Tuesday, August 26, 2008


The wind is picking up and white caps are forming on Lake Champlain.

"Maybe we should get closer to shore where the water is a bit calmer."

Everyone agrees and my Dad starts up the motor on the Pontoon boat we rented for the weekend for our fishing trip. We go about 20 Feet and it stalls. He turns the key and it sputters. I hope we're not out of gas I think as we came close the day before. My Dad leans over the back of the boat and looks and comes up with the fuel line. Ummm... that's not a good sign. My Dad pulls a MacGyver cutting the line where it split and jerry-rigs it to get us going again. We are on our way. The waves have gotten much larger and are pushing us around a little. Bam! we come down into a wave and I get soaked sitting in the front, kinda of similar to being on a log flume ride at Santa's Village. Everyone laughs. Bam! We are taking on water...

"Everyone to the back of the boat!!", My Dad yells.

"Tim, get the pole before it goes over!!"

I grab the pole and the engine cuts out. Oh oh!

"Get on the cell and call Butch!"

We call and tell the owner of where we are staying where we are and what has happened. In the mean time my Dad manages to get the boat going again... He does impress me with his instinctive survival skills.

We make it in safely.

Okay, so no one went overboard this past weekend but we came awfully close. We had a great time fishing even if we didn't catch any keepers. Well, my Dad caught two and my middle son caught one as well but my son is a ethical fisherman... we only catch and release as he feels for the fishes. That perturbs my Dad but as reluctant as he might have been internally, he obliged his grandson and let the fish go. My Dad gets the annual "King Fisherman" award for I believe the third consecutive year. This distinction goes to the person who catches the most fish and most keepers.

Me... well, they were calling me 'empty handed' as I came up empty more than anyone else except my 3 yr. old, my Mom and my Wife. My three year old doesn't count as he can't hold a fishing pole yet. My Mom only casts like two times and my wife... well, she is a newbie.

There were times I got a bit frustrated. I think after my Dad caught his 10th fish of the trip, he asked, "How ya doing over there, Josh?"

I replied, "Let's see, I have lost more than half my line on my brand spankin' new fishing pole, lost about 10 lures in the process, lost 3 fish trying to bring them into the boat, only person not to catch a fish on 'the guaranteed to catch a fish lure' and almost went overboard... I am having a hell of a time."

Although, all above was true... I did have a hell of the time. I think the highlight of the trip was going out with my oldest and my Dad before sunrise and watching the sun come up over the mountains onto the lake.

Can't wait 'till next year.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A Day at the Red Sox with my 9 yr. old.

"Wow! We're going to the Red Sox, Dad, Really?!" He says excitedly.

" I gotta get ready. I gotta get sunscreen. I gotta get my glove. I gotta get a Red Sox hat. I can't go to the game without a Red Sox hat!"

We jump in the car, with an 1 1/2 ride ahead of us and and a 30 minute T-ride. We get over the NH border headed to Fenway Park and the 9 year old says, "So, how much more time, Dad?"

" I say, about a 1/2 hour left to the T."

He replies, "A 1/2 hour... but you can drive faster cause were in Massachussetts, right?"

"Not exactly." I say.

"But it says [odometer] your going 80 and the speed limit is 65 in NH."

I take the foot off the pedal a tad.

We get to the T and my son looks up and says, "Do we have to take a bus? 'cause last time we had to take a bus. You remember, Dad? and it took forever to get to the park. I don't want to be late, I don't want to miss any of the game. Not one single picth. OK, Dad?"

"OK" I reply.

We park and go across a long enclosed bridge where once use to be a tram like vehicle. As we walk across he says, "Um, it sure makes a lot of noise. That doesn't make one very confident, dad."

"Walk in the middle, it makes less noise."

"That's better."

We goto the automatic T Fee based ticket dispensers. I type in two round trip tickets and enter my money and my change comes in the form of 12 Golden $1 coins. "Jackpot!" exclaims my 9 yr. old. We come to the entry doors and enter our tickets and the doors slide apart, just like the doors on The Jetsons. "That is soooo cool, Dad. Can I get a door like that for my room?"

"Probably not, but put it on your wish list for Christmas."

We make it to the park and I give my kid his ticket. As he grabs it we can here the PA Announcer name the starting lineups. "We're gonna be late, come on, Dad."

