Tuesday, August 25, 2009

McDonald's, Why?

Am I the only one who is somewhat surprised McDonald's stays at the top of the fast food industry?

I think it has been around 10 years since I have had a somewhat-pleasant experience at a McDonald's. One time, while at the airport in Boise, Idaho, my wife and I stopped there, and as we were eating our "food," we both kind of looked at each other. We both knew exactly what the other was thinking: the fries and the burgers had almost identical flavors to them.

I'm not saying all of McDonald's food tastes alike. That distinction is reserved for Taco Bell, who seems to prefer selling different shapes instead of varying tastes (however, the taste Taco Bell does sell is fantastic!).

All I am saying is on that particular day, at that particular location, all of the food did have the same taste: cruddy.

In college, I remember meeting some girls whose favorite place to eat was McDonald's. I didn't understand then, and I certainly don't now. Why? What is so good at McDonald that can't be found with a better taste at Burger King or Wendy's?

Even the McFlurry, with the easy equation of "ice cream + candy," is done better as a a Blizzard at Dairy Queen.

Who actually has McDonald's cravings? And if you do, why? Why do you prefer inferior food? I mean, I'm not a foodie or some sort of gourmet snob. Burger King and Wendy's aren't exactly purveyors of excellence themselves, but their food is tons better, so why would a normal person prefer McDonald's over the aforementioned chains?

And I don't know if I am crazy, but I seem to recall McDonald's commercial having an element of humor to them. It seems like about eight years ago they traded that in for a bunch of Starbuck's-sipping, three-days-beard-growth-wearing, "Friends"-hair-having yuppies.

Meanwhile, Burger King has passed and then lapped them in commercials. Here is one spot from the time I first though BK's commercials made them cooler:

Then, they introduce "The King," and, while some find him to be a tad on the creepy side, I can't get enough of him:

Then this one where he replaces Steve Young in his most memorable touchdown run:

Now they have these commercials with the "Tiny Hands Guy," and they scratch me right where I itch. The first time I saw these, I almost fell out of my seat.They're just too funny:

So what I am basically saying is there is no reason to go to McDonald's. Their food sucks, their commercials suck, and thus, they suck. Do yourselves a favor and never go their again.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The System Works? Yes, Just Not Logically

Lately, there have been a lot of NFL players' names and the word "prison" in the news. Donte' Stallworth, Michael Vick, and Plaxico Burress have been the most recent and notable ones with jail sentences.

Vick - interstate dogfighting ring
Stallworth - DUI/Manslaughter
Burress - unlawful carrying of a handgun

I think if we put the actions in order of least to most offensive, it would go Burress, Vick, and Stallworth, and, frankly, I don't even think it is debatable, but here are the crimes with the penalty the athlete received.

Vick - interstate dogfighting ring - 23 months
Stallworth - DUI/Manslaughter - 30 days
Burress - unlawful carrying of a handgun - 2 years

In reality, all Burress did was accidentally shoot himself in the leg, and he gets two years on a plea bargin?! His crime is the worst of all of these?

If a judge hears these three crimes - killing a man while driving drunk, bankrolling an interstate dogfighting ring, and unlawful carrying of a handgun - does he really think the last one is the worst? The only reason the cops even knew about it was because they saw it reported on TV.

He shot himself in the leg! Hasn't he suffered enough? I didn't realize the penalty for being stupid was so stiff. If that's the case, I've met a lot of people in my life you could be locked up for life.

It also seems as though many people are the most outraged by Vick's actions, and it makes no sense to me. What Vick did was despicable and disgusting, but when it comes down to it, he did it to animals not humans. Stallworth's blood alcohol content was 0.12, and Florida's legal limit is 0.08. Nevertheless, he got behind the wheel of car and drove, and he ended up killing a person - a human being.

What do these very different sentences say about the crimes? DUI manslaughter isn't all that bad? Stallworth's original action was so much worse than Vick's, and all he got was 30 days in the can? That's outrageous.

What's worse is that this sets a terrible example. Not to other rich people or NFL players or even other athletes, but to regular joes all across the country who are drunk each and every night. What is to stop them from getting in their car and driving home? Not a 30-day prison sentence for the worst possible consequence of drunk driving.

Where are all of the protesters and activists from organizations like M.A.D.D. and S.A.D.D.? Shouldn't they be up in arms about all of this? Shouldn't they be organizing boycotts of NFL sponsors? Shouldn't they have been outside the courthouse yelling and screaming?

