Wrigley Field generates entrepreneur ventures

photo-2CHICAGO — No trip here is complete without a trip to Wrigley Field, the granddaddy of baseball stadiums.

I’ve been attending games there for years, both as an out of towner and resident. On Wednesday night, we watched the Cubs get blanked by Cincinnati.

We had great seats behind home plate — close enough to hear the thud when a batter was hit with a pitch. Ouch. (Turns out he was one of the guy’s ‘fantasy’ baseball players).

But you can have fun watching the game — even from across the street.

At Wrigley, rooftop seating has been around since the stadium opened, as a “freebie.” But now it’s big business with rooftop seating “clubs.” The apartment owners have installed bleachers on the roofs of their buildings for a “bird’s eye view.”

For about $100 and up you get all-you-can-eat food and beverages and a seat in the bleachers.

Sierra College turns to Twitter for emergencies

I wrote last month about trustee Aaron Klein proposing to use Twitter for free emergency notifications at Sierra College in the wake of a stabbing on campus.

Well, now it’s happening.

“When I raised this issue with staff, they had already begun exploring the idea, and it’s now a reality: you can follow the Sierra College Police feed at @sccdpolice,” Klein wrote on his blog.

It’s a good pragmatic use of Twitter, which is exploding with a year-to-year growth rate of more than 1,300 percent.

Does merchant poaching make sense?

For years, I’ve wondered why it’s constructive for Grass Valley and Nevada City to try to poach merchants from one other.

People in Nevada City complain that Howard Levine, of the Grass Valley Downtown Association, sometimes camps out in Nevada City, trying to recruit businesses to his city. Though not discussed openly, some people in my hometown resent his actions.

We’re two small towns trying to survive in a cul de sac. Instead of playing musical chairs with existing merchants, let’s spend *more* time working *together* to attract *new* ones. It’s another good reason for combining more of our myriad tourism/merchant groups.

In the latest example, The Union chased down a story on Thursday that appeared in the Mountain Messenger last week: Barry Costello, owner of the Fur Traders, is receiving offers of free rent and other perks to go to Grass Valley and other areas.

If true, The Union left out the most compelling part of the Mountain Messenger story: Comments made by City Councilman David McKay played a key role in Costello’s decision-making.

McKay made insensitive remarks about some merchants who were opposed to the Nevada City Downtown Association, accusing them of “aberrant behavior.”

The remarks were documented at the time, so I was surprised McKay said he couldn’t recall whether he made them or not. He later apologized for the comments.

Costello said he was offended by the remarks. For now, he’s going to stay put.

I’m glad, because I like shopping at Fur Traders: I just plunked down $80 for a new pair of Merrell shoes — the best selection around. I even accepted a $25 parking ticket to buy them.

I hope people get together and talk more openly about whether our two towns should be working together rather than competing against one another. It’s another provincial perspective that keeps the community from moving forward.

‘Yoo, hoo media’: There’s an election on May 19

I’m starting to wonder if there’s a self-imposed media ‘blackout’ on the upcoming state propositions vote on May 19 — one of the most important decisions we’ll be making in years.

The news reporting on Propositiona 1A to 1F, required to help balance the state’s budget deficit under a recent deal brokered by our Sacra-tomato politicos, has been scant to nonexistent.

The impact on rural counties such as ours, which depend heavily on social services, such as mental health and child development, will be significant if the initiatives pass. We didn’t diversify our economy, remember? Money will go into the state’s general pot but not necessarily ours.

If the initiatives fail, Arnold and crew will have to go back to the drawing board — and fast. I wrote about growing uncertainty for the initiatives in a previous post here. Many people agree with this assessment.

•A good rundown of propositions 1A to 1F, including the ballot arguments, is here.

•The analysis from the California League of Women Voters is here. The group recommends a “no” vote on 1A, 1C, 1D and 1E.

•A good analysis is here on Calbuzz, a blog dedicated to state politics that I bookmark. One of its writers is Jerry Roberts, a former colleague of mine at The Chronicle.

The blog also makes a good point about our society’s growing generation gap: “Just sayin’ that the right-wing radio loudmouths demagoguing this week’s anti-tax protests should have checked the Urban Dictionary definition of ‘teabagging’ and at least considered calling it something else. Dick Armey, indeed.”

For the “urban dictionary” generation, teabagging refers to an oral sex act.

‘Mother’ of all Chronicle picnics May 9

A giant S.F. Chronicle picnic for past and present workers is planned May 9 at a park in the East Bay.

Like others, the paper has been buffeted by many dozens of layoffs as it struggles to stay afloat. (The Chronicle will begin charging $99 a year for an exact digital version of the paper, as I posted below).

“This could be the Chronicle picnic to end all Chronicle picnics!” according to the message on Facebook.

It’s good to see leaders showing some class in bringing together past and present workers.

Chron to charge $99 per year for new e-edition

bigthumb3The Chronicle — Northern California’s largest newspaper — is offering an exact digital replica of its print edition for $99 per year, according to an email being circulated.

The digital paper is delivered via email to your inbox at 4 a.m. each day. The subscription also provides access to a 30-day archive.

“The e-edition includes the same page layout, headlines and photographs as the San Francisco Chronicle, with the advantage of interactive features that can be viewed from any Internet connection, anytime,” according to the email.

It is part of an ongoing effort of newspapers to charge for some online content, while other — in this case, SFGate —remains free. Newspapers are facing the worst financial crisis in decades.

The Chronicle’s email also highlights this is a “green” alternative to reading the paper version. The digital version is free for print subscribers.

Many newspapers, including The Union, also are expected to begin charging for the digital replica of its newspaper. Some content will remain free, however.

The Union’s digital version of the print paper currently is free. The paper once tried charging for the option but dropped the plan.

Is Twitter a Google search killer?

Mashable writer Stan Schroeder makes a cogent observation about Twitter versus Google that we’re all noticing more and more: it’s become a “go to” search tool, not just a mode of communications.

After hearing that physicist Stephen Hawking is very ill, Schroeder hurried to type Google into the search query.

“First, a bunch of links about the famous physicist. Right now, half way down the first page, you’ll find some news results with the story; they weren’t there when I first tried the query,” he said.

“So I tried the same query on Twitter search. In a matter of seconds, I was able to confirm that this news is, indeed, true.”

“I was also able to find links to a bunch of news sites with this breaking news, before it showed up on their RSS feeds. I was able to read conversations, from real people, which pointed out various details about the story. I’ve set up a TwitZap channel so I can follow the story in real time.”

There’s been a lot of talk about how Twitter is good for conversations. But it’s biggest strength could wind up being search, illustrating how quickly new technologies change the rules of the game.