Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Business

Before we left for Phoenix, I found out that the paper offered the Guild a two year deal that gave them a raise of .5% for each of the two years. That, and giving up weeks of vacation, making them work a 40 hour week (they work a 37.5 hour week now) without an increase in pay (something we gave up in the last contract), switching from a defined pension to a 401k and a host of other givebacks. With the Shared Services coming soon, and layoffs on December 5th, the Guild is in real trouble.

There was also an article in the Chronicle that said they had outsourced their entire printing operation to a Canadian company that would build a press operation somewhere in the Bay Area. This would occur in 4 years, when the contract with the Unionized printers expires. There's our competition for our contract printing. They won't have a Union operation like we do, either in the operation nor on their dock. This is why we should have voted "yes" on the changes, so we can compete with an operation like this.
Contracting out your print operation is more common in Canada and Europe. It is not unheard of in America, but the Chronicle will be the largest paper in the country to do it when it takes effect.
The times they are a'changing.

The Baby

Sandra stopped by Chuck and Nicole's and picked up the baby for a few hours. She met me at Pollo Loco and we got to eat and coo coo the baby until it was time for me to go to work. The baby wasn't fussy for me at all and I got to hold her and talk to her. This baby stuff is pretty cool.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Godbabies Blog

Charlie and Katy have a blog featuring my godbabies, Leandra and CJ. You can take a look here. Katy just blogged about their trip to Florida and Georgia to see family. I'm glad that Charlie and Katy live in a place (Kansas City MO) that they can live on one salary and Katy can stay home and raise my godbabies. There's not nearly enough of that in this country and I really admire them. I do miss my godbabies. Once a year or every other year is not enough.

This Thanksgiving

Safeway does a good job of Turkey Day dinner. It was much easier than slaving over the stove all day, that's for sure.
Chuck, Nicole and Kyleigh came by to eat and visit. Finally, I was King Baby Hog. I got to hold and feed the baby while Chuck, Nicole and Mallory went to the hot tub and Sandra cleaned up after dinner. I got Kyleigh for over an hour all to myself. I was in heaven. I've seen some ugly babies and Kyleigh is beautiful. She's all calm when I hold her.
This is my first extended expierence with an infant. Josh was 6 months old when I met him and his mother, and Nicole and Mallory were obviously older. When you kiss Kyleigh's nose, she smiles. I didn't think a baby can smile at a month old. This sure is fun.

Mallory and Kyleigh


Here's an earlier picture of Mallory and Kyleigh that I didn't know I had.

Grandpa and Baby


Here I am holding the baby.

The Happy Couple


My son in law Chuck, my daughter Nicole and my grandbaby Kyleigh. Chuck and Nicole are going to make some good looking kids, if Kyleigh is any example.

Mallory and Kyleigh


I took some rather dark pics of the baby this week. I need to figure out how to turn the flash back on.

Thanksgiving

From the ffrf.org website "Happy Secular Thanksgiving! President Thomas Jefferson refused to issue prayer proclamations for "thanksgiving" during his eight years in office."

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Bush

It may be 35-40 years too late, but its good to see that our glorious President has finally found his way to Vietnam.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Hockey

Hockey season has started for the Thunder and Sandra and I made it out to Sunday's game against Utah. We got a lazy start and ate on the way out. We had to park a couple of blocks further away from the arena than we usually do, so we got in a few minutes late. As we're in line for tickets, a stranger comes up and gives us two free tickets. I'm always leery of stuff like this, but they looked good so we took them. They were good and we got in, though I noticed they have a value of $0.00, so they were promo tickets. No matter, they were in the part of the arena that we usually sit anyway, so all was good.
As we were walking in to the seating area, we hear the goal horn sound. Damn, we just missed the Thunder score their first goal. Based on last year, that was about all we were going to see. But that was last year. It appears the talent has improved as the Thunder scored six more goals and only a last minute goal by Utah avoided the shutout. The score was 7-1 Thunder.
Fighting in hockey is usually a certain style and ritiualistic. The two players usually call each other out, skate apart from everyone else, toss off the helmet and gloves and go at it. When they fall to the ice the refs come in and break it up and send the players to the penalty box.
There were a number of fights at this game that were not like the WWE. It seems these two teams just don't like each other. There was some serious fistacuffs going on and in one of the fights the Utah player hit the Thunder player with his helmet. They weren't playing around. Serious bad blood.
Stockton plays in theECHL and there is a variance in talent each year. Last year Stockton was one of if not the worst team in the league. We only saw them win once all year, in the last game we went to. For such a lousy team, Stockton did lead the league in attendance.
This year the Thunder is in second place and still leads the league in attendance. I'm hoping for a better season.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

FSM

http://www.venganza.org/

This is the Church of the Flying Spagetti Monster. All hail His Noodly Appendage!

