Wednesday, March 31, 2010

An Appreciation for Baseball


Opening Day 2010 is 5 days away as I type this, and to put it mildly I am excited.  Things were not always this way, however.  Despite having played baseball in high school I was never really a big fan of the sport.  I hardly watched nor listened to any games.  Too many movies and video games to really care, ya know?

This continued on into college.  Two of my roommates, Marcus and Eric, were both huge Cubs fans that would spend most of their free time playing MLB '06 on PS2 and talking about the season.  I stated absorbing some general baseball knowledge from them, and my proximity to Milwaukee made it easy to attend games, but I didn't really get too into it until the summer of 2007 when I was interning in Milwaukee.  Long days of doing nothing allowed me to read up on the team a bit, and that carried over to the first few months of my full time job.  By spring of 2008 I had read every article about the Brewers I could find that wasn't blocked at work.  We went to a rainy game in April, and since then it's been Brewers Brewers Brewers all the time.

I think I like baseball because it appeals to the two sides of me.  The one side is the kid, the one that loves browsing all the Brewers blogs and websites, reading articles and evaluating stats.  Playing pretty much every day gives me something to look forward to every morning when I see how things went from the night before.  It's good to have that constant stream of info buzzing through me.

The old man part of me loves the fact that every pitch matters.  That one simple mistake can turn the tide of a game.  That the psychologic battle between pitcher and hitter is almost as important as skill.  A nice sunny day can be made even better by sitting outside and watching the boys of summer. 

Man, now I'm REALLY excited for Opening Day!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

And then I found $5

I got up from my cube Tuesday to go to the lab when something near the trashcan in the hallway caught my eye;  a neatly folded $5 bill.  I looked around to see if anyone had recently dropped it but didn't spot anyone.  So I reached down to pick it up when a Project Manager I know says "Score!  That's much better than the quarters I usually find."  I chuckled and shoved the money into my pocket as I continued on my way.  My mind raced with what I could do with the money....donate it to a charity, pay for a random person's lunch, put it in my retirement account.

But I just bought a Schlitz instead.

Now, that $5 obviously was lost by someone but would they expect the finder to turn it in to the front desk?  And if I didn't grab it someone else would have and probably bought crack with it, right?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Swearing and Violence

Sunday afternoon I was flipping through the channels when I landed on SyFy channel and started watching Total Recall, a Schwarzenegger classic.  Something odd struck me about halfway through it, however.  While all of the swearing was blanked out pretty much NONE of the violence was.  Keep in mind this movie has
  • Numerous bullets going directly through people's heads.
  • A guy getting stabbed through a steel plate with some sort of rock drilling machine (and thus dying the most horrible death ever while someone yells at him "SCREW YOU BENNY!!!")
  • Multiple broken necks
  • A guy getting used as a bullet shield
  • Head shaped explosive decimating a group of soldiers
  • A guy getting stabbed in the stomach by a little person prostitute
  • Lab technician getting stabbed in the neck with a wrist restraint
  • Fire ax to the stomach
  • Arms getting torn off Richter's body, then falling down a elevator shaft (while Quaid yells down the shaft "See you at the party Richter!"  Love that part)
  • Cohaagen suffocating on the surface of Mars while the eyes bug out of his sockets
Have a gander, will you?

And yet every single swear word is bleeped out.  The same thing happens in comic books.  Sentry rips a dude in HALF in the same comic where they use "&@%!$%" for "asshole" and "son of a bitch."

America is a weird place.  The lesson is pretty simple, as much of this as you want:

But don't you dare say the word "dammit" on Syfy!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Money Come, Money Go

Part of my 2010 goals was to continue getting my finances in order by recording the balance of all of my accounts every Monday morning.  I've done a great job of it so far, only missing one Monday because we were in Mexico.  However, I did a quick review of the spreadsheet yesterday and it dawned on me:  My account balance now is the same as it was in January.


How is that possible?  I haven't made any big purchases.  I used my tax return money to pay off part of my TV purchase, so that should be a net "neutral" for the money situation.  So I went off to to peer through my transactions and something started sticking out to me.  It wasn't so much the size of the purchases so much as number of purchases.  18 so far in March. 32 in February, and a ridiculous 58 transactions in January.  My goodness.

Until further notice I will not be spending any money unless it's on rent, gas, or food.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Garbage Man

I've mentioned twice before that one of my college jobs was picking up garbage on campus.  But here's a little known secret of that job.

I loved it.

