Friday, August 30, 2002

Apparently as of two days ago, the project I am working on became the top priority for the new software release. I could tell this was coming a long time back because they're trying to rush it, and because it gives a nice new GUI interface onto existing products. The cold realization hit me this morning about this when I realized that the entire priority list as concieved of by marketing consists of ordering things based on whether or not they go "ooh, shiny!" Never has the phrase marketing weasels been more appropriate, though it's really marketing ferrets.

Last night's Rockies game (more on the strike aversion after I actually see what the agreement says) I'm just pulling this for a snippet. "The crowd of 26,330 was the smallest in Rockies' history." Okay, bite me.

The power of Q without U
When I first saw stories about this stuff, around 1994 relating to Somalia, I was very excited, merely because they were spelling it "qat". Now it has seriously lost its value to me.

I would guess Craig will post this on his today, but I just have to make a note that this is simply the most excellent head drawing the WSJ could ever have done.

I'll be mildly upset at this one, merely because at one point Sam Adams was actually brewed in Pittsburgh, and I really hope they bring back the Cranberry Lambic for the fall.

Okay, all you dangerously paranoid readers Just because those X10 cameras advertise themselves as tiny, that doesn't mean you should look for them in your animals. Dipstick.

Zero to Handbasket in 72 hours. Next move Petticoat Junction? Can we just show these pinheads something new that's shiny? I'm so happy that they are proud that this has been in development for WEEKS.

Random observation: Golfer Craig Parry really should not wear that visor he usually wears. Unless, of course, he likes being confused with Emeril.

New occasional feature. Fun with RealAudio, or Compressed NPR. Preselected NPR stuff from their archive that might be useful in quiz bowl. If the links work out, it's like a quiz bowl newscast.
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11
The smoothest of transitions.

Symbolic of nothing but the natural way of things in Pittsburgh, the Pirates had their last game of the year in the afternoon, while the Steelers played their final pre-season game of the year. While indicative of the unnatural times that baseball finds itself, I couldn't have timed it any better. Whether bad or good, the Pirates are an afterthought at this time of year, and if the strike comes, and brings something that gives us a financially sound structure, then it's all for the best. It's not good; good would require us to have already reached that solution, good would require both sides to realize they're completely alienating the people who pay the money, both fans and advertisers.

Meanwhile the Pittsburgh Paladins completed their very rapid turnaround, having lost 100 games in 2002, winning the wildcard in the 2003 season of Baseball Mogul, losing to Atlanta in the Division Series. I'm starting to obsess over this game. It allows me to feed my control freak sports fetish, and I don't have to do the stuff I never remember, like pushing the controller to the right when pressing the triangle button to check the runner at first.

How to incapacitate Joe: While watching the game, we saw Chris Fuamatu Ma'afala run into Minnesota's Corey Chavous, leaving Chavous on the ground dazed. My response: "Corey Chavous does his best Bob Barker impression after being run over by a Samoan."
How to incapacitate me: After watching more of the game, we started wondering about the whole choice of how somehow the word "demon" in football is either associated with "speed" or "special teams", the former seeming to fall out of favor. Prompting the following.
Joe: "So what exactly is a special teams demon?"
Me: (demonic voice) "I demand a sacrifice of Jahine Arnold."
Joe: "Do ya really want that? He'll kind of do it to himself anyway."
Me: (demonic voice) "That's a valid point."
Joe pauses, then explodes the shot back. "WHAT DEMON USES THE PHRASE 'VALID POINT'?!?!"

Valid point...

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

Well, first meeting of the year tonight for CMU. One of those moments when you're wondering what you got for Christmas. We will see.
(Update: Good news. We haven't even gotten to the activities fair, and we've drawn in ten. Better news, we got all but one of the ones we expected to see from the EF Contact list, and we have a first for the area, two that came up after playing in our events in high school. All very nice. Better, no one looked either overmatched or so dominant that they threatened the other players. Happy, happy, joy joy.)

This also indicates I probably should get it in gear and post up some stuff that could be useful to new players. With that in mind:

Light Reading: Articles on Howard Dean, the first Democrat to declare his candidacy for the 2004 presidential election.
1 2
Heavy Reading: Poet's Corner Just go there.

Five random words: Stealth Buffalo damaged beyond repair

Thinking about two things: 1. Our previous Clay Henry Update. 2. Our previous question about whether Mr. T is the K-T boundary of celebrity stratification.
Okay, so this now involves Anne Archer. Does the fact that she only appears in this story AT THIS POINT indicate that her celebrity level has nosedived? Is it above or below that of Mr. T?
Now consider this story. If this is the first you've heard of Jackie Mason since Chicken Soup, the Mr. T question also comes into play. Not to mention that the first credit he's listed for is Caddyshack II.

