Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Grape Lady

When I need to be cheered up I just watch Grape Lady. Actually I used to watch Grape Lady. Unfortunately the video is no longer available because Fox is flexing its copyright muscle. Luckily YouTube has lots of other videos to waste time on (see above).

Thursday, October 11, 2007

BU Football

This is scanned from last Sunday's Boston Globe. Boston University cut football on Homecoming weekend in 1997. Obviously there are still some very strong feelings about this. The ad got me thinking how the players, alumni, coaches, parents and others involved must have felt when their collective mission disappeared. I don't have time to write about that but may in the future.


Today's Boston Herald had a short article [link] by Karen Guregian explaining Patriots cornerback Asante Samuel's tattoo that reads "Get Rich To This." Turns out it is a quote from a Gnarls Barkley song. Samuel interprets it to mean that he will make the best out of whatever he is doing and put everything he has into it.

Samuel took a lot of heat about the tattoo after someone wrote that it said "Get Paid" and was referring to his contract status. It didn't even say that. Quite a misconception and it reminded me of another media misconception that spiraled out of control about No. 81.

A few years ago Randy Moss was quoted saying "I play when I want to play." This sounds like a terribly selfish thing to say. Well Moss did say that but it he didn't mean it the way you think.

The question asked by Sid Hartman of the Minneapolis Star & Tribune was, "Does Cris Carter get you pumped up to play games?" The full answer was actually "No, I play when I wanna play...nobody gets Randy Moss pumped up but Randy Moss."

You can figure it out yourself.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Fantasy baseball season comes down to one reality decision

I played in a head-to-head, weekly fantasy baseball league through this year. The league was based on points and had negative stats, which made it really interesting. For instance, a pitcher getting a win was worth 10; a loss was -5. It was the first time I ever had a fantasy baseball league. Ten guys from work all threw in $100 (except one guy, who only threw in $10, then disappeared). So there was $910 up for grabs at the end of 26 weeks – a 24-week regular season and a final four playoff. The split was 700/200/100.

My team, called the Paper Boys, finished second in the league with a 16-8 record and played Detroit Rock City (also 16-8) in the semifinals of the playoffs. The other semifinal matchup was Freakshow (20-4) against the Ice Men (14-10).

With the money up for grabs, I became completely obsessed with my fantasy baseball team during the semifinals. If I won the semis, I was guaranteed $200. If I lost, the most I could get was $100 and I could end up with nothing. I sat on my couch in front of my TV watching any baseball game that was on. They all seemed to matter. Tim Hudson pitched seven shutout innings, then came out for the eighth and gave up three runs and took the loss. I almost cried. Tears of rage. I threw all the papers off my coffee table onto the floor. That asshole could have gotten me 39 points if he left the game instead of coming out for the eighth inning. I was sitting with my laptop in my lap, checking box scores of other games. I was refreshing my fantasy baseball score every minute. Did Aaron Harang get the win? Detroit Rock City picked up Chris Capuano on the last day of the week and I watched in horror as he pitched a gem. But his bullpen failed and Capuano got the no decision.

Detroit Rock City was run by a pouty guy that worked downstairs from me. He refused to talk to me during the playoffs. At first he I thought he was joking, but as the week wore on it became serious. He wouldn't return my phone calls and he avoided going near my office. He was really mad when I beat him 476-425. He came around when he won the consolation round and got $100.

The other semifinal was also interesting and I was obsessed with watching those scores also. Freakshow was a master of exploiting the nuances of the league rules. He would add and drop players depending on who was playing that day. It wasn't really like running a baseball team, it was a transaction contest. I've never met the man but I don't like him. He might be a priest for all I know, but I don't like him because of his fantasy baseball tactics.

But during the playoffs, Freakshow's moves backfired. He picked up pitchers who bonked. His batters took rest days. The Ice Men beat Freakshow at his own game, 484-358. The Ice Men were run by a friend of mine who also works in my building. We wasted a lot of time talking about fantasy baseball at work. It's an explicit violation of the rules of our work place to do fantasy baseball because it's considered gambling. It should be a violation because people spend so many work hours agonizing over a fake baseball team.

The Paper Boys were in the finals against the Ice Men. I definitely thought I had a better team, but the Ice Men kept making roster moves to pick up different guys. It was almost impossible to predict what players would perform during the last week of the season. Young pitchers were shutting it down. September call-ups were getting tons of playing time. Old guys were getting surgery. Contenders were resting for the playoffs. It was all luck.

Going into the final day of the season, the Ice Men were up on the Paper Boys 468-464. It was an incredible soap opera. My eyes shifted continuously between the baseball game on TV and the box scores on my computer. I read as many online articles as possible to try to figure out if Albert Pujols was playing that day. He did, and went 0-5. Damn.

The final day was incredible. Barry Zito pitched well for the Ice Men. Chase Utley turned two double plays. The Paper Boys' great performance came in a night game. The fantasy week was so tight that everything hinged on my final starting pitcher of the season, Seattle's Felix Hernandez. This guy caused me major heartburn during the season. He pitched a one-hitter against the Red Sox in April, then went on the DL, pitched poorly, then started to come around. Now his team was out of playoff contention and it was the final day of the season. I had no idea what was going to happen. But he was amazing. He mowed down the Rangers. After eight innings he had allowed just a few hits, had eight strikeouts and was looking great.

