Five Things – 22 June 2016

1.

Mets took down the two-game series vs. the Royals on the latter’s first trip back to Citi Field since last year’s World Series.

Despite the pyrrhic victory, some getback from last year feels good, but the Mets’ issues weren’t solved in this series with the Royals. They need to keep hitting. It might help to go out and get a bat.

I’m ignoring Murph’s Nats stats … ignoring them … ignoring them … wow he’s really cooled off. Batting just .352 now. Whew.

O’s beat the visiting Padres to sweep their two game series.

Nothing much going on in Ravenstown. That’s good news.

2.

Tomorrow, Judge Barry G. Williams will read his verdict in the trial of Caesar Goodson, one of the six Baltimore Police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray. The trial didn’t start out well with the judge excoriating the prosecution concerning some of the evidence. Since then, my feeling has been that Goodson will be found not guilty. Actually, before that point, since the moment that Goodson requested a bench trial, that’s been my feeling.

We’ll see what happens tomorrow, 10 AM.

I hope, in the event of a not guilty verdict, if there are protests, the rights of individuals to protest the decision are respected. I’ll leave that there.

3.

It’s tough coming up with things when 95% of my time is taken up by writing, being taught about writing, and talking about writing. This is a good problem to have, though, so no complaints. Still, I’m paying minimal attention to the O’s, Mets, Ravens, everything outside of here.

4.

Aside from the fact that I watched last night’s episode of Major Crimes, which was really good. Maybe they’ll give Rusty a better arc this year with his still-shaky relationship with Gus and now his mother’s revelation that she’s pregnant.

I’m really looking forward to Murder in the First’s season premiere Sunday night. I’ll be back home watching it, so I need to leave really early to get home and write so that I’m not up writing late instead of watching.

5.

I’m not thinking too much of going home. I’m enjoying myself and worked through the issues that plagued Sunday and part of Monday. The writing activities and process have really helped.

I think I’m going to resolve to do even more writing in the mornings. Like getting up earlier, like 6, and getting it in, before work. And perhaps hiding with my notebook more. Not eating lunch at my desk. Maybe I’ll haul a desk into the big network closet to be a writing desk for myself.

Five Things (St. Mary’s Edition) – 22 June 2016

1.

Maybe it’s because summer session is going, but the college used to be much more strict about where people could park their vroom vrooms.

Yeah, they don’t want the workshop participants parking behind the townhouses at night, but as Public Safety explained to me, that was because the grounds people couldn’t get back there easily last time (which I saw first hand).

Still, I parked right outside of the circle at DPC to walk around the “central” part of campus and take pictures. Then I went a couple other places and just parked wherever I wanted while I took more. I had a good time just putting the vroom vroom any place I could.

I did get a bunch of pictures, even a few from Historic St. Mary’s City (I never went over there as a student). They’re not uploading from my phone, so I transferred them to my Chromebook to upload to Google Drive. If they’ll upload from my Chromebook or Google Drive (via my Chromebook) into the site later, we’ll be in business.

2.

I decided after my campus picture taking to drive down to Point Lookout and get a few shots down that way.

The drive was much shorter than it seemed the last time I was there. The Confederate Cemetery also seemed much further from the state park last time. And the huge Confederate battle flag was absent this time. However, I got a couple of shots of the flag being flown elsewhere along the road.

I didn’t feel like paying to enter the state park for just a few minutes of picture taking, so I turned around. Maybe I’ll come back down here one day for at least a few hours, perhaps to fish, and get some pictures of it there. The confluence of the Bay and the Potomac is really beautiful.

More on this in a future essay, I think.

3.

After my quick jaunt down to Point Lookout, I needed to go to CVS and I wanted to get a quick, small bite to eat since I’d skipped lunch in the dining hall to go out and get pictures.

Halfway between campus and Lexington Park, I figured I’d make the left onto Great Mills Road and see what new I might find there, whether it had become as built up as the rest of the county I’d seen thus far (save everything south of campus along Route 5).

And it was. More gas stations, shopping plazas, all that stuff. There was even a place selling ox tail and curry chicken, as well as a Latino market further down back towards Leonardtown Road. Even a car dealership. Way different than I remember.

