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Monday, February 28, 2011

WUMF: February Edition

We are finally inching towards Spring, which amazingly we've had a week where it was 60 degrees, followed by six to ten inches of snow, followed by 60 degrees. This can only mean locusts and boils are coming, folks.  I admit I’ve been working on this post for over two weeks. Actually, it’s been more like I spent fifteen minutes and slacked for the rest of the two weeks. In any case, here’s a smattering of WUMF for ya.

1. The Lesser Man Project: Week OHHELLIDON’TKNOW
I haven’t given on update on this in a long while but here’s the lowdown. Still sticking to the game plan but there were days of weakness and I did indulge in the “Cake in the Break Room” practice. This is where I started my downward spiral before. I managed to curb that habit, real quick. I’ve been eating fish at least once a week. Yeah, it’s breaded but sooooo good.

Having gotten over a bad couple of weeks of reoccurring stomach flu, I managed to not gain any weight back, which is good. But, then again, I’ve been hovering around the 20 lbs. mark for a month now, which is bad. With the weather getting nicer, here, It’s in the high 60s and still February the chances for more exercise increased but the opportunities are less because I’m losing an hour in drive time which puts me at not getting home until almost 6pm some days. I’ll need to find more excuses to get into the pool this summer, if just to do circles to help clean it.

2. Happy Time, Peggy!
After eight years I have finally freed myself of the biggest albatross around my neck. I worded my Facebook status to sound as if I had become single or ended a bad relationship, which I have. Just not with my wife, that is. Granted, my wife was involved but it’s more complicated than that.

Right around the time I started thinking about buying a house I was sort of strong armed into doing something I had resisted for seven years. I managed to get buy in life with not having a credit card. I used my check card for everything and if I didn’t have the cash, I didn’t buy it. But in order to establish a good credit standing I needed to have a card. So, I got one. My then fiancée had one. Then I went and purchased something and put it on the card. Then my fiancée did. Soon, I had two cards and she had three. Every time I’d amass a little bit of debt, I’d see another offer for a card that could transfer a balance and not hit me with a finance charge if I paid it off in time. So, I’d card jump and then my fiancée, turned wife would piggy back. Then we found ourselves with a considerable amount of card debt. Then we bought a house, then a car, then had a kid, then another car, then Christmases and vacations followed.

The point is there was always this looming debt that stared me in the face. Now, with the help of some strict spending habits and the shirt shops, I have managed to whittle down that debt into nothing. I still have a mortgage and a car payment and my monthly utility bills but there is no huge stone of debt hanging over my head. As the credit card companies get whacked with regulations, only to come back and figure out new ways to weasel more charges out of you, it’s nice to know I don’t have to play that game, anymore. Now, I can start working on that other pile of debt I have. Parental loans. I owe my Dad some money for the balloon payment on my car. After I hit the five year financing wall, I had a considerable amount still left to pay off and he was nice enough to grab it. Unfortunately, I stopped giving him checks because I had to focus on the other stuff but I’m ready to resume giving him money. I also owe a small bit to my Father-in-law because he fronted the down payment on this year’s vacation house. I could give that to him, easily but he gets funny about it, so I might pay him out of our tax return. That way he won’t think we’re going to go broke from it.

3. WE WILL: Not Compete
The Suckos are back in Spring Training, going for that Grape Fruit League pennant. The stark comparison is the news that Albert Pujols wanted $300 million over 10 years. Can you imagine McCutcheon or Alvarez asking for a ten year commitment for $300 million dollars? Can you imagine Bob Nutting giving more than a tenth of that for the same amount of time? They certainly wouldn’t have put up near the amount that Jose Bautista, former Pirate, is getting from the Blue Jays.

I say it’s time to institute a limit on payrolls. The players union would never go for a salary cap, so don’t think I’m not talking about one. Yes, it would curb the Yankees spending. I’m talking about a limit on how little a player can be paid. That would force the organization to have fund a minimum amount into their players payroll and have to start using that slush fund of revenue sharing from the bigger market teams to do it.