"We'll be fine." "Hey, let's goto the bathroom before we get our food and go up. Meet me at the mirror."

There he stands, waiting at the mirror like he's been there for hours. He locates me and gives me a big smile and the "come on, let's go" wave.

"So, you hungry?"

"I need a hot dog, dad. A soda would be good."

We make our way to the seats and sit down. It is absolutely beautiful out and Beckett's on the hill.

"Dad, look, there is Ellsbury in center!!, Youk is at first!, Pedroia at second! JD is in right and Jason is in Left. Is Varitek catching?"


First inning begins: it's 6-0.

He replies, "Wow, we're going to have a big rally, this could be like the Texas game, Dad."

Refering to the 19-17 bonanza a few days earlier.

It's 8-0. "Dad, what's wrong with Beckett?"

"They're (The Blue Jays) just having a real good day at the plate."

"All of them" He says.

"Hey, there's a new pitcher, Dad. Number 63. That's a good number."

Youkilis hits a home run... High fives all around. But my son is looking at me like it wasn't that cool. "What's wrong buddy?"

"Dad, everyone stood up and I couldn't see anything."

Hmm,. didn't think of that. It's now 9-4.

"Dad, I'm hungry."

Down to the concourse we go. "Okay, so, what do you want? Ice Cream? Fried Dough?"

"Fried Dough."

We go all the way down by home plate to get it because they give you butter, powdered sugar and cinnamon.

"Dad, I don't want Fried Dough."

"How come?" I ask.

"I don't feel so good."

"Do you want to go to look at the baseballs? We'll get you a souvenior?"


We get to the stand.

"I want a Wally Ball."

I hand it to him after having paid.

"Thanks, Dad. "

After successfully scanning over the Wally charachter and gripping it and pretending to throw it, he says, "Dad, can you carry it?"

He looks uo at me and asks sheepishly, "Can we get Fried Dough? We can share it. I feel a little bit better but can we watch a little of the game on the TV?"

So we do. Lowrie hits a triple.

"Dad, we need to go back to our seats, the rally is happening without us."

To the seasts we go.
It's the 8th and Oki Doki comes out.

"Dad, Oki's pitching. And Coco is out in center. I like Coco. Coco and Crisp sound good together."

Sweet Caroline comes over the PA...

"Touching me, touching you... "

I give my kid a headlock.

My 9 yr. old waves in vein at Coco hoping for a wave. Coco looks up in our direction... but nothing.

It's now the 9th and Pap comes out...
And 4+ hours, the game is over, we lost 15-4. "Dad, we might be the jinx."

We're leaving and My son says, "Dad, that was awesome! Thanks."

As we get on the T he says, "Dad, I have been thinking: Unkie said, 'I might be the jinx if we lose.' I think its all the other people, that's our story, okay?"

"Okay" I say.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Commercials, who needs them?

Not me, that is for sure. I have never liked commercials with the exception of the Super Bowl Commericals. I actually looked forward to them more than the game unless my team or a team I liked was playing. I suppose the fact any company would be willing to spend $2.6 Million for a 30 second spot (price for a 2007 spot), you come to expect that it's going to be entertaining. My favorite of all time Super Bowl commercials was one put out by Nissan during the 1997 Super Bowl. You can view it here: Target Practice It was doublely satisfying as my team: The New England Patriots were playing The Green Bay Packers. However, recently, they just haven't lived up to all the hype. Although, the Dorito's commercial came close but other than that, it was a bust. The half-time show has gotten less and less desirable as well.

Anyhow, is it me or are commercials louder than the program which you want to watch is? I swear, no matter what I am watching when it goes to commerical I feel like the volume has spiked and my speakers on my TV are being tested everytime. So, I turn turn the volume down when the commercial, which I do not care about in the least is on and back up when my program resumes. This goes on a handful of times for each 1/2 program I watch. It really is ridiculous. I will say that TIVO has done a really good job of alleviating this. However, if I am watching something live... I have no choice.

Another extremely annoying thing about commercials is they have no boundaries. I suppose I have to hold the broadcasting companies to blame as well for this next irritation: The endless Cialis and Viagra commercials. I mean come on... if they want to show them that's fine but can we put a time restriction on, say after 8:30pm. If I have to field a question from my nine year old again about, why would you and what is a 4 hour errection, Dad? I won't be too happy.

