July 30, 2006
Where I'm at
Well, if you haven't noticed, I've gone off the deep end. Quite frankly, I was sick of looking at the green grass, the rotating stadium pictures, really everything about the old design of this site. So, I decided to go stark for a while, as you can readily see. All that is important to me is the most recent post and the other blogs I read. No more archive links, no more category links, no more stat counters, no more stupid stuff no one cares about. Just the most recent post and the other blogs I read. I can't tell you why, but this makes me happy. And right now that is all that matters. Sorry to be so selfish.
As you can probably tell, I have had difficulty finding my groove again since the Twins stadium was approved. Call it a vacation, call it laziness, call it "approval euphoria" ... it doesn't matter, but I've really had a severe case of writer's block and lack of desire to write anything. For so long my focus had been the Twins stadium and to lose that is wonderful and tragic at the same time. Without Twins stadium news to write about everyday I haven't felt compelled to write everyday. As a result I haven't written everyday and my readership has dropped severely.
Really, though, that doesn't bother me one bit. I had my moment in the sun, my obligatory "15 minutes of fame." At the height of the Twins stadium debate I was literally getting thousands of hits a day. It was fun. But now my dirty little secret is out: besides the stadium debate, I really can't write intelligently about the actual business of the Twins. That is the business of playing baseball of course. I love to watch the Twins. I love to read about the Twins. I love to debate about starting lineups and minor league prospects. But to write about OPS, VORP, the complexities of the CBA, and Scott Baker's nut cup? Sheesh, I am out of my league.
So, while I will still write occasionally about the Twins, and most assuredly about any stadium news that comes down the pike, this blog will now be branching out. I'm going to write more about books, music, libraries, and whatever else I want to write about. Probably some stuff about the Vikings, or light rail, or religion. Whatever and whenever. And it won't be regular. But hopefully it will be toughtful and compelling.
That's what I'm gonna do. And as time goes on, this stark white design will probably change as I think of new ways to spruce it up, but for now I am starting over. And if you want to come along for the ride great, but if not I won't know anyway because I've removed all my stat counters. So, no big whoop.
July 27, 2006
Best song title ever
"Money Talks, and It Always Says Goodbye"
July 19, 2006
Links of the day
- 25 great Calvin and Hobbes comic strips. A great list. I think its got most of the best.
- Science facts that people get wrong. Everest isn't the tallest mountain in the world? Tell me more!
- Interesting note about Cash's American Recordings V. It was number 1, but with the fewest overall sales for a number 1 ever. Interesting.
- Cool. Two-second tent sets up in two seconds, and can be packed up in 15 seconds. Handy.
- Apple to announce movie rentals through iTunes. I wonder how much this will cost?
- Interesting review of Firefox 2. Not a whole lot of major changes, but then again I kind of like the browser as it is.
- Interesting article on the success of welfare reforms signed into law by Bill Clinton in 1996. There is still some work to do, especially in the area of health care, but for some this has definitely worked out.
- Cool list of solar powered gadgets. Like a solar powered tent. Really ...
- Cool, cool, cool. This 14 year old kid became blind at the age of 3, but now he gets around based on the sounds and echoes he hears. A truly phenomenal skill.
- "Cool" list of ways to keep cool when trying to sleep on a hot night. Particularly useful for people without air conditioning.
- This was actually also a Strib article, but this NY Times article describes how training animals can also help you train your spouse. Good stuff.
- 10 Odd iPod accessories. Like the bullet proof case. Now that is just a must have!
- Great list of "75 things we love and hate about Star Wars." Such as: "What if … Gandalf the Grey fought Obi-Wan Kenobi? Discuss." Gandalf all the way...
That's it for now. Have a good one.
July 18, 2006
One of my favorite quotes
"Hell, I don't even watch the pros. If the NBA was on Channel 5 and a bunch of frogs having sex were on Channel 4, I'd watch the frogs—even if they came in fuzzy."
—Texas Tech Head Coach Bobby Knight, on the possibility of coaching in the NBA
July 13, 2006
The best rule change EVER!
I don't know if any of you saw this, but ESPN recently published a quiz entitled Test your baseball knowledge which actually is a pretty tough little quiz. And, if you are anything like me you probably went through about 10 of the questions before saying, "Ah screw it" and just hitting the submit button to see all the answers.
