Take Thrice Daily, With Food

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Dear Juan Pablo

Dear Juan, Most Recent Bachelor on ABC's The Bachelor,

I don't know you personally. I only know what I've seen on ABC's The Bachelor, which is like saying I know all about diffusing bombs from watching Die Hard. I'm sure you're a really nice guy, even if ABC's editors made you look like a douchebag on national TV.

Truth is, I was as uncomfortable as you were when Chris Harrison kept trying to get you to say "I love you" to your chosen mate, Nikki, on the "After The Final Rose" post-finale episode. You kept deflecting, and Harrison kept at it, all but demanding you say "I love zis girl," as if those words would magically make every woman in the room shed their clothes and launch into a orgy of epic proportions. Harrison acted as if he couldn't understand why you couldn't say "I love you" to a girl you'd only recently met on a reality TV show.

Here's the thing. I said "I love you" to plenty of girls in my unbridled youth, most of whom I now realize I didn't actually love. Was I horny for them? Did being in their presence give me a giddy high, as if I'd just entered an Amsterdam coffee house? You betcha. Back then, however, I couldn't distiguish that from real love, which, as you and I know, Juan Pablo, is far deeper than--"her melones estan grande."

The truth is, love is kind of like quantum physics. Let me explain, Juan Pablo, because I know soccer is more your area of knowledge. See, physicists, studying the tiny atoms that make up our world (and Nikki's masivo globos), discovered that the tiniest parts of our universe are both particles and waves. They are both something that can be held in place like a grain of sand--and something that floats about in space, undefinable, here and there and everywhere at once. Love is like that. It's both a feeling-- those butterflies you feel when Nikki's picos gemelos are pressed against you-- and something more practical and real, like mutual respect, shared interests, similar values, unified goals. The things you know and want to know about each other. Any "love" that just has one part but not the other isn't real love at all.

You recently Instagrammed a photo of Nikki, and said: "Mi Catira @nikki_ferrell LOVES her JOB and thats ONE of the things I LOVE about her... #NikkiTheNurse." Rumors also indicate that you may have told Nikki the actual words, "I love you." But I'm not so sure that you do. On The Bachelor, you never asked any of the girls anything about themselves. When Andi called you out on seeming disinterested, you said you were just being honest. "It's okay," you said, over and over. But you kind of missed her point. Part of finding love is discovering what makes up another person. Finding the pieces of them that fit the pieces of you, and I'm not just talking about salchichos and bollos. Your Instagram caption? Well, I think it shows that you don't quite understand the meaning of love.

Loving a job isn't the same as loving a person. Loving one, or even a few attributes of somebody isn't the same as loving her. Love is when all the pieces fit. Even the ones that don't. Even the annoyances, the "dark matter," as the physicists would call it, are so bound up in what you love about someone, that you can't take them away without bursting everything else apart. Love is when your waves and your particles are one and the same, even though you're still two separate people to the untrained eye. You orbit each other, even from far away. I'm sure Nikki gives you some good feelings. Those waves are strong. But when I look for the particles, I just don't see them.

I wish you the best, Juan Pablo. I don't fault you for keeping the word "love" close to the vest. That's the way it should be. Just do yourself a favor and take Andi's advice. Get to know Nikki. More than just what she does for a living or how delicioso her gato is.


Adam's Life

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

2014 Jewish Fantasy Baseball Team

"Jewish" is a funny word. Can you imagine a Catholic calling themselves Catholic-ish? Or A Muslim calling themselves Muslim-ish? Officially, the "ish" suffix, in English, means "belonging to," or "having the characteristics of," but when most of us use it, we use it to mean "close, but not quite." As in, that 5'9" guy we really want to set up with our 5'11" friend isn't short, he's "tall-ish."

This is a long-winded way of saying that, when I call this year's Jewish Fantasy Baseball Team, "Jewish," the "ish" means it's all relative. The sad fact remains, there are still a lot of holes to fill on the roster after you've accounted for the players with any relation to the Jewish faith. Hence, my catcher, Evangelical Christian A.J. Pierzynski. The last name is vaguely Jewish-sounding. A.J. does not stand for Adam Judah, unfortunately.