I don't know if more people are against what Vick did than what Stallworth did, but I am 100 percent sure the people against Vick are a whole lot louder than the others.

It's high time the judicial system start treating celebrities like everyone else. Vick got an expected sentence, but Stallworth's stature helped him skate and Burress' stardom made an example out of him.

If a drunk kills a member of his family, what kind of a penalty would Stallworth want for that person?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Weather Prognosticator: the zero-accountability career

Does anyone really like weathermen?

I'm not referring to the one in Pocatello, Idaho, who, in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma, said the Japanese Mafia had a weather machine and were exacting revenge from WWII. But is there any other career field in which you're allowed to be so wrong so often?

I'm sure the only time I've ever seen "100 percent chance of rain" on weather.com is when it is already raining. A great part of me can't stand that.

And if they're wrong - which frequently happens - they're like, "It's the weather! Who can predict that? Nobody's perfect!" That's a cop out, their way to avoid responsibility.

Can you imagine if other occupations were given this kind of leeway? How many planes would crash if air traffic controllers could fall back on "nobody's perfect"?

What about S.W.A.T. teams? "Gee, we're sorry we crashed through all of your windows and used the battering ram to knock down your door. It turned out it was the house next door with the covered windows and sporadic chemical burns in the front yard."

And hit men? Don't get me started on the amount of needless murders in which that would result.

Some days I look on the aforementioned Web site to find the current day's forecast, and I see the storm clouds icon. In my mind, I immediately change my plans for the day. "I can't go running in the rain" or "I don't want to play soccer in the rain" or "My day is ruined! Who wants to picnic in the rain?"

If I were to further investigate the day by clicking on "more details," I would find there was really only a 30 percent chance of rain. Meaning, there was actually a 70 percent chance we would see NO rain. That's actually more than TWICE as likely we'll get no rain at all. Twice as likely!

Frankly, I feel we've gone far too long with life like this. We need to band together and demand accountability from our meteorologists. Don't you let another picnic get canceled without a fight.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Vick to the Eagles Potentially Makes them a Super Bowl Favorite

Kudos to the Philadelphia Eagles for signing Michael Vick to a two-year contract. Vick has made a lot of mistakes in the past, and based on the opinion of Tony Dungy - a man who makes A.C. Green look immoral - I believe he deserves a second chance.

Even before the signing, I had Philly pretty high based on the way they finished last year and the drafting of the playmaking Missouri wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. Donovan McNabb has gone through the majority of his career without a #1 receiver, and if Maclin lives up to the hype - with DeSean Jackson coming off a solid rookie year - Eagles will be the NFC favorites to go to the Super Bowl.

Even Rush Limbaugh would have to like McNabb's chances this year.

Now, with Michael Vick aboard, things haven't been this interesting in the City of Brotherly Love since Wilt Chamberlain was actively "dating."

We have no idea how well Vick will be able to play being away from football for the last two seasons. We do know he was a tremendous athlete - not a tremendous quarterback, but an exciting athlete. He's not being brought in to take over at QB. McNabb has that position locked up, and Kevin Kolb is the future at that slot.

The question is where will coach Andy Reid place Vick? How will Michael Vick contribute on the football field?

Based on the impact of the Miami Dolphins' usage of the Wildcat formation, it would be pretty difficult to look past that option. There's a minute chance he could line up as a receiver, but that system would be perfect for Vick. Not putting him there would be like buying a toothbrush to clean your fingernails. Sure a toothbrush would work, but that's not what it was designed for and other things do it better.

Things in Hell: Opionators: Not only is your opinion different, it is wrong

Have you ever had an firmly held opinion? An opinion you were rather passionate about, perhaps dealing with ethical, economical or political topics?

Me too.

Have you ever had someone disagree with your strong opinion? For reasons known or unknown to you, he or she just could not come to any common ground?

Me too.

Is it wrong to disagree with someone's opinion? I don't think so. In a country which grants us the freedoms required to express ourselves the way we see fit (with obvious exceptions), we should welcome the arrival of others at the marketplace of ideas. Numerous minds working together is the basis of a country's strength and ability to progress through good times and bad.

