28 August 2008

Instant Replay is Unwarranted

Today, I read an interesting opinion article by NBCSports.com writer Bryan Burwell titled "Why Limit Replays to Home Run Calls?" Burwell's opinion inspired me to write down some of my own thoughts as an avid baseball fan in defense of what Burwell calls the "old-school" way of thinking. For those that haven't heard about it, America's pastime recently got a technological makeover in the form of instant replay for the sole purpose of allowing the crew chief of an umpiring crew to see if his crew got a home run call of fair or foul, over the wall or not, and fan interference or not correct. Major League Baseball is the last major sport to not utilize replay, unlike football where replays are used nearly every game to dispute almost any play, hockey to dispute goals, or tennis to dispute close line calls by the line judges. The basic setup of the replay system is simple - in all thirty MLB ballparks, a video screen and phone are set up. This is connected to an off-site central replay center for all replays. The crew chief of the umpiring crew calls for a review of a homer, views the replay on the screen, and exercises sole discretion in upholding or overturning the call. Unlike football, there are no "coach's challenges" or player requests like in tennis. This might seem like a good thing, and perhaps it is, as Burwell suggests, "belated" as compared to the other sports. However, I offer a different perspective. In football, hockey, and tennis, fans don't exercise the option to yell at the referees for a bad call - they yell for the coaches to challenge the judge's decision. In baseball, one of the best things about the game is it's fallibility. When a player smashes one down the right-field line and it goes into the corner and looks to be out of the park, but is subsequently called foul, who among us doesn't like to yell at the umpires? Baseball fans have a much more intimate relationship with the umps than any other sport does with its officiating crew: before each game, the umpiring crew is announced to the stadium, scorecards have spaces on them for the umpires as well as the players, and many fans can pick out the umpires from the quirks they harbor behind the plate or on the field (just TRY to ignore Jim Joyce calling a called strike!). The point is: we want to yell at them, then accept that the call didn't go our way that time and sit back down with the subtle reminder that human error is a part of the game. Same thing for safe/not safe, balls and strikes, and fair or foul. It's fun to watch the umps get it wrong; I would say its almost an essential part of the game. "The idea in every game we play is fairness," says Berwell. "The idea in every game we play is to get it right." What he fails to recognize is that that officiating crew "gets it right" 99 percent of the time! And even when they don't, the play was almost always so close that the call could go either way, even with replay. Trust me, after watching several years' worth of baseball games on TV, where every close play is shown over and over, even slowed down to "Extreme Slo-Mo" speeds, it can still be hard to determine what the call "should have" been. And if it's that way for every team and every player, what's not fair about that? While the technological part works for football (where you really can't tell what's going on without replays anyway), tennis, or hockey, it's a system that seeks to bring down the level of the game of baseball. My opinion as a fan of the game and a modern student of technology is that not only do we need a traditional game that puts aside the ideals of so-called perfection that only the National Enquirer can showcase, but that taking this "advancement" any farther than it already has would continue to degrade the enjoyability of baseball considerably. Those people, like Mr. Berwell, who argue for the mechanization of the game are not fans in my book, but rather glorified statisticians seeking nothing more than a reason to argue.

20 August 2008

It's Not Just Science

I think I may have finally formulated a plan for the future. I found out that there is actually a Master's degree program for something called Library Science. NAU didn't offer such a program, so I never knew about it. I've always loved libraries and books in general, and I think it would be amazing - AH-MAZING for Chelsea - to work for the Library of Congress or the National Archives and Records Administration! Problem is, to get a job as a librarian or library technician, you have to have a Master's Degree in Library Science. Therefore, I have two plans: 1. If I find a job in the government by February, I will work in that job for a while and gain experience and money to pay for graduate school, then get a degree in either Public Administration or Library Science and go from there. 2. If I do NOT find a job by February in my field then I will take the GRE, apply to either U of A or somewhere else that offers the program, and go for my degree immediately, then apply to the Library of Congress and get to DC that way. Hopefully, that will give me a sense of purpose and a goal to achieve going into the winter months here, because right now I really don't feel like I know what the hell I'm doing.

