Wednesday, June 30, 2010

How many friends can you have

For 2 years we have been on the LeBron watch which will culminate when he finally hits free-agency on July 1st at midnight EST.    There are newspapers and other local media outlets pulling out the pompoms begging the King come and crown their kingdom, there are "LeBron Clocks" on websites and somehow ESPN has sent out more people than they do when they are stalking Brett Favre.

 Past all the adoration everybody is speculating where he will play and one of the major parts of his decision has to do with the people who he'll be playing with and for so it has become everybody's quest to find out anything they can between LeBron and his suitors and in the last five months I have seen published reports that any of the following people are close with him and may influence where he'll end up.



John Calipari

John Wall

Chris Bosh

Dwayne Wade

Jason Kidd

Mark Cuban

Mike D'Antoni


Warren Buffett

CC Sabathia

Michael Jordan

Derrick Rose

Eddy Curry

Charles Oakley

Carmello Anthony

Chris Paul
Ice Cube

David Geffen

Anybody who has ever lived in Cleveland
Anobody who ever visited the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

And this is not including Maverick Carter who is his manager and high-school buddy and some dude named World Wide Wes who actually represent him


Every time there is a team in the mix, somebody mentions how close LeBron is to the point guard.   The dude is 25 he can't be that close to every celebrity can he?


The only people not on his Christmas card list are Jordan Crawford, Braylon Edwards and Delonte West.   Tom Izzo might get a card but it will get sent through a third-party

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

I'm only happy when I'm pissed off

Just yesterday I read that the parking authority was going to be increasing the costs of parking meters 33%.

The MTA budget cuts took effect this week and already I feel the pinch. Between the elimination of certain lines and the deep cuts on others the morning commute has just gotten that much worse. I believe that all services should be self sustaining so I don't mind a fare-hike but when you get that AND also get service cuts something isn't right.

TOR has discussed the dismal financial state of this State for months and ranted about the hidden taxes the residents are getting including parking-meter hikes, elimination of street parking spots, tickets for very minor offenses along with the MTA stong-arm. There is no time than a recession with 10% unemployment to raise taxes and the way the state has been run is criminal. How is it that in all these years of prosperity the City and State didn't set up a rainy day fund? It is absolutely pouring outside and Cuomo, Patterson, Bloomberg, Guiliani. Dinkins. Koch, Pataki and Spitzer left us with a few of those cheap black umbrellas.
Other states aren't faring any better so we're not alone on this island but we got to get off living on credit. If you can't afford to pay your bills and put a couple of bucks into savings, I'd tell you to either get a better job or cut your spending but Albany and NYC have refused to do any of this.
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Monday, June 28, 2010

The Human Element

It is completely ludicrous that the WorldCup is seen by more people in the world than any other sporting event, the only ones apparently not watching are the ones who decide the outcome.
I can't say I'm the first person to rant about this and I'm sure as hell not going to be the last but is there anything dumber in this world than the fact that in 2010 there still are sports which refuse to embrace technology.    I am so sick and tired of watching a perfectly well played game get decided because of some god-damn referee making some bone-head move.
Last month Armando Galarraga got denied a perfect game because some fat ump who can't even run down the first baseline had a brain-fart.    Baseball purists pointed to the human element one of the dumbest concepts in the history of the game.    Maybe 100 years ago before the game was televised this was an excuse or better yet a reason why it couldn't be any different but in 2010 when every person in the stadium has a smart-phone able to stream an instant replay it is ridiculous that the umpire can't possibly be asked for the same thing.
But as backwards as baseball is with this, futball is worse.    They have so many completely convoluted rules you could write a book, and maybe they have.    Futball is so ass-backwards that they don't even have the clock tick down like any normal sport, they have it ticking up.   They have extra-time but nobody knows how much time it will be because the clock is kept on the field.   This is like having two boxers fight it out with no idea how far into a round they are.   Their is so much crying during a match that it makes an afternoon soap-opera look like you are watching Conan the Barbarian but the worst thing is the referees.
This World-Cup which has been great will be remembered for those stupid kazoo's and the total amount of blown calls by the refs.     The futball purists keep throwing the human element at us which is an argument you only make when you have no argument to make.    Why can't they review a goal?   How many huge matches have to be decided by 'human error'   Whether it's the 'hand of god', the Hand of Henry or the Hand of Job somebody has to kick some reason into FIFA..  How many times do you need your biggest games decided by the worst calls?    Just yesterday two games had crucial goals taken off the board because of  calls that were so blatantly bad they could have been correctly made by Ray Charles.
If Futbal has learned anything it is that on their biggest stage their refereeing system is the laughing stock of the world.   I don't care how many years you have played without replay it is time to join the 21st century, any jackass that still claims the human-element adds something to the game is living in a time when balls where still square.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Asian Hangover

I have often said it takes the same amount of days to get-over jet-lag as the total amount of hours in the time-difference between the two places. If you fly from NYC to London it will take 5 days to feel completely right, if you fly to Tokyo it takes 12 days. It gets better each day but your body isn't completely right until you've passed the amount of days as the difference in hours. Even flying from NY to LA has you messed up for 3 days.

