Friday, December 31, 2004

Final thought of the year- Divergence

To wrap up the year, it's an appropriate time to ask "what if" about some of the logical breakpoints in my life. Mind you, I'm happy with the road followed. But simple, small decisions made can have major ramifications down the road. We're not talking decisions on the scale of "toast or cereal for breakfast"-type stuff. Here's a few of the questions I occasionally (especially on New Year's Eve) like to ask myself:

What if:

- The girl I dated the year before I met Jane had lived closer to Boston? She was in Milford - that was one of the reasons it didn't last long-term. I had no car, and she did. Would it have lasted longer?

- I hadn't decided to leave school at the beginning of 1987? I met Jane at the job I took after that decision.

- Some other computer store had offered me a job first? I was also trying to get a job with Businessland and the old Nynex computer store chain - BU offered me a job first, so that's where I went.

- I'd stuck with bicycle repair as a means to earn a living instead of computers? I know I'd weigh less, that's for sure.

- Jane had taken the job offer in Pittsburgh that she'd gotten instead of moving to Boston? Who'd she be with today, and who would I have eventually met (if anyone)?

- I never took the summer job at day camp that I did after my senior year in high school and my freshman year in college? As virtually all of you who read this know, I had a tough time making friends before then - and I met a whole different group of people and got a clean start out of it, socially.

- We didn't buy our house 12 years ago? Could we afford to even have a home now?

- The insurance company I worked for all those years had other suitors besides the company in Illinois that bought them (the second biggest insurance company in Bloomington!). What if they'd taken one of the other deals, or stayed independent?

- I had two colleges I was accepted by that I really was interested in going to: Northeastern and the University of Maine (I also tried for the University of Vermont - my first choice - but they ixnayed me). I picked Northeastern. What if I'd headed up to Orono instead?

There's others, too, but those are some of the more interesting ones. It's not something I generally dwell upon, but the end of a year is a neat time to think and ask yourself "I wonder what..." about your life. Breakpoints are generally not something you recognize at the time. A decision as mundane as "where to go to college" doesn't seem important at the time, but it turns out to have huge ramifications down the road. For instance, by going to college in Boston instead of Maine, I wound up making friends with many of the people who are my closest friends today, meeting my wife, and settling down close by. It also directed me into my profession, as I was influenced by winding up in a dorm with a bunch of engineers and computer science majors. Before college, I was focused on theater and what ultimately became known as "extreme sports" - I was a mountain biker and a rock climber before it was fashionable. Maybe my life would have stayed on that track if I'd gone to Maine.

You can never know the answer to these questions, of course - that's part of the fun. But the sheer randomness of life and the way things can turn up as a result of free will are the things that make life worthwhile. Sure, making different choices at some of these breakpoints would have given me a different life. But the cool thing is that I like this life. And after the ball drops in New York and I hit the sack, I'll wake up in the morning to just the life that's right for me. In 2005.

See you all next year.

End-of-year letter to the world

As I write this, there are just under 14 hours left in 2004. Whoa. This has been a year of total and utter change in my little world, most of it good. The rest of the world continued to suck, with the exception of two championships for the local pro sports teams - cool, but not the most significant things, cosmically speaking. Our president continues to suck, and to make things worse, this time a slim majority of my countrymen actually voted for the idiot. And I get the distinct impression that our planet has finally had it up to here with how stupid we are and is now actively trying to get rid of us.

(note to the planet - it's not my fault! I turn my thermostat down, recycle everything, wear natural fibers whenever practical, buy mostly organic foods, and I voted for the other guy. Please leave my house standing!)

When last New Year's came, I was chronically unemployed after a pretty successful career in IT management. Our son was just getting comfortable with his walking skills and starting to talk coherently, and my wife was starting to contemplate the possibility of a return to the workforce. Now, one year later, I run a company (of which I'm the sole full-time employee), and it's definitely shown enough promise to keep on going. I've made some money out of it, and in this week that I was supposed to be taking off I've signed up two more customers. January is starting to fill up now, and we'll see where this ride winds up. I'd really like to keep doing it. I have some good customers, and I have found some good people to partner with who we help with work together. And it turns out most of my customers pay their bills on time - even better!

Jane's recovered from the holiday rush - her first one in years. She's only had to work two days since Christmas Eve, and won't be going back until mid-January. The job she wound up with pays remarkably well, with really good benefits and frills. The lifestyle adjustment is major, but seems to be OK.

As for David, he had the joy of having both parents at home full-time until I started up my business in March. And Jane stayed with him until she started working in September. So he got through almost two and a half years with one or both parents at home with him, and he's blossomed in that timeframe. The biggest change in him over the last 12 months has been self-awareness. He knows things that we're surprised by. He remembers things from months ago that seemed trivial at the time. He's become pretty articulate, can use startlingly complex grammar, and has become much more physically competent at everything. Last night, he even was able to use chopsticks - putting him way ahead of his mother in that regard. We'll probably get rid of the downstairs gate in a couple more months, and I don't see much more need for the other ones, either. And by his third birthday we'll probably let him leave his room at night if he wants to - once he's potty trained that's mandatory anyway. And I think he'll be potty trained before he turns three - the peer pressure of school is wonderful like that.

In technical news, there's nothing major. I bought some equipment to get this company off the ground, but that's no biggie. I am, however, hunting for the perfect Bluetooth mouse - if you can find a two-button scroll mouse that uses Bluetooth but has a power switch, please let me know. I want it.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Back to the mundane

I so want to see the Yankees get Randy Johnson. It almost hurts, I want it so bad. When the Yankees are so desperate as to be staking their future on a 41-year-old lefty with a bad back, that's got to be good. Especially when it drives up their payroll even higher and forces them to dump even more of the few prospects they have left in their farm system.

Honestly, I don't really think he'll hold up for a full season. I could be wrong, but that's one heck of a makeshift rotation they're putting together in the Bronx. The only starter they've got who I really worry about is Mike Mussina, and he can be had - the Sox have done so many times. Johnson had a good NL year, but now he's a year older (and 3 years older than Schilling), back in a league with a DH (adding at least half a run to his ERA), and with his back history. Jaret Wright is a joke who had a decent year in Atlanta. But he's still no better than mediocre. Kevin Brown is Kevin Brown - and a shadow of the old Kevin Brown (I can't believe I just used his name three times in a single sentence - that may be a record). They haven't really addressed any of their other issues, plus they still have A-Rod.

The Sox have holes, too - but I think they've got a potential wildcard in Wade Miller. If his rehab has worked OK, they get a pitcher who easily replaces Lowe in the rotation. Wells should be solid for another year, assuming his weight problems are really in the past. And Matt Clement may be ready to make The Leap. Then again, we all said that about Lowe a couple of years ago, and look where that got us (this post-season being the exception). Overall, I'd say a Schilling-Miller-Clement-Wells-Wakefield/Arroyo rotation holds up pretty well against the Yankees' Johnson-Pavano-Mussina-Wright-Brown combo. It's not as clear an advantage as we had on paper last year, but it's not really a big advantage for them, either.

And we've got the championship to show for it all. Neener, neener.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Addendum

There's a quote from a comic book - Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns (published in the mid-'80s, it was a graphic novel that re-defined the Batman character and pretty much set off the ensuing 15+ years of "edgy" superheroes) that I think about when I see news like I have recently. It's from a monologue that's running in Batman's mind as he battles Superman:

"You sold us out, Clark. You gave them the power that should have been ours. Just like your parents taught you to. My parents taught me a different lesson... lying on the street, shaking in deep shock, dying for no reason at all. They showed me that the world only makes sense when you force it to."

There's an interesting discussion of the Batman/Superman dichotomy at the Open Roleplaying website (I don't do roleplaying games, but I found the discussion whilst Googling) about this. The two heroes represent two archetypes: Superman the optimist (he even derives his powers from sunlight) and Batman the pessimist.

Where does this relate to what I've been saying? Well, about my life, and the things I hold closely and can personally affect, I remain a firm optimist. I believe that with good intentions I can render my part of the world a better place. However, when it comes to the world at large I am deeply pessimistic. Most people are too shallow, too uncaring, and yes, too stupid to try and make any impact of a positive kind whatsoever. Rather than engage the world as best they can, they settle for coasting along, never questioning, never thinking for themselves, and sealing themselves off from life. If you never reach, you can never succeed. And who knows? If you dig deep enough into that huge mound of horse poop, you just may find a pony. You won't know if you don't look. So what if you get dirty? There's plenty of time to wash up later.

Basically, I mean this. Try and do what you can to overcome your personal inertia and leave the world a better place than you found it. Worry about the here and now, instead of imagining some afterlife that'll make things all better. If I'm wrong, and there's an afterlife someday, deeds would probably matter far more than words. Af it makes you feel better to believe in something, great. But don't ignore the world because of it.

We may live in a Batman world, but there's no good reason we can't all try to be Superman.

Compelling argument

And now, a more serious topic:

I have occasionally had "debates" with friends and acquaintances who wonder how it is that I can be utterly non-religious. "How can you not believe in God?" they ask me. I generally try not to draw said debates out - I make no apologies or excuses for my position, but I'm not militant about it like your run-of-the-mill atheist might be. A Christmas display on the town common doesn't bug me - and I couldn't care less whether the Pledge had the words "under God" in it or not. But here's the "in a nutshell" reason why I don't believe in any "God-like" being with an interest in our lives:

1: Tsunami in the Indian Ocean. Over 44,000 dead so far and counting. People all over the region, even thousands of miles away from the event were killed by it. People of all ages and religions. Children. Parents. Only random luck determining who lived and who died.

2: 9/11. 3,000 people died in New York and Washington - all they did was go to work that day or get on a plane.

3: The Holocaust. Over Six Million Jews, Gypsies, and "undesirables" who only made the mistake of living in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Etc...

