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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Dogs are dying...

and this time it’s not Vick’s fault...

Ok, I understand the whole idea behind the Iditarod, and that animal rights activists don't stand a chance of closing it down; but to sacrifice your dogs for the sake of a race just does not seem right.

Click on the above link for the whole article.


Monday, March 30, 2009

A cool ride for all generations...

The Schwinn Bicycle name has been around for well over 100 years and has had its fair share of success.

Our family has purchased, owned and ridden Schwinn bicycles for three generations.

Starting with my father, he was given a used Schwinn as a present when he was a kid similar to this one... Though I am told it was not nearly as fancy as this one.

I too had a well known sting-ray model when I was just a lad...

And now Mark, one of my sons, is the proud owner of his very own Schwinn bicycle...


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Something I've Never Done Before

So I am guaranteed to stink it up....

Hence my team name of CowFieldPatties...

Seriously, I do like baseball and have played on various company and church leagues over time. I've just never done fantasy baseball before and I only casually follow the sport during the year.

A couple years ago, my son Mark and daughter Genna and I went to our first Nationals Game. Actually, it was a Baseball first for Genna and Mark. And what a "first experience" it was!

I had won the tickets in a company raffle for a charity challenge event. The tickets were donated to the charity raffle and all proceeds went towards the company charity for that year. The tickets were actually really good seats (about 20 rows up from the field near 3rd base) and the game was right near Marks birthday so I put in my bid(s) and got the tickets.

The game we went to was an evening/night game during the summer and it got absolutely rained out! It was actually kinda cool to be there at the stadium, at night, watching it pour buckets of rain down on the field. There was even a really good lightning show!

It was not a total loss however; there are all the types of arcade areas for fans to have fun. You can even go against a virtual major league pitcher or batter to see if you can hit it out of the park or strike him out.

So, the game was rained out and rescheduled for the following day. I was a little annoyed since: A) we already went on a long trip and it was a late night for the kids and B) if we were to go back, it meant taking the day off.

I managed to get the OK to take the day off and so back we went the next day.

The rescheduled game was early in the day as a double header. The regularly scheduled game was still set to start that very same evening. Now, as is often the case after a major storm front comes through, that day was the total opposite weather wise. Remember, this was summertime in Washington and we have our share of the 3 H's. Hazy, Hot and Humid.

Of course our seats were in the sun and we ended up sweating and melting in the sweltering heat. Fortunately, the Nationals are not that good and we were able to move to a shady area and find some available seats.

In the process of all this, I discovered a neat little secret. I noticed that people in suits and ties were showing up off and on throughout the game, taking a seat, staying for a little while and then leaving. No they were not secret service... I realized that folks were making a quick trip to the stadium during their lunch hours.

If one happens to work in DC, rained out - rescheduled day games make a great lunch hour.

For 5 bucks, you can go to the stadium and watch an inning or so of a major league baseball game.

Actually the 5 bucks is the same day admission rate for unsold tickets. But how cool is it to be able to go walk out of your office, hop on the metro and see some baseball during your lunch hour, all for 5 bucks!


Saturday, March 28, 2009

Online Games, On Demand...

Just to prove how diversified, popular, dynamic and in demand video gaming is; we have yet another startup company which, if they can make it work, is really cool.


After seven years of development, a startup called OnLive announced today that they have a model which will make video game consoles obsolete and cut into retail sales of videogames on disk.

OnLive will offer high-end video games such as Burnout Paradise City on demand over the internet. The games will run on OnLive's servers in five data centers across the U.S. Gamers won't download the games—they'll connect via the Net to OnLive servers and play the games remotely.

The system works similar to streaming video. But video games are a harder challenge. Games need to react instantly when the gamer pushes a button—if a high-end game has more than about a tenth of a second of latency, the gamer will notice.

Making latency disappear—so the games feel as if they're being played on a console right in front of you—over the balky public internet "is the hard problem that took seven years," says OnLive founder Steve Perlman, who previously co-founded WebTV and helped create QuickTime while at Apple.

Gamers will no longer need a console or a super-fast PC to play even the most graphics-intensive games. Gamers playing OnLive on a computer will have to download a small bit of software to plug into their browsers. For TV, OnLive will send customers an adapter the size of a deck of cards. Plug a broadband internet connection into one end, the TV into the other, and controllers into ports on the adapter.

An added bonus: Since the games are running on a remote server, a game could be started on a PC and picked up later on a TV.

"The functionality was great," says Michael Pachter, research analyst at Wedbush Morgan Securities, who tested OnLive. "Response times were very fast, and I didn't perceive a quality difference between OnLive and console games."

