Halloween 1996

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What’s the point in having a blog if you can’t tell stories – especially stories that are true?

Twenty-two years ago, I was living in Marietta, Georgia. I don’t remember what I was doing that Halloween night of 1996, but I was driving home about 9pm at night. It was one of those north to south roads that allotted a higher speed limit than you’d normally see, although with the curves in the roadway – I often wondered if such a speed limit was truly a good idea.

There were still kids out trick or treating – again, don’t ask me why they were out so late. It was one of those nights where fate seemed to be cruel everywhere you turned, as you’ll find out as you read along. For some reason, the kids attempted to cross the roadway at a point near one of these curves.

I see the kids – I slow down immediately, but even in doing so I can tell this is going to be a close call as to whether or not my car strikes one of these kids. They had not allocated themselves enough space to cross the road. To make matters worse, one of the kids tries to double back to the side she originally came from – a hesitation that seemed to increase the odds she was going to get struck by my car.

I slow down with all of my might, but I still tapped the girl who double-backed – but I had slowed down the car to where it merely patted her on the knee. The other group of girls were not happy with me and started throwing things at my car. Thus, I had a decision to make and fast – either to stay and risk damaging the car (sustaining no damage hitting the girl, somehow) or to stay and risk it.

It’s dark out, and I can’t detect what these girls are throwing – so I fled the scene. I’m well aware that you’re supposed to stay at the scene of an accident and all that, but my safety may have been at risk if I had stayed. If the cops had found me, I would have told them everything I knew and then some. The knock on my door or the visit to my car never comes, and for reasons unrelated to that Halloween night – I move back to Florida by Thanksgiving.

Needless to say, I don’t go out much on Halloweens anymore. I can do all I can to stay safe, but there’s only so much in life one can control. Some things are always going to be outside your boat.

Offseason Blues

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As predicted last week, the Red Sox did indeed beat the Dodgers in five games. I had prognosticated either a four-game or five-game win for them, so thank you to the Boston club for making me look so good.

Baseball is one of those sports I tend to miss when the season’s over – ditto with football. I’ve always had trouble getting into watching the winter sports of hockey and basketball until at least past the Super Bowl. Of course, now they play the Super Bowl in early February these days, so by the time I get into the mood to watch college basketball the regular season is a few weeks away from being over. With the way college basketball is structured where any team has a chance at making the NCAA’s if they win the conference tournament at the end – it’s not like missing all of those regular season games is a total loss, though.

Between now and the start of the 2019 season, there’s always news about players changing teams via free agency. I would suspect that you’ll see some of the bigger National League teams make moves to boost their rosters, considering that the AL had three teams that won 100 games: Boston, the Yankees, and Houston.

That’s the fun with baseball – even during the offseason, it sometimes appears like something’s going on every day of the year.

Adventures In Low-End High-Tech

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This entry is more of a reminder to myself not to be tempted by bargain electronics offered by Amazon. Sometimes, it doesn’t wind up going well.

I have a USB capture tuner that I never use, due to a series of upgrades I’ve made with the advancements in digital TV and local cable. RCA cords (the yellow, white, red cords going into ports of corresponding colors) went the way of the dinosaur, HDMI cables became the new rage – it all matured into a mess. With the new technology, the old USB capture tuner had no way to talk to the new “stuff” out there. It still works fine, mind you – it just doesn’t have anyone to “talk” to.

With the help of Amazon, I ordered an HDMI splitter and an HDMI to RCA cable, thinking “communication” would be restored. It didn’t. First off, the HDMI to RCA digital-to-analog conversion needs something to convert the signal, so the cable I bought wasn’t designed to make the transformation I needed. It was designed to take an RCA signal and convert it to HDMI – not the other way around as advertised.

As for the splitter, you can tell by the photo above that something broke somewhere to make half of the dual end unusable. No, my HDMI cables weren’t degraded as you would think by looking at the pic – I checked the cables, they are all still operable. Surely, a splitter could survive more than a couple of hours of use, though!

After doing some research, I discovered my error and can now get the correct equipment – but after this most recent experience, I’m in no hurry to do so. I blame myself more than anything else, though – cheap solutions to common electronic problems don’t compensate for doing the necessary research.

Pittsburgh, And A Taste Of Armageddon

As most of you know, it’s happened again. A synagogue in Pittsburgh was the latest mass shooting. As of the day after it occurred (the day I write this), they know of 11 dead, more injured – all for the familiar stupid reasons. Someone hating another religion, someone so disturbed in thoughts that he can’t let others live in peace.

That’s why I always have “A Place In The Sun” on these posts. Stevie Wonder, when he wrote that song back in the 1960’s, wondered if there would be a day of racial fairness back in the days when whites would slaughter blacks because of skin color. Now, I merely wonder if there will ever be a month, a year, or a decade, where we don’t have to worry about these sorts of pointless killings taking place at a seeming moment’s notice.

