Sunday, March 22, 2009

Tiger Watching

Spring has finally sprung.

At least according to the calendar that hangs in our kitchen.

We have had several days in the low seventies, although never two in a row.

We have had more sunshine than I ever remember since the first of February.

My lovely wife Darlene and I have been taking inventory of the yards, listing what needs to be done, and what's needed to get it done.

But in spring – while my the external attributes of my property demand attention, my heart is really focused in a different direction.

The Detroit Tigers.

These last couple years have been odd springs – as the World Baseball Classic runs the duration of the Grapefruit league. This year, the Detroit Tigers have been split into the haves and have nots. Those that have been asked to represent their countries, and those that have not – and are stuck in camp in Lakeland Florida.

The twain have not yet had a chance to meet.

The core heart of the Tiger's lineup – Miguel Cabrera, Maglio Ordonez, and Carlos Guillen have been hitting in the Venezuelan line up. With them is 2008's rookie pitching sensation – and the only bright spot in the Tigers rotation – Armando Galarraga.

Cabrera hit respectably, but Ordonez only hit .230, and Guillen an even sorrier .210. Galarraga pitched reasonably well, but was not a lights out dominator the Tiger's so desperately need. Even so, The Venezuelan squad made to the final four, losing last night to Korea in a blow-out 10-2 route.

I think there will be more attention paid to the professional league in Korea from now on. There was some amazing talent there.

The only remaining WBC player for the Tigers is Curtis Granderson. And Curtis is – as Curtis always does – playing very good baseball for the USA squad in center field.

As well, the boys back in Lakeland are not faring so well, save Rick Porcello and Ryan Perry – who both may well find themselves with the team come spring. It would be quite 2006 like if the Tigers find themselves counting on Rookie Porcello – and semi-rookie Galarraga may be the key-pins to the rotation much like Verlander and Bonderman of the Tiger's AL Championship 2006 season.

I know it's only spring. It's not even April yet. But the more I see and watch and read – the more I think this version of Tigers will be lucky to maintain a .500 season.

If the bats come to life and the pitching is there, and the bullpen steps up – and if everyone – including Guillen and Sheffield and Zumaya stay healthy – you could see the Tigers make a run at the American Central.

But that is a lot of ifs.

But you never know. The boy's who wear the English D were only supposed to be mediocre team in 2006. Maybe lightning could strike again in 2009.

So as we work around our little house outside this spring – and relax on our newly painted deck this hot summer – I will savor every sip of beer as I listen to Dan Dickerson and Jim Price paint the picture that is a Tigers baseball game through the crackle of my radio.

Spring has indeed sprung. And opening day is less than two weeks away.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Two Places At Once

We had a letter in the mail last week.

It looked official. It was a notice that a parking ticket had not been paid.

My lovely wife Darlene gave the letter little notice, as she had paid the parking ticket already. I got the ticket the day I stepped into a medical lab in early December to have some tests done for a physical. I wrote about this little experience in a story called "A Bad Phone Call From The Good Doctor". I neglected to add the part about the ticket to my story as I was embarrassed to have gotten the ticket in the first place.

You see, I thought I could just step in and step out before putting any money in the meter. But in the eight minutes I spent in that lab, I had gotten a forty five dollar ticket.

We paid the ticket long before it could become an issue. We paid it online.

So when the first notice came in the mail in late January, my lovely wife Darlene made a phone call to make sure the ticket was indeed taken care of. It was.

For my twenty years of IT experience, you would expect that I have more faith in online systems. But I don't. I guess it's because I know all the things that can go wrong.

So when this second letter arrived in the mail, my lovely wife Darlene was flustered.

"Did you get another parking ticket?", she questioned me as I sat with a drink and a smoke that evening after arriving home from work.

"Nope", I answered short and quick, not even looking up from the Sudoko puzzle in the paper.

I love Sudoko puzzles. They are great brain exercises. I have been known to waste hours on the five star super toughies – only to curse out loud at the end when one row has two sixes in it.

She held up the envelope and said, "then why are we getting another notice?". At least that's what I think she said, I was not really paying attention.