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

Until about midnight last night, I was all set to chastise MattW for being a wimp about Amtrak. I had an excellent trip on the overnight from Pittsburgh to Chicago. Then, last night, I got in a car with a bad wheel or something that basically shook me all night long, and not in a good way. If you've ever almost been to sleep and suddenly had that flash feeling like you're falling, and you bolt to full awakening, you know that's annoying. Now imagine doing that about 15 times an hour. Not good. I ended up sleepwalking through today at work.

Otherwise it was a good weekend. Actually worked out some questions of corporate direction (namely: "we do have one, right?") and got to actually see the fabled Wrigley Field, the Art Institute of Chicago, and actual honest-to-God deep-dish. The last of those also allowed me to confirm that cold pizza is still in fact, nature's most perfect food. Also, we ended up kicking around a few notions for questions. I would hope that at least one of them you will find incapacitatingly funny when it gets read.

A weirdly enlightened method of drug control going on in Thailand. Don't know whether this is a good or a bad idea, though I doubt it would be feasible in the US, that much talc and ipecac.

Your animals and knives update (Brought to you by Lawn Darts: Thinning the herd since the 1970s.):

Henry, Clay Henry As amazing as this story is and has been, I didn't realize the celebrity angle. (update from EricS: Trial ended on Thursday, hung jury. No justice, no piece)

Some people... This one speaks for itself. Just another Buddhist monk protesting the treatment of animatronic

Thursday, August 22, 2002

I know there's a question in here somewhere...
1 I could have sworn that said "Colombian Coke Cartel."
2 I could have sworn that said "Swedish Chef."
3 I could have sworn we didn't need to warn people about these things.
4 I could have sworn I saw this in Better Off Dead.

In other news.
Kidder the Elder got the NFL Sunday Ticket for this season as part of his dish installation. Why do I have the feeling Joe will be joining my family for Sunday dinner?

Plugging Away: I got a fancy microplane grater for my birthday. So far it gets high marks for what it did to my block of parmesean last night. I'll continue testing it for wear characteristics, but so far, worth picking up.

No updates this weekend. Depending on your level of cynicism, I'm going either to Chicago or Bilderberg.

Those who signaled in regarding the 082002 entry, thanks. Happy/amazed/frightened to know people are reading. Let's see if we can put it into practice.

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Like the first Canadian geese going south for the winter...
Tonight I got my first freshman of the year looking for information about a team. For a change I was able to help out with ease. Simple connection of email to email. If they were only all that simple.

Only five little words, but how random they are when brought together.
I love the way words form ideas, the way that English is nuanced to the hilt, the way that words with nothing in common become ludicrous when joined. If you love the wrong answer list, this is the reason you love it. And if you're looking for why I write for NAQT, the freedom to string phrases like "In deference to Johnny Lemaster" into questions would easily be one of the prime reasons. Today, two examples of wonderfully dadaist phrasing came together. First, a phrase culled from today's Daily Prospectus: "a huge ziggurat of lint" Second, a phrase taken from an episode guide for The Rockford Files: "Dwarf in a Helium Hat" The former is the essence of nuance. Pile, boring. Pyramid, interesting, but the plausibility of that shape for lint diminishes the joke. Ziggurat, amusing name, and an impossible shape for a lint pile, perfect for the purpose. The latter is one of those phrases which had been rattling in my brain ever since I saw it. (this was at least a year ago.) It drove me nuts, what the heck does it mean? Well, finally, after the quest for meaning had driven me to compulsively watch several weeks of Rockford Files episodes, I'll at least know what it means.

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Twas my birthday today. 29, for those of you guessing at home. I get morose and hopeful on days like this, marking out the accomplishments of the year. And since it conveniently is the two minute warning on summer, my mind often turns to where I stand, and where the circuit stands. The problem is, I don't know if either is in that good a shape. So allow me to phrase these in terms of my birthday wishes for the circuit.

I wish for a circuit more accessible to the freshmen who will be coming in. Not merely the top high school players, but every player. May we give them the opportunity to enjoy themselves, and discover that the while the game is more fun to win than lose, it is still better to lose than to not play.
I wish for a circuit more accessible to teams that don't play often. I wish for a circuit that gives opportunity to everyone. More junior bird/new team events, more events in general. And I wish that the circuit goes out and reaches these teams, that they may become part of the circuit.
I wish for a circuit that realizes how small it is, and how large it can be. I wish for a circuit where the fragility of programs and personalities are understood. I wish for a circuit that recognizes that no one will care, only if we shut ourselves out from people who might care, if we run from the world.
I wish for a circuit that realizes how hurtful it can appear, and how petty its arguments can become. I wish for a circuit that realizes that the appearance it puts on in public forums can be the first thing someone sees, or the last thing. I wish for an open and hopeful circuit, willing to show others the way, not show others the door.
I wish for a circuit that understands that while it is significantly more than just a game, it is a game, and that those who take it with the utmost seriousness, and the most miniscule of seriousness can and should coexist.
I wish for a circuit that realizes that is more than just a group of teams and players combatting each other, it is a community of people who share an interest in the interesting, a circuit that welcomes everyone to it, no matter who they are, or where they come from, as long as they share a love of learning. Even if we don't admit this to ourselves, this is what we are, or can be.

