2016 Predictions!

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For those of you that have started following this blog in 2015 (and thank you so much for doing so), I have this thing I do every year, either on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day where I give predictions for the year ahead. Right now, I’m on a bit of a hot streak, having nailed at least one prediction in 2014 (Seattle over Denver in the Super Bowl that year), and again in 2015 (Mayweather over Pacquiao in the big prizefight of the year).

So here we go with predictions in 10 “areas” for the coming year.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Some of you are not going to like this first one, but not even his crazy commentary at times will be able to stop Donald Trump’s ascent to the President, as he easily beats a politically weakened Hillary Clinton in the fall and becomes the 45th US President. A weaker economy and ongoing terrorist acts pave the way for the Donald on his march to DC.

ECONOMIC SLOWDOWN: Much as was the case in 2008, there will be a brief but deep panic over the US economy that plays a big role into the coming elections. Stock markets will tumble a bit, unemployment figures will sharply rise by year’s end with a lot of people worried about what a Trump presidency will mean to them.

CUBS WIN IT ALL: The biggest sports story of the year is that the Chicago Cubs beat the New York Yankees in five games, spawning off massive celebrations at Wrigley Field. It’ll be their first World title since 1908, with Joe Maddon a unanimous choice for Manager of the Year honors.

SUDDEN DEATH AT THE SUPER BOWL: The New England Patriots shock the world by upsetting the heavily favored Arizona Cardinals (who themselves upset Carolina in Charlotte for the NFC title two weeks prior) 41-38 in overtime to win Super Bowl 50. The Patriots trailed the Cardinals 38-17 in the fourth quarter before Tom Brady leads the great comeback in what will be regarded as the greatest Super Bowl of all time.

BRADY RETIRES, (SO DOES GOODELL), AND BECOMES A BROADCASTER: A few weeks after the game, Tom Brady decides to retire on top, becoming an analyst for ESPN on Monday Night Football with Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden.

At the NFL Draft, cameras catch Roger Goodell and a woman (who’s later revealed to be the widow of a former NFL player) in a spirited exchange over the ongoing concussions issue, with Goodell being dismissive of the issue not knowing cameras were running.

A noted second-tier broadcaster of NFL games retires, much like Howard Cosell stopped doing boxing in 1982, citing concerns for the well being of NFL athletes and that the league isn’t doing enough to protect players regarding concussions.

REALITY FADING: With American Idol leaving the air this year, two CBS staples, Survivor and Big Brother, also announce that their series will be ending by the end 2020, with BB making plans for their 20th season in 2018 to be their farewell.

THE NEXT BIG THING: Melissa McCarthy of Mike And Molly fame becomes a rapidly rising media mogul, launching a daily hour long talk show that becomes an instant hit while also drawing continued criticism of “selling out” the overweight community which proves to be a bit more hype than real.

WILD, WACKY WEATHER: The unusual weather pattern of 2015/16 continues, with areas of Texas through the Carolinas getting more snow than what the Midwest normally gets. Hurricane season will be another yawner, as 2015 was.

OTHER SPORTS PREDICTIONS: Alabama beats Oklahoma to win the national championship, while the Warriors beat Cleveland in four straight to repeat as NBA champs. Chicago again reigns on the ice, beating the Florida Panthers to win the Stanley Cup. Ronda Rousey easily beats Holly Holm in their much anticipated UFC rematch by submission in less than 90 seconds. The US dominates the 2016 Olympics in Rio, with Brazil finishing third in medals behind Russia for their best Olympic Games ever. In soccer, England wins the 2016 European championships by stunning heavily favored Spain.

JUST ONE MORE THING: A woman wins the 2016 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas in November.

Happy New Year!

Slices From 2015

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Prince Harry wishes you a Happy Meow Year…

As the year of 2015 winds down, I’d thought I’d share the best blog entries from the year gone by. Some of these I know you liked, some of these I know I like, so hopefully this “clip show” blog entry can provide a happy medium.

And with that, my year of blogging is complete.  I’ve already put my next two blog entries into the system, but I think you’ll enjoy them.

Best wishes for all of you who have visited this year, and I hope I can keep you all coming back.

DVD-ROM Roulette

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Yep, got a haircut.  December 28, 2015.

Yesterday, it was off to Walmart for the quarterly haircut, or as I call it, borrowing a term from The Hunger Games, the Quarter Quell.