Death caused by events random and evil serves no "greater purpose". It's not part of anybody's "Plan". It just is, and it just sucks. Period. If someone wants to comfort themselves by believing better, fine. Enjoy. As for me, I expect that when I die (hopefully not for a long time), I simply cease to be. No heaven or hell or purgatory - no reincarnation or any of that. Simple non-existence. If I live on, it will be through the good deeds I tried to do, the memories of other people, and the genes I passed onwards through a wonderful son.

And should I be wrong about it, I'm not really worried about that. Based on what I've seen for behavior from most of the folks (not all of them) who are utterly convinced they'll wind up in heaven - if heaven would take those people then it's not a place I'd want to be.

Here's where I depart from the true atheist a little further, though. I do not believe that we are necessarily the highest forms of life. Just on this planet. It would be naive of me to assume that humans are the pinnacle of development across the entire Universe. Somewhere, somehow, there's a reasonable probability of beings existing that make us look like ants in comparison.

But if that's the case, they really don't give a hoot about anything as tiny and insignificant as us. Nor are we worth the effort to find, either.

Sorry to get so heavy on you all today. I'll go back to lighter fare tomorrow. Really.

Monday, December 27, 2004

As it worked out

The holiday itself was quite entertaining. David was up and banging on the door by about 7:15 - all eager to see what had happened. Jane and I hopped into sweats and headed down with him to let him open the presents. Santa had eaten the three Milanos we'd left for him, and drank the cup of water. Go figure! He left David a nice airplane toy which had it's electronics broken within two hours of the abuse beginning. He left a few more goodies, but the airplane was the keystone. Santa gave far fewer things to Jane and I, but that was by design.

After a while, we picked up Jane's folks at the hotel and went to the brunch at the Hawthorne. We always go to the brunch. Period. Quite frankly, I'm sick of it, but I go anyways, because her folks genuinely believe brunches are the highlight of cuisine, and they think the Hawthorne's is near the top of the list.

The last time I went there for a Christmas brunch, I had a 2-day case of Montezuma's from the hollandaise on their Eggs Benedict.

It's not actually a horrible brunch, my distaste for it is more based on the fact that I'm just not big on brunches, period. And I dislike repetition. The food in their restaurant at the hotel is actually quite good, and I like going there on occasion. I just am not a big one for habit. However, this year Eggs Benedict was not an offering. A plus.

Anyhow, after that we went home and David fought the idea of a nap for quite a long time - he was too excited to sleep. We won, eventually, and he finally went down for a few hours. The original plan was to go out for Chinese that night, but Jane and her folks couldn't wait for David to awaken and instead dove into the ham they'd bought the previous day. I abstained - I'm not a big ham guy (those who've seen my "acting" might beg to differ), and just improvised a supper later on.

Yesterday was a surprise. We woke up to about 3 inches of snow, with more on the way. I took out the electric shovel I'd bought last year, and cleared out enough of the driveway and deck to get out and pick her parents up. We came back to town, and went to Brujitos for lunch and to play - David had a blast there, as always. Highly recommended to all North Shore families with young kids. We're regulars. I cooked dinner last night - a huge pasta meal with my homemade from-scratch tomato sauce. I also baked brownies. The best argument for cooking is that it gets me out of cleanup duty.

Meanwhile, it kept snowing, so when we went to take her folks back to the hotel I needed another run with the shovel first. Slow going, but no real problems. This morning, though, we were so socked in that I broke the weatherstrip on the bottom of our storm door - I need to repair it when the snow melts. Which may be in May.

And I made an interesting discovery last night after everyone else had gone to bed. Turns out the reason we always heard the wind so loud in our chimney is that the damper has been open for - say - about the last 11 years of so (we never used the fireplace after the first winter in the house - I'm too paranoid about that sort of stuff, and the chimney needs more work than I want to bother with). So closing it should save some good money on our heating bill, I suspect. It made an immediate impact on the noise. But if I ever do want to start using the chimney again, I'll need to put a pull on the damper. It doesn't have one.

By the way, I heard that keeping Ty Law inactive was a game-time decision. Hopefully he can get a little time in next week to get the rust off, because without him in the lineup I doubt they get back to the Super Bowl. The bye week will help, though.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Festivus wishes

It's 11:30 on Christmas Eve. My cat is recovering from her second surgery (because the first one didn't work), and has now spent 11 days in an Elizabethan collar, eating mainly soft food and getting dosed with kitty Oxycontin several times daily until the stitches come out.

My toddler, after excitedly preparing for Santa's visit tonight, is now terrified of him. Getting him to sleep tonight took about an hour and a half, altogether, and the last time Jane went up to cuddle him (after we listened to him hollering "Mama, I scared!" over and over), she fell asleep in his toddler bed before he did. Her six-day weeks for the season finally ended with today's holiday rush.

I planned to take it easy over the next couple of weeks, but now I'm booked with at least one activity every day but Tuesday next week. I am, however, going to avoid regular office hours during that time, so at least I can spend a little more time at home.

My stuffiness is finally receding - I think I had picked up a little bit of Jane's cold before getting FluMisted last weekend, and that exacerbated the side effects. All in all, I still think I'll go back to the shot next year, anyway.

I just finished up a pair of wrestler autobiographies (both from the library) - Ric Flair's To Be The Man, and Adam (Edge) Copeland's On Edge. Flair tells some great stories, and he is truly still a master of his craft. But you can tell the difference between a ghostwritten book and one that was done first-hand - and Copeland's is far more interesting to read because you can tell he really did write it himself. He's no Mick Foley (the gold standard of wrestlers-turned-authors), but he's pretty good nonetheless. Wrestler books are fun because, except for Foley's books, they can generally be polished off in a day. I'm also reading several other books as well about more interesting topics - I just finished Right Nation, a book written by a couple of British writers who are long-time America watchers trying to explain just why the US is so much farther to the right than virtually every other civilized nation. And I just started on Robert Parker's latest detective novel.

But first, I have to finish putting out the presents and make sure the cookies left out for Santa don't go to waste. If he doesn't make it here soon, they're mine.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

One question

Last night's game was a Freaky Friday scenario if I ever saw it. Somebody switched Tom Brady and A.J. Feeley - that was obviously Feeley sitting in Brady's head making decisions, and Feeley was possessed by Brady. That's the only rational explanation as to why Feeley was so good, and why Brady sucked so bad.

Although if anyone has any better suggestions, I'm all ears. But right now, if I'm the Pats, I'm really bitter about Ty Poole being forced onto IR, and crossing my fingers taht Ty Law can get back into the lineup before the final week. Because the last few weeks have proven that although Romeo Crennel did a brilliant job patching together a secondary with duct tape and chicken wire, offenses are starting to figure it out. And that won't get you far come playoff time. What the Patriots lack right now is a true shutdown corner - a guy who can go man on the other team's top wideout and take him out of the game. A healthy Ty Law is that corner. Come back soon.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Why I'm not really a liberal, either

One of the websites I regularly read is AlterNet, a definitely left-of-center site that aggregates news from all over as well as their own content. There's a lot of really good and interesting stuff there, as well as Molly Ivins, who is terrific.

But the left-liberal perspective is one I have a lot of issues with, and some of AlterNet's content really makes that stand out. This is why I'd be a charter member of the Moderate Party and happily abandon the Democrats if the opportunity arose.

First off, there's a definite anti-consumer bias among the left. Malls exist as something to ridicule, mass merchandisers are the scourge of America, owning a car is evil (but if you must own a car it should be tiny), and your media consumption must be politically correct. The only acceptable sport to watch is baseball (because it's the pride of intellectuals who analyze it to death), and you'd be better off going to see some little independent film with subtitles instead of watching a game.

Okay...

I happen to take exception to most of that, but here's a few specifics. First of all, I don't like malls that much. Because they're too crowded. But they don't bother me, and if the store I want to go to is there, I go there. I also don't mind consumerism. If you want to have the newest little bauble, that's fine. Just don't go into debt over it, OK? Heck, I've got a near-compulsive need to own the latest cool Apple gizmo. I just keep it in check, letting it out every couple of years to upgrade.

Mass merchandizers are useful. They provide a place to buy the goods a family wants, at a reasonable price. I have problems with Wal-Mart, mainly because they drive their suppliers into bankruptcy (see Vlasic and Huffy for good examples of how success can be deadly), and they don't pay decent wages or benefits to most of their workforce. The rest are generally better than that - and wholesale clubs don't encourage over-consumption, they encourage stocking up on the goods you actually use. If you buy more, you've got issues with impulse control, but that's not a societal problem.

As for cars - if you want to live and work outside the city core, you need them. Period. And you should get whatever you're happy owning, can afford to keep, and you have room to park. If you really want a Ford Excursion instead of a Honda Insight, fine - it's your gas bill. I've got a minivan, but before that my last two vehicles were midsize SUV's (a Chevy Blazer and then an Olds Bravada). They did what I wanted them to do, and I was darn happy with them. Nowadays the minivan is more practical, and I'm not bitter about that at all (OK, maybe I'm a little bitter...). If I lived in the city and had a job there, I might own a smaller vehicle. But I don't. Get what suits you, not what you think is PC to own.

And I don't see the fuss about sports. I, for one, like 'em a lot, and I'm both a baseball and football nut (oh no - that militaristic American game of football!). I play golf, I go candlepin bowling (how proletariat of me), and I love to watch pro wrestling. I'm not a big auto racing fan, but when I went to a race this summer I had a good time there - and I occasionally watch it on TV if I'm bored on a Sunday afternoon and football's not on. I don't mind trashy TV, though I don't watch that much of it, either. I don't see many movies at all, but I'm just as likely to watch a schlock Hollywood comedy as a "high-minded" film when I do. I go to the movies to be entertained, not educated.

Even when it comes to reading, I'm not a PC lefty-type. I read some books on culture and politics. But I also read trashy novels, celebrity autobiographies, and generally eclectic stuff.

