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Get out and vote!

I was pleased to get my voting ballot in the mail this past Thursday for the series of Florida primaries that most of the populous will be voting on in late August. Personally, I tend to be an advocate for these early votes – you never know if a hurricane could pay us a visit in late August, or even early November. Voting early also allows me the time to research which candidates are the best personal fit for me.

It’s not my intent to bore you with who I endorse – I’ll just let you in on who I went with pertaining to the two big Republican races here.

For Governor, I went with Ron DeSantis – even though I’m probably spitting in the wind on this one. I’m thinking Adam Putnam will wind up winning that race (and wind up being the Governor for that matter), but I felt he was too much of a “Republican establishment” guy to vote for in this round.

For Senator, I went with Rick Scott – who I feel is a flawed candidate but still better than anything else out there.

At this point, I’m hard pressed to find a Democrat worth voting for in the November general election, as I don’t really see anyone out there who can tell me what they can do that would be better for the country than what President Trump is doing or what he could do. I tend to think it’s all a stall so that Hillary Clinton runs again in 2020, and that everything is being held in place until that point. If Hillary falls ill, or something winds up happening that she can’t run, I’m thinking Bernie Sanders is their Plan B – but kind of what the Republicans did with John McCain in 2008, by the time he gets to the “big dance” it’s going to be way too late for him to win.

A Clinton/Trump rematch scares the poo out of me – I don’t know if the country could withstand a rematch between these two.

Flashback: “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” by Celine Dion

This has a familiar ring to it:

A song that Meat Loaf wanted to use – but producer Jim Steinman gives it to another singer. The song winds up being a hit of significance, peaking at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the summer of 1996 and winds up a couple of decades later on a commercial.

Yep, I think I’ve seen this song and dance a few times over the years.

To Pledge, Or Not To Pledge?

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The word “pledge” is not a favorite word of mine. Ever look up the numerous definitions the word has? They seem to contradict each other, in a sense. Some definitions imply that if you pledge something, it is absolutely binding – while others have a looser meaning.

You’d think with all of that advocation I give about aggressive telemarketing, I wouldn’t get hoodwinked. But, back in May, a group calling themselves the National Police Support Fund was able to hook me in the ether of giving a small pledge. I’ve learned since from doing a little Google searching that the company operates out of a post office box, and since they solicited me for funding – other companies have crawled out of the woodwork, soliciting similar donations. Plus, they sent similar mailers for donations to other family members who were not being solicited, so how did they know how to do that?

With this in mind, I’m backing away from pledging money from this group. At that time I gave the pledge, I thought the group was a bit more reputable then they have proven to be. Due to the multiple definitions of the word “pledge” and how that can be interpreted, I believe I have some wiggle room – they might think otherwise. We’ll see.

Tiger Sighting

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Watching the British Open this past weekend that Francesco Molinari won, it was interesting to see Tiger Woods take the lead a couple of times the last 36 hours.

Yes, that Tiger Woods. You mean there’s another one?

That raises the question of whether or not Tiger ever wins another major. Well, his game is improving – though I don’t know if he will ever return to the peak of his career and the style of play he had back in the 2000’s.

But at this point, I’d say yes – I think Tiger can win another major at some point in his remaining career. Plus, he’s 42 – Jack Nicklaus was well into his 40’s winning the 1986 Masters. So yes, Tiger still has time to pull one off – though I think his chances at beating Jack’s record for most majors won seem slim.

Flashback: “Once In A Lifetime” by The Talking Heads

Believe or not, the recorded version of this song didn’t even make the Hot 100 when it was released in 1981, peaking at #103. The live version of the song made the lower part of the Hot 100 in 1986.

A shame. This song was iconic, getting a lot of play on MTV and some other cable outlets in that era.

Meet The Scammars

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To entertain myself with the volume of calls I get from another part of the world selling me credit scams (as I frequently mentioned in the past), I came up with a fictional family I use to identify myself. Mentioning this family of fiction seems to send the phone operators into profanity-laced tirades, so I thought I’d share this with you to drive them crazy even more.

I often identify myself as Ulysses Robert Abraham Scammar, or for short, U.R.A. Scammar.

In my work of fiction, U.R.A. has a father – Yul Ulysses Robert Abraham Scammar, or Y.U.R.A. Scammar for short.

Ulysses is not an only child – he has two sisters: Hira Scammar and Thera Scammar.

He has an uncle who’s like a brother to him: Whatta Scammar. Whatta had two sons who give him trouble from time to time – Fookin Scammar and Bleepen Scammar. Whatta also has a daughter who chases all the boys in her neighborhood – Dolla Scammar.

Of course Ulysses has a kind mother like most of us do: Kinda Scammar.

So there they are – the Scammar family. Have fun with that.

Changing Times And Landscapes

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I was reading this weekend about the continuing demise of Sears stores across the country – how these stores, once found in almost every mall in the country plus a few other locations, are now becoming part of the history books. You can say Walmart did what they used to do better, but you also probably give an assist to Amazon as well.

