Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Random Football Rant

Ok, given that I'm a relatively new convert to football, I really don't have much right to start making critiques, but hey, what are blogs for, if not making critiques that you're not qualified to make?

Call me crazy, but my understanding of timeouts is that each team has a few opportunities to stop the clock and have some additional time to prepare themselves for the upcoming play. They're meant as tactical tools, and to be separate from the play action. Yet they seem to be used more and more as part of the strategic game play, either to draw out the last 2 to 3 minutes of the game in a completely artificial and unnatural way, or in the half-second before the opposing team starts a big play for the sole purpose of messing with their heads. Yes yes, I know teams should use all the tools in their kit to win the game, but come on.

As the talking heads have reminded us at least a million times, in order to overturn the outcome of the play, there must be indisputable evidence that the call on the field was wrong. I just watched some refs take 5 minutes to review a play. Memo to refs: if you have to take 5 minutes to determine whether a call is right or wrong, then chances are it's not indisputable as the spirit of your rule suggests. I know that lately your motto has been "Get it Right", but if that's really going to be the case, then you need to do away with the "Indisputable Evidence" rule, and move towards codifying what's already happening in practice: namely that the real refs are up in the booth, and that the men on the field are just their as a speedy convenience when the booth isn't needed.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Holy Cow, It's ... THE BIRD!!

There's a big lake behind the building that I work in, which at any given time is home to a large number of seagulls, ducks, Canadian geese, and two really big birds that I had a faint idea were Herons, but never really bothered to look up and know for sure. Usually we just refer to them as "The Birds".

But this afternoon, as I put together my daily MSNBC jigsaw puzzle, I came to the realization that today's puzzle subject was none other than The Bird! Apparently it really is a heron, the Great Blue Heron, and happens to be the largest heron in North America.

You have no idea how excited I am.

Stupid People: Tasteless Jokes Edition

If you haven't heard about the MagicNegroGate scandal yet (now there's a sentence I never thought I'd write), the basic gist is that Chip Saltsman, a high ranking Republican politician who's trying to become the next head of the Republican National Committee and the de facto leader of the GOP for the next 4 years, decided to send his colleagues a CD with the song "Barrack the Magic Negro" as a Christmas gift.

As you might imagine, this has not been particularly well received by most people. For his part, Saltsman insists that the CD, titled We Hate the USA, is clearly satire, and was supposed to be funny.

Two Things:
1) There is a big difference between supposed to be funny, and actually funny. This song is funny in a Don Imus kind of way; you can see how it could be funny to some people, but only if you take a pretty perverse view of the subject already. Plus, there's the sheer boneheadedness of the move: was there really no nagging voice in the back of Saltsman's mind that this might not be a particularly bright idea, that he didn't need this hanging over his head during his campaign to become head of the RNC?

2) Completely separate from Saltsman's boneheadedness is the complete general cluelessness of what's left of the GOP base. Even a few years ago, the party's response would have been something along the lines of: "Look, it was a stupid thing to do, but ultimately harmless ... we're keeping you around cause we like you, but not in a leadership position where you'll just be an embarrassment." Indeed, that's what actually happened a few years ago when the GOP removed Trent Lott from his Senate leadership post after he said the country would have been better off if Strom Thurmand had won the presidency on a segregationist platform.

But that's not what's happening this time: instead, people are rallying around Saltsman, the mere fact that somebody somewhere said it was a dumb thing to do is now the single most important reason to support him, and anyone who disagrees is now an enemy who must be defeated.

Steven Bennen sums up my thoughts nicely:
So, to summarize, a leading candidate to lead the Republican National Committee promoted a song calling the next president a "magic negro." This has improved his chances of getting the job.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sunday Cat Blogging

Lucy recovers the way cats recover best: by finding a warm cozy spot and wedging herself into it.
And what, exactly, was Lucy recovering from, you ask? Well, she had to spend a week with these two: Meet Sullivan "Kitty Beast" Henry (left) and Cosmo "Razz Matazz" Heberlein (right), Brandon's and Katie's cats. While Cosmo and Lucy don't really mind each other, Kitty Beast does not appreciate the presence of other cats, and does not hesitate to make his displeasure known. When he wasn't jumping at the window trying to attack Socks (the neighbors' cat who likes us better), he was growling, hissing, attacking, and doing his best to make life as difficult as possible for Lucy. Needless to say, whenever Lucy slept, she did so with one eye open, and didn't get much rest, hence the exhaustion.

Of course, even troublesome Kitty Beasts have photogenic moments. Here's Sullivan showing off his ferocious tree-eating skills:

Random Travel Thoughts

Well, I'm back home in Richmond. I tried a new route back home this time; rather than taking 83 to Baltimore and then 95 around DC to Richmond, I took 81 south to Staunton and then 64 over to Richmond. Basically, I decided to go this way because even though it adds over 100 miles to the trip, it completely bypasses NOVA, which is bad anytime, but particularly bad during any holiday travel time. In that respect it worked, but it was still a miserable trip.

