Aircheck: Various Sources, 7/11/1979, The Fall Of Skylab

This was a bit of a big deal back in ’79, as the first American space station, Skylab, visited three times by crews in Apollo spaceships for several weeks at a time in 1973 and 1974, was coming back down to Earth. It’s orbit was allowed to deteriorate, leaving a big mystery as to where the ship would crash back on our planet.

I remember watching the bulletins and reports on TV as a seven year old two months shy of my 8th birthday, with Walter Cronkite anchoring on CBS, doing a few minutes on the latest developments every hour. I imagine the other networks did the same, this being the year before CNN took to the air.

They were hopeful that the space station would crash into the Atlantic, but it stayed together long enough to where parts of it crashed into the mostly barren portions of the Western Australia state of Australia. Pieces of it were put on televised display nine days later when the Miss Universe pageant aired from Perth.

Gums Blazing

I had a tingling sensation in my mouth most of the last week which got noticeably worse on Friday. I was having some kind of either tooth or gum problem, and my ignorance of it allowed it to get to the point where it was waking me up whenever I attempted sleep.

I made the trek to Walmart at around 4am Friday morning, no doubt looking like a mad man as I scavenged up Gatorade, Ibuprofen pills, extra strength Listerine mouthwash, and Campho Phenique, just in case my diagnosis wasn’t correct. But somehow, the Campho Phenique got lost in the transition, because it wasn’t there when I opened up my bag when I got home. It probably stayed on the asphalt parking lot as I headed back. Crumb!

By later on the morning, it felt like I had smuggled a very small egg in the left side of the mouth, and nothing I tried was working. I was trying to avoid going to the doctor for it if at all possible, mainly because in the early 2000’s I had a similar problem on the right side of my mouth and was able to solve it, and if I can solve it then, certainly I can solve it now. On this Friday before Memorial Day, I couldn’t just remember what it was I did years ago.

How do I get the swelling down before I start looking like the Elephant Man? Pouring through Google, I found the answer.

When I did, I thought to myself, “You put ICE on the swelling, dummy!”

Doing that once in a few hours finally got the swelling down and the pain level WAY down, and I was able to sleep well into Saturday morning after being awake for all but 2 hours and a couple of catnaps over a 36 hour period. I watched my Rays lose to the Yankees 4-1 on Friday night, but fell asleep several times during the game. something baseball rarely does to me.

Saturday was a vast improvement, the swelling is still there a bit, but is reducing every time I apply an ice pack to it. The pain level is barely there now. Can’t believe I couldn’t remember to do that all of the time I was hurting.

A Day Of Bolts And Rays

My eyesight isn’t what it used to be, so when Chris Johnson of the Miami Marlins hit a homer to our section, self-preservation kicked in. So I ducked…

Thursday wound up being a very busy day for me, but one of those “busy” days I really didn’t mind at all.

I scored tickets to the Rays-Marlins Thursday afternoon game at the Trop, a few short weeks after going to see the Rays play the Indians on yet another Thursday. This time, me and my mother (an avid baseball fan whose childhood hero was Duke Snider) sat in Section 143, the left field bleachers. We thought we might get lucky and catch some home run balls, and sure enough, two landed in my section, one hit by Chris Johnson of the Marlins, the other by Brandon Guyer of Tampa Bay. It was not much of a game, with the Marlins winning 9-1. We left in the 8th inning when Miami built up a lead of five runs, which I usually use as an indicator that the outcome had been decided. I was home before the game even ended!

I did pick up a memento in the way of a book: Position To Win by Dewayne Staats, the Tampa Bay Rays television broadcaster. In fact, he’s the only principle TV play-by-play guy in Devil Rays/Rays history with the franchise in its 19th season. When I’m done reading the book, I’ll review it here in a blog entry.

At night, the Lightning-Penguins game took center stage, and as you know by now, it was the Bolts swan song for the season, as Pittsburgh got the 2-1 win to become Stanley Cup finalists.

A lot of fans I see on Twitter and Facebook love to talk smack with fans from other teams, but I don’t intentionally try and do that 99% of the time. What does it prove? I have no problem congratulating the other team when they win, because the world of sports is a zero-sum enterprise. Somebody always loses when somebody else wins, and if isn’t your day, there’s always the next game, or season.

