Parlor Spider...Step In, Little Fly

Insightful thoughts and/or rants from atop the soapbox from one who wishes to share the "right" opinion with everyone.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Stressed at Your Job? Sew What? recently rated employment possibilities on a variety of topics, and the one that interested me the most was the category that ranked jobs based strictly on the amount of stress involved. We all know that stress is a major factor in early demise as well as making the life we live less than desirable sometimes...thus, eliminating stress is important in achieving job satisfaction.
A career as a university professor got a lot of the publicity with regard to  stress level. Due to high growth potential (63.3% of Americans aged 18-30 are on track for a college degree), low health risk and much higher than average rate of pay, this career path was touted as one to follow...easier said than accomplished, of course, but still. While a professor at Harvard makes almost $200,000, the median salary for college professors nationwide is a mere $62,050 (still better than associate lecturers at $3k per 3-credit class!) Knowing that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated that a college grad is twice as likely to get a job as someone without the sheepskin, young people are flocking to post-secondary educational centers. Not surprising.
What IS surprising, though, is that the professor gig isn't the occupation with the LEAST amount of stress! That honor, according to goes to those in the seamstress/tailor business. They are benefitted by a low safety risk, less physical demands, and a peaceful work environment (needles and thread seldom argue, it appears). Unfortunately, folks in this career can expect a median salary of $25,850...hardly a stressless number, especially if one has a family.
The rest of the top five are medical-related: no surprise since the health care field has the largest growth sector projections for the near future. Included in our list are the fields of medical records technician, medical lab technician, dietician, and audiologist. While each of these promises low stress, wearing Flintstone scrubs every day might not be in my best interest...audiologist would be O.K. but I already have a persistent buzzing in my ears, so that's out.
I guess I'm just doomed to a career surrounded by stress.
I'm going to go lie down now.
Calgon, take me away.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

"Wal-Mart Just Shipped Itself"

While the internet is abuzz as always with cute kitten tricks and people doing ridiculous things just to get on television (like hurting themselves trying some crazy stunt or getting pregnant), every now and then, something gets posted that is SO hilarious that I laugh out loud...over and over. Such a thing is the online commercial for K-Mart that just hit the internet lately. If you haven't seen it, the link at the bottom will take you there. It's not featrured on television yet-even on cable-but it probably will be when the internet buzz gets so huge that folks demand it.
A bit juvenile? yes. Scatological? yes. On the other hand, I guarantee you that retailers everywhere are taking notice along with more than 160,000 people who have viewed this so far. Are some put off? probably: after all, only 98.6 viewers gave it a favorable "thumbs up." However, if the ad agency that concocted this for K-Mart did so with the idea of gaining worldwide attention, it hit the jackpot.
The focus, of course, is that now K-Mart shoppers can have any item they want but could not find in the store shipped to them for free. Now this means that shoppers have two options for buying: in-store and online, something that many retailers feature though K-Mart had not. In addition, this "omnichannel" shopping experience comes complete with the guarantee of price-matching in the store...something that K-Mart also did not offer previously.
All in all, this could be the commercial of the year: not only for its hilarious appeal, but also for its helping to bring K-Mart back into the everyday shopping experience.
Well done!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

