Sunday, March 29, 2009

pause for breath

So, continuing my weekend of excitement, Saturday was my fantasy baseball draft. (Non-sports fans may wish to skip ahead ... search for the words "parking lot".) This is the fourth year I've been in this league, I think. 25 players per team, $350 in auction money to use. $2 per transaction after 7 or so, I think, and the pot divided among the top three teams. In the past, it was AL-only or NL-only, alternating years, but this year, we had 12 people, so we did an MLB league. Roto scoring, but with a nice mix of categories: R, HR, RBI, net steals, fewest K, TB, AVG, OBP, SLG for hitters, IP, W, fewest L, SV, K, HLD, lowest ERA, lowest WHIP, K/BB. Lots of fun.

The draft tends to run quite a while because of the depth of the league: in the past, the late rounds dragged on because we had a shallow pool from which to draw. No such problem this time (for example, my 25th and final guy was Manny Parra).

But it would not be a normal draft. At around 6 or so, the power went out. Hey, just a blip, right? Well, no. It was the power in the whole building, so no more wireless connection. We pack up our laptops and move to the room with the most windows to finish the draft. (It actually went more quickly once most people were down to $1 bids, plus none of us wanted to run out of battery power. No problem for me, with power-saver mode – thanks, Vista – and a spare battery in my pack.)

So we get done around 7 or 7:30, most of the guys head out, and the rest of us go out to the parking lot. One says to me "Hey, that isn't your car, is it?"

yep. it's mine. That's never a good thing.

Flat tire, right front. (So at least I knew I hadn't driven down on it.) They jack up the car and put the spare on while I call Honda to see if I can get someone out here ... but it turns out there's just a nail in the tire, so I can probably get it patched and get back on the road, no need for a tow (the spare was fine). I cancel the service call, and two of the guys go on their way, while a third hangs out for a bit to see what to do.

We decide to head to BWW just down the road, so we can use the wireless to check for an AutoZone and check out the Pitt-Villanova score. It turns out there's one about a mile away, so we cash out and head down there to see if they can fix it for us.

Well, they don't fix tires, and unfortunately there wasn't another place open at that hour who could, but they did sell Fix-a-Flat. So I get a can of that, we jack up the car again and switch the tires, and in goes the magic glue. We head down the road a couple miles and check the tire: not so bad. I fill up the tire to 32 psi, and then it's time to decide ...

1. Head home Saturday on the previously-flat tire.
2. Head home Saturday on the spare.
3. Spend the night in Cincinnati, get up Sunday and get the tire fixed, then head home.

Obviously, the safest option is 3. However, Sunday's game tips off at 2:20. Odds of me getting to Indy in time for the game with a new tire? Somewhere between 0 and a very small number. (If necessary, I could have my friend stop at my place and pick up the tickets, and then I could meet them downtown. Assuming someone had a key. Otherwise, it would be exactly 0 chance.)

Also, I mentioned Cincinnati. And now it's 9:15 or so. There really aren't ways to get home from there without interstate travel, and on a spare?

So I pick #1. We decide on this plan: take 275 to my friend's exit and stop at a gas station. If the tire looks bad, we try to fill it; if it holds, repeat the process till I get home. If it looks good, I head home. Fortunately, that section of 275 is under construction, so going 50 was no big deal.

Paying attention to the tire was difficult, though, because Villanova was trying very hard to knock out my final Fracas team. Fortunately, the tire held out, even though the Panthers didn't. I send my friend on his way with effusive thanks and get back on the road.

Three hours later, I'm home. No problems at all from the tire, but driving all that way with my flashers on, waiting to feel the car pull to the right, well ... I was tired. Said hi to the cats, cleaned up, grabbed a snack, went online, and then off to sleep.

The alarm went off about 10:30 or so. I guessed correctly that I'd need to be ready by 11:30, but I also was still tired, plus I had a cat on my pillow, guarding my head, so we stayed in bed and listened to Prairie Home Companion for a bit. Got a call from ems, talked to her for a while, checked Facebook, confirmed travel plans, got cleaned up and ready to head downtown again.

Oh yes. The weather is now miserably cold and wet. woo. We go downtown, park in the garage (the wrong one, I could have put us a couple blocks closer), and head to the stadium. coldcoldcoldcoldcold.

We get nachos (I got a whole order this time and ate almost all of it, oh yes I did) and sat down to enjoy the game.

and wow. A great game for about 30 minutes, until MSU decided to pull away ... it's hard to describe what it was like to be in the Michigan State section, while maybe 30,000 fans are rooting for Louisville and maybe one-fifth of that are rooting for the Spartans, and watching the lead get bigger and bigger ... Louisville couldn't do anything to stop it. wow.

