Friday, October 31, 2008

Phillies parade.

When I first took my current job in 1999, I thought that the view on to the Center City streets would make an excellent place to see a parade. A sports parade. One like the Flyers parade in '75 which I saw or the Phillies parade in '80 which I missed.

I was right.

It just took 9 years to prove it.

Youngest son was hounding me since the Phils won it to go to the parade. I mistakenly assumed he meant with me.

No chance. He went with another dad that took him and 4 friends. He blew me off. Maybe it was because I headed into the city at 7:00 AM or because he could only bring one friend (it's an office, not a party I was thinking) or that he would have to spend 4 hours hanging out in my office.

I didn't mind that he was going with his friends but the Dad he was going with sounded like a center city amateur. I'm a pro. This is my neighborhood. I go here every single day.

Either way I was on my own.

My train ride in was uneventful. There were a few Phillies Phans on the train but nothing crazy like there was going to be in few short hours.

His was crazy. Every Patco station was packed. Some ran out of tickets. He couldn't find the Ashland station. At least I know where the Ashland station is. They ended up driving around to three Patco stations before a friend of theirs got in line in Haddonfield.

I slipped into town and went to work.

The co-workers that rode Septa had a different story. Theirs was a tale of packed trains, open beers and missed stations.

We didn't get much done at work today either. There were little kids running around and Phillies chants outside all morning long. We watched from our perch as the tide of souls came in with every train load. We could tell when a train came in by how much the stair wells filled up and onto to the street.

By ten the crowds were several people deep along the parade route.

We ventured out at about 11:00 to see how it was outside and were surprised at how easily we got up front. We could see but we figured the view was better upstairs 18 floors above all this.

The parade seemed to get a late start since it was about 12:15 when the parade came past 15th and Market.

While it was good to see the crowds and the "big picture" that high up, you couldn't see that Pat Burrell was on the Budweiser wagon or what Phillies were where. You missed the detail and being in the crowd.

In 15 minutes it was all over and then the chaos began.

A friend of mine at work had tickets to the Linc to see the festivities at the end of the parade so we thought we would try to get on the Broad Street line and head that way.

We went out our front door only to find that they closed the entrance to underground concourse. We should have stopped right there and asked ourselves why but we pressed on. We attempted to fight the crowd on Market headed towards 16 on the Souths side of the street.

It took forever.

We eventually got to the concourse entrance at 16th and Market and headed down. There was along line to buy tokens. (what were you thinking? You didn't get two tokens on the way down?) Since we had passes to get on we headed onto the platform for the El. We walked along that headed for the Subway on Broad only to find that it wasn't running.

We turned around and headed back and that's when I lost him. I turned around and he was gone.

I decided to get something to eat over at the Food Court on 16th which of course was a zoo.

I headed home on the Patco. I left the office at 2 and was home by 3:30. On the way home I heard that the festivities at the Linc had not happened yet and for the briefest instant I considered heading there.

I was glad I didn't. The real fun was CBP.

I'm beat and I'm tired of taking pictures.

These guys were the best

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Preparing for Game 3

  • Watching the Weather Report: Check. RRRRRggghh It changed! It was supposed to end raining before game three started. Now it is calling for Heavy rain after 9.
  • Phillies Gear: Partial Check. Big shout out to Tina for the hoodies. Now I need one of those nice lanyards for my ticket. And a hat. and maybe a nice pennant. and a blow up chair.
  • Tickets: Check. They have been safely tucked away in the house that eats things for over a week. I checked to today and miraculously they are were I left them. You have no idea how much this is supernatural.
  • TiVo: Check. But if the game is rain delayed I may miss the end.
  • Travel Plans: Check. PATCO and Septa, please.
I can't wait.

We are in the section that Ryan Howard first hit a Home Run into the third deck in Citizen's Bank park to, in the same row. On June 20 2006 Howard hit the ball an estimated 461 feet off Mike Mussina of the Yankees to section 304.

Howard hit seat 8 and it now is festooned with an "H". Can't wait to see it.

I spent the week watching the ticket prices on StubHub and telling people the story of winning the ticket lottery. I have to admit, I was thinking about selling. That's a lot of money. The tickets in that section were going for $900 each. I could have made $2,000 easily.

My wife is excited about too but I may have to bring a rule book or something. I just know its going to be a night of "but why?" I was speaking with another friend and he said bringing his wife to a game was like bringing his 7 year old. She wants ice cream in a Phillies helmet. She want cotton candy.

Either way, the city is ready too. Yesterday I caught this shot outside my office window.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Magic Beans

I got a pretty nice email the other morning from the Phillies.

Back up a week. I stopped by Zach's desk to see what was happening. Somehow we got on the subject of Phillies tickets and he told me about the lottery for playoff tickets that the Phillies were having. The NLCS lottery was over but the World Series Lottery was happening soon and you could still sign up for a chance to buy tickets along with all the rest of Philly.