I was praying for Hernandez to pitch the ninth. It was a night game in Seattle, so I was sitting at my computer watching the gamecast around 1 a.m. That's where you sit there watching the stats update continuously. I was feeling pathetic but there was a lot of money on the line so I couldn't think about sleep. Hernandez came out for the ninth inning. I was sure I was going to win with a Hernandez complete game. He got the first two outs no problem. Then the gamecast wouldn't update. I was hitting refresh but nothing was happening.

I was in a state of shock when I realized what happened: a pitching change. That asshole Seattle manager took out Hernandez so he could get the standing ovation, and he was bringing in the Ice Men's closer, JJ Putz, so he could get an ovation too. I was giving the Seattle manager the middle finger. Actually I was giving my computer the middle finger, but it was directed at one John MacLaren. With one more out, Hernandez would have scored 50 fantasy points. Instead he got 38. Putz got the out and got a save, good for seven points for the Ice Men. I thought I was going to puke. If Hernandez stayed in and got that last out, the Paper Boys would have won the week, 532-521. Instead the Ice Men took a 528-520 victory. With that one decision John MacLaren decided who would win the Boston Baseball League.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Question by Sheila Jon Pritchard

This poem is by Sheila Jon Pritchard. It is published somewhere, and I'll try to figure that out and post a link to buy the book.

Trying to write about my life and how I came to love poetry is like trying to structure a London fog. I suppose I have to thank my eccentric parents for this because they taught the family nothing about reality. We were only invited to ask questions. This we did by creating our own family plays. I, being the youngest, was assigned only to minor roles, always fumbling my lines. Our scripts were saturated with imponderables like, why are we here? Who are we? I told my father I knew the answer. I found it one night while talking to God. "You couldn't have," he informed me. "He doesn't exist. He died in the eighteenth century. In England."


Who shot the bullet into the heart of the world?
Where are the secret saboteurs who stab the will,
shatter resolve, choke the life flow in a single thrust?

Where do these destroyers hide, these inconsequentials
who power nothingness into the seat of God
In you? In me?

Does the massacre begin at home?
A silent grievance, a flush of humiliation,
a slight forgotten,
or so you thought!

Does the blood spurt from a ruptured belief,
a man lost in the bewilderment of the age,
a woman betrayed?
Or does it birth in the seed of a child
planted and nurtured in a world
kidnapped by its own fear?

Sheila Jon Pritchard

Monday, October 01, 2007

Franklin Park

This is Nick's painting titled "Franklin Park". Check out his blog for many more

Top 10 Musical Artists/Bands

John Lennon/The Beatles
Johnny Cash
Elvis Costello
The Wallflowers
Ben Folds
Guns N' Roses
Bob Dylan
Stevie Ray Vaughan
Counting Crows
The Rolling Stones

Daylight saving all year...

This web site has a lot of great information and some really hilarious anecdotes about daylight saving time. Note: daylight saving time is when it's lighter later, like in the summer. Daylight standard time is in the winter.

Example that I find funny: "When the clocks fall back one hour in October, all Amtrak trains in the U.S. that are running on time stop at 2:00 a.m. and wait one hour before resuming. Overnight passengers are often surprised to find their train at a dead stop and their travel time an hour longer than expected."

The web site explains the history of daylight saving (not daylight savings) and clarifies a lot of misconceptions. Daylight saving was originally Ben Franklin's idea but Londoner William Willett was the first person to really advocate for it. That was in 1907 with his pamphlet "Waste Of Daylight." The first time daylight saving was enacted on a wide-spread basis was during World War II in an effort to save energy and resources. Many people think that daylight saving goes back much further and the farmers need it for some reason (Personally, I thought this was because farmers liked getting up early and wanted the sun to be out).

The following two paragraphs from the web exhibits site seem to me to be enough reason to justify extending daylight saving time to the winter months.

Following the 1973 oil embargo, the U.S. Congress extended Daylight Saving Time to 8 months, rather than the normal six months. During that time, the U.S. Department of Transportation found that observing Daylight Saving Time in March and April saved the equivalent in energy of 10,000 barrels of oil each day - a total of 600,000 barrels in each of those two years.

Likewise, in 1986, Daylight Saving Time moved from the last Sunday in April to the first Sunday in April. No change was made to the ending date of the last Sunday in October. Adding the entire month of April to Daylight Saving Time is estimated to save the U.S. about 300,000 barrels of oil each year.

And in a good policy change by George W. Bush, we're getting closer to the goal! Also from the web site:

On August 8, 2005, President George W. Bush signed the Energy Policy Act of 2005. This Act changed the time change dates for Daylight Saving Time in the U.S. Beginning in 2007, DST will begin on the second Sunday in March and end the first Sunday in November. The Secretary of Energy will report the impact of this change to Congress. Congress retains the right to resume the 2005 Daylight Saving Time schedule once the Department of Energy study is complete.

My hope is that the country will save a lot of energy and thus justify moving to daylight saving on a year-round basis. I just want it to be light when I get out of work.