So after seeing all that, we spend the next hour or so figuring out how to get a car to the stadium to pick up people who aren't suited to two-mile walks in cold, windy weather (answer: don't know. we sure couldn't find a good path). Then it was off to Castleton BWW, where we figured we could find a seat and get some food. Of course, being Castleton BWW, the service was inadequate and the food was mostly right, but we did get seated immediately. There was this game on, you know.

And so now I've got to get a couple of new tires (unfortunately I was only about halfway through these), but hey, it could have been a lot worse.

Also, I need to sleep. Maybe tomorrow night.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Lucky

There have definitely been parts of my life that have not been particularly smooth, some of them not my fault, but I will say that I am one of the luckiest people I know.

Today at work, I'm on the phone with ems, brilliantly failing to convey whatever's left of my physics knowledge (apparently now we're getting to concepts that I fell asleep to in the big lecture halls at Purdue), and the help desk coordinator asks if there are any NCAA fans here.

uh, yeah. trick question.

Then she says okay, there's one?

hmm. curious. I tell ems I'll call her back.

Help Desk lady says, do I want two tickets for tonight?

umyes. please.

Our Verizon rep had called (we are in the process of switching to Verizon from Sprint) and had tickets. I'm in, I have a good friend who's an MSU fan, done.

Oh wait. Actually, there's four tickets.

Oh wait. Actually, it's for both sessions.

alrighty then. Instead of trivia and hoops at BWW, it's live action at Lucas Oil Stadium. Louisville crushing Arizona and a nailbiter between MSU and Kansas, thankfully with the "good guys" winning. (I still have difficulty rooting for MSU - you can take the boy out of Ann Arbor and all that - but Kansas cost me about $1400 in missed profits in 1991 and I will never forgive them for that.)

Fantasy draft Saturday, hoops on Sunday ... yeah, I'll sleep next week.

Oh yes, and go Pitt. I need them or I will be hurting in our fracas. explanation later.

Eureka!

Sometimes, I get a burst of insight at the most peculiar times ... like after I get home from a long night downtown.

Chirp ... chirp ... two minutes doesn't seem like a long time, unless it's the amount of time between beeps that your smoke alarm uses to tell you to change the battery. So I do my usual: stand in the hall facing the detector there. It's either straight ahead (hallway), left (computer room), or right (extra room). Of course, it's the extra room.

Funny, I just changed that a few months ago. So why is it that one and not the other two?

I get up on the stepladder with the light off, because I can see from the light in my hall. (Apparently Arbor Homes screwed up the wiring in the third bedroom: it's opposite the lighting in the laundry room, hallway, and second bedroom. Turn the switch on in the third room and the others turn off. This is why they didn't install a fixture in that bedroom, so I wouldn't notice.)

Hey, wait a minute. If the lights are off ... what if the wiring for the smoke detector is messed up too, and so it's always running on battery power, so it drains the battery faster?

Now, that may not be the case ... but it sure is a coincidence.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Weigh-in 3: -1 pound

Sorry for the delay, I forgot to post it Wednesday, and then last night was basketball ... another solid week, 7 pounds total.

I know, 1 pound doesn't seem like much, right? But look at it this way. This was my schedule from Thursday through Sunday:

Thursday - get up at 10, watch basketball from 11 AM to midnight. (I got there early.)
Friday - get up at 10, watch basketball from 11 AM to midnight.
Saturday - get up at 10, watch basketball from noon to 10 PM.
Sunday - get up at 10, watch basketball from 11 AM to 8 PM.

No workouts, lots of food, some of it bad for me, and I still lost a pound. That's a maintainable pattern, and that's really what I'm working for.

On the other hand, if I'd lost three pounds instead of one, I'd have finished in second place among men that week ... and this week, the top man and top woman get a $25 Speedway gas card ...

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Questionable judgment

Now, obviously you can't get the full story from a single post or page, but this link on ESPN.com makes it sound like someone almost got a DWB.

And if you read the article on the Dallas Morning News site, and when you learn that the police have apologized and will be investigating, well ... sure, the cop was young, but that's no excuse. I mean, he basically pulled the guy over in the hospital parking lot. It's not like getting pulled over when you're five miles from the hospital.

It makes you wonder a) how often this happens and b) what would have happened if the guy in question didn't happen to be a professional athlete. (The News would probably do a story on it anyway, but ESPN obviously wouldn't have picked it up ...)