Afterward, I went over to the software section of this massive Walmart complex, and picked out some software. Namely, Sony Movie Studio 13. I’ve used an earlier version of it before on a trial basis a few years back, and thought it was good software, so I picked it up seeing it in the store.

When I got home and loaded up the software, and entered my code to the activate it, the oddest thing happened. It said my key code was invalid and that it would begin with a numerical-alphabet combination I didn’t have.

Thinking about it for a bit, I contacted that software people at Sony, and it turned out that I had the right box, but not the right disc. The disc had a platinum version of Sony Movie Studio that included DVD Architect, not the normal version I was supposed to have.

They directed me to download the correct software, and that got everything straightened out. The code worked, the program worked, and they will all live happily ever after, I hope.

Pauly The Public Address Announcer

One of the things I got to do after graduating high school was public address announcing for my alma mater of Largo High School. I called football, basketball, and soccer, mainly girls soccer. (Yep, I saw back in the late 1980’s that women’s soccer would be a big thing someday. Plus, one of my neighbors was one of the school’s best soccer players. “Nostrapauly” strikes again!)

I enjoyed football and basketball the most, truth be told. I tried to incorporate my personality into what I was doing, and some people loved it. Others didn’t really like it all that much, and it somehow got me a bit of a reputation.

One winter night in early 1989, one of the basketball officials sought me out. Foolishly, I thought he was going to tell me I was doing a good job at the PA mike. Well, sometimes in life you don’t get the right read of the situation in front of you, and this was going to be one of those times.

“You’re a PA announcer. You’re not doing a radio broadcast.”

What he didn’t explain to me was whether or not he was acting in any type of official capacity, or was he explaining to me what his personal preferences for me were. I guess he was afraid if he made a bad call, I’d stir up the crowd against him, and if he had asked me I would have told him that’s something I’d never do. Perhaps he already had in mind that calls against Largo were going to go a certain way, as opposed to calls for whoever our opponents were?

I had to stop doing the PA for the games abruptly. In 1990, I had a girlfriend who really didn’t like sports, and I also had a father who was in ill health who’d pass away in early 1991. I also had a radio job that had just gone bust at WTAN in October of ’90, and I had about a six week span of unemployment before I started working at Sun Radio Network in early December.

Occasionally as I look back, I feel bad about having left my duties so abruptly, but I couldn’t see myself doing the games all these years later.

A First For Everything

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Peeking over my Christmas gift, December 27th, 2015.

As I mentioned yesterday, sure enough, a mail truck came up to the door at 9am this morning. A Sunday morning. My gift of a 4TB external hard drive had arrived, replacing the one I had used for six years. Oddly enough, that was also a post-Christmas gift as well, getting that at the local Walmart in 2009.

The old hard drive will be saved and used as a emergency backup should anything go wrong with the new one. It had served me well over the years, but hard drives aren’t pieces of equipment you wait around to break before you replace them.

I told the mailman after thanking him, “This is the first time I’ve gotten mail on a Sunday.”

The mailman responded, “There’s a first time for everything.”

Right now, I’m taking the 400GB or so that I’d stored off of the hard drive of old, copying it onto the new hard drive. That’ll take a few hours. Then, I’m going to reassign it the letter “G” that I’d been using for the old drive, hoping to avoid having to re-load everything into ITunes.

Sunday is a good day for projects, and what better day to make a change than the last Sunday of the year?

Kids From 1 To 92

There are some Christmases in my life that I wish would last a bit longer. But sadly, the Christmas of 2015 wasn’t among them. At the end of the day, I was wishing time could move a little faster.

As some of you many have heard, it was the warmest Christmas Day Tampa has had in recorded weather history that dates back to 1890. The thermometer soared to 86 degrees, breaking the old record of 83 that’s been set a few times, lastly in 1984. I was reminded online that the Christmas of 1955 was even warmer, but with the western United States getting colder than normal weather (and Las Vegas getting snow), I couldn’t help but wonder if I was in the wrong place in both the literal and figurative sense.

I bought the Christmas gift for my mother well ahead of even Thanksgiving: a signed 8×10 picture of the late baseball great Duke Snider that I got off of Amazon, and a sturdy frame to go with it. She’s a bit of a collection enthusiast, though I’m partially in charge of the storage of said collection. She had a very large portrait of Duke that she keeps in her bedroom that takes up a lot of space, so now she has a “Little Duke” to go with the larger one.

