Brian Keaney

Month: November, 2010

Four random musings

Clockwise from bottom-right: Frye, Brandon, Jo...
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Zack Attack: A couple weeks ago I was in Indiana, and went to dinner at a nice place with waiters and waitresses in Cubs jerseys.  It was literally within walking distance of the homes of the Pacers and Colts, but apparently they were Chicago baseball fans there.  Anyway, I made a reference to Zack Morris to our college aged waiter, and was surprised when he knew what I was talking about.  I thought I was going to age myself there, but he even knew who Kelly Kapowski was.  (Fun fact: in their first incarnation Zack and the gang lived in Indy, but were magically transported, school and all, to California in season two.)

Yesterday I was blown away to realize that none other than Punky Brewster once had a crush on Zack, before every other girl in America did, before Saved By The Bell, before Good Morning, Miss Bliss, before there even was a Zach Morris.  It isn’t often that you can sum up a large part of your childhood in a few minutes, but thanks to the magic of YouTube I can now come pretty close.  When I first saw this I thought Margot was played by Kirsten Dunst, which would have brought me right through high school and beyond- she made a great MJ – but no such luck.

If you have to ask how much it costs…: I listen to two Wall Street Journal podcasts on a regular basis, one on personal finance and one on small business.  One of their advertisers is Paul Fredrick, a company I’ve never heard of before.  They have been advertising dress shirts for $19.95, and I thought that was a pretty good deal.  I need a couple new shirts, so I figured that if the WSJ crowd is their target audience, I would probably do alright buying one at that price sight unseen.

I visited the website advertised in the podcast with the explicit URL of www.1995shirt.com.  Not really leaving much to the imagination there, are they?  Upon arriving, I see a photo of a shirt and in big letters “Special Introductory Price $19.95.”  Pretty straightforward, methinks, and so I pick out my size and complete the order.

It eventually asks for the promotional code given in the ad, and I put it in, thinking I’ll get free shipping or something.  Not so much.  I got charged $19.95 for the shirt, plus $5 for shipping.  It’s still a good price for what I’m hoping will be a nice shirt, but what gives?  What did the promo code do for me?  Apparently, even though the URL and the banner say the shirt is $19.95, without the code they would charge $44.50.  Not quite kosher, if you ask me.

I will say this for them, though.  I emailed inquiring what the deal was at 10pm on a Tuesday, and had a response within 20 minutes.  Their ad practices might be a little deceptive, but their customer service is exceptional.

If you have to ask Part II: The only television show I watch with any regularity is Morning Joe on MSNBC while I get ready in the morning.  Joe Scarborough is a thoughtful conservative, I like the format, and he usually has some pretty good guests.  Joseph A. Banks regularly advertises, and with the steep discounts and sales they are constantly offering I have to ask myself two things.  First, just how bad is business for them?  They are clearly desperate to get people in the doors.  Secondly, how big is their markup?  When they can offer a buy-one-get-two-free deal and still make money, you know the profit margin has to be huge.

Online distractions: I’ve already admitted that Texts From Last Night is a guilty little pleasure of mine, but the site has been down more than up for the past couple days.  I’ve been compensating by visiting two other favorite distractions more instead.  Overheard In The Newsroom is almost as funny, but it isn’t updated nearly as often as TFLN.  It reminds me of why I usually like journalists, though.

I also like Barstool Sports.  The content is updated frequently enough to satisfy my ADD, its got enough vulgarity to keep me young, and it never fails to entertain. It’s designed for guys and is as chauvinistic as, say, Maxim, but it steers clear of outright misogyny of a site like My Life is Bro.  It’s also a lot more intellegent, though MLIB sets that bar pretty low, too low for me even.  MLIB is an example of a site great in concept, terrible in execution.

If Barstool only had someone on staff who knew how to write I’d be on a lot more.  I love the commentary, but the writing is terrible.  If they could improve it,  it would be a real smokeshow.

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Apples and anvils

My new baby

I don’t often update my Facebook profile.  I’ll occasionally check it to see what other people are up to, but I can’t imagine anyone besides my mother actually cares about what I’m up to, and she stays off of Facebook (unless baby and/ or wedding photos have been posted) in order to sleep at night.  She says she is too afraid of what she might see.

This weekend, though, an event of such immense joy took place that I could not keep it to myself.  I made a special stop to take photos, and then put one of them up online as soon as I could with the following commentary:

And the heavens opened, and a choir of angels rang out: Glory to God in the highest, and Jeeps to his people on earth.

The universe makes sense again. I’m back in a Wrangler.

Yes, finally got a new Jeep, and she’s beautiful.  (And yes, this qualifies in my life as an acceptable occasion to pervert a Biblical quotation – even one that announces the birth of the Christ child.)  She has 10,000 miles more than my old baby, of late and beloved memory, but is two years younger.

