Tuesday, December 20, 2005

12/20/05 U.S. Torture

So, the U.S. military is using torture. That's pretty bad, right? Well, you probably didn't know how bad it really is.

Monday, December 19, 2005

12/19/05 The 10 Most Puzzling Ancient Artifacts

I saved the link to The 10 Most Puzzling Ancient Artifacts last week. I forgot about it over the weekend, but checked it out again today. If it's at all true, it's cool as hell. In general, the artifacts bring into question the chronology of human history as we know it. My favorite one is the Dropa Stones. (Note: Everything I say from here on out is from the article. I have NO idea if it's true). The Dropa Stones are 10,000 to 12,000 years old and were found in the Himalayas in China. The stones are circles that are 9 inches in diameter and appear to be ancient phonograph records. "The spiral groove, it turns out, is actually composed of tiny hieroglyphics that tell the incredible story of spaceships from some distant world that crash-landed in the mountains."

Check out these pictures from the Library of Congress - America in Color, 1939-1943.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

12/18/05 Things My Grandma Taught Me

My Grandma Evelyn called me today. She was talking about the traveling she did in her youth and mentioned going to Catalina Island. To which I responded, "Wow. You know I can see Catalina out my window?" (Ok, I really can't see it out MY window, but if I walk outside I can see it). She said, "Yeah. The Cubs used to have their spring training there". To which I responded, "What?". "Yeah, it's not like they always played in Arizona. Wrigley used to own the island." Wow. I had no idea.

When I'm a grandpa, I'll be telling my grandkids - "When I was your age, we used to let the president spy on us. And we liked it!"

If you're white, you have a genetic mutation.

Nobel Laureate on string theory - "We don't know what we are talking about".

Saturday, December 17, 2005

12/17/05 Mr. Wong's Apartment

Check out Mr. Wong's Apartment. It's the biggest virtual apartment on the internet. (I can't prove for sure that it's the biggest, but I challenge you to prove otherwise.)

Sorry that I've been lame and late on my posts lately. I've just been busy. And here's some fair warning. Between Thursday and the end of the year, I can pretty much guarantee that I'll be offline. We can have some teary goodbye on Wednesday evening if we so choose.

Nancy sends Simon Sez Santa. It's like that Burger King chicken or the virtual bartenders. Let me know if you can make him do something fun. I haven't had much time to play with it yet. My favorite so far is "knock over the sign". Wait, I lied. "knock over the tree" is better.

I was watching some rerun of SNL where Will Ferrell came back to host. Queens of the Stone Age were performing their one song I know. And Will came out to play cow bell. Classic.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

12/14/05 Icing the Kicker

As a kid, I remember my teaching me the rules of baseball and football. My first exposure to the psychology of sports occurred when the defensive team called timeout with 3 seconds left in the game and the clock already stopped. This, as we all know, is called "Icing the kicker". My dad explained it to me in simple terms - "They're making him think about the kick for a long time." At the time, I couldn't quite grasp the entire concept, but as I grew up it sunk in. Teams almost always follow the "icing the kicker" rule of thumb. Always made sense to me. Turns out, it might have the opposite effect.

Eww. Eww. Eww. There's no way this true. Not a chance. Right? Please tell me this isn't true.

Speaking of family matters - Like father, like daughter.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

12/13/05 Riots in Australia

My buddy, Nigel, IMed me from Sydney tonight. He told me a little bit about the crazy rioting going on there. He says that the police are scared.

When I first started this "Something I learned today", I wrote about Air Conditioning and how it could bring world peace. Well, I'm not particularly proud of that idea anymore. The same idea is #1 on a list of "10 stoner ideas for bringing peace to Iraq".

Hawk in the Apartment

I tend to get really bored while driving. So, I end up entertaining myself on my way to work in the morning. My newest project is setting up and decorating my apartment. So, I've spent the last few days brainstorming creative ways to make my apartment feel like home, yet still be presentable for guests.

In my early morning, just waking up haze, an idea popped into my head. I would love to have a recording of Hawk Harrelson saying "He Gone!" every time somebody leaves my apartment. "Alright man, see ya later". "HE GONE!"

So I went with the theme for a few minutes. And it clicked. Why not have Hawk recordings all over the apartment? Just about everything he says is appropriate in all aspects of life. If you stretch your imagination. Think about it for a second before reading on.

"Before we show you our picks to click for tonight you at home select yours"

Here's what I've come up with so far:

The Bathroom (the toilet specifically) -
  • "He's got 2 ducks on the pond"
  • "There's a Hang Wif 'Em"
  • "Zone him in, reel him in, and light him up"
  • "Cinch it up and hunker down"
  • When things aren't coming out right - "C'mon. Ball four, base hit"
  • and when you're done, "GAS! He gone!"

On the Computer -

  • "I LOVE email"

In the kitchen -

  • "Can of corn"

On Poker Night

  • "Rack Em Up!"
  • When you catch a bad beat - "Mercy!"

The Bedroom (in case I ever find myself a girlfriend) -

  • On the good nights - "Get up... Stretch... He looks up... You can put it on the booooaaard... YES!"
  • On the bad nights - "You can cancel the postgame show".
  • Or worse, "Right size, wrong shape"

Other ideas? "Duck snort"? "A big crooked number on the board"? "Sit back, relax and strap it down"? "Souvenir, right side"? "I love it when you analyze"? "Pick to click"?

Monday, December 12, 2005

12/12/05 Global Warming

The book "State of Fear" by Michael Crichton came highly recommended recently. So I picked it up and started reading. The plan was to read just enough to determine if I like it. And if I did, then I would save it for my holiday vacation at the end of the month. I liked it too much and kept reading the last couple of days. I'm no more than 25% through the book (I read at a 3rd grade level, I think), so I really can't ruin anything. However, one of the main ideas is that the evidence and correlations we take for granted about global warming may not be accurate.

Most of us have learned that the average global temperature over the past 100 years has gone up by 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit. This has led to glaciers melting and sea levels rising. Common knowledge tells us that the root is the increase in CO2 levels over the past 100 years. This is the picture of the greenhouse effect that I'm aware of. Common knowledge. Simple stuff. We all get it.

The book presents real evidence to the contrary. Supposedly, Michael Crichton spent 3 years researching the topic (he's known for his due diligence with his research). Since I haven't had a thing to do at work all day, I decided to do a little investigating. The most fascinating relationship between the temperature on Earth and another factor is - Solar Activity. When you hear about "solar flares" and "sun spots", that means there is an increase in solar activity. "When sunspots increase, the amount of radiation from the sun increases. Thus, earth receives more energy from the sun"

Solar cycles repeat approximately every 11 years. Every 22 year the magnetic poles on the sun reverse, causing this cycle.

Based on these findings, solar activity this century will peak around 2046. The site claims to have solar data starting in 1614 (really?). "The almost total lack of solar activity between 1645 and 1715 corresponds to the well-known mini ice age of that period, when the Thames froze for several winters to a depth of 10 feet and Frost Festivals were held on it."

Just something to chew on for today. Personally, I am still of the opinion that man-made CO2 emissions are nasty. And regardless of whether they contribute to global warming, they definitely contribute to health problems and should be done away with as quickly as possible.

Remember Pro Wrestling for the original Nintendo? That game ruled. My least favorite guy was Fighter Hayabusa. He had some special "back brain kick" that, when you missed your opponent, you'd lie on the ground and be open to a beating.

From the Planes, Trains and Automobiles Files: "YOU'RE GOING THE WRONG WAY!"

I challenge any drummer to try and play Lateralus. And I challenge any non-drummer to listen to the song and follow along.

Friday, December 09, 2005

12/9/05 RSS Feeds on Toilet Paper

This is for the technologically proficient - You can now get RSS Feeds printed on toilet paper.

Having solved all other crime, the State of Illinois has moved onto the important issues.

Drilling a 3 km deep hole into the San Andreas fault. What could possibly go wrong?

From the "Only in California Files": The next race for governor may be The Terminator vs. Mad Max.

Another fact spawned by listening to my iPod. I have "Stairway to Heaven" backwards on the iPod. Some people say they hear "My sweet Satan" and "666". I was looking for the lyrics that people claim they hear and good old Wikipedia popped up. Here's the page on backwards messages.

Mike sends a page you can use the next time you're at a meeting at work. It's called Bullshit Bingo. "Before each meeting, visit Bullshit Bingo and print one copy of this game card for each player, refreshing the page before each print, or have the players print their own BS Bingo cards... Check off each block when you hear these words during a meeting, seminar, or phone call. When you get five blocks horizontally, vertically, or diagonally, stand up and shout BULLSHIT!!"

Thursday, December 08, 2005

12/8/05 Da Coach

Cousin Eric sends a great video of Ditka.

Here's some game with a spinning wrench or something.

In case you were wondering, I checked the crazy, drunk Italian on the registered sex offender website. He didn't come up. And the whole moral of the story - I was joking about the Italian thing. In general, they're pretty cool. Part of my family is Italian. Hence the joke. Cousin Eric offered some good advice. He writes, "Next time you offer to help someone with their groceries, make sure it's a hot girl". I can always count on Cousin Eric to set me straight. No pun intended. Cousin Eric has also set a record, being mentioned 4 times now in one post (including this sentence).

