Jack Frost

Jack Frost
Jack Frost announced his annual visit to our fertile land with bolts of lightning, peals of thunder, and buckets of rain, behind which came the brisk winds of the North Land.

What a welcome visitor!

The windows have been pried open from their locked summer state, and the thermostat has been turned to a lower setting. The HVAC system thanks me for the welcome break, while the power company wonders where all the demand went. If I had a solar grid, I wouldn’t be selling the excess…

The daily constitutional won’t soak my exercise togs, and it may be that extra covering is called for. On the down side, walking in the dark is not really very much fun; part of the stimulation is looking at the other exercise hounds doing their thing, discreetly, of course.

Brown whiskey, my old friend, is now acceptable; perhaps even necessary to ward off Jack’s little friends, chills and cold feet.

Football games seem better.

But, best of all, the grass will soon be dormant, which means that your scribe will not have to waste valuable Saturday mornings on mundane things that take away from sports time.

Yea!

Ain’t Happening For The Aint’s

 

Media bias is everywhere you turn. Even in football. Why, you can’t even pick up the paper or turn on the television without hearing or reading the latest sob story about the miraculous return of New Orleans, and by association, their formerly woeful football team. What a load of balderdash.

This blogger remembers when the Colts were known as the Dolts, which is an equally effective pejorative that reflects the gross inadequacies of the team of then. The national media didn’t embrace their suck, or memorialize their escape from the lowest tier of NFL competition.

I guess I understand the disrespect. I get that the city of Indianpolis doesn’t present the kind of image that New Orleans projects with such pride. There aren’t a lot of Indiana maidens raising their shirts for beads, and Broad Ripple is not even a distant relation to Bourbon Street and the French Quarter.

But I digress. Colts as underdogs works for me. Just as Peyton et al whipped the Bears in 2007, so shall they crucify these Saints in 2010. In this time of economic uncertainty and unease with our national identity, we need to return to our roots; good, solid mid-western values that helped our people forge their national identity. Not party, hard work. Not glitz, plain vanilla.

Go Colts!
 

Random Thoughts While Waiting for the Muse

 

I know the answer to the question, but I don’t like it…so I ask it again, in the hope that someone will offer a different answer. That is, why is the Super Bowl played on Sunday night?

Let me list just a few of the almost infinite inconveniences that the schedule imposes on the game’s loyal fans.

First, the Indianapolis school district asked the state education poobahs for permission to start school two hours late on Monday morning, in anticipation of a Colts victory. The reasoning, of course, based on the assumption that joyous fans, the parents of the students and drivers of school buses, will be up very late  celebrating a victory. Or, at the very least, they will be up very late celebrating the playing of the game, if you know what I mean. The buzzkillers in the state organs said no. Typical bureaucratic myopia. They don’t care because, as state employees, they have an unlimited number of sick days (with pay) that they can use for all sorts of celebratory excesses.

Second, the rest of America will be suffering from the effects of a late game. Absenteeism, lowered productivity, and general sluggishness will be the character of next Monday, unless you live in the hometown of the winner, in which case no work will be done at all (except in the Indianapolis schools, should they win).

Third, for those citizens who actually feel a sense of responsibility, a Sunday night game means that they can’t enjoy the festivities and the host’s lavish spread of craft beers and tasty hors d’oeuvres because they know that somebody will have to pick up the slack at the office on Monday. Such noble souls will, at the very least, suffer from the lack of sleep arising from the night game.

Why can’t they play the game on Saturday night? It’s not as if the coaches and players really need another day to prepare; their work has been done and they are ready to go. A Saturday night game would allow for a complete evening of revelry, no matter the result, and would give the all fans a day to recover from the excesses. Our nation, which really can’t afford a day off in this economy, would report to work recovered, rested, and refreshed, ready to discuss the nuances of the game, the ebb and flow of fortune, and gossip about the endless stories of their friends’ nutty behavior.

A win-win, I say.

The only losers in my scenario would be the travel packagers and hotels who feast on each team’s fans and the corporate sponsors. Because, in case you didn’t already know, no hotel will have any rooms available, said rooms having long since been sucked up by the aforesaid packagers in a 3 night block at an enormously surcharged nightly rate that no rational individual would agree to pay. Such greed, implicitly condoned by the NFL, and willingly borne by Fortune 500 companies paying off their best customers and providing a perq for the uppermost levels of management, deserves, at the very least, our enduring contempt in this age of renewed thrift and budgetary restraint.

So, to the NFL, I scream "Give the Super Bowl back to the Fans!

Finding Your Center

What with the start of a new semester and exposure to a slightly different weltenschauung, a lot of "philosophy" has come my way. If you follow my tweets, you might have seen the pearls that recently came from one professor on the danger of using a pda or phone in class. Not for her the threat to answer the phone for you, or to take it away for the weekend, or to smash the offending device against the wall. She spoke on a higher plane…"Be where you are, be here now". The point being that we students need to be focused on the present, the classroom, and not on what happened last night or is going to happen later today.

While (ahem) doing some research on the web, I came across the social media pyramid and was compelled to write a post on finding balance in your day. A reader took me to task for spending 9 hours a day on social media, as if the pyramid was my daily routine. Folks, I just post information that I think has value…it is not (always) a reflection of my personal agenda. As the Sage of Formosa has said. "You don’t have to believe what you think".