If you did that, you would actually get a pretty entertaining read of interesting trivia about baseball. One question in particular caught my eye:
Who developed the Knickerbocker Rules -- the first published rules of modern baseball -- in 1845?
The answer, for all you morons out there (Duh! The answer is so obvious!) , is:
"Alexander Cartwright -- Contrary to popular legend, baseball was not invented by Doubleday. Its true innovator was Cartwright -- an American engineer and founding member of the New York Knickerbockers, the first organized ballclub. Three of his chief rules changes are still in effect today: the concept of foul territory, the distance between bases, and the elimination of retiring baserunners by throwing balls at them."
Did you catch that last rule change? One of the three chief rule changes in the development of the game of baseball was to eliminate the rule that allowed for the retiring of baserunners by throwing the ball at them.
I would like to submit that this is quite possibly the greatest rule change in the history of sports. I can imagine that before this rule change baseball was probably not a very popular sport. People probably didn't like to play it much given the possibility of being killed on the basepaths. Now I don't know for sure, but unless the ball they played with back then was of the Nerf® variety it was probably pretty painful to have someone trying to get you out by winging a baseball at you, especially if it hit you in the head.
So there you have it. My nomination for the greatest rule change in the history of sport. Of course, I don't know all the rule changes ever, but it would be interesting if someone could think of a rule change to top it. Anyone?
July 12, 2006
Greetings! I will now write about what I always write about: stadiums, stadiums, stadiums, and more stadiums! Furthermore, I will dazzle you with my musings on ballparks, baseball, and hot dogs! Have you ever read anything so insightful before? So awe inspiring? To bolster my arguments I shall now quote from an outside source:
Insert a quote about ballparks so earth-shattering, so out-of-this world mind-blowing that all ballpark opponents are laid to waste under the sheer magnitude of its brilliance.
Now I shall add my commentary about the quote above! It is difficult to spell out more clearly what should be so obvious to everyone that read it, but clearly the quote above proves everything that I've been saying for the last 3 years. How can people continue to deny this? Have I not torn apart every argument to the contrary? And yet, people still try to argue. Observe this misguided attempt to counter my many claims:
Insert moronic paragraph that causes steam to rise from my ears and makes me seriously wonder how this person can even string two sentences together in a coherent manner.
Aha! I shall now crush this feeble argument. Crush! Crush! Crush! How can anyone think this way when the truth is so obvious? Why must we even entertain notions such as these when our cause is so just and noble? It is truly mind-boggling.
I will now leave you with one last thought about ballparks that will hopefully make you ponder and reflect on the genius of my prose. See you all later!
(Pray spycake doesn't see through my faulty logic and rip my arguments to shreds.)
July 11, 2006
Split upper deck
MOJO asks an interesting question in the comments on a post below. From a post on Dave St. Peter's blog, Dave writes:
Signature elements of Busch Stadium include the Cardinal red brick; wonderful views of downtown St. Louis and – of course – the Arch; a variety of tributes to the great Cardinal teams and players of the past; more group Party Rooms (40-plus) than any ballpark in America; and a split upper deck (which is the same design we would like to implement in Minnesota’s new ballpark).
[I think] This is what Dave is talking about concerning the "split upper deck" [but as MOJO has pointed out, I am probably wrong]:
Contrast this with PNC Park, which only has two "decks" ... an upper and a lower:
An interesting fact about PNC is that it is the first ballpark with a two-deck design to be built in the United States since Milwaukee's County Stadium was completed in 1953. The highest seat is just 88 feet from the field. It looks like the new Busch Stadium has seats quite a bit further away than that.
Or does it? I'm not sure. PNC is also one of the smallest ballparks in America. It only seats a little over 38,000 fans. Could a split upper deck allow our park to accomodate more fans? Or is a split upper deck necessary due to the tight constraints of the Rapid Park site?
I don't know, but I do know I love PNC Park.
Blah, blah, blah
If I could travel anywhere in the world, right now, this is most where I would want to go:
- Dublin, Ireland -- Like Michael Jackson, I want to see some leprechauns, and I'd love to see the factory where they make "Lucky Charms."