Harry, my 7 year old tabby cat who I acquired from my landlord back in January, got a brand new water/meal bowl, plus a trip to Petco this past Monday for some nail care so that he’s not grabbing furniture with his claws every time I need to pick the little fella up.

As for me, I’m getting a new external hard drive for the computer which will arrive Sunday (yep, Sunday) in the mail. I’ve had the same 1TB drive since 2009, so this new 4TB drive took care of the most immediate need. I don’t want to come off as ungrateful (though I’m afraid I’m going to), but one of the options on the table, unbeknownst to me, was that I’d get some Christmas money, let’s just say it’s a three-digit sum with zeroes on the end. What I wasn’t told that by accepting the hard drive, that would come out of my allotment of cash. If I was fully aware of all of the options, I would have simply taken the money, but I can’t help but feel sandbagged on the deal, so I argued a bit with my Mom, who I felt was trying to provoke me.

When I argue, especially with family, I do not argue to win or lose. I argue to make my argument, and I let the chips fall where they may. With parents, either as a child or as an adult, losing arguments is something that’s just going to happen whether you like it or not. We worked out a compromise that I could use, and that settled the matter.

I spent a lot of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day watching stuff off of Netflix and a 30-day trial subscription to Amazon Prime. Watched some movies, and a series called The Man In The High Castle which is excellent from what I can tell two episodes into the first season.

But like the old Mac Davis song, happiness is this Christmas in my rear view mirror. Heck, if they all went the way I wanted them too, what would be the point, right?

Onward to what I think will be a better year in 2016.

My Christmases In Radio

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I had the honor (and I always thought of it as such) to work in radio either on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, sometimes both days. I did so five straight years from 1989 to 1993, hit an unemployed stretch in 1994, and was in the biz but had the nights off in 1995.

Christmas of 1989 really sticks out for me, because of the big freeze we had that gave the Tampa Bay area a teeny bit of snow flurries Christmas Eve morning. This aircheck off of WDAE (then at 1250 AM on the dial) mentions the unusual forecast that weekend. I had the midnight to 7am overnight shift at WTAN radio on the night of December 23rd and morning of the 24th, but this night, it presented a problem with freezing rain and sleet in the forecast that night. My shift didn’t start until midnight, but I arrived at 8:30 that night just in case the weather made travel impossible later on.

The guy running the board before me was throwing a decent sized party at the radio station (who had a nubile blonde girlfriend who seems interested in me, though she was spoken for), and without any real prep to do, I heavily imbibed on some Budweiser beer among other beverages. It was only the second time in my life to that point that I had gotten drunk, young teetotaler that I was. As midnight approached, it was time to run the WTAN board, which was only playing a set of cassette tapes in a proper sequence. I always had a digital timer on me, so while the tape played for 45 minutes or so, I slept it off, getting up in time to change sides and play commercials. That morning, I aired J.T. Gardner’s gospel show from 6am-7am, and I don’t think anyone was wise to my inebriation, thankfully.

The next four Christmases I worked at Sun Radio Network in either the Feather Sound studios in Clearwater, or after 1992, at the complex in St. Petersburg not too far from the Home Shopping Network. Instead of talk radio, we played Christmas songs from 6pm Christmas Eve all through Christmas Day off of half a dozen or so reel-to-reel tapes. I’d play the top of the hour news from UPI Radio, later the USA Radio Network, then right after it ended it was Christmas music wall to wall, no commercials. I’d cut away from the music ten seconds prior to the top of the hour, hit the news, cue up the next reel, and do it all over again.

I loved the hell out of it, and looked forward to the Christmas programming every year I ran the board. It was the easiest shifts of the year for me to do, and it was a guaranteed night of no hassles and a lot of fun. Every radio station that doesn’t play music ought to do this every year.

But that’s just my opinion.

Tomorrow, a little treat to help you get into the Christmas Spirit…the post is scheduled for 6pm US Eastern time Christmas Eve.

Airing Of A Grievance

Last night, I had to disassociate myself with someone on Facebook after I discovered they had uploaded a video of a dog being stoned to death in some Arab country.

Maybe I’m oversensitive to our animal friends, now that I’ve been a pet owner these past eleven months. However, I felt that the butchering of an animal really didn’t have any place on my timeline, and I’ll let Mr. Zuckerburg determine whether or not it has a place on Facebook by my reporting it, which is what I did.