But the international time-line adds another dimension, the Asian Hangover. See The Asian Hangover has nothing to do with sake, soju or snakes-blood, its the effect of flying back from Asia after a week of too much work, too much kimchee and too much booze.
Worse than any whiskey caused hangover is the 14 hour on a plane from across the other side of the earth hangover. Between the anxiety of travel mixed with the time-change and the dry air inside the plane it does something to your body which just isn't right. The day after the return flight I always feel the same, like the fat-guy from seat 8B is sitting on my brain while the old lady from 6A has taken her socks off right behind my eyeballs and the kid in 13D is screaming at the top of his lungs at a pitch only dogs should be able to hear.
I remember the first time I flew to Asia, it took me a week to not feel like somebody took a shotgun to my head. As I've made that journey for the fifth time, my body reacted a bit better even if I'm 14 years older than the first time I did it. It reacts better but it still isn't right.
But getting to Asia is tough but I am almost always so busy that there is no time to be tired and the excitement gets you through it. The issue is the return flight when you are already exhausted and your schedule is completely screwed and then you do it all over again, this is when your body most wants to quit.
I wonder if the plane flew back East over Russia and Europe and the Atlantic Ocean if the Asian Hangover effect could be reversed?

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Saturday, June 26, 2010

A five dollar footlong served with kimchee

I'm the biggest defender of the NYC subway system but traveling in an Asian country you really wonder who the hell we bombed to deserve what we got. Unlike the rats you have to hurdle in NYC the only thing you are dodging in Seoul are dudes with crappy haircuts but even that isn't bad. Nobody shoves or pushes and there are no unsightly homeless people so the only stink in the air is of gaseous Koreans. The transfers are easy, the map is complicated but less so than the MTA one and the price seems fair although honestly I have no idea what 3000 won means in terms of greenbacks but I threw this into the machine and I got some ind of debit card and after traveling I still had about 2100 won left which means the travel cost me like$0.80
But what really is helpful is that there is some civility, there are these lines on the platform which tell you where you can stand so that when the doors open you aren't standing in front of them impeding the exit of others, instead you stand to the side and people get on in an orderly fashion. Sadly this sounds like an absolute miracle for those of us who depend on the MTA to be going our way.
Now when comparing it to other Asian subway's I've taken the Seoul one wasn't quite as organized as the metro in Taipei was where people stood on a line like they were waiting for an ATM to board the train but at least unlike the Tokyo subway you didn't have to worry about an impromptu game of grab-ass breaking out so I would say its a pretty good method of transportation, even if it does mean you don't get any cheap feels.
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Friday, June 25, 2010

Free Snapple for you, Free nut-kick for me

In MadMen it is obvious when you've made it because when you walk into your office you hand your hat to your personal secretary and she brings you a cup of coffee and your dry-cleaning. In 2010 the real sign of success is a bit different but the idea is the same; a few years ago a friend mentioned that he could get unlimited Snapples at this office from the office fridge and they just kept refilling them. We'll leave the fact that said-friend has gotten a bit plump since he started indulging in the fountain of Snapple but it did seem to say something about his career path. Now we get free coffee and water and they treat us really well over at TOR enterprises but nobody has ever offered me a Snapple let alone a Pepsi.
Forget titles or even salaries, there is a huge dividing line between people who are asked to pay for their own Snapples and those that aren't, the ones that are deemed indispensable are showered with bonuses, benefits and sugar while the rest of the world wallows in misery. The funny thing is that the biggest execs who can most easily pay for it themselves get free Snapples while the dude living on $6.75 an hour in the mailroom has to clock out everytime he has to step out to take a leak.

I'm not disparaging any corporate spending but how much do these high-powered attorney's and bankers need?

the largest irony is actually that the free soda isn't limited to the highest paid exec after all, an informal survey proved that another class of worker also gets free unlimited drinks....the guy working at McDonalds.
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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Smoking Rules

When I was a kid virtually every adult I knew smoked. I'm not sure if this was the circle of adults in my life but I just remember that every room you entered was smoke filled. The ridiculous partitions separating smoking and non-smoking in restaurants and airplanes of course had no meaning as a think curtain doesn't keep smoke away. All the peer pressure got kids hooked while Hollywood kept smoking in vogue which seemed like the perfect storm if you were Big Tobacco.

I am not sure what the numbers are but the amount of smokers in the US have plummeted in the last 20 years and I guess it can be credited to the combination of health-risks, inconvenience of smoking and the public shunning associated with it. But that alone can't describe the real cause of the decrease. See in Korea everybody smokes especially males. The waiter reeks of smoke, the cabby stops for smoke-breaks, the people you meet for work all hang out afterwards outside the building smoking and the outside of the hotel looks like there is an Erasure release party.

So I wonder hat has happened in the US what didn't happened in Korea. The health risks are the same and there is no way Korean's aren't aware of this. The inconvenience of smoking is similar as you can't smoke in restaurants, office building or hotels so even in a country obsessed with appearance the shunning hasn't made a dent.
The big difference is the price of cigarettes, in the US a pack costs $10 and seems to rise by the day as government finds new ways to raise revenue but in Seoul a pack costs about $2. When you ask around this is the major reason people still smoke, it's a habit which doesn't cost more than the DailyNews and a cup of deli coffee. People know the health-risks but Americans know the health-risks to booze and that makes no difference to alcohol sales.
So for the first time I realized what the difference is and it has nothing to do with anything but the dent in the wallet.
Maybe we should start taxing sugary drinks after-all..
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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Airline scam

I am convinced that the airlines business model is no longer on price of the fare but instead they are now making their money through their hidden fees. It wasn't long ago when there was some prestige to flying on an airplane, but this was well before the endless lines, heightened security and baggage fees. A friend just told me of trying to get onto an earlier flight which he was told wasn't possible because it was sold out BUT if would be willing to cough up another $50 he would be given a seat.