Since I brought the broadcasting companies in... how about we lay off the language until say 8:30 as well. When my son hears "What a bitch?" as we are surfing channels looking for the next Avitar series, he doesn't have any context to even go with and may find it acceptable to call anyone a bitch until I tell him otherwise. And as hard as I try to monitor all that he does, I can't be everywhere all the time. Also, does ever sitcom have to have some sexual innuendo as part of its shtick? Don't get me wrong, I find some of them funny and I also am all for the first ammendment but again, these are shows that are on prime time.

This leads me into a whole other segment: Movie ratings. Remember in the good ol' days where we had G, PG, R and X. Well, now we have fallen prey to the PG-13 rating where you may have excessive violence and possible nudity and definitely a number of sexual connotations. I shouldn't have to watch every movie before my 9 and 13 year old to make sure it's suitable for their viewing. I would say the bulk number of movies are PG-13 for language, a lot of the times it's just not needed and the movie would not suffer. Violence, you say? Have you seen the violence in cartoons? I think most children know the difference between what's acceptable and not acceptable regarding violence. I never tried to fall off a cliff because Wile E. Coyote did. Why was PG-13 created anyhow? I am guessing to widen the audience. I mean back in the day PG was usually a kids movie and R was an adults movie. I miss the areas of black and white, you know what your getting yourself into days.

Another fall victim to the all mighty dollar rant.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Manny Debate

Manny Traded: Is Theo's ears still ringing from the Pearl Jam Concert?

So, it happened, the Red Sox traded Manny. Who in their right mind could trade one of the best right handed hitters EVER? Yeah, I said it, EVER!! This guy has played 16 seasons and has clubbed over 500+ home runs and drove in 1,600 RBI's (Runs Batted in for those keeping score.) You know where people like this end up? Cooperstown, New York. They become immortalized in the Baseball Hall of Fame. You know who else has 500+ HR's and 1,600 RBI's? Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Willie Mays and Ken Griffey Jr. to name a few. Four of these guys are in the Hall and one sure to be a 1st ballot Hall of Famer.

I remember Joe Torre in a press conference during a regular season game against the Red Sox when asked, "So, what do you think of David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez?" He replied, "Pick your poison." Loosely translated: I don't want to have to pitch to either of them. Manny is clutch. If I remember correctly, he was only the 2004 World Series MVP!!

Speaking of 2004 and the trade deadline, when we traded Nomar, my heart sank. However, atleast with that trade, we filled a glaring hole: Defense. We shored up our infield to compliment an already potent offensive threat. This year we traded Manny Ramirez, $7 Million, A young flame throwing pitcher named Craig Hansen and a solid major league outfielder in Brandon Moss for a guy from a small market, coming off a so-so year, on a so-so team: The Pittsburgh Pirates named Jason Bay. Jason who? I would bet 95% of the population had no idea who he was until the trade was announced on E.S.P.N. We didn't even address our glaring weakness: The Bullpen.

I just don't get it. You give away Manny Ramirez, the undoubtedly best hitter on your team with only two months left during a time where your are in a heated 3 team race in the American League East with the Division leading Tampa Bay Rays and your nemesis: The New York Yankees.

So Manny had a few quirks: He didn't routinely run out a ground out, the guy cut off a throw from your center fielder one game. Maybe he disappeared into the Green Monster during the pitching change to make a cell phone call or two. He had a drink with a Yankee player at the bar after a game he said he couldn't play in. Hey, he even threw a ball into the stands after he caught it, running towards the dug out- so what if there was only two outs in the inning. I thought it was about winning the World Series and putting the best team on the field. Tell me how this has happened with this trade? You can't.

Manny Traded: About Freakin' Time

This trade was long over due. Manny Ramirez is a self-centered, it's all about me kind of guy. He wanted his $20 Million contract picked up. Why would you pick up someones $20 Million option when he clearly has shown that he is declining in the one aspect of the game you got him for: Hitting. It is no coincidence the two games Manny asked out of were against hard throwing pitchers of which he has been exposed this season for not being able to get around on the 95 mile fastball. Then he runs a 5.7 down the first base line during a no hit bid by John Lackey. I could run a 5.7 with my walker.

