Thursday, June 07, 2012

Baseball's Sacraments and The Jinx

The level of superstition in baseball is not approached in any other area of life. Baseball players will forgo shaving for weeks, or the duration of a winning streak. They will wear unwashed undergarments for the length of a season, or until a game without a hit passes. They would not step on a chalk line if it was six feet wide, and will chase an umpire all over the field in order to lightly tap a bat on his shin guards. These habits, and many, many more, serve as sacred prayers before the baseball gods, who will punish a player who forgets or chooses not to genuflect in some fashion before the altar.

One form of this superstition involves the jinx. Or, "If you say it, it will not happen." When a pitcher is six innings into a no hitter, one who might dare to mention that fact would be in less danger golfing in a thunderstorm. A player who is twenty games into a hitting streak will engage in conversations warily, and if he senses that the conversant might stray into the forbidden territory of his working streak, he might just fake appendicitis before he would continue talking.

It is almost as though speaking of a streak is believed to be gloating before the baseball gods. Understand, when a pitcher has a no hitter, or even a shutout, he is fully aware of that fact. He does not need anyone to remind him of it. He is probably incapable of noticing a nearby nuclear explosion, as long as it does not interfere with the next pitch.

The Amarillo Sox have a promotion, where if the home team scores exactly seven runs in the seventh inning, a name will be drawn from previously entered contestants, for a new Ford of some type. A seven run inning might not happen every day, but it is not unheard of in this league.

We have approached it once this season. On May 25th, we were rallying in the seventh, and we had two men on, with one out. We had five runs in. Our PA announcer, Adam Cox, decided to stick his finger in the baseball god's chest, and announced, over the PA system, audible to every person in the park and some cars on East Third street, the fact that we had those five runs in, and only needed two more. On the very next pitch, the batter hit into an inning-ending double play.

There is, in our press box, a newly created Kangaroo Court. Baseball takes a perverse joy in policing infractions, including absurdly minor ones, with small fines and humiliating tasks. Our first prosecution was for our Radio Broadcaster, Travis Lubbe. Travis made the error of wearing the wrong color shirt (he had a fifty-fifty chance) to the game. He was punished by being forced to wear pink accessories and ride a pink stick horse while he fetched signatures from numerous ballpark officials on his Kangaroo Court documentation. For the record, he has not re-offended.

Adam's trial for the felony jinxing of the seven run seventh was on June 5th at the ball park after the game, during which he was convicted after about a minute. His punishment was decided by General Manager, Mark Lee. Since the offended party was basically every soul present that spring night, Mark decided the only fair way to punish Adam was to place Adam in a dunking booth and allow those fans, and anyone else offended by the act, to attempt to drown him. The event will be at the Sonic restaurant at 1009 E Amarillo Blvd, near Arthur Street, on Saturday, June 16th from noon until 5pm eleven a.m. to three p.m., before the game. There will be a few Sox pitchers on site to ensure a minimum number of dunkings, and General Manager Mark Lee will also be in possession of a remote switch to inject dunkings at any desired moment. Fans can make a small donation to The March of Dimes, a thoroughly awesome charity, for three chances to dunk Adam. If we raise five hundred dollars, the Sox will even match it.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sliming Pink Slime

I have mixed emotions on the misfortune that has come to Beef Products, Inc. in the last few weeks.

In 2005, I worked in the Amarillo BPI plant for about six months as a systems electrician. I was initially excited to work there; it was a neat place for a person interested in technology to work. They use an amazing amount of cutting edge technology, everything from the computer systems to an amazing amount of telemetry on every plant system. The core software system that runs the plant can show the conditions in any area of the production line to three decimal places. The head technology guy used to scoff at the space shuttle, because he thought it wasn't properly monitored.

The production line has at least three metal detectors that can detect a piece of metal that is too small to see in a stream of meat flying by at fifty pounds a second. They sample every single box of meat produced, and keep the box it came from until the sample passes tests for several e-coli strains, among other tests. The product is either in small corn-flake size chunks or sixty pound blocks, ready to be mixed with lower grade ground beef - the whole point of the BPI product is to allow meat packers to use lousy grade beef, and add the BPI product to cheaply upgrade the quality.

The Amarillo plant is shoehorned in with IBP, now Tyson. Everywhere there was a bit of unused space in the IBP plant, BPI has it's facilities. The difference between IBP and BPI is shocking. IBP was filthy, old, rusting and worn out. Everything BPI was stainless steel. They run a cleaning routine every day that sterilizes the entire scattered plant. They really do care about the whole food safety thing; if not out of genuine care for customers, look what being careless can do to a food company.

My grief for BPI's misfortune is tempered by the fact that it is far and away the most miserable place I have ever worked - dangerous, noisy, terrible environment, with management that would rather fire everyone and start over everyday.

