Thursday, February 26, 2009

Bad timing

I had a ton of marked, unread messages in my inbox. It turns out that my monthly bills (utilities, etc.) and my big bills ended up on the same pay cycle. Not sure how that happened, but it sucked. At least my paycheck's already cleared.

Of course, it could be a lot worse, but hey, focus on the problems you have, don't worry about the ones you don't ...

Monday, February 23, 2009

Denial, thy name is Fehr

Fehr rejects drug-use suspicion talk.

Well, then it must not exist.

On one level, this isn't as dumb as the NHLPA vigorously supporting the "rights" of players like Chris Simon or about half of the Flyers organization. However, you can at least make the argument that there isn't a cry for severe suspensions in hockey. (There is still a substantial percentage of the hockey community that believes that all these incidents would disappear if the NHL would simply remove the instigator penalty. The number of players with 300+ PIM in that era would lead most people to think that this "self-policing" didn't work, but whatever.)

There isn't much of a cry to clean up baseball, and honestly, that is Fehr's real problem. So many prominent players have tested positive that it's beginning to look like track and field or cycling, where you have two groups of athletes: those who've tested positive and those who haven't tested positive yet. The time for fighting suspicion is long past; Fehr should either take steps to clean up the sport or step aside so someone else can. (Wait a minute, a pro union leader acting in the best interests of the entire group. Who am I kidding?)

True, not all runners or cyclists are doping. In fact, many might not be. It's just hard to believe when you see a number of stars following the same pattern ...

  • I would never use drugs, that's completely wrong and I'm totally against it.
  • I don't know where these allegations came from. I will fight them until the very end.
  • I don't know how that happened, but I'll take as many tests as they want to prove it was a bad test.
  • I was young and didn't know what I was doing. I made a mistake. Most of all, I regret not being honest with myself.

See, guys like Fehr don't understand because they don't want to. They don't see that every guy on that list – McGwire, Sosa, Palmeiro, Bonds, Rodriguez, Giambi ... – takes more of our confidence away. Eventually it doesn't matter any more. We'll just assume any spectacular performance is the product of drugs.

Keep it up, Donald. You're doing a heckuva job.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Progress on the ESPN front

Buried at the end of today's ombudsman column on is the following:

I have been remiss in not using this column to relay to ESPN the unanimous dislike my correspondents have expressed for a certain Interactive Tuesday feature employed during college football and basketball games. They have called the top screen scrolls of text messages from viewers silly, bothersome, worthless and "the dumbest, most distracting gimmick I've ever been subjected to." After the Feb. 10 Marquette-Villanova game, fed-up fans of both teams mounted a write-the-ombudsman campaign that outweighed, by far, any mail I received about the A-Rod coverage. Thanks for the feedback, but you can stop now. You have been heard, loud and clear.

Outstanding! Great work, everyone! (I wish I could take credit for the comment she mentions; it sounds like something I submitted, but unfortunately I didn't keep a record of it.)

Now if only ESPN listens ...

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Thank you, past me

You know the sci-fi stories where the protagonist goes backward (or forward) in time and meets his past (or future) self? Or the stories where they don't actually meet, but one leaves something for the other? (Like a note saying Hey dude, this girl is going to stop by your locker tomorrow, but she won't be looking for you. Doesn't matter. Keep her talking till after the bell rings so you both get caught and sent to the principal's office. Keep talking there. Trust me.)

Anyway, this is a little bit like that. Snot monster is waging his annual war on my health. I'm winning, so far, but I can always count on a good battle from him. I'm getting ready for bed, taking my cold medicine, and it occurs to me that I have no Hall's cough drops. Used them all. I search the medicine cabinet anyway, just in case.

It turns out that past me bought cough medicine not too long ago (in other words, it hasn't expired - that happens when you don't get sick often). Hurray past me! Of course, it's mostly an expectorant. What I want is something that'll help when I wake up at 6 AM with a sore throat.

I dig a little further, into the small box in the back that holds random things.

Extra-strength Sucrets. Jackpot!

I love past me. He's a good guy.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Check your hyperbole at the door

Okay, this is getting out of hand.

The Steelers are not a dynasty. They've won one of the last three Super Bowls (note: two words) and two of the last twenty-nine. NOT A DYNASTY.

They are not the greatest franchise ever. (Granted, I don't think much of Fleming's work as it is, but this was an exceptional piece of ... something.) They're not even the best NFL franchise, not by any method at all, unless you're counting "most wins by a team with a logo on only one side of their helmets."

People just need to stop. OMG BEST EVAR OMG should be reserved for sex, and even then, she knows you're lying. But it's a good lie.

Sports? If a team is the best of all time, time will decide that. Lazy sportswriters and athletes with no sense of history are hardly the ones to judge.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Newspapers? What were those?

What do Swiss watchmakers and newspapers have in common?

Soon, they'll have history. As in "banished to history".

The Swiss watchmakers' paradigm is a classic example of failure to react to change, and is most likely to be heard in the context of paradigm paralysis. (You may also have heard this called paradigm shift, but apparently some people believe we shouldn't speak of it that way.)

The idea is that businesses assume that the way things are now is the way they will always be. When things begin to change, they continue to think about the way that things were, and so they fail to adjust to the way things are becoming. Eventually, change overwhelms them, and they are lost to history. (For the Swiss, the problem was the quartz clock. They did not see the need to develop it or patent it, because that's not how they made watches then. They quickly lost their hold on the watch market and have a fraction of the market they used to control.)

Newspapers are in that position now. Once dial-up access became commonplace, people suddenly had access to immediate news: they didn't have to wait for Sunday morning to read about something that happened Saturday night. (Of course, if you ever delivered papers, you learned that sometimes it had to happen by Friday night or Saturday morning to make some parts of the paper.) With broadband access spreading, suddenly people can watch entire stories online. For free.

