2008 Olympics Tid-bits

Some random thoughts after the first week of watching the 2008 Summer Olympics:
  • Opening Ceremonies were cool - but - that was until the whole "digitally enhanced" and "lip sync-ing" facts came out ... Now they're selling a DVD of it??
  • NBC seems to have hit a home run in terms of ratings (Single handily due to Michael Phelps) - and I think it's rare these days that you read about "instant success" when big networks spend big money on these types of events. It mostly viewed as a way to make some money back, but mostly as a huge stage for that networks future programming. Speaking of which - I understand Hulu is a rev-share for NBC - but TOTALLY traditional media short-term view on things ... "NBCOlympics.com"??? Hulu seems like a very successful user-friendly platform ... A huge event like the Olympics could have done HUGE things for that -- but ... I think NBC got greedy and blew a huge opportunity for them.
  • Speaking of blowing it ... Someone is going to need to explain to me how Coca-Cola, McDonalds, and Johnson & Johnson justify these enormous Olympic sponsorships. Is there analysis that shows that McDonalds sells more value meals in the 4 years after they sponsor the Olympics?
  • I know, how can I wait until my 4th bullet-point on Michael Phelps? Well - here goes... The accomplishment is SICK. The kid is SICK. Some of those close races were SICK. You know what also is SICK ...?? The over-promotion. The stupid questions Andrea Kramer would continuous have to ask him - cuz she just asked him questions 15 minutes earlier ...
  • The comparison of Michael Phelps to Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods? I mean - again - great accomplishment - but NOT EVEN CLOSE! First of all, Tiger and MJ dominate(d) on the big stage for YEARS. Phelps dominates on the big stage twice. Swimming is a sport with less commercial appeal than Tennis or the WNBA ... AND... the elite athletes of our time also know that they have this appeal - so they not only prepare for the competition - but they prepare what to SAY when they do what they expect to do. Michael Phelps can only be "at a loss for words" so many times ... Mr. Phelps did a phenomenal thing last week - but he just doesn't have the Superstar charisma at this point ... Sorry.
  • Speaking of Michael Phelps -- Did anyone see where he was talking about going on Facebook and not accepting friend requests from kids who were mean to him in middle school? I mean - over/under on how many friends requests he got after that interview? I'm going with 10,000....
  • Gymnastics is not a sport. It's a competition (like a beauty pageant) featuring extremely flexible and daring competitors. In a sport - winners and losers are determined by the play - and not by judges. I was beyond frustrated last night - when I saw the Gold and Bronze medal of the "vault" go to girls who both fell down and stepped out of bounds on their "vaults." Gymnastics is an acrobatic beauty pageant.
  • Since when did Beach Volleyball become such an American followed sport? (Oh - since 2 woman wearing skimpy bathing suits could be marketed because they were good)
  • While Bob Costas is at his best talking baseball - he's still the best at what he does. Those who disagree, have a much different definition of what hosts and announcers should do in those jobs than I.
  • "ReDeem team" - LAME. Dwayne Wade - "THE MAN"
  • The Mens 100-yard dash was insane. The 21 year-old who won - started celebrating when he was 80% done - oh - and he still set a world record.
  • Finally.... I can't stop thinking what these athletes do when the 16 days are over... I understand why Michael Phelps and NBA stars will be just fine, but what about the 98% of the others? Home Depot would make you believe that they all work for them - but that can't be the case. How do these people have time to train, work, have families. Is the potential medal plus some very worthy attention and national pride worth what seems to be insane dedication? These kids in China get taken away from families at 4 years old and train for 17 years to compete for 4 days every 4 years ... Seems pretty crazy to me...?
    I appreciate every American who has dedicated themselves to representing our country - and I think the practical side of my brain would ask me everyday... "Is it worth it?"


Parlaying Hobbies into Money

I recently wrote about my experience at the WPT Boot Camp. That is a good example of people who take hobbies (like Poker) - and try to parlay them into a FULL-TIME income.

For this post, I wanted to highlight a bit lighter fare when it comes to parlaying a hobby into revenue generation. (Not full-time money - or consistent income to count on -- more discretionary-style).

It's middle of August, which means if you try talking to me about anything outside of Fantasy Football, chances are that I'm only half listening to you. Please don't take offense to this -- I'm a Fantasy Football true fanatic.