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Pearl Harbor Day

I had intended to go swimming tonight, but it was pretty cold. I know, not Chicago cold, but still cold enough to see your breath and decide not to swim. Instead, I opted for the hot tub. There were five guys in the hot tub. One guy who apparently knew the other and asked him flat out if he'd be interested in learned a brief history of Korea. You've got to assume these guys have talked history and politics in the past. But hey, who knows.

What I learned is that many Koreans have the last names Kim and Lee. These are the names of some of the dynasties over the past 2000 years. He said that the last name in Korean is "Ee", but we westernize it and add the "L".

In all, there were guys from Korea, Lebanon, Baghdad (he's half Iraqi and half German), England and me. The American. We actually had quite a fascinating talk about the world wars and the cold war. And how Hitler's main objective was to control the world's oil. And how America's interest in the war was also for oil and was led by Rockefeller. I'm not a history buff, so I don't know how much of this is true. But hey, it's Pearl Harbor day and I learned quite a bit about history. So I thought I'd share.

Part 2 of this story. As I was walking back to my apartment there was a guy getting off of the elevator. His paper grocery bags started ripping so I offered him a hand to get his bags to his apartment. He took me up on the offer and we brought the bags into his place. He insisted that I have a drink. It was his way of thanking me. I said no thanks, but he wouldn't take no for an answer. He was really pushy when it came to "my poison". If I had to do it again, I would have said "beer". I take that back. If I really had to do it all over again, I never would have helped his drunk ass in the first place. But much like our military in Iraq, the bad decision was already made. I just had to make the situation better.

All of the sudden, I realized this guy was kind of hammered. I'm not sure if it was the "I'm from Chicago and I'm Italian. All of the fuckers here in California are all fucked in the head." that gave it away. Or maybe it was the "People tell me to stay away from their kids and call me a child molester." that tipped me off. I tried to act surprised and asked, "Wow. People really say that?" Apparently he took great offense to that. Mind you this guy is a big, Tony Soprano sized Italian dude from Chicago. And I'm in his apartment. Fortunately, he flipped out again and told me to get the hell out. It was something about not making eye contact and how I'm just like the "cocksuckers here in Newport Beach". I put my drink down, thanked him and walked out. He gave me my drink back. I put it down again. He once again gave me the drink and told me to keep the glass. I wasn't about to say no twice.

Moral of this entire post? People from around the world are generally really cool to talk to. Except Italians.

12/7/05 The Top Sports Franchises

ESPN polled 30,000 fans to determine the top sports franchises (MLB, NBA and NFL). I usually post this just to prove how sad Chicago sports are. But the times seem to be changing a little bit.

The categories they used to determine the rankings are:

BNG (Bang for the Buck): Revenues directly from fans divided by wins in the past three years
FRL (Fan Relations): Ease of access to players, coaches & management
OWN (Ownership): Honesty; loyalty to players and city
AFF (Affordability): Price of tickets, parking and concessions
STD (Stadium Experience): Friendliness of environment; quality of game-day promotions
PLA (Players): Effort on the field; likability off it
CCH (Coach/Manager): Strong on-field leadership
CHA (Championships): Titles already won or expected -- soon

The San Antonio Spurs topped the list. In Chicago news, the White Sox came in at #13, ranking high in Fan Relations, Affordability, Players, and Coach/Manager. The Bears and Bulls are #43 and #44. The Cubs ranked #73, just behind the Pittsburgh Pirates, Detroit Lions and the New Jersey Nets. Their Stadium Experience ranks 5th overall. So, that settles the debate once and for all. People like going to Wrigley Field.

Sticking with the sports theme, CBS will offer live, On Demand broadcasts of March Madness. Office network admins start crapping their pants.

Note: Do not play poker online when someone is shooting at your DSL.

A legal battle over lyrics on the internet. God, I hate corporations. If hate were people, I'd be China.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

12/6/05 Google's Ten Golden Rules

Google has a list of their 10 Golden Rules. Rule #8 - Don't be evil. Good one. They were actually pretty nice about not hiring me last year.

Beethoven had lead poisoning - "a possible cause for his dour demeanor". "Lead poisoning can lead to headaches, fatigue, concentration problems and other health issues." Death by heavy metal.

Monday, December 05, 2005

12/5/05 Harold and Kumar

That's no way for a man to die. A parachute not opening... that's a way to die. Getting caught in the gears of a combine... having your nuts bit off by a Laplander, that's the way I wanna go.

Damn it. Damn it. Damn it. Now I'm back to drinking coffee AND alcohol.

2005 Sportsman of the Year - Jose Canseco?

Yes, video games can influence kids. But not in the way you might think.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

12/3/05 Some Guy Dancing All Over the World

This is just really cool. It's some guy doing some dance in different locations all over the world.

I searched Google Video for "Nachos". I got this. Too bad the Swedish Chef isn't narrating. (Note: I have no idea what language the nacho clip is in. If you know, please let me know. It was close enough to Swedish for me).

Cousin Jeff sent this article about a pretty hardcore Bar Mitzvah.

True story - My senior year high school English teacher once told our class that "the way you sneeze is the way you orgasm". Yes, I had a cool English teacher. A few of my friends have recently told me that they had a crush on her. As a tribute to Ms. (I won't reveal your last name) - What your sneeze says about you.

To my techno-geek friends. Here's a way to take care of your techno-geek kids.

Nancy sends The Italian-American Teddy Bear. You need your speakers on to appreciate it.

Friday, December 02, 2005

12/2/05 The 15 Richest Fictional Characters

Somebody at Forbes was really bored lately. They wrote an article about the 15 richest fictional characters. Topping the list is Santa Claus. He's followed by Richie Rich, Daddy Warbucks and Scrooge McDuck.

And you thought *you* were having a bad day.

More later. Maybe.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

12/1/05 Harvester of Sorrow

Welcome back Paulie. We're thrilled to see you stay.

What's the difference between White and Red?

Happy December. I will now formally acknowledge the holiday season.

Coffee improves short term memory and speeds up reaction times. Damn it. Maybe I won't give it up after all.

Now onto the National Security portion of our segment:

Los Alamos: 600-plus pounds of Plutonium unaccounted for. Doc and Marty detained for questioning. Claim is was the Libyans.

Airline Security of waste of cash.

Super bonus points: Why is this post titled "Harvester of Sorrow"? (Nacho Expert, you are banned from answering for at least 24 hours since I'm pretty sure you know). All others - I'll entertain guesses.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

11/30/05 Underwater Poker

The first underwater poker game is sent by, none other than, Poker Jason.

Bands That Name Songs After Themselves

Random thought. What's with bands that have hit songs that are named after the band? Shouldn't this be illegal? Shouldn't the RIAA quit going after kids who download music and spend their time and efforts more wisely on this? This has to be the gayest form of self promotion I can think of. Yes, I wrote "gayest". Since it is the only word that properly describes my feelings about this.

Like Bad Company singing "Bad Company".

Company Always on the run
Destiny is the rising sun
Oh I was born 6-gun in my hand
Behind a gun I'll make my final stand
That's why they call me
Bad company
And I can't deny
Bad company
Till the day I die
Till the day I die
Till the day I die

(Skip to the end here)

We're Bad company
Kill in cold blood

"Kill in cold blood"? Yeah, you guys *are* bad.

Same goes for Rammstein singing "Rammstein".

Ein Mensch brennt
Fleischgeruch liegt in der Luft
Kind stirbt
Rammsteindie Sonne scheint

(I just felt like putting something in German in my blog). But the translation is pretty much along the lines of Bad Company. It's like "Rammstein. We're bad ass. Rammstein. Yeah that's right. Rammstein. Lick our sacks." (Alright, not exactly. But close enough).

Others I can think of off the top of my head:
  • Black Sabbath
  • Damn Yankees
  • Bo Diddley
  • The Monkees (singing "Hey hey we're the Monkees")

I'm now boycotting any band that does this.

Oh, look what I found. Good ol' wikipedia.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

11/29/05 Cheap Oil for the Poor

Cheap oil for the poor in the U.S. You'd think that would make people happy, right? Well, Washington's not happy. In part because the oil is coming from Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez. Stories like this make me laugh.

Bowling rules.

Monday, November 28, 2005

11/28/05 Mr. Miyagi

I know. Three days without a post. Let's just chalk it up to turkey coma and traveling.

To honor the passing of Pat Morita, The Sports Guy writes about the Karate Kid trilogy. (Note to Cousin Jeff - I know that it was originally written in 2002).

Deja Vu?


I know this is going to come as a shock to you. Brace yourself. "Experts say flu fears over wild birds over-stated".

I don't know if this really works (since I don't have speakers in the office). But it looks like Pandora will make a radio station based on a band or song you like.

Deja Vu?

Friday, November 25, 2005

11/25/05 The Mystery of Beer Goggles - Solved

Having eliminated all crime and having cured cancer, scientists have now unlocked the greatest remaining mystery. Beer Goggles.

