Thursday, April 30, 2015

My Family Circus

My Wednesday evening: worked until almost 6:30. Then the Chickfila on PIB for a free sandwich. Park Avenue on PIB for some $4.00 Under Armor running shorts. Over to the Johns Creek Goodwill to browse. Next door to Kroger for gas. Old Milton to Jones Bridge to McGinnis Ferry to Peachtree Parkway to a slow as molasses Wendy’s for a dollar chicken sandwich and free small Frosty. Up Peachtree Parkway to RaceTrac for a free drink refill and 5 more coupons for 20 more free sandwiches (for later, of course). Then to pick up M at his friend McKinnon’s house. Then I tried a new southern route out of her subdivision. One turn got me on what turned into Mathis Airport Road, which I took back all the way back across Peachtree Parkway to McGinnis Ferry to Windward Parkway under 400 and across Highway 9 past Cambridge High to Bethany Road and Hopewell Road and Redd Road, past the Hurt’s to Providence Road to the traffic circle to Birmingham Highway to drop off young Master Nobles at his house south of Birmingham. Might not have been the quickest route but I did catch a lot of lights. Then M wanted Taco Bell so it was south to Crabapple and east to downtown Alpharetta for a $1.50 five layer burrito, then finally home to East Cobb at 9:30. From the time I got gas in Ocee at 7:30 I drove 60 miles in two hours. Would make for a good Family Circus cartoon.

Got home and watched the end of The Breakfast Club with Ceil. Then I went to bed.     

One thing I noticed Wednesday night was the complete lack of civility and Southern hospitality people have these days. Foreigners come to our country from a life of fending for themselves, and have no problem barging ahead in a line of traffic or in a store full of shoppers. We all know what people that move to the South’s problem is – they’re Yankees! Others grow up learning to live off the government, thinking they’re entitled to move as slowly as they want, without thought of the people behind them, or that they should put other people ahead of themselves. I wonder what some of these people are taught in church.

Steven King’s 11/22/63 is being made into be a Hulu series starring James Franco as George Amberson. I can’t wait.

Jamie Gertz must be filming a TV show in Atlanta. Interesting that she was sitting on the front row of the Hawks game. Might as well go first class. To me she’ll always be Muffy Pepperman, the peppy preppy junior high student body president on the classic sitcom Square Pegs.

If Ceil never fixed sausage again I would be ok with that. When there’s chicken and ground beef and turkey and pork, I have no need for sausage in spaghetti sauce or as a substitute for hot dogs. Or for breakfast. That’s what bacon is for.

This morning’s 10 am meeting lasted all the way to the 11 am meeting, which lasted another 30 minutes. Not good on the last day of the month. I was able to voice my frustration and give a perfect example of how having to help people do things outside my job description takes time away from what I need to be doing and other projects my bosses want me to do. Teaching people in other departments stuff they should be able to do if they’d only take the time to figure it out for themselves - or learn from their own superiors. More than half the people go brain dead whenever they hear the words “Work Order”. Work orders are just made up of the regular orders that people deal with all the time. If anyone ever figures that out I will be toast.

REID: I got news for you. Christians can be the most impolite people there are.

I looked up the line on last nights game before the game. It was Hawks favored by 9. I thought that was WAY too many. Hawks finished by 9 !!! I still would not be surprised if Hawks lost next 2. Brooklyn is one of the best 8th seed teams the East has ever had in some time.


ME: Good point!

Vegas must figure that even real close games can go down to the last minute, the have the point spread widen when desperation possessions and shots don’t connect.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Uggla's Revenge


I was watching the Braves score runs but stepped away and all of a sudden it was 9-2. Then I drove to Old Milton to fetch M. When I returned it was what 11-7 and I saw Uggla's triple.
When Uggla went down 0-2 in the 9th I began to wonder where Grilli would put his next pitch: high, low, inside, or outside. The announcers were wondering too: curve or fastball. As soon as the pitch left Grilli's hand I knew it was trouble: a meatball right down the middle. Grilli knew it too. I was headed upstairs to bed before Uggla made it back to the dugout.

The home run didn't bother me as much as the opposite field triples. What took Uggla so long to go to the opposite field? Why did he never do that with the Braves? Did he think the Braves would never cut him?  Now that his career is on the edge of a cliff Uggs is finally willing to take advice and become a little more of a hitter and less of a slugger/crusher/free swinger. I'd heard he might be cut once the Nationals had someone return from injury. Now after these past two games Uggla's career might be taken off life support. The injury to Yunel Escobar didn't hurt.

That said, it was nice that so many came to Uggla's defense when the Atlanta crowd showered him with boos. DOB, Chipper, Freddie, Glavine. DOB likes to pull chains on Twitter, but yesterday he was in rare form. As the announcers said last night: the more the fans booed, the more Uggla hit. Served them right. Typical 2015 all or nothing no patience what have you done for me lately sports fans.