Now if I were a real lefty sort, I'd either disavow all that or I'd make some quip about how it's all "ironic" of me. But I actually like all that stuff. Which excludes me from the hyper-intellectual left as much as my utter lack of religious belief and distaste for mindlessly accepting authority make me an outcast from the right.

There must be more people like this out there somewhere, but dammed if I can find very many of 'em.

Setback

Jane took Gracie to the vet's this morning for a somewhat urgent visit - her repaired ear had puffed up again. Turns out that two things had gone wrong - first off, even though we were regularly cleaning the discharge as instructed, a scab still formed and kept it from draining right. So that was fixed. Secondly, apparently the incision should be widened a little. That's really minor, but they'll have to knock her loopy to fix it. So that can't be done until tomorrow, after we keep her away from food for a night. But it's a minor fix.

Also, I'm now recovering from my FluMist side effects - the stuff works, I'm told, but it can cause a major runny nose for a day or two, and that's what it did to me. A regular flu shot doesn't do that to me, but it does leave me feeling kind of run down for a few days, so it's a toss-up as to which I prefer.

Either alternative is better than getting the flu, though.

Quieter week this week. I may be meeting with a prospective new customer sometime this week, and I also have to go in to Cambridge one day. Other than that, it's mainly pre-Xmas loose ends to deal with. And I'll prepare to close the books on my first fiscal year (I'm going with Calendar years, even though I didn't open my doors until March 1). Hopefully I'll remain solidly in the black.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

The answer

The best way to solve our electoral problem is by splitting the parties up. Let the Republicans have the South and the moralist conservatives. Take the Democrats, and make their wooly-headed, PC liberals the core of the party.

Then, we take the centrists from both parties - the Patakis, Snowes, Schwartzeneggers, Kerrys (yes, despite what the Bush campaign tried to tell you, he's basically a moderate), Chafees, and darn near everyone in the Upper Midwest except for Feingold and Norm Coleman. We form a third party - the Moderate party. The party platform is basically this:

- Abortion should be legal, but with increasing restrictions over time.
- Deficit spending is bad.
- So are taxes.
- Ergo, government size should be restricted.
- Foreign entanglements should be minimal, and undertaken only when absolutely necessary.
- Ergo, we should concentrate on getting out of Iraq ASAP.
- Gay marriage might not be ideal to all, but let people alone. Pass a federal civil unions bill to take steam out of the argument on both sides.
- Discrimination is bad, but so are set-asides. Both should be eliminated.
- Social Security remains federal.
- More Supreme Court justices should be like David Souter (a true moderate, not really beholden to either side). Not fewer.

(note: Not all of these are positions I agree with, though many are)

With this sort of platform, the Moderate Party should be able to take the White House within another election cycle or two. And they'd initially form a big swing bloc that would keep both major parties fairly honest - they'd have to moderate themselves enough to convince the center party to join a coalition. Much like in parliamentary systems.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Just so you know

It's been "one of those weeks".

But that's good. I've been busy virtually every day, billable hours galore, and this is being written during the brief interlude before I have to leave for Cambridge to do an OS X server migration. See you later!

Monday, December 13, 2004

Sports talk

First off - I'm going to miss the "Tough Enough" segments on Smackdown. Not because I liked them, but it was 15-20 minutes of a 2-hour show I could safely fast-forward through - combined with commercial skipping and recaps, I could watch the whole show in about an hour. And that even sometimes would include a slo-mo through a Torrie Wilson or Jackie Gayda ring entrance. Pretty good TV watching, if I do say so myself.

However, I did vote last night for the Tough Enough winner, even though I avoided it entirely. I voted for The Miz - in what little I saw of it, he showed a lot more personality than Dan Puder offered. Plus Dan was a little too intense nutcase-ish for my liking. As for other events from yesterday's PPV, the Charlie Haas heel turn seems like a dumb idea. And I'm sick of JBL - he's been OK as a heel - better than I expected - but he's held the strap for nearly six months now, and come out on top in feuds with Eddie Guererro, Booker T, and Taker. That makes no sense at all. Though it was inevitable, since he's just added the Bashams and Amy Weber to his stable. Expect him to keep the title until at least the Rumble next month, and if he gets through that, then to go right up to Mania. JBL headlining Wrestlemania. My goodness, what depths this business has sunk to...

As for other (real) sports, if Pedro can get a four-year deal from the Mets, more power to him. This'll be a typical Mets signing - big name, shaky health, huge money. Granted, the Dominican connection will put plenty of butts in the ugly Shea seats, but it's still a bad move for them. Heck, I wouldn't guarantee him three years even - I was kinda surprised the Sox were willing to. If Pedro goes to New York for the money, more power to him. Nobody here will be bitter - we got a World Series win out of him. Hey - at least we've got David Wells now!

(silence)

From what's been reported, the Wells signing is a good move. Really. Not a lot of guaranteed money, and when Wells is serious about his game, he's still pretty darned tough to hit, even at his age. Plus he's a lefty, which certainly helps. Wells will slide into Derek Lowe's spot in the rotation, most likely, if Pedro does wind up here again. I'm not sure how it'll play out without Pedro, but Bronson Arroyo appears almost ready to make The Leap, and he's cheap to have around.

In other sporting news, hooray for Charley Weis. I'm not sure he's going to like it at Notre Dame, but he's getting $2 mil per year to suck it up. But from what I've heard of the Willingham fallout, the alumni there have a recurring fantasy that an independent team with high academic standards can also be a BCS contender every year. Keep dreaming, folks.

Meanwhile, the Pats keep rolling along. I like their chances to wind up with the #1 seed, but the #2 isn't the worst fate. Come January, Pittsburgh and New England are probably the only two teams with a serious shot at winning the Super Bowl. Indy will not win two road games in January. Period. Nobody else is a serious contender. And Philly may be the best in the NFC, but they have no chance against either of the best two AFC teams. Unless there's a serious letdown (and I know Belichick wouldn't allow that to happen - probably not Cowher either), the NFC gets crushed this year.

Does anybody at all miss the NHL? Does anybody in the NHLPA realize that if they don't cave and accept a cap, the sport is gone forever? It's very possible to win the battle and lose the war, and what good is no cap if there's no league?

This IBM/Lenova deal may seem like a total capitulation to many, but if I were Dell, I'd be scared. Really scared. IBM just sold out to the one operation that may be able to out-cheap Dell, and now they can make all the deals they want with PowerPC processors and not have to worry about the impact on their PC unit. Which may also have the effect of helping drive Apple costs down a little, too. Intel is probably a little nervous, too.

Interesting stuff

I went to a developers' meeting on MacOS X 10.4 "Tiger" this morning. Getting there was an adventure - I was about 20 minutes late which sucked because I was supposed to help out on the registration desk. I'd forgotten just how awful Wellington Circle is during rush hour. I still was useful, but I bummed myself out some by not being there from moment 1. I pride myself on punctuality.

That said, I saw a lot of really interesting stuff and got the inside skinny on much of the new technology that will be under the hood. However, I can't tell you anything about it because I'm under an NDA, so nyah nyah. But if you have a Mac that meets Apple's published hardware specs for Tiger, you should be starting to drool about now.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Still busy

I've been working a lot over the last week - and I'm booked every day this coming week with one activity or another. On top of that, David and I both nearly came down with a cold (we both had runny noses that didn't turn into anything more) the previous week - but Jane actually got the cold, full-force. So I've had to take care of her a lot this week, too.

The good news is that I've actually managed to cook meals from scratch a couple of times, actually making things up based on sound cooking principles as gleaned from Good Eats, and had them come out well. Last night, I sweated some onions and garlic in a little butter, added some broccoli and carrots to the pan along with a pinch of salt, then served it all up over some pasta with oil and dried basil flakes. It was pretty darned tasty, even if the whole house still smells like garlic.

Meanwhile, Jane's still working full-tilt through the cold - I think her reasoning is "there's plenty of time to rest in January".

I'm also finishing up a presentation for a seminar I'm doing on Thursday - see the Beverly Chamber of Commerce website for details. And right now I'm watching the Pats game. I'm impressed by the Bengals in a sense, because they just don't seem to quit. Right now it's 28-14, Pats, though, and the Pats just scored with just under 2 minutes in the half.

And Gracie has minor surgery scheduled tomorrow to deal with a hematoma in her right ear.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Goodbye to a friend

Today, WBZ announced that long-time talk show host David Brudnoy was near death, and tonight's show would feature an interview taped at his bedside in Mass. General in the last day or so. I didn't know him personally, but everybody in New England knew him anyways.

To describe Brudnoy as "a talk show host", though, is like describing Godzilla as "a lizard". Brudnoy was the rarest of creatures: a civil voice on airwaves that carry far too much hate, vitriol, and shock. He actually read books before inviting authors on to discuss them. Though a moderate libertarian (much like myself), he never kept opposing views off his show, never shouted people down, and let his intellect do the defending, rather than rely on empty rhetoric.

Health problems over the last decade (beginning with a near-fatal bout of AIDS in 1993) forced him to cut back his broadcasting schedule in recent years, and he moved his studio to his Back Bay apartment (where he'd serve cocktails to his in-studio guests) as well. Last winter, he developed Merkel cell carcinoma, a fairly rare form of the disease, and was able to drive it into remission for a time. Unfortunately, late last month the disease again got the better of him, and he signed off for what turned out to be the last time a couple of weeks ago.

I think he hung around this long just so he could anchor the Election Night coverage one last time. Farewell, David - you will be truly missed.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Mindless TV reviewed

I decided to take the plunge into mediocrity and watch "The Real Gilligan's Island". It's horrible. And I mean that in a good way. So far I've watched three of the eight episodes, and the only true highlight was watching the amazingly red-state Millionaires get tossed out. That was nice. Otherwise, the challenges are stupid, the plot opportunities nonexistent, and with the Beavens' ejection (Donna Beavens would have been an Omarosa-esque reality show villainess but she's just too crass and stupid for even that), virtually all the cattiness has been extinguished.

