Ninja Car Protector

jam

Good morning! This morning as I was rolling into work and decided to record my second podcast this week (https://scottlatta.podbean.com/e/sep-20-2018-60/). The main focus of the podcast was me addressing the horrendous traffic that we have been experiencing here lately in the St Louis area. My morning and evening commutes on a ‘normal’ day will usually take about 35 minutes each (roughly guestimating an average). But this week has been traffic ghastly. Auto accidents and stalled cars have been raining from the heavens it seems…without there actually being any physical rain to blame. Adding together my morning commute and evening commute from yesterday, my total drive time was in excess of three hours – easily more than doubling the norm for those combined drive times. Continue reading “Ninja Car Protector”

If I had five million dollars…

Good morning and welcome to June 5th 2018. What’s news and interesting? Do you know Bill Gates? Asking for a friend.

Continue reading “If I had five million dollars…”

Customer Service…or not

Hello and Merry one week until Christmas (Monday to Monday).

Today I have had two encounters with two different companies for issues that required engaging these companies’ customer service departments. The first one, after a 23 day wait and second impatient Tweet, resulted in the desired outcome to replace my damaged iPad from last month’s flight to Atlanta. The second interaction was not as successful, even though this bout of customer service is on its sixth e-mail response on top of a verbal call that came while standing in the TV room of a tire replacement business. Continue reading “Customer Service…or not”

Talladega Nights – Step Brothers Shenanigans

Sometimes me and my friend Mike will slip into a vortex of movie quotes. The easiest for us are probably the Will Ferrell movies Talladega Nights and Step Brothers. So sit back and scroll to the bottom! Enjoy!  Continue reading “Talladega Nights – Step Brothers Shenanigans”

Crazy Dreams

Good day readers, bipeds and people who ride those oversized tricycles!

Today is literally, Wednesday, October 4th. It is not the morning time but somewhere in the early afternoon of the Central Time Zone from a US (United States) perspective. For those that listened to my Freak Show podcast on the Podbean app from this morning – thank you. And if you haven’t yet, please check it out!

If you did listen to me earlier, you may have caught me yawning once or twice. There was no Facebook live but just the audio from the in-car session. At that time I was recording, I had not yet switched over my car insurance but as of now I have. Hey, saving 28 bucks a month is saving 28 bucks! If you are anticipating a Segway from that to what I dreamed about, relax, I did not dream about saving a bunch of money on my car insurance. To be frank, it wasn’t simply one dream but like 6 or 7 fragmented dream sketches. I did not say Sketchers, we are not selling any shoes here.

OK I’m back. Sorry about that lag in between paragraphs. I was texting with Jeremy, whom I do the Sports Stalkers podcast with; he wants to go to the WWE Live event coming to St Louis.

Back to the dream couch for analysis: In one of the disjointed sleep episodes I was trapped on a football field with a bunch of strangers. The grass on the field was pretty dead and around the perimeter of the football field was a pretty substantial canyon or gulf. People were trying to jump to the canyon floor but many were breaking their legs or getting caught in quicksand. I tried to drive someone’s SUV down an embankment that didn’t look as severe. About halfway down, a bunch of people jumped on the vehicle and it started to go sideways and eventually tipped over. I exited the vehicle, after it stopped rolling over, through the area that was the windshield (the windshield had just fallen out). Going through the windshield was necessary because the doors would not open and the battery died so I could not roll down the windows. At this point I was pretty stressed out and it was getting dark. I couldn’t see past the top of the embankment and all the people were now gone. On the far embankment to leave the canyon, there was a knotted thick rope leading to the top. I ran to the rope and tried to pull myself up but I guess the top was not secured to anything because the rope was pulling over the edge about as fast as I could climb it. <<Break>>

At this point I started awake for whatever reason. This was about 2:30am or so. There were 3-4 other mini-dreams before this but I don’t remember the details. Eventually I fell back asleep and…

