Monday, October 23, 2006

Incompetence or intransigence?

Have you ever been in a store and tried to give the cashier $10.25 for something that cost $9.25 so as to avoid getting coins in change, only to be met by a look of complete bewilderment?

The following transpired on a flight from Dallas to San Francisco recently:

The Characters
  • Me (ME), a cash-poor flier stuck in seat 24A on an Airbus A320 (last row corner, no recline)
  • Flight Attendant (FA), a middle-aged lady obliged to keep us safe, and serve us if safety permits
  • John Doe (JD), a cash-rich infrequent flier in seat 24C

I rarely drink on a flight, and as a former very frequent flier, I have amassed quite a collection of drink coupons. Each coupon is good for one alcoholic beverage - normally sold for $5 in cash. Some flights have snack boxes available, also for $5 in cash, and there are no coupons that specifically pertain to snack boxes.

The Conversation

FA: Would you like to purchase a snack box today?

ME: Yes please. Is there any chance I could use this drink coupon that I have, which is worth the same amount, to buy the snack box?

FA: Sorry, those can only be used for beverages. I need cash for the snack box.

ME: Fair enough. The gentlemen in 23C in front of me just gave you $5 cash for a beverage. Could I buy him his drink with my coupon, and then use his cash for my snack box?

FA: No, I need cash for the snack box, I can't accept the coupon.

JD: (chuckles to self)

ME: Ah. umm, the problem is I don't have any cash. It seems logical that I could effectively swap my coupon for somebody's cash.

FA: Sure, if you can find someone who is willing to do that, then I'm okay with it.

ME: Aha. Okay.

JD: I'll have a beer and my $5 can buy your snack box

Perfect - I'll have the green snack box if you have one please.

FA: Well, I need cash for the snack box, not the coupon.

Aah. I see. How about if I give him my coupon, and he gives me his $5, then he pays you with the coupon for his drink, and I pay you with the cash for my snack box.

FA: That's great. Which snack box did you say you wanted again?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Drugs in cricket

By now, everyone's read about and expressed an opinion on cricket's latest scandal - Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif failing a drugs test. That Shoaib would partake of a banned substance probably does not come as a surprise to many, but I suspect even the most hardened cynic would be shocked at what goes on in the cricketing world.

The stories I could tell probably would not be believed, and yet I am quite certain that what I have witnessed barely scratches the surface. After all, it's not as if I routinely move around in such exalted social circles! Still, my own experiences have been sufficient to ensure that little does surprise me. In fact, I am amazed that much more has not been exposed in the media, although I am glad for it in so far as I am more interested in cricketer's on-field exploits than there off-field ones.

Still, for those who are curious, some of the things I have either seen with my own eyes, or heard about from one or more of the parties involved include:

  • recreational drug use (okay, that one's not going to surprise anyone)
  • discussion of how to start with creatine (not considered doping, although it's banned in many countries), and go on from there
  • cricketers on the phone to their wives whilst in bed with someone else (no, this is not one of the ones where I was standing in the room)
  • notes being passed between the dressing room and groupies with arrangements of where and when to meet
  • requests to officials/management to arrange 'dates' with specifical types of women
  • exchange of 'love letters' over many years with multiple women (by married cricketers, of course)
The funny thing is, none of this really sounds that unusual, although what you read here is not neccessarily the worst of it. Most readers are probably thinking - "well, of course, that's the sort of thing Shane Warne does all the time." Thing is, it's often the ones who you are convinced are innocent, simple gentlemen who are the worst of the lot.

More than enough said.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

More revisionist history

So CricInfo announced, or re-announced, it's new blog section the other day. And in it's announcement, yet another example of the ongoing revisionist history that is being put forth.

Sambit Bal, who wasn't involved with CI back then, states that CricInfo did it's first ball by ball commentary in 1996. Elsewhere, I've seen certain individuals claiming to have been founders of CricInfo, also in 1996. Neither claim is remotely true.

You really would think that CricInfo never existed between 1992/93 and 1996. It's bad enough that many of those who contributed significantly to the creation of the brand have been erased from the history books. But to suggest that CricInfo's history is built on anything less than the phenomenal efforts of a few genuine founders (in early '93) and many diligent volunteers, is disingenuous at best, and ridiculous at worst. For the organization itself to do this is just plain sad. Governments have tried it and failed, so hopefully in the long run, the truth will out.

Perhaps it's time to put together and publish the real history of CI. The story of Frozen Poms, Raggamuffins and others is truly an entertaining one.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Essence of the Thing

A funny one, this. I read it, and enjoyed it, and yet I have absolutely no idea what the essence of the thing is. In fact, the books essence is almost that there is a Seinfeld-esque nothingness about it. An interesting literary style, to be sure. The dialogue, which dominates the narrative, is occasionally witty, often snappy, and always compelling, in so far as it provides for a surprisingly vivid portrayal of character. The plot itself managed to be strangely irrelevant, and yet, as a friend with nothing better to do just pointed out, the notion of individuals failing to accept or embrace the freedom they have been granted is eerily topical. Witness Iraq.

All in all, a good read. I might just have to give her follow-up, "A Stairway to Paradise" a go.