A press conference blares on the news, giving the updates on the latest developments in this shooting. Speakers giving information, flanked by public executives waiting for their turn at the microphone to “sing their verse” of fact.

It has all gotten to a point to my eyes where it all looks the same.

The day before this happened was the day the person making bomb threats to several prominent Democrats was arrested in Florida. When I turned on the TV just now, I thought erroneously that the press conference was about that incident, and not this most recent one. I turn on the NFL game in London between Philadelphia and Jacksonville, and they pause in a moment of silence for those 11 victims.

It’s gotten to the point where you can pick the news crisis out of a hat, and our leaders will react predictably to it. Democrats say one thing, chapter, and verse – and so do the Republicans. Maybe our civilization winds up holding the coming civil war on computers like that episode on Star Trek where people get selected to die, and then do as they’re told.

Let’s hope this all stops before it gets that far. What I’m seeing discourages me immensely.

Society at present is an unlit fuse.

Bomber

The first thing I did after I published yesterday’s blog entry was to check out the Drudge Report. I had heard about the bomb threat to Democratic mogul George Soros and a threat to the Clintons yesterday morning. But I had missed the bomb threats to President Obama and CNN that took place as I was blogging. Then again, I don’t watch a lot of CNN these days – so I would have missed it anyway.

More suspicious packages have arrived in various locales in the hours that have followed. I just read the actor Robert De Niro received the most recent threat as of the time I write this, though there’s no doubt in my mind that this will likely change as the day develops.

There will be plenty of time to cast aspersions later as to what caused this – assuming that the bomber has MAGA ties is extremely premature at this point in time. (Remember Palpatine from the Star Wars movies?) However, it didn’t stop President Trump’s calls for unity to be immediately rejected by the Democratic leaders of Congress.

If someone offers you peace at a time of crisis, I’d tend to take it – especially if it came from the duly elected leader of the free world. Poor form by the Democrats there, if you ask me.

So, as this 25th day of October of 2018 begins, who knows what awaits us – even though this is something that is true on ANY given day.

Don’t worry – we’ll get through it. We always do.

The Mother Of All Midterms

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There’s a lot of interest in the midterm elections, now 13 days away from the date I write this. In those elections, most but not all of the states pick governors, one-third of the United States senators are chosen (the other two-thirds are chosen in two-year cycles – so one of the other thirds is up in 2020, then the remaining third in 2022), and all 435 seats in the House of Representatives are up for grabs.

Though I warn you all that in the era of President Trump that polls cannot be trusted, mainly because I don’t think the average “MAGA” voter would participate in polls willingly – I note the Democrats are doing well in some spots. As noted beforehand, I tend to think polls are more about strategical psychology than anything else – if such a term exists. Plus, with the “MAGA” voters such a wildcard element – any race where the Republican candidate is within five points would seem winnable to me.

I just hope we get through the election in one piece, as I still think a Trump-Hillary rematch in 2020 has a good chance of happening. I think Kamala Harris (the junior California senator) as a “Plan B” if HRC’s health goes south or runs into some legal trouble if all of her recent shenanigans in the 2016 race come to the surface.

Other than that, as our President often says – we’ll see what happens.

Red Sock Dodgers

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The 2018 World Series begins tonight – baseball’s Super Bowl, played in four to seven chapters. This year, it’s the Boston Red Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers squaring off to determine the champion team of the season.

It’s one of those championship pairings that make you wonder how is it possible that two great franchises like these two have had have only met in a World Series once before. Even that meeting was over a century ago back in 1916 – back when the Red Sox had a talented left-handed pitcher named Babe Ruth. Gee, I wonder what happened to that guy.

Being a Rays fan, I really don’t have a dog in the hunt – other than wanting to see David Price, a talented pitcher in MLB for many years, getting a well-deserved championship. The Red Sox have won 108 games in the regular season, while the Dodgers had to scrap to get to the Series after knocking off a talented team from Milwaukee for the National League pennant.

Usually, you can throw the so-called “conventional wisdom” out the window in a best-of-seven series where anything can happen in a sport where a good team loses 60 times a year. I don’t see this being one of those times, though. I think Boston wins in either four or five games.

If I Had A Billion (And 600 Million) Dollars

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Once again, we’re at one of these points in American history where one of the multi-state lotteries is at an astronomical sum. This time around, it’s the “Mega Millions” lottery’s turn, with a prize of $1,600,000,000 at stake to the winner if he or she picks the exact winning numbers.

Whoever wins – good luck with that. Seriously.