I entered the lottery which for some reason I thought was to be held on the 9th of October.

At 8:55 yesterday I got an email from the Phillies. I had an opportunity for post season tickets from 9 AM to 9 PM. I was shocked since I thought the lottery had taken place and I assumed I didn't win.

I immediately checked NTP for the most accurate time and at exactly 9:00:00 I attempted to log in with the user name and password that came in the email. Luckily, I had no meetings or guess what, I was going to be late.

I nearly crapped my pants when they worked.

I could buy up to 3 SRO, Obstructed or Reserved seats. I selected "Best Available" and up came three seats in 304, first row in game 3 for $125 a piece for a grand total of $405 with all the taxes, fees etc.

Out came the credit card and ....I froze.

I had not cleared this purchase with the budget review committee, of which I am a junior, auxiliary member.

I literally turned to the phone and stared at it, turned to the screen with my three world series tickets, turned back to phone, back to the PC, back to the phone. I must have done that for what seemed an eternity.

Finally, common sense kicked in. Yeah, right I'll just wait until the next time the Phillies are in the World Series and I win a once-in-a-billion ticket lottery to purchase tickets and make sure I have the proper approvals.

I pressed buy. I figure worst case, I'd sell them on stub hub.

Then, in the back of my mind, I thought what if this some sort of Internet phishing thing? Was that really the Phillies site? I just clicked on some link in my mail and gave them a credit card, was I insane?

I went back and checked the site and felt better about it.

Then I called the rest of the committee.

"Hi. I just spent $405 on Phillies tickets"

Well, you would have thought I sold the family cow for magic beans.

I Said "I bought World Series tickets" as if I were saying "But you don't understand, they are magic beans, you put them in the ground and magic happens"

After her co-workers over heard the conversation and when they were amazed that she had World Series tickets, it was a different story. "Oh, OK who is going?" she asked.

"Why you are, honey" This isn't my first time around the block.

"And of Course Mr C"

Fast forward to tonight. She is rearranging her work schedule for that weekend so she is clear to go to Game 3. Let's just say she isn't the biggest baseball fan. In fact, this is more like a Catholic heading off to Mecca. Somehow, another friend came up in conversation and she said "You really should take X (the friend)".

Did you ever say something you know is just trouble and then say it anyway? For some reason at this point, I said "Well you know we can get $1000 each for those".

As the words were leaving my lips, I knew I had made a mistake.

"A THOUSAND Dollars?"

I had thought about that too. That's a lot of money.

I forcefully as I could I told her that if she wasn't going, I had a long line of people that wanted to go. We were not selling anything. Besides, how can you think of selling magic beans? This was true, I had a lot of new best friends since getting the tickets and they all wanted to go. God forbid I ever win the lottery. I would hate having all those people expecting something from you.

So we are going to the World Series Game 3 Saturday and I can't wait.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Parade Watch: Philles NCLS edition.

It looks like the Phillies are within one game of heading to the world series, the Eagles are back at 500, The Redskins lost to the lowly Rams, the Giants lost to the Browns, the Cowboys lost to the Cardinals AND lost Romo for 4 weeks.

Unless Eli Manning gets an inoperable brain tumor by Thursday, I don't think you can have a better Philly sports week in mid October.

I feel like a bald kid with a terminal disease that they send to Disney Land.

Ohh and along with most of the Philadelphia Sports Fan universe, I hate Manny Ramirez. Everyone I talk to seems to say two things:

1. Boy, is he a talented ball player and he is going to the Hall of Fame.

2. Boy, I really I hate him.

Boy was I wrong. The Joys just keep coming. This morning I got email from the Phillies, I was selected in the lottery for World Series Tickets. I have tickets to Game 3!

And the joys just keep coming. Pac Man Jones is out - suspended indefinitely, Felix Jones is out!

Monday, October 13, 2008

What would they do if I made no landfall.

We spent the weekend in Annapolis, MD with the C Family sans children. It was a beautiful weekend, one that you were surprised could happen in a month that ended in an "R". We also met up with my wife's sister and her husband at the annual Sail Boat Show at Annapolis.

You would have been shocked to learn that the stock market had the single most worst week ever. The place was packed and let's just say there weren't a lot of Democrats in the crowd. I saw a lot of McCain stickers and very few Obama supporters. Except these guys and technically they were outside the show.

After spending the day taking my shoes on and off to get on and off boats (you can't get on and of the boats with "street shoes"), Mr C and I decided to sign up for a "slide show" later that afternoon by a man that circumnavigated the earth while the wives shopped. It was a easy choice. I could go from one shop to another endlessly or I could sit on some guys boat.

We looked for the boat.

We wound our way through the marina looking for a Hunter 49 with red Hunter pennants flying. Once we found it, we realized we were the only ones going to see the show. We kind of hung out there for a while past the 4:30 start time. Finally, a family of five came out, just about worshiping the older guy that owned the boat. They were taking pictures with him and just chatting away at how fascinating the whole thing was.

We asked them how long they were there. They said an hour and a half.

Now, I was thinking that an hour and half seemed kind of long to be sitting on some stranger's boat while he showed pictures of his year long vacation. I was thinking of ways to get out of this in a half an hour or so. Ohh, looked I'm being paged.

Originally uploaded by mfalcian

The Man introduced himself as Mike Harker and invited aboard and to make ourselves at home. Mike had some business to take care of and then he would be right with us.

Mr C and climbed aboard and went below and after a few minutes Mike came below as well. After getting water ready for tea and quick reboot of his laptop Mike began to tell us his story and show pictures on the flat screen behind him.

At no time during the next two hours did I consider bailing on Mike. His is a fascinating story of adventure, trial and courage.

Mike had very little idea what he was doing and decided to sail a 46 foot sailboat to Europe. He picked up the boat in Miami and sailed the inter coastal water way up Florida with an experienced Captain by the name of Boomer. Mike liked the guy and they worked out a deal where Boomer would sail with him to Europe.

At the last minute, Boomer got a another job running a sailing school for college aged girls in the Bahamas. You can't even begin to make something like that up. A job teaching college girls to sail? Come on. Mike said he understood and decided to head out anyway. By himself.

At the end of his show Mike had a picture of Boomer. He was smiling. Broadly. Big Teeth. We called it the Boomer smile. There were girls working on the boat behind him. They were in bikinis. It's hard to fault Boomer.

Mike just set the autopilot and headed for Bermuda.

He showed up in Bermuda in June and started looking for a crew. The guys in the marinas thought he was making this up. You sailed from where? By yourself? And you don't even know this is Hurricane season and all able bodied crew have left? That's right, Mike didn't even know when to start his trip.

Unable to get a crew, Mike set off on his own again.

If you are in the know about sailing the Atlantic, there is this guy named Herb Hilgenberg in Nova Scotia. Herb gives weather reports and such to long range sailors. During the crossing, Herb taught Mike the finer points of sailing blue water like "head into the waves".

Now at this point I was thinking "even I knew that". But Mike did not and he headed to 40 degrees North, turned the boat East and set the Autopilot. He showed us the route on Google Earth. It was straight as an arrow. Until about 3/4 of the way.

Mike went straight across the Atlantic until a giant wave knocked the boat to the point where the top of his mast went underwater. He let out the main sail, the boat righted itself and he got on the horn with Herb. Herb taught him to head into the waves and tack.

For the next hour and half we were mesmerized by stories like this as Mike picked up crew.many young and female and sailed from island to island.

By the end it would not have surprised me if Mike said:

"And that's when I found the colony of leprechauns, you know, the little people"

Slowly our entire crew ended up at Mike's boat listening to his stories.

If you find yourself at a Sail Boat show, look for the Hunter dock and sign up for Mike's show.

If you want to know more about Mike and his story, look here.

For pictures of our Annapolis trip, look here.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Dunder Mifflin?

I'm feeling kinda smart. On September 25th I had a little voice inside tell me why don't you have a look at your 401k?

I hadn't even logged in years. I didn't even know the password, or as I found out later, the username.

What triggered my little adventure into the land of finance was the fact that the President, a life long conservative and Republican, became a socialist overnight. the Government needs to step in? I thought "what did he see that scared the crap out him so bad?" It had to be something....

I moved my 401K into the most conservation plan my company has. Don't get me wrong, I've lost money, it's just not as bad as it could have been.

Today I found out what it was.

I had never heard of the Commercial Paper Market. Today I asked around at work. No one else knew what it was except Tom from Finance. He used to be in Treasury, he said. My favorite answer was "does it have to do with Dunder Mifflin?". Dunder Mifflin being the fictional work place of the TV show, The Office.

No, no Dunder Mifflin here. The Commercial Paper Market is where just about every company in the world goes to buy and sell money. Borrowing money they might need for today and lending surplus. It's a very mundane chore usually carried out by by the CFOs minions.

It's a Money Market. One that is never expected to make wild gains nor have bloody losses. Not a crazy deriative or Credit Default Swap or Mortgage backed security. A Money Market.

On the 15th of Sept, a Market called The Reserve did the something that scared the crap out of everyone. It "broke the buck". For the first time, businesses that put a dollar into the fund did not get a dollar out. Read about it here.

Once again the guys over at This American Life have done an excellent job explaining the whole thing is simple terms that everyone can understand. It is not boring I swear. Check it out.