I don't know whether it's possible to change the circuit, make it better, larger, more tolerant, more open. It won't change in a year. But it is a beautiful dream, and we might push it there a little. And that's worth my efforts for another year.
A decade ago, I played in my first circuit event. I did well enough, but I could have done other things easily enough. The reason I chose to stick with it was not necessarily because I enjoyed the game, or the learning. I stuck because I enjoyed the company. People who enjoyed knowledge, and sharing it with others. Place me in that situation with the circuit today, and I can't be sure that I'd stay. If we lose that magic, then we lose it all.
I want this in children's book form. For future generations of warped Kidders, I beg you. Dom? Is this your page? (I'm guessing no, since I don't see a platypus.)
This adaptation is obviously incomplete without the voice being provided by the zombie corpse of Scatman Crothers

More later.

Monday, August 19, 2002

The weekend wrap-up

It was a quiet weekend, devoted to cleaning(Saturday) and editing(Sunday), in fact the most notable bits were things that didn't happen to me. More on those later.

Friday saw an altar to a Elvis appear on a table in the office hallway, commplete with donut offerings, which only served to complete my disorientation. I had been up too long the night before drafting for fantasy football, and since I had forgotten my lunch at home, I was running almost entirely on caffeine and Altoids Citrus, not a good combination. At a certain point, you're just grinding your lining, and those Altoids are the equivalent of a Dremel tool.

I'm already worried about my fantasy team (and this is a bad thing for me), I can see that my running backs don't have that automatic threat among them (and of course, I've already lost an RB for the season). Mostly I'm worried as this is the first time I've played this non-ironically. I've done fantasy XFL, and a twisted league where bad players are most valuable, but for actually knowing what's good...not a clue.

Sunday night came with the heavy veg-out of watching preseason football, with the sound down to listen to the dulcet tones of Myron. I was starting to worry, the local sports radio callers were in full force after the Jets game, and what was really needed was a good game to shut them up. The Steelers looked really good for the first half, though I think the second half all but cemented the remaining important issues of the roster, Tee Martin's gone after this one. Now there's certain to be a Redskin fan reading this going "look at the scoreboard, punk!" Okay, if that was you, remember that you just called me a punk because the guys your team is going to cut are better than the guys my team is going to cut. Yippee.

Meanwhile in actual news around other people.

1. My father, after getting 4 satellite dishes cheaply from my aunt three years ago, finally put one of them up at my parents' place. (perfectly normal behavior for him, by the way, any new technology takes approximately 300% longer to be adopted, once he actually decides to do it. I have the same problem, except I don't buy it, then wait.) This means he has access to cable television for the first time since 1986. (My folks live too far out in the country for cable, but we had about 3 years of old-school satellite television until the groundhog bit into the line and flooded it.) This ought to be interesting. I figure the idea of streaming stock quotes will drive him insane in about a week, as he dissolves into a pool of worrying constantly about how my stocks are doing. (I know enough to be worried, also know enough to know that if I watch it constantly, I'll ulcerate the entire lower gastrointestinal run.) Then follow up with political ranting on demand and I'll never hear the end of it.

2. Bad post-midnight weekend TV moment number one: About 1AM Saturday, there was a rebroadcast on PCN (PA's C-SPAN for the state) of a debate between campaign reps for the gubernatorial candidates. Issue one: which candidate flip-flopped later on the issue of whether or not to allow gambling in PA to keep our seniors from starving. Congratulations, guys. You've just turned this campaign into a parody of itself. If the most important thing you can debate is how to save the lottery...

3. Bad post-midnight weekend TV moment number two: An hour later while flipping channels I see someone familiar utter the phrase: "They're computer generated women fighting, while wearing school girl outfits. WHAT COULD BE WRONG WITH THAT?" (emphasis theirs) While being frightened by that as a selling point, I realize it's Wil Wheaton saying it. Good career move, Wesley...

4. I need your help, or perhaps an appropriate 12-step program. As most of you know, I have a major problem with used book stores, a problem that isn't helped by having one not a half mile from my apartment. My resistance has been good the past couple times in there, but Saturday I saw the news I always feared. They lost their lease, everything must go... I'm twitching badly here, might be time for that intervention.

Friday, August 16, 2002

I know there's a question in here somewhere...

1 We've dealt with this before, but I like this story for the fact that they just said right in the title "shareholders to be wiped out."
2 With the white-hot passion with which I hate the Jaguar fans, this just cheeses me off. (they took a lot of the displaced anger when the Browns were dragged off. All the anger I have towards the Ravens is now aimed at Modell.)
3 Rave drugs for monkeys?

