Tuesday, August 30, 2005

A machine that just blows

In the past, I've mentioned some devices for which I lack any fondness. Well, there is one that reigns above all the rest in its ability to annoy and be completely useless all at the same time.

The Leaf Blower.

I hate them. I always have. I always will. I've never quite understood how blowing your grass clippings into the middle of the street was an improvement. And moving a pile of whatever with one of these things is nearly impossible and terribly time consuming.

While on my Saturday morning run I came across a "blower". Some dude out in the street trying to assemble piles of grass and dirt with his "power tool". Because this was the hottest Saturday morning in the history of the known universe and I was struggling mightily as I returned to my home, I had stopped for a brief respite. As I did so, I was able to witness the utter futility of it all.

I will never be confused for a "tree-hugger". But is it really necessary to be using a gas powered machine that produces not only fumes aplenty, but the most nerve-racking hum/squeal the world has ever known? Especially when you could do the same thing with an eco-friendly broom. Yes, that's right, a broom! They don't cost $70-$100 dollars and you can actually do a quicker, better job with one. Plus, I’ve never been awakened at 7:45 in the morning by a broom.

All this to say, if you see a guy using a leaf blower, there's only one tool there, and it ain't the blower.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Why the Rangers Suck, and...

...why I still hate Tom Hicks. Two things:
One. Just incase you wondered how my declaration about the Rangers "Catastrophic Moment" panned out. Up to that point they were 39-37, that’s a .513 winning percentage. Not too bad. Since? A record of 19-29; a .396 percentage. Not good. Punctuated with a 1-12 road trip. Altogether now...done, done, done.

Two. I saw this on Bob Sturm’s very sportsy blog earlier this week. A guy whose had past articles published about Hicks and the Ranger’s financial situation sent this little nugget:

Just ran some numbers and the profit the rangers are making this year is going to be huge.

1) $46 million for local and national media rights.
2) 2.5 million fans at $17 avg ticket = $42.5 million
3) 120 luxury suites that go between $100,000 and $175,000. Let's use $120,000 as a low avg. That equals $14.4 million.
4) About 8,000 cars a game at $8 a car (again, on the low side) for 82 home games = $5.2 million

So, we add those up and we come in at $108.1 million before any of the many other revenues are added in: Ameriquest naming rights, signage, sponsorships, concessions (this is very big with $5 beers), MLB marketing ( video games, licensed gear, etc.), and The Washington Nationals money. I figure that the revenues coming in this year will run between $120 to $140 million. And again, these are on the conservative side.

Ok. Excellent. The Ranger’s payroll for the 2005 is around $55 million (that includes 10 for A-Rod). That’s 39% of the conservative $140 million estimate of total revenue. Dan McGraw continues:
Teams have usually come in with player costs at about 60-70% of revenues, and still make money. You can look at the salary cap levels of the NFL and NHL, and the percentages the teams in those leagues HAVE to pay and profit highly. It looks like the Rangers are coming in at about 40% or less. We all know there are lots of other costs besides players’ salaries, but there is no way they are going to be anywhere close to the players’ salaries. That is always more than the rest (front office, advertising, scouts, minor league salaries, insurance, etc.) added up.

Tom freaking Hicks. If he ever says one more thing about making money... Grrrrr. Sign some pitching, already!!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Donuts, Critically Speaking

OK, so despite the fact that my last poetic entry received no critical acclaim (shocking, I know), I'm willing to be your back alley supplier. That, and I got nuthin. So here it is:

So today is not the day,
And the morrow will do no better
Tis sad to wait till Friday
The schedule be my fetter.

The decree is understood,
The edict lives quite passively,
Donuts will only come when they should,
For fear of living too lavishly.

Tempted I am to curse each square
Not found under the title so coveted.
Other days find the donuts in their lair,
I guess for fear of being overfed.

