I won’t be eating turkey this year. Perhaps I’ll never eat it again…at least until I move to a different neighborhood.
Oh, I’m not against turkey per se. I’m just against eating my neighbors. Shortly after moving to our current location a little over three years ago, we gradually got to know the folks who live in our small subdivision. A few came over with well-wishes and even bottles of wine to welcome us.
We got became familiar with others during our nightly walks through the sub, often stopping to chat or making a fuss over someone’s dog. It’s a small community so it didn’t take long to take complete inventory of who lives where. Then one night we discovered a family we hadn’t yet met.
As I looked out my front window I saw them sauntering in the street and entering a neighbor’s driveway, perhaps to offer holiday wishes and trade non-poultry-based recipes. I managed to capture some of the rather large clan’s approach on video while inviting them to waddle over some time.
A few weeks later I noticed a lone member of the family in the woods behind my house with his feathers fully extended. The object of his flamboyance was about a hundred yards further in the brush out of camera range. The poor Tom was hoping to score a little Tammy on that crisp fall morning. It took him awhile to get there. I don’t know if they did, indeed, hook up, but our whole family was in his corner hoping at least one of them enjoyed some stuffing.
All in all, they’re pretty good neighbors. They pretty much flock together and don’t make much noise except for occasional squawks of pleasure or recognition. Once in a while if a mischievous squirrel or raccoon pisses them off the squawks will take on a little more urgency, but who can blame them.
Look, I’m not a hypocrite. I eat meat and fish and poultry and understand the process, but in this case, I have to put my foot down at eating my neighbors. Besides, if you gobble them, you never know who’s gonna move in next.
In my semi-retirement I’m enjoying my part-time freelance gigs that keep my brain from turning to grits and thanks to this election cycle, I think I’ve decided on my next endeavor. I’m going to be a pollster.
What I’ve learned from watch actual, professional pollsters is it seems like you can make some decent money while never actually being accurate. As a journalist, this goes against all my ethics. Then again, news organizations are among the biggest spenders on polls in order to manufacturer news stories that may or may not be true, but every time the poll is referenced in a story the name or names of the sponsoring news organizations are mentioned, providing some effective promotion.
We’ve seen from both the 2016 and the 2020 presidential election cycles that pollsters can swing and miss by a mile the eventual results. Guess all that victory party planning by Hillary Clinton’s campaign based on polling that she’d wipe Trump’s butt in the election was a big oops. Maybe they should have charged the pollsters the costs of streamers, confetti and caviar.
They blew it again this year, prediction a big blue wave where the Democrats took back the Senate, widened their majority in the House and Joe Biden would sashay into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The Dems won’t regain the majority in the Senate, their majority in the House narrowed and days after votes were cast, Joe Biden still can’t tell the post office to begin forwarding his mail as of Jan. 20, 2021, even though it seems inevitable. It wasn’t supposed to be this close…according to the polls.
The irony is, despite their total whiff, pollsters will still make big bucks for what really amounts to an attempt at legal jury tampering. The supposition by political organizations that buy polls is if voters see their candidate as a winner in the pre-election polls, they’ll be likely to support him or her with real votes. Turns out voters may enjoy reading news stories about the latest polls but when they cast their ballots they think for themselves.
If I ran a polling agency I’d be more honest about it. I’d run the poll and report the results with a margin for error of plus or minus 100 points. The client would get the numbers they paid for and if they turned out completely wrong I could always say, well…they were within the margin for error.
I would give my new polling agency the appropriate title, “I’ve Got Your Numbers” or IGYN. Can’t wait to pick up the New York Times and read the lead, “In an IGYN-NY Times poll, 78% of those on the Acela Express Amtrak agreed that railroads take people places. 17% said they wandered on the train looking for packs of Saltines and the rest had no opinion and asked to return to their naps. ‘This poll is conclusive evidence people depend on Amtrak for something,’ said Amtrak spokeswoman Dee Rail.”
See? I think this could work out. In fact I polled my family on the idea. 94% nodded their heads while muttering “yeah, sure,” 2% smirked and 4% asked me to bring them beers. None responded negatively. Margin for error, 100%. I’m goin’ with it.
Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash is being blamed today for making a bonehead move that probably contributed to his team’s loss in the World Series. You see, he pulled the team’s ace pitcher, Blake Snell even though he was tossing a great game…surrendering to the endless babble of numbers, acronyms and abbreviations known as Sabremetrics…or as I call them….”WTFetrics” Cash just didn’t want Dodgers batters to get a third time at the plate against the guy, even though Snell was basically mowing them down.
As a lifelong fan of the national pastime I was content with knowing a batter’s average, a pitchers earned run average and other stats like how many homers a guy hit, bases he stole and runs he batted in.
I get that things have moved along and we now know esoterica that help managers, owners and players supposedly make better decisions on the field and off. Therefore, I’ve decided to go with the flow and adapt this development to my own life.
I started today at noon with my midday repast. As I lifted my ham sandwich to my piehole I asked my meal mate to take some video on their phones that I could later examine to better understand what I have designated my “Lunch angle.” Could I more effortlessly ingest my ham on rye by reducing the angle at which it enters my mouth? By adjusting my lunch angle, I might be able to keep my mouth shut longer, thereby allowing me to listen to the gossip being offered before taking another sloppy, noisy bite. I love anything that improves cognition.
Another stat I find useful is how I measure and regulate complaining. I’ve set a hard and fast limit by establishing a firm Bitch Count. When I find myself getting too whiny, I cut myself off after four complaints within an 8-hour period. Then I engage in a self-enforced cool-down cycle by swilling two fingers of Jack Daniels on the rocks. The same goes for anyone I happen to be with. Hit the Bitch Count and you’re cut off–forced to join me for happy hour until you calm down. Could take several rounds.
The one baseball stat I find mind-numbing is OBP, or on-base percentage. Here’s now the pros figure it: On Base Percentage (aka OBP, On Base Average, OBA) is a measure of how often a batter reaches base. It is approximately equal to Times on Base/Plate appearances. The full formula is OBP = (Hits + Walks + Hit by Pitch) / (At Bats + Walks + Hit by Pitch + Sacrifice Flies)
In real life one can use a similar formula to measure a person’s inability to use tact or diplomacy or Obtuse Bile Percentage. The formula would be expressed thusly as: OBP= Swear words + Corporate slang + Inappropriate hand gestures / Text messages with angry emojis + Selfish demands + Supportive References to Sean Hannity. A perfect score of 1.000 wins the designation as PTB or Perfect Trump Boor.
My final example is the fascinating, yet polarizing stat known as the WHIF…or Wife plus Husband per Issues Fought. It’s fairly self-explanatory and is considered an important predictor of future evenings bereft of connubial connection.
That’s just a start but I’m sure by the end of the season I will have established a new benchmark for UNR or Useless Numbers Referenced. Play ball!
I know there are plenty of weighty things on everyone’s minds, but a recent story I read in the Detroit Free Press has me really bewildered. I can only describe it as a misinformed, unfair and disappointing diatribe against a completely innocent element of long-standing tradition. Have you read it? I’m actually still reeling from the vicious attack on something that has a potential lifespan longer than obsidian and just as impenetrable. Yes…we’ve all found some in the folds and recesses of our trick or treat bags, car seats and oral cavities.
Yes, in this period of social and political polarity, let’s come together on the benefits and joys that can only be derived from one diminutive source: candy corn.
Sure, the multicolored confection will rot your teeth and expand your gut but man, that’s so half-empty. Let’s start with the whole teeth rotting thing. So what? Your natural choppers erode from the twin forces of attempting to chew the unchewable and being bathed in pure sugar? No problem. Skip the dentist, reach into the bag and as fast as you can say “high deductible” you’ve got an entirely new set and you’ve avoided the cost and pain of the traditional substitutes. Besides, orange and yellow are so much more fun than the boring all white. It’s 2020 man! The year where normal doesn’t exist.
Now let’s address those who advocate for the Second Amendment. Personally, I’m not a gun guy. When I was in the Boy Scouts I was so bad at the shooting range I could use the same paper target over and over again. Not even close. For sure, the targets were safe. Not so sure about my troop mates. Now, be open-minded about this. Swap those hollow-points for Brachs white tips.
