The Men’s Wearhouse Guy Is Out Of The Job

When the news broke that George Zimmer of the Men’s Wearhouse—not to be confused with vigilante George Zimmerman who went on trial for murder—got fired from his own company, I couldn’t believe it. I practically grew up on his TV and radio commercials with his signature line, “You’re going to like the way you look—I guarantee it,” over the last 30 years.

However, this is a familiar tale of woe when the founder invites outside investors to put up money and eventually loses control over the company. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out. I predict that Zimmer will get the board to pay dearly for putting him out to pasture, the board will give itself a raise for getting rid of a troublesome founder, and Wall Street will drive up the stock price.

As for the Men’s Wearhouse customers, there’s always Rochester Big & Tall Clothing.

Becoming A Registered Democrat Again

The American VoteI got a DMV notice in the mail to renew my California identity card. That’s weird. I surrendered my identity card to the DMV in 2007 when I got my driver license at the tender age of 37. (Yeah, I’m a late bloomer.) Both my identity card and driver license have the same identification number. When it came time to shop for car insurance, AAA charged me $420 USD per year for minimum liability and no collision because of my unblemished driving record that dates back to my teenage years.

No sense in renewing my old identity card now. Looking through the paperwork inside the DMV envelope, I came across a voter registration form. The last time I filled out one of those was when I moved into my apartment almost eight years ago.

I was a flaming liberal as a teenager, growing up on the various political scandals during the Carter and Reagan administrations to become a political news junkie in the 1980’s. If the Internet was available ten years earlier and I wasn’t 20 years behind the times, I would have blogged those Republican scandals to death.

My first election was in 1988. I voted for Governor Mike Dukakis (D) who lost to Vice President George H.W. Bush (R), which my mother cruelly jeered me because my “wasted” vote didn’t count towards the winner. But I also voted for a state-wide cigarette tax initiative that forced my father to quit smoking because he couldn’t afford to buy his weekly carton.

After becoming a Christian in college in 1992, my political views became more conservative and I eventually registered as a Republican. I voted twice against President Bill Clinton (D) after he defeated H.W. in 1992 and Senator Bob Dole (R) in 1996. Although the Internet came about in the late 1990’s, I was still 20 years behind the time and didn’t blogged those Democratic scandals to death.

I was working at Accolade/Infogrames/Atari (same company, different owners, multiple identity crises) during the 2000 election, being the only fat white boy Republican in a QA department filled with Democrats. Everyone gave me a hard time for voting for the “losing” side. The mood turned ugly when the Supreme Court anointed Governor George W. Bush (R) over Vice President Al Gore (D) as president a few months later. No one was a happy, and, being a Christian, I couldn’t gloat about my “winning” vote.

I voted for Senator John Kerry (D) in 2004 after W. ignored the real war in Afghanistan and dragged the country into an unnecessary war in Iraq. I voted twice for President Barack Obama (D)—the best conservative president that the Democrats ever nominated—after Senator John McCain (R) in 2008 and Governor Mitt Romney (R) in 2012 led the Republican Party down the rabbit hole into political extremism.

With the registration form in hand, I filled it out to become a registered Democrat again to match my recent voting record. I still consider myself a moderate conservative. This comes after the Supreme Court announced their 5-4 decision to gut the 1965 Voting Rights Act that protects all Americans.

The Slick Willie-Moonbeam Jerry Bay Bridge

Bay Bridge Western SpanWhen politicians have nothing better to do, they love to rename public buildings and infrastructures. The U.S. Congress, for example, made renaming the local post offices a top legislative priority that such bills constitute 20% of their “do nothing” agenda. California state legislators are getting into the renaming frenzy by proposing to rename the western half of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge after “Slick” Willie Brown. As for the scandal-plagued eastern half that connects to Oakland, they should rename it after Governor “Moonbeam” Jerry Brown.

On the bright side, they’re not selling the naming rights to the highest bidder.

The public naming convention for the person being given the honor of having a local landmark rename after him—almost always a man who gets this honor—should have been dead for at least five years. Not anymore. At least, not in Silicon Valley.

The San Jose Convention Center got renamed in 1991 after Tom McEnery, a former mayor of San Jose who spearheaded much of the downtown redevelopment that included the convention center and the arena.

The downtown San Jose train station had many names over the years as ownership changed from Southern Pacific to Caltrain. The most recent name change in 1994 was after Ron Diridon, a former county supervisor who spearheaded the renovation of the station to become a future transportation hub for the light rail (done), high-speed rail (someday) and BART (when hell freezes over).