In some very sad news, Mr. Miyagi died today. Wax on. Wax off.

11/24/05 Happy Thanksgiving

Did you know that the day we celebrate as Thanksgiving was supposed to be a fast?
The truth hurts. Maybe not as much as jumping on a bicycle with the seat missing. But it hurts.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

11/23/05 Dish Texas

Charlotte Dan reminded me about the article he sent a couple of years back about people named Dunlop. I forget exactly what happened, but the good people of Dunlop paid people to change their name from Dunlop to Dunlop Tire or something like that. Well, Charlotte Dan is back for more. This time an entire town has changed its name from Clark, Texas to Dish, Texas. They get free Dish Network for 10 years. Anyone who moves there will also get the same deal. I hear the guy who founded the town (Clark) isn't real happy about the decision.

In case you're in 8th grade and your science class is having a paper airplane competition. Here's how to make the perfect paper airplane.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

11/22/05 Angry Alien Productions

We've been begging for it. And now we have it. 30-second movie overviews done by cartoon bunnies. Thanks Mike.

Kobayashi retains his throne by eating 67 hamburgers. No word on how often he's used it since.

Monday, November 21, 2005

11/21/05 Hey You Guys!

Somebody blogged about the Goonies 20 year reunion. Sweet.

Now *this* is an idea. Let's put all of that CO2 we've been pumping into the atmosphere back where it came from. No, not your butt, that's methane. But rather where the oil came from. There are large empty caverns where the oil used to be.

Search Google for DSC00001.JPG - Check out people's photos.

Have I mentioned how much I love The Family Guy?

Saturday, November 19, 2005

11/19/05 TV Theme Songs

This is pretty funny. There are old sitcom intros with songs from other sitcoms. Like ALF with the Survivor song. And the Real Ghostbusters cartoon with Sanford and Son.

Remember that nutty Norwegian band from the other day that sings Total Eclipse of the Heart with kitchen appliances? They have a website. They're called Hurra Torpedo. And they're on tour in the US. Given my history, it's quite possible that I'm the only person who didn't already know about this.

It's about freaking time.

Both Mike the Nacho Expert sent this probably 2 weeks ago. At least. Yes, it is cool, guys. My bad for forgetting to post it.

All Your Base are Belong to us. Rhapsody.

Friday, November 18, 2005

11/18/05 Greetings, Professor Falken

How about a nice game of chess?

Kids today have the coolest toys. I can't believe we had to deal with color-less bubbles.

Maxim has come out with its list of "The 25 greatest short dudes of all time". Number 1? AC/DC's Angus Young.

Has anyone else noticed that the baseball free agents signing first all used to play for the White Sox? Tanyon Sturze, Scott Eyre (nice pick up by the Cubs by the way) and Geoff Blum have all signed with teams already. Raul Casanova, however, remains available.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

11/17/05 The Ghost of Tom Joad

Within the last 2 weeks, I shifted my music listening into the 21st century and got myself an iPod. The first thing you do when you get an iPod (after freaking out that there's no power cord) is install the iTunes software. One of the first questions it asks you is whether you would like it to search your hard drive for mp3 files. Why yes. That would be lovely. After nearly a decade of amassing odds and ends mp3 files, backing them up on CDs, transferring them from computer to computer, and saving them in various folders all over the place, iTunes finally organized them. I then spent the better part of a Sunday ripping CDs onto my laptop, creating all sorts of duplicate songs. But whatever. At this point, I plugged in my new iPod and it started sucking up every song in that iTunes folder. All 1500 of them, at what seemed like about a song per second. It was amazingly quick.

So now I just sit at work, click "shuffle songs" and listen to my iPod all day. Even I'm shocked at some of the mp3s I have. Just before I started writing this, "The Ghost of Tom Joad" by Rage Against the Machine came on. It's one of those songs I haven't gotten tired of after all these years. That's pretty rare for me. But after all these years, I never decided to learn what the song was about (My bad, I know). I learned 2 things in this search. One - This is a Bruce Springsteen song (again, my bad. I just didn't know). Two - the song is about a character from "The Grapes of Wrath" by John Steinbeck. I probably should've known these things before. But hey, I'm the guy that, up until 2003, thought that Spinal Tap was a real 80's hair band.

Once again, CNN is on the spot with breaking news - "Half the homes sold for more than the median and half for less."

My dad, who has a real talent and eye for photography, suggests checking out Liquid Sculpture.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Good Gear Guide

My good friend, Nigel, in Australia asked me to post a link to his new site. So here it is - The Good Gear Guide. He claims to get as many hits in 3 days as I get in a year, so I really don't know how this is going to help him. But hey, he asked, and he got.

Our IM conversation continued like this:

Me: Does it piss you off that that US owns the internet and you have to settle for a .com.au suffix?

Nigel: No. I'm glad the US owns it.

Me: C'mon. A little bit?

Nigel: Those dumbfuck harebrains at the UN should be kept well away. The idiots who are anti-US are just idiots. What are the other options? Pro-china? Pro-Iran? gimme a farking break already.

Me: You're more pro-US than we are

Nigel: Seriously, they piss me off. They sit in a world, ruled by democracy and human rights, using US technology, protected by US security - and then they trash the US without ever saying anything about anyone else. And anyone with intelligence can see that.

So there you have it. A foreigner who thinks more highly of the U.S. than any American I know.

11/16/05 No Thanks. I Already Have Enough Imaginary Friends.

I woke up this morning (as I tend to do every morning) and turned on my computer. These ten minutes online are my only chance to check personal email, IM any friends and family members and do anything fun before I go to firewall purgatory known as my job. This morning as my AOL Instant Messenger was loading up (stop me if you know where this is going) I received a message from AOL stating that they've added two robot IM buddies for me. Why do I need 2 robot friends? I could've added them a long time ago. I chose not to. What are you up to AOL?

I'm giving her all she's got Capt'n.

I've had this business idea for a couple of years. Just about everybody I've shared it with says it's pretty stupid. Except for Cousin Kevin - He always likes to brainstorm new business ideas. The idea was a place where you could relieve stress by hitting and breaking stuff. I wanted to call the place "Serenity Now". I thought it would do well in New York or Chicago near the financial institutions. Without going into details, it was hard to figure out a way to make the place profitable over a long period of time. Well. The Chinese stole my idea. "Students have flocked to the room since it opened eight days ago and hundreds more have booked in, presumably in anticipation of upcoming bouts of fury"

116 of the 200 most profitable law firms have a blue logo.

More proof that the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree - Jong Il's 24-year-old heir Kim Jong Chol has presented an ingenious idea to combat terrorism. "I'd destroy all terrorists with the Hollywood star Jean-Claude Van Damme."

Admittedly I don't keep up with pop culture. I don't watch MTV. Nor do I really care that Jennifer Aniston was named GQ's man of the year. Probably my least favorite part of living in California is the obsession with celebrities and fashion and all of that inane crap. This is why I had no idea that R. Kelly is doing this "Trapped in the Closet" saga. On the radio this morning I heard some song that ends Chapter 9 of this saga. He sings about approaching the cabinet. Looking at the cabinet. Walking toward the cabinet. Opening the cabinet. He says "cabinet" a lot in a 10 second span. And it turns out that there's a midget in the cabinet. And this midget was boning someone's wife, I think. All I know is that I was laughing pretty hard at the insanity of whatever was going on. I'm actually curious what led up to this midget in the cabinet scene. Damnit, now I'm gonna have to buy the DVD.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

11/15/05 Steroids - Who Knew?

For those of you who followed my "Fact of the Day" back in 2002 and 2003, you know that I've always spoken out about steroid abuse in the major leagues. It has been a secret in baseball for longer than most of us had ever suspected. ESPN the Magazine has finally broken the silence with their exclusive article - Who Knew? Ironically, the story begins with Pete Rose in Cincinnati in the mid-1980's.

In related news, the Baltimore Orioles have opted to not bring back their steroid user. Same goes for Rafael Palmeiro.

There's still one part of the new MLB steroid policy that bothers me. I haven't seen one article that mentions it either. Why does it take so long from the initial test to the formal announcement when a guy gets caught? When was Palmeiro initially tested? I forget the exact date, but it wasn't after May. He got suspended in August? 3 months later? This means that guys can "roid up" in September, have a monster playoff run, potentially win a World Series, get caught in December and then get suspended for the beginning of the following season. The team will suffer no consequences, keeping its World Series trophy. In my nightmares I fear that one of the White Sox players will be caught, leaving a gigantic, dark cloud over their tremendous accomplishment. That being said, there is an extra sense of pride knowing that the White Sox won the World Series in the same year that official steroid testing began.

Popular Science has unveiled the Best of What's New 2005.

(Imagine the deep voice of the guy who does NFL films for this). On the murky gridiron of Niles North High School, something far greater than pride is on the line. Thousands of years of tradition clash in the frozen tundra known to us as Skokie, Illinois. Their gods may have varying numbers of arms, but for one day, their goal is the same. To march down the field and vanquish the enemy. For one day, the Jews line up on one side of the field while the Indians prepare on the other. This one day, is now known as The Indo Jew Bowl.