- Sydney, Australia -- I've heard the INXS Vacation package ("See where INXS recorded 'Shabooh Shoobah'!") is a must see.
- Beijing, China -- This would be so different than anything I've ever seen before, plus I like Chinese food.
- Istanbul, Turkey -- East meets West. I am of the opinion that this city would be non-stop, mind-blowing interesting.
- Budapest, Hungary -- The pictures I've seen, the things I've heard, the stuff I've read all tell me that this is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Yep, if I could just go to one place, this would probably be it.
How about you? Where would you like to go?
Oh boy, I'm about to again enter dangerous waters. Yes, I'm going to discuss the economic impact of baseball stadiums. Ack! Otherwise known as "the never-ending argument" where everyone has good points and no one backs down. Well, actually I don't really have much to discuss, only an article to point out from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. According to the article some highly intelligent people are suggesting that the Pittsburgh area will see $52.3 million in "direct spending by attendees and celebrants." And before you get your undies all in a bunch the article also discusses the viewpoint of the naysayers who say (in a nay kind of way) that Pittsburgh will only see a shift in money people would have spent anyway, and that some other cities that also hosted All-Star games actually saw a decrease in direct spending with the game in town. Hogwash, I say!
Let's turn a blind eye on on those morons for a second and look at a couple of things I think we all can agree on:
But for all the predictions of a business bonanza -- and counterstudies suggesting those hopes for financial payoff are more hype than real for the region's economy -- the biggest benefit from hosting the All-Star Game in the eyes of many civic leaders is the ability to shine the global light on the "new" Pittsburgh. National and international television exposure, word-of-mouth and other intangibles that come from showcasing a city that's going through a third -- and on the lifestyle front perhaps most important -- renaissance is not something that can easily be quantified.
"We will be getting the kind of exposure through the media that you can't afford to buy," agreed Bob Imperata, executive vice president of VisitPittsburgh, the nonprofit agency that recently changed its name from the Greater Pittsburgh Convention and Visitors Bureau and is charged with selling Pittsburgh to the world.
Can we all agree on that at least? Can we all agree that there will be more media attention on Pittsburgh with the All-Star game than there would be without it? Ha! I thought so. And if you can agree with that, then by default you must agree that baseball stadiums have a major economic impact on a city. My logic is flawless! Seriously, though, I think that the impact of the media spotlight is often overlooked as an extremely positive benefit to a host city, and not just concerning an All-Star game, but also by just having a MLB baseball team.
Quick! Name something interesting about Norfolk, Virginia ... perhaps even a reason you would want to visit there ... anything? Have you even heard of Norfolk, Virginia? Now, when I mention the city of say ... "Milwaukee" ... what do you think of? Here is the thing: the Norfolk area is larger than Milwaukee, yet people know a lot more about the Milwaukee area. I am of the opinion that having the Milwaukee Brewers, and the scores from their games broadcast on the evening news in every city across America every night, actually has a positive impact on that city. It is a big reason why the Norfolk area tried to land the Expos.
The second thing I think we can all agree on concerning the article above is that a lot of people from outside of the Pittsburgh area will be spending money in Pittsburgh this week. I know this will be a stretch for some of you, but can you deny it? No. And no matter what the amount, whether it is $50 million or $10 million, I'm sure the Pittsburgh area will benefit from it. Enough to justify building a $262 million stadium? Combine whatever added revenue the city will receive with the added media exposure, and add that with the community pride and "fun" Pittsburgh is having right now, and I think we would be hard pressed to find a Pittsburgh resident who currently thinks building PNC Park was a bad idea.
That's what I think anyway. I can't wait for Minneapolis to host an All-Star game. Seeing home run balls fly into the Allegheny River last night saddened me a great deal, though. What we could have had on the Mississippi!
July 10, 2006
Why do I even title these things?
More random thoughts about this and that. No rhyme or reason, just what I'm thinking about ...
Tomorrow Sufjan Stevens will release The Avalanche, an album of outtakes from the Illinois sessions, including a couple of alternate versions of "Chicago" (by far my favorite song on the album). If you are interested, you can check out these sneak peak "episodes" (streaming MOVs) of the new album found off of Stevens's label Asthmatic Kitty:
Good stuff. I also heard that Stevens will have a Fall 2006 tour, but the closest he will come to the Twin Cities is Milwaukee. Bummer.