I was standing in a parking lot of some closed mall or something. There were tons of cars everywhere but the building(s) were all dark and no one was around. The only light was moonlight and it glared off many of the vehicles. For the most part the cars and trucks all appears to be new or at least recently washed. The pockets of my jeans were empty. No phone, no wallet, no keys, no money – nothing! I was wearing a blank white t-shirt which is highly unusual and someone else’s shoes with light up soles when I walked. There was a cold breeze and I was panicked because I was late for something. There was a horrible, tight feeling in my chest, like when I was a kid and got lost in a corn field. Whenever the wind would die down I kept hearing a noise. It might have been someone calling my name from very far away or an animal or something. I tried to go towards the sound but the wind would pick up or a loud sound would come from the building(s) and echo for a bit. After a while I tracked the sound to one of the buildings. The windows were tinted and it was dark so I couldn’t really see anything inside except random light blurs. I knocked on a window and the wind stopped. The sound stopped. Nothing moved and a cloud covered the moon so it was totally dark as well. Something smacked against the window hard and I retreated until I fell over a muffler that was now on the ground by me. The cloud left the moon and I could see the old, rusted muffler that I tripped over. Right next to the window I knocked on was a door and that door was wide open. In that moment, I was pretty terrified with what this might mean and I took off. I ran along the parking lot while trying to look between the cars to see if anyone or anything was there. During one of these moments I was looking between the cards, I ran into a parked ambulance. Getting up off the ground, my arm was now bleeding.  I could not hear anything and my instincts told me to climb on top of the ambulance. With only one good, arm, I awkwardly scaled the hood and made my way to the top. Something or someone rammed into the back of the ambulance and I almost fell off the side. But when I looked down the back, there was nothing there. All of a sudden, the two driver’s side tires blew out and I started to fall / slide over the edge…<<Break>>

Once again, I flopped awake and it was like 4:08 or 4:09am. My eyes were a bit itchy and blurry so I am not 100% sure. After that I laid there for a while and listened to the normal house noises, I fell back asleep. If I dreamed anything further, I do not remember.

So for all the amateur dream interpreters out there, what do you think these two dream snippets mean?

Happy Hump Day to all and to all an enjoyable remaining 27 days of October.

Peace.

The Lowest Bidder

Good Morning and Happy Hump Day!

It is amusing for me to reflect on ‘water cooler’ conversations amongst friends or co-workers. A co-worker, who has a military service background, was discussing a recent plane crash with another co-worker. He was recalling that for some air drills the pilots would remind their human cargo that the planes they were traveling in were built by the lowest bidder. That simultaneously struck my funny bone and also sent a shiver down my spine. I laughed because somewhere along the line I remember some forgotten movie where a character spoke these exact words. But then the gravity of the truth of that statement was like a bucket of cold water against my unsuspecting back.

This is the world we live in today. Your plane, your car, your phone, you shoes, your pooper-scooper – nearly everything you use or come into contact with is produced by a company that is operating on the cheapest principal. Based on the minimum specifications and the materials needed, everything is factored on lowest cost to be profitable on the back end the quickest. According to the Google machine, the average cost of a 737 commercial airplane is somewhere between $51.5 – $87 million dollars. That is for a single plane. Doing a little rough math, if you figure a plane has 300 seats and you charge $100 per seat (or 100 seats @ $300 each works too), it would take 1,717 trips (using single flight, non-stop for simplicity) at full capacity to pay just for that one airplane at the low end of that cost spectrum. This of course is not taking into consideration: fuel, staff, maintenance on the mechanical parts, wear and tear on the interior, unforeseen damage repair (interior/exterior), inventory, safety accessories, cleaning and inspections et al. Now obviously some airlines charge more and that would factor in the number of trips needed to ‘break even’ on the cost of the plane but you can, in a narrow view, see how the economics play out and the need to minimize costs.

Take a look at your own daily life. If you own a vehicle, chances are you financed it and pushed for the best deal (cheapest in most cases) based on your available finances. In addition to the down payment (if any) and sales tax (if applicable), you now have to contend with a monthly payment, the periodic fuel needed, oil changes, scheduled maintenance (if following the recommended schedule set forth by the vehicle manufacturer), unscheduled maintenance and a plethora of other associated expenses with owning a vehicle (registration, emissions, parking/city permits, etc.). Whether you are looking at a product expense from the viewpoint of a CEO or just as an individual, the cost is just one piece of your financial puzzle. Usually people in an average income position are skewing toward the less expensive bottom line so that it leaves more dollars (or enter your host country’s currency here) for other facets of daily life and/or operating expenses.

Moving from the topic of flying in an airplane that was made by the lowest bidder, the co-workers veered into politics and Trump bashing. I’m not going to validate or rebut any of their arguments about Donald Trump’s alleged sanity but I will take some umbrage with their generalization that ‘people who voted for Trump are ignorant and racist’. Are some of the people who voted for Donald Trump ignorant and racist? Sure. Statistically speaking it’s almost a certainty. But for that measure so are some of the people who voted for Hillary Clinton. These co-workers missed the irony of their statement. In saying what they said about those voters (that they are ignorant and racist), it in turn showed that they were also guilty of at least being ignorant.