Let me get this straight, there are no seats unless you pay $50 at which point they roll up another seat and click in into the aircraft kind of like the last row of seats in those miniwagons. See it doesn't end there as they now charge you for food aboard flights, attach a fee for checking in a bag, give you a fee for an extra piece of carry-on luggage or a headset. At what point will this nickel-and-diming end?
See last week I had to adjust a ticket for my flight to Korea, although there was no difference in the fare the 'change fee' was a mean $400. This lady basically banged away at her keyboard for 5 minutes and I get banged for four bills. The stupid thing is that at the same time I tried to alter my return leg but was told no other options were open. When I called back 2 days later there magically appeared a new flight with plenty of availability which worked better for my schedule. Delta was more than happy to put me on that flight....with another $400 change fee.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

At least Kate Perry has the decency of being well endowed

Popular Music has sucked for a solid 10 years and when I look out at the landscape I'm afraid that the future isn't looking much better. I've been listening to Armed Forces Radio while in Korea to help cure my need for a burger and fries but have found my self nauseas with the music which is apparently popular with today"s youth. There seems to be this formula which the record companies all subscribe to take a fairly attractive young girl and put her through the machine and voila out comes the newest pop sensation. The formula basically takes this girl, has her sing some god-awful pop lyrics about getting stood up by some dude at the prom over some cheesy guitar rift and before you know it you have the next Taylor Swift, Kelly Clarkson or Ashley Simpson.
The money-making part doesn't bother me, nor does the fact they ruin rock-and-roll, what really sticks in my craw is that it's all so predictable. The chick makes one over produced album and grabs some front page publicity, they then spend 10 months having the paparazi take unflattering pictures of them. The issue is that everybody is surprised to see these chicks looking fat or pimple covered but this shouldn't shock anybody as they are such untalented plain-janes who get plastered all over US Weekly where they get linked to Tony Romo then John Mayer and finally they all seem to end up banging David Spade which I guess is punishment enough.

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Monday, June 21, 2010

Been at this too long to stop now

Day 3 in Korea and I gotta say that these Asian cities are interesting in that they have a different energy than Western Cities do. I can't put my finger on it but it must have something to do with the food. An American meal is often something you do because without food you would die, an Asian meal has more to do with the company you hold. You meals are bonding experiences filled with booze and smokes which is nice although I do feel like I'm constantly competing on an episode of Fear Factor Now that's not to say that eating cow-stomach, calf-tongue, rotting cabbage or Fido can't be considered a delicacy but our American stomachs just aren't made for this. We are totally pampered when it comes to our food, we only want white meat from the chicken, we want our fish filleted, we order our burgers well done and we need our shrimp cooked. Asians don't do any of this, the weirder the item, the bigger the delicacy.

I realize we are a bunch of pansies who use the sell-by date on a carton of milk as the drink-by date but what I never understood is the concept of displaying the meat in the front window like you see in China Town. I'm not sure what's worse, seeing an entire skinned duck staring at you while you are chowing on Donald's brother or knowing It's 100 degrees with 100% humidity and that duck's been hanging out there since 11AM.
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Sunday, June 20, 2010

What a life

So imagine you are on your first big salestrip to Asia on the eve of your first big day and you have to wear your black suit because the Korean Dry-cleaner lost the gray one, you've got the runs from the street vendor kimchee and you look in the mirror and realize you look like a chia-pet. This is when you step back and think you that maybe you should have been a nicer person because the joke is on you this time.

The only redeeming factor is the fact that I went from having a terrible haircut in NYC to having a very average haircut in Seoul which mind you has nothing to do with hair miraculously growing back. There must be some kind of Bermuda Triangle effect to barbers because every haircut here looks like it was done under heavy duress so my really crappy one is just one of a dozen.

I feel a lot less self-conscious than I otherwise might but I still wonder where I go wrong at these barbers. See I have tried hundreds of different barbers and even a few salons and my haircut always looks somewhere between good and masterful when I look into the mirror at the barber shop but as soon as I get home and shower I look again and it appears my huge head has grown three-hat sizes. It's like those barber shops are using some kind of incredible soft-light or have replaced all their mirrors with fun-house ones because I cannot understand how the haircut that I walk out with even closely resembles the one I wake up with the next day. So this is why I go to the guy with the sandwich-board handing out flyers for a $12 haircut as opposed to blowing $38 at Jean Claude van Haircut because it doesn't matter what it looks like now, it always looks like Ray Charles cut my hair the next day and it will be three weeks before it's grown in enough to look decent. I'm so afraid of this moment that I wait well past it's time before getting the next one which means my family and friends have the pleasure of seeing me go morph from an Alfalfa look to a Dolph Lundgren, to the guy from Oasis, to Dudley Moore and finally Jim from The Office at which point I give up and start again.
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Saturday, June 19, 2010

America, what a country

The newest phenomenon hitting the college circuit is Bros icing Bros and although I am 12 years removed from college the entire concept is peculiarly appealing. The game revolves around a bunch of college hooligans carrying around warm bottles of Smirnoff Ice and then springing them onto unsuspecting friends who have to down this chick-drink on one knee. The only way to avoid getting 'iced' is by packing heat, which I think means you have t carry your own bottle of warm Smirnoff Ice in a holster so you can block a bro from icing you.

I can probably count on two fingers the amount of Smirnoff Ice's I have ever had and I am positive that I've never laid out any money for it although I should admit that I had a few ZIMAs when I was a senior in High School. When you are trying to ICE a buddy you have to make sure the embarrassment factor is out of this world so they chose the perfect brand. Not only does Smirnoff Ice taste like dog urine seen drinking one is about as masculine as getting a tattoo on your lower back. . Now if you are a Smirnoff exec who has made a living selling your wine-coolers to 20 something chicks this is probably not how you imagined your life having gone but sometimes life throws you a curve ball and if you check-swing a double you don't ask questions. Honestly they can't ask for better publicity as this Icing thing has gone completely viral with people like Aston Kutcher and the dude from Facebook having gotten iced and posted onto YouTube. So now there are 1000's of kids buying six-packs of Smirnoff Ice who would otherwise be buying Natty Ice. Obviously the Smirnoff company has to be careful not to officially embrace the binge-drinking thing but they gotta be seeing themselves as lucky as the execs over at the White-Owl cigar company.. Yeah it probably isn't something you officially embrace but when you can afford to fill your swimming in pools with Smirnoff Ice, who gives a damn.
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Friday, June 18, 2010