Friday, November 17, 2006

And one more thing

I got gas in Mesa for $2.079 a gallon and it has been a loooong time since I've paid that little for gas. Two years ago gas was comparable to the Bay Area but not this year. Even gas in Blythe, which is usually a ripoff was only $2.499.

There's a Canadian couple that we see at the Phoenix games, and most of the other games at Scottsdale and Mesa. Howard and Jean come down for both Spring Training and the AFL. We were sitting watching the game and some people came up to talk to Howard. Jean usually is engrossed in the game, (she's an A's fan) but Howard is the social animal.
Anyway, one of the gals works for the Cardnials football team and works at the stadium in Mesa. With so few people at the game I couldn't help but to overhear thier conversation. During a pause, I interjected that the Fall League was the best baseball around, and much better than Spring Training. I added that the seats are cheap, the hotels are all at shoulder season rates, you can sit anywhere in the park, the parking is free and the quality of the baseballl is worthwhile. And, I've come 6 of the past 7 years. The gal introduced herself to Sandra and I and was impressed that we gave a shit about the AFL.
The AFL is the best baseball expierence. It is truly hassle-free baseball. I plan on going every year I can. Though, Sandra did mention that she wants to take a fall off when we retire and see the fall colors in New England. I can't disagree. But, only one year.

Two years ago I drove the RV down and stayed in Goodyear, which is the first town you come into from the west on I-10. I rode the scooter to the ballparks and unless the game was in Peoria, it was a hike to the east side of the valley.
On this trip with Sandra, we were talking about taking the RV down and boondocking. Casino Arizona has oversized vehicle parking at their casino, which is about two miles from Scottsdale Stadium. There's a Flying J in Phoenix that we can dump the tanks and refill the fresh water, and its on the way to Peoria. I guess I'd have to crunch the numbers to see if it is cheaper to drive the RV down at 8 miles a gallon versus taking the Suburban or the Beetle and staying in a motel. We didn't use the pool one time and basically used the motel as a place to sleep and that was about it. Something to think about it.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Eating out

We ate at a couple of places I've not eaten at before. After one day game in Peoria we ate at the Cheesecake Factory. This is a pretty fancy place. We had appetizers, dessert and something to drink for about $40 with tip. We did get good service and the food was really good. Sandra did have some cheesecake and she liked it, she said it was very rich. I hate the stuff and didn't try any of it.

Chik-Fil-A is a chicken sandwich place that started in the south. They're run by bible beaters and are not open on Sunday. In-N-Out is run by bible beaters as well, but they have no problem breaking the Sabbath for money.
Anyway, they have a restaraunt down the street from the ballpark in Peoria so we gave it a try. The food was surprisingly good. They serve real chicken breasts in their sandwiches, not that processed stuff like Burger King. Sandra tried some of thier chicen soup, which is something you don't see everyday at a fast food place. She said it was good.

Finally, we went to Hooters. Sandra wanted to go, no really! We went to the one in Mesa after a night game in Scottsdale. You pretty much expect the servers to be good looking and our server, Erika, was no exception. They really wear the cleavage showing tank top and shorty shorts. Not like I noticed or anything.
I had their famous chicken wings and they were OK. They serve them a number of different ways, I had the naked medium wings. We had a beer and appetizers. I had Erika select something for dessert that wasn't cheesecake. The key lime pie was pretty good. They weren't too busy for a weeknight and we got good service. Even the manager came over to see how we were doing.
Now I give Sandra a bad time about wanting to go to Hooters. Cubby from work went to the Hooters Casino in Las Vegas with his GF, he said it was worth a stop. I just asked him what the dealers wore and he said that they were (to his recollection) all women who were wearing the tank top and shorty shorts.
I recall a lawsuit against Hooters a couple of years ago where a man sued the Hooters he worked at because he couldn't get a server position. I'm pretty vague on it and don't know what happened.

Oh, and the McDonalds in SoCal had McRib. That's gotta be my favortie fast food sandwich. We stopped on the way down and the way back and ate a couple. I can't get enough of them. I'm tempted to go on my days off and drive down I-5 until I get to a McD's that has them and pig out.

