Mr. Fantasy

Fantasy Sports Report: My first season playing fantasy hockey and basketball…

My hockey team won its division – was in first place all season – and was ranked second overall in the league and is now involved in the playoffs. My two basketball teams are ranked 5th and 6th right now. One bounced between 3rd and 6th all season, the other was consistently 6th or 7th. I don’t even know if we have playoffs or how the season ends in basketball because I’m new. If there are playoffs, my teams won’t be in them anyway.

Verdict: I won’t be playing fantasy hockey or basketball next year. just not interesting enough for me. It did not enhance my enjoyment of the real life seasons of these sports. The most interesting part was putting the teams together. After the first few weeks, I rarely checked my teams.

In fact, I had almost forgotten about them until last night when we were watching a spring training report and Diane said, you’ll be getting your fantasy baseball team together soon. Have you thought about what players you want in the draft?

“No,” I said, in surprise, “I forgot all about it. I should see how my teams are doing, I haven’t looked at them since a week before Krejci got injured. I need to replace him.”

An hour later… “Hey, my hockey team won its division!”

I entered fantasy sports last fall to play football only because a friend talked me into it, twisted my arm. Fantasy football was fun and I will definitely play next fall. But hockey and basketball went one and done. If baseball wasn’t my favorite sport and if I hadn’t already tried the other three, I would not bother with fantasy baseball at all. People don’t believe me when I say that…which is kind of dumb on their part because I never bothered with fantasy baseball in my previous 59 years, so I think there’s a lot more evidence on my side of the argument.

I’m not looking forward to it but I feel like I have to get it over with. It’s now or never.

E-bills

In recent months, two friends have told me they used to pay their bills online but they’ve stopped and gone back to snail mail.

I was completely taken aback when the first friend mentioned this. He said he had recently completed getting all of his accounts offline and he was so glad it was over. He said paying bills online had been one problem after another.

So I wasn’t as surprised when another friend said the same thing awhile later but still some surprised. Was this a new trend?

I’ve never gotten organized enough to pay my bills online but I’ve assumed I should. I ought to at least get non-bills – regular account statements – online to save the hassle of extra mail and paper to file or toss. It’s on my mind, so when I bought an iPhone last fall and had to open an online account with my phone carrier in order to set it up, I almost starting paying my monthly phone bill online right there. But there was some trouble with their website and, just as I expected, after about ten minutes I had no phone service at all. So I figured I’d wait on paying the phone bill online — Let’s just let them screw up my phone service today, they can screw up my bill another time.

It was still on my mind a week later when I noticed an envelope on the floor under my desk. It was a utility bill. It was due the next day. I decided to see if I could pay it online right then. I could. But I had to open an online account. So while I was at it, I set it up to pay online every month. Of the choices available, I picked the one where they send me the bill by email and then I click in the email to go to their website and pay the bill online by credit card. I chose this over giving them my bank account info and paying automatically. I figured this way I’d be more likely to look at the bill and see that it made sense.

I felt good about getting one account setup, thinking it would get me rolling on going online with all my bills. But I was busy for awhile and then the holidays were coming and…ya know?

However this procrastination has caused me to think more about what my friends said and what I know now, first hand. For the past few months, this has been my online bill paying experience…

Each month, like clockwork, on or about the 13th of the month, my wife receives an email from this utility company telling her that our bill is past due. And each month she comes home that night and asks if I’ve paid the bill. And each month I try to remember exactly what the hell happened the last time I visited their clunky website – because every visit involves making multiple attempts at whatever it is you are trying to do and trying to remember one month later exactly what you were able to accomplish – and how you found a way to do it when the way they tell you to do it didn’t work over and over again…and now, a month later, I log back in, after looking up the password – “Why doesn’t it remember the password?” – and clunking around looking to find the status of my bill…and in the end finding that I’d done this for no reason at all!…

…because…

Each month, like clockwork, on or about the 13th of the month, my wife receives an email from this utility company telling her that our bill is past due. And each month she comes home that night and asks if I’ve paid the bill. And now each month I remember to do nothing…

…because…

Each month, like clockwork, one or two days after my wife receives an email from this utility company telling her that our bill is past due, I receive an email from this utility company presenting me with my new bill. Which is current and payable thirty days later.

