What Say You?

Imagine if you will, that you wake up in a jail cell. A guard opens the door and lets you out. He leads you to a long line. When you get to the front of the line, you find yourself on a stage looking out at a vast audience. You are told that you have approximately one hour to do whatever you want on that stage. You can play music, read a book, exercise, watch TV, or whatever you want. During your hour on the stage, you hear people telling you that this is no game. They tell you that, no matter what else you do on the stage, everything comes down to one thing: during your hour on the stage, at some point, you must say the words, “I love my father. ”

If, during your hour you say those words, then when your hour is over, you may exit the stage door and be reunited with your family. If, however, during your hour on the stage, you do not say those words, then you will exit the stage door and will be physically, emotionally, and mentally tortured for weeks as punishment for your crimes.

What do you do?

Some of you will deny that there is anything on the other side of the stage door.
Some of you will postpone saying the words as long as you can, even though there’s a risk that you will either forget to say the words, or that your time will be cut short before you can say them.
Some of you will not say the words because you think your crimes are not bad enough to justify the punishment.
Some of you will say the words and then spend the rest of your time trying to get the people waiting in line to understand the need for them to say the words as well.

We don’t know what choice you make. But what we do know is that when your hour is done, you WILL walk through that stage door. What is waiting for you on the other side is determined by how you respond during your hour.

So what say you?

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The Martian

The MartianI just saw The Martian starring Matt Damon.  It was one of the highest tension movies I’ve seen in a long time. If you enjoy sitting on the edge of your seat, I highly recommend it.  Be advised, however, there is some minor swearing throughout, a few uses of the “F-bomb”, and one scene in which an emaciated man walks away from the camera naked, so you see his scrawny rear end.  This didn’t bother me as a nurse, because I’ve seen lots of butts, but if that offends you, be aware going in.

That being said, my favorite movie is Apollo 13, which is a movie about a mission to space that goes horribly wrong and the efforts of the astronauts and the people on earth to get the astronauts back on earth alive.  This movie operates on the same theme, as anybody who has seen the trailer could tell you.  There is a good sprinkling of humor throughout, and I laughed out loud several times.  I don’t want to give anything away, but the trailer shows Matt Damon’s character growing food, and I have to tell you that figuring out how he could keep from starving to death makes up a big section of the movie.  I say that to say this: I actually felt bad sitting there munching my popcorn as he rationed out his food.

The soundtrack features many songs from the 70’s, and there were many characters that were enjoyable to watch interact.

Oh, and Sean Bean doesn’t die.

So a good movie overall.  If they had taken out the F bombs and the partial nudity (which wasn’t even necessary), I would have given it five stars.

On a sidenote, I saw something the other day that made me chuckle.  Someone sat down and figured out how much money has been spent saving Matt Damon in all his movies where he needs rescued. Here’s the link, but the answer is approximately “900 billion plus change”

If this movie doesn’t win several Oscars, I’ll eat my hat, metaphorically speaking.

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ComcastI’ve always said I don’t have problems with Comcast internet.  I know many people do, and they are consistently rated as the worst company in customer service, but I’ve never really had a problem that wasn’t fixed quickly.  I’ve had some equipment issues, but those are always fixed relatively quickly.  I didn’t enjoy their glitchy tv service, but I got rid of that, so no issue there.

When I changed my services in February (because I bought my own modem), they told me that I could have internet for $75 per month, or internet and basic cable for $50.  So I said, “Do I have to even hook up the tv?” They said no. Sold, I said.   They also mentioned that I would receive free access to the “HBO Go” (HBO on demand) service.  I was able to watch HBO movies (most of them are garbage, but there are a few good ones, and I really enjoyed the “Number One Ladies Detective Agency” miniseries.  In May Comcast finally figured out how to let people with Amazon Kindle Fire sticks use the service, so I activated HBO Go through Comcast for my Kindle Fire Stick.

Then I moved.

I got my Comcast internet set up at the new place, and still have all the same services, including access to HBO Go. But it wouldn’t let me use the Kindle Fire Stick to watch HBO Go, saying I needed to reactivate it (new IP address maybe?).

So I went to hbogo.com/activate, and yes, Xfinity is still listed as an available provider for the Kindle Fire stick. But when I click Xfinity, it takes me to an Xfinity page which asks me to sign in, and then tells me that I do have HBO access, and I am welcome to watch HBO stuff through Xfinity’s go website.

No activation code.

So I called Comcast yesterday. After talking to four different people, the last one told me that my case would need to be referred to “a supervisor” and that since none were available right now, one would call me later on. I guess I should have asked when “later on” might be, because it’s the next day and still no call. I called them back, spoke to two different people before I got to the right department, which informed me that “Comcast doesn’t support the Kindle Fire Stick for HBO Go.” I told her that yes, Comcast does, because I was just using it a few weeks ago. She said, “no, we don’t” and hung up on me.

I called right back. Explained the whole situation again, and was given a phone number to call for “the department that can help you.” The number was 212-512-1000. I called the number. “Hello, you have reached the New York office of HBO….”

Comcast. The most frustrating company on earth.