I believe the miserable working conditions in any packing plant come from the fact that packing plants are the only place a person who cannot get a normal job that pays as much as this industry does. You can be a felon, or an illegal immigrant, or just a dirtbag in general, and make a lot of money compared to anything else available. And the plant operators treat everyone like they are dirtbags, and you can be fired for pretty insignificant transgressions. BPI had a point system - late to clock in less than five minutes got you half a point. More than five minutes was one point. Take a sick day? Two points. At fifteen points, they fired you. I had a friend who worked there for nearly twenty years, and was instrumental in the building of the plant, who was fired as soon as they suspected he was thinking about leaving.

It is a very dangerous place to work, and some of the working environment is pretty bad. I left (aside from the horrible working conditions) because I am far too careless to work in such an environment - Once through carelessness, I very nearly electrocuted myself with a five hundred volt, five hundred amp circuit because I wasn't paying attention.

I flew to the South Dakota plant once with the owner of BPI, Eldon Roth, on his private jet, for a training tour of the plant. Eldon is a genius, has dozens of patents, is always thinking of new ways to make the plant more efficient, and make the end product safer. He spent tens of thousands of dollars trying to develop a system to recover helium that is somehow released in the plant through the normal processes. It never worked, as far as I know. He knew of the coming helium shortage, though.

From the conversation we had on the plane, I know he has a personal problem with Tom Vilsack, who was then governor of Iowa. There seemed to be some long running issues between the two. I wonder if some of the problems BPI has now are a product of the poor relationship, as Vilsack is now the Secretary of Agriculture.

So I think it is a shame the media, specifically ABC, has apparently destroyed the company. Just like the whole DC10 story - a good product destroyed by a media telling only the sensational part of a story. Your hamburger just got more expensive, and a whole lot more cows are headed to the production line to replace what BPI isn't producing now. The current beef shortage just got shorter.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten years later

I really thought for a while after 9/11 that things would change, and we'd finally see a nation concerned about security and maybe a sustained embrace of American exceptional-ism. And we did, for a while; maybe a year or so.

We have legions of incompetent cops and night watchmen running around harassing photographers in the name of security; we have the incompetent TSA molesting children and others in the name of security; we have two major actions going on that were started to enhance security, but have long ago lost their way. We have an Islamist trophy shrine being built blocks from the crater; a meaningless feel-good radio antenna going up where those proud buildings once stood; an Islamic-themed memorial on the site where Flight 93 was taken down.

The victims that the savages killed are still dead, and still remembered. Five years ago, I participated in a 9/11 remembrance project, where bloggers who signed up were assigned a victim to post about. I was assigned a man named Bon-seok Koo. He worked for LG Insurance as a branch manager. I tried to find more information about this man when I was assigned him, but I was never able to find more than the brief bio posted in a few places on the internet.

But I realize now I don't need any more information about him. I know with reasonable certainty his wife Yun-Ho loved him and misses him. And I am certain his daughters loved him and miss him. What greater obituary is there than that?

I occasionally see a hit on this blog directed at the post about Mr. Koo. I have no idea who it is, but I wonder sometimes if it is a member of Mr. Koo's family. I hope it helps his family to see that he is not forgotten by at least one other person. I truly hope they have found peace in these years.

His life was stolen by savages in the name of politics and hatred of America and the West. They still hate us just as much. More, with the death of their chief scumbag. The thing we should remember most is that they still want us all dead.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Wow, this thing still works

Yeah, both of my readers have been really disappointed for the last couple of years that I haven't posted anything. Well, I will try to get back into it.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Never know who'll show up at the ballpark

Tonight, before the game, as we waited to see if we were going to be rained out, Mark came up to the pressbox with a guest.

Stephen Collins, who played Eric Camden on Seventh Heaven, was apparently just driving through Amarillo, and needed a minor league baseball fix and dropped in to catch a game. He was extremely gracious and posed for pix with everyone in the pressbox and then went down and signed autographs and posed for more pix for quite a while.

And we did get rained out.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Gonna be a quiet baseball season

You just never know when those close to you are going to leave.

Monday, our PA Announcer, Joe Frank Wheeler, was working on the sound system at the ballpark. Upon reaching the roof, where the broadcast booth and press box is, he collapsed. He apparently had a heart attack. He was 53.

Joe Frank made it fun to work at the ballpark. He had a gift for really bad puns, and also for out and out humor. Sorry, but right now I just can't think of the examples that I am sure will flood my memory as this soaks in. Except, maybe, his comment whenever our opponent managed to load the bases - he optimistically called it 'force at any base.'

Tonight was our opening night. This is my fourth year working for the team, and I think this was the third game I worked where Joe Frank wasn't there.

