May 21, 2010

Linking Fool Friday

Boy howdy, it's sure easy to claim reverse discrimination, isn't it. Speaking of whiny grievances, the numbers say taxes are the lowest they've been in some time. I love how many of the comments that follow say "The problem isn't low taxes, it's excessive spending," like it's a completely obvious fact that needs no support. Then what, specifically, do you want to cut? (We've been over that one.)

This letter to homophobes has been making the rounds, and it is awesome.

Also making the rounds and awesome, this uphill-ball-rolling doo-hickey.

I was not previously familiar with the work of Linda Stone, but I like the cut of her jib. "Continuous Partial Attention" describes my state of operation far more than I'd like.

Lastly, I'm going to put on Ritual de lo Habitual and feel old tonight.

Posted by Carl at 02:58 PM | Comments (0)

May 07, 2010

Linking Fool Friday

Once again, this is what happens when I neglect LFF for three weeks.

First up, Ernie Harwell. When I saw Joe Posnanski had a post on Harwell, I bookmarked it before I even started reading it. That turned out to be a repeat; here's the new one. King Kaufman had a great tribute as well, and Ernie's HOF induction speech is required reading.

Political: The suggestion to imagine if the Tea Party was a bunch of angry black people has been making the rounds for a couple weeks. Astonishingly, some people refuse to get it. Also, this Congressman's retirement announcement is at once inspiring and sad.

Foodstuffs: I found this piece on a fried-chicken recipe cookoff to be enlightening. Yeah, fancy dishes have their place and time, but for everyday life, often simpler is better. Good news for fruits and vegetables: bees seem to be making a comeback.

Localstuffs: Where to get a good view of DC.

Wackyness: My favorite part of any new product commercial is when someone displays complete ineptitude with the "old" product or way of doing things. I am not the only one who enjoys this, apparently.

More sports: MLB cracks down on player Twitter accounts, because they don't like fun things. One not-fun thing was the Caps' playoff crash and burn, but I hope Caps' management doesn't listen to those who say they should dismantle the team. Will Leitch's new book sounds pretty good. Lastly, I am officially done defending Philly sports fans.

Posted by Carl at 09:47 AM | Comments (0)

May 06, 2010

Dell can cram it

The Consumerist is full of customer-service horror stories, and I know those can get tiresome after a while. So if you don't care to read one, skip this. But I need to vent.

Our home laptop is on the fritz, and the next step is replacing the hard drive. I wanted to make sure I bought the right thing, so I connected to Dell's customer support chat and told the agent "internal hard drive for an Inspiron B120." Before he could come back with anything, I got disconnected (thanks Cox and your crapful internet service). It was late and I didn't feel like going through that again, so I figured I'd try again later.

Next day, I had an e-mail from Dell with a quote for a 120GB hard drive. How nice, the agent went ahead and found what I needed! So I followed their instructions to go on their web site and complete the order (this was two days ago). I got an "Order acknowledgement" e-mail, with an Order ID number, and both my billing and shipping addresses.

Fast-forward to today. I got an e-mail saying there was a problem with my order. Could I please reply with my billing and shipping addresses.

Who does that, in this day and age of phishing? Granted, they had the right order ID on it, and they didn't ask for a credit card number or anything, so it was probably legit. But still... how about no.

I found the Dell customer service number and dialed in. I gave the order number to five different people. The first four couldn't find the order, and transferred me somewhere else. The fifth guy found the order, but couldn't fix it, and when he attempted to transfer me, the call got dropped.

I replied to this morning's e-mail with "How about you just go ahead and cancel this." Yay, technology.

Posted by Carl at 11:51 AM | Comments (0)

May 04, 2010

Major League Ballpark #30: Yankee Stadium


It's no secret that I loathe the New York Yankees. (I freely admit that my hatred is largely driven by jealousy.) With my friend Bruce coming back to the States after a two-year absence, I decided to make this year's ballpark trip to see the Yanks' new digs, loathing notwithstanding. I went into the place expecting to hate it.

Surprisingly, that didn't happen. Yeah, it's expensive as all get out; let's get that out of the way. Our seats near the left-field foul pole were $90 a pop. The same seats at Nats Park: $24. Near as I can tell, the cheapest walk-up ticket is $23. The team store is enormous and was doing a very brisk business. Food was pricey, and I paid $11 for a Stella (though it was a big beer, and as such probably the same value as the $8 beers at Nats Park). It's the Yankee Machine: they shell out the money to get the best players, which leads to winning teams. People therefore come out in droves, buy lots of merchandise, and watch on TV in tremendous numbers, which refills the team's coffers, allowing them to shell out for the best players. It's a self-perpetuating cycle, and a great model for success in MLB if you can pull it off.