Instead of putting holes in a person or animal, they might merely cause an annoying welt before disintegrating. I think that amounts to reasonable stopping power in self-defense situations. I imagine any charges filed would have be reduced from those related to using a “deadly weapon” to merely “firing fattening projectiles.” The use of candy corn rounds won’t provide meat on your table but I find the best hunting in the wild aisles of Costco anyway.
Personally, I always keep a few bags of the stuff in my workshop. Candy corns are small and strong enough for use as shims and for temporarily filling holes in drywall until I can get around to spackling them. The added advantage is, when they’ve outlived their utilitarian uses you can just pop ’em in your mouth—no waste. I love the environment!
An important consideration when discussing sweets is the mess factor. Candy corn doesn’t make one because they don’t melt like chocolate or marshmallow. In fact, they’re fairly indestructible. Little known fact—candy corn is a favorite among those carrying out testing of thermonuclear devices due to their ability to withstand blistering temperatures. The folks I’ve spoken to who work in that field really appreciate the quick jolt candy corn provides after a hard day of testing the stuff that could result in the end of humanity. Come to think of it, eating too much candy corn could pretty much be anyone’s final meal.
All I know is, as a kid growing up in Queens, I never turned my nose up when a neighbor tossed a bag of candy corn in my trick or treat bag. Maybe that’s because I knew they were awesome slingshot projectiles, I could use them as little door stops or to terrorize my parents by sticking a bunch in my mouth, getting my brother to play act that he was slugging me in the face and then I spit them out as if he broke all my teeth. Fun! As a parent I’ve been repaid for my idiocy many times over. Wouldn’t change a thing.
So don’t discount the value of much maligned candy corn. Sure, it tastes like sugary wax but as Jerry Seinfeld once told his father when he thought The Wizard personal digital assistant was merely a tip calculator…….
Some title, huh? That was the subject line of an emailed story pitch I received this week. I was tempted to reply, “thanks, but I already had crabs for dinner last night.” But that’s just a joke I saved for myself.
One of the best reasons for being a reporter is the free education you receive. Over the course of 47 years at this I’ve learned everything from how to genetically alter tomatoes to the “joys” of consuming sautéed bulls testicles to steering cockroaches to, yes, information related to sexually transmitted diseases. Such is a the life of a so-called “general assignment” reporter.
However, when you’re on a specific beat, as I have been for the past 30 years that’s the focus of your efforts and that should also be the focus of a PR person’s story pitches. Light research into what a reporter covers can save everyone lots of wasted time, effort and disappointment.
Here’s another example of an actual pitch I received recently, obviously from a PR person who has no idea that my beat is the auto industry.
“Hello…I understand that you may be inundated with similar requests, but truly hope that you’ll find the time to review and write about TAIMI – the world’s largest LGBTQI+ platform that features dating and social networking.”
Being the wiseass I am, I was poised to reply with something like, “thanks a lot for reaching out to me with your story idea. Since I cover the auto industry exclusively, do you have information regarding LBBTQI+ dating and social networking activities that take place in vehicles?”
In the past month or so, I’ve received similarly mis-targeted pitches including one promoting a story on an “expert” who could expound on the “wonders of dust-free ceramic tile.” I have to admit I was pretty fascinated by that, but since we’re only on this Earth for a relatively short time, I chose not to spend even a moment of that time pursuing a story I would not be permitted to write.
Oh, and just this morning I received this one: “New data: Consumers are adjusting behaviors to avoid public restrooms.” I guess that could be relevant to autos if I worked it into something regarding the paucity of places to pee during long car trips.
Indeed, time spent is at the crux of the issue. Time must be spent researching the targets of your pitches to make sure the reporter or news organization actually covers the subject matter, and reporters don’t have time to wade through pitches that have no relevance to their coverage area or beat. But man, I keep wondering about how great that dust-free ceramic tile story coulda been…and maybe I could have worked a lead on how the large back seats of full-size SUVs contribute to activities related to the contraction of herpes.
Hah! Maybe I just need to be a little more open-minded.
As we were leaving our subdivision for a family outing this week we saw six police cars parked in front of a neighbor’s house with several officers conducting interviews with a couple of residents to help crack the case. This being a rather unpleasant election year, it didn’t take long for us to figure out what was going on since no weapons were drawn and voices weren’t raised. There were some slackjawed cretins looking oh, so concerned…and confused.