It's (F-bombs and all) All Greek To Me

If you haven't heard about or read the f-bomb-laden e-mail from a "former" officer of Delta Gamma sorority at the University of Maryland, you probably don't meander around the internet much. Face it, If I know about it and you don't, extend your thumb at 90 degrees from your index finger and hold them up to your forehead. seriously...I'm the last to find out anything. However, I know about this...days after it happened.
It seems that said sorority person was upset with her sisters during Greek Week because they were more interested in chatting each other up than they were in getting busy with the frat guys hanging around. We know, of course, about the woman who claimed that, particularly for Ivy girls, the college life might be their last chance to get a guy "worthy" of them. So, you can see how this girl-talk thing must have frustrated the Delta darling: it was robbing HER of her chance to score an eligible, soon-to-be-governor hubby.
She labels her sisters "f'ing boring and f'ing awkward" and claims that NO frat guy is going to want to fulfill their dreams at this rate. The rant goes on and on, utilizing the "v" word in slang terms and generally causing quite the a viral sort of internet way. I guess that's where the term "former" should be applied.
Anyway, the situation reminded me of my distaste during the college years for Greek life and those who aspired to it. One of my favorite comedienne's was Judy Tenuta (pictured above) who noted, " I was asked to join a sorority...but I already HAD a personality!" This was especially funny to me given the derision I felt for the "better-than-regular-guys" attitude. It became even funnier to me when my mother relayed how excited she was that one of my nieces had joined a sorority. Mom didn't get the irony or the joke when I lay the Tenuta line on her.
So, thanks to the former Delta Doll for reminding me how funny Judy Tenuta is. She has a Titter feed and a Facebook account, and the 'net is full of her famous quotes. She is a Grammy-nominated, self-styled "Love Goddess" who still makes me laugh out loud. I even thought once about joining her religion: "Judyism" she called it, but I thought it might be too much like a cult.
Still funny, though.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Getting Warmer...Getting Cooler...

It's cyclical: theorists have new ideas about the benefits/liabilities involved with exercise, diet, pre-and post-workout regimens, people jump on the bandwagon and ride it until the next "best" idea comes along.
Remember when coffee beofre a workout was a "must do" or when bananas were deemed to be the perfect food due to the ability of the body to absorb it quickly? Scientists at the University of florida gave us Gatorade, and the world of exercise has never been the same. In the last year, I've noticed a significant effort to promote drinking chocolate milk after exercise as a way to replenish what one has just lost through heat, sweat, evaporation, etc. True, cooler heads will acclaim that water is still the best bet for post-exercise, we puts flavoring drops in it to make it more palatable...and on and on.
It seems that researchers are even divided on whether warming up and/or cooling down even has positive effects on our exercise. Recently, I read a study that proclaimed that performace in weight-lifting exercises was actually harmed by a warmup period! While this involved a limited scope of exercise, I can just imagine folks saying to their personal trainers: "Hey, I read I don't have to warm up...since I'm paying you by the hour, let's get started." Even those folks always seem to see the benefits of a cooldown period, though, even if it's something as simple as walking for a few minutes to recover normal breathing and heart rate or stop the deluge of sweat. Now, it seems that they might be wrong.
Three studies done within the last year, two of them published in the Journal of Human Kinetics and one in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning seem to imply Burnoutthat a cooldown period is much ado about nothing.
In the first study, 36 active adults were subjected to a workout consisting of forward lunges with barbells on their shoulders: an exercise guaranteed to leave muscles stiff the next day. One segment warmed up on an exercise bike, riding casually for 20 minutes before the lunges; another group cooled down with the same cycling routine after lunging, and a control group just did the lunges. The following day, the group that warmed up was far less sore than either of the other two groups, both of which were equally sore.
The next pair of studies used professional soccer players in spain as their subjects. Each group was tested for vertical jump, sprint speed, agility and muscle flexibility prior to a soccer training session. following the training, one group simply sat quietly for 20 minutes while the other jogged for 12 minutes and stretched for 8. The same tests were given the next day in addition to asking each person how sore he was (figuring pro athletes could accurately describe this). There was a very slight advantage in the vertical jump for the players who had cooled down, but in every other aspect, there was no significant difference.
The bottom line according to researchers is like that for most human endeavors:
If it feels good to do it, do it.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Not Your Average Charlie, This Chan

