Yup, It's a Blog

It’s the internet. One of the rules of the internet is that if you have a personal website, you have to have a blog. Well, here’s mine; read it at your own peril.


Spring Training

I had the opportunity to go to Port St. Lucie, Florida last week. In case you didn't know, it's the Spring Training home of the New York Mets. As big a baseball fan that I am, it's really hard to believe that I've never been to a Spring Training.

P3050088

Naturally, I wanted to go to as many games that I could. Fortunately for my wallet, the Mets only had two games scheduled that week at their stadium, Digital Domain Park. One game was against the St. Louis Cardinals (which made my travel buddy Shane happy, since he's a Cards fan), the other against the  New York Yankees of the National League, the Miami Marlins. The Marlins handed out blank checks to players to field a team for their new stadium, which they could do without paying a payroll "luxury tax", because of the new park. Being the 50th anniversary of the Mets becoming a major league franchise, scheduled the Cardinals as their first game, just as they had done in 1962 (thanks to the New York Times for that tidbit).

The games themselves were rather fun. We got to see lots of prospects that both teams put in to gauge their ability to play on the major league level. On the whole, I'd say the Mets in about three years will be a force to be reckoned with; for now, I'll just be happy if they finish at .500 (81-81).

After the game, we went to try to get some player autographs. Shane was much more successful than I was. He got Kyle McClellan's signature on a ball.The Mets disappeared into their clubhouse, and many of the guys who'd been in the game had showered and left the stadium as they were taken out of the game.

I did, however spot former Mets pitcher, and current team television broadcaster, Ron Darling. I asked if I could have my picture taken with him. He was gracious about it, but he wanted it to not take very long, as I'm sure he wanted to get back to his hotel and unwind. It doesn't tarnish the moment for me; he still took the time to do what he really didn't have to do, and I'm cool with that.

As for next year (yes, I'm planning on going back), I'm going to do a bit more research on how I can manage to get some player autographs, and remember to buy tickets at the stadium on game day. Why? We got much better seats buying the tickets in person. The seats we got for the Marlins game were first row behind home plate, and I didn't have to pay any of the fees that I did when I bought the tickets for the Cardinals game online.

I've Censored this post…..

I've censored the following, in protest of a bill that gives any corporation and the US government the power to censor the internet--a bill that could pass THIS WEEK. To see the uncensored text, and to stop internet censorship, visit: 

http://americancensorship.org/posts/10022/uncensor 



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Winter is Coming

Sorry, this isn't a Game of Thrones post…. Now that half the internet has left, on with the topic. 

Baseball season is over, I don't even care if the NBA ever plays again, my Giants are rolling along nicely the NFL, and as far as the NHL goes my Rangers are staggering along like always.

This is the time of year for me when I have to pine for seeing my teams. My day job (and living in Metro Atlanta) means I only get to see the Giants on Sunday or Monday nights. As for the Rangers, if they're on Versus (or whatever it's called this week) or the occasional game that I can catch on the weekend, so much the better.

Unlike baseball, I won't pay for either internet or cable tv viewing of either the NFL or the NHL. I don't want DirecTV (and if I went the internet route, I'd be paying an equivalent amount to having the service set up), so NFL Sunday Ticket is out. I could get the NHL pay per view, but I don't think it's worth what they charge, though I will admit, at least I can choose whether I wanted to watch games on tv, or on my iPhone or internet.

I guess my love of hockey is nowhere near as strong as my love of baseball. I think nothing about buying the internet streaming of games, plus the iOS apps. This comes as no surprise to those that know me, but I wanted to state for the record that I knew it as well.

Thank-You, Steve

So, it's been over an hour since I learned (on Twitter, on my Mac) of the death of Steve Jobs. When he resigned from Apple back in August, I knew it wasn't a matter of "if" he was about to die, but "when". So, I have to admit that while I'm saddened, I'm not surprised.

Steve

My first encounter with an Apple product was with one of my friends' Apple ][ Computer. It was nice, but it didn't draw me into the "Cult of Apple". That product that did indoctrinate me was the original MacIntosh.

It was early 1984, and representatives from Apple visited the campus of Widener University. I got to see the "Mac" for the first time. It was love at first sight. However, I didn't think that I could really afford one, so I bought an Apple //c. Perhaps fatefully, the store where I bought the computer couldn't get it to work with the Brother printer I had purchased to go along with it, and the Store Manager was sick of me coming in every weekend I was home college, telling them how I couldn't get them to work together. The Store Manager offered to give me my money back. I asked him if they would take it back, but… could I trade it in for the MacIntosh?

So, I endured all the anti-mac chants, "it doesn't have software.", "you can't play with the operating system at the root level.", "it's black and white." But I bought into what Steve Jobs was selling: a computer that was easy to use, that (to borrow a more recent phrase of his) "just works".

I'm now on my fourth Mac (a MacMini), I have an iPod Nano, and iPod Touch, an iPad 2, and an iPhone 4. I've enjoyed giving my money to Steve Jobs (okay, it's really Apple, but let's face it; it was his driving personality that brought these products to the market). Like other great customer experience companies (like Disney, Starbucks, etc.), Steve Jobs got it. He knew that regardless of what the tech "experts" thought of his concepts, he knew that what really matters was how the customer experienced Apple products justified his vision.

I joked with a friend that when Jobs crossed over, P.T. Barnum was probably the first to greet him. Both men were cut from the same cloth.  Like Barnum, Jobs knew how to work a crowd, sell a concept, and both changed the world in their own way.

Good-bye, Steve, and thank-you for leaving the world a little bit better than it was. It's what we should all aspire to. 

It Ain't over until it's over… but it's over

I just got home from Turner Field. The Braves were trying to win their final game of the season so that, at worst, play in a one-game play-off against the St. Louis Cardinals, to be the National League Wild Card team. The Braves were 9-18 in September games; not exactly the way to get yourself into the playoffs. The Cardinals played better, but not well enough to overtake the Braves in the Wild Card standings.

Using the last of the tickets that I had from an April rain out game, my friend Shane and I went to the game tonight. I have to mention that Shane is a Cardinal's fan, and since he couldn't go to Houston to watch his Redbirds play the hapless Astros, he did the next best thing, go see the Braves, and scoreboard watch. (He likes the Braves, too, so it really was a win-win situation for him.)

Since I had to switch out the tickets, we went to Guest Relations, which is located at the entrance to the 755 Club at Turner Field. As we approached the counter, one of the Braves employees, seeing my Mets hat, and Shane's Cardinal's hat said, "The answer is 'No' and 'No'," with his tongue planted firmly in cheek. He took good care of us, and even scanned us in, so that we wouldn't have to go through the normal gate procedures (which also deprived us of the foam tomahawks they were giving out, but it wasn't much of a loss to me).

Instead of going to our seats, which would have been in the upper deck along the third base line, we went to "The Chophouse", which is a bar/restaraunt/patio, located in the right centerfield section of the stadium.  You have to admit, the view isn't too bad from out there. The only bad thing was that we basically stood for the 13 innings of the game.

 We did avail ourselves of some of the food choices available to us. We both had the pork barbeque sandwhich, which was pretty good, expectedly overpriced, and would have been even better than it actually was if it had just a bit more barbeque sauce.

What really amused me was that even though I was not only wearing a Mets hat, I had on a Mets t-shirt, but I was pretty much left alone, because Shane was attracting all the attention because of his St. Louis hat.

I have to say that the Braves started off really well, but I think the fact that this was game 162 really took it's toll on them. The Phillies, on the other hand, with truly nothing to play for other than some fine tuning of their starters for the playoffs, managed to cut a 3-1 deficit, and tie the game in the ninth inning.

extra innings

I will say that even though Turner Field was not sold out, the fans that were there were cheering their hearts out. But I think they sensed that the game wasn't going to end in their favor when their closer, rookie Greg Kimbrel walked the bases loaded, and ultimately gave up the tying run.

Because of the expanded September team rosters, the game reverted to a warped version of a Spring Training game, where both teams basically put in every position player and a good number of pitchers into the game to try to end the game as soon as they could. 

Meanwhile, thanks to scoreboard watching, Shane and I saw that the Cards jumped to an early lead that they never relinquished. While the Braves were trying to win their game, thanks to the game going into extra innings, the Cardinals game (which started an hour after the Braves starting time) played out and finished. I'm sure someone told the team that the Cardinals had won, but it seemed to have no affect on their performance.

What was a shame to me was that the season for the Braves ended with a double play. Somehow, that seemed anti-climactic. I guess when you choke like Braves did, you don't get to chose a cool game ending play. Well, there's always next year.

End of the Season…The End of an Era?

In a few hours, I'll be at Turner Field, watching my favorite team, the New York Mets, probably lose to the Atlanta Braves. This is a (for me) a make up game from when I tried to go on my birthday back in April. The composition of the team has changed a lot since then.

Ike Davis: out for the season with a bad ankle

Chris Young, shoulder surgery, out for the season

Carlos Beltran, traded to the Giants

Francisco Rodriguez, traded to the Brewers

Chin-lung Hu, optioned to oblivion

Daniel Murphy, knee surgery, torn ACL

Some of these changes weren't bad. Hu sucked at the 2B position, and "K-Rod" became the latest closer to suffer the wrath of New York fans. His getting arrested for assault didn't endear him to the Mets' faithful. 

It also lead to the promotion of Justin Turner, Jason Pridie, Ruben Tejada, and Lucas "The Dude" Duda (oh, I can't wait for the organist to play "Camptown Races" tonight, UGH!). They've shown that former GM Omar Minaya wasn't a total waste of the Wilpon's money.

But thanks to the Wilpon's trusting Ponzi-king Bernie Madoff with their fortune, the Mets had to part ways with Beltran and Rodriquez. Both were going to be nearly impossible to re-sign, so jettisoning them, while getting something (we fans hope) in return will pay off down the road. Which leads me to Jose Reyes.

Tonight may very well be the last time I see Reyes rocking the number 7 for the Mets. He's in the final days of his contract, and on his way to winning the National League batting title. If he does, his already over the top value will put more zeros on a new contract. I'm hoping that I'm wrong, but I seriously doubt that Reyes will re-sign with the team. What does that mean? Well, as Reyes goes, so go the Mets. When he gets on base and scores, the Mets are more likely to win than when he doesn't. He's a good hitter (see above), an above average fielder, and when healthy, an absolute menace on the basepaths. He makes pitcher's nervous, causing balks, bad throws, and mistake pitches to hitters because he's distracting them.

I'm really going to hate to see him go, but as long as he doesn't land with either the Braves or the Phillies (most unlikely on the latter, but one never knows), I won't have a problem cheering for him in any game he plays. Except the Mets, naturally.

Regicider: A Success Story

Saturday was The Day; Kevin and I were presenting the Regicider to Amy and Jon. We were both apprehensive. We both were hoping they liked it. I'm not really sure why I was worried, because I know that they both enjoy ciders, and the drier the better.

Amy and Jon

Of course, we had to wait until they were "off duty" to present it to them. As part of their new duties as Heads of State, they had to attend meetings, eat dinner, and attend the dance. But, once that was all over, and the kids put to bed, the crowns came off, and it was cider time.

The owners of the camping site where this event took place usually prohibit alcohol on the property. However, because of their long standing relationship with our organization, they did allow an area where consumption was allowed. The area was roped off, and any beverage for the over 21 crowd could only be consumed in the "tavern".

As they approached, Kevin went and fetched Amy, and brought her over to where I was standing inside the "tavern". He explained that it was time for them to try their gift. Jon was fetched, and after locating an opener (the lack of which on our part gives me a perpetual face palm), I poured a sample for each. 

I knew the moment that Amy took a sip, and gave a sheepish grin, and held out her drinking vessel that we nailed it. Jon had just finished a Diet Coke, so it took him another couple of sips to realize the flavor. We told them that there was more where that come from, and that it was now theirs to do with as they please. They asked that we share it with those in the tavern area that wished to try it. I should mention here that Kevin, being the proud brewer that he is, dislikes the fact that Americans refer to cider with an alcoholic content as "hard cider". Ours is the only culture that refers to it that way.

This meant that I had to dust off my herald's voice. After getting everyone's attention, I made the following speech:

"My Lords and my Ladies, my friend Hakkon and I have made a hard cider (turns to Kevin and say "sorry") as a gift for Their Majesties. It is Their wish that it be shared with all that wish to try it. I must caution that this hard cider (sorry, Hakkon) is a little more potent than the types of hard cider (sorry, Hakkon), and it is very dry."

I had many takers, and all seemed to enjoy it. I managed to pour four of the twelve 22 ounce bottles before too long. Naturally, I had to sample a bit of it, and because we had chilled it in a cooler with ice and water, it seemed a bit smoother to me. Kevin felt that some of the flavor was inhibited, and I can't disagree as the flavor did seem to blossom as it warmed in my mug.

It was not much later that we had to leave. We were tired, and were staying at a hotel that's a few miles from the campsite. On the way to the hotel, Kevin and I began to plan what we were going to do for an encore.

A Tale of Two Dragon*Con Panels

Note: I wrote this Sunday afternoon of Dragon*Con. 


I've been having a good time at the convention. I’m always am amazed with the number of panels I've been able to attend, along with some of the ones that I either couldn't get into, or walked out of. I'd love to say that I got into all the panels that I wanted to, but with over 40,000 people here, that just wasn’t going to happen.


I was amused at two panels that I went to that contradicted each other. At the Podcast Track, the moderators of the "Podcasting 201" panel cautioned about not falling into the trap of buying fancy equipment, until you're sure that you're going to keep podcasting. At the MMO Podcasting panel, on the other hand, one of the speakers said, "Go ahead" and just buy a good mic right away, because sounding bad will turn off your audience. 


I was disappointed with the MMO Podcasting panel. It was more about how the four panelists (really two, the way that they hijacked the panel) did their podcasts, which included too many inside jokes, and almost seemed scripted (which I suspect it was they way they kept looking at their laptops). I would have liked if they had talked about some of the shows (and not just Leveling Azeroth, obviously) that are out on the interwebs. It also would have been good if the moderators had polled the audience to see who were podcasters, and have them promote their shows.


It amused me how the panelists hated Skype, in the same breath as saying how wonderful Leo LaPorte's TWiT network is. TWiT.tv uses Skype almost exclusively. I think that their experience with Skype is colored by their usage. I agree that for more that probably four people, Skype might not be the best option, but a few of their guests and panelists for their podcasts are from Canada. Being the TWiT.tv junkie that I am, I know that the Canadian guests that have been on that network, Skype dies after about an hour. It's been attributed to the ISP Rodgers Communications. It would seem that they don't like the voice over internet competition, so they throttle the service.


So, what did I learn? I learned that my co-host Fidelma and I need to network more, and by that, I mean reach out to other podcasters and have them on our show, and appear on theirs. I already have plans in the works to share links and program bumpers with a musician whose music we've used on the podcast.


Stalking me at Dragon*Con

So, if you're planning on stalking me at Dragon*Con, check my twitter feed. I plan on boring the daylights out of everyone by tweeting what panels I'm attending. 

I do know for a fact that I will be at the Celtic Concert on Thursday night, the Podcasting 201 panel Friday at 4 pm, and the MMO Podcast Panel on Sunday at 1 pm. Everything else is pretty much up in the air, and will depend on sleep (or the lack thereof).

Getting ready for Dragon*Con

With Dragon*Con just five days away, the last thing I should be doing right now is writing a blog entry. I should be packing, I should be getting my Utilikilt out and ironing the hem (one of the only downsides of having a denim style, btw), and gathering all the things that I think I'll need in order to survive one of the largest Sci-Fi and pop-culture conventions in North America. Heck, If nothing else, I should be getting ready to go to work!

I am looking forward to this coming weekend. It's the one vacation that I take from work that I must take. Out of the last 24 conventions, I've probably missed a handful, and only one of those was because my job put one over on me. (I really only missed the last day of the convention, but my boss at the time was trying to prove that she was in charge, when she really had no reason to schedule me the day that she did. To make matters worse, she gave me the next day off!)

As a podcaster, I'm naturally looking forward to the Podcasting track. As a WoW player, I'm looking forward to some of the panels of the MMORPG track. As a geek in general, I'm looking forward to hanging out with 40,000 or so of my fellow geeks (at least the ones who bathe, anyway).

I like the fact that this year I can finally say that there's an app for the convention, and it's pretty cool. I snagged it a week ago, and have been torturing my friends over the fact that I was able to get it for the few hours it was available. It's since been released in a "final" form. 

If you're going to the Con, I hope to see you there. I'll probably be tweeting what panels I'm attending, lamenting the ones I can't get to, and trying not to make those of you who can't attend this year (not too) jealous of the fact that you aren't there.