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A post about my Padres.

This is about baseball, so please, if you don't enjoy or care about baseball, or if you hate it, by all means skip this. Unless... unless you played some baseball or softball or maybe even some kickball and always had this idea that somehow, some way, there could ever be a team with no huge stars, but just a bunch of guys who were all playing pretty well, somehow beating the teams with the big stars. That team, I am sad to say, hasn't really ever existed... until now.

I am talking about the San Diego Padres. These guys... they're really *good.* None of them are stars, I don't think there was a single Padre on the National League All-Star team. But they're still good.

How good? Well, the Padres have held the best record in the National League since, more or less, May. You may note that we are coming up to September now. They're just really really good.

What has been amusing is to see the people who have to make excuses for how the Padres could actually be this good, I mean, they're not the Yankees, they're not the Red Sox, they're not even the Dodgers!

The usual argument is "well, they play in a HUUUUUGE park at sea level and who could possibly ever hit a home run there and blah-dee-hoo." I'm not saying that Petco doesn't help, but, how come we never hear this about non-sea-level parks? Like, say, the bandbox on top of a mountain that is Coors Field?

The Rockies couldn't win a shitting contest in a toilet if it wasn't in Denver. If you doubt it, look at their home record: 41-20. Away record: 25-40. Nobody ever seems to get all pissed off about the Rockies, though.

And yet, many people seem to try to make the same argument about the Padres - how dare they play in San Diego, and not just in San Diego, but in a lovely waterfront park, blah blah blah, it's a huge park, it eats up hits and homers, it's at sea level where stuff doesn't fly as far, blah blah blah blah blah. So let us look at the facts.

San Diego Padres home record: 38-22. San Diego Padres away record: 38-27. Hmmmmmm. Almost exactly the same, give or take a few percentage points. And this from a club that has to play in friggin' Coors AND Wrigley.

I dunno what the ESPN pundits are saying about my Padres. I don't watch them. I have no doubt, though, that they're repeating the crap above. I'd like to remind them that the Padres road record, extrapolated to the entire season, would, at the moment, be good enough to lead not only the entire National League, but also good enough to lead EVERY division in MLB except the American League East... and even then to be only 2 games back. That's not a bad road record. And it entirely destroys the Petco whining.

The upshot is that these guys are good, and they're not doing it with overpaid stars, or even a super-hot rookie. They are just... good. Almost all of them. I really hope they win it all, but even if they don't, I'm so entirely jazzed at how they got to this point. It's kind of what I always want sports to be.

If the Padres actually win it all this year, first of all I'm going to fall down on the ground and not know what to do with myself, but second will come the "explanations" of how the Red Sox or the Yankees or possibly the Red Sox should have won it. It will be, I think, entertaining. But at the end, I hope it will vindicate sports as something worth doing, and worth seeing: This team of a bunch of guys who are all pretty good at what they do managed to beat the shit out of teams of overpaid assholes who were supposed to be awesome.

Or not. But if they do... man... I will be a happy dude.


For infrastructure geeks like me, this is manna from heaven. For you, normal people, it might be kinda nifty. Link ganked from derspatchel.

Basically it's a map of the US Interstate system, presented in the style of the London Underground map:


It came from #predicate, the SMS edition

Edited to remove extraneous conversation.

<novaheat> Dear god. The local news is currently reporting on the scourge of "textual harassment."

<novaheat> First it was "sexting," now this!

<bitterpants> novaheat: soon we'll be onto "texting"

<bitterpants> then there's exting, breaking up via text messages

<bitterpants> mexting, where mexicans text

<novaheat> Wrexting, where you try to get people to crash their cars?

<novaheat> And hexting, of course.

<Osomatic> Soon, you'll be able to order new glasses or contacts using your mobile phone. Specsting.

<Osomatic> Sending a message to your dog: Rexting.

<Osomatic> Or about your weightlifting routine: Flexting.

<patientfox> parsing source code files via SMS: lexting.

Pennysaver Amusement, Vol. 6

As always, all ads reproduced faithfully, typos and all, except when truncated due to length and of course removing phone numbers and such.

Large, size 9, makes perfect burritos.

I am willing to bet that there is a lot more to perfect burrito creation than the right griddle. No matter what size it is.