Naysayers will point to the 2010 World Series as proof that you don’t need to have a big bankroll to win a championship. Fine. I’ll accept that you can win on talent grown, not bought. However, the Giants and the Texans were forced to compete to get to that level. The Pirates are not forced to compete as long as the profits outweigh the infrastructure. And if Nutting plans on waiting until the wheels fall off to sell at a profit then let’s beat him to the pass and initiate a hostile takeover of the team. Green Bay pretty much owns the Packers and they just won the Super Bowl. Pittsburgh’s the kind of town that could handle that kind of thing. But if Nutting claims that everything is above board, then open the books and let someone take a look.

The most current news is that Frank Coonley said that they could not, at present, sustain a $70 million payroll and that they could not without a significant rise in attendance. Everyone jumped on this and said, “He’s blaming the fans! They won’t spend money because we refuse to come out and support a crappy product! Eff him and eff Nutting, too.” Well, that’s not what he’s saying… exactly. He’s saying that given the current climate, the club could not put $70 million towards payroll. He’s also saying that in order to get that kind of money, attendance would have to increase. It’s a non issue. The fans are never going to come back just to increase the payroll. They will have to win a pennant in order for attendance to rise that much. He’s not blaming the fans as much as he’s putting the weight of the future of them paying for talent on their shoulders and he’s flat out saying that it isn’t a possibility. So, they either keep floundering and attendance continues to drop or the find the right combination of raw talent that will elevate them into a winning season.

Personally, there is no chance in hell they will ever be able to pay for talent to come here without getting at least one high profile player. Then again, no high profile player would come here. The only scenario I can paint is that the team finally starts to lose money so Nutting bails, still getting a huge profit. The new owners will preferably be willing to spend some money up front and secure a top name player with the promise that they will help bring up and comers around and attract more high profile players. Small incremental steps that will probably cause there to be a few instances of losing money yet fans will believe that the front office is trying, in earnest, to turn the ship around and will come back out. That drives up attendance and payroll and we can start winning again.

4.  Jobby Job.
The new job is going well. I’ve finally taken a huge step into the world of process flow diagrams and learned Visio. It’s like a snake eating its own tail or at the least like playing Sudoku. Once you think you’ve got it all figured out you find yourself having to go back and tweak an early step. For someone who used to spend his time doing the crossword puzzles in ink, as a rule, it sucks.

Now, I’ve gone into some kind of quasi overlay of how to set access levels and tag knowledge with permissions. The finished product gave me a headache and made me wonder if there was a sailboat hidden in the picture. If anything, I wanted to quit smoking and give a complete stranger $50. I don’t even smoke.

5.  Sport or Skills Competition?
As a part of that whole job thing, I am forced to sit in a lot of traffic to and from work.  With one hand on the wheel and one on the dial I am constantly looking for something to keep my mind from psychically blowing up the cars in front of me.  One of those things is usually, The Fan, which is the local sports talk radio station.  The great thing about it is that they do discuss Pittsburgh sports.  The bad thing is that they bait people into debates which drives up ratings and gets people to call in and text.  Something that plays into their numbers, I'm sure.  Anyway, the afternoon show fired a direct shot at Southwestern Pennsylvania, specifically my old homestead of Fayette Nam.   They claimed NASCAR was not a sport.

After switching to a substation for power because of the blackout from too many lights going on with the phones, they took callers who could try and defend the claim, that it is.   Sad to say, not a one was able to convince the hosts, or me for that matter that NASCAR was, indeed, a sport. 

The callers said, "They are the most gracious of people when it comes to their fans." 

So?  That says nothing for athletics or sports.

"They are the biggest attraction for people."

Again, so?

Look, it you want to make the claim then say that the drivers are the most athletically skilled persons, using hand to eye coordination and agility to navigate and make quick decisions.  That would be something along the lines of a positive claim.  Frankly, I have to agree that NASCAR is not a sport, in the definition of what I feel a sport is.  It is a skills competition.  Darts are skills competition.  Golf is a skills competition.  Any activity that does not require some kind of cardio activity is not a true sport.  Olympic Diving... skills competition.  Bowling... skills competition.   Curling... waste of time.

Can drivers burn a lot of calories?  Sure.  There is a lot of tension and muscle flexing that goes on inside the car.  But there is no workout on the level of say a sprint to the warning track to catch a fly ball or a breakaway in hockey.  That's not to say that drivers and golfers are not athletes but when you can count John Daly in your ranks, then you have to think about whether or not it's really a sport. 

That’s all for this edition of WUMF. Be well.

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