The pluses of the show: other than the Beavens, it's a pretty likable bunch of folks doing their best in an excessively contrived setting. The two Gilligans are both nice "regular guy" types, the Maryanns were both pretty girls with nice personalities, the other Millionaires (the Stearns, an LA couple) seem like fun sorts (and Mindy Stearns is quite a hottie), and I liked both Professors - though the gay professor (of Sociology) was a little overbearing. But he's gone already. I even like the Gingers (Rachel Hunter and Nicole Eggert) - Nicole is a little New-Agey, but not unbearably so. I haven't really got much of an impression from either Skipper - partly because one of them collapsed early with a cardiac scare and left the game (he's OK, and doing the publicity tour), so they haven't really had to focus on the other one at all.

It's a show I'll keep watching to the end, but It's going into the category of "shows I watch while I'm doing something else". So don't ask me about the plotline - I'm not paying enough attention. Except when either Rachel or Mindy puts a bikini on (Nicole and the remaining Maryann are both way too skinny for my liking). Then I'll pay more attention...

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Birthday thoughts

Jane turns the big 4-0 today. Still looks great, though. Unfortunately, she's spent most of the day cooped up in her basement office calling accounts, since her company just started a big sales promo/contest. It's better than Plan A, though - that was for her to go out to Holyoke today. This is a step up.

While she does that, I've been doing stuff with David, and we went out for a little while. I had to go to the office to pick some stuff up for a data recovery job I'm still working on - I'm getting back all the customer's old Exchange data by building a replica of the server and then using Exmerge to extract their old data I saved. I refused to try it on their production server as I felt strongly that it would be a Bad Idea. I won't lose data on my watch. Period. So I'm setting up the new server while David takes a nap.

Yesterday I did the round trip to Nashua twice - once to drop Jane off in the morning, and then the second time to pick her up and go to a birthday party for Rob and Brenda's son Christopher - he's six months older than David. They live near the mall there, so I figured I was better off doing the drive twice than having each of us take a car.

Unrelated thought of the day: I've been watching TNA Wrestling's "Impact" (Fridays on FSN - I TiVo it), and the in-ring product is pretty good. But they've been recycling every failed idea in the history of WCW - including bringing the Outsiders (Kevin Nash and Scott Hall) back to work with Jeff (my daddy runs the company so I get the belt even though I'm a career midcarder) Jarrett. The angle sucks. Nash has lost what little bit of athleticism he had left in his last run a year ago with WWE, and he can't cut a decent promo anymore, either. Hall looks like he managed to give up the booze, but discovered food instead - he's a few cheeseburgers away from giving Viscera a run. It's just sad.

The nice thing TNA's had going for them is wrestling, not this bizarro WCW crud. Get back to wrestling, and leave the soap opera junk to WWE. They've got the people, writers, and production values to get away with some of it at least. And give the darned strap to someone useful and build up some legit heavyweight heels. Jeff Jarrett can always wrestle a decent match and put other guys over just fine. But he won't. Pity. Even Triple H drops his belt once in a while.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Battered

I've been working on a job most of this week trying to save a really messed-up Windows server that I was handed through a referral. Tuesday night I worked on-site for 11 hours straight - from 2PM to 1AM the next morning. I've almost caught up on the sleep deficit, though. I've done a lot of the work remotely - once I get the rescue drive sent over here I'm going to recover the last thing they lost, which is their Exchange Public Folders.

Yesterday, both our December-due pregnant friends delivered - they both had their babies yesterday morning, about two hours apart. I've seen pics of one (Woodge's) so far, but not the other.

I heard a new Joke from Steven Wright today - he's touring again, which is a good thing for society. The line (I may be misquoting it slightly) is "I have H.D.A.D.D - High Definition Attention Deficit Disorder. I don't remember much, but what I do remember is amazing".

At some point, I may look into building another Shuttle box. I probably should get a little more hands-on time with AMD-based gear.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

How the mighty have fallen

Or, more aptly, "how the midcarders have fallen"...

I read a report that Billy Gunn was working an indy show up here in Lynn last weekend. They didn't even bother advertising his appearance on the low-budget cable TV ads that I saw to promote it.

From "Billy & Chuck" to "jobbing at indy shows". Wow, what a fall.

And one release I forgot to mention - they finally got around to officially canning Linda Miles (one other Tough Enough winner) a few weeks ago. She wasn't even on the main roster anymore. Spectacular Amazonesque physique (though she ruined the look with implants last year), great natural athletic ability, but major attitude and no passion for the business. I was surprised they waited this long to can her.

Monday, November 29, 2004

More updates coming

I'm going to revamp the links section of this blog in the next few days. To preview it, here's what I consider to be some of my essential sports websites:

Bill Simmons' The Sports Guy pages at ESPN. Great stuff, with all sorts of funny pop culture references tossed in. The Dave Barry of sports, and he's a Boston guy.

For football nuts, Peter King is da man. He also appears every week on Dale Arnold and Bob Neumeier's WEEI mid-day show.

Peter Gammons should be the Commissioner of Baseball. I'd say he should be the Red Sox GM, but Theo seems to be doing a prettty good job...

Miscellaney

Jane's crunch time has started - she's going to be pulling 6-day weeks up to Xmas. So today's her token day off right now. I had the little guy all weekend and came up with as much neat stuff as possible to fill the time.

I wound up spotting a Black Friday deal I would try for - a Kodak CX6445 camera (4x optical zoom, 4 megapixel) at Best Buy for $150. But when I got there at 9AM Friday they were long gone. I did, however, get the $10 Ryobi power drill for my office over at the neighboring Home Depot. Better than an electric screwdriver for the price.

As my token sop to the Slashdot crowd, I must say those of you not in the Boston area missed out yesterday. The Movies section had a picture of Natalie Portman on the front page, and she has grown up into an absolutely beautiful woman. The complete opposite of what I am generally attracted to, but I can at least appreciate beauty when I see it.

In a related note, Woodge lust object Jessica Biel was on Letterman a couple of days ago, and she's looking real good, too. My other Letterman observation has nothing to so with hot babes - it's that Barack Obama will eventually be President. But probably not in 2008.

Work is somewhat busy for me at the moment. I'm helping another consultant with a project down on the South Shore, and he's coming up today to build a server for the client with my help. I've been at sites much of the last week or so up before Thanksgiving. This week is slightly more sane overall, but I don't really know how the week will play out. I do think I may have some work this weekend to do for one of my regulars. If so, I'll have to figure out how to make arrangements for David that day.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Moral Dilemmas

We got a Wal-Mart flyer yesterday, advertising their Black Friday AM specials. On page 3, there's an ad for a Kodak digital camera - one of the EasyShare DX models (I forget exactly which one) for only $198. Jane and I have been considering the idea of replacing our much older digital camera for about a year now - it's been on the "things to get once the money's coming in" list since then.

Which left me with a quandary: I hate Wal-Mart. Because they're one of the prime offenders in the movement that's driving virtually all manufacturing overseas. Because they care about nothing except squeezing their cost of goods down a little farther every quarter. Because they abuse their workers something fierce. Because they were the key player in driving out all the intermediate-sized regional and local chains. And many more reasons.

So should I buy it there, even though I hate them? Well, I thought, at that price it's almost certainly a loss leader - or at best a break-even item for them. If I go in there, buy just the camera, and leave, I'm screwing them out of profits. That's good, right?

So while I thought about it, I also looked up the camera on the excellent Digital Camera Resource Page (the owner used to run a great informational site for PowerComputing owners). It's a good camera. Very good. But, fortunately my dilemma was solved for me while I read the review...

The camera uses a lens cap instead of a retracting cover. We don't want another camera that uses a lens cap. So it's now a non-issue, and I'll just sleep in on Friday. Whew. I feel much better now that I was able to duck the moral question.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Speaking of controversy

Those of you who were "scandalized" by last week's Monday Night Football opening with Terrell Owens and Nicolette Sheridan (has her face been frozen in amber or what?) should make sure to check out the WWE website today. I haven't watched last night's Raw yet (I was too busy watching the Pats on MNF - that's why I have TiVo), but they did a wonderful spoof of the whole fuss that featured Shelton Benjamin, Trish Stratus, and Vince - they've got the video on the front page, and even if you hate pro wrestling, it's still very witty and worth the viewing. I promise that no steel chairs are involved.

I mean, why watch WWE for sex and violence, when you have the NFL and NBA? Ironically, when the Pistons got their banner raised and their rings presented, they all wore replicas of Triple H's championship belt. If you want your own, just head to the WWE Shopzone and you, too, can be an NBA superstar.

That belt, by the way, is derived from the old NWA/WCW belt. The classic WWF-era belt is currently the "WWE Heavyweight Championship" belt, and is the SmackDown belt. And yes, I'd love to have either version as a Xmas gift someday to put on my office wall. And yes, I know I'll never get one.

Maybe a couple of Pistons can spare theirs...

Monday, November 22, 2004

So, you wanted to take time off?

Ron Artest did - he wanted to take a month off because he was "tired" from promoting his forthcoming album. Well, he got his wish... Now he gets to take the rest of the year off. Unpaid.

I hope your album tanks too, you scumbag.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Why I've been relatively MIA

A few people have actually gone to the trouble to ask me why I haven't posted a lot over the last week or so. I'm flattered. But here's the answer for you all:

I'm really freaking busy!

Seriously, I am. Not all of it's been billable, but enough has been that I'll be keeping the lights on and the door open for a while yet. This week's featured work for a couple of new customers, an Apple meeting yesterday all afternoon (forcing me to miss the first game of my string at bowling last night - but we won anyway and moved into first place, nyah nyah!), a new customer initial meeting in Boston on Monday, a breakfast with my ex-boss on Tuesday (not super-significant, but Robert wanted me to mention it so here it is), and tomorrow I'm down on the South Shore, probably most of the day.