Frigidaire. Con control remoto.

Are you sure that's not a Frigidairio, compadre? Because I think you're making upo the el spanisho. Dude-o.

Small amount 1x4 / 4x4, $6 all.

At a certain point, it's okay to just throw stuff away. I know, I know, consumerist culture, reuse reduce recycle, but seriously... six dollars worth of used boards? We can grow more trees, and cut them into many brand-new boards. Really. It's okay.

Forest Lawn Glendale, $50,000. Be Michael Jackson's neighbor.

Bring the whole family! Once your whole family is dead, of course. But only the other five of them you like the most. Besides, I bet these spots are only Michael Jackson-adjacent. (I'm pretty sure this is a recasting of the ad I previously made fun of in Vol. 5.)

Includes mattress and cushions, fair condition, $80.

When the best you can say for your sofa bed is that it is grey and "includes" the very components that make it a sofa and a bed, you need a lot more than three exclamation points, son. "Fair" condition may be honest, but the Pennysaver is no venue for honesty. Your asking price is all the honesty necessary. Let me help you out: SOFA BED WITH LUXURIOUS 'STORMY SEAS' FABRIC - Get the rest you deserve on plush cushions, or share the deluxe mattress with a special friend! Bids start at $80. Now that, sir, is how you sell your disgusting grey sofa bed.

Train for high paying Aviation Maintenance Career. FAA approved program. Financial aid if qualified - Job placement assistance. CALL Aviation Institute of Maintenance

UNEMPLOYED is probably a depressingly apt headline. Gee, I wonder if anybody fails to qualify for financial aid. *sigh*


Strawberry Festival

So... for all two or three of you people reading this, let me just tell you: Avoid at all costs the "California" Strawberry Festival, held every May in Oxnard.

The traffic is horrendous. It's incredibly overcrowded. The "strawberry" part of it is an afterthought - it's basically your regular church fair only twice as big but with eight times as many people. I wanted to leave almost from the moment I walked in, and we'd driven an hour and a half to get there and park and all. Frankly, being with my family for another hour and a half, cranky as we all were, looked like a much better option than fighting my way through the crowds to do... nothing very interesting.

Also. I used to hate Oxnard, but I never saw a whole lot of it except the bit between the freeway and my ex-girlfriend's apartment. I've now seen a lot more of it. I no longer hate Oxnard, I just hate it for existing: It is so terribly, terribly depressing.

Two Foers

I just finished two books by authors with the last name Foer. It's not a coincidence. While searching the library's catalog for one, I saw the other and thought it sounded interesting.

The random one was How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization by Franklin Foer. It certainly kept my interest, tracing the various connections between politics and soccer throughout the world, from Scottish religious soccer hooligans to Iranian protests against the mullahs, focusing on how the various different political and religious movements are interacting in today's era of globalization (or at least in 2004 when the book was written). I found it snappily-written, informative without getting bogged down. Best of all, I didn't have to actually watch or care about any soccer to enjoy it.

The last chapter, about how soccer has figured in America's culture wars, was a bit of a stretch - hilariously so in parts. My impression is that Foer, as an unabashed soccer fan, really wants the game to be more important to Americans than it is, no matter whether they are for or against it. What I don't think he realizes is that beyond a few jerky sports journalists like Jim Rome, and a 25-year-old quote from Jack Kemp goofily claiming that "football is democratic and capitalist, soccer is European and socialist1," the vast majority of Americans simply don't care and cannot be made to care about soccer. Even the yuppies he describes taking their kids to play soccer in ever greater numbers don't actually care about the game beyond wanting their kids to do well. As far as I can tell, the vast majority of those kids don't particularly care about it after they stop playing either.

Obviously, there are exceptions, especially recent immigrants (although as near as I can tell second generations don't care much either.)

Still. Most American sports fans, if pressed, might say "it's boring" or "I hate soccer" or even manage some sort of "oh, that's for Euro-weenies" but truthfully, Mr. Foer, I am sorry to tell you, the vast majority of us just cannot possibly be bothered to give a damn. Possibly it's because of just what you spent the first 9 chapters of the book exploring - that intertwining of politics, religion, race, class, and etc., make soccer fanship really about identity, not the actual game. Here, there's not even much of that stuff attached to our popular sports, so soccer's just never going to have a chance.