Here's this year's squad, the Hammering Hebrews of Yahoo Winners' League 101786:

1B- Ike Davis.
"'It’s funny about Judaism,' Davis said. 'It doesn’t matter if you’re ultra-religious or not, as long as you know that it’s in you or you’re a part of it, everyone accepts you.' Following a Jewish custom, Davis’ given name is Isaac Benjamin — the first names of Millie Davis’ two grandfathers." Davis had a rough year last year--.205 AVG and 9 HR, but he secured the Mets 1B job in camp. I predict 20 HRs this season.

2B - Jason Kipnis"Kipnis is a practicing Roman Catholic, though he self-identifies as Jewish due to his father's Jewish ancestry." One of the best second basemen in the game, I predict 20 HRs and 30 steals.

3B- Ryan ZimmermanBeing that my blog comes up a couple times on the top of Google searches for, "Is Ryan Zimmerman Jewish?", the answer is obviously, no. But apparently, Zimmerman means "carpenter" in German, and Jesus was a carpenter, and we all know Jesus was a Jew. So there you go. 23 HRs or so in the heart of the Washington Nationals' order should do this team nicely.

SS- Derek Jeter Find a Jewish Yankees fan and ask him who his favorite player is. If it's not Derek Jeter, I'll eat my hat (I wear a Nestle Crunch bar as a hat). Derek is 40, and coming off a major injury, but he'll bat second in the Yankees lineup, and if he stays healthy, I predict 15 HRs and 15 steals, with a .290 AVG. 

OF- Ryan Braun Wondering why there was no 2013 Jewish Fantasy Baseball Team? Well, Braun's suspension, combined with injuries to Ian Kinsler and Kevin Youkilis... it just sort of brought me down. But Braun is back, and if he's learned anything from his Jewish faith, he repented for his sins last Yom Kippur and will use this season to make the world a better place. 35 HRs and 25 steals would be a good start. Tikkum Olam, Ryan.
OF- Nate Schierholtz Internet commenter pantherpro once said, "Nate is Jewish!" on this HardballTalk post. He then insinuated that Nate is bad at baseball. In addition, Twitterer @TacoTansel, sad that Nate left his favorite team, the San Francisco Giants says, "Ima miss Nate Schierholtz. He's my favorite Jewish player of all time." More authoritative sources haven't weighed in on Nate's faith. But nevertheless, Nate is not bad at baseball. A season of 15 HRs and 10 steals isn't outside the realm of possibility.
OF- Torii Hunter Torii is most definitely not a Jew. And his behavior has sometimes been questionable. But I share his last name. And I'm Jewish. This team needs some category juice. 17 HRs, 10 steals... on Detroit he'll gobble up runs and RBIs.

UTIL- Adam Lind Jewish-sounding name. I'm not the only one who has lumped him in with the Hebrews. I'm high on his abilities. 25 HR, 90 RBI seems possible, even if he may sit against tough southpaws.
UTIL- Ian Kinsler "...Every year for Passover we’d have a seder, which I always looked forward to. I’m not a devoutly spiritual person, but I’m very into the cultural identity that comes with being Jewish. If there are Jewish kids out there who look up to me or see me as a role model of what’s possible, I embrace that proudly." We're proud of you too, Ian. Part of a heavy-hitting Detroit lineup (coached by former Jewish major-leaguer Brad Ausmus) and fully back from injury, Kinsler has a real shot at 20 HRs and 20 steals.
SP Jordan Zimmermann is on here for the same reasons Ryan Zimmer-one "n" is. A high K-rate, facing National League lineups should make him a solid pitcher all year. Clay Buchholz is not Jewish but the last name is... in the ballpark. Once again, his high K-rate should keep my numbers in that category up. Scott Feldman, the only real Jewish starter in the majors, already won his first game of the season, giving up only 2 hits to the Yankees. Tyson Ross is not Jewish, but the last name is. Pitching in Petco should give him solid ratios. And how could I have a Jewish team without one of the most famous names in Genesis? When top prospect Noah Syndergaard gets called up to stop the Mets season from drowning, I'll be there to sneak aboard his ark (yes, this is cheesy writing).
RPTrevor Rosenthal, despite the spot-on name, isn't Jewish, although he says, "My dad is an attorney, and he gets invited to bar mitzvahs all the time." He's a lights-out closer who should dominate in Ks and saves all year. Joe Nathan, another JINO, also should hold down the closer job without issues. J.J. Putz, doesn't wear the Star of David, nor does he have a closing gig, but his Yiddish last name gives me hope he'll provide solid Ks in the 8th inning and be next in line should Addison Reed falter. Craig Breslow, currently on the DL, is a Jew, and if he comes back and contributes the way he did in Boston last year, he'll be a vital member of the squad. While he works his way back from injury, I added Matt Lindstrom, not Jewish, but if I hope to compete, I need saves, and his last name is close enough.