4.

Back here on campus, I noticed that with one of the newer buildings there, vehicular access from the back of campus near Mattapany Road to the Dorchester Circle (which I’m not even sure that area is even called that anymore — and that’s weird because so many areas on campus are named circle or quadrangle or something). There were a couple of young, student looking guys on a Club Cadet (seriously, where do they get those from; they weren’t the only two people using one that looked like students) riding around the still-paved driveway near Dorchester and Prince George’s dorms, but I have no clue how they got there other than driving across the grass.

I do have pics of all this.

5.

I kinda wish I had the time to drive to Leonardtown and back and see how things have changed out that way. Unfortunately, no time, and I wasn’t planning on going that way when I leave out of here on Saturday. If I do come back down this way again (perhaps, next year for the conference), I’ll go all the way down Route 5 that time. Hopefully it won’t be the 6th Borough by the time I get there.

Five Things – 16 June 2016

1.

With iOS 10, Apple has made the phone carrier less necessary than ever

Apple desperately wants to wrest as much control of the iPhone from the phone carriers, and with iOS 10 it has taken another important step to making those network providers into dumb pipes.

Source: www.imore.com/apple-ios-10-goodbye-carriers?utm_medium=slider

 

Caught this after the initial news about WWDC. The way it’s going to function, I really like. I hope this functionality reaches the iPad, since I often use mine to make and receive calls.

But I moreso like the statement that this new functionality makes. Apple is turning their iPhone into a phone for all voice services, not just calls made over your provider’s “voice” network. If you want to use Facebook Messenger or perhaps, Viber, or some other 3rd party VoIP service, you can do that more or less the way you do now with “regular” calls over your provider’s “voice” network. Those services work now, but they’ll be more integrated into the usual ways calls are made and received.

VoIP used over data-only plans is the future. In a world where you’re Tweeting and Facebooking, watching video on YouTube or Vimeo, and perhaps FaceTiming or Duo-ing (I really am stopping here, I promise), privileging voice “minutes” will be a ridiculous and unacceptable way to pay for the usage of a smartphone (or tablet). Voice will be just another type of data that you’re consuming, not a separate and more important usage of your device.

I don’t expect the carriers to change overnight, but change they must. I imagine quite a few people my age and older (and perhaps some younger) consider the idea of paying for talking minutes to be perfectly reasonable, probably because we’ve done it for a long time and we’re used to it. Remember how we used to pay for long-distance calling? Do cell phone payment plans remind you of something?

However, much younger people (and older folks who have adapted) who have grown up on first, unlimited calling to cell phones (remember that, too?) and then, pretty much unlimited minutes to any phone, and then on top of that, all manner of video and voice chat over both cell phone data and Wi-Fi, don’t have any fond memories of opening up their telephone bill and flipping to the long distance section. Or of buying calling cards. They’ll probably consider the idea of buying a certain amount of voice minutes as ridiculous as I do now because they’re not spending most of their time talking on the phone as such. The data they use to post status updates and Snapchat is what they’ll be interested in. Cell carriers will have to adjust accordingly.

What Apple is doing now in iOS 10 is portending this future. Cell carriers will become data pipes, just like ISPs, which is probably why we see so many of them now jumping into the content generation business because soon, the real money and power will be in driving you towards their content, not just giving you the means to get online.

Even the idea of having a telephone number is becoming anachronistic to me. I was talking to a loved one a few weeks ago about giving up telephone numbers entirely. I don’t think telephone numbers will fully go away anytime soon. How will you be able to dial 9-1-1 and how will your older relatives who know dialing telephone but not using Hangouts get in contact with you? But folks of a certain age, who may or may not even use SMS, won’t give it much importance at some point. I hardly do. I just can’t get everybody to message me on Hangouts or iMessage. Which brings me to …

2.

Seems I’m not the only one who wants iMessage on Android.

An Apple exec explains why it won’t happen. And not everyone else thinks it’s a good idea.