My lovely wife Darlene opened the envelope. She took out the document, and then she got mad at me.

"Yes you did! Whooo lives on Beaumont Crescent?" she said in her lovely wife accusing way. "Whooo were youuuu visiting?"

I took the letter from my now not so lovely wife's hands and inspected it.

"It's a ticket on the Jeep, darling. Youuuu drive the Jeeeeep, not me." I retorted – trying to conceal my enjoyment in the turning of the tables.

"Whooo were youuuu visiting?"

She tried to take the letter back, but I turned to avoid her attempt.

"It says here that the Jeep was in Toronto. Whooo do youuuu know in Toronto?" I asked.

Toronto is between a three to four hour drive up the 401 away. To my knowledge the Jeep has never been in Toronto. And I felt quite confident that my lovely wife Darlene was not driving to Toronto to have a rendezvous with some metro-sexual sharply dressed subway rider who roots for the Blue Jays.

It's just not my lovely wife Darlene's style.

But I was having too much fun now.

"Youuuu have been driving the Jeeeeep for the last three weeks. I have had your car. Whooo were youuuu visiting in Toronto?"

Darlene was not having the fun I was having. Her voice had a more serious tone.

I looked at the date of the Ticket. It was dated January 1, 2009.

"Oh, this is definitely some type of mistake", I said.

"So now it's a mistake, huh!" said my lovely wife – there was now a hint of sarcasm in her voice.

"No", I said, "this ticket is for new year's day".

"We went to my mum's on New Year's Day" stated my lovely wife. "We took your mum with us".

"Even I can't be in two places at once" I stated, puffing out my chest like a super-hero.

Darlene's parents live about ten minutes from our house. And my Mother was visiting from Pensacola. She flew in to and out of Detroit, not Toronto.

"This must be the work of a hung over meter maid", I concluded.

"It says that a warrant for your arrest has been issued". My lovely wife was reading the letter over my shoulder.

"I'll have a record", I joked. "How do I tell my cellmate I'm in for a parking ticket, and it's a bum rap!".

"Well, that's it. I can't take the Jeep across the border until we straighten this out", Said my lovely wife.

"Why?"

"They won't let me across in a vehicle that has a warrant out for the arrest of the owner." She was not kidding.

"So you're confiscating my vehicle?"

"The Jeep is in your name."

"So is the car!"

"The car is in both our names."

"Oh crap. Okay".

"What kind of car does the letter say the ticket was for?" I asked.

"It doesn't."

"Well, there ya go!" I said. "call them and prove to them that it can't be our car, that we have a Jeep. What're the chances that the car in question is a black 2003 Jeep Liberty? You can fax them the title and a copy of my driver's license as proof."

So for the last two weeks I have been driving my lovely wife Darlene's Jeep.

It should be explained that my lovely wife does not exactly keep a vehicle in pristine condition.

She keeps all kinds of paperwork in there. Papers and envelopes are shoved between the center console and the seats, tucked into the visors above the windshield, the glove compartment, and those little map-holder pockets on the sides of the doors. It is filed in no particular order, like the piles around me now in our little office in the basement. But she insists she knows where everything is.

And there are left over fast food bags, Tim Horton's coffee cups, and wrappers of gum and candy bars.

It's a mess.

As well, the heater is broken. You flip the dials and no heat comes out. The bottom of dash in the passenger seat removed – as several of her friends have tried to fix it for her. I am not allowed to fix it as I am described by my lovely wife to be mechanically incompetent. A label I have found advantageous until now.

Nor I am I allowed to clean up the mess. I might throw out or lose some of her important papers.

I followed up with my lovely wife Darlene on this matter with the Toronto Police this morning.

"Did you call them yet?" I asked.

"Oh, yes, they told me to fax my proof".

"Did you fax it?"

"Yup".

"Any word yet?"

"Nope".

I gave a deep sigh at that lovely wife of mine. There was no motivation for her to correct this problem. She has for the last several weeks been driving in the luxury of my new Chrysler 300.