10 games in 5 days

The Arizona Fall League is designed for highly rated AA/AAA players to compete against each other in an all-star like format. Each of the MLB teams pick 7 minor leaguers to send to Phoenix for the 6 week season. The six teams are formed so, for example, all the A's players play together for Phoenix and all the Giants players play for Scottsdale.
The ticket price went up to $6 a game. The AFL sells a season pass for about $70 (I'm guessing, I bought one two years ago for $60) that lets you into every game of the season. When Sandra and I retire, that's the way we're going to go. 66 games in a season for $70. And, you can sit wherever you want. The games are at some of the Spring Training parks, so they're first rate. And, the parking is free.
The first game was at Phoenix, with the Desert Dogs playing Scottsdale. I got the chance to cheer for the A's players and boo the Giant players. The game went into the bottom of the 10th when Chip Cannon of the Blue Jays hit a game winning HR. Whoo hoo!
We watched the Desert Dogs every day, and ended up watching Scottsdale every day as well. Three of the parks, Phoenix, Scottsdale and Mesa are on the east side of the valley, while Peoria and Surprise are way out west. We went to one night game at Peoria and it took over an hour to get from our motel near Phoenix Muni to Peoria. I read in the paper that over a half million people have moved to the Phoenix Metro area in the last six years.
It wasn't all good for the A's players as against Mesa two of the A's pitchers, Marcus McBeth and Connor Robertson pitched in extra innings and took the gas. McBeth is a guy I wanted to see pitch, as he's a converted outfielder who wasn't going anywhere in A ball as an outfielder but has a live arm.
Phoneix had one other player like that. Jon Coutlangus plays for the Reds and he's a converted outfielder as well. He started out for the Giants, who moved him to the mound where he had a good season in High A ball for San Jose in 2005. Then he was cut and the Reds picked him up the very next day. I saw Coutlangus pitch twice. I think for as crappy as the Giants farm system is, they shouldn't have cut him.
Going to two games a day is a good deal. We got up late in the morning, ate, and went to the 1pm game. Then we ate again and made it to the 7pm game and were usually back at the motel by 11 or so. There really isn't much time for swimming or sightseeing or anything like that. When you go to the AFL the trip is all about baseball.

Dog Races

Dog racing is illegal in California but not in Arizona. Phoenix Greyhound Park is next to the airport at 40th and Jefferson. Almost every time I've gone to Phoenix I've made a trip to the dog races. I like them better than the horse races at the races come about every 10 minutes instead of every half hour.
Also, you don't really have human intervention. You know that the dogs are going to run their best, while at the horses you may have a horse just out for a run. A couple of lives ago I knew a guy that played the horses and played cards with the jockeys a few times and he told me this. What a scam.
Anyway, the last time Sandra and I went we were skunked. (I've won every and I mean every other time I've bet at PGP) I didn't cash one winning ticket and we left with our tails tucked between our legs. This time was to be different.
I like to bet the Quinella, which is picking the first two dogs in any order. I pick three dogs and bet all 6 combos, or "box" the bets. I win if the first and second place dogs are two of the three I picked.
The first race comes and I make my bet. Sure as hell, the three dogs I bet on come in 1-2-3 and I cash in. I like watching the races outside, and PGP has gone to automated wagering, where you bet at a betting machine. When you cash in your winning ticket, it gives you a voucher that you can reuse for other bets. At the end of the day you take your ticket to a live cashier and exchange the voucher for cash money.
I bet on the second race and don't win. Sandra notices on my ticket that I mistakenly bet on the third race. Oooops. So, I bet on the third race again. Sandra makes her bet as well and we both bet on dog 3 and 6. In fact, my mistake ticket has 3 and 6 as well. The race starts and dog 3 storms out to the lead. He holds the lead around the final turn and dog 6 is in second place. Coming to the wire I'm thinking I may actually make out OK for my mistake. 6 gets tired and 8 comes in second, which I had on my good ticket. So close to a really good payoff but I still cashed a winner.
I hit a cold stretch and Sandra cashed her first Arizona winner. I was ahead a bit and it was getting late. We decided on one more race to call it a night. I made my bet and was going to bet for Sandra as well. I pressed the "Same Ticket" button, thinking it would let me make Sandra's bet for her. Well, no. It duplicates my last bet so I made my bet twice. D'oh.
Here's hoping for a winner. The race starts and I'm in trouble. My dogs are nowhere in sight and I take the two ticket loser. I lost a total of $6, but certainly got 6 dollars of entertainment out of it.
I'm ethically torn about the dog races. I like to watch them run and I like to bet on them. I know that they're killed when their racing days are over and that troubles me. But I still go, I guess that makes me a hypocrite.