So, there has been a lot of "to do" about the Twins imminent move to KSTP radio, but more importantly their move off of WCCO. I'll admit it ... at first I was upset about this. I mean WCCO is all I've ever known as far as Twins radio broadcasts go.
But if your only argument is "tradition," that the big reason the Twins shouldn't move from WCCO is because they have been on WCCO for almost 50 years, well, that just isn't a very good argument. Things change all the time. After getting upset for a little bit I had to ask myself, what do I really care? Will I still hear the Twins for free every game? Yep. I'll just have to turn my dial a little bit.
And if your argument is that poor WCCO will be financially hurt by this move, I really wouldn't worry about that. WCCO is one of the most listened to stations in the Minnesota. I'm pretty sure they will be able to fill up that airtime with something else, and still make oodles of money.
Lastly, if you are worried that "outstate" Minnesotans won't be able to hear the Twins, you might be right on that one. However, we just don't know yet. We do know that without WCCO the Twins will probably have to have a larger radio network, but that means more radio stations in Minnesota will be able to cash in on the popularity of the Twins. Seriously, WCCO's massive signal has probably monopolized the Twins for too long. Let's see what happens when we can invite some other stations to the party.
This move will undoubtedly make the Twins more money. And unfortunately people in the great state of Minnesota hate it when other people are making money. We just can't stand it. But I'll tell you, if this makes it easier for the Twins to sign The Cisco Kid to a long term contract, I am 100% all for it. Tell me if I'm wrong. Seriously. I want to know why I should be really upset that the Twins are leaving WCCO.
July 7, 2006
Odds and Ends
Welcome to the 800th entry written on the Greet Machine. Unfortunately it will be much like the previous 799 entries ... full of "dashed off tripe" that may or may not be of any interest to you. Enjoy!
So, in all I have purchased a total of 5 different iPods from Apple. My original mini still works, but other than that I have not had very good luck with these products. My wife dropped her mini on the floor so her's no longer works. My son went swimming with his Shuffle so now that doesn't work (I got him a used one on eBay to replace it). And this last February I bought an iPod video (30GB) for myself. Up until a couple of days ago things were going pretty good ...
And then I installed the 06-28-2006 firmware and the newest version of iTunes and everything went to hell in a handbasket. If anyone else has made the mistake of "upgrading" with these new software packages you might know what I am talking about. Suddleny my iPod wouldn't load, it wouldn't let me reset it, and it wouldn't play anything. In fact, it locked up my computer. I even tried to restore it, which blows everything away, but all that did was give me an empty, non-functioning iPod. Boy, was I ever ticked. So, I decided to take it to the Apple store.
I went to the one at Southdale and immediately started complaining to whoever would listen. Of course, they were skeptical. "Who is this idiot with a Windows formatted iPod to tell us his is broken?" I was confident in my appraisal, though, "My iPod is broken," I said, "And I doubt you will be able to fix it." So, they signed me up for the "Genius Bar."
The "Genius Bar" is staffed by Apple "geniuses" that should either be able to fix your problem, tell you to take a hike (if your warranty has expired), or replace your product. I explained to the Genius that I had literally spent hours following every instruction to the letter on their web site to fix it and that the stupid thing is just plain screwed. He smugly said, "I've got a couple of tricks that should work." And with that he went into the backroom to work his magic.
"Ha! If he fixes it monkeys will fly out of my butt," I thought. So, he comes out 10 minutes later and says, "It works. Here ya go." Not so fast, I told him. I asked, "Did you put any songs on it? Can you get it to play music?" He sighed and said he would give that a try.
What stuns me about this is that he would come out and declare "It works" but not actually test out the primary function of the device: to play music. I mean, I could get it to light up and look pretty. I had been doing that for the last couple of days. Could he get it to play "Funky Cold Medina" by Tone Loc, though? I think not. And if it ain't playing "Funky Cold Medina" I don't want it.
After another 10 minutes he came back out, this time looking a little less than enthusiastic. Without looking up he said, "We'll give you another one." Victory was mine!
So, now I have a brand new 30GB iPod Video. Hopefully this will last longer than 4 months. Has anyone else had these kinds of problems with these troublesome little devices? I am a little concerned that it is a flawed technology, especially on the Windows side of things.