Thursday, August 15, 2002

The rare lunchtime update, after last night was preempted by the first part of Anatomy of a Murder.

It's very rare for me to actually have the foresight for something like this, so I'd just like to say that I called this one in January.

And now the main event: Beam me up to the ball game.
Following work yesterday, Joe and I headed up to Cafaro Field in Niles, Ohio for a game between the Mahoning Valley Scrappers and the Jamestown Jammers. But this was no ordinary game, o mighty readers of my drivel. No, this was the quintessential tribute to the man, the myth, the legend, Jim Traficant. Yes, it was Jim Traficant night at the ballyard.

We had made excellent time on the highway, reaching Niles (apparently Youngstown's personal Monroeville) a little before game time, giving us time to enjoy the A&W/KFC combination (I thought the only chain that Tricon had bought was Long John Silver's, I guess I was wrong). We passed up both a sushi bar, and something called the Youngstown Crab Company. I don't trust seafood in Pittsburgh, should I trust it in Youngstown? I thought not. We also had time to find a used book store (unfortunately closed) in one of the weirdest and most depressing dead mall structures ever. It was almost as if a single projection out from the main corridor from a 1970's era mall was perfectly preserved, except for the feeling that it hadn't been aerated since the early days of malaise. Very odd. But it paled in comparison to two others odd businesses. First, Urban Chiropractic Center. In Niles, Ohio? Second, Girard Book & News, which was having a going out of business sale. I guess because they sold the book.

It was a good crowd for the game, but I was slightly disappointed, with an event like this, I really was hoping for one of two things, either they go all out with the sarcasm, and the crowd takes everything in the proper ironic fashion, or they don't take anything ironically, it takes on a sort of Nuremberg rally sort of vibe, and we can report back a comedy goldmine. Sadly, the middle ground between the two occurred, and it didn't really hit the consistent heights of lunacy that "turn-ahead-the-clock-night" did. (The benchmark of bad promotional ideas gone horribly wrong. Bill Simmons would have had a UCR 100 there.)

Entering the stadium we did see a few people wearing bad pieces on their heads to get the discount, but not as many as we had hoped. (Joe had a rather disturbing moment when he misidentified a piece on a guy, when it was actually probably real hair on a woman...we hope... we weren't about to ask.) Several kids were using prop squirrels as covering. (You ask: were they evil squirrels? Don't know, but they didn't seem to be attacking anyone once they set up shop.) The other promotional freebie was: if you were the son of a truck driver, you got in free. Joe and I struggled to come up with a way to prove or disprove this had we been asked. Note that at this point both Joe and I are wearing Quebec Capitales hats, so we start doing riffs on "you think the people will be impressed if they think we came all the way from Canada." I also contemplated going up to the second deck, facing the crowd assembled at the ticket booth, and screaming in a bizarre faux French accent "vive le Traficant libre." That would have been gilding the lily. Especially when I saw that they had someone doing a Traficant impression yelling through a bullhorn, from the same spot.
Upon entry into the stadium, we were given a Jim Traficant head-on-a-stick, suitable for PTI, and a fake ballot for the 17th Ohio Congressional District. We also were offered a sticker, only to find it was for the actual Republican nominee for the seat. Okay folks, this is the sign your candidate's campaign is politically tone-deaf. We come to praise Jim, not to bury him. Especially when you have people screaming "Traficant 2012".
We had good seats on the 3rd base line, and the game got going surprisingly quickly. I will give tremendous credit to the PA announcer for admitting that after you've had someone throw out the first pitch, the Jim Traficant impersonator has to be throwing out the SECOND pitch. (This has always bothered me, especially after seeing SIX first pitches at the last Washington Wild Things game.) And, of course, that means that Mini-Jim has to throw out the THIRD pitch.
Oh, did I forget to mention Mini-Jim? Yes, they had a little guy in the same bad news piece. This came into play in several pieces of the festivities, including a version of "Just the Two of Us."
Your Jim themed events included a What's in the Box? game where inside the box the winner got a Jim Traficant beauty care kit, also known as a weed whacker. There was also: dodgeball with mini-Jim, and mini-Jim runs the bases. This one was extra special. If mini-Jim ran the bases successfully without getting caught by the FBI, one lucky fan would get "a day of yardwork by the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, as a team-building exercise." While we couldn't have made this up if we tried it brought three things to mind: Never let HR people write the copy, never have I wanted to be in line for a prize more, and wouldn't it have been great if someone from the majors was on a rehab assignment.

Other promotions were also advertised, the oddest of the bunch being what was termed a "synchronized fireworks display." Like many things, though it was explained to us (synchronized to music) we kept wondering what an "unsynchronized fireworks display" would be...aside from someone throwing a match into a box of them.