When I grew up, the closest Sears store was on the west side of Clearwater off of Missouri Avenue, though you could find bigger Sears stores in Tyrone Mall in St. Pete, Clearwater Mall, and if you really felt industrious – Countryside Mall. It would take my parents 20-30 minutes to drive to the Missouri Avenue store, but it wouldn’t stop the multitude of trips. All they had to do was get me in front of their electronics section – usually where an Atari or an Intellivision was set up for the kids to play – and I usually didn’t feel bad about being hauled around. Those few minutes usually filled my imagination for a good week or so.

Of course in another part of the country not too far for me in South Florida, that’s how a young man named Adam Walsh was abducted and murdered. But I never had such trouble. I talked to the kiddies and made my temporary friendships with them – I’m sure my parents taught me not to talk to strangers for the very reasons that Walsh was sadly exposed to.

Nowadays, a child is too busy looking at his or her cell phone to deign to look at reality. I kind of miss those times and that era.

The Hot Spot

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Nothing is worse than a cold in the middle of summertime. Well, not true. I could think of other things worse, medically speaking.

I didn’t mind the cold. You just keep some paper towel or tissue around you when your nasal passages decide to go AWOL on you and “paratroop” out of your nose, if you get my drift. A couple of weeks ago, I picked up some Equate at Walmart for sinus decongestion, which has Acetaminophen in it.

That seemed to do more harm than good – because it dries up the sinuses, and actually dries them up too much. Recently, if I go without taking the pills for an eight to ten-hour stretch, it feels like a three-alarm fire has hit my left temple and forehead. I couldn’t keep a positive thought in my head (or negativity out of it) if a million dollars was riding on the outcome, plus it drives my sleeping schedule crazy to where I’m a zombie at various points of the day.

So, I’m switching to Ibuprofen today – that always seems to be better for me.

An Ode To The Shootout

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The 2018 World Cup is in the process of winding down. By this time next week, either England, France, Belgium, or Croatia will be in seventh heaven as the winning nation.

I’ve always liked soccer, growing up in the Tampa Bay area and being so close to the Rowdies, the local pro team. As I’ve probably mentioned before, they were part of the NASL that attempted to gain national prominence in the 1970’s by signing Pele, who is considered to be one of the great players of all time in the sport. But once he left, the popularity of the sport has waned in our country.

Interest hasn’t been too high in this year’s World Cup because, for the first time since 1986 – the United States didn’t make the final batch of teams playing for the championship. Germany was booted after the round-robin stage. Brazil lost in the second knockout (single elimination) round to Belgium. In a way, it’s been a good tournament to watch – so many teams that haven’t had the chance at to be at this level for a long time (or ever) are close to making history for their respective countries.

The one thing that drives me crazy about soccer, and not in a good way, is the penalty kick shootout at the end when the 30 minutes of extra time is completed and a winner is needed. It always seemed to me to be a stupid way to decide a winner, because penalty kicks have very little to do with soccer in a general sense. It would be like deciding a baseball game by a home run derby, or a basketball game by free throws.

Other sports (with the exception of hockey to some extent) – they decided games that need a winner by continuing to play the game some more. The problem with soccer deciding outcomes the way they do is that a penalty kick doesn’t happen every game. In fact, you could go and watch a handful of games and not see a PK being taken.

No, I’m not “soccer savvy” enough to tell you what I’d replace it with. I always thought the Florida high school soccer playoffs had a fairer system when I was of that age. First, they played an “extra time” format, but instead of going right to a shootout – they played up to two five-minute “sudden death” periods. I always liked that – that way, teams couldn’t play passively in extra time and hope to get lucky in the shootout. And yes, I once saw a playoff game get decided in the “sudden death” portion on, you guessed it, a penalty kick.

I’m pretty sure FIFA can’t get rid of penalty kicks entirely, but I’d love them to add a “sudden death” element to their tiebreaking format. They experimented with it back in the turn of the century, but then went back to the “extra time, then a shootout” format. Hopefully, they might revisit this soon – pretty please?

America (Almost) Turns 242

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One of my memories as a young child was July 4, 1976 – the day America turned 200. I don’t remember a lot about it, other than national pride around that time was particularly high.

Now, we’re creeping up on the 250th birthday in the country in eight years and two days (on the date this is posted), and you can’t help but notice the anger in people’s voices as you turn on the news.

We are in one of those rare places in American history – if not World history – where the “right” side of what history will be is very hard to define as we look at it now. I have my beliefs and my opinions about matters, but could I be wrong as events unfold? Hell, yes – that’s possible.

It is my sincerest hope that as we move along through these next few months and years that there is the 250th birthday for America to celebrate in 2026. We have a good thing going here in our country for the most part – let’s not ruin it as the everlasting debate goes forward.

(Programming note: I’m taking July 4th off so the next blog post will be on Friday.)