Archive for March, 2010

Tiger Woods: Everyone is an expert

March 30, 2010

I have almost reached the point of feeling sympathy for Woods over his personal problems. I say ‘almost’, as his problems were all caused by his own arrogance and lack of personal discipline and quite frankly – stupidity. Not that those are failings exclusive to Mr. Woods.

Contemplate briefly Bill ClintonJohn Edwards, Kobe Bryant, Jesse James, Mark Sanford, and sundry other high profile philanderers. All of them, with much to lose, and who seemed to think that they could act out their sexual fantasies free and clear of any media intrusion.

What were they thinking – if they were thinking at all?

But back to the Tiger.

What has begun to generate some sympathy, at least on my part, is the schizophrenic commentary that has become the norm when writing about the trials and travails of golf’s number one player.

If you read any amount of the tripe that has been written it becomes apparent that no matter what decision that Woods might make regarding his return to golf it will be wrong in someone’s eyes.

It was the opinion of some that the timing of his press conference during the Accenture golf tournament was  obviously to punish Accenture for dropping him as a client.  Some punishment. Accenture got more publicity in the MSM than they ever could have hoped for from the sponsorship of the golf tournament.

Of course there has been the ongoing debate of when Tiger would come back and when he should come back. There were those that argued that he should stay away from the game for an extended period until he had somehow been purified. I got the feeling that some thought that he should retire from the game permanently as being proven unworthy of treading the fairways alongside of rest of the tour players who no doubt had been vetted and approved as his moral superiors.

They were further offended when Woods showed up practicing at Ilseworth as if that showed a further flaw in his character.

After all of the debate as to when he would return and the various speculations about which venue he would choose, he announced that he would return to play the 2010 Masters at Augusta.

Whoops! Wrong decision again. Making his debut at the Masters would be too disrespectful to the event with all of the media hype that would be involved. Ignoring of course the massive television coverage the tournament would generate.

But then it was felt that he should have shown some loyalty to Arnold Palmer and played in Palmer’s Bay Hill tournament prior to the Masters. Of course if he had, the criticisms would have been the same as for his decision to open with the Masters.

For the most part, the personal opinions emanating from professional golf writers has been bad enough, but the Tiger soap opera has morphed into such a major event (no pun intended there) that everyone with a computer has turned into a sports writer. Most of them not knowing a wedge from a wedgie.

An example of the previously mentioned schizophrenia is brilliantly manifested in an interview with Peter Arliss the British golf commentator (the pointer thanks to Geoff Shackleford, who, since the beginning of the Tiger debacle has bounced between being a golf journalist and a gossip  columnist).

Arliss can’t seem to make up his mind where he stands with Tiger.

“I’m surprised, in a way, they are letting him play there,” Alliss said. “It either shows they have a desire to be helpful or a weakness. It would have been rather grand — but would have perpetuated the stupidity of it — if they had said, ‘Sorry, we don’t want your sort here.’

Although –

… Alliss dismisses the notion that it is disrespectful to the other players for Woods to bring his circus to town in Masters week.

But –

…. he was withering in his condemnation of the 14-times major champion for choosing the middle of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in February to make his first public statement since November, that cringing mea culpa. “Ernie Els was right when he used the word ‘selfish,’ ” Alliss said. “It was thoughtless and I didn’t like it.

Then again –

“But we’ve all done stupid things. If you are a red-blooded male and you’re chatted up by a decent-looking bird, it’s very hard to not say yes. It was a lot easier in my day. I remember some very famous golfers who used to book into hotels as Mr and Mrs.”

Does this mean that what Tiger did was not really wrong? Just bad timing?

And –

If anything sticks in Alliss’s craw it is doing daft things in your own backyard. He recalls an old-timer telling him never to “get tiddly” at a golf club. Little wonder, therefore, that he remains unimpressed with the behaviour of two of Great Britain’s finest golfers.