The park was chock full of happy Yankee fans willing to pay these prices, so who am I to complain? Those fans paid close attention to the game and didn't need much prodding from the scoreboard to cheer for their team at appropriate moments. I didn't see any road-team gear all day. The Yankees have succeeded in boxing up a lot of that history and tradition that was seemingly discarded at the old ballpark, and bringing it into the new place. It feels older than it is, in some ways. I like the facades at the top, the recognition of retired numbers and championship seasons, and that you can still see subway trains going by outside. We didn't make it in to see the monuments, which should probably be a bit more visible, but still have their place in center field. Good sight lines all around; while the areas directly behind the lower-level sections were actually cordoned off into ticketed "seats," you could still hang around behind those and see the field. (Don't even try crossing The Moat, though.)

I did enjoy my pricey ballpark chow. Based on reviews found around the interwebs, steak sandwiches were a good idea, and the Lobel's stand turned out to be right behind our section. This was not a Philly-style steak sandwich, but rather a prime rib sandwich on a round roll. No cheese, but I opted for the horseradish sauce. Delicious, and almost worth $15. I also had a Johnny Rockets milkshake, which was not freshly made but out of a machine like a McDonald's shake. Tasty nonetheless. A decent selection of good beer, along with the usual Miller and Bud products. Others in our party got Nathan's hot dogs and a more traditional Philly-style cheese steak, and were quite pleased with them.

As for the game itself: Yankees 12, White Sox 3, and it wasn't even that close. The Yanks hit three home runs (including Cano's 9th, and Gardner's 4th... of his career), and had runners on nearly every inning. The White Sox didn't score until the 9th, and up to that point tended to go out meekly every inning. 7 strong innings for Phil Hughes; Mark Buerhle did not pitch well, and the Chicago bullpen was even worse. No A-Rod in the line-up yesterday (just a day off). I guess they didn't need him. Jeter came out a couple innings early, once it had devolved into a laugher. So I saw first-hand why those Yankee fans are so happy. I don't know that I'd put the new Yankee Stadium in baseball's top ten parks, but it's a fine place to watch a game.

Entry hall

More photos at Flickr. Only twelve ballparks left to cover. San Diego and Minnesota are front-runners for next year's trip. Other random game thoughts and New York City stuff after the jump.

  • Nice to finally meet long-time fantasy sports nemesis and e-migo Jason, who was four sections over from us with his kids.
  • I shouted "ALEXEI!!", a la Stan Verrett, every time Alexei Ramirez made a play. Much to the annoyance of those around me.
  • The loud-ass techno version of the Westminster Chimes that they play whenever the Yankees score really got on my nerves. Loud, just loud loud loud and jarring, and I don't understand the significance.
  • We were treated to an Ozzie Guillen ejection in the bottom of the 7th. We thought it was just about his pitcher being squeezed, but apparently the home plate umpire thought Pierzynski was griefing him, and Ozzie came out to protect him and ended up getting run. Kind of tame by Ozzie standards, though.
  • This being New York, it was a good food weekend. What I envy most about New York is the plethora of interesting, local-only restaurants, as opposed to the chain-restaurant hell that is Fairfax County. David and I went to Shopsin's General Store, with their small space and outrageous menu. Dave had cased the menu beforehand and knew what he wanted (corned beef hash, quite excellent), while I was overwhelmed by the thing and finally decided to JUST PICK SOMETHING (some folks think Shopsin's is part of the inspiration for the Seinfeld Soup Nazi, so I didn't want to get kicked out for indecision). I went with the "Pig Newton," which was a chopped pork and egg sandwich with gravy and figs, served over grits. Good but not great. Note to self: do not pick a menu item simply because it has an amusing name. Very good Vietnamese food for dinner Saturday. I wanted to go to Lombardi's Pizza before heading home Sunday night, but I ran out of time; ended up grabbing a couple slices a block over.
  • It was also a good drinking weekend. Dave and I threw down a couple at McSorley's Old Ale House Saturday afternoon; I had last been there in 1991, I believe. We took a picture of Elizabeth's Flat Stanley there, but somehow I doubt that one will make it back to her first-grade classroom. I watched the Kentucky Derby on the roof at Sutton Place with Tor, Kel, and Josh, had a quick beer at Dive Bar, and played pool at Ryan's Daughter until a far later hour than I am accustomed to.
  • Coming home, I took the Acela for the first time. It was nice and all, and a bit faster than the regular Amtrak trains (cancelled out by a half-hour delay in departing, though). The primary benefit appears to be free wi-fi, as nearly everyone around me had a laptop. I didn't bring one, though, so never mind.

Posted by Carl at 09:38 AM | Comments (0)