Saturday, October 31, 2009

Small

I'm sure this will be entertaining.

This year, I dressed up as Joey Harrington for Halloween. Full credit goes to ems for the idea: we also know a Giants fan who has a Plaxico Burress jersey, so when all of us were out watching football, we had the opportunity to discuss how there should be some kind of cash-for-clunkers equivalent for jerseys. To ems, this was perfect. I'd have a use for the jersey that sat at the bottom of my closet.

At first, I thought it was silly, but as I considered it, I realized it was actually a pretty good idea. I didn't need much else to make the costume work, some people would get it and some wouldn't, and best of all, it wouldn't require a full mask. (Wear one all night. You'll see what I mean.) I had the jersey and cleats (from a flag football tournament we did once), so I picked up what was supposed to be a crew-cut wig (with a little modification, it worked all right) and some shoulder pads.

Apparently that part's pretty common, because when I explained what I needed, the guy at the used sporting goods store knew exactly what I wanted. "Take those children's shoulder pads, they're cheaper and they'll fit under the jersey, but you probably won't be able to strap them on or anything." Done. $15 + tax, I think.

So I'm changing into my costume while ems and her boyfriend are waiting (I didn't try it on first because as a guy, I know 95% of the stuff I buy will fit exactly as I need it to). Shoulder pads on. Jersey over the pads: a little difficult, but they're not big pads ... and on.

I look in the mirror. I look like a kid borrowing his brother's uniform.

I strap the shoulder pads on. They're still big. (As it turns out, I could have tightened them in front too, but not having any actual football experience, I didn't realize this until later.) Oh, by the way, these are marked for youths weighing 140-160 pounds. So I'm actually heavier than that (probably 7 pounds or so right now), and still they fit me easily. (It also helped that the jersey was one size too large.)

See, my shorter female friends think I'm average height. I'm actually a touch below average for men, and now I have the imagery to suggest this. Too bad there aren't any pictures ...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

DirecTV customer service helps out

No, really, it did.

But to start with, DirecTV was dumb. I get the Center Ice package (which is really the only way to watch hockey, and I don't just mean because of the Vs shenanigans; hockey in HD is the best, plus you get to pick the home or away feed, so you never have to hear Hawks announcers talking about the Wings), and I thought it would be nice to watch a little hockey tonight. So I flipped through the guide and saw that my HD channels were grayed out. Bad sign.

I turn to one of the games and get the "Channel not purchased" message. Oh ho, that's what you think? I'm a renewing subscriber, damn straight this is purchased. I check the website. Yep, still have the package. Check the SD channel. Yep, game comes in. So I reset the receiver. Nope, "Channel not purchased". Sigh.

I call the system and tell it 721. It says hold on, I'm going to try something. And sure enough, the first check it did fixed my problem. Amazing.

Of course, I couldn't explain to the system that I wanted to remove receivers from my account (old SD receivers, I never watch TV in the other rooms anyway), so I had to speak to an agent. However, it took only seconds to reach one, she was able to help me right away, and I also got three free months of Showtime because I'm a long-time suckercustomer.

So now I get some free movies (plus Inside the NFL), my bill dropped a tiny bit, and I got to give feedback on the website (let me drop receivers, fool). +1 for DirecTV

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The long walk

Note: spoilers for Oblivion included. If you haven't played this game yet, and you have any interest at all in RPGs, then you deserve to have secrets spoiled for you. If you aren't interested in Oblivion at all, wait for the next post. This one will not interest you in the slightest.

I was playing Oblivion this weekend because a) it's one of the best games ever, b) the next Elder Scrolls game is apparently somewhere down the line at some time, and c) one of my friends was playing. I rolled another custom class: Stealth type, focus on Agility and Personality, skills Armorer, Block, Light Armor, Marksman, Mercantile, Restoration, and Speechcraft. Speechcraft is a pretty good one so that you can start out with the skip option, otherwise it's a bear to build up. I always like Armorer so that I can get it up to Journeyman more quickly and repair my magic items. I think I'm missing one of the skills I usually put in there ... one thing I noticed is without grabbing all the stuff in the guilds and reselling it, I'm taking a lot of damage. No good armor's available yet, so I figure I should have included something that does damage so that I don't take as much.

Anyway, I was heading back to Anvil for the quest where I hide in the store and wait for thieves, but I forgot that somehow there was a bounty on me for something, so they wanted to arrest me (because I wanted to talk to a guard to get my Speechcraft up to 50). So they get me, and I offer to pay the fine ... but Baurus intercepts me on the way to the castle and insists that we walk back to the Imperial City. And on top of that, the bounty is still there.

I can't fast-travel, because he won't move. I can't talk to a guard, because I'll get "arrested" and Baurus will show up again. I can't even sleep, because Baurus will show up again. So now I am walking the whole way back to sit with the stupid Mythic Dawn tool. booooooooooooo.