The game itself was subpar. If you liked bad baseball, dragging a game into way too long, this was your night, a four hour and fifteen minute game. Not only did we have five errors in the game, thanks to some generous scorekeeping, we avoided having something like 8 or 10 errors. Possibly the best indication of how the game went was this: If not for the fact that all three throws were dropped, we could have seen a triple play. All three batters would have easily been out had the ball been caught at the base. Instead, one out, one run scored.

Inexplicable sight of the evening: Someone was running around wearing a Sylvester Morris Chiefs jersey. This one baffled us.
Proof of Burger's theory of the opposition: Not only were able to sit near someone wearing the Jamestown Jammers gear, it was the significant other of one of the players. This led to some hilarious moments where just after Jamestown knocked one out of the park, she would get on her cell phone like a proud mother at Little League "He JUST hit a home run!!!"

Finally, the fake ballots mentioned earlier served a purpose. There was a mock vote for the congressional seat, complete with preliminary returns. I was hoping for a closer vote, if only so they could have a confused and bleary-eyed Tim Russert clutching a marker board pointing at one word, circled on it: Ashtabula. But it was a landslide for Traficant, 66% of the vote. In second place was the Republican candidate, who apparently showed up at the game, (totally pointless and goofy act) with 20%. The real story of the evening in the vote had to be the strong write-in campaign for Scrappy the Mahoning Valley mascot. Scrappy, running as an independent, polled 5.4% of the vote in the election. This of course means the Mascot Party now has qualified for Federal Matching Funds in the next election. Chicken-Orange 2004!

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

Finished it off. One more NAQT deadline that looks like it will make it. boo-yah.

S'anyway, after hearing about how bad the show was, I felt it necessary to subject myself to the Anna Nicole Show. Wow. Words failed me. And I mean that quite literally, I was hit with aphasia or something. I was locked into that look of mock horror I always pull... except it wasn't mock. The only way I can figure this show makes any sense would be if this were somehow a deal cut by E! because they didn't have enough educational content, so they show this as a substitute. It's certainly the most effective thing the ONDCP could air since the fried egg ad. Mostly I feel bad for the dog. If it's just learning from what Anna Nicole is doing, and it's pulling panties off of a teddy bear, it needs therapy. Hey I think I know just the therapist.

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

A simple question:
So far this summer we've had: Pepsi with lemon (not good), Coke with vanilla (not good), Crystal Pepsi with raspberry (possibly good if I liked raspberry). And debuting this weekend we have a movie called Blue Crush and IT DOESN'T HAVE A BEVERAGE TIE IN????? Marketing, do I have to do all your thinking for you? Idiots...

Fundamentally, the key with all of these is, instead of giving us the flavor by itself, you get flavor plus extra sugar. I think this is why I like the Jones Vanilla Cola over Vanilla Coke, and why if I want a Pepsi Twist, I'l get a lemon and twist it into my Pepsi.

Or perhaps I'm just screwed up because I've been downing these Ocean Spray juice and seltzer thingies.

Simple rule of life kids: Squirrels bad,bunnies good.

More later if I get done with tonight's plan.

Monday, August 12, 2002

I'm trying not to be bitter about this one, but I'm failing miserably.

No, not the Goatsucker/welfaresucker in its own "fraud with the slightest urge to be caught" way, that's morbidly satisfying. No, this is a very similar story, but one even stupider. This only serves to harden my opinion that degrees in some fields are not actual degrees, but a bizarre little scam, kinda like the old Winston University sketch on SNL. Yeah, I'm lookin' at you, HumEcies. (Sorry, that's only funny if you went to SUNY-Ithaca) Suffice it to say, I have some faith that if I tried to establish my old teddy bear as an engineer in good standing, I wouldn't get far. I'm probably entirely wrong in that thought, but I have hope. (Actually, I think I know where the certificate paper is at work... Bad thought DEK, bad thought.)

Also in the people ruining my illusions for me department. I leave this question for you: At what amount of money is it worth it for you to bite your tongue and not tell people that the way that they want something done is incompetent? No job risk mind you, just realizing that it would be better for all involved if you smacked them upside the head and said "Don't be stupid!"

Finally, I smell road trip. Even money says you can look forward to the story late Wednesday night.