18 August 2008

Olympic Musings

So, since I've not been doing much else recently, while I search out new jobs on the internet I have been religiously watching the 2008 Olympic Games. They have been interesting this year. Here's some of the things of note I liked: Archery: Always a fun one for me, but they didn't show any of it on television, so I've been relegated to checking out the online recaps. They should reconsider that for 2012. Badminton: Wow, what a dumb sport. Think tennis played with mini-racquets and a ball flanked by netting. Whoever came up with it as slightly deranged, in my opinion. Baseball: Go Team USA! As an avid baseball fan, I have enjoyed watching the action late at night. Unfortunately, as recently as today, some of the other teams haven't been very sportsman-like. China, for one, decided it would be fun to hit a bunch of our players with pitches to the head and getting generally pissed off as we beat them 9-1. I'm also sad that baseball won't be in 2012 Olympics in London - the Europeans decided it wasn't "relevant." Yeah, 'cuz CRICKET is totally relevant. Basketball: I know for some people, watching the "Redeem Team" is just so damn awesome, but seriously, if I wanted to watch Kobe Bryant, I'd just tune in to the evening news. Still, the fact that Team USA is beating every other country by double digits in every game is nice. Beach Volleyball: Well, this is one sport that is on just about every night right now, and is actually interesting enough to pay attention to. USA's May and Walsh in the womens' circuit and Rogers and Dalhausser in the mens' circuit have been exceptional (sans the little blowout to Liberia by the guys). Both teams should take gold, and I'll be surprised if they don't. Boxing: Brain damage sanctioned by the world. Canoe/Kayaking: Really? This is actually one of the sports? Haven't even seen any of it yet. Cycling: Not nearly as cool as the track and field events, so I typically don't pay attention to it. Diving: Well, despite the fact that the USA kinda sucked compared to China's divers, diving is at least interesting. Especially after I learned that the judges don't get the benefit of instant replay or slow-motion video. They take the dive - as is on first look - and make their determination of the points awarded. I know I couldn't tell a good dive from a bad dive, except the amount of splash at the end. Guo Jingjing of China was phenomenal in her final five dives in her career. Equestrian: If there's one thing I would take out of the Olympics if I could, this would be it. Who in their right mind thought that horsemanship had any place in the games? I mean, the whole thing looks like a glorified dog show, not a sport! Fencing: While I'm always of the mindset that those suits have to be incredibly uncomfortable, fencing isn't all that bad. Sure, it doesn't look a thing like in the movies, where the main characters are parlaying and blocking and lunging over chairs and through ladders and whatever, but the pure simplicity of trying to stab your opponent as quickly as possible and move on to the next one hearkens back to the ancient Spartans or Romans. Field Hockey: I saw this one for the first time last night, and I thought it was lacrosse at first. Frankly that sport would scare this shit out of me to be watching it, playing it, or simply sitting in the stands anywhere near the goals. I mean, that little white rubbery ball they use has to be capable of transforming into the harbinger of death when it gets whacked in the general direction of someone's head! Gymnastics: A staple of the Games, gymnastics is the one thing everyone in the family can agree on watching on TV. Who doesn't like watching people try not to fail? I mean, gymnastics is not about trying to see who does the best, it's about seeing who makes the fewest hops after a reverse double somersault with a twist dismount off the balance beam! Handball: A little bit soccer, a little bit hockey, a little bit Ultimate Frisbee, handball is a sport I would like to try playing sometime. You think Mesa has a team handball program? Judo: Haven't seen this on TV this year either, but karate was always fun for me growing up and getting my black belt, so this can't be bad. Modern Pentathlon: I think this comes on later in the Games. Rowing: This might be a favorite for Ivy Leaguers with their men's double sculls and such, but for the average American, rowing is akin to watching the Weather Channel all day: really boring. Sailing: See Rowing. Shooting: Target shooting isn't the most exciting on television, but target shooting is quite fun when you're behind the scope! Soccer: Frankly, like basketball, I don't believe this should be in the Olympics, especially