So I will wait in anticipation,
Until the rich supply those poor.
Only once a week I find donut elation
On the day we all thank God for.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Am I fooling myself?

I have yet another confession to make. I am a Dallas snob. I live in Dallas. Not Plano. Not Garland. Not Irving. Not, God forbid, Mesquite. I live in Dallas. I like it here. My favorite (and I dare say, one of the best) pizza place is 2 minutes from my house, literally. Almost any store or restaurant is less than 10 minutes from my front door. By comparison, I grew up in Gainesville, TX, where a 45-minute drive to the mall was as normal as yawning.

When my family asks that I meet them for dinner in Lewisville or Frisco, I cringe. I know I must now prepare to do battle with the suburbs. Minivans, an inordinate amount of strollers, and 45-minute waits in all the restaurants are in store. I’m pretty sure I coined the phrase, "Once you leave the loop, all bets are off." Essentially, civilization ends one foot north of 635. At one point my Sunday class (when I still attended Sunday school) even noted such events I would be less likely to attend because of their location. There are those who trump even my snobbishness, though. They would agree with the above statement, the difference being the loop they speak of is Loop 12. Those people are obviously being ridiculous. And so am I.

Not that there isn’t some truth in what I say, but we got our crazies, too. There are many who agree with me and join in my snobbery . And I thought, for the most part, I agreed with them. I had a recent post about the new FC Dallas stadium which resulted in some comments about my disappointment with Dallas’ continuing inability to keep sports teams in the area. This eventually led me to the thought, "Maybe we’re the fools."

Reasons why I say this:

A Major League Baseball game is a 30-45 minute drive away (Arlington). Soon, an NFL game will be the same (Arlington). A minor league baseball game is a 20-30 minute drive away (Frisco). A Major League Soccer game is same (Frisco). The preeminent art museum in the area is in Ft. Worth. So is the preeminent Zoo. While we’re talking about Ft. Worth, they have Sundance Square, we have...the West End? While there’s plenty of movie screens everywhere, I know where I had to go when I wanted to geek out at the only digital screen for Star Wars (Plano).

Also, recently I considered making the transition from renter to owner. Once again, I live in a house in Lake Highlands. Fairly decent house in a fairly decent neighborhood. Purchasing a house where I currently reside is not economically feasible. Because I do work right off 75 in Richardson, I expanded my search north along the corridor (Plano, Allen, McKinney). What I found was that I could live in a new (2-6 years) home of acceptable dimensions (2000+ sq. ft. ) in a comfortable neighborhood for about 40%-75% less. I would dare to guess my taxes and insurance would be less, as well. My car insurance would also go down.

I guess what I’m saying is the number of reasons to come to Dallas seems to be decreasing. I have no idea why someone would vacation here. The reasons not to live here—traffic, expense, crime—seem to be increasing. Maybe the question is, why should I stay?

Monday, August 15, 2005

They're not racist, they're just...

...something. Stupidcrazy. PETA that is. The first word that comes to mind is knotheads. What's this about? Well, I stumbled upon this little story about PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and their new campaign which juxtaposes the plight of slaves and animals. Heh, heh. This just made me laugh. You'd think an organization built entirely around publicity would know better. The story:
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is reconsidering a campaign comparing images of animal abuse with those of slavery after complaints from civil rights groups and others.

The animal rights group's "Animal Liberation" campaign included 12 panels juxtaposing pictures of black people in chains with shackled elephants and other provocative images.

...One panel showed a black civil rights protester being beaten at a lunch counter beside a photo of a seal being bludgeoned. Another panel, titled "Hanging," showed a graphic photo of a white mob surrounding two lynched blacks, their bodies hanging from tree limbs, while a nearby picture showed a cow hanging in a slaughterhouse.

This is my favorite part...
Controversy erupted Aug. 8, when the display was in New Haven, Conn.

"There was one man who began shouting that the exhibit was racist," Carr said. "Then, there was a lot of shouting."