Apple makes a ton of money selling you hardware. And they make money selling you music subscriptions, but you can get that on Android (not that I want it, regardless of platform). The Wired article makes a business case for Apple to bring iMessage over to Android. Part of the argument is using iMessage as an enticement to come fully over to Apple. I’m not sure it would work that way –I hope it would– but I’m not sure.

I do have an alternate thought. Apple keeps iMessage inside of their walled garden. I’m sure they’d love for me to ditch my Android devices, Chromebook, and Windows laptop and gear out with a Macbook and iPhone. I might get a Macbook, but I’m never getting an iPhone as I hate them (for whatever reason). But I’m also not giving up my iPad. I’m a sort of inbetweener, platform agnostic.

I like to think of myself as a good case for iMessage on Android. Yes, I have an iPad and I would like to have one for the foreseeable future. I regularly communicate with folks in iMessage. But I don’t want to carry my iPad around everywhere. So it would be nice to be able to stay in communication in iMessage, regardless of which device I’m using. I know others who have just iPods and use those to iMessage and FaceTime their iPhone user friends and relatives, instead of being able to just pick up their Android phones. It seems like most of the people I know who don’t have iPhones or Macs but use iMessage still have some gateway device that’s brought them inside of Apple’s walled garden. Could Apple use iMessage on Android to keep you buying at least one Apple device even if you don’t want others? I don’t know. I just know they’re not thinking that way. They want you all the way in. And they’ve made billions doing that, so I don’t expect them to necessarily change.

Besides, with them now giving 3rd party apps the same sort of privileges of the phone dialer, I have to wonder how much longer messaging will be important to them in any way. Even as the messenger wars heat up. It’s hard to tell right now. But if Facebook can make the kind of money some think they might make being cross-platform, maybe that’s something that will change Apple’s mind.

3.

I had to look up how to format a form/block letter. Might have been a brain fart, but I was drawing a blank. I should format email that way just to stay in practice. Writing formal letters might also be a fun writing exercise.

4.

Tough news coming out of Flushing.

I’m still thinking about it and trying not to think that this is the end. If so, it makes losing last year’s World Series that much more painful. I’m sure I’ll have more to say on it later.

Ravens cut Eugene Monroe. Really welcome to Baltimore, Ronnie Stanley. You’re definitely starting.

Up off exit 16W (see, Jersey folks, I can speak your language a bit) in the swamp, Jerry Reese couldn’t see fit to do business with Ozzie and trade someone to get Monroe, so he just waited for the inevitable cut to go in and try to make a move. And that’s good for them. Their offensive line’s been trash, even if some of their fans take everything out on Eli. Two titles haven’t bought him the benefit of the doubt, unfortunately.

And the Giants are cool with Monroe’s weed advocacy. That’s always a plus. In New Jersey.

Back at Birdland, the O’s are still mashing dingers (baseball lingo). AJ had one tonight in Boston. It’s a good season to be an O’s fan again. My birthday gift to myself may be another O’s hat. Or perhaps this fine hat that also happens to have my initials as the logo.

5.

Off to a writing conference next week. My regular blog topics, aside from Five Things, are on hold until I get back, but I will be blogging from there. I have to get up everyday at like 6:30AM, so there will definitely be something to write about.

Bonus:

It’s been a tough stretch of days in Orlando. Even if you’re not a praying person, please continue keeping a good thought out for that area. Same for the family of this little girl killed earlier, run over by a stolen car.

Five Things – 9 June 2016

1.

Mets have been scuffling a bit, but managed to get a win and avoid the sweep in Pittsburgh (never a good thing in my book). They got a game-clinching hit from Wilmer Flores, but they’re going to need better hitting period. Their pitching will keep them in it, but they’re not going to win 60 or so more games 1-0 to make it into the postseason.

O’s are rolling, completing the three game sweep of the Royals

Also, this happened:

Ventura had already thrown at him earlier in the game and really, who can blame Manny for charging after getting hit by a 98 MPH fastball. Especially since Ventura doesn’t have to stand in the batter’s box himself.