since the World Cup is already an all-world tournament for soccer, but as a soccer fan myself, I really don't mind. Soccer is at least a sport that really can bring together the world (or completely tear is apart when Lithuania upsets Germany and riot goodness ensues)! Softball: Softball is always way too underrated in my opinion. No one pays attention to them during the 47 months between Olympic Games, and when they do play, they always get ousted on TV by rowing, fencing, or some of the other, stranger, parts of the Games. Either way, Team USA is kicking ass and taking names, and I salute them for being amazing, even if they get overlooked sometimes by others. Swimming. Two words: Michael Phelps. What more needs to be said? I mean, if the 1/100th second gold medal for #6 wasn't awesome enough, maybe the phrase "winningest Olympian ever in a single Games" does it for you. Synchronized Swimming: Who Who Who Who cares cares cares cares???? Table Tennis: Otherwise known to Americans as ping-pong, this sport is overtly dominated by China, and while America basically doesn't even matter here, it's been fun watching China destroy every other team. Tennis: Like soccer, this sport already has several world tournaments, and it probably shouldn't be a part of the Games, but c'est la vie, it's another chance to watch a sport that is fun to play, and when the hot weather cools down here, I'll be out hitting balls around at my local courts. Track and Field: The best part of any Olympics, in my honest opinion. The javelin, shot put, races, discus, marathon, high jump, pole vault, long jump, etc are staples of the ancient games. Watching them is like watching history. Plus, anyone who can run 26+ miles in a marathon deserves a huge round of applause. Trampoline: Okay, come on, after watching that, who can honestly say they wouldn't love to have five minutes bouncing around on that super-springy piece of equipment? Dude, who cares about the athletes there, I'm daydreaming about bring able to play on the trampoline! Triathlon: Once more a staple of the Games, but I haven't seen it yet, so it's stil something to look forward to. Volleyball: Frankly, I like volleyball, but they have entirely too many people on the court. Six people makes it hard to follow and get behind players. Limit it to four and then we'll talk. Water Polo: Um, yeah. No one likes regular polo - why would anyone pay attention to it in the water? Weightlifting: Okay, I have a lot of respect for those people who can lift 175 kilograms at a time, because after doing some weightlifting in school, it is certainly difficult, but bad things can happen. Case in point: some guy was trying to lift entirely too much weight, overexerted himself, and ended up dislocating his elbow. I checked out the video and pictures of it, and OUCH! His elbow bent entirely the wrong way. I mean, just thinking about it makes me cringe. Wrestling: Never been a huge fan to begin with, but some of my friends enjoy the sport, so I'm sure it can't be all bad. Opening Ceremonies: Despite the recent news of trickery as the Chinese used computer simulated fireworks for the viewers on TV, and the faking of the little girl who wasn't "cute enough" to sing at the opening, the ceremony was VERY cool, perhaps the best I've ever seen. The end where the Chinese athlete ran around the top of the stadium suspended by wires to light the giant torch was particularly astonishing, as were the uses of digital imagery throughout. I can only hope London does as good in four years. China: Despite concerns of smog in Beijing, political turmoil with regards to Tibet, fakery in the Opening Ceremonies, journalistic censorship, and conspiracy theories about the Chinese athletes, I think these Games have gone rather smoothly. It will obviously remain to be seen whether more information comes in after the journalists come back from the news censoring they face while overseas, but there haven't been any terrorist attacks (knock on wood), no really bad stories, and lots of victories for Americans. The only really heinous thing I have heard is the death of the women's volleyball coach's family member in an apparent mugging. ----------------------------------------------- The Olympic Games only come once every four years, and it gives us a chance to take pride in our countries alongside the rest of the world, at a time when nationalism and patriotism for Americans seems to often be at a premium. I think it is important to soak it all in as much as possible, and to cheer on Team USA in each sport. I mock some of the sports above, but those athletes train hard to get to this point, and all of them are worthy of admiration. Good luck to them all! GO USA!

13 August 2008

My Almost-Job

Yesterday, I received a call from the Arizona Republican Party's Political Director Mecum after five days of trying to schedule an interview with him - in all fairness, he was driving the AZGOP RV alongside Chairman Pullen for three of those days, so it was a bit crazy. He asked me to start work today as a manager of the AZGOP call center at their headquarters. I'll admit, it came as more than a bit of a shock to me, since I had been trying to get in the door with them forever. After a couple round robin-esque games of phone tag between him, the party's Executive Director, and myself, I finally got the details of the job: 10am-8pm Monday through Saturday basically recruiting volunteers for the call center all day and working on scheduling times for groups. At this point I was pretty happy, if for no other reason than that someone finally returned my phone calls and emails. (That, by the way, marks response number 10 to the 400+ resumes I've sent out, so you can understand why just getting a phone call was thrilling!) However, for the pay proposed, and with my forty-five minute commute one way to the HQ, I needed to talk with my family about it, since I'd be using their cars and had responsibilities to them that I couldn't just shrug off. I was finally - and disappointingly - forced to conclude that with gas prices, family responsibilities, the 60-hour work week, and the 90 minute daily round trip commute, there was really no way I could give my full commitment to that particular job. Brett and the party needed someone who would be able to be there to staff the call center all week, and I simply can't do that from where I'm at (both geographically and in my life) right now. So, it's back to the drawing board, I suppose. I'm probably just going to have to suck it up and do retail for a bit until I can buy a car and move to a better location - whether that be in Arizona closer to the political action in Phoenix and Scottsdale, or out of state to someplace like DC. Ugh.

11 August 2008

The Jobing Career Expo Pt. II

So, Druw and Bryan had arrived at the Faire for Jobs in Dale Glen in the Queendom of Anozira! Upon parking their Cobalt carriage, the duo walked the half-mile to the Fairegrounds, held at the home of the local sports team, the Anozira Cardinales in the excruciating heat, made all the worse by the heavy woolen jackets and ties the friends wore. Seeking a brief respite in the shade of the nearby buildings, Druw wondered why they hadn't parked closer. Eventually, they made it to the grounds. Upon entering, they were directed down a series of ramps and through several lines used to check in the participants of the Faire. Entering the massive stadium, Druw and Bryan realized that they were actually on the concrete floor of the sports field; they had assumed that the Faire would be held on the concourses of the building. The throngs of roving people, all pressing for the attention of the boothmasters for each company, roiled around the floor like tuna on the deck of a fishing trawler. People in suits and ties and carrying briefcases and bags and in t-shirts and jeans and carrying copies of resumes and application forms crawled everywhere, no more or less interesting than ants from their hill. Druw and Bryan pushed their way through the crowds trying to see which companies were represented, but found nothing better than a lot of "call centers" and collections agencies. A disappointing sight. After spending an hour trying to get around single mothers with their children in strollers, and important-looking businessmen, and teenagers with sideways caps, they decided to give up, more because neither of them saw anything that piqued their interest than from a lack of ambition. So they left. On the ride back, all they could think was how disappointing the state of the world was, that even at a highly publicized Faire for Jobs, there would be nothing there worth applying to. The friends went and got a drink at a local place, and then drove for home. THE END --------------------------------------------------- I hope and trust you have enjoyed this epic tale, and even if not, that you enjoyed my prose. I leave you with this: "What is it that you like doing? If you don’t like it, get out of it, because you’ll be lousy at it. You don’t have to stay with a job for the rest of your life, because if you don’t like it you’ll never be successful in it." - Lee Iacocca

07 August 2008

The Jobing Career Expo

Yesterday, I went out to the Jobing.com career expo to see if I couldn't find someone to actually take a look at my resume. Here's the story (it's an epic adventure): Once upon a time, in a land that most people call Anozira, an unemployed former student of the court named Druw, decided that the time had come to make something of himself. Druw had long dreamed of visiting the thriving metropolis of Columbia District, in order to fulfil his desire of becoming a Law Maker - a prestigious position that would enable him to help other people and make the quality of his country's life better. To do this, thought Druw, I need to work to make a few thousand Quats (the money of the realm) to be able to get the Columbia District. Unfortunately, the Land of Anozira was afflicted by a three-decade-long drought, which made his father's background in farming unlikely to produce dividends. Anozira's population of teachers were paid next to nothing, so his mother's background in education was also out. And to make matters worse, the Government of Anozira - headed by the cruel Queen Janet - had spent too much money on a new palace for herself and thrown Anozira into a massive deficit, meaning that the local jobs at the Bank of Anozira, the General Store, and in the office of the ambassador Jeff Lake to the government of Acirema were not able to afford to take on a new employee such as Druw. Druw was not the only one afflicted - the unemployment rate in the Realm was at the highest level it had been since the Large Crash of '39. Drew's friend Bryan was also having trouble realizing his dream of becoming a Consulatant. Druw and Bryan each applied for many, many jobs around the Realm, but their efforts had been fruitless and frustrating. One day, Druw saw a posting on the General Store's wall advertising admission to a Faire for Jobs in the nearby city of Dale Glen. The Faire was free-of-charge to all those who wished to find a new career, so Druw decided to send word to Bryan, and they made plans to attend. On the day of the Faire, Druw left his house early dressed in his best attire and carrying several copies of his Personal Employment and Career History (known more commonly as a PEACH) handwritten on thick, golden parchment paper. He saddled up his beat-up Cobalt carriage, and left to go to Bryan's house to pick him up, and the two set off for Dale Glen to hopefully start on a new path that would lead them to Columbia District! It was a hot day, over the century mark on the glass temperature gauge hanging on the wall of the Bank of Anozira, and the sun was shining brightly in the sky as steam rose from the cobblestoned street, and the other townspeople stayed glued to the minute slivers of shade from the awnings of the buildings. (Come on, a little poetry is awesome!) Druw and Bryan took the most direct route to the Faire so as to get there as quickly as possible, but in the busy center of Dale Glen, they ended up getting lost anyway. Finally, they arrived at the Faire! Part two to come!

03 August 2008

My New Hobby

Playing backgammon instead of looking for jobs online. Microsoft was nice enough to load "Internet Backgammon" in the "Games" section of the start menu, so I'm taking full advantage of it! In other news, I'm still looking for a job. It's been a few months now of not having full-time employment, and I'm starting to get the idea that I'm not really qualified to do anything but answer phones for a living with my American Political Studies degree. Seriously, I know I want to work in politics, but how the heck am I supposed to find a job that *PAYS* real money when the only thing campaigns and elected officials want is volunteers? Mostly to just make phone calls all day? How am I supposed to be able to GET EXPERIENCE to get a higher level job than "Volunteer Telemarketer" for a campaign if there is no work available? I truly envy those friends of mine who were able to get jobs in their fields right out of college, because with the combination of Arizona's political job market, my only experience coming from a guy who was indicted for fraud and the CRs who still despise me, and a bad overall national economy, this is perhaps the worst possible time for me to have graduated school. And here I thought it would be a bit easier, being an election year and all! I know I've got to get out of Arizona as soon as possible, never hopefully to return except to see my friends in Flagstaff. It just seems rather hopeless and bleak right now. I've put out over 700 resumes and applications since March of this year, and I've received a grand total of two letters, two emails, and four phone calls in response, most of which were "Sorry, but your experience didn't match what we were looking for" letters/calls. Depressing. If anyone has any leads either in Arizona or out of Arizona that a broke college grad without a car could possibly apply to, please forward them on! At least my Diamondbacks are still on top in the NL West!

01 August 2008

Press Conference & Bowling

Yesterday, Jim Ogsbury's campaign held a press conference in front of the Harry Mitchell 'effigy' near the ASU campus on Mill Avenue to talk about how Mitchell is obstinately refusing to sign discharge petitions on a variety of bills relating to helping America achieve energy independence. I went out there around 10:30am to help out, and ended up filming the event for the campaign! The video is below: It's a good press conference, and well worth watching, especially as it comes in arguably the most important Arizona race this election cycle, possibly one of the more important national races. The other candidates in CD-5 - Schweikert, Anderson, Bitter-Smith, and Knaperek - don't have what it takes to compete against Mitchell, while Ogsbury has strong district support, a solid record of conservatism in both Arizona and DC, and an aggressive campaign strategy in which he actually gets to meet the voters of his district by going door-to-door himself. After the event, many of the volunteers went to make phone calls and walk neighborhoods, which I wanted to go do, but had to go pick up some of my family from work and school. But later than night, the campaign sponsored a bowling night for their volunteers who had helped that day, and I did go out there for four hours. With an average score over four games of 108, I did decently, I guess. Either way, it was a good time! For Chelsea: Greg was there, too, and he says hello and is doing well as an economist for the Salt River Project and getting ready to go to graduate school.