Wednesday, August 31, 2005

How to Get Rich Without Really Trying

The Syracuse Post-Standard published an interesting story yesterday about the ramifications that the new NHL salary cap is having in its primary feeder league, the AHL. In order to prevent teams from stashing high-priced star players in the minor leagues to avoid going over the salary cap, the NHL has instituted a rule that any AHL player earning more than $75,000 a year must clear re-entry waivers if recalled by his NHL parent team. Should another team claim him, the team that called him up loses the player AND has to pay half of his salary. According to the article, some players are exempt from waivers, but it doesn't explain what qualifies a player for this exemption, other than it typically applies only to younger players.

This rule change has prompted AHL veterans who are used to pulling down six figure paychecks to consider taking a pay cut to get down to the $75K cutoff and presumably, improve their chances of getting called up to the big leagues. I was surprised to learn that players in the AHL made so much money. I thought that the compensation structure for all sporting leagues was you make virtually nothing until you make the big leagues, and then immediately begin making big money. According to this article, the average AHL salary is around $50,000/year. According to this source, the minmum minor league salary for baseball player who has played a day in the majors is $52,600. It seems like the hockey players are getting the better end of the deal here, since I'm guessing that even on a triple-A baseball team, most of the players haven't played a day in the big leagues. These numbers could be way off, but the Post-Standard article made it sound like it's pretty common for AHL veterans, especially those with some NHL experience, to pull down six figures. Disregarding big leaguers doing a rehab stint down on the farm, I can't imagine anyone other than hot prospects (Drew Henson, anyone) making that kind of scratch in triple-A ball.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Things that go Bump in the Night

Just when you thought the level of political discourse in this country couldn't get any lower, along comes a book that tries drag children into the whole red vs. blue debate. Help! Mom! There are Liberals Under My Bed is the story of two brothers, Tommy and Lou, whose dreams of lemonade stand entrepreneurship are quashed by Senators Ted Kennedy and Hillary Clinton. The cover art is absolutely priceless. I'm surprised its taken this long for this book to be published, after all, Daddy's Roommate came out (pun intended) 14 years ago.

The Essence of Blogging

Sticking with the comics theme, Doonesbury has really gotten to the essense of blogging this week. Read the strips from yesterday and today and see for yourself. I've decided to take the high road and not publish a review of the Krispy Kreme donut of the month. I still can't figure out what is so great about Krispy Kreme donuts anyway. I'm not donut conoisseur, but if you ask me, they are no better, and possibly, worse than your average, run-of-the-mill donut.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Comic Strip Live

I started reading newspapers when I was about six years old. At first, the only thing I read were the comics. Nowadays, I read much more of the newspaper, but I still read the comics, unless I happen to be reading one of those papers that is too "sophistcated" to have a comics section. I can't say that I find many of the comics entertaining, but I can't stop reading them, even the ones that I find completely idiotic. Two such comics are Garfield and Blondie. It's a well-known fact that Garfield is not funny. The thing that annoys me about Garfield, besides its continued existence, is the visual laziness of it. Take today's installment for example. The drawing of Garfield never changes in any of the seven panels. Neither the background nor the telephone changes in any of the seven panels as well. The only thing that changes is John's facial expression and hands. I have found that most Garfield comic strips follow a similar pattern. Garfield would be more entertaining if Jim Davis ditched all of the dialog and plot structure and turned the comic into Hocus Focus.

From a visual standpoint, Blondie is much richer than Garfield, but the storyline is just as idiotic. Loyal readers of the comics know that this year is the 75th anniversary of the Dagwood & Blondie comic strip. The comic strip has obviously had to change over the past 75 years to keep pace with the modern world, but the way that it has changed has been somewhat nonsensical. Blondie joined the ranks of liberated women when she opened her own catering company maybe ten years ago. Dagwood goes to work in a carpool (perhaps in response to the oil shocks of the 1970s), but he's still the connsummate 1950s company man with his bow ties and his abusive, tyranical boss. In today's very special 75th anniversary comic, we see Dagwood in full 1950s dad mode sitting on his favorite chair watching TV with his loyal dog. The next panels show his sexpot daughter Cookie dressed up like a porn star answering a phone call from the President, who makes a cameo along with the first lady in the final panel. If we're going to be stuck reading about the exploits of Dagwood & Blondie for another 75 years, I hope they can manage to decide which decade that want to live in and stick with it.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Timmy Can You Hear Me?

The news out of Allen Park is that the Lions have just signed former U of Hawaii QB Timmy Chang. Chang is the most prolific passer in NCAA history, whether he was throwing the ball to his teammates or the opposition. Despite these gaudy statistics, he's currently number five on the Lions depth chart. I don't expect that Chang has a future with the Lions or any other NFL team (though the media is very desirous to see an Asian-American quarterback do well). The only reason I even mention this is because he just seems like the kind of QB that eternally fickle Lions fans would really get behind once Harrington, Garcia, et al get into a tough spot.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Grizzly Adams

Acclaimed German director Werner Herzog has a new documentary entitled Grizzly Man. I haven't seen it yet, but I'm very interested. It's the story of Timothy Treadwell, a man who lived with, studied, and advocated for the grizzly bears of Alaska, until he was mauled to death by one of them. I'm fascinated by all bear species, and I'm especially fascinated by the grizzly. They are very noble animals who have an amazing amount of intelligence and physical strength. While I hope to never encounter a grizzly in the wild, grizzly attacks on humans are quite rare. Treadwell set up an advocacy group called Grizzy People before his death that is continuing his work.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Weekly Radio Address