The city in which I live is not exactly the most diversified place on earth in terms of ethnic food choices. The first Pho restaurant just opened recently, and there are a few other Thai places and one German restaurant. Otherwise, it's mostly fish, steak and burgers with the requisite pizza and Chinese buffets. The paucity of chinese restaurants wouldn't matter to David Chan, a man who admittedly grew up favoring meatloaf and spaghetti but now dines almost exclusively on chinese food...a LOT of Chinese food from a OT of different places: 6,297, to be exact.
Chan, 64, a lawyer/accountant in Los Angeles, grew up in an era when there was an immigration quota on chinese people: 105 per year; in fact, a chinese person living outside San Francisco was considered a rarity...and probably an oddity as well. Anyway, Chan's parents tried to get him to eat traditional cuisine, but he preferred American staples...until 1955 when he tried some sweet and sour chicken and began an odyssey to eat as much Chinese food in as many restaurants as he could. He has the Excel spreadsheet to prove it as well! From Los Angeles to Toronto to Springfield, Missouri, and probably most everywhere in between and around, Chan has eaten them all. His Twitter account is full of tweets asking for dining suggestions. Wow. He eats at more than 300 different Chinese restaurants each year, even stopping at six dim sum places in Toronto in six hours! I'm sure his parents were gratified when all of this began...they may think he's a bit odd by now...
especially since he does not use chopsticks...he uses a fork.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

It's All Greek To Me

We visited Greece last year: Athens and the small island of Crete. We found it wonderful: fresh vegetables that actually tasted like vegetables, friendly people, water the most amazing shade of blue, and a relaxed lifestyle that would be enjoyable to live. Now, anyone with a little cash can do just that. All over the Greek Islands stand half-finished houses: begun with the promise of financing, only to be lost through the monetary crisis that swept through the country. The skeletons stand, isolated on hillsides overlooking the sea or an idyllic countryside, awaiting the finishing touch. Most of them are simple concrete or wood shells, not even halfway completed; all, however, call out to the wanderlust of someone with money who really wants to escape just about everything.
Obviously, the Greek economy is still in the toilet...unemployment is over 20%, and the natives have little hope of anything changing under the austerity that is today's government...and yet, they cannot find buyers for the half-completed dreams they've begun on an isolated islands of Homeric epics.
Imagine: the simple life with few electronic disruptions (possibly no Wi-Fi), no crowded cityscapes unless one wished to sail to Athens. Peace and quiet.
I could use some.
I could also use the cash to make that change a reality.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Human See, Monkey Do?

Charles Darwin may not have been the first to think about humans as part of an evolutionary continuum, but he certainly had ideas along that line when he published The Descent of Man all those years ago. among the host of observations he made included the fact that monekys' behaviors in some way mirrored that of humans, and not especially in ways one might think!
Darwin, for example, noted that monkeys had a "strong taste" for tea, coffee, and liquor; in fact, he observed an entire group of monkeys that was hung over! They refused alcohol, held their heads looking miserable, and wanted some fruit juice instead. Apparently, the term "hair of the dog" had not yet been popularized among the simian creatures.
Lest you put all of this down as more fiction by Darwin (as many believe), Dr. Barbara Natterson-Horowitz has a book entitled Zoobiquity in which she corroborates Darwin's findings. The accompanying URL is a series of videos that show such alcoholic tendencies in animals. But it's not just monkeys, according to Natterson-Horowitz. Humans, insects and amphibians have opiate receptors in the brain that seek pleasure...and can become addicted to it.
Worms, for example, tend to move more slowly and lay fewer eggs when on the juice.
Bighorn sheep will grind their teeth down to the gum line to scrape off psychoactive lichen.
Fruit flies become hypersexed on alcohol and pursue far more same-sex mating than would otherwise happen.
Zebra fish in an aquarium will hang around the same spot for hours on end, waiting for the next few grains of coke to be dropped in.
The bottom line, of course, is that all of these critters are just like us: some can handle a little, some must have a lot, and some get hooked. In every species, those that overdo it suffer the most.
So there: Mom was right...too much of a good thing IS a bad thing!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Say It Isn't So...Well, It Isn't!