To start out, we had fog. LOTS of fog. Can't see more than 50 feet in front of you fog.
Then I finally broke through the front barrier, which meant no more fog, but also meant that the temperature jumped 20 degrees from 37 to 57, and stayed there. Ugh.

The 200 miles on 81 south felt like it took forever, but the worst part of the trip was definitely my sinuses. For whatever reason (and I have several hypotheses), I always get a cold when I go up north to my parents place, and usually my asthma starts to act up too. This time was no exception, so I was driving last night with a stuffed up nose and sinuses. I had a bunch of tissues with me, and most of the trip wasn't so bad, but when I went over the mountain just west of Charlottesville and then came down, the pressure difference was too much for my sinuses to handle. Something clogged, and I found myself unable to breath out of my nose, and with my left ear feeling like it was going to explode. Trying to blow my nose only made it worse. UGH. I was like this for 80 minutes, until finally, just after getting to Richmond, my ear finally popped and the pressure equalized. Even so, I felt miserable.

Today I'm taking it easy, doing some laundry, some vacuuming, watching some football (will the Lions go 0-16?), and sustaining myself with oranges and green tea with honey.

Saturday, December 27, 2008


We had an earthquake last night, right around midnight. It was only a 3.3 on the Richter scale, and everybody's fine, but still pretty weird.

There was a quick jolt, then the house shook for a few seconds as everything settled back into place, and then a bunch of people poking their heads out of their rooms wondering what the heck just happened. The cats weren't quite as calm as the rest of us ... Cosmo freaked out and ran full speed into a door. Dumb cat.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Irony is a Cruel Mistress

You know, a year ago, the most I knew about football was that it happened on Monday night, and that the Philadelphia Eagles is the team I'm supposed to root for.

Fast forward to today. I have no idea how it happened, but I actually find myself missing the fall football season, even though it isn't even technically over yet.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Non-Denominational Generic Winter Holiday!

Or, if you're a Christian who feels threatened when people the term "happy holidays", I suppose I can wish you a Merry Christmas as well. I once got into a very long argument with one of my friends about this whole subject, about whether I could still 'celebrate' along with everyone else or whether I had to do something else. In order to satisfy her I think I eventually settled on officially celebrating the Winter Solstice, just doing it a few days later so it happened to coincide with everyone else's celebration. Aaaaaaaaaaanyway....

Phew, Christmas was work this year. Between Mom and Dad being sick, 3 cats that don't like each other, last minute Christmas Eve shopping, a birthday dinner, and two family Christmas parties (alas, the second was Katie's SO, not mine, *sigh), all the wrapping etc, and my mother freaking out over Will having a sip of amaretto, I'm officially exhausted.

Sleep soon...

Friday, December 19, 2008

Blog Dump

Ok, lots of things that I've been meaning to blog about, but didn't, and now have.

The Minnesota Senate race just gets more and more interesting. Out of millions cast, Coleman now leads Franken by two votes. And this is before the improperly rejected absentee ballots are counted. I say 'improperly rejected' because everyone acknowledges that they're valid votes, but Coleman, for whatever reason, doesn't think that they should be counted.

I'm cautiously in favor of the proposed compromise on the auto bailout, which is to provide gov't funding for the Big 3 while they go into bankruptcy. What a lot of people don't realize is that Chapter 11 bankruptcy, ie classic bankruptcy that would allow the firms to operate as their operations are sold off to other firms, isn't an option this time because the credit markets that support Chap11 aren't available. This would result in a Chapter 9 bankruptcy, where all the workers are laid off, assets are sold in a simple liquidity exercise, and everyone loses. Not good. If we can use the bailout money to make bankruptcy work like it's supposed to, that's good.

Rick Warren. Don't know exactly what to think. One the one hand it's symbolic. On the other, it's a symbolic slap in the face. Hmph.

Paying executives' bonuses with the toxic assets they helped create actually seems like pretty poetic justice to me. Since people don't have margin calls, if the assets are ok then the execs are rich, if not then they suffer with the rest of us.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Not the Best Sunday

The Cinncinatti Bengals beat the Washington Redskins.
The Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Baltimore Ravens.
The Dallas Cowboys beat the NY Giants.

Also, Monday is the 15th of December. Monday is also supposed to have a high of 70 degrees.

*sigh, on the other hand, I got a lot of baking done today and have a purring cat in my lap. Not all bad I suppose.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Stupid Parking

I would just like to say that it's really stupid we've designed a transportation system that's entirely dependent on people driving more cars than the city can handle.

Thursday, December 11, 2008