Basically my job was to travel around the residence halls driving a Gator emptying out 55 gallon trash barrels and taking those bags of trash to the dumpsters.  In between trash barrels I'd use a 5 gallon pail and a reacher-grabber to grab trash off the ground and from inside bushes.  This was a one man job, (and before I had a MP3 player) so I would usually hum or whistle to myself as I went about my business, trying to prevent the garbage bags from ripping and spilling all over my shoes, attempting to swerve around day-dreaming students as they walked to class, and successfully not getting stung once by the copious amounts of bees that surrounded all of the trash barrels in the warmer months.  (I think I figured out the secret of avoiding getting stung:  acting completely calm, not swapping at them or freaking out.  I would carefully remove the lid, reach in to grab the trash bag, making sure I didn't squish any of them in my paws, remove the bag, throw it on the Gator, and put a new one in the barrel, and replace the cover.  Never needed to use the insecticide spray.)

Looking back, it was one of those mindless manual labor jobs that people look down upon, but I enjoyed it.  Maybe the juxtaposition of sitting in an office doing garbage all day comparing with driving around outside picking up garbage is what appeals to me.

Friday, March 12, 2010


At work they've got a wall of big screen flat panels setup with a constant loop of 10-15 music videos in order to do a stress test on them.  There are speakers attached to the flat panels, but the sound is usually never on.  And I am downright ENTHRALLED by this wall of video.  Every time I go into the lab I find myself stealing glances at these screens.  Or purposely turning my chair toward the wall while I work so I can just zone out, mouth agape, watching artists I've never heard of mime their way through various set pieces and situations.  One of the videos shown is Crystal Method "Double Down Under".  Give it a view, but imagine it 8 feet by 6 feet, with no sound.  It's something that I just can't get enough of.

It looks something like this, but with bigger screens and less of them.

I think it helps that I was really, really into music videos during the heydey of MTV.  I'd watch TRL nearly every weekend, Making the Video to see how music videos were shot, and the program that would premiere new videos every week.  Since they started doing this stress test I've begun to wonder:  Have music videos pretty much died since the early 2000s?  Or is it that I just don't pay attention to them anymore?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Broken Window


Lately I've been thinking about the Broken Window Theory.  The basics of it go like this:
Consider a building with a few broken windows. If the windows are not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows. Eventually, they may even break into the building, and if it's unoccupied, perhaps become squatters or light fires inside.
Or consider a sidewalk. Some litter accumulates. Soon, more litter accumulates. Eventually, people even start leaving bags of trash from take-out restaurants there or breaking into cars.
The thought is that if police, community workers, business owners, and residents spend time keeping a community cleaned and repaired then larger crimes has a smaller chance of being committed.   This article from makes the case that people were less likely to throw flyers on the ground on a "clean" side of a building than on the "dirty" side. 

I started thinking about this a bit more in the spring mainly because a winter of trash and garbage has accumulated in snow banks and gutters.  You drive through the less desirable parts of town and it looks like a garbage trunk just opened up and dumped a weeks worth of trash on the side of the street.  And so you start to wonder:  Would it really make any difference if some organization would take time to clean up the garbage in Milwaukee?  I'd be very curious to find out.  Aesthetically speaking I think it would really help some of the areas along Capitol Dr and Silver Spring Dr if someone took the time to clean up the litter along the road.  I've been looking into different Organizations to volunteer for, maybe one that helps clean up some neighborhoods would be a good one to look into.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

I Have This Problem...

I've watched tons of movies in my day and thus have lots of movie quotes stuck in my head, but most of the time I have no idea what movie it might be from.  I've been saying "what the hell bro?" a bunch the past few weeks but had to Google it to remember where it came from.  I should start keeping track of all the random sayings and quotes that come out of my trap to see if I can figure out what they're from.

On that note, let's get random!


Speaking of movies; movie critic Roger Ebert lost his lower jaw and voice almost 4 years ago.  This feature in Esquire is a great read, and that fact that he'll be able to talk (using a computer) with his original voice that was lifted from his tv and radio shows from years ago amazes me.


Here's a nice Spring Training article about everyone's favorite Brewer super-sub Craig Counsell.  I thoroughly look forward to shouting "Coooooouuunseeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeellll" at Opening Day this year.


Last weekend we hungout with a bunch of people from Illinois and my "accent" was again brought to my attention.  Yes, I realize I hold the "O" on "boooat" a bit longer than most.  Yes, I do talk like a Yooper.  No, I do not plan on changing anytime soon.


I think Lennon would approve.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

My Mouth is Confused

What does this look like to you?

If you said "apple" than you are correct....kind of.  It's actually a "grapple," an apple that's been infused with natural and artificial grape flavor.  Ric picked some up at the grocery store the other day, and I had one for a snack this afternoon.  Let me tell you, the mouth doesn't really know what to think of these.  The texture is exactly the same as an apple, and there's still a hint of apple flavor, but primarily there's the grape taste that starts kicking in while you're chewing.  It's like someone dunked a apple into grape juice and let it soak for a while.  I'm not sure the world needs grapples but it's kind of a fun idea.

The best part, however, is that I've started saying "how bout them grapples??" to Ric all the time, which cracks me right up.