Bench Rounding out the roster is real Jew, Josh Satin, Davis's backup on the Mets. I refuse believe that Houston outfielder Robbie Grossman isn't Jewish... he has to be in denial. I expect 10 HRs and 20 steals from him. Adam Dunn is on my team for his perennial 30+ HRs, he does share names with the first man in Genesis.

I haven't addressed Tim Lincecum. Really no way to justify him. I landed him in the automated draft, and he's too useful a piece to straight-up drop. What I'd like to do is trade him and Torii Hunter for a more "Jewish" player... but so far, no trade partners are biting. I'm hoping Timmy starts the season strong and becomes a valuable asset that someone will give up a Madison Bumgarner, Max Scherzer, Steven Strasburg or Paul Goldschmidt. But that's unlikely to happen.

Also, I currently don't have Sam Fuld or Danny Valencia on the roster. As rarely-used backups, they don't have a lot to contribute right now. But if they become starters, I'd add them. Same goes for if Ryan Lavarnway gets called up and plays for Boston.

Can my team win it all? Probably not. But can we win a good number of games this season, embarrassing teams that chose more traditional strategies? I believe so.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Want An Olympic Gold Medal?

Why bother spending years of athletic training when you can spend a mere 19k?

Ford Konno's medal on Etsy

Monday, December 02, 2013

Um... Chanukah?

There's a potato latke festival going on tonight in Chelsea in honor of Chanukah, and some of the city's best restaurants will be participating. In order to attend, you'll have to lay out some serious gelt: the cheapest tickets are $55.

That said, hold onto your dreidels, because something is amiss...

That ain't kosher.
 Braised Pork!?!? Shrimp!?!?! This is worse than the Chanukah ham:

No, not delicious for Chanukah
Seriously, the Fifth Annual Latke Festival??? You should have gotten your act together by now. We're really going goy for a festival celebrating Jewish tradition? At least go kosher-style.

This is what happens when the Ukranians and the Mexicans attempt to create Jewish food. (although Toloache and Yerba Buena chef Julian Medina gets it right)

Somewhere, an old Jewish man is rolling in his grave, and complaining.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Down The Rabbit Hole With Kleargear.com

A bizarre story hit the news this week, just in time for the holiday shopping season. A couple has been fined $3,500 and had their credit destroyed for leaving a bad review about the website Kleargear.com, a marketplace claiming to sell funky gadgets.
KlearGear.com didn't deliver Palmer's online order of a desk ornament that was less than $20, so it cancelled the transaction in Dec. 2008. Jen Palmer, now 40, wrote a negative review on private business review site RipoffReport.com, saying KlearGear.com had "horrible customer service practices."
"Once we put the review up we pretty much forgot about it." Then last summer, her husband, John, a senior network engineer, received an email from KlearGear.com demanding $3,500 pursuant to a non-disparagement clause that it claimed was in its "Terms of Use" on its website. "We were blown away," Jen Palmer said...
Allegedly, the company contacted credit bureaus about the $3,500 debt, and that helped destroy the Palmers lives.
 The Palmers said the mark on their credit history affects their ability to obtain loans, most recently for a financing plan for a new furnace. As a result, last month the couple and their 3-year-old son were without heat for three weeks until they saved the $1,900 to buy a furnace.
"Utah in October gets very cold pretty quickly," Jen Palmer said.
The whole story makes little sense. If Kleargear is trying to prevent negative reviews from damaging their reputation... hounding a family into the poor house is not exactly helping matters. The negative PR from this debacle greatly outweighs one negative online review.