Monday, November 14, 2005

11/14/05 Life Expectancy

How many times have you heard, "We live in the greatest country" when referring to the United States? I'm not going to go off on another rant today (although if I weren't so busy at work, I might have). But rather, I want to talk about life expectancy. To me, average life expectancy is, in part, indicative of the quality of a nation. It combines overall health, air quality, food quality, medical services and disease prevention. True or false: The United States ranks in the top ten nations in terms of average life expectancy? False. It ranks 42nd, narrowly beating out Guadeloupe, Cyprus and Kuwait.

For baseball fans - Here's the free agent tracker. White Sox catcher Raul Casanova is a free agent. Admittedly, Casanova is a great last time. But I've never heard of the guy. When did he play for the White Sox?

In an effort to create fluffier popcorn, Northrop Grumman developed a 27 kilowatt solid-state laser.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

11/13/05 Sister Christian, Oh the Time Has Come

And you know that you're the only one... to write this many words about the song.

Turn Around.... Every now and then I feel a little bit lonely... Oh my dear lord, what is this?!

If Dr. Seuss wrote for Star Trek: The Next Generation...

Mr. Abrams noticed the blog value generator thing on the right side of this blog. He found this blog to be worth over $8 million.

Philly Leah sends one of those good news / bad news articles.. The book "Blink (The Power of Thinking Without Thinking)" is being made into a movie (good news). It will star Leonardo DiCaprio (not good news, if you ask me).

Friday, November 11, 2005

11/11/05 NCAA Rejects Illinois' Appeal of Mascot Ban

The University of Illinois appealed the NCAA's ruling to ban on mascots that represent a "hostile and abusive image of American Indians." They lost their appeal. In my four years of undergraduate studies at the University of Illinois, I never once saw Chief Illiniwek as a hostile and abusive image of American Indians. The representation was always of the highest and utmost respect. The halftime dance done by "The Chief" attempted to best adhere to the traditional dance done by the Illini tribe. The individual chosen to be "The Chief" required an arduous process and was a great honor to be chosen. Nothing about the process ever struck me as "hostile and abusive".

You don't see Americans of Irish heritage upset that they're represented by a drunken, fighting leprechaun at Notre Dame. Why not?

Now, since I don't have a girlfriend, or really any friends for that matter, I occasionally sit up nights concocting conspiracy theories. For fear of questions about my sanity, I've been keeping this one to myself for a few months now. But I think it's finally time to unleash it to the few dozen people that read this blog. Here goes...

Answer this question - Why would a large governing body want to eliminate mascots that represent American Indians? Don't answer right away. Just ponder it for a few minutes.

When was the last time any large governing body did anything to really help American Indians? No really. Indian Reserves? Those are on pieces of land that NOBODY wanted. The ability to put casinos on their land? Here in California, they've legalized gambling in other areas. Small pox blankets? That wasn't helpful, now was it? The point here is that the treatment of American Indians is probably the biggest stain in the history of The United States (African slavery being the other. Seeing as though American Indians were also used as slaves, they earn the "biggest stain" tag in my book. Either way, it's up there). How many American Indians do you know? In fact, how many have you met in your life? I think it was Chris Rock that said "You ain't NEVER seen 2 Indians at the same time". Basically, the culture of the people who lived here for thousands of years is really non-existent in our daily lives. The only place where any representation of that culture remains is in sports mascots - both collegiate and professional.

This brings us back to the original question - Why would a large governing body want to eliminate mascots that represent American Indians?

Here's the theory. Why not erase the greatest stain and blemish in United States history? Without mascots to remind us of the American Indian culture that was essentially destroyed over the past 200 years, then it really didn't exist. If a piece of history is no longer discussed, then it is no longer a piece of history. How many other cultures are we unaware of since they don't exist in our history books? I'm sure the answer is greater than zero. The NCAA ruling is a red herring. The ruling appears to be respecting the American Indian culture under the guise of "hostile and abusive images". When, in fact, the ruling is helping erase the culture completely from our memories. What happens in a decade. What about 50 years from now? Who is going to talk about American Indian culture? If it weren't for sports mascots today, I wouldn't be defending the memory of their culture.

The question remains - Why would a large governing body want to eliminate mascots that represent American Indians?

On that note - Happy Veterans' Day

While I'm on a roll - Top Ten Signs You're a Fundamentalist Christian

If you're planning to have a kid soon, might I recommend that they not watch the 2008 Olympics. The new mascots for the 2008 Olympic Games have been unveiled. And they will permanently torture your kids' dreams well into adulthood.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

11/10/05 How to Clean Your Bowling Ball

I've owned my own bowling ball for, I dunno, 8 years now? When I got it, it was a top end ball (well, not super top end, but a good $200). It had a real nice hook to it and helped me raise my average from 105 to 160 or so. I even managed my first official 600 series, which, for me, was a huge accomplishment. Never before and never since have I repeated the feat.

Anyways, in recent years, I haven't bowled nearly as much as I did back in college. And when I do bowl, I'm pretty bad. Like 120-130 bad. My ball just doesn't hook anymore and it's almost as if I completely forgot how to bowl.

Then I had a nasty acid flashback recently. I had vivid memories of my Russian college roommate, Vlad, putting a hair dryer to his bowling ball. (Note: I've never taken acid. I'm simply comparing what I think a bad flashback might be like to the memory of living with Vlad). (Note 2: Vlad, I'm just kidding). (Note 3: Or am I?) Ok, now Vlad went from bowling off the wrong foot to joining the University of Illinois varsity bowling team in the course of a year or two. This, for one, should be a good indication that bowling isn't really a sport.

The important thing here is the hair dryer. We'd watch Vlad blow the hair dryer over his ball, like it was his first Cabbage Patch Kid. Then he'd wipe it with a towel and repeat. Vlad kindly explained that he was making the ball sweat oil. (Note 4: Vlad never explained things kindly. But for the sake of this story, he did). The newer balling balls soak up oil and lose their ability to grip the lane. The hair dryer released the oil from the ball and returned the ball to it's hooking self.

Why am I telling this story? No good reason. It's just that I took my bowling ball out of my trunk the other day and decided to give it a good cleaning. First, I put it in my sink and ran real hot water over it. It bubbled with tiny beads of oil. I continued to wipe it off and pour more hot water over it. When I was done, I rinsed out the towel. The water in the sink became pit stain yellow.

Anyways, I wasn't completely satisfied with the results. So I looked up how to clean a bowling ball. The answer? Put it in a dishwasher. So I did. My roommate asked why the silverware holder thingie was on the counter. You wonder why she's moving out. I think the ball is relatively oil-free now though. I've just gotta go bowling now.

I've been way too busy to learn much else new. Hence the long story for no reason.

Well, my friends. It's out in the open. Richard Roeper has unleashed "The Shocker" to the mainstream. It's no longer cool to do.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

11/9/05 The Official Unintentional Comedy Rating Scale

As always, the Sports Guy has me in stitches (does anybody talk like that anymore? or is it just me?). For a year and a half now, he has passively mentioned Unintentional Comedy. His definition is "Those moments when something or someone cracks you up ... even though that wasn't necessarily the original intention." So he writes an article filled with those moments, ranked 65 (low) to 100 (high). Some of my favorites:
  • the "Saved By The Bell" episode when Jessie took too many caffeine pills
  • Journey's "Separate Ways" video
  • Pedro getting mad because Puck ate his peanut butter on "Real World: San Fran"
  • Col. Jessup inexplicably taking a shot at Lt. Weinberg in "A Few Good Men."
  • Dave Wannstadt's mustache
  • the '92 NBA All-Star Game, when everyone was afraid to guard Magic

Speaking of the Sports Guy, he also has a good article on the people you hate at the ballpark.

Forbes has created "The Email Time Capsule". You can email yourself and have it sent up to 20 years in the future. So, in 20 years you'll get an email (ok, you probably won't cuz I guarantee you won't still be using hotmail in 20 years). But let's assume that you somehow get this email. You can look back at what a loser you were, writing emails to yourself.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

11/8/05 Relativity Challenge

I was reading one of my old blog entries and one of the Sponsored Ads on the the right reads, "Did Einstein Make a Mistake?". So I checked out it. Then I thought to myself, why would somebody need to pay for an ad that proves Einstein wrong? Turns out the dude uses some crappy PowerPoint presentation to prove some point that doesn't really make sense. Included on this brilliant website is a puzzle section. The first puzzle - Three Men and a Hotel. While that's a fun puzzle for a few minutes, you don't need to be an Einstein to solve it.

"So, the Zimbabwe President sez to me, 'Go to hell' and I was, like, 'No way' and he was, like, 'Yes way' and I was, like, 'Oh no you din't!' and he was, like, 'Whatever'"

I saved this link about NBA Myths last week. My favorite is "The Crowd Can Affect Free-Throw Shooting". "As it turns out, Thunderstix and wiggling balloons have little effect because the brain simply blocks out random motion, like white noise on a television screen. According to this Slate.com article, fans behind the baseline would be better off moving side-to-side in unison."

The world's worst software bugs.

Monday, November 07, 2005

11/7/05 Fantasy Football

Welcome to your 2005 fantasy football team.