I may even be doing some work here in town on Saturday - I have to call the customer sometime tomorrow and check. Next week's pretty busy as well, with a project in Cambridge most of Wednesday and possibly a job in Boston Tuesday.

Busy is good. As for everything else, Our health is decent, Jane's job is OK, David is doing well in school but is now afraid of monsters. He has compensated for that on the Karmic Scale by making his first real strides towards the potty - this week he's successfully whizzed in it a couple of times. And our government sucks more than ever.

If I have time this weekend, maybe I'll write some stuff about sports. That might be fun.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Dumbing down

Today's Boston Globe has a front page article entitled "Evolution foes see opening to press fight in schools". It's accompanied by a pie chart that shows what percentages of Americans believe in creationism or evolution, and was taken a couple of years ago.

The results were:
48% of Americans believed in creationism.
9% of Americans leaned towards creationism but weren't sure.
5% were leaning towards evolution.
10% had no opinion.
28% of Americans believed in evolution.

So it turns out that one of my opinions from the just-passed election was wrong. And I apologize. Previously I thought that roughly 51% of Americans were utter morons. It turns out that number is more like 72%. My editorial department regrets the error.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Drained

Here's my day today - but first, some background. It's freakin' snowing here! Last night, Jane got home from a meeting at her boss's home in Rhode Island at about 10:30 or so. So I'd had an all-night Dude-a-thon. This morning, I get up at about 7:30, to go see a customer (#1) here in town at 9. At 8:15, I head downstairs all showered and shaved, and I turn on my cell phone.

With a frantic message on it from a referral customer, looking for Mac help. I call the new customer (#2) and make arrangements to head over after I wrap up with #1. Jane is going to take David to school so I can get started, then head out to meet her boss out near Worcester. In the snow.

So I'm working over at #1's site, curing a malware infestation. Nasty one. About 11 or so, the phone rings, and it's Jane. She's dropped off David, but got stuck back at home on work calls and hasn't left yet for Worcester. Not a good sign. I call #2 and let him know I should be there pretty soon.

Noon: I finally finish beating up the PC and start the SP2 install. That'll take a while, so I head over to #2 and start the work there. Recovery goes well, and the Mac gets a shiny new OS install (preserving settings from the previous one), along with a disk repair and permissions fix. While it downloads the 100MB update over the sluggish DSL line, I prepare to head to my office for a brief respite. Then I get a call from #3 - the customer down the street who'd referred me #2. He has a new (used) PC laptop that can't find a network connection. I figure out a plan to fit him in on my way out the door.

In 20 minutes, I've eaten lunch, put stamps on all my bills, checked my e-mail, and written myself a paycheck. I head back to #2, and complete the reconfiguration, setting up Classic and doing some migration tasks.

Now it's time to head back over the bridge to #1's place. He's back on the computer, but there's still a little bit to be done. I install the post-SP2 fixes, give him some pointers, and make arrangements to return to install his AV update and DSL router that he's been assigned to go buy as homework by me. That'll be a breeze - if it takes the less than 15 minutes I think it will I won't even bother putting it on the bill. Then, I head back over the bridge one more time...

And go visit #3, where I discover that the machine had been shipped with the wrong dongle for the 3Com Ethernet card he'd been given with the laptop. So it ain't gonna work. And the battery won't take a charge, either. He's going to return it, and I show him a new Dell model online that's almost as cheap, and way better. As I wrap up, #2 calls again - there's a question about launching apps.

So after heading up the street again, I looked at the situation, and we decided to just boot back into Classic by default until he can pick up his original disks for his Adobe products (he has OS X-native apps on them, he just installed the OS 9 versions), and buy a copy of Panther. We'll deal with that next week at some point.

By now it's about 4. So I head back to Cummings one more time, and pick up David. He likes snow.

But Jane doesn't. She's running late out west, and finally slogs home about 7ish - right after David and I get home from the grocery store. I wind up whipping up dinner while Jane changes into grubbies, and then she tends the oven while I run up and start doing my bill entry. It would help if I billed for all that time I worked today!

As for this entry? It took me about 20 minutes. I snuck off to do it while Jane gave David a bath and bonded. She hasn't had a lot of quality time with him the last couple of days.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

The political spectrum

First off, a pat on the back for moi - a short time after I wrote my last post, Arafat finally kicked the bucket. If it turns out that my worldview is wrong, and there is a "hell", then that's where the murdering bastard is right now, along with all the homicide bombers he inspired.

Now, back to the regularly scheduled feature.

I was thinking about this on my way to the office today. What's the basic difference between people who identify as "liberal" and people who identify as "conservative"? Why do conservatives so thoroughly dominate political discourse in this country, and why, despite that, are they convinced that there's a "left-wing media bias"? As best as I can tell, and without inflaming things further, it's this:

The basic conservative viewpoint is to see the world as a binary place. A position is either right or wrong. Other people are either with you or against you. Religion, with it's "we're the chosen ones" view, is a strong influence.

Liberalism, on the other hand, is inherently less absolute. Nuance is important. The opinion of others is generally considered, even if it doesn't change your final opinion. And liberals are generally accepting and tolerant of those that are different.

Are there doctrinaire, PC liberals? Of course. And there are thoughtful conservatives, too. I'm talking about the basics here, not everyone.

And that helps define me. I personally have a large number of views that are actually quite conservative. I think it's far too easy to get a divorce, for instance. I personally oppose abortion - I think it's a horrible thing. I would have been quite happy to see Afghanistan reduced to a parking lot after 9/11 - screw what the rest of the world thought about that.

But despite that, my worldview is overall a liberal one. Just because I think divorce is too easy and I take marriage seriously, doesn't mean I shun people who've been divorced. And I support gay marriage for the same reason - if a couple wants to take the act of marriage (and I mean civil marriage - religious marriage is between a couple and their church) seriously and get hitched, I'm all in favor of it. I think stable pair-bonds are good for society. And though I am appalled by abortion, I absolutely support the right of others to make a choice that I think is a poor one. I also know that Saddam had nothing at all to do with the attacks on the US, and should never have been taken down. I'm all in favor of cooperation between nations whenever possible, but I also know we have to take our national self-interest first.

My world is filled with subtle hues and shades of gray. Shadows blend gradually with light. Right morphs slowly into wrong. There are few absolutes, short of "don't harm others unless they try to harm you first", and "try to leave the world a better place than you found it".

And the fact that I can see the world this way means two things. One, it means that I'm smarter than the vast majority of the people in this nation. And two, it means that I'm a distinct minority in a chest-thumping, Bible-quoting, black & white, Republican-led nation.

And we're a lot poorer as a nation for it.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Currently sucking heat

Right now on Raw there are two plotlines that make me thank the heavens I have TiVo, because I can fast-forward through them. One is the horrendous Gene Snitsky and all the tasteless things he does to get heat for supposedly causing Lita to miscarry, and the other is "fitness guru" Simon Dean, whose schtick consists of insulting fat people who are planted by ringside. The character is OK, but i just don't see where they can go with it.

Note to Mr. Arafat

Hurry up and die already, will you? I'm tired of reading about your slow demise (it's been almost two weeks now), and the world'll be a better place without you. When push came to shove, you always favored war over peace, refusal over compromise, and happily sacrificed thousands of those who looked to you for leadership - not to mention thousands of innocents on both sides. The blood of a generation of Palestinians is on your hands, and even your long-awaited death won't wash them clean.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Yet another reason last Tuesday was a disaster

This USA Today article (reposted on Yahoo) hits the idiocy of our society right on the head. A growing wave of fundamentalists behind pharmacy counters are outright refusing to fill prescriptions for drugs that they morally object to - most particularly birth control pills. And a growing number of states are trying to grant them legal protection when they do it. Some pharmacists have even refused to give the prescription back to the patient so they can fill it elsewhere.

To me, it's pretty simple. If you work at a pharmacy, and you refuse to dispense a drug that was legitimately prescribed by a doctor (and that is stocked by the pharmacy), you lose your license to be a pharmacist. Period. It is not the job of pharmacists to make moral decisions on behalf of patients and insert themselves into the doctor-patient relationship.

The only gray area I'd allow is if a pharmacist does not stock a drug, they are welcome to not order it - but they have to notify the patient that they do not offer that drug, so they can go elsewhere. If a pharmacist doesn't want to dispense birth control pills, they should work for a pharmacy that doesn't carry them. Or open their own. If you work at a pharmacy that stocks them, you dispense them. There's an association of these assclowns that actually has 1500 members, according to the article.

Congratulations, America. This is what you voted for last week. Maybe next week we'll bring back the burkha.

Monday, November 08, 2004

The wonder that is TiVo

Every once in a while my TiVo grabs something that I just can't resist watching. Yesterday, it recorded "Boston Legal", and I caved in and watched it through afterwards.

Mind you, I hate legal shows. Ever since "LA Law" was all the rage (and I will never forgive that show for giving Corbin Bernsen a career), I've been turned off by the genre. I've avoided "Ally McBeal", practiced other things during "The Practice", and whatever that Jerry Orbach show was - I never saw it. So I was sorely tempted to give "Boston Legal" a pass, too.

I'm glad I didn't, and that TiVo picked it for me. James Spader is terrificly smarmy, and Shatner(!) is simply wonderful - I love it when he gets roles he can fully ham it up in, and this is as good as it gets. The plot was kinda stupid last night, but it did get a nice guest appearance from Dana Delany, and the supporting cast was decent. It's Spader and Shatner(!) that make "Boston Legal" fun - I may have to start making it a regular job for TiVo.

I'd anthropomorphize my TiVo further, but it hates when I do that...

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Generalities in this NFL season

I've come up with a few rules regarding the NFL. Using them, so far I made it five weeks into my annual KOTH tournament, won a week in one pool, and came in second (with a small prize) in another pool. I also have at least one weekly win in every pool I ever play, and I'm usually near the top of the annual standings in them. I've also had some dismal weeks, though, and the pools I play are very low-stakes.