The other book was Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer and it was, in a word, amazing. I was literally amazed at the inventiveness and joy Foer put into what is, at the end, a sad story. He weaves three first-person tales of people who are at turns brilliant, stunted, wonderful, broken, exasperating, intelligent, jerky, emotional, and, well, human, and turns them into this stunning reflection on love and loss. It's the first time in a long time that I have been quite so deeply affected by a book. Funnily enough, I'm a bit leery of recommending it, because I can't say you'll like it. You might even hate it and I would probably understand why. But I would be very surprised if it made no impression on you.

I suppose it's silly to have had a lot more to say about a book that was interesting reading for a day or two as opposed to one that knocked my little socks off. I guess that's because I don't know what to say about the latter except "holy shit." Good thing nobody is paying me for book reviews.

1Uh, Jack. Those European clubs are most *assuredly* capitalist enterprises. Even back in the 80s.

Pennysaver Amusement, Vol 5

As always, all ads reproduced faithfully, typos and all, except when truncated due to length and of course removing phone numbers and such.

$10 and $15.

Why on earth would there be this 33% difference in prices for a bunny? A bunny is pretty much a bunny. What possible disparity in bunny quality could cause one to be worth five dollars more than the other?

35" longs, beautiful handle with 2 eagle heads, hangs on wall, $100

I'd been thinking of buying a sword, and frankly eagle heads are a plus, but I didn't want any crappy plastic, wood, or cheese sword. No, I demand one made of metal! Any metal will do, and yet I am only offered soft swords, soft like Democrats! ... but what is this? You say you have a deal for me?

Forest Lawn Cemetary, Glendale, Great Mausoleum, Section of Sancuary of Song, Jasmine Terrace. Famous stars rest there! $50,000.

This seems like unreasonably jaunty sales copy given the nature of the product. There are a lot of weird questions about why someone might want this that I fully intend to leave unanswered, with one exception: Is a spot in a mausoleum that you think is worth 50 grand something you want to be advertising in the Pennysaver?

Dress coat from Barneys in New York, $50.

Yet another ad that fully fails to live up to the promise of the headline. I was hoping to buy a llama, you bastards.

Antenna, $30.

A round one, you say? I wonder if that will work better than the square ones we all have been fooled into buying before!

$200,000 - $10,000,000. Direct Lenders. "Lowest rates/Best/terms" "Brokers fully Protected and respected". "Since 1985"

Since when do loan sharks advertise in the weekly circulars? Moreover, since when do loan sharks offer up to 10 million dollars? (Don't kid yourselves folks, loan sharking is *exactly* what commercial bridge loans are. It's just that that segment of the market has been taken over by the assholes you went to college with who were getting business degrees.)

On-Site & Remote Computer Repair. Free AVG Internet Security.... etc etc call 1-866-661-GEEK

Uh. You may want to check that headline there, guys. Or you're going to get a lot of strange phone calls and some seriously disappointed customers. I really don't want to know what happens when someone calls you to fix his packet delivery system.

White. $20.

Dude. You have been trying to sell this thing since *at least* my third installment of Pennysaver Amusement, back in December 2009, and probably before. Let it go, man. Just let it go. The double sawbuck just ain't worth your dignity in renewing, and re-renewing, and re-re-renewing, and so on. Just chuck the thing in your garbage can. Nobody wants it. Nobody is EVER going to buy a toilet tank and then say to themselves "Damn, if only I had a LID!" It's just not going to happen. Let it go. Just... let it go.

Anyway. That's it for this installment. Tune in next time when I remember to check the mailbox for more silliness.


Oh, Canada

Apparently, in Vancouver someone had convinced the local politicians to spend 171 million bucks, with 15 million dollars in annual costs, to stop about 4.5 million dollars in fare evasions.

Apart from all the figures, can we please remember that this is Canada we're talking about? There's no way that there is more than, say, two or three dollars worth of fare evasions per day, and it's only that one guy who moved from New York City who thinks that paying fares is supporting The Man. There's just no possibility that this one guy (and okay, a few people who forgot their fare card and accidentally got through that one time but felt really bad about it) add up to 4.5 million dollars per year.

And yet? It is still less stupid than LA's turnstiles-with-a-no-turnstile-option system.

Pennysaver Amusement, Vol 4

As always, all ads reproduced faithfully, typos and all, except when truncated due to length and of course removing phone numbers and such.

Twin size, never used, $100.

There are two possibilities here: 1) It's got some magnets or at least chunks of metal that they *say* are magnets, and it's supposed to increase your health because blah blah bullshit; or 2) It's actually seriously magnetic and if you lay down on the thing with, say, a wrench in your pocket, you will never ever get up. The former is more likely, the latter is way more amusing. "Aw, c'mon baby, I know you say you want to leave, but just hold on to this chunk of rebar and lay down on my bed for a minute! Won't hurt ya none!"

Rolling walker in excellent condition, $75

Yet another ad where the item description absolutely failed to live up to the promise of the headline.

$60. Call for more information.

There's nothing inherently funny about this ad. However, I imagine that it is quite amusing to hear the the person who placed this ad walking down the street. Someone who attempts to charge 60 dollars for a used piece of plastic that is nothing more than a step - that you step on and off of - clearly has giant brass balls, and it's not hard to imagine that they make quite a risible clanking noise as this seller trundles around.

Very good condition, $18.

KING OF FAN has POWER! KING OF FAN kick your ass with gusts! KING OF FAN destroy any fan get in way! KING OF FAN so fucking awesome. KING OF FAN blow you HARD! ....Now look. I know you are going to think that I made this one up. Who puts an ad in the Pennysaver with the headline POWERFUL KING OF FAN? The answer is, I don't know. But I'm considering buying his or her fan, because I have already gotten more than 18 dollars worth of amusement worth just thinking about POWERFUL KING OF FAN.

That's the end of this most recent installment. Join me the next time the Pennysaver has enough amusing ads to amuse us.


Enough with the "Shaving Systems"

While at the grocery store today, I remembered that I was out of cartridges for my shaver, an ancient Gilette Sensor. You can tell it's old because the cartridge only has two blades. It's worked just fine for years now.

Apparently, however, the store and probably most stores no longer carry the cartridges for my particular shaver.

"Hm," I thought to myself. "I tried using a straight razor to free myself from this silliness, but that didn't go so well, largely due to my inability to sharpen things, and also to not cut myself up with a naked blade."

So I resigned myself to simply purchasing an upgrade to my "shaving system." Perhaps the Mach 3. Zoooom! Or the even faster sounding Quattro. The possibilities for extremely fast and smooth seemed endless! There's even a five-blade thinger which I can't remember the name of! And best yet, all of these bastards are cheap! Like about 10 bucks! THIS IS GOING TO BE AWESOME and best yet, I'm totally going to look like every Rock McHardchest* in those shaving commercials!

Then I wondered how much the cartridge refills cost. [insert sound of screeching cars, records being stopped by the needle being dragged across them, etc.]

Ahem. For the very low end of the various shavers, the Mach 3, it was, I kid you not: $26.99. Yes, folks, that is TWENTY SEVEN dollars for ten, count 'em, TEN shaver refills. Now. I might get six or seven shaves out of the thing, though honestly if they can fit three or four teensy blades into it I imagine they dull even faster than my apparently obsolete two blade cartridge did. But even so, my soul rebels at paying nearly thirty bucks for a package of what is essentially 10 teeny razor blades encased in some plastic.

It may or may not be highway robbery, and perhaps all the technology that the commercials claim is in these little cartridges actually exists, all I know is that I cannot pay it. I simply can't. It may be the little bit of Scots in my ancestry coming out, I don't know, but I just can't bring myself to pay that much for that much plastic and metal. I would rather scrape my face raw with a strategically chipped rock than pay that. And god help us, the Quattro was even more for FEWER cartridges. I shudder to think what those five-blade fuckers are paying.

The upshot is that I am now looking for one of those old-style "safety razors" where you put an actual razor blade into it, because it turns out you can buy razor blades for incredibly cheap, and it gives you just as good of a shave.

So... anybody reading this got any good recommendations for safety razors?

*As most of you probably know, I'm totally stealing the "Rock McHardchest"-type name from the endlessly wonderful Mystery Science Theater 3000.