Scenes From The Bus Routes

I usually don’t like going out in the middle of the week, but Monday the weather looked more gloomy than it actually was.  Yesterday, we had a squall line move through.  With bills to pay on March 1, and today being February 27th, it was pretty much now or never.

Taking the bus over to the northwest corner of Park Boulevard and 49th Street from near my home, I discover that the PSTA bus driver needed help with all the nooks and crannies of the bus route he was on, the number of which I’m leaving out because he seemed a decent man.  Plus, I don’t know if his lack of knowledge of the bus route was his fault or the PSTA’s, or a combination of both.  Lucky for him, I had the route bookmarked on my Blackberry and was able to help him out, and he was very grateful.

Once my trip to the Bank Of America’s ATM machine was completed, it was on to another bus briefly to get to the Shoppes At Park Place (which used to be the Pinellas Square Mall before it was reconstructed into an open-air shopping center), and then back home using the same bus I had initially used.  At Park Place, there was a woman who had the appearances of having Down’s Syndrome trying to connect from one bus route to the other, with that other bus taking off before she could get on it.  She loudly yelled “HEY!” several times so loud it probably shook the windows of the shopping complex, if not the bus she was disembarking from.  The driver on her connecting route swung around to get her, and the woman looked as though she was verbally abusive to the driver upon boarding.

Me, I would have been happy just to have been able to make my connection.  But I suppose different people have different priorities.

The Bore Snore Awards

They probably shouldn’t hold the Daytona 500 and the Academy Awards on the same day.  I had no interest in the Oscars after watching the 500 on Sunday.

I always found the disconnect of the Academy Awards interesting.  They hold this four hour long show on television filled with awards and acceptance speeches with a time limit.  And if a lesser known category winner goes more than 30 seconds with his or her speech, cue the orchestra, and get those idiots off the stage.

No surprise to me Daniel Day-Lewis won a record third Best Actor award for his work in Lincoln.  The guy is a talent.  They should probably just hand him an Oscar every time he makes a film, and be done with it.

There’s talk in the media of film becoming a dying industry.  I somewhat agree, although I feel TV is on life support more than film is.  Even cable television is on its last legs with on-demand TV and film services such as Netflix around.  And just like the dinosaurs, if the older forms of entertainment don’t adapt, they will be in the same heap with all of those VHS tapes laying around somewhere.

Can Danica Do It?

History was made yesterday during Pole qualifying for next week Daytona 500. For the first time in NASCAR history, a woman procured the fastest qualifying speed and will start the biggest race in NASCAR during the year with a lead.

People are already asking: can Danica Patrick pull it off next week? What casual fans of NASCAR have to remember is that qualifying and an actual race are two totally different animals. In a race there are other factors that have to be taken in account for, such as a quality pit crew, and how a driver interacts with traffic.

However, what Danica has going for her is that Daytona, one of the fastest tracks in NASCAR, can be a total crapshoot. With restrictor plates in place, and the drivers reliant on drafting to stay together, anything can happen.

It will be simply a matter of whether or not lady luck can find the lady.

Step Away From The Phone!

I actually had about a good ten day stretch where I didn’t get any telemarketing calls.  But I knew it wouldn’t last, as I’ve received two calls over the past 24 hours.

One was from what I believe one of these ACLU fronts I had mentioned back on January 10th.  If you say no to one branch of this organization, they send you to another branch.  And on it goes until they, in a literal sense, hold you upside down and wait for the bills to fall out of your pocket.

A few new tips I’d like to throw out there, because I’m good like that:

If you don’t know who is calling you, and you have the caller ID, take the number of who called and type it into Google.  It should be apparent to you from the various searches who is a telemarketer and who is a wrong number or maybe a distant relative.

If you have a cell phone, call them back.  If you get a live human voice on the other end, hang up.  Hey, they play games with us.  Why not play back at them?  They expect passivity out of you, so why give them what they want?  Give them what YOU want.

Today, I get a call from one of these “lower your interest” scamsters.  They say this is my second and final notice about lowering my interest rates, even though it’s the first call I’ve gotten from a specific number.  They usually give you the option to hit “1” to speak to a live rep, and “3” to get on their do not call list.

After spending some time doing research, hitting “3” is the worst thing you can do, because this organization just passes your phone number to another twig in the branch, and some time later you’re getting these calls again.

So what I do is hit “1” and as soon as someone picks up, I put the phone down and walk away.  I grab a bottle of water in the garage, make my bed, go to the bathroom and Windex the mirrors.  By the time they figure out you’re not there, they’ve wasted time so that other callers on their list don’t get called, so you have anonymously done someone in the country a favor.

If everyone did this and took that little bit of time to fight back, these companies would be at our mercy.  And sooner or later, they’ll realize that you’re an agitator and leave you one.  They might not got the message right away, but sooner or later, they will submit to our will.

State Of The Union 2013

It was 1997 all over again last night.  Sixteen years ago, President Clinton gave his annual State Of The Union address, the first of his second and final term as president.  But on the night, the verdict of the O.J. Simpson civil trial was announced, so part of the country watched the President, another part awaited the verdict.

Last night, the news stations were beaming footage from the area around Big Bear, California, where suspect Christopher Dorner was allegedly holed up in a cabin.  The cabin in question was burnt down by order of the local police (captured live by a viewer of one of the LA stations, KCAL) with Dorner allegedly inside.  Everyone is under the assumption that Dorner was killed as some point yesterday, but as of the time of this blog entry, that has yet to be confirmed.

Anyway, for those of you who missed the President’s speech, I thought I’d post it and let you watch it for yourselves.

A Pope Resigns

Pope Benedict XVI, the first Pope in 599 years to resign as the pontiff.
Pope Benedict XVI, the first Pope in nearly 600 years to resign as the pontiff.