How many people in this country, or any country for that matter, have had grandparents or great grandparents? Now of those who have had grandparents and/or great grandparents, how many of you have heard them speak or convey something along racial lines that is just a stereo-type or vulgar with no valid reason? I’m raising my hand. I had grandparents and more than one of them spoke about people of a darker skin tone. They threw out generalizations and used racially derogatory names to describe the darker skinned people. That was them, not me. Were they a bit racist? Honestly I would say so but that doesn’t make me a racist because I have their blood inside me. But these people who call Donald Trump a racist (he may or may not be one) and also say the same about all of his supporters because they support him, pardon me but that is bull hockey. I like baseball and support the product on the field by watching streamed games and going to stadiums but that does not make me a professional baseball player. Heck there are people inside baseball stadiums who do not even like baseball (parents who brought their kids, stadium workers, engineers, security, etc.) but someone somewhere would say that baseball stadiums are full of nothing but baseball fans. If I haven’t mentioned before I hate speaking in absolutes!

Obviously I am using some liberal examples to make my point here but society likes to bully public opinion to win their cause. No one wants to use good old common sense anymore. If you’re not first, you’re last and no one wants to be last. Everyone, no matter how big a loser they are, wants to be a winner. Everything seems to have devolved from having multiple opinions and ideas seen as a good thing, to now there has to be a clear cut right (answer) and everything else is wrong no matter how close it may be to the ‘right’ answer or idea or solution.

Sorry about that. Got up on Ye Old Soapbox and started rabbling to the messes, er…masses. Just a little virtual tap on the shoulder to remind you; whether you are traveling on a train, subway, airplane, taxi/Uber, rickshaw, ski lift or what-have-you…someone probably fashioned it as cheaply as they could afford. And chances are it is in need of or overdue for maintenance. So good luck and may today not be the day that the buck stops with you.

As a side note from your favorite blogger (making a bit of an assumption here), it goes to show that even smart people can be ignorant. Do not pigeon hole people just because they do not think exactly like you do. There was a world leader for Germany in the 1940’s who wanted everyone to think alike and look alike. Aside from being a moustache icon…not too many people speak highly of him today. Keep thinking outside the box and for the love of Pete (Rose I’m assuming) please stop bemoaning the Trump/Clinton election outcome.

Peace.

Turning the Clock Back…

Peace.

Sometimes to solve a problem or unravel a mystery you need to start at the end and work backwards. With that premise, I have started this post with my traditional ending: Peace.

Now to channel my inner Scooby Doo. The good episodes -not that crap with Scrappy Doo and Scooby Dee- where the gang traveled around the country with unlimited gas money and never stopping to use an ATM. What source or sources did the ‘gang’ draw their funds from? Did any of them have a shellfish allergy? That last question is irrelevant but something that I often wondered about while watching the show and saw no real evidence to the answer. But if I was a betting man, I would have put money on Daphne. Not much, like a dollar.

So back to the mystery. In life there are societal things where across the board legalities are allowed. For example, legal drinking age at 21. Able to vote at age 18. Eligible to drive at 16. Smoking at 18 if desired. Entry into ‘adult’ entertainment venues at 21…I guess for the liquor provision. Cannot own a handgun or purchase ammunition under the age of 18 (CCW in Missouri is age 21). And the list of other restricted can do’s goes on…

Much of this I think is based on high school as a rite of passage. Obviously we do not want kids in the early years of high school showing up in their own car with a Playstation realistic handgun in a holster as they sip some vodka while Joe Camel peeks out from their shirt pocket.  Way too many hormones churning the waves of a spectrum of emotions to trust good judgement for some of the things mentioned above. Heck, there’s “adults” walking around who shouldn’t be trusted with guns, alcohol, vehicles or the power to vote. Just being honest. But the masses have spoken and agree that all you have to do is successfully survive on the planet for 6574 days to get access to smokes, a firearm and the right to choose your preferred idiot to run the country (let’s be honest, anyone running for president is an idiot). And then at day 7666, everything else is yours for the having except government office. For those you need to be at least 25 years old and in the case of the office of president or vice president you need to be 35 (only 30 to be a senator!).

If you are scratching your head trying to figure out where I am heading with the above stipulations and benchmarks, I will tell you.

At what point did things change from being a kid who pretty much couldn’t do anything without getting permission or a ride to go do something to being a full blown adult? Did the history book and the learning about James Madison’s War of 1812 secretly stick a pin in the balloon of childhood? What about getting behind the wheel of a car for the first time with your heart hammering in your chest with excitement and fear? Now it’s telling the little one in the backseat to buckle in so we can go. It’s crazy I tell you…crazy. So many experiences, good and bad, that tempered the person who is now free to do so many things in today’s world, only being bound by imagination and budget (for the most part).

I scroll through my Facebook friends, some jog the clock back farther than others, and it is hard to fathom. Clicking on a name and I am that pudgy awkward kid hanging around with my best friend, wondering if his mom really does cut his hair using a soup bowl.  A few slow blinks and the hazy memory dissipates like smoke in the wind. Time waits for no one which is good if you are waiting for something I guess. You don’t have to be too patient to get what you want, just don’t blink or you might miss it.

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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.

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.

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.