All Sports Are Merely Entertainment

My attitudes are changing towards the sports world.

I was reminded of that watching the Arizona-Wisconsin regional final Saturday night. The Wildcats had a chance to win the game in the overtime period, but the officials decided that would be a good time to call an offensive foul that’s rarely, if ever, called in potential game-winning situation. It would certainly not have been called that way in the NBA, where usually the players are allowed to decide outcomes of specific games.

Later that night, there was I guess what you could call a small riot in Tucson, Arizona, as angry Wildcat fans voiced their displeasure. I’m not saying that this is the right thing to do by any means…I merely am saying that’s what happened.

Recently, I read a book on Kindle called “The Fix Is In” by Brian Tuohy, and I recommend it to all sports fans. It was written a few years ago, and it brilliantly explains how sports can be manipulated, if not fixed. It also explains one very important point: while it is illegal for teams or athletes to attempt to rig games, there’s nothing to prevent the sports leagues themselves from doing the same thing.

When Mark Cuban says, for instance, that the NFL may implode within ten years, I wouldn’t doubt it. Yes, he is an NBA owner who often gets in trouble by making allegations the league chooses to fine him for. With CBS augmenting its NFL football package to add Thursday night games on top of its Sunday afternoon contests, the day is getting closer (I feel) for the NFL to be embroiled in a major scandal in its near future.

The fans can make it academic by stop going to the games, but in doing so, you ask for fans to shun what they love. Not very realistic that something like that will happen. We’ll just have to prepare for the repercussions once they come, or if they ever do.

Homestead

I was just shy of six years old when I visited the Florida Keys on a summer vacation in 1977 with my parents and a couple of friends of theirs, staying in Marathon, Florida to be precise.

I don’t think I-75 had been built all the way to the east coast of Florida by ’77 (which makes sense, because the Pinellas portion of I-275 wasn’t built all the way until the mid-1980’s) so my parents drove down to the Keys via Orlando and the Florida Turnpike all night one Saturday evening. Most of the time, I slept in this van which belonged to a friend of my dad’s, and I remember being awakened somewhere on the road to have breakfast early on a Sunday morning.

As we got closer and closer to our destination, I noticed that we crossed this town called Homestead that, of course, was south of Miami and was impacted heavily by Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

Somehow, I got Homestead and “home instead” mixed up. Hey, give me a break, I was five years old and was a proud graduate of kindergarten.

I asked, “You mean, we’re back home?”

Keep Your Eye On The Ball

While we are all still watching in the events of the missing Malaysian airliner in the Indian Ocean…keep your eye on the Russia.

I’m looking at the news (on Sunday night as I type this), and I’m seeing that the Russians now want OTHER pieces of the Ukraine for their own.

What the heck happened to “All we want is Crimea?”

Just saying.

Have a good Monday, everybody.

The Art Of Hen Pecking

Striking a pose with my IPhone, from December 9, 2013.
Striking a pose with my IPhone, from December 9, 2013.

My mother wanted to get an IPhone yesterday morning, so she brought along an expert to make sure she didn’t get taken advantage of: me.

By the time we got to the Verizon store here in Pinellas Park, there were more people working there (three) then they had customers (two). They show her an IPhone 5c, let her pick out a plan, give her a screen protector and a nice case.

And this is where the fun begins. Instead of ringing her up and letting her go, the visit to Verizon becomes something resembling the Spanish Inquisition.

They show her a Samsung tablet. Not an IPad, but a Samsung tablet. She wasn’t interested.

They ask her about her home phone. They tell her they have a better plan. She wasn’t interested.

They ask about her cable. They tell her they have a better cable system via FIOS. She wasn’t interested.

You can see where this is going, right?

Not to be deterred, they tell her about a home security system. She wasn’t interested.

My mother is now shooting me exasperated looks, as if to say, “I just came in here to buy a new phone.”

I shoot her a look back as if to say, “I’m noticing this.”

Before they give her the IPhone and the accessories that come with it, they remind me that they have a special for those with other phone carriers if they switch over to Verizon. Namely, me.

And yes, I wasn’t interested, especially seeing how they treated my mom as if she had won the Powerball lottery.

Random Tips For Transcriptionists

hang-in-there-baby

As I was doing some transcription work yesterday, I was thinking of the following question: what would be good tips for anyone who wanted to get in the field.

The most important thing: get a foot pedal! Obviously, using your feet to listen frees up your hands to type.

The second most important thing: Express Scribe, or other software that can edit audio files to make them more hearable. Express Scribe is very friendly with most foot pedals, just plug it in, set it up, and go.

Quality headphones are also very important. I currently have Sennheiser over-your-head phones that I found on Amazon for $25. The earbuds and earphones that come with most smartphones, while reliable for your phone, don’t work all that well with transcription work, where the quality can sometimes not be up to snuff.  Improvise and overcome!

Don’t try to do a large file in one sitting. Be sure to take breaks every hour or so. I usually take a ten minute break every hour, but if the breaks interfere with deadlines, take a 15 minute break every two hours, or less. But at least take five minutes an hour to get coffee, soft drinks, do house chores, whatever you feel your need to. Even short breaks can refresh the mind.

The way I transcribe is to listen to about five words or a couple of seconds at a time, type the words out, and repeat the process until I’m finished.

Once you’re done, play the audio file again, and read along with what you’ve typed. When you find errors, stop, correct, and move on.

Don’t let words you can’t hear and can’t understand take up a lot of time. With Rev, I mark these events as [inaudible] or [crosstalk], or I give a phonetic spelling. Try and catch these words on the second pass, and don’t let them take up any more than a minute or so.  It’s more important to get a “rough draft” on paper than anything else, psychologically.

