Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Bring back ties

I'm not trying to make a fashion statement, although I regularly wear ties. I want them to bring back ties. Not the necktie, but tie ball games.

I'm primarily talking about college football, since the professional game is a bunch of whiny millionaires that aren't fit to carry Jim Brown's or Johnny Unitas' shoes. I don't care what those clowns do.

In college football, we need more ties. It complicates things, and nobody is happy with it. So, why do I want them to bring back ties? Because that's life.

Sometimes, you win, sometimes you lose. And sometimes nobody wins. That's life.

Sure, it'll cause some inconvenience. And now that they have a mini version of a playoffs in Division 1-A -- they still need to have a 16-team playoff, not this 4-team thing -- it will be necessary to break those tie games through the semi-finals.

What about the title game? Well, if it ends in a tie, we have co-champions. That's how life is sometimes. Nobody wins. Even in the most important things, sometimes there's no winner.

Then there's the fact that there is no limit on the number of overtimes. The players have fought hard for 60 minutes, and are being asked to put themselves at risk even longer for a game. Sure, they want to win. Everyone wants to win. But sometimes, nobody wins.

Put a limit on the number of overtimes, you say? Well, if a tie is okay after, say, four overtimes, why not after three? Or two? Or one? Or none, since ties are okay?

So, how to implement this? Well, I'm for just doing it. Unless it's a playoff game before the finals, then a tie is a tie.

Conference championship game? A tie is a tie. Co-champions.

But what if the game determines who plays in the Porcelain Bowl? Let the Porcelain Bowl invite one of them. Or pick somebody else.

Of course, that won't happen. But they could allow ties in non-conference games as a start. How likely is that? Well, when there's games like Alabama playing Sister Mary Margaret's School For Wayward Girls, it's unlikely. But imagine how excited Wossamotta U would be if they managed to play Ohio State to a tie. For them, not losing is a win.

There have also been some great tie games. There was the Harvard-Yale 29-29 tie. The Notre Dame-Michigan State 10-10 tie. The Notre Dame-Army 0-0 tie. The Army-Nave 21-21 tie. Classic games all.

And, with all that football does teach some of the players -- those with enough character to pay attention -- is that sometimes, you just don't win. Sometimes, nobody does. But you have to accept it.

Yeah, I'd like to see the tie brought back to college football. It's a life lesson that's important. It's frustrating. Nobody is happy. But sometimes that's life.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Cable again

I have cable TV again.

That's something I never expected.

You see, I'm a huge advocate of cutting the cord. I'm generally not a fan of cable TV. Or satellite TV. Since January 2011, I've been watching TV mostly by streaming content. But, suddenly, I now have cable TV service.

Let's get some stuff out of the way first. I'm paying for Internet and TV (by whatever means) at two locations. At one location, I dropped cable in January 2011 when, after crunching all the numbers, I determined that I'd save $65/month by dropping cable and moving to streaming. Now, that $780/year ($65/month x 12) was not full savings. I had to buy a Roku. And a TV antenna. And I had to buy a few TV episodes that weren't available by other means. Still, I had a large net savings for the year. So, I was happy.

New offerings came available. Hulu expanded. Amazon Prime streaming expanded. Netflix expanded. Services like Sling TV came along. All that just reinforced by decision to drop cable. Everything was great.

Later, I began paying for Internet and TV (by whatever means) at another location. That location was serviced by an entirely different cable and Internet provider.

At the second location, I found that I could get a decent broadband Internet connection plus local channels cheaper than Internet service alone. Yeah, I didn't believe it at first, but sure enough, that was the case. Which meant I didn't have to shell out anything for an antenna. I'd get Internet service cheaper, and could watch local channels (which is all I would have picked up from the antenna anyway), and it wasn't a bad price.

Every 6 to 12 months, I'd have to take my happy butt down to one or the other of the cable offices -- I get better results in person because of my charming personality -- and renegotiate a price. After my experience with the second provider, I learned to check for packages that aren't advertised. And, that continued along for a bit. Well, it continued until late September.

In late August or early September, I'd add Sling TV with the Sports Add-on so I could watch college football. After the season, I'd drop Sling TV. Sometimes, I'd use DirecTV Now or one of the other streaming services if they had a great deal on a package or offered a free streaming device. I ended up with several Apple TV devices or Roku devices by doing that. Still got a Roku in the box, never opened.