Futball Nation

So like everybody else, I am starting to get pretty wrapped up into the FIFA World Cup and wonder if moving it to every 2 years would add to or take away from it as an event. Those horns does make you feel like you are standing inside of a beehive but that's all part of the South African experience.
Just today I watched the USA team make a furious comeback to play Slovenia to a 2-2 draw which in soccer circles is a good thing. The funny thing is as I was traveling, I was only able to listen to it on the radio which for somebody who doesn't know the game that well and couldn't pick the players and their positions out if my life depended on it, makes for an interesting experience. Baseball is a great radio game, basketball is rough unless you have a top announcing team which basically means exit Walt Clyde and enter Dr Jack, I can't ever say I've listed to the NHL but I have to imagine that it would be near impossible, (American) Football is decent but only because of the constant stoppages so they can add color commentary but Futball on the radio is tough.
First of all you got some Scottish announcer whose pretty good but you kind of get lost in his accent and forget where you are so 10 minutes past and you can't remember anything that happened. Then you have the whole big-field and not being able to see plays develop thing so the untrained radio listener has no idea where the ball is and even the trained radio listener doesn't know where the other players are positioned. These goal-scoring games are all about positioning away from the ball but the futball play-by-play guy doesn't have enough time to explain it in real-time. There are just too many players on too big a field and the only thing you wind up doing is listening to the excitement in the guys voice and the roar of the crowd.

Then you add to that the fact the ESPN radio guy kept calling Slovenia- Slovakia but honestly nobody can blame him for that.

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

My Life is Horrible (tm)

Forget  MLIA, I'm talking MLIH level here.   

A few weeks ago TOR complained about dry-cleaners who use 'green' in their name while not actually doing anything organically.   Well obviously there are people who read TOR who have it in for me cause I went to go pick up my gray suit in anticipation for 8 days in Seoul and was met with the above sign saying that the business was closed indefinitely.    So now here I am on the eve of a major business trip and that nightmare I had about walking naked into my high-school English class is coming true. . My suit has been kidnapped and I'm sitting here anxiously waiting for one of those notes with all the glued on letters.  I don't know much about doing business is Korea but I do know that you are supposed to walk in with a suit and now I'm as screwed as walking into one of those Korean Massage Parlors.

 The issue is I am now frantically trying to buy another suit which just doesn't  work on short notice as they all need to tailored.  I've walked into four different places but they all need 24 hours and I can't find anything that I can just walk out with that fits well even-though I probably have one of the most typical male frames around.    As there is not time for tailoring I'm stuck trying to find one off the rack which basically means I'm limited to Target, the issue is that when I walk in there they happened to be out of a 42R jacket although they have a ton of 38S and 52L ones sitting on the rack.

Nothing more ironic than getting hijacked on a trip to Korea by a Korean dry-cleaner.

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Muni Meter Meltdown

NY City continues its assault on its citizens by adding hidden taxes.
I guess it's not completely taxation without representation but have you noticed how many additional costs the residents of NYC are incurring since the financial collapse.   One day its higher subway fares coupled with service cuts and route cancellations while the next day they raise water-rates and  then its property taxes.   I've seen a ticket blitz for garbage left out on the wrong day, improperly displayed vehicle registration stickers and minor restaurant violations and it's not just the city, the State just made it mandatory to get the new $25 NY State license plates.
Unlike mass transit where they raise your rates while they cut your service the newest revenue stream comes with a slight quality-of-life boots.  What I've noticed recently is that they are installing mini-meters everywhere to replace the old knob-turning ones and in general this is a positive step since it does open up more parking spots and makes parking easier since you can pay for a credit card which means you don't have to have 12 quarters with you to park in NYC for 2 hours.    I don't have any issue with paying for parking on mainly commercial streets but what they have been doing recently is attacking the people who live in the neighborhood.   Just yesterday I noticed that a certain area around the corner from our apartment had been converted from normal residential parking to a muni-meter and what this did was two-fold.  
·         One it will make parking that much more difficult as it will eliminate about 10 good residential spots all while the city continues to zone for large condo-buildings to be built in the area which will only add more cars to the neighborhood.    You can't just keep adding people to neighborhoods and not taking any consideration what you are doing to the infrastructure.   The subway platforms, parking spaces and parks were all designed for much smaller groups of people in mind.    For example it is not uncommon for a kid to have to wait 10 minutes to use the swings at the local park.

·         The second thing they did was worse.  From what I can tell they added these mini-meters without any warning.   From what I can tell they added the new muni-meters and new street regulations yesterday morning and later that evening there was literally a ticket on every single car on that particular block.   These were probably cars that were parked completely legally earlier that day but all of a sudden they changed the rules and obviously none of the cars had the little parking-slips displayed on their dashboards.   Now I wasn't directly affected so I guess I shouldn't spend too much of my time complaining but there should be some kind of grace-period.  If a certain street is zoned in one way for 10 years it seems ridiculous that you can add a muni-meter and a new sign at 9AM that day and ticket people as soon as it's up.   There were no flyers handed out, signs posted or anything, just ten cars with 10 tickets which are probably $55 a piece.
I'm convinced that parking meters are not set up with the thought of collecting $0.25 for 15 minutes but are actually just traps set up to catch people who overstay their time by a few minutes.   I'd love to look but I'm sure the revenue that the city makes on parking-meter tickets dwarfs that of actual parking meter collection.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The NEW New York State License Plates

New York State released the new license plates a few weeks ago and the first time I saw one I actually thought that the owner of the car still had one of the yellow plates from the 80's before the one with the Statue of Liberty.   It took for me to see about 50 on the road before I realized I hadn't travelled in time but instead was looking at the new classic plates.  The plates look cool but it sounds like it's just another way for the state to tax its citizens as they will require all cars to have the new plates within about a year.    Of course there is nothing wrong with the license plate I have now as they don't exactly go bad especially considering I've only had it for about 9 months.  The issue is that when it comes to state politics nothing is out of bounds and requiring all residents to pony up $25 for a new license plate so that these Albany politicians can funnel more money to their pet projects seems inevitable.