The guy has gotten in fracases with his teammates, most notably Kevin Youkilis and has pushed a 67 year old down because the traveling secretary could not secure FREE tickets for a road game. Manny, you make $20 Million, you couldn't pay for these tickets? Not to mention the protest not getting on the plane to Seattle.

Theo made a hell of a trade. Yes, he gave up $7 Million. However, you had this on the books for this year anyways. You gave up a 96 mph fastball relief pitcher where you are clearly struggling. What? You have have given Craig Hansen ample opportunity to prove himself. It just hasn't worked out. Brandon Moss is a solid Major League Outfielder somewhere, but let's be honest, there was no where for him to play. Finally, you got Jason Bay. This kid is 29, 2 time All-star in the prime of his career and has similar numbers as Manny at the trade deadline:

Manny Ramirez: .299 avg, 20 HR's, 68 Rbi's
Jason Bay: .282 avg 22 HR's and 64 Rbi's

And you get him for a whole 'nother year for $7 Million. So, if you were to take that off the $20 Million option for Manny, you're $13 Million ahead. You don't lose anything defensively. Matter of fact, you have gotten better.

You have gotten rid of the last of a long list of characters signed by Dan Duquette. Will I miss Manny and all his antics? Sure, they were entertaining and in the end, he produced. Do I feel for David Ortiz. Yes, I am not sure you have that "protection" anymore. However, if Manny didn't want to be here and he decided to lay down for the last two months and the Sox didn't make the playoffs, fans would have said, "Why didn't you get rid of that overpaid underachiever?" New England is a Blue Collar Nation and Manny was anything but that. In 2004, you traded iconoclastic Nomar and we won the World Series, why not 2008?

In the end, did anyone lose sleep over this deal? I didn't lose any sleep over it. And if we win, no one else will either.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Cell Phones: A way of Life? Are we being bamboozled?

Who knows? I don't. However, I have some thoughts I wish to pose. I cannot promise it will be a paper you can plagiarize for English class or it would be even worth it for that matter. Although, it is 12:27am as I have had a horrible time sleeping lately but that's an entirely different blog post.

I am not a huge cell phone fan. Actually, I am not much of a phone guy period, wireless, wired or other, truth be told. I have never been much of a phone conversationalist. Not to say that I don't have the gift of gab, because I do. I concede to that right up front. While I am being up front I should point out we do have two cell phones in our house. I have had one given to me by work and my wife has one of which my parents gave to her to keep tabs on our youngest son. Although, I opposed both of them in futility. However, I have a lot of issues with cell phones: Who should have one? Are they really all that necessary? Are we being bamboozled? Where to start?

Are the necessary? I don't think so but many would disagree. Right now, 250 Million Americans have some sort of cell phone subscription. The current U.S. Population is at 304 Million and counting. Think about that? 82 percent of the population has a cell phone subscription, 82 percent. I find that mind numbing. I am willing to bet that Cell phones per household is giving the number of televisions in each U.S. household a run for their money if not surpassing them. The last census was on average, two TV's per home.

I work at a high school and they have a rule that if a students phone is confiscated during school for a second or third time, their parent has to come in to get it. I have seen parents come in on Friday before school is out to get their phone for their kid so they can have it for the weekend. I know of one instance when a parent called a student during class to remind them to pick something up at the store on the way home. Same said parent went ballistic when their sons phone was confiscated citing that they were taking away their rights to get in contact with their child in case of an emergency.

Okay, when I was in school, cell phones were not prevalent. The first cell phone call was made in 1973. Anyhow, if my parents had to get a hold of me at school, they called the main office. If it was an emergency, they would call me down to the office. Heck, they might even come to my class and pull me out as they did when my grandfather passed away. However, if it was something like, your taking the bus home today, they would just leave a message. I still don't see why that can't be that way now and eliminate cell phones during school.

Now, I am not saying that they have not done good things. After all, it is a great progression in technology. I know their was a case of a girl who was attacked and thrown into her trunk and was found because she made a call to 911 on her cell phone. I know I have been close to running out of gas and called my wife to meet me at a gas station. Although, like the last statement, its more for convenience than anything and a huge distratcion. How many times have you been at a movie theatre or in a restaurant and someones cell phone rings and they pick it up and start talking. I have never heard, "Oh my God, are you all right? Where are you?" It's always, "What you doing?" "Nothing" "You?" and the precede to talk about nothing... it drives me insane. How about when you are on the road where you find yourself behind a car barely going the speed limit which passed you going 85 a mile ago. Yep, usually talking on the cell phone.