Recently, one of the locations had gone up, meaning the 12-month "special" had expired. So, I marched myself down to the cable office and started negotiations. This time, when asking about the cost of services, I found out that I could get Internet and a basic cable package -- not a locals only/lifeline package, but one with ESPN and other cable channels -- for a decent price.

I calculated the cost of Internet plus Sling TV with Sports Add-on against the cost of Internet and Basic Cable. And, what do you know? The Basic Cable package was cheaper.

Now, before I ran to sign up for that, I checked into a few other things, such as how well authentication against apps on Apple TV or Roku -- I didn't bother with Amazon Fire TV or Android TV, since Apple TV and Roku are over 95% of my watching -- and found out that they'd work. The local cable company even supports that single sign-on for many apps on Apple TV.

My streaming service that included ESPN was going to renew today, but last week, I got the cable service going, and now I've dropped my streaming service in favor of cable TV. Which surprised me.

If you had told me that I'd be going back to cable, I'd've told you that you were crazy. You still might be crazy, but telling me I'm going back to cable has no bearing on that assessment. Because here I am. A cable user.

I feel so dirty. But I'm saving money.

Took 'em nearly eight years to get the message.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

John McCain

I haven't said much about John McCain's death. Heck, before now, I haven't said anything about it. Not even to people privately.

There's not anything I could add to what people have said. I will say that I voted for John McCain for president in 2008 because he was a better choice than the idiot the Democrats nominated. I had some strong online disagreements with some people at that time. They said he was no better than Obama. I thought just about anybody would be better than Obama. I still feel that way.

I don't regret my 2008 vote. McCain wouldn't have been the president I wanted, but he would have been a better president that what we got. I thought that then, and I think that now.

I wasn't a big fan of his throughout his political career, but I did respect his service. I've seen people online trashing his service, and I don't particularly care for that. Don't like his politics? Fine. I'm right there with you. Don't like his service? I'm not gonna join you on that.

One thing in particular that's been going around again relates to the aircraft carrier fire that killed 134 service members. Yes, McCain's plane was the source of the fuel that fed the fire. No, McCain wasn't responsible. The Navy determined that a missile was accidentally launched from elsewhere on the carrier, that the missile hit two planes (including McCain's) and started a spill that was ignited by the missile rocket engines, and that the missile landed in the ocean without exploding.


[The YouTube]

How much of those statements about McCain are from misinformation or people that just don't care about the facts, I don't know. I'm not a fan of either.

What I'd rather focus on are the good things. Like I mentioned, I didn't always agree with McCain on some things, many things, in fact. But let me conclude with this appearance on Saturday Night Live, from back when it was funny.


[DailyMotion]

Monday, August 20, 2018

UPS has PSd me off

I had a Roku suddenly stop working the other day. That's actually unusual -- or has been until recently.

You see, I've had Roku devices since 2010, and I've had great success with them. I'd replace them only because I wanted a newer device for one reason or another. I'd hand the older ones off to family or friends and enjoy the new one.

Well, I've had a couple of different Roku Ultra boxes lately, due to problems I've experienced. And one of them was one I bought from Walmart that suddenly stopped working. So, I took it back to Walmart. Only they said I had to contact the manufacturer. So, I contacted Roku, and after a couple of days, they finally issued an RMA. So, I shipped it off via UPS last week.

Well, it's been a week and I still haven't heard back from Roku. So I pulled out the receipt and put in the tracking number and found out ... UPS is delivering it to Roku today.

The receipt shows I paid $19.66 to ship it last Monday. The tracking information shows they picked it up last Monday. A week ago. Made it down to Jacksonville last Monday night. And finally made it to California yesterday ... six days later. Well, it's out for deliver to Roku in San Jose today.

$19.66 for UPS to take a week to get a package to California. Heck, I coulda put it in one of those big Priority Mail envelopes from the Post Office and had it there last Wednesday for $6.70. And, no I didn't compare before I shipped. There's a place a couple of blocks from the house that is really convenient. What's not convenient is paying almost $20 for something to take a week to deliver.