What my bigger concern is aesthetically.  The new plates are a mustard yellow which look awesome on some cars but on other ones it just looks horrendous.   On a black Mustang this is a great look, on a red Corvette it looks like somebody had bloody diarrhea.     The TOR hippy mobile is white whic won't look terrible but if I had bought a blue car I'd be flipping the heck out.   If the state is going to require that I use this license plate and pay $25 for the right to have one they could at least choose a color which is a bit more neutral.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Liking your own status update

The Status Update is the status symbol of 2010, not in the sense that it allows you to show off anything valuable except it often becomes a race to see who can get the most comments to something asinine somebody posts.   One of the ways to measure 'hits' on your status update are comments but that involves people having to put some energy into it, the other is the almost no-effort option also known as the "I like this " option.  

Our dislike to this is well documented: 

·         In a world of short-hand this has become the symbol of a lack of effort out of this generation.  The like option has become the newest version of LOL which has turned from meaning Laugh Out Loud to meaning I have nothing clever to say. 

·         If you are going to offer a like option it is your responsibility to also offer a dislike option, most of the status updates could use some quality-control and there would be no better way than a dislike option

·         People seem to try to find ways to boost their self-esteem by trying to find ways to artificially  boosts their exposure

The first two parts are pretty self-explanatory but it's the last one that has the long-term effect.   See you take it all together and throw it in the blender and then stir it up and you get something that is even lamer than a person who uses their status update to tell their FB community that they are at the mall or sitting on the couch.  What you get in a world of insecurity are people who 'like' his own status.    Liking your own status ranks is like bragging about a party you had for your imaginary friends.    


See you have to have some self-respect and there is nothing less respectable than somebody whose overly concerned about stroking their own ego..  It comes down to this liking" your own status update is like trying to give yourself a blowjob.   You might feel like you are getting lucky but realize that you are both the receiver and the giver.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Great Summer Ale debate

I love beer
I love summer
And I love chicks

So really who better to review this year's Summer Ales? I have tried all this years official entries (granted I am limiting this to the ones available at the local Bodega) and have my full review ready.

First PlaceBrooklyn Summer AleThis years version doesn't disappoint, proving again that the best things in life are made in Brooklyn. The 2010 version is impressive in taste and flavor. Brooklyn Brewery has probably been making this variation for a half a decade and I'm pleasantly surprised year in-year out. If I were a beer critic I could tell you the flavor isn't overwhelming, the texture not overly complex, the hops not overpowering and whatever other mumbo jumbo crap but honestly it tastes good and that's enough for me

Second Place just means you were the first loser
Blue Moon HoneymoonLike most Blue Moon this makes you want to take a dump almost immediately as it proves to be the best diuretic this side of one of those nasty cookies people eat. The flavor is good, the texture is OK, the refreshment level is high and it's better than most things.

Third place is like winning tickets to a see a bunch of chicks mud-wrestle and finding out that the contestants look like the New York Liberty
Michelob Ultra
Not "technically" a summer ale but I had one in my fridge and these lists really should have more than a couple of entries. It tastes like a watered down macro-brew which is to say it tastes like a watered down water.. I am convinced that if you blindfolded 10 people and gave them a Michelob Ultra and a seltzer water they wouldn't know the difference. When they found out maybe some people would come to their senses they may realize the seltzer actually tasted better. This beer is so bland it makes those comedies on CBS seem cutting edge.

Bringing up the rear..
Sam Adams Summer AleThis tastes like Jim Cooke pissed in a bottle and called it Summer Ale. The flavor is bland and boring and the aftertaste is worse. I can't tell you exactly what I hate worse the flavor or the fact I feel like I have to burp up a burrito worth of hops. I would say that at $12.99 a six-pack (yes this is what it goes for) I think you'd be better off getting onto the Fung Wa bus and licking the aholes of the unshowered college kids and chinamen  of that bus on your way to kick some craft beer ass.

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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Sailing around the world

When I first read about that 16 year old chick who is lost at Sea while trying to become the youngest person to sail around the world I thought that she was still better off lost at sea than she would if she instead had decided to date Joran Van der Sloot.
First of all, talk about a record nobody gives a crap about, 99.999% people can't name anybody not named Columbus who has ever sailed across an ocean let alone around the world. Secondly how much money do people have to give their 16 year old chick a sail-boat not to mention the amount of text messages and Facebook updates she must have been making on that Satellite phone.. What irks me though is that I hate the fact that somebody decides to do something like this with all the inherent risks and when something goes wrong it's everybody else who has to be responsible for saving them. There were 2 ships within 2 sailing days of her last location both of which were heading to her because of some kind of media driven pressure to save this poor brat. They located her today when an emergency plane was to fly from Australia to try to find her by canvassing 1000's of miles of ocean blue and have had two planes shuttle back and forth to make sure she's OK while rescue boats race to her location.
Who exactly is going to be paying all these bills?

