Jun 2, 2014

Like, Love and Don't Like

This week, I like the plans to upgrade Wrigley Field. Part of the charm of being a fan of the Chicago Cubs is knowing that your patience will pay off a thousandfold when/if the Cubs ever win the World Series (The Cubs last won it all in 1908). But I'm tired of waiting and the waiting is only made worse with all of the frustrating decisions made over the last few years made by Chicago's front office. Theo Epstein, President of Baseball Operations for the Cubs, has not been able to duplicate the success he saw as General Manager of the Boston Red Sox, where he was part of two world championship teams. He made one of his bros from his Red Sox days, Jed Hoyer, the General Manager of the Cubs and Hoyer is probably responsible for the questionable hiring of Rick Renteria to be the current manager of the Cubs (Hoyer and Renteria have roots in the San Deigo Padres organization). I have not watched any Cubs games this year but I get a final score update sent to my phone after every game. More often than not, the Cub lose and they lose by a lot of runs. Other than first baseman Anthony Rizzo and shortstop Starlin Castro, I can't name a single position player on the roster. When Jeff Samardzija is considered your ace pitcher, you know things are bad. You may remember Samardzija from his college football days at Notre Dame.

But there is a glimmer of hope. The Cubs owners have recently decided make some significant upgrades to Wrigley Field in a move that I think will instill some much-needed team pride. I was once someone that loved Wrigley for her rich nostalgia. But that park is 100 years old now (the Cubs even managed to screw up Wrigley’s centennial celebration) and it is really lacking in areas that benefit the players. There is no bullpen - pitchers and catchers have to warm up just off the playing field in foul territory. You just know the locker rooms are undesirable too. The Cubs are probably the only team in baseball that look forward to road trips! But, I like the announcement - it shows that the owners are tired of waiting too.

This week, I love Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown. Anthony Bourdain is an accomplished chef from New York that gained notoriety after writing his book, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly. You may know Bourdain from his popular television show titled, Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations. After this show’s 9th and final season on the Travel Channel, Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown began airing on CNN in 2013. I recently became aware of Unknown on Netflix and had it not been for a little boy’s need to get his Thomas the Train fix, I would have blown through every available episode by now. In each episode, Bourdain travels to non-typical locations, samples the local fare and provides a brief history of each destination. It’s a great way to learn about different cities and cultures. This show also contains excellent reminders that there are some poor, poor, poor people on this planet and God has provided me much, much, much more than I actually need. The following clip is from an episode filmed during his trip to Canada. He did not hang out with poor people on this particular trip.

This week, I don’t like the Wrigley Rooftops. This announcement I mentioned above does not come without controversy. One of the main reasons that prevented the Cubs from making these improvements is the existence of the Wrigley Field Rooftop Association - real estate owners with well-placed bleachers on top of buildings that are across the street from the outfield. These groups charge discounted admission to people who don’t mind watching the Cubs play from afar. The Cubs aren't big fans of these groups and had to work out an agreement several years ago that allowed the Rooftops to remain in business for a hefty fee. The new renovations to Wrigley Field call for changes that would obstruct the view from the Rooftops and more legal action is anticipated, which will likely delay the renovations and the amenities needed for a better team.

Photo Courtesy

Apr 29, 2014

Like, Love and Don't Like

This week, I like Billionaire. I've stated in the past how much I enjoy movies that feature tales of financial scandal. Billionaire somewhat falls into this category and is a real-life account of Larry Hillblom, co-founder of shipping giant DHL (he’s the “H”). I won’t overshare details of this documentary, which you can watch for free on Hulu, but Larry relocated to Micronesia in order avoid paying taxes on his mountain of money in the US. After Larry’s early and unexpected death, the real drama began when his estate’s executors tried to honor Larry’s will (and the fact that he named no heirs) despite multiple island children coming forward to claim their piece of the pie. That’s all I’m going to share. Please watch the film for yourself - you will enjoy it. If you’re like me, you’ll be blown away about the massive dollar amounts that were discussed in the aftermath of Larry’s death.

Here’s a clip from a TV special that covered the same drama.

This week, I love my Mashie. It’s a little-known fact that one’s success on the golf course has a lot to do with the alignment of the cosmos. I really hope I don’t jinx the great relationship that I’m currently enjoying with my Cleveland Mashie hybrid golf club, but I really need to show it some love for its cooperation as of late. We haven’t always been on speaking terms - it’s mostly produced gnarly hooks for me since I obtained it on the cheap off of eBay a few years ago. But something’s clicked lately and I've managed to hit some nice shots with it, even from a bunker. Thanks to the cheesy infomercial Cleveland developed to sell Mashies, these clubs have a bit of a gimmicky stigma to overcome. But it gets the job done for me as long as I keep in mind the time-tested swing thoughts of “don’t swing hard” and “let the club do the work”.

This week, I don’t like the hype surrounding the recent unearthing of a bunch of E.T. games at a landfill. Before I give you the back story on this event, you need to get a clear understanding of the rise and fall of video games in the early 1980’s. Atari made huge waves with their home consoles but there was about a 2 or 3-year period of video game nothingness prior to the success of the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1985. Many people blame Atari for this gap thanks to their horrible, uninspired games that drove people away from video games. The E.T. game made by Atari and based on the hit movie is largely considered to be the absolute worst game ever made. Although I've never played this game, I would have to agree based on this gameplay footage.

{Photo Courtesy}

As the story goes, sales of the E.T. game were so poor that retailers shipped their unsold supply back to Atari. Decades later, a rumor that Atari buried all of their E.T. inventory in a landfill began making the rounds online. This added to the lore of this game’s history and it wasn't long before the rumor was confirmed by a former Atari executive (or something like that). Flash forward to last week’s unearthing, which was heavily documented:

This all leaves me with two questions:
  1. What did this accomplish? Good job on your big find but seriously...you do know why items are sent to landfills, don’t you? 
  2. Uh, did anyone else notice the near-pristine condition of some of those boxes and instruction manuals? I would expect the plastic game cartridges to hold up fairly well to 30 years of underground conditions but not the paper goods! HOLY COW - that stuff hasn’t decomposed one bit!! I know the games, boxes, etc. were probably held within other containers but...WOW.

Apr 10, 2014

Like, Love and Don't Like

This week, I like Amazon’s Wish List feature. This embodies the next-level laziness and an aversion to interacting with other people that is brought on by the Internet. Let’s say I’m browsing the web and come across a neat t-shirt that I would like to own. Using the Amazon Wish List extension on my browser, a simple click of a button adds this shirt to a list of other items that I've added to a Wish List that’s associated with my Amazon profile. I can add or delete items at any time and even share a link to my Wish List with others. Adding items to my Wish List has become my newest hobby.

This week, I love food trucks. April 6th was “Food Truck Fellowship Sunday” at Covenant Presbyterian Church. Four (4!!) local food trucks were on site to serve up a variety of great food after church and Sunday school. I don’t get to enjoy this type of dining experience very often so I was really looking forward to digging in. They did not disappoint! Best of the bunch had to be Off the Hook - I had some great shrimp tacos and Julie had some awesome “rocket shrimp”. The size and taste of these shrimp FAR exceeded my expectations. It was hard to believe that something so tasty was prepared inside of a truck! I don’t know why I had a less-than-stellar impression of food trucks and food truck cuisine before this experience but I will always keep my eyes peeled for food trucks from now on.

Graham loved the food too but I think he liked the “bounce houses” the church set up even more.

This week, I don’t like NPR pledge drives. So, I've been listening to NPR a lot in my car lately. Before you label me a tree-huggin’ Democrat, know that NPR programming is surprisingly entertaining and their news segments are very informative. You've gotta love the somber tone use by the on-air personalities too...very soothing for post-work, rush hour traffic. NPR’s advertising-free stance is a definite bonus too since programs like The Rick and Bubba Show feature 49 minutes of ads per hour. You’ll never hear a full-on ad like you will on other stations.

Ah, but all good things must come to an end (at least for a little bit). WBHM, the local NPR affiliate, is currently hosting a pledge drive in which they constantly ask listeners to donate money to the station. This has been driving me crazy. They've got everyone from the general manager to the station janitor coming on air and reminding people how much a donation means. What’s worse is that they know it’s annoying. They try to compensate by regularly stating that WBHM is cutting the number of pledge drives in half this year. That’s a nice thought but all that really does is create a situation for a higher dosage of pledge drive begging!

I guess I should take comfort in knowing that the current pledge drive will be over soon and that we can get back to regular to normal programming that hits close to home.

Mar 29, 2014

Like, Love and Don't Like

This week, I like This Old House. I’m handy to the point where Julie keeps me around. Not only am I without the knowledge of how to frame a door, I really can’t say I have the desire to frame a door. But I really like watching that kind of stuff on This Old House. I can’t explain it. It’s amazing to watch some of the jobs they accomplish in just half an hour! OK, kidding - but I do like the continuation they have for each season’s house. I like all of the characters on the show too - Tom’s got little-man syndrome, Norm rarely picks up a tool, Roger (or Rahjah) seems to have a decent green thumb for a Yankee, Richard the plumber is really sarcastic and they ALL give Kevin the host a hard time. Interesting side note: as much as I like This Old House, I couldn't care less about Ask This Old House.

TOH's opening theme has come a long way since things began in 1980:

This week, I love Hoverpost. This is work-related but I really, really like this new tool I stumbled across just the other day. In general, working in the marketing world is all about proving your worth. We love us some analytics. In turn, social media is all about keeping it short and sweet - especially with URL links that eat up valuable character space. Hoverpost helps handle all of the above. Basically, it’s a URL shortener that produces a link that, when clicked, will display embeddable media over your website. So, when the viewer finishes watching the video you linked (for example), your website will appear. Hoverpost provides added pageviews for your website AND the analytics to track your clicks!

Here’s a real-life example: I shared a link to a YouTube video on my employer’s Facebook page earlier this week. Rather than using my normal URL shortener, I used Hoverpost. Click this link to see the results: http://hovr.us/2oviP

This week, I don’t like being a victim of leftism. No, this doesn’t have anything to do with political preferences. Leftism - or maybe I should say rightism? - pertains to the ratio of right-hand golf clubs to left-handed golf clubs in the marketplace. I’ve played golf for the majority of my life now and while the availability of left-handed equipment has tremendously improved over the last two decades, dexterity equality is a concept that has always seemed unattainable by us lefties. I was recently saddened to learn that some of the major equipment manufacturers are still incorporating leftist practices into their production lines. Long story short, I found out that the loft/bounce combo for a particular wedge I like is not available in a left-handed model. This is a REAL problem. It is 2014, people - it is time for this unfair treatment to end. Please write to your Congressman on my behalf.

Of course, I could always follow Bubba's lead: