Sep 25, 2014

Like, Love and Don't Like

This week, I like drones. No, not the military types. I'm referring to the commercially-produced versions that are growing in popularity. When equipped with a decent camera, these vehicles can provide amazing vantage points that have never been so easily accessed by videographers. Drones are now crossing over from recreational to commercial use. Golf courses, realtors and other businesses are starting to incorporate this technology into their marketing efforts after realizing a video from above trumps the traditional ground-level photograph.

I don’t have any desire to own a drone but I enjoy watching this phenomenon from the sidelines. There is a lot of drama and controversy pertaining to regulated airspace when is comes to operating drones in public places - and that's always good entertainment.

Here are some of my favorite drone videos.

Oh, and watch for "dronies" to become a thing.

This week, I love our Chromecast. My sister gave me a gift card for my birthday and with that gift card I purchased a Chromecast. I’m here to tell you that Google has knocked it out of the park once again. Here's the breakdown: this device pairs with your smartphone/tablet and WiFi signal to stream videos, movies, music and shows directly to your TV. Many big players in the media industry, including ESPN, HBO and ABC, have worked with Google to make their mobile apps work seamlessly with the Chromecast device.

I've been completely amazed and the picture quality of the college football games I've watched this season via Chromecast when piped through my phone. As a cord cutter, this device gives me great hope that networks will soon bypass the overcharging cable companies and sell subscriptions to their content. I guess that's the only downfall of Chromecast at this order to view premium TV content, you have to provide the login to the account you have with your cable provider. Time will tell!

This week, I don’t like NBC Sports. As I mentioned, I am a cord cutter and I really appreciate the opportunity to watch streaming programs and sporting events. PBS makes episodes of Downton Abbey available online. I can watch every PGA tournament that CBS Sports carries on a laptop or smartphone. ABC's website was the only place I could watch the final episodes of Happy Endings after we told Charter Communications "no thanks". This concept of sharing is wonderful!

Unfortunately, the folks at NBC Sports (owners of the Golf Channel) aren't in a giving mood. Earlier this summer, the men's and women's US Open was played at the same course in back-to-back weeks. NBC Sports carried the events. I was happily surprised to learn that I could watch the men's tourney online. Weirdly, I had no such luck when trying to watch the women's tournament the next week. NBC did not stream any of the recent PGA Tour playoff events either. You can forget about them streaming any of their Sunday Night Football games. Although that's more of an NFL issue, that’s a terrible policy because I watched the 49ers and the Ravens play in the freaking Super Bowl on CBS on a laptop just a few years ago!! The Golf Channel sends me an email and invites me to watch the Ryder Cup online LIVE...and this is what I get:

I’m not sure what can be done about the stinginess at NBC Sports but the good news is that they lost the rights to cover the US Open to Fox Sports. If the shot callers at Fox Sports are reading this (and I’m sure they are) take note: this is your chance to gain a lot of fans!!

Aug 15, 2014

Like, Love and Don't Like

This week, I like Johnsonville Brats. I'm a fan of hot dogs. I'm a fan of sausages too. It's important to realize that there is a difference because I occasionally substitute hot dogs with sausages. But because grilling a sausage dog takes more time than zapping a hot dog in a microwave, the Baggetts don't enjoy sausage dogs very often. So on those special occasions, we have always reached for a package of Conecuh sausage and we have always been very pleased with the results. Well Julie recently changed the game by introducing the family to Johnsonville Brats. These are not the huge sausages you see Green Bay Packers fans preparing at their tailgate in a vat of beer and onions. These bad boys are found in the hot dog section of your grocery store and are only slightly bigger than your normal hot dog. I guess you could cook these brats in a microwave but I played it safe and used the grill. Pro tip: when grilling, remember that these are sausages with casings that can rip when exposed to prolonged heat. Rotation is the key.