The WHO claims that human flu pandemic inevitable, ignores requests for pinball wizard.

Howard Stern got $500 MILLION to move to Sirius Satellite?!?! Holy shit.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

11/6/05 Gravity Waves

The only part of Einstein's theory of general relativity that hasn't been proven experimentally is gravity waves. We may be only months away from an experiment that will prove it true. Gravity waves are "shifts in space and time caused by the movement of massive astronomical bodies".

Ahh, high school memories. I think my freshman year intramural team once lost to the same score.

And now, the award for most damaging computer virus of 2004 is....

Is there something new in the water supply in Chicago? First, the White Sox. Now the Bears are in first place? Not only are they in first place, but they're in front by 2 games.

Texas Adultery Law

A lawyer who works in Texas gets a call about an emergency which requires him to immediately fly out of the state for a short period of time. He doesn't even have enough time to pack, so he calls home to tell his wife about the trip.

The maid answers the call, but is quite hesitant about putting his wife on the phone. After quite a bit of interrogation, she admits that the wife is upstairs in bed with the mailman! The lawyer is furious, and wants to rush right home, but of course there is this emergency he must take care of. So instead, he tells the maid to go get the gun from the desk drawer and kill both his wife and the mailman.

The maid protests, but the lawyer explains that under Texas law it is legal to kill your adulterous spouse and his/her lover. Using his silver tongue, he finally convinces the maid to do it, offering a hefty bonus as a reward. She puts down the phone, and soon the lawyer hears the sound of two gun shots, a scream, a dozen or so loud thumps, and finally, two splashes.
The maid comes back to the phone. The lawyer asks, "Did you kill them?"

"Yes," she replies.

The lawyer questions her again, "What did you do with the bodies?"

"I threw them in the pool," she responds.

There is a brief pause from the lawyer. He asks her, "Did you say the pool?"

"Yes! I threw them in the pool!" she says.

"Uh, is this 555-8234?"

11/5/05 Jay Mariotti Year in Review

Cousin Jeff sends Jay Mariotti's Year in Review as written by Eric Zorn. Eric went back and read Mariotti's articles for the last 12 months about the White Sox.

Mariotti writes:

December 19 --If the Sox had given (former Cub Matt) Clement an extra $5 million and (pitcher Omar) Vizquel an extra year and $3 million, they would have a quality No. 3 starter behind Freddy Garcia and Mark Buehrle and a fielding wizard to anchor the infield. But because they bid low in both cases, they'll be a .500 team next year. Or worse.

May 21 --It should surprise no one.. that the Sox would rise impressively.... the Sox seem poised for glory.
May 30--You can't chip and dink out runs for 162 games and expect your starting pitchers to bail out the cause every time. ...Excuse me, but are those the Minnesota Twins only 3 1/2 games back now? Pardon me, but have the Sox sunk to ninth in the American League in runs scored after managing 17 in their last seven games?
July 30-- Williams insists the Sox don't need major roster surgery, but I couldn't disagree more.
August 20 --Only a fool thinks a scratch-and-tickle offense doesn't need Ken Griffey Jr.... A theme is emerging, and it isn't pretty for the South Siders. Barring an unforeseen deal by general manager Ken Williams, who is too protective of team chemistry and not focused enough on reality, the Sox will enter the postseason with one of the tamer offensive lineups in recent memory
September 1 --The final, final, final trading deadline passed late Wednesday night without activity, leaving the Sox with one of the flimsiest batting orders of any contender in years. (The Sox are) a downwardly spiraling imposter that has little chance to win a postseason series, unless ominous patterns unexpectedly turn bright in coming weeks...... Buehrle doesn't have his stuff. You don't know what you're getting from Garland. El Duque is fading. Dustin Hermanson still has an iffy back. The team looks tired. The defense has been woeful. The lineup has too many automatic outs. The Sox aren't playing well at home. Who is Geoff Blum, anyway?
Read the article for the full low down.

Six rules for IM-ing at work. Rule #5 - Learn how to count.

The 25 Best Pee-wee's playhouse moments.

Friday, November 04, 2005

11/4/05 Fred Marshall, Cam Karoake Man

Cousin Eric called me at work to let me know about Fred Marshall. You're probably thinking, your cousin called you at work to tell you about a guy in the internet? I was thinking the same thing. Until I saw Fred Marshall, Cam Karaoke Man. Then I realized how important this was. And immediately, I told Cousin Eric that this would be the next fact I post. Please, check out Fred's site. Be sure to click on his first cool link - video.google.com/videosearch?q=fred+marshall+karaoke. And enjoy the videos.

Like I said a couple of days ago, I have all sorts of outdated links sent from all sorts of people. I'm going to try and put some of them here tonight. First off, my dad sends an Ice Swipe game from Coors Light.

Pinche Edgar sends me a link to the restaurant he works at in Cincinnati - El Pueblo. Edgar's a good guy. If you're in Cincinnati, you should check it out.

Nigel from Australia sends me his latest endeavor - Good Gear Guide. Get yourself a better deal and check out his site.

I'm such a crappy son. My mom sent this to me like 10 days ago and asked if I'd post it. Well Mom, the answer is yes. Man coughs up a screw.

Are you right brained or left brained? Take the Hemispheric Dominance Test. When I was a kid, I learned that the rule of thumb is that your dominant hand is the opposite of your dominant brain half. I'm very much right handed and figured that I am left brained. I was SHOCKED to find out that I favor the right half of my brain. I demand a recount.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

11/3/05 No-Nonsense Flu Season Tips

MSN offers up No-Nonsense tips for the upcoming flu season. Tip #9 - "During flu season, never let anyone lick your keyboard." Still no warning against salad tossing.

Mitchell Friedman? Who the hell are these guys?

From the "Huh huh. You said Sack Pain" files - Steve McNair

The technical lowdown on RFID in passports.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

11/2/05 Put Your DNA in a Tree

And we live a life of ease, in the middle of a tree. All together now... "D-N-A in the middle of a tree. The middle of a tree. The middle of a tree..."

When I'm 64.

She came in through the bathroom window... Ok, I couldn't figure out anything to continue the Beatles theme I spontaneously created. But on a serious note, I want to buy this as a gift for someone. So if you know where I can buy it, please let me know.

Wouldn't you know it? The universe actually does revolve around Paris Hilton's hoo-ha.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

11/1/05 Will Perdue

Will Perdue scarred my childhood. Will Perdue made me lost faith in all that was good in humankind. I was only 12 years old at the time, but I remember the Will Perdue incident like it happened this afternoon. Back when the Bulls were good, they used to have these clinics at the local high schools during the summer. Two Bulls players would show up. Usually they had one decent guy and one scrub. Like John Paxson and Cliff Levingston. Or BJ Armstrong and Will Perdue. It was always one of our summer highlights to attend these clinics. If you were lucky, you got to go down on the floor with them and practice some sort of drill.

This one particular year, my friend's mom was late picking us up from the Bulls clinic. A good twenty minutes had passed since the end of the clinic, and we stood there, the three of us, outside of the gymnasium. All seven feet of Will Perdue came around the corner. Now, it's not like I was a big Will Perdue fan. But he was a celebrity. It was exciting for a 12-year old. So I looked up at him as he walked my way, and with my pen and paper timidly asked him, "Mr. Perdue, can I have your autograph?"

"No." He quickly responded. "Please. Can I please have your autograph?" "No. Sorry." And he walked away.

There's a reason I tell this story. And it's not because I enjoy reliving one of the most traumatic moments of my life. Today on ESPN.com they had sessions where you could ask their experts about the upcoming NBA season. Guess who one of their experts was? Yup. Will Perdue. They let you submit questions and comments a couple of hours ahead of time, so he could offer his insight.

I wrote a quick, succint submission to Will.
"Hey Will - 15 years ago you took part in a Bulls Clinic at the local high school. My friend's mom was late picking us up and we were the only ones left in the building. When I kindly asked for your autograph, you said no. When I begged please, you said no again and walked away. While that scarred me as a 12 year old, I want to give you a chance to apologize. A simple "I'm sorry" would allow me to finally move on from that crushing incident in the Buffalo Grove High School gymnasium."

Needless to say he didn't respond and this story has no good ending. Except for the fact that his responses sucked, he doesn't know how to spell, he was 5 minutes late and it took him an average of 6 minutes to actually type a response. Even worse? You now have to be an "IN", paying member of ESPN.com to read it.

Just to give you a taste, here's how the Q&A session kicked off...

Will Perdue: sorry I'm late.let's get started.
Thomas (Florida): How many games do you see the Lakers, Pacers, Spurs and Heat win this season?
Will Perdue: the team that's the wildcard in the big picture is the lakers.We all know ego is a big thing in the NBA(no pun ),but are Phil and Kobe really able to put the past behind them.I still donot see the Lakers making the playoffs.

Will Perdue. I still don't like you. And you still suck.

Mel Gibson is planning a new movie. Passion of the Christ 2: Yucatecean Boogaloo.

Monday, October 31, 2005

10/31/05 Happy Halloween

Welcome to the beginning of holiday madness. Santa's fat ass now extends back 2 months and butts right up against Halloween. Yay.