It wasn't THAT long ago that folks were sure that the sun revolved around the earth, the flat earth, that is. It seems we continue to believe things that are probably (if not proven to be so) not true, and we repeat them with the fervor of new converts. However, any time we see such beliefs dispelled, it's a bit disappointing, and we find ourselves questioning the authenticity of the source. I came across an article written by Melissa Breyer for Mother Nature Network that attempted to dispel some of the most commonly-held misconceptions, and I immediately began wondering about the credibility of her sources. However, it is my duty to report at least some of the more startling disclaimers she has made.

1. Vikings wore horned helmets. Despite the fact that the belief that they DID has become so ingrained in our culture through Wagner, the movies, and professional football, it appears that such head coverings were worn on special occasions, and never into battle.

2. George Washington had wooden false teeth. I've never given this story much credence anyway, but it IS interesting to find that he did have four pairs of false teeth: a gold set, a set made from hippo ivory, a set made from lead, and a set constructed of human and animal teeth. I'm still not certain of this one.

3. People lose most of their body heat through their head. I guess it makes sense to believe this since we know for a fact that heat rises. However, Breyer's assertion is that heat flows outward through the most exposed surface; therefore, on a cold day, a bare head isn't nearly as heat-sapping as an exposed arm or leg.

4. Sugar will lead to hyperactivity among kids. Mothers everywhere swear that this is true, but the Journal of American Medical Association reviewed 23 separate pieces of research and make the claim that sugar does NOT cause any kind of overactivity in children or anyone!

5. A dog's age is accurately calculated by multiplying it by 7. This is one hallowed truth that has been espoused forever...but, it's not right. According to Breyer's research, the correct way to compare a dog's age with that of humans is  to subtract 2 years from the dog's age, multiply that number by 4,  then add 21 years to it. So, a dog that is 10 years old would, instead of being the equivalent of 70 in people years, would be merely 53 years old...hardly middle aged!

Mind you: I'm not passing all of these off as fact unlike Copernicus. It just seems that some of them are logical ideas that we've never really considered.
If it's cold out tomorrow, I'm going out with a wet head just to test another one of the so-called facts.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The U.K. Not in Wisconsin's Travel Plans

As everyone sees the snow more or less retreating to it's summer hibernation (or until October), people's wanderlust is rekindled, and we all think of someplace to go just to get some Vitamin D in the form of sunshine. Foreign travel is always exciting, and the sunny climes of South France beckon as do places like the Greek Islands and other Mediterranean hotspots. England doesn't usually enter the picture...generally because we think of the weather as anything BUT sunny; due to the "conveyor effect" of the world's oceans, the U.K. is generally cooler and wetter than most places. But that's not the real reason Wisconsinites should avoid Her Majesty's country. It seems that Britishers have taken to killing badgers en masse!
Originally, culling members of the badger clan was implemented to hopefully halt what had become an epidemic of tuberculosis among the bovine population. Exactly how the disease got from one member of the animal kingdom to the other is not clear. Be that as it may, two proposed sessions to cull the badger population had been governmentally approved. However, people have taken to vigilantism, hunting the furry critter in groups with dogs, slaughtering them willy-nilly: something that has to stop, according to government officials. According to the director of England's Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs notes, "Any killing of badgers without a license is illegal and unacceptable." The uproar was echoed by Labour MP Diane Abbott when she said, "this killing is being done by people who think this is a macho thing to do." If this was to be a hand-to-badger combat, I could go with it...gangs and dogs vs animal: not so much.
One thing is certain:
I'm not going anywhere near the U.K. this year!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Burdened With Cymotrichous, I Think