The San Jose International Airport was rename in 2001 after Norman Mineta, a former mayor of San Jose who went on to serve as a congressman, commerce secretary for President Bill Clinton and transportation secretary for President George W. Bush.

Notice the general trend here? If you can spend a substantial amount of taxpayer monies on facilities and transportation networks, you too can have something rename after you without being buried in the ground for five years.

If we have to rename the bay bridge after the Browns, let’s use their political nicknames to sum up the absurdity of the situation: The Slick Willie-Moonbeam Jerry Bay Bridge.

Another Ho-Hum Name For The San Jose Arena

HP_PavilionBefore the the arena opened in 1993, the San Jose Mercury News held a contest for readers to name the new public facility. THE EPICENTER was the winning name, which meant being the middle of things and shaking up the world that represented both California and Silicon Valley. The newspaper incorporated the name with a cool earthquake circular pattern and seismograph line logo.

Alas, the city council ignored the naming contest.

For the next seven years, everyone called it the San Jose Arena. When selling the naming rights to public buildings became vogue for cash-strapped cities to do, Compaq bought the naming rights and renamed the arena as the Compaq Center in 2001. After Hewlett-Packard bought Compaq in 2002, the arena became the HP Pavilion.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, the arena will become the SAP Center in 2016.

But a city description of the upcoming agenda item described it as a deal between Hewlett-Packard, San Jose Arena Management and the city to terminate the current naming rights agreement and approve a new five-year deal with SAP Global Marketing Inc. to rename the San Jose Arena SAP Center at San Jose. The city would receive $1.675 million annually for a total of $8.375 million over the term of the deal.

Why the SAP Center? The founder of SAP (a German-based business software company), Hasso Plattner, is the majority owner of the San Jose Sharks. As Mayor Chuck Reed explained to KGO Radio, SAP does a lot of advertising at the arena and it made sense for them to put their name on the arena.

My first visit to the arena was a Bruce Springsteen concert in 2008 after my friend won tickets to the mosh pit. A very memorable night: the number “666” was on the wristband I wore to get in, a pair of Christian fundamentalists stood on the sidewalk with a megaphone to denounce rock and roll as Satan’s music, and a young woman rub her ass against my crotch for two minutes before she realized that her boyfriend wandered off for a restroom break.

Since then I’ve been to several Shark hockey games, another Bruce Springsteen concert, a San Francisco Bulls exhibition game, and a Harlem Globetrotters game.

As for the San Francisco 49er’s new stadium in Santa Clara, no one bothered with a naming contest. Levi Strauss & Co. is paying $220 million USD over the next 20 years to call the new stadium the Levi’s Stadium. With Super Bowl 50 on deck for 2016, scoring a pair of tickets will be a seat of the pants affair.

Who Knew We Were Playing Monopoly Wrong?!

Monopoly The GameAn old blog post about how everyone doesn’t play the Monopoly board game according to the official rules has gone viral on the Internet. (I first read about this on the Huffington Post.) We were all taught as children from our parents and friends that when a player lands on an unoccupied square, the player has the option to buy the property from banker at the printed price on the card. If the property isn’t bought, it becomes available for purchase to the next player who lands on the square.

According to the official rules, the banker has to auction the property to the other players if the player chose not to buy it. The purpose of this rule is for the players to complete the property sets to start building houses and hotels, reducing the amount of cash that players are holding—or hoarding—to bring the game to an end sooner rather than later.

I wished I’ve known that rule as a child when my father taught me how to play Monopoly. After spending two to three hours going around the board, someone would win and someone would lose. I seldom won—and left the kitchen table crying in frustration. Not because my father was being cruel (he wasn’t). I just hated the idea of investing so much time into a game that I ultimately lose in the end.

We eventually switched to the Yahtzee dice game, where the shorter rounds made losing more bearable for my father and the probability of the dice rolls made winning more likely for me.

The crying frustration of losing after a long game wasn’t beaten out of me until I became a professional video game tester at Accolade/Infogrames/Atari (same company, different owners, multiple identity crises) for six years. My first assignment was testing a broken build of Test Drive 5 for the Sony PlayStation. Every game ended in a crash after the car cross the finish line. I played ~3,000 races for six long weeks. Race, crash, reset. The daily monotony was soul crushing.

Jonny Nexus, the author of the old blog post, has written a blog post about being part of an Internet viral sensation. A fascinating read about having the international news media bang down your door for pointing out the rules of Monopoly in an obscure corner of the Internet that someone else tweeted about.