Heading to Arizona

We left for Arizona a week ago Sunday. I wanted to get as far as Blythe, but we're getting old and only make it to Palm Springs. So, we didn't get to see the Monday game in Peoria. We stayed at the Motel 6 just off the freeway and it was $60 for the two of us. For Motel 6! Jeezus.
Getting up Monday morning we headed East on I-10 and made a stop at Spotlight 29 Casino. This used to be owned by Donald Trump but isn't any more. Sandra made a quick donation to the tribe and we were on our way. We managed to hit commute traffic in Phoenix and I missed a turn, but we eventually got to the motel. And, in time for the dog races!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Upon Edit

Oh and one more thing about Ted Haggard. He's claiming that he didn't use the meth he bought, he was just "curious" about it. Yeah, rrrrrright. Bill Clinton took and still takes a ration of shit from the Right about his comment that he "didn't inhale." Of course nobody believes him. And, nobody believes Haggard, about the meth or that he only got a "massage" from the other guy. I wonder what this guy's wife and kids think now.

CRS

This means "can't remember shit." I think I suffer from it. Last night, I'm sitting at McDonalds eating dinner and reading the paper about 5:30. The phone rings and its Sandra. "Where are you?" "I'm at McDonalds." "Didn't you remember that we're meeting at Baja Fresh after work?"
"Uh.............oh shit."

I can't recall ever standing Sandra up. We don't see each other too much as it is, every day we do eat together matters. I suck. So, this is my public mea culpa. CRS, damn I'm getting old.

On Vacation

I'll be gone until a week from Tuesday. The AFL should be a good time.

Vote

I dropped my ballot off in the mail yesterday. I vote absentee. I don't understand why every American doesn't vote. There are fields of headstones all over the world that represent American men and women who gave their very lives for our right to vote. Americans who don't vote should shoulder shame in their hearts.

Ted Haggard

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061105/ap_on_re_us/haggard_sex_allegations

Its not that the guy is gay, or bi. Its not the drug use, though meth is the scourge of the earth. Its not that the guy cheated on his wife after having 5 kids with her, though that makes him a scumbag.
It is that Haggard stands in the pulpit and preaches against the things that he does in private. He's agains gay marriage, but has gay sex. He preaches fidelity, but cheates on his wife.
He is yet another fine front man for God. Why oh why does God choose so poorly in his representives on earth?
And, how can he justify such a large church building when one of Jesus' primary lessons is to help the poor? How, exactly, does building a multi-million dollar building for his congregation help the poor? Doesn't Jesus teach to give everything away and follow him and his teachings? And to help the poor?
I love to see hypocrites like this face such public shame. Though, if you click on the link the article quotes one of the church members as saying basically, "Satan did it." God forbid anyone in the church hold this guy accountable. It wasns't Satan, it was Ted Haggard. We're all responsible for what we do. Its that simple.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Vacation Picked

I picked my weeks for 2007. In a change of pace, I took a week in February. I had blogged a while back about taking Sandra to a NASCAR race. The circut races at Fontana (Southern California) in Feb.
My friend Mel from work was going to go with us this year, but he flaked. He's the one that told me he took his toyhauler last year and parked on site for the weekend. This is what I have in mind with Sandra. I think we'll end up in Fontana on the Friday and park there for the weekend, leaving for home on Monday. The last thing I want to do is get into Sunday night traffic with 100,000 people letting out onto an already jam packed freeway system. The tickets for all three races (Friday-Sunday) are about $180 each, according to Mel.
That leaves us the early part of the week. I think we'll leave on the Sunday and drive as far as Bakersfield. We'll either boondock at Camping World or we'll camp at Orange Grove RV Park, which has gotten good reviews on RVparkreviews.com.
Monday morning we'll make sure we're full on the water and have empty holding tanks, as well as a full fridge. Our plan is to drive to Death Valley and camp for three nights at one of the NPS campgrounds. This will be dry camping, meaning that we'll be camping without hookups. The RV is made for this, at least for a couple of days. They do have water and a dump station, and the RV has an on board gas powered generator to recharge the house batteries and run the AC if needed. I really doubt we'll need AC in Feb, it should be in the 70's during the day.
After our time in Death Valley, we'll take two days to drive to Fontana. We'll stop at the KOA in Yermo and replenish our supplies in Barstow before we head on to Fontana on the Friday.
Monday we'll drive home.

The Baby

I missed the baby for Halloween as I had to work. She was dressed as a bear. Sandra got to hold her for a little bit before Nicole and Chuck took her to see other people. I'm hoping Sandra gets the baby Friday so I can blog some more pictures.

Job Cuts

The MediaNews chain announced the formation of a "Shared Services" center for all the Bay Area papers, including the Mercury. (Here's where the 100+ jobs are going) The affected employees have the opportunity to apply for these new jobs at less pay and benefits, and no union. (Gee, where have I heard this before?) The jobs are in IT, Finance, HR, Sales, and other inside departments. The Guild should have signed a contract extension when we did. There aren't going to be too many people around here once the cuts are finished.