Traditions have always irked me a bit. Ok, a lot. I never liked it when I asked "Why?" and the answer is "Because that's what we do." I didn't like it as a kid and I sure as hell don't like it now. I imagine a day when I might have kids and I am up against a conversation like this:

Kid A - "Where are we going?"
Me - "To the grocery store."
Kid B - "What are we gonna buy at the grocery store, daddy?"
Me - "Some things for Halloween."
Kid B - "What kind of things?"
Me - "Two pumpkins. One for each of you. A carving knife to cut them with. Some candy for the trick or treaters. You also need to think about what you want to dress up as this year."
Kid A - "Why do we have to cut the pumpkins?"
Me - "It's a lot of fun. You cut a face into the pumpkin. And you take the seeds out of the pumpkin and eat them."
Kid B - "If it's so much fun, why do we have to wait a whole year to do it?"
Kid A - "Yeah daddy. We should buy a pumpkin tree."
Me - "Uhhh, so, uh, have you thought about your costumes?"
Kid A - "I want to be a pumpkin. Pumpkins are fun, right daddy?"
Kid B - "I want to be a pumpkin, too!"
Me - "What about something scary? Like a vampire or a ghost?"
Kid B - "Why would I want to be a ghost? Those aren't fun. You said this was supposed to be fun. You said pumpkins are fun."
Me - (blank stare)
Kid A - "Why do they give us candy? Why do we say Trick or Treat?"
Me - (continued blank stare)
Kid B - "Can we cut a face into a watermelon too?"
Me - "(about to completely lose it) You know what, kids? Do you want the real answers? It's about economics and marketing. Big corporations make us feel like we have to buy whatever it is they're selling. So they invent traditions. The pumpkin growers make us feel like we have to buy their pumpkins. Hallmark charges you 5 bucks a pop for their lame ass cards. Candy makers... "

At this point I realize that I suck as a dad and understand why adults lied to me growing up. It's just not worth it. It's also a demoralizing moment when I realize that those big corporations will always win. They'll also sell us their crap because it's so much easier to buy into it than question what the hell we're doing and why we're doing it. Like I said, traditions irk me.

I don't follow the NBA a whole lot. I just try and follow it enough to not embarrass myself playing fantasy basketball. In my research for my fantasy team, all I kept reading about was that everybody is picking the Spurs to win the title. Almost as if there's no competition. As you know, I have no faith in experts anymore after what happened during the baseball season. So I decided to check out this Spurs team for myself. I knew they had, arguably the best player in the league, Tim Duncan. And I also knew that they have Ginobli and Tony Parker and Bruce Bowen - They are definitely a talented group. When I checked out their bench, I understood what the experts were talking about. Their bench consists of Nick Van Exel, Brent Barry, Michael Finley, Robert "Big Shot Bob" Horry, Rasho Nesterovic and "Big Dog" Glenn Robinson. Each of those 6 guys could be a valuable starter on any team. Now I get it. The Spurs are loaded.

When my parents came to California to visit, the one thing they noticed above all else is the exorbitant amount of signs. You know, the kind of signs that they write songs about. This one on I-5 going down to San Diego is, well, unique. They also have all sorts of signs on the highways here for "No Littering" and "Carpool Lane Violation" each with a minimum fine. Those minimum fines are always some odd number like $271 or $341. Oh, I have a point here. Here's the newest sign. Just in case you weren't aware of what you should and shouldn't do.

10/30/05 Spring Forward, Fall Back, Stay in Bed

I'd be willing to bet that more accidents occur on the Sunday and Monday immediately following Daylight Savings Time than on a normal Sunday or Monday. Why, you may ask? First, the clock in your car is wrong. So, you might decide to change it while driving. And how often do you change the clock in your car? Did you know how to change it this morning? I think that once insurance companies latch onto this idea, they are going to give discounts to drivers whose cars change for DST automatically. I also noticed that my watch was an hour off while I was driving. Another hazard.

In fact, I heard about a nasty motorcycle crash on the radio this morning.

A second, but far less compelling point is that people are just off of their rhythm that first day after the clocks change. The sunlight is different, your sleep patterns are off. I wouldn't bet the farm on my theory (not that I have a farm to bet), but without hard data, it would be difficult to disprove.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

10/29/05 Ben Jabituya

One of the bummers of getting older and wiser is learning all of the ways in which you have been deceived your entire life. I was watching VH1's "I Love the 80's" and learned something that just crushed me. Remember Steve Guttenberg's Indian buddy in "Short Circuit"? Well, I have disappointing news. He really wasn't Indian. He's a white guy named Fisher Stevens.

Governor Blagojevich sends his well wishes to the White Sox. Yet somehow manages to conclude his statement by talking about the Cubs.

Mike sends a link to Imagination Cubed. You can draw with your friend on this page. If I had a friend, I'd tell you more about what it's like.

The Shining was filmed here. There is no room 237. The book used room 217. But Timberline Lodge asked that a non-existent room be used in the filming. I'd still be really creeped out to stay there.

Here's a neat article on the CCR5 gene, delta 32. And how the mutated gene in humans allowed certain people to be immune to the bubonic plague. Turns out the same gene also works the same way against HIV. Samplings of people of African, East Asian and Indian show that nobody has the mutated gene. Whites of European descent, however, showed 14% with the immunity.

Mommy, when are the neighbors going to take their Halloween decorations down?

Friday, October 28, 2005

10/28/05 We Now Return to Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

No more White Sox. I promise.

Popular Science lists its top 10 worst jobs in science. Included are Orangutan-Pee Collector and Kansas Biology Teacher.

Mike sends me an email saying that the director of Outfoxed has made a new movie. About Wal-Mart.

I love creative press. Here's the headline from the Detroit Free Press - "Asian vehicles rank low in survey. Reliability is issue for Nissan, Toyota" Now, read the article carefully for a minute. Notice anything? On the right you'll see "MOST RELIABLE 2006 MODELS" 29 of the 31 models are Japanese. The remaining two are made by Chevrolet and Mercury.

For those of you who have been sending links to me over the past few weeks and I haven't posted them, I apologize. It's nothing personal. I can't access my personal email at work. And, needless to say, I've been a little busy the last couple of weeks. I'm going to try and have one of those "mish mosh" posts soon with all of those links you've sent.

The White Sox Win the World Series - Part 7

(This is really the final post - The story begins here.)

I think we were collectively getting greedy. We were getting used to winning games. In my mind, I still thought “We need to win game 2”. We can’t split at home and then go to Houston and face their ace, Roy Oswalt in game 3. Once again, two of the best pitchers in the game faced off – Andy Pettitte and Mark Buehrle. This was a baseball fan’s dream. To be able to see some of the game’s greatest pitchers on consecutive nights in the World Series. It doesn’t get any better than that. For this game, the entire family got to go. Mom, Dad, brother, sister-in-law and me. The forecast was for colder weather and more rain. Yup, my Konerko jersey stunk to high hell, but I’d be damned if I was going to wash it after going 3 for 3 (The last 2 ALCS games and Game 1 of the World Series). So, we layered up, put on hats and gloves and headed back to the south side.

With the score 4-2 Astros in the 5th inning and Andy Pettitte settling in, things didn’t seem so bright. Despite the best efforts of the White Sox scoreboard operator, there was really nothing to bring that crowd back into the game. Just like game 2 of the ALDS, Mark Buehrle gave up 4 runs, and we would need some sort of Tony Graffanino-like miracle. With runners on 1st and 2nd in the bottom of the 7th, we got our miracle. A phantom hit-by-pitch on a 3-2 count to Jermaine Dye. Just like all of the other calls that had gone our way throughout the playoffs, they still had to take advantage. Paul Konerko came to the plate. The reason I like Konerko so much is that he’s a smart player. He normally takes the 1st pitch. And with a new reliever coming in, you want to make him throw a few. And the opposition knew that. With bases loaded, you have to throw strikes and get ahead in the count. Like, I said, Konerko’s a real smart hitter. He knew he’d get a pitch to hit. He knew he had to be ready 1st pitch. And he did. He hit a frozen rope over the left-centerfield wall. I will never see another sports moment like that in my life. Comiskey Park erupted. Grown men started hugging other random grown men. I don’t even remember seeing or hearing any fireworks. Paul Konerko just changed the entire game, and possibly the entire series. Those are the moments you live for. That was it. A grand slam in the World Series to take a 6-4 lead. “6 more outs” was our new battle cry.

By the ninth inning our new cry became “3 more outs!” We could taste victory. We were actually going to go up 2-0 in the World Series. The big man came out of the bullpen and the entire crowd started to do the Ozzie move. 41,000 fans were calling for Bobby Jenks. But this time when our heads turned, the scoreboard didn’t read “99” or “101”. It was reading “95” and “90”. My brother asked me if that was his changeup. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. Maybe the cold and rain was slowing him down. Maybe he wasn’t fully rested. Whatever it was, our Jenks wasn’t the same as the night before. Jose Vizcaino of all people tied the game up with a 2 run single. It hurt. But we saw Ozzie come out of the dugout to take Bobby out of the game. And he didn’t look worried. Not Ozzie. He knew the game wasn’t over. Heck, it was still tied and we had last wraps. And if Ozzie wasn’t worried, neither were we.