A few months back, I was called a “drama queen” by a former friend who loved to accuse me of the very same things that she was either doing to me or was being. Actually, I don’t think this is true. I very rarely report things to higher authorities in my life via snitching, and if I do, I usually give the matter a lot of thought. But in my mind, last night was a no-brainer.

A lot of people live and breathe off of online drama, that is if their personal life doesn’t have any. My first step is always making an effort to remove myself from the situation. If explanations are needed, then I give them. If that makes me a drama queen, somebody fetch me a tiara.

Is There Hell?

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As much as I try to be a political atheist, it might surprise you that I am not much so when it comes to religion. I believe there is a God, that the species I am apart of had to have been created at some point somewhere, and that we as a being were put where we are for a reason. After that, it gets a little hazy, and it’s hard to tell who’s right about what when it gets down to some specific generalities.

My Facebook buddy Dave posted something on Facebook yesterday that I’ve always been curious about in my thoughts: the existence of Hell. The story he linked to was from the UK website Church And State, which has an interview with Episcopal bishop John Shelby Spong stating that the concept of hell was an invention of the church to control them by placing an element of fear into their beings.

See, I’ve always wondered about that. If we all have the capability of being good, and if God loves all of his creations, why don’t we all go to Heaven, and why does Hell exist? Yes, I admit that there are some really bad people through the annals of history whose names I won’t repeat here, as I’m sure the names of those figures will instantly pop into your heads.

Or, as Johnny Cash famously sung in The Highwayman, maybe we just all turn into a single drop of rain. Then again, I always seem to wax philosophical during the holidays.

Not Exactly Bowled Over

I’m probably not the first person to ever think this, but there are WAY too many bowl games on the tube over the holidays.

Fifty years ago, there were 120 teams in major collegiate football (the 1-A/FBS level), and 9 bowl games for 18 of those 120 teams.

Twenty-five years ago, you had 107 teams and 18 bowl games for 36 teams. Still a reasonable percentage.

This year, you have 128 teams and 41 bowl games. But, because the 41st and final “bowl game” pits two playoff bowl winners against each other, 80 of the 128 teams (due to teams padding their records early in the season by playing teams at lower tiers, such as the FCS) make it to a bowl game.

It’s gotten so out of hand that three 5-7 teams were chosen for bowl games, but only based on the academic records of schools with such a record. Tune in and watch to see if SuchAndSuchAU can fight on in their quest to go 5-8 in the Whatchamacallit Bowl!

Don’t get me wrong, I still love my football, but with the concussion issues and now losing teams in bowl games, the leadership in the NCAA and the NFL are driving this sport into the ground. What messages are we sending to football fans in future generations?

That players are pieces of meat for our entertainment?

That losing gets you a vacation?

Come on, man!

Let The People Vote

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Yesterday, the race on the Democratic presidential side got interesting after being a bit of a bore-snore affair in comparison to the Republican field.

The Democratic National Committee took the rare if not unprecedented step of sanctioning Bernie Sanders and his campaign for illegal access of Hillary Clinton’s voting database by suspending their use of the DNC database. Sanders and his campaign turned around and sued the DNC later on in the day, claiming the measure was an effort to sandbag his campaign and to tilt the playing field towards Mrs. Clinton and her campaign.

Well, it wouldn’t be the first time the DNC tried to tilt things towards a Clinton running for president. This neutral observer remembers seeing the late Ron Brown going on CNN in the spring of 1992 when he was the grand poobah of the DNC, saying he wanted to see Bill Clinton be their presidential nominee even though Clinton had yet to cinch up the nomination. It just so happened that Mr. Brown wound up with a position in the Clinton cabinet as the Commerce Secretary up until his death in 1996.

With two weeks left until the Presidential year of 2016 begins, I just wish the political parties would stop tampering with the race. I’d feel the same way even if the cantankerous Donald Trump had the most delegates going into the GOP’s convention, but lost it in a brokered convention with some back-room deal being cut.

Let the people vote. Let their voices be heard. To do otherwise usurps the political process. Keep it fair, keep it simple.

(EDIT, 12/19/2015, 12:26am: Just after I posted this originally, late word is that the DNC has rescinded the punishment leveled at Bernie Sanders and his campaign on the 18th. His campaign’s access to voter data will be restored in the morning, or so they say.)