So, in the spirit of sharing information, and not necessarily expressing my personal, firmly held beliefs, I present the Venn Diagram seen above. VDs (a common shorthand among stats students who spend entirely too much time trying to figure probability from these little monsters) are really pretty neat, so if your personality belongs to one or more of the domains listed, see if the VD matches your preference.

And if you want to know my profile, just look for this post on Twitter.

H/T MarketProcessBlog

Embracing the Inevitability

 

Well, it had to happen. You can’t be my age and expect the reflexes, synapses, and sarcomeres to respond to every situation exactly as you’d like. I fell off my bike while it was moving and made violent contact with terra firma, or more accurately, terra asphalta.

It happened suddenly, as I left the Greenway and turned onto Folly Road. Where I expected, and usually found, empty sidewalk there was suddenly a pedestrian. While thinking about where to go, I forgot to not go towards the telephone pole and the cars immediately beyond. The final frontier, so to speak.

As a budding biker nerd, I had, immediately prior to this ride, tightened my brakes to their most biting efficiency.

Without conscious thought, but with a flash of impending doom, I grabbed hard on both brake levers. Before I could even form the words "Whoa, Nelly", I was on the ground. Once in contact with the carbon based road-rash generator, I did have time to let slip the most base profanity.

They say time slows down in moments of extreme peril. Guess this must not have been one of my times, because it all happened in the flash of a nano-second.

The lesson, as usual, has several parts. Just because the bike stops doesn’t mean the rider does. That concept has been noted and filed. And, the goofy little riding gloves with pads in the palms are the investments that allow me to type this little paean. The helmet didn’t contact anything, but might have proved useful if my forward velocity had been more than 3 MPH.

I can’t wait for this afternoon’s ride.

 

 

The Biggest Day in Motorsports

Jenson Button continued his unlikey conquest of Formula One at Monaco today. Billed as a race with little passing (overtaking for the knowledgable), the thrill comes from watching the drivers push their cars through the narrow, tortourous turns of the city squeezed between the mountains and the sea. As we saw this morning, the merest slip in focus and attention can wreak havoc with both car and driver. What a race!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was sent by my brother-in-law from the Speedway:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

His seats are in the Turn 2 Tower suites, perhaps the best seats in the house. The cars will come tearing down the front straight, reaching 240 miles per hour, and then take a 90 degree turn to the left. There is virtually no banking, so the drivers will depend on the tremendous downforce created by aerodynamics and what grip remains in their tires to keep the car on the correct path through the turn. Then there is the "short shute" and another 90 degree turn. The wayward driver who errs in the entry to Turn 1 will pay the price on the exit of Turn 2. We will be watching from the comfort of our den. Although we will have great views throughout the race via our television, the only life-sized aspect of the race experience will be this:

 

Here’s hoping Paul Tracy gets the justice he deserves today.

Busted By The Bracket

This is my reward for picking with my heart instead of with my academically motivated, statistically driven, algorithmically programmed decision model:

 

NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament 2009

PTS PCT(%) RNK PPR
270 33.35% 3086071 1420

 

These terrible numbers as of 7:27PM with games still underway. In descending order of screwed, I have been hosed by Clemson, Wake Forest, and Mississippi State. I had Clemson making it to the final eight, and the other two sluggard to the round of 16.

View my bracketology here.

 

The IQ of Where To Be

Like a lot of kids around the southeast, I grew up watching Dean Smith’s Tarheels play basketball. Phil Ford, Dennis Wuycik, Bobby Jones, these were the names we knew during our formative years. For us, the Tarheels represented the metaphor for how people should be. Team first, unselfish, play within the system, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts; all values that we knew would be important later in life. We knew how they playted the game: play defense, make the other team foul early so that UNC would get to the 1 and 1 first, always make a least two passes before looking for the shot. Taking charges was a higher art form, and the source of much cheering and team celebration.

At least that’s how I remember it.

Today’s New York Times has a long piece by Michael Lewis (available online and in print) on Shane Battier, a former Duke player whose name I had, frankly, parked in a forgotten corner of my memory. The piece enlightens, and honors the player that is the latest manifestation of those principles that we adored, and thought important, as 17 year-olds.

This sentence captures the essence of the man and the basketball player:

Here we have a basketball mystery: a player is widely regarded inside the N.B.A. as, at best, a replaceable cog in a machine driven by superstars. And yet every team he has ever played on has acquired some magical ability to win.

Take 20 minutes and enjoy the story.

Outback Bowl or The Shame of it All

One of the aspects of the Agricoli trip to Iowa was the opportunity for a LOT of good-natured ribbing from the hordes of Iowa fans – who don't have much to do during the winter, what with bitter winds, fallow fields, and remote towns and villages separated by miles of farmland.

So imagine my disgust just now to receive a call from, of all people, my mother-in-law, who asked:

"When is South Carolina going to put in their first team?"

Such is the life of a Gamecock fan…..

Schooled

I died 23 times today. All because I made the mistake of thinking that my 55 year old reflexes could ‘handle’ the mind and body of a 12 year old.

Call of Duty 4 proved to be a ‘bridge too far’ for me.

I was knifed in the back about 7 times, shot dead in the head about 4 times, killed in 2 airstrikes, and blown to bits by a helicopter gunship. I was shot dead by a sniper hiding 300 meters from my position.

I was helpless, brutalized, and humiliated.

I can’t wait to do it again……..