Monday, March 23, 2009

You can't spell Microsoft without WTF ...

except for the W. Of course, you can't spell it without MF ...

Today, I "picked up" a couple of the Hasbro games to play on the 360. The quarter's over and I'm not taking a class next quarter (applying for full admittance and saving some cash), so I figured I'd get some extra gaming in between workout days.

Red half-ring. Awesome.

What's it mean? Overheating.

WTF? I haven't played a 360 game in weeks.

Like other people have experienced, it's happening right away (in fact, the first time, it didn't even turn on). The last time, I got in about five minutes of playing. After that, I listened for the fan. It seemed to be off at first, then turned on, then went faster and faster, then stopped abruptly.

I don't know, man. I mean, I like this thing and all, but shit, I still have my ORIGINAL NES. The one I bought in college because Patrick had one. I probably even have the receipt for it. I have an Atari 5200 that works.

And I'm expected to buy a 720 here in a year or so? NFW. Not unless you're giving me full trade-in credit.

Of course the warranty's expired. (EDIT: Sorry, I forgot, this is the one I bought because, ha ha, I didn't trust the refurbished one. But still, it's 18 months old. Warranty expired.) This one is now two years old (in this incarnation). So my options are a) fix it myself, ha ha ha, or b) use the old one, or c) buy another new one, ha ha ha, or d) pay to have this one fixed while I try b) or c), and of course pretty much all those options require me to transfer my DLC licenses AGAIN.

Trustworthy gaming, my ass.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Stupid commercials

Up until today, I thought that Taco Bell had locked up Worst Commercial of the Tournament.

Then I saw the Coke Zero ad with Troy Polamalu.

I mean, the average Coke Zero ad is really dumb. The whole Coke-suing-Coke-Zero thing was stupid even before they made the first ad. The fact that it's still around shows how little effort it takes to make an ad campaign.

But this commercial, wow. The only good thing about it was Polamalu supposedly tackling Annoying Coke Guy #1. Too bad that part wasn't real.

Never mind lawyers. Ad agencies should be put on boats and sunk.

P.S. Honorable mention goes to Axe for changing from "Women hanging all over you" to "Spraying perspiration".

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Weigh-in 2: -2 pounds

192, 6 pounds and 3.03% lost. Good progress ... we'll see what happens after four days of watching basketball 12 hours a day. I've got a plan, though, so I should be in a decent position come next Wednesday.

I will probably have to work out a little harder on Monday and Tuesday, though.

Go Vikings!

ESPN Insider has an article (subscription required) about first-round upsets it thinks you should pick. One of their best recommendations?

That's right. Portland State over Xavier.

Go Vikings!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Bumble

Good to know they're alike.

"Ohio State, just finished winning the Big Ten Conference championship ..."

No they didn't, idiot. They lost. ON YOUR NETWORK.

fail.

Duke sucks

The sway that Duke seems to hold over ESPN is silly. I'm watching the Southland Conference championship (note to ESPN: the championship is the final game, not the whole thing; it looks dumb when you show stats that say Big 12 Championship: 3 games for a player on a team there for the first time in years), and they're showing highlights from other games at halftime.

They cut to Duke-Florida State, and the studio guy says "Gerald Henderson gets it goin' from behind the arc". But I see the shot and I think hmm, looked like he had a foot on the line to me.

I stop it, rewind, and go frame-by-frame. Both feet are on the line. Clearly not a 3. The ref standing six feet away, of course, calls it a 3. ESPN doesn't even question this.

Remember when Duke was the new power on the block? Now they're the Red Sox of college basketball.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Weigh-in 1: -4 pounds

A decent start. 194, 4 pounds lighter, 2.02% lost. Of course half of that was probably from pigging out the weekend before and the other half was from not eating entire sleeves of Girl Scout cookies at the same time, but still.

Also, I finally got to reset my goals on the Wii. I couldn't tell if it was after a certain number of days or a certain number of visits. I also don't know why you can't do it whenever you want, or set more aggressive goals. whatever.

I'm looking forward to having a Mii that doesn't look like, well, what I look like now. When I'm not sucking in my gut. I had no idea how good I was at that until we started this and people were surprised at how much I wanted to lose. Hey, it's easy to hide when you never have to tuck in your shirt ...

Friday, March 06, 2009

Beatles. Rock Band.

Of course it's coming out on a weekday.

And I have no extra vacation days to use.

oh well. I guess I'd have to find three other people with vacation days anyway.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

I can haz hotfix?

Microsoft sucks.

I can't paste from Excel to Access.