The trip up to the roof isn't for the faint of heart. I often worry about the older guys who come up to the press box, but I didn't worry about Joe. He had had a heart attack a few years back, I found out tonight. But he didn't ever show it. He had more energy than some of the players.

Joe worked every game like it was a career maker - no matter how tired he was, how small the crowd, or how bad we were getting beat. He absolutely loved his job. He also did PA for the hockey team, but he told me baseball was a lot more fun.

He had a gift for sports trivia. Every home stand, and sometimes more often, he would hit us with some obscure question about college football or the NBA or high school football, and he'd let everyone twist for a few innings until they came up with a guess. Then he'd give them the answer, complete with dates and everything, and I'd wonder, how the hell does he know all this, and why isn't he doing color broadcasting somewhere. This man knew sports, backward and forward.

We won the game tonight, but we lost so much more.

Monday, April 27, 2009

I want to live in Galt's Gulch

I finally read the book I have wanted to read for a long time, and current events have finally encouraged me to do it.

Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged wasn't the best book I ever read, but it has made me think more than any thing else I have ever read. The comparisons to current events are maybe a bit thin, but there are some striking similarities. Trying not to give anything away to those who have yet to read it, the present day sniveling whiners that we know as liberals are immediately obvious in the book as sniveling, whining looters. The insistance of the looters that logic is overridden by feelings and need, the hatred of success and the successful, and the greed of the government are very recognizable.

Go read it.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Cutting Spending with Spite

I am in Dallas this week for a training class. I noticed in the Ft. Worth paper this evening that one of the plans to help the city of Arlington make ends meet, they are going to turn off half of the streetlights. This will save $4.50 a month, per light.

To note which lights have been turned off, they are going to mark them with silver tape. So, you can tell the difference between burned out and turned out.

This is how cities and counties get to show how cheap they are. In the face of public demands for cost cutting, they start doing away with frivoloties like police patrols, and fire department funding. And streetlights. Can't afford to lay off the parking valet at the city commisioners court, or the second assistant to the principal's secretary at the middle school.

On the other side of cheapness and greed is D.C.'s idea to impose a new fee. A 'Streetlight User Fee.' $4.25 would be added to your electric bill to help pay for maintining and running the city streetlights.

Some cities are charging citizens for police response. Have a wreck, get a bill for the police showing up. In Amarillo, they don't even show up for some accidents; you do a report by phone, and for a fee, you can have a copy.

Last time I bought something, I paid tax on it. About eight percent. It has been my understanding that cities and states levy taxes on citizen's purchases to pay for infrastructure. There has been an arguement of late that we should replace taxes with user fees. It appears that governments like the idea of user fees. Like it so much, they are just going to add them to the taxes. And have both.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Texas Tea

Not being a malcontent leftie, and being employed, I am unaccustomed to the "Protest" scene. However, finally one came along that I could believe in - the "Tea Party". These are from the two in Amarillo, Texas.

I went to take pictures, and because I believe in the cause - I have a two year old with a mortgaged future, thanks to our current and past politicians. It was nice to see a lot of passionate people and know I am not the only one unhappy.

This lady walked up to me and asked who I was shooting for, and asked me to take her picture. I didn't read her button at first, and handed her a 'Bailout for the Constitution' button, which she put on. She then started laughing at the protesters, and that's when I read her button - "Hot Chicks Dig Obama"...
She told me this was Fox News organized, there were no blacks there, and Bush was to blame for everything. I asked her why it was the protesters fault why no blacks were there (there were), and she said they would be afraid to go because it was a Republican event, (Republicans hate black people, of course.) She then accused me of being a Republican. (Once more, never been one, thanks for asking). I asked her what was the logic of spending yourself out of debt, and she started with, 'Give it a chance...' or something. Not interested in arguing who really is to blame, (ALL OF THEM), she told me I listened to Limbaugh (some) and Hannity (nope) and watched Fox News. I asked her to tell me if she thought CNN was balanced, (She gives me an eyeroll) and accused her of reading (She didn't deny it.) She wasn't nasty like a lot of people on the left are, and when it was clear we would not agree, she left, politely. And gave me my button back.

This one is my favorite.

Another clever one.

This girl made her own shirt.

This is the most important sign I saw.

And this was the funniest.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Conservative's Declaration of Independance from the Republican Party

The Republican Party has long been the home for conservative minded citizens. In recent times, however, it has failed to support the issues important to conservatives, and even promoted issues wholehartedly opposed by conservatives. In the last few decades, the party has become more liberal, to the extent that the current GOP candidate was considered for the opposition party's vice presidential candidate in the election of 2004. The party that once fought the increase in the size of government has instead increased it faster than ever before. The party that once fought for business friendly practices in government has instead allowed more and more regulation of business. The party has allowed the federal government to force states to pay for programs the federal government created, on the threat of withholding money belonging to the citizens. You have allowed the commerce clause in the constitution to be used as a vehicle to force regulation in areas forbidden by the constitution.