“My lasting memory is seeing Ian Woosnam come out of the front door at Augusta p***ed with Sam Torrance,” he said. “Both of them fell in the bushes and it wasn’t a very good sight. I thought, ‘Boys, boys. Get a couple of bottles and go home. Don’t get p***ed here.’

OK, so if Tiger has taken his adventures out of the country???

And on it goes.

As far as I’m concerned Tiger’s tragedy is in his own hands. If he doesn’t want to bare his soul to the ravening press then more power to him. All he really needs to provide us with is the opportunity to watch him play his spectacular game of golf.

I hope he come back strong to the game of golf and I hope he dominates the sport again. In fact I hope he wins the Masters in April.

But what I would really like to see is a swelling of applause for Woods the golfer as he steps onto the first tee.

Wouldn’t that make the naysayers choke on their morning toast.


Magic Jack: My new favourite thing

March 28, 2010

Usually when I travel into the U.S. we buy a phone card or two and use them for any long distance calls we need to make. However prior to my latest trip south I was told about the Magic Jack, which I initially thought was too good to be true.

The deal was that you bought the Magic Jack for just under 40 bucks and set it up on your computer. Then you subscribed for $10 to their service for a year. Plug the phone into the Magic Jack unit and the unit into your phone and you can dial out  to any phone number in the USA or Canada with no further costs. Plus they issue you a phone number with the area code of your choice.

I bought it. I set it up. I connected my phone. And it works like a damn.

The only problem I encountered was that they couldn’t supply my 250 area code and I had to take a 604 code. A minor inconvenience and one I hope to be able to rectify in the future.

Now when I travel, I will just take along my netbook, the magic Jack unit and a phone set and I can make calls (local or long distance) as long as I can get computer service.

As I have said before: Ain’t technology wonderful.

Banning body armour: Another bright government initiative

March 22, 2010

Back in October of 2009 I wrote a post on the intent of British Columbia’s provincial government to pass legislation that would make body armour illegal for anyone other than a selected few – police and the like. Anyone else wearing it would be committing a criminal offense.

The move was supported and promoted (of course) by the police lobby as a great benefit to their crime fighting efforts.

At the time, I thought (and still do) that it was typically stupid legislation. But from the politician’s point of view it would allow them to say that they were being proactive in fighting crime, although in actuality the legislation would do nothing to reduce crime and violence on the streets. It would however manufacture a whole new class of criminal: body armour wearers – whether they were involved in actual criminal activities or not.

It was a given that the B.C . legislation as proposed would go through if the government wanted to proceed as it was unlikely that there would be much active opposition, as it would affect very few people on a personal level.

That seems to have been been the case, as the bill has passed 3rd reading in the provincial legislature, although it doesn’t appear to have been proclaimed yet.

Now a similar bill is being proposed in Alberta and it is interesting to see that at least one commentator has similar views about the need or value of this kind of legislation.

Body armour can in no reasonable way be described as a threat to public safety.

It is not a weapon.

The only form of self-defence more passive is curling up into a ball and begging for mercy.

If the province is determined to restrict convicted gang members from owning body armour, then let them pass a law allowing the Crown to ask a judge to make that ruling as part of post-incarceration conditions, such as existing restrictions on firearms ownership.

Further, it seems monstrously draconian to allow sales of body armour to only cops, EMTs and security guards.

The list of those able to purchase body armour should at the very least include any individual without a criminal record.

Can the province of Alberta in good conscience deny bulletproof vests to citizens at risk of criminal attack in our community, such as pizza delivery guys, cabbies driving at night and convenience store clerks in sketchy neighbourhoods?

That would be particularly ironic, given that the guy who first used the miracle fabric Kevlar to manufacture soft body armour was a pizza delivery guy who’d been shot on the job.

Regardless, I would expect that the legislation will proceed unimpeded in Alberta as it did in British Columbia.

It is interesting that last  year US Customs proposed a ban on any folder knives that could be opened one handed. In this case, the action by Customs was stopped in its tracks by public reaction. That was because Custom’s rule change would have made most of the current folding knives in the country illegal and that would have affected a massive number of people.

