Jan 28, 2015

Like, Love and Don't Like

This week, I like normal winters. Today is the one-year anniversary of the weirdest, most maddening winter events that I've ever experienced. So far, this has been a typical Alabama winter, and I really like that. Last year's ice event caused a lot of chaos for the better part of a week. I can't imagine how folks even function after snow storms like what occurred in Buffalo last November and this week in the northeast. Even one year later, I still slightly panic any time my tires spin on wet pavement and think the worst of thoughts - like what's depicted in this recent video from a New Jersey driver.

Would you be as calm and steady as this guy if you saw an out-of-control truck barreling your way?

Me neither.

This week, I love advances in car technology. For me, browsing the websites of car manufacturers has become the modern day version of visiting the local dealership. The new designs of Chevrolet's cars and trucks have really caught my eye - especially that new Chevy Colorado. We come to expect car manufacturers to raise the bar each year but I'm super impressed with the WiFi feature that Chevrolet has added to their new vehicles.

This will change road trips forever!

This week, I don’t like misplaced pity. I've had plenty of time to collect my thoughts about Auburn’s 2014 college football season. Ending the season by losing 4 of the last 5 games seems oddly acceptable given the promise that next year holds. But before we begin hyping next season (or is it too late for that?) I would like to address an issue of misplaced pity that fell upon the shoulders of kicker Daniel Carlson immediately after Auburn's overtime loss to Wisconsin in the Outback Bowl. I did not like the swiftness at which the media, coaches and many fans consoled Carlson as if his missed kick was the reason Auburn lost that game. I did not like that because it seemed to redirect the blame for the defense's abysmal play onto something more tangible - a helpless kicker. Also, where was the pity for Auburn kicker Cody Parkey when he also missed a pair of crucial field goals in a far more significant bowl game the prior season?

"Cool it with the penalties on 3rd and long, Mincy." 
Auburn's defense is the reason for those losses and to even hint at placing the blame on a non-defensive player is crazy. I, like a lot of people, like the hiring of Will Muschamp as Auburn's new defensive coordinator but I've been on enough of these roller coasters to know that every up has a down. Muschamp will certainly improve Auburn’s defense but I have that creeping thought in the back in my mind: What if he doesn't??

Oct 30, 2014

Like, Love and Don't Like

This week, I like the potential for TV subscriptions. Recently, HBO announced that it will begin selling subscriptions to their programs. These subscriptions will not require a traditional cable subscription and allow viewers to watch popular shows on mobile devises via an internet connection. While I don't watch any HBO shows, I'm very excited for this move and the pressure it might put on other cable channels (and even networks) to make similar offers. Cord cutters rejoice!

This week, I love Julie's sales skills. I love my wife for thousands of reasons but one in particular is her shared low tolerance for unused items taking up precious space in our home. But where I'm perfectly satisfied to simply trash such an item, Julie exhausts all avenues to sell that item. I'm not just talking about eBay - - Julie has also tapped into local sales groups that utilize Facebook. I'm completely lost as to how it all works but I'm thankful that Julie is determined enough to make something out of nothing!

This week, I don't like the various approaches to updating a home. In our search for a bigger house, we've visited may area homes that are for sale. In the homes that are included in our price range, I've noticed two levels of effort made by home owners when keeping their bathrooms, kitchens etc. updated: none and cheap. The "none" approach is more popular. I get it...home repairs and renovations are expensive. But it amazes me each time we see a home interior that's had it's current look since 1973. On the flip side (pun intended), it's not always refreshing to see a bathroom that has received a lot of attention...but only with the bare-minimum spent on materials. It seems crazy that there's no middle ground but that probably goes back to the price range in which we're looking.

By the way, why did so many bathrooms feature a pink or mint green color scheme back in the day??

*Above photo used for reference only. Not seen in any homes we've considered buying....but a close example!

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 time...in 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 mean...am I wrong? Do I have a complete misunderstanding of this challenge? Please set me straight!