Carr said PETA used the shocking images to prove a point: Whether it's humans harming animals or each other, all point to an oppressive mind-set.

"...Then, there was a lot of shouting." He, he. Can't imagine why. Well, let's see. A common trait between most slaves just so happens to be that they're black. My life experience suggests that current day black people tend to empathize with slaves and even personalize that sad part of history. If a fascist, war-mongering white dude like myself can recognize that making that comparison might anger some of those in the black community, shouldn't at least one liberal, all-inclusive PETA member be able to do the mental gymnastics to get close to that conclusion? Something tells me President Bush consults with more minorities than the PETA leadership. Not sure on that, but just a guess.

Oh and another trait of slaves was that THEY WERE HUMANS! Despite what some of that day might have thought. Despite what our Constitution might have erroneously noted, slaves were human beings. And humans are sorta special. This is why we try our best not to eat, skin, slaughter, or make sport of killing them.

Animals are, on the other hand, ANIMALS! And some of them taste good on my grill and are quite functional when fashioned into a pair of shoes.

Comparing the meat industry to slavery...why not just use the Holocaust? Oh, Wait.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Celebration of the Donut

Let me first say, I really like donuts. They are one of the single hardest foodstuffs for me to turn down. I love love love love donuts. What I'm trying to say is...I kinda like 'em. I can't remember the last time I had one, probably 6 to 9 months, which is a good thing. I recognize the evil byproducts of the donut.

So, today, when I opened the email that notified me that "donuts were in the breakroom" (Yes, I'm a generic white business man.), I was quite pleased. Since the email went out at 7:15 a.m. and I didn't get to work until after 9, there was a chance there would be none left. But, O lucky day! I enjoyed my one chocolate covered donut and immediately felt regret and a slight tummy ache. I still love donuts, though.

The Friday donut used to be a weekly staple. Right up until the moment that boss got fired. Those were the days. Speaking of, because of my love of donuts and other reasons that I refuse to go into, I find myself as the author, creator and curator of the most extensive collection of donut themed poetry in the world. Is it because I like poetry? It's ok, but not really. Is it because I'm good at poetry? I will soon prove the folly of that. Is it because I love donuts? (Charlton Heston voice) HECK YES!!! So, here is the public debut of my donut poetry. Future installments will depend on the critical reception.


Peace is what I seek
Comfort for my weary soul
To feel my time is material
To a noble and mighty goal.

Life is what I seek
Full and without a sour note
To suck the marrow out
And grind up the bone.

Home is what I seek
A place to call my own
Where at last I am snug
To know and to be known.

Fate does not find me there
Instead in this edifice I toil.
But on Friday those are briefly found
In a piece of dough with a hole.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Music Cavalcade...Finale

Ok, we're finally to the end of my stack of new CD's. I'm sure we're all very pleased. (Huh, that rhymed.) And just so you know that I'm not a tease, I'll never be able to meet all your needs. (Yes, it's sad. Yes, I'm sorry, but sometimes I just can't help myself.)

Stereophonics - Language. Sex. Violence. Other? (2005) Ok, I have an admission to make. I have a weakness for Brit Rock. There, I've said it. That being the case, plus the fact that I own two of the artist's previous CD's, the is...uh...not the best? Many times I thought they had suffered a Duran Duran attack (and not the good Duran Duran, either). Check out Just Enough Education To Perform instead. Rating:

Garden State Soundtrack (2004) Pretty good movie. Pretty good soundtrack. This may be one of the better soundtracks ever. Coldplay, The Shins, and even Iron & Wine. Rating:

Jars of Clay - Redemption Songs (2005) If you like Jars of Clay, which I do, and you like hymns, which I do, you'll probably like this, which I do. Rating:

The Shins - Oh, Inverted World (2001) The two best songs from this might be on the Garden State Soundtrack, but this is still a worthwhile work of its own. Rating:

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Double Vomit

In case you haven't heard, Kenny Rogers will be starting tonight's game in Fenway. His suspention was shortened by an arbitrator. I think my feelings on this are well documented. It's just all so riduculous. I hope he gives up mutliple grand slams in the first inning. For a visual representation of how I feel about Kenny lacing them up tonight, it's the same as the expression on Kenny's face.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

More Music...