These are so good! The brats Julie purchased had cheddar cheese inside the them but I cannot find this variety on the Johnsonville website. It doesn’t matter though - if you see some, buy them!

This week, I love the state of golf. I've seen a lot of golf trends come and go over the years - changes in apparel, swings, player physiques and much more. Golf is certainly more popular with regular folks these days and I fully believe that popularity is due to the success of Tiger Woods. However, as I watched the 2014 PGA Championship last weekend, it was clear to see that Tiger is struggling with his health and his game. That observation, combined with the troubling news from the golf retail industry, made me concerned about the future of golf. But that tournament was a great shot in the arm and proved that the sport is indeed in good shape.

Even though Tiger was not around for the weekend, the leaderboard featured young stars, old favorites (Phil!!!) and foreign players. Each year, golf experts roll their eyes and wonder aloud if the PGA Championship should be even considered one of the four "major" tournaments. Given the ratings success of this year’s event, I’d say that conversation has been silenced.

Having Tiger fade from the game could be good on an economic front. For hard core Tiger fans, it's Tiger or nothing. This approach could translate to lower demand for tee times and equipment, thus causing a drop in the amount of money one would have to spend to enjoy the game. That's always a good thing!

Time will tell. You never really know with Tiger - he could bounce back stronger than ever. Either way, the game of golf is in a really good position. Oh, and folks...we’re going to be seeing Rory for a very, very long time. He's good at everything.

This week, I don’t like the ice bucket challenge. You've probably noticed a lot of Facebook videos of celebrities or athletes pouring buckets of water over their own heads lately. This craze, called the ice bucket challenge, has really gained a lot of steam over the summer and is supposed to be a fun form of charitable fundraising.

Here's my understanding of the ice bucket challenge: PERSON A challenges PERSON B to donate money (usually $100) to a specified charity within a certain amount of time (usually 24 hours). If PERSON B fails to meet the challenge, he/she has to dump a bucket of cold water onto their own head. The act can be filmed and PERSON B can call out other people for a similar challenge.

In these videos, pouring the bucket of cold water onto your own head is the “punishment” for failing the challenge of donating money to the charity. So given the large number of videos seen across social media, it doesn't seem that charities are benefiting much from these challenges. Actually, it seems that people prefer to dump water on their head over donating money to charity!

NOOOooooo! Not you too, Coach!! I I wrong? Do I have a complete misunderstanding of this challenge? Please set me straight!

Jul 27, 2014

Like, Love and Don't Like - Vacation Edition

The Baggetts just returned from a great vacation at the Corman's home in Destin. So, this will be a special edition of LL&DL.

This week, I like the new toll roads on the way to Destin. It's been a few years since I've been to the beach. The new toll road that bypasses Niceville is great and helps avoid a lot of traffic lights. I imagine that this road will be a big help with hurricane evacuations too. There's no need to stop and pay the toll on this new road. Your vehicle is photographed and an invoice is sent to the address associated with your license plate. I wonder what happens if your tag isn't updated or if you removed your license plate? Who knows but the new road helps make for a faster trip and the faster the trip, the faster we get to have fun!

This week, I love swimming with Graham. I've been a dad for a little more than 2.5 years now and I have never experienced a better "father moment" than when swimming with Graham this week. Graham showed no fear of the water (which was bad at times) and loved paddling around the pool on his own. He even built up the courage to climb out of the pool on his own and jump back in.

Graham would have loved for us to allow him to stay in the pool all day. Even when he was obviously tired, he still enjoyed bobbing up and down in his puddle jumper vest.

This week, I don't like the end of vacation week. I occasionally suffer from the "Sunday Night Blues" but that's got nothing on the way I feel at the end of a vacation week. We had such a great time and it's really hard to accept that the week has come to an end. But, I don't regret anything - we had great weather and got to do everything we wanted. It will be hard to duplicate the fun time we had on this trip but we'll use that challenge to keep us working hard for our next vacation opportunity!

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.

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