Personally, I was proud of what the Bolts did this year. When Ben Bishop got hurt in Game 1, everyone feared that they’d get beat four straight. Instead, we took the Penguins to the last game, and only lost to one goal. They never quit, it was just time that out on them.

20 Items Or More

It was another trip to Walmart on an early Wednesday morning, getting to the store just before sunrise at 6:30.

Why do I always talk about my Walmart trips? They’re like snowflakes. No one trip to the store, no matter what the hour, is like any other trip to Wally World. Each trip is like its own individual experience. I might get the same thing every time I go, but the list is never same. The impulse buys are never the same either, as they are masters of placing something in the store, it’s mere location setting off some kind of psychological enticement, kind of like how Facebook plays games with your head.

The store I visit in Pinellas Park made a major change if you pay by debit card, as I often do. You no longer swipe your card in the slot of the right side of the card machine. It recognizes if you have a chip in your debit card (mine does), so doing things the old familiar way can’t be done. You have to stick your card in the slot in the bottom of the machine, which is how most stores do business these days. I find it a bit of a pain, but it’s one of those things done for security purposes.

I went to checkout this morning, and I was pleased to see that unlike my last blog entry a few weeks back, they had a register open that wasn’t restricted to 20 items or less. Not only that, they had a lady at the register AND a lady who bagged the groceries for me, as I was the only one in line. While that’s good in some respects, it keeps me busy most of the time because you’re putting things on the moving counter AND you usually have to bag things quickly after all of that effort.

When I go early and amble out of Walmart, I sometimes notice I’ve worked up a tiny bit of sweat. With summer time near, maybe I should just go at more normal times.

Elimination Game


The Tampa Bay Lightning made history last year when they became the first area franchise to be the finalists in two separate seasons of their respective sport. Last night, they looked to break their own record against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Tampa’s Amalie Arena. Leading three games to two in the race to four wins in a best of seven series, they needed just one win in the next two games to make it back to the Stanley Cup, where Pittsburgh needed a win in Game 6, then again in Game 7.

An apparent goal scored by Tampa Bay early was later nullified when a video replay challenge Pittsburgh lodged showed that the officials should have declared Tampa Bay offside before the goal was scored. Instead of a 1-0 Bolts lead, the score remained 0-0.

After that, it was all Pittsburgh. A 3-0 lead was cut to 3-2 in the third period, giving the Lightning fans in Tampa some considerable hope. But, the Penguins answered with a goal with about two minutes left followed by an empty net goal moments later, and the lead was quickly back out to three at 5-2. It stayed there as the final horn sounded.

The series is now even at 3-3, making Thursday’s game the decider. The Lightning, as they did last year, need a win in Game 7 on the road.

Chewbacca Mama

I was reading a story this past Friday night about this video. Originally posted on Facebook, the “viral vid” got over 77,000,000 hits within 24 hours, which for a non-YouTube video is quite extraordinary in this day and age.

Candace Payne is the mother donning the mask, and she’s now an overnight media sensation, appearing on Good Morning America yesterday. It’s good to see one of the “ordinary people” in the world getting a shot at fame, and I don’t mean that as a jab at her. Our society loves to “create” the movers and shakers of the day, so it’s nice to see  an organic movement such as this get national (if not global) attention.

Good work, if you can get it, right?

Shaking Up The Pastime

Image courtesy of Tage Olsin, found at Wikimedia Commons.

I was amazed to read on ESPN’s website on Saturday that Major League Baseball wants to make a couple of major changes to the way the play the game in 2017. One would concern the strike zone where a pitch can be a strike without being swung at, another involves the intentional walk.

Over history, the strike zone has consistently been lowered. Now, if rule changes are successfully implemented next season, the strike zone’s lowest point will correspond to the batter’s knees, which would be higher than the zone is currently interpreted. I’m okay with that actually, as the zone has always been played around with to institute some more offense into the game, or to make pitching and defense more a factor in the outcomes.

What I don’t like is the idea of making the intentional walk an automatic advancement by the batter without pitches being thrown, as is seen in fast-pitch softball. One reason I think this stinks is because it’s four less pitches a pitcher has to throw, with every pitch advancing the hurler to the point where they get fatigued in any given game.

Secondly, it takes the element of something going wrong out of the equation. I’ve seen pitchers throw wild pitches attempting to intentionally walk someone. If the batting team has a runner at 3rd, then that’s a scoring attempt for them. I’ve never seen a balk take place during an intentional walk, but I suppose theoretically that can happen.

I didn’t mind when the Major Leagues went to inter-league Play, and more recently, when umpiring calls could be reviewed via instant replay. But if the purpose, as MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has stated, is to speed up the length of time games are played, I don’t see how changing the strike zone does that necessarily.

My thinking is that television executives may be behind the scenes making this move, because they give MLB their purse strings. If I were a TV exec, I’d want to things: shorter games with more offense, so that they can get to their reruns of Friends quicker. Personally, I’d rather see my national pasttime stay unedited and non-condensed.

The Ballad Of That Other Gary Hart

I just got done reading Gary Hart’s book, My Life In Wrestling. One of the posters on the Championship Wrestling from Florida Facebook group had it up as a PDF file, as it’s one of the hardest books to get a hold of when it comes to the grappling world.

My interest in Hart’s book (not the 80’s politician who got caught with Donna Rice, mind you) is that he was one of the four wrestlers on board a Cessna 182 plane that crashed into Tampa Bay in 1975 due to bad weather. They were all heels, or “bad guys”, because there was something that existed in the business known as “kayfabe” back then.

To keep from exposing the inner sanctum of the profession, any wrestling circuit would usually, but not always, travel in two factions. The good guys would usually travel as a unit, as would the villains, there to get “heat” (negative attention) to make the heroes look viable. It was generally feared in that era that if a good guy and bad guy were seen together, it would expose the business and keep fans from attending if their secrets were known. It would be like a magician explaining one of his tricks: it’s honest, but once you tell the secret, the fan has no interesting in seeing the tricks again.

On that plane were Buddy Colt (Ron Reed), Dennis McCord (later known as Austin Idol), Hart (Gary Williams), and Bobby Shane (Robert Schoenberger). Colt, McCord, and Hart walked away from the wreck with significant injuries (with Buddy never wrestling again, serving as a referee and announcer in Florida mainly), but Shane was killed. Fans actually cheered when they heard about the plane crash on radio or TV later, but that was just a sign of how “over” (good they were) as bad guys.

Gary was also heavily involved in the old World Class wrestling circuit run out of Dallas in the 1980’s, home to the Von Erich clan. When Fritz Von Erich (Jack Adkisson) retired in 1981, his five sons became the stars. Four of them passed away as young adults in the prime of their careers, with three of those four by suicide. Two other stars of the circuit would also perish too soon: Gino Hernandez (Charles Wolfe, Jr.) to drugs, and Bruiser Brody (Frank Goodish) by murder at the hands of another wrestler who successfully claimed self-defense.

As many books about rasslin’ do these days, Hart (who died in 2008) tells all the inside stories throughout his career as a wrestler, manager, booker (writer/producer), and promoter. It’s a pretty good read if you can find it.

None Of The Above

As I have been noting for some time now, who to vote for in the Presidential election in six months is turning out to be quite the dilemna, especially if the perceived match-up between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton takes place.

I can’t vote for Trump, because he says too many crazy things just to get headlines. I don’t believe for a moment he will actually “build that wall” despite a portion of the American people wanting it, for example.

I can’t vote for Hillary, because that puts Bill Clinton, a president who was impeached but not convicted (possibly by political motivations on both ends, that I’m well aware of) back into the White House as the first gentleman. Regardless of what’s true or not about the Clintons, I can’t reward a former impeached President.

So, I’m seriously giving thought the idea of voting no one for President. It’s not an original idea, as it came from a Richard Pryor movie back in the day called Brewster’s Millions where Pryor plays a minor league baseball pitcher who inherits $30,000,000. He has to spend it all without gaining anything to show for it to win a $300,000,000 inheritance from a distant relative. One of his ideas is to run for mayor of New York, or better put, NOT running for mayor by running for mayor.

Maybe that’s what we need to do, just vote nobody for President. I know it’s somewhat ridiculous, because somebody will be President, and my not voting gives other voters a slightly higher percentage of the total vote. But I think it would be a great protest and a way for the voters to show we need better choices.

Flashback: “What’s Up” by 4 Non Blondes

Pretty sure I was ready to use this on a Flashback last month the week that Prince passed away, so why not get back to it?

This was the biggest hit for the San Francisco alternative rock group, with Linda Perry on vocals. It peaked at #14 in 1993 on the Billboard charts, but went to #2 in the UK and #1 in seven other countries.

Worth a listen…