I have always been sort of fascinated with the idea of the President's weekly radio address. First of all, it's a radio address. When was the last time a breaking story was first reported on radio? Pearl Harbor? Second of all, it happens on Saturday morning, quite possibly the worst time of the week to broadcast anything. I have no idea why the weekly radio address had endured to this day. The ultimate indictment of the weekly radio address is that the few times that I have actually been listening to a radio station that aired the address on a Saturday morning, I've changed the channel. If someone like me, who professes so much interest in the weekly radio address can't stand to listen to it even once, it makes me wonder if anyone williningly listens to the President's weekly radio address. In case you're wondering why I'm talking about the weekly radio address, this week's issue of The Onion has a great send-up of the President's weekly radio address.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Not Ready for Some Football

I have to admin that I feel Steve Rushin's pain. His piece in this week's Sports Illustrated, My Football Failure (registration required), details his shame over his lack of love for the NFL. While I still consider myself a fan of professional football, I find it to be completely overhyped. I liked the NFL better when it was cool to ignore the preseason and players didn't get fined for failing to wear NFL-licensed apparel in public. I'm a much bigger fan of the college game. I like the college game for its imperfections. I think the games are more exciting because the players and coaches are more likely to make a dumb decision than their professional counterparts. Everyone bemoans the lack of a true national championship in college football, but it doesn't really bother me. Division I-A college football is an inherently unfair landscape. I'm happy to watch teams like Oklahoma, USC, Michigan, and nearly every college in the states of Texas and Florida slug it out for the national title while at the same time watching my Purdue Boilermakers fight it out for respectibility in the Big 10 and a win on New Year's Day. So if you see me out on the street on a Sunday afternoon this autumn, it's not because I hate the NFL. I just need to get away from it for a few hours sometimes.

Friday, August 19, 2005

The Goose is Loose

As astute reader MDS pointed out, the reason I went two weeks without updating my blog was because I was busy getting married. As far as I know, everyone who reads this blog knows me personally so they were already aware of this, but perhaps there are some lurkers out there. I will have more to say about this and our lovely honeymoon in the tropical paradise of Maui. Until then, here's a great photo of the aforementioned MDS chasing away some pesky geese so the happy couple could be photographed in peace.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Move On

By request, here is the story of my moving scam. In 2001, I moved from Austin to Boston and I hired a moving company to move my stuff. This was my first mistake, seeing as I didn't really own anything of value. I could have sold or given away all of my possesions and re-purchased them in Boston for less money than it would have cost to move them. My second mistake was failing to due much due dilligence when selecting a moving company. I would up hiring this company called All State Van Lines. The first problem was they failed to show up on the assigned pick-up date. I called their office all day and never got an answer. They finally called me that evening and assured me that they would be there to pick up my stuff the next day. They showed up the next day and picked everything up, but the plot suddenly twisted when the paperwork that I received was from a company called U.S. Movers, not the All State Van Lines company who I had booked the move through. They apparently had subcontracted out the move and failed to tell me.

From there, things kept getting worse. The 10 day estimate they gave me for my move to be completed turned into 32 days. For most of that time, I was constantly trying to get though to someone at U.S. Movers who could tell me where my stuff was and when it would be arriving, usually to no avail. When the movers finally showed up, all of my stuff looked like it had been dropped out of airplane at 20,000 feet. They lost one of my items (a filing cabinet), which I filed a lost item claim for which was never addressed. I wrote complaints to both All State Van Lines and U.S. Movers, neither of which was ever addressed. I should have pursued this matter futher, but I was more upset with myself for entrusting a company to move my earthly possessions without doing proper due dilligence beforehand.

As it turns out U.S. Movers (Brooklyn, NY) is blacklisted on Moving Scam. I can't not recommend this company enough. The blacklist on Moving Scam is quite daunting, but there are some good movers out there. When my then-girlfriend (now wife) relocated to Syracuse from Boston, her company paid for her relocation and we were both very impressed with the moving company who handled the move. The company is Clark & Reid and they are based in Billerica, MA. I think they are a local outfit, but if you ever need to move to or from New England, I would recommend looking into them.

Public Service Announcement

I learned about this website today. I haven't looked into it too much, but it seems reputable and I have no reason to distrust the person who told me about it. Like the creator of this site, I was once the victim of a moving scam. I haven't hired a moving company since then, though I now have way too much stuff to move again on my own, so this website will hopefully help me out the next time I move. I forgot the name of the moving company that scammed me, so I'll have to check my records tonight to see if they are blacklisted on this site.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


The Detroit sports theme du jour keeps on rolling, only this news is as upsetting as my last post was uplifting.

Stevie Wonder

Like a lot of Red Wings fans, I can't really imagine the team without Steve Yzerman. He made his NHL debut two days after my 7th birthday and he's been wearing the same jersey ever since. Fortunately, we have another year to wait before having to ponder the idea of a Red Wings team sans #19. This is great news. I spent the whole NHL lock-out worried that the final on-ice memory of Yzerman's career would be taking a puck to eye socket in game five of the 2004 Detroit-Calgary playoff series.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Baby Elephant Walk

The Asian elephant population of Syracuse went up by one yesterday. I can't remember ever seeing pictures of a newborn elephant before, but they are pretty neat. I've never actually been to the zoo here, but it sounds like a pretty good facility, especially for a smaller city. The baby elephant may look small, but he already weighs in at 345 lbs.