Freealonzo passed me an interesting link yesterday that I refuse to post on this web site lest they get even more publicity. If you are interested, point your browser to www dot ccarl dot com. This site is about as anti-stadium as I am pro-stadium and they desparately want the "Four Horsemen" of Hennepin County to pay the price for putting together a half-billion dollar public works project that will employ thousands of construction workers (not to mention hundreds of permanent part-time jobs for immigrants, students, elderly, and others), give millions of dollars to HC libraries and youth sports, revitalize and improve the safety of a struggling area of downtown, maintain a 50 year Minnesota tradition of Twins baseball, and bring over 2 million people into downtown Minneapolis every year. How dare they!
Anyway, they also have a petition entitled "No Taxation Without Representation" that a whopping 33 people have signed so far. But just let that title soak in for a little bit: No Taxation Without Representation. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I do believe we have representation in the form of the Hennepin County Commissioners they dislike so much, not to mention the state "representatives" and senators that heard and voted on the bill to begin with.
I must admit that I am continually surprised at how people keep getting this wrong. I understand you are upset about the tax. I can even understand that you think there should be a referendum. But this is definitely not "Taxation without Representation." Not even close.
As you all probably know, the phrase "taxation without representation" goes back to early American colonial history, where the Americans were upset that Great Britain taxed them without having any colonists seated in Parliament. The Americans held to the view of actual representation, meaning that in order to be taxed by Parliament, the Americans rightly should have actual legislators seated and voting in London. While it can be debated whether or not actual representation would have circumvented the colonists anger over being taxed at all, in the end all they were demanding was to have representatives in London looking out for their best interests.
Oh well, I wish them the best (not really) but I am a little skeptical that they'll be able to reach their goal of 500,000 signatures. Or that it will make a difference.
Finally, we have this little tidbit from the Star Tribune that the newly appointed Ballpark Authority has had its first meeting. Among the many jobs they have to do before even the first shovel full of dirt is dug is that they have to hire an Executive Director. Needless to say, I would like to officially throw my hat into the ring. I think I would make a fine Executive Director, and I would probably do it for half of what they would have to pay the other stiffs ... er, I mean candidates. Plus, I really like ballparks, hot dogs, and baseball. I am what is known as "the complete package." And speaking of other candidates, the Strib writes:
The board has yet to get a list of candidates, but authority chairman Steve Cramer said he's aware of at least two people who've expressed interest: Dan Kenney, an aide to Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat and a member of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, and Steve Maki, the commission's director of facilities and engineering.
I don't know much about this Maki guy, but I've heard some good stuff about Dan Kenney. In fact, I've heard he is a real stand up individual and that he has a pretty decent jump shot on the old basketball court. So, if I am forced to remove myself from the list of candidates, I would definitely pull for Mr. Kenney. But I won't go down without a fight!
Finally, if I am given the position of Executive Director, my first "executive" decision would be to ban all urinal troughs from the design discussions. Yes, you heard me correctly, there will be no urinal troughs in the new ballpark under my watch. I know what you are thinking, that I am some kind of genius or something, but I am just trying to look out for you, dear reader, and everyone that suffers from Shy Kidney Syndrome (or SKS).
That's all for now, and remember, no urinal troughs!
July 5, 2006
Links of the day
- Fascinating short article about how Internet broadcasts of radio and video could help change the economics of baseball
- Message in a bottle found 10 years later by childhood friend.
- Nifty close-up shots of some beautiful bugs. Or are they ugly?
- Someone painted their room to look like a version of the Super Mario Bros. franchise. Me likey.
- How to save up to 50% on your cable TV bill. I actually do this. It is very easy. Just call them up and say you are thinking of "bundling with Qwest."
- How to get songs off your iPod with some other options in the comments. Good advice.
- Need to create a flow-chart or network diagram but don't have Visio? Try Gliffy. Completely web based and looks to be pretty powerful. Or powerful enough at least.
- This is very interesting. The NBA is introducing a new game ball with a "better feel, grip and consistency." It will be fun to see what kind of affect, if any, this has on the game.
- 100 worst album covers ever. I never get tired of lists like these. Hilarious.