility. Then after the rain delay and the ensuing extra innings, the dream evaporated like a mirage. I have blinked a few times since that final bitter November out, bringing us to the present. It is five months later and in turn, six to seven months from the end of the baseball season in 2017. What will this year’s story be? More baseball heartbreak or a Hollywood ending? As I often tell young Ayden at home: Let’s watch and find out.

Go Tribe! Cue the music – CLEVELAND ROCKS! Bartender! Jobu needs a refill!

In closing, try to have a generous spirit and distribute some good vibes to someone out there somewhere who may need it today. Remember, saying something positive to someone can do wonders. You just never know when you might make someone’s day or pull them out of a bad moment and it doesn’t cost you a cent to be nice. Just saying.

Peace.

Fake Out, Shake Out…then order Take Out

Today is a glorious Monday! MONDAY! MON-DAY!
OK it’s not really glorious and my upper back and neck is out of whack causing me jolts of pain when I try to turn my head to the left. It’s been like this for three days and I’m overdue to hit up my chiropractor whom I have not seen for about three and a half…years. I am holding out hope that one of the goons I play indoor softball with tonight can ratchet my spine and alleviate the disjointed vertebrates…if not I shall start chronicling a diary in the footsteps of Quasimodo. Maybe check out Craigslist and Google for belfries. You know, hang out and ring really big bells? When you read belfries…do you wonder if that is like some side item on a fast food menu somewhere? Can you super-size my belfries – with a side of cheese? How many calories is each belfry? Or maybe I will go full Modo instead of just Quasi-modo. Go big or go home right?

With the mental machinery mostly greased on the heels of the above paragraph, let’s hop into blog mode. For better or worse, I seem to be waist deep in technology and social media every day. One facet of this is group texts and group IM’s (thanks Facebook!). Now on occasion I am guilty of perpetuating the snowball effect with these mass communications. And other times I sit back and watch the blob (see 1958 or 1988 movies) consume all in its path with no interference. On the days where I am not particularly interesting in participating but I’m still feeling a bit mischievous, I will drop in a few random off topic responses to throw the speeding vehicle (group message) into neutral for a moment or two. Below are two passages I threw in just for giggles today. These excerpts were really not part of any other conversation but just fabricated for effect:

Maple syrup beats coffee…but Texas Toast comes up short against a pecan waffle – unless you have some sort of nut allergy.

We can wear diapers but only if it’s necessary.

By my standards, these items are pretty tame but I still found the perplexed responses amusing. Most of the group texts and IM’s I get are tied to softball in some fashion and the majority of the people in the messaging chain are familiar with my ‘work’. But I like to keep them on their toes especially whenever they are letting the messages fly about inane and silly stuff. Partially to blame here is Justin Bieber.

Why you ask? I’m glad you did!

There is a couple of passages in his song “Love Yourself” which in essence is him telling someone to GFY. The offending passage in question is where he talks about his momma in the absolute sense “and she likes everyone”. Obviously she (momma) is not too discerning to ‘like’ everyone. Michael Vick? Adolph Hitler? Hillary Clinton? HaHa Clinton-Dix? Roger Goodell? The governor of South Dakota? Dennis Daugaard? People with two a’s in a row in their name? July 8th 2010 LeBron James? The worst proctologist on the planet? A driver who is texting while putting on make-up and already wearing an eye-patch? C’mon mama! Even Forrest Gump didn’t like the guy who was abusing his Jen-nay.

Alright that’s enough. More positive vibes. Cat videos. Baseball season underway. A rain storm with tons of lightning and thunder and that clean smell after the rain stops. The unmistakable feel of hitting a softball with your optimal swing. Aaaahhh…waiter, can you get me an orange crème-slush from Sonic? Large of course.

Hopefully you are not caught in the undertow of a negative Monday current. If so maybe you will surface a little farther down with wet hair (if you have hair) and it will smell like a pleasant moisturizing conditioner. I really don’t know where else to lead this blog so I will just hop off…

After I upload this small Wrestlemania 33 rant:
Granted the ‘product’ isn’t as expensive as it used to be but the creative team for WWE should be fired…then have their shoes – ALL OF THEIR SHOES – set on fire. How are you going to have an icon and legend like the Undertaker get destroyed and leave on such a pitiful note like last night? You guys are pathetic and devoid of any creative thought. Stick to writing your grocery lists and describing grass as just plain green. No imagination at all. None. Ridiculous. Here is a simple and plausible ending that could have/should have happened in place of the pile of steaming crap that was left for the consumers of that scripted product; instead of having the outcome that took place, on top of the herky-jerky match that had very little interest, you could have had Undertaker’s ‘brother’ Kane arrive to save the day. The Brothers of Destruction could’ve had one last moment on the grand stage and the crowd would’ve gone insane! We would have been talking about how awesome of a send off that was, instead of the stomach turning sad and unthoughtful end that was left like a trash can for the

garbage collectors. In knowing that unsatisfying outcome was in the wings, the Powers-That-Be in marketing department for the PPV (Pay Per View) could have/should have been sponsored by Tums or Charmin – because all that was left to do was wipe and flush from that ending.
#MissedOpportunity #Idiots #Disrespectful #NoClass #Hacks #BushLeague

OK I feel a bit better but still cannot fathom how a company of that size would mess over their own product and brand in such a short-sighted way. I bet Vince is rolling over in his grave at such incompetence. I know he’s not dead but in allowing such an injustice to transpire…he should consider himself and his company creatively dead. (mic drop)

Epilogue

Peace. Out. WWE. You don’t deserve your consumers or your dedicated talents (Superstars) working for you with this sad repayment of thirty years of company loyalty and service. Typical corporate America losing sight of who made you what you are. To quote Chris Jericho: STUPID IDIOTS!