We have at no time been past due. But this company hassles us every month. Like clockwork.

…for the past few months, this has been my online bill paying experience.

It’s the 21st century. I expect everything to work. I should know better. But it’s the 21st century.

It took a few months to get used to the fact that I should ignore a notice that my bill is past due. Remember to ignore that notice. Check. However, I’m not so naive that I’m stupid enough to contact them and try to straighten this out. I know a waste of time when I see one.

How many of these situations do I want to have? I know it’s not going to be the only one. Remember that Bob Dylan song, “Everything Is Broken?”

When I add my own limited experience to my friends telling me they’ve stopped paying their bills online, I start to wonder…should I pay all my bills online or should I quit while I’m behind?

No News Is Good News

i’ve pretty much tuned out what passes for news these days. most of what they talk about on news shows is bullshit and nobody will be talking about it next week. and stuff they should be talking about – this week, next week and last week…well, they’re not gonna get to that.

this is not an old retired guy’s opinion, this is what i thought ten years ago…and often said on the radio. but because i was on the radio, i still had to pay attention to all this crap whether i chose to talk about it on air or not, just in case.

but now, i don’t have to. and i don’t. once in awhile something REAL happens. then i watch, listen, read. 90% of the time, this REAL news doesn’t come from Washington even though 90% of the news comes from there.

harrumph, harrumph.

all that leads up to… the way I have tried to stay in touch since i tuned out after the last presidential election was to watch Brian Williams’ billboard every night. most of the time that’s all i watch. sometimes i watch an individual story. not often.

Scott Pelley announces at me, Stephanopoulos worked for Clinton (why didn’t they get Bill to do WNT? he’d have done it!) Diane Sawyer worked for Nixon, and i’ve never liked David Muir for some reason. And I don’t want to record a Newshour when i’m only going to watch 45 seconds.

Brian Williams’ billboard was my lifeline. I never knew if he was any good at reporting – just as I never knew that about Brokaw by the way – but he could read the news real pretty. Last week, I cancelled my series recording of his show because I don’t believe anything he says now. i guess NBC doesn’t either.

Last night i watched Pelley and next week I’m recording Muir one night – might as well see whose reporting for those nets these days, what they’re doing. I taped the Newshour a couple times this week but it doesn’t work for me either.

Lester Holt reads the news nice so i’ll probably go back to him.

But geez… Where did everybody go?

Is Max A Lap Cat?

Today I was asked, “Is Max a lap cat?”

In the broad sense, yes. He will curl up in your lap if necessary but he prefers that you put your feet up and he stretches out over your legs…which are preferably covered with a blanket.

He will let me hold him in my arms, standing or sitting up – but not sitting back, no! This can go on for five to ten minutes…or twenty if he falls asleep.

No one else may hold him in their arms. Except for Diane but only on rare occasions and for no more than 30 seconds.

Note: Holding an 11-pound cat for twenty minutes while standing, is not recommended.

Fantasy Football

Week 13 was the final week of the regular season in fantasy football.

my best week of the season! i went 8-2-1 (i’d gone 8-3 twice).

four of my eleven teams are headed to the playoffs.
i had three teams finish tied for first in their five-team divisions, two of them made the #2 seed for the playoffs.

my best team went 9-4.
two teams came in last at 2-11.
overall, i went 59-82-2.

it was my first time playing fantasy sports. was fun. yes, i’ll have fewer teams next year but not for the reason everybody assumes. it wasn’t too much work. i was surprised too. most weeks, i wished there was more to do. the first four weeks were about learning how it worked and putting together “set” lineups. the next four weeks were about learning there was no such thing as a “set” lineup – especially this season, with all the upsets.