Sunday, August 11, 2002

I spent the day at what was, until this year, Washington County's premier sporting event, the Adios. It's an interesting race, given it involves having a horse turn around and do two races within about 2 hours. More importantly, it's a major social event, or at least it had been. Now it's kind of been by the fact that horse racing has taken a major hit on popularity, and since it's harness racing, not thoroughbreds, it's somewhere below cricket on the radar. My family's ticket was punched by my uncle's sponsorship of the race, and the dealership giving away a car. So I was sitting there in the clubhouse, surrounded by the gently decaying patrician class. From the people who brought you The Bridges of Madison County, The Combovers of Washington County.
The event also brought out the Republican candidate for governor. I got to shake hands. I'm still trying to figure him out, whether he's an empty political suit or just more concerned with actually getting things done. That's the danger really. I really want to root for him. He's local, from the county, which means he'll be sort of moderate strain I appreciate. But I also guess he's doomed, I can't see a former DNC chair not being able to simply outspend him, and given the comically bad performance he gave in the Democratic primary, I fear it will be pure negativity from one side, and the other side unable to deal with it. Shame, really. On my most Machiavellian level, I hope he gets in, and as a result we could get the contract for PA's state tournament, the one that pretty much is seen as a joke by every team that's seen any other format.

Friday, August 09, 2002

Letting the wild rumpus start.

My father got tickets to the Wild Things game, as part of his ISP's user appreciation night, so I did my second tour of duty out to the game. No rainstorm this time, thankfully. A couple more notes on MINOR league baseball in Washington. First of all, I found where all the 8-ounce cups went from yesterday's stories. They're now serving a rehab assignment in the minors as part of the "free hot dog, chips and a drink" package the ISP put together. You get what you pay for. From the "blatant displays of nepotistic power" file: My uncle was also at the game, and somehow managed to get his grandson (who was up from Alabama) to be part of the first pitch ceremonies. Welcome to Washington County, folks. Along those same lines, apparently every political figure in the county up for election this fall was stumping at the game. Nothing like a showing how you moved money out of your political pork ladlings to back a winner to really excite the voters. I also had a troika of unfortunate experiences. First, when the first quarter score of the Steelers game was announced, the boos started. I seriously think if Steelers fans didn't have controversy to make at the most minimal provocation, they'd have to make it up themselves. (Actually, the Kordell in Schenley Park rumor pretty much cements that idea.) Second, about four rows down from me, I discovered that several of my former high school teachers were having a girls' night out. Is there anything more disturbing than seeing people whose purpose in your life was to act as adult as possible, performing emotionally like teenagers? Probably, but not at that moment. Third, I'll just give you this conversation verbatim. Your setup: The batter has just stepped out of the box, and is waiting for signals from the 3rd base coach, who is furiously gesticulating. The PA speakers begin to play.
"That isn't....Oh, good grief that's extra cold. [laughter] Divinyls, that's just mean."
"What's so funny, Dwight?"
"Oh, um...I can't really explain it, Mom." I crumple back down sheepishly.

My mother, incidentally, can channel the whole Dilbert's Mom vibe way too easily.

Now, three weird bits from this Pirates game I'm watching: First, at the end of the fourth, the Pirates line score: 4R-4H-4E. Second, they're advertising something called Cheese Fest during the next homestand. Third, Steve Blass just termed Pirate pitcher Jimmy Anderson's performance during this game as "maybe it's some kind of male bump and grind." If you've ever seen Jimmy Anderson, you know I'm now scarred for life.

A couple odd bits in the news:
Somehow, the last thing I figured would be the UN model for the 21st century would have been MTV and Powerball. Two stories showing the UN considering use of soap operas and lotto.

And two good old crazy dictator stories:
Which is worse: Qaddafi or Daniel Snyder?
Saparmurat Niyazov: Soon to go dead catall over your Central Asian Dictator bonuses. If he keeps this up, he will make the leap. Especially if he gets press coverage like this:
"Mr Niyazov, who was attending Turkmenistan's annual People's Council, also said he wants to call the month of April 'Mother'." Wacky proclamations, and working out Oedipal issues... This guy's bringing the A game. It used to be in the Central Asian dictator game, it was Nazarbayev, Nazarbayev, and Nazarbayev. But I'd look over my shoulder if I were Nursultan. Why am I channeling Dick Vitale here? Related story.

Wednesday, August 07, 2002

The Couch potato report.

But first, this news break:Whoa.

I always suspected they were doing this to me At this point, size and caffeine are total jokes. Next time you're looking at a 16-ounce bottle of iced tea or something, check the RDA label, yes they do intend that to be two servings. And then remember that we used to see 16-ounce bottles of pop, standard.

Perhaps I'm getting predictable I wrote a question about Monk for the Burns, but I was kind of surprised to hear that people were guessing that I would write a question about it. I'm kind of ambivalent about the show, it's all right, and kind of right up my alley, and it's good to see Kevin Inch listed on a program, I hadn't seen him listed since Remington Steele. The problem I have is I keep comparing it to a similar series that I saw a couple years back on BBC America. I liked it better because it was much more of a puzzle and I had a much bigger sense of amazement when watching.

Relive your childhood, or just gawk at the bad ideas for series. (as part of their 50 Greatest Lists of 50 Greatest Lists) TV Guide's listings of Saturday morning lineups since the 1950's. But, man, were some of these not good ideas.