Can the Hawks get past New Jersey? As most fans would say, GAME FIVE IS A MUST WIN! Will was still home Monday night and forced Ceil to change the channel from her beloved The Voice to watch the last 2 minutes of the Hawks. Ceil actually got into the game.

ROB: When the Nats kept chipping away and scoring runs, I had a bad feeling about the game.

I am not ready to pronounce Uggla's career revived.  He had a good game, but last year in 145 PA's, he had the 1 good game in Philly where he hit the 2 HR's.  Even if the concussion/vision thing is fixed, the reality is that he is a 35 year old player who did 1 thing well during his peak years.  When Rendon comes back, I would be surprised if Uggla is still on the team.

I still think the Hawks will put the Nets away.  Obviously Coach Bud knows the game better than me, but I just don't think all of the resting and coasting we did over the last quarter of the regular season has served us well in this Brooklyn series.  (I keep wanting to type New Jersey).

ME: Same deal with Francoeur having a decent series last weekend. Earlier noted author Dan Schlossberg predicted 24-30 home runs from Frenchy since he was playing in the Philly bandbox. I haven't been commenting on Schlossberg's posts, but that time I had to disagree. Jeff was below .200 at the time.

Last Thursday night M studied over at one girl's house. Friday night he and another girl went to a concert. Saturday night he went over to a third girl's house. This weekend he's taking a fourth girl to prom. I enjoyed watching his small group leader's hockey game in Sandy Springs. He was good (scored a goal) and the play was decent.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Wimbish Road

Frank and neighbor Trey Futch in front of home at 669 Wimbish Road.

Thursday night Ceil made pizza. Later I drove out to pick up M near the Avalon at a girl A's house he was doing homework with.

Friday night I drove M and girl B up to Cumming for their concert. On the way we stopped at RaceTrac for boiled peanuts and Goodwill to kill some time. At Goodwill I found a vintage Beatles tie on the counter, so I took it to show Matthew. A lady followed me and said that she was buying the tie. I wasn't 100% sure I wanted to buy the tie so I didn't mind handing it back to her. It had been on the counter with another item, but no one was close by. I thought the episode was funny. During the concert I drove back to Alpharetta to look at FitBits and return an item to Target. Picked them up and we made a Waffle House run while waiting for girl B's dad to pick her up.

Saturday morning I cleaned upstairs: our room, M's room, and Anna's room. Will helped me get the clothes out of the attic and I swapped out winter clothes for summer. Loaded my back seat with clothes to give away. By the end of the day I was exhausted from all the standing and bending over. Will and Ceil worked downstairs and outside, and later cooked burgers. I crashed on the couch and watched The Middle. I also watched the Hawks lose to the officials (and the Nets). Looked to me like all the calls were going against Atlanta. Sure, their shooting went cold, but the officials sure didn't help. Ceil drove M to girl C's house (McKinnon).

Sunday I was sore and my back hurt, but I tried to finish changing out the clothes. Ceil cooked Anna's favorite burritos for lunch. Later I drove M down to PCC. 

Monday morning I had a toothache. Probably need a root canal. With all this soreness and pain at least my shoulder doesn't hurt.
Braves closer Jason Grilli has already broken the team record for most saves in April. The record he broke was not Craig Kimbrel or John Smoltz's, but the iconic Dan Kolb's. The ex-Brewer's performance promptly went downhill – so fast that I'm not sure he was with the team at the end of May. 

Speaking of Smoltz, a friend saw him at their daughters' volleyball tournament. My friend posted a picture of his daughter and Smoltz, calling them two of his favorite pictures. I almost asked him where Will stood in his ranking.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Veritas Prom

I left work Friday afternoon at four and hustled over to the Hargreaves farm for prom pictures. The girls were up taking pictures at the barn, a mere 50 yards up the hill. Trena was talking to Emily’s mom near the front door. Brittany’s dad Randy emerged from the house, and we stood near our cars watching the girls. Between us and the girls a dog did his business, but we were too slow with our camera phones to capture the moment. 
Later Emily’s dad drove up, and he and Caroline’s dad joined out deep discussion. We chatted about the Hawks and the Hargreaves interesting neighbors, who with the blessing of the Milton City Council erected a monkey farm in their back yard. As we spoke we could hear the screeching off in the distance. Below left to right: Brittany, Emily, Anna, and Caroline.

Ceil had arranged flowers for Anna’s prom. With no one at home, Will hung out at the prom with the parents. After prom Anna and her friends changed clothes and went to a movie, then spent the night at the Hargreaves.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Niche.com's Bogus List

Another completely bogus listing: niche.com ranked the 100 best college football programs – based on attendance, “student rankings”, bowl appearances, NCAA championships, and NFL alumni. “A high college football ranking indicates that the program has a rabid fan base, quality bowl games appearances, and a strong NFL alumni presence.” “This ranking looks at historical data and generally reflects the top college football programs since 2000.” That last sentence is the issue: you can’t rank on BOTH past and recent history.

Based on these factors a school that sent many players into the NFL back in the 30’s and 40’s that turned out to be all-pros and hall of famers (like Illinois) would school higher than a school that dominated the past ten years (Clemson or Michigan State). A higher ranking is given to a small school with just a few favorable survey responses than a larger school with hundreds of survey responses.

If you dare (or still care) read the list and let in sink in the teams that are ranked so far below other schools. Zero rhyme or reason to this list.

1. Ohio State
2. USC: OJ still making an impact
3. Florida: thanks to Spurrier (alum not coach)
4. Alabama: behind USC and Florida?
5. LSU: alum Billy Cannon
6. Oklahoma: ahead of the Noles?
7. FSU: Warrick Dunn
8. Miami: alums Jim Kelly and George Mira
9. Texas: 18 spots ahead of A&M?
10. Michigan: Gerald Ford, Tom Harmon, Desmond Howard, Tom Brady, Jim Harbaugh

11. Oregon: alum Joey Harrington?
12. Wisconsin: Ron Dayne
13. Notre Dame: having Hornung helped  
14. Virginia Tech: Bruce Smith
15. Georgia: rank soars should Herschel makes HOF
16. Auburn: Pat Sullivan, Bo Jackson, James Brooks
17. Stanford: Andrew Luck
18. Penn State: Curt Warner
19. Tennessee: Peyton
20. West Virginia

21. Nebraska
22. Iowa
23. Louisville
24. Utah: Merlin Olsen

25. Mount Union: 4.2 survey score but only 49 responded. Average attendance 3389. Four current NFL players and only 8 all-time – zero pro bowlers or hall of famers or BCS wins or appearances. Ranks ahead of Texas A&M and Clemson.

26. Appalachian State: better than…
27. Texas A&M
28. Illinois: Red Grange boosted Illini’s rank
29. UCLA: Mark Harmon
30. Boise State

31. North Dakota State: better than…
32. Texas Christian
32. Clemson: Steve Fuller, William Perry
34. Oklahoma State: Barry Sanders, Thurman Thomas
35. Washington
36. Pitt: Marino, Dorsett, Larry Fitzgerald
37. Arkansas
38. Kansas State
39. Purdue: Bob Griese and Drew Brees
40. Syracuse: Jim Brown and Larry Czonka

41. Michigan State: behind Illinois? What about Bubba Smith? Seven national championships. Eight Big Ten championships, including two in the past four years. Ranked in the top 25 in attendance the past 59 straight years. All-Americans: 27; NFL HOF: 3; Currently in NFL: 32; NFL alumni: 40. If any school meets ALL the criteria, it would be Michigan State. Yet the Spartans are only ranked 41st. At least they're ahead of...

42. Wisconsin-Whitewater: avg attendance 5063, zero NFL players, hall of famers, BSC appearances, or wins - but 117 survey responses gave it a 3.9 out of 5.

43. Oregon State
44. Kansas: Gale Sayers
45. Cincinnati
46. South Carolina: George Rogers
47. Maryland: Boomer, Frank Reich
48. Arizona State: Jake Plummer
49. Grand Valley State (who?)
50. Georgia Tech: data doesn’t count 2014 season (or Calvin Johnson or Demarius Thomas or George or Larry Morris)

51. Cal Berkeley: Steve Bartkowski
52. Missouri: SEC Division Champs
53. Colorado: Rick Telander, Hale Irwin
54. Washington State
55. Kentucky: George Blanda
56. Virginia: the Barber twins
57. Connecticut
58. Montana
59. Baylor: behind Montana and UConn?
60. NC State: Roman Gabriel

61. Mississippi State
62. Minnesota Twin Cities: better that Minnesota?
63. Valdosta State: better than BYU and Arizona?
64. Arizona
65. Brigham Young: Jim McMahon
66. Wake Forest: Brian Piccalo
67. James Madison: beware of Vad
68. Georgia Southern: worse than Valdosta?
69. Rutgers
70. Texas Tech

71. Villanova
72. Indiana
73. Boston College: Matt Ryan
74. San Diego State: Marcus Faulk
75. Western Kentucky
76. Delaware
77. Iowa State
78. Hawaii
79. SMU
80. Northern Illinois

81. Central Florida: Dante Culpepper
82. Richmond
83. Eastern Washington
84. Mississippi College, Clinton MS
85. Duke: 2013 ACC Championship Game loser
86. Cal State Fresno: better than Northwestern & Ole Miss?
87. East Carolina
88. Northwestern
89. NW Missouri State
90. Minnesota: Dave Winfield picked baseball

91. Ole Miss: must’ve forgot about Archie and Eli
92. Vanderbilt
93. South Florida
94. Utah State
95. Houston: Andre Ware and David Klingler
96. Navy: Roger Staubach
97. Louisiana Tech: Terry Bradshaw, Phil Robertson
98. Memphis
99. Colorado State
100. Temple: Bill Cosby doesn't count for much these days

Not listed: North Carolina or Grambling. Four Mississippi schools but not Southern Miss? I guess Brett Farve's contribution didn't count for much. And what about Marshall? Somewhere Randy Moss is protesting.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Most Affordable "Suburbs"

Top Ten Most Affordable Atlanta Suburbs, as published by AJC.com. These suburbs were ranked by the cost of living, median home value, the percent of income spent on rent, and the median home price divided by income (aka "affordability ratio"). 

Obviously what WASN'T taken into account was the distance to Atlanta. Thomaston isn't even a suburb of Macon. Centerville is south of Macon. No wonder it's cheap. Panthersville is the only suburb inside the perimeter.

Here are the cheapest suburbs and the distance to downtown. All are on the southside. The AJC often acts like the conservative northside doesn't exist, even though their offices are near Perimeter Mall.

1. Morrow 17 miles
2. Locust Grove 39 miles
3. Conley 15 miles
4. Barnesville 62 miles
5. Centerville 98 miles
6. Irondale 23 miles
7. Forest Park 14 miles
8. Thomaston 79 miles
9. Redan 20 miles
10. Panthersville 11 miles

Houses are being built further and further out. I don't envy those people's commutes. Here are a few more suburbs on the northside where we know people, and their distances downtown. At least for most of these homebuyers soon the commute to Braves games won't be as far.

Acworth 32 miles
Ball Ground 49 miles
Birmingham 35 miles
Braselton 48 miles
Canton 39 miles
Cartersville 43 miles
Covington 37 miles
Cumming 38 miles
Dallas 33 miles
Dawsonville 56 miles
East Cobb (my house) 24 miles
Flowery Branch 44 miles
Newnan 40 miles
Pendergrass 57 miles
SunTrust Park 12 miles
Villa Rica 33 miles
Winder 49 miles

I couldn't find the link for this story. The AJC probably took it down out of shame. I did find a link to a great story about tater tots:
http://atlantaeats.blog.ajc.com/2015/04/23/atlantas-tour-de-tater-tot/

Friday, April 24, 2015

SOME of the Highest Paid

The website PressroomVIP.com did a horribly inaccurate job of compiling the “richest baseball players of all time.” Obviously they didn’t read the recent list I re-published of the top 20 highest paid pitchers of all time – a list that includes many names not on this list below, all of whom made more than $100 million in their careers. What about Roger Clemens? Greg Maddux? John Smoltz? Mike Hampton? 

Even if this list is dated the omissions make it wrong. There are twenty pitchers who've earned more than $120 million over the course of their careers.

Another reason the list isn’t worth looking at is the deluge of obscene advertisements literally surrounding the content you’re trying to read. Above. Below. Left. Right. Even between. Is this a sports website or a porn site? I can get inaccurate data other places, you know.

Another thing: the list ranks Glavine fifth with $120 million, BEHIND fourth place Manny at $110 and third place Randy Johnson with $115. One more example of why you can’t believe everything you read on the internet – especially those cheesy sports websites. Much better to stick to reliable websites like this one.

20. 70 Bobby Abreu
19. 72 Roberto Alomar
18. 75 Andy Pettitte
17. 75 Cal Ripken Jr
16. 75 Vernon Wells
15. 80 Carlos Beltran
14. 80 Mike Piazza
13. 80 Jim Thome
12. 80 Barry Bonds
11. 85 Ken Griffey Jr
10. 85 Mariano Rivera

9. 90 Gary Sheffield
8. 90 Albert Pujols
7. 90 Ichiro Suzuki
6. 110 Chipper Jones
5. 120 Tom Glavine
4. 110 Manny Ramirez
3. 115 Randy Johnson
2. 185 Derek Jeter
1. 300 Alex Rodriquez


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Sodapalooza Starts

Wednesday was the first day RaceTrac insiders could get their Summer Sodapalooza cup for free refills all summer. I had one the previous two years so it’s become a bad habit. Stopped by the Roswell location to find a bunch of high school students excited to be getting their cups. Each cup comes with a set of coupons for BOGO Braves tickets and free food. Three kids gave me their coupons, so I stand to save $80.00 above and beyond all the Coke I drink – which will be over $100.00 by itself. Eight sandwiches, four hot dogs, and four apple fritters. Just what I need. Last night #Sodapalooza was a trending topic on Twitter.

I frequent the following RaceTracs: PIB in Norcross, Jimmy Carter Blvd in Norcross, Old Milton Parkway in Alpharetta, Crossville Road and also Mansell Road in Roswell, Delk Road and also Canton Road in Marietta, Pleasant Hill Road in Duluth, Highway 92 in Douglassville, and in Lawrenceville next door to Coolray Field. There’s also one on the way home from State Mutual Field in Rome.

With the four Braves BOGO coupons I can buy 12 tickets and get 12 bobbleheads and four Cokes for $44.00. That’s less than $1.60 per item. I’d say I am set for the season.
 
My back isn’t too bad. Isn’t hurting but a couple of times it tightened up. Felt it a little this morning.

Went to doctor Tuesday morning and I was cleared for physical therapy.  My shoulder is feeling better and yesterday the doctor cleared me for physical therapy. Still hard to run without pain – I have to make a point of keeping my arm pressed against my belly as if it were in a sling. Not a great way to run. Will wait and go to the place where Will will be working starting next month.

Conference call at 10 am and then 11 am then on a training webinar from 1120 to 1245. Not great. Worked past six last night – the time crept up on me. Stopped by a thrift store and the auto parts store to have the check engine light looked at. Then I stopped by the library to pick up a couple of books on CD. Was past 7:30 when I got home. Ceil and I ate spaghetti and salad. Ceil had picked up the tuned up lawnmower, so after dinner I cut the grass and blew all the storm debris off the road and driveway. Was dark and after 9 pm by the time I was finished. Caught the end of the Braves game and worked on the computer, then went to bed. Barney kept me up.

Wednesday: Got to work and had an emergency first thing. Focus group at lunch. My focus group was on 10th Street next to where we park for Tech games, at number 10 10th Street at the corner of West Peachtree. Testing a new Delta app and website for 20 minutes. That Checkers had closed down. The Checkers and the parking lot had a little fence around it like they were going to build another high-rise office building right there. Looks like we’ll have to find another place to park for Tech games.

After work I swung by a thrift store. Bought a Bo Jackson Auburn jersey I can sell. Passed on a great-looking pair of $20.00 green Nike hightops. Couldn’t justify buying them when I don’t wear my orange shoes and red shoes that much.

REID: The movie (Unbroken) was good, but left out the best part. The movie finished with him returning to the states. The real story is what happened when he got home. He got married, became an alcoholic, went downhill. Then his wife took him to Billy Graham's first crusade. He got up and walked out before the invitation. She tried to take him back days later, but he refused. Finally he said he would go, but leave before the invitation. He stayed and accepted Christ, and later became a traveling evangelist.
ME:  I need to watch Unbroken as well. I heard the movie did not include his conversion, which was the entire point of the book. Later he returned to meet with the people who imprisoned him to forgive them and share Christ with them. He told the whole story when he spoke at North Point several years ago.

Drives me crazy how so many pepper DOB about every error and pitching performance, like personnel moves should be made after every game based on one play. That south Georgia Twitter guy is the worst. I was going through my tweets in reverse chronological order and saw DOB’s reply to Rob’s tweet.

I’ve been trying to get my bobblehead friends to join me in the Star Wars parade.

Jerry Van Dyke has a recurring role as the father/grandfather on the excellent sitcom The Middle. He’s not on there that much, but last night he was on feuding with his brother – the uncle of the mom on the show. The brother/uncle role was of course played by Dick Van Dyke. In their youth Dick was much taller than Jerry, but these days Dick is almost as short as Jerry. Dick is 89 and was 6’1”. Jerry is 83 and was 5’10”. On the show Dick played a ukulele, sang, and danced a little. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

George & The System

I finished reading "The System" a book about college football. Highly recommended. Stories about players, coaches (Nick Saban, Mike Leach, Bronco Mendenhall), athletic directors (Moose from Oregon & Washington State). Near the end they interview the ESPN College Gameday crew. Kirk Herbstreit graduated from college and turned down a lucrative job as a pharmaceutical sales rep for a $12000 salary at a sports talk radio station. Later when ESPN added ESPNU he was hired as a sideline reporter, and was still a virtual unknown when he was added to the College GameDay crew.

Saturday I saw a great pair of size 12 adidas shell toes at Salvation Army in Roswell, in great shape. White with pretty blue stripes. But I have so many shoes that I didn't buy them. 

Google makes a big deal about earth day, but nothing ever on the birth of Jesus - or God raising him from the dead. Use BING instead.

Justin just seems set on swinging from the heels in pressure situations, going for the home run instead of just making contact. More so that Freddie, Gattis, Heyward, or certainly Markakis and CJ.
It would be great to be George Costanza, working for the New York Yankees. Seemed like his job description was pretty vague. George was always talking about giving away fitted caps or changing the uniforms to cotton, or giving batting tips to Bernie Williams and Derek Jeter (above) or constructing the bed under his desk, or dining out with those sons of bitches from the other team, or leaving his car in the parking lot so Steinbrenner would think he was working long hours, or eating lunch with the boss. Never remember him making many travel arrangements.

ROB: I would be like George Costanza working for the Yankees. Wasn't he assistant to the traveling secretary?
I took a look today and noticed that both Uggla and Heyward are off to slow starts. I didn't like how Heyward (above) tried to blame his lack of production last year to being moved around in the lineup.

Justin Upton is going to hit. He will be inconsistent, but over the course of a season, he will put up good numbers. But after watching him up close, I can understand why Arizona was willing to get rid of him.

Freeman is going to hit. Gomes is going to come down to earth, but he is still capable of being an average hitter as a part-time player. If Markakis, Chris Johnson and Simmons all continue to hit well, all of a sudden, this team looks different than it did over the winter.

Bethancourt is not putting up any numbers, but he also is not striking out a great deal. He does not seem over matched as a MLB hitter. Peterson is also not putting up numbers yet and has a high K rate, but he is also putting up a high line drive rate. He will also help you win a game with his defense.

I am not concerned about the offense - I think it is the thin pitching that will hold them back. At the beginning of spring training, they were expecting quality innings out of Minor, Kimbrel, Vizcaino and Outman. Hopefully, Viz and Outman will be back in the summer. I would expect Folty and/or Wisler to get a call by the summer if Cahill and Stultz still struggle. If they can stay at .500 through the spring, I think the pitching reinforcements could help push them to a wildcard spot during the 2nd half.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Moves Paying Off?

For all the fans who thought:
1. trading Heyward and Gattis were bad moves.
2. signing Markakis was dumb.
3. who hated to see aging catcher Brian McCann leave the Braves for the Yankees $80 million.
4. that Uggla should get one more chance.
5. the injury-riddled Teixeira should’ve been given a monster contract.
6. that Tommy La Stella was the answer at second base.
7. that Chris Johnson should be replaced after one off year.
8. the Braves should’ve picked back up Jeff Francoeur after he was discarded by the Mets, Rangers, Royals, Indians, and Padres.

WHAT ARE THOSE KNOW-IT-ALLS SAYING NOW?

avg.obp.SLG.ops.W.K
375 479 400 879  8 07 Markasis
320 400 480 880  4 04 Chris Johnson
283 353 609 962  5 11 Freeman
277 300 362 662  2 07 Prado
257 317 457 774  1 10 McCann
217 269 304 574  2 03 Ichiro
213 229 362 591  1 09 Heyward
200 282 400 682  4 07 Francoeur (below)
190 302 548 850  8 09 Teixeira
167 167 167 333  0 01 La Stella
130 184 239 423  3 18 Gattis (above)
129 182 194 375  2 07 Uggla
9. Justin Upton may have started strong (see below), but he’s in the final year of his contract – needing to produce huge numbers to earn his next big contract. Why didn’t he post these big numbers the past two years? And can he keep up this pace? Last year his pre-all-star batting average dropped almost 20 points after the break. Even if the Braves had kept Justin, this coming off-season they would’ve been out-bid by the Yankees, Dodgers, or Red Sox. Instead of nothing the Braves have four prospects and a draft pick, including the most impressive 2B/3B Jase Peterson.

327 370 612 983 04 014 2015 YTD
278 349 495 844 35 101 2014 pre all star
260 333 485 818 25 070 2014 post all star

10. Several times fans have said the Braves should sign free agent outfielder Cody Ross, yet everywhere he goes he quickly wears out his welcome and is released.

Perhaps the Braves front office actually knows a little bit about making personnel moves. These statistics above, not to mention the 2015 win loss record, seem to justify most of the off-season moves. A similar comparison of Kimbrel and Grilli’s stats would more than justify the Kimbrel/BJ Upton trade – a move that many national baseball experts are calling a great deal by the Braves.
This weekend the Astros celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Astrodome by donning throwback shooting star uniforms. Even the ground crew got in on the action.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Braves Win Series

Nice series win for the Braves. And they had a 4-0 lead in the game they lost. At least two calls went the Jays way. Reliever Jim Johnson gives up a go ahead dinger to the always-dangerous José Bautista. I bet Greg Maddux never gave up a home run in that situation. Still the Braves clawed back to tie and take the game to extra innings. Great play by Andrelton to hold the batter to a single on the ball hit past third base on the new super-slow field turf.

Friday I got in line for BBQ and the national CFO walked up behind me. Then I needed to sit next to our fabricator – who happened to be sitting next to the Atlanta GM. So the super-outgoing CFO and Southeastern VP sat at our table as well. We all had a nice chat. It came out that I was a GT grad, so many that was a good thing. Later I had a second helping of BBQ, so all afternoon I was too stuffed to do much work. I tried to keep plodding.

Stopped by Kroger on the way home and uncharacteristically bought $18 worth of groceries. M made buffalo chicken pizza, and C made pepper and onion pizza for us. Watched some of the Braves and some of a Steve Nash documentary, but I was sleepy so I went to bed. C had wanted to watch a movie so I found the Dustin Hoffman/Natalie Portman “Mr Magorium’s Wonder Emporium” for her to watch.

Cleaned upstairs Saturday morning then went for a walk/run with Ceil and Barney. The neighborhood was having a yard sale. Several houses participated but we only stopped at an older couple’s house. We had been waving to the couple for years, so it was good to stop by and get to know them: Tom and Jane Hollaway. They attend Roswell Street Baptist and know some friends of ours. Jane collects Coke memorabilia so we talked about stuff like that. Every Christmas they set out a nativity scene, but I forgot to compliment them on that. Like us, Tom sees deer in their backyard – as many as a dozen at one time. Some woodland not far away had been cleared off, leaving them fewer places to go. Tom puts out corn and feed for them, and they don’t run away when he ventures outdoors. They gave Ceil a vintage round suitcase that I had to carry the half mile home.

Later I cleaned out Anna’s Jeep and loaded in the lawnmower to take for a tuneup. Met a bunch of characters at the mower shop, then I got my haircut and gassed up the Jeep. Watched some of the Braves then drove M to Alpharetta to meet a friend. Took my time driving home because C and A went out shopping. Stopped by Wendys and picked up a new shirt and a Chicago Cubs Kerry Wood garden gnome for my bobblehead collection. Watched the movie Interstellar that Anna had rented, then an episode of The Middle. Then I had to drive to Forsyth County to retrieve Matthew.

Two times on Saturday I felt like my back was about to go out. Then Monday morning climbing the steps to my office I could feel my back again. Not good.

Went to the 10 am service at PCC. Dan Cathy had spoken Saturday at a PCC seminar for volunteers. Back home Ceil cooked burgers, then I had to take M to church. Later I picked him up. Caught the last five minutes of the Hawks win. Worked some on the computer than went to bed early. Slept all the way through the night (except when Barney would wake us up). Had a dream just before I woke up this morning that a friend’s wife was in. A bunch of us were out driving on country roads heading to someone’s funeral. Best I can remember she was with Muhammed Ali.   

Saturday night May 2nd the Chattanooga Lookouts are giving away Harmon Killebrew bobbleheads. I haven’t decided if I want to go or if I even can.

Two commercials I like: when the two ladies try to outdo each other rolling their R’s while saying R words, like “meet my friend, rrrrrrrrr Ricardo.” Also the Enterprise Rental Car commercial where the girl gets her car delivered where her parents can see that she has a boyfriend. Later when she apologizes the Enterprise guy says “happens all the time.”

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Vintage Photos

Eddie Mathews makes the putout at first base in an early-60's game at Sportsmans Park in St. Louis. Note the Braves wore the huge red names in the back of their jerseys - but no red trim on their belt loops. Both teams wore great looking striped stirrups.
Babe Ruth touches home after hitting his first National League home run, for the Boston Braves. Photo colorized and featured in today's Uni-Watch blog post.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Mark of the Beast?

While I may understand or even agree with everything she writes, Elizabeth Prata’s The End Time blog is most thought provoking. Prata is a former big city editor living the small town Georgia life out east of Athens. She teaches children and worships in a small country church. In her down time she is a prolific reader and blog poster. A very humble and Godly lady – while at the same time boldly trying to let God work through her. When I started following her on Twitter I was honored when she followed me back.

A recent post caught my eye, with information pertinent to the present day as well as in the coming end times. I've reprinted her post below, and her blog can be found here

One app's facial recognition outstrips the CIA's, you will never guess which it is

One of the most mysterious segments of prophetic scripture are the verses telling us about the Mark of the Beast. We read about it in Revelation 13:11-18. The Second Beast is the false prophet. It's actually the false prophet who causes all to have the mark, or be excluded from the economy. The mark is an identification of allegiance to and worship of the Beast. The penalty for not taking it is that no man may buy or sell. But the reason to take it is to worship the antichrist. Here is the passage.

The Second Beast
Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. 12It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed. 13It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people, 14and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived. 15And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain. 16Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, 17so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. 18This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.

Part of being entranced by the verses is the fact that there are so many questions that arise from reading them. How does one person cause all on earth to receive a mark? How will they know if someone doesn't take the mark? If someone gos to buy something without the mark, what will happen? How long will it take until someone in authority comes to grab the person who doesn't have the mark? Most interesting of all, much of this buying and selling and grabbing and beheading has to do with technology.

Prior to today's technology, such massive, global tracking and marking would never have been possible. I'm only 54 years old and I clearly remember when bar codes were invented and came into ubiquitous use. Never mind laptops, internet, and now quantum computing, Artificial Intelligence, bitcoin and its ilk, iris scanning, robotics, and nanotechnology. It's dizzying. It reminds me of the prophecy in Daniel 12:4,

"But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase."

As a rabbit trail for just a moment, the Lord sends an angel to fly at mid-heaven and warn the people of the world NOT to take the mark. See below:

And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.” (Revelation 14:9-1)

The mark of the beast is definitely a mark of worship and allegiance to the antichrist, which means the person has declared for satan. That's why taking it incurs so much wrath. But back to the technology of today. Managing the buying and selling of all peoples in earth via this mark is just an astounding concept to me. There is no such thing as privacy any more, tracking and hacking are things the youth of today are used to, though I'll never get used to it. There are undoubtedly many different kinds of technologies that will merge into the one that will allow the mark of the beast to be implemented and global economic tracking to such a specific degree occur. But consider this, I'll run it past you...

It's from Extremetech, published last March:

Facebook's New 'DeepFace' Program Is Just As Creepy As It Sounds

Facebook owns the world's largest photo library, and it now has the technology to match almost all the faces within it. Yes, even the ones you don't tag.  Facebook announced last week that it has developed a program called "DeepFace," which researchers say can determine whether two photographed faces are of the same person with 97.25 percent accuracy.  According to Facebook, humans put to the same test answer correctly 97.53 percent of the time -- only a quarter of a percent better than Facebook's software.  The takeaway: Facebook has essentially caught up to humans when it comes to remembering a face.

Facebook’s facial recognition software is now as accurate as the human brain, but what now?
It would also be irresponsible if we didn’t mention the true power of facial recognition, which Facebook is surely investigating: Tracking your face across the entirety of the web, and in real life, as you move from shop to shop, producing some very lucrative behavioral tracking data indeed.

As we move from shop to shop? 97% accuracy?

Facebook will soon be able to ID you in any photo
“we've been able to detect faces in images for about 2 decades,” LeCun says. Even the puny computers in cheap consumer cameras have long been able to detect and focus on faces.

But “identifying a face is a much harder problem than detecting it,” LeCun says. Your face uniquely identifies you. But unlike your fingerprints, it is constantly changing. Just smile and your face is transformed. The corners of your eyes wrinkle, your nostrils flare, and your teeth show. Throw your head back with laughter and the apparent shape of your face contorts. Even when you wear the same expression, your hair varies from photo to photo, all the more so after a visit to the hairdresser. And yet most people can spot you effortlessly in a series of photos, even if they've seen you in just one.

In terms of perceiving the world around us, facial recognition may be “the single most impressive thing that the human brain can do,” says Erik Learned-Miller, a computer scientist at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. By contrast, computers struggle with what researchers call the problem of A-PIE: aging, pose, illumination, and expression. These sources of noise drown out the subtle differences that distinguish one person's face from another.

Thanks to an approach called deep learning, computers are gaining ground fast.
Now, I am not saying that Facebook is the Mark of the Beast, for heaven's sake don't misunderstand. However, I'm intrigued that all along as we watch technology grow to an excessively intrusive point in our lives, that quietly, unassumingly, Facebook has amassed the data and know-how to put into place a large part of the puzzle that may become part of the technology involved with the Mark of the Beast.

I'm one of the last generation to have grown up technology-free. I played outside after school, roaming the neighborhood on my book, coming home when the streetlights turned on. I'm one of a generation who loves the internet but remember a time when I read books and went skating and built snowmen and played hopscotch- outside. I remember.

Reading that Facebook has amassed the world's largest facial recognition data dropped the penny. Facebook has my birthdate, photo, locations where I've lived, friends, employment, education...in short, an online profile. And I gave it to them.

It is an amazing, dizzying time, this new millnnium. Meanwhile, knowledge is increasing and technology is rapidly heading to its ultimate destination. I feel like Thumbelina on a leaf going down the rapids. But the leaf is really the hand of Jesus and I'm safe and secure. I'm not worried or scared or depressed. I'm amazed. Every day we make technological advances that enhance the lives of humanity but one day will be turned to evil use by the antichrist and false prophet. Amazing, stunning time. I want to see what happens next. Hopefully the Lord's return to collect His Bride in the rapture!

Because, you see, we will be raptured before any of this comes to pass. We won't have to worry about the mark of the beast, the false prophet, the antichrist, being excluded from the economy, starvation, or beheading. He will rescue us from the wrath to come, (1 Thess 1:10) and spare us His indignation poured out. (Isaiah 26:20). If you have repented of your sins, and confessed to Jesus as Lord and Savior, and know He is resurrected and reigning from heaven, soon to return as the Bible says, you are saved. (Romans 10:9). We rest securely in His arms and seek to become weak in the flesh so the Spirit will use us strongly. (2 Cor 12:9-10).

Now if you will excuse me, I need to go check my Facebook status...

Friday, April 17, 2015

Cars I Like

Read a recent article about 66 year old George Foreman, who owns a large house and a 45 acre ranch with cattle. He continues to work and has no plans to retire – in fact he’s about to launch George Foreman’s Butcher Shop, a mail order meat company. He was paid $138.5 million so the George Foreman Grill Company would no longer have to pay him royalties. George has 38 cars in his garage including a Ferrari, Maybach, Porshe, and Telsa.

Makes we wonder how many and what cars I would own if I had an unlimited amount of money. How many cars does one couple need? A pickup truck for projects, a nice car, a sporty car, and perhaps an SUV for vacations. Cars for the kids. There aren’t that many cars I even like. If I had all that money I wouldn’t have to work, so hopefully I would be serving and working with the underprivledged and poor. To drive a fancy car to do that would be rubbing salt in their wounds. I’m actually happy driving my ten year old Civic. I’d love to own a Beetle convertible or a vintage VW Bus, but how often would I drive them (and where)? Anywho, here’s a list of cars I’d like to own. I would (and do) settle for much less.   

Red vintage VW Beetle Cabriolet convertible
Red vintage VW Karman Ghia
Red vintage VW Bus
Red 4 door Jeep Wrangler soft top
White Toyota Prius
White Toyota Venza
White Porshe Macan SUV (above)
White Lexus 4 door sedan
White Honda CRZ 2 seater hybrid (below)
Black Mercedes SUV
Silver Honda Ridgeline pickup