The End of An Era

Gee, it seems like it was just 2008 when I wrote about one of my childhood haunts being shut down for good.

And just today I found out that the second portion of that childhood, Lakewood Batting Cages, was closing their doors forever – today. Like almost everything noteworthy, I saw the news on their Facebook page and that they would be open until 9pm today, allowing customers to use their facility free of charge.

Of course I had to be there for the last night.

As I wrote in the aforementioned post, the guys at the batting cages were always so good to me and everyone else who wandered in there. About the only thing that has changed from the last time I saw them was that one of the sons, Roy, had passed away. But like his dad and brother, he was super nice, always had a smile on his face, and always made time for everyone. He’ll be missed.

What apparently happened was that the owners of the property, Local Laborer’s Union 507, would not let them renew the lease (details here). But as I was there, negotiations were in progress with an interested party in China. And if a deal is struck the place could be saved, but it just won’t be the same without the Tyler family running it. They are what made the iconic place special, a place where players like Chase Utley used to hone their skills before making it to The Bigs.

Then there’s me, a 44-yard-old dufus who never remotely had the chance or skills to become a big leaguer – but who always found great enjoyment taking some hacks in the 80 MPH cage over the years. Here’s one of my last sessions (direct link since embedding was being funky).

Before I left for the last time, I had to get my picture with Kevin (middle) and his dad, Daryl. (They still own and operate another location.) I love these guys for being who they were and giving back to the community through sponsorship of local teams, donations, and for simply operating a place where kids of all ages could come and learn how to hit a round ball squarely, one of the most difficult feats in all of sports.

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The sun has set on Lakewood Batting Cages, and the local baseball community is eternally grateful for having them be a part of their lives for the last 27 years.

Thanks for the memories and best of luck to The Tylers.

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The Obligatory “Where I’ve Been” Blog Post

Whenever I take any kind of extended absence from blogging, I always feel the need to write a post and justify my leave.

This post is no different.

For one, my little 75-day blogging marathon burned me out and I didn’t want to head back to it any time soon. That’s a simple explanation.

So what else have I been up to?

Flickr. Since Yahoo!’s acquisition of Tumblr, Flickr users had their accounts upgraded to a whopping 1TB of storage space. This trumps the old capacity of a mere 200 images for free users, who had to pay an annual fee for more storage. So what does any of that have to do with my time? I created another Yahoo!/Flickr account and started to store/archive a ton of images to share with family. It’s taking time to upload and tag everything but tagging the images makes things so much easier when searching. It’s like I’m starting over and while time consuming, I’m enjoying perusing images I haven’t seen in ages.

Coursera. I’m trying, yet again, to stick with an online course of a subject of interest (in my case, Nutrition). But no matter how hard I try, I’m not succeeding. I really want to learn about this stuff and although it’s a learn-at-your-own-pace platform, my pace seems to be stuck in Neutral. I’m beginning to think I’m unlearnable (or unteachable, as you see fit).

Job Hunting. Saving the best for last, I’m desperately looking for a new job. I’m tired of the line of work I’m doing and want need to get into something else. This really hit me today when, while proofreading yet another weird language with strange characters, the lines of text started to look as if they were highlighted with a green highlighter – and they weren’t. So not only to I need to do it for my own sanity, I just need to move on and far, far away from the Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Proofreading. I’m sick of it and everything about it. Actually, this job has broken my spirits tenfold not only for proofreading but on other levels as well. The new manager has been promising to transition more of the temps into permanent employees but as of now, only two people have been given the opportunity and one of them has only been there a fraction of the time I have. The job we do is tedious, boring, repetitive. We (the proofreaders) get no kind of word of thanks from anyone while others get the credit whenever we get their projects done. It’s totally disheartening, and that’s not even everything.

So does that justify things? Good. Because I have to go and start looking for another job.

Mean People Suck

Yes, I’m blogging. It’s because I feel the need tonight.

In short, Ann logged into our online banking account tonight and found a charge to the tune of $221.25 at Office Depot.

First of all, I can’t tell you the last time we went to Office Depot for anything. It’s rare when we have to go there and when we do, we don’t drop over $2oo because we can. It just doesn’t happen, let alone in Tennessee. I’m in California. (The bank transaction included the store’s number which I then looked up online, hence the Tennessee connection.)

On top of all that, I can tell you that I’ve never been to Tennessee let alone an Office Depot in Tennessee. I can’t even think of a situation in this lifetime or any other where that scenario would make any sense.

So after numerous calls to our financial institution, Visa (to report a stolen credit card) and the Office Depot in Tennessee, here’s what I learned:

  • Ann’s card was the one that was compromised which is why Visa couldn’t find the transaction. But once I gave them her card number, the person at the other end gave a more-than-nervous chuckle when the charges appeared on her monitor.
  • The charges were in Sherman Oaks, Los Angeles and Madison, Tennessee (store #58).
  • Retailers included JoAnn, FedEx, Rite-Aid and the aforementioned Office Depot.
  • Charges exceeded $1,000 but all but one of them were blocked because of the activity on the card.
  • The Office Depot charge may go through and then can be disputed. But when speaking with the manager, she said they can cancel the transaction once they find it and then everything will be back in place.

With all of that out of the way, I have a few things to say to some of those involved in this crime ring, both victims and criminals.

To the criminals: Fuck you. Honestly, fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you to Hell and back and then fuck you again – twice and without lubricant. This is not the first time this has happened to me so I’m doubly pissed about this. It must be nice to sit there at home and with your dirty little criminal mind, figure out how to steal the identities of hard-working and honest people just trying to make ends meet. I wish nothing but the worst for you bastards who find it okay to steal from others. Karma, fate, whatever you call it. I want shit to turn on you so bad that you won’t know what hit you, you fucking assholes. Oh, and guess what? If you were a dumbass enough to use an Office Depot Worklife Rewards card when you bought your stuff, the transaction will be tied to that account which contains all of your personal information for authorities. Wouldn’t that be a goddamned hoot, ya little shit?

To the retailers: While I’m pleased as punch that only one transaction of many went through, WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED TO CHECKING FOR AN ID for large transactions? Seriously, each charge was well over $200! Holy fucking shit, I can’t even buy a fucking Carl’s Jr. hamburger without being asked for my driver’s license. How’s about a little added safety for the consumer? Am I asking for too much here? You could have captured a criminal who is now free to roam the streets and defraud others.

To my financial institution: I can’t believe what a pain in the ass it was to get the ball rolling on this. I moved from a big bank to a credit union in the hopes of having things run a lot smoother and get that so-called “attention” that I never got from BofA. Well, I didn’t. Each call was a royal pain and led to dead ends until the final call. And every time I call for something you make me jump through hoops of fire and because of that, it’s not likely we’ll stay with you very much longer. At this point it seems that keeping our money under the proverbial mattress might be a better idea.

We spent at least an hour on the phone speaking with Office Depot managers, the credit union, Visa, etc. While I’m glad that most of the situation has been remedied, I’m still pissed at the thought of having a criminal asshole out there with a copy of Ann’s debit card even if it has been cancelled. All they have to do is look up someone else and make a card with their info on it.

And in the end, it’s us honest people who pay for the actions of the criminals in the form of personal time invested trying to get things sorted out and price increases due to shrinkage (retail lingo for stolen merchandise).

Mean people suck.