at the beginning of the season, i was checking my teams five or six mornings a week. by Week 5, i’d learned that this was not necessary. but i ‘m a rookie, i might be wrong, so i kept that pace anyway. by Week 8, i was bored with checking my teams and having nothing to do half the time or more.

turned out three times a week was perfect for the ten ESPN.com teams – twice a week was sufficient – and three or four times a week was enough for my one NFL.com team.

i’m thinking next year i’ll go with three to five teams, depending on how many leagues i’m in with friends.

i have one fantasy hockey team and two basketball teams. the jury is out on those fantasy sports. my initial impression is that the hockey teams have too many players and the basketball teams don’t have enough. i can’t say that i’m “into it” yet. the drafts were interesting as was setting the lineups the first week or so. since then, not so much. but again, i’m a rookie at this. maybe as we get deeper into the season it will become more interesting. i really don’t know. as big a baseball fan as i am, i expect fantasy baseball will be just like the hockey and basketball – interesting at the beginning and maybe at the end. sometimes real life sports are like that too.

when i was working, i was curious about fantasy sports but didn’t have the time. when i retired, i was still curious but just not interested enough. the only reason i tried fantasy football this year was a friend in my neighborhood talked me into joining the league she runs.

she really had to twist my arm too. i ignored the email invitation. the weekend before the season started, she knocked on our door to find out why i hadn’t joined. “i’m not really interested,” i told her. she was taken aback. “i thought you’d be all over that,” she said. but she wasn’t taking no for answer. (she really needed one more team to complete her league, the draft was two days away.)

that night i sat down to start figuring out how it worked – i’d never even looked at a fantasy sports site before. i don’t like the NFL.com fantasy set-up and their website really sucks. right away my process became – have one window open with my team on the NFL site and a second window on the ESPN fantasy site to do my research.

the NFL site was clunky and annoying while the ESPN site was easy and fun. so i joined a league on ESPN too. and then a second one. and a third. i went through the draft process. then an idea for a writing project about fantasy football came to me and i joined a few more leagues on ESPN.

now i had one team on the NFL site and seven or eight at ESPN. then i read that the first ten teams on ESPN were free. what the heck, if i’m this close to ten, i might as well have ten!

turns out those last few teams were just redundant. while their line-ups all looked different at the start, by Week 4, when you have some idea of who is having a good season and who isn’t; and you’re dealing with players getting injured or just joining the team after injury; and players with bye weeks…you end up checking the waiver wire and signing the same players over and over again. by Week 9 or so, you have the same guys on team after team.

but even as i was adding teams i knew that i wouldn’t do it this way in the future. this was a one-time only deal. it worked for the research i wanted to do but when i do it next year, just for fun…with my schedule and my level of interest, i think three teams would be perfect. that’s what i’m planning to do on the ESPN site next year. if my friend has her league again and another friend starts one, i’ll join, but five teams is definitely going to be my limit. that’s about where the redundancy begins.

once i let my friend talk me into fantasy football, i knew i would try the other sports at least once. so as i sat down on that last weekend of August to prepare for my first draft, i knew i was committing myself to fantasy sports for at least a year. at this point, my expectation is that a year from now i’ll still be playing fantasy football but i won’t bother with the others. i think once will be enough on the others. once might be too much, in fact. but hey, i’m a rookie, what do i know?

“We don’t care, we don’t have to…”

i was saying earlier that once my iPhone arrives, in less than ten minutes i expect to have no phone service at all.

my friend laughed as if i’d made a joke. i’d call him now to say i told you so but i have no phone service.


Phone Co. Website: To activate your new phone, Click Here.
Me: clicks
Website: We will now send you a Text Message with a one-time code. Enter the code on our website and your phone will be activated. What phone should we text it to?
Me: The one you just deactivated, numb nuts.