Yeah, UPS has PSd me off. I shoulda used the Post Office. And you can bet, next time, I will.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Getting thrown out of Disney World

I've only been thrown out of Walt Disney World once in my life.

Now let me pause for a moment and say that I suspect that statement may surprise people, but for different reasons. Some may be surprised that I was thrown out of Walt Disney World at all. The others may be surprised that it has only been once.

When did this happen? Why recently. Quite recently.

You see, I normally wear a hat and coat. The hat keeps my delicate skin from being ravaged by the sun. Actually, it's partly due to a really bad episode of sunburn I received in Kuwait. So, lately, a hat has been a part of my wardrobe. Not a cap. A hat. A grown man hat.

When you wear a hat, you also should wear a coat. Looks better. Plus, a coat is great for concealed carry, as I'm not a fan of open carry.

I've had a shoulder holster for a bit. My first one actually broke. Not sure why, but it broke. So, I replaced it, but my new one didn't come with a place to hold an extra magazine. I've been carrying the extra magazine in my coat pocket.

Well, as I mentioned, I went to Disney World recently. They don't take kindly to carrying weapons inside -- although a Leatherman is okay -- so I left my .380 in the car. But, I forgot I had the magazine in my coat pocket.

I was reminded of it when I took emptied my pockets at the gate to enter the Magic Kingdom park. They called all kind of security folks, including a bunch of deputies, to look at it.

They wanted to see my ID, my carry permit -- Georgia and Florida reciprocate -- and had a few questions. Then they said I could leave. So, I left.

I put the magazine in my luggage and went back to the park and had a good time. Maybe I'll tell you more about the trip, but you've already heard the best part.

If I get thrown out again, I'll tell you all about it, though.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Independence Day (2018)

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
  • He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
  • He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
  • He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
  • He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
  • He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
  • He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
  • He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
  • He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
  • He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
  • He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
  • He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
  • He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
  • He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
    • For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
    • For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
    • For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
    • For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
    • For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
    • For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
    • For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
    • For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
    • For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
  • He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
  • He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
  • He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
  • He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
  • He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Directors I apparently like

As I was looking over my movie collection, I noticed a few names of directors that, well, surprised me. Mostly, it had to do with how many, or how few, movies of any particular director I had in my movie library.

I had the most Buster Keaton movies, which really didn't surprise me, considering that I have some of his two-reelers. I have, as of this writing, 16 of his movies; that is, movies he actually directed. Of those 16, only two are feature-length films:
  • The General
  • Steamboat Bill, Jr.
The others are shorts:
  • The Balloonatic
  • The Blacksmith
  • The Boat
  • Cops
  • Day Dreams
  • The Electric House
  • The Frozen North
  • The Goat
  • The Love Nest
  • My Wife's Relations
  • One Week
  • The Paleface
  • The Play House
  • The Scarecrow
As for the director whose name is on the most of the movies I have, it really didn't surprise me that it's Alfred Hitchcock. What surprised me was that I only had 11 of his films:
  • The Birds
  • Family Plot
  • Frenzy
  • North By Northwest
  • Psycho
  • Rear Window
  • Rebecca
  • Suspicion
  • To Catch a Thief
  • Topaz
  • Vertigo
I thought I had Lifeboat, but I don't. Same with The Wrong Man, The Trouble With Harry, Strangers On A Train, Notorious, and others. I've seen them, but didn't realize I didn't own them. I don't have as many Hitchcock films as I want.

I have nine movies by William Wyler and Steven Spielberg. I never would have picked those off the top of my head as being directors of who made up that many of my film library. I sort of have nine by Ridley Scott, but that number included two versions of Blade Runner and two version of Alien. So, I actually have seven of his. I also have seven by Martin Scorsese and seven by Billy Wilder. Again, I never would have thought that, until I actually sorted by director and discovered that.

What probably surprised me most was that I only have one film by Akira Kurosawa: The Hidden Fortress. Which means I don't have Seven Samurai. Or Yojimbo. Or Rashomon. Or... well, you get the idea.

I had no idea I liked William Wyler that much. Looking at the actual films, most of them aren't films I'll watch again and again. Same with Spielberg's films.

Of course, that's probably true of most of the movies I own. Which makes me wonder why I even own them.

Probably because I can. Which is as good a reason as any.