Rule number 1:
The AFC is currently a far stronger conference. Ergo:
- Given a roughly equal matchup across conferences on paper, the AFC team will win around 80% of the time.
- This can apply to the teams' records, statistics, or anything else you'd use as a criteria.
- So if a cruddy AFC team plays a cruddy NFC team, the AFC team wins.
- And a mediocre AFC team has a reasonable shot of beating a good NFC team...
- And a top-notch AFC team (see: Pittsburgh) will utterly humiliate a top-notch NFC team (see: Philly)
- The AFC will be favored in the Super Bowl.

Rule number 2:
More than in any other league, coaching makes a difference. So...
- Any Bill Belichick team will be a Super Bowl favorite. Until he proves otherwise.
- Mike Martz will never win a Super Bowl, because he is guaranteed to have a major Brain Fart at least once per game.
(see: today against the Pats - where he let his team to waste nearly a minute in a 2nd and goal with under 4:00 left)
- Given the parity in the NFL talent-wise, any good coach has a chance any given week.
- With the basic conservatism in the NFL, bad coaches get recycled for a long time before new blood gets into the system.
- Look at Rich Kotite as a good example of this.

Rule number 3:
Some owners are just guaranteed to suck. The best example of this is in the NBA, with Donald Sterling's Clippers. But it applies in the NFL, too. Usually when the owner decides he's a good football mind. Bob Kraft learned his lesson after trying to micromanage Bobby Grier and Pete Carroll. After handing it to Belichick and getting out of the way, he's picked up two Lombardi trophies. This is also why Dan Snyder will never win. And why Al Davis can no longer win.

Rule number 4:
Ego rarely wins. This has been proven conclusively by the Patriots - players sublimate their egos (and often get paid less) to get rings. Teams with big, standout superstars usually go home in January, even if the players themselves go to the Pro Bowl.

Corollary: superstars cost more money, and bust your salary cap wide open. Fewer superstars equal more quality mid-level players - and they make better interchangeable parts with good coaching (see rule #2).

Exception: some players are so good that you can't help but win with them. But even then, they need the right complementary parts. How many Super Bowls did John Elway win until he got a running attack to work with? And how many did Dan Marino ever win?

Rule number 5: Injuries matter. Scan the injury reports and see if a starter is out. And the position matters a lot. A good scheme can usually mask an O-line outage (again, the Pats are a great example, as are the Broncos). Defensive outages are tougher. Look at the way the Steelers torched the Patriots last week as soon as Ty Law went down with an injury. This week, with a week to prepare, the Pats were able to whup the Rams while resorting to Troy Brown at corner for much of the game.

Rule number 6: Quarterbacks have changed. When Drew Bledsoe came into the league, he was The Prototype. Big, strong, with a gunslinger mentality and a cannon for an arm. What Dan Marino was in his prime. But a few years ago, the game changed. Gunslingers were out - quarterbacks had to become accurate and mistake-free, with faster reads and checkoffs. Game management was key. Which is why Bledsoe struggles in Buffalo now, Kurt Warner is running for his life in New York, and Tom Brady is now the new Prototype. Steve McNair is the other master at this, but with the extra dimension of a running threat. There's a few more with potential (this new rookie, Rothlisrebergrremeisterskistein, could maybe get there, and Chad Pennington shows signs), but that's the New Breed of QB.

Rule number 7: Running is important. The Pats go one game without Corey Dillon available, and they get hammered without a legit running threat. Edgerrin James gets hurt in Indy, and down go the Colts. The only places where this doesn't seem to matter are in Denver, where I could probably plug my toddler into their scheme and he'd gain 1000 yards, and in Buffalo, where they had Willis McGahee ready to replace Travis Henry. This week saw Jerome Bettis gain nearly 100 yards with Duce Staley on the sideline, but right now Pittsburgh is riding one of those Magic Waves.

And finally:
Rule number 8: Sometimes, none of this matters. Look at the Giants-Bears game today. By all measurements, the Bears had no chance and shouldn't have even bothered flying into Newark to make the pilgrimage to Exit 16W. But the Giants didn't bother showing up instead, and the Bears win 28-21. Or the fact that the Dolphins have actually won a game this year.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Making it an even ten...

Rico was released by WWE today. But there's still one day left in the week, who knows what else is coming? Even though they took Rico and mainly had him playing variations on gay characters (ironic, with Rico being an ex-Vegas cop, skilled martial artist, and American Gladiators winner in his past), he was still entertaining and a good worker in the ring.

And three more go down

It's a big purge week at WWE - now they've added Johnny "The Bull" Stamboli, Rodney Mack, and Jazz to the release list. Stamboli was in the FBI faction with Palumbo, so now the only FBI member left is Nunzio. Mack and Jazz are a real-life husband and wife team, so that's probably why they were dropped together. Jazz was a good solid womens' heel, but Mack was pretty bland.

So far the count is six men dropped from the roster, and three women. All the women were dumped from Raw, and four of the men were dumped from Raw, two (Stamboli and Gunn) from Smackdown. Billy Gunn's biggest success was back about four or so years ago when he teamed with BG Armstrong (then known as Road Dogg) to form the New Age Outlaws tag team. Maybe we'll see a reunion in TNA soon, though I like Armstrong now in 3 Live Kru with Konnan and Ron Killings.

I wonder if the shoe will drop even further this week. There's a few people on the roster still that I would have expected to see cut first - but the only guy with an absolutely secure future is Triple H. Because he's married to the boss's daughter in real life.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

News from elsewhere

The purges continue at WWE. Today, they dumped Chuck Palumbo, Gail Kim, and Nidia from the roster - all of whom were on Raw but pretty underutilized. Palumbo came from WCW, and made his biggest splash when he was teamed with Billy Gunn in the "gay couple gimmick" they had a couple of years ago as the bleached blonde "Billy and Chuck" tag team. He went on to have a nice Smackdown run as part of the FBI (Full-Blooded Italians) faction with Johnny "the Bull" Stamboli and Nunzio. He, along with A-Train, was "traded" to Raw back in the spring, and never really made an impact there at all. Gail Kim never made much of an impression - she was a fitness model from Toronto of Korean extraction who was gorgeous (I thought) but couldn't really work and generated no crowd heat at all.

Nidia was a bit of a surprise. She was the first female Tough Enough winner (Maven Huffman was the men's winner, and is just getting a face push right now), and only recently got to have a wrestling role on TV. After a post-Tough Enough stint at OVW, Nidia came to WWE as the "girlfriend" of redneck character Jamie Noble (who was dropped over the summer). She had a fun run there, and after they broke up the storyline she was sent to Raw (after an "injury" hiatus that she conveniently returned from with larger breasts afterwards) in the trade storyline along with Palumbo and A-Train. She wrestled as a pretty generic face during her Raw stint, but also never got any real push. But since WWE is re-doing Tough Enough after a year off (as a Smackdown segment), I would think they'd keep her around. Of the six winners so far (two each in the first three seasons), Maven's the only one with a regular wrestling-related role right now. Nidia was cut, neither of the two second season winners are in a wrestling role (Jackie Gayda is a valet for Rico and Charlie Haas on Smackdown, and Linda Miles is back in the minors after a stint as a valet for the Bashams), and the third-season winners are both in OVW - though Johnny Nitro got to be Eric Bischoff's assistant for a while on Raw.

And they're doing Tough Enough again? Why?

I still haven't watched Raw yet this week, but apparently Edge completes his heel turn. Hopefully it'll help - he was just stalling out big-time as a face on Raw. His high-water mark so far has been while working as a heel with Christian (his real-life best friend from childhood), and while working as a face on Smackdown in a program with Kurt Angle. But Kurt makes everybody look good - it's one of the reasons why he's arguably the best wrestler working today.

I'm not enamored with the changes they've been making lately at WWE in general. I still watch it, though. At the rate they're going, though, if I want to see half the wrestlers I'm familiar with I'm going to have to spend more time watching NWA-TNA Impact every Friday. They already have Sabu, Raven, and Jeff Hardy among many.

Tonight after I got home from bowling I taught David to say "Missisagua". Houses are cheap there.

What else went wrong?

Besides what I talked about previously, whoever set CBS up to take a fall on the Bush National Guard story was brilliant - a dirty trick worthy of Atwater himself. Once that scandal broke, it completely neutralized the story about Bush going AWOL, while the other dirty tricksters kept hammering Kerry over his Vietnam service. It's also interesting how both Florida and Ohio completely contradicted the exit polls by roughly the same margin. Everybody cheats where they can - it's an unpleasant fact. But I suspect that the Republicans did a far better job of it this year.

I hope something happens (hopefully not something that gets citizens hurt) that completely humiliates the miserable smirking SOB. Either that, or that the Northeastern US comes to it's senses and decides en masse to become a Canadian province. I love America, but this obviously isn't my America anymore.

Well...

The sun is bright, but I see a lot of haze out there. The car horns are louder than the birds, who seem to have all flown away. I guess that means Shrub will probably win if Ohio's vote is finally counted. He's already doing the full-court media press to declare victory preemptively. At least this time Kerry isn't pulling a Gore and conceding prematurely.

If it turns out that way (leave it to Ohio to be Florida this time), there were a couple of factors. Turnout, while heavy, did not reach the levels that were projected yesterday morning. Advantage, Republicans. The current demographics in the South also favor them. It'll be real difficult for a Democrat to win nationally without at least picking off one southern state, especially since the Gore states from 2000 have 10 fewer electoral votes between them since reapportionment was done.

Should the Republicans hold on, it's time for the Democrats to take a page out of their playbook. One of the things that helped them make their initial takeover of Congress possible in 1994 was their unity. Especially in the Senate, where a small bloc that unites can make a real difference. So it's time for the Democrats tot get serious about acting as a party and not let anything pass. No laws of any significance. No judges, especially not for the Supreme Court. Nothing.

Bottle things up well enough, and the party in power gets blamed.