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MLB Blackout Policy is Stupid

Every year I put up with the asinine blackout policy of Major League Baseball (MLB).  This is the 21st century. As a Cubs fan, I should be able to watch all 162 games (if I have time).  MLB even offers a subscription on their website called “MLB.TV” where, for $130 per year you can watch every single game, subject to blackout restrictions.

And that’s what I want to talk about.  The MLB blackout policy states that if you live in the blackout zone for a particular team, you can only watch the games for that team if you subscribe to certain television services, or if you go to the game (some games are only shown locally).

Here is the blackout zone:
MLB Blackpout

I want to watch Cubs games, but I’m in their blackout zone. I can pay MLB.com to watch every MLB game, except for Cubs or Reds games (or the games of anybody who is playing either of those teams). I know the reasoning for the blackout is so you will watch the game on the local tv station that the Cubs have sold the programming to, but the blackout zone for the Cubs is so large (all of Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, and parts of Wisconsin) that there are people living in Council Bluffs, Iowa who never get Cubs games on their local tv stations, but they still can’t pay to watch them online. Why don’t the Ricketts family want me to watch Cubs games?

Because they’re greedy.  And that’s unfortunate.

Normally this is only an issue in the regular season.  But today is the postseason. Today the Kansas City Royals are playing the Houston Astros.  A friend of mine who lives in northern Iowa, approximately 300 miles from Kansas City, is a Royals fan and he can’t watch the game, because the only way to watch the game in Iowa is on DirecTV or Dish Network. And he doesn’t have either.

I say enough is enough. I say it’s time for Major League Baseball to get rid of the blackouts.  In this day and age with the increasing number of people cutting the cable cord and ditching the dish, MLB needs to adapt.  They need to figure it out fast before they are left in the dust.  Because their fans are angry.

At least the World Series is on Fox. I think everybody gets that channel (even people not paying).

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Eamus Catuli!!!

This is the first Cubs postseason win since 2003! That’s right, the 12 year drought is over!  It’s been 70 years since the Cubs have made it to the World Series, and 107 years since they won the World Series.  Let’s hope their amazing year continues for the next 3-4 weeks until they hoist that trophy!

Next comes the National League Division Series (NLDS), a best of five series against the St. Louis Cardinals. The first two games (Friday and Saturday) are in St. Louis (at 6:30 and 5:30 respectively), and then the series moves to Chicago for games three and four (if necessary) on Monday and Tuesday.

If the Cubs beat the Cardinals, then they go on to the best of seven National League Championship Series (NLCS) against either the Mets or the Dodgers.

If they win that series, they go back to the World Series for the first time since Jackie Robinson became the first black major league baseball player.

If they win the world series, they will have reset the clock and finally be world champions again for the first time since before the Titanic sunk!

Let’s go Cubbies! (FYI, for you non-Cub fans:  this is the translation of the title of this post).

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A Meaningful Game

The difference between baseball and just about any other sport is that with other sports, almost every game has meaning. Case in point: NFL teams play 16 regular season games. Every game counts, because just one game is worth 6.25% of the season.

But with Major League Baseball? They play 162 games. That’s ten times as much. So if an NFL team has an 0-7 record, it’s pretty much impossible for them to make it to the playoffs, but if a MLB team starts out with an 0-7 record, it is totally possible for them to make it to the postseason.

That’s why tonight’s game is fun to watch: It’s the first baseball game of the year that actually determines something based on the outcome of this one game. I know if the Cubs had won one more game, they would have gotten home field advantage, but that wasn’t one game where you could watch and think “If they win THIS game….”

But tonight’s game? The team that loses is done until spring training, their quest for a trophy is over. The team that wins gets to move on and play the Royals. This is what makes tonight’s game exciting.

But I confess, as a Cubs fan, I am mostly looking forward to the game tomorrow night that means something, the one where (hopefully) the Cubs beat the Pirates to get the opportunity to go up against the MLB team with the best record in baseball:  the St Louis Cardinals.

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Another Shooting

So there’s been another shooting. Another person with a gun decided to break the law and shoot people that didn’t deserve to be shot.

I want you to use your imaginations for a minute.

Let’s set the stage. Imagine you’re in a large, gymnasium-sized room. There is one door. There are a bunch of people standing around. There is a table on your right that has some guns on it. There is a bunch of chairs on the left with a sign that says that guns aren’t allowed in the chair area.

Suddenly a person walks into the room and starts shooting people. People scream and try to run. He guns them down. All of a sudden, a loudspeaker starts blaring instructions, “Everyone, there is a shooter in the room. Proceed to the gun-free chair area for your safety. Do not pick up a gun. Just remain calm and have a seat in the gun free zone.”

What do you do?

I submit that anyone with a lick of sense would defend their own life, and the lives of those around them against someone so evil as to take lives without cause or legal right. Those who would sit in the chairs, placing their trust in the “no guns” sign are fools. The shooter BY DEFINITION is not following the law, and therefore hiding behind a law is not only foolish, it’s deadly.

The answer to people who break the law is not “more law.” The answer is “more guns.” Deterrence. If every teacher and student in a college had a pistol and had been taught how to use it (perhaps a required class in freshman orientation), anybody (including one of the teachers or students I just mentioned) who tries to shoot a bunch of people will only succeed in shooting the first couple before being shot in return.

How long will we let this madness continue?

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