OnLive debuted in conjunction with the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. Major game producers—including Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, Take-Two Interactive, and Atari—are announcing they'll make their games available on OnLive. Activision has not yet said whether it will be on OnLive. Games for Nintendo's Wii, most of which are produced by Nintendo, "will probably be the last ones on OnLive," Perlman says.

The service won't be available until later this year. Pricing also hasn't been determined. OnLive will probably charge a monthly fee; games could be rented for a few days, or bought for unlimited use. OnLive says it might offer new kinds of package deals. One idea: Let gamers buy a subscription to get an updated version of Madden NFL every football season.

OnLive's backers include Time Warner through its Warner Bros. unit and the software company Autodesk. It's been secretly operating inside Rearden, a technology incubator that also started Mova CONTOUR, maker of the image capture technology used in the movie The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

OnLive could have the kind of impact on the videogame industry that iTunes had on music, cutting out the need for a physical disk and a device to play it on. That could especially hurt Sony, which is struggling to make its Playstation 3 take off. "Most gamers have a console already, so the effect won't be big right away," Perlman says. "Come the next generation, that's when you might see a big shift."

A lot will depend on how OnLive prices the service. "If the consumer feels that the cost of the service is greater than the cost of a console, it is unlikely that the consumer will buy into OnLive's model," Pachter says. "If (the subscription) is free, it's likely that a lot of consumers will buy in."

Another potential impact: the used-game market. Games played on OnLive over the internet can't be re-sold at stores like GameStop.

All in all, OnLive should help game producers make bigger profits by ending the need to manufacture physical disks and cutting back on used-game sales.
Copyright © 2008 All rights reserved


Friday, March 27, 2009

Kids Post

OK, So the kids wanted to do something for my blog and after much pleading, groveling, and promises to do all their homework and chores; I agreed.

A few years ago they discovered this site. It is actually kind-a-good and loaded with tons of nonsense and other stuff.

I'll start with the one I like; sorry kids my blog, my rules :-)

Here are a few of their favorites...

You actually have to view this one "I luv U" first in order to understand the inspiration for this one "fhqwhgads".

And then we have the never ending question about life imitating art or art imitating life with this picture and the skit"Thing in the bag"


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Basketball Elite Eight...On DVD

For those who just can't get enough basketball or for those whose better half would rather watch a movie together, I have a few suggestions...

From: Staff Writer Jen Chaney

Even the most buzzer-beater-obsessed among us sometimes need to take a break from March Madness. And by take a break, I mean watch something basketball-related on DVD.

As popular as the NCAA Tournament is, it's amazing how few really good movies and TV shows focus on the game that inspired it. Seriously, start naming football and baseball films. You can go on for hours, right? Now try to do the same thing with basketball. Trust me, it won't take long before you're scraping names like "Juwanna Mann" off the bottom of the imdb barrel.

Still, some quality basketball DVDs are well worth viewing during those key pauses from bracketology. Consider the following elite eight suggestions.

"Glory Road" (PG, on DVD and Blu-ray), has all the cliche montages and soaring emotional moments one expects from a Disney sports movie. But it deserves credit for compellingly telling the story behind a historical 1966 moment: the first appearance of an all African-American starting line-up in an NCAA championship game. "Glory Road" also stands as one of the rare Hollywood films to capture some of the excitement of March Madness, as it follows the Texas Western Miners through a series of victories that lead to that climactic Big Dance finale against an all-white Kentucky squad.

Many consider "Hoosiers" (PG, on DVD and Blu-ray) the gold standard of basketball movies. Personally, I think it's a tad overrated. (Exhibit A: the distinctly 1980s-era score, which sounds completely absurd as the soundtrack for a comeback story set in the '50s.) But because I'd like to avoid receiving hordes of angry e-mails from Indiana basketball loyalists, I will concede that it's strong enough to be included here, based on the presence of the always exceptional Gene Hackman. By the way, if you crave a quality selection of DVD features, go with the two-disc collector's edition of "Hoosiers," which offers more extras (including a making-of documentary and deleted scenes) than the more recent, but comparatively skimpy Blu-ray release.

If "Hoosiers" isn't the greatest basketball movie of all time, then what is? Easy. It's "Hoop Dreams" (PG-13, on DVD), the immensely moving, epic 1994 documentary about a pair of inner-city Chicago friends struggling to raise their prospects on the court and someday make it to the NBA. This isn't just the finest basketball movie you'll ever see, it's one of the finest documentaries ever made.

It's tempting to refer to "The Heart of the Game" (PG-13, on DVD) as "Hoop Dreams" for females. But that would be an insult to this 2005 doc, which follows a Seattle girls high school basketball team through several roller coaster seasons and works just beautifully on its own terms. Though focused largely on star player Darnellia Russell and the life-altering event that briefly sidelines her career, "Heart" shows what can be achieved when a group of young ladies are empowered to make their own decisions, "draw blood" on the basketball court and stick by each other, no matter what.

Hardcore sports nuts may think 2000's "Love & Basketball" (PG-13, on DVD) spends too much time on the love and not enough on the basketball. But most viewers will appreciate Sanaa Lathan's grounded performance as a ferocious female baller who demonstrates that a woman can be even more devoted to the game than her man is.

In the mood for some retro b-ball? Well, sadly, the disco-flavored "The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh" is not on DVD. But while you wait for that flagrant oversight to be rectified, check out the first two seasons of "The White Shadow" the Emmy Award-winning CBS drama that ran from 1978 to 1981 and starred Ken Howard as the former NBA player-turned-high-school basketball coach at L.A.'s Carver High School. Serious issues -- from race relations to teen pregnancy -- are tackled while players with nicknames like Salami and Hollywood dominate the court in short shorts and tube socks up to their knees.

The "your mother" jokes and the slick moves come fast and furious in "White Men Can't Jump" (Rated R, on DVD) a con artist comedy that lets Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes work their street ball magic, and gives co-star Rosie Perez the opportunity to become a "Jeopardy" champion by showing off her knowledge of foods that begin with the letter Q. Now that's impressive.

If all this year's tourney excitement merely makes you hunger for more, then skip the movies and TV shows and get a copy of "NCAA March Madness: The Greatest Moments of the NCAA Tournament" a DVD released last month that contains 75 minutes of comebacks, buzzer beaters and classic performances by legends like Bill Walton and Michael Jordan. Of course, not every key game gets its one shining moment; the 1985 Villanova upset over Georgetown, for example, is notably absent. But there is enough here to satisfy most fans, especially those who still haven't seen that 1992 Christian Laettner shot enough times yet.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The art of picking presents and stocks!

OK, a while back I posted this post about Valentines day.
Well, last week was my wife's birthday and among the ideas kicked around for presents (see my previous post on Kitchen Molding)one idea was buying some stock.

So, the next question was how do we go about choosing which one?
Which stock / present to pick for her?

Do I run my screens and pick one?
Do I ask her what stock she would like?

- Note: I did ask; and she often has the buy what you know or like theory of stock picking, which is a perfectly good method in my book.

Or do I take her Maiden Name initials and see if there is a stock with that symbol?

Now don't laugh.

Her initials are AMTD and the spokesperson for AMTD is Sam Waterston. And Sam Waterston just happens to be one of her favorite actors on one of her favorite TV shows.

Que the sound bit...

So, do you know the company the above stock symbol is for?

TD Ameritrade.



Monday, March 23, 2009

What Recession?

The other day I decided to go and find some replacement molding for our kitchen cabinets.

The cabinets are still OK, however time, and not to mention, a family of seven people, have taken a toll on the molding. We originally bought everything at IKEA many years ago. So, off to IKEA I went.

What was amazing about IKEA was that their were a ton of crowds and a super long line at every register!

Then the kids wanted to go to the mall....

Equally amazing!


Bracketology all done at 16?

Well, actually all but one of my three brackets are "done".

In two brackets I showed undying loyalty to local teams and the ACC.
Of course this meant plenty of upsets.
Too many in fact, so, now when I look at those brackets, I'm upset... ;-)

I still have this one which is "OK".

500 points: 82.16%
Round One 220 of 320
Round Two 280 of 320

Though as I said in a previous post, I went with the best ranked teams in the first two rounds; which meant no upsets, no Cinderella's, saving the upsets for the final rounds.

So, I still have a good chance of being upset with this bracket too... ;-)


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Future Hockey Star?

OK, It's Spring, flowers are blooming, birds are migrating, and what do we decide to do?

Go Ice Skating!


My oldest son and his girlfriend decided they wanted to go Ice Skating. And for some reason all the other kids decided they wanted to go too. So, before I knew it, we all were going. So, off to the closest ice skating rink still open we went.

20+ miles away!


It was actually kind of fun and we all enjoyed ice skating - though some more than others.

William our youngest had lots of fun and certainly was dressed for anything that might happen.

Then, after he was done - just like his old man, he checked out the classics stuck back in the corner...


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Bracket Update

OK, so I admit it. I am more into football than any other " "ball sport.
And I really do not follow it enough to be any good at bracketology.
But, I do enjoy basketball during March Madness and I do fill out a couple brackets just for the fun of it.

So, how am I doing...?

My "different" all favored teams win in the first two rounds and the upsets happen in the last two is, as you can well imagine, not doing so well...
220 38.97% 2825825 1540

Strangely enough: My best performing bracket has my Midwest division completely blown out. I had Wake Forest and Boston College making runs... HA!
230 59.30% 1884738 1380

My other bracket is right about 39%. What hurt me in all of them is that I tended to favor local teams. Oh who could of thought that!

But both VCU and American made it very interesting and came very close to providing the biggest upsets of the tournament.

Imagine having a VCU vs. American U. face off in the second round of the NCAA with one of them going on to play in the sweet 16!

Now, that would have been really great.


Friday, March 20, 2009

Cleanup on East Capital Street please...

OK, so many titles, so little blog space...
"The Circus is back in town, and no I don't mean Congress is back in session..."
"Hey, I thought the Democrats were moving in?"
"More Republican mess left behind..."
"We all know politics is nothing but a big circus..."

And good thing this person did not have to move her car out of the way of the elephants...
Reminds me of the time when I was in high school and somebody's "Daddy's little girl" just got a new Jag for her 17th birthday. She literally spent 15 minutes trying to parallel park and still ended up more than 3 feet away from the curb.

And one final "Strip" for Fun Strip Fridays...


Thursday, March 19, 2009

As if...

We didn't have enough viral hype on the internet already...

HAHA !!!

Now that's funny !!!

From Cooley's Blog...

It is rumored that there is a possible trade in the works for angry Jay Cutler. There were a couple different internet possibilities. The first would be with the Broncos, including Cutler and Scheffler for Campbell and myself. Another was a three way trade between the Browns and in that scenario Campbell and I would go to Cleveland, Cutler/Scheffler would come here and the Broncos would get Brady Quinn, someone else and draft pick.

Trade talk is a weird wake up at 6:30. Obviously something was said between teams to cause this internet trading shit storm. I would be pissed if I got my ass shipped to Cleveland. But seriously, when the internet is the first news I hear about something this big I would hope it to be speculation. Really, it could have been a couple owners bullshitting and joking around about guys and someone leaked it. No big deal. I would be blown away to hear anything more. It is nice to read extreme skins posts about not wanting me to go. Thanks!

By the way, I do get to hang out with John Elway a little bit this weekend at the Dulles Sports Expo in Chantilly VA. I'm gonna bring a ball and ask him to smoke one for me.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A debate of Presidential proportions...

And I don't like his Bail-out picks either...



I've been playing with picking brackets the last couple days and I keep coming up with the same SuperBowl2 result.

It's like a bad version of groundhog day all over again.

So, I decided to try one a bit different.

It's different because it has NO UPSETS in the early rounds. Every single favored and higher ranked team wins.

I save the upsets for the last 2 rounds.

So what did I come up with?
Check it out?

And then I did my obligatory crazy all ACC final four bracket! LOL :-)


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Over Analyzing?

But Really Cool...

And for all you hard core backetologists...
There is a link on that page which brings you here to create your own screens.


March watch list update

It seems that my fantasy picking patterns have infiltrated my stock picking patterns.

So far this month, my bench is outscoring my starting lineup.

March watch list has a less than impressive +2.65% overall gain
March cut list has a decent +11.92% gain.

I have been fortunate in that Mindray (MR) is up almost +15% from my purchase point, so I think I will take the money and look for something to invest for the remainder of the month.

Some choices that come to mind are:

GME - Recently knocked down by Amazon entry into giving credit for used games traded in. However this is not the same as GameStop since one has to wait for the store credit and GameStop already tried this and stopped it because it did not have a huge impact on sales.

GIGM - Which seems to be making a slight comeback from recent lows.

SWHC - Smith & Wesson - not on any of my screens but has been on an absolute tear upwards in this market due to increased sales and the perception of doom and gloom by everyone else. This stock seems to be attracting investors like moths to a light bulb.

Until later in the month... Happy investing!


Monday, March 16, 2009

Represent ! ... And pray

I'll start with the local boys:
Five teams got in from Maryland/D.C./Virginia area.
Radford, Morgan State, American, VCU and Maryland.

Sorry Radford, you drew UNC in the first. I hope you win, but I'm not betting on it.
Morgan State, Again, I think you have a chance but... Hmmmm no. Sorry.
American and VCU can win each of their games...
Oh, and so can Maryland - believe it or not!

Branching out to the rest of the ACC:
There are two Big 10-ACC matchups in the first round:
Clemson-Michigan, and Florida State-Wisconsin.
There could easily be two more in the second round:
Duke-Minnesota, and BC-Michigan State.
The ACC has never lost the challenge, and went 6-5 head-to-head this year.
I'm hoping the winning streak doesn't end; but again, not betting on it.
Picking Michigan State, Duke, Florida, Michigan.

And I believe Wake Forest should advance past the first round as well.

That will leave...


Sunday, March 15, 2009

It's Automatic

I like automatic, except when it comes to cars and airplanes (or basically anything one has to steer and control acceleration and braking)

But when it comes to certain things like, paying bills, depositing checks, saving or investing; I like automatic.

Most of my bills are automatically paid.
My salary is automatically deposited into my bank account.
My monthly deposit for my 401 is automatically deducted from my pay.
I automatically save a certain amount into a savings account and investment broker every month.

So, when the VA lottery site was upgraded last year and 'totally' broke the online automatic entry feature I was really upset. At least when my yearly subscription ran out.

This meant that I could no longer enter my numbers into the lottery once a year. I liked being able to "set it and forget it." Of course, one can play multiple drawings at any lottery retailer, but you still have to fill out the card (resisting the temptation to add just one more set of numbers or another auto-pick), go to the retailer, wait in line, pay for the ticket(s), get back into your car and go back home. Well, you get the idea.

Anyway, I've been waiting for months for them to get around to fixing this. I don't know what the problem(s) were, I did not ask, but I am sure who ever did the upgrade is no longer working for the lottery organization and will not be getting a good recommendation.

So, finally this weekend when I was checking the numbers online I noticed they had a prominently displayed ad for this feature. So, I immediately signed up my 1 set of numbers for a years worth of drawings. Hooray!!! No more having to try and remember to play the numbers. No more worrying about spending too much on the lottery. ( yes there are many who say 1 dollar IS too much to spend on "the poor mans tax" and such a lousy rate of return). But hey, somebody has to win the jackpot once in a while and I see no reason why it shouldn't be me. So, here's my $1.00 - Well, $104.00 to be exact(twice weekly drawings for a year) and not a penny more.

I like automatic!


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Slightly Morbid...

OK, so a warning to everyone, this is sooo Off Topic for my blog, and not a cheerful feel good story. I was surfing around, tired of all the "economy talk" and "sports hype"; looking for off beat sort of stuff and came across this article.

Deaths of gamers leave their online lives in limbo

Which, being a gamer, and knowing gamers and knowing tons of folks online, realized considering that folks in the real world often neglect this topic, that it was most likely being neglected in the virtual one as well.

So, here it is....

NEW YORK - When Jerald Spangenberg collapsed and died in the middle of a quest in an online game, his daughter embarked on a quest of her own: to let her father's gaming friends know that he hadn't just decided to desert them.
It wasn't easy, because she didn't have her father's "World of Warcraft" password and the game's publisher couldn't help her. Eventually, Melissa Allen Spangenberg reached her father's friends by asking around online for the "guild" he belonged to.
One of them, Chuck Pagoria in Morgantown, Ky., heard about Spangenberg's death three weeks later. Pagoria had put his absence down to an argument among the gamers that night.
"I figured he probably just needed some time to cool off," Pagoria said. "I was kind of extremely shocked and blown away when I heard the reason that he hadn't been back. Nobody had any way of finding this out."
With online social networks becoming ever more important in our lives, they're also becoming an important element in our deaths. Spangenberg, who died suddenly from an abdominal aneurysm at 57, was unprepared, but others are leaving detailed instructions. There's even a tiny industry that has sprung up to help people wrap up their online contacts after their deaths.
When Robert Bryant's father died last year, he left his son a little black USB flash drive in a drawer in his home office in Lawton, Okla. It was underneath a cup his son had once given him for his birthday. The drive contained a list of contacts for his son to notify, including the administrator of an online group he had been in.
"It was kind of creepy because I was telling all these people that my dad was dead," Bryant said. "It did help me out quite a bit, though, because it allowed me to clear up a lot of that stuff and I had time to help my mom with whatever she needed."
David Eagleman, a neuroscientist at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, has had plenty of time to think about the issue.
"I work in the world's largest medical center, and what you see here every day is people showing up in ambulances who didn't expect that just five minutes earlier," he said. "If you suddenly die or go into a coma, there can be a lot of things that are only in your head in terms of where things are stored, where your passwords are."
He set up a site called Deathswitch, where people can set up e-mails that will be sent out automatically if they don't check in at intervals they specify, like once a week. For $20 per year, members can create up to 30 e-mails with attachments like video files.
It's not really a profit-making venture, and Eagleman isn't sure about how many members it has — "probably close to a thousand." Nor does he know what's in the e-mails that have been created. Until they're sent out, they're encrypted so that only their creators can read them.
If Deathswitch sounds morbid, there's an alternative site: Slightly Morbid. It also sends e-mail when a member dies, but doesn't rely on them logging in periodically while they're alive. Instead, members have to give trusted friends or family the information needed to log in to the site and start the notification process if something should happen.
The site was created by Mike and Pamela Potter in Colorado Springs, Colo. They also run a business that makes software for online games. Pamela said they realized the need for a service like this when one of their online friends, who had volunteered a lot of time helping their customers on a Web message board, suddenly disappeared.
He wasn't dead: Three months later, he came back from his summer vacation, which he'd spent without Internet access. By then, the Potters had already had up and running for two weeks.
A third site with a similar concept plans to launch in April. Legacy Locker will charge $30 per year. It will require a copy of a death certificate before releasing information.
Peter Vogel, in Tampa, Fla., was never able to reach all of his stepson Nathan's online friends after the boy died last year at age 13 during an epileptic seizure.
A few years earlier, someone had hacked into one of the boy's accounts, so Vogel, a computer administrator, taught Nathan to choose passwords that couldn't be easily guessed. He also taught the boy not to write passwords down, so Nathan left no trail to follow.
Vogel himself has a trusted friend who knows all his important login information. As he points out, having access to a person's e-mail account is the most important thing, because many Web site passwords can be retrieved through e-mail.
Vogel joked that he hoped the only reason his friend would be called on to use his access within "the next hundred years or so" would be if Vogel forgets his own passwords.
But, he said, "as Nathan has proven, anything can happen any time, even if you're only 13."

Of course, I am a bit old school and go for the "wife knows everything" I do approach. Then again, I kind of like the memory stick in the safe with the 'last will and testament' papers too.

OK, so now I will go and look for something more cheerful to post next time...


Friday, March 13, 2009

Fun Strip Friday "You might be a sports fan if..."

You own more than 1 jersey..

Would rather win season tickets to your favorite team than be promoted...

Would rather see said team win a championship than spend a night of passion with Angelina Jolie...

Would even turn down $5,000...

And fill out sports surveys like this one while at work..


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Mid Life Crisis v2

OK, so we have an outdoor concert theater near us (about 10 – 12 miles away) called the Nissan Pavilion.

A few years ago when my then high school son was kinda-sorta-looking-wanting a job but didn’t know what he wanted to do and thought working for minimum wage at McD’s wasn’t worthwhile, I practically had to drag him kicking and screaming to an Open House Job Fair at Nissan. I explained to him that if I had had a place like this in my backyard when I was growing up and had a chance to work there I’d be there in a heart beat.

Well, low and behold he got a job as an usher there and actually enjoyed it. Hmmm, working at a concert hall getting paid to listen to music and keep the rowdies in line… I could see how one might enjoy that. Duh…

Well this weekend they are holding another open house and I bet the turn-out is going to be overwhelming considering so many folks are looking for work. But hey, I am thinking of giving it a try. Who knows, maybe I’ll get lucky and they will hire me.

A quick look at the preliminary season line-up shows many of the regular standbys already booked. Some actually look interesting and I wouldn’t mind “working” the show.

The 2009 Country Megaticket
No Doubt with Paramore
Def Leppard with Poison and Cheap Trick
Depeche Mode
Dave Matthews Band
Crue Fest 2
Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band
Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band (yes twice)

Though not exactly my cup of tea… The country mega ticket is actually a group of country shows…
WMZQFEST with Rodney Atkins
George Strait
Rascal Flatts
Brad Paisley
Kenny Chesney
Toby Keith

Kind of an OD of country if you ask me but hey, we are in Virginia after all…
Not to worry, they are always booking more shows of lots of different artists and bands throughout the year and besides, I think some of the other shows already booked will more than make up for it…

Over the years my son Eric has seen and heard lots of different artist, bands and genre of music. From Rush, The Boss, Aerosmith, Tom Petty, (yes most of the country artists listed above), Ozz fest, various Jazz artists (sorry I forget exactly who), to some of the more modern folks like Disturbed, Linkin Park, System of a Down, Korn, Evanescence.

And to think, at first he did not want to work there... Sheeesh!

But, now that I think about it, If I do end up getting a job there, I will have to put up with all the (kids) working there who made comments like... Who's Bruce Springsteen?...



Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Lets go to the Video Tape!

OK, so there was a bunch of stuff happening in and around the area and this is my attempt to capture it for all to see.

All three stories/videos involve people getting involved with the community, sharing in the love of a sport, and most importantly just getting out there and having fun!

First, If you ever wanted a chance of fame and think you can belt one out of the park, you can always try out at Nationals Stadium.

Secondly, we have the never ending battle between the press and local politicians. This past Monday, they both had a chance to take it to the court and settle it once and for all at Verizon Center.
Fortunately nobody got hurt.
I had a bit of trouble embedding this video so here is the Link!

And last but not least. Everyone knows about the Harlem Globetrotters, but out here in rural Virginia we have the equally fortunate opportunity to witness the Harlem Wizards who came and entertained everyone at the local high school. They played against many of the regional high school players. I don't have a video of their performance but it did have much of what is here on their site.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

With my 'psychic' eye, I spy...

Two Redskins with breakout seasons....

Carlos Rogers and Jason Campbell!

Here's why....

Carlos Rogers's base salary has increased from $602k to $1.403m due to an escalator.

Jason Campbell's base salary has increased from $783k to $2.858m for the same reason.

The increases come from playing time clauses in their contracts.

And, here is the most important reason of all...
Both are eligible to be free agents after the 2009 season.


Monday, March 9, 2009

Read My Mind – A Review and a chance to win $6,000 …

OK. This post is a follow-up to one I did in February where I reviewed an article found on MSN Money. The article talked about various financial and budgeting sites.

Over the past few weeks I have set up accounts on the first three mentioned.

Here are my impressions and review of these sites.

I think that I am most impressed with simply because it is most like what I am used to from other traditional programs such as Quicken. These apps tie together all your accounts, investments and transactions and not only categorize them but can track them over time.

For a free service, I was definitely impressed with this site. Of course it takes all this good tracking and categorizing to the next logical step where you set budgets and even compares what you currently have and do to, perhaps better deals. This is how they make their money, from sponsors and affiliates. But to their credit, the deals are legit and can definitely help save money and consolidate finances to make them more manageable.
It can even send you alerts when your particular budgets go over the target.

It definitely helps to track stuff in real time and stay connected to how your finances can ebb and flow even on a daily basis.

The other two sites; and are also good for the way they are set up; as social networking sites.

Contrary to the article, I had absolutely no problem connecting to my accounts in but did with Geezeo. Eventually I did get everything to work, it just took more time.

A drawback to Wesabe was that it did not automatically attempt to categorize all your transactions. Instead it seems to want you to develop your own tags. Now I can see the benefit to personalizing tags and categories, but I hate to go through each type of transaction and come up with something. I prefer to have the app / site at least come up with basic categories and trends so I can review and adjust as I see fit.

Geezeo is very simplistic in design. This is good because you can see and view goals that you have set up and in an instant see how you are doing. It also has some more trendy things like a twitter styled public confessional. I’m sure there are lots of people who really love this type of interaction and even feedback; hence the emense popularity of Facebook and Myspace; but I suspect that perhaps there are many who are already doing this on these type of sites. I just do not get into divulging all this frivolous information. Nor do I get into always viewing everyone else’s frivolous information either.

Where I think the real good potential benefit to a financial social networking site is; in constructive comments and suggestions others may have about alternatives. Alternatives to eating out, deals and bargins, ways to save, etc etc…

Example: If you eat out all the time at a particular restaurant; comments or suggestions regarding alternative places to eat, similar food, certain advertised or unadvertised specials, that other people know about could be helpful. did this on one level by looking at the terms of your banking and credit cards and automatically searching for better deals.

Wesabe did this on another level by offering comments and suggestions from other community members and seemed to try and connect them to certain tags and categories you had – though sometimes I found myself scratching my head trying to figure out how what I was reading was in anyway related to my profile tags and categories.

Of course the beauty and power of social networking is that you can do all this by joining groups, discussions and posting questions and getting feedback.

What would be really cool is if you could combine the two, and come up with much more stylized hints, tips and tricks. Of course this is getting into more data mining aspects and I should probably stop here before my IT integration self gets any crazy ideas…

Oh and one last and very cool thing that I feel I have to mention – consider this my social networking tip of the day –

Geezeo has a promotional contest going on until the end of the month.

It’s called “The Great Geezeo Bailout” and is an opportunity to win one of several great prizes. Top prize is $6,000 to help you get out of debt or pay your mortgage for a few months.

And best of all, it’s FREE !!!


Sunday, March 8, 2009

A new and improved T.O.?

"If I can be that extra added piece to get them to the playoffs, then that's what I'm here for. I looked at the defensive side of ball and offensive side of the ball, and these guys have all the pieces."

All the right pieces?

Lets look a bit closer...

Buffalo was...
Last in their division...
Worst Divisional Record 0-6...
2nd fewest TD's from recievers...

So, T.O. - 1 year and $6.5M and you alone will get them into the playoffs?
And the division rival Patriots just signed a veteran cover man, Shawn Springs, who shut you down last year.



Big Time for the little guys...

I love it when a good small or unknown college gets a chance at the big time. A chance to make an even bigger name for itself and get on the National Map.

It happened a few years ago with George Mason. Though not small, they have like 30,000 students, they were relatively unknown nationally even locally they were known mostly as a commuter school.

But a trip to the Final Four changed all that for them and suddenly they found themselves in the national spot light. Of course they have a great school, with great programs, growing with a diverse population and were ready for the attention and popularity.

Radford is another great Virginia school, with good programs and student population, trying to make a new name for themselves; Though they were the first campus to be 100% wireless ready, which is really cool in and of itself.

If they make it anywhere near as far as Mason, they will definitely be on the map with new found attention!

Congratulations to Radford for winning the Big South Championship and a trip to the NCAA Tournament and catching the fever of March Madness!


My weekly stock report and update...

End of Feb. Sold UEPS (Net1 Technologies) for monthly 7.74% profit. Since then it has dropped 15%.

I considered buying MDR (McDermott International) for Monday March 2nd (they reported after business close) but read conflicting construction and manufacturing reports so decided to wait.

Good thing, because as it turned out, snow was not the only thing that fell. Monday had a huge sell off of the market. Though not terribly bad considering the economic environment, MDR had a less than stellar earnings release.

Tuesday saw a couple good entry points for my watch list.
I Ultimately decided on MR (Mindray Medical) and bought at 18.50. They were due to report after close the next business day and everything I read pointed to having a good report. In my opinion, they did not disappoint and initial stock price jumped 9% but was brought back down by 3 news items:
1)China was not going to increase bailout monies
2)GM might just go into bankruptcy.
3)Dispite what I thought was a good report, some analysts thought they were looking for more.

Oh well, didn't I mention something in a previous post about love hate relationship with China stocks… As of right now, I am still holding to see if it and the market recover next week.

GME (GameStop) – Got absolutely killed by the market news that Amazon was going to start allowing shoppers to turn in used games for store credit and that Toys-R-Us was starting a pilot program at a few stores to test game exchanges

This news basically wiped out all YTD gains for Gamestop!

Personally, I think that this is over blown, oversold and this stock will bounce back.

Note: Gamestop tried what Amazon is doing and discontinued the program because of its limited success. Seems too many people are into instant rebates and exchanges and gratification to wait around for a store credit card/voucher to arrive. Hmmm.. Also, all though a similar business model, the Toys-R-Us pilot program is just that; a pilot; and not corporate wide. Plus, I seem to see a lot more “Moms” and G-Parents going into Toys-R-Us than true gamers. But I could be wrong…

Other events and stocks that I will be watching next week are:

DGLY (Digital Ally Inc) – Reports March 9th.
POWR (PowerSecure) – Reports March 12th.

Other interesting news:

GA (Giant Interactive Group, Inc.) – Was not on any of my lists but is yet another online game company which happens to be based in China reported really good earnings this week and is up 12% for the week.

NTES (Netease) – another China gaming company continues to hold up well since its good earnings release last month and might be worth while investing in if it continues.

Meanwhile GIGM (Gigamedia) continues its slide and is down 14% for the week and off 37% from its YTD high of 7.7 back in the beginning of February. It might be time to look at GIGM again as a turn around to catch up with all its fellow gaming companies. I only wish that they reported more frequently. This would help back up and validate my theory.

And last but not least: Some of my recent posts have talked about erratic behavior, fear and folks looking for any good news.

So here is some more food for thought...

Smith and Wesson. (SWHC) There have been media reports of record sales, profits and back log of orders because of the economic fears. (SWHC) is up over 60% this year and seems to continueing its climb after a brief pull back this week.

People who believed in this company, and held stock before its meteoric rise, really like all this good news. Duh!

And, people who have lost money everywhere else; are looking for the few bright spots of light in this dark market. When this happens folks tend flock to these stocks like moths!

And to top it all off! Smith and Wesson has just announced their earnings report and conference call is scheduled for after market close Thursday Mar 12, 2009, at 5:00 pm.

So far, I see no shortage for fuel to this fire!

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