Update: Baurus insists on running toward an Oblivion Gate and somehow getting himself knocked down a ravine from which there is no return. So now I have to prevent this from happening on top of all this other crap. I may just go back a couple of saves ...

Update 2: Got through that part, then discovered that I could speed up the trip greatly by running away from an enemy. Enemy chases, Baurus runs after the enemy ... very clever. Of course he loses his katana and doesn't pick it up, then tries to fight things with his hands before running off and grabbing a loose mace. We complete the Mythic Dawn quest, he dies (although I almost got him through it), and now I've joined the Thieves Guild and paid off my bounty. Back to normal play ...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Applesoft

I disabled automatic updates in iTunes because a) I don't care to have iTunes merrily hogging my bandwidth just because there might be a new version, x.y.z.a.b+1, that allows me to get recommendations on one more thing I don't use on my iPod, and b) see a).

Of course, what that means is that when there is an update for the iPod, you can't sync any more, and you have to wipe your iPod and restore it to download the update, because it would be too easy to let you simply turn automatic updates back on. (And to prove a) and b), the iPod update is taking 10 minutes to download.)

Let there be no doubt: if the market positions were reversed so that Microsoft was struggling to keep the foothold Windows had eked out and Apple could make a profit simply by releasing a new OS, Apple would jerk people around exactly like Microsoft does, and anything i-related is proof of this. I don't have a jailbroken iPod, I want to control how it is updated so that it doesn't command my computer when it's synched (as iTunes tends to do ... funny how it reacts like programs did in the days of total system control). I do not need to restore 10 GB of music just because some jackass doesn't know how to distribute OS updates.

Update: As a bonus, now I'm in an endless restore cycle. Awesome. Naturally the support article that talks about restoring your iPod doesn't say boo about what to do when it doesn't work. Another one that talks about how to troubleshoot the restore process is the same blah-blah-blah as Microsoft's stuff: it's your fault, not ours, check all your own stuff first, can't be our fault. w.

Update: Hey, it was their fault. They gave me a restore file that wouldn't work. How would I know that? Well, I wouldn't. Why did it happen? Who knows? But that's okay, now my iPod is back exactly the way it was two days ago. Sorry about the track history for the three hours in the car in the mountains, and those saved games in Slay and AcidSolitaire. (Thank goodness I didn't have a saved game in Civ Rev.)

I guess I should be synching it more often. Oh right, I couldn't, because you can't do that if you've disabled automatic updates, but it won't tell you that. Ha. Very nice.

P.S. 10 GB of music back on the iPod. Wake me up when it's done. No, not literally. I have to catch up on my sleep.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Weigh-in: Week 32, -1 pound

Not sure how to explain this one, except maybe that I've been adding too much salt to my diet and I've been retaining more water than I normally would, up until today, that is. The last week or so I was moving back and forth between 165 and 166, and then this morning it was 163.8, the lowest I've been to date and down a full pound from last week.

Unfortunately I was also that low about a month ago (but midweek so it doesn't count toward a weigh-in), so in essence I've held steady the last 30 days or so. You can tell I'm falling back because I'm down "only" 28.2 pounds in 32 weeks, and for a while I was right at one pound per week. So basically the good days (walking to lunch, etc.) canceled out the bad days (Shrimpfest 2009, Rock Band, and so on).

And now I'm going back to Virginia for a few days. The last time I did that, it took me a few days to get back on track. I'll have to be careful this time. And then there is another Rock Band night the following week, Halloween after that (yeah, no extra candy in this house ... kids are getting handfuls, I think).

Don't know how much longer I'll be working downtown. The contract is technically through the end of the month, we'll see after that ... I'm not saying I'll walk to lunch no matter what the weather is like, but I can certainly walk in the cold.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Weigh-in: Week 31, -0.6 pounds

Pretty remarkable, considering that a) on Saturday we went to Red Lobster for my birthday dinner, and I had two Cheddar Bay biscuits (or three, honestly I forget), about 50 shrimp, mashed potatoes, rice, and most of a piece of key lime pie; b) on Sunday we went to the Ale for football (I had a burger with bacon and cheese, but chips with that), although I didn't eat too much the rest of the day; and c) with work I have not been spending a lot of time at home awake. Then again I've been walking to lunch almost every day, so that's probably a mile each day (about half a mile each way or thereabouts, at least on average).

Next week is the Virginia trip, well, next weekend, so it'll hit Week 33 and not Week 32. But this kind of thing happens every year. Part of maintaining a healthy weight is doing so no matter what time of the year it is. I think I'll be all right this time.

I like weeks where I think I've done poorly and I haven't. Usually it's because I'm worried about my habits (a good thing) and have been careful despite my fears (also a good thing). Occasionally it's an anomaly.

One of my friends suggested getting a bike trainer for the winter months. It's an interesting idea, but I'm not sure I want to spend the money. I can't yet say that I would use it that much. I would probably get more long-term use out of some kind of lifting equipment ...

I'm just rambling now. Fini.