I hope that her folks have a credit card with some good reward points because they shouldn't have to spend anymore time traveling by boat cause they'd be flying on AMEX points if i was the Australian government.
This is like those daredevils or mountain climbers who get caught in some avalanche which results in some insane amount of people have to do extraordinary and dangerous rescue missions and vast resources being called out to rescue somebody who should be left to die.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't help a fellow human but if they do something to get notoriety for the risk they shouldn't just get credit for the reward but should also have to pay the consequences, literally and figuratively.
And if you are going to try to become famous record try doing something you'll actually be remembered for like making a celebrity sex tape involving every team in the Big 10.
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Friday, June 11, 2010

Jackasses all of them

Hopefully they'll have this oil-leak stuffer by the time I'm stuffing a Thanksgiving Turkey.    The thing about this oil-spill which has just been upgraded to 20,000 barrels per day is that you start to learn how much people lie when it comes to getting caught

First they said it was about 2000 barrels per day, then it went to 8000, then to 15,000 and now to 20,000.   You know that there are really about 100,000 barrels per day that are coming in.   I think it's time for them to start thinking about something different as those pipes, risers, golf-ball and everything else they have thrown at this haven't exactly worked.

My thought since this thing isn't ever going to be fixed why not make a spectacle out of it and put somebody new in charge.   My call send the guys from Jackass down there as a join USO and USA overhaul.    This has top rated TV show written all over it.   Those guys eating oil covered shrimp, doing a triple lindy into the tar-baths or have Steve O go crabbing using his sack as bait.  But for the encore put goggles on them and have Steve O, Johnny Knoxville and Wee Man  shoot them down 1 mile down to the ocean floor to try to stuff this thing by shoving that fat-guy into the pit.

But the most interesting thing I read was that there are a bunch of Brits who got their panties in a bunch because of the beating BP is taking in the press and the US government.   Basically the shares have lost 40% of their value and since a lot of pension funds are tied to the BP stock, individuals are seeing their nest-eggs turn into an omelet.   Now I know this sucks but who ever said that buying stocks was a sure thing, you gotta take the good with the bad.  When you buy a stock you are buying everything that comes along with that including the profits, dividends, CEO, environmental cleanup, financial risks and financial gains.   If the thing falls on its face than that is too bad for you and everybody else since nobody felt sorry for you when you were racking in the profits.

   What I'm starting to dislike though is this argument about raising the total allowable fine caused by an oil-spill to move from 75 million dollars to 10 billion dollars.   I hate any act which is deemed illegal or plain wrong as one where there is a defined penalty since it just always feels like you can do the crime as long as you are willing to do the time.    I would say the penalty should be 10x the cost of the cleanup so that there can't ever be a justifiable reason to take unneeded risk..  Or better yet for every drop of oil that lands on the seashore let some Cajun kick a Brit in the sack, For every bird that comes back lathered in oil let Dick Cheney be allowed to shoot his gun at a Tony Hayward or better yet for every oil-ball that ends up in marsh-lands let the guys from JackAss shoot his load all over some BP teller.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Elevator Musical Chairs

One of the most impressive things you see on a daily basis is the seemingly choreographed dance that happens in an elevator of strangers.    Like a buffer –seat in a movie theater there is an almost coordinated attempt by all parties involved to avoid standing in a way that could possibly mean that their arms or pants may graze one another.   I've spent the last 15 years doing a crude study of the elevator dance but I have always thought it would be an interesting psychological study to evaluate people's behavior inside of an elevator as  I have noticed is that people will get onto elevators and almost work in a synchronized fashion to make sure that they stay within a certain distance from their fellow elevator patrons.  

   The idea would be to evaluate elevator tapes and divide the floor space into equally sized but invisible sections.  I believe that people will move towards the least  crowded part of the elevator which obviously makes sense as people have a need for personal space but what I think would be interesting is that I've noticed people will subconsciously move to opposite sides of the elevator very often.   If one person is standing in the front left side the next person will squeeze into the back right corner.   The further one person positions himself from the wall will almost mirror that of another person.  It's like people perceive personal space relative to other people's personal space.  If one person decides that they will take up 1/3rd of the elevator, the other person will do the same.      It's also interesting to see what happens when a third person comes in and how everybody will retreat in almost the same distance, it's as if people are working with some kind of gravity level where no one person can be standing any closer to any other person in the elevator.  When the fourth person enters everybody moves and before you know it all four are positioned equidistant from one another.    I don't think anybody ever expends a lot of conscious effort to it but if you were to graph the motion, my guess is that people would be very good at knowing exactly where they are and where their neighbors might be.    If you take into consideration real-weight, I bet that subconsciously everybody in the elevator distributes in such a way that the weight distribution becomes very even.  if a 250 pound person stands in the back left  and a 125 pound person in the front right a third will move slightly closer towards the 125 pound person so that the weight per square inch is almost equal.   The only spot in the elevator where this might be somewhat different is in-front of the number keypad as in most situations this is the last quadrant occupied especially if there is only a keypad on one side of the elevator.   This almost becomes an invisible fourth person allowed to occupy its own space.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

I need some Insurance for your Assurance

So there was a huge protest over the weekend about some planned Mosque built near Ground Zero with people holding up signs saying it was a spit in the face of the 3000 people who lost their lives. This of course is an idiotic argument and probably shouldn't be met with more of a response but the protesters are loud and Americans are racists. There is no way that an entire religion with millions of followers should be damned because of the acts of a few radicals. This is like saying you never want another church built because of the legacy of the Crusaders.

But the argument for allowing a Ground Zero mosque gets constitutional also being that we live in a free society which happens to be a melting pot and every person has the right to express their faith without government or any other type of institutional interference.

Somehow I'm not sure that the Puritans had this in mind when they came across on those boats but we live in a revolving society and our forefathers didn't get all too technical when they were writing the whole 'we the people' thing.