It’s not even noon yet, but this day of February 11th, 2013 has proven historic.

The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI is an event that hasn’t occurred in six centuries.  The last pontiff to do so, Pope Gregory XII, did so in 1415 when there were multiple claims of the papacy.

Personally, I think this is a good thing.  Why do pontiffs have to wait around to pass on before their days come to an end? Joseph Ratzinger made a historic choice not to, and for that I salute him.  He will likely live to see his successor surpass him, something that’s only happened once.

Pope Benedict XVI had big shoes to fill in 2005 when Pope John Paul II died.  He’s served for just under eight years, and served the papacy well.

My mind is already wondering who the next Pope may be.  There’s never been a Pope from North or South America, yet three of the leading dozen or so candidates are from the New World.  Another leading candidate is from Ghana, who would be the first black Pope in a millennium and a half.  It’ll prove to be a most interesting conclave, when it convenes in the near future.

The Vegas Show

June 2, 1996 was the first day I had ever spent in Las Vegas, Nevada.  I traveled cross-country on a Greyhound bus for two days from Marietta, Georgia where my mom was living at the time with her boyfriend.  It would be the first of three Greyhound trips I’ve taken my life, and I can honestly say I wouldn’t recommend it.  You get to see a lot of the country up close and personal that way, but all that non-stop travel doesn’t give you time to take a shower or stay reasonably hygienic.  It’s good for short trips, not long hauls.

I was lucky enough to get a room at the nearby Plaza Hotel for $30 that Sunday night.  After showering and watching an NBA playoff game that night that put the Seattle Supersonics into the finals that year against Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls, I went walking around downtown.  Even early in the evening, the dry heat of Las Vegas felt as if someone left a giant hair dryer over your head, moving with you wherever you went.  Walking down the canopied Fremont Street Experiences, a rounded up a nice steak dinner over at Fitzgerald’s, an Irish themed hotel and casino which is now called The D.

When I headed back to the Plaza, I noticed some stage show was getting ready to begin, so I bought a ticket at the spur of the moment.  Didn’t hurt that you get a free beer to go along with the show.  But what I didn’t realize, and quickly came to grips with as the show began, was this was an R-rated show, as I had a front row seat to six shapely showgirls showing their bare backsides to the crowd, and eventually their breasts as well.

I did not think this was necessarily a bad thing.

Anyways, Las Vegas didn’t work out for me.  It wouldn’t when I visited town again four years later.  Sure, I have dreams of living there again if I ever win the lottery.  But I ever move west again, Phoenix is just as likely to be my new destination.  The one problem with living in Las Vegas is that casinos are everywhere, and if you have spare time, you find yourself there much too often.  At this juncture of my life, I’d rather not bleed money to the nearby gambling joints unless I had an abundance of it.

The Night The Lights Went Out At The Super Bowl

The 47th Super Bowl was held last night at the Louisiana Superdome.  I dare say New Orleans will not host another Super Bowl as long as the aging domed structure hosts the New Orleans Saints or other big football games of importance.

For those of you outside of the USA, let me explain what happened.  The Baltimore Ravens had opened up a 21-6 lead on the San Francisco 49ers after the first half, and then expanded that lead to 28-6 when Jacoby Jones ran the kickoff to start the second half back 108 yards for a touchdown, which set a new Super Bowl record for the longest scoring play in the history of the event.  Announcers originally thought that the return was 109 yards, which would have been an all-time NFL record and the longest scoring play humanly possible in a football game, but the statisticians reviewed the play and determined it only went a mere 108 yards.

A few minutes later, most of the lighting inside the Superdome went out, delaying the game 34 minutes.  It was essentially a halftime break right after a halftime break.  It was a moment unprecedented in Super Bowl history, although power outages and delays for bad weather have occurred in NFL games before.

The outage also had a dramatic impact on the rest of the game, as the 49ers got hot.  Their deficit of 28-6 was trimmed to 31-29 with about ten minutes left to play, before a long Baltimore drive netted a FG to put the Ravens ahead 34-29.  Late in the game, with Baltimore deep in their own end and not wanting to give San Francisco a chance at a miraculous score to win the Lombardi Trophy, the Ravens opted to give the 49ers two points with the rarely used intentional safety.

And I did something I very rarely do: venture out of my home to watch the big game.  The last time I did that, oddly enough, was when I went to the Super Bowl to watch Super Bowl XXV in 1991.  Call me wacky if you want, but I like to watch what goes on with the game.  I don’t really get all wound up with the halftime show nor the commercials nor the oodles of hours of the pre-game shows.  Just show me the game.  But I’m glad I went to a party this year with the extra break time the power outage gave us.

Once in a while, it’s good to break your conditioning.  Glad I did.

House Of Cards

Just got done watching the first episode of House Of Cards, which I thought was pretty good.  What makes this TV series so unusual is that all thirteen episodes were released to the Netflix streaming video service, which I believe is a first.

This is probably going to be the future of television as we know it.  TV when we want, watching what we want, without having to put a lot of thought into the process.  No setting VCR’s or DVR’s.

The series is about a corrupt congressman, played by Kevin Spacey, with Robin Wright as his wife and Kate Mara as a fledgling DC reporter, looking for that first big story.  Always liked Kate’s work back from when she played the bi-curious girlfriend of Matt McNamara on Nip/Tuck.

Give it a try if you have time this Super Bowl weekend.

Oh, who do I like in the Super Bowl?  I think the 49ers will win the game, but taking the Ravens and the 3.5 to 4 points they’re getting wouldn’t be a bad play.

And waiter, could I order a Super Bowl that goes to overtime this year?  Want to see one of those before I die.  Not that I’m planning on doing so anytime soon.