Actually, I couldn't paste from Excel to SQL Server until I figured out that you have to select the entire row, not one field, and you have to include a blank column in your copy if you use an identity column.

But in the meantime, I was trying to paste from Excel into a linked table in Access, because, you know, you've been able to do this forever.

Apparently you can't anymore, and this is by design. Why? Because Microsoft sucks. They don't seem to care that a "security fix" disabled one of the most important interconnectivity features in Office.

But it's okay. They have a hotfix. "Hotfix" is Microsoft code for "We don't really care about fixing the problem, but if you insist, you can beta test this for us. Oh, and if you whack Office by testing this, not our problem."

Also, you have to jump through these hoops to get the hotfix, because otherwise it would be convenient.

So anyway, I'm not installing it, now that I have my original path defined. But they still suck.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

160 by August 26

The gauntlet has been thrown.

So I kind of alluded to this before. Unfortunately, that's all I did. I wrote down a goal, brushed off some of the cobwebs on my blog so I could set this somewhere, and went on about my business.

We're doing a Biggest Loser contest at work, which I may have mentioned before. There are going to be prizes and such. Pretty decent ones. Anyway, I've kind of been "training" the last week or so.

Today, we had donuts for breakfast and Stuffed Crust pizza as a "last meal". I weighed in this afternoon ... 198.

Now, it was in regular work clothes, stuff in my pockets, shoes on, all that stuff, so you can say that maybe I weigh 194, and maybe in the morning on an empty stomach, that's 192 ... maybe.

Or maybe I'm a buffet away from the most I've ever weighed, which is not cool if your age doesn't start with 2. (Well, it's not cool ever, but it's less cool now.)

So. My goal is a "work weight" of 160. I figure if I actually weighed 160 as a non-drinking, close-to-middle-age adult, I can do it again. Plus I need to, or else I'll end up carrying an extra 50-100 pounds like my dad and his dad did.

Our contest has weekly prizes, monthly prizes, a six-month prize, and a grand prize. We do weekly weigh-ins through three months, and monthly for the next three, when we do the six-month prizes. Then we're on our own, either maintaining or continuing our work. Before the next incentive meeting, we do a final weigh-in. Biggest percentage loser gets $750 toward a gym membership or his or her pocket.

There's also a rumor that everyone who kept weight off will get $5 or $10 a pound. Yeah, our president is really hoping this will spur us to get and stay healthy. They recognize the value of healthy employees around here (at some point, our grounds will actually become smoke-free. Did I mention we're a construction company?) It's pretty cool.

38 pounds. 25 weeks. Not as easy as gaining the weight, but it can be done.

Who's with me?

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Lucky dog

So I'm playing bingo on Facebook, and as I usually do, I've got two cards going in the popup window while I read in the main window. (I don't yet have the setup for two screens, so this is all on a standard monitor. Maybe I'll get a widescreen at some point and then have them side-by-side ...)

Basically, I read a bit, switch, check a couple of numbers, switch back, repeat. It's easier this time because it's clover leaf, so a long game, and not many people in the room.

We're getting pretty far into the game, and I switch back to the game, check the numbers, mark the last one that came up, and look at my card.

XX.XX
XX.XX
..O..
XX.XX
XX.XX

And the next part happens about this fast:

Oh hey. That's the cloverleaf pattern.

I should probably click Bingo.

There we go.

And I got a gold medal and first place. The trophy isn't necessary, I've won a few games before, but it was weird to have it happen so slowly and still get first place. Normally I'm poised on the button as soon as I'm down to one number left. This time, I didn't even realize it and still got the win.

I know I'm lucky. (In most ways.)

Whatwhatwhat?

Watching the IU-MSU game, hoping for an interesting result. Indiana down 4, 11 seconds left. As they bring the ball upcourt with about 9.5 seconds left, Musberger says "They don't have to shoot the 3, but they have to work quickly."

o rly? I wasn't aware there was a four-point shot in NCAA play. Because, you know, if there isn't, they really need a 3, because THEY'RE DOWN 4 WITH LESS THAN 10 SECONDS TO PLAY.

The funny thing is that I was just thinking that Indiana had blown the previous possession (down 4, 30 seconds left) by taking 10 seconds to shoot a 2. Most coaches don't seem to realize that you aren't going to win by trading possessions, and even if they do miss some free throws, at that point in the game, you don't have time to gain a point per possession. With 30 seconds left, I think you shoot 3s. With 10 seconds left, only an idiot would say you shoot 2s.

oh wait.

I guess maybe he thought Larry Johnson was on the court.

oh wait. That would still require a three-point shot.
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