Saturday, November 27, 2004

Wake up Pro Athletes and smell what you are cooking.

Some athletes just don’t get it. I sat in horror last weekend watching the craziness from Detroit wondering how these guys don’t get sent to jail.

For you not in the know, a small fight broke out at the end of an NBA game between the Detroit Pistons and the Indiana Pacers. Ron Artest of the Pacers fouled Ben Wallace of the Pistons pretty hard at the end of a game in which the Pacers were sticking it to the Pistons bad. Wallace was upset at the foul and tried to get at Artest in an attempt to fight. The two players were separated by referees and teammates but Wallace stayed angry and kept trying to get to Artest. During the attempts to calm Wallace down, Artest made fun of the situation by lying down on the scorer’s table on the sidelines. While lying there, someone in the stands threw a cup of some liquid (I assume beer) which hit him in the chest. Artest jumped up and went into the stands in order to beat the guy who had thrown the beverage. After finding a guilty looking spectator, Artest threw him to the grand and began pummeling him

Artest is not a little guy. lists him at 6’ 7” tall and 247 pounds. Neither are his teammates Jermain O’Neal at 6’ 11” 242 and Steven Jackson at 6’ 8” 220, who decided to join Artest in the melee either in the stands or with people who have come on to the court during the riot that was caused by players going into the stands.

I was not at the game and all I saw were reports on ESPN and other news programs. The reporters stated that the guy that Artest pummeled in the stands was not even the guy that threw the beverage in the first place. Video shows that Jackson joined Artest in the stands and started fighting with a fan that was trying to pull Artest off the guy he was beating up. Further video shows that at some point a fan had gone onto the court and was being restrained by some unidentified people and O’Neal came over and hit him while he was being held.

I have no idea what the fans might have done earlier in the game but no matter what they had done, with the possible exception of shooting someone, nothing they could have done would have justified what the Pacer players did during the altercation. However, nothing the players did justified what the fans did after, pelting the players as they were removed from the floor and taken to their locker room. Detroit fans pelted them with every item listed on the concession stand menu.

While I was disgusted with the Pacer players and the Detroit fans who participated in the fight, I was just as disgusted with the group of former NBA players that ESPN has hired as their NBA analysts. This group of morons stated that the Pacer players were acting in self-defense, protecting themselves from the unruly Detroit fans. That’s funny, I saw the Pacer players going into the stands after people and hitting people on the court while they were being held. I didn’t see that as a heck of a lot of self endangerment. But when I thought about what these idiots were saying, I realized that they were just brothers in the same fraternity with the morons fighting with the fans. Like doctors covering for each other, the announcers were trying to make their brothers look OK.

When are these guys going to realize that they live a privileged lifestyle, allowing them to garner wages that they would not be able to make in other jobs? While I have no questions regarding most of their effort, I question that attitude that is not appreciative of the fan base that provides the enormous salaries that they draw. And while I agree with Charles Barkley’s “I am a basketball player, not a role model” sentiment, I think that Charles and other athletes and former athletes should appreciate the position that they are put in due to a fan bases enjoyment of their accomplishments. It is the fans that not only buy the tickets and watch the games on TV but idolize the players making them a valuable commodity when it comes to determining spokespersons for advertising and endorsing

Two years ago I was at a hockey game with my wife and kids (aged 3 and 9 at the time) where a young couple sitting directly behind me used profanity over and over again during the game. Now I am no saint but I have cleaned up my language a lot since getting married and I don’t believe I was ever that vulgar when around my elders and around kids. Because of my mouth when I was younger, I let it slide for the first period. After that period, I asked the couple to please watch the language. They agreed to but the profanity continued during the second period. At some point I got up and turned around to confront the man-boy with the mouth. His wife decided to argue with me that I was a bad parent for bringing my kids to a hockey game where it was OK to curse as much as they were. I questioned the people sitting around me who also had their kids there if they thought it was OK to bring kids to the game. I will let you guess their answer and I proceeded to tell the lady that I was amazed that she even could get a date considering how nasty she was. The man exclaimed that she was his wife to which I expressed my condolences for having married such a witch. I offered to take the guy outside and seep the sidewalk with his face if he felt too insulted by my comments regarding his wife be he declined. At some point someone decided that the cops should be summoned and after he refused my offer for a trip outside the stadium we sat back down with his oath to utter no more profanity. When the cops showed up and stated that they would sit by all of us, the young couple decided to leave the game and most of the section stood and applauded.

Had the guys accompanied me outside or had we fought right there, I would have probably gone to jail. Of course, I am like most people in the world and am not treated as something so different that I can br3eak the law and get away with it.

A couple of weeks before the incident in Detroit, Ron Artest told his coaches that he needed some time off in order to promote his new hip-hop or rap album. Now I don’t pretend to know the slightest about hip-hop but I would guess that Mr. Artest would not even have a recording contract if it weren’t for basketball. Maybe I am wrong, and it wouldn’t be a first, but I am guessing that Artest is using his name as a basketball player (or maybe that is playa) and his reputation as a bad boy into garnering a following. Or perhaps this fight was a win-win situation for Artest; perhaps being a thug helps sell his CDs and his suspension gives him time to promote it. Too bad he won’t have to promote it from jail.