As for what this says about us as a people, I'm frankly disgusted by it. We ought to spin off all the contiguous red states as a separate country and let them have their no tax pro-war theocracy. Reboot the whole damned thing and start over. At my BNUG board meeting last night, we were all talking politics. There's a couple of conservatives in the group, a couple of liberals, and mainly centrists - most of the group supported Kerry and a couple Bush. We had some good debating among ourselves, but I pointed out that compared to the average person, we were way over at the right side of the intelligence bell curve. Most people are stupid, and that's part of why the Republican appeals work. Most Americans still think that Saddam had something to do with 9/11. A significant number believe in creationism. They're morons, and GWB is the perfect president for morons.

The only thing I'm glad of is that for the most part, my friends who supported Bush for one reason or another lived in states where they had no statistical effect on the outcome at all. So I can still speak to them and keep a relatively clear conscience.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

It's 11 PM

As I type this, the Smirking Moron has 197 electoral votes according to CNN, to Kerry's 188. Most western polls are now closed. It's still pretty much a dead heat. Based on what I've seen, we'll have a record turnout today, which may favor Kerry. I hope so.

On that note, we won't know who won definitively for hours, if we find out at all tonight. So I'm going to bed.

In the morning, if it turns out that Kerry has indeed pulled it out, I'll know because the sun will seem a little brighter, the sky a little bluer, and the birds will be chirping a little louder. The world will hopefully be on it's way to being a better place.

On the other hand, Florida and Ohio are both kind of problematic, and Kerry probably will need one of those two to win.

In other news

The WWE released Billy Gunn, A-Train, and Test yesterday. Gunn was no surprise - it was generally known in the business that he was having "issues" (which usually means either drinking or drug problems) and he hadn't been on TV in months.

I was more surprised with the other two. Test had been a fairly reliable big man for them for a long time, was recovering from neck surgery, and was also known for being Stacy Kiebler's real-life SO. A-Train (Peabody's own Matt Bloom) was a pretty reliable big guy as well who was a solid heel character. But since getting moved over to Raw this spring he'd been all but invisible. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any room for heels that aren't part of Triple H's faction on Raw.

Why did I just write that? Because, frankly, I'm sick of writing about real sports and politics. Effective tomorrow, I'm going to try and shift my focus back to the mundane and the technical, saving my soapbox for the truly important stuff. It's more fun that way.

But I will rant about the election a little bit first. We voted early today, and turnout was very heavy. Hopefully that's a good sign.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Life goes on

Meanwhile, with the loss to Pittsburgh yesterday, the Patriots have returned to reality. I don't think any team will equal their 21-game streak any time in the immediate future - in fact, given the parity in the NFL it could well never happen again. Right now, their concern though should be hoping Dillon, Law, and Samuel are healthy enough to go next weekend.

In other sports news, a tempest is brewing on talk radio over Kevin Millar's comments about downing a shot before the last few games. If I ever run into him in a bar, I'll take matters into my own hands...

And buy him a shot. Thanks for winning the title, guys - ignore the people who whine about "oh, it's such a terrible example for young ballplayers" and crap like that. You're adults. Booze is legal. Whoopdee-doo.

In other booze-related news, I was in Cambridge today to help a client with a MacOS X Server migration. The best part was (other than getting paid) was that on the way home I was able to stop at the Memorial Drive Trader Joe's and pick up a case of assorted Charles Shaw wines. Affectionately known among wine people as "Two-buck Chuck" (though here on the East Coast it actually costs $3), Shaw sells a full array of wines through Trader Joe's, and has a terrific reputation for a good product at a drop-dead price. A case should last us most of the year unless we have a big party.

Another Halloween has passed here - we went to the Welch's house for trick-or-treating like we did last year (see the old pics on David's site for the history). This year he went as the Cowardly Lion. Actually, he was supposed to just be a lion, but he turned into a big wuss when we got there and we had trouble getting his costume on him. After a while, he accepted it and we were able to head out, though getting him to keep the lion head part on was a struggle. He scored lots of candy. Again. But we kept the sugar overload as light as possible.

Despite that, he was still up about every two hours last night, so we both got very little sleep. Tonight'll be an early night for sure.

The other X-factor about how long the case will last: if the Smirking Moron gets re-appointed to the Presidency, I may chug about half the case tomorrow night.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Day 2 - yep, it's real

This morning, there was nothing on the news services about Game 5, and nothing about the trophy being taken back.

We still won. Holy smokes!

Last night felt almost empty, though, with no baseball on TV. On the other hand, I had too much work to do to watch it, anyways - I had to get Jane's file cabinet assembled, and I picked up a Linksys wireless repeater at Staples to give us enough signal boost to the basement that I wouldn't have to rewire the Ethernet drop. Getting the repeater to work was a major pain in the tail - the setup wizard didn't work, and so I had to associate her laptop manually with it (by assigning it a 192.168.1 address), and then do all the programming of it via the web interface. It works well now, but the driver for my iPaq has trouble handling the repeater and locks the iPaq up hard when it associates. The important thing is that both our laptops and the TiVo handle it fine.

I think I figured out what it is about the World Series that seemed almost anticlimactic. The Yankees series was four straight games of do-or-die baseball. All but the last game was pretty much a nailbiter. Then, Game 1 of the Series was a tremendous, back-and-forth contest, finally coming out our way thanks to the Bellhorn homer and a Foulke save. And I though afterwards "geez, this series is going to be a struggle".

But then the Sox dominated from there on in, and suddenly a World Series that seemed like it would be epic turned into a blowout. It's almost like I didn't have the time to get wound up by it.

Right now, though, I'm debating whether to go into Boston tomorrow with David for the parade. I'm leaning about 3-1 against it, but if we have a nice day outside I could change my mind.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Wow.

The Red Sox are world champs. The scary thing is that after last week, it was almost anticlimactic. Even the partying going on outside my house seems a little more subdued.

However, given that it's been 86 years since the last World Series win, I went upstairs just before the top of the 9th and brought David back down with me to see the end. That way, even if it never happens again in our lifetime, someday he can tell his kids that he saw it when the Sox finally won it all.

The big question for me is "now what?" I'm still a fan through and through, but part of the Sox aura was based on two things; the eternal struggle to beat the Yankees, and the eternal failure to win it all. Well, now we've done both in a week's time. Are the Sox now just another team with good management and a big payroll?

I don't know. It's too existential for me right now. I think I'll just go to bed.

Smiling.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Well, well.

Three down, one to go. I'm terrified.

Besides that, the latest developments in the business world involve some shuffling. The big project I booked Monday is going to slide southward a few weeks - no looking at a likely December start rather than a November start for the bulk of it. The good side of that, though, is that I was starting to wonder just how I'd be able to get all the projects done that were coming on for November, so now some of that time pressure is off. I won't make quite as much in the short term, but I'll keep busy longer overall and I'll keep my sanity better for a while. Which is good.

Lately David's been rather contrarian. It's the toddler thing. But more interestingly, he gets all eager to go to school in the morning, but then he latches on to Jane before we get in the car to leave, and then he really gets clingy when I take him in. Today, he ran the length of the building to get to school (exclaiming "I running to school!"), ran in and straight to his classroom, but then he started crying when I was getting ready to leave. Weird.

Anyhow, there's a fairly busy afternoon lined up in front of me so I better get to it. Hopefully my next entry will be really cheerful and have a datestamp from around midnight tonight.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Running in place

Well, yesterday I signed up a new customer for a major project. This is a Good Thing. However, right now I am also:

- attending my user group meetings.
- helping Jane prep her new home office (in the basement) for her new job that she started yesterday.
- wiring. Lots of wiring (2 phone lines and a network port).
- staying up until the wee hours every night for the Sox games.
- dealing with David, who has been very difficult the last few days.
- trying to just plain keep up with everything else.

It ain't easy, I'll tell you all that. Ugh.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Tonight's sports thoughts

I'll resume posting on more mundane topics in a few days, honest. Meanwhile...

It's the top of the 7th as I type this. Things are looking good, I hope - but I'd really like to have another run or two in. Then I'd feel downright confident.

Combined with a Pats win this afternoon, this could be one of the all-time great Sunday sports days here in Boston.

As for the rest of the NFL, this may have been my worst day ever when it comes to picking. None of my hunches paid off, and after a sweep of my pools three weeks ago, I've been just awful since. Destiny, I guess.

Otherwise, I don't care about basketball, I don't really miss hockey, and there's allegedly soccer playoffs going on right now, but I haven't noticed.

(Embree just logged a strikeout)

I appreciate stock car racing more than I used to, since I learned a little more about it. I know who the top drivers are, and a little bit about the sport itself. I know what a restrictor plate is. And I know what a short track is, too. But just because I know Kurt Busch is the points leader (and that he won both of the races in New Hampshire this year) doesn't mean it's that important to me.

(another K for Embree)

Basically, sports for me mean two things - Baseball and Football. Specifically, the pro versions of both - but I could go to a minor league stadium in some town I've never seen before, watch a game with two teams I know nothing about, and still have a great time watching the game. I only watch football games if they have the Patriots or Giants in it. And usually just the Pats.

(Embree just struck out the side, and Donna Summer is singing now)

Oh yeah - the Tour de France is wicked cool, too. So is the America's Cup, and some of the stuff they do at the Winter Olympics.

But first and foremost is the Red Sox. And we are now six outs away from taking a 2-0 lead before heading to St. Louis on Tuesday. Hold your breath, Red Sox Nation, and I'll see you all tomorrow.

And if you're still here after all that, two things: one, I posted new pictures of David in the usual place. Go get 'em. And two, if you're looking for a good notebook computer value (and you missed last week's $750 off Dell deal), look at the just-upgraded Apple iBook. Processor speeds are now up to a 1.33 GHz G4 (and now with more L2 cache), and AirPort Extreme (802.11g) is now standard. Prices also dropped, with the entry model at $999. However, if you are following the Tiger development process - the iBook is still not using a CoreGraphics-compatible GPU. But it's fine for everyday use and low-end gaming. Go get one. Now.