But I'm not arguing for or against a Mosque at Ground Zero for based on Religious persecution or even zealous protesters. The reason I'm OK with putting a Mosque there is for insurance. The way I see it, you put a Mosque in the new Freedom Tower and then invite the top religious leaders and clergy to bless the place and maybe..just maybe, it becomes a holy site making the entire place less likely as a target.

I'll be having an Iman come to bless my new apt whenever we buy it.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The mask

I have still to hear a good argument for those masks people wear in the airports. I am not talking about people with legit medical reasons but rather the wacky Asians and the OCD types who walk around in perfect health.
Now I'm sure they have their arguments: TB, SARS, Swine Flu etc but I fly all the time and have yet to pick up anything worse than a cold.
Just the other day I was squeezed between two people on a flight and one of them was a Chinese woman wearing a mask and I felt like I needed to pull the tab on that flotation device and beat her with it. There are many people who need to wear those things for very good medical reasons as they have compromised immune systems but there are also a lot of wack-jobs out there who believe they are protecting themselves from the plague by wearing one these. Come on people what do you really think these things are going to stop: this thing is made of paper and the seal is worse than that of a BP pipe.

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Monday, June 7, 2010

Citibank is concentrating on the wrong figures

Citibank has got to the worst run place in America and I’m not talking about the huge bail-out money they took last year to stay afloat. I’m not even referring to the fact they bumped the APR on our credit card up to 30% last year although we had never been late on a payment. What I am referring to is the fact that they fired some chick for being too hot. Apparently Vikram Pandit can’t do anything right when it comes to running a company, his stock is trading around $3.50 a share (down about $1.50 since they fired this hot chick) and he takes a salary of $1 per year and now doesn't even have any eye-candy for his trouble.

Debralee Lorenzana says she was fired for dressing too provocatively to the point her male colleagues couldn’t focus on crunching numbers and instead focusing on crunching the 5’6” Latina in her 3” pumps and tight tops. There are thousands of people who claim they are discriminated to for being unattractive or overweight which I can see but for being a smoking hot chick is outrageous.

Now I have banking buddies who say that they have yet to see a picture of her looking ‘THAAAAAAT Hot” so apparently there are tons of hot-chicks running around some of the biggest banks in NYC which may explain why they all took TARP money since those boob-jobs gotta be paid by some body. These guys may say that she isn’t that hot but I know for sure that when this chick walks onto a subway car, every head turns. She’s easily Jessica Lopez hot, she’s easily Jessica Simpson hot, the question is if she is Jessica Rabbit hot?

But the more I think about it this is where Citi has it wrong; they should have moved this chick from the back-offices to a teller job or maybe put her in charge of the annual fundraising car-wash. Actually forget that she should be put up on every bill-board in NYC with a slogan like “Citibank, yeah we took a bailout but at least we got hot-chicks.”

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Antiquated systems

I read an article recently about the airlines starting to make some improvements on the computer systems their agents use and TOR thinks it's about time.
How the hell do airlines manage fleets of thousands of planes, hundred thousands of crew members, millions of pieces of luggage, cargo and passengers plus all those bags of peanuts when their entire life-support involves agents are looking at computer with green lettering? Somehow almost every other industry has been able to at least incorporate windows into their process but for some reason the airlines have decided that they don't need the 21st century. Think about how long it takes an agent to switch your seat or look for another flight when you get rerouted. I believe that they have made the entire concept of flying so incredibly arcane with their ticket-types, fare rules, seating assignments and inflexibility when it comes to changing flights that it allows them to have claim they are a victim of their antiquated systems and thus make any change so mind-numbingly complicated regardless of the size of the change that passengers just resist asking for anything.
Now they have added the kiosks for check-in and the ability to check-in online but try to do anything more complex and your staring at huge fees or a maze of total mumbo-jumbo.
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Saturday, June 5, 2010

That Smell

I love NYC but I hate the hot humid days that are ahead of us this summer. There are a ton of reasons to hate the humidity because it will make the commute just horrendous as we are just not set up to deal with the heat. The reason is that with this many people all crammed into a small island there is just no-way to escape it let alone cool it. One of the issues is the vast amounts of air-conditioners which cool the air inside the apartments subsequently pump the hot-air into the streets which is like a self-perpetuating cycle of humid nastiness. There are other cities like Houston which are set up for the humidity with AC's blasting 24 hours a day in homes, cars, office buildings and stores but since the city is more sprawling and thus not as vertically packed, maybe it allows the hot-air to dispense. Or maybe it doesn't but those Texans are just happy to find reasons to burn fossil fuels.

But in NYC we don't have those luxuries as we are stuffed to the gills with sweaty people in cramped spaces so every day of humidity above 80% makes for a slice of hell on earth. And as if the heat wasn't terrible enough you have to mention that nasty AC sweat that drops down as you make your way through the streets. There are few things that are grosser than getting pelted with the precipitation from an overhanging AC unit.
But the biggest issue isn't the hot subway platforms or even AC sweat but the smell the city takes on during the most sweltering days. Between the 20 million people and their melting pot of odors and the stagnant waters surrounding the city we have a summer of nastiness ahead and nothing curls the nose more than the piles of garbage piled 10 feet high rotting in the humidity. I have never thought we handled garbage particularly well since we should be forced to throw trash out in large metallic bins instead of piling thin garbage bags on the sidewalk which only become easy targets for the two most vile members of the NYC wildlife: rats and homeless people.
So I say we go to air-conditioned steel garbage bins keeping the stink in and the rodents and homeless out, this coming from a guy who used to dive into piles of garbage on drunken nights
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Friday, June 4, 2010

like a crack-dealer

So AT&T has decided to eliminate the unlimited data-options from their pricing plans and TOR's first thought was that hopefully this will mean a better connection for everybody.    The plans are intended to curb the usage of users who use (or abuse) the unlimited plans.   I don't think they will be changing present contracts but new customers or ones changing their plans will have an option for $15 for a 200MB plan and $25 for a 2 GB monthly plan as a replacement for the $30 unlimited plan.

