Sunday, July 28, 2013

Snark Tank

Every so often I collect my empty bottles and bring them to the supermarket for redemption in the bottle machines. When this happens, I always check first to see if the machines are unoccupied by other customer. I'm very impatient and I hate to wait.

I did this recently at Shaw's and got the all-clear, so I went back to my car and grabbed the bottles. When I got back, one of the supermarket workers had wheeled a mop and bucket into the bottle redemption room.

No problem, I thought. I'll just work around her.

Except that once I brushed by her, she turned and said, "Hey! You can't be here right now!"

This is total crap customer service, and it'd never fly at The Chopper. At The Chopper, if a customer wanted to redeem some bottles while we were mopping or otherwise doing work in the redemption cove, we'd let them and find a way to do our work without getting in their way.

"Well, I am here right now," I told her. "So you're gonna have to worm around me."

She grumbled something and left.

Shaw's could take a lesson from The Chopper. But that doesn't mean I can't meet snark with snark.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Five Canadian Football League Rules I Want To See In The NFL

Training camp has begun, which means the NFL regular season is just around the corner. And with the Canadian Football League already in full swing, I started to think, which is always a dangerous thing. A couple of years ago I pondered adopting a CFL team to root for, and with the end result, I picked the Saskatchewan Roughriders, who have pretty much sucked ever since then (although they are currently 4-0 on the young CFL season).

This time around, I thought it'd be fun to discuss five CFL rules I think the NFL should adopt. Unfortunately, someone else already wrote the exact same blog a couple of years ago. But I read his rule changes and I think 4 of the 5 would be lame additions to the NFL rule book.

So here are my proposed CFL adoptions:

5)  The wider field.

An NFL football field is 53 1/3 yards wide. That's such an arbitrary and silly width. Why not 50 yards? Apparently at one point in the 1800s football fields were 140 yards long by 70 feet wide, which makes some degree of sense -- the length is twice the width.

CFL field widths are somewhat arbitrary themselves -- 65 yards. So I'll meet in the middle and go or a 60 yard width, which would again return American football to having a field whose length is twice its width. I don't like the idea of the longer Canadian field (110 yards? Really? Why?), and few Americans stadiums could accommodate the length. But the new width is only adding the equivalent of the white restricting stripe that runs around the perimeter of NFL fields, which would fit in every stadium. It would bring the fans closer to the game. It's also been floated recently that a wider field could reduce head injuries, which may or may not be true. But it would definitely encourage more wide-open play-calling and strategy.

4) One foot inbounds for a completion

I've gone back and forth about this rule over the years, since high school and college football, like the CFL, require only one foot in bounds for a legal completion. Part of me likes the fact that the NFL requires both feet to be inbounds. It requires more athleticism.

And yet, you can catch the ball with one knee inbounds (or one elbow) and it's a legal catch. Why is one knee better than one foot? If you cross the plane of the goal line with the ball but only one foot is in the end zone, it's a touchdown. I like consistency, and the inconsistency of the NFL's rule bothers me.

(By the way, for the record this was the one rule change in the aforementioned article that I actually agreed with).

3) The 18-game schedule

OK, this is less of a game rule and more of the scheduling thing. But it's obnoxious that the NFL plays 4 preseason games and only 16 regular-season games.  You're excited for the first preseason game, because football is BACK, dammit! But by the fourth game you get to watch guys who are about to be cut play four quarters of football and it's dreadfully boring.

CFL teams play 2 preseason and 18 regular-season games. I know this won't fly anytime soon -- the players union is all hot and bothered about more games and more injuries (yet somehow they don't care as much about the backup quarterbacks, running backs and linebackers who play the majority of those games and are just as likely to get injured in a preseason as a regular-season game). Fine. Extend the season to 20 weeks and give each team two bye weeks. Fans pay good money to go see these games, season-ticket holders have to buy preseason games as part of the package and they deserve to be rewarded.

2) Unlimited motion by offensive backfield players

In the early days, the rule was the same in American and Canadian football. But at some point in the 1920s, someone complained that Notre Dame's Four Horseman offense was too good, and the solution was to limit motion in American football after the ball is set, to one player, who can't be moving forward.

