St. Andrews and the Open Championship

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Make no mistake about it, I’m passionate about the game of golf.  I’ve been consistently complaining about being an average golfer for 15 years, and that won’t be changing anytime soon.  I also love to watch golf on television.  I try to stay away away from watching television as much as I can, but if there is a big golf tournament on, I’m usually glued to it for four solid days.  Last weekend was even more special to me.  It was The Open Championship, which was held at the Old Course in St. Andrews, Scotland.  I was lucky enough to visit St. Andrews and play the Old Course in 2010, and this was the first Open Championship held at the course since then.  It was a thrill to wake up at 5:00 am to watch the golf seven time zones away.  Tiger Woods has always been my guy, and even after he melted down starting on the first hole of the tournament, it didn’t kill the fun of watching the great golf.

St. Andrews is known as the home of golf, and the sport has been played on that plot of land in some form since the 16th century.  The type of golf in Scotland and Ireland are mostly what are called ‘links’ courses, meaning they are played near the sea.  The Old Course at St. Andrews sits on the Eden Estuary, and the course was formed because of the sand base and sheep keeping the grass short by using it as their diet.  The sand bunkers were formed from those same animals burrowing down in a storm.  When there, its amazing to look at how this course has taken shape over the last five years.  Its also something to think the course still holds up to be a challenge to the best players on the planet.

Right up there with the golf is the spectacular town of St. Andrews.  The town revolves around two things:  Golf & The University.  There are more pubs per capita in St. Andrews than anywhere in Europe, and when visiting, there is nothing like seeing golfers from all over the world sharing their stories over a pint in the pubs.  Prince Harry went to the University of St. Andrews, and not shockingly, the number of female applicants went up three fold!  While America has some great history, walking through the streets of St. Andrews and seeing some buildings built in 1500 AD is almost hard to fathom.  People from all over the world treat St. Andrews as a pilgrimage of sorts, and I consider myself lucky to have been able to visit, and after watching the Open Championship last week, I’m plotting my next adventure over there.  I’ve been fortunate enough to visit many places in Europe and the Caribbean over the years, but walking down the road and first laying eyes on  the 18th green and 1st tee next to the R&A Building is my favorite location I’ve ever visited.

What Exactly Was Amazon Prime Day?

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Make no mistake about it, as I have written on here before, I am a huge fan of Amazon.  The ease of ordering products and the sheer breadth of the products available makes me somewhat of an addict.  I should also mention that I have some friends who used to dabble in online stores roughly ten years ago.  One particular store that they had sold alarm clocks.  They were fortunate enough to use some search engine optimization tactics and were able have the site rank #1 on Google for over a year when the phrase ‘alarm clock’ was entered.  What is interesting in 2015, that there probably aren’t too many people that would go to Google and search for alarm clocks any longer.  They would simply go to Amazon to make that search, and if they did go to Google, many of the e-commerce sites the user would come across wouldn’t be able to match the prices or selection of Amazon.  With the introduction of the Prime service, people are even more inclined to use Amazon to take advantage of the two day shipping, and to get the most of their $99 yearly subscription.  Needless to say, Amazon’s reach just keeps growing.

When the vague announcements of this ‘Prime Day’ set for July 15, I couldn’t figure out exactly what angle Amazon was trying to play.  It was said that ‘Prime Day’ would have more deals than Black Friday. You would have to assume that they were using the opportunity to bring on new Prime members.  There were also many articles online that this was Amazon’s attempt to compete directly with Walmart.  Well, Walmart countered with a sale of their own to rival what Amazon put together.  Walmart also made sure to mention that they didn’t feel it was quite right to have to pay a yearly subscription for their low prices, which was a nice thought out jab at Amazon’s Prime service.

Leading into Prime Day there wasn’t too much online as to what deals would be available for Prime members.  With a sale like that, most people aren’t going to buy a product they don’t need just because it is on sale so many people were left wondering what this Prime Day would entail.  I spent about five minutes on the site yesterday and yes, there were some deals on 77 different variations of iPhone cases, but to me, didn’t seem like there was anything that great.  If there was a good deal, it was already snatched up and sold out by the time I saw it.  I just didn’t see the appeal.  After looking around online, I wasn’t the only one with some issues.

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Plenty of people were quite disappointed on what they came across, or complained about being on a ‘wait list’ for some products.  While Amazon fans may have been let down by what Prime Day turned out to be, Amazon’s bottom line wasn’t.  Yesterday amounted in sales which were 80% more than the previous day, and isn’t that the whole idea?  If this was a resounding success for Amazon, it makes you wonder if each retailer will create their own ‘holiday’ each year?  It sure seems that is what the future holds, I’m waiting for Katz’s Deli day!!

 

Our Craving for ‘Story Breaking’ is Crossing the Line

Living out in the North East, its difficult not to follow the New York Giants.  They are covered extensively even in the off season.  One of the team’s best players, defensive end, Jason Pierre-Paul, started posting some pretty funny things on social media sites as the 4th of July approached.  It appears that he commandeered an entire U-Haul truck full of illegal fireworks for his home in South Florida.

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I tend to have a built in fear factor for large fireworks, as a boy on my 3rd grade little league team lost his pinky and ring finger on his left hand when a M-80 exploded in hand.  After that, I have steered clear of anything larger than sparklers, but respect that people enjoy setting off fireworks, and celebrating summer holidays with them.  Watching a fireworks celebration is a pretty amazing visual experience.  Unfortunately, the firework party at Pierre Paul’s house did not go as expected and he was injured quite badly.

The initial reports were rather basic, just saying that there was an accident and that he was injured.  Mind you, this is a player who was just offered a $15M contract to play next season for the New York Giants, so you know the reporting vultures were going to descent on south Florida to try to get answers to this story.  New facets of the story started coming out and made it seem as if the injury wasn’t all too bad, and not career threatening.

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With that news, the New York Giants management team flew down to Florida to see Jason Pierre-Paul in the hospital.  This of course would make sense considering he has been a key member of their team for five years, and they just offered him a giant contract, so it would be wise for them to check on their investment.  Well, it turns out that they made the trip on July 8, but were never actually allowed to meet with Pierre-Paul.  That made the story a bit more strange, as why would he not allow the Giants to see him, unless he was more severely injured than initially reported?  Of course all of the top reporters were trying to get the scoop, and then ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted this out last night:

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He states that Pierre-Paul was required to have the index finger on his right hand amputated.  That is pretty major news for a world class athlete and someone who makes a living with his body.  The report is understandable.  However, the image that Schefter tweeted out opens up a whole new can of worms.  Exactly how Schefter got his hands on a computer screenshot as well as JPP’s medical records is unknown, but actually posting them in a public place like Twitter is beyond belief!  HIPPA violations are serious business.  There is a maximum fine of $1.5M and jail time for leaking someone’s medical information.  Reporting it is one thing, but brazenly showing the documents in question makes you wonder what ESPN was thinking allowing that to be posted.  ESPN must have been involved considering the tweet is still live over 12 hours later.  It brings into question what ethics should be used on social media.  Schefter will eventually come out and say ‘sources’ gave him this information, and he didn’t get it himself, but for the life of me, I can’t see how posting photos of medical records without the consent of the patient is anywhere near ethical.  It will be interesting to see how this story plays out.  While playing with fireworks, isn’t the brightest move, I wish Jason Pierre-Paul a speedy recovery and hope he makes it back onto the field.  I also hope once his hand is healed that he uses that hand to punch Adam Schefter in the face.