I haven’t asked any Royals fans how they felt about this, yet. But as much as they were upset about Noah Syndergaard throwing inside in the World Series last year, I might give them the benefit of the doubt and imagine they’re as as upset as the team is about Ventura doing it now.

Speaking of the Royals, the sweep extends their losing streak to seven. Their injuries have hurt them, but they’re still just 3 games out in a close division.

O’s up 12 games over .500 and in first. Gotten some good pitching lately. Chris Tillman’s 8-1.

Ravens lost a week of OTA’s and really, there isn’t much else to say about them. They’re back at practice. They have a bunch of tight ends on the roster.

Oh, and coach, please don’t join Twitter. The last thing you need is a zillion remarks about your clock management every Sunday night after a close game. Ravens Twitter can be a mess on Sunday nights.

Talking about KC does remind me of last December’s Chiefs at Ravens game. A painful memory. Not necessarily because of the loss, but because of the gold pants:

Never again. Please. We’re not the Steelers.

Oh, the MLB Draft will be on TV and streaming beginning tonight. Mets pick 19 and 31 (compensatory pick for Daniel Murphy). O’s go at 27 (compensatory pick for Wei-Yin Chen). I might order myself a salad and watch and get ready to see these players in a few years.

2.

I’m finally allowing comments on blog posts. I didn’t want to because comments sections are usually cesspools and I wasn’t sure who I was going to be attracting to this site. But I thought it would be interesting to possibly see who might be reading what I’m saying here.

So, comments are there, going forward. Moderated, though, through Disqus. Warm up your social media passwords if you have something to say.

3.

Found out that someone else affiliated with my job is from Baltimore. And not just that, his folks lived not too far from where I grew up. I even attended camp at their former church one summer (though long after they’d moved).

I love meeting Baltimore people outside of Baltimore. Especially ones who are still positive about Baltimore as a whole and haven’t given up on the City being able to come back, regardless of its recent troubles. And believe me, there’s been trouble lately.

4.

As I said in an earlier blog post, I’ve never been to Horseshoe and I’ve only been to Maryland Live once or twice. One of those times, I just went to Bobby’s Burger Palace.

Despite my not having dropped a few bucks into the till, casinos around Maryland aren’t hurting. We’ll see what this means especially for Baltimore, given all the big talk about community investment from casino money, specifically from Horseshoe. Especially after National Harbor’s casino opens later this year.

Meanwhile, AC’s trying to come back from its spectacular hit in 2014 when four casinos closed.

During summers when I was growing up, I remember there being many bus trips from Baltimore up to Atlantic City. The cost of the ticket included your fare there and back as well as some chips or something to play inside the bus’ destination casino. Once the bus got to Atlantic City, you had 12 or so hours before the bus returned. You just went and did your thing.

This went on for years because AC was the only place in the region with table games. If you wanted to just play slots, you could go up to Delaware Park.

And then every state around New Jersey legalized table games. Delaware brought them into Delaware Park and Dover Downs. New York State followed. Pennsylvania’s table games went to new and already established casinos. Maryland Live, Horseshoe, and Hollywood Casinos opened in Maryland.

I wondered then about the fate of AC and the bus tours because if you were going to spend hours sitting there playing slots or cards, you had no reason to go all the way to Atlantic City to do it. Then 2014 happened. I wasn’t surprised, but a lot of folks in AC seemed to be.

Hopefully for the sake of the folks lining up to get jobs, they’ll be able to make something work at (the former?) Revel and Showboat and with the overall AC recovery. As one of the linked articles shows, there were people who put in many years working in those properties who very quickly found themselves out of work.

I don’t know what it’s going to look like in AC going forward with all the surrounding states working to keep the casino dollar at home, but until they can figure out the future of AC, I hope folks there find some relief.

5.

For years, my coworkers have praised me and my boss for keeping things going at the office. Information Technology is obviously important and we do our best, along with our technology partners, to keep things going. Even if I have to hear nearly every day that someone’s default printing settings have changed. Oh how I love to hear yet again that someone’s default printing settings have changed.