This is ridiculous. In 1926, the Frankford Yellow Jackets led the NFL in scoring at a whopping 13.88 points per game, an average that in today's NFL would be considered anemic at best and would have fans screaming for the backup QB and the firing of the offensive coordinator. The average NFL team in 1926 scored 7.6 points per contest. The 1924 Notre Dame national champions scored 28.5 points per game, effective but hardly unstoppable. If the balance of power was weighted in those days, it was in favor of the defense.

Unlimited motion puts more pressure on the defense, no doubt. But it's also more entertaining to watch players running around the line of scrimmage before the snap.

1) The single

CFL teams are awarded a point if they kick the ball into the end zone (via a kickoff, punt or missed field goal) and its not returned out. Basically, any kicking play that results in a touchback in the NFL would be worth 1 point in the CFL.

I like this rule, and not just because it's weird that you can't finish a football game with a score of 1-0. I doubt it would affect strategy much early in games -- I would guess that most teams would concede a single point to avoid having to run the ball out and end up pinned back on their 3-yard line. But in the fourth quarter of a tie game, the strategy becomes dramatically different. As you can probably tell by now, I like anything that increase the chess game that is play-calling and game-planning.

There it is. Feel free to disagree, for what it's worth. HAPPY FOOTBALLING.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Hump Day

Recently more than one person has complained to me about this GEICO commercial for Hump Day. (As if this commercial is my fault.) Some have suggested that this camel needs to be dragged behind the company dumpster to deliver a severe beating to him.

I disagree. I think we should band together and reason with Mr. Camel.

We should explain to him that, while it may be exciting for, including himself, to make it to Hump Day, that loud and untimely expressions of such gratitude while most normal people are trying to be productive at work is distracting at best, and, at worst, downright obnoxious. Hopefully he'll get the clue and tone it down a few notches.

And, if that doesn't work, then we drag him behind the company dumpster for a severe beating.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

My Weekend Off

It's been more than a year since I had a full weekend off. (More specifically, April 2012, when I was jobless.) I've had two "weekends off" since then, but both times I had to work at my part-time spy job so they didn't really count.

This past weekend, though, I actually had both Saturday and Sunday off, with no espionage assignments.

A real, legit weekend off.

I wasn't sure what to do with myself. Here's what I ended up doing:


5pm -- Pulled into the driveway.

5:06pm -- Naptime.

7:12pm -- Wake up. Flip on Wheel of Fortune. Try to decide what to do with the rest of my Friday night.

7:47pm -- After a pathetically long time coming to a decision, I decide to forgo a rerun of Shark Tank to head over to Barnes & Noble to do some writing, something I've neglected for awhile now.

9:53pm -- After being the only person left at B&N, headed back home. My low fuel light goes on. I ignore it.

10:47pm -- Watching the end of a boring episode of Dateline: NBC. It's sad when you pine for the days of To Catch a Predator.

11:53pm -- After watching the opening monologue of Leno, it's off to bed.


5:26am -- Wake up in the middle of the night, frantically try to find my cellphone to make sure there were no emergencies at my store (the only way to reach me would be on my cell).

5:31am -- Find my phone, which was right next to my pillow. No crises.

8:06am -- Wake up again and can't get back to bed, defeating the whole purpose of the weekend off.

8:22am -- Laundry.

11am -- Back to Barnes & Noble. It's too hot to be in the house. Barnes & Noble has damn good AC. And I might be tempted to read a book or two while I'm there. (Also, more writing.) (Also also, I need to hit the gas station on the way since I ignored it last night.)

5:06pm -- Shower.

6pm -- Head out with friends, who curing the course of the night inform me that I should end every tweet with #boobs. (Lest you start sending hateful message to me, the curious part about this is that the friends in question are all female.)


12:07am -- On the way home, hit up my old convenience store for some snacks. Say hi to the crew. Say "I don't know" when they ask if I will ever be back or if my new store will be a permanent assignment.

8:23am -- Wake up again. This is getting annoying.

9:14am -- More laundry.

11:30am -- Try to design a devastating offense that will help the Patriots offset the loss of Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez.

12:13pm -- Focus on the Patriot defense instead.

1:37pm -- Complain about the heat some more.

2:11pm -- Back to B&N for more writing/cooling off.

6:53pm -- Home to watch Sunday night reruns on TV.

9:32pm -- Apologize to the world for totally blowing a weekend off with my general lameness. I'll try to do better in the future.