You have given us candidates, or allowed candidates to run with no conservative credentials or with no hopes of winning, because it was "Their Turn," and expect conservatives to accept the lesser of two evils, when there are conservative candidates available. For example, Bob Dole, Gerald Ford, John McCain.

You have increased the size of government at every turn, creating new entitlements when it is clear that there are not enough resources to keep the promises already made. For example, prescription drugs.

You continue to support liberal candidates in primaries when more conservative choices are available, even when these candidates refuse to show loyalty to the republican party. For example, Arlen Spectre.

You refuse to secure the border, and are party to the imprisonment of agents attempting to enforce the law, in the intrest of businesses who hire illegals for cheap labor. You refuse to protect citizens of the United States from hundreds of kidnappings and murders along the border. You attempt to give amnesty to people who came here illegally, and refuse to enforce laws punishing employers who employ illegals.

You refuse to uphold your 1994 promise of term limits, after making one attempt at legislation, prefering to maintain the situation where there are members of congress with over forty years in office, when the founding fathers intent was clearly opposed to this.

You refuse to allow energy exploration on our own soil, submitting to the environmental movement, and allow other countries to take resources that belong to the United States.

You take money from special interests and make decisions in their favor which are detrimental to the interests of US Citizens.

You allow membership in the Republican Party to members of congress who routinely vote against the party's wishes, even against major republican party platform issues, in order to maintain the number of 'Rs' in congress. For example, Chaffee, Snowe, Chenoweth, Jeffords, Spectre, McCain.

You refuse to use tools available to you, the same tools used by the opposition party routinely, because you consider their tactics unfair. For example, The gang of thirteen.

You take the attitude with constituents that disagree with you that 'they just don't understand the big picture.' For example, Amnesty, June 2007

You refuse to fight back when attacked by the left, preferring to cowardly "Take the high road".

You allow a system to exist that increases your pay automatically in a cowardly way where you have to vote against automatic increases. You give yourselves pensions and benefits far in excess of what is available in this country for ordinary taxpayers.

Demands for the party that should replace the Republican party as the home of Conservatism;

Adherence to the Constitution.
Term Limits.
Adherence to Major Party Platform Issues for Members.
Balanced Budget.
Defense of the Border.

Now What?

A few thoughts on the election; Although the outcome is far from what I wanted, there are some bright points to hang on to.

* We probably never need to hear the name McCain again. The Republicans will dig up a new fossil for 2012.

* All those idiots who want Democrats to win so that everyone can
see how bad democrat rule can be, well, here you go.

* I don't expect to ever hear again about how racist this country is.

* Another 'Moderate' Republican goes away. (Sununu)

* Biden. Pure Comedy.

* A Recession is good for Pawn-Shoppers.

* Liberals in control always go so far left they fall over.

* The 'Fairness Doctrine' may force Limbaugh to satellite radio
where I can listen to him on business trips easier.

* McCain is gone. Did I mention that?

* The coming fight between Hillary and Barry.

* The coming fight between Nancy and Barry.

Monday, February 18, 2008

One year later

Abby is now a year old. Everyone told us that time would go into warp drive, and now I believe it.
She is walking like a pro, and can open cabinets and scatter whatever is inside to every corner of the house. She chases the dogs and runs from us. She has a mountain of clothes she has outgrown. She has three teeth and an addiction to french fries. More to come.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Oklahoma got it right

Oklahoma made up for that stupid 'Oklahoma is OK' slogan with their new law known as '1804'.

1804 is Oklahoma's answer to out of control illegal immigration. Under the bill, several acts that aid illegals are now felonies. For example, providing transportation, sheltering, concealing or harboring them is a felony. No driver's licenses or government IDs, or professional licenses. Those are the big ones, but there are more; denying some public benefits, and providing legal options to legal employees who get canned while employers keep illegals.

It has already survived a couple of challenges, but there will probably be plenty more.

The best part of it is, it's working. Contractors are whining about their 'employees' not showing up.

Some employer groups are preparing challenges to the law. I bet, because this will end their supply of cheap labor, and enforce a little wage pressure on those 'Jobs that Americans won't do'. That slogan is a joke - the truth is, they are 'Jobs Americans won't do, not for that much'.

One of the best parts of this story, in today's USA Today, is about a guy named Simon Navarro. He runs a money wiring service, and used to have 500 customers a day come in to send money back to Mexico and Central America. That number is now down to around a hundred. Cry me a river. Go home, and come back in through the front door.