But oh man, if you think that's where the story ends, you've got another thing coming...

Internet sleuths quickly got to work unraveling the mystery behind the site's shady owners. And I mean shady. You'd think that a business claiming to make tens of millions of dollars a year wouldn't hide their CEO, their physical location, and their employees... but you'd be wrong.

Lee Gersten, the president of Kleargear? There's no trace that he actually exists. The address of the company is a mail forwarding service. Even the "parent company" is nothing more than an address offering "virtual office space" in France, to companies located elsewhere. Ken White and his friends at Popehat dug deeper:
Here are the problems with KlearGear's display of the TRUSTe certified privacy seal:
1. A source within TRUSTe informs me that genuine seals are clickable links leading to a certification page; this is just an image on KlearGear's page.
2. KlearGear is not in TRUSTe's searchable database of certified sites.
3. My source within TRUSTe confirms that KlearGear.com has never been TRUSTe certified.
Actually, they determined that most, if not all of the dozens of certification and verification badges displayed on the site are fake:
As of November 28, 2012, the BBB discovered that some pages of the company's website display the BBB Accredited Business Logo and state "BBB Rating A+", when neither is true.
The BBB contacted the company at the Michigan mail drop address instructing the company to immediately remove the incorrect BBB logo and reference from their site.
This matter is currently pending.
In fact, some of the seals are completely bogus:
An image search [for] the 5 Star eTAILER Ratings shows that the only place using that seal is KLEARGEAR.
Even the letter to the Palmers demanding payment for the fine is bogus!
One of the collection agents of the purported Kleargear "legal department" signs himself Stephen Gutman, of Fishman group attorneys... He is listed with the Michigan bar here:
He's the only Stephen L. Gutman licensed to practice law in Michigan. The contact information on the letter is that of the "The Fishman Group" however, though it does not match his bar info.
And, there's the fact that he's probably retired and in no way involved:
 The Stephen L. Gutman practicing in Michigan was licensed in 1967, and is likely to be [a] 70 yo gentleman.
You can try contacting the PR department at Kleargear, but don't expect to reach  Margaux Banet, the listed PR agent. She simply does not exist. None of the other names associated with the site appear to be real either, although the head of the parent company is also the name listed on a website for a collections agency... an agency that doesn't seem to actually exist.

Has anyone EVER received a product from Kleargear? From what I can tell, the only evidence the company exists at all is their website and dozens of press releases sent out under that name. News and blog sites have featured products from the company... but it seems like all their copy, photos, even quotes from the people involved, all come from these press releases.

Here's the $3,500 question: What is going on? If this is, and always has been, a fake eCommerce site, with the sole purpose of grifting customers out of money, then it makes sense they would send an email to the Palmers demanding more money. But contacting the credit bureaus? That seems to go beyond the normal scam.

Is it possible that this is the scammer's M.O? They use a fake lawyer from a fake collections agency to contact the credit bureaus, and suddenly, the fake debt becomes real. The credit bureaus are enlisted in putting pressure on the scam victim, and the scammer increases his odds of getting paid.

According to Experian, part of the approval process to be able to report debts to the agency includes a "physical inspection where a 3rd party must come to your location and perform an inspection for security purposes." So before Experian could take the Palmers' debt seriously, they'd have to have a report from a 3rd party affirming Kleargear.com actually existed. In addition, there are a lot of registration requirements which would seem to deter any scammer who didn't want to leave a paper trail. But what if the scammer behind Kleargear found some loophole? A way to trick the system into accepting false collections claims?

Anyone know if this would be a possibility? Are the credit bureaus that easy to hoodwink?

This is going to somehow lead back to Nigeria. I just know it.

Monday, October 28, 2013

D in Dallas Does Not Stand For Discipline

As a fan of the New York Football Giants, I couldn't be happier to see Dallas Cowboys lose. Especially in such a painful way.