However, I have to nominate our HR Director for being the one who really keeps things going there. Anybody who can actually understand the complicated processes surrounding interactions with the health care and insurance industries and help the rest of us with all the documentation and calling and making sure folks get paid while you don’t get thoroughly ganked, is worth their weight in gold.

The documentation and payment process has been nearly as stressful as the hospital stay that produced the need for much of the documentation in the first place. Having someone there to help is pretty invaluable.

I help my coworkers keep their iPhones synced with their office email and the occasional Facebook password reset. And I personally take complaints about user printing settings. I guess there’s value in that, as well.

Five Things – 2 June 2016

1.

I was right about Matt Harvey. Kinda. He has “snapped out” and at least in his last start was the old Matt Harvey. But, instead of the issue being something mental, it was a flaw in his mechanics. Hopefully, they’ll keep him on track the rest of the way through because they’re going to need the starting pitching to do well as Jeurys Familia and the Met bullpen haven’t been lighting the world on fire lately. Aside from Addison Reed. He’s locking the 8th inning down right now.

2.

Ray Lewis must, without the help of anything mechanical, achieve flight and ascend directly into Heaven or Low Earth Orbit one day soon.

It came out this week that not only did Ray come back from a torn triceps in 2012 (see, 2012!), he also re-tore the triceps the night before the Super Bowl. And played anyway. And prayed over Jacoby just before his touchdown. He must be touched or it was all 100% Concentrated, 125 Proof Deer Antler Juice. At least that’s what I hear on the Internet.

I’m going to make a pilgrimage to Ray. I’ve already been to the statue. That was just the first part.

Seriously, though, I need to stop talking about football while the O’s are just 1 game behind Boston in the AL East after splitting this week’s series. They also mashed 7 dingers earlier. Baseball jargon.

3.

Pretty much done with the infection. Took my last hit of antibiotics earlier. I’ll be taking my probiotics after I click the publish button in WordPress. And some vitamin C as I think I got a summer cold the other day. Sniffles, some sinus/throat soreness. Don’t worry, though, it’s gone.

And with my skin healing, I will get back to throwing my bell and possibly lifting some next week. I’ll definitely be throwing the bell. I love how thoroughly drained I feel when I’m done. Feels like I was running without having to run. I wish I’d discovered the bell when I was in high school.

4.

Been doing some writing and editing at work this week. Playing surprisingly well with others involved in the process, too, considering how much I hate that (I like collaborating in Theatre, but not when I’m writing). I appreciate the opportunity, though. I’m a writer, even if I’m doing something else for pay there.

And even if my name isn’t going on the work. I don’t even care, which is also strange for me. I’m engaging my biggest passion in the office and besides, the work is for something important to the organization. I appreciate that my input is so valued.

And before you say “they’re taking advantage of you,” I’ll have you know that I’d much rather spend that hour or two editing and rewriting something than having to walk around and reboot something for somebody (which you should do before calling IT anyway), climbing under a desk, or moving a workstation for the thousandth time. It really is like a small vacation. The workstations will be there when I’m done.

5.

Baltimore Metro is infested with rats.

Amalgamated Transit Union held a protest at Mondawmin, complete with folks in rat masks. Video is above. I often talk about how different we are from folks in other cities, but in this case, I kinda hope we get a New York style video of a rat hauling a cookie from The Great Cookie down the concourse.

(I haven’t been to The Great Cookie in so long. I need to go over there. Often, when I smell freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, I think of Mondawmin. When I was younger, the smells from Great Cookie seemed to fill the entire mall. Whenever we went over there, I always knew where I wanted to go. I hope the rats are indeed enjoying those treats as much as I want to. Until they get gassed or something by MTA.)

Five Things – 26 May 2016

1.

Another possible staph infection. Thankfully, no hospitalization.

My first trip to the doctor, she did tell me that if the condition didn’t improve by the first couple days of antibiotics, then she wanted me to go to the emergency room. Not sure if the implication was that they’d give me a stronger antibiotic or a few incisions, but I’m guessing it was the latter.

I’d pretty much decided I wasn’t going to do that, so I’m glad it didn’t come to me having to say those words. Or, rehearsing saying those words as I likely still went out there.

