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Archive for February, 2006

Do This

I’m disgusted with politics right now. If you want a break from watching the Democrats trip over themselves pouncing on the current opportunity to sound tough on terrorism, and you are over 35, turn on the Game Show Network and watch a "Match Game" rerun from the 70’s. You’ll laugh if you don’t remember the show too, but those of us who recall it will smile at where we were at the time. The economy was a shambles, the cold war was on, we were still talking about Watergate, and it still seemed like a happier, more innocent time. It’s like they were having a party and a game show broke out in the corner. And you NEVER knew what Charles Nelson Reilly would say or do next.

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Curt Gowdy

It is a rare day when I would ever say anything to console the heart of a Boston Red Sox fan, but the recent passing of Hall of Fame broadcaster Curt Gowdy is not something I can ignore. If you are older than I, you might remember his AFL football broadcasts and the American Sportsman interview series. That was before my time, but I distinctly recall his voice on the NBC baseball Game of the Week, AFC football, NCAA basketball, and a number of other broadcasts where he was a fixture in my childhood in the 70’s. Gowdy was also the voice of the Boston Red Sox from 1951-1966, and he broadcast Yankee games in ’49 and ’50.
There probably will ever be a sports announcer with his breadth of excellence.
Over the course of a career that stretched into the 1980s, he also covered Major League Baseball and college basketball; called 13 World Series, 16 baseball All-Star Games, 9 Super Bowls, 14 Rose Bowls, 8 Olympic Games and 24 NCAA Final Fours; and hosted ABC’s long-running American Sportsman series.
In 1970 Gowdy became the first sportscaster to receive the George Foster Peabody Award. He was given the Ford C. Frick Award from the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1984, the Pete Rozelle Award from the Pro Football Hall of Fame and a lifetime achievement Emmy in 1992, and was selected to the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame in 1995. Gowdy was president of the Basketball Hall of Fame for several years, and that institution’s Curt Gowdy Award (presented annually to outstanding basketball writers and broadcasters) is named after him.
I still recall his cowboy hat and distinctive tone. He was literally the voice of AFL/AFC football, he was a baseball Hall of Fame inductee in the announcer wing, and he covered a slew of NCAA Final Fours. He didn’t simply cover a variety of sports- he was the guy who was in the booth for Superbowls and World Series games. He called Carlton Fisk’s historic game 6 home run in 1975 against the Reds and the Jet’s upset of the Colts in Superbowl III in 1969 to name just two. In addition to all that, by all accounts he was a decent, fine human being. We may never see another like him.

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$365 Million

The record $365 Million Powerball jackpot from this past Saturday had one winning ticket in Nebraska. They have not come forward, so it remains to be seen if there was a lone winner or if the ticket was purchased by a pool of people. I always feel a twinge of disappointment when the really large totals are won by 12 guys from the same tool and dye shop as opposed to a single person, but for the winners’ sake it is good to have a little support after coming into such a life-changing windfall.
Jack Whittaker has become the poster boy for post-jackpot misery, but that probably has more to do with the sheer size of his winnings (over $100 million as opposed to the 5 or 10 million you read about with the other sob stories) than his character. The lottery organizations never tell you about the suffering winners experience after their lucky day.
I actually had a client who was a New York Lotto winner. He was the prototypical winner: a blue collar worker from the Bronx who lived paycheck to paycheck, and came into the right six numbers at the right time. The one thing the lottery couldn’t do was give him a long life, and he passed away too young this past year. I won’t disclose anything about him beyond that, but I will say this: the law of unintended consequences is alive and well even with jackpot winners. The bills may be handled, but life doesn’t suddenly get any easier for the suddenly wealthy.
At some point, I may indulge in a small fantasy about what I’d do with the money. In the meantime, I have my dollars, such as they are, and my dreams.

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With all due respect for the Presidents, Martin Luther King Jr., and Black History Month, I have to rate February as the crappiest month on the calender. It is cold. There is no football or baseball. Hockey and basketball games are meaningless at this point in the season. There are no cool holidays unless you are in New Orleans, and that sort of says it all.
Presidents Day kills me. Maybe you take this day off, but I don’t. Lawyers and banks do (lawyers have a knack for disappearing Friday too), so I am left to work without being able to contact them. I am not one of these people who thinks that we Americans are overworked. Most complaints I hear from people about life in this country could be ameliorated by a part time job. What other country are people a moonlighting job away from that house, vacation or car they pine for?
Georgewashington_5
If you are off today, happy President’s Day. As for me, I say let’s all get back to work.

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A Blog About Bad Blogs

If you want a quick giggle, check out www.shittyblogs.com, where they blog about crummy blogs. I found them when I googled Hot Abercrombie Chick, 5% because I didn’t think she was for real and 95% to see if she had any more pictures up.
Hey, at least I’m honest.

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(2.3%)

I wouldn’t call it a bubble-burst, but forecasters are predicting a cooling off in the real estate market for many areas. New York is projecting a 2.3% decline in values. 2.3% is not a horrific bloodletting, but it is a dramatic departure from 12% annual growth that property owners (and vampires municipal assessors) have grown accustomed to in recent years. Interest rates remain low, so it shouldn’t be too volatile an adjustment for the average homeowner. Here’s who will get hurt: leverage addicts. These are the people who have treated their home’s appreciation in the past few years as income, churning out the refinance and equity loans for an extra 10, 25, or 50 thousand every 18 months or so since 2000. When they wake up to the reality that they can no longer ride the appreciation curve and  borrow themselves out of trouble, it won’t be a comfortable thing.
I should probably stick to baseball predictions, but we are looking at a recession after the mid term elections. The inablity to use the home as an ATM will end billions in discretionary spending that has boosted the economy since 9/11. As always, it is the poor planners who will get hurt the most, and as always there will be a contingent of lefty fascists who will blame the Republicans and clamor for knee jerk initiatives to redistribute income even more than we do now. The fact of the matter is that equity is a savings account that is better suited for retirement and college than lifestyle-based debt. That fact will not help the bleeding hearts from grasping that you cannot legislate away stupidity and poor judgment.

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Guts

It would be easy to comment on Bryant Gumbel’s latest inanity on the 2006 Winter Olympics, but I prefer to focus on something which the games are all about, namely Zhang Dan. She and her partner were in second place and within shot of gold when she took a bad spill while attempting a risky quadruple whatchamacallit. The routine had to be stopped and there was doubt whether she could continue- it was an ugly fall, one that even Gerald Ford would have envied. 
Zhang Hao and Zhang Dan
She caught her breath, walked (skated?) it off, resumed the routine, and performed brilliantly, strained knee ligament and all. It was good enough for them to hang on for the Silver. That comeback took some real heart, and I’m glad Ann TiVo’d the whole thing. The Russian pair which took Gold also recovered from a horrific fall, but theirs was last year and they had more than just a few moments to bounce back. Today, everyone is talking about the pair who won the Silver because of Zhang Dan’s courage.

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