I can't imagine how, with the ball 6 inches away from the goal line, how the Dallas defense could just stand up and not bother attacking, even with the Lions' QB Stafford feverishly giving the "spike ball" signal. The ball is 6 inches away from the game-winning touchdown! Dig in! Defend!

But that sort of sums up why the Cowboys haven't won it all these past few years. For all the focus on Dez Bryant's sideline theatrics, the whole team seems to go nuts whenever anything is on the line. Mental errors, costly penalties... apply a little pressure and the team goes haywire. That's on the players, yes, but its also a failure of leadership. I'm looking at you, Jason Garrett.

Of course, as a Giants' fan, I'm all too used to watching haywire football this season. If only there was someone to blame for an out-of-sync offense that continually feeds Peyton Hillis with carries while far more talented players are on the field... *cough Kevin Gilbride *cough.

How to Lose Friends, Influence, and People

Remember the glory days of George W. Bush, when we were all up in arms about the Patriot Act and its assault on our rights to privacy? Seems quaint now. Privacy is officially an illusion these days, a truth revealed by Edward Snowden. And it's not just Americans that the United States is spying on, it's the whole world--including our closest allies.

Those revelations have understandably made the international community incredibly upset. Bugging Andrea Merkel's phone? Eavesdropping on 60 million Spanish citizens... in a month? Reading the President of Mexico's emails? This is how we treat our friends?

Imagine if your buddies found out you were spying on them. How would they suddenly regard you? No wonder the U.S. was so determined to get Snowden into custody... it's not that he was a traitor, it's that he knew that we had betrayed the trust of those we count on most in the international community. Now that the cat's out of the bag, the question is, will our relationship with our international friends be forever damaged?

You don't undo decades of history is a single swoop, but the relations we've shared with our allies through two world wars and a bevy of international conflicts were already strained by the arrogance of George W. Bush's administration. The revelation that the Obama administration did nothing to stop these surveillance programs from overreaching is a debacle that threatens international cooperation on a host of other issues. How can we expect the world to respect the freedom of individuals when our own government has shown itself to be a bunch of hypocrites?

How can we take China to task for its lockdown on free speech and its abuses of human rights, when our own government has gathered the personal, private information of millions of innocent people? How can we stand as a beacon of hope and freedom to the world when our government has shown a blatant disregard for individual privacy?

We can't defend this. Not on the grounds that we were only targeting terrorists. Leaks have revealed that to be untrue. If you're targeting terrorists, target terrorists. Don't collect millions of phone records and THEN decide who looks like a terrorist.

After 9/11, the international community rallied behind us. For the first time in human history, the majority of the world was on the same side in battle. A battle against international terrorism. These revelations have fractured that. They smack of Cold War-era mistrust. They isolate us from the rest of the world.

Obama claims he had no idea... which doesn't absolve him, and in fact, drops him a few more levels in my esteem. The buck stops with the President, period. For him to claim ignorance over a spying program of this scope and size is either unbelievable or frightening. He's either lying-- which in this case, is a best case scenario-- or he's admitting that our military intelligence complex, given broad powers in the wake of 9/11, has become some Orwellian nightmare... beholden to zero oversight, paranoid even around its friends, and wildly inefficient. Don't defend bugging our allies' phones and scooping up the communications of millions of people-- question whether those resources wouldn't be better spent on people and places we know to be trouble.

The NSA has so far failed to reveal any real intelligence coups these programs have made. The oft-repeated figure of 54 plots thwarted isn't accurate, given statements from those who have reviewed the classified material. More importantly, none of the phone calls or emails gathered by the NSA program from our allies' governments led to the discovery of any terror plots.

In the coming months, Obama has a lot of 'splainin to do. If the United States is to regain respect as an international leader, it must earn back trust. I'm not sure how you do that unless we restore oversight to the intelligence gathering process and repeal the parts of the Patriot Act which give our government the right to spy on people who have never been accused of a crime.

If we seek out the terrorists we know, we'll find the ones we don't. If we look at every innocent person, all we do is waste time, goodwill, and the cooperation of our friends. We're a strong, great nation-- but if we don't change our behavior, we'll end up alone.

Here's hoping wisdom prevails.

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