Baseball Is Back

Finally, it’s time for baseball. I don’t know about where you live, but it’s still pretty cold where I live. But despite that, it’s great to know that the season is finally beginning!

So, to get in the proper mood, here are some fun facts about baseball, from factretriever.com:

  • The unofficial anthem of American baseball, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” is traditionally sung during the middle of the 7th inning. It was written in 1908 by Jack Norworth and Albert von Tilzer, both of whom had never been to a baseball game.
  • The life span of a major league baseball is 5–7 pitches. During a typical game, approximately 70 balls are used.
  • During the average major league baseball game, 50 foul balls are hit into the crowd.
  • Baseball’s L.A. Dodgers, originally founded in Brooklyn, are named after the legendary skill that that local residents showed at “dodging” the city’s trolley streetcar system.
  • The oldest baseball park still in use is Fenway Park, the home field of the Boston Red Sox, which debuted in 1912.
  • The New York Yankees were the first baseball team to wear numbers on their backs, in the 1920s. They initially wore numbers based on the batting order. Babe Ruth always hit third, so he was number 3.
  • “The Star-Spangled Banner” was performed for the first time at a sporting event on September 5, 1918, in the middle of the 7th inning of Game 1 of the World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs.
  • The first pro baseball game ever to be aired on television was on August 26, 1939. It was a doubleheader between Brooklyn and Cincinnati.
  • Famous baseball movies include The Bad News Bears (1976), The Pride of the Yankees (1942), The Natural (1984), Bill Durham (1988), Bang the Drum Slowly (1973), Moneyball (2011), 42 (2013), A League of Their Own (1992), Fear Strikes Out (1957), and Eight Men Out (1988).
  • Visiting teams wear (at least mostly) gray uniforms so fans can easily distinguish between the visiting team and the home team. The tradition dates back to the late 1800s when travelling teams did not have time to launder their uniforms and, consequently, wore gray to hide the dirt.
  • When baseball great Lou Gehrig retired from the game due to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), he said in his farewell speech that he was “the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” His speech has been called the “Gettysburg Address of Baseball.”

Are you a baseball fan? If so, let me know your favorite team. And while you’re at it, tell us about a fun baseball-related experience that you or a friend or family member has had.

Thanks, and have a great day!

Snowy Days

We had yet another wintry storm blow through the Northeast on Wednesday. This makes … well, I don’t know how many storms this makes, because I’ve lost count at this point. All I know is – enough is enough!

As you probably know, during these snowy weather occasions NCP is nice enough to allow us to work from home. I certainly appreciate it!

This storm dumped more than a foot of snow on Long Island. As I was helping dig out the driveway, I was thinking about what’s the record snowfall for New York and other states.

So, I found this on the Weather Channel’s website:

I have nothing against Alaska, but I’m just glad I don’t live there!

If you were in the path of the storm, how many inches of snow did you get?

Have a great weekend, and let’s pray for warm, snow-free weather!

Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day

Saturday is St. Patrick’s Day. My family and I will be spending time with some friends. We’ll have a few adult beverages, a lot of snacks, and watch the NCAA tournament. Will you be celebrating? If so, how? Let me know!

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 1 out of 10 – or 32.3 million – U.S. residents claimed Irish ancestry in 2016. Two states that have among the highest percentage of Irish ancestry are Massachusetts (21.2%) and New Hampshire (20.9%).

You certainly don’t have to be Irish to celebrate! Americans plan to spend a record $5.9 billion to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this year, up from last year’s $5.3 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. Over 149 million U.S. adults are expected to spend an average of $39.65 per person, up from last year’s $37.92. The holiday is most popular among individuals 18-24 years old, with 77 percent celebrating, but those 35-44 will be the biggest spenders at an average of $45.76.

According to the National Retail Federation, of those spending money for the holiday, 50% will purchase food, 41% will buy beverages, 31% will purchase apparel or accessories, 26% will spend money on decorations, and 16% will buy candy.

Enjoy the holiday, but please be safe. Have a great weekend!

Home Improvements Projects

My husband and I just did our 2017 taxes, and it turns out we will be getting back some money from the Federal Government. As we’ve done in years past, we put some of that money into home improvements. This year, we’re going to do some work on the kitchen, replacing the flooring and installing new cabinets and countertops. At least that’s the plan right now!

Do you have any home improvement plans? If so, let me know!

Whether you use a tax refund or save up, many people see the benefit of putting money back into their homes. According to the Home Improvement Research institute, total home improvement products sales were expected to increase 4.9% in 2017 to $365 billion in total sales. In 2018, sales are expected to increase 4.8%, according to the Home Improvement Research institute.

According to hgtv.com, these are the top 15 home improvement projects:

1. Minor bathroom remodel (average return at resale: 102%)
2. Landscaping (average return at resale: 100%)
3. Minor kitchen remodel (average return at resale: 98.5%)
4. Exterior improvements (vinyl siding, paint, updated front entry; average return at resale: 95.5%)
5. Attic bedroom conversion (average return at resale: 93.5%)
6. Major bathroom remodel (average return at resale: 93.2%)
7. Major kitchen remodel (average return at resale: 91%)
8. Deck, patio or porch addition (average return at resale: 90.3%)
9. Basement remodel (average return at resale: 90.1%)
10. Replacement windows (average return at resale: 89.6%)
11. Family room addition (average return at resale: 83%)
12. Bonus room updates (average return at resale: 72.8%)
13. Living room updates – decor (average return at resale: 66%)
14. Bedroom updates (average return at resale: 52%)
15. Living room updates–walls and floors (average return at resale: 40%)

Note: Average return at resale rates vary by geographic location, and there may be other factors involved.

Here are some of the top home improvement projects for each state, according to Porch.com:

If you can’t see this map clearly, click on this link for a larger graphic: www.ncponline.com/wbcnt/NCPBlog/HomeImprovementStates.png

Are you doing your own home improvements? If so, then make sure to use the specific store name – for example, Ace Hardware, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Menards, Orchard Supply Hardware, True Value, etc. – when recording your purchases. If you don’t have the exact store name in your scanner or the NCPMobile App, just use the Home Improvement Stores store type.

Thanks, and let’s hope it’s a nice, warm weekend!

Have You Seen Any Good Movies Lately?

This Sunday night the Academy Awards will be presented. Although I know many blog readers don’t like to watch, being a big movie fan, I always enjoy watching the show.

Speaking of movies, I love going to a movie theater and really getting involved in the story. But who has the time and money to do that all the time? I know many people watch new movies on premium cable networks or streaming services like Netflix.

In terms of actually going to the movies, I read that U.S. movie admissions slid 6% last year to 1.24 billion for the lowest number since 1995. This is according to the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO).

Last year’s box office sales declined 2.55% to $11.09 billion, according to NATO.

Meanwhile, in 2017 the average ticket price jumped 3.7% from $8.65 to $8.97, with the fourth-quarter average soaring from $8.79 to $9.18.

Overall ticket sales peaked in 2002 with 1.57 billion, then declined to 1.52 billion in 2003 and 1.48 billion in 2004. Those are still the highest admissions years over the past three decades.

So, do you like to go to the movies, or do you prefer to watch them at home on either cable or a streaming service? Let me know!

Have a great weekend!