There's something about knowing people that are smarter than we are that keeps us...well, humble. Television capitalized on that with a program touting 5th graders as being smarter than adults (though later, it was discovered that the kids were given answers beforehand, in some cases). Be that as it may, even ESPN has jumped on the "smart kids" bandwagon by televising rounds of the National Spelling Bee: a decision that leaves us all feeling a bit less intelligent than we would ordinarily believe ourselves to be. Of course, it goes without saying that the contestants probably don't spend a lot of time watching reality TV or even ESPN, for that matter. There is even a movie about it: Akila and the Bee in which even drug dealers are encouraged to help this deserving, smart child win the national bee
Throughout the course of the event, words have gotten more difficult, but in the early days, at least the words were something many people had, at least, HEARD before. To wit:

1927: in the first year of the national spelling bee, the winning word was "luxuriance."
1937: the winning word this time around was "promiscuous."
1948: by this year, we'd moved up to "psychiatry."
1965: the winner successfully spelled "eczema." If only I'd gotten that instead of "calisthenics."
1970: the toughest word was "croissant."
1982: "Psoriasis" took home the trophy for a spelling whiz.

OK, you get the idea. While many of us still can't spell some of those words, at least we've all heard of them. Now, let's look at the last two winning words:

2011: "cymotrichous"
2012 "ghetapeus"

really. I could not, in all probability, pronounce either word, and probably couldn't spell either of them, despite asking for language of origin, use in a sentence, and a plea for a lifeline call. ..and I darn sure could not tell you what either of them means. But this year, in an attempt to cement spelling and meaning as two sides of the communication coin, contestants in the National Spelling Bee will have to know definitions as well as spelling! That's just mean-spirited, in my opinion.
And guaranteed to make me feel even more stupid before changing the channel to Buckwild.

Friday, April 12, 2013

No Longer the "Mostest"

The local middle school chorus was selling food as a fundraiser a couple of weeks ago. I bought the requisite pizza to keep the neighbors happy, figuring I would at least gain something, unlike the yearly baseball league and church raffles chances. Anyway, just ass I was about to sign off on the order, I came across a product that looked suspiciously like a Hostess cupcake: same dark, brown frosting; same white, squiggly icing on top...really, it looked identical, so I ordered some.
Of course, since the Hostess company went belly up (so to speak), and the run on Twinkies collapsed THAT market, there hasn't really been anything in the snack food like that really caught my salivary glands' attention until the pseudo-Hostess cupcake sale. "How much different could the recipe be?" I asked myself. The fact that they were $2 apiece also made me think there was some special quality about them. Foolish ideas from a foolish person: the first bite only reinforced my foolishness.
There was no creamy filling in this cupcake. None. Nada. Zip. Zilch. I managed to finish it, but I gave the rest away to an unsuspecting person who was grateful for anything! Then, I discovered that these delights were not the only food that I would never, ever be able to purchase again. Some of these I liked, and some I'd never heard of, but the pundits at CNN have come up with a partial list of things we will never again be able to buy, in addition to Hostess cupcakes.

1. Ho Hos and Twinkies, both Hostess giants. Yes, I know that some other company is on the verge of buying the rights to produce Twinkies again, but I seriously doubt that they will be the yellow cake of muy memories.

2. Chef Boyardee meatball stew. Ads claimed that a diner would never have to search for a meatball since they were so plentiful: sounds suspicious.

3. Heinz E-Z Squirt Ketchup. You might think that forms of this are still available since everything comes in squeeze bottles now, but this product was PURPLE! Imagine confusing that with jam for the PBJ? No wonder (sorry Hostess) we can't find this on the shelves.

4. Wonder bread, of course. All the iconic Hostess products gone. The rumor was that there was actual grain in this lighter than air bread.

5. Crystal Pepsi. I don't remember this alternative to Sprite...just another Coke wannabe product.

6. Star Wars spinoff cereals: C3-POs and Star Wars cereals. Kellogg's might have had a big hit with these early, but they didn't last until the prequels could come out.

All in all, food tastes change rapidly...see our lack of Krispy Kreme here in Titletown as an example. That doesn't mean I won't try imitations...though it probably does mean I will always be disappointed.
At least Little Debbie is still around to comfort me.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Pet Power!