Mostly, I’m glad that I didn’t have to lay there as doctors and others funneled into the room, asking me how I felt, perhaps talking some football, and submitting a bill I’d later curse at in the HR office at work.

Then, there was the whole “getting sicker in the hospital” thing.

2.

I did look up some alternative “stuff.” After last time, one of my coworkers gave me some interesting information about staph and antibiotics and alternative treatments, since the antibiotic apocalypse is coming. Phages sounded most interesting. Copper kills MRSA on contact, but I thought better of ordering some 999 copper rounds and touching them to the wound. Maybe next time, if there is one. I found colloidal copper online, but I wasn’t feeling that, either.

I did settle on some antiseptic cream and some extra probiotics. Last time, I waited until after I’d finished my course of antibiotics to begin taking probiotics. Not this time. I feel much better.

3.

Ironically, I haven’t written as much this week that I’ve been fighting this infection. When I was in the hospital and didn’t have notebook, pens, paper, Chromebook, anything, I couldn’t wait to get out and write again.

This time around, I’m right with all of my writing tools and utensils and I’m not writing as much. Maybe I should have packed some clothes and notebooks and gone to the hospital. Had I gone, I wouldn’t have had to take the call that like half the staff at work couldn’t get into the terminal server.

4.

It was bound to happen eventually. Not sure how it happened, but not everyone is ready to share the road. However, the train always wins. Remember. The train always wins.

I’m glad their streetcar is doing so well. If Baltimore can’t get a new light rail, because … buses … then I’m glad KC can have one and that it can be a success.

I’d love to go out there and take a ride, just not on a day like today.

5.

Ravens:

Big fine for breaking offseason rules. Perhaps they should put in for a TIF to redevelop some land around the stadium and help pay for fines for stuff like that.

Ray Rice was back at the Castle. They did say he’d be welcome back after he was done playing to help guide rookies.

Perhaps the NFL or even MLB should bring him in.

O’s:

They’re attracting more orioles.

But the players are strking out alot. The extra-inning game the other day was pretty brutal.

We’ll always have those 2012 and 2014 playoffs. Those were magical.

Mets:

Hope this doesn’t get any messier.

Five Things – 19 May 2016

1.

Liking Gotham alot right now. In Hugo Strange, they’ve created a character whose next action, I always want to see. He embodies a very Gotham-esque ethos, a mix of science and junk science and odd religion that they’ve toyed with in different characters like Mr. Freeze, Ed Nygma, and Theo Galavan.

Plus, I just flat out enjoy B.D. Wong and Tonya Pinkins’ performances. They play really well off of each other. But they’re both damn good veteran actors. What else would I expect? Besides, the show in general has featured some great acting. Don’t forget Robin Lord Taylor’s Penguin.

David Mazouz’s performances have also been better. Since he’s grown up a little bit, he embodies more the ongoing grief and bitterness that pushes Bruce Wayne. I’m enjoying it.

How much longer until Harvey dies and Jim Gordon has to take over GCPD because there’s literally nobody left who can run the department?

2.

I still think Elizabeth Keen faked her death and she’s going to show up on the season finale. I think she faked it and Mr. Kaplan helped. Outside of that, I don’t know what to think. Tom’s headed into another show.

3.

Preakness Weekend. Sun reporting that horse racing is doing better financially in Maryland, but I’m not sure if that means anything for keeping the race in Baltimore. I’ll believe any talk of a Pimlico renovation when I see dirt on West Belvedere Ave. (there was once something else horse related that they claimed to not to want to move before. Can’t remember what that was. Oh well).

Regardless of what may happen in the distant future, it’s supposed to rain all Saturday, so the race should look like last year’s. And there should be plenty of alcohol and partying, as usual. I’m expecting there to be a rain slip and slide in the infield or something.

4.

I need to go to Barnes and Noble. Haven’t been in a long time. I’m going to take my Chromebook up there and write one of these days. Perhaps I’ll take a day off for this instead of waiting for a weekend.

5.

Disastrous West Coast trip for the Mets. Nats series hasn’t been any better. I’m also happy to forget the O’s series vs. Seattle.