You know the drill...

Ben Kweller - On My Way - (2004) Not bad. I really enjoy his previous effort Sha Sha. On first blush this doesn't seem to be there. Rating:

The Thrills - So Much for the City (2003) Still jangly, but much more enjoyable than our previous Thrills encounter. Fun stuff. Rating:

Monday, August 08, 2005

Soccer History

We came(3 hours early). We tailgated. We saw the first game at the luxerious new Pizza Hut Park. The stadium, though no where near completion, is (or will be) nice. The pitch (that's the field for all you soccer neophytes) was perfect. Two early goals, one on a cheeky backheal shot by Ruiz had the sense that this might be a magical night. In the end, the dreaded tie, kiss your sister, etc.

Despite all the hiccups, the oddest one being I did not see one trashcan the entire time I was there, I think the fans went home generally happy. They had been treated to a great game in a park that most can't wait to get back to.

What may be most impressive is that Frisco, freaking Frisco that was podunk 3A school when I was in high school, now houses a another professional sports team in a revolutionary facillity that will provide for many generations of children. If my numbers are correct, that ties Frisco with Dallas. Except Dallas only has one top-notch facility and will probably never host the world renown tournament again.

Dallas. The Can't Do City.

Friday, August 05, 2005

I'm a Stupid Freaking Moron...

...Or am I?
After almost giving up the ghost from my gut-wrenching (literally) run last Saturday, I had a good run on Tuesday and maybe my best of the year yesterday. Should I be plotting methods to induce stomach cramps?

Getting Sportsy

The other night I was watching the Astros (Rangers game had already ended) finish up another win. It was a game that Roger Clemens had started. As a new reliever came in, the analyst noted that Clemens had just completed his 20th quality start out of 22 attempts this year. My head jerked and my jaw hit the floor. What? 20 out of 22. For those of you who don't share my baseball geekiness, a quality start is where pitcher goes 6+ innings and gives up 3 runs or less. Then they mentioned that one of the two that didn't qualify, The Rocket had given up zero runs in only 5 innings before leaving with a slight injury. Holy Crap! And I found that in his other start that didn't qualify he gave up 4 runs in 6 innings and still got the win. That is not fair.

The more I thought about this I wondered how this was possible because Clemens now pitches in a hitter's park. The same kind of park (short fence in one of the corners, expansive center field, steamy climate) at which the hometown Rangers reside. A.K.A. the reason no pitchers will pitch here. I looked in to the stats a little more and found that Clemens wasn't an anomaly. Two other Astro pitchers have over 17 quality starts and the team leads the league in that category by a wide margin. Why can't we get pitchers, again? All this to say, I still love Roger Clemens (who just turned 43 yesterday) and I still hate Tom Hicks .

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Music Avalance, Pt.2

More albums that are new to me (and maybe me alone).

Radiant* - The Sound of Splitting Atoms (2005) Local band with Christian leanings, or that's the rumor. Some think this could make them big. I might agree. Rating:

Wilco - Yankee Foxtrot Hotel (2002) For all the talk about how the label didn't want to release this, I was left wondering why. It's a good album. Not near as weird as I expected. Rating:

Wilco - A Ghost is Born (2004) I think this record is very similar to the previous...except for one thing. Let the freaking song end already! I get it. You (Wilco) are smarter than me. That's why 11 minutes of noise at the end of a song is so genius. But it's still 11 minutes of noise. Rating:

Slobberbone - Crow Pot Pie (2001) Another local act that never made it big... but probably should have. Rollicking, well-written alt-country fun. Rating: