Tuesday, October 17, 2017

It's only weird if it doesn't work

True story...where do I start? Saturday was a beautiful day so I pulled my TV outside to watch the Yankees game. It was a 3 pm start. My neighbor Mike, who I didn't realize was Yankees fan, sees me and comes over to watch the game on the patio. The Yankees lose a tough one 2-1.

Tonight, the Yankees started at 5 pm. They had battled back after losing the first two games of series and were looking to even things up at 2 apiece in best of 7 A.L. Championship. The game is scoreless through 5 when Mike shows up. "You're wife told me you were watching the game. "
Now I love Mike, he's as good a neighbor as a neighbor can be....but as soon as he got there, Sonny Gray walked the leadoff batter. Then the catcher's interference. Then we started making jokes/comments about Mike being a jinx. Then the Astros scored three runs, then another in the top of the 7th. Then Mike left with me practically nudging him out the door.
Then Judge led off the next inning with a 450 foot HR. Then Yankees rallied for 5 more and won 6-4.
I found Mike in his garage cutting some wood for a job in the morning. He doesn't get the cable channel the game was on. I handed him a beer I happened to have in my fridge called Jinx and invited him over tomorrow but only until the 7th. Friendship is nice but the Yankees winning...
Well, I'm trying to keep both in tact.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Watkins Trade a Misread

Yes, there is a lot of talk about how this Sammy Watkins, and the Ronald Darby trade for that matter, help set up the Bills for success in the future. But, what about this year? The now matters in football, especially when there are only 16 games in a year.

Here's an interesting/great question that was brought up in this excellent piece by the Ringer's Chris Ryan? Is it better to suck for a few years so you can really contend for a title, or just be good consistently, but never great. I think in some cities like New York, Los Angeles, Boston, and other large markets where there are other things to do, it might be okay to suck for a few years with the aim of a championship. But in Bill Country, we ain't got much else. I mean, the Bills represent our autumn/winter sports season (unless the Sabres finally turn it around I guess) and forfeiting a whole season with the goal of striking in rich in the draft and being good a few years down the road, I don't think that cuts it with the Bills fan base.

Here's the thing: Sammy Watkins may not have been consistent due to injuries - but he is a stud. I would pay to watch him play. How many other players on the Bills can you say that about? LeSean McCoy? That's about it I think, and he is likely going to miss at least a couple games - based on his injury history.

I just get the feeling the Bills' current management is playing big city ball in a small city town and it's not going to work. Where I live there is a team equidistant called the Browns and I at least have always felt fortunate that I am not one of their fans (most people around here like the Steelers and are lucky for that). But, now I feel like we have adopted the Browns' game plan. Maybe in a couple-three years, it will be the Bills-Browns meeting in the playoffs and I'll be ecstatic and will go back and read this and think about what a dumbass I was. But it seems more than likely, based on Bills history, that we are now guaranteed to suck this year and me be able to rebuild back to mediocrity before it all falls apart again. Do I need to say that Sammy Watkins was stud again? And Darby wasn't bad either. And Jordan Matthews is hurt...


Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Erie's Role in Micracle on Ice Flag Story

So, I think this is what happened: Swedish goalie Pelle Lindbergh and USA goalie Jim Craig met and became friends at the 1980 Olympics. According to the show Sport Detectives, which I watched last night on the Smithsonian Channel, the two apparently played a lot of video games in the Olympic Village in Lake Placid. After the Olympics ended, Craig, an Olympic hero, went to the Flames for the end of the 1979-80 season before playing for the Bruins in 1980-81 season. He wasn't very effective at either stop, and for the 1981-82 season, Craig found himself playing for the Bruins top minor league affiliate—the Erie Blades, in their only year competing in the AHL (a step higher than where the team had traditionally competed and had much success).

In the meantime, Lindbergh, who would go on to have mercurial success with the Philadelphia Flyers, before being tragically killed in a car crash, was toiling for the AHL's Main Mariners on his way up the latter. The story goes, at least according to Sports Detectives, that during the 1981-82 season, Lindbergh and Craig got together at the Ramada Inn bar in Erie, where Craig give Lindbergh what he thought was the iconic flag that had been draped around him after the gold medal clinching game vs. Finland:


The Sports Detective episode was about the search for that flag, and the flag the Craig gave to Lindbergh did not end up being that flag, although Craig thought it was at the time. Apparently the real flag is now up for sale.

Anyhow, it kinda floored me to hear Erie mentioned in the context of all this, first by a former Philadelphia trainer, who was at the Ramada with Lindbergh and Craig and witnessed their discussion; he also remained friends with Lindbergh and his fiance, who inherited the flag after his death. Craig, of course, did have to make some comment about the meeting in Erie like, "We were like, 'How did we end up here after the Olympics?" But, oh well.

At least I think I got the story straight. I was kinda dozing off and distracted until I heard Erie mentioned.

Monday, January 16, 2017

NFL: Truly a quarterback league

I spent the good part of the late afternoon and evening watching NFL football yesterday. Maggie wasn't too excited about it, but my youngest son, Andrew, who is 10, wasn't feeling too great and he was really looking forward to watching the games, so, being the great father that I am, I sacrificed my time and sat and watched football for seven hours.

My biggest observation - when they say the NFL is a quarterback league, the are not kidding. After Sunday's action, the four quarterbacks left include three Super Bowl Champions with seven titles among them, as well as the guy who is favored to the win the NFL MVP this year.

This does not bode well for the Bills and their pending decision on whether or not to keep Tyrod Taylor. Taylor certainly is not in the class of Brady, Roethlisberger, Rodgers, or Matty Ice, and likely never will be. He's just not a great, classic dropback quarterback like those four - although Rodgers takes it to a different level with his scrambling ability. I don't know that Taylor can even be as good as poor Alex Smith, who is now seemingly to Andy Reid in a just-not-good-enough-to-win-in-the-playoffs chain that can't be broken. Also, in contrast to Taylor, it's important to note that Rodgers does a great job keeping his eyes downfield while scrambling and then resetting his feet to throw. Taylor is a great runner, but based on what we've seen in the playoffs so far this year, that doesn't seem to be an ingredient for winning an NFL championship.

The questions comes down to, who-the-fuck-do-you replace Taylor with? I guess you can continue drafting quarterbacks and hope you get it right. After all, didn't we miss on Roethlisberger by one pick? And Brady was a sixth round pick, while Rodgers came off the board near the end of round one. Russell Wilson, another guy who's won a championship, was a third-round pick and neither Derek Carr or Dak Prescott, two emerging star quarterbacks, was a first-round pick. So, there is apparently talent out there to be had.

Of course, your scouting department has to find it, and then your coaches have to develop it, and the Bills, although they have done a  nice job developing Tryod, haven't proven capable of putting those two things together since the great Jim Kelly pick of more than 30 years ago.

I guess for now, it seems the Bills are fucked. But things change in the Not for Long League, and at some point, we have to hit gold, don't we? Chad Kelly anyone?

Friday, January 13, 2017

Samsung Support, Part II

Okay, I go through all the machinations mentioned in my last post, and finally, five days after I post, a very nice woman from Samsung Executive level support contacts me and facilitates my refund. But, I still have to wait 10-15 business days before I will get an e-mail form I have to complete to enable Samsung  to process the refund directly into my account, as well as another return shipping label. So, finally, yesterday, I get a call from Samsung that tells me those items are on the way. I receive them and fill out the form to get my refund. Then I start shopping online for a new Chromebook.

This time, I decide to read some reviews first, and, of course, many of then are pretty bad, because, well, Chromebooks are inexpensive for a reason. However, I come across one where the reviewer was having the same problem I was - with the device crashing - only it was from a different vendor's device. The reviewer went on to explain how they fixed the problem by going on to Chrome as a guest, then logging in and updating the Chrome OS from there. They said the machine was running beautifully after that. I figured, WTF, why not give it a try? Doesn't it work just like they described.

So, basically, I've had a Chromebook sitting in my house for the past month that I could have been using had Samsung's support dept. been able to tell me how to fix it.

Then I did something really stupid. I proceeded to cancel my refund (not that straightforward, as you'd expect. It took talking to four different people, two calls, and two e-mails) and keep the Samsung Chromebook. Why did I do this?

1. As I mentioned, the reviews of other Chromebooks weren't that inspiring.
2. I already spent $20 on a protective case for this particular model that I wasn't going to be able to recover.
3. I already had the device in my house.

So, here goes....will keep you posted when next issue arises. Hopefully never.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Samsung Executive-Level Support - WTF?

This is silly. It's almost like double-secret probation.

So, here's the issue:
1. I bought this Samsung Chromebook from Best Buy.
2. It was a replacement for this a previous generation Samsung model, which worked great. The kids eventually fucked that one up, but we had it for like two years and everybody loved it.
3. When I went into Best Buy, they had the newer Samsung model, with better/updated specs, for the same price as the previous-gen model, which they were still selling. I said to the sales associate, "Why wouldn't I buy the newer model?" He shook his head and said he didn't know.
4. The store was out of stock of the model I wanted, so I had it shipped to my house. Received the computer in a few days, started running it, and immediately started receiving complaints that it was slower than other model.
5. Then about three weeks later, the cursor stopped working.
6. Spent about an hour on the phone with Samsung support, and tried everything including reloading OS. Nothing worked. They e-mailed me a shipping ticket. I put the computer back in its box, which thankfully I had saved, and sent it in for them to fix.
7. It was returned relatively promptly, I think within a week. Worked fine for a couple weeks and then cursor disappeared again. Called Samsung support, and they were very obliging. Skipped whole software reload thing and just sent me ticket to send computer back in.
8. It was returned in another week, except now every time I launched Chrome or another application, the computer  crashed and reset itself. Maddening.
9. I called Samsung and they sent me another return-for-support ticket. These tickets cover shipping. I just have to box up the computer and run it down to UPS store, whose clerks I am now becoming familiar with. I send my wife in this time, and UPS guy tries to sell her expensive extra packaging. I had to go in myself.
10. There is a bit of a hassle as Samsung sends me an e-mail saying they didn't receive unit. On top of that, UPS store screwed up its record keeping. This gets sorted out, and I get my unit back.
11. Problem not fixed. Everything still crashing.
12. Now things get fucked up. I'm pissed. I call and support offers to send me another ticket, if that's okay. I say, that's not okay. So they offer to escalate my case to "executive-level" support. Executive-level support will be calling me directly.
13. I don't hear from "executive-level" support for like five days, so I call back regular support. I'm told I need to be ready for call from executive support, and I shouldn't miss it. There is no number I can contact them at directly.
14. A bit later, a woman from executive level support calls me and tells me that they are considering my request for a refund or a new unit, but that they need my receipt. She gives me an e-fax number to send it to.
15. At same time, I get an e-mail requesting my receipt and one of the options for sending it is that e-fax number. I e-fax the receipt. This is Tuesday, Dec. 13. I am told that they will be back in touch.
16. By Friday, Dec. 16, I have not heard anything. I call regular support. They tell me if I don't hear from executive support in three hours to call them back.
17. I don't hear from executive support and call back and am transferred to someone in executive support. (It sounds like a regular support person except that he is breathing heavily into the phone as he talks, which sound less "executive" if anything, but what do I know?) He says the receipt has not been transferred yet from the dept. that was supposed to receive it. He then said he has escalated the case, and that someone from executive support will be calling me back later today or Monday. If not, I am supposed to call back the general support number and give them the new service ticket number-which he issues me.

On a positive note, all the people I've talked to at Samsung have been nice and accommodating. Based on my phone number, they also are automatically provided with a record of my support history. This is nice touch compared to previous customer support experiences. As for actually getting a computer that works....stay tuned!

Monday, October 03, 2016

Baseball playoff predictions, Part 1

Wild Card games:

Baltimore over Toronto
San Fran over the Mets

We'll see.