Who should have one? It would probably be easier to say who not to have one... like kids who are NOT yet in high school. I see elementary students with them all the time. I mean why does a 3rd grader need a cell phone? I would like to believe that 8 and 9 year olds are going to a daycare or after school program being watched or supervised by adults and being outside having fun being a kid, not texting their buddies. Doesn't anyone get together anymore? And some have the Internet? Internet? What happen to playing freeze tag on the playground or talking to your friends. I do think cell phones have helped in the deterioration of children's social skills. I also think they are becoming babysitters, similar to that of Gaming consoles. They are definitely seeming to be a status symbol. My nine year old yearns for one. Not in my lifetime. I told him maybe when he is in high school.

Are we being bamboozled? Without a doubt. Okay, I have no problem paying for an outgoing call but an incoming call? Come on! I didn't make the call, why I am I paying for it? The person who called me is already paying for it? Can you say double dipping? Then they say, well, if you call people on the same network we only charge the person calling. Big Whip! How does that make it okay? So, you are encouraging monopolies? That has never worked out for anyone. Wait, let's give you unlimited minutes for a flat fee? But that doesn't always include checking your voice mail because you don't have your phone glued to your ear, we will charge you for that. Oh and texting, that's separate. Only 15c per incoming text... that I didn't ask for in the first place. Well, just get the unlimited texting. I am not 18 and can type 40 acronyms per minute. Yup Acronyms!! "I Luv U" "J- C U L8R. BFA -R" You know how difficult it is to do a complete, proper sentence on a keyboard as long as your index finger with keys that only a 2 year old hand really fits? Come on people.

I know you get charges on your land line as well. We still get charged a Federal Excise Tax, which originated back during the Spanish-American war which we still pay today. How about the new "Federal Universal Service charge?" This fund pays for 4 funds as follows:

  • Lifeline/Link-Up. This program provides discounts on monthly service and initial telephone installation or activation fees for primary residences to income-eligible consumers. For additional information see our consumer fact sheet at www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/lllu.html.

  • High-Cost. This program ensures that consumers in all regions of the nation have access to telecommunications services at rates that are affordable and reasonably comparable to those in urban areas.
  • Schools and Libraries. This program makes discounts available to eligible schools and libraries for eligible telecommunications services, Internet access and internal connections. It is intended to ensure that schools and libraries have access to affordable telecommunications and information services. For additional information see our consumer fact sheet at www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/usp_Schools.html.

  • Rural Health Care. This program helps link health care providers located in rural areas to urban medical centers so that patients living in rural America will have access to the same advanced diagnostic and other medical services that are enjoyed in urban communities. For additional information see our consumer fact sheets at :

www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/usp_RuralHealthcare.html and www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/RuralHealthProgram.html.

However, I bet that's on your cell phone bill too. So every time you make a call you pay for a war which we fought over a century ago and another fee which the FCC does not require customers to pay for, that's at the discretion of the company. Read Below:

"All telecommunications service providers and certain other providers of telecommunications must contribute to the federal USF based on a percentage of their interstate and international end-user telecommunications revenues. These companies include wireline phone companies, wireless phone companies, paging service companies, and certain Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) providers. Some consumers may notice a “Universal Service” line item on their telephone bills. This line item appears when a company chooses to recover its USF contributions directly from its customers by billing them this charge. The FCC does not require this charge to be passed on to customers. Each company makes a business decision about whether and how to assess charges to recover its Universal Service costs. These charges usually appear as a percentage of the consumer’s phone bill. Companies that choose to collect Universal Service fees from their customers cannot collect an amount that exceeds their contribution to the USF."

Once again, passing the buck to the liitle guy. Yeah, it's only a small percentage of your bill. Let's just say it is a meager .77 cents a month times 12 months times 250 Million subscribers. Don't worry, we are just covering 2.3 Billion dollars for the phone companies a year. Oh, and if your charged on you land line as well... you can figure it out.

Hey, when was the last time you dropped a call on your land line? Or how about backed into another car when you were calling from a land line? Or your battery died because you forgot to plug it in? Yeah, didn't think so. Cell phones don't need to be a way of life, we just want them to be.