Some drunk guy in a Blackhawks jacket never stopped yelling, “DE-TROIT SUCKS! DE-TROIT SUCKS!” Hey, it made no sense and was a little annoying. But hey it’s hard to disagree. And if that was going to work, then I’m on board. Detroit sucks.

For the ump-teenth time, the loud speakers blared one of my favorite 80s songs, “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey. That was the White Sox theme song for the playoffs. They never stopped believing. And neither did any of us. The White Sox know how to manufacture runs. If one of the first two guys could get on base, I liked our chances. Either Juan Uribe or Scott Podsednik. Sure, Brad Lidge was pitching. But anybody is hittable. I checked the scoreboard after Lidge pitched to Uribe and it was reading “97” and ”98”. Yikes. Podsednik got himself into a nice 2-1 count. Throughout the playoffs, he had been working very nice counts, fouling of pitches and drawing walks. That’s what we needed here. Our speed demon on the bases. Lidge also knew this. So he offered up his best fastball. Pods took a swing and drove it into the gap. I was thinking “triple”. So was Pods. He was off to the races. But the ball didn’t hit the gap. It kept going. For a guy who hit 0 homeruns and 1 triple in the regular season to hit his 2nd homerun in the postseason is just unheard of. The most unlikely hero won the game with a walkoff homerun. We embraced, we screamed and once again, we didn’t hear the fireworks. It was 40 degrees and raining. It was perfect. Nobody left either. 41,000 fans just stayed. And I know for my parents, they were ecstatic. Not only for the White Sox, but for all of us, knowing that we were there together. And for that, I’m happy for them.

After about 3 hours of sleep, I took a cab to O’Hare at 4:30 the next morning. I broke my recent “no coffee” craze (for like the 10th time) and willed my way through the workday.

I watched game 3 at home. I was still a little exhausted from the weekend. Turns out, I made an EXCELLENT choice. I had my computer and was IM-ing with friends and family throughout the game. I even had my cousins Danny and Eric on videoconference. We had done that before and their TV is about 10 seconds behind mine. So I had to pull the microphone out if I were to get excited about anything, as to not ruin it for them. Now, remember, I hadn’t seen a game on TV in a couple of weeks. You may have been used to Joe Buck and Tim McCarver. I wasn’t. And I’ve got to say that Tim McCarver ought to be nicknamed “Captain Obvious”. He offered no insight into anything. “So and so is a drop and drive pitcher. That means he drops and then he drives”. Oh, is that so, Tim? I suppose that it was your idea to have the gay baseball that talks to us and explains how a changeup works. Or perhaps it was your idea in the 12th or 13th inning to inform us that: “In five hours you could – Cook a Turkey, Fly from Baltimore to Iceland, Watch 1/5 of a season of “24”, Watch the longest World Series game ever”. How retarded do you think your audience is, Fox? Do you think I can’t figure what I could do with 5 hours? God, I hate Rupert Murdoch. Wait, what were we talking about? Oh yeah. The World Series.

14 innings and 5 hours and I don’t remember how many minutes later, Geoff Blum hit the go ahead homerun. Geoff Blum? He played for the Astros a couple of years back and they said he couldn’t be part of the Killer B’s, despite fitting right in. Speaking of, the Killer B’s sort of made sense about 7 years ago when those players were actually good. Now it’s just lame. Lame like every sign I saw in Houston. “Sock the Sox” and “Hit a Homer” with a picture of Homer Simpson are the two that stand out. Are the people of Houston that lame or does Fox only show the lame signs? God I hate Rupert Murdoch. So yeah, at 1:20 am Central time, every I know went straight to bed. Cousin Danny had to wake up at 5:00 am to teach the next morning. I talked to Cousin Kevin a couple of days later, and he was up until 2:20 am, as he’s the only one of us on Eastern Time. Even my dad, who is a morning person, IM-ed me after the game, “Geoff Blum and Damaso Marte. My picks to click!” I suppose I can’t really complain about my loss of sleep. They’re truly dedicated.

It didn’t seem real. The White Sox were up 3-0 in the World Series. Their pitching was anything but dominating. They gave up 3, 6 and 5 runs in the first 3 games. But they were finding ways to win. Just like they had all season. There was no need for dominance. Their teams in the past had dominant bats and that never seemed to work. Maybe Kenny and Ozzie were right all along. They needed a team to win. They needed 25 guys, including Geoff Blum and Damaso Marte. Each of them needed to do their part to win.

I had to watch game 4 in public. Sure, there aren’t many White Sox fans in California. But it had to be out in public. So I picked a sports bar and sent out an email. I was joined by Poker Jason, Brent, Dan and Leah. I think they all came because I told them I might break down and cry if the White Sox won. Wouldn’t you know it – After all of the hype of the “Big 3” in the Astros rotation, it was their 4th pitcher that threw the game of his life. Fox must have hated this. But baseball traditionalists loved it. The game was 0-0 after 7 innings. Poker Jason suggested that we order a lucky drink. He asked, “What would be appropriate for the White Sox?” Although Miller Lite is the official beer of the White Sox, it just didn’t seem right. After a few moments, Jason had it. A white Russian. The right colors and the right drink. So we ordered a round of White Russians. And that’s all I need to say. Jermaine Dye singled in Willie Harris for the go-ahead run. And our bullpen closed things out. Everybody contributed. They all deserved the MVP. And I was just hugs and high fives all around.

Leah asked, “Who’s the first call to?” Home of course. My mom picked up and I just screamed, “They WON!” They were watching at home with the family – Brother, sister-in-law, my grandma (who was born a year after the last World Series), my aunt and uncle were all there. It was perfect for all of us.

When I woke up the next morning, I logged onto ESPN.com just to make sure it wasn’t a dream. It was real. The White Sox, a team with no real top-caliber players, won 11 of 12 playoffs games. They beat the reigning world champions (The Red Sox), the best top to bottom team in the American League (The Angels) and the team with the best 3 starting pitchers (The Astros). And they beat them all with style. They won their last 8 games. Something just seemed right in the stars for them and for the fans. We never stopped believing. We witnessed history. And we’ll forever have a story to tell. The 2005 Chicago White Sox were our team.

My cube in my office is still plastered with White Sox signs. I have every box score for every win in the playoffs. It’s been no secret who I’ve been rooting for. The playoffs have consumed my life for the past 4 weeks. I’ve neglected just about every other aspect of my life since the playoffs began on October 4th. I have zero regrets. I’ve enjoyed every moment of the ride. Almost 2 weeks ago in Anaheim my dad said, “There’s no script. You don’t know the outcome. That’s what makes it so exciting.” You know what, Dad? I’m not sure they could have scripted a better outcome had they tried.

The White Sox Win the World Series - Part 6

(See parts 1-5 before reading this)

On the ride back to his hotel, my dad and I were soaking in the moment. We were analyzing the series, talking about the Angels and how we both thought that they were tired and beat up from a long season. And how, despite the fact that the White Sox won pretty handily, we both knew that the Angels were a far better than they showed in that series. He and I may not be Rooney and Farmer, but we can still discuss a mean game of baseball. Once we got past the “complete game” and “Joe Crede” talk, he asked me the all-important question. “Are you planning on coming in next weekend for the World Series?” Knowing that he had tickets to game 2 on Sunday, I responded, “How could I not?”

The next day at work, I looked for flights. How could I not miss any work, get from Southern California to Chicago and back and still see game 2 on Sunday night? Oh, and I had to do this 4 days in advance. One flight stood out perfectly. It left LAX at 6:30 pm on Friday and got into Chicago around 12:30 am. And I would leave Chicago at 6:00 am on Monday morning, land at LAX at 8:15 am and drive straight to work. Nobody would even know I was gone. And little did I know that I would be going to not one, but both World Series games that weekend. My dad scored two tickets for game 1. My brother gave up a chance to fight me in the ultimate cage match for the 2nd ticket and said that I could go. You’d probably say he’s a nice guy, but deep down, he knew I could kick his ass :) (Yes, we’re grown men and we still talk to each other this way).

I slept in on Saturday as late as I could, given the long flight and the time change. After moving around slowly for a couple of hours, my mom suggested that I get ready. The weather forecast called for light rain and temperatures in the mid-40s. So I got ready for the game, Bears-style. T-shirt, long sleeve shirt, Sox sweatshirt, and my still-not-washed-since-Game-5-of-the-ALCS Paul Konerko jersey. I also brought one of those headbands that covers your ears, winter gloves and, of course, my traditional White Sox hat. Yup, we were ready.

We got to the stadium real early so we could park and soak in the moment. We were at the World Series. The WORLD SERIES! We immediately bought programs and put them back in the car. Next thing I knew, my dad was talking to a buddy of his, who ended up taking us to the The Stadium Club. So, not only were we at the World Series, but we were living large before the game. As I gorged myself with a Chicago style buffet (including an 18 inch Polish Sausage), we were all just talking White Sox. We’ve all been waiting our entire lives for this moment. And it was right there in front of us. It was completely surrounding us. It encompassed every part of each and every one of us. And we were all just waiting patiently until the first pitch.