Lastly, if you work somewhere where you’re being graded, don’t let rough starts get you down. When I started doing this a few months ago, I knew a lot less than I know now. Unless you have prior experience, you’re going to make mistakes merely because you may not realize the errors you make.

Success on your journey if you decide this path for yourself.

The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread

As I type this, I’m listening to a spring training game between the Minnesota Twins and the Tampa Bay Rays via the Major League Baseball’s At Bat 14 IPhone app off of WDAE (620 The Sports Animal) in Tampa.

But I’m not listening by my IPhone, I’m listening to the MLB Gameday Audio system which you can punch up on the computer. That was the one thing that kept me from pulling the trigger on this earlier, figuring out if At Bat and Gameday Audio were interchangeable.  MLB’s website really didn’t make that point clear as I poured through the data, so when I get At Bat 14 a couple of weeks ago, I punched up a random game on the computer, and sure enough it worked that way.  In fact, the audio service works better on the computer, because you can listen to games from earlier in the day on a stream if you so choose, whereas with At Bat you’re limited to live games.

Some of you are no doubt wondering why I didn’t get the TV package. Well, it’s a great service, but at $20 a month it seemed a bit pricey to me, considering you can get video on Netflix for a given month at just $8.66 a month, plus the service isn’t available as abundantly as Netflix is.

However, I do think there’s a future in the “Netflixation” of sports. The WWE launched a package recently where you can watch any wrestling pay-per-view of note dating back to the early 1980’s. I’m sure other sports will follow suit, offering classic games, fights, and so forth dating back through the decades. I can also see this replacing the expensive venture of 24/7 networks covering one sport, and the $50 to $60 some fight circuits charge for one night’s worth of fights.

If you are a sports fan, your future looks a little brighter.

The Foot Pedal

Balancing a transcription foot pedal on my right lap.  March 17, 2014.
Balancing a transcription foot pedal on my right lap. (Which I did so the photo would have more light.) March 17, 2014.

A transcriptionist without a foot pedal is like a doctor without a stethoscope, or so it is said. Just don’t ask me who said it, I have no idea.

On Thursday, I ordered an Infinity foot pedal to aid in my transcribing work. I wasn’t supposed to get until March 20th, but yet I woke up and checked my Amazon order page this morning and noticed the package was in Tampa, meaning it would be here most likely today.

Funny how some things you order in the mail by Amazon get here faster than other things.

It would be delivered by USPS as they made their usual mail rounds today, or so I thought. As I usually tend to do when I know a package is coming, I sit in the living room by the front door window right next to the mailbox.

At 3:30 or so on this stormy Monday, the mailman makes his pass, and just delivers the usual mail. Curses! Did he deliver my package to the wrong address? My mind is racing as to what on Earth happened with the anxiousness of a child awaiting his/her Christmas morning gifts from Santa Claus via their parents. But a little less than an hour later, I hear the knock on my door.

“You’ve got a package!”, the mailman said, for which I thanked him for.

I turned on my HP computer, plugged it in to my USB port, and voila! The pedal works well with the Express Scribe software I purchased a week and a half ago.

Hopefully business picks up now with the pedal in my possession.  I’m giving things about a month before I decide whether or not to stick with this or try other avenues of revenues. I have big plans for the remainder of 2014.

Which Way Did It Go?

Like many of you this week, I’ve been paying attention to the news events surround a Malaysian flight that’s been missing or has crashed a week ago.

I’d give you the latest developments, but one, the story keeps changing, and two, I wrote this story for release on Saturday morning at 7pm Friday night.

(EDIT: Late word, as of 12:45am Saturday morning, is that the Malaysian government now believes the plane was hijacked.)

For several days, I was pretty sure that the plane suffered a sudden cabin depressurization like the 1999 plane crash that killed Payne Stewart. Now, I’m not so sure about that. Then again, the way the story has been breathlessly (and some may say exploitatively) carried on the cable news outlets like CNN, how can anyone be sure of anything?

This is one of those occasions I would NOT want to be working in the media, as this particular story may be one of the most complex events in the news since the Apollo moon landings. It’s also intriguing how the media scoffs at conspiracy theories and theorists, but yet what we’ve seen the past week could be considered a series of theories.

I hope this story gets resolved soon, and I hope the families either get their closure or maybe even one of the great miracles of all time. But I’m resigned to the fact that this story could take months or even years to resolve.

Flashback Friday: “Holding Out For A Hero” by Bonnie Tyler

This Friday, we come back to one of my favorite artists of the 1980’s, and this is my favorite song of Bonnie’s that made me a fan of hers for life.  It was also the first 45 I ever owned at the age of twelve, picking it up at the old Peaches records store across the street from the then enclosed Clearwater Mall.

I guess you can say it was one of those “you had to be there” moments of pop culture.  And if the opening sounds familiar, Steinman used it himself on a song he did called “Stark Raving Love” a few years prior back in 1981 on his “Bad For Good” album, which was the same album “Rock And Roll Dreams Come True” appears on.  That tune scored Steinman his biggest hit, and Meatloaf a top-20 hit twelve years later in 1993.

I remember hearing ads for the Footloose soundtrack, starring rock n’ roll loving Kevin Bacon who sets a small midwest town on its ear by committing the sacrilege of listening to rock music, much to the chargin of the minister played brilliantly by John Lithgow.

This song was supposed to be the centerpiece of the soundtrack garnering tons of media publicity, with Tyler appearing in a David Copperfield special to promote the would-be hit.  In the movie, the song revolved around a game of automotive chicken played in dueling tractors.  Thirty years ago this month (or thereabouts) this song entered the top 40, but fizzled in the 30’s after a few weeks.  It wound up being Bonnie Tyler’s last top 40 hit to date, though she continues to do well in other parts of the globe.

Have a good weekend, which we’ll hopefully be all here for.  With Mr. Putin around, you never know.