We always had a dog when I was a kid, and even through most of my adult life there has been a pet of some kind around.I'm not a cat lover, but they seem to like me to the extent that they crawl on me and rub against my legs (unlike one of our dogs that used to do the nasty on my foot if it was dangling (my foot, that is). Anyway, domesticated animals are incredibly popular, and, in some cases, it would seem that they are more popular than, well, other people!
In a survey done in the U.K. by a site called My Social Petwork (really?), 1124 pet owners responded to a series of questions about the value they placed on their furry friends, and one might find at least some of the results surprising.

50% of the respondents preferred to hug their pets as opposed to a close relative (significant other?) when they were feeling down.

30% of those responding indicated that they spent at least 30 days a year caring for their pets.

25% noted that they felt their pet to be more "like a child" than "like an animal."

20% of them had cancelled social plans to be with their pets.

15% admitted that they confided in their pets.

7% recalled having cancelled a date to spend time with their pets.

4% had at one time or another called in sick to work because of the pets.

In a somewhat associated study done in this country, researchers found that stress levels at work dropped when someone brought a dog to work. Of course, dogs have long been used in nursing homes and other care facilities, and they do have a calming effect...but I don't think I would take one to work.

Pet 'em if you got 'em.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Higher Education Conundrum

Now that the NCAA men's basketball season is over and most (hopefully) of the money-driven issues have been solved, it's time to address the fear that is on many minds concerning higher education: and, no, it's not how many freshmen are going to jump to the NBA or how many underclassmen are going to claim that their coach treated them badly so they are transferring! This is a problem that affects every bastion of higher education on some level: the problem of having a professor who cannot use the English language correctly or has an accent so confusing that students founder.
This was again brought to my attention by an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel today which reported that a chemistry professor at Milwaukee School of Engineering had a judgment against him upheld in court. The professor was initially fired because the students complained that they could not understand him. Upon appeal, the courts upheld the firing...which leads to a series of pertinent questions:

1. Why was he working in this country when his language skills were so poor? As anyone with understanding can tell you, university professors are hired and retained based on their ability to bring research money to an institution or based on their contributions to the field in terms of scholarly writings/reputation. Neither of those qualifications requires spoken English proficiency, and academic brilliance is not relegated to English speakers!

2. What, if any, were the students' responsibilities? This is tricky because the professor in question might have been the only professor for that course, meaning everyone HAD to matriculate through his class. But, you and I know the truth is more likely that the time schedule favored the students' other classes or activities. You cannot tell me that in a school as small as MSOE students didn't know beforehand that the teacher was hard to understand. The students were probably also given a textbook written in perfect English. Of course, if the book were the only source of information, students would not need ANY teacher. I would also suspect that there was tutoring help available in the subject matter though I agree that the professor should be the first line of defense with regard to questions about the material.

3. How do American universities solve this problem? The obvious answer here is that we should prepare more native speakers for a career in teaching...encouraging our grade and high schoolers that teaching is a respected, rewarding profession...instead of luring them with dreams of March Madness that few will ever attain. By emphasizing a love of learning and the need to pass it on to future generations, we can assure ourselves that our great-grandchildren will be able to understand their professors AND the person on the other end of tech support.

Monday, April 08, 2013

R.I.P. to the "Queen of Teen"