I told my dad, “You know, we could potentially be seeing Clemens’ last game ever”. Sadly, not only was Clemens hittable, but he also hurt himself in the 2nd inning and never came back. When I said that, I didn't mean it that way. It's sad to see one of the greatest pitchers of all time possibly end his career like that. In a series that was supposed to be dominated by pitching match ups and suspect hitting, game 1 was tied 3-3 in the 3rd inning. Wandy Rodriguez was shaky in relief, but only gave up 1 run. The running joke between my cousins and me is that Rodriguez moved to the US when he was about 5 years old. And when the immigration officer asked him his name, the cute little boy said, “Wandy Wodwiguez”. At the age of 5, Randy forever become Wandy.

Ok, back on topic… For all of the talk of an unused bullpen, Ozzie had full confidence in them. After a leadoff hit in the 8th, Neil Cotts had first and third, nobody out and a one run lead. Long story short, Cotts struck out the next two hitters. Ozzie came to the mound, put his arms out along his sides, and called for the big man, Bobby Jenks. As Jenks was warming up on the mound, the cold night in Chicago didn’t seem quite as cold anymore. One more out and they were onto the 9th inning. I turned to my dad and said, “Have you noticed that he didn’t throw one pitch in the strike zone while he was warming up?” But as soon as the first batter stepped in, Jenks brought the heat. Sitting in the right field bleachers, I’ve never seen so many heads turn around after each and every pitch. They were looking at the pitch speed. I couldn’t quite see it, but I saw a guy in the row in front of me mouth, “Ninety-nine”. Someone had a brilliant sign at the game – “We don’t have a curse. But we have a Jenks.” Jenks went on to strike out the next four batters, earning his first World Series save. Twice, the guy in the row in front of me mouthed, “One-oh-one”. The White Sox bullpen struck out the final 6 hitters in the game. Yes, we have a Jenks. And we were up 1-0 in the World Series.

--- To be concluded (this time for real) ---

Thursday, October 27, 2005

10/27/05 The White Sox Win the World Series - Part 5

(See previous entries for the whole story)

The break they had between the ALDS and the ALCS seemed like it lasted forever. There was a rain out for game 4 of the Angels/Yankees series. When they finally played game 4, people began to ask me which team I’d rather face. My answer was, “I’d like to see them play a game 5. That way they’d both have to fly cross country, play the next day, use another starter, and the winner would fly to Chicago, only to play again the next day.” I got my wish. The Yankees took game 4. My dad mentioned in passing that it would be fun if he could come out here for the ALCS if the Angels and White Sox were playing. There was no disagreement from me. During Game 5 of the Angels and Yankees, my dad sent me an IM in the 7th inning. It said, “I’m booking my flight. Get us tickets for Saturday and Sunday”. I responded, “You’re serious? Don’t you want to wait until the game is over to see if the Angels win?” He said, “They offer refunds if the games don’t happen.” Alrighty then. I went online, found, what I thought were good seats for games 4 and 5, and prayed that the Angels would win. And they did.

Every expert went ahead and handed game 1 to the White Sox. The worn down Angels stood no chance. But they could definitely steal game 2 and go home with a split. Well, that’s what you get for listening to “experts”. Rust trumped rest and the White Sox dropped game one, despite a stellar outing from their 2nd half ace, Jose Contreras. The once scrappy club couldn’t scrap together any runs against Anaheim’s 4th pitcher, Paul Byrd. Uh oh. Was their dependency on the long ball catching up with them? Their pitching still looked solid. But their bats were looking pretty dismal. And when they slump, they slump bad.

Game two is the game everybody remembers. Well, at least out here in Southern California they do. It’s the Josh Paul game. With a pitchers duel going into the 9th, tied 1-1, Doug Eddings made himself famous, not by what he did, but by what he didn’t do. He didn’t call AJ out on strikes. You can blame the umpire for not making the correct call (Josh Paul caught the 3rd strike), you can blame Josh Paul for not tagging the batter just in case. Or you can give AJ credit for running to first. The bigger point is this. Had they figured out a way to get the next batter out, this would have been a non-issue. I distinctly remember watching this game at home and talking to my cousins Danny and Eric over the computer. After I got all excited about that play, they reminded me, “Crede’s up next”. Yes, my personal punching bag. I said, “Oh, never mind. At least we have Buehrle still pitching.” And wouldn’t you know it. Joe Crede came through huge. He drove in the winning run, salvaging a split and giving me hope.

I also knew that I’d be able to see both games 4 and 5 with my dad. The most likely outcome was that we’d see some good games and I’d watch the end of the series on TV. We both decided that the White Sox needed to win 2 out of 3 in Anaheim to give themselves a good chance at winning the series. Worst case was that the Angels would win all 3 at home and we’d be two bummed out dudes. We also knew there was a slim chance that we could see the White Sox clinch the pennant while we were there if they won all three. It would take something short of a miracle for that to happen. Like the miracle between Tony Graffanino’s legs? Like the miracle call on Josh Paul at the end of Game 2? Like the Angels ace, Bartolo Colon out for the series? Maybe there was something special going on. Maybe things were going our way. And maybe things wouldn’t stop. Don't Stop Believing, right?

I passively watched game 3 at home while I waited for my dad to land at the airport. I watched the White Sox score 3 runs in the first, as well as Jon Garland’s mastery on the hill. “Experts” kept talking about his long rest and how his splitter would lose its bite after such a long layoff. He gave up 2 runs, 4 hits and pitched a complete game victory. Just like Mark Buehrle did the night before. My dad and I were feeling good. If we could see one victory live, we knew that they’d be in good shape to win one at home. These are the moments you live for.

I had a dream that night. I dreamt about the games that weekend. My dad we sitting to my right and we were both directly behind the plate in the upper deck. I turned to my dad and said, “We’re going to the World Series!” And my dream ended. I wasn’t really sure whether I should say anything about my dream to him.

My dad and I got to the ballpark early on Saturday. We met other Sox fans and checked out the park. We even ran into White Sox GM Kenny Williams and took a quick picture with him. The day was much like my memories of baseball when I was very young. We watched batting practice in the outfield, hoping to catch a homerun. We walked around the park, figuring out what it was we were going to eat. I, of course, went for the nachos. As we were just settling in at a table on the centerfield concourse, a guy from WGN radio (AM 720) asked if he could interview us. Turns out, he used our interview to start their broadcast that evening. Cousin Eric got a recording and sent us a copy. Not too shabby for a couple of guys trying to watch history in the making. The game started much like the one the previous day. Paul Konerko launched a homerun to give the White Sox a quick 3-0 lead. Remember Ervin Santana from back in May? They guy who shut the White Sox down and earned his first major league victory? The same Ervin Santana didn’t show up that day. The White Sox scored early and scored often, as Freddy Garcia pitched a complete game and cruised to an 8-2 victory. 3 consecutive complete game victories? Maybe we really were witnessing history.

Could we really see a pennant clincher live? I thought I was asking for a lot when I wanted them to win 2 out of 3 on the road. But a sweep? It just sounded too greedy.

We did just about the same for game 5 as we did for game 4. Except that the constant running around called for a stop at Starbucks. As my dad and I were sitting outside of the Starbucks in our full White Sox gear, we were getting harassed a little. A couple of paramedics saw us sitting there and as they got into their ambulance and started driving away, one of them got on the load speaker – “The White Sox will lose.” “The Angels will win.” It was one of those, “You had to be there” moments. But it was funny nonetheless. We got to the ballpark early again and followed the same routine – We stood in right field behind the White Sox bullpen, watching batting practice, and we walked around the park, deciding what to eat. Only this time it was drizzling. And I told my dad that he had to sit to my right. He was sitting to my left the game before. He had to sit to my right, if my dream were to come true.

There was no Paul Konerko homerun to blow open an early lead in this game. In fact, the Angels took the lead 3-2 in the 5th inning. I just didn’t have a comfortable feeling during this game. But the bats began to wake up late. There was one particular situation with 2 outs, men on base and my boy, Joe Crede up at the plate – I turned to my dad and said, “If he comes through again here in the clutch, he is off my shit list. In fact, I will write him a public apology on my website.” He came through. And I wrote him an apology. He was Captain Clutch in the playoffs.

It seems like a long time ago, but it was only ten days ago, I was able to say something else for the first time. On an unseasonably cool and rainy day in Southern California, Jose Contreras threw the fourth of four consecutive complete games for the White Sox. And just as I had dreamt it two nights earlier, I turned to my dad and said, “We’re going to the World Series!” My dad hadn’t heard that since he was seven years old. And I was born thinking that we may never hear it again. We went down to the White Sox dugout and celebrated with the 2,000 or so other White Sox fans. The team came out with the AL Champion trophy and celebrated with us. 5 days earlier, my dad asked, “Am I crazy for coming out there?” Now we know. You would have been crazy to have stayed home. We saw them win the American League. We were there. The two of us. Together.

--- To be concluded ---