She's back LaPlaca 2002-03, Get your entry in now.
Today's alien, assassin, and creepy devil doll news...

I don't follow comic books much, and at a certain point this report just dissolves into completely incoherent rambling, but it does have some extra good moments, like:
"VERONICA: HAD REGGIE GET WILLIE HORTON OUT OF JAIL. VOTE BETTY." and its follow ups. But mostly because of the bit about the Thundercats. Oh, and this line: "How is Satan still scary after you've seen ALIENS? Satan needs a new agent. He needs to get together with Sigourney Weaver-- well, wait, we ALL need to get together with Sigourney Weaver. Christ, she's aged superbly-- it's amazing."

Popcap added two games recently, one of which I've found needed further testing (Noah's Ark, which I have broken through excessive clicking both times I've played it), and one which is completely deranged (Insaniquarium, the most disturbing IP infringement of the Alien from Alien since, well, I was going to say xevil, but I'll say the last link.) I get a completely weird vibe off of the game, which I think is due to either the fact that it looks like I'm feeding the fish amphetamines at high levels, their droppings appear to be coinage, and I keep wanting to scream "Three hams will kill them! Three hams will kill them!"

Nothing funny I can say here except this is probably a heads up for trash writers.

Again, nothing funny to say here, except that it was probably a bad idea to include reenactments of "The Day of the Jackal" as part of the party platform. And also, I need Ted Knight to do the voiceover here "Meanwhile, in the Palace of Justice..."

Tuesday, August 06, 2002

They're getting there...

Checked back on the discussion in the Yahoo group. At least they're starting to realize that there is a problem. Now let's see if they understand its nature.

I will safely dismiss the idea of one overarching organization and championship for the following reasons:
1. CBI isn't likely to play nicely with NAQT (This would be like Microsoft and Linux getting together)
2. ACF isn't likely to play nicely with CBI (No actually THIS would be like Microsoft and Linux getting together, or at least Bill Gates and Richard Stallman)
3. ACF isn't likely to play nicely with TRASH. (This is the tricky nut to crack, if you want an overarching structure, either you accept that trash has value and a place at the table, or you cleave the circuit into two components, which defeats the purpose of an overarching organization)

I think the other problem is that right now, even if such a beast were to appear tomorrow, I think that it wouldn't benefit all of the organizations to join it. CBI would lose out because it would be stuck with revealing its competition to groups that don't even know the circuit exists. ACF would be forced to actually act as something more than an ad hoc cabal of the best ACF players. While I could see NAQT and TRASH joining up with such a plan, I can't see either agreeing to a single tournament structure.

The fundamental problem, as I see it, is that there has always been insufficient critical mass of people, free time, and money to propel the growth of the circuit forward. This quest for additional organization that has sprung up is the manifestation of a method to solve these problems, but not the solution itself. Would an organizational layer serve to improve ths situation? I'm doubtful. I appreciate that a coherent vision could give us at least a better road map. But the actions needed for growth have to come from lots of individuals. And if there's one thing that the quiz bowl community does not do well, it's take orders.
For almost a decade, we've been able to float in a range between 120 and 140 schools on the circuit. It's enough to keep the system going, but only by the application of serious effort. To get beyond that size, we have to apply an even higher amount of effort.

I might as well tackle this issue in the next couple entries, because I think that we might be able to actually do something. NAQT has wanted to help grow the circuit for years, but this year we've internally committed to really reach out beyond the circuit, and at this point, I'm the point man for that. But I also know that such efforts will hinge on the efforts of dozens of people on the circuit. It won't be a case of NAQT leading the charge, it will be NAQT helping those who want to make the circuit bigger, better, and more open to newcomers.

Monday, August 05, 2002

Two interesting bits: Your crazy old coot update, and Legends of Scab Football...

1. James Traficant is now in the right state. Transferred today from Ohio to the facility in White Deer, PA. This might be the countermeasure to prevent him from running for Congress from prison. Then again, he might run for that district.