No, I’m not writing this to tell you what I would do if I won, or if a family member won. One of the policies of my blog is if I don’t know the answer to something – I will tell you as such. But what to do after $1.6-billion, even after taking the lump sum (I’ll admit that much to you all) and after taxes are paid? That boggles my mind.

I’ve thought about buying a radio station if I had that much – but radio stations these days are kind of obsolete. Do these stations make a profit through their advertising? Probably not – and it probably explains why so many stations in Tampa Bay are owned by so few. Or any major market in the country, for that matter.

I’d probably get a new house and car. Harry (my cat) has been with me for a long time. I’m thinking he needs a playmate, probably a female cat though he was neutered a long time ago. I’d want to keep a family “tradition” going by maybe buying a cockatiel bird like my father had back in the 80’s.

Yes, I’d give money to friends and some worthy charitable organizations. You can’t have that much money and not share it – that would be ridiculous.

Flashback: “Cruisin'” by Michael Nesmith

I don’t believe the song was a hit, but it’s hard not to hear the song and NOT see the video of it – as the video narrates the story much better than the lyrics do.

Yes, this is the same Michael Nesmith of The Monkees fame – and no, “Sunset Sam” is not Hulk Hogan, but another professional wrestler of note who went under the ring name of Steve Strong. The video was part of a video-only “album” called Elephant Parts, which was one of the first such albums ever to be released in 1981. The following year, it was the third-highest selling laser disc, behind two films you may have heard of: Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, and Star Wars.

An enjoyable little ditty, I always thought.

The Two Joes

There isn’t a lot I hate about the sports world – accept officials who seem to think (in my opinion, mind you) that they are bigger than the games they officiate. Two such guys, one recently retired, one is still going strong – are Joey Crawford and Joe West.

Crawford – well, I can’t argue about him too much since he’s retired from officiating. He had that incident with Tim Duncan where the Spurs star got a technical foul for laughing – after which, then-commissioner David Stern ordered Crawford to get therapy.

I don’t know what MLB sees in Joe West to keep him employed. Sure, he’s one of three umpires to officiate 5,000 games in MLB history – but he’s also racked up quite a track record in that time. Maybe it’s because he’s performed a couple of country albums? I don’t get it.

Well, one of these guys is retired – the other won’t be around too much longer, one can hope. Just can’t stand officials who think the fans come to see THEM and not the teams and their respective players.

The Right Idea At The Wrong Time

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If you missed the ending of the fourth game of the National League Championship Series between Milwaukee and Los Angeles, which the Dodgers won 2-1 in 13 innings – don’t feel bad. Even though I had Fox Sports One on, I slept right through the end of the game myself, which took place someplace around 2:30am Eastern time this morning.

I’ve always thought baseball had the right proposal as to how to cover playoff games – but they had it in a format that was generally considered unreasonable for the game at the time. Yes friends, time to re-visit the ill-fated enterprise known as The Baseball Network from 1994 and 1995.

ABC and NBC shared this concept during those two seasons – and on given Saturday or Monday night, they would air all of the given MLB games that evening. Most would get their games starting at an 8:00pm Eastern time, while some games aired starting at 11:00pm that would air at 8:00pm Pacific with the three-hour time difference. The games were all regionalized – meaning various parts of the country would get different games. If you lived in the Tampa Bay area, as I did then and do now – we didn’t have the Rays yet, so we’d get either an Atlanta Braves or a Florida Marlins game.

No, I’m not inferring their regular-season format should be reinstituted. Not at all.

When the season got to the playoffs, TBN did something that was unprecedented to that point in baseball television history – in the first round, they would air all four games regionally and simultaneously. They’d all start at 8:00pm or so, and you saw the game in your region and only that game. If another game was more exciting and took longer to play, too bad – you only got to see the one game assigned to you.

It might be sensible for MLB to look into that again. With the proliferation of cable, smartphones, and the advent of the MLB Network, and considering what CBS and TBS have done with the NCAA basketball tournament by putting a game on up to four different channels at the same time, revisiting the “simultaneous start” format wouldn’t be a bad idea. What I’d propose is putting one game on FOX, another on TBS, another on FS1, and the fourth game on the MLB Network – something like that.

If the Tampa Bay Rays were to make the playoffs, I’d be interested in their games – not necessarily what was going on with the Houston Astros, or the Los Angeles Dodgers. I think fans my age or older get “tunnel vision” with their favorite teams, and would be a lot less likely to watch three or four playoff games on a given day anyways. Play the games all at once, and let the fans pick out the game they want to see on a given night.

I’d also look into starting the games earlier (say 7:30pm or thereabouts) so that if a game ran long, you’d still have a chance of getting a decent night’s rest.

With the NFL faltering a bit, but still reigning supreme in terms of the North American sports roost – it might not be a bad idea for MLB to shake things up.