Which reinforces the rule that strength in numbers is always an effective strategy when it comes to dealing with politicians and the bureaucracy.

Tracfone reactivation. Service Call Centres. Incompetence.

March 12, 2010

There is one rule to follow when you are forced to phone into a call centre for technical assistance: You need to reconcile yourself to phoning back as many times as necessary until you eventually find someone with enough technical knowledge to solve your problem.

Unfortunately, this may take some time and an incredible amount of patience.

I have been around the track on a number of occasions with Shaw Cable and Telus to name a couple but I just had an experience trying to re-activate a tracfone, add time and change its area code that  almost broke my spirit once and for all. I should have kept track of the actual time spent on the phone but overall it was a minimum of 5 hours and possibly as high as 8 hours.

I initially phoned in and talked to one of the representatives based in some far off country. I explain that I want to change the phone’s area code from 206 to 623. That apparently isn’t available, but they can use 602, which is satisfactory to me.  I give the phone serial number as requested and she keeps going away for “2 minutes” and has me typing in codes and finally says that I should turn off the phone and turn it back on in one hour and my phone will be as requested. I am elated.

One hour later I turn my phone on and nothing has changed. So, being an eternal optimist, I leave it over night and turn it on again the next morning. No magic.

So I phone again, and get another person, probably at another call centre, in some other far corner of the world and we go through the same routine. Serial numbers and codes. We have some trouble with the code.  She can’t seem to differentiate between 206 and 602. By this time the phone is actually activated and the time added. We are simply down to the area code change. She transfers me to another person/department to do the job. No information is passed on so I again go through the explanation and give the serial number and we type in codes. This time I am told to turn off the phone and turn it back on in 15 minutes. We have reduced the time frame!

But unfortunately, 15 minutes later we still have the 206 area code.

As my wife points out, at this point I could let it drop and live with the old area code. But they said they could change the code and I will persevere. So I call again and go through all of the same procedures – serial number, type in codes, turn phone off and on. No change. After well over an hour of this I get a busy signal and I am cut off from the call centre.

I phone back, but at this point I ask to talk to a supervisor. Of course I go back on hold until someone is available and am on hold long enough that I am beginning to suspect that they are hoping that I will give up and go away. Finally I get the supervisor, but there has been no information forwarded to him and of course we go through the same stuff all over again.

He works away on the problem and lo and behold the 602 area code shows up on my phone. I am ecstatic. I feel as though I have won the game. I thanks the guy for his hard work and for solving the problem. We hang up. I am pumped.

Then I try the phone. I can’t send or receive calls.

I phone back and again wait until someone becomes available in some far off country. And we do everything again but he can’t make the  phone work. He transfers me to a supervisor and we do the dance again. After a while he says he has it fixed and that I should turn my phone off and wait a short time and all will be well. I tell him that my confidence level in their capabilities has been severely diminished and that I don’t think that I have ever worked with such an incompetent group in my life. He tells me that he is sorry that I feel that way, but I doubt his sincerity  and suspect that he has heard this before.

But I did the man a disservice. When the phone gets turned back on its new area code is 480, which is also satisfactory – and the phone sends and receives. Problem solved. I’m exhausted. I feel as though I’ve gone 9 rounds and lost.

However, to add insult to injury, at one point while trying to change the area code, one of the people asked me for the area code where we were. Then he asked for my street address and my email address. I was trying to figure out  what value this info was to him in solving the problem. When I was dealing with the final person, he also asked me for my email address. But by this time I am way bent out of shape and  asked him why the hell he needed my email when he wasn’t sending me any messages anyway. Well, he said, ‘you don’t have to give it but we will send you out promotional material’. At which point I came unglued. I had been on the phone phone for so long with these yahoos that my ear was becoming deformed and he wanted to send me promotional material! And I was dumb enough to give them the mailing address as well.

I can only plead mental exhaustion.

Isn’t technology wonderful.