Here’s the setup. As we were walking around the block the other day we noticed a number of homes displaying Trump for President signs on their front lawns. That alone had us wondering how much we could get for our house. But OK. This is America and the First Amendment guarantees the right to publicly display support for a misogynistic, egocentric, lying cheater who is so inept he drove several casinos into bankruptcy.
Don’t get me wrong. In front of a few homes we did see signs supporting someone who is old enough to celebrate his birthday by carbon-dating. Having your birth certificate engraved on two stone tablets isn’t a good look, but a handy paperweight.
Anyway, a day or two after our eye-opening walk we noticed all the Trump signs were gone–obviously stolen in the dark of night by someone who either doesn’t approve of our incumbent incompetent, or needed some paper on which to jot down their Yahtzee scores.
But just like an octopus’s severed arm, the signs miraculously regenerated…and then re-disappeared. The neighbor who had handed out the signs indignantly huffed and puffed up and down the street taking photos of the houses that had displayed the purloined posters, as if that evidence would cause the cops to, um, give a shit. No police cars could immediately be seen investigating this ex poster facto case…until they were.
Yes…the signs sprouted once again, although this time, the forever Trumpers got wise and started situating them really close to their homes and a few plunked them down right next to signs warning intruders the home, and Trump posters, were protected by a security system. I can only imagine being a dispatcher at Al’s Security Service receiving an alarm triggered by a Trump poster heist…and quickly going back to eating my bean burrito.
Now here’s what I always wondered. Why the hell bother going through the motions of a secret ballot if you’re gonna tell the whole world who you’re supporting anyway? I can see attending a campaign event or volunteering to support your candidate, but plastering your choice on your front lawn not only reveals your “secret” but makes your house a target for poster nappers and worse.
I’m simply not demonstrative in that way. I don’t display bumper stickers since I can’t imagine anyone being influenced by a sticky sign ruining the finish on a costly car. I also don’t put up lawn signs for, well, anything, because I live in a house and not a billboard. Besides, you want me to push your brand you’ll have to consult my rate card and pay up. That’s also why I’ll never buy a car from a dealer who insists on placing a decal or medallion with their name on my vehicle.
Well, I’ve noticed the Trump signs are back and the number of Biden signs has increased to where it’s running about 50-50 for each guy on my street–but don’t look at me to break the tie with a sign of my own. I’ll let my neighbors on both sides think I’m with ‘em. But if things get really scary I might consider planting a sign after all–For Sale.
In the past week I’ve been approached by a PR person professing he knows I’m “in the auto space,” read treatises on companies operating in various spaces and seen job descriptions requiring candidates have experience in a specific space. I have now made it my irrevocable practice to put a wide swath of space between me and anyone who uses the word “space” or any other permutations of it instead of an actual word related to the object of their deflection.
Oh yeah, it’s just another one of those obnoxious terms people latch onto such as the most hideous of all, to me, “staying in one’s swim lane.” My reply to that one is always a hale, hearty and utterly sincere, “fuck off!” along with my fervent wishes they will have to ingest their meals through a snorkel. Enjoying that swim lane?
Do people use these terms to seem sharp, superior, in the moment? If so, they come across as arrogant, lazy and ignorant.
The word “space” is not a Scrabble blank. You have to use it, like any other word or term, correctly. I do not work in the auto “space.” I do cover the automotive “beat.” You can also use “industry.” To me, “space” in the automotive context means gaps between body panels on poorly manufactured vehicles. Perhaps the person using “space” related to my beat has a gaping one in their training or preparation.
Companies do not operate in spaces. They operate in various industries, businesses, services or products. Honestly, would you say NASA operates in the space space? If you did you’d be operating in a vacuum.
I’ll keep this short because I’ve made my point ..and I don’t want to unnecessarily take up more than my share of..uh…space. There. I’m done occupying it.
This is me in my closet with the dozen suits and sport coats that helped create “the uniform.” Remember, all the way back to February or January, before the pandemic hit and people still schlepped into the office wearing this stuff? Since semi-retiring four years ago, my uniform pretty much has been put out to pasture except to infrequent forays to business meetings or funerals.