My first thought is who the hell uses 2GB's of data per month?

I used AT&T's handy little data-calculator at and I figure you can send /receive 70 emails per day, 10 of which have attachments.  You can send 15 photos per day, listen to 30 minutes of streaming music and 10 minutes of streaming video plus view 90 web-pages, download 1 app and post 5 photos onto Facebook each and every day.    Basically that means that you won't have time to eat, breath or take a dump although I do know a lot of people who use their Iphone on the sh*tter.

What I have always wondered is why certain industries charge for actual usage like electricity, water, heat, while others like cable give you a standard bill regardless of your usage like cable and internet usage.  The entire model of unlimited usage is completely socialist and for people who don't watch a lot of TV or don't surf the internet it becomes a complete rip-off.   I can't understand how certain business models like mobile surfing has traditionally been an unlimited offering while text messages are charged per amount although you can buy them in bundle packaging. I've often read that the internet is slowed down tremendously by a small percentage of people who watch online videos or play the 2010 version of Dungeons and Dragons online which means that the rest of the world suffers.    This is like being on a one-lane high-way with a guy driving 20 MPH and causing a giant traffic backup because of it.   One guy can ruin the lives of thousands of others, we have to get rid of this unlimited usage thing, it's un-American, it's un-democratic and it's un-livable for those of us who just want to surf the net for some news, a couple of nudie pictures and some fantasy football news.    


So with that kind of heavy usage required to get to 2GB per month AT&T says it will actually save most people money.   They estimate that 98% of users will use less than 2GB per month so by switching they would save $5 per month by changing to the 2GB plan.  Of course what they are doing here is losing a battle to win a war because as mobile-surfing increases the data-usage will too and I'm sure that within 5 years 2GB a month will be what 200MB per month is today.   They want to get people off those unlimited all-you-can-eat plans and into ones that are tiered.      Verizon Wireless just allowed me to download an NFL app which allows me to download streaming live-video of any NFL game.   But when I see how much data live-video takes up, you can see exactly what they are doing.   Basically these mobile companies are like crack-dealers, give you something for free the first time and before you know it you are fiending , you haven't showered in a month, your kids are neglected, your unit is covered in sores and you are giving BJ's for $5 behind the 7-11.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Who the hell buys anything in these things?

I have been on a thousand flights in my life. I always do the same thing when boarding. I get onto the plane as early as possible to make sure I can store my luggage and get comfortable waiting for other people to get cattled in and not have a place to put their roller bag.
What I also do is check what they offer in that seat pocket in front of me including some crappy magazine like SkyNews or United Lives and often find some other idiot had made a poor attempt at the crossword and Sudoku. Then I flip through the safety instruction and barf bag which aren't that interesting. What I also do is flip through that SkyMall magazine which can easily kill an hour on a long leg of a terrible flight to browse the garden gnomes, Iphone chargers and that ramp to let your Golden Retriever It's like walking into a Brookstone in the sense it's the most interesting thing at an airport but more so that you never see anybody actually purchase anything in them.
I wonder how these places even stay open, somebody's got to buy some of this junk because they got a nice presentation with great pictures which must cost a fortune to produce. Somebody must be buying something although I have yet to find somebody to admit to it.
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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Are you capable of performing the duties of the exit row.

The only thing redeeming about flying coach is the emergency exit row. It's not that it's the only way at almost 6'2 you can sit somewhat comfortably but after flying 300,000 miles in the last few years it is the only way to keep your sanity. One of my biggest issues is something different though, they always ask if your are capable of handling the responsibility of sitting in the emergency row and I always think that not only am I capable but I wouldn't want anybody else sitting there if this flight decides to swan dive into the Hudson River. I don't trust anybody to do this as well as I do, I was made to throw a door out of an plane and shuttle passengers down a water-slide
It's not even that I feel like I have this inane ability but I often look around and see the total incompetence around me and think that they should have a physical aptitude test before being asked if you could perform those duties. I'm talking squats, leg-lifts, sprints and endurance runs because those doors look heavy and I see a lot of grandma's occupying those seats.
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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

there is something odd about Memorial Day

There is something very odd about Memorial Day..

I know this is a day late but I always find that Memorial Day is an oddity.  As the unofficial start of summer, it's an excuse to open the pools, sit on the beach and buy a 42" TV on sale.  Now I am not saying the world must end and there are of course a number of parades and other tributes to the soldiers who defend our way of life but it never seems enough.    I remember thinking a few years ago that they should make 9/11 a day off of work to commemorate the day for what it was and to honor the victims and the heroes for their losses and bravery that day.  The reason I thought not to was because like many other holidays like Martin Luther King day, veterans day and memorial day, it would at some point just become a reason to sit out on the patio as you took advantage on a nice Indian Summer day.   I never understood why schools are out for Martin Luther King Day, as the best way to honor him would be to listen to the I have a Dream speech not use it to go skiing.  

BUT with all of that said, what I really don't understand is that knowing this has become a sham holiday, why restaurants don't see it for what it is.   I walked around yesterday and there were many restaurants not offering a Sunday-style brunch.    You can't find a nicer day than yesterday morning when your terrace should be packed with people weary eyed from the night before but instead there were three different restaurants of note that had their doors shut.  Somebody needs to drill it into these small-business owners heads that you have a hungry crowd out there who isn't going to cook for themselves so you better have your doors wide open or your competitors are feasting on their money.

Now if they had stayed closed all day in honor of the veterans that would be one thing but every one of them was open for dinner later that night.