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March 24, 2000

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining, but this was one of those days that make my ulcer act up. I was chained to Excel all day, because the Boss decided that he wanted to change some figures in the Big Project to make the Company look more profitable. It can't look too profitable, because that would mean paying more taxes. But if it doesn't look as if we're making money, our bonding company won't let us bid enough new work to stay afloat.

All of the numbers in our financial picture are set in stone, because I keep meticulous records of every transaction. So there's nothing to fudge to improve our position, with one exception. We can "predict" that certain projects, in progress at the end of the year, will eventually be more profitable than maybe the strictest interpretation of the crystal ball would indicate.

It's not lying. It's looking on the bright side. It's seeing the glass three-quarters full instead of three-quarters empty. It's trading in the green visor for one with a rosier glow.

And it's a short-term solution, because if we overestimate the profit of a job in progress this year, it will turn around and bite us in the ass next year, when we don't have the hard numbers to back it up. By that time, hopefully, we'll have a half-dozen other jobs, all with such large profit margins that the slight correction won't sink us.

And, as the Boss says, "Nobody can tell me I don't believe what I'm saying."

On the other hand, there's a reason that the gloomier scenario is usually the one labeled "realistic."

Anyway, that's why I have the sore back I get whenever I spend a whole day re-crunching previously crunched numbers.

I'm getting excited. One week from today is the first-ever major league baseball game at Pacific Bell Park, and I'll be there! It's just an exhibition game, the Giants against the Milwaukee Brewers, but there's no chance of scoring tickets for the first game of the regular season, so this is as close as I'm going to get to history.

The major league season opens with games in Tokyo between the Cubs and the Mets, next Wednesday and Thursday. They're being shown live on cable here at two in the morning (California time). The rest of the teams wait another week to start playing games that count.

I'm not sure what they're trying to accomplish with this. Baseball is already Japan's favorite sport, so they don't need the exposure. But packing the Tokyo Dome will guarantee a big payday for the teams and players. As Mark McGwire said, "It all comes down to how much money they can make."

It's a distraction for the players to travel that far; in fact, the Cardinals turned down the invitation. Obviously, McGwire would have been the attraction, but he exercised his right to be a pissy little baby about it, so they sent somebody else. But it wasn't the travel, or even the disruption in routine, that McGwire objected to. From an AP article last August:

"I'm absolutely against it," McGwire said at the time. "Major league baseball belongs in the United States. The Japanese have Japanese baseball, so there's no reason for us to go over there. I have nothing against the way they play baseball. It's not the travel. As a player, I just don't like it. The game belongs here."

So there you have it. He just doesn't like it. The most marketable athlete in his sport doesn't want to share major league baseball with other countries. We can't have anyone interfering with his inalienable right to play baseball in his country of origin. His teammates from Colombia and the Dominican Republic probably feel the same way. John Rocker probably agrees with him, too.

But McGwire does want to win the World Series. The Cardinals haven't won it since 1982. Ironically, a team from distant Canada, the Toronto Blue Jays, won it in 1992 and 1993.

A while back I mentioned that the liquor store next to the elementary school I pass by on my daily walk had closed. For the last couple of weeks there has been a sign on the door, a Notice of Intent to Sell Alcoholic Beverages. Naturally, the neighbors are up in arms about this. They had a community meeting last night at the school to try to prevent the new owners from activating their liquor license.

The new owners bought the store from a group who had lost their license to sell alcohol because they sold to minors. The new liquor license was acquired from a store at another location that had the same problem. Somehow all these offenses get washed away when a new party takes over the license.

I guess even with a built-in clientele for candy, gum and Pokémon cards, they can't make a go of the business without selling booze. But with the neighbors against it, the police department against it, and the licensing board against it, I wonder why this even needs to be discussed. With all that powerful opposition, what force propels the licensing along the fast track?

After my recent rant about the local cable company's summary dismissal of the Bravo channel from its lineup, today we hear that the operation is being sold to AT&T. Actually, Cable One is trading the Santa Rosa and Modesto franchises for smaller markets in Idaho. And good luck to the folks in Idaho; I hope you enjoy Soap Net.

This could be good news or bad news. AT&T is a successful monopolist from way back. They've tied up all the cable systems in the county. Now that they will be the sole providers of cable modem Internet access, they're in a strong position to push their long distance service.

Or they could have some incentive to upgrade the cable service itself. Cable One has certainly had a cavalier attitude toward its subscribers and their wishes, and maybe this impending deal was the reason.

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