Some people get this. Some do not. The New York Times, ironically, has an opinion column about micropayments and newspapers. A former editor of Time (old world) believes that micropayments will save newspapers: you see, people will pay little bits of money for content they can easily get for free now because ... because ... right. An author and, um, internet historian, I guess (new world), says otherwise. People don't like to pay for anything. In fact, people get angry if you make them pay for something that used to be free. (See: McDonald's, sauces.)

In fact, let's look at that. Right now, if you go to McD's, you've obviously got questionable taste, and you need to get real food, but let's just play along for the sake of argument. You ask for a couple of extra sauces and they charge you 20 cents. You probably get them anyway because you're accustomed to that amount of sauce and there is no other source of sauce readily available to you.

Now imagine that you go to McD's, they give you one sauce, and you want more, but there's an Arby's next door, and they'll give you all the sauce you want for free, even if you don't order anything from them. (Again, play along, please.) What do you do?

Well, a few people will spend the 20 cents, because it's not worth their time to go next door. But I think most people will go to Arby's. Newspapers will learn this the hard way, I fear. It's pretty hard to justify charging people to read the same stuff they can read in many other places for free ...

Wednesday, February 04, 2009


So. Keep in mind my brush with culinary disaster.

I'm sitting in my living room, happily not charting the Packers/Lions game, when I hear someone in the kitchen programming the microwave.

The cats are in the living room, keeping an eye on me to make sure I don't do anything crazy, like get up. I live alone. (With all my valuables in a safe. guarded by pythons.) The house is not haunted. The only burial ground on this spot would be for the junk piled up from the other lots. (Mine was built last, and apparently that's where they dump all the rocks and stuff from other yards. Thank you, Arbor Homes.)

Right. So I have to get up and investigate this, despite the fact that I have 2/3tg at Bingo.

What is it? Why, nothing, of course. Nothing, except a MALFUNCTIONING KEYPAD. BEEPING HAPPILY. I press reset. It insists. BEEPBEEP.

Sadly, I unplug the dying microwave. I guess I'd better help boost the economy.

But not tonight. It's cold outside, and by cold I mean cold preceded by a seven-letter word that means "very" in this context.

Maybe tomorrow. On the way home from work. How will I eat if I can't heat?


BUT WAIT! It's not dead yet!

I plug it back in. It beeps again. I push my finger randomly around on the keypad. Magically, it stops trying to beep.

I experiment.

Power: 100%
Time: 1:30

no complaints.

Power: 100%
Power: def
Power: 70%
Time: 1:40

no complaints.

Very interesting. So maybe I don't have to make the purchase yet.

Which is good. I calculated that I have about a 1.25-cu ft microwave. Costco doesn't really have one that size in white. (The refrigerator is white. So is this microwave.) Amazon's selection is eh.

we'll see. I'm holding out hope for this one, but if I come home and it's been beeping at my cats again, that'll be it.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


Warning: juvenile humor.

(Also, if you get to the image itself, it may be NSFW. I didn't see it.)


For the last few several days weeks, when I come home, the microwave has been displaying just a lonely dot. It's fairly old, bought with the house, I suppose (the seller left all the appliances for me - bonus!), so I'd guess 10 years. It's just a regular 10-key pad with some presets, but I usually do the timed cook: press cook to cycle through 100%, defrost, 70%, 50%, etc., then enter time and go.

Anyway, if you have cats, you know what that means. Anything small in the house can be blamed on the cats. Naturally, I figured Calle was brushing against the microwave, or even perhaps shocking it just enough to make it do this, even though she takes great pains not to step on anything when she's up there. And it's easy enough to fix. I just press Reset and it's back to normal.

So today, I put pizza in the microwave, go to heat it up, and get this exchange:

Power: 100%period
no no no.
Power: 100%period
Power: 100%period100%period
Power, very lightly: 100%
Power: period.
Power: 100%
Power: def
Power: 70%
Time: period
Power: 100%
Power: def
Power: 70%
Time: 10
no. 4. not 0. 4.
Power: 100%
Power: def
Power: 70%
Time: 1




back away quickly

sigh of relief.

As you might guess, I do a lot of "cooking" in the microwave. I don't particularly want to get a new one, because that would mean a) dumping this one on somebody and b) venturing into a store to check them out before I order one from Amazon. I suppose I could go to Costco for that too, but no way in hell am I going to Best Buy or hhgregg (home of the worst made-up word ever, hhgdigital) or wherever. no. Not even to comparison-shop.

Maybe I can put it off until the financial crisis settles down a little. Or maybe I should go now while most retailers have the fear of God in them.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Listing slightly to starboard

Or port. I can't remember, I don't drink any more.

ha ha.

I was working on my homework – discussion can be very difficult for me at times because it's tough for me to focus sometimes on subjective work, and unfortunately virtually all of my work is subjective right now – when I noticed something odd about one of the cats. I had to fight them off to keep the space around the balance board clear. Josie stayed on the drum throne, but Calle returned to the floor as soon as I was done. Well, actually, as soon as I stopped watching her, she sat right in front of the balance board, and stayed there after I moved it back to its resting spot by the TV.

Calle was in her usual paws-and-tail-tucked-under position, but she was leaning toward her left side, somewhat unnaturally. I thought I'd check to see what was going on, just in case, so I got down on the floor, and she suddenly sat up straight and looked at me like "I know what I was doing. What did you think I was doing?"

And by "sat up straight" I mean "returned to a vertical position without moving paws or tail."

So basically, she was starting to roll to one side as she fell asleep. I thought only people did that. ha ha.

And I looked it up. It's port. I'm not exactly a water person, give me a break.
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