Health and Happiness

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Please think before complaining

You know I used to work in Technical Support for what was at the time a relatively large software company. This experience allowed me to get a tougher skin, as when a problem was unsolvable the user normally would blame whoever was on the line with them regardless of the problem. Usually it was a problem with the software, or sometimes it was the user’s system was running incompatible software. There was lots of that in those days, before the internet changed our lives and PCs are sold for $200.

Working in tech support proved to me that people will complain much faster than they will praise. As a manager, I would listen in on calls handled by our technicians and for the most part they were handled quite well. I mean I had the exceptions, like the technicians who would give the canned answer to every problem just so he could get them off the phone and pad his stats. Thankfully he was eventually fired for cursing at a customer when he thought he had pressed the mute button. However when people were given good technical support, they rarely called or wrote to praise the person who had helped them, even if the technician had gone way beyond the call of duty. The calls and letters happened, but not even close to the numbers of complaint letters that we received.

Now I have no illusions that our technicians were perfect. It was not so easy to find PC savvy people in the late 80s or early 90s in Louisiana who would take on a job that was usually thankless and paid similar to a McDonald’s shake maker I think they at least have stock options) but we hired the best attitude people we could and taught them the PC skills. Most of our techs cared. The reality is that the people we hired with fewer computer skills were, in general, more courteous and thoughtful than the people that were hired as so called “computer specialists”, at least IMHO. I know the level of caring that our people had because I listened to their calls with customers and their discussions in the off-work hours. We were all friends, and I know they cared. To this day, the people that I worked with at Fifth Generation Systems were the best group of people I have ever worked with.

And that is important because it is praise. I, along with others, advanced in my industry because of their work and my dedication. They deserve part of the success that I have made and they deserve this mention.

When I started this project I wanted a format to share my thoughts. I didn’t think that they were terribly important to the well being of the world but someone might read them one day and think about something important that could lead to an important thought to help the world. But after thinking about my next entry it hit me that all I had written about was pretty much hate; hate for the Yankees, hate for Christine Gregoire (who still, after all of her incompetent actions, may be my next governor after 5 days of counting absentee ballots), slimy politicians, etc. I am also the first one to complain about bad service because I do believe in getting good service. But my thoughts saddened me me enough to make me think that I should write this AND think about going out of my way to praise the next person that does something nice in my eyes. Perhaps you could do the same.

Please be Happy and Healthy,


Monday, November 01, 2004

Just pay them, baby

I recently set up a computer for my father to use as his home system. He had always used his work computer to access e-mail and the web as the only other computer he had actually purchased was in 1986 and had all of 64Mb of RAM and 2 360Kb floppy drives. In those days, 10 Mb hard drives were incredibly expensive and the processor speed was probably 4.77 Mhz. Because he was retiring, he would no longer have access to a work computer and needed to get something for use at home. I set him up with nothing too powerful; a 1.8 Ghz system running WIndowsXP with a 40 Gb hard drive and more importantly to this story a 802.11g wireless network card and router. I set them up with a wireless keyboard and mouse so that all they had to do was unpack it and turn it on. And other than forgetting to repack the power cord this is exactly what happened.

My mom was concerned that once the computer was set up my dad would disappear for hours at a time leaving her all alone in her advancing years. She was probably afraid that she would die and he wouldn’t notice for a couple of weeks, finding her dead on the sofa watching C-Span. I don’t know about you but C-Span is certainly boring enough to kill me.

So Comcast comes and sets up their Internet connectivity and boom they are on-line.

On a side note, has everybody that works in the computer field had a family member or friend call them up and ask them how to make some program you’ve never used or some hardware you’ve never seen work? I get this all of the time from family as most of my friends do work in the “business” and are pretty self-reliant. Sometimes I can’t figure something out and I call friends but if I call you know it is something “out there” that has gone wrong. I had this conversation a couple of weeks ago with my parents.

“Hi Vince” my dad said. “We are at your mother’s hair dresser and her printer doesn’t work. Can you fix it?”

My parents bought me my current printer for Christmas a couple of years ago so they know that I don’t even have the same brand printer as what this lady had. However, and I hate to admit this, but we figured out the problem by finding her manual on-line. The problem was an empty ink cartridge. That sure wasn’t obvious.

Back to my story. Now the computer works, the internet is accessible, and now my mom won’t leave the computer alone for my dad to work with. Therefore, I offered to send a second computer just like the first. To this my dad responded that he had an old Laptop from work and couldn’t he just connect from it. This old laptop is running Windows95 and it probably doesn’t even do that well. I explained that wireless networking didn’t exist when that OS was written and none of the wireless net card makers I had checked with supported running on Windows95. My dad asked about installing his copy of WindowsXP running on the system that I sent them on his laptop. I explained that not only was it illegal but MS had put systems in place to help prevent it for this release of their OS.. My dad responded by stating that he was being ripped off by MS.

Now, MS is not my favorite company as I think they played some “dirty pool” in the early 90s (and this has nothing to do with web browsers) but I do believe that they should be paid. This is a company that helped move the PC to its current position in our homes today and has thousands of people who have worked just as hard as I have over the past 15 years and you and I should pay them for the software that need to legally run their apps and OSes.

If you want something for free, it exists. It’s called Linux and you get what you pay for. If you are technically savvy and can use and need the limited number of apps available for the platform, then Linux is the OS for you. But for those of us who don’t want to write our own apps and want to use the PC to do the things that we want, Windows is a necessity. And to use it, we have to pay for it.

Be Happy and Healthy