One down...

Three to go. What a pitcher's duel, eh?

And is there a rule now that all Mark Bellhorn's homers have to hit the pole?

Actually, it wasn't too bad on Wakefield's part. His knuckler was pretty lively, but the wind was helping make it excessively so. Knuckleballs are pretty random pitches at the best of times. The big news to me was just how bad Woody Williams was tonight - I expected him to be a lot tougher. If the rest of the Cardinals' starters are like that, it's going to get ugly. I don't think that'll be the case, though.

And Manny's two errors were both of the hard-luck variety more than the "bad defense" type. I missed Arroyo's wild throw - I was in the other room and they didn't show a replay. Overall, Fox's coverage is leaving something to be desired.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Recharging

Last night I went to bed at 9:30. I didn't wake up until almost 8 today. I'm just about back to normal now.

And the Cardinals are coming to Fenway tomorrow night. Should be good. Even though they won the most games of anybody this year, I fear them less than I feared the Astros - The Cardinals starters are decent, not great (as opposed to Houston, with the Clemens Factor), and outside of Pujols, their offense isn't spectacular. They're just a good, solid, fundamentally sound team who got to beat up on a lot of NL weakness this year. Edmonds and Rolen have good power, too, but they are less dangerous than Pujols. Their best starter is Jeff Suppan, who couldn't even make the Sox postseason roster last year and was released after the season.

The two key question marks for Boston: First, how will Wakefield perform in Game 1 tomorrow, after dazzling the Yankees for three innings his last time out? And second, will letting Ortiz play first in the away games hurt them more than it helps? On the other hand, can the Cardinals overcome what is, on paper, a much more potent attack offensively from Boston, and can their starters go deep into the games to minimize the bullpen exposure?

Whatever - right now I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that the Red Sox take it in 6. And the Yankees will start referring to their plight as the Curse of Alex Rodriguez.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

I feel like my legs are made of jello right now

Really. It's amazing, what seeing the greatest comeback in the history of any major professional sport can do to you. But as a Sox diehard, I didn't stop worrying until the last out was in the books.

They managed to surprise everyone, least of all me. Read back a few days. I wrote them off when Schilling went down in Game 1. Little did I realize that David Ortiz would carry them on his back for two days, that Derek Lowe would rediscover his professional career, that Johnny Damon would break out of an ALCS-long slump with a grand slam, and that Schilling would get his shredded ankle sewn shut and dominate the Yankees.

I stand corrected, and I'm happy to say so. Now let's see who comes to Fenway on Saturday night.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

A region hits the "pause" button

It seems like all New England is on "pause", not just me. People seem tense as they walk the halls here at the Cummings Center. There's something in the air that's got everyone on edge. Red Sox Nation is holding it's collective breath.

Ironically, tonight there's a lot less pressure on the Sox than there is on the Yankees. The Sox are the ones who should have gone home days ago. After that pounding Saturday, it should have all been over. But somehow they managed to win two extra-inning nailbiters to stay alive, and last night Curt Schilling arguably joined the Pantheon by pitching all the life out of the Yankees with his ankle literally sewn together.

There's plenty of time for surgery later. There's plenty of time for sleep afterwards. What matters right now is that the World Series starts Saturday night, at the AL ballpark. And here's hoping it's Fenway.

Holy $#!+

I did not expect this. I'll freely admit it. But I'm really looking forward to Game 7 tomorrow night.

After all, the Sox just became the first team in history to force a Game 7 after being down 3-0. What's one more?

Monday, October 18, 2004

The real division in our country

There's a terrific article in this week's New York Times Magazine(registration required, link will die after a week or so) that sums up how the people in our country are truly divided. And though it's about food on the surface, it's really about America.

By the way, in case you didn't guess it from the article, I'm definitely a Barista's person.

Quoth the Kinkster

As heard on Imus this morning while I drove to a meeting out in Gloucester:

"When you die, your last check should bounce"

I am such a huge admirer of Kinky's...

Also up: the Sox live another day. I'm glad we at least avoided the sweep. I didn't watch most of last night's game, and I'll miss most of this afternoon's as well - I have two proposals to write, and I desperately need a nap soon as well - not a lot of sleep the last couple of days. David's been restless the last few nights, and I had to get up early (5 AM!) yesterday for the final MIT Flea of the season. Sold pretty much all the major stuff I brought, though.

I don't listen every day, but Al Franken's radio show has improved a lot since he first went on the air this past spring.

The Pats have become to football what the Yankees are to baseball. Professionals who sublimate their egos into the larger goal and the team as a whole. Though I hate the Yankees, you have to admire the way they run the organization - and they take guys who were considered cancers on other teams (cough-Gary Sheffield-cough) and turn them into valuable teammates who do and say all the right things. Joe Torre can't get enough credit for handling them the right way, and every player should wish they could be Derek Jeter, even for a minute.

Up here, we have the Pats filling a similar role. But the Yankees have the bottomless pocketbook that keeps them on top year after year, while the Patriots have to contend with the salary cap and the NFL's deliberate goal of parity. Which makes their sustained excellence over the last three and-a-half years all the more amazing. To have held an NFL team at and near the top for this long is an impressive feat - even in 2002 when they missed the playoffs, they still had a winning record and missed out on defending their title through a tiebreaker.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Perspective

At least the Twins won game 1 of their series. And at least the Sox didn't get our hopes up only to have them dashed in game 7.

No, we were out of this from the end of the first inning of game 1 - like I said, unfortunately, back when it happened. No team has ever come back from 3-0, and we're not going to be an exception. When Schilling got hurt, they gave up. The rest of this series is a formality.

We'll see what the makeup of this club is next season, but obviously this one just didn't have what it took if they depended on one guy so much. I think we were all fooled a bit by that streak in August, but think of it this way - every time towards the end of the season that they got close, the Yankees pulled just a little bit out of their tank to stay in front. It was a tease.

Why am I up this early? I'm headed to the MIT Flea - last one of the season. There's time for sleep when I come home.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Mixed blessings

Some of David's crayons have vanished. Well, tonight I found one.

After wandering about this afternoon on some errands with the lad, we went home and I started preparing a tray of nachos. I turned the oven on to pre-heat while I worked, and David hung out by my side and scrounged a chip and a couple of little bits of cheese as I worked.

Then, he poked me in the leg - and when I looked down at him he pointed to the oven and said "look, daddy - candles!"

I looked. There was a fire blazing in the oven.

I grabbed the extinguisher, but was able to put it out without having to use it. Turned out we found one of the crayons. After letting the oven cool and cleaning it out, I was able to resume and make dinner, but that was one scary freaking moment.

So the good part is he spotted it and so I was able to take care of it quickly. The bad part is we have a latch on that oven - I have no idea how he got that crayon in there.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

The bright side

At least we're unlikely to get as caught up in a Game 7 fuss this year. All the wind went out of the Sox's sails when Schilling got hurt, and I doubt that friendly Fenway will be much better for them. Maybe we win one of the next two - two if we're really lucky. I still think we're toast, though (I would love to be wrong about it). Pedro pitched well after he settled down, and 116 pitches is warrior-esque for him, but this was likely his last start in a Boston uniform. He still wants #1 starter money, and he's not going to get that here.

In fact, the only must-sign of all the free agents I can think of is Jason Varitek. Offensively, he's streaky as anything, but he's great at handling a staff and he's the soul of this team. I'd hope to re-sign Cabrera, too - I like his defense and he's a respectable hitter. Signing Lowe would be OK, but at short money only. He has to show that he's worth more than he currently deserves - if I were in his shoes, I'd sign a one-year deal with an option for whatever I could get, then pitch my way to a bigger contract. But that probably won't happen with Scott Boras as his agent. If Pedro would accept #2 money, he'd be a definite keeper - despite his woes in September, he pitched two very solid starts in the postseason, started to show signs of more velocity, and managed to not miss a scheduled start for the first time in years. He's in that phase right now where he's learning how to get by with a little less fastball and a lot more guile - and Pedro is such a smart ballplayer that I figure it'll work out for him.

The debates are over. Yay. With any luck now, the most divisive president in modern history (and I thought Clinton was polarizing...) will be toast in three weeks. I genuinely fear what will happen to this nation in four more years of a Bush administration.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Sober baseball thoughts

After Game 1 has gone into the record books, I stand by my first statement: if Schilling is done, so are the Sox. The good news is that under the circumstances, the bullpen was reasonably effective (the runs Wakefield gave up were almost what you'd expect after all his time off - better now than in his next start), and after the offense finally sputtered to life, they nearly made up the entire deficit in only three innings. Mussina turned mortal again quickly - a good indicator if they have to face him again. Tom Gordon was quite hittable. And Mariano Rivera has looked mortal throughout the Twins series, and he did last night as well. He never used to be a "let a few runners on, then wiggle out of it" pitcher - he was dominant once, and he hasn't been for a while now.

So if Schilling will be OK to go this weekend, it could still turn out in our favor. If not, I just don't see how the pitching matchups can work for us.

I'll be in Cambridge pretty much all day at a client site. Which is good, since I get paid for it...

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Analysis from Mr. Baseball

If Curt Schilling is hurt, it's all over. We have no chance.

To explain this better, one of the matchup givens is that Schilling is a dominant number 1 starter - making Pedro a luxury at the 2 spot. The 3 and 4 matchups are more even. And the Yankees were teeing off on Schilling tonight over the three innings he was in. It wasn't just a bad night - he had no velocity and little command. That means he's probably hurt worse than he let on. A lot worse. It's unlikely he could make another start, I suspect, if he's really hurting.

So with Game 1 a likely lost cause, it's all on Pedro tomorrow night. Not to mention that the Sox offense has come out completely flat so far. Oh boy.

If this ain't the year, it's probably not going to happen in my lifetime. Maybe David will get to see a title in his. If all goes well, he should at least make it into the 2080s...
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