Now to get to the point of this entry, have you had someone disagree with your strong opinion, but not just disagree? To them it is not even a matter of opinion as much as it is a fact? Watching these kind of people respond to your opinion is like watching a teacher grade your test?

Me too.

However, the latter is a lot less acceptable than the former.

There are legal rights, and there are social rights. It is well within the social rights of someone to not have the same opinion as you, but when that person takes the step to the next level - the step towards mockery, verbal humiliation, or even blatant condescension - they become an opinionator.

It isn't enough for an opinionator to simply express their opinion or even express the differences between his/her opinion and yours. They must "teach" you. The curriculum would include phone calls (early morning or late night), text messages, emails, YouTube clips, and articles all with a "See! I told you so!" flavor to them.

Have you expressed a desire to receive this education? Probably not, but an opinionator will only be happy once he has successfully changed your mind. Or will he?

My "informal studies" show his thirst won't be quenched then. At that point, you would simply become one of his cronies. You'll still get the phone calls, text messages, emails, YouTube clips, and articles, only they will now be full of an "I can't believe other people don't think like us" flavor.

I suppose the worst part of an opinionator is that he or she truly believes there is a right and wrong answer. No "that's your opinion" attitude for them. It is fact. And there is no getting around it.

They talk of the economy with certainty of what will happen -- without any formal training as an economist that you know of. They disregard the religious beliefs of any outside their own. They don't tell you what the weather is supposed to be like, but they tell you it will rain. It will be partly cloudy. The wind will blow at 18 miles per hour.

It's frustrating, discouraging, maddening, and almost any other negative adjective all rolled into one. Surely, Hell would have to be like that.

The fact is there really isn't any winning with these people, so stay true to your own self. Have an open mind, but don't let these punks bully you around. In spite of what they might say, you are entitled to your own opinion.

Things in Hell posts are periodic observations of what Hell might have. I am not saying this person/persons are actually going to spend eternity there. When I think of the what the worst possible place would have, these kind of people come to mind.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What are the White Sox doing?

Have you ever been driving and you get stuck behind someone who looks like they are supposed to be turning soon onto another street, but for some reason, they just don't know which one?

That's what it has been like following the 2009 Chicago White Sox.

They have gone through this season in a pretty mediocre way, hovering somewhere around .500. Periodically, they go on a tear and win a few games in a row. Jose Contreras has a dominating outing. Mark Buerhle throws a perfect game. Old timers like Scott Podsednik resurrect their careers. Newcomers like Gordon Beckham string together some breakout games.

All of this happens and you start to think they turning a corner, and then they don't.

They slow down, they put on their blinker, and then they turn it off and keep going straight until the next turn. Then they do it all over and over again.

Now they've made some deals like bringing San Diego ace Jake Peavy and Toronto all-star Alex Rios in to push them over the top.

A lot of people are very optimistic for these moves, and I, too, would love to be the same way about it. But I just can't. Too many question marks surround these recent moves.

There is always a caveat when signing or trading for National League pitchers to an American League team. The NL is not as good as the AL. The quality of players Peavy was pitching to is lower than those he will face. He won't be pitching to pitchers anymore. His stats might be inflated.

A pitcher making that kind of switch will typically increase his ERA a run or so and lose 2-3 strikeouts per game, leaving the Sox with a mediocre to good pitcher. I'm not saying Peavy can't succeed in the AL. I'm just saying NL pitchers rarely do.

And Alex Rios? He's still young and has had a pretty stalwart career. However, ever since he signed the huge $70 million contract, his stats have gone down. If I was a GM, I would be worried about the lack of motivation. Maybe Rios isn't one who plays for the love of the game. Maybe he is someone who played for the big contract. Now that he has it, will he step up? So far, he hasn't.

I have been a White Sox fan for years. I don't wish these things to come true. And even if they do come true, the White Sox are still a better team than before. They'll just have over $20 million a year locked up in manure. Even farmers will tell you that's a lot.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Third-person Sports: Eli Manning makes what?!?!

Eli Manning reportedly signed a six-year contract extension worth about $97 million, with $35 million of that to be guaranteed. When I first saw this, I wasn't exactly sure what to think. But the more I think of it, the more I think I would hate to be a NY Giants fan right about now.

"What?" you might say. "Wasn't Eli Manning the 2008 Super Bowl MVP? What could possibly be wrong with the Giants locking up their leader?"