History

History is a funny word. Sometimes it means something is done or finished (that book is history), or maybe that it's outdated or old. Other times, it refers to something, usually a bad something.

For an example of the latter, I quote Bill James, one of the greatest statistical minds baseball has ever known, from his 1988 Baseball Abstract. Note that he uses "past", but it means the same thing.

The problem is that you acquire a past. In the beginning, what needs to be done is so clear, so obvious. When you have no players you must acquire the best young players that you can find. When they are ready you put them in the lineup because the people who were there before them are just a holding action, just waiting until the future is warm. When you have no past you have no loyalties, no debts. You know exactly where you are in the cycle. You have a memory of no yesterday's dreams which still might flower tomorrow, and thus there is no confusion of tomorrow with yesterday, plans with dreams or what is right with what is best for the team. On September 20 of 1987 the Toronto Blue Jays had a clean slate. They never will again.1

He is referring to the 1987 season, when Toronto and Detroit fought for the AL East division title for most of the season. Toronto took the first three games of a four-games series against Detroit in Toronto, September 24-26, and led by 3.5 games with 7 games to play for them and 8 for Detroit. Detroit won the final game of the series in Toronto, split four games with Baltimore and swept Toronto in three one-run games. Toronto was swept by Milwaukee before the Detroit series, and as a result, the Tigers clinched a tie for the division on Saturday and won the title on Sunday.

According to coolstandings.com, Toronto had an 89.9% chance to win the division as things stood on the 26th, taking into account their remaining schedule, Detroit's remaining schedule, and other factors. (The site explains it in slightly more detail.) It was the 25th-biggest collapse in MLB history, at least prior to this season.

Prior to 2003, the Tigers already had a long history: one of the eight original American League clubs that began play in 1901, one of only four to have played in the same city the entire time (Boston, Chicago, and Cleveland the others), the first AL team to win three straight pennants (and the first team to lose three straight World Series), a team that went 52 seasons before first losing 100 games and finishing last ... but with only four World Series titles and no pennants since '84, Detroit's history was mostly history.

In 2003, they lost 119 games. That's not good. But they rebounded the next year to win 72, and then two years later, they won 95 games and stormed through the AL playoffs to capture their first pennant in 22 years before losing to St. Louis in five games in the Series. (One of the biggest jokes in history: David Eckstein getting the Series MVP.)

But wait: Detroit didn't win the division in 2006, even though on August 22, they had a 93.1% chance of winning the division (7.5 games up). They had a 78.3% chance of winning the division on the final day, but lost their fifth straight game, all at home, to fall into the wild-card spot instead.

In 2007, it was different, oh yes. On July 19th, they had an 88.7% chance of making the playoffs. This time, the collapse was bigger, and by the last week of the season, the Tigers were completely out of the race. That was collapse #28.

This year, on September 30, Detroit had an amazing 96% chance to win the division. They were in the midst of a four-game series in Detroit against the Twins, having arrived with a two-game lead with seven to play. With a magic number of 6, all Detroit needed was three of the four games to clinch. They lost the first game (the first half of a day-night doubleheader forced by a rainout on Monday), but won the next two, and when October arrived, all they needed was 2: 2 Tigers wins, 2 Twins losses, or one of each, and with a game left between the two, they could do it all at once.

But they didn't. I got no birthday present. Minnesota went on to sweep Kansas City, Detroit stumbled against Chicago, winning only the final game of a three-game series to force a playoff, and then you know what happened next.

The problem wasn't whether or not Leyland should have given Porcello the hook for Zach Miner (probably; Porcello was already overthrowing a bit) or whether he should have made Rodney the designated finish-up guy (probably not; no sense in killing your pen with a possible game tomorrow, but you do have to win for that game tomorrow to be yours) or whatever, but rather that the Tigers couldn't consistently beat Kansas City or Chicago. They went 9-9 against each team while the Twins went 12-6 against each team. That, my friends, is the problem. The Tigers made themselves have to win in the last week, and with a history of collapsing, they couldn't do it.

Sure, there are a number of franchises with a longer drought than Detroit has (the Cubs, obviously, but the Rangers came into the league as Senators II in 1961 and haven't won ever; the Indians haven't won since 1948 ...), but at some point there isn't too much difference between them. All you know is that you didn't win this year, you didn't win last year, and you can't feel like you can win next year.

However, the Tigers do have some good young players, and they have made a run at the playoffs three of the last four seasons. And at some point this will pass, and the Tigers will win again, and everything will be all right.

But right now it sucks.

1James, Bill, The 1988 Bill James Baseball Abstract, p.84.

Monday, October 05, 2009

no football posts this weekend

a) I'm busy with work. Very cool. kind of. well, it pays well.
b) terrible sports weekend. The Twins will win tomorrow and that will cap it.

sorry.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

More blackout stupidity

ESPN football: blacked out. Supposed to watch ABC. F that.

NHL Network, Blues-Red Wings blacked out. Supposed to watch Fox Sports Midwest. whatever.

This is ridiculous.
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