I started The BigTime fantasy league 11 years ago. As many of my loyal readers know - I take great pride in being the Commissioner. The league is still going strong - and has kept many of the first owners. Being a more "mature" league - it's actually become more about luck than skill. Once you understand the basic math and general philosophy -- I'm not certain there is much of an advantage that one Fantasy Football owner can have over another.... This said - last year I entered 4 Fantasy leagues. 2 "mature" ones and 2 Novice ones... I won the Championship in both of the novice ones... Example of parlaying a hobby into $$.
The truth is - that if the money was more important to me than the entertainment value - you would find me in over 30 "office leagues" or novice leagues. I know I could win money from that "investment"... HOWEVER ... the entertainment value is like no other - and I chose not to do that. In fact - I think I'm only doing 2 leagues this year...

For anti Fantasy Football readers - I have another example...

Most people I know are huge fans of American Idol. Amy is THE BIGGEST fan of the Fox Show, "So you Think You Can Dance." She literally could probably enter a trivia show of random facts about the show - and clean up ... Unfortunately, that particular quiz show doesn't exist, but, she did get a chance to make money based on her expertise... There is a GREAT website that runs "office pools" of sorts for both AI and SYTYCD. Amy and I entered... As did our friends, The Remers... The show just ended last week - and I'm happy to report that both the Remers and Amy parlayed their hobbies into money.... The Remers came in first - netting over $1K and Amy tied for third gaining ~$150 on her $20 "investment." (We goin' to Sizzler!). (I am very proud of my wife for doing this - It was so much fun talking "strategy" with her... hopefully she got a little glimpse into my Fantasy Football experiences)....

So - that's it ... If you're good at something - chances are that there are ways to make some money through it... And ... If something doesn't exist today -- Start it! That's what the information superhighway is all about. :)


Smart and Sad

Earlier today, I needed to purchase a money order. After researching and finding out that my primary bank - Citibank - charges $5.00 for one, yet random Western Union only charges $0.99 - and is less than 1 block from my office -- I decided to go to said Western Union (Pay-O-Matic).

I have to be honest. I have undoubtedly been to "Check Cashing" establishments less than 3 times in my life. I've been lucky enough to always have a primary bank for all check cashing and banking needs...

Anyway, I walk in and see 3 people ahead of me in line and 3 people at "the window." Being one of my first times in such an establishment - I am curiously very aware of my surroundings...
For example, the Pay-O-Matic obviously cashes personal checks (for a small fee), but also checks made out to Corporations... It also sells E-Z Passes, Metro Cards, and Stamps. BUT ... none of these cross selling strategies are the sad AND smart one in which FOUR OF THE SIX people in front of me took advantage of...

The Check Cashing place sells Lotto tickets. I literally hear every person say "Give me 5 Quick-picks", or "I'll take 10 scratch-offs...." Again ... BRILLIANT and SAD at the same time...

While it's sad - and you could probably make some sort of generic socio-economic theories on WHY people do it -- I honestly think that if Citibank or Chase or whoever did the same thing -- that a similar positive increase in lotto tickets would occur... No?

And furthermore, I'd much rather Citibank make money THAT way - then by "nickel and diming" their existing customers on things like Money Order Fees and Foreign Currency Exchange fees (They charge $5.00 -- even if you are changing $10)....



Last week, my lovely wife lived up to her self-proclaimed klutz reputation... At 7:30 AM, reaching for a Tupperware container, she knocked over a vase - which cracked on her hand - leaving a blood gash which wasn't stopping...
After assessing the situation, I called the nearest Emergency room to see if they were busy or not (If they were - no way we get out of there before 4 hours). The receptionist said "it's empty" so
we go down to Bellevue Emergency room.
3 hours later, Amy and I leave - her gash glued together - and a bunch of gauss rapped around her thumb ... Amy had a very interesting experience which included prisoners in orange jump-suits chained together, shortage of doctors, drunk & bloody man passed out next to her, etc...

So - a few observations before the main one...
1) No Emergency room experience should be expected to be less than 3 hours ... Period.
2) Amy and I were both flabergasted to see with out own eyes, how many people are actually drunk or drugged out on Tuesdays at 9 AM ... Staggering really.
3) The decision to go to the emergency room with a hand gash is something I've done before - but it's a tweener ... What are the other options: Band-aid it up and hope it heals on it's own?

So ... After over 30 years of being a patient - I now know why they are called such a thing ... Patients require extreme patience. It took a big sign in the waiting room that said "please be patient" for it to click for me (I kind of feel stupid that it took so long). Spending time in doctor waiting rooms is painful for me. As it is, I have issues with most doctors I've visited in Manhattan (to clarify - though - I moreso have issue with "the system"). I won't go back to a doctor if they make me wait longer than 30 minutes more than once or twice. If a salesman is always late for appointments with clients - do you think they're going to get the business?
I understand that things happen - but being late is a true pet peeve of mine.

Anyway - I'm going to try and be more of a patient patient in the future. Clearly if the words have been around for a while - it's for a reason.