You have to be of a certain cohort to be terribly saddened by today's news that Annette Funicello had breathed her last, succumbing to the effects of Multiple Sclerosis, a disease she had battled for 25 years. Back in the early days of television, fewer than two-thirds of American homes had even one television...and Annette was the glue that cemented us all to the set. Our parents proclaimed Ed Sullivan to be television's greatest star, but we kids knew that the 24 Mouseketeers that we could watch every day after school really ruled the airwaves. We could name them all during the roll call (always wondering if Jimmy wasn't a bit too old to be hanging out with the kids), and everybody had his or her favorite among the gang...but everyone loved Annette. Squeaky clean and cute, all the boys wanted her, and all the girls wanted to BE her. 
At the onset, she was 12, but then, I guess, we weren't much younger. In her Disney heyday, she earned $85 per week...though she and other Mouseketeers were charged $55 for their felt ears if they happened to lose them; of course, that's probably what they cost at the Disney theme parks now, but, really, how much could the hat have cost back then? Just another case of the man trying to keep the working stiff down!
Anyway, after the beach movies and quasi-singing career, she settled down, raised three kids...and started a foundation to aid research for MS. She also did some commercials for Skippy peanut butter.
To think she has died is sad enough, but to imagine her being 70?

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Careful Using Language!

Recently, a professor I know questioned the word "focuses" as the plural of "focus" in an article in the New York Times. She scoffed that the plural "as everyone should know" was "foci." I had something break loose in my long-term memory and thought my son the copy editor had once corrected ME on that same word, claiming that the plural did, indeed, include the "es" at the end. Of course, most people wouldn't know that unless they had some connection with the news writing business since the AP news style manual is not exactly on the nightstand at the Ramada Inn. Anyway, that was a mostly harmless (thank you, Douglas Adams) illustration of misusing language. Target was not so lucky recently.
The dress pictured above is available online at as well as in stores, one might imagine. The problem arose in the description. In the "regular" sizes, the color was described as "dark heather gray." However, when describing the "Plus Size Kimono Maxi-dress," the language purveyors at Target decided that "manatee gray" was a more appropriate choice. They could not have been more wrong! The blogosphere exploded with withering criticism of the choice of descriptor color. Despeite the fact that Target also uses this color to describe sheets and towels, the idea of women wearing something the color of what is commonly known as a "sea cow" set off a firestorm.
Target has quickly moved to change the color description, but I would suspect the brand Mossimo can be equated with "mud" at this point.
Choose your words (and descriptions) carefully!

Friday, April 05, 2013

Money Matters

We often seem to live our lives in constant pursuit of the one thing guaranteed to make our lives easier: a maid and a, that's not the answer. The answer, of course, is money. The reason we spend so much time accumulating money is that we think it will provide the access to all the things we think will make our lives easier...namely, a maid and a butler. ("Will you get OFF the servant thing?")
OK, OK. but the fact is that we all spend an inordinate amount of time accumulating the wherewithal that financial prosperity brings; each of us sees it differently, of course, but still...
CNN Money provided a list today of representative wages for segments of the population, listing each profession with regard to how much a worker of that kind makes every minute. If you want to know how much over a career, you'll have to do the math yourself: too tough for me. Here's the list

$.12/minute is what a worker making minimum wage receives.

$.27/minute is what the median worker in America receives.

$.42/minute is what the average elementary school teacher receives.

$1.35/minute is what the average family physician receives.

$3.21/minute is what the president receives.

$19.31/minute is what Rex Tillerson, president of Exxon/Mobil receives.

$162.55/minute is what Kobe Bryant receives.

Both Tillerson's and Bryant's figures are calculated on salary alone...not stock options, endorsements, etc.

Obviously, there are professions in between, but for most people, accumulating large portfolios is simply impossible. You can't take with you what you do not have!

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Both Sides of "Old School" coaching