Oh, they served me well over the years. Especially the one Brooks Brothers suit I splurged on when I was still a TV reporter. It pains me that BB, like other men’s clothing chains is going bankrupt, because, in the era of Zoom meetings, we not only don’t wear the uniform, we barely wear pants.
I have a lot of ties. See them whipping around on the little merry go round in my closet? Some, I’ve never actually worn. They are instruments of torture but pre-pandemic, they represented an often-compulsory punishment to our respiratory system in the name of adhering to a “dress code.”
Ah…the dress code. I also kinda got that wrong. When I joined CNN in 1981 I had come from a TV station in Tucson, Arizona where I was producing newscasts. Since I wasn’t on the air, I could dress like shit. I was joining CNN in a similar capacity and assumed “dressing like shit” was the dress code there too. On my first day I showed up in corduroy jeans, a buttoned-down sport shirt and scruffy shoes. I made an instant first impression because everyone else was wearing “the uniform.” My boss, who wore his own version of the uniform, featuring a crumpled white shirt and suspenders, kindly took me aside, smiled and informed me “we kinda have a dress code here.” Would have been nice to know in advance but with most of my wardrobe back in Arizona, I had to do some fast shopping.
Many years later it worked the other way. When I made the jump from journalism to corporate communications at then DaimlerChrysler, which is now Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, I show up the first day in a pressed blue suit, white shirt and red tie. Damn! Missed again! Sure, there were a couple of guys with a shirt and tie and sport coat hanging on hooks, but I looked more like one of the German taskmasters looking to take over the company.
A couple of years later, the company was sold by the Germans to a U.S. capital management slumlord company from New York City. They all dressed up while they fired a large percentage of our staff as the company headed towards bankruptcy. I suppose it’s appropriate for the executioner to at least show some respect for the condemned by throwing on a decent tie.
It all changed again when the late, great Sergio Marchionne and Fiat took over the company. He never work a tie and rarely a jacket. His uniform was a black sweater or golf shirt, depending on the season and dark pants. He once explained it made his busy life less complicated by not burdening himself with daily wardrobe decisions.
From then on we felt we had permission to dress down a bit, but didn’t take it to extremes. I may not have always worn a tie but at least had a jacket handy in case we had an important meeting. I’d wear it into the office, then immediately take it off and hang it up until it was needed, or it was time to go home. You could always tell who the visitors were in the building–they were the suckers who were wearing suits and ties.
In my semi-retirement I’ve been working from home since I walked out of FCA for the last time on July 28, 2016, so there was basically no adjustment for me when the pandemic hit. I don’t mind Zoom or Google Meet meetings, and the only concession I make sartorially is wearing a decent shirt, but don’t ask me what’s covering my lower regions. To put your mind at ease, it’s, um, something, but I assure you it’s not the pants from that abandoned Brooks Brothers suit, nor is it a pair of pressed Dockers. It’s just something, okay?
Once this is all over and we’re compelled to meet in person again, I’m not so sure many folks will revert to a version of the uniform, having gotten used to being dressed more comfortably, and probably less expensively.
I do feel sorry for the abandonment my old work wardrobe must be experiencing. That’s why every once in awhile, I’ll go to the section of my closet where they suits and jackets and pants are hanging, thank ’em for their service, then hit the switch, watch the ties go round and round and round and round, hoping those now-useless instruments of torture are starting to feel a little nauseous. Payback is sweet.
I don’t know about you but I’m excited Major League Baseball is cranking up and it’s not only because of my love for the game. What’s got my juices flowing (and at my age they’re barely moving) is the artificial crowd noise they’re going to pipe into the stadiums since there won’t be any fans.
The Dodgers went one better in a pre-season game with the Arizona Diamondbacks, putting up cardboard cutouts of fans to go with the piped-in din.
I got a taste of it during the telecast of a Detroit Tigers intrasquad game last week and I have to say, that as spooky as it was to see 40,000 empty seats but hear 40,000 disembodied voices sparked all sorts of inane thoughts. Those thoughts included suggesting to Stephen King he write a book called “The Stands” and registering for ventriloquism school to see if they could teach me to throw my voice…from third to first.