First off, I'm betting NY probably could have had him for a bit less. It almost seems as though the $97 million was the Giants' idea. I have nothing to back that up, but think about it: how could an agent go into the GM's office and - with a straight face and everything - demand the third highest salary in the league.

Don't get me wrong, Eli Manning has made some humongous strides over the course of his five-year career, but not enough to warrant such a price tag. In 2008, he had his best regular season (QB rating-wise) yet, but it still wasn't even good enough to put him in the 60th percentile. That means that in his best season, the 49ers' Shaun Hill and the Seahawks' Seneca Wallace still had better stats.

Imagine if those two guys signed such a lucrative contract. Imagine if they signed a 6-year/$60 million contract. Imagine if they signed 6-year/$40 million contracts. Any of those scenarios would be deemed ridiculous, so why is Eli getting the scratch?

I'm not actually suggesting Wallace and Hill are worth as much as Eli, but I would like to suggest the reason behind his inflated contract can be found in many different places. On his birth certificate, on his driver's license, and even on all of his elementary school assignment. It's the latter half of the words "Eli Manning."

His last name has been helping him since college. He was quickly slated as the number one draft pick, while Phillip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger have statistically had much better careers (Big Ben also trumps him in the Super Bowl category), and they were drafted AFTER him. If his name was Eli Gower, he probably wouldn't have cracked the top five.

Now he's even getting even more money than his brother, who is a far-superior talent. Imagine being Peyton, breaking records and being on pace to break many more, and your little brother, who hasn't come close to your numbers on the field, passes up your bank account - and people already thought your contract was too high!

I'm all for athletes getting paid (especially in football, a sport in which your future quality of life can be greatly altered in any play), but a rational mind cannot think Eli deserves every penny of this contract. Being the Super Bowl MVP hasn't had this great of an effect on a salary since Larry Brown signed a lucrative contract after his Super Bowl XXX performance.

A Super Bowl win should not mean THAT much, not to mention the fact that the defense really won the game for him.

The biggest reason to hate this move as a Giants fan is because it handcuffs you from going after big names in free agency. I realize a lot of the Giants' recent success came through the draft, but if you put that much into one player, how much will you have left over to re-sign those players?

If you take a look at the list of the highest paid players in the NFL, you'll notice something's (or someone people are) missing: many elite players. Tom Brady, for example, had one of the most prolific seasons in NFL history in 2007. He's nowhere close to the top of the list, but that gives the Pats a lot of flexibility to add or re-sign players to keep New England competitive.

I'm not saying the Giants won't be good down the road, but it will definitely be harder and the margin error will be a whole lot more narrow.

For Eli, this is all fantastic. But for NY and its fans, not so much.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Things in Hell: Story Topper

*Things in Hell posts are periodic observations of what Hell might have. I am not saying this person/persons are actually going to spend eternity there. When I think of the what the worst possible place would have, these kind of people come to mind. Enjoy!

Everyone has had an experience that has made a difference in his or her life. Maybe it's funny, maybe it's sad or maybe it's one of those anything-that-could-possibly-go-wrong-does stories.

Whatever the story is, it is your story. You experienced it, and naturally, you feel that as you tell it to a group of people, the spotlight should be on you – and rightly so.

Enter Story Topper. I am certain Hell will have one of these.

Have you two met? He or she is usually the first one to speak after the conclusion of your story – without an invitation. The first words out of the mouths of Story Topper usually begin with “That's nothing...” or “Oh yeah? Listen to this...”

Story Topper will then proceed to attempt to trump your story by switching the topic/focus onto them, and thus, stealing your thunder. The very same thunder you rightfully earned through experiencing your experience.

Sometimes you know their story is a pile consisting of pure, unadulterated bull crap. For instance, if someone is talking about a love triangle, and Story Topper (who happens to be morbidly obese) chimes in about how the same thing happened to him – but with eight girls!

In spite of the sheer asininity of a “love nonagon,” Story Topper will still swear to it. Even if this portly fellow did have these eight girls after him, it still doesn't matter. That's not important, because you are the storyteller, and your story deserves the adequate amount of attention. The amount of attention that can NOT be given if rudely interrupted by Story Topper.

Can you think of a better way of punishing evildoers than to have every one of their stories topped for the rest of eternity? Me neither.

***Have you ever had an experience with Story Topper? Feel free to share in the comments, and don't be afraid to top my story.