So now I have to clear up this nonsense with the Toronto police. I have to explain their mistake of New Years Day. And I have to inform them that I am not paying a forty-five dollar ticket on a car that my wife drives … but not in Toronto.

Part of my professional duties is to ensure tasks are completed, that all the eyes are dotted and tees crossed. To ensure all stakeholders are in agreement and to close outstanding issues.

So I am certain this will not be a problem.

Not as difficult as motivating my lovely wife to complete a task that returns her to the discomforts of the Jeep.

And the problem will be solved.

Until another letter arrives in the mail from Toronto.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Growing Smaller

Remember the original Star Trek? You know the one, with Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock?

Remember the communicators they had that flipped open to talk into? Mr. Spock had second device as well – a Tricorder – a device he used to get information on anything he needed.

We have those now. Both those devices combined are today's cell phone. Mine plays the Guess Who's American Woman every time my lovely wife Darlene calls me. And it has GPS. And Google Search.

Modern doors quite often open automatically – with a swoosh sound just like those on the Enterprise.

Captain Kirk would always instruct his security officers to "set their Phasers to stun". Now police carry tazers. From what I have seen, they do a bit more than just stun.

I wish we had transporters. It would make vacations much more convenient. So would warp drives on our cars.

But the computers on the Enterprise only had blinking lights.

As a professional in the IT industry over the last 20 years, I have seen a several generations of technology come and go.

I saw the PC come along and over a period of time virtually take over from the old mainframes.

I remember supporting such things as CONFIG.SYS files, DOS menus, and WordPerfect. I even know COBOL.

My friends and family used to refer my job by saying "He does computers".

"This is my cousin Fred. He does computers".

I saw the Internet come along. At first, the tools on the Internet had cartoon character names like Archie, and Veronica. Then along came the Netscape (or Mozilla) web browser, which was overtaken by Internet Explorer, which is now second to Firefox.

We used Yahoo and Excite to search on the web, until Google came along. Now if you want to know something – you Google it.

The first video I watched on a PC was Joe Carter hitting the home run that won the 1992 World Series for the Blue Jays. It was black and white – lasted 20 seconds, and took up most of the space on my 10 Mb hard drive.

Now I watch U-Tube on my living room LCD TV using the web browser on my Wii game system.

I watched the PC evolve from a platform for running spreadsheets and databases to an invaluable communication device. Email, and chat. Video-conferencing allows me to spend holidays with my brother Paul as though we are sitting in the same room together. My web cam even follows me as I walk around the room and automatically focuses on my face.

So for all of that, why do social networking sites astound me?

There used to be a day when my daughters would pick up my old high school year book and ask me who the people in my class pictures were. And I would sit and remember them as I told my daughters of my childhood. I would open old briefcases or folders with pictures of people I worked with in the past and wonder what ever happened to them.

Now I see these people every day.

I see people I went to high school and University with every day on my facebook page.

I am quickly reuniting with all those people I used to work with on my LinkedIn page.

It's almost like we never had that ten to thirty year gap since the last time we saw each other.

And that is wonderful.

It's as though Tracy Tomblin still lives across the street. She still looks exactly the same.

That being said, we are all completely different people now. We only have the past in common, not so much the present.

And all my friends have grand kids older than my own kids.

I for one have not aged all that well.

As time goes on, I would imagine that cell phones will evolve to replace the computer. They will likely embed the keys of the keyboard on the tips of our fingers, and implant the monitor and speakers in our ears and eyes. A small camera embedded on the tips of our noses pointed back at our face to show our emotions to those we are communicating with.

We will always be online.

I am certain that at some point the technology will pass me by. At some point I will not want to jump to the next technology that comes along. At some point I will have to ask my daughters, or one of their boyfriends, to please come over and change the resolution of the cell phone monitor implanted in my eyes – because the type is too small to read.

At some point. But not yet.

And I am no longer referred to as the guy who "does computers". Everybody does computers.

Is all this advanced technology "good"? I don't know.

I do know that the world has gotten much smaller in the last twenty years.

And given the population of the world is closing in on eight billion people, it's going to start getting cramped pretty soon. We are growing smaller.

And I have a fear of crowds in small quarters.



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