But why stop at a simple din and occasional cheers? Why not create audio drop-ins that would include a cadre of unseen bots booing the crap out of an overpaid player who under-achieves or an ump who keeps missing calls? I’m sure the person running the audio could have at his or her disposal a number of disembodied bon mots that could include the traditional “you suck!” to the observant “balk!” to the erudite “you threw a fastball in a hitter’s count? Moron!” It might be slightly hysterical, if not ridiculous to see the targeted player flip the bird in the direction of his ersatz harasser. Then get tossed.
The Houston Astros are giving it a try through the use of a smartphone app that fans can access to express their sentiments. The info is monitored by the staff at the stadium who can them match the crowd noise to the percentage of fans rooting for each team.
Why stop with faux spectators? Every couple of minutes during an inevitable lull toss in the comforting sounds of a vendor hawking hot dogs, beer or an overpriced pennant, then quickly follow that with the sound of a fan hollering, “Hey! Two dogs, two beers!” To add a bit of texture, wait a few beats and toss in “where’s my effin’ change?”
I see a situation late in the game when the tension building all night explodes into an unseen spat between “fans” on opposite sides. Bring in the sound of fists hitting flesh, then add “Pow!” graphics to the screen. Now you’ve got a multimedia experience!
I know all this would really add authenticity to an otherwise inauthentic proposition and the players say they really feed off crowd noise so why not include as many elements as possible to make it seem as real as possible.
Besides, if it works out, maybe they’ll start projecting images of imaginary fans doing the Wave or even “catching” a foul ball or homer. I bet they can create holograms of fat guys with no shirt making their man boobs bounce in time with the music when they’re sure the camera is on them.
It’s all gonna work out! I can’t wait to sing “Fake Me Out to the Ballgame!”
There’s trouble in Amazon-land and it’s not only holding my stuff hostage, but promising delivery of an item that’s already been delivered. Indeed, I know someone who works for the online sales behemoth and he confirms, “it sucks.”
Now I’m quite aware all home delivery services are overworked thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic that’s kept so many people at home, for fear of encountering selfish and foolish cretins who refuse to wear a mask for fear of being identified as smart, considerate or a Democrat.
Today’s Detroit Free Press, as well as a number of other news outlets, tells the story of an Amazon driver who was fed up with the workload and abandoned his delivery van full of packages. The guy announced his, um, resignation on Twitter. He didn’t use nice language.
Since I’m a semi-retired journalist, I won’t use that kind of language, but you can infer similar words when I relate my latest trip down the Amazon hellhole.
First, I order a CD. Go ahead, get it out your system, “Hello Boomer!” OK..don’t infer, accept my good natured, “fuck off.” Anyway, I keep getting notifications that it will arrive some time in July. That’s awesome. I actually received it two weeks ago. I wonder if I’ll receiver another one…just to share with another Boomer who may also still have an impressive collection of 8-tracks.
OK..that one isn’t so bad. The one that’s hacking me off is my order for a new controller for my lawn sprinkler system. Yeah, yeah. First World problem. I ordered it on June 19th. Normally, even with Amazon’s slowest delivery option…aka “free” it doesn’t take more than a week. First I received an apologetic notice that it was “running late” and I could expect it this week…July 1. Then yesterday I receive another email giving me the bad news that “there is a delay in shipping some items from your order. We apologize for the inconvenience.” Aw…that’s sweet. The drone who wrote that must have been brought up with good manners. The bottom line, the “delay” amounts to basically an expected delivery a month from when I first ordered the thing. I’m glad I wasn’t ordering something more important…like a respirator…or Larry David edition of Mr. Potato Head. Maybe it’s on that guy’s abandoned deliver truck.
I know I’m not nearly alone in whining about my Amazonian experience. I know the U.S. Postal Service is under water as well and shipments are delayed due to huge volumes and understaffing. Honestly, a sprinkler system controller is not my idea of Chanukah in July, but you now how it is. Once you order something, you get anxious to receive whatever it is you wanted, even if it’s replacement vacuum cleaner bags. Hmmm…I need to order those too. Crap. …and those wet things you attach to a Swiffer…and a needle for my record player. No rush.