When I set out looking for a new Wrangler, I knew I didn’t want a new Wrangler.   That is, I didn’t want a brand new, fresh off the assembly line model.  I didn’t want anything from 2007 or on, actually.  Like many Jeep enthusiasts, I have nothing but scorn for the JK model.  I set out in search of a four cylinder TJ, and hoped that I could find one closer to 2006 than 1997. Read the rest of this entry »

Governor Simba

Much has been said of yesterday’s election – most of it before anyone ever cast a ballot – so I won’t waste my few faithful readers’ time offering the same thing you can get in 100 other places.  What I do want to do is offer an observation I haven’t seen anywhere else today.

A little more than four years ago I woke up at what seemed like an ungodly hour (in reality it was about a half hour before a standard hotel check out time), cursing the voters of this fair Commonwealth and the $3,000+ in booze my coworkers and I consumed the night before.  I don’t get hungover so I wasn’t really hurting, but the sun did seem obnoxiously bright that morning as I stepped out onto Comm Ave.

I had to be back at campaign headquarters in a couple hours, so I decided to kill the time – and to soak up the booze still sloshing around inside me – by going out for breakfast.  I knew what the papers were going to say and, being on the loosing campaign, I wasn’t interested in reading it.  I do, however, remember seeing the headline on the Globe, screaming out from behind the glass: “Patrick roars to victory!”

This morning when I checked Boston.com, I was surprised to see almost exactly the same headline: “Patrick roars to 2d term.”  I’m now left with two questions.  First, with all the layoffs on Morrisey Boulevard, is the person writing headlines at the Boston broadsheet the same person who was writing them four years ago?  Secondly, is our governor a lion?

All I know is that I know nothing

Before I begin, one of my favorite Monty Python skits ever.  It ranks up there with the Spanish Inquisition and the dead parrot.

My boss told me today that I need to watch more TV.  Basically he was calling me a geek, but I think I get enough pop culture in my diet to not get tagged with the term.  For example, I know enough about Jersey Shore to know that I never want to watch it.  Let’s also not forget that I can’t get through the day without checking Texts from Last Night a few times.

He’s also told me in the last week or so that he’s not sure if I get out too much, or not enough.  I think it’s the latter, but that’s really not the point.  His comments today came after I was telling him that I’m (still) reading a book on quantum physics.  While it hasn’t yet, it seems to be leading towards answering one of the questions I’ve long held about the structure of the atom.

I might be wrong, but so far I’ve surmised that a quantum leap isn’t a jump into an alternative universe, but is actually how an electron moves from one level of orbit to another without being anywhere in between.  I’ve been asking that question since high school and still don’t quite understand how, but I’m hoping I will by the time I finish the book.

OK, so maybe I am a geek, but I prefer to think of myself as a philosopher in the truest sense, as a lover of wisdom.  This afternoon I was brought back to a college philosophy course I took with one of my toughest and favorite professors, Fr. Brian Shanley.  I distinctly remember the class in which we discussed the problem of predestination.  If God is omniscient and eternal, the argument goes, then she must know what you are going to do in the future before you do it.

If that’s the case, then your entire life is set out before you from time immemorial, and thus there can be no such thing as free will.  According to that logic I’m writing this blog post because I was destined to do so, and I have no control over whether I act for good or for evil in anything I do.  Fr. Shanley got around the problem (as he certainly does believe in free will) by saying that the Almighty exists outside of time, in a sort of eternal present.  There is no future or past for God, only right now.

"Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!&...
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One of the 182 people I follow on Twitter, a handful are religious types.  Of this category two of my favorites are @DalaiLama and @TheFuckingPope.  (The former claims to be an official feed; the latter, not so much.)  Closer to home, the Archdiocese of Boston tweets fairly frequently, and every day puts forth the name of a priest and asks that their 500 followers pray for him.  I don’t think my prayers count for much, but I am aware of what an important role these men play in the lives of so many people, so I do usually try and take a moment to send a note upstairs on their behalf.

Today they asked that we pray for all the deceased priests of the archdiocese, and thus we get back to Fr. Shanley’s class.  If I can pray in what for me is the present, and God is forever in the present, then does she hear my prayer yesterday, or last week, or 100 years ago as well as today?  If I can pray for the repose of the soul of a priest who died before I was born, but when I pray makes no difference to God, could I instead pray that he lives a good and holy life, or that his first girlfriend doesn’t break his heart, or that he aces his math exam, even those these events took place, according to my concept of time, tens or hundreds of years ago?  Going in the other direction, wouldn’t it make as much sense to pray for a painless death for my great-grandchildren – children that are not now and may never be?

I don’t know the answer to that any more than I know how a quantum leap works.  What I do know is that in the first book I ever read in college, Socrates, my least favorite of the Greek philosophers, said something that has stuck with me more than anything else I learned in those four years: All I know is that I know nothing.

I’m painfully aware of how little I actually know, so I don’t plan on turning the TV on any time soon, even if that makes me a geek.

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