Woody Hayes is gone as are most of the "old school" coaches, replaced by a kinder, gentler version of college coach: Coach 2.0, if you will. At least, that's what university presidents will tell you. The old, "these are students first and athletes second" shtick is getting old. We know it's not true...not when athletes sped a minimum amount of time in college ( and probably less than a minimum number of hours in class) and bolt for the first professional offer that comes their way. and it's not just the athletes that are to blame: The Rutgers University president and athletics director who knew about Mike Rice's behavior last year didn't fire him until the video of his abuse went viral some four months later: protecting the Rutgers "brand."
Bad, irresponsible, and selfish behavior, yes, but uncommon? I think not...and if YOU do, I think you are naive.
I have the opportunity to work with coaches and athletes on a DI level every day. I hear and I see things, and I know what the "right" way to work with people (both athletes and coaches) is. I believe that there are many unpublicized bullies out there. Remember the Texas Tech football story a couple of years ago? Locking a young man in an equipment shed, I believe? That coach is again working and getting highly paid. The football coach at Arkansas, relieved of his job after shoddy behavior (though not with student athletes) will again be working. This list goes far beyond Woody Hayes interfering with an opposing player during a game.
Call it motivational or character-building, the signs are the same: demeaning language, physical altercation, and an attempt to keep everything "in house" or "in our family." I know of one coach whose "family" meant ONLY the team for the players...not flesh and blood family. Sad.
However, there is something of a flip side to the scenario. Put aside the fact that coaching is a dog-eat- dog proposition with win totals the only thing that counts. Disregard the fact that while head coaches often get lucrative buyout packages, the assistants (and their families) get nothing. The fact is that student-athletes have to share some of the onus as well.
Speaking from very personal experience, I can say that many of the "money" athletes in basketball and football display an attitude of entitlement that is beyond belief. I have been asked to help a student take an online test...I have talked to professors who say they have been intimidated by coaches to change grades (not where I work, though). I have had student athletes ask how to complete an assignment when they have not read the material...and I have seen Pell Grant money go for $250 sneakers. In addition, I have observed players sulk, whine, and underperform if they don't get the playing time they think they deserve or complain that they have to walk from the farthest dorm on campus when it's 400m to the library...walk in late to a class and stroll right in front of the lecturing professor...on and on.
Older people always like to talk about how "back in the day" they were tougher, more respectful, and more dedicated to achieving great things without expecting to be patted on the back for a successful movement. Maybe so.
However, verbally pr physically demeaning players, coaches, professors, or academic tutors is shameful.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Take Me Out To the Ballgame (burp!)

You know you want to...nobody can go to a baseball game at a major league (or minor league, for that matter) and not b uy something to eat and drink. Seriously, it's like the movies: when was the last time you went to the movies without having Junior Mints or popcorn and a soda? The same thing is true at ballyards across America. While the minor leagues often have the most exotic choices and all-you-can-glutton-down stands, the prices aren't generally that much cheaper unless it's "Cheap Beer Night," in which case, nobody cares about the cost of food.
However, in this economy, we have to pinch every penny of our entertainment dollar, so CNN has compiled an almost-complete list of what a customer can get for $20 at major league stadia across the country. Notable exceptions resided in the American League East, a division in which Baltimore was the ONLY franchise to publicly announce what it charged for eats. Needless to say, Toronto, Tampa, New York and Boston might not be the cheapest places to eat!
You can click on the URL to find the rundown (so to speak) of what a Jackson would get you at each of the other places, but here are the highlights, as I see them:

1. Most expensive hot dog? Citi Field, home of the Mets: $6.25
2. Least expensive hot dog? Great american Ballpark in Cincinnati: $1

3. Most expensive beer? Nationals Park in Washington: $8/16oz (however, it's $5 before the first pitch: drink early!
4. Cheapest beer? Whatever they call Jacobs Field in Cleveland now: $4/12 oz (see how they trick you, though? It's 4 oz less!)

Best combination of hot dog AND a beer? Arizona Diamonbacks' field: 14 oz beer and a "value" hot dog: $5.50. (it was not explained what a "value" dog entailed!)

In the "Everything's Bigger In Texas" portion of the program, fans can load up on The Boomstick at Arlington Park, home of the Texas Rangers. This 2-foot-long hot dog is garnished with chili, nacho cheese, jalapenos, and caramelized onions for a mere $26! No word on what it would cost for the three beers needed to wash it down.

Anyway, enjoy your expensive day eating at the bet might be the all-you-can-eat section!
Play Ball!