2. Joe sent me the following, the question is worth asking:
Speaking of Stallworth in the '80s, I think even though this is primarily a celebratory weekend, we shouldn't forget the shameful fact that Stallworth was also a scab--a fact I haven't heard even once in all the press coverage, and this is Western PA fer chrissake! Is he the first sports scab hall of famer? I would like to know, but no one is talking about this.
I think he's correct, because we've only had scabs in football and baseball, and the baseball ones can't have retired yet. Then again, I can't see Keith Osik--Hall of Famer, any time soon.
Love->Building on Fire
Okay, Thursday's update was mangled by me having to put in extra hours on the Burns packet, but Friday would have at least had something...were it not for this.
Stop worrying, no one was hurt, It wasn't my building, I'm four buildings down. However, because I left for work a little after 8:30 that day, I pulled out of my spot just in time to see the second firetruck pull into position and block my way out of the complex. As is my typical style it was only then I noticed that the building was on fire.
So there I was, expecting to be running against a deadline at work, instead stuck at home without a route out of the complex. Totally safe from harm, but unable to do anything about anything. I emailed in to tell everyone I was fine, but stuck, and somehow, through the telephone effect, I was believed to be in the building next to the fire, then in the fire itself. About 15 minutes later I get email informing me that most of the department is praying for me. I imagine it went something like "Um, he's sick. My best friend's sister's boyfriend's brother's girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who's going with a girl who saw Dwight pass out at 31 Flavors last night. I guess it's pretty serious."
I was half expecting electronic road signs to be flashing "SAVE DWIGHT"
I don't recommend this for anyone as a choice of method for spending your day. First of all, it's too hot to just go out and watch the fire. (This is incidentally why there were 17 departments called out for it. Whenever someone left the burning apartment to recover themselves, it was just as hot outside. At least inside, it was a dry heat.) Second, because you don't really know when they're done with the fire (it spurted up again on them when they thought they had licked it), you can't just make the assumption you won't be able to get out of the apartments any time soon. I did have a deadline at work I had to deal with, I needed to get out at some point, at least I thought that until 4pm when I actually did get out. Your entire day consists of go downstairs, see if it's still smoking, go upstairs, wait 15 minutes, repeat. Highly unsatisfactory.
We did get one absolutely golden moment out of the entire affair, and unfortunately, I kinda whiffed it. About 11am, I get a call, I was expecting one of my co-workers to call in for an update. Instead I get this:
"Hello....Mr. Kidder?"
"Yes" (Oh boy, not these jokers)
"Yes, Mr. Kidder. This is [name withheld to protect the guilty] for MCI's the Neighborhood. How are you doing today?"
"Not good." (I hate telemarketers, this one's going to pay.)
"Oh, sorry to hear that sir, why is that?"
"Because the building next door is on fire." (Let's see if this is in their script.)
"[pregnant pause] You're kidding?"
"No. Can we keep this line clear please?"

That felt REALLY good. Carey pointed out later that the dead solid grand slam to this would have been "Because the Neighborhood is on fire." But I'll be happy with the solid single.

After the fun of that, I drove up to the Burns, with Carey in tow. The tournament was cool as always, and I ended up second, won the all-star game, and came away with the best prize, ( puppet, with speech. Though I'm really disturbed by the fact it tells me that it likes my shorts and I'm a good lookin' fella.) Additional interesting exchanges: Joe sent up a copy of the 2nd Edition Match Game board game for Mike. Joe found it in the garage of his parents' place while they were moving some of his stuff in.

Sunday was a trip up to the Lansing Lugnuts game, and a surprise encounter with Pepsi Blue. It's not in my plans for two reasons, I try to limit the amount of blue in my diet, and it's raspberry flavor, which is just nasty to me. The other interesting bit of the whole affair was the discovery that there's some poor schmuck out there trying to earn a living writing historical tracts on the role of religion in England. The poor schmuck's name: Harry Potter The site is worth it just for the reviews, the more clueless the better.

Thursday, August 01, 2002

It's good to know that when you're thinking paranoid, you're not alone.
MattB noted that the same I did when I heard about it last night, and his notes agree with my assessment. (both Baseball Prospectus and Rob Neyer make the point) Let's face facts about suppositions. We can't prove that anything wrong happened, but here you see a long series of suspicious actions. Actions that can't be completely explained by rational explanations, so you are left with two options, either assume incompetence on the part of those involved, or assume that the series of trades were done as some form of payment for past (or future) actions. And if that's how it happens, then I was right, you have four parts in this upcoming negotiation, the players, the Steinbrenner faction, the small market owners, and the Selig faction.

Meanwhile, the mob now controls ice dancing. This is comforting to me, it's good to see them diversifying in this troubled economy.

Also meanwhile, Phil came up with an interesting proposal. I don't like it because it attacks the problem (too many events relative to the number of competitors) at the wrong end (limiting the events, rather than creating more competitors.) It's the same reason I don't like having yahoo as our only form of communication, it serves both as a barrier to having people learn about quiz bowl, and serves to insulate people into an unhealthy complacency that saying anything in one forum is sufficient to reach everyone. For college, that's not true as a lot of people have tuned out, sick of debates, and people who can't stop arguing, or debasing other viewpoints. (Or in my case, because I just didn't trust the media, still don't. That's why I don't post to yahoo, and I only view the page, and don't subscribe.) For high school, it never was true. Matt's page was the closest thing to a good debate, but it's fallen into the same trap, two sides of argument devoted to splitting one hair, while the rest of the world can't even see what their